Establishing Child Centred Practice in a Changing World, Part A
Table of contents(13 chapters)
The expansion of research with children offers new opportunities for the development of child-centred practice. Children's participation in research has been championed as a positive way to challenge the processes and practices that affect their everyday lives. Yet opportunities for collaborating with children, and leveraging their voices, remains heavily guided by adult-led priorities. In this chapter, we offer a critique of ‘child-centredness’ and related voice-based and participatory discourses in the absence of a full-fledged engagement with the power imbalances between adults and children. We draw on examples from our research with children on contemporary global challenges (COVID-19 pandemic, health and migration) to expose the ways that adult-led agendas for, and definitions of, participation can affect children's engagement in research. We highlight how children also effect change and display their agency through the sharing of their experiences with adult researchers. The dynamic nature of social change highlights children's considered engagement with contemporary challenges but also the importance of reciprocity and willingness of adults to listen and respond to the issues that children identify as being central to their lives. We attend to the ways our methodological decision-making offers opportunities for leveraging children's perspectives, but also highlight the dangers of reproducing dominant adult/child power relations when seeking to be ‘child-centred’. We conclude by offering some critical questions to prompt further debate in this field, In doing so, we highlight the value of reciprocity and critical reflexivity as necessary first steps towards a more considered engagement with adult/child power relations in ‘child-centred’ research.
Children's marginalisation in research limits their opportunities to create meaningful social change. This project explored children's meaningful participation in Participatory Action Research as a tool to empower children as change makers. An adult and child co-researcher collaborated to conduct a literature review on a social issue chosen by the child: helicopter parenting. Highlighting that children and adults have access to different knowledge based on their status in society, the co-researchers wrote about helicopter parenting from three different perspectives: media, psychology and childhood studies. Through a reflection on the research process, the co-researchers offer insight into the impact of mutual relationships, power imbalances, and emotions on children's meaningful participation in research. They also present the value of children's voices in research and research as a learning opportunity for adults and children. Ultimately, the co-researchers aim to challenge readers to reflect on creating more equitable research practices with children to enhance children's opportunities to make change through research.
This chapter will explore the development of a research project which seeks to capture the experiences of young disabled people who are undertaking a programme with The Comedy Trust. The programme seeks to address the barriers encountered by disabled young people when entering the world of work and to encourage more inclusive recruitment practices. The authors seek to highlight how comedy can be used not only as a tool to promote social justice but also as a research method. The chapter is based on co-produced piece of research which brings together a young disabled person (Harry Georgiou), a careers lead and inclusion mentor based within a special school (Sarah Spoor), a community operations and fundraising manager based within The Comedy Trust (Charlene Davies) and a university academic (Marie Caslin). For all of the team the authors' central aim is to ensure that young disabled people's voices are heard throughout this chapter and the authors will outline how they hope to achieve this. The authors are currently at the very early stages of their project, and with this chapter, the authors hope to provide an insight into the lessons we have learnt so far.
Whilst there is growing awareness of the case for children and young people's participation in health services and health service research, there is limited evidence on how this apparent commitment to children's right to participate translates into practice.
The chapter, co-authored with and young people, draws on examples from the authors' original research and lived experience to consider the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and young people's participation in the United Kingdom (UK) National Health Service (NHS). There is evidence of children and young people in the UK becoming more reliant on parents and carers as conduits for engagement and as sources of information during the pandemic. Additionally, some children and young people with special educational needs and disability and other potentially vulnerable groups have engaged less with health services and have been excluded from participating by a move to digital platforms. Conversely online and phone involvement and consultations have led to higher inclusion for others. Adapting by necessity to COVID-19 has highlighted the potential for doing things differently and developing more participatory and inclusive practice in collaboration with children, in the UK and elsewhere. It is critical that children are involved in shaping the development of participation practice which challenges and reshapes institutional practices in health services and beyond.
In 2018, significant legislative changes were made in child welfare in Ontario, Canada. As part of the changes, a Voluntary Youth Services Agreement was developed to allow young people between 16 and 17 years of age to obtain the necessary support services that they need to be able to further their independence, autonomy and agency in their lives. Yet, hearing directly from young people about the benefits and challenges of this program is limited. This study was intended to address these gaps. There were 15 young people (11 females and four males) who participated in a telephone interview about their views and experiences with the VYSA agreements. The majority spoke positively about the benefits of the programme and being able to continue their schooling, purchase clothing and obtain employment. They also believed that the programme allowed them more security and safety than being homeless. Some raised the challenges related to the amount of money that they received should be determined by the place that they reside in as some cities are more expensive than others. From a policy perspective, as the program continues, further changes may also be explored that examines the eligibility criteria where young people must be in need of protection before they can enter the program. In other words, moving from a deficit-based approach to a more child centred practice that includes hearing from young people in child welfare.
