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Child Participation in Child Protection: Issues, Conditions and Barriers

Élodie Faisca

Research Framework: This article offers a review of international literature on the issues, conditions and barriers to children’s participation in child protection in order to identify issues that would be of interest for future studies.

Objectives: It aims to identify interesting questions to explore in future studies and to understand the gaps between the requirements of the legal framework, the discourses of institutions and professionals, and the practices of professionals. It provides new ideas on the conditions for children’s participation.

Methods: The paper is based on an analysis of some forty international works published over the past 20 years. The keywords mobilized in French and English databases are participation, children or young people, child protection, childcare, protection services, child welfare, home-based services, commitment, engagement and involvement.

Results: The article highlights the need to rethink the often-stated opposition between the principle of protection and the principle of participation. It shows the importance of thinking about the goals of participation, the spaces in which children are invited to express their opinions and the forms that this expression can take. We show that participation must be seen as a dynamic process that is active or limited in the intervention itself.

Conclusions: Qualitative, ethnographic and long-term research is needed to understand the processes of participation. 

Contribution: Based on a review of the literature, this article emphasizes some of the issues surrounding children’s participation in child protection services and identifies some areas for further research and exploration. It encourages readers to consider and study child participation in the perspective of its dynamic, relational and multidimensional nature. Analytical possibilities may emerge through a longitudinal and ecological approach to participation.