This library is a comprehensive collection of national and international good practice, policy, legal and academic publications, reports and resources on children and young people’s participation in decision-making.
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Pieces of Us – A Children’s Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child
In the years since the last Children’s Report, children’s lives in Ireland have undoubtedly changed significantly. As with the rest of the world, the Covid 19 pandemic hit children in Ireland hard, and the full impact of public health restrictions on their education, health and mental health, family and other personal relationships is still largely unknown and emerging. However, other issues that pre-existed this pandemic have also had an impact on children’s lives. These include an ongoing housing crisis that has seen many children, with their families, experience insecure housing arrangements and homelessness; a shortage of child and adolescent mental health services; delays in assessment and service delivery for children with disabilities; prolonged asylum processes; and discrimination against minority groups. On the more positive side, Ireland saw the introduction and implementation of its first National Strategy on Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision-making 2015-2020, which aimed to ensure children’s voices were heard as part of decision-making processes. Ireland also published its first LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy 2018-2020, recognising the challenges that many children and young people of varying sexual orientation face and their need for supports. The full enactment of the Children First Act 2015 in 2017 has increased awareness of the need to report child protection and welfare concerns and mandated a wide range of professionals to do so. While the pandemic saw schools close for prolonged periods, their safe reopening and recommencement of classroom-based education was a priority for the Government. Within this broad context, children in Ireland continued to live their lives, having varying advantages and facing different challenges. It is within this context that this Children’s Report was prepared. A survey and consultations with children took place between May 2021 and March 2022. It reflects children’s views and experience at a time when the pandemic was abating in Ireland and public health restrictions were easing gradually. Children’s lives were becoming more ‘normal’ again. However, throughout the preparation of this report, the presence and impact of the pandemic loomed large. Although the new normal for children is somewhat different from their lives pre-Covid 19, many of the issues they are concerned with are very familiar and long-standing.
No Filter – A Survey of Children’s Experience of the Covid-19 Pandemic
No Filter – A survey of children’s experience of the Covid-19 pandemic was carried out by the Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO) in conjunction with Amárach Research. No Filter was an online survey open to children between the ages of 9-17 years in Ireland. A small number of students aged 18 and over who are still in school also completed the survey. In order to protect the integrity of the process and to ensure that children themselves were taking part, the survey was carried out through schools. Sixty schools from across the country were invited to take part; based on regional spread, deis, non-deis, gaelscoileanna and private schools, and divided into primary and post-primary schools. Interested schools were invited to apply through social media and the survey was also shared with the OCO Youth Advisory Panel. The questions included in the survey were drafted based on common issues that were raised with the OCO and in the media. Every effort was made to ensure that questions were simply phrased and understandable to all age groups, and to ensure that children were not led or encouraged to opt for any particular outcome. The survey was piloted in a primary and post-primary classroom in Dublin. Based on the feedback, questions were reviewed and updated before general distribution. No Filter was launched online between 1st and 15th February 2022, running for two weeks. The survey was shared with schools via an individual URL. Consent from parents and assent from the children themselves was sought and secured. Children’s participation was anonymous and voluntary. Children were informed about the survey by their teacher and principals in class, and a video from the Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon was shared with every school
Responsible Innovation in Technology for Children: Digital Technology, Play and Child Well-being
New research from UNICEF Innocenti and Western Sydney University explores the question: what does well-being mean to children in a digital age? This first-phase report prioritises the voices of children, collected through workshops with over 300 children from 13 countries along with analysis of existing survey data from 34,000 children aged 9-17 across 30 countries. As digital technology plays an increasingly important role in children’s development, the Responsible Innovation in Technology for Children (RITEC) project, co-founded with the LEGO Group and funded by the LEGO Foundation, aims to create practical tools for businesses and governments that will empower them to put the well-being of children at the centre of digital design. This report reveals a newly developed well-being framework for children. Made up of eight child-centric well-being outcomes, the framework is a first step towards helping tech developers and policymakers develop a common understanding of how digital experiences can positively influence aspects of child well-being. The report aims to inform the design of digital products and services used by children, as well as the laws that govern them.
