Child rights and participation: young children affected by HIV and AIDS

Young children living in HIV and AIDS affected areas are vulnerable to discrimination, exploitation and abuse. They need extra support to ensure good early childhood care and development. In addition to this, programmatic responses often overlook particularly vulnerable groups such as disabled children or indigenous minorities. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has universal application for all children. This means that young children including those aged 0-8 are rights holders as well. This key list explores the ways in which the Convention can be used to assess how duty bearers at all levels are fulfilling their obligations. It highlights the importance of young children’s participation in intervention programmes to ensure that the most vulnerable children are reached.

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Selected resources

Books, reports, etc

A parrot on your shoulder : a guide for people starting to work with orphans and vulnerable children


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This book is designed to help people who work with children initiate meaningful dialogue and engage them in a cheerful and positive manner. It considers issues around encouraging children’s participation, why it is important, and what to include when planning children’s participation. It discusses issues of safety in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and why, how and when to use games. It contains activities and ideas on how to include children in participatory processes

Can you hear me? The right of young children to participate in decisions affecting them

May 2005

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This paper makes the case for children's participation and discusses how it can be put into practice and measured. Participation enhances children's self-esteem and confidence, promotes their overall capacities, produces better outcomes, strengthens understanding of and commitment to democratic processes and protects children more effectively. It is also a matter of social justice and human rights -- all people, however young, are entitled to have their views respected and valued

Exploring the field of listening to and consulting with young children

CLARK, Alison
MOSS, Peter
July 2003

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This piece of research is a review into listening to and consulting with young children in the UK under five years old with a focus on views and experiences of education and child care. Different methodologies and approaches used in research and consultation are examined including those operating alongside listening to practitioners and parents, and tools that are open to young children with special needs. The impact is then considered based upon evidence gained of children's experiences and priorities, and subsequent changes to attitudes and practice. The review contains case studies to draw upon

HIV/AIDS : what about very young children?

DUNN, Alison
July 2004

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This short paper reflects findings from research carried out to identify current responses to meet the needs of children age 0-8 living in HIV/AIDS affected communities. The overall results show that at local, national and international levels there are gaps in programming and policy to engage ideas and mobilise resources to address the needs and experiences of very young children both infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. The question is then raised: What can we actually do to include very young children in programming and policy responses in HIV/AIDS affected communities? Supporting existing family and community networks and current efforts that are being made by people confronting HIV/AIDS on a daily basis are important strategies. Conclusions are drawn indicating that services are required urgently to support very young children both directly and through the families and communities in which they live. Ways of listening to and including very young children in these processes need to be developed and used. Partnerships need to be developed between parents, families, NGOs, CBOs and government to ensure the holistic development of the child. At policy levels, very young children need to be included in programmes that address children, HIV/AIDS and community development. All government ministries can participate in meeting the needs of very young children in HIV/AIDS affected communities

Mobilising children & youth into their own child- & youth-led organisations

May 2008

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This publication explores child- and youth-led organisations from many different angles, amongst others, HIV and AIDS prevention, the critical role of adults within these organisations, and economic strengthening. What is also perhaps distinctive about the approach outlined in this booklet is the fact that organisation of children into their own child- and youth-led organisations is considered primarily from a psychosocial wellbeing perspective

Playgroup resource book : for children aged 3-5 years and 6-12 years

May 2009

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This book is designed to allow those facilitating the playgroup sessions the flexibility to pick and choose activities, games, songs and group lessons that are suited to the children they are working with, the time and materials available to them, and their geographical location and setting. Play can be especially important for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) because the physical and emotional trauma they may face makes them more vulnerable to sadness and ill-health than other children. Non-structured and structured play become very important support activities for OVC because of all they can do to improve a child’s physical and emotional well-being

So you want to consult with children? A toolkit of good practice

International Save the Children Alliance
November 2003

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This toolkit is designed to be a flexible tool for people who want to involve children of all ages in discussion about issues that affect them, but don’t know how to do so. It does not list practical activities but rather makes suggestions on what needs to be done to ensure that such exercises have a good chance of success. It addresses issues around how to make sure that children feel that their views and opinions have been listened to and respected. What can be done to ensure that the children involved are safe and protected at all times? How can children and adults be equal partners in representing an organisation, country or delegation to a formal meeting? The main topics covered include organising a consultation or meeting with children, planning a prepatory meeting with and for children, having children on your delegation, the role of adults in creating an enabling environment, ensuring children are safe and protected, and ensuring quality follow up

State of the world's children 2003


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The State of the World's Children 2003 reports on child participation - the ‘right’ of every child at every age, the responsibility of governments, organizations and families, and a way to promote tolerance, respect for human rights, an appreciation of diversity and peace. The report showcases examples from every region of the world of how things are different when children’s viewpoints are taken into account. Photos and artwork are by children. The report includes nine tables, including a new addition on HIV/AIDS, and three maps, which together present a comprehensive set of economic and social indicators on the well-being of children worldwide

Tell me more : children's rights and sexuality in the context of HIV/AIDS in Africa


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This report explores the strategies that children have developed for dealing with sexuality and relationships in the face of HIV and AIDS; and provides stakeholders with a coherent rights and youth-oriented knowledge base for the development of a sexual and reproductive health agenda for advocacy. It gives an overview of sexual rights with a focus on children’s rights, including their access to sexual and reproductive health information, as endorsed by relevant international conventions and policies. It also looks at the concept of sexuality and the sexual development of children. The report includes a summary of children’s reflections on issues of sexuality and their coping mechanisms for preventing the transmission of HIV and AIDS. Based on these findings, the report makes recommendations for effective responses that would support children’s existing coping mechanisms and enhance their ability to protect themselves

Email forums

SEA-AIDS forum


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SEA-AIDS is an electronic-mail discussion and information service aimed at connecting the people building and shaping the response to HIV and AIDS in the South East Asia region. It aims to bring together a broad range of people including people living with HIV or AIDS; those working in government ministries, non-governmental and community-based organisations, and other national or international organisations; representatives of the business sector; and academic researchers. SEA-AIDSLink is for sharing experiences and information with colleagues throughout the region who have also joined the group. SEA-AIDSFiles allows you to get information and materials on HIV/AIDS in South East Asia by using simple e-mail commands.
For instance, a posting on 3 August 2004 concerns educating and empowering children with HIV. One participant from Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) argues that through cartoons and fairy tales, it is possible to promote the health and well-being of children living with HIV and AIDS. There is an urgent need to educate HIV positive children and MSF has developed tools to do this, because carers did not know how to approach them. The tools allowed carers to communicate properly with the children


Heinemann HIV/AIDS teaching support site

Heinemann Publishers

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This site is a source of information and resources for children of both younger and older age groups. These books and resources are produced to support adults who are working in education, both inside and outside the classroom, to equip children to know and think about HIV and AIDS and how it affects people. There are fiction reviews, information books and curriculum material. Lower primary through to upper secondary levels are covered and aim to give children the knowledge, skills and values they need to tackle HIV and AIDS.
For younger children, there is a series of 3 books.
1. Go Away Dog by David Donald about a grumpy grandmother, a puppy and the importance of care and friendship in a time of sickness.
2. Respect and Care by Glynis Clacherty that looks at respect and care and co-operation amongst children as they confront sickness and loss.
3. Lerato’s Story by Glynis Clacherty which is a lively photo story about a young child who is HIV positive told through the eyes of her sister