Rights of children overlooked during COVID-19 emergency

The COVID emergency has demonstrated how easily children are left with no voice, even as governments struggle to deliver policy aimed to benefit them, the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland said today. 

The Observatory of Children’s Human Rights Scotland was commissioned to produce the Independent Children’s Rights Impact Assessment, which assembled evidence and drew on the experience of experts to provide a thorough analysis of how emergency laws and policies had affected children’s human rights in Scotland.  

The report covers nine themes including mental health, education, poverty and children in detention.  

Dr Alice MacLachlan and Dr Christina McMellon, who coordinate the TRIUMPH Network, led the analysis around young people’s mental health.

This involved reviewing the available evidence about children and young people’s mental health during the pandemic to determine how the Scottish Government measures implemented to stop the spread of the virus may have impacted children’s rights. Evidence suggested that young people are struggling with their mental health during lockdown and many are struggling to access the support services they need and have a right to access. A key recommendation of the report is for the Scottish Government to guarantee provision of mental health services on a universal basis.

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.”   

The Commissioner, Bruce Adamson urged the Scottish Government to observe its commitment to include children and young people in decision making. 

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