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Aberdeenshire Council urged by committee to champion children’s rights

By David Porter

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Members of the Education and Children’s Services Committee in Aberdeenshire have approved plans that children’s rights should be considered across all Aberdeenshire Council services.

In April 2019, the Scottish Government agreed to recognising children’s rights by incorporating the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into Scots Law, ensuring children and young people are involved in decisions that affect them and their rights are protected by law.

The council is developing plans so that assessments of policies include consideration of children and young people along the same lines as for equalities, fairness and human rights.

Members of the committee agreed all council services, not just Education and Children’s Services, should give consideration on the impact of children and young people when making decisions.

Aberdeenshire is already well placed.

In 2018, to celebrate the Year of the Young Person, the council developed its own Children and Young People’s Charter which all council services are using in their day-to-day work.

Youth voice and participation platforms are examples of the council’s commitment to children and young people’s participation and engagement.

Schools in Aberdeenshire who participate in the Rights Respecting Schools Programme have reported a positive impact on school ethos, improved relationships and wellbeing, leading to better behaviour.

Young people learnt new skills in how to respect themselves and others and how to actively participate in the life of their school, community and in global action.

Training sessions for school staff have been arranged and “wee blethers” are being set up for young people to reflect on what the UNCRC means for them and its incorporation.

A key priority for the council will be for all other services to meaningfully engage with UNCRC and embed a children’s rights approach within their work.

Councillor Gillian Owen
Councillor Gillian Owen

Aberdeenshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee chair Gillian Owen said: “It is absolutely right that children and young people have a voice in the decisions that affect them, so it is encouraging that these national conversations are also occurring at Aberdeenshire too, so that we are taking into account the views of children and young people as well.

“It is important this issue isn’t seen as an education one, but policies concerning housing, culture, transport and climate change, to name a few, give due consideration to the views of children and young people.

"They are our future, so they deserve to have a stake in the present.”

Councillor Rosemary Bruce, committee vice chair, said: “I never fail to be impressed by the well thought out views many of the children and young people I have encountered during my time as a committee member.

"I am hopeful that the incorporation of the UNCRC into Scots Law will be further proof to children and young people in Aberdeenshire and across the nation, that they matter.”

The report on the incorporation of the UNCRC into Scots Law will now be considered by Full Council at an upcoming meeting.

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