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The Scottish Children's Hearings System makes life-changing decisions regarding the care and protection of children up to 18 years of age referred due to a need for support – because of offending behaviour or a risk to their physical or emotional safety. In March 2020, due to the covid-19 crisis, Hearings underwent one of the most significant changes since their inception: proceedings shifted to an online conferencing platform ("virtual hearings"), and some procedural modifications were introduced. In June 2020, we used an online survey to gather more than 270 responses from professionals, volunteers, young people, and families who had experience of virtual hearings. These responses highlight that while there are reasonable justifications for the use of virtual hearings, including the duty to ensure orders are appropriately reviewed and renewed, concerns related to children and young people's right to participation, privacy and representation bring into question the extent to which children's rights are realised in virtual Children’s Hearings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)426-446
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Children's Rights
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2021


  • children's rights
  • children's hearings
  • covid-19
  • voice
  • welfare
  • decision making
  • representation


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