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Child Participation

Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child recognises that children have a right to be heard. The application of this right has been broadly conceptualised as ‘participation’, although the term itself does not appear in the Convention. Of course, children have always participated in many ways within societies – for example, at the community level, through play and the arts, and in their economic contribution to their families. In the context of Article 12, however, the term ‘participation’ has evolved, and is now very widely used, as a shorthand to describe children’s right to involvement in decisions and actions that affect them and to have those views taken into account.

Children’s right to be heard and to be taken seriously is a crucial and also visionary provision of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Children can no longer be perceived as passive recipients of care and protection, or accidental beneficiaries of policy decisions; they cannot be envisaged as not yet persons or adults in the making. Attention must be paid to their inner feelings, thoughts and views.

Photo: Asad Zaidi/Save the Children

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