Hearing young children on topics of global importance

Webinar with May Lene Karlsen, 27 May 2021, 5 pm (CET). Discussant: Stefania Maggi

About the webinar

Hearing children is of interest to anyone who believes that every voice is important for a society to be whole. It is of interest to those who believe that to neglect, marginalise or systematically overlook a group of people, is to deprive our communities of the qualities that only this particular group can offer. Hearing children is not just a concern for those working directly with and for children, but for all who believes in a society where every voice counts.

The international community, through the United Nations convention for children’s rights, have agreed that every child have a right to be heard and yet we find that few active attempts are being made at engaging and hearing young children on the big issues facing our world today. Why is this?  Do children under the age of 12 have a place in the social discourse on topics such as the pandemic, inequality and racism? Can they contribute to politics and policymaking in meaningful ways? What could systematic attempts at hearing young children on big issues look like? These are some of the questions that will be explored in this webinar, drawing on examples and experiences gained through the Children Heard project.

Children Heard was initiated in March 2020 by a counselling psychologist in the UK and a community psychologist in Norway. Through partnerships with three UNICEF offices in Europe, they gathered the views of 240 children aged 3-12 about their experiences and opinions on the pandemic. The project is currently gathering views on racism through a family-based interview and are experimenting with methods of engaging young children on topics of global importance.

About the presenter

May Lene Karlsen is a counselling and community psychologist. She completed her doctorate in Counselling Psychology at the University of Surrey in 2010 and have since then worked in services for children and families with a particular interest in pre- and primary school aged children. In addition to clinical work, she has worked as an associated and visiting lecturer at several doctoral programmes in the UK, as clinical lead for a children’s charity in London and now as a community psychologist for a local government in Norway. She is a committee member of the Community Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society and an active member of her own local community in Sandefjord, Norway. She co-founded Children Heard in 2020 with Dr. Gail Sinitsky.


About the discussant

Dr. Maggi is an interdisciplinary scholar whose mixed-methods research bring together developmental sciences, population health approaches, participatory methods, statistical modelling, and arts-based approaches. Her work focuses on individual and collective resilience; positive development and emotional intelligence; social, educational and relational determinants of early career development; impacts of climate change on children and families; and enabling factors promoting individual and collective environmental behaviours and action.  Dr. Maggi is also a science fiction author, an entrepreneur, and child rights advocate. She is cross appointed between the Childhood and Youth Studies program and the Department of Psychology at Carleton University.