This page is our developing reference library and links to relevant research, evaluation, discussion papers and literature reviews on children and youth participation and more broadly – the dynamics of community mobilisation. It brings everything we like to remember into one place and we hope it helps students who focus on this area of research. Our Director, Clare Hanbury began collecting in October 2011. Please let us know what we are missing and keep visiting this page!

Strategy Documents and Reports linked to Child or Adolescent Health and/or Children’s Participation

Annotated Links to work on Children’s Participation and Youth Participation

  • Social Dynamics of CLTS: Inclusion of children, women and the vulnerable (Bangladesh) by Amina Mahbub (2009). This study  forms part of the IDS research project Going to Scale? The Potential of Community-led Total Sanitation looks at the intensity and significance of the participation of women and children in CLTS processes in several villages of Dinajpur District, Bangladesh. It also seeks to identify the extent of inclusion of the extreme poor and marginalised in the process and their experience over time.
  • Children as agents of change: practitioners’ perspectives on children’s participation in Community-Led Total Sanitation (Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania) Dissertation by Katie Fernandez submitted as part of the MSc Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London (September 2008). Children’s participation in development projects has only recently become a priority for donors and development agencies. “New” social studies of childhood have also recently arisen, understanding children as competent social actors, and childhood as a social construct. Locating the similarities between this new sociology and actor-oriented approaches to development allows us to analyse the limitations and potentialities of children’s agency, through their participation in development projects. Consideration of practitioners’ experiences and perceptions of children’s participation in Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) enables us to draw out themes to highlight some problematic areas of framing children, and some potentialities for real transformation. Children’s participation should not be seen as a panacea, and the limiting effects of both global and local discourses should not be denied, but at the same time the possibilities of children’s agency at the grass-roots should not be overlooked.
  • Street and Working Children’s Participation in Programming for their Rights: Conflicts Arising from Diverse Perspectives and Directions for Convergence by Claire O’Kane, Children, Youth and Environments 13(1) (Spring 2003). This paper draws conceptual and practical lessons from the experiences of Butterflies Programme of Street and Working Children in Delhi, India, within the historical and political framework of child rights-participation focused work in South Asia. It creates space for children’s own experiences, perceptions, and concerns as a central component of child- focused development work. Empowering street and working children to reflect upon their experiences, articulate their views, plan effective programs and advocate for their own rights will enable them to challenge the status quo regarding children’s place and power in society. The lessons are relevant to current academic discourse on the social construction of childhoods and to debates concerning good development practice with marginalized children. Preparing adults to listen to children can help minimize conflicts that may arise when street children advocate for their own rights due to disparities in power and differing perceptions among stakeholders (e.g., parents, police, non-government organizations). The paper also advocates for strategic approaches that build upon children’s self-esteem and give them access to key decision-makers.
  • Promoting Strategic Adolescent Participation by Rakesh Rajani. This paper aims to stimulate further discussion and serve as a resource for promoting strategic adolescent participation in UNICEF at global and country levels. It is divided into 2 main parts. The first part of the paper provides the theoretical and conceptual basis for effective adolescent participation, while the latter part focuses on the programmatic and strategic aspects of promoting effective adolescent development. The underlying conceptual basis for this paper is that a developmental approach that emphasizes investing in young people’s assets and protective factors is far more effective than focusing on how to deal with their myriad problems. 
  • ‘Children, Agency and Violence: In and beyond the United Nations Study on Violence against Children’ (UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Florence) by Natasha Blanchet-Cohen, Innocenti Working Paper No. IDP 2009-10 (2009). Projects for working children have been in the front line of Save the Children initiatives to help children fulfil their right to participation. To capture this experience, and draw from it principles of good practice, the International Save the Children Alliance commissioned case study research in Bangladesh, Brazil, Guatemala and Honduras in Central America, India and Senegal. Of the seven projects studied, four were small in scale and tightly focused on particular groups of working children, two were large-scale programmes directly engaging thousands of working children, and one set out to introduce child participation into macro-level planning and policy implementation. This report presents the findings from that research.

