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Importance of a Child Voice in a Child and Family Welfare

Review

Research and practice in foreign countries discus about the problematic areas of hearing a child‘s voice, especially, focusing on barriers to hearing a child‘s voice in the child‘s usual areas of life, as well as in social work practice. The aim of this article is to discuss the meaning of the child‘s voice based on the research of foreign authors and the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, creating preconditions for maximiz¬ing the child‘s opportunities to be heard in Lithuanian social work practice. The phenomenological interview method based on Bevan (2014) was applied to data collection and analysis. Phenomenological research has traditionally sought to shed light on a phenomenon as perceived by actors in specific situ¬ations. The study involved four children aged 10–15 years, who were invited to share their wishes, dreams and experiences by expressing their opinions. Lithuanian legal documents regulate and guarantee the child‘s right to be heard and provide for the practice of how the child‘s voice must be heard in all situations related to the child. The Convention‘s debating statement that the child‘s voice must be heard „in accordance with his or her age and maturity“ recognizes that every child has the ability to express his or her views and that every child has the right to express them. Children associ¬ate their happiness with a second social network that includes friends and classmates, which is typical for adolescence. The research data reveal that children’s desires and dreams are not somewhat childish, but more typical of adults. The results of the study revealed that children tend not to express their opinions to adults. They are hampered by fears of the consequences that the solutions they propose could make the situation worse. The children in the study were even surprised that their opinions could be important and even asked. This suggests a predominance of adult discrimination practices against children when decisions about a child‘s life are made by adults (Stafford et al., 2021).
Keywords: child’s voice, the rights of the child, right to be heard, child’s experience.

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