Families are important, especially relationships with your brothers and sisters— your siblings. We know these relationships are important for mental health and a sense of identity, so you should be able to contact your brother or sister unless for some reason it’s not in your best interests.
Article 8 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which is about the child’s right to a family life, also talks about the importance of a child’s right to an identity. It recognises the importance of siblings, grandparents and other relatives to a child’s sense of identity.
The United Nations Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children (II B (17) also says that every effort should be made to enable siblings to maintain contact with each other, unless this is against their wishes or interests.
And the European Court of Human Rights of Human Rights has confirmed family life can exist between siblings—reinforcing your European Convention on Human Rights right to family life.
What you can do
If you’ve been separated from your siblings because you are in care, you can tell your Children’s Hearing that you want to have contact with your sister.
Contact is something a Children’s Hearing must consider when they are making decisions, including trying to keep siblings together or at least have contact with each other.
You might find it helpful if you’re speaking to social workers or Children’s Panel members to have an advocacy worker to support you in getting your views across. You can find information about advocacy for looked after children on the Who Cares? Scotland website.
Local authorities should also consider your need for contact with your family – including siblings – as part of assessment and care planning. If they don’t do this, you can make a formal complaint about social work. You can find out how to do this on your council website by searching under the word ‘complaints’.
If you are not happy with the response to your complaint, you can ask the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman to review it.
Using the law
Although the UNCRC recognises the right to family life as including sibling relationships, Scots law does not make it easy for siblings to obtain orders enabling contact.
If you are a child or a young person and would like advice and information from the Commissioner’s office – or to tell us something you’re worried about – you can contact us:
- using the form at the bottom of our website
- emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- texting 0770 233 5720 (Texts will be charged at your standard network rate)
- calling our children and young people’s freephone on 0800 019 1179.
We can also give advice and information about children’s rights issues to adults—please contact us on email@example.com or through using our contact form.
More in the Rights questions and answers section