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Children's Participation: From tokenism to citizenship


  • Roger A. Hart


A nation is democratic to the extent that its citizens are involved, particularly at the community level. The confidence and competence to be involved must be gradually acquired through practice. It is for this reason that there should be gradually increasing opportunities for children to participate in any aspiring democracy, and particularly in those nations already convinced that they are democratic. With the growth of children’s rights we are beginning to see an increasing recognition of children’s abilities to speak for themselves. Regrettably, while children’s and youths’ participation does occur in different degrees around the world, it is often exploitative or frivolous. This Essay is written for people who know that young people have something to say but who would like to reflect further on the process. It is also written for those people who have it in their power to assist children in having a voice, but who, unwittingly or not, trivialize their involvement.

Suggested Citation

  • Roger A. Hart, 1992. "Children's Participation: From tokenism to citizenship," Papers inness92/6, Innocenti Essay.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucf:inness:inness92/6

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    4. Nir, Tal & Perry-Hazan, Lotem, 2016. "The framed right to participate in municipal youth councils and its educational impact," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 174-183.
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    7. van Bijleveld, G.G. & Dedding, C.W.M. & Bunders-Aelen, J.F.G., 2014. "Seeing eye to eye or not? Young people's and child protection workers' perspectives on children's participation within the Dutch child protection and welfare services," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(P3), pages 253-259.
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    More about this item


    children's participation; children's rights; right to be heard;

    JEL classification:

    • K33 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - International Law


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