OUR RESEARCH PROJECTS
In 2011, as per the terms of the Hillsborough Castle Agreement, an independent review of the Youth Justice System in Northern Ireland was carried out. The Review and the 31 recommendations emanating from it were informed by the UNCRC and other relevant human rights standards. The last analysis of implementation (2015) revealed that 41% of the recommendations had met significant stumbling blocks and had not been fully implemented.
Ten years after the publication of the Youth Justice Review, Siobhan McAlister and Nicola Carr (University of Nottingham) have been commissioned to carry to out an independent analysis of progress and developments in Youth Justice in Northern Ireland. Based on document analysis, and interviews with key criminal justice and NGO sector representatives, they are examining progress and barriers in the areas of the minimum age of criminal responsibility; police engagement; early intervention; diversion and delay; bail, remand and the use of custody; and criminal records.
The research is commissioned by: Children’s Law Centre, Include Youth, NIACRO and VOYPIC.
The impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the planning and delivery of services to children and young people.
Dr Mary-Louise Corr, Dr Michelle Templeton, Dr Bronagh Byrne and Dr Siobhan McAlister are working on a research project funded by the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People on the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the planning and delivery of services to children and young people.
The project identifies the challenges experienced by professionals and practitioners working in statutory and voluntary sectors and examines the ways in which they responded to and aimed to resolve the issues presented. The project will assess the rights implications of these impacts and responses and will be used to inform recommendations for future emergency planning.
For more information contact Dr Mary-Louise Corr
Prof Laura Lundy, Dr Bronagh Byrne and Dr Michelle Templeton, are working on a project funded by the European Commission to produce child-friendly versions of the newly launched EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child (March 2021).
They will work in partnership with two groups of children and young people (n=21), from two schools in Dublin, Ireland. Together, they will decide how the key messages of ‘The Plan’ should be explained to children and will produce 3 versions: 1. a longer (8 page) version for older children; 2. a shorter (2 page) version, for younger children; and 3. an easy-read version for children with intellectual disabilities. The project will also produce guidelines to support child-friendly communication in both written documents and in-person meetings attended by children (whether online or not).
A new report documenting the experiences of life during Covid-19 lockdown for autistic young people has been launched by the Centre for Children’s Rights.
The research, led by Dr Bronagh Byrne and Dr Gillian O’Hagan, and funded by the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work, engages the participatory arts based research method of Photovoice whereby autistic young people aged between 11-15 years of age used photography to document their lives in Northern Ireland during the period of lockdown March - June 2020.
The project seeks to illuminate the challenges faced by these young people during lockdown with a particular focus on their experiences of education during this time. A young people’s advisory group worked alongside the QUB team in designing and analysing the research. As a result of their work, this project makes future recommendations for how autistic young people should be supported during any further pandemic and associated restrictions. The findings make particular reference to the educational and other supports normally engaged for autistic young people and how these services could be adapted and adjusted when planning any future lockdown restrictions.
The #CovidUnder19 Global survey is an initiative led by children and young people that aims to understand the children and young people’s experiences of their rights since the beginning of Coronavirus.
The Centre for Children's Rights, employing their unique children's rights-based methodology, designed the survey and analysed and developed a series of thematic briefings, working at every stage with children and young people and other partners to make sure that the survey and findings were produced with children for children. The survey was developed in collaboration with international partners including Terre des hommes and the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence Against Children among others and involved a diverse group of children from 28 countries at all stages including drawing conclusions and developing key messages.
The “Life Under Coronavirus” survey was designed for children aged between 8 to 17 years old and made available in 27 different languages alongside an Easy Read version. It received an overwhelming response with more than 26,000 children participating worldwide from 137 countries.
Nine thematic briefings covering findings on: Education, Play, Safety/violence, Poverty, Family life, Participation and information, Representations of children and Children’s experiences of coronavirus have now been released.
Briefings along with technical annex A (demographics of survey respondents) and technical annex B (headline findings by UN region) have been created and can be viewed on the links below:
The findings allow children and young people to directly share with decision makers and leaders around the world how the pandemic and related measures taken by governments have impacted on experience of their rights and ways in which governments can implement their rights more effectively going forward.
The coalition is led by Terres des Hommes and the UN Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence Against Children, and includes a number of international NGOs and partners.