Dynamics of Community Mobilisation

  • The Dynamics and Sustainability of CLTS: Mapping challenges and pathways This Working Paper by Synne Movik and Lyla Mehta seeks to map out and understand the social, technological and ecological dynamics of CLTS implementation in order to better appreciate the long-term sustainability issues of CLTS and realise its full potential for improving people’s lives and well-being. The paper looks at the idea of dynamic systems, teasing out the ways in which socio-technical-ecological systems interact to produce particular outcomes. Then it goes on to examine perceptions of sustainability, before exploring the implications for governance and scaling-up of CLTS. You may also like to read the shorter Steps Briefing Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS): Challenges and opportunities which is related to the Working Paper. Both publications form part of a series of publications by the Steps Centre
  • Social Cohesion: The Missing Link to Better Health and Nutrition in a Globalized World,
    Kirsten Havemann, World Bank and Pat Pridmore, Institute of Education, University of London. This paper argues that health and social sector planners do not take sufficient account of the social determinants of health when aiming for better outcomes. It focuses on social structures rather than individuals and acknowledges the need for a multidisciplinary approach. Based on a literature review on social cohesion and health development planning, the paper presents a conceptual framework for assessing health and nutrition outcomes and then employs this framework by drawing on fieldwork from Kenya. The study examines the link between the use of a social educational process to promote social cohesion and a change in the nutrition and health status of children under five years of age*. It then identifies factors at the community level that helped or hindered health outcomes. Finally, the paper draws out the lessons learned for further development of social sector policies and asks whether health and social planners are being adequately exposed and trained to effectively respond to social issues.  It calls for a wholesale re-tooling of the public health work-force to balance the individualistic biomedical and economic view of the world with a collective, social science focus on community and social structures and considers how to move from research to policy development. This process includes the formation of child-to-child clubs where children explore, plan, take action and reflect this action in relation to the issue of under-nutrition in their community.

References on children’s participation 

Alderson P (1993) Children’s consent to surgery. Open University Press, Buckingham.

Alderson P (1997) Changing our behaviour: Promoting positive behaviour by the staff and pupils of Highfield Junior School. Highfield Junior School/Institute of Education, London.

Salkire, S. (2010) Human Development: Definitions, Critiques and Related Concepts. Human Development Research paper, UNDP.

Blanchet-Cohen, N. (2009) ‘Children, Agency and Violence: In and beyond the United Nations Study on Violence against Children’, Innocenti Working Paper No. IDP 2009-10 UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Florence.

Biggeri, M., Libanora, R., Mariani, S. And Menchini, L. (2006) Children Conceptualising their Capabilities: Results of a Survey Conducted during the First Children’s World Congress on Child Labour. Journal of Human Development, Vol 7, No. 1, March. Routledge.

Biggeri, M. and Anich, R. (2009) The deprivation of street children in Kampala: Can the capability approach and participatory methods unlock a new perspective in research and decision making? Monde en development, Vol37, 2009/2-No.146.

Boyden J, Ling B and Myers W (1998) What works for working children. Radda Barnen/UNICEF, Stockholm Bronfenbrenner U (1979) The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Harvard University Press, Cambridge.

Bruner JS (1975) From communication to language: A psychological perspective. Cognition 3, 255-87 Carr M and May H (2000) Te Whariki: curriculum voices. In Penn H (ed) Early childhood services: Theory, policy and practice. Open University Press, Buckingham.

Clark A and Moss P (2001) Listening to young children: The mosaic approach. National Children’s Bureau, London.

Clark A and Moss P (2004) Young children’s participation: Spaces to play. Thomas Coram research Unit, London.

Concerned for Working Children (2001) ‘Work we can and cannot do’ by the children of Balkur. Concerned for Working Children, Bangalore.

CRC/C/GC/12 (July 2009) Committee on the Rights of the Child General Comment No.12, The Right of the Child to be Heard.

CRIN Newsletter (2002) Knowing rights from wrong. In CRIN newsletter on Children and young people’s participation, 16, October 2002.

Davies L and Kirkpatrick G (2000) The Euridem Project: A review of pupil democracy in Europe. Children’s Rights Alliance for England.

Donaldson M (1978) Children’s minds. Fontana, Glasgow.

Edwards C, Gandini L and Forum G (1993) The hundred languages of children: The Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education. Ablex Publishing, New Jersey.

Feinstein, C. and O’Kane, C. (2009) Children and adolescent’s participation and protection from sexual abuse and exploitation. UNICEF Innocenti Publication, IWP 2009-09.

