The Rights Detectives are six children and young people aged 11-17 from across Scotland. They form one of three ‘Lived Experience Boards’ set up by Scottish Government who are helping to shape a new human rights law – a Human Rights Bill for Scotland which will bring extra human rights into law in Scotland for disabled people, black and minority ethnic people and women and girls – as well as the right to a healthy environment.
The Detectives already have their own thoughts and opinions about what needs to be included in the new law, and the difference it needs to make to children and young people’s experiences of their rights:
They were able to identify lots of groups of children and young people who might find it difficult to get their human rights including babies, children who have come to live in Scotland from a different country, those living in poverty, black and brown children and young people, disabled children and young people, those living in rural communities and LGBTQIA+ children and young people.
The Detectives were clear that people having extra rights would make a very big difference and Scotland would be a fairer place with more equality.
A number of the Detectives felt that the Scottish Government needed to be more pro-active in hearing from all children and young people about their human rights, and suggested they should connect with them directly through schools, social media campaigns, within their local communities and through giving them voting rights.
However, the Detectives want to find out more about what other children and young people think – so from autumn 2022, they have been carrying out special investigative missions for Scottish Government. Each mission involves investigative research with other children and young people to help make sure what matters to children is included into this new law. To carry out each mission, the Detectives join Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights) in online and in-person sessions to plan and report on their investigations.
Mission #001 took place from September to October and investigated questions such as:
- “What would it be like to live in Scotland if it was the FAIREST and BEST PLACE in the world for EVERYONE?”
- What difference would it make to put extra rights into law for women & girls, disabled people and Black and Brown children?
- What should Scottish Government do to make sure they hear from children and young people so their ideas shape the new Bill?
At the end of October, the Detectives met in person to discuss the results of their investigations. Between the six Detectives, they’d spoken to over 80 other children and young people. They had spoken to friends, brothers and sisters, made presentations at school, had conversations through social media – and even spoken to another young person on the train!
Through their investigations, the Detectives found that:
“Issues like sexism, including homophobia, transphobia etc, racism etc would not be present in our society and everyone would have access to a hight level of education and opportunities outside of school.
“Everyone would have the same opportunities, and no one would be discriminated, everyone would be treated fairly and with respect.”
“People would be nicer, there would be no bullying, no racism, everyone’s rights would be upheld.”
“Scotland would be clean and we would all be safe, happy, loved and appreciated”
“Scottish children and young people would be much healthier if they lived in a healthy environment. People would be more positive and less negative. People would be less angry about things. The environment would be more of a talking point and more important.”
“People would have better mental and physical health and more access to nature.”
“There would be less disadvantages especially for women and those who are disabled”
“We wouldn’t be scared of night, especially for women and girls”
‘Girls can anything boys can do, equality!!!! More sports access for girls, and boys and girls should play sports together too!”
“Lots of people would want to come here and everyone would be getting everything they need. It would be a more diverse country, more like a place you would want to be.”
The Detectives have already begun to plan Mission #002. This mission will look at what children and young people need to access justice if their rights are breached and will investigate questions including:
- How would a child or young person know if their rights weren’t respected?
- What do children and young people think should happen if their rights aren’t respected?
- Who should help children and young people think their rights aren’t being respected, and how?
The Detectives already have their own views on these questions but they’re looking forward to finding out what other children and young people think:
“First, children and young people need to know about their rights, otherwise they would just think it’s normal” but one Detective also said that “You don’t need to know all the details of your rights, but that gut feeling that you’re being disrespected.”
“We need to re-educate adults who break rights, so they know about children’s rights, policies and the consequences of breaking them.”
“It should be a lead by example situation, so teachers, MSPs etc should be respecting rights and showing that in action, learning from times when they make mistakes.”
“Children should be able to speak up if their rights are broken. To go to one of their safe people to get support to speak up.”
After Christmas, the Rights Detectives will be giving their first report to Scottish Government on their missions. It is important to them that the consultation in 2023 reflects their findings and supports more children and young people to feed in their views so that the new Human Rights Bill for Scotland is known about and helps to improve the lives of all children and young people across Scotland.