Children's participation in social work research and development: openings, opportunities, obligations and considerations

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This paper will present, discuss and elaborate the findings concerning children’s involvement in social work research and development on different levels based on the results of the three-year study and research project on using Signs of Safety / Safety Plans in Child Welfare in a municipality in Denmark in 2011 – 2014 and Project CYRAC – Children and Youth as Researchers and Agents of Change in a Local Community (2016-2017).
The qualitative research topic was to investigate the children´s participation in decision making concerning their safety. The theoretical framework is developed on the concept of Participation (Hart 1992, Shier 2001), the concept of Intersectionality (Crenshaw 1989, 1991) and Theory of Recognition (Honneth 1995).
The empirical basis includes in total 95 children, boys and girls, from 3 to 17 years of age, distributed in 4 groups: 19 children recruited from the students family and network, 4 children with a safety plan, 63 Children from fifth grade from whom 50% had been in contact with social services concerning their own safety and well-being and 9 youth in project CYRAC. Different research methods were used: observations, interviews, participation in meetings, dialogue meeting with children and case-material developed together with the children and students. Students from social work education in Copenhagen, children, social workers form child welfare, schoolteachers and community workers have been involved in the process of collecting data, analyzing, etc.
The paper explores openings, opportunities, obligations, considerations focusing on challenges and perspectives in involving children and youth, in social work research and development
Since the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (1989), the consideration of children as active citizens regarding rights, equality and participation has been a growing challenge in many fields in our society. The concept of childhood has been linked to the protection of children. Despite many initiatives, reforms, changes in legislation in Denmark during the last decade children still seem to be treated as objects of these rights rather than active citizens in their own rights.
The paper argues for the need for rethinking the concept of children´s participation in order to rise and reflect on some questions such as:
How can social workers/researchers shape the participation of children, so that reinforces the child’s opportunities to be an active actor and thereby improve its well-being? Is Participation a burden for the child or a protection?
Original languageEnglish
Publication date3 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2018
EventEUSARF 2018: All children, all families - University of Portugal, Porto, Portugal
Duration: 2 Oct 20185 Oct 2018


ConferenceEUSARF 2018
LocationUniversity of Portugal
Internet address


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