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The Importance of Advocacy for Children

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Words: 1352 |

Pages: 3|

7 min read

Published: Jun 9, 2021

Words: 1352|Pages: 3|7 min read

Published: Jun 9, 2021

Sam Frankel in, Giving Children a Voice, defines advocacy as, “reflected in a setting which children’s voices are acknowledged and valued” (Frankel, p. 11, 2018). Advocacy is vital as it allows children to be involved in the community in things that affect them as active members rather than observers. Three main steps have been the prime focus in creating a culture of advocacy: revitalizing your thinking, being spatially aware and speaking the right language. These steps will be connected to a wider understanding of related childhood theories and Save the Children UK organization to exemplify the importance for more child lead action.

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Step one is revitalizing your thinking which shows that, “irrespective of how progressive our views on the children are, we are living in a world that is dominated by opinions about children that are incomplete. For too long they have been based on what adults think about children”. This demonstrates the paradigm shift which is about going from seeing children as future citizens and towards seeing them in the here and now. This approach situates children centrally as being in their own right. Children over the years have built a large platform for misinformation and this often encourages adults to develop a deficient, fabricated view of them. Save the Children UK organization relates to the three primary misconceptions, which are: children are seen as the same, children’s value lies in what they will become and that adults always know best. The concept of the future child demonstrates socialization theory. This theory explains how individuals come to make up a functioning society. Children adopt the norms of society through teachers, caregivers, friends, and parents and are seen as becomings who lack room for individual agency. Focus is now more on integrating a culture of advocacy. Save the Children incorporates this notion as it is, “founded on the belief that every child has the potential to change the world”. They want to give children the capacity to “amplify their voices for the world to see”, but need further development as children are still not being given the chance to use their voices for change. In a seamless world, a child would be entitled to the services with cooperation and little negotiation but in reality, these services are often not available unless a child goes through vigorous intervention and strongly asserts their agency. Developmental theory is another that relates to the idea of the universal child. This focuses on distinct stages that children must reach at certain points in development and if they do not, they are deviant. Save the Children lumps the children together in order to control in some regards although their strategy, “requires them to listen, be resilient, and strive to be better”. This organization draws on different franchises in different countries, helping to differentiate between varieties of children. Save the Children needs to work on using their large platform to differentiate between the diversity of the children they are involving. They often use their power of authority to set children out accordance with one image: helpless, becomings in need of protection. The idea of the protected child is also integrated into the spot the assumptions action. This shows romanticism hard at work as adults are understood to know best and must protect the children from becoming something bad. Save the Children UK states that, “we do whatever it takes to make sure they survive, get protection when they’re in danger, and have the chance to learn”. This organization stresses sheltering the children and compels the rescue of them from unsafe environments. This organization should not be discredited due to their help in protection but instead need a broader outlook that involves children’s opinions and what they think is in their best interest.

In promoting the child-centered practice, spatial awareness is key. This step centers on spotting the motivation and the image of the child. Frankel indicates four motivational types: protection, provision, participation, and profit. Save the Children emphasizes children as subjects, with its prime motivations being to provide and protect. Yet, this organization lacks child participation in its mission statement and children are seen incompetently. The children are not granted the opportunity to have a say in what they want, where they want to go or whom they want to be with and adults often predetermine this for them. The organization wants children to exercise their rights yet not amplifying or giving them a voice. The image of the child means that adults must determine if they see children as an object, a subject, a social agent or a co-participant. For example, the image of subjects can be talked about regarding the blank slate discourse. Good educators must focus on keeping children from evil and therefore children’s rights depend on adults bestowing those rights on children. The adults then typically make presumptions of what is in their best interest. Children are also seen as becomings in this regard, with adults not including children in decisions that will affect them and instead presuming plans of action. Allowing adults to grasp the reality of their actions and how it affects children, this step integrates the role that adults can influence them for better or worse.

The final step in promoting a culture of advocacy for children is speaking the right language. Within this step, there are two crucial aspects: setting characteristics and developing a technical vocabulary. Setting characteristics involves adopting a sense of values, features, and qualities that one wants to aspire to. Frankel defines these characteristics as, “valuing their voice and that of others, being confident in expressing their voice, understanding different means of communication, and growing as a leader”. Characteristics can be addressed which will provide attributes of what wants to be incorporated in the Save the Children organization for adults and children. These could be: I am inquisitive, I am resilient, and we are partners. Thought needs to be given to what characteristics can be used to establish the voice of the child and to amplify their voices. Developing a technical vocabulary is another key aspect, which then helps highlight the meaning behind each characteristic. Participation prompts the questions of whether adults are asking the right questions or whether children even want to be involved in a particular activity. Often adults are placing limitations on children’s voices. Activities need to be set up within Save the Children, to show children what it means to be inquisitive, resilient and partners and bring them to life. For example, resilient may then be defined as persevering, being relentless, identifying risk and being able to overcome challenges. Frankel states in this step that, “speaking to children is the key to advancing a culture of advocacy”. This shows that particular one on one interaction with the children will provide more knowledge than any other method of learning. This step reinforces the necessary need to define what is being talked about, as it helps children differentiate for their understanding in particular settings and gain agency. There is an integration of the new paradigm in this step as there is a push for more capacity to share for children and to create a vocabulary that children can understand. In some cases, children struggle grasping what adults mean but that does not mean they are incompetent. By using this step, it allows children to be incorporated into society along with adults.

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In conclusion, the culture of advocacy is critical to children becoming active rather than motionless participants. Children need the chance to show the world what they can offer and incorporate their personal and unique capabilities. Children have something that adults lack and therefore need the opportunity to assert their agency in their lives. Three main steps were discussed for this paper, although to reach full advocacy for children five steps must be integrated. It is necessary to get away from seeing children in theorized, structured and passive ways and allow them to dictate their own time and choices.

References

  • Frankel, S. (2018). Giving Children a Voice A Step-By-Step Guide to Promoting Child-Centred Practice. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
  • McNamee, S. (2016). The Social Study of Childhood. S.l.: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Save the Children. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.savethechildren.org.uk/. 
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The Importance Of Advocacy For Children. (2021, Jun 09). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 1, 2023, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-importance-of-advocacy-for-children/
“The Importance Of Advocacy For Children.” GradesFixer, 09 Jun. 2021, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-importance-of-advocacy-for-children/
The Importance Of Advocacy For Children. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-importance-of-advocacy-for-children/> [Accessed 1 Dec. 2023].
The Importance Of Advocacy For Children [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Jun 09 [cited 2023 Dec 1]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-importance-of-advocacy-for-children/
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