Enhancing the Participation of Children and Young People in Family Proceedings: Starting the Debate

“The UK incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms into domestic law in passing the Human Rights Act 1998. In addition, the UK has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. While the UN Convention has not been specifically incorporated into UK law, its concepts and provisions are nevertheless reflected in much of the domestic law relating to children. These two Conventions, the case law of the ECHR and current notions of good practice have, over the last quarter of a century, led to some fundamental changes in attitude. The view that children should be ‘seen and not heard’ has given way to children being regarded as active bearers of rights. The approach of courts and professionals involved in children’s cases has become more child-centred, and the principle that children should be able to participate, to give their views and to have those views considered in relation to decisions that affect their lives, has been widely accepted.”