Democratic participation relies on individuals taking collective ownership and deliberate roles in the societies where they live. From the earliest age children have the interest in their neighbors and communities to warrant actively engaging them in democracy; research, and international practice codified in the CRC, demonstrates that their evolving capacities necessitate opportunities for their active involvement. Children’s participation embraces these realities by connecting young people with meaningful opportunities to share their knowledge, ideas, actions, and more.
For a long time children’s participation was seen as the obligation of child-serving organizations only. Over the last decade we have seen the expansion of this concept as children’s participation is increasingly seen as essential in and by schools; local, regional and international governments; community development organizations; and in other sectors. Initially viewing children’s participation as effective marketing, businesses also have realized the necessity of actively engaging young people. Today, they continue to enrich their activities through technology. As recent developments in the Middle East have shown us, many activists are also realizing the potential of children’s participation, as indeed, many activists in that region are children.
Children’s participation is democratic participation, and serves to nurture all of the skills and knowledge young people need in order to be successful members of democratic society. By increasing the frequency of children’s participation, organizations and individuals can deepen the impact children have throughout society. This will help alleviate many of the worst conditions facing our world today, and help democracy transition to the new forms it will be required to have in the near future as technology and necessity continue to drive growth.
The preceding was an introduction I wrote for a proposed international guide that didn’t happen. Thought you might appreciate it.