Child and Youth Participation in Speaking Truth to PowerWritten and assembled by Nick Petten
Seeking children and young people’s perspectives, ideas, opinions, and experiences through participatory approaches in research and evaluation is a valued focus of study and has the ability to speak truth to power. The power that adults typical wield in society often speak on behalf of children and young people and may not truly represent them and, sometimes, completely misrepresent them in order to gain more power.
Children and young people are one of the most marginalized and oppressed groups in society. And yet, today’s adults expect that tomorrow’s adults (children) will solve some pretty wicked, global, complex and complicated challenges that we face as a civilization—climate change, growing income inequality, a resurgence of autocratic and nationalist governments and policies, to name a few. We pin our hopes and dreams on our children and yet deny them the chance to truly participate in society, whether we allow them to vote at a younger age, decide what to learn in the classroom, or design an evaluation or research project.
Thankfully, there are lots (and growing number) of academics, evaluators, thought-leaders and practitioners that are acting in the best interests of the child and young person by co-designing approaches, methods, and processes to genuinely include their participation in things that matter most to them, like how the local playground should be designed, choosing politicians that represent their best interest, or how national policies could be designed to benefit their adult lives and thus the future of humanity. From these approaches, methods, and processes, children and young people stand a better chance of ‘speaking truth’ to powers that haven’t traditionally represented them authentically or have even co-opted their ‘voice’ to progress their own agenda.
If you are someone that works with children and young people and are looking for ways to design, implement and/or evaluate programs and services for them, we’ve collected and curated a list of resources that could help you in your journey.
- Ethical Research Involving Children (ERIC) Website
- Ethical Standards for Research from the NAEYC
- Ethical dilemmas and risks in collecting data on violence against children. Findings from the work of the CP MERG technical working group on violence against children
- YouthPower from USAID
- International Society for Child Indicators
- AEA365 Blog post on Children’s Assent to Participate in Research
- Evaluation Capacity Network for early childhood development
- Early Childhood Rights Indicators
- Save the Children Resource Library
- A book with examples of methods and tools to engage children and young people in research
- The Consultative Group on Early Childhood Care and Development
- Child Trends
- The Childwatch International Research Network
- Kids Rights
- Rutgers University Childhood Studies listserve
- Children’s Rights International Network - list of publications
- International Institute for Child Rights and Development
- Government of Canada’s Panel on Research Ethics
- The Early Childhood Data Collaborative
- The Consultative Group On Early Childhood Care And Development
- Better Beginnings, Better Futures
- Better Evaluation’s ‘Week 6: Evaluation with and by, rather than for or of, children'
- Better Evaluation’s 'Listening to smaller voices: using an innovative participatory tool for children affected by HIV and AIDS to assess a life skills programme'
- UNICEF Data
- Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health
- Children’s Worlds