Parental awareness of the UNCRC

Because awareness and understanding about rights among children and young people and their families are much lower than they should be, a national programme to raise awareness and understanding children’s rights across all sectors of society in Scotland is required.

Findings on children’s rights from the Scottish Government Scottish Parents’ omnibus survey, children and families analysis 2021, published in March 2022, found that almost all 1,004 parents surveyed agreed that it is important for parents to be aware of children’s rights. A majority of parents wanted to know more about UNCRC and what it means for their child/children. [1]

Other main findings were:

  • one third of parents said they knew a fair amount or a great deal about UNCRC. A similar proportion said they had never heard of it
  • the majority of parents were not aware that the Scottish Government is incorporating UNCRC into Scots Law
  • almost three-quarters of parents agreed that they had a good understanding of the rights of their child or children
  • most parents agreed that they would feel confident in helping their children challenge breaches of their rights, if their rights were not met
  • parents educated to degree level or above were more likely to be aware of the UNCRC and to say that they had a good understanding of children’s rights than those with other qualifications

Following on from that, the Scottish Government commissioned, JRS, the research consortium, to conduct research with more marginalised groups of parents and carers who were both more likely to face breaches of their children’s rights and less likely to know about the UNCRC and how to challenge any rights breaches. The research focussed on underlying challenges about children’s rights among parents and carers; parents’ views and perceptions about where responsibility for children’s rights lies (including who decides what’s best for children); understanding of Article 12 (you have the right to an opinion and for it to be listened to and taken seriously) and Article 3 (all adults should always do what is best for you) of the UNCRC; and how parents’ impressions and comprehension might translate into actions. The findings would inform any national awareness-raising programme

The findings from the research, while looking positive overall, indicate that marginalised parents show much lower understanding and approval of children’s rights and UNCRC [2], yet their children are likely to be most affected.

In its debrief presentation to the UNCRC Parents Network, JRS summed up as follows:

  • children’s rights are not front-of-mind among parents who have not had direct experience
  • awareness of the UNCRC and the fact that it is being taken into Scots law was very low across the sample
  • even when parents talk about what they think children’s rights cover, there is little indication that they are thinking about the areas covered by the UNCRC or Article 3 or 12 in particular
  • responsibility for upholding children’s rights is generally seen to be a shared one, shifting with and reflecting: i) the situation the child is in and the relevant professional area involved (education, sport, health care) and ii) the age of the child

The results indicate a strong endorsement of the need for a national awareness-raising campaign and information strategy. Parents need information about the incorporation of UNCRC into Scots law and what that means; how to take action on children’s rights should they need to; how to get help/advice; and how to speak with their children about UNCRC (children will be hearing about this through schools).

  1. The survey, run by Ipsos MORI Scotland between 1 November and 2 December 2021, was conducted with 1,004 parents of children and young people aged 0 to 17 across Scotland.