Feinstein, C., Giertsen, A. and O’Kane, C. (2009) Children’s Participation in Armed Conflict and Post Conflict Peace Building.’ Barry Percy-Smith and Nigel Thomas (Ed) ‘A Handbook of Children and Young People’s Participation’. Routlegde.

Gibson E and Pick AD (2002) An ecological approach to perceptual learning and development. Oxford University Press, New York.

Hare J (1993) Adults find it hard to listen. Born and Unge, Vol 24, no 48, p19.

Hart J (2004) Children changing their world: Understanding and evaluation children’s participation in development. Plan International, Woking42.

Hart R (1997) Children’s participation: The theory and practice of involving young citizens in community development and environmental care. UNICEF, New York.

Hart, J. and Tyrer, B. (2006) Research with Children Living in Conflict Situations: Concept, Ethics and Method. University of Oxford: Refugee Studies Centre. Paper 30, Working Paper Series.

Hodgkin R and Newell P (1998) Article 12. In: Implementation Handbook, for the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. UNICEF.

Inter-agency Working Group on Children’s Participation (2008) Children as Active Citizens: A Policy and Programme Guide. Commitments and Obligations for Children’s Civil Rights and Civic Engagement in East Asia and the Pacific.

Infante F (2004) Child participation: Bridging the gap between social exclusion and citizenship. Mexico. Unpublished.

James, A. and Prout (1990; 1997) Constructing and Re-constructing Childhood.

Jones, A. (2005) ‘The case of CARE International in Rwanda’ in Gready and Ensor (Eds) Reinventing Development? Translating Rights- Based Approaches: From Theory into Practice. Zed Books, London.

Lancaster YP and Broadbent V (2003) Listening to young children. Open University Press, Maidenhead.

Lancaster YP (2003) Promoting listening to young children: A reader. In Listening to young children, by Lancaster YP and Broadbent V. Open University Press, Maidenhead.

Lansdown G (2001) It’s our world too! A report on the lives of disabled children. Rights for disabled children/ Disability Awareness in Action, London.

Lansdown G (2002) Human rights and learning. In Learning democracy and citizenship: international experiences, by Schwieswurth, Davies L, and Harber C (eds). Symposium Books, Oxford.

Lansdown G (2003) Involving children and young people in shaping the work of Save the Children. Save the Children UK, London (unpublished paper).

Lansdown G (2004) Regional analysis of children and young people’s participation in South Asia: implications for policy and practice. UNICEF ROSA, Kathmandu.

Lansdown G and Goldhagen J (2005) Children’s rights and children’s health: The interface, A course for health professionals. American Academy of Pedicatrics.

Lansdown G (2005) The evolving capacities of children: Implications for the exercise for rights. UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Florence.

Lansdown, G. (2005) Can you hear me? The right of young children to participate in decisions affecting them. Bernard Van Leer Foundation.

Lansdown, G. (2011) A Framework for Monitoring and Evaluating Children’s Participation: A participatory draft for piloting.

Larsen H R and Larsen M (eds) Listen to children – A book on children as citizens. Det Tvaeministerielle Borneudvalg og Kulturministeriets Arbejdsgruppe om Born og Kultur, Copenhagen.

Mahbub A. (2009) Social Dynamics of CLTS: Inclusion of children, women and the vulnerable Children’s Rights Office.

Miller J (2003) Never too young: How young children can take responsibility and make decisions. Save the Children, London.

Murray L and Andrews L (2000) The social baby. CP Publishing, London.

O’Kane, C (2003). Street and Working Children’s Participation in Programming for their Rights: Conflicts Arising from Diverse Perspectives and Directions for Convergence. Children, Youth and Environments 13(1).

O’Kane, C. (2003) Children and Young People as Citizens: Partners for Social Change. Save the Children. South and Central Asia.

O’Kane, C. (2003b) Children and Young People as Citizens: Partners for Social Change. 2: Learning from Experience. Save the Children South and Central Asia.

O’Kane, C. (2007) Supporting the Development of Children’s Groups and Networks in Afghanistan: Reflections on Practice and Possibilities. Child Youth and Environments, 17 (1): 222-236, Special Issue on Children’s Participation, South and Central Asia.

