Reflections from the past Singapore Children’s Forums (SCFs)
Updated: Jul 13, 2021
To see the world through the eyes of our children is a very different view to take.
Looking at our society today, we see new challenges such as those in the digital world that confront our young ones. In this article, we want to glean lessons from the past editions of SCF to enable us to continue to be a voice for our children.
Give children the centre stage to share. Hear from children about their feelings, opinions, and goals. We recall a child asking, “Is feeling safe being safe?” That is a simple question, yet it encompasses big, abstract concepts that we as adults may not put in enough time to ponder over. We cannot underestimate how children could raise questions that are important, yet often overlooked by society.
Engage in deliberate and consistent conversations with children. Listening is not a one-off occurrence. We need to develop authenticity and trust with our young people such that active conversations between children, youth and adults can be fostered.
Through such dialogues, we co-create new meanings and solutions. For example, children redefined what success meant during SCF 2017. This went beyond the traditional assumption of excellent grades as a marker of success to seeing success as the simple joy of being able to care for the family and to give back to society.
Adults as receptive listeners. From the past SCFs, we had the opportunity to invite public figures such as politicians to be the Guests-of-Honour and adults working closely with children, such as educators and social workers, as adult panellists. They demonstrated a posture of respect while listening and fielding children’s questions and comments.
We learnt that it is important for adults to understand the importance of listening to and consulting children. This may at times require adults to change their mindsets and ways of interaction with children.
Looking Forward: How will the future SCF be different?
Instead of a pre-determined topic, participants of SCF 2021 will get to choose one out of the four topics suggested, namely education, impact of COVID-19, mental well-being and navigating the online world. Their group project’s design and showcase slated to take place in January 2022 will be based on their chosen topic.
The duration of engagement is now extended to more than six months, moving away from the traditional format where SCF was held as an event over one to two days. We hope that this would allow us to develop a deeper mentoring relationship with our participants in hopes of nurturing and empowering them.
Platforms such as this micro site have been developed for adults to understand and appreciate child participation. We hope these would also provide more information on the various topics and showcase how child participation looks like in action through the documentation of our SCF journey.
We invite you on this journey with us as we seek to give a strong and powerful voice to our children and youth.