Why is it important to listen to and involve children and young people in decisions that affect them?
Children and young people have a right to be listened to and involved in decisions that affect them because they are citizens in their own right and not just citizens in waiting. This right is laid down in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNICEF 1989) in Article 12 which gives children the right to be consulted by adults making decisions which affect them.
The Children's Charter (Scottish Executive 2004) drawn up by children and young people sets out how adults can best support children and young people to be safe and protected from harm. It begins by asking adults to: "get to know us, speak with us, listen to us, take us seriously and involve us".
Getting It Right For Every Child sets listening to children and young people and involving them in decisions which affect them at the heart of its ethos and practice.
The Concordat Agreement (2007) requires local authorities to focus on the outcomes for service users rather than service processes in service planning and evaluation. Many of these outcomes are
subjective and the experience of the service user will be a necessary part of measuring their achievement. The Crerar Review (2007) (reviewing the inspection and regulation of services) concluded
that the “primary responsibility” for “demonstrating compliance” should be placed with the service provider through a process of self-assessment which includes the voice of the service user. These two papers place a responsibility to listen to children and young people to measure outcomes.
Listening to and involving children and young people is not only necessary because it is a legal requirement, it is beneficial both to the child/young person participating and to service providers. Children and young people can feel more engaged with the adults and that they have a focus of control in their lives which in turn improves their mental health and well-being and their ability to help themselves. Service providers in recognising that children and young people are the experts on their own experience can benefit from their insight and solution focussed ideas to help improve outcomes for themselves and for services as a whole.
Listening does not cost anything other than time and personal interest, something all of us should be able to afford.
Hear us now! Good Practice Guide to Participation from Aberlour is worth looking at.
Why did we develop this toolbox?
This project began when the Highland Children's Forum (HCF) did a workshop at a Highland Youth Voice (HYV) event with the aim of HYV helping HCF understand about what helps or gets in the way of involvement of young people and for HCF to help HYV consider the challenges of listening to some young people with communication or other challenges.
With the information gained from the young people it was decided to create a toolbox of ideas to help people who wanted to involve children and young people. The toolbox was later given funding by the Scottish Government to include tools to help professionals involve children and young people having their needs identified and met through the Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) framework. The Listen to Us web pages contain a lot of information, tools and useful links to support effective involvement and participation with children and young people. The project is evolving and any contributions or suggestions will be welcomed. Contact details
Where are you in terms of participation?
Maybe pick a person who has either smoked in the past or quit. Maybe that person could go into school and talk with the children.”