A Children's Hearing is a meeting to decide what's best for a child or young person who has a problem, such as:
- they're not being looked after properly
- they've been in trouble with the police or at school
Going to a Children's Hearing
The Children's Hearing System aims to help children and young people under 18 who have problems in their life. For example, they may need care and protection, or be in trouble with the police or at school.
When a young person needs help, they'll be referred to a Children's Reporter. They'll speak to a social worker, teacher or the young person's parents and decide what help they need to sort their problem out. This may mean asking the young person to go to a Children's Hearing to decide what to do next.
How the Children's Hearing System works – Children's Hearings Scotland
The hearing will take place at a Hearing Centre, usually near where you live. People at the hearing may include:
you (or the person you look after if you're a parent or carer)
a Children's Reporter – they organise the hearing
3 panel members – they are specially trained to decide what happens next
a social worker or teacher
The young person may be asked some questions so they have their say. The panel members will listen to everyone and make the best decision for the young person.
Some of the words used in the Children's Hearings System can be difficult to understand. Children's Hearings Scotland explain what some of these words mean.
Jargon buster – Children's Hearings Scotland
Help and support
If you're asked to go to a Children's Hearing, you'll find information on the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration (SCRA) website on things like what happens at a hearing, who will be there and what kinds of decisions can be made.
If you have a problem and want to talk about it, phone ChildLine on 0800 1111. It's free to call and the person you speak to won't tell anyone you rang them. The website also has online chat and message boards where you can get support from other young people in a similar situation to you.
If you want to talk to someone about a legal issue, phone the Young Scot LawLine on 0808 801 0801 for free, confidential, 24-hour legal advice.
If you have questions about the law or a Children's Hearing, the Scottish Child Law Centre gives expert legal advice through a helpline, email and website.
You might feel you need some support explaining your opinion at a Children's Hearing.
The Scottish Children's Reporter Administration (SCRA) gives information on what happens if your child has to go to a Children's Hearing, including:
the decisions that can be made
what you and your child's rights are
what you can do if you're not happy with the decision
Information for parents and carers – Scottish Children's Reporter Administration
If you have concerns about the wellbeing of a child, report it to your local council. Call 999 if a child is in immediate danger.
Find support and advice if you're the victim of a crime committed by a young person, including information on the Children's Hearing System and how you'll be kept informed about a case.
If a case goes to court
Sometimes, decisions can't be made at a Children's Hearing. The case will be sent to the sheriff court so the sheriff can decide what happens next.
Find out more about Children's Hearing court cases.
The Scottish Children's Reporter Administration (SCRA) website has a video for young people about going to court as part of a Children's Hearing case.
Going to court – SCRA
You may be asked to be a witness in a Children's Hearing court case, because:
the case is about you and you need to tell the court what you know
you have important information about a child's welfare
Find out more about being a witness at court.
If you have to appear at court as a witness, you may be entitled to claim some expenses for things like travel costs and loss of earnings.
If you're a young person and want to talk to someone about a legal issue, you can phone the Young Scot LawLine on 0808 801 0801 for free, confidential, 24-hour legal advice.
If you have questions about the law or a Children's Hearing, the Scottish Child Law Centre gives expert legal advice through a helpline, email and their website.
Find out more about using solicitors for legal advice and talking for you at a hearing.
Legal aid can help with the costs of using a solicitor if you can't afford it, for example:
legal advice about a Children's Hearing – eg a solicitor can tell you what to expect, what decisions can be made and how to appeal
representation at a Children's Hearing
representation at a Children's Hearing court case
Find out more about Children's Hearing legal aid.