My Hopes for Children in the Year of Young People
In this guest blog, Minister for Childcare and Early Years Maree Todd writes about her hopes for children in the Year of Young People 2018.
From touring Fife in a minibus on a children’s rights road trip with Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament to hearing from young environmental campaigners in Ullapool, I have had many inspiring experiences meeting children and young people over the last few months.
One of the messages that comes up time and again is how important it is for children and young people to have their voices heard in decisions that affect them and for their views to be taken seriously.
As Scotland’s recently appointed Minister for Childcare and Early Years, I am privileged to have the lead responsibility in promoting awareness and understanding of children’s rights.
Over the last 10 years the Scottish Government has undertaken a programme of work to promote the rights of the child. This includes our on-going efforts to address the poverty related attainment gap; active measures to address child poverty; and expanding access to funded early learning and childcare for families.
Whilst we are rightly proud of our record in recognising and protecting the unique rights of every child, we believe that we can and must go further. Our Programme for Government sets out an ambitious programme of new actions around children’s rights.
In 2018 we will be developing a framework to support disabled children, young people and their families.
This year we will also bring forward legislation to raise the age of criminal responsibility meaning that children under the age of 12 will not be stigmatised by being unduly criminalised at a young age. Instead they will be able to receive support and supervision to move past early mistakes.
And we will also be consulting on potential changes to the legislation on parental responsibilities and rights, contact and residence to seek views on how we can ensure children are at the centre when cases arise in these areas.
In addition, the Scottish Government will work closely with John Finnie MSP as he brings forward his bill on equal protection for children.
These are just some of the actions already in progress to maximise the potential for positive outcomes for Scotland’s children and young people – for current and future generations by whatever means appropriate. We will undertake a comprehensive audit of children’s rights and look at the most practical and effective way to further embed the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into policy and legislation.
Looking ahead, I hope to engage with many more children and young people in their communities during 2018 as we celebrate the Year of Young People. A global first, this themed year will inspire Scotland through its young people; celebrating their achievements, valuing their contribution to communities and creating new opportunities for them to shine locally, nationally and globally.
The Scottish Government is committed to enhancing children’s rights in all aspects of Scottish life. In 2018 I am confident we will continue to make sustainable improvement in how we make rights ‘real’ for all of Scotland’s children and young people.