Including children and young people in practice and policy decisions
Children and young people have historically been seen as passive and incapable of participating in the decisions that affect their lives. But as society has become more aware of child’s rights and the importance of inclusive citizenship, opportunities have arisen for children to become involved and considered in decision-making processes.
Dr Ben Lohmeyer is a writer, researcher and lecturer in social policy at Flinders University. Much of his work has focused on children and young people, and popular discourse which has minimised or disqualified their potential contributions to social policy. In this episode of the Emerging Minds podcast, he discusses society’s ‘exclusionary’ attitudes towards children and young people, and looks at the ways in which practitioners, organisations and institutions can collaborate with children to make their views, preferences, hopes and concerns a central part of decision-making and problem-solving approaches. Ben is interested in the ways that children and young people have become increasingly involved in activism – around climate change, for example. He believes there are still many ways that children’s voices get minimised or disqualified by society but is deeply interested in the ways that children have persevered and been able to make protest, despite these obstacles.
In his work as a social policy lecturer, Ben is committed to the ethic of inclusion. This moves away from the traditional, ‘banking’ notion of teaching, where wisdom and truth are owned by the teacher (or the most powerful), towards learning strategies that focus on the student’s own know-how, reflections and preferences. In this way, Ben hopes that these future social workers will themselves favor practices with children and young people that are based on principles of co-creation and privileging the child’s voice.
In this episode you will learn:
- the dangers of excluding children’s voices from important decisions like social policy, overcoming problems, or creating safe and nurturing spaces (05:59)
- how moving towards more participatory teaching and service intervention models can benefit children and enhance your engagements with them (10:49)
- how the voices of people with lived experience are now being prioritised in research and co-design processes (21:18)
- how to create spaces for children and young people to provide feedback; and the importance of adults being able to accept feedback that might be difficult to hear, or uncomfortable, or even unexpected (27:32)
- the importance of understanding the different ways of communicating that children and young people have, and using their own reference points, rather than judging them from your own point of view (32:18).