A Service which #KeepsThePromise to support our children, young people, and young adults to enjoy and have their rights listened to and fulfilled
Welcome to the Aberdeen Young Person’s Rights Service Annual Report 2022
‘World Children’s Day, celebrated every November, had as its focus last year ‘a better future for every child’. This is something we all in Aberdeen City Council’s Children’s SW work tirelessly to deliver. However, our work cannot simply focus on the future, we also need to be concerned about how we support and empower children to claim their rights today. All children, no matter their age, are rights holders and we have a duty to ensure that in the discharge of our statutory duties we give full respect to their rights in all that we do.
As with so much of what we do in children’ social work, this task is not easy one.
The remit of our Young Person’s Rights Service is to provide advocacy, guidance and support to Aberdeen children, young people, and young adults, aged 0-26 years old, who are care experienced or are or have been involved in child protection processes, wherever they live. The Rights Service Annual Report 2022 highlights strengths to our current practice but inevitably it also notes areas where OUR children, young people and young adults have reported they feel they could be better supported by social work staff (and other corporate parents) to claim their rights. We are often required to balance the right of the child to be kept safe with their right to family life. In doing so we must ensure we continue to put children’s rights and their voices at the centre of our practice. This means listening to children, their views, ideas, and experiences – giving full effect to participation.
The Promise reminded us that those with care experience and those on the edges of care still face significant challenges to claim their rights. While advocating for children for whom we have intervened in their lives is important, of greater importance is how we ensure they are aware of and empowered to claim their rights. As one young person with experience of care noted – ‘It’s important to know your rights so they can’t be taken away’.
Recent policy and legislative changes highlight the extent to which the rights of young people have been compromised and the journey we still have to travel to ensure that the children, young people and young adults we support are empowered to fully claim their rights:
- The Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Act 2019 now means children have legal protection from physical punishment. Despite this we continue to see the use of restraint and seclusion in schools and some care settings where we place children & young people.
- The minimum age of criminal responsibility was increased from 8 to 12 in December 2021. Despite this it is still two years below the international minimum standard. Scotland’s low age of criminal responsibility and the continuing detention of children in prisons, of which care experienced young people are overrepresented, tells us we still have a way to go to fulfil our commitment to children’s rights. The Children (Care and Justice) (Scotland) Bill aims to address some of these issues, but our practice will need to evolve with the legislation.
- Poverty remains one of the most significant issues to impact on children’s rights, with one in four children living in poverty. It affects every aspect of children’s lives and robs them of their childhood. Our data clearly tells us that care experienced young people and those on the edges of care including children with a disability are disproportionally impacted by the impact of poverty. Ensuring we adopt a rights-based lens to considering the impact of poverty, will continue to influence our family support offer and enable us to support children to remain within their family where it is safe for them to be so.
The Rights Service Annual Report 2022 provides us with a mirror to reflect on where we all could do more to empower the children, young people and young adults we support to claim their rights. It is not the sole responsibility of the Rights Service to this on our behalf. Nor is it something we should postpone until the Scottish Government incorporate the UNCRC into Scots Law. It is for all teams and individuals to consider what steps we can take that better enables more children to be empowered to claim their rights so we can truly make ‘a better future for every child’.
To initiate this, I intend over the summer and autumn to engage in a series of conversations with colleagues from across the service which hopefully can begin to identify steps you feel we can all take to more effectively empower children to claim their rights. I look forward to engaging with as many of you as possible in this important conversation’.
Graeme Simpson, Chief Social Work Officer.
Please read the full report here - Aberdeen Young Person's Rights Service Annual Report 2022.
The report is a pdf which we have tried to make as accessible as possible. If you would like the report in a different format please get in touch and let us know what would work best for you.
To get in touch
Telephone or Text:
- Donna - 07876 780 877
- Forrest - 07733 179 202