Children's Participation: from Tokenism to Citizenship
Roger A. Hart
A nation is democratic to the extent that its citizens are involved, particularly at the community level. The confidence and competence to be involved must be gradually acquired through practice. It is for this reason that there should be gradually increasing opportunities for children to participate in any aspiring democracy, and particularly in those nations already convinced that they are democratic. With the growth of childrenâ€™s rights we are beginning to see an increasing recognition of childrenâ€™s abilities to speak for themselves. Regrettably, while childrenâ€™s and youthsâ€™ participation does occur in different degrees around the world, it is often exploitative or frivolous. This Essay is designed to stimulate a dialogue on this important topic. This Essay is written for people who know that young people have something to say but who would like to reflect further on the process. It is also written for those people who have it in their power to assist children in having a voice, but who, unwittingly or not, trivialize their involvement.
children's participation; children's rights; right to be heard;
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