Professor Laura Lundy and Dr Michelle Templeton are working with colleagues from Child Rights Connect and UN experts to develop a toolkit to strengthen the national implementation of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders in harmony with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This work, funded by an ESRC Impact Acceleration International Partnerships award, builds on previous work carried out for the 2018 Day of General Discussion (DGD 2018) of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, focused on the theme “Protecting and empowering children as human rights defenders (CHRDs)”.
The DGD 2018 was the first international discussion on such a topic, built on the views of children, collected through a global consultation with 2695 children in 53 national contexts led by Lundy and Templeton. That project used The Lundy Model to work with a children’s advisory group of 21 child human rights defenders from 19 diverse national contexts. The global consultation drew the attention of the international community on the specific experiences and challenges of children human rights defenders (CHRDs) worldwide.
This project aims to follow-up on the DGD 2018 recommendations and hold online and face-to-face consultations on the draft implementation Guide with,
1) Children who formed part of the DGD 2018 Children’s Advisory Team;
2) the new Child Rights Connect’s permanent Children’s Advisory Team, and
3) UN experts - to include the UNCRC Committee; the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders; the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence Against Children; UNICEF representatives and others.
The Toolkit will enable children to better understand the links between the substantive provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and the UNCRC, and how these links must be translated into national legislation, policy and practice. This will empower children to engage in advocacy around their rights as human rights defenders – in particular civil and political rights – with more solid and legally grounded arguments. By using the Guide, children will be able to provide inputs to draft laws on human rights defenders and influence policies that are relevant to their rights as defenders, such as for example child participation policies. Children will also be able to identify violations of their rights as human rights defenders, claim for their remedy and report them to the UN human rights mechanism to strengthen child rights accountability. The new toolkit will also provide concrete guidance to States and other stakeholders on how to ensure that national laws, policies and practices allow children to fully and safely exercise their rights when acting as human rights defenders.
Professor Laura Lundy and Dr Michelle Templeton are working with colleagues Dr Gavin Duffy, Professor Tony Gallagher and Dr Gareth Robinson on an ESRC funded project, in collaboration with colleagues from Oxford, Cardiff, Edinburgh, and the London School of Economics (LSE).
This four year project will lead to a greater understanding of the landscapes of exclusion across the UK’s four jurisdictions, and the cost of exclusion at individual, institutional and system levels, as well as pupils’ rights, entitlements, protection and wellbeing.
Children, young people and parents who have experienced exclusion will work alongside the researchers in NI, England and Scotland as advisors on the project to help with research design, analysis and dissemination of the findings.
This research is organised into three work strands:
1) Landscapes of exclusion - examines the ways in which policies and legal frameworks shape interventions designed to prevent exclusions; the financial costs associated with exclusion; and patterns and characteristics of exclusion.
2) Experiences of exclusion - focuses on families’, pupils’ and professionals’ experiences of the risks and consequences of exclusion.
3) Integration - integrate these findings to ensure that the research develops a coherent multi-disciplinary understanding of the political economies of exclusion.
Professor Laura Lundy, Dr Katrina Lloyd, Dr Mary Louise Corr, Dr Michelle Templeton & Dr Amy Hanna are working with the Children’s Commissioner of Jersey to undertake research with children in Jersey to provide insights into and a deeper understanding of their lived experiences on the island of Jersey.
The information gained will inform and contribute to the ongoing review of legislative gaps, from a children’s rights perspective. Working with children from Jersey as advisors on the project - using The Lundy Model - will add a unique perspective to the project in relation to enhanced research questions, methods, analysis and dissemination activities.
Professor Laura Lundy and Dr Michelle Templeton have been commissioned by BBC Children in Need (NI) to help children’s views to be central in the development and running of their newly launched programme ‘A Million & Me’. The Lundy Model will be employed to work with a Children’s Advisory Group (CAG) through BBC Children in Need (CiN) partner organisations in Scotland to develop and pilot a model of child participation. The focus of this project is to work at the overarching level to ensure that children’s views are incorporated into the overall design and delivery of the wider programme. The intention is to learn from this to develop a model that might be applied in other BBC CiN projects to ensure that children’s views are at the core of the development of initiatives and services that are intended for them.
