Children’s Wellbeing and Children’s RightsA Nordic Perspective

A special issue of Social Sciences (ISSN 2076-0760). This special issue belongs to the section "Childhood and Youth Studies".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 November 2023) | Viewed by 13489

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Social Sciences and Business, Roskilde Universitet, Roskilde, Denmark
Interests: childhood and youth; social work; lived citizenship; social interaction; methodology and ethics in researching childhood research

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Social Sciences and Business, Roskilde University, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark
Interests: childhood; adolescence; family welfare state; welfare society

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The Nordic countries have a shared history of a strong welfare model and are ranked among the top countries in the world regarding happiness, trust, economic success and political stability. Consequently, the Nordic countries continually draw attention from around the world for their child policies, among other things, where they are perceived as exemplary due to their high-quality, universal daycare facilities and community schools. Furthermore, the Nordic countries have a long-standing commitment to child protection and welfare, and are recognized as first movers regarding children’s rights, for instance in outlawing physical punishment (Sweden) and the appointment of a state-funded children’s ombudsman (Norway). Nevertheless, in practice, the Nordic countries have not yet reached the goal of ensuring that children enjoy equal rights on a par with adults. They also struggle with various kinds of challenges to children’s wellbeing, with dilemmas that arise in practice between the dual goals of wellbeing and rights fulfillment and with internal issues within each of these goals.

This Special Issue addresses the Nordic experiences of striving to enhance children’s wellbeing and rights in various contexts (e.g., daycare, school, social work, out-of-home care and family law), including:

  • The relationship between children’s wellbeing and children’s rights;
  • Challenges to children’s wellbeing, and the effects of policies and practices that aim to address those challenges;
  • Dilemmas and challenges in pedagogical practices, social work practices and policies that aim to enhance children’s wellbeing and/or rights;
  • Adultism and developmentalism as barriers to children’s wellbeing and/or rights.

We welcome theoretical as well as empirical contributions, including research that reflects children’s and welfare professionals’ lived experiences. While this Special Issue focuses on Nordic perspectives, we encourage authors to reflect on the relevance of their contribution for a global readership and/or on what could be learned from the Nordic experiences.

The Guest Editors invite you to submit an abstract of your proposed paper (max. 200 words). This should be sent to both editors by email: Prof. Dr. Hanne Warming, Roskilde University, hannew@ruc.dk; Dr. Sarah Alminde, Roskilde University, sararas@ruc.dk

The Guest Editors will select abstracts to be invited for full submission. The deadline for the submission of abstracts is 15 June 2023. Decisions on the commissioning of full papers will be made by the end of June 2023. Authors invited to prepare their full paper must submit this by 1 November 2023. All papers submitted will be subject to full peer review prior to publication decisions. All papers finally accepted will be published in either the themed issue or a regular issue of the journal.

Dr. Hanne Warming
Dr. Sarah Alminde
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Social Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

