Conference Agenda

RN04_09b: Protecting and promoting children's rights and well-being
Friday, 23/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Lucía del Moral-Espín, University of Cadiz
Location: GM.328
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor 4 Rosamond Street West Off Oxford Road
Time allocation: 8' presentations directly followed by 2' consecutive discussion on each paper presented, and at the end of the session 10' general discussion of all papers presented in the session.


A Critical Sociological View on the Child Rights Governance of the EU: Where European Children Stand?

Turkan Firinci Orman


The main objective of this paper is to offer an alternative society-centric perspective on the Child Rights Governance (CRG) in the EU which could be grounded on the new theory of the sociology of childhood while using the operational capacity of the New Modes of Governance (NMG) applied to the children’s rights sphere. The research will follow a descriptive analysis which is mainly based on the literature review. The legal perspective on CRG of the EU has many shortcomings such as tokenism on children’s political participation and a need for better mechanisms; the stress on the protection of children and less interest in their empowerment; the fact that the EU as a non-state actor in international politics cannot ratify the UNCRC; and formidable changes which UNCRC presupposes and requires running against the grain of popular beliefs and practices of elected officials, administrators, and the generality of citizens. By addressing these shortcomings and gaps of such normative approach it is debated that the new theory could provide a bottom-up approach for CRG in which children are better represented with further reaching their participation rights in the EU. The NMG will be also debated and compared with the existing child rights institutions and mechanism (both private/civil and/or public) including various actors such as the special networks, NGOs, and, other formal mechanisms regulated by laws (such as the ombudsmanship for children). The findings and the results could lead to future research aiming to design better political participation models and tools for children in the EU.

Keywords: Child Rights, the EU, New Modes of Governance, Sociology of Childhood.

Does Economic Distress Undermine Children’s Wellbeing?

Marja Lindberg, Mikael Nygård, Fredrica Nyqvist

Åbo Akademi University, Finland

Even though Finland is known for its comprehensive family policy, sluggish growth, uncertain labour markets and austerity policies such as cutting of child benefit, have undermined the economic security of families with children and put families in the risk zone of poverty, health inequalities and other kinds of ill-being. Earlier research show that austerity policy and economic distress have affected the wellbeing of families and hence the wellbeing of children. However, earlier studies mostly have focused on parents’ or family wellbeing and the knowledge of children’s experiences has mainly been studied by asking parents or other adults. We analyse the experience of wellbeing amongst Finnish children and whether wellbeing is related to the economic situation of the family. We also study the influence of self-confidence, health, friends, bullying, leisure time activities and school satisfaction on children’s wellbeing. We use the data of the international survey of children’s lives and wellbeing conducted by Children’s Worlds project during the years 2013–2014. The results show that worrying about family economic has a significant impact on the wellbeing of children. The other factors related to subjective wellbeing are for instance self-confidence, health, friends, bullying and school satisfaction.

Participation As Methodological And Ethical Issue In Child Protection Research

Johanna Kiili1, Johanna Moilanen2

1University of Jyväskylä, Finland; 2JAMK University of Applied Sciences, Finland

The presentation discusses children’s participation in recent child protection research by asking how children are involved with research activities and what are the methodological and ethical decisions made by researchers. The dilemmatic issue in child protection research is the balancing between children’s rights to participation and protection, which is interlinked, in essence, to the matter of power relations between adults and children.

The presentation discusses findings of an integrative literature review of 78 journal articles. The integrative review methodology summarises and synthesises research from diverse range of methodologies to provide more comprehensive understanding of a phenomenon. The review addresses so-called emerging topic, which means holistic conceptualisation and synthesis of the literature, as there are very few comprehensive reviews made on this topic.

Studies included in review are peer-reviewed studies with original data (collected from children), methodological quality, and with clearly defined research questions. In review, children’s participation is approached by using the conceptualisation of ethics in practice (Guillemin and Gillam 2004). Ethics in practice means day-to-day ethical issues that arise in doing of research and are the ones that arise and persist after the ethics approval has been granted.

Majority of the studies included in the review have rather traditional adult-led approach for doing research with children. Researchers are the ones who decide on the research design and child welfare professionals and parents assess the eligibility of the children. To put it short, children are the ones who adapt (and be suitable) for research, not the vice versa. The presentation addresses, with more detail, the boundaries and barriers of children’s participation in child protection research and their possibilities for recognition.

The impact of the Great Recession on the wellbeing of "Latchkey Children" in Spain 2008-2018

Clarisa María Giamello, Gonzalo De Castro

Educo Foundation, Spain

The effects of the Great Recession in Spain (2008-2018), analyzed through daily life and people's life aspirations, expose the limits related to improving wellbeing in a Development model based on economic growth.

