“The way forward must be grounded in a human rights-based approach.” Sally Holland, Children’s Commissioner for Wales on the Adverse Childhood Experience model

Date: 16th November 2018
Category: Disability, Basic Health and Welfare, Education, Leisure and Cultural Activities, Family Environment and Alternative Care


Sally Holland, Children’s Commissioner for Wales, has published a policy position statement in which she reflects on the potentials and pitfalls of Adverse Childhood Experiences, commonly referred to as ‘ACES’, being the driver of policy for children, concluding that a human-rights based approach is needed in order to ensure that every child gets an equal chance to fulfil their potential. Holland outlines five principles of a children’s human-rights based approach - embedding children’s rights, non-discrimination and equality, empowerment, participation and accountability – arguing that the positive awareness of Adverse Childhood Experiences in Wales can fit into a wider commitment to ensuring children’s human rights are at the heart of policy and practice:   

“To avoid the pitfalls, the way forward must be grounded in a human rights-based approach. The ACEs model can form a powerful part of a new, child-centred approach to supporting our children and young people, but I would urge that those services that work with those children and young people who need additional support to consider how the above 5 principles can guide their work when considering the role of the ACEs model in the delivery of services in the future.”

Holland’s position statement in response to the increasing momentum around Adverse Childhood Experiences in Wales is of equal relevance to Scotland. In Scotland, Adverse Childhood Experiences has similarly become a popular topic, bringing significant attention to and awareness of trauma-informed practice.  

Together has always been clear that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) provides the international legal framework through which Adverse Childhood Experiences can be prevented and their impacts mitigated. The UNCRC ensures that children and young people grow up happy, healthy, safe and loved and that their views are taken into considerations in decisions that affect them. The efforts to mitigate Adverse Childhood Experiences through trauma-informed practice can, and should, be fundamentally underpinned by a national, legally-embedded commitment to upholding children’s human rights in Scotland.

·         Read the Children’s Commissioner for Wales's Position Statement here.