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On International Children’s Rights Day, pupils and children’s rights experts gave an insight into the participatory research project “Being a child in times of crisis”.

On Monday, 20 November 2023, to mark International Children’s Rights Day, children and adolescents joined researchers from the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Fundamental and Human Rights (LBI-GMR) and experts from Human Rights Space (HRS) to present their participatory research project “Being a child in times of crisis”.

Background information

The COVID-19 pandemic, climate crisis, wars and energy crisis, including a sharp rise in the cost of living: children and young people in Austria are confronted with multiple escalations that lead to an increase in psychological and physical stress. Their views and opinions often go unheard in public.

About the project

The project “Being a child in times of crisis – views, experiences and the child’s right to participation”, funded by the Open Innovation in Science Centre of the Ludwig Boltzmann Gesellschaft, focuses on the voices and rights of young people aged ten and over from different realities of life. During the project, the participating children and young people were able to discuss children’s rights and fundamental rights in workshops and articulate their experiences, concerns and needs in the current times of crisis. Building on this, they developed action plans with the support of the experts. Their implementation has now been discussed at a celebratory event with stakeholders such as teachers, parents, civil society actors and political decision-makers.

In their five action plans, the pupils from the Viennese schools BAfEP 10, OMSi Glasergasse 8 and VBS Hamerlingplatz focussed on the topics of “Safety on the way to school and in parks”, “Freedom of religion at school”, “Elementary education – paid summer practice”, “Mental health at school” and “Fear-free school”. The forms of presentation chosen by the young people ranged from pantomime performances to a classic panel discussion, which was attended by Sibylle Hamann, member of the National Council and spokesperson for education of The Greens, Katharina Werner NEOS member of the National Council, and Daniela Gruber-Pruner, SPÖ member of the Federal Council, among others.

“In the course of the project, the children and young people named very specific areas in which they feel their children’s rights are not sufficiently protected: Violence against women, violence in general, mental health, protection against discrimination, prevention of addictive substances, protection of privacy, freedom of thought and freedom of religion,” say the two project leaders Hauke Benjes-Pitcz, researcher at the LBI-GMR, and Katharina Schuller, chairwoman and founder of the HRS, providing initial insights into the results. On the topic of violence prevention, the young co-researchers expressed their conviction that society should not admonish girls to be careful, but should instead educate boys accordingly – a statement that is particularly thought-provoking in view of the high femicide rate in Austria.