The Scottish Government is being pressed to fulfil its pledge to incorporate a declaration on children’s rights into law.
The plea came as a new body was set up that aims to improve the day-to-day lives of children and young people across Scotland.
The Observatory of Children’s Humans Rights Scotland was launched as more than 50 charities and campaigners published a progress report setting out the state of children’s rights.
The Scottish Government has already committed to legislate to incorporate the United Nations Convention On The Rights Of The Child (UNCRC) into Scottish law.
It sets out a variety of rights all youngsters should be entitled to, including the right to be listened to, to good quality health care, clean water and good food, as well as the right to an education, proper housing, and to be able to relax and play.
The Observatory regards fulfilling this pledge as the next step ministers should take.
But in order for the commitment for the NCRC to be written into Scottish law by 2021 to be met, campaigners say legislation must be introduced at Holyrood within the next few months to ensure children’s human rights are fully protected, supported and promoted.
The new Observatory has been created by Edinburgh and Strathclyde universities, together with the Children’s Parliament, the Scottish Youth Parliament, the Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland, and Together, the Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights.
Kay Tisdall, professor of childhood policy at Edinburgh University, said incorporating UNCRC into law would help “allow children and young people from across Scotland to thrive”.
She said: “Working together with children, young people and organisations dedicated to their rights and wellbeing, we hope the Observatory will have a significant and positive impact on children’s human dignity, ensuring they are respected and supported to reach their full potential, because when our children and young people thrive, our communities and our society thrives too.
“There is much work to be done.
“From today, the Observatory will play its part in ensuring that children and young people are empowered to know about, and enforce, their human rights, because when they do, we all benefit.”
Professor Jennifer Davidson from Strathclyde University, who is also the executive director of the Centre for Excellence for Children’s Care and Protection and Inspiring Children’s Futures, said the establishment of the Observatory “marks an important step in ensuring that Scotland joins the small, yet growing number of nations around the world who are leading the way in children and young people’s human rights”.
Juliet Harris, director of Together, the Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights, said: “Over the past three years, real progress has been made in Scotland to further protections of children’s human rights.
“In making a commitment to incorporate the UNCRC into Scots law by 2021, the Scottish Government is setting out its ambition to be world-leading.
“Likewise, the Scottish Parliament has been taking steps to bring Scotland up to scratch with international human rights standards by passing legislation to give children protection from assault and raising the age of criminal responsibility.
“However, our State of Children’s Rights report 2019 shows how much more needs to be done.
“From increasing concerns about child poverty and mental health through to food insecurity and bullying, many children still experience breaches of their rights on a day-to-day basis.
“Through the publication of our report, and partnering with the new Observatory, we hope our roadmap for action will support Scotland to realise its potential and become a country where the rights of all children are realised all of the time.”