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Stirling researcher says children and young people need a say in decision making

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Stirling’s Dr Greg Mannion has reported to Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People on how organisations might best encourage children’s participation in decisions which affect them, as part of Scotland’s commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. 

Until now there has been no nationally agreed framework for children and young people’s participation in the decisions taken in Scotland which affect them. Nor has there been an agreed model for monitoring and evaluating this work.

Dr Mannion’s report, Children and Young People’s Participation in Scotland: Frameworks, standards and principles for practice, provides clear principles and guidelines for the national coordination of children and young people’s participation in decision making in Scotland.

Dr Mannion says: “Children and young people are beginning to have a say in all kinds of decisions – not just where the next play park is to be built. But there is still a long way to go.

“All public services and private organisations are required to encourage children and young people to share in public decision making as citizens in their own right. This is a far-reaching and radical agenda across all sorts of contexts: education, health and welfare, other local authority services and private business.

“For further progress to be made, we must look at how professionals are trained, how they learn, and how they change, because we need new ways for professionals to work alongside children and young people. We also need to involve children and young people in monitoring and evaluating progress.”

The report also argues that professionals and adults in all walks of life must be prepared to change how they work. If adults are to truly ‘stand alongside children and young people’ - as one of his respondents put it - then opportunities are needed for key decision makers and younger citizens to come together to share power in real decision making.

The aim of the research was to inform the possible development of a set of National Quality Standards and a Framework for Participation for Scotland. This was done by describing the key elements of selected frameworks, their current use, and an analysis of their similarities, differences and inherent tensions.

Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, Tam Baillie, says: “Dr Mannion’s report provides the knowledge of current practice and a baseline on current participation principles, standards and frameworks. This will be of value to the whole sector and help to shape the development of the nationally agreed framework both we and our young people need.”

“If children and young people’s rights as citizens are to be upheld, they need adults to share decision making with them and be responsive to children’s approaches and ideas.

“This is not a case of bowing to children’s every request: we need spaces for real intergenerational dialogue, where adults from all walks of life stand alongside children and young people in the making of a more democratic Scotland.”

To download the full or summary report from the website of Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, follow this link: Children and Young People’s Participation in Scotland: Frameworks, standards and principles for practice

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