Poster Paper: Children Are Diverse People Too: ACV Methodology for Learning Perspectives of 12-17 Year-Olds

Thursday, November 7, 2019
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Plaza Exhibits (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Deborah Levison and Anna Bolgrien, University of Minnesota

Children are often the objects of research, but they are rarely engaged with as diverse people in their own right, with views and perspectives about their own lives. The Animating Children’s Views (ACV) methodology helps adult researchers and policymakers learn about how young people in the Global South are grappling with challenges facing them. The methodology allows young respondents to express their perspectives without putting them at increased risk of harm. It is inspired by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 12, which states that children should be consulted on matters that concern them.

This methodology uses a modified vignette method in which child respondents are presented with a short video and asked questions about a cartoon kid. How should this kid handle the challenge facing him/her? Not asking about the respondent him- or herself reduces the risk of punishment if, for example, an adult should overhear a young respondent saying something that the adult did not want revealed, or stating an opinion with which the adult disagreed. It also aims to reduce social desirability bias: the tendency of respondents to say what they think interviewers want to hear.

Vignettes are constructed based on qualitative and quantitative evidence about a population, as well as on our findings during exploratory research. Vignette topics thus far include a poverty scenario, school beatings by teachers, child labor, teacher predation of school girls, street harassment of girls, peer pressure on boys to quit school, and pregnancy. Topics being developed for Nepal include bullying and verbal abuse by teachers. Topics need to be context-specific so that respondents are already familiar with them. A wide range of topics can be explored using ACV methodology. By asking young people about these topics, the ACV methodology seeks to diversify the perspectives that are considered in policy making.

ACV modules can be attached to traditional surveys for use with children ages 12-17. An ACV module consists of a 2-minute cartoon video (with voiceover heard through a headset), plus follow-up questions posted by an interviewer. Some follow-up questions use a five-point Smiley face scale, while others ask more directly about the cartoon kid’s dilemma.

Our pilot studies also include post-survey interviews and focus groups of child respondents as well as an adult survey. The APPAM presentation will present preliminary findings from three pilot studies in rural and urban Tanzania (2018) and from peri-urban Nepal (2019). All three pilots used stratified random sampling methods; each includes children from 100-150 households.

We argue that until adults learn more about the perspectives of young people, and generate data about them, it will be impossible to take account the unique views and opinions of children and effectively ignoring the diverse perspectives of over 640 million young people ages 12-17 in the Global South. (UN Population Division, 2015 estimates). The Animating Children's Views methodology offers an innovative approach to engaging young people to improve program and policy development.