THE annual "State of Children’s Rights in Scotland" report has been published, identifying key challenges to implementing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) only days after the Scottish Government pledge it would reintroduce a bill enshrining the convention into Scots law.

Together, the Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights, said that it hoped its latest report “can serve as a roadmap… as we strive towards creating a ‘gold standard’ for children’s rights in Scotland.”

The report is based on data regarding Scotland’s implementation of the UNCRC since 2010 and considers whether enough is being done to make children’s human rights a reality.

Its key findings indicate that there is a gap between theory and practice in engaging young people in decision-making processes, and that challenges persist in expanding widespread knowledge of children’s rights and implementing access to justice, with children – particularly those in at-risk groups – often excluded from the system.

According to the report: “The rights enshrined within the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) need to be well known and its binding obligations fully understood at all levels of government and the judiciary – as well as by children and their families across Scotland.

“Raising awareness and understanding of children’s rights changes how children’s rights are perceived and applied in society. It builds the capacity of children as rights-holders to claim their rights and increases the capacity of duty-bearers to fulfil their obligations.

“Awareness raising efforts must go beyond those working directly with children, to build understanding that everyone in society has a role to play in progressing children’s rights.

"For children to develop their personality, talents, mental and physical abilities and live to their fullest potential, their rights must be understood by all, respected and promoted. This can only be achieved when everyone understands what children’s rights are, what they mean in the everyday lives of children and what needs to be done to promote these rights.”

Earlier this week, Deputy First Minister John Swinney wrote to Scottish Secretary Alister Jack pledging that the SNP would reintroduce a bill incorporating the UNCRC into Scots law, after it was defeated in the Supreme Court last year.

While Swinney said that civil servants were currently working on ways to change the bill to bring it within Holyrood’s competency, he nevertheless urged the UK Government to change its position to allow the bill to come into force “as originally passed by the Scottish Parliament.”