These limits can be perceived in the inconsistency between social policy arguments that focus on employability as a mechanism of social integration, and the cost that this has had for thousands of families. It is also evident in the challenges faced by organizations and local governments as a result of the increase in social problems and needs, and the lack of necessary resources for addressing them. The dilemma in both examples is to find individual or local solutions to structural and supranational problems.

Bearing in mind the characteristics of the period, this research on the lives of latchkey children, developed by Educo, shows the effects of the Great Recession on a vulnerable, diffuse, invisible group that has brought poverty and precariousness indoors.

These are children unwillingly living in social isolation, with parents who have little time, few resources for resisting the risk of poverty, and above all a lack of close family and social relationships. The scarcity in these three areas shows the relational impact of poverty and social exclusion on children and adolescent wellbeing. The research has also revealed the existence of a particular group that survives in extreme hardship, in densely populated urban environments, and most often in single mother families. The Other Latchkey Children reflects an apocalyptic version of globalization in the 21st century.

‘School is Just a Problem. All They Care About is the A Grades.’ Young People Navigating Barriers to Their Educational Journeys.

Deborah Jane Crook, Candice Satchwell

University of Central Lancashire, United Kingdom

This paper will argue that boundaries and barriers to young people’s educational journeys are culturally specific, value laden and do little to ensure children’s participation and education rights. The UK has increased access to higher education for growing numbers of young people but a gap remains between those experiencing disadvantage and those less so. Young people’s lives can be complex, influenced by multifarious experiences and circumstances, which present obstacles to their educational journeys. However, how they are supported to navigate such journeys may be more significant than the obstacles themselves. Standardisation and emphasis on subject teaching rather than opportunities for active participation and nurture of young people’s talents, personalities and abilities in schools, draws attention away from structural boundaries, whilst placing artificial responsibility on individual children to adhere to increasingly narrow courses of education that many are ill equipped to follow. Through arts-based methods in a qualitative study in disadvantaged areas of Lancashire, young people identified barriers to their educational journeys, the ways they are sometimes able to overcome such barriers and the relationships necessary to do so. Belonging is an essential ingredient in young people’s understandings of such resilience, built through consistent and positive relationships, where capabilities are acknowledged and encouraged.

History as a Playground. A Study of Children's Visit to a Historical Theme Park

Tobias Hans Olof Samuelsson, Carl-Johan Svensson

Jököping University, Sweden

The mix of entertainment and education – edutainment - is an ever-growing trend blurring the distinction between for example museums, zoos and amusement parks. Edutainment establishments attracts growing numbers of children, families and schools every year. The edutainment business is said to offer new methods and different ways of spreading knowledge and tries to introduce novel, surprising approaches to attract visitors. Often the parks use hands-on-pedagogy and visitors get to experience and try features first-handed. The establishments thus expect an active, explorative and interested visitor. Then again, at times it is questioned what visitors actually learn from edutainment institutions, and if the entertainment does not more or less dominate a visit to these places. Research in the field is still scarce and particularly when it comes to studies where researchers follows visitors during their visits.

This paper report on a study of 10-12-year-old school children’s visit to a western theme park in Sweden, a theme park distributing an historical journey back to the 1870s America. In the paper we use Gibsons theory of affordances to highlight how the children take on different features and how they through their actions enacts the park. Using material from participant observations during the children’s visits to the park we specifically analyse how the children react to the parks use of history and the parks mix of entertainment and education. The paper thus highlights the visiting children’s contribution in the very learning experience.

Do Children Have a Voice? The Legitimacy of Research with Children on the example of Poland

Aleksandra, Katarzyna Zalewska-Królak

University of Warsaw, Poland

Research with children in Poland is not a common. It is even said that they are silent voices. This may be related to the marginalization of this social group. Unfortunately, children are barred from the opportunity to speak out on the one hand because still exist people who believes that they are incomplete creatures, and on the other because these kinds of researches are difficult.

If we want to answer the question whether research with children is justified, we have to talk to them. During my research I used the methodology that I consulted with my specialists - children. The same research tool developed together was used later during the focus groups and individual interviews with children and representatives of their social world, such as, for example: parents, teachers, pedagogues, psychologists, family judges, architects, employees of community centers and NGOs, etc. In Poland, the approach to children as citizens has been slowly changing in recent times. For the celebration of the 100th anniversary of independence of Poland, the Polin Museum decided to create an exhibition in accordance with Korczak's assumptions for small and large people. The action is aimed at convincing about the sense of conversation with children about the history, including topics as a war. In my research, I am trying to analyze such movements by confronting them with actions that exclude children.

Research with children can broaden the description of the examined social reality, show an important perspective, however, only when we design them well.

Key words: research with children, children’s voice, qualitative sociology, research with children in Poland, public policies