Adult Resistance to Children’s Participation

Andy WestBeijing, China


Many adults avoid and resist children’s participation. Even organisations promoting children’s participation and their staff can find reasons why meaningful participation is not possible. Local culture and perceptions of childhood are often cited as explanations for not initiating or facilitating participation, but these explanations can be seen as excuses, founded on wanting to keep control over use of time and decision-making. Hierarchically structured organisations focusing on outcomes and results as a measure of performance often cannot easily accommodate children’s participation. A focus on process might dissipate the power structure and rationales for outputs and planning. Explanations of constraints on participation and adult-child relationships are analyzed here through dimensions such as age, authority and teaching, hierarchies and respect, peer education and leadership, and forms of practice including organizational methods and the working and social behaviors with which adults are familiar.

Full paper...