Child Participation Explained
Updated: Jun 26, 2021
What is child participation?
Child participation is the "expression of children’s views in matters affecting them and for these views to be taken seriously, in accordance with the age and maturity of the child".
It is based on Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child’s (UNCRC) which is an international treaty that sets standards through rights, otherwise known as articles. Child participation is one of the UNCRC’s four core principles alongside non-discrimination, best interests of the child, and the right to life, survival and development.
Child participation is also used interchangeably with children’s voices, the right to be heard, the right to participate, and the right to be consulted.
What can adults do?
Adults can recognise that children are actors in their own lives. They should ask children about what they think and feel about decisions that affect the child and take these into account in the decision-making process.
Providing information to help children understand the issue and formulate their opinions would also allow the child to participate and contribute more meaningfully to issues that concern them.
What is not child participation?
Child participation is not following and doing everything the child says. It is about considering their views and acting upon it where appropriate especially when these are matters concerning them.
Child participation is not teaching children to go against their parents. This guiding principle promotes active listening to children which will in turn help families to understand one another better.
Child participation is not excusing adults from being responsible towards children. It urges adults to come alongside children and work more closely with them.
Why is child participation important?
Child participation has positive impacts on the child which continues into their adulthood. When children speak up and are listened to, these acts increase their self-esteem and sense of efficacy. The intentional practice of child participation encourages children to be involved in their families, communities and country which develops them into contributing adults in the future.
How will Singapore Children’s Forum encourage child participation?
Participants will be given a platform to share their thoughts and views on issues that greatly affect today’s young people. In 2021, the topics that will be discussed include education, impact of COVID-19, mental well-being and navigating the online world. After providing them with an overview of these topics to build participants’ knowledge capacity, the adult mentors will also provide guidance and support them to share their opinions and recommendations.