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Pathways to participation: Openings, opportunities and obligations

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The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has raised the profile of children's participation in the United Kingdom. Hart's ‘ladder of participation’ has been the most influential model in this field. This paper offers an alternative model, based on five levels of participation: 1. Children are listened to. 2. Children are supported in expressing their views. 3. Children's views are taken into account. 4. Children are involved in decision-making processes. 5. Children share power and responsibility for decision-making. In addition, three stages of commitment are identified at each level: ‘openings’, ‘opportunities’ and ‘obligations’. The model thus provides a logical sequence of 15 questions as a tool for planning for participation. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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CHILDREN & SOCIETY VOLUME 15 (2001) pp. 107±117
DOI: 10.1002/CHI.617
Pathways to Participation: Openings,
Opportunities and Obligations
A New Model for Enhancing Children's
Participation in Decision-making, in line with
Article 12.1 of the United Nations Convention on
the Rights of the Child
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has raised
the pro®le of children's participation in the United Kingdom. Hart's
`ladder of participation' has been the most in¯uential model in this
®eld. This paper offers an alternative model, based on ®ve levels of
participation: 1. Children are listened to. 2. Children are supported in
expressing their views. 3. Children's views are taken into account. 4.
Children are involved in decision-making processes. 5. Children
share power and responsibility for decision-making. In addition, three
stages of commitment are identi®ed at each level: `openings',
`opportunities' and `obligations'. The model thus provides a logical
sequence of 15 questions as a tool for planning for participation.
Copyright #2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Introduction
Although there have been isolated efforts to enable children to
participate in decision-making over many years (for example,
Neill, 1962; Holt, 1974; Hoyles, 1989), the United Kingdom
Government's rati®cation of the United Nations (UN) Con-
vention on the Rights of the Child in December 1991 has
provided a powerful stimulus to discussion of the issue in the
United Kingdom. Children's participation now has an unpre-
cedentedly high pro®le, with a growing body of literature
devoted to the issue.
The principle of the child's right to participate in decision-
making is stated in Article 12.1 of the Convention:
Copyright #2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Harry Shier
PLAY TRAIN,
Birmingham
Correspondence to: Harry Shier,
PLAY TRAIN,
31 Farm Road,
Sparkbrook, Birmingham
B11 1LS.
E-mail: team@playtrn.demon.co.uk
States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to
express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given
due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.
Article 12 has been identi®ed as one of the most radical and far reaching aspects of the
United Nations Convention (for example, Hart, 1992; Lansdown, 1995), and also as one of
the provisions most widely violated and disregarded in almost every sphere of children's
lives. In its response to the United Kingdom Government's ®rst report on the Convention,
the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child made a speci®c recommendation
that:
greater priority be given to incorporating the general principles of the Convention, especially ...article 3
relating to the best interests of the child, and article 12, concerning the child's right to make his/her views
known and to have these views given due weight, in the legislative and administrative measures and in
policies undertaken to implement the right of the child. It is suggested that the State Party consider the
possibility of establishing further mechanisms to facilitate the participation of children in decisions
affecting them, including within the family and the community. (Committee on the Rights of the Child,
1995).
The Children's Rights Development Unit, an independent body set up in 1992 to monitor
United Kingdom implementation of the Convention, made Article 12 a central focus of its
work. Throughout the 090s a series of major national NGOs, including Save the Children,
The Children's Society, NCH Action for Children and the National Children's Bureau,
increasingly placed children's participation at the centre of their programmes.
This has also given rise to a range of publications on children's participation, including
elucidation of the principle (Hart, 1992; Lansdown, 1995), documentation of good practice
(Willow, 1997; Shier, 1996; Adams and Ingham, 1998), practical 'how to do it' manuals
(Treseder, 1997; Miller, 1997; Save the Children, 1996), and books combining all three
(Hart, 1997; Shier, 1995). There is also a growing body of more academic literature (for
example, Verhellen, 1996a, 1996b, 1997; Milner and Carolin, 1999), and a number of
valuable publications by children and young people themselves ('Rights for Us Group',
1994; `The Young Researchers', 1998; `CR2000 Team', 1999).
