08 SES 01 B, Student Participation and Health Promotion in Schools
Parallel Paper Session
The Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) is a cross-national study conducted in collaboration with the WHO Regional Office for Europe. The study runs on a 4-year cycle and in 2010, 43 countries and regions participated. The overall aim of the HBSC study is to gain insight into, and increase our understanding of young people’s health and well-being, health behaviours and their social context. Children are actively involved in providing data through completing questionnaires. However, there is increasing recognition that children can and should be more engaged in all stages of the research process and in some countries, in preparation for the 2010 HBSC survey, student advisors and child reference groups were involved with questionnaire design and data interpretation. However, little is known about student’s views of the topics contained in the HBSC survey.
This study was undertaken to help our understanding of young people’s views of the topics included in the HBSC survey. It aimed to enable young people to identify the HBSC topics they found most interesting and to document what they would like to know about those topics. A participatory research process,which emerged first in the 1970s, was used in this study. This approach has gained increased attention since then, in particular in relation to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child (UNCRC, 1989) in 1989, in which article 12 states that children and young people should have their opinions taken into account in all major decisions affecting their lives. These methodologies provide evidence of the ability of children to participate with interest (Nic Gabhainn and Sixsmith, 2006; Shier, 2001; Alderson, 2000; De Winter, 1999). Participatory research shares many characteristics with conventional research; however it goes beyond the boundaries of traditional research and aims to give more control to, and place more emphasis on, research participants.
The research questions were twofold: can we use participatory research approaches with schoolchildren to facilitate their involvement in the research and planning process, and, what would young people in Ireland like to know about health and related topics?
Nic Gabhainn, S. & Sixsmith, J. (2006). Children photographing well-being: facilitating participation in research. Children & Society, 20, 249-259. Shier, H. (2001). Pathways to participation: openings, opportunities and obligations. A new model for enhancing children’s participation in decision-making, in line with Article 12.1 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child. Children & Society, 15, 107-117. Alderson, P. (2001). Research by Children. Social Research Methodology, 4, 139-153. De Winter, M., Baerveldt, C. & Kooistra, J. (1997). Enabling children: participation as a new perspective on child-health promotion. Care Health and Development, 25, 15-25. United Nations (1989). Convention on the Rights of a Child. Geneva: United Nations.
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