New research on ethnic minority communities in the Children’s Hearing System

Date: 2nd October 2017
Category: General principles, Access to appropriate information, Child justice system

SCRA has produced a new research report 'An exploration of ethnic minority communities' understanding and awareness of child protection and the Children's Hearings System in Scotland'.


Protection of children at risk of abuse and promotion of their rights continues to be at the forefront of policy and legislative developments in Scotland.

Organisations such as the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration (SCRA) have both legal and ethical duties to protect the well-being and rights of children in Scotland, particularly the most vulnerable.

The increasing ethnic diversity among Scotland's children raises the question of how effectively SCRA and its partner organisations can identify risks and effectively intervene to protect children of all ethnic backgrounds. However, there has been little research in Scotland on ethnic minorities and their involvement in child protection services.

The research

This research aimed to explore with agencies and third sector bodies working with ethnic minority groups in Scotland:

  • Their service users' understanding of child protection and children's rights; and
  • What SCRA (and its partner agencies) could do to make the Children's Hearings System more responsive and accessible to families from Scotland's ethnic minorities and raise awareness of child protection and the role of the Hearings System within these communities.

The findings

The barriers to services engaging with ethnic minority families in Scotland were found to be:

  • Language and communication barriers, and linked to this concerns about confidentiality and poor quality of translation.
  • Lack of knowledge of services and child protection, and that this may have wider implications for minority communities' integration and participation in Scottish society.
  • That child welfare is the concern of the family rather than the state, and lack of understanding of children's (and adults) rights.


  • The perception that services are racist or culturally insensitive was the barrier rated lowest, although it was acknowledged to exist. The more significant barrier to services intervening to protect a child were difficulties in finding out when a child was at risk due to the insular nature of some communities.
  • Culture-specific parenting in terms of lack of understanding of abuse and neglect, and differences in concepts of good parenting and protecting their child.
  • Fear and distrust of services, and likelihood that services may underestimate the extent that ethnic minority community members fear them.]
  • Read more and download the full research report here.