In much of this literature one model has been uniquely in¯uential: Roger Hart's `ladder of
participation' (Figure 1). This ®rst appeared in Hart's 1992 Children's Participation: from
Tokenism to Citizenship, but has been reproduced many times since (Hart, 1995, 1996, 1997;
Lansdown, 1995; Miller, 1997; Adams and Ingham, 1998). The model itself, however, was
an adaptation of Arnstein's 1969 `Eight rungs on the ladder of citizen participation' (Arnstein,
1969; also in Willow, 1997). The in¯uence of Hart's model was con®rmed by research
conducted by Save the Children in 1995 (Barn and Franklin, 1996). Barn and Franklin
carried out a survey of organisations throughout the United Kingdom including a
question on what models and theories had been found helpful on participation. The two
models most often mentioned were Hart's ladder of participation and the theories of Paulo
Freire. More often respondents said their work was based on general principles such as
empowerment and respect for young people, rather than speci®c models or theories.
This paper offers an alternative model for consideration by the ®eld. This model has its
origins in the work of the Article 31 Action Network in the United Kingdom (Shier, 1998)
and, more speci®cally, has grown out of the practice of the Article 31 Children's
108 Harry Shier
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Consultancy Scheme, which supports and facilitates children aged 8 to 12 acting as
specialist consultants to arts, leisure and cultural organisations (Shier, 1999).
The new model owes a great debt to Hart's work. It is not intended to be a replacement for
the ladder of participation, but may serve as an additional tool for practitioners, helping
them to explore different aspects of the participation process.
Figure 1: The ladder of participation. (Taken from `The right to play and children's participation' by
Roger Hart, in The Article 31 Action Pack, published by PLAY TRAIN, 1995).
Pathways to Participation 109
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One important difference is that this model does not have anything equivalent to the three
lowest rungs on Hart's ladder: `manipulation', `decoration' and `tokenism', together
labelled as levels of non-participation. Many practitioners have found this to be the most
useful function of Hart's model: helping them recognise, and work to eliminate, these
types of non-participation in their own practice. Ironically, the greatest practical bene®t of
Hart's work may be his exposure of these false types of participation, as much as his
classi®cation of the more positive types.
Because of the in¯uence of Hart's model, comparison with the ladder is inevitable, and
reference is made to it throughout the discussion which follows.
The model
This model (Figure 2) is based on ®ve levels of participation:
1. Children are listened to.
2. Children are supported in expressing their views.
3. Children's views are taken into account.
4. Children are involved in decision-making processes.
5. Children share power and responsibility for decision-making.
At each level of participation, however, individuals and organisations may have differing
degrees of commitment to the process of empowerment. The model seeks to clarify this
by identifying three stages of commitment at each level: openings, opportunities and
obligations.
At each level, an opening occurs as soon as a worker is ready to operate at that level; that is,
when they make a personal commitment, or statement of intent to work in a certain way. It
is only an opening, because at this stage, the opportunity to make it happen may not be
available.
The second stage, an opportunity, occurs when the needs are met that will enable the
worker or organisation to operate at this level in practice. These needs may include
resources (including staff time), skills and knowledge (maybe through training),
development of new procedures or new approaches to established tasks.
Finally, an obligation is established when it becomes the agreed policy of the organisation
or setting that staff should operate at this level. It becomes an obligation on the staff that
they must do so. Working in a particular way, enabling a speci®c level of children's
participation, thus becomes built-in to the system.
The model provides a simple question for each stage of each level. By answering the
questions, the reader can determine their current position, and easily identify the next
steps they can take to increase the level of participation. In reality, it is unlikely that a
worker (or an organisation) will be neatly positioned at a single point on the diagram.
They may be at different stages at different levels. Also they may be at different positions
in respect of different tasks or aspects of their work.
110 Harry Shier
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Level 1: children are listened to
This level requires only that when children take it upon themselves to express a view, this
is listened to, with due care and attention, by the responsible adult(s).
Figure 2: Pathways to participation.
Pathways to Participation 111
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However, what distinguishes this level from the next level up, is that this listening occurs
only in so far as children take it upon themselves to express a view. No organised efforts
are made to ascertain what views they have on key decisions, and if no views are
forthcoming, this is not seen as a cause for concern. It is a commonly expressed belief that
children are not interested in having a say in decisions, and would rather be left to play, or
whatever. This belief is, however, contradicted by many reports where children, when
asked, have strongly expressed a desire to have more say in things.
