Friday, 30 November 2007

Children as change agents: Guidelines for child participation in periodic reporting on the CRC

Children as change agents: Guidelines for child participation in periodic reporting on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, by Jennifer Miller, Mississauga: World Vision, 2007.

World Vision has just published this very useful document to guide the involvement of children in reporting to the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

These guidelines respond to the gap in information concerning children’s involvement in the reporting process, and aim to promote and strengthen children’s meaningful participation within this area. The report includes an analysis of a number of alternate country reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, and appendixes with specific forms and suggestions. The guidelines also include a glossary, a bibliography and suggestions for additional reading.

The guidelines address:

Creating Meaningful Child Participation

* Principles of Child Participation

* Building Ownership

* Addressing Power Imbalances

* Consulting with Children

* Accessible Information

* Building Support

Practical and Ethical Considerations

* Child Protection Policies

* Unintended Consequences

* Informed Consent

* Confidentiality

* The Roles and Responsibilities for Children, Young Adults, and Adults

* Resources: Funding and Time

Stages of the Reporting Process

* Selection and Representation

* Training and Building Capacity

* Methods for Collecting Information from Children

* Analyzing the Data and Reaching Conclusions

* Preparing the Report

* Child Delegates and Pre-sessional/Sessional Meetings

* Follow-up and Evaluations

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Inclusion and exclusion in children's citizenship

‘The exclusion of children from full political status is an enigma which democratic politics should not allow.... what is at stake here is not simply the denial of citizen rights but the right to be a citizen’ (Bob Franklin, 1986, The Rights of Children, Oxford: Blackwell, p.24)

Citizenship is often defined narrowly by franchise (the right to vote in national elections). The status of ‘child’ is also associated in national and international law by reference to the age of franchise (the age at which a person achieves the right to vote). Thus there may be something contradictory in the idea that children can be citizens. Nevertheless, children often do act as if they are citizens, not least by taking on responsibilities within their families, communities and nations.

For an excellent discussion about the main issues related to children's citizenship and for a comprehensive list of references, read:

Antonella Invernizzi's and Brian Milne's Conclusion: Some Elements of An Emergent Discourse on Children’s Right to Citizenship' in: Children’s citizenship: An emergent discourse on the rights of the child? A. Invernizzi and B. Milne (guest editors), Journal of Social Sciences Special Issue No. 9: 31-42, Kamla-Raj.

The full special issue of the Journal of Social Sciences on Children's Citizenship: an emergent discourse on the rights of the child can be viewed here.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

How can we define citizenship in childhood?

How can we define citizenship in childhood?, by Judith Ennew, Centre for Family Research, University of Cambridge in: HCPDS, Working Paper Series, Volume 10 Number 12, October 2000.

This article by Judith Ennew for the Harvard Centre for Population and Development Studies looks at civil and political rights of children.

“Children and youth have been activists in the forefront of political struggles, such as the fight against Apartheid in South Africa. Yet this is more likely to be documented (especially since the overthrow of that system) as the victimisation of children than as child political participation. Child soldiers likewise are usually regarded as victims rather than freedom fighters. With the exception of some writers in Latin America there seems to be little discourse even now about children as ‘protagonists’ who take a leading role in social change.” (p. 5).

This paper examines some of the dilemmas involved in implementing children's civil rights and freedoms. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) represents a challenge to all states party to consider children’s rights outside the traditional concerns with protecting children from harm and providing for their needs. Ideas about children’s civil rights and freedoms are often wrongly limited to the so-called ‘participation’ articles (12-15). These are tempered in the CRC by the need to take into consideration ‘the age and maturity of the child’ and in social life in general by adult control over areas in which children can participate and ways in which they are allowed to do so. Thus children’s political participation is often trivialised. Or limited to local-level democracy that is regarded as part of socialisation. Nevertheless it can be argued that, in modern representative democracies, there is little difference in practice between the citizenship rights of adults and children. One related question is whether age is a sufficient reason to exclude citizens from franchise. Indeed, to ask how citizenship is defined in childhood is to raise questions about the rights and duties of all citizens.

The article looks into:

The civil and political rights of children in the CRC
Children’s political action
Children’s voices articulating adult agenda’s
Children’s resistance as a form of (unrecognised) participation
Children's rights and democracy
The grounds for excluding children from franchise
The political development of children
Ages, stages and the passing of time

Thursday, 8 November 2007

African Movement of Working Children and Youth

I have received new information from the African Movement of Working Children and I have updated my earlier post.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Children speak out: Good work - bad work

In 1999 Concerned for Working Children (CWC) in India published working children's views on what they consider to be work they can do and work they cannot do, considering the abilities and age of children. The publication is only in hard copy as far as I know and can be obtained from CWC (see below).

A little later World Vision published Good work, bad work, tough choices, which also documents children's views - from India, Thailand and the Philippines - on what they consider work that they can and can not do:

The main thrust of this research project is to highlight the need to listen to children in order to develop effective solutions to the problem of child labour. Children in this project, who live in India,Thailand and the Philippines, told us that they want to work, that they play an active role in choosing the kind of work they do, and that their goal is to support their family. Whether they live at home in the country or on the street in large cities, children say that they hope for good jobs, fear bad jobs, and struggle with difficult choices. They have strong, clear ideas about what kinds of work children should and should not be doing, and they deserve to be heard. (p.7)

An extract from the CWC publication:


1. Cleaning and washing rice
2. Cutting vegetables

We can do this work
We are children of age 9-18

We have the information to clean and wash rice and cut vegetables, besides we have the capacity to understand the process.

For those of us who go to school it is okay if we spend half an hour helping with the cooking in our own houses. But we should not stay at home and be engaged in this work for the whole day

We cannot do this work
We are children of age 0-9

We are too young to do any of these chores; we do not have any experience. Our hands are weak. Knives used to cut vegetables can hurt our hands.

3. lightning the ‘choolah’ (oven)
4. cooking (getting food cooked)
5. grinding masala (spices)

We can do this work
We are children of age 15-18

We are well aware of the danger of working with fire. We have the physical ability and skill to do these activities.

If we do this work in our own houses for about 2 hours daily, then it is not harmful.

We cannot do this work
We are children of age 0-15

We lack the ability to do these jobs. Working near the stove/choolah can cause us burn injuries. Smoke from the choolah can cause respiratory problems, headache, burning sensation in the eyes, etc.

While getting rice cooked, the starch has to be separated from the rice. This is very risky and it may cause us burn injuries.

We do not have arms strong enough to grind masala; moreover it can hurt our fingers.

If children with mental or physical disability are engaged in these activities, it is harmful to them, whatever be their age.

Watering the plants

We can do this work
We are children of age 3-9

Our hands are strong enough to water the plants in front of the house for half an hour aday with a jug if the water is already available there.

We are children of age 9-12
If we are school going we can water the plants in front of our house for half an hour a day by bringing the wter from a distance of ½ furlong.

We are children of age 12-18
We have the required physical strength, strong hands and legs to do this work. We can draw water form the well and water our own paddy field and garden for 2 hours a day within a distance of 1km from the house. This is not harmful.

We cannot do this work
We are children of age 0-3

We are too young and lack strength to do any work.

Mentally and physical disabled children of any age group cannot do this work

Work we can and cannot do, by the Children of Balkur Panchayat, published by the Concerned for Working Children, 1999

Concerned for Working Children (CWC)

303/2, L B Shastri Nagar Vimanapura Post
Bangalore 560 017
Tel: 0091-80-25234611
Fax: 0091-80-25235034