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Paying attention to children’s participation rights has gained momentum during the late 20th century. The study explored the views and experiences of children between 10 and 12 years in relation to ‘children having a voice in matters that affect them and their views will be given due weight in accordance with their age and maturity’ 10 years on from the National Children’s Strategy (NCS, 2000). Focus groups were employed to carry out the research. Children in the study demonstrated a limited understanding of the concept of rights. Children in this study provided a clear message that they wish to have a voice and that they often feel that they are not listened to. Children taking part articulated the reasons why they think they should be listened to. Children identified that adults play an important role in supporting children to exercise their right to have a voice. Children’s views on the reasons or factors why adults do not listen to them are interesting and unforeseen. The findings are discussed with reference to theories on childhood and children’s rights, past research on children’s rights and current practice. Gaps between policy and practice in recognising children’s rights, adults’ status as decision makers and unequal childparent interactions may all interact to constrain children’s experiences of exercising their right to a voice consistently.
Murphy, A. : Pay Attention: Children’s understanding, experience and attitudes to having a say in their everyday lives. Masters Dissertation, Dublin, Dublin Institute of Technology, 2011