25 SES 01, Children’s Rights, Emotions and Well-Being
There is an increasing global focus on children’s wellbeing, particularly in policy and provision (Coppock, 2010; Watson, 2010; Watson, Emery and Bayliss, 2012; Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, 2012; Land, 2012; Bradshaw, Hoelscher and Richardson, 2006; UNICEF, 2007). In previous papers, the author has problematised the notion of wellbeing, particularly as it applies to children (Swan & Sargeant, 2010; 2011; 2012). One of the main concerns surrounds the dominance of adult perspectives in reports on children’s wellbeing (Ben-Arieh, 2006). While much has been said about wellbeing, particularly wellbeing for children, there remains limited research that seeks children’s perspectives on these and other complex social issues that affect their lives (Adams, 2012; Fattore, Mason & Watson, 2007). The absence of children’s voices on these matters may be due in part to adults’ varying views on children’s capacity (Lundy, 2007).
In existing research it has been determined that an individual can experience aspects of both positive and negative wellbeing within the more narrow constructs of wellbeing concepts (Diener and Oishi, 2005; Fattore et. al, 2007; Kim-Prieto, Diener, Tamir, Scollon and Diener, 2005; Pollard and Lee, 2003; Weston, 1999). There has been a recent shift in focus in contemporary literature about children’s wellbeing as changing from a negative to a positive focus that increasingly recognises the present situation for children, rather than just preparing for their future (Ben-Arieh, 2006). When it comes to wellbeing for children, what may provide particular insight surrounds how children not only conceptualise wellbeing, but also how they define it.
The highly elusive nature of a definition for wellbeing currently, serves to demonstrate the apparent complexity of wellbeing (Crivello, Camfield & Woodhead, 2009; Dear, Henderson & Korten, 2002; Jones & Sumner, 2009) and provide an opportunity for children’s perspectives to be sought. Informed by the sociology of childhood (James, Jenks & Prout, 1998; James, 2009; Mayall, 2002; Qvortrup, 2009) and Articles 12 and 13 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (United Nations, 1989), this study sought to position children as capable informants on matters that affect their lives. The perspectives of children were sought to aid in presenting children’s communicated ideas surrounding the complex notion of wellbeing and aids in allowing adults to obtain a greater understanding of children’s lives.
Adams, K. (2012). Childhood in crisis? Perceptions of 7 – 11 year olds on being a child and the implications for education’s well-being agenda, Education 3 – 13, 1 – 15. Ben-Arieh, A. (2006) Measuring and monitoring the well-being of young children around the world, Paper commissioned for the EFA Global Monitoring Report 2007, Strong Foundations: early childhood care and education. UNESCO. Coppock, V. (2010). Cause for hope or despair? Limits to theory and policy in relation to contemporary developments in promoting mental health and wellbeing in schools in the UK and implications for children’s rights, Advances in School Mental Health Promotion, 3(1). 52-62. Crivello, G., Camfield, L., & Woodhead, M. (2009). How can children tell us about their wellbeing? Exploring the potential of participatory research approaches within Young Lives, Social Indicators Research, 90, 51 -72. Fattore, T., Mason, J., & Watson, E. (2007). Children’s Conceptualisation(s) of their well-being, Social Indicators Research, 80, 5-29. James, A., Jenks, C., & Prout, A. (1998) Theorizing Childhood. Polity Press: Cambridge, UK. Lundy, L. (2007). ‘Voice’ is not enough: conceptualising Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, British Educational Research Journal, 33(6), 927 – 942. Mayall, B. (2002) Towards a Sociology for Childhood, Open University Press: UK. Pollard, E. L. and Lee, P. D. (2003) Child well-being: a systematic review of the literature, Social Indicators Research, 61, 59 – 78. Qvortrup, J. (1996). Monitoring Childhood: Its Social, Economic and Political Features. In E. Verhellen (ed) Monitoring Children’s Rights, The Netherlands: Kluwer Law International. UNICEF (2007). Child Poverty in Perspective: An overview of Child Well-Being in Rich Countries, Innocenti Report Card 7. Report available online www.unicef-irc.org/publications.pdf.rc7_eng.pdf United Nations (1989) United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Geneva; United Nations.
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