Law, Parental Responsibilities and Rights

The law affecting children and young people in Scotland is founded on the principles that:

  • The welfare of the child is paramount.  
  • All children have the right to protection from all forms of abuse, neglect or exploitation. 
  • We must consider, so far as is possible, the child's views when making decisions that affect him/her. 
  • Parents should normally be responsible for the upbringing of their children. 

There are various laws in Scotland which are designed to make sure that children and young people are properly protected and cared for. We recognise that it is everyone's responsibility to ensure that children and young people are safe. 

Parents are responsible for the safety and wellbeing of their children. In normal circumstances, parents meet their responsibilities with no need for intervention on the part of statutory agencies. It is important in Scotland that the conduct of family life is, in general, left to parents and family members. However, it is equally important that the protection and wellbeing of children and young people is a matter of priority for everyone. 

Getting it Right For Every Child 

Getting it Right is the Scottish Government’s policy that aims to ensure that all babies, children and young people are supported to reach their full potential by maximising their wellbeing. 

The policy is based on a number of core principles and values. In Aberdeen it is being delivered through a shared approach where all the community partners work together to support children and/or their family as soon as need is identified. 

In order to make sure that children receive appropriate help, every child has an establishment contact based in either health or education. This person will be the first point of contact when a child, young person or their family or carers wish to access support or advice. If the child requires the support of more than two services, then a ‘Lead Professional’ will be appointed to co-ordinate the support. 

For more information visit Getting it Right in Aberdeen

Physical Punishment of Children  

The Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Act 2019 became law on 7 November 2020 so that now a parent, or anyone in charge or care of a child, charged with assault of a child will no longer be able to raise a defence of reasonable chastisement. Children in Scotland have the same protection from assault as adults. 

Where a child is considered to possibly be a victim of abuse, this may result in a referral for a child protection investigation. Referrals are made to the Police or to the Joint Child Protection Team (01224 306877). 

Children Left Unattended 

Young children should never be left unattended and must not be left at home alone even for short periods of time. The police will investigate and legal action may be taken if anything goes wrong in your absence, or if a child is injured or harmed as a result of being left alone. 

Children should always be left in the care of a trusted adult, never with a stranger. Parents should take the necessary steps to make sure that anyone else who may be looking after their children is responsible and trustworthy. 

Children Begging 

It is an offence in Scotland to cause or allow children under the age of 16 to be used for begging. This means that parents are responsible for their children and will be prosecuted if they allow their children to beg. It is very likely that if members of the public were to see children begging, they would inform the Police. 

Employment of Children 

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