Decision-making: children and young people's participation

How to involve children and young people in decision-making.

Who this is for

Every child has the right to be heard in matters affecting them and to participate in the life of their family, community and society, under Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

This guidance is to support those who are required to or want to engage with children and young people as part of their decision-making.

Decision-makers should always consider listening to children and young people's views, even it is not immediately evident that they should do this. 

This includes:

  • public authorities
  • policy-makers
  • service designers 
  • professionals

In some cases, it might be useful for children and young people who are involved in designing projects and programmes to have a look at this information.

It brings together various resources on participation in decision-making (guidance, practice examples, research publications), referencing a range of participation models – from light consultation to co-production with children and young people. It also provides details of practitioners and researchers who can provide further information and guidance.  

We hope to raise awareness of the importance of children and young people’s participation, in line with the Scottish Government's Participation Framework and the overarching National Performance Framework.

We developed this guidance with an expert working group, with representatives from a range of third sector organisations, local authorities, health boards and academia, all working in the field of children’s rights with a focus on participation in Scotland. A small group of young people reviewed some of the content. 

A group of around 20 children and young people (aged 8 to 18 years) were involved in the next steps of developing a strategic approach to participation through the Activate Your Rights project. The project was funded by the Scottish Government and run by Young Scot in partnership with Children in Scotland. As part of the project, the views of younger children (aged 3 to 8 years) were sought.


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