11 pages, 297 KiB  
Article
The Adultcentrism Scale: A Potential Contributor to Advancing Children’s Participation Rights in Nordic Contexts
by Tanu Biswas, Eleonora Florio, Letizia Caso, Ilaria Castelli and Serena Iacobino
Soc. Sci. 2024, 13(5), 238; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci13050238 - 25 Apr 2024
Viewed by 421
Abstract
The question that the authors of this article are collectively concerned with is as follows: how is it possible to protect children without disempowering them? To this end, the authors work to change adultcentric scholarly and social norms that justify rationales that marginalize [...] Read more.
The question that the authors of this article are collectively concerned with is as follows: how is it possible to protect children without disempowering them? To this end, the authors work to change adultcentric scholarly and social norms that justify rationales that marginalize children. The article begins with a theoretical overview of childism, in its transformative sense, with special attention to how childism relates to intersectional analyses. In doing so, age is highlighted as an axis of marginalization with reference to adultcentrism. After that, the centrality of analyzing and problematizing adultism in educational research and practice is discussed. The discussion is followed by a presentation of the published results of ‘The Adultcentrism Scale’ research tool developed at the University of Bergamo and the University of LUMSA-Rome. The research tool is used to evaluate the presence of adultcentric bias in adults in relation to children and can be helpful to understanding the psychological dimensions of educational relationships. Finally, the conclusion offers suggestions for how the research tool might be a useful example to raise awareness of adultcentric bias, promoting reflections that can lead to age-inclusive transformations. Overall, then, the article initiates a pertinent dialogue for advancing children’s participation rights in Nordic research and society. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children’s Wellbeing and Children’s RightsA Nordic Perspective)
15 pages, 293 KiB  
Article
Children’s Rights to and in Sport: A Comparative Analysis of Organizational Policies in the Scandinavian Countries
by Sine Agergaard, Karin Redelius and Åse Strandbu
Soc. Sci. 2024, 13(4), 216; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci13040216 - 17 Apr 2024
Viewed by 612
Abstract
It has long been stated that children have the rights to protection from, e.g., abuse and to the provision of age-appropriate leisure, play, and recreational activities along with participation in all matters that concerns them. Yet, the full range of children’s rights to [...] Read more.
It has long been stated that children have the rights to protection from, e.g., abuse and to the provision of age-appropriate leisure, play, and recreational activities along with participation in all matters that concerns them. Yet, the full range of children’s rights to and in sport has not yet been explored in detail. To do so, it is relevant to turn to the Scandinavian countries, which are praised for promoting children’s rights and well-being, with organized sport forming part of the daily lives of many children and youths. In this paper, we examine the organizational policies in Scandinavian sport in order to develop foundational knowledge about how the range of children’s rights to and in sport may be supported. Comparing key policy documents of the major sports confederations in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, these analyses identify great variety in the following: 1. when and how children’s rights to and in sport have been made explicit in the three countries; 2. whether the emphasis is on protection and/or provision of sport to children and youths or their participation in shaping sporting activities; 3. the degree to and ways in which such rights are regulated. In sum, our findings reflect a disparity between organizational policies in the three countries, with a more liberal and individualistic approach to public policy in the Danish context, providing some explanation of the only recent development in and scattered enaction of regulations to support children’s rights to and in sports. Furthermore, we identify that political attention has mainly been drawn to the protection and provision of sports to children and youths, while their participation in shaping sport is a shared challenge for sport confederations in the Scandinavian countries and beyond. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children’s Wellbeing and Children’s RightsA Nordic Perspective)
11 pages, 250 KiB  
Article
The Punishable Child in Sweden—The Tidö Agreement from a Children’s Rights Perspective
by Jeanette Sundhall and Sandra Hillén
Soc. Sci. 2024, 13(4), 215; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci13040215 - 17 Apr 2024
Viewed by 708
Abstract
The discourse that has so far dominated in Sweden, and which has manifested itself in various legislation concerning children who commit crimes, is going to change soon. We argue that this discourse is set to be replaced by one that does not consider [...] Read more.
The discourse that has so far dominated in Sweden, and which has manifested itself in various legislation concerning children who commit crimes, is going to change soon. We argue that this discourse is set to be replaced by one that does not consider the subordinate position of children as a result of their age but rather equates them with adults, thus making invisible the power imbalance between children and adults. In this article, we analyze a political document, the Tidö Agreement, and its articulations on youth criminality. We consider the Tidö Agreement to be an important tool in the process of social change, and we carry out this discussion in connection to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which became law in Sweden in 2020. By using a discourse theory perspective, we examine the articulations in the Tidö Agreement and discuss how these articulations can reproduce or challenge the current discourses by fixing meaning in certain ways. For instance, the word “child” is ambiguous, and its identity changes depending on how it is positioned in relation to other words in a concrete articulation. In this article, we discuss how this word is used in some contexts but avoided in others, and what consequenses this has. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children’s Wellbeing and Children’s RightsA Nordic Perspective)