At this level, stage one simply requires that the worker/team is ready to listen. Stage two
requires that they work in a way that enables them to listen. This might involve, for
example, having access to a quiet time and place to talk things over, having an
arrangement for staff to cover for one another so that a worker can take time to listen to an
individual child, or having training in listening skills for all workers.
Stage three requires that listening to children becomes the stated policy of the organisation,
thus making it an obligation, the duty of all staff, to listen carefully to what children have
to say.
Level 2: children are supported in expressing their views
This model recognises that there are many reasons why children, who have opinions on
many issues, may not express those opinions to adults working with them. The long list of
possible reasons includes lack of con®dence, shyness, low self-esteem, previous
experience of not being listened to, or that expressing opinions is unproductive, no
culture of participation or inadequate communication skills (on the part of the staff as
much as the child: workers not knowing the child's ®rst language, unable to use sign
language etc.).
It is therefore recognised that, in order for children to be able to express their views openly
and con®dently, adults working with them must take positive action to support and
enable this and, in so doing, to overcome those barriers that may prevent children's view
from being expressed. Level two is distinguished from level one by this commitment to
positive action to elicit children's views and to support them in expressing those views.
At this level, stage one, the opening, again simply requires that the worker/organisation is
ready to take action to help children express their views. Stage two, however, requires that
opportunities be provided for children to express their views. The question therefore asks
whether the worker/organisation has a range of ideas and activities to help children
express their views. This should include age-appropriate techniques for consulting
children, which could involve creative visual methods using games and art activities as
well as surveys and interviews. It will also require the workers to have effective
communication skills for eliciting the opinions of disabled children or those whose ®rst
language is not English. Again to achieve this stage may require speci®c training for
workers in how to facilitate participation.
The third stage again requires that this way of working is established as the organisation's
policy, so that workers are obliged to take the necessary range of actions to ensure children
are enabled and supported in expressing their views.
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Level 3: children's views are taken into account
Whilst level two goes further than level one in actively seeking out children's views, it
offers no guarantee that these views will be taken into account or in¯uence the
organisation's decision-making. It may be argued that there is no point in enabling
children to express their views if they are not going to be taken into account. However,
there are so many reported instances of tokenism and manipulation, that this cannot be
assumed. For example, an out-of-school worker involved in a children's participation
project was quoted as saying, `It's good to do this so the children have the feeling that we
are listening to them' (Ball, 1998). That is why taking children's views into account marks
the third level of this model.
It is important to note that this is the level of participation that is mandatory for any
authority or organisation that has adopted or endorsed the United Nations Convention on
the Rights of the Child. Article 12.1 states that every child who is capable of forming his or
her own views has `the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child'
(equivalent to the second level of participation in this model), `the views of the child being
given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child' (equivalent to level
three).
Taking children's views into account in decision-making does not imply that every
decision must be made in accordance with children's wishes, or that adults are bound to
implement whatever children ask for. Children's views are one of several factors that will
have to be taken into account in many policy decisions. Even when we ensure that the
children's views are `given due weight', other factors may still outweigh this, and the
children may not get what they ask for. As Penelope Leach so neatly put it, `Children must
be given their say, but they do not always have to be given their way'.
Although the United Nations Convention does not mention the giving of feedback to
children who have expressed their views, several authorities have pointed out that this is
good practice. Particularly where adults have decided there is some over-riding reason
why children's wishes should not be carried out, it is important to let the children
know why this decision was made and, where appropriate, to help them explore
alternative ways to achieve their objectives.
As with the previous levels, the model has three stages at level three. The opening occurs
once the worker/organisation is ready to take children's views into account. The
opportunities arise when the organisation has a decision-making process that enables
children's views to be taken into account. And the obligation exists when the organisation
makes it its policy to implement Article 12 of the United Nations Convention; that is, to
ensure that children's views are given due weight in its decision-making.
Level 4: children are involved in decision-making processes
This level can be seen as marking the transition from consultation to active participation in
decision-making. Hart's model regards consulting children as a legitimate form of
participation. However, the crucial distinction is that at the lower levels, the children
participate by providing an input (their views) to aid the decision-making process, but do
Pathways to Participation 113
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not participate at the stage where decisions are actually made, and therefore do not have any real
decision-making power. Thus at the lower levels children can be said to be `empowered'
only in the weaker sense meaning `strengthened' or `supported', but not in the stronger
sense meaning that those who hold power give up some of it in their favour. Decision-
making remains the province of adults.
