Understanding research with children and young people
Understanding research with children and young people

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Understanding research with children and young people

2 The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

Not only is it likely that better research will result, involving children and young people in research affecting their lives is actually mandated by an even more fundamental factor: their international rights. These rights were articulated in 1989, in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which states that children and young people have the right to be consulted, to be heard and to participate meaningfully in matters affecting their lives. They also have the right to have their best interests as a primary consideration.

Box 1: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (the UNCRC).

The UNCRC is the most complete statement of children’s rights ever produced and is the most widely-ratified international human rights treaty in history – it’s even been accepted by non-state entities, such as the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), a rebel movement in South Sudan. All UN member states except for the United States have ratified the Convention. The Convention came into force in the UK in 1992; in the UK, it is accepted that every child has rights, whatever their ethnicity, gender, religion, language, abilities or any other status.

The Convention must be seen as a whole: all the rights are linked and no one right is more important than another. The right to relax and play (Article 31), for example, and the right to freedom of expression (Article 13) have equal importance as the right to be safe from violence (Article 19) and the right to education (Article 28).

You can read the full Convention, and a summary, if you click here. [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

If you are thinking about planning a research project with and by children or young people, three of the articles stand out as particularly relevant in this context:

  • Article 3 In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.
  • Article 12 Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views, the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.
  • Article 13 The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child’s choice

Activity 3

Timing: Allow approximately 15 minutes.

What is the key element, in your opinion, that stands out, in terms of children and young people expressing their views, in these three Articles?

Click on the option that you think is the key element, and see how other learners voted.

Active content not displayed. This content requires JavaScript to be enabled.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).
Active content not displayed. This content requires JavaScript to be enabled.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Discussion

You may have noted:

  • best interests
  • freely
  • due weight
  • freedom of expression
  • child’s choice
  • ideas of all kinds
e809_1

Take your learning further371

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses372.

If you are new to university level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. Find out Where to take your learning next?373 You could either choose to start with an Access courses374or an open box module, which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification.

Not ready for University study then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn375 and sign up to our newsletter376 to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371