12 pages, 247 KiB  
Article
Access to Children’s Perspectives?
by Anna Busk Rasmussen and Christina Haandbæk Schmidt
Soc. Sci. 2024, 13(3), 163; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci13030163 - 12 Mar 2024
Viewed by 969
Abstract
Within the field of early childhood education, the Nordic model is characterised as being child-centred and holistic, based on children’s participation, democracy, autonomy, and freedom. Despite a strong tradition of incorporating children’s perspectives, research has identified it as a democratic problem that children [...] Read more.
Within the field of early childhood education, the Nordic model is characterised as being child-centred and holistic, based on children’s participation, democracy, autonomy, and freedom. Despite a strong tradition of incorporating children’s perspectives, research has identified it as a democratic problem that children continue to occupy a non-privileged position in which their voices are often unheard or disregarded in many contexts. Similarly, there is a tendency to apply adult-led methods, such as interviews, which can hinder the openness to children’s diverse ways of communicating, which is not just through verbal expressions. In this article, we position ourselves within what we perceive as the second wave of research on child perspectives in which the research interest converges on exploring how children’s perspectives are connected with the contexts in which children participate. Drawing on agential realism and an empirical example from a daycare centre, we demonstrate how children’s perspectives emerge from and become entangled with pedagogues, ethics, spaces, materials and discourse. Thus, the question is not about gaining access to children’s perspectives, but rather to be concerned with the interactions wherein children’s perspectives can emerge. This involves a critical view of the structures and basic assumptions that manifest themselves in the daily life of daycare centres and which underlie, and can result in, a subordination of children and children’s perspectives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children’s Wellbeing and Children’s RightsA Nordic Perspective)
12 pages, 238 KiB  
Article
Listening to Children: A Childist Analysis of Children’s Participation in Family Law Cases
by Sarah Alminde
Soc. Sci. 2024, 13(3), 133; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci13030133 - 27 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1330
Abstract
Building on critical childhood studies and childism, this paper analyses children’s participation in family law cases in Denmark. Spurred particularly by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, together with a general shift in the view on children, several jurisdictions, including [...] Read more.
Building on critical childhood studies and childism, this paper analyses children’s participation in family law cases in Denmark. Spurred particularly by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, together with a general shift in the view on children, several jurisdictions, including Denmark, have implemented legislative reform in the last decades to accommodate children’s participation rights. Even though such legal participation rights have increased, research in the family law field indicates that children’s perspectives are often undermined or excluded. An analysis of qualitative data (workshops, observations, and interviews) establishes how the positioning of children and children’s perspectives (as well as how “listening to children” is enacted) can be crucial to understanding the mechanisms that either subsidize or undermine children’s perspectives in family law cases. The paper argues further that “listening emergent” to children can offer a path to deconstructing the norms and structures that undermine and exclude children’s views—and thus offer a childist contribution to childhood research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children’s Wellbeing and Children’s RightsA Nordic Perspective)
14 pages, 271 KiB  
Article
Situated Pedagogy in Danish Daycare—The Politics of Everyday Life
by Maja Røn-Larsen and Anja Hvidtfeldt Stanek
Soc. Sci. 2024, 13(2), 118; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci13020118 - 16 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1122
Abstract
This article analyzes the possibilities and obstacles in pedagogical practices in ECEC (Early Childhood Education and Care) in relation to developing relevant opportunities for participation for all children, by supporting their own engagements in order to expand their action possibilities. Over the last [...] Read more.
This article analyzes the possibilities and obstacles in pedagogical practices in ECEC (Early Childhood Education and Care) in relation to developing relevant opportunities for participation for all children, by supporting their own engagements in order to expand their action possibilities. Over the last decades, the political agendas in the Nordic as well as other OECD countries have been led by an increasing focus on learning goals and standardized professional procedures, at the expense of a more situated and flexible pedagogy following children’s own engagements. When concerns arise about children’s well-being, development, and/or learning, this tendency seems to intensify, as descriptions of concerns are often based on assessments of children’s individual (dis-)abilities, while investigations of children’s own engagements and reasons for actions are seldom conducted. From a theoretical standpoint in critical psychology and social practice theory, we discuss collaborative processes among children and adults in relation to institutional conditions as inherently political, in the sense that the distribution of different access to social resources and opportunities for participation for different children is negotiated through such daily exchanges and therefore also involves questions about democracy. We explore the everyday life practices of children and professionals, analyzing how, through everyday practice, they constantly work on maintaining, reproducing, and transgressing the standardized demands. To understand such processes, we suggest a conceptual focus on the politics of everyday life and situated pedagogy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children’s Wellbeing and Children’s RightsA Nordic Perspective)
