Young people feel excluded on decisions that effect their lives
Monday 12 July 2010
The National Participation Forum (NPF) today launches the latest
research on `Children's Participation in Decision-Making'. A poll
of over 1,000 young people and a summary of research evidence shows
that despite progress, children and young people still do not feel
they are being listened to by public services on matters that
affect their lives.
Although children and young people are one of the largest user
groups of public services, the research shows that national surveys
about healthcare, quality of local service provision and civic
activity often fail to ask them about their experiences.
Children also feel that they have relatively little influence on
decisions made in the area where they live. There has been little
change in the low levels of involvement for children under eight
and children aged 7 to 11 were most likely to state that adults
never listened to them.
Very few children thought their views were taken seriously by MPs.
Just 13% believe that the government takes their views seriously
'always' or 'most of the time'. Young people's perception of their
influence on decisions made by government also falls as they grow
older with 26% of 7 to 9 year olds believing they have 'little' or
'no' influence, rising to 65% for 16 and 17 year olds.
Barbara Hearn, Deputy Chief Executive at NCB comments, "20% of the
UK population is made up of children and young people under the age
of 18 but as they are not allowed to vote, there is no formal way
for them to exercise their right to have their views and opinions
Barbara continues, "This latest research provides a real insight
into the levels and ways in which children are currently involved
in decision-making. Great strides have been made in recent years to
ensure children and young people have a voice on issues that affect
their lives but there is still much to do as this research shows.
In 1991, the UK Government ratified the UN Convention on the Rights
of the Child (UNCRC), guaranteeing all children and young people
the right to express their views freely in all matters that effect
them. We want children and young people to feel they can freely
express themselves but also that this expression can have an
influence on decisions that affect their lives and can bring about
The research summary, supported by the Office of the Children's
Commissioner, also indicates that society as a whole gains
considerably from children's involvement in decision-making. The
feedback from the focus group interviews suggested that being a
member of an active school council or youth forum means that some
children are ideally placed to develop their confidence and public
Maggie Atkinson, Children's Commissioner said "It is crucial to
involve children and young people in decisions that affect their
lives as this leads to successful and efficient services. If
young people feel they have a stake in organisations or services
this develops their ownership and use of those services. This in
turn enhances their role and stake in wider society. This report
highlights the progress made in participation over the last five
years and it is clear that adults believe involving children in
decisions brings strong rewards.
However despite some progress, barriers remain. All sectors
of society need to promote greater participation of children and
young people, no matter their age or background. This means every
organisation working with children or, just as importantly, making
decisions about their lives should look at how they can involve
children to create services whose users champion them."
Children's Participation in Decision-Making and the series of
reports: An Equal Place at the Table for Children and Young People
can be downloaded from