In 2020, UNICEF Canada released Report Card 16 revealing that Canada ranks in the bottom tier compared to other wealthy countries in terms of child and youth well-being. The Report Card highlights that promoting participation is required to improve this ranking. Recognising the connection between child well-being and participation, this chapter explores youth-serving institutions in Canada to understand how participation materialises in these settings. Through interviews with provincial and territorial Canadian child and youth advocates, this chapter first explores advocate offices that serve young people facing challenges. These are the only group of child and youth advocates in Canada that have formal legal mandates to implement children's rights at the provincial and territorial level. Comparatively, through interviews with justice-involved youth we analyse the youth justice system. By adjusting the setup of the court space and attempting to minimise power imbalances, we discuss how Canada's first and only Aboriginal Youth Court (AYC), promotes participation and engagement. Through a comparative case analysis, this chapter explores where barriers exist in terms of conceptualising and implementing participation rights, and where opportunities and best practices may be leveraged across child and youth serving institutions in Canada.
Since 2015, the authors of this chapter have been working together through a formal partnership between Manchester Metropolitan University and the 10 youth offending teams (YOTs) in the Greater Manchester region of north west England. 1 This partnership, termed the Greater Manchester Youth Justice University Partnership (GMYJUP), is the first of its kind in a youth justice context. GMYJUP has predominately focused on strengthening justice-involved children's participation in decision-making processes and embedding meaningful participation in youth justice service delivery and practice (Smithson et al., 2020; Smithson & Gray, 2021; Smithson & Jones, 2021). In this chapter, the authors outline the Child-First narrative that is becoming increasingly apparent in the youth justice system in England and Wales, before describing our own body of participatory work which has resulted in the co-creation (with justice-involved children) of a transformative framework of practice that we term Participatory Youth Practice (hereafter referred to as PYP). The chapter goes on to provide a candid account of the facilitators and barriers that youth justice practitioners have encountered when endeavouring to embed PYP into existing youth justice processes. The authors conclude with a consideration of the value of child-centred practice for children and practitioners.
Access justice is a fundamental right recognised in international law. Children, generally without legal capacity, do not have the ability to act directly. Nevertheless, international human rights protection mechanisms offer a new opportunity to act upon violations of their rights and the creation of a specific complaint mechanism for children before the CRC Committee represents one of the most important developments, as it was created especially for children. The recent decision before the CRC Committee on climate change which was brought by a group of 15 children is a landmark case in this field. For the first time, a group of children submitted an international complaint showing that they are real agents of change, and not passive victims. Their message is powerful, in line with their actions and growing movement. Since 2018, they organised several climate strikes all around the world and the one of 2019 was considered as one of the largest demonstrations in history. Children and young people have also filed several petitions at the national level. They are acting as leaders, raising their voices to secure respect for the rights of children and protect the environment. The adoption of the CRC 25 years ago encouraged the development of a new conception of childhood: children are not only seen as vulnerable objects in need of protection, but as rights holders and agents in their own lives. The new complaint mechanism before the CRC Committee, in particular, gives children a real opportunity to take action for themselves and for others, highlighting their growing role in the field of environmental justice, and more generally, peaceful activism and advocacy.
Though undergoing changes for a decade, the foster care system in Poland is still dominated by the adult model of childhood management. Assuming that the biological, psychological and social immaturity of children precludes their autonomy, this model expects adults to focus on control over the integration of a child into society. A consequence is the instrumentalisation of childhood and the deprivation of a child's sense of agency, i.e., the right to (co-)create one's own life space. Additionally, the foster care system concentration on adult problems relegates children to the background. Treatment of children as the object of adult interactions significantly impedes approaches that could empower, reduces chances for relationships built on dialogue, limits a child's openness and authenticity and hinders development of his/her identity structure and resourcefulness. Such institutionalised systems do not satisfy a child's needs, especially unconditional acceptance, enjoyment of life, and self-fulfilment. Instead, from the child's perspective, residential/foster care is a traumatic experience that deprives a human being of childhood. Such an institutional experience interferes in the acquisition of functional patterns for adulthood, reinforces traumas, and denies a chance to reclaim one's childhood. Research conducted with children indicates a need for a change in direction. The aim herein is to show the current situation of children in the Polish foster care system, identify threats to the development of an autonomous identity, and present an alternative, child-centred foster care model in which the caregiver treats the child as a competent person.
As a significant part of childhood material culture, children's clothes contribute to shaping their social identity and gender, as well as to developing and supporting their interactions with their environment related to their age. The focus on children's education and well-being is essential. Their voices should be emphasised in the interest of promoting an inclusive future in both research on children's material culture and in practice. However, despite the daily nature of children's interaction with clothing, their relationship with clothes is ignored and methods to support an analysis of it are lacking. An investigation of children's clothing behaviour is needed to better understand children's agency, to influence industry experts and to encourage policymakers to engage more sustainably with children's fashion. IN2FROCC (Interdisciplinary and International Network for Research on Children and Clothing) is comprised of historians, anthropologists, sociologists, ethnologists, museum curators, childhood practitioners, designers, industry representatives and children united in an investigation into children's clothes around the globe, historically and in social ecosystems. This network seeks to engage in an innovative, inclusive and organic manner with current research on children's dress codes, fashion and clothes to establish a deeper understanding of children's clothing interactions. This chapter will present the initial reflections and actions of this network, creating impactful methods for participative children's clothing culture and design.
- Publication date
- Book series
- Emerald Studies in Child Centred Practice
- Series copyright holder
- Emerald Publishing Limited