19 pages, 358 KiB  
Article
“Not Everyone Can Become a Rocket Scientist”: Decolonising Children’s Rights in Ethnic Minority Childhoods in Norway
by Marit Ursin and Ida Marie Lyså
Soc. Sci. 2024, 13(2), 117; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci13020117 - 14 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1099
Abstract
This paper uses a case study to critically reflect on contemporary discourses in Norway connected to ethnic minority childhoods and children’s rights to education and work. Based on a narrative interview with an ethnic minority girl, Sadja (aged 16), who is in state [...] Read more.
This paper uses a case study to critically reflect on contemporary discourses in Norway connected to ethnic minority childhoods and children’s rights to education and work. Based on a narrative interview with an ethnic minority girl, Sadja (aged 16), who is in state custody and lives with a foster family, we use a decolonial lens to explore the tensions in expectations and rights in her life and education. The tensions encountered are situated along three axes. The first axis illustrates tensions related to education, work, and responsibilities, as Sadja’s family responsibilities are perceived by teachers and child welfare workers as preventing her from having “a proper childhood”. The second axis explores tensions connected to independence, educational choice, and “belonging to the state”, where Sadja experiences that being in state custody results in being unable to “follow her dream”. The third axis reflects the tensions between parental expectations of “dreaming big” versus her surrounding environment’s anticipation of her simply getting a job. In sum, Sadja’s experiences suggest that contemporary Western discourses—such as individualism, self-autonomy, and children as human capital—paradoxically curtail the educational rights and trajectories of ethnic minority children in foster care in Norway in unforeseen and unfortunate ways. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children’s Wellbeing and Children’s RightsA Nordic Perspective)
11 pages, 247 KiB  
Article
Beyond the Shadow of Adults—Youth, Adultism, and Human Rights in the Contemporary Faroe Islands
by Firouz Gaini
Soc. Sci. 2024, 13(2), 98; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci13020098 - 5 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1010
Abstract
This article discusses young people’s human rights situation in the Faroe Islands today by addressing youth participation issues from a cultural adultism perspective. It argues that the local cultural values and intergenerational relations in the family influence the multilayered and shifting nature of [...] Read more.
This article discusses young people’s human rights situation in the Faroe Islands today by addressing youth participation issues from a cultural adultism perspective. It argues that the local cultural values and intergenerational relations in the family influence the multilayered and shifting nature of ‘Faroese adultism’. My purpose is to explore the ways through which young people are challenging adultism in their everyday life practices: what do they intend to change and what do they wish to sustain in their cultural struggle? This article is mainly based on empirical data from focus group discussions with young participants. The findings reveal that young people from the Faroe Islands—located in the Nordic Atlantic—do not consider adultism to have a negative impact on their wellbeing. This article, relying on theoretical scholarship and ideas from youth studies and island studies, contributes to a more nuanced understanding of human rights in the context of a small (family-oriented) island community in cultural and social transformation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children’s Wellbeing and Children’s RightsA Nordic Perspective)
14 pages, 213 KiB  
Article
The Right to Be a Subject of Your Own Life—A Study of Parent-Teacher Conferences in Danish Lower Secondary Education
by Clara Ina Severin Steensen and Stine Helms
Soc. Sci. 2024, 13(1), 66; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci13010066 - 22 Jan 2024
Viewed by 951
Abstract
Many recent legislative reforms concerning children have emphasized the importance of involving children and adolescents in accordance with the principles of Article 12 in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This article deals with the rights of youths to express [...] Read more.
Many recent legislative reforms concerning children have emphasized the importance of involving children and adolescents in accordance with the principles of Article 12 in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This article deals with the rights of youths to express their opinions, feelings, and views in parent-teacher conferences in lower secondary education in Denmark. Both international and Danish research on parent-teacher conferences has shown that students are often objectified and are not provided with real opportunities to participate with their own voices and perspectives. Based on the sociology of Hartmut Rosa, the article explores students’ experiences of parent-teacher conferences as zones of alienation or spaces of resonance. In addition, we draw on Gert Biesta’s concept of subjectification to analyze how the current organization of the conferences largely displaces students’ opportunities to bring themselves into play as subjects of their own lives. The analysis is based on observations and interviews carried out in 2021 and 2022. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children’s Wellbeing and Children’s RightsA Nordic Perspective)