At level four, this starts to change, because children are directly involved at the point
where decisions are made. An example might be a play centre staff team drawing up a
holiday activity programme. If they organised a survey of all the children to ®nd out what
activities they would like to see included, then met as a team to devise the programme and
in so doing gave serious consideration to the children's ideas, this would be level three
(and fully in keeping with the letter of the United Nations Convention). If, on the other
hand, a group comprising play workers and children met together and jointly planned the
play scheme programme, this would be level four.
As noted earlier, the United Nations Convention does not make it mandatory to have
children involved at the actual point of decision-making. It only requires that adults ®nd
out what the children's views are and give them due weight when they make their
decisions. Why, then, should organisations seek to operate at these higher levels?
Children's participation in decision-making has been shown to be bene®cial in many ways
(for example, Treseder, 1997; Willow, 1997; Adams and Ingham, 1998). The bene®ts
include improving the quality of service provision, increasing children's sense of
ownership and belonging, increasing self-esteem, increasing empathy and responsibility,
laying the groundwork for citizenship and democratic participation, and thus helping to
safeguard and strengthen democracy.
The ®rst of these bene®ts, improving service provision, can be achieved with lower levels
of participation, along the lines of market research (equivalent to levels one and two). All
the other bene®ts, however, can only really come into play when children become actively
involved in the decision-making process. Thus, even though not strictly required by the
United Nations Convention, the case for children's active involvement in decision-making
is a powerful one.
The three stages of level four follow the same pattern as the previous levels. An opening
occurs when the worker/organisation is ready to let children join in its decision-making
processes (which may require a greater degree of willingness to accept change than the
previous levels). Opportunities arise when a procedure is established to make it possible
for children to join in decision-making. Again this may require signi®cant changes in the
way an organisation is run. The times, venues, procedures, paperwork, jargon, ethos and
mode of operation of most decision-making committees are extremely un-child-friendly. It
tends to be easier to involve children in decisions relating to their own local play project
(deciding on a code of behaviour in a play centre, or the programme of activities at an after
school club, for example). It is more dif®cult to ®nd non-tokenistic ways to involve
children in planning and policy-making at regional or national level (Shier, 1998).
The third stage, obligation, is achieved when the organisation makes it a policy
requirement that children must be involved in decision-making, and therefore commits
itself to overcoming the obstacles that stand in the way of this.
114 Harry Shier
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Level 5: children share power and responsibility for decision-making
There is, perhaps, less of a clear distinction between levels four and ®ve. The difference
is more a matter of degree. At level four, children can be actively involved in a
decision-making process, but without any real power over the decisions that are made.
This occurs, for example, when young people are given a number of seats on an adult
committee. If they are con®dent and articulate, they can put forward their views, and the
adults will generally listen respectfully. However, they are clearly outnumbered, and the
adults have an effective veto.
To fully achieve level ®ve, therefore, requires an explicit commitment on the part of adults
to share their power; that is, to give some of it away.
As with level four, there is no obligation under the United Nations Convention for
adults to share their power with children. Decisions about how and when to share
power must be based on risks and bene®ts of doing so. The bene®ts have been mentioned
earlier, and many of these will be multiplied when children have the experience
of genuinely sharing decision-making power with adults. It is particularly important
that at this level, we are talking about sharing power and responsibility for decisions.
There is always a risk that a decision made in this way may have adverse consequ-
ences, and then adults and children also have to learn to share responsibility for the
decision.
This model makes no suggestion that children should be pressed to take responsibility
they do not want, or that is inappropriate for their level of development and
understanding. However, in practice adults are more likely to deny children devel-
opmentally appropriate degrees of responsibility than to force too much responsibility on
them.
A sound policy is to look for areas where, weighing up all the potential risks and bene®ts,
it is appropriate for children to share power and responsibility for decisions, then to make
this happen in a supportive environment. As with any innovation in practice, the
outcomes should be monitored, so that the policy can be reviewed and adjusted if
necessary.
At level ®ve, the opening occurs when the worker/organisation is ready to share decision-
making power with children. Opportunities arise when there is a procedure that enables
this to happen, and an obligation is created when it becomes the organisation's policy that
children and adults should share power and responsibility, at least in certain areas of
decision-making.
