"Making rights real"
Our ambition is for Scotland to become the best place in the world for a child to grow up. A place where rights are respected, where opportunities and support are available when they are needed. A Scotland where children and young people can enjoy the present and develop into the confident, successful citizens of the future.
As a government and as a people we each have the responsibility to do all we can to improve the wellbeing of our nation's children. A nation where children's rights have practical application.
Our children will be better placed to flourish and to contribute to, and enjoy, Scotland's economic, cultural and social future. They will help place Scotland in the top ranks of the countries of the world where rights are made real and where children and young people are valued and respected.
We have strong foundations in Scottish society, reflected in our ambitions for the commonweal and our sense of community. We need to build on these to challenge those aspects of Scotland which still blight our children and young people: poverty, sectarianism, misuse of alcohol and drugs and the unacceptable abuse and neglect experienced by some children and young people. If we can address these issues then we will succeed in making their rights real.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child provides the principles and values to which we all should aspire. In 2009 we published 'Do the Right Thing' - our response to the 2008 concluding observations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. This was a clear commitment by the Scottish Government to account for actions to further promote children's rights. This document reports on the significant progress we have made since then and we will continue to demonstrate the importance we place on rights through future similar reports.
Whilst recognising that we have made progress, we can still do more. Following last year's election, we identified a range of additional actions to add momentum to our work. Key to this is the introduction of our Children and Young People Bill to Parliament in 2013. The Bill will take on board the findings of our recent children's rights consultation and will include a range of measures which will improve how we recognise, respect and make real our children's rights. It will embed the Getting it right for every child approach across Scotland.
On several issues we do not need to wait for legislation. Over the following pages we describe the steps that we can take now, and I am keen to make progress in these areas quickly.
I hope you find this report helpful, both as an analysis of our work to date and as a benchmark for measuring our future progress. Scotland is on a journey to choose its future, and I look forward to working with you between now and our next report to the UN Committee in 2014 to improve the lives of children and young people across Scotland.
Minister for Children and Young People