Starkey (2003) presented the notion of voice as a way ofenabling children to be aware of theirs’s choices, to apply choices and to havechances to voice dissatisfaction (Bell 2011). In this essay, I will explore how children’s voices began tobe heard by society, how parent started seeing theirs’s children with valuesand wishes, also professionals working with them started excepting them asindividuals with rights. I will start by explaining a tiny bit of Bandura’ SocialLearning theory and then I will focus more on how the parliament startedchanging children’s lives by accepting new laws and improving them in (–by thetime?) time. Finally, I will explore the idea of the right way ofcommunication which is led to understanding children’s wishes, views, andrights in the better way. Bandura’s Social Learning Theory emphasises that childrenare learning through ‘observational learning’ which is part of a child’sdevelopment. Children can learn by observing adult behavior and later they canperform responses from what they see. For example, in 1800s children were seenas mini-adults working just like their parents, because the income was notenough for meeting basic needs. During this period of time, parents thought ofchildren as income, and the more children they had the bigger the income wouldbe.
However, the children’s positions in society have changed in 1889 with thefirst act issued by the parliament which stated that cruelty and abuse need tobe prevented and the state can intervene in a relationship between child andparents (Bell 2011). Also, the act includes the rules on the employment ofchildren. The changes continued and in 1894 the parliament decided to extendand amend the act as children can give evidence in court, children with mentalcapacity who were abused were protected and sick children were allowed to seekmedical attention (Bell 2011). In 1986 Gillick’s’ case was the one that brought the ideathat there should be a balance between parents’ and children’s rights (Bell2011).
The case brought parents debating that doctors cannot prescribecontraception to young people under 16 without parent agreement. The issue wasthat parents wanted to have control over their children medications, however,the court stated that sometimes parent does not have the power to vetotreatment (Bell 2011). Lord Scarman stated that children’s medical treatmentscould be consented by a child if they fully understood the consequences and thetreatment and for this, the Gillick test of competence was designed to measurea child’s intelligence and understanding (Bell 2011). The child is supposed tounderstand that sex may lead to pregnancy, and what responsibilities andconsequences are after that.
Indeed, Scarman claimed that children need to beinvolved and have an appreciation of the ‘family and moral’ questions (Archard2015). In the same way, in 1989 the Children Act was introduced to protectchildren from abuse and exploitation, and gives a right to safeguard children’swelfare. The principals of the act include that the children views, feeling,and wishes need to be considered and they can attend any meetings as long as itis keeping them informed about their future. Also, options and rights toinvolve in decisions and statutory processes in court started to be availablefor them. The United National Convention on the Right of the ChildUNCRC (1991) brought the idea of two international agreements which are,children had particular human rights which had been identified by UNCRC, andsecond that these rights are acknowledged and maintained by the policy andlegislation of everyone signed up to the UNCRC. The UNCRC had categorised thechild’s needs by; rights to defense, rights to development, right to live andrights to participation (Beaty 2011). However, while the Act gives children aright to take decisions regarding their welfare, Lyon and Parton (1995) saythat children versus adult’s views lack clarity need to be specified (Bell 2011).For example, in the process about who is going to look after a child, parentshave the same entitled responsibility to choose, the same as a child.
Likewise,in the court proceeding, the judge has the final decision to say. Also, FamilyLaw Act (1996) extended to private and public law, children’s wishes andfeelings (Bell 2011). In 2004 the Childrenact was improved as far as possible to ensure that a child’s wishes are takeninto account when actions affect them in relation to services provided to them(Bell 2011). Awareness of the government is to ensure that all services areworking together to promote safety to children and to encourage people workingwith them to take into account their views and interests. Also, Children Trustswere designed by the government to help agencies working with children to worktogether (Bell 2011). The Children Trusts have three core features; long-termobjectives considering the Every Child Matters outcome, children’s servicesDirector is in charge to deliver the outcome and planning and commissioningfunctions organised by pooled budgets (Brayne and Carr 2008). Working effectively and finding the right way to improvechildren lives is to communicate with them in the right way, for this allprofessionals need to work on competence and theory.
One of this is the socialapproach, which is seeing children as a social actor who has the rights to takepart and design their own lives. This starts with support from Giddens (1991),who used the term ‘individualisation’, as this allows to see a child as anindividual with rights and responsibilities (Bell 2011). The idea of theSociological theory of childhood and children’s rights is to help children’svoice be heard and their choices and wishes to be considered when decisions aretaken about their future and threated them as an individual. However, in somesituations, there should be a balance between a child’s wishes and rights, assafety needs to be put in first place, especially when a child is at risk. Effective communication is part of every professional workbecause recognition of a child’s vulnerability and needs is important,especially due to serious cases inquiry increasing. Professionals shouldconsider their age and maturity, as communication and discussions can be donethrough games and play which can be more productive.
For example, puppets canbe an effective way of communicating with young children, whilst computers canbe more appropriate for older children. Likewise, listening and talking tochildren professionals can prove to them that their views are important andtheir voices are heard. Sinclair, Wilson, and Gibbs (2004) argued that thenature of particular activities will vary widely, as will children and youngpeople involved in it. Practitioners need to consider children’s competence notjust by their age, they also need to consider children’s culture and physicaland mental ability. For example, cultural differences can be reflected in lackof language understanding and gender preferences in communication.
In conclusion, the children voice and position in societyhave been changed intensely in recent time as theirs’s voice, wishes, needs,and rights are taken into account. Todayall children have an opportunity to enjoy a better quality of life provided bytheir parent, society, and services working with them. Also, they are put in aposition to make decisions about their future studies, family holidays, theyare encouraged to speak out about theirs’s feelings, etc. This day, childrenare teaching in a school that there are different services available helpingthem in difficult situations as for example, neglect, sexual abuse, bullying,etc.