This covers the ®ve levels of the model. It differs from Hart's model in that there is no
separate level where children make decisions independently of adults. This happens all
the time, especially in play projects; indeed the opportunity to do one's own thing without
reference to adults is part of the essence of children's play. Whilst the importance of
opportunities for children's independent decision-making must be recognised, it does not
®t neatly into this model, since the model identi®es levels of participation through modes
of interaction between adults and children.
Pathways to Participation 115
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Using this model as a practical tool
I hope that by presenting an ordered sequence of 15 questions, this model will serve as a
usable tool for individuals, teams and organisations working with children. In using the
model, it is probably not helpful to see it as a point-scoring exercise, just ticking off as
many boxes as possible. The most useful discussion will probably occur when the answer
to a question is `no'. Then it can be asked, `Should we be able to answer "yes"?', `What do
we need to do in order to answer "yes"?', `Can we make these changes?' and, `Are we
prepared for the consequences?'.
Working with this model could thus be a useful ®rst stage in developing an action plan to
enhance children's participation in all kinds of organisations working with children.
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Contributor's details
Harry Shier, PLAY TRAIN, Birmingham, is Co-ordinator of the Article 31 Action
Network and the Article 31 Children's Consultancy Scheme, and is UK National
Representative for the International Association for the Child's Right to Play.
Pathways to Participation 117
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... It is incumbent on adult YPAR partners to adopt a reflexive approach to the YPAR processes to ensure the research environment is supportive and creates opportunities for adolescent agency without compromising their social, emotional, or physical safety [15]. Many frameworks and models have been developed to assist in this process [13,15,25,69e75]. ...
... It highlighted the importance of being transparent about likely differences in experiences of the YPAR project, dependent on the form of participation. It also emphasized the potential need for capacity building for the adults involved to ensure consistency in YPAR approaches across multiple groups and sites [15]. However, it is also important to acknowledge that not all adolescents will want a high level of engagement and that disengagement and subversion of research processes can in themselves be a form of agency and assertion of adolescent rights [9,40,75]. ...
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Purpose Rapid advances in technology create opportunities for adolescents to influence practice and policy in health and other domains. Technology can support the scaling of Youth-Led Participatory Action Research (YPAR), in which adolescents conduct research to improve issues that affect them. We present the first known published systematic review of the use of technology to scale YPAR. Methods A systematic review of the empirical literature was conducted from 2000 to 2018 using databases PsycARTICLES, PsycINFO, and PubMed. The review included peer-reviewed articles of YPAR studies involving adolescents (aged 10–19 years) using technology for scaling. Appraisal of papers included the role of technology and consistency with YPAR principles. Results Nine peer-reviewed YPAR publications focusing on a range of health issues with adolescents aged 11–19 years were identified. Technology included Facebook (most common), Twitter, Instagram, Skype, e-mail, blogs, and personalized mapping applications. Overall, technology was primarily used for adolescent participants to gather data. The appraisal revealed the complexities inherent in conducting YPAR using technology across multiple sites, with different adults in supportive roles and varying levels of opportunities for adolescent engagement. Conclusions This review provides insights at the intersection of youth-led research and technology, highlighting opportunities in a changing technological landscape and the challenges of YPAR at scale.
... El modelo de participación de Lundy (2007) conceptualiza el Artículo 12 de la Convención sobre los Derechos del Niño y propone 4 elementos a tener en cuenta: (1) espacio, se deben garantizar oportunidades seguras e inclusivas a la infancia para formar y expresar sus opiniones; (2) voz, debe facilitarse a la infancia que exprese sus opiniones; (3) audiencia, sus opiniones deben ser escuchadas; y (4) influencia, las opiniones deben aplicarse, si son apropiadas. En este sentido, hay otros muchos modelos de participación (Hart, 1992;Shier, 2001Shier, , 2019Lansdown, 2011;Bouma et al., 2018) que contemplan estos elementos. ...
