Susan Elsley, head of policy and research at Save the Children in Scotland, told the launch of the charter that children and young people are often intimidated by the formality of adults, how they communicate with them and the language they use.
Save the Children was brought in by the Scottish Executive to help produce a charter based on the views of children. Ms Elsley said children at risk were often scared and did not know or understand what was happening to them.
"Often they felt they did not have any influence over the decisions that were made about them. They were often embarrassed about sharing sensitive problems with adults around them. They were concerned about how families and friends might react if they found out," she said.
But children did recognise the importance of telling the right person about their concerns. As one young girl said: "If it's a good secret, you can keep it. If it's a bad secret, you should tell somebody."
This highlighted the importance of organisations such as ChildLine which children could telephone confidentially. It was easier to speak to someone they could not see.
"Many of the young people we talked to said adults made assumptions about their lives and experiences. They wanted better, more open communication," Ms Elsley said.
Ministers meanwhile promise in the charter that children who are at risk of abuse or neglect will receive the help they need when they need it.
They should be seen by a professional such as a teacher, doctor or social worker and their welfare and concerns will be taken seriously. They will be involved in decisions about their lives and be given a named person to help them through their difficulties.