Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland: Annual Report 2014-2015
There is no doubt that it has been a significant year for children and young people’s rights in Scotland.
The independence referendum in September 2014 was an empowering and energising experience for most children and young people, not only for the 16 and 17 year olds who were able to vote. The referendum gave young people parity with adult voters and they were regarded as active citizens, able to make considered decisions about their country’s future. As such, young people were listened to, and their opinions and views were taken seriously.
Those young people and children not able to vote were certainly not excluded from discussions about what was important to them and how they saw the future. Up and down the country, we saw schools and youth clubs holding their own debates and mini referendums and again, views were shared, debated and listened to. The active participation of children and young people is their right and as a society we must continue to be energised and committed to listening and actively including children and young people in decision-making.
We also now have the Children and Young People Act (Scotland) Act 2014 which places duties on Scottish Government and public bodies in respect of children’s rights. I have been encouraged by the government response to the legislation in preparation for the enactment in 2016 and will continue to support efforts to maximise the impact of the Act. As an office, we continue to involve many children and young people and work with partners and organisations across the country to further promote and protect children’s rights in Scotland.
This report is a reflection of our collaborative and co-operative approach, one that we need to continue if children’s rights are to be fully promoted and protected in Scotland.