... Los procesos de investigación pueden y deben implicar la participación de niños, niñas y adolescentes desde un rol activo, considerando dicha participación en todas las etapas del proceso investigador. En esta línea, distintos autores constatan que la participación en la infancia puede realizarse desde distintos niveles y presentan distintos modelos (Hart, 1992;Shier, 2001;Lansdown, 2011) y herramientas (Lansdown y O'Kane, 2014;Shier, 2019) para comprender, repensar y evaluar su grado de participación. Lansdown (2011), por ejemplo, establece, tres niveles de participación esenciales: (1) Consulta, cuando los adultos preguntan a niños, niñas y adolescentes por sus puntos de vista, no involucrándoles más allá; (2) Colaboración, cuando adultos y niños trabajan juntos, comparten roles y responsabilidades en la planificación y realización de una actividad; y (3) Pro-activismo, cuando las actividades son iniciadas, organizadas o dirigidas por niños, niñas y adolescentes. ...
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De acuerdo con la Convención sobre los Derechos del Niño, los y las niñas tienen derecho a participar en todos aquellos aspectos que les afectan. Se reconoce cada vez más la importancia de dar voz y tener en cuenta a la infancia. Sin embargo, esta participación se ve limitada en algunas ocasiones, especialmente en contextos como el sistema de protección a la infancia o en contextos en los que ésta se halla en una situación de riesgo o vulnerabilidad. Por ello, es necesario promover experiencias en las que niños, niñas y adolescentes sean agentes activos de la investigación. Las aportaciones de los principales implicados dan significatividad a los hallazgos y acercan la investigación al foco de estudio, así como a los mismos agentes. Las investigaciones deben incorporar a la infancia y adolescencia no sólo como fuente de información sino como agentes principales. En el presente artículo se muestran algunas de las metodologías de investigación participativas utilizadas, a lo largo de estos últimos años, por el por el grupo de investigación en intervenciones socioeducativas en infancia y juventud (GRISIJ). Los ejemplos sitúan el foco de la investigación en la infancia en riesgo y en su derecho a participar en los procesos de investigación sobre cuestiones que les afectan. Finalmente, se proponen algunas ideas para adquirir mayor compromiso con la participación infantil en estos procesos, especialmente, en los casos de infancia en situación de riesgo o en el sistema de protección.
... Funktionen; Lämna förslag, där barn och unga kan presentera sina idéer och tankar för politikerna, är ett exempel på det tidiga deltagande i planeringen som Pia Björklid (2000) syftar på (Björklid 2000). Funktionen; Tyck till, är däremot ett sent steg i en delaktighetsprocess enligt de beskrivningar av ungas delaktighet som gjorts inom forskningen (Arnstein 1969, Hart 1997, Shier 2001. Appen är dessutom bara tillgänglig på en viss typ av mobiltelefon, och endast en av workshopens deltagare (som själv var representant i Ungdomsfullmäktige) hade hört talas om den. ...
... Jedná se o projev demokratizace vztahů mezi dospělými a dětmi. Shier(Shier 2001) rozlišuje několik úrovní participace dětí : ...
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Communication since its very beginning experienced many changes, currently reflected mostly in the specifics of communication in the social media, especially social networks as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, or LinkedIn. Whether it is a short, fragmented Twitter message, or an Instagram´s picture message, on-line communication affects and shapes our self-concept, identity, and both personal and professional relationships, it changes their establishment, course and ending. The presented study sums up the current knowledge on the effect of the Facebook social network on the changes in perceiving and experiencing personal relationships of friendship and love, it describes both positive and negative effects, that come along with using the Facebook for improving the social capital, and it presents the personal variables, that may further affect social interactions of Facebook users. The study describes the effect of the number of friends, of positive or negative posts, of the number of comments or photos and selfies on the well-being, loneliness or anxiety of Facebook users, on their relationship satisfaction, jealousy or on the emergence of conflicts. The link between the on-line friendship and romantic relationship and their off-line version is presented.
... Shier's model frames questions for adults about their commitments to five levels of participation, and has been implemented in international development contexts including children as leaders, researchers and policy actors (Shier, Méndez, Centeno, Arróliga, & González, 2014). The commitments are: opening, the intent to undertake young people's participation by an individual; opportunity, when the resources and spaces for participation are available; and obligation, when a level of participation is committed to as the policy of an organisation, program or group (Shier 2001). The levels are described in Figure 2 below, along with the questions to consider at each level. ...
