Centre for Research on Discretion and Paternalism Bergen

Children’s Right to Participation

Children’s right to participate in matters affecting them is a fundamental right in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is an unequivocal principle that at the outset should be fairly straightforward for governments, the judiciary and public authorities to implement and realize, and especially in the child protection system in which the reason for state interventions is the best interests of the child. Still, reports from children themselves and research shows that children are not involved and do not participate as the Convention and the laws prescribe. The question that must be answered is why this is the case, and how to fulfill the legal requirement and political ambition of children’s participation in the child protection system.

PARTICIPATION is a collaborative knowledge project with ambitions to make groundbreaking steps in the understanding and implementation of children’s participatory rights. It is a partnership between researchers at the University of Bergen, DIPA-Centre, and four partners from the child protection system: 1) The County Social Welfare Boards, 2) The Norwegian Courts and their Administration, 3) Bergen municipality and 4) The Change Factory (Expert by Experience). By bringing together different perspectives, knowledge, and experiences – and studying organizational practices, the primary objective of PARTICIPATION is to generate new knowledge, develop new measures, and build research expertise that enables society to address the challenge of children’s participation. The secondary objectives are to (1) map and examine the exiting situation on children’s participation at three levels of the child protection system in Norway, (2) find out what promotes and hinders decision makers involvement of children, by pursuing three explanatory dimensions – individual characteristics, organizational and institutional features, and features with the children, and (3) develop and test new programs for the involvement of children, by building on the knowledge platform provided by the theoretical and empirical research.

The Child Equality Perspective (CEP) forms the theoretical foundation of the project, and The Child Participatory Action Research (CPAR) secures children’s active involvement throughout the project.


Jensen, F. P., Križ, Katrin & Skivenes, M. (2022) Structuring Practice for Children’s Participation. Report I for the Participation Project: Mapping and Evaluating Organizational Guidelines. Bergen: Centre for Research on Discretion and Paternalism, University of Bergen. 

E-learning course on children’s rights

The Norwegian Ombudsperson for Children has developed and published an e-learning course on the child’s best interests and children’s right to participation. The course is aimed at people working in public administration, but is open and free for all. The course (in Norwegian) provides guidance and practical examples on how you can evaluate the child’s best interests.


Project data collection is registered in RETTE, University of Bergen’s research ethics registry.

RETTE contains information from the following sources:

  • Self-completed project information from researchers and students. Student assignments and research projects that are not covered by the obligation to consult with the Data Protection Officer can be registered directly in RETTE. Student and PhD projects must be confirmed by the supervisor.
  • Research projects evaluated by NSD. Scientific research that includes sensitive personal data has an legal obligation to seek the advice of the Data Protection Officer. UiB has an agreement with NSD to give advice on data protection, to ensure compliance with this obligation. The project is imported into RETTE from NSD after assessment.
  • Health research projects that have research ethics approval from REK. Project information is obtained from Cristin to RETTE, and researchers must supplement information required by the privacy regulations (projects are imported daily).

Research numbers:

  • ID: R2553 (Erfaringer med barns deltakelse)
  • ID: R3063 (Children’s right to participation – nordisk populasjonsstudie/spørreundersøkelse)
  • ID: R2227 (Participation – ledelsesintervjuer)
  • ID: R1486 (Mapping participation)

This project has received funding from the Research Council of Norway under the Research Programme on Welfare, Working Life and Migration (VAM) (grant no. 320149).

Disclaimer: Publications from the project reflects only the authors’ views and the funding agency is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.