Participation and Engagement

What is participation? 

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is based on four principles: non-discrimination, in the best interest of the child, children’s views and their right to survival and development. 

It clearly maps out children’s rights through 54 Articles, including Article 12: Every child has the right to ‘express their views, feelings and wishes in all matters affecting them, and to have their views considered and taken seriously.’  

In line with the UNCRC, children and young people’s views and experience are key to all areas of the Commissioner’s work. We call this children and young people’s PARTICIPATION and it is one of our five key Values. 

What do we do? 

We aim to make sure children and young people’s voices influence our own decisions and what we do and those of decision makers across Scotland, for example, the Scottish Government. 

One way we aim to embed children and young people’s views and experience in our work is through our Young Advisors Group. The Young Advisors Group is also involved in the work of ENYA and ENOC. 

In recent years we have spoken to children and young people across Scotland through our Participation Roadshow, in other visits and events, and online..   

We also want to support children and young people in Scotland to be children’s rights defenders, to protect and promote human rights and have resources to help with this. 

Young Advisors

A pair of young individuals positioned in front of a screen featuring the distinctive BBC Scotland emblem.

Lewis and Grace, Young Advisors waiting to go on national radio at the BBC.

Our young advisors are aged 12-17 and are from across Scotland. They meet regularly online and in person. They share their experiences and views and help to shape what we do and why we do it.  

For example, they support and take part in our recruitment process and sit on our Advisory Audit Board. They speak out on children’s rights issues, including giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament.  

They help shape children’s rights across Europe when they represent Scotland and take part in the ENYA and ENOC work. 

Discover more about our Young Advisors

European Network of Young Advisors

A gathering of youthful individuals striking a pose for a photograph in front of an architectural structure.

ENOC is the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children. This includes Children’s Commissioners, including Scotland’s Children and Young People’s Commissioner, Nicola Killean. They all promote and protect children’s rights, as outlined in the UNCRC. 

Our Young Advisors plays a key role in this through the European Network of Young Advisors (ENYA). Young members from all countries come together and share their concerns and views regarding their rights, to make their proposals heard, and to agree recommendations to share with the adults at the ENOC conference. 

There are adult representatives from 34 member countries who come together to share information and plans through-out the year. 

As a member of the Network, we take part in an annual programme that includes an annual conference and children and young people’s participation in decision-making.  

Discover more about the European Network Of Young Advisors

Participation: Your rights to be heard

Participation is all about you knowing, understanding and demanding your rights as well as young people getting involved in shaping our work both internationally and at home in Scotland. Your views and opinions matter, and adults need to listen to them. You have the right to be heardby adults when they make decisions that will affect you.

What does it mean to be heard?

The right to be heard doesn’t mean adults have to do what you want. After they listen to you, they may still decide to do something else. 

But they have to take your views and opinions seriously.They shouldn’t dismiss them without thinking about them because you are a under 18. 

It is your right for them to listen to you, and to think about what you have to say

The right to be heard by any adult

You have the right to be heard by adults you know, like your parents or teachers. But children also have the right to be heard by the adults who make decisions about Scotland’s rules and laws. 

They should make sure they know about your opinions, and they should take these seriously. 

Your needs should matter 

When adults make choices that affect your life, they have to think about what’s best for you. When they do this, we say they are thinking about your best interests. 

It’s not enough for adults just to think they’re doing something good for you. They have to think about all your human rights when they make a decision. 

These decisions could be about things like your right to play, or your right to live in a house where you are safe. 

All adults should think about your best interests 

All adults should think about your best interests, even adults who have never met you— like the adults who make decisions about Scotland’s rules and laws. They have to think about what’s best for you so that you can grow up safe and happy. 

Participation: News and Stories

Explore our latest participation work here.


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