O’Kane, C., Feinstein., C. and Giertsen, A. (2009) Children and Young People in Post Conflict Peace-Building in Nosworthy, D. (Ed.) Seen, but not Heard! Placing Children and Youth on the Security Agenda. Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF).

Plan (2004) Children Changing their World: Understanding and Evaluating Children’s Participation in Development by Hart, J., Newmann, J., Ackerman, L. and Feeny, T.

Rajani R (2000) Discussion paper for partners on promoting strategic adolescent participation. UNICEF, New York Reggio Children (1995) A journey into the rights of children. The Unheard Voice of Children series References 43.

Ratna, K. (2011) Children’s Impact on State Governance: Overarching Issues. In Enakshi Ganguly Thukrai (Eds) Every Right for Every Child: Governance and Accountability.

Rich D (2004) Listening as a way of life: Listening to babies. National Children’s Bureau, London.

Rinaldi C (1998) In Grandparents at the infant-toddler centres and pre-schools, by Fontanesi G. Rechild (2) April 1998.

Rogoff B, Matusov E, and White E (1975) Age assignment of roles and responsibilities in children: A cross cultural study. Human Development 18.

Rogoff B, Sellers MJ, Pirrotta S, Fox N, and White SH (eds) (1996) Models of teaching and learning; participation in a community of learners. In The handbook of education and human development, by Olson D and Torrance N. Cambridge, Mass, Blackwell.

Save the Children (1995) Towards a children’s agenda: New challenges for social development. Save the Children, London.

Save the Children (1999) A journey of discovery: Children’s creative participation in planning. Children’s Discovery Centre/Save the Children, London. See also

Save the Children (2003) Stepping together for education: Save the Children UK’s education programme in Nepal. Save the Children, Kathmandu.

Save the Children (2007) Getting it Right for Children: A Practitioners Guide to Child Rights Programming.

Save the Children Norway (2008) Global Report: Adults War and Young Generations Peace: Children’s Participation in Armed Conflict, Post Conflict and Peace Building. Feinstein, C. and O’Kane C.

Save the Children Norway (2008b) Ethical Guidelines for ethical, meaningful and inclusive children’s participation in participation practice. Feinstein, C. and O’Kane, C.

Save the Children (2010) Speaking Out, Being Heard: Experiences of child participation and accountability to children from around the work.

Save the Children, Plan and War Child Holland (2009) with Children: Examples of Children and Young People’s Participation.

Sen, A. K. (1999) Development as Freedom.

Sawitz KJ and Lyon T (1999) Sensitively assessing children’s testimonial competence. Harbor UCLA Research and Education Institute.

Sinclair R, Cronin K, Lanyon L, Stone V, Hulsi A (2002) Aim high, stay real: Outcomes for children and young people: the views of children, parents and professionals. Children and Young People’s Unit, London.

Taylor N, Smith A and Tapp P (1999) Children, family law and family conflict: Subdued voices. Available from Nicole Taylor here.

Theis, J. and O’Kane, C. (2005) ‘Children’s participation, civil rights and power’ in Gready and Ensor (Eds) Reinventing Development? Translating Rights- Based Approaches: From Theory into Practice. Zed Books, London.

UNICEF, Wheels of Change: Children and young people’s participation in South Asia, UNICEF, Kathmandu, 2004.

UNICEF (2009) Machel Study 10 Year Strategic Review: Children and Conflict in a Changing World. Chapter 4 ‘Children as Peace Makers’ co-written by Jason Hart and Claire O’Kane.

Tizard B and Hughes M (1984) Young children learning. London, Fontana.

UNICEF (2003) Children and young people’s perceptions on implementation of the convention on the rights of the child. UNICEF Bangladesh, Dhaka.

Vygotsky LS (1978) Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes, Harvard University Press, London.

Wells G (1978) Talking with children: The complimentary roles of parents and teachers. English in Education 12, 2. pp. 15-38.

Whiting BB and Edwards C (1973) A cross cultural analysis of sex differences in behaviour of children aged 3–11. Journal of Social Psychology, 91,171–88.

Willow C (2002) Participation in practice: Children and young people as partners in change. Children’s Society, London.

Willow C and Hyder T (1998) It hurts you inside. National Children’s Bureau/Save the Children, London.

Stepney and Wapping Community Child Health Project (1993–95), Stepney Community Nursing Development Unit Research and Development Programme, London.