Children as Researchers: Wild Things and the Dialogic Imagination
Child-led research has arisen in response to changed perspectives on children’s rights and capabilities. However, questions remain about the implications of children participating in ways and for purposes designed by adults. This paper examines a child-led research project through the heuristic of dialogism to identify the perspectives and motivations of adults and children – the many ‘voices’ of the situation. Ontological conceptualisations of childhood, adult critical self-reflection, accommodation of children’s priorities and openness towards unexpected or challenging outcomes are discussed.
Engaging Girls with Disabilities Through Cellphilming: Reflections on Participatory Visual Research as a Means of Countering Violence in the Global South
Despite the fact that most countries have ratified the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child, girls with disabilities experience multiple forms of violence and oppression. Using a critical approach to arts-based research, we argue that while disabled girls experience multiple vulnerabilities due to the structural conditions which exposed them to violence, the use of participatory visual methods allowed them to reframe their stories. This article discusses the implications for reconceptualizing diverse childhoods in relation to methodologies for empowering disabled girls.
Decolonising Concepts of Participation and Protection in Sensitive Research with Young People: Local Perspectives and Decolonial Strategies of Palestinian Research Advisors
Scholars in childhood research have been reconsidering whether the participation of children and young people in sensitive research is necessary. This paper questions whether some of these objections arise out of colonial attitudes towards childhood, young people, human rights, and research. This paper draws on a participatory study that sought to ascertain how Palestinian young people construct their understandings of human rights. Discussion of some of the local perspectives and decolonial strategies offered by the Young People’s Advisory Groups show how they facilitated the voices of their peers safely and decolonised concepts of participation and protection in the process
Making Waves: A Cross-study Analysis of Young People’s Participation Arenas in Scotland’s Schools
This article compares democratic participation research in Scottish schools over a 10-year period. The comparison reveals how ‘organic’ aspects of decision-making arise in arenas of school activity. We argue that research heretofore has focussed on pupil councils to the exclusion of more everyday embedded and embodied choices. Primary researchers in the studies revisited data, drawing on their respective theoretical frameworks, to consider how new materialist perspectives offer ways to attend differently to the recursive, relational dynamics of participation.
Children as Experiencers: Increasing Engagement, Participation and Inclusion for Young Children in the Museum
This research aimed to evaluate young children’s engagement, participation and inclusion within a city museum by utilising observations and semi structured interviews with children and families. Both groups requested more interactive exhibits, sensory experiences, making and doing activities and role play opportunities. In this article, we argue for increased visibility of children’s ‘intangible heritage’ (Brookshaw, 2016) and opportunities for responding which make links with children’s lives contemporarily. We further argue that museums should view children as experiencers rather than learners.
First 5 Report on the National Consultation with Young Children
The purpose of the consultation process is to inform the development of a whole-of-Government strategy for babies, young children and their families. This Strategy, which is one of three constituent strategies under Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures, will focus on five outcomes for children. These are that children will be:
- Active and healthy, have physical and mental wellbeing
- Achieving full potential in learning and development
- Safe and protected from harm
- In a position of economic security and opportunity
- Connected, respected and contributing to their world
What We Think | UNCRC, UPR, and UNCRPD Consultation 2021 with Children and Young People
The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) undertook a series of consultations with children and young people to secure their views on the implementation of children’s rights in Ireland. The consultations were carried out in the context of the State’s preparations for Ireland’s next reports to the UN Committees on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and UN Human Rights Council under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. Two sets of consultations were undertaken. 1215 children aged between 4 and 13 years recruited through 21 primary schools, and 46 young people aged 13 to 18 years recruited from selected Comhairle na nÓg (youth councils). Both consultations were overseen by DCEDIY’s National Participation Office and Hub na nÓg. For the consultation with primary school pupils, a working group consisting of management and teaching staff from 7 primary schools from across the country was established to co-design the consultation approach and worksheets. To inform the design of the consultation with young people, an online youth advisory group (YAG) was established consisting of eight Comhairle na nÓg members who advised on the consultation questions and the format of the consultations. As the consultations were undertaken during the Covid-19 public health emergency the school-based consultation sessions were facilitated by the class teachers with materials provided by the DCEDIY. The young people were consulted during three online sessions facilitated by the National Participation Office and Hub na nÓg. Participating children and young people came from a variety of locations (urban/rural) and had a good representation of harder to reach populations (children living in disadvantaged areas, non-English speakers, children with special educational needs (including Autistic Syndrome Disorder (ASD)).