Dr Michelle Templeton and Professor Laura Lundy are working with Dr Patricio Cuevas-Parra, Director of Child Participation and Rights with World Vision International, to explore the claims, practices and outcomes of World Vision’s Young Leaders Project - that promotes the participation of young people in high-level political forums. The study will conduct face-to-face interviews and focus groups with 12 young leaders and interview 12 influential global stakeholders (UN, EU and AU, and other high-level government officials) to explore issues around:
1) The internal and external contextual factors that facilitate the participation of young leaders in the global policy debate;
2) How do young leaders and global stakeholders engage in intergenerational dialogue and how do they deal with power, control and hierarchies while trying to ensure the impact of their work in specific socio-political contexts; and
3) What is the impact that young leaders have made in decision-making and how have influenced global stakeholders whom they have interacted with? What weakens their influence and impact?
The evaluation will provide recommendations on child participation with a particular focus on youth participation at high-level political events.
Dr Alison MacKenzie worked with colleagues Christine Bower and Mohammed Owainneh, in collaboration with the Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation (BASR), to explore Assessment and Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Centres Supervised by the Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation, Palestine. The project was funded by the Association pour la Promotion de L’Education et de la Formation a l’Etranger (APEFE), Belgium (January - September 2019). The research aimed to promote understanding of current conceptualisations of disability advanced by disability groups in the UK and elsewhere that is evidence based and informed by the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child, and the Rights of Peoples with Disabilities particularly the UN Comment 4 on Article 24 (Education). Three principal objectives guided the research:
1. Update criteria for assessing children and young people with disabilities
2. Develop an evaluation handbook
3. Facilitate seminars and workshops for BASR resource staff and teachers.
A variety of research methods were used to collect data on the educational experiences of children and young people in these settings, including: the perceptions of parents on the value of centres in providing education and training; and the perceptions of BASR staff on current understandings of disability, and the provision of specialised services. The methods used were participatory research methods with children and young people; Semi-structured interviews and Focus groups with centre staff; and Focus groups with children and young people.
In total, 56 participants took part in the research: 32 service users (23 children and eight adolescents), 12 members of staff (directors, teachers and trainers), and 12 mothers. The Special Needs Assessment Guide and Special Educational Needs Support Guide are now used in the educational centres supported by BASR, and were endorsed the Palestinian Ministry of Education.
Professor Laura Lundy and Dr Michelle Templeton partnered with GlobalChild to facilitate a global consultation with children and young people from around the world on the development of indicators for the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, to measure states’ implementation of the UNCRC. This included the set-up and management of an advisory group of children aged 13-15 years to inform the project and the development of consultation materials. Almost 2,000 children from 52 sites in 35 countries across the world participated in the GCRD workshops. The outcomes from the GCRD have been incorporated into the attributes and indicators of the GCh project.
Please click here to visit the GlobalChild Website to access the final report in full and a child friendly version.
Dr Mary-Louise Corr, Dr Siobhan McAlister and Dr Clare Dwyer are working on this research project, funded by the Commission for Victims and Survivors, which adopts a child-rights based approach to examining the legacies of the Conflict, and their impacts, on children and young people in Northern Ireland and the border regions of Ireland.
This project will explore the impacts Conflict legacy on the current generation (aged 14-25 years), and examine these in relation to the parent generation.
The research will engage with children and young people (n=80-100), parents (n=30), youth and community workers (n=20) and departmental representatives, regional and statutory bodies (n=10).
A young people's advisory group will work alongside the QUB team on research design, analysis and dissemination, and larger groups of young people involved in Peace IV funded projects will help frame recommendations from the findings.
Dr Siobhan McAlister, Dr Michelle Templeton, Professor Laura Lundy, Dr Katrina Lloyd and Dr Karen Winter worked with children and colleagues across Europe to explore how professionals could work better with children who have experienced violence. The team created a variety of resources for children, young people and professionals. You can view these resources here.
Dr Michelle Templeton and Dr Dirk Schubotz from the Centre for Children’s Rights worked in partnership with The Belfast Youth Forum and Common Youth to support a youth-led study which explored young people’s opinions on the Relationships and Sexuality Education they receive (RSE). The research report, ‘Any Use?’ was launched at Belfast City Hall on 21st November 2019 by the Youth Forum and the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY) Koulla Yiasouma and Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor John Finucane, as part of UN World Children’s Day celebration to mark the 30th Anniversary of the UNCRC. The Belfast Youth Forum chose RSE as one of their campaign areas for 2018-2019 because young people have consistently raised this as a key issue through a number of their engagement events.
