Children's Research Centre
Research with and by Children and Young People

3. Young people’s agency and empowerment

Increased recognition of children and young people’s agency to construct and then communicate their views heard is key to revealing new insights through research.

Recognising young people’s agency has implications for both adult practitioners and young people themselves:

Adult Practitioners


  • Accept that young people are capable of forming their own views about the world
  • Acknowledge the relevance of those views
  • Actively listen and consult
  • Respond positively to the views and information they receive

Young People

  • Recognise their role in building positive communities by contributing their views
  • Think about and prepare their views on matters that are important to them
  • Build confidence to share their views

Recognising young people’s agency is only a start:

“Agency represents the fulfilment of participation and voice in which children and young people’s views are taken into consideration to inform policy and practice, for example, and to make changes that can impact on their lives.”

The Open University
Young people must be empowered to contribute their thoughts and views. This is achieved in research when adults share decision making and power over the conduct of research as we shown in the SPECTRUM of research approaches
There are different ways in which adult researchers can empower young people in research. The nature of power sharing will depend upon such issues as:
  • The role children and young people want to take in research
  • The nature of the research question
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