The Norwegian Ombudsman for Children on child participation
Perceptions, impacts and dilemmas
The adoption in 1989 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has seen a quantum leap in the recognition- and expansion of initiatives to uphold children’s participation rights. The Ombudsman for Children plays an important role in promoting children’s rights, thus stressing the importance of authorities taking children’s opinions and experiences into consideration when making decisions which affect them. This article examines how the staff at the Ombudsman for Children in Norway understand and experience child participation through expert meetings and expert groups, in which children are regarded as the experts. The findings suggest that the existence of a consultative approach, where children’s views influence decisions, depends on the effectiveness of the Ombudsman’s representative function. While there is evidence of the recent growth of platforms for children to express their views, the core elements of participation largely remain monopolized by adults. We argue that active participation should be deliberately promoted beyond adult-led realms, and extended to ordinary contexts in which children interact with the society.
Barne- og likestillingsdepartementet (1981). Lov om barneombud, Act No. 5 of March 6, 1981 (Act relating to the Ombudsman for Children, in Norwegian). Oslo: Barne- og likestillingsdepartementet.
Burke, T. (2010). Listen and Change: A Guide to Children and Young People's Participation Rights (2nd Edition): Participation Works.
Checkoway, B., Allison, T., & Montoya, C. (2005). Youth participation in public policy at the municipal level. Children and Youth Services Review, 27(10), 1149-1162. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2005.01.001
Chung, J., & Monroe, G. S. (2003). Exploring Social Desirability Bias. Journal of Business Ethics, 44(4), 291-302. doi:10.1023/A:1023648703356
Ciara, D. (2010). Children's participation in decision making: A Summary Report on progress made up to 2010. Retrieved March 2015 from: http://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/content/publications/content_412
Cloke, C., & Davies, M. (1997). Introduction. In C. Cloke & M. Davies (Eds.), Participation and Empowerment in Child Protection (pp. xiii-xxiv). West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Farrar, F., Ghannam, T., Manning, J., & Munro, E. (2010). Participation in contexts of social change. In B. P. Smith & N. Thomas (Eds.), A Handbook of Children and Young People's Participation Rights: Perspectives from Theory and Practice (pp. 83-87). London: Routledge.
Fereday, J., & Muir-Cochrane, E. (2008). Demonstrating Rigor Using Thematic Analysis: A Hybrid Approach of Inductive and Deductive Coding and Theme Development. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 5(1), 80-92.
Hart, J., Newman, J., Ackermann, L., & Feeny, T. (2004). Children changing their world: Understanding and evaluating children's participation in development. Retrieved January 2015 from: http://www.participatorymethods.org/resource/children-changing-their-world-understanding-and-evaluating-childrens-participation
Hart, R. A. (2008). Stepping Back from ‘The Ladder’: Reflections on a Model of Participatory Work with Children. In S. L. A. Reid, P. B. B. Jensen, J. Nikel, & A. P. V. Simovska (Eds.), Participation and Learning: Perspectives on Education and the Environment, Health and Sustainability (pp. 19-31): Springer Netherlands.
Healy, K. (1998). Participation and Child Protection: The Importance of Context. British Journal of Social Work, 28(6), 897-914.
Hodgkin, R., & Newell, P. (2008). Child Participation and Children’s Ombudsman Institutions within the European Union: Preliminary Report. Retrieved March 2015 from: http://resourcecentre.savethechildren.se/library/child-participation-and-childrens-ombudsman-institutions-within-european-union
Kimberlee, R. (2008). Streets ahead on safety: Young people's participation in decision making to address the European road injury ‘epidemic’. Health & Social Care in the Community, 16(3), 322-328. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2524.2008.00762.x
Kirby, P., & Laws, S. (2010). Advocacy for children in family group conferences: Reflections on personal and public decision making. In B. P. Smith & N. Thomas (Eds.), A Handbook of Children and Young People's participation Rights: Perspectives from Theory and Practice (pp. 113-120). London: Routledge.
Lansdown, G. (1997). Children's rights to participation and protection: A critique. In M. Davies & C. Cloke (Eds.), Participation and Empowerment in Child Protection (pp. 19-38). West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Lansdown, G. (2001). Promoting Children's Participation in Democratic Decision Making. Retrieved March 2015 from: http://www.researchgate.net/publication/24139927_Promoting_Children%27s_Participation_in_Democratic_Decision making
Lansdown, G. (2005). The Evolving Capacities of the Child. Retrieved January 2015 from: http://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/384
Lansdown, G. (2010). The realisation of children’s participation rights: Critical reflections. In B. P. Smith & N. Thomas (Eds.), A Handbook of Children and Young People's Participation Rights: Perspectives from Theory and Practice (pp. 11-23). London: Routledge.
Lansdown, G. (2011). Every Child's Right to be Heard. A Resource Guide on the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child General Comment No. 12: Save the Children UK. Retrieved February 2015 from: http://resourcecentre.savethechildren.se/sites/default/files/documents/5259.pdf
Malone, K., & Hartung, C. (2010). Challenges of participatory practice with children. In B. Percy-Smith & T. Nigel (Eds.), A handbook of children and young people's participation: Perspectives from theory and practice (pp. 24-38). London: Routledge.
Mannion, G. (2010). After participation: The socio-spatial performance of intergenerational becoming. In B. Percy-Smith & T. Nigel (Eds.), A Handbook of Children and Young People's participation Rights: Perspectives from Theory and Practice (pp. 330-342). London: Routledge.
Miljeteig, P. (2005). Children’s Ombudsman. Save the Children Norway’s experiences with supporting and cooperating with independent institutions protecting children’s rights - Volume 1. Retrieved February 2016 from: http://resourcecentre.savethechildren.se/library/childrens-ombudsman-save-children-norways-experiences-supporting-and-cooperating-independent
Munro, E. (2002). Effective Child Protection. London: Sage Publications Ltd.
National Committee for Research Ethics in Norway (2006). Guidelines for research ethics in the social sciences, law and the humanities: National Committees for Research Ethics in Norway. Retrieved October 2014 from: https://www.etikkom.no/globalassets/documents/english-publications/guidelines-for-research-ethics-in-the-social-sciences-law-and-the-humanities-2006.pdf
Neeley, S. B. & & Cronley, M. L. (2004). When Research Participants Don’t Tell It Like It Is: Pinpointing the Effects of Social Desirability Bias Using Self Vs. Indirect-Questioning. In K. Barbara & L. Frances (Eds.), Advances in Consumer Research (Vol. 31, pp. 432-433): Association for Consumer Research.
Percy-Smith, B., & Thomas, N. (2010). Conclusions: Emerging themes and new directions. In B. Percy-Smith & N. Thomas (Eds.), A handbook of children and young people's participation: Perspectives from theory and practice (pp. 356-366). London: Routledge.
Ponet, D. (2011). A handbook on child participation in Parliament. Handbook for Parliamentarians No. 18-2011: Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). Retrieved January 2016 from: http://www.ipu.org/PDF/publications/child-parl-e.pdf
Punch, K. F. (2005). Introduction to social research: Quantitative and qualitative approaches (2 ed.). London: Sage Publications Ltd.
Sedletzki, V. (2012). Championing Children's Rights: A global study of independent human rights institutions for children. Retrieved February 2016 from: http://resourcecentre.savethechildren.se/library/championing-childrens-rights-global-study-independent-human-rights-institutions-children
Smith, L., & Lødrup, P. (2004). Barn og foreldre: Forholdet mellom barn og foreldre etter barneloven av 1981 med senere endringer. (Children and parents: The relationship between children and parents under the Children Act 1981 as amended, in Norwegian). Oslo: Gyldendal Akademisk
Sommer, D., Pramling, S. I., & Hundeide, K. (2010). Child perspectives and children's perspectives in theory and practice (Vol. 2). Dordrecht: Springer.
The Ombudsman for Children in Norway (2013). Eksperthåndbok: Kort innføring I å holde ekspertmøter og opprette ekspertgrupper (The Expert Handbook: A short introduction on how to organize an expert meeting and to establish expert groups, in Norwegian). Retrieved March 2015 from: http://barneombudet.no/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/eksperthandbok.pdf
Theis, J. (2010). Children as active citizens: An agenda for children’s civil rights and civic engagement. In B. Percy-Smith & T. Nigel (Eds.), A Handbook of Children and Young People's participation Rights: Perspectives from Theory and Practice (pp. 343-355). London: Routledge.
Tisdall, K. E. M., Davis, J. M., & Gallagher, M. (2008). Reflecting on Children and Young People's Participation in the UK. The International Journal of Children's Rights, 16(3), 343-354. doi:10.1163/157181808X311187
UNHCR (2012). A Framework for the Protection of Children. Retrieved February 2016 from: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fe875682.html
Van Bijleveld, G. G., Dedding, C. W. M., & Bunders-Aelen, J. F. G. (2014). Seeing eye to eye or not? Young people's and child protection workers' perspectives on children's participation within the Dutch child protection and welfare services. Children and Youth Services Review, 47, Part 3, 253-259. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2014.09.018
Verhellen, E., & Weyts, A. (2003). Understanding Children’s Rights. Collected papers presented at the Sixth International Interdisciplinary Course on Children’s Rights. Ghent papers on children’s rights (series), 7. Ghent: Children’s Right Centre.
Welbourne, P. (2012). Social work with children and families:Developing advanced practice. London: Routledge.
Wessells, M. (2009). What Are We Learning About Protecting Children in the Community? An inter-agency review of the evidence on community-based child protection mechanisms in humanitarian and development settings. Retrieved January 2016 from: http://www.unicef.org/wcaro/documents_publications_6473.html
White, S., & Choudhury, S. A. (2010). Children's participation in Bangladesh. Issues of agency and structures of violence. In B. P. Smith & N. Thomas (Eds.), A Handbook of Children and Young People's participation Rights: Perspectives from Theory and Practice (pp. 41-50). London: Routledge.
WHO (2008). Guide for Documenting and Sharing “Best Practices” in Health Programmes. Retrieved Mai 2015 from: http://afrolib.afro.who.int/documents/2009/en/GuideBestPractice.pdf
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.