About the paper
Can you hear me? The right of young children to participate in decisions affecting them
emphasisesthat participation enhances children’s self-esteem andconﬁdence, promotes their overall capacities, producesbetter outcomes, strengthens understanding of andcommitment to democratic processes and protectschildren more effectively. Participation provides theopportunity for developing a sense of autonomy,independence, heightened social competence andresilience. The beneﬁts are therefore signiﬁcant, andadults with both direct and indirect responsibilityfor children need to acquire a greater humility inrecognising that they have a great deal to learn fromchildren. But the case for listening to young childrengoes beyond the beneﬁcial outcomes. It is also amatter of social justice and human rights. All people,however young, are entitled to be participants intheir own lives, to inﬂuence what happens to them,to be involved in creating their own environments, toexercise choices and to have their views respected andvalued.Creating environments where these entitlements arefulﬁlled for young children will necessitate profoundchange. In most countries throughout the world, thereis a continued perception of young children as passiverecipients of care and protection. Their capacities forparticipation are underestimated, their agency in theirown lives is denied and the value of involving them isunrecognised. Yet there is a growing and persuasivebody of evidence to challenge these barriers.
Cover: Khmu children (Laos). Photo:
/Lineair Fotoarchief Design: Valetti, bureau voor strategische communicatie en vormgeving, The Hague, The Netherlands