The Importance of Children’s Rights: A Scottish Family’s Lived Experience

The Importance of Children’s Rights: A Scottish Family’s Lived Experience

A parent on the Children and Families Panel of the UNCRC Skills and Knowledge Framework project wrote a blog about her family’s experience with the education system in Scotland. Her 10-year-old child has suspected Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is currently on the pathway to diagnosis, and the family have found themselves in situations where they were not always treated with dignity. They discuss below their lived experience, as well as how they feel children’s rights should be met.

“Our family has experienced a situation where the school never fully understood the bigger problems that affect children’s human rights, even though they themselves classed my child as neurodivergent due to suspected autism. My child wasn’t treated with dignity, her views weren’t important to them, and this led to a massive break down in trust with myself and my child with the school. This then led to my child no longer attending the school as she felt she was disliked and always blamed for situations she wasn’t taking part in i.e. she was the scapegoat. They made my child and me feel like this was our issue, and no supports were put in place to help my child, even though they said they would do so. They even excluded her from school after a situation that could have been avoided if they had taken into account my child’s human rights, and not have placed her in a situation where even neurotypical children would have reacted.  

My child was then losing out on her right to education, and she blamed herself for the school’s wrongdoings, they had let her down massively and then left us to deal with it alone. We had to outsource professional help from social work and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), and the school rarely even communicated with myself or my child to check to see how things were, or to offer support or ideas on how to help our situation. This had a huge effect on my child’s confidence, her anxiety levels grew by the day, and we felt let down by the people who we were supposed to trust. Legally, they are my child’s named person, yet they left us to deal with this alone until the other professionals became involved.

I honestly feel that if at the beginning of these issues the school could have arranged a meeting with myself and my child to hear our thoughts on how they could support us in the situation, a situation which was a minor issue to begin with, things would not have escalated. As this wasn’t the case, until the day my child got excluded, we were even in the dark about them finally agreeing that she has ASD, with limited communication. They did not treat my child as a unique individual or take into account how my child felt at school, and it caused a major issue to arise. It does not take much to get this right. If they had followed the articles set by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) then my child and I would never have felt let down, unheard and unsupported. There is always a bigger picture, and they were only focused on the issues not the solution.

This was not the case with social work, they came and spoke to me and my child to hear what we felt would help support us as a family, and to see what they could do to help my child as an individual. They made my child feel supported and that her views mattered to them. They wanted to know the bigger picture of what our situation as a family was and then helped to build up my child’s confidence by making her feel important and heard and they also never once made her feel judged for being different.

I feel that we can teach professionals that, like all humans, children come in all forms. They are all unique to themselves and there is no set mould in which they come from. We need to break the norm of treating all children the same. They are unique and no two children are alike. We can implement this in settings involving children in many ways. The best way is by listening to the child themselves. Stop thinking that their voices and opinions are not important in places that are designed for kids, then get it right by listening to them. Make them feel important and help build their confidence and their voices by supporting them to stand up for themselves. If we can teach kids about children’s rights, then maybe they can teach the adults.

Children’s voices help can help to the world better for the next generation of children. If we can get this right now, then all kids will be made to feel happy, safe, and healthy, and like their voices and opinions matter, giving them better options to help others when they become adults themselves.”

An ear and children and the text Listen!

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