Children are more than half of the world population, and yet they remain to be the less privileged and powerless in society. Historically, the social policy has never thought of children and the youth as people with a constructive voice. This presents a growing concern of the need to listen to the voice of the children and establish the implications of the same for social policy (Aldeerson, 2004). It is, therefore, necessary to give critical encouragement to movements that advocate for children participation. The voice of children should be heard more strongly and fully in the policy formation process at all levels. The great opposition has greatly hindered this initiative. However, the support for children participation has been gradually growing more so in the past 20 years and the children social participation has thereby gained root. The research paper seeks to find out more about the children participation rights and the ambiguity of the contemporary societies on the issue by using both quality and quantitative research methods (Christensen, 2008). The child rights and participation may be argued differently from perspectives, which in most cases are conflicting to each other. It is always argued that children rights undermine the rights of the parents and are thought to hold a culturally specific notion. In most cases, such arguments give rise to a debate, which shall not be necessarily the concern of the paper due to time and the amount of space available. Therefore, the paper will touch on children representation and their significance in research and policy-making decisions.
Patterns of Social Change
The book discusses patterns of social change and how they affect children. Social change is the alteration of social structure and other cultural patterns, that refers to persistent setups used to form relationships (Prout, 2002). The public discourse about children voice debate has taken center stage, having been caught in two poles. Firstly, it has seen children as in danger, and secondly children as dangerous. Childhood is caught up and transformed by modernity, hence experience diverse changes (Allen, 2005). There are some reasons as to why the child population is on the decline, especially in the industrialized nations. These reasons include the increasing diverse circumstances for children to live in, the increasing efforts on some parts of the government to control childhood and part of bigger trends that advocate for the emergence of children rights and individualization. Some of the emerging issues include the gap between developing new ways and approaches to children's participation and taking the necessary action. Participation in young people is not a straightforward thing rather a process. Children and young people need support, induction, and training that will help them develop, and after that, they need a long and follow up and evaluation in order to establish what works best and how.
Children participation focuses on the policy context through which it establishes the relationship between socially available models and available policies. This might also include a focus on ways through which ancient societies have been seeing children in different notions including vulnerability, dependence, and malleability (Parton, 2009). Considering three different examples from Finland, the UK, and Germany, the author gives a clear perspective of the causes of discourse. From the Finnish perspective, ideas about children have been embedded in the key issues from the past, and how they shaped the social policy towards children and young people. The major influence of the child rights in Finland is the past civil war, which emphasized the dangers in children during their growth creating deviance. This led to the controlled surveillance of children and families. The aftermath of the Second World War also contributed greatly to the way children were seen in the UK and Germany, presenting children as a strategic target for social investment as a result of universal social benefits. The research did not focus on the way children have been able to react to the perceptions of them originating from the past civil war in Finland.
The Focus on Children Voice
The focus upon children needs to base on both the need and the opportunities for the voice of children to be heard. On the same note, the experiences of children in the spheres need to be analyzed, with a clear focus on the studies that have sought to express the views of children on many forms of social welfare. The main focus of this section is on how children deal with issues and problems in their lives. This study involved examination of parents on the role they play in helping their children in coping up with life situations. Most of the young people showed a negative response about seeking help from their elder peers including parents because they thought a problem should be made worse if taken to an adult. The issues raised as reasons included lack of trust, respect, and confidentiality (Berridge, 2001). A good example is Rutherford's who was never given consent to access the magazine; this was because there was no solicited proposal from the client due to the age consent policy. A solicited proposal is when a client requests for a proposal to be made, while unsolicited proposal, the proposal is sent without consent. Childhood Experiences and Changes
The changing conditions and the experiences of childhood have greatly contributed to different forms of relationships in families. The conditions have also changed the conceptions of childhood and different patterns of intra-familial relationships. There has been a decline in the birthrate and an increase in life expectancy and aging population. From this statistics, projections present that by 2025, the population of young people from the age of 0-19 will fall drastically (Parton, 2009). This will lead to unequal distribution of resources, as much of it will be channeled to older people and the voices of children will be unheard (Parton, 2009). Another effect of the change in condition is the change of family, which is linked to population trends and formations of households. This, in turn, is the reason as to why most industrialized countries have seen a decline in marriages and the rise in divorce, which has raised cohabitation, single parenting, and stepfamilies. The rise of these type of families presents some challenges to children and young people especially in raising their voices so to be heard. The research presented views from children and found the majority of them affected by family instabilities, and as a result, developed a negative attitude towards participation.
Children's Social Rights
The representation of children as social persons has gained general acceptance and encoded in the United Nation's convention on children rights (Parton 2009). However, it remains controversial to date because it touches on the issue of citizenship. In many ways, children have been thought to behave and fit into the adult way of thinking and participating when decision-making is needed. The voicing for the children rights is high while actions for the same is very low (Lloyd, 2008). Another issue is the fact that not all children and young people are ready to participate and the push for them to participate may result in new power divisions between children and children and children and adults. This points to the reciprocal relationship between the representation of children and political representation both culturally and socially.
Young People Preferences to Care
Another research of kinship funded by the JRF found out that despite the little attention given to young people in the policy and practice, it appears to be options valued by young people. From the research, most of the young people seemed to like the fact that they live with their extended family and love it when they know they belong to someone (Hart, 2009). A further study done by the economic and social science research showed that children and young people find it beneficial to engage in social activities and other programs that saw the children be involved as social actors. However, it is also evident that parental involvement is very important in the development and child's education because it is associated with long-term outcomes (Flewitt, 2005). This research indicated that while children are the main initiators of parental involvement, they are also uncertain on balance between home and school. However, the study did not consider the conflicts that arise in balancing participation both at school and at home.
Children Political Participation
The number of young people in political participation is exceptionally low. Those who participate in politics and decision making are few as compared to the number of adults in the same field. In the 2001 general elections the UK, figures reported were low for the youth voters with 4 in ten turning out to vote. This has raised questions among the relevant bodies as to whether the voting age should be lowered further to accommodate more youth participation in the process (Parton, 2009). Reducing the number of years of voters does not make young people participate in politics or voting, because the problem is not in the age rather in participation and inclusivity. Young people should be first sensitized to the importance of participating and making their voice heard through the ballot. They must also be involved in policy making to make their voices be heard. One initiative that has worked well is the involvement of the youth in policy making and decision making (Gallacher, 2008). This has made the youth and young people to say what they think about the services they are given, and how it can be improved to best suit them. An example is an initiative that meant to involve young people in decision making by employing them in different regions to monitor their responsibility and engagement. Children are powerful, and in most cases, if they want to make their voice heard through violent means, it creates a big impact (Mizen, 1999). An example is a group of children who went on a strike in support of their sacked teachers; the strike turned out to last for 25 years. It turned out later that the sacked teachers and children were protesting against child labor, which as it turns out now has been a major concern to children themselves.
During the international conference for child labor, many children were invited to raise the number of child's voice in the conference. Major lessons that were learned from this conference were that there is need to solve the conflicts between the young people and adults, which arise as a result of differences in perspective and ideas (Hill, 2004). It was also evident that there were differences in both thinking and preferences between the young people themselves. All these differences can be ironed out through creating common forums that engage both children and adults to reach a common ground.
Decision Making in Health Policies
The new ways in place to involve patients in health policy matters have not made any provision for children and their views on the same. It would have been important if the voices of children were heard in health arenas to improve their participation and create sound health practices. It is believed that children can make sound health decisions that are positive but are only hindered by poor communication techniques such as language barriers and poor access to reading and writing skills (Crowley, 2015). It was, therefore, found that one of the major issues that need to be addressed is the setting up of structures that can enable young people to air their views freely with the use of a common language best understood by both parties.
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