International Journal of Children's Rights: Special Issue on Child Participation
The third issue of the International Journal of Children’s Rights Volume 16 (2008) is a special issue on child participation.
The issue can be accessed online through the journal web site of Brill Academic Publishers.
Over the last decade, the rhetoric of participation has become prominent within policy and practice pertaining to children and young people, both in the UK and internationally. The UNCRC states that a child’s views must be considered and taken into account in all matters aff ecting the child, subject to the child’s age and maturity (Article 12). In line with this, an increasing number of governmental and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are seeking to involve children and young people in ‘public’ decision-making: that is, collective decision-making about such matters as policy, services and strategies. As practice and policy have proliferated, tensions and challenges have been revealed. Even amongst the most ardent supporters of children and young people’s participation, there are concerns about tokenism, lack of impact and consultation fatigue. Theoretical work on children and young people’s participation has not kept abreast of such challenges. Debates within the different academic communities have rarely coincided and, to date, the UK and international literature have failed adequately to inform each other. While the limitations of participatory methods are often discussed, a host of important questions surrounding the precise nature, politics and ethical status of participation remain largely unasked and unanswered.
This special issue seeks to ask these questions (see Hinton’s overview, this issue) – and take at least an initial step towards answering them. The special issue arises from an intensive seminar, ‘Theorising Children’s Participation’ which brought together UK academics from a range of disciplines, with others who had rich practical and childhood expertise from across the globe. The urgent need for exchange and cross-fertilisation of ideas became apparent during the seminar. The special issue includes two sets of articles.
First, four articles reflect on participation activities in four diverse countries (Brazil, India, South Africa, and the UK) and the theoretical and research agendas that arise. The second section of the issue brings together theoretical papers that begin from particular academic disciplines and consider their implications for children and young people’s participation.