This paper presents the findings of research about children’s participation in child protection processes. Research was undertaken with young people who had recent involvement with safeguarding professionals. The study explored children’s lived experience and perspectives and found that children feel capable of making a contribution, however, they are frustrated by experiences of exclusion and inequality and the limitations of their ability to influence process and outcomes.
The study further explored the perspectives of practitioners. Whilst professional commitment to child-centred practice and effective safeguarding is unequivocal, the discourse of participation is characterised by ‘yes, but’. Insights emerged from the different voices and competing narratives of the central protagonists in the child protection process: children, social workers, chairs of case conferences and advocates. This paper examines how the child’s right to involvement in safeguarding processes is understood and contributes to the evolving discourse about the importance of children’s participation.