Article 12 of the un Convention on the Rights of the Child (uncrc) declares that young people have the right to express views and to have these taken into account when decisions are made that affect them. Yet, children’s voices are still not universally heard in policy and operational discourses. In many areas of service delivery in particular, young people remain disenfranchised, in spite of evidence which attests to their desire positively to engage with adult decision makers. Challenging the apparent discordance between the rhetoric relating to young people’s decision making and reality (as perceived by children), this article offers a new and innovative template for researching with young people as partners for change in the specific context of research dissemination. Seeking to enhance understanding and influence practice, the article sheds some much-needed light on how participation rights can be made “real” at a local level.
Young people are frequently exhorted to participate ‘more’ in decision making, both formally and informally. Paradoxically, no standard or comprehensively used measurement tool through which young people’s right to participate in decision making exists. However, a range of participation scales have been developed and these mainly adult-generated tools feature prominently in literature, impacting upon, and informing policy and participative practice. Yet, despite the emphasis on young people’s right to participate in those things which affect them, including how their participation is measured, examples of young person-generated approaches to understanding the extent of their decision making are somewhat elusive. Drawing upon research undertaken in Swansea to explore how young people thought their participation in decision making should be measured, this article focuses and reflects upon the development of an appropriate, participative methodology, the views which young people offered through the enquiry, and the construction of a new participation measurement scale.