Listening to children and encouraging their active participation in matters affecting them is a recent, increasingly prolific and arguably the most important dimension to integrated children’s services. As alluded to in Chapter 2, the criticism by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child of the UK’s ineffectual attempts to deliver on Articles 3 and 13 of the UNCRC (listening to, and consulting with, children) was a prime driver of Every Child Matters (ECM) and the aspiration to make children’s participation transparent and meaningful. Historically, children have been denied decision-making rights on the basis of moral and cognitive incompetence, as epitomized in the paternalist stance of so-called ‘child savers’ (Archard, 2004). This standpoint has been challenged by liberationists, who argue that even young children can make rational decisions (Hyder, 2002; Lansdown, 2004). It is worth noting that in Norway, where it is a legal requirement that children must be given the opportunity to express themselves, the age of participation has been lowered from twelve to seven. Although we are still some way from this position in the UK, the ECM agenda has kick-started a process through which meaningful participation of all children could become a reality.
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