Skip to main content

Why language in hearings matters: film and guides launched

A film and new guides to language have been launched, as Children’s Hearings Scotland works with partners to change how people think and speak about young people in the hearing room.

The multi-partner Language Leaders group, which includes CHS, premiered a short animation, ‘Articulate,’ which was co-written, co-produced and voiced by the board members of Our Hearings Our Voice, who have lived experience of the Children's Hearings System.

At the event at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow, CHS and the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA) also launched two guides to language, to help ensure children in hearings experience language that they can understand, that includes them in decisions about their lives and that protects them from re-traumatisation or stigma.

Abbie Montgomery-Fox with Roma Bruce Davies presenting the language guides

Abbie Montgomery-Fox with Roma Bruce Davies presenting the language guides

Four principles of language

The film and the language guides are based on four principles of language use that were developed by Language Leaders, with input by hearings-experienced young people at the centre of the work.

The four principles are that language should be personalised, be balanced, be non-stigmatising and should make the child feel involved.

The CHS guide, Language in the Hearing Room, does not give Panel Members a rigid list of words not to use. It is designed to be a tool to shape thinking around language and the impact our choice of words can have on those hearing them.

‘It was inspirational to hear the voices of young people and their families on the importance of language in their hearing at the launch of the Articulate animation and the language guides.

‘The power of collaboration between CHS, SCRA, Braw Talent and Our Hearings, Our Voice was clear for all to see.

‘This brilliant event showcased a real appetite for change, led by young people. We all need to think about the language we use, and understanding the impact this has on children and their families.’

Stephen Bermingham, Practice and Standards Manager, CHS
Group of people talking after the video was shown

The premiere took place at the Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow

Consistent focus of improvement

The complexity of the language children and young people experience in the care system has been a consistent theme identified for improvement, most recently through the work of the Care Inspectorate and the Hearings System Working Group, whose chair, Sheriff David Mackie, spoke at the film premiere via video. CHS has been a member of Language Leaders since November 2022.

The film and CHS's new guide will be integrated into training and resources for Panel Members.