Human Rights and Wellbeing

This resource is founded on the human rights of children as articulated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and on their wellbeing as expressed in the GIRFEC model.

Children’s human rights can best be understood as the promises we adults make to children to make sure that they are healthy, happy and safe and can live with human dignity. At Children’s Parliament, we want children and adults to understand that rights are experienced in the day-to-day interactions we have, so that children experience kindness, empathy, and respect for their human dignity, and relationships based on trust. 

As adults, we must understand that we are responsible for the realisation of rights. This is called being a duty-bearer. When children experience adversity, maltreatment or an abuse of power, it is our responsibility as adults to stop such infringements and do what we can to mitigate harm.  

In 2020 a Bill will be introduced into Scottish Parliament that seeks to fully incorporate the UNCRC into Scots law. Incorporation is the introduction of legislation that provides children with legal protections to claim their rights. It is incumbent on us all to prepare our country for incorporation, and we can do this by helping children and adults learn about human rights. We can all practice the behaviours that show respect and reflect a commitment to social justice. We can also be aware of the role we play to support children through tough times. In short, the human rights of children can support recovery. We can use learning and talking about our shared rights to reflect on experiences, acknowledge harm and re-build supportive peer and inter-generational relationships. 

Wellbeing for children is understood to be a concern for a number of indicators defined in the GIRFEC model, so that every child should be: safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, respected, responsible and included. As we consider getting it right for every child we need to be aware of the influence of the child’s individual experiences and changing needs as they grow. We must also acknowledge that a range of experiences can have negative effects on the child – we know that for many children the experience of lockdown and the pandemic may well have had an adverse effect on wellbeing. This resource reflects both the statutory commitment to wellbeing expressed in GIRFEC, and the central role that learning about and learning for health and wellbeing plays in Curriculum for Excellence; the resource will support a school’s delivery in both regards.   When a major decision is made that will impact on children, or when something significant happens that affects them, then an investigation can be done to consider how their human rights have been harmed or indeed safeguarded or promoted.

The Observatory of Children’s Human Rights Scotland, on behalf of the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland, conducted a thorough analysis of how emergency laws and procedures related to the coronavirus pandemic have impacted the human rights of children and young people in Scotland. If children are interested in how their rights have been impacted by the pandemic they can read and download a children’s version of the CRIA: