Evolving Capacities and Participation

to appear in International Institute for Child Rights and Development

Gerison Lansdown

Published: December 2003

Keywords: child, children, rights, capacities, participation, protection, strategies, development, decision-making, Education


In most societies in the world, adults continue to assume they know best: that they have the wisdom, the experience, and the knowledge with which to act in children's best interests. However, the Convention on the Rights of the Child demands that we question that assumption. It insists that we listen to children and that their views must inform decisions and actions taken on behalf of children. It also insists that we promote, respect and protect children's own capacities to take responsibility for those decisions and action they are competent to take for themselves. Opportunities for active participation are essential for the development of children's capacities. Recognition of children's capacities for participation is an essential element in the realisation of their rights. And respect for children's capacity to participate is essential for their own protection. These messages have begun to be understood over the past decade. Initiatives established to listen to children have developed in countries throughout the world, and at every level from governments down to local community projects. As yet, these initiatives tend to offer children the chance to be consulted, with relatively few opportunities for children to participate actively in the process of influencing decisions, policies and services which impact on their lives. And it is the latter, in which there is a transfer of significant decision-making to children that provides real opportunities for personal and social development.

Disciplines: Child Rights

Publication: http://web.uvic.ca/iicrd/graphics/CIDA%20CAP%20Report%20%20-%20Evolving%20Capacity%20and%20Participation.12.03.pdf