Child participation

 6 principles / PREVENTING CHILD ABUSE Pogramme

Understanding the Principle

Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) recognises that children have a right to be heard and taken seriously. The application of this right has been broadly conceptualised as ‘participation’. Children participate in many ways within societies. The term ‘participation’ is used to describe children’s right to involvement in decisions and actions that affect them and to have those views taken into account.
The importance of child participation is a fundamental right giving opportunity to develop skills, knowledge, competencies and confidence.

Why to Emphasize Child Participation

The engagement of children provides information and insight into their lives with which to inform legislation, policies, budget allocation and services. Participation is essential for a process of building accountability and promoting good governance. It is a means through which governments and other duty bearers can be held to account. Participation contributes positively to enhanced decision making and improved outcomes. For example, it leads to better protection.
Children who are silenced and passive can be easily abused by adults. Providing them with information, encouraging them to articulate their concerns and introducing safe and accessible mechanisms for challenging violence and abuse are key strategies for providing effective protection. Children who have access to information about health and sexuality are better able to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Those who form and join associations may be able to protect themselves better against exploitation and abuse.
Participation promotes civic engagement and active citizenship. Experience and direct engagement of children lead to active and effective realisation of their own rights. A culture of respect in which decision making is undertaken through negotiation, rather than conflict could be developed.

Forms of Child Participation

Consultative, collaborative and child-led are the three potential levels of engagement for children. The relationships between them are dynamic and often over-lapping .
Consultative Participation – adults seek children points of view so that to have better knowledge and understanding of their lives and experience. It could be adult initiated and adult led and managed. Children do not control outcomes.
Collaborative Participation – the partnership between adults and children is of a high degree. It is adult initiated, empowering children to influence and challenge the process and the outcomes, increasing levels of self directed action by children over a period of time. It provides opportunity for sharing decision making with adults.
Child-led Participation – children have opportunity to initiate activities and advocate for themselves. Children can identify the issues of concern. They are the leaders and control the process. Adults are facilitators.

A number of basic requirements need to be met so that to have effective, ethical, systematic and sustainable children participation: the process should be transparent and informative, voluntary, respectful, relevant, inclusive, supported by trainings, safe and sensitive to risks, accountable. Working methods and the environment have to be child friendly.

More on principle: Principle 2 Child Participation

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