Children's participation

What Is Children’s Participation?
Child writing on chalkboard
Photo: 
GMB Akash/Panos Pictures

Enshrined within the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) are a variety of rights for children, including those that pertain to simple physical needs such as food, water, shelter, and basic health care.

In addition to over 50 articles, there are also four guiding principles within the CRC:

  • Respecting the best interest of the child (which applies to all actions and decisions concerning children)
  • The child’s right to not be discriminated against
  • The right to develop, grow and be part of a community (survival and development)
  • The child’s right to be heard

Article 12 of the CRC explains that this last guiding principle – the child’s right to be heard – is the fundamental tenet for children’s participation. Children should, as Article 12 explains, be able to express their views in “all matters” that affect them. Decisions about children are crafted and decided upon within various settings and for many different purposes. Children can and should participate in these decision-making processes across different contexts including: within the family; in alternative care; in health care; in education; in the community; in the workplace; in national and local government; in children’s rights monitoring and implementation; in civil, criminal or family court proceedings; and within the juvenile justice system.

Business is, of course, yet another actor in the various settings where decisions about children and young people are made. With this in mind, business can provide opportunities and space for children and young people to safely voice their views.

Most parents fail to recognise that even as children we have something meaningful to say or contribute because often they don’t take our views seriously. 14 year-old girl in Zambia