Learning from the Past, Looking to the Future – Session 3 – Children’s Experiences of Domestic Abuse

A balancing act: parents in trouble, children in need and the right to family life

Frankie McCarthy, University of Glasgow

Frankie McCarthy


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–          How do human rights have an influence on abused children?

–          Child protection and human rights

–          Human rights framework (protects the individual from the state)

  • Human Rights Act 1998
    • Article 3: Prohibition of torture/degrading treatment
    • Article 6: Fair trial
    • Article 8: Right to respect of your home for a private and family life
      • A relative right, not an absolute right
  • UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
    • Article 3: right to protection; best interests of the child; pro-active
    • Article 12: child’s right to participate (increasingly important)

–          Family life v child protection

  • Families have a right to respect, but, children have a right to be protected
  • Break-up effects both the parents and the children
  • Situations when abuse had been suspected

–          Children (Scotland) Act 1995

  • Welfare of child is primary obligation
  • Needed more proof in order to meet allegations that seemed less serious
  • Most policies look better on paper than they are in practice
    • Question of what harm is significant?
      • Seems a helpful question but can cause more controversy than needed



Are women’s and children’s human rights being overlooked in comparison with men whose human rights are violated?