In 1989 the UN established its landmark Convention on the Rights of the Child and all nations except the USA and Somalia signed the Convention. This Convention aimed at having national governments adopt policies and practices which gave greater rights to children.
Principle amongst these rights were the right to be consulted about decisions which affect their lives and to have their views accorded due weight with regard to the age, maturity and capacity of the child/children to engage with the issues.
Unfortunately, 21 years later most governments, especially at the local/municipal level still tend to talk about, rather than undertake consultation with children about the planning, construction and maintenance of local public infrastructure. In a recent research activity I found that of 117 British local authorities only two (2) had actually consulted a live child as opposed to talking about the importance of doing so. This is surely rather alarming given the vast amounts of money and political rhetoric expended in the past decade about every child mattering or not being left behind
Frequently any discussion of children and young people is conducted in terms of binary opposites with children seen as either helpless victims or uncontrollable criminals. Consequently we see many local authorities treating children as if they were a problem to be 'solved' (by use of noise, lighting, target-hardening etc), rather than as citizens who need to be engaged.
As a former police officer, my concern has always been to treat young people as part of the solution rather than the problem and now as a lecturer responsible for training future social workers, teachers, carers etc, I am interested in hearing of any work being done which actively consults with/ works with, children under the age of 10 years
There is lots of work out there that is aimed at working with children so I am not sure what you are after.
In Saskatoon, we try to include children in our Safety Audits and in our Neighourhood (nghd) Safety projects that look at identifying the issues in the nghd from the children and youth's perspective.
They are a difficult group to access and we have had some success through the schools and other youth groups that operate in some but now all nghds. There are some really good books and manuals around that can help set up various activities.
In my experience the issue is often the group or profession does not know how to properly access or talk to this segment of the population so they either ignore them or dont get a response and assume the youth are not interested or a selfish as everyone thinks...not true. They are similar to any other group that may need help "voicing" thier needs. For all intents and purposes they can be considered a marginilized group. We find that feeding them or attracting them in other ways or going to where they are is most effective.
Some other groups to check...
Canadian Institue of Planners (CIP) Canada has published a manual called A kid's Guide to Building Great Communities: A Manual for Planners and Educators (available for download on the website) that has a list of activities that can be used by teachers to help kids of all ages understand why we plan and why it is important and why they need to speak up. I have used many of these from Kindergarten to grade 12 (and even adults) with great success. I have also adapted some of them to work for safety as weil
Wendy Sarkissian work in Austrailia works with young people alot for planning and safety
Centre for Understanding the Built Environmnet (CUBE) US has a great website and books and lesson plans for teachers...it is around educating kids on the built environment but also can use the activities to glean information from them.
If you want to talk more you can reach me at email@example.com
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