Key findings from the report
- One in two young people think their right to RSE is currently not being met
- 34 per cent of young people who completed the survey had never received a RSE lesson in school
- Of the young people who did receive RSE, only 10 percent said the information they received was ‘very useful’
- Despite this, a massive 86 per cent of young people felt school was still the best place to receive RSE
- Three quarters of young people believed RSE should not be influenced by the ethos or religion of the school
- The overwhelming majority want it taught by a qualified RSE teacher as part of a curriculum programme
- The most popular subject young people want to learn about in RSE is ‘personal relationships.’
Key recommendations from the report:
- Adopt a right-based proactive approach to relationship and sexuality education
- Work with young people to co-produce an RSE curriculum programme for schools
- A curriculum programme should be taught by specialised, qualified and trained staff.
The 'Any Use' report sparked calls from relevant organisations for curriculum change that takes on board the findings. Our young people will now be engaging with decision makers and influencers across Belfast to encourage them to implement the recommendations in their research report.
Please click here to see the report.
Professor Laura Lundy, Dr Siobhan Mc Alister and Dr Michelle Templeton partnered with Terres des Hommes and Prof Ursula Kilkelly and Dr Louise Forde from UCC to lead a global consultation with 274 children deprived of their liberty in 22 countries. The study employed the unique child rights-based research methodology developed at the Centre for Children's Rights to ensure that the views of children experiencing deprivation of liberty in a range of settings and varied global contexts were integral to the study and its recommendations to the world's governments. This included seeking the views of children with experiences of immigration, youth justice, orphanages and other institutions, and also those detained in the context of armed conflict and national security. In addition, the Study findings are based on a further 12 regional and thematic consultations, questionnaires requesting data from every UN member state, a comprehensive reviews of literature on the subject, and additional research by expert groups. Professor Manfred Nowak, a UN independent expert launched the study to the UN General Assembly in New York on October 8, 2019.
Key findings from the report - Full report
- At least 410,000 children are held every year in jails and prisons, where violence is “endemic.” Many are charged with “status offenses” that are not criminal offenses for adults, including truancy, disobedience, and underage drinking;
- Deprivation of liberty aggravates existing health conditions in children and can cause new conditions to emerge, including anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and post-traumatic stress.
- Psychiatric disorders for children in detention can increase tenfold during detention, and detention is correlated with early death among children once released.
- Although UN experts have concluded that detention of children for migration-related reasons can never be in the best interests of a child, at least 330,000 children in 77 countries are held in immigration detention each year;
- While between 430,000 and 680,000 children have been placed by judicial authorities in institutions that meet the legal definition of deprivation of liberty, the total number of children in institutions is estimated at 3.5 to 5.5 million;
- Children with disabilities are significantly overrepresented in detention in the context of administration of justice and institutions; and
- The number of children detained in the context of armed conflict and national security has increased sharply, driven by aggressive counterterrorism measures that include detention and prosecution of children for online activity, including posts to Facebook and Twitter.
Key recommendations from the report: UN members are encouraged to,
- collect reliable and systematic data on children deprived of liberty, and,
- create national action plans aimed at an overall reduction in the number of children in detention and/or the elimination of detention for children.
- The General Assembly is also encouraged to formally designate a UN entity to lead follow-up efforts.
The full study can be found online here: https://undocs.org/en/A/74/136
The Council of Europe commissioned research in 2017 to investigate the experiences of children with disabilities within the digital environment from the perspective of their human rights. The study, with input from four advisory groups of children with disabilities in NI, involved interviews and focus groups with over 90 children with a diverse range of disabilities in 5 European countries.
The Centre for Children’s Rights is working with international colleagues to examine children with disabilities’ views and experiences of their rights in an online environment under the light of the three “P’s” of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (participation, protection and provision).
Working with children and adults in advisory groups, it will develop participatory activities that will capture the experiences of children with a range of disabilities across four European countries. It will produce recommendations on best practices for governments, professionals working with children, parents and the corporate sector; as well as child friendly versions of the report accessible to all the groups of children taking part.
Professor Laura Lundy and Dr Michelle Templeton were commissioned to partner with Child Rights Connect to conduct a global consultation, with over 2500 children in 53 countries, including face-to-face participation and online survey, on the topic of “Protecting and empowering children as human rights defenders (CHRDs)” for the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child – Day of General Discussion (Sep) 2018. This included the set-up and management of an international advisory group of 21 young people from around the world who met face-to-face and online throughout the project to inform the process and the day itself.
