2.3 Explain the importance of active participation of children and young people in decisions affecting their lives. Participation is the process by which children and young people influence decision making which brings about change in them, others, their services and their communities. There are many opportunities for children and young people to take an active part in shaping where they live, the services they use and the running of local and national organisations. They have a right to be involved in the decisions that affect them. Their participation is essential to improve services and respond to their needs.
All children and young people are supported to participate in the decision making process, they are listened to and things change in response to their participation. We want children and young people to feel that they can influence the services they receive. We want to see them contributing to and benefiting from their local communities. We want them feel heard and valued and to be able to make a difference. ( John Denham, minister for young people, cited in Children and Young Peoples Unit, 2001) In situations of crisis and post-crisis, children and young people often feel very powerless and unable to do anything to improve the situation for themselves or their families. They may feel they have little control of their situations. They may also feel "in the dark" about what is happening and why. Adults around them may be stressed, busy, and far too preoccupied to consider asking children what they think and how they feel about a certain situation. These adults – including teachers, parents and staff, may be under pressure to make quick decisions to ensure that children and youth are protected. Nevertheless, taking the time to consult with children and young people about decisions and events that affect their lives can have the most positive impact. It is important to encourage participations as children and young people provide a valuable perspective....
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