The Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland has today (16 July) published an independent Impact Assessment on how emergency laws and policies around the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted the human rights of children and young people in Scotland.
The report, undertaken by the Observatory of Children’s Human Rights Scotland, is the first and biggest Children’s Rights Impact Assessment anywhere in the world that looks at the laws and polices passed in response to COVID-19. It covers nine themes including mental health, education, poverty and children in detention.
Its analysis identifies significant concerns around decision making and scrutiny and highlights the impact of the Responses to COVID-19 on children and young people, warning that the policy created excludes the voices of those most affected.
The report also calls for additional resources to be allocated to ensure the best possible outcomes for every child and young person, particularly for those in vulnerable situations who have already been disproportionally impacted by the lockdown.
As Scotland moves into the next phase of its response and start to plan ahead, the Commissioner, Bruce Adamson, has urged the Scottish Government to observe its commitment to include children and young people in decision making.
He said, “The pandemic has revealed that we’ve not made as much progress on children’s rights as we would like to think in Scotland.
“Under pressure, too many of our systems and structures reverted to treating children as passive recipients of charity and welfare rather than active agents in their own lives and valued members of our communities.”
Abigail McGill, 15, a member of the Commissioner’s Young Advisors Group which has been working extensively on COVID issues said:
“Life-changing decisions being made during coronavirus like exams being cancelled has felt like playing a game and every time it should be our turn, someone skips over us and we end up left behind and forgotten.
“Feeling out of control with no say has made young people’s mental health worse. We need to be involved in key decisions about our lives and it is even more important when life still feels scary and unclear for us all.”
Kay Tisdall, Professor of Childhood Policy at the University of Edinburgh on behalf of the Observatory of Children’s Human Rights Scotland said:
“The independent CRIA presents a searching analysis of COVID-19 emergency measures. The measures were made to protect the rights to survival, development and health, with some positive impacts for children and their families. But the analysis shows too frequently a lack of attention to children’s best interests let alone ensuring recognition and support for children’s rights to privacy, information and participation.
“We need to commit the resources – and take the time now in preparation for the next lockdown or the next crisis – to know about the diversity of children and particularly those children who are at most risk of human rights violations. We need to plan ahead to ensure that all children under 18 have their rights respected.”