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

4. Building more critical communities of children and young people

Existing power imbalances in UK society can discourage children and young people to actively engage in their communities. Instead they learn to please adults with tried and tested responses which they know will not challenge adults when their opinions and views are sought (REF).

Since 2013, the Open University’s Children’s Research Centre has supported many children worldwide to undertake their own research on aspects of their family or school lives, community or social issues. Children and young people have told us this helps them feel more confident and can be fun. Finding out about a topic in-depth can be empowering, giving a sense of responsibility and enhanced self-esteem – and can lead to more active participation in other aspects of their live. A wide range of children and young people should be empowered as researchers, so that a diverse range of voices are heard in our communities.

We believe that involving young people in research and developing their curiosity and critical skills of inquiry to articulate their thoughts on the world could contribute to:

  • Strengthening whole communities with children and young people’s experiences and insights
  • Addressing challenging issues
  • Strengthening intergenerational relationships and understanding; reducing barriers of actual or perceived power imbalances with adults
  • Providing a ready and valuable source of advice and support to organisations providing children and youth services
  • Improving the sharing of information and research results engaging young people’s own social and information networks
  • Extending the reach of research to young people who may be more comfortable speaking about issues to other young people rather than adults
Audio Diary Recording

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