The global report can be accessed here - “The views, perspectives and recommendations of children across the world“
Dr John Topping at QUB and Dr Bruno Comparato and Liana de Paula at the Federal Univesity of Sao Paolo are working on this project which involves international academic exchange between Brazil and Northern Ireland to consider issues of police reform and democracy across the two jurisdictions. It will include training, knowledge exchange and the production of learning materials. The project is funded by the British Academy Newtown Advanced Fellowship.
This networking grant from the European Cooperation in Science and Technology funding organisation was awarded to Dr John Topping in 2018 and involved academics, practitioners and policy makers from across Europe to examine police stop and search practices. Police Stops are widely used and adopted by police forces as a means to control and prevent crime and terrorism. At the same time, the practice is experienced as intrusive and problematic, particularly among young men and minority ethnic communities. A practice that is intended to increase safety undermines trust and legitimacy.
As a result, the effectiveness of the practice is in doubt. Balancing these competing perspectives has prompted increasing scrutiny from civil society organisations and from legal and governing institutions in some European states. Yet the practices remain under-explored and little understood in many European states.
This Action aims to better understand Police Stops across Europe as practiced, experienced, and as they affect wider society, in order to inform the oversight and effectiveness of the practice.
Find out more about Dr John Toppings work on Police Stops and Police Stop and Search here.
Read about the recent Stop & Search Event at QUB on 4th September 2019
Dr Topping, Dr Dirk Schubotz and DR Martina McKnight also worked on a survey module in the 2017 Young Life and Times (YLT) survey which explored young people’s understanding, attitudes and experiences of Police stop and search practice in Northern Ireland.
Related publication: Topping, J. and Schubotz, D. (2018). The ‘usual suspects’? Young people’s experiences of police stop and search powers in Northern Ireland. ARK Research Update 120 Belfast: ARK Available online at: http://www.ark.ac.uk/publications/updates/update120.pdf
Funded by Marie Curie, Dr Bronagh Byrne and colleagues in the School of Nursing examined the experiences of young people with life-limiting conditions using patient-held records. The study focused on rights-based participatory methods with young people.
Colleagues from the School of Nursing included Dr Pete O’Halloran, Dr Jayne Price, Dr Dorry McLaughlin and Professor Max Watson.
The Northern Ireland Prison Service funded an interdisciplinary team of researchers, Dr Mark Linden, Prof Maria Lohan and Dr Michelle Templeton to explore the utility of a programme designed to educate, and ultimately reduce rates of teen pregnancy, by targeting young male offenders.
Discover the programme: 'If I were Jack'
Title: Child-Participatory Budgeting: a global review of good practice
Research Team: Prof Laura Lundy, Dr Chelsea Marshall, Dr Karen Orr, Dr Lucy Royal-Dawson
Funder: Plan International (Sweden)
Title: Enabling the exercise of civil and political rights: the views of children
Research Team: Orr, K., Emerson, L., Lundy, L., Royal-Dawson, L. , Jimenez, E
Funder: Child Rights Governance Global Theme, Save the Children
Title: Reporting on Best Practice in Cross-departmental Working Practices for Children and Young People
Research Team: Byrne, B., Lundy, L. and Maguire, L.
Funder: Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People
Title: Advancing Children’s Rights in Ireland
Research Team: Lundy, L., Kilkelly, U. (PIs)
Funder: Atlantic Philanthropies
Title: Teaching and Learning about Child Rights: a study of implementation in 26 countries
Research Team: Jerome, L., Emerson, L., Lundy, L. and Orr, K.
Title: Towards Better Investment in the Rights of the Child: the views of children
Research Team: Lundy, L., Orr, K. and Marshall, C.
Funder: Plan Sweden (Plan International)
Title: Alternative Care and Children's rights in Northern Ireland
Research Team: Winter, K., Byrne, B., Lloyd, K
Funder: Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission
Title: The Legal Needs of Children and Young People in Nothern Ireland: the perspectives of young people and adult stakeholders
Research Team: Emerson.L, Lloyd.K, Lundy.L and Orr.K.
Funder: Department of Justice
Title: Developing a measure of children’s participation rights in school and in their community
Research Team: Emerson, L. and Lloyd, K.
Funder: Improving Children’s Lives