In recent years, there has been increased interests in examining and understanding children’s subjective well-being. This is a major shift in the field of well-being studies because children’s well-being was measured mostly with ‘objective’ indicators in the past. One of the ‘assumption’ has been that children are not capable of reporting their own well-being. However, recent studies show that the data provided by children on how they feel and think about their lives are valid and informative.
While our understanding of children’s subjective well-being has improved in recent years, there still is a gap in knowledge on what can explain the differences in the level of children’s well-being within a country and across countries. One of the reason for this gap in knowledge has been lack of empirical data on children’s subjective well-being that allows comparative studies. The International Survey of Children’s Well-Being has changed the situation. By collecting information on children’s own reporting of their life, time use, and subjective well-being from many countries, it provides a new opportunity to examine what factors are related to variations of children’s subjective well-being.
In this key-note speech, first, I provide a review of the current state of knowledge on how much we know about the correlates of children’s subjective well-being. Secondly, I examine the micro and macro correlates of children’s subjective well-being using the most recent data from the International Survey of Children’s Well-Being. Lastly, I provide policy and practice implications of the results.
Bong Joo Lee is Professor of Social Welfare at Seoul National University. He is Editor-in-Chief of Child Indicators Research, an international journal on child indicators. He is also on the editorial boards of Child Abuse & Neglect, Asian Social Work and Policy Review, Journal of Asian Pacific Social Work and Development, and International Journal of Social Welfare.
Ivar Frønes is a professor of sociology at the University of Oslo, Norway, and senior researcher at the Norwegian Center for Child Behavioural Development. His works cover a variety of areas, with an emphasis on life course analysis, children and youth, well-being and social exclusion. He is the founder of the journal Childhood, among the group that initiated Childwatch International, and until recently a member or the board of ISCI. His numerous publications cover a variety of perspectives on childhood, as illustrated by publications such as “Among Peers” (1995), “Status Zero Youth in the Welfare Society” (2007), “Theorizing indicators – On indicators, signs and trends” (2007), “Childhood: Leisure, Culture and Peers” (2009), and (with Ragnhild Brusdal) “The purchase of moral positions: an essay on the markets of concerned parenting” (2013). He is one of the editors of the Handbook of “Child well-being Theories, Methods and Policies in Global Perspective” presented by Springer in 2014, his latest book (in English) is “The autonomous child -Theorizing socialization”. In Scandinavia he has published extensively on a variety of subjects related to childhood, youth, and life course development.
Access to justice for children can count on increased attention in international standards and domestic policy, and in children’s rights scholarship. However, many questions remain unanswered. This key note lecture will address some core issues, both fundamental and practical, that revolve around the question to what extent access to justice can serve as a vehicle to (better) include children in conflict with the law as citizens of their societies and as members of their communities and (extended) families. It will be submitted that children’s right to access justice can contribute to the inclusion of children, but that the concept of access to justice and its meaning for children in conflict with the law, as a group and as individuals, requires (much) more attention in research in order to understand its true potential. The paper will build on examples from the author’s previous research, among others on juvenile justice, detention of children and child-friendly justice.
Professor Ton Liefaard is Vice-Dean of Leiden Law School and holds the UNICEF Chair in Children’s Rights at Leiden University.
At first sight, child well-being and children’s rights have much in common: they both focus on a category of human beings defined by age (‘children’), and they share a concern with children’s flourishing. Surprisingly perhaps, the word well-being is rarely used in children’s rights work, and is absent in the leading human rights instrument on children’s rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In this key-note speech, I seek to construct a notion of child wellbeing within children’s rights by relying on proxies like ‘best interests of the child’, ‘(full and harmonious) development’ and others. Drawing on this construction of child wellbeing, I explore whether and how children’s rights and child wellbeing studies may inspire and challenge each other.
Wouter Vandenhole holds the Chair in Human Rights and the UNICEF Chair in Children’s Rights at the Faculty of Law of the University of Antwerp.
Research examining children’s well-being has relied on the use of objective measures of child welfare and quality of life (often using administrative data) or psychometric measures of subjective well-being, applied to large samples of children and young people. These sources of data have provided important insights into children’s well-being. More recently, research obtaining children’s perspectives on their well-being have contributed insights into how children define and experience different aspects of their well-being. In our keynote we review developments in qualitative approaches to children’s understandings of well-being and discuss the potential contribution this research might make in respect to quantitative research in this field. We demonstrate this by discussing a multinational study of children’s well-being named “Children’s Understandings of Well-being” study (www.cuwb.org) that utilises a qualitative, participatory and context-sensitive methodology, In particular we discuss the issue of cross-national/cross-border comparisons and methodological nationalism within child well-being research (Wimmer and Glick Schiller 2003), considering how the nation is only one analytical category relevant for understanding children’s well-being along with other dimensions of the social order (like generation, class, race and gender). We provide some empirical results from the CUWB study as a means of demonstrating the value of and challenges in undertaking context sensitive analysis of concepts of well-being and especially the insights obtained from cross-national and cross-border comparisons. (see Fattore, Fegter and Hunner-Kreisel 2018).
Susann Fegter is Professor for Historical and General Educational Sciences with a specific focus on gender, technologies and work at the University of Technology Berlin.
Christine Hunner-Kreisel has a Professorship with the denomination Transculturality and Gender and is working at the University of Vechta in the Department of Social Work.
Tobia Fattore is a member of the Department of Sociology, Macquarie University, Australia and a coordinating lead researcher on the multi-national study Children’s Understandings of Well-being – Global and Local Contexts’ .