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The literature on how young people participate in decision-making in residential care identifies three main aspects of participation: being able to access information to take part in decisions that matter; having opportunities and capabilities to express their views freely; and having an impact on the outcome of the decision-making process (Bessell, 2011, 2015; Lansdown, 2018; Sinclair, Vieira, & Zufelt, 2019). These key aspects of meaningful and authentic participation also include having the space and time to reflect, form a view, change one’s mind, and consult with an advocate that may shift the inherent power imbalance in residential care decision-making (Davis, 2019; Wong, Zimmerman, & Parker, 2010). Because young people in residential care have experienced an extreme intervention in their freedoms and rights, participation should necessarily involve more than having a say in individual matters and include expressing views and being taken seriously in matters relating to policies and systemic decisions that affect their lives (Davis, 2019; Lansdown, 2011). Yet in the most recent survey of 321 children and young people in residential care in NSW, 60% of whom were aged 15-17 years old, only 49% said they usually get a chance to have a say and usually feel listened to; 21% said they don’t usually get to have a say and don’t usually feel listened to, and these rates were worse amongst females (Robertson, Laing, Butler, & Soliman, 2017). When this survey was repeated in 2018 with 143 young people, the percentage who reported that they usually get a chance to have a say and usually feel listened to reduced to 48%; and the proportion who don’t usually get to have a say and don’t usually feel listened to increased to 25% (NSW Department of Communities and Justice, 2019). This brief addresses the following issues in young people’s participation: * Understanding participation * Participation for groups of young people in residential care * Why is participation important? * Benefits of participation * Models of participation * Enabling practice: implications for practitioners and organisations * Young people’s participation in service, program and policy design.
... Dentro del panorama internacional recurrimos a la escalera de participación propuesta por Hart (1992), que categoriza situaciones de participación y no participación, revelando así que la participación, e incluso la no participación, pueden adoptar diferentes formas relacionadas entre sí que describen un continuo. Encontramos, además, los caminos de participación desarrollados por Shier (2001), quien, para establecer una clasificación, combina los criterios de poder y de responsabilidad de los estudiantes en el proceso de mejora. Por otro lado, la propuesta denominada alumnos investigadores (Fielding, 2001;Fielding y McGregor, 2005) se caracteriza por constituir un nivel máximo de 99 responsabilidad y compromiso por parte de los estudiantes, los cuales se encargan de seleccionar las cuestiones que serán investigadas, realizar la investigación con el apoyo de los adultos, dar sentido a los datos y dar a conocer los resultados. ...
... Dentro del panorama internacional recurrimos a la escalera de participación propuesta por Hart (1992), que categoriza situaciones de participación y no participación, revelando así que la participación, e incluso la no participación, pueden adoptar diferentes formas relacionadas entre sí que describen un continuo. Encontramos, además, los caminos de participación desarrollados por Shier (2001), quien, para establecer una clasificación, combina los criterios de poder y de responsabilidad de los estudiantes en el proceso de mejora. Por otro lado, la propuesta denominada alumnos investigadores (Fielding, 2001;Fielding y McGregor, 2005) se caracteriza por constituir un nivel máximo de 99 responsabilidad y compromiso por parte de los estudiantes, los cuales se encargan de seleccionar las cuestiones que serán investigadas, realizar la investigación con el apoyo de los adultos, dar sentido a los datos y dar a conocer los resultados. ...
... While the highest and most desirable levels are where: children are informed about the relevant discussion on their issues, are encouraged to express their views and they can even be involved in the decision-making processes. A more complex model is presented by Shier (2001), which provides questions for practitioners to use in examining their current position in terms of participation. These questions prompt practitioners to explore their opening to share power with children, the opportunities that enable the sharing of power and responsibilities with children, as well as the existence of obligations (such as policies) that demand shared power between adults and children in relation to decision making. ...
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The transition to adulthood for young people leaving care has become a significant subject of research over recent decades, especially given consistent findings that suggest that alumni of care are at high risk of adverse outcomes. However, there is no definitive consensus on how findings from research can best inform practice with youth in transition out of care. The aim of the present article is to provide principles that can support practice based on a project mounted by a group of international care leaving researchers. These principles include, among others, the importance of listening to the young people, to supporting their autonomy during and after care as well as their cultural identity and diversity, to ensuring their access to education after care, to ensure preparation for leaving care and ensure that care leavers rights are upheld so that they get the support they need. The discussion considers these principles in light of the micro-, meso- and macrosystem levels in Bronfenbrenner’s social ecological model (1994) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and reviews the challenges of generating these principles. In addition, implications for policy are highlighted in relation to rights, entitlements and access to services.
