We conducted this child-led research initiative under the umbrella of World Vision’s DEAR project (Development Education and Awareness Raising) and the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030. We worked together to raise children’s voices to the highest levels possible in order to have an impact on decisions and processes that affect us, especially the work around the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda. We, as child researchers, were invited to choose one of the issues covered by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Each country team discussed these issues, and we decided to explore SDG 16.2, the goal that focuses on the issue of ‘abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and all forms of violence against and torture of children’. We used a methodology that was developed to make research projects easy for children and young people.
When we say that this was a child-led research study, we mean the following:
Child-led research is a participatory process where children and young people lead their own research process, including designing questionnaires, collecting information, analysing results, and writing and disseminating a report.
Here is some important information that we also learnt from the manual:
• Child researchers come together and work collectively over time, creating increasingly child-led spaces that are facilitated, but not managed, by adults.
• Child researchers bring their own expertise to a project, which arguably has particular advantages for identifying issues, improving fieldwork design and access, and analysing data, over adult researchers.
• The child researchers’ expertise is not limited to only their lived experiences but, increasingly, through skills development, includes their ability to carry out research thoroughly and reach their peers.
• Child-led research is a mechanism to recognise children’s participation rights within research itself and provides promising opportunities to engage children and young people in shaping policies and practices, ultimately creating changes that lead to better lives for them.