Supermarkets urged not to challenge parents with children

The Children and Young People's Commissioner says families should not be abused while out shopping for essentials.

Lockdown: 'Legitimate reasons' for shopping with children. Getty Images
Lockdown: 'Legitimate reasons' for shopping with children.

Supermarkets have been urged to do more to stop families with children from being challenged or abused while out shopping for essentials.

The Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland has joined parenting groups in writing to supermarket chief executives on this issue.

They are calling for retailers to provide training to workers on why parents and carers may have to shop with their children despite the Covid-19 lockdown.

The letter also suggests signage be posted at shop entrances explaining that some parents and carers may need to shop with children and that abuse from other customers will not be tolerated.

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Parenting organisations say they are hearing increasing reports of parents and carers being challenged by staff and other members of the public where they have had no choice but to shop with their children, while some children shopping on behalf of families have also been questioned.

Among the reasons why shopping with children might be necessary, the letter cites single-parent parent families who have no one else to leave their children with, and families with disabled children.

It also cites families where one parent is a healthcare or key worker and the other parent may need to take the children to the shops because their partner is working or self-isolating.

On the issue of young people shopping for their families, it highlights that some parents may be unable to shop for reason of disability, shielding or because of a mental health condition.

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Alternatively, sending an older child to the shops may avoid parents having to bring younger children with them.

Bruce Adamson, children and young people’s commissioner for Scotland, said: “We know that staff in supermarkets and shops are working particularly hard during coronavirus restrictions and that everyone wants to keep themselves and others safe and healthy.

“During these restrictions, families will need to legitimately shop together and children and young people have the right to shop for their family’s essentials without being accompanied by an adult.

“I’ve heard about young people distressed at being challenged whilst doing their family shop for parents unable to do the shop themselves.

“It’s important that we remember that families are diverse and that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect.”