12 pages, 222 KiB  
Article
Monitoring of Norwegian Foster Homes
by Esben S. B. Olesen and Lea Louise Videt
Soc. Sci. 2024, 13(1), 65; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci13010065 - 18 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1330
Abstract
Based on interviews, this article explores how the monitoring of foster homes is experienced by children and youths who have been exposed to what they consider abusive behaviour by foster parents. Using a thematic narrative theoretical framework, the article shows that a common [...] Read more.
Based on interviews, this article explores how the monitoring of foster homes is experienced by children and youths who have been exposed to what they consider abusive behaviour by foster parents. Using a thematic narrative theoretical framework, the article shows that a common narrative in the youths’ accounts is a story of mistrust towards social workers and monitoring officers, which relates to a general mistrust towards the child welfare service. The young individuals are reluctant to tell monitoring officers about how they truly experience their situation in their foster home. At the same time, some of the youths have difficulty comprehending what normal parenting behaviour is like, due to previous experiences of neglect from adults. The article discusses how successful monitoring of foster homes largely stands or falls on the children’s and youths’ ability to disclose their experiences to their supervisors and monitoring officers. We argue that the youths’ narratives tell a story of disempowerment. This represents a dilemma in the monitoring of Norwegian foster homes and in the children’s right to protection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children’s Wellbeing and Children’s RightsA Nordic Perspective)
13 pages, 335 KiB  
Article
“I Just Want to Live My Life”: Young Disabled People’s Possibilities for Achieving Participation and Wellness
by Anna Sigrún Ingimarsdóttir and Snæfrídur Thóra Egilson
Soc. Sci. 2024, 13(1), 63; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci13010063 - 18 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1341
Abstract
This study aimed to (a) explore disabled children’s and adolescents’ possibilities for participation and (b) identify the practices and policies that affect their participation and how these are enacted. Case studies were conducted with seven children and adolescents with various impairments. Each case [...] Read more.
This study aimed to (a) explore disabled children’s and adolescents’ possibilities for participation and (b) identify the practices and policies that affect their participation and how these are enacted. Case studies were conducted with seven children and adolescents with various impairments. Each case included interviews with the young person, their parents and teachers, as well as observations in their usual environments. The interview topics covered the young people’s participation, their sense of belonging and aspects that were pivotal to their engagement and wellness. The observations focused on their possibilities for participation and interactions with peers and adults. These young disabled people’s possibilities for participation at home, in school and in their neighbourhoods were affected by complex dynamics between personal and environmental factors. Whether and how the young people’s disability-related rights were enacted depended on the socio-cultural–material arrangements and parents’ knowledge of the welfare system. To better understand and act on the complex and marginalised position of young disabled people, more focus should be directed at policies that affect their rights and possibilities for participation and how these are enacted in practice. Knowledge needs to be expanded to scrutinise the disabling hindrances hidden in social and structural spaces and implemented in services. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children’s Wellbeing and Children’s RightsA Nordic Perspective)
14 pages, 311 KiB  
Article
Dilemmas Related to Young Children’s Participation and Rights: A Discourse Analysis Study of Present and Future Professionals Working with Children
by Eija Sevón, Marleena Mustola and Maarit Alasuutari
Soc. Sci. 2024, 13(1), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci13010027 - 27 Dec 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1280
Abstract
According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), every child has the right to be heard and express their views in matters that concern them. Yet, participation is one of the most debated aspects of the UNCRC. Although [...] Read more.
According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), every child has the right to be heard and express their views in matters that concern them. Yet, participation is one of the most debated aspects of the UNCRC. Although children’s participation is a statutory requirement of Finnish early childhood education and care (ECEC) and schools, educators are often unfamiliar with how to meet the demands of participation. In this study, we examined what kinds of counter discourses about the realization of children’s participation could be differentiated in interviews with present and future education professionals who took part in a study program focusing on knowledge and skills regarding young children’s rights and participation. The data, which consisted of individual and group interviews with 31 participants, were analyzed with discourse analysis. Three counter discourses were identified: unrealized, adult-defined, and elusive participation. The discourses illuminated various dilemmas in children’s participation. Awareness of such dilemmas enables the development of pedagogical practices that enhance children’s wellbeing and rights. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children’s Wellbeing and Children’s RightsA Nordic Perspective)
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