Your Right to Be Protected from Harm

There are a couple of different Articles in the United Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) that set out your rights to protection from harm.

These include articles: 

  • 19 – is your right to protection from violence
  • 33 – is your right to protection from dangerous drugs or the effects of your parent or guardian using dangerous drugs 
  • 34 – says that you have a right to be protected from sexual abuse 
  • 35 – covers your right to protection from being kidnapped, trafficked or sold 
  • 36 – protects you from all other forms of exploitation.

When we talk about being at risk of harm, we often talk about the risk of abuse, which includes violence and sexual exploitation. 

This article talks mainly about abuse and may be upsetting for some reasons. If you don’t want to continue reading, you can visit the Young Scot homepage.

Find out more about protecting yourself from dangerous drugs and get help and support from Know the Score, and find out about harm reduction with Crew.

NSPCC can tell you more about child trafficking, which is a form of modern slavery. You are also protected from being taken out of the country by someone without the permission of your parent or guardian. If your parents are separated and both of them have parental responsibility for you, they will both need to give permission for you to leave the country. 

Other forms of exploitation include being used by others to commit crimes and not being paid the minimum wage for your work. 

What is abuse? 

Abuse can come in different forms, and can take place online or offline. Abuse includes: 

  • Physical – this is where children or young people are hurt or injured. It includes hitting, kicking and beating. These can cause pain, cuts, bruising or broken bones. 
  • Emotional – this includes making threats and not giving love and attention. All of these can really damage your confidence and the way you feel about yourself.
  • Sexual – this happens when you are persuaded or forced into sexual acts or situations, or have sex with someone older when you are under 16. It includes being forced to get married or being married under the age of 16, as well as having your intimate pictures shared without permission. There’s more information about this on our That’s Not OK page.
  • Neglect – occurs when the people responsible for caring for you don’t make sure that your basic needs are met for example food, warmth, medical care, clothing and good hygiene.

The NSPCC and Childline have information about abuse and how you can get support. We also recently spoke to ChildLine about what happens when you contact them, you can watch the video on our video below.

You can read more about sexual crimes and what to do if you have been the victim of a sexual crime on the That’s Not OK page, what to do if someone shares or threatens to share intimate pictures of you, find out more about forced marriage and who you can contact for support, advice and information.

What to do if you are in danger or worried about abuse 

If you need to talk to anyone about abuse, feeling unsafe, or if you think a young person you know is in danger, then talk to someone you trust. If you have experienced abuse or harm, then you might feel like running away or hurting yourself, and you might feel alone and afraid. Childline can help you manage self-harm and find alternative ways to cope. Again, you should speak to an adult you trust such as:

  • A parent or carer 
  • A teacher 
  • A member of the family 
  • A family friend 
  • A youth worker, sports coach or activity leader 
  • Your doctor or school nurse 
  • A police officer 
  • A social worker 

You can also speak to Childline by phone, email or 1-2-1 live chat.  

In an emergency if you or a friend need help right now, call 999 to speak to the police. 

You can contact the police by phoning 101 to report abuse that has happened in the past or that you fear might happen in the future. You can also contact social workers, to find out how to contact them you will need to search online for the social work department in your local area – there should be ways to contact them at all times of the day or night. You can find details on the Social Work Scotland website.

What happens if you tell someone  

When you are worried about abuse or harm, to yourself or someone else, you should tell a trusted adult. That adult should let you know what they would like to do next, and you might have an idea of what you would like to happen too. 

If you are at risk of harm from someone, then the person you have told will likely contact a social worker. Social work and the police will conduct a Child Protection Inquiry to find out more information about what has happened. When the inquiry has finished, a decision will be made about how best to protect you and what needs to happen next.  

If action is taken after this, someone called a Children’s Reporter will decide whether to start a Children’s Hearing to decide what should happen next. 

Visit the Activate Your Rights homepage to find out more about your rights.

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