Vulnerable children don’t always have human rights respected, warns Commissioner following new report

25 October 2018

The human rights of some of Scotland’s vulnerable children aren’t being respected, protected, and fulfilled.

That’s highlighted in Is Scotland Fairer? A report released today by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

The report is the most comprehensive review of how Scotland is performing on equality and human rights for everyone who lives here— including children and young people.

Among its several findings were:

  • that disabled children are almost twice as likely to be excluded from school, and
  • that Gypsy/Traveller pupils, care experienced pupils and pupils living in the most deprived areas had lower levels of attainment than average.

Children and Young People’s Commissioner, Bruce Adamson said:

This report from the EHRC shows that the human rights of some vulnerable children in Scotland are not being respected, protected, and fulfilled.
All children have the right to an education that develops their personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential and yet the report found that disabled children are almost twice as likely to be excluded from school.
As well as formal exclusions from school, my office has heard about autistic children being excluded from their education in other ways, such as part-time timetables, children missing school due to anxiety or other health needs, and a lack of suitable school placements.
It is concerning that schools are not recording whether or not children have a disability using a definition compatible with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The number of children with a disability is only 20% of the total recorded as having Additional Support Needs and this suggests that the statistics provided may be underestimated. The Scottish Government must ensure this information is recorded accurately.
A further issue raised in this report is that Gypsy/Traveller pupils, care experienced and pupils living in most deprived areas had lower levels of attainment than average.
The Scottish Government must seek to incorporate children's human rights into domestic law in this parliamentary session so that the provisions of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child are enforceable against public authorities in Scottish courts. Incorporation of the UNCRC is the commitment needed to make Scotland the best country in the world to grow up in for all children, not just the few.