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Children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are often excluded from research that concerns them due to diverse ethical and methodological issues. This paper provides strategies for how to include children with IDD as active participants of research, an issue which to date has received little attention in the research methods literature. In particular, we draw from our experiences of engaging with 16 children with IDD in a qualitative study that sought to understand their experiences in inclusive schools in Ghana. Using data collection methods comprising observations, the draw and write technique and interviews, we actively engaged children with IDD in the current research, effectively shifting common power dynamics between researcher and child. The paper identifies the successes and challenges we encountered while utilizing multiple methods with children with IDD and provide strategies and tips for researchers interested in applying these methods in the future. We believe the use of combined qualitative approaches or multiple methods may be a key strategy to secure rich and useful data from children with IDD that informs policy and practice.
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Australia's 2017 Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommended to organizations that children should participate in decisions affecting their lives as a safety standard. While a substantial body of research about children's voices in statutory or out‐of‐home care now exists, there remains a paucity of research into children's voices in family support services delivered by nongovernment organizations. This is despite the primary service purpose being to benefit children. This lack of focus in family support was identified as a research priority by a nongovernment organization in Queensland, Australia, which lead to a collaborative research programme. This article reports on initial research from a survey study to describe the current state of play from practitioners into their perceptions and practices of children's participation in family support contexts. A voluntary and anonymous online, qualitative‐predominate survey was opened to 110 practitioners in family support services, of which 50% responded. The findings identified that children's voices were compromised by perceptions of children's capacity relating to age and vulnerability, the parental focus of the service coupled with perceptions of parent's needs and gatekeeping behaviours and service pressures that work against the conditions required for children's rights to voice.
Changing Places: Children's Participation in Environmental Planning. The Children's Society
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Adams E, Ingham S. 1998. Changing Places: Children's Participation in Environmental Planning. The Children's Society.
Including children's voices is only the beginning. Paper presented at the European Network for School-Age Childcare
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Ball S. 1998. Including children's voices is only the beginning. Paper presented at the European Network for School-Age Childcare (ENSAC) 9th International Conference, Edinburgh.
Article 12 ± issues in developing children's participation rights
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Respect: a Report into How Well Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is Put into Practice across the UK. Article 12
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Team. 1999. Respect: a Report into How Well Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is Put into Practice across the UK. Article 12.
The right to play and children's participation
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Hart RA. 1995. The right to play and children's participation. In The Article 31 Action Pack, Shier H (ed.). PLAY Á TRAIN: Birmingham.
Escape from Childhood
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Holt J. 1974. Escape from Childhood. Penguin.
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A nation is democratic to the extent that its citizens are involved, particularly at the community level. The confidence and competence to be involved must be gradually acquired through practice. It is for this reason that there should be gradually increasing opportunities for children to participate in any aspiring democracy, and particularly in those nations already convinced that they are democratic. With the growth of children’s rights we are beginning to see an increasing recognition of children’s abilities to speak for themselves. Regrettably, while children’s and youths’ participation does occur in different degrees around the world, it is often exploitative or frivolous. This Essay is designed to stimulate a dialogue on this important topic. This Essay is written for people who know that young people have something to say but who would like to reflect further on the process. It is also written for those people who have it in their power to assist children in having a voice, but who, unwittingly or not, trivialize their involvement.
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This books examines the demand for the genuine participation of children and young people in defining and acting upon environmental issues. The 'environment' is interpreted broadly to include, for example, the planning of housing areas and the management of playgrounds as well as the various fields of its conventional definition. Detailed case studies are provided from urban and rural, poor and middle class communities from both the North and South. The text is intended for use by teachers, group facilitators and community leaders and presents organizing principles, successful models, practical techniques and resources for involving young people in environmental projects. The value of the role of children in terms of both an involvement with management their environment and in terms of their commitment to the cause.
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The heated controversy over “citizen participation,” “citizen control”, and “maximum feasible involvement of the poor,” has been waged largely in terms of exacerbated rhetoric and misleading euphemisms. To encourage a more enlightened dialogue, a typology of citizen participation is offered using examples from three federal social programs: urban renewal, anti-poverty, and Model Cities. The typology, which is designed to be provocative, is arranged in a ladder pattern with each rung corresponding to the extent of citizens' power in determining the plan and/or program.