According to Thomas and O’Kane ( 1998) ‘’We live in a society and culture in which children and young people are generally not listened to, consulted or involved in decision-making. Children say very clearly that adults don’t listen to children, they ignore them, leave them out, interrupt, redefine or over-ride what they say’’ For ages, the adage ‘children should be seen and not heard’ was left undisputed and it exhibited the unwillingness of adults to listen to children and pay attention to their feelings and views. Children were believed to be incompetent, incapable of rational thought and therefore cannot make an informed decision, adults in their lives working with or for them made decisions for them ‘’in their best interest’’ because the ‘’adults know best’’. However the past decade, has seen the emergence of Article 12 and 13 of the UNCRC requiring our attention to children’s participatory right in matters that affects them. The purpose of this essay is to differentiate between ‘listening to’ and ‘consultation with’ children and young people and ‘full participation rights ‘and how full participation rights might be achieved. The essay will highlight methods, benefits, barriers, and the progress made so far in children’s participatory rights both in the western world such as Sweden and UK and in developing countries such as Uganda. For the sake of readability, the term ‘children’ is used to include ‘young people’ and vice versa. DEFINITION- ‘LISTENING TO’
‘Listening’ is “the active process of receiving, constructing meaning from, and responding to spoken and/or nonverbal messages. It involves the ability to retain information, as well as to react empathically and/or appreciatively to spoken and/or nonverbal messages” ILA, (1995, p. 1). METHOD
Among other methods is observation.
Most times children especially pre-verbal children use non - verbal cues like, energy level, facial expression, posture or change in attitude to communicate with the adults. Observation helps to see children’s abilities, needs, interest, motives, thoughts, and emotions and how they act and react in varying situations.
DEFINITION- ‘CONSULTATION WITH’
Consultation involves asking those who will be affected by a policy for their views on how to make the policy more efficient and effective. ‘Consultation with’ ‘is a process where views, opinion of someone is sought on an issue to guide the consultant but may not necessary be taken into account by the consultant’. Borland (2001) METHODS
Consultation may include interviews, meetings, focus groups, surveys, questionnaires in places where children can be accessed, example playgrounds, cinemas, amusement parks, and internet , most children daily use the Internet – they seek for information, chat blog, twit, and face book on the Internet. Consultation could also be done in streets and in hidden communities in order to access children that cannot easily be consulted. For example in Uganda, most children hawk on streets, for there to be meaningful consultation on issues that concerns them facilitators must go to the streets to consult them. Effective consultation requires the recognition of cultural diversity; facilitators must develop and use creative and participative methods to consult children and young people from diverse cultural and social background, and this should be done on children’s own terms. DEFINITIONS -PARTICIPATION
This is an active involvement of children and young people of all ages, race, sex, ability and disability in all issues that affects their lives either directly or indirectly to influence decisions-making and bring about a change. Article 12 states that “State Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child’’. Article 12 is interwoven...
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