Academic journal article International Journal of Child Health and Human Development

Is Anyone Listening? Children' Participation in Public Decision-Making, Turning 'Voice' into 'Influence'

Academic journal article International Journal of Child Health and Human Development

Is Anyone Listening? Children' Participation in Public Decision-Making, Turning 'Voice' into 'Influence'

Article excerpt

This paper examines the impact of children's participation on public services in four case studies that examine formal governance structures and the impact of these in promoting the voice of children in the ways services and policies are planned and implemented -

* a local authority youth forum in the UK

* a primary school council in the UK

* a children's advisory group of an large international Non-Governmental Organisation

* a neighbourhood children's parliaments in Tamil Nadu, India.

A critical review of the processes involved in turning children's 'voice' into 'influence' in these case studies, show how traditional constructions of childhood work to ensure that formal participation structures and mechanisms (particularly those in the UK) have been much more about providing opportunities for children to practice 'good' citizenship, develop a responsible attitude, and to learn about public decision-making, than about their involvement in shaping public services or holding service providers or policy makers to account.

The paper will provide views from children and young people about the sorts of participatory actions, processes and relationships that in their view more faithfully represent their voices and interests. …

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