Child and youth participation resource guide

Basics of child and youth participation



Operations Manual on Children’s Participation in Consultation
Inter –Agency working Group on Children’s Participation (IAWGCP) 2007

This Operations Manual is a compilation of 34 documents to assist you in coordinating the meaningful and safe participation of children in international, regional, national or local events that include children. Many of the documents are templates, with information in parentheses for inserting information relevant to any user’s needs. A few documents are samples; these are examples of documents that have been used in previous consultations and can be adapted for your needs. There may be cultural issues that will require changes to be made to the following documents. Users of the Operations Manual are thus advised to edit or adapt the documents as appropriate to their circumstances.

Why Do It, When do It, How do It
Published in Bangkok in 2007 by the Inter-Agency Working Group on Children’s Participation (IAWGCP): ECPAT International, Knowing Children, Plan International, Save the Children Sweden Regional Office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Save the Children UK Southeast and East Asia Regional Office, UNICEF EAPRO and World Vision

The aim of this booklet is to show how to put children’s participation into practice in a practical way. Chapters cover basic concepts of children’s participation, why their participation is important, and how to make their participation effective. The UNCRC established that a child is a human being under the age of 18 years. The definition of ‘children’s participation’ is not rigid. Children’s civil rights are guaranteed in the UNCRC: they have the right to express their opinions on decisions that affect their lives, the right to express themselves freely and to access information, have the right to freedom of association, shall not be separated from their families without the right to make their views known, have the right to education that promotes respect for others in a free society. Also, when a guardian is appointed for a child outside family care, it is now common for a court of law to listen to a child’s wishes before making a decision.

Participation is a virtue that must be cultivated
Save The Children Sweden 2008 Clare Feinstein and Claire O'Kane

This is an analysis of the methods and materials used within Save the Children Sweden to support children's participation. It looks specifically at the concepts, the promotion, key strategies and approaches, and what can be improved. The findings are also presented for each of the 8 region where Save the Children Sweden works. This report provides a comparative analysis of how Save the Children Sweden - in different countries and regions - promotes children's participation, the approaches used to do this, the lessons learned, and gaps in working methods and materials and, recommendations for moving forward.

Cultivating Children’s Participation
Save the Children Sweden 2008 (Clare Feinsten and Claire O'Kane)
 This book is on how Save the Children Sweden in different countries and regions promote children’s participation, the approaches used to do this, the lessons learned, and gaps in working methods and/or materials and recommendations for moving forward. In short, this book is an analytical tool of children’s participation working methods and materials within Save the Children Sweden. This book is for all development organizations and professionals that are involved with children, directly and indirectly especially for child participation practitioners who incorporate child participation as an important approach in their programs and projects.

Black, Maggie, Opening Minds, Opening Opportunities: Children’s participation in action for working children, Save the Children, London, 2003.
This case study research was commissioned by the Save the Children Alliance Task Group on Children and Work to review the impact and lessons learned from working children’s participation in Bangladesh, Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras, India and Senegal. It illustrates a range of existing participatory initiatives with working children, analyses the impact of participation on their lives and provides recommendations for improving inclusive interventions with working children.

Commonwealth Secretariat, London, 2005.
One: Participation in the Second Decade of Life: What and Why?
Two: Adolescent and Youth Participation: Adults Get Ready!
Developed in collaboration with UNICEF’s Adolescent Development and Participation Unit, New York, these booklets are part of a set of four how-to guides on promoting meaningful adolescent participation in decision making. Together the booklets provide a comprehensive framework for participation that can be adapted for various social and cultural environments. The first booklet helps explain what participation is and why it is important to involve young people in decisionmaking processes. The second booklet addresses the roles adults can play in creating an environment, which enables meaningful youth participation.

Cussianovich, Alejandro and Maria A. Marquez, Towards a Protagonist Participation of Boys, Girls and Teenagers, Save the Children Regional Office Sweden, Lima, 2002.
This book is written by one of the leading children’s participation activists in Latin America and deals with prevailing visions and notions of working children’s participation among adults, institutions and children. It examines the existing practices and discusses opportunities for creating new avenues for constructive protagonist participation of boys and girls.

Francisco, Carolina, Standing Up for Ourselves! A study on the concepts and practices of young people’s rights to participation, ECPAT International, Manila, 1999.
This book discusses the capacity of and spaces for children to participate in projects and programmes, drawing on the principles of the CRC. It focuses particularly on children’s participation in efforts against the commercial sexual exploitation of children and youth.

Hart, Roger A., Children’s Participation: From tokenism to citizenship, UNICEF International Child Development Centre (now Innocenti Research Centre), Florence, 1992.
This booklets introduces the ‘Ladder of Participation’. The ladder explains a model of participation through eight levels, starting from manipulation and non-participation and moving up towards equal participation of adults and children.

Hart, Roger A., Children’s Participation: The theory and practice of involving young citizens in community development and environmental care, Earthscan, ISBN 1853833223, London, 1997.
This manual focuses on conceptual issues, processes and methods of involving children in community development projects. It includes case studies from diverse cultures and social classes to demonstrate a range of useful and effective techniques to facilitate children’s participation in projects.

Hodgkin, Rachel and Peter Newell, Implementation Handbook for the Convention of the Child: Fully revised edition, UNICEF, ISBN 92-806-3782-2, New York, 2002.
A practical tool for those involved in promoting children’s rights. The handbook detailed information and guidance on every article of the CRC. This book is an operationalizing children’s participation rights.

Johnson, Victoria, Edda Ivan-Smith, Gill Gordon, et al. (eds.), Stepping Forward: Children and young people’s participation in the development process, Intermediate Technology Publications, London, 1998.
This publication is based on an international workshop on children’s participation in 1997. Drawing on case studies from various countries, it covers issues, such as the ethical dilemmas in addressing children’s participation, the process and methods of participatory research and planning with children, culture and children’s participation, institutional considerations and capacity building for children’s participation.

Lansdown, Gerison, Promoting Children’s Participation in Democratic Decision Making, UNICEF International Child Development Centre (now Innocenti Research Centre), ISBN 88-854-0173-2, Florence, 2001.
This publication builds on research and experiences on children’s participation and makes the case for increased commitment to respecting children’s rights. It highlights the need to consolidate and learn from existing practices. It also provides practical guidance on working with children as partners and a checklist for children’s participation in international conferences.

Miljeteig, Per, Creating Partnerships with Working Children and Youth, World Bank, Washington D.C., 2000.
From a child-rights perspective, this paper investigates the characteristics and impacts of working children and youth organizing themselves, evaluates the principles of creating partnerships and overcoming barriers to working children’s participation in decision making.

Miller, Judy, Never Too Young: How young people can take responsibility and make decisions, Save the Children, UK, ISBN 184 187 077, London, 2003.
This handbook focuses on younger children and describes how they can take responsibility and make decisions.

Moses, S, Children and Participation in South Africa: An Overview, July 2008
This paper examines the current policy and practice around children's participation in South Africa. By situating the analysis from the perspective of the socio-economic and normative context within South Africa the paper critiques current typologies of children's participation for focusing too narrowly on processes internal to participatory processes. The paper argues that theorizations of children's participation need to take account of the range of activities which are labeled as children's participation and interrogate issues around who gets to participate and why, what the purposes of the participation are and under what conditions it is possible. This requires examining participatory processes and the children involved in them in relation to adult actors within and beyond the process as well as in relation to broader socio-political and economic environments.

The National Youth Agency, Involving Children and Young People: An introduction, The National Youth Agency, Leicester, 2005.
This document gives a concise overview of children’s participation and analyses the strengths and weaknesses of various approaches of involving young people.

NSW Commission for Children and Young People, ‘Research and resources on children’s participation’, in Taking Participation Seriously, New South Wales Commission for Children and Young People, Australia.
The Research and Resources on Participation toolkit analyses selected models of participation from Roger Hart’s Ladder of Participation to Harry Shier’s Pathways to Participation. It also includes useful research and resources on children’s participation in general. This is part of a six-part resource toolkit called Taking Participation Seriously, a resource for organizations that want practical advice about how to involve children and young people in activities, events and decision making about
issues that affect their lives. Children and young people helped develop the kits.

Petren, Alfhild and James Himes (eds.), Children’s Rights: Turning principles into practice, Save the Children Sweden and UNICEF ROSA, Kathmandu, 2000.
This book is a collection of essays on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and how its principles and provisions can be turned into effective programmes. Various case studies and practical experiences are included.

Rajani, Rakesh, The Participation Rights of Adolescents: A strategic approach, UNICEF, New York, 2001.
This is a resource for policy makers, programmers, advocates and activists interested in promoting the meaningful participation of young people at the global, country and community levels. The author argues that a development approach that emphasizes investing in young people’s assets and protective factors is more effective than focusing only on fixing young people’s problems.

Rajani, Rakesh (ed.), The Political Participation of Children, Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, Cambridge, MA, 2000.
This is a collection of articles on the foundations, experiences and challenges of children’s political participation.

Reddy, Nandana and Kavita Ratna, A Journey in Children’s Participation, Concerned for Working Children (CWC), Bangalore, India, 2002.
This document covers more than 20 years of CWC’s experience with children’s participation and turns these into principles and tools that help further the knowledge and practice of children’s participation.

Shier, Harry, ‘Pathways to Participation: Openings, opportunities and obligations’, in Children and Society, Volume 15, Number 2, 2001, pp 107-117.
This paper offers a model of five levels of participation where children are listened to, children are supported in expressing their views, children’s views are taken into account, children are involved in decision-making processes and children share power and responsibility for decision making. The model identifies three stages of commitments at each level: openings, opportunities and obligations. This benchmarking tool is useful for planning and assessing children’s participation.

Theis, Joachim, Promoting Rights-Based Approaches: Experiences and ideas from Asia and the Pacific, Save the Children Sweden, ISBN 974-91891-3-2, Bangkok, 2004.
This books draws largely on Save the Children’s experiences with rights-based approaches in East and South-East Asia. It provides an introduction to the concepts and approaches of rights-based programming and discusses tools for analysis, planning, monitoring and evaluation. It also demonstrates the fundamental importance of participation in the context of human rights. The book lists organizations and web-based resources on child rights programming and participation.

Theis, Joachim, ‘Defining Child and Youth Participation’, UNICEF EAPRO, Bangkok, 2005.
This paper provides an analysis of children’s participation and includes sections on child protection, civil and political rights, and on the economic and political participation of children. It also looks at the various spaces for children’s participation and discusses common misconceptions regarding children’s participation.

Treseder, Phil, Empowering Children and Young People. Training Manual: Promoting involvement in decision making, Children’s Rights Office and Save the Children, London, 1997.
This manual contains checklists and exercises for promoting conceptual clarity on children’s participation among professionals involved in training young people to be active in decision-making processes by building their confidence and skills.

Udi, M.B, Children's Participation in Brazil - A Brief Genealogy and Recent Innovations, July 2008
This paper provides an overview of significant developments in Brazil in regard to children and young people's rights and participation in the public sphere. The paper addresses the importance of historically contextualizing particular practices and policies towards children and young people, in order to understand present manifestations of their "participation". Outlining the Brazilian context of deep inequality, the paper reflects how different childhoods, that of the rich and of the poor, have been differently categorized and acted upon. The paper goes on to give an account of the important movements of mass participation that emerged through the 1970s, in particular those concerning Popular Education that sought to dismantle repressive institutions and relationships within the country, including those towards the children of the poorest sectors of the population.

UNICEF, State of the World’s Children 2003, Issue on Participation, UNICEF, New York, 2002.
This report builds on children’s experiences at the UN Special Session on Children, focuses on the importance of children’s participation and argues that participation is the right of every child at every age. The report presents examples from around the world on the benefits of children’s participation.

Zhu, Zeng, Yang Haiyu, Andy West (eds.), Child Participation in Action: Concepts and practice from East and West – proceedings, papers and plans from the International Seminar on Child Participation in Action, Save the Children UK, China Programme and All China Women’s Federation Child Work Department, Beijing, 2004.
This report provides an overview of children’s participation in China. It includes conceptual chapters by international specialists, practical experiences with children’s participation and the background and outcome documents from the seminar.

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