The conference aims to promote wide recognition of children’s agency, empowerment and influence on their own lives, their families and communities and the society as a whole. Children are fully-fledged citizens with a voice of their own, not mere recipients or passive dependents of decisions made by others on their behalf.
In line with General Comment 12 of the UNCRC, the conference will bring examples of policy and practice that demonstrate the specific contribution of children’s participation to in education, in non- formal education; play, recreation, sports and cultural activities; in health, prevention, early intervention, family support & welfare services, in the child protection system, and in public decision making.
The conference is organized in the context of the 2013 European Year of Citizenship with the aim of increasing recognition of children as citizens. It will also give meaning to the ‘participation’ pillar of the 2013 European Commission’s Recommendation “Investing in Children”, which sets a policy framework based on three underlying policy pillars: access to resources, access to quality services and support for children’s participation. Finally, the conference builds on the 2012 Council of Europe Recommendation on the participation of children and young people under the age of 18.
The Annual Conference 2013 will consider children’s participation within the following thematic areas:
Participation in the school system geared to different themes (such as awareness on children’s rights, anti-discrimination, non-violent behaviour, environment, etc…). They could be examples of systemic changes in the school governance or education system e.g. school councils or specific time-limited projects.
2. NON-FORMAL EDUCATION; PLAY, RECREATION, SPORTS AND CULTURAL ACTIVITIES
Participation in education activities outside the framework of the formal education system, delivered through different means, including radio, television, computers or internet, and for different age ranges – from early years to 18 years old. Participation in extra-school activities that enable access to cultural, recreational and sporting activities, in particular those aiming to promote social inclusion.In both cases, the extent to which children have taken part in decision making and were consulted on the activities or took the lead on these activities should be explained.
3. HEALTH, PREVENTION, EARLY INTERVENTION, FAMILY SUPPORT & WELFARE SERVICES
Participation in the design, delivery, evaluation or as beneficiaries of health and welfare services, including prevention services, early intervention services to address at risk situations, and a wide range of family support services such as family parent support, education, training, strengthening family and community networks, peer support, mediation services etc.
4. THE CHILD PROTECTION SYSTEM
Participatory processes put in place to support children at risk or victims of abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence, including children at risk of separation or already separated from their biological parents, such as children in alternative care or at risk of entering the public care system. Examples can reflect initiatives at different levels (local, regional and national) and from different perspectives: to prevent, respond and resolve the abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence experienced by children in all settings.
5. PUBLIC DECISION MAKING
Participatory examples at European, national and local level, focussing on different issues such as promoting citizenship and participation in democratic life, and at different stages of public decision making: design, implementation and/or evaluation.
This background paper has been prepared to set the framework for the discussions during the conference, contextualize what children’s participation means, highlight key policy initiatives taken in Europe to entitle children to their right to be heard, and identify the main challenges ahead to ensure ever more and more children have the conditions in which they can effectively enjoy their right to participate. Find here the child-friendly version.