Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going? A Conceptual Framework for Child Advocacy

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The primary goal of this article is to chart the development of child advocacy as an interdisciplinary field of study and conclude with a conceptual framework for research and higher education in child advocacy. Historically, child advocacy has justifiably focused on protection needs. Values and assumptions about children's best interest have also governed child advocacy, in part because evidence to inform decisions was lacking and in part because of its history as an activist movement. Against this historical backdrop, we describe contemporary trends in child advocacy that reconcile children's protection with their inherent rights to personhood. We rely on the principles and articles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, most notably children's rights to participation and self-expression. At the same time, we demonstrate how values and ideology are being integrated with empiricism and objective analysis to inform policy and practice in child advocacy. The future of child advocacy depends on continued synthesis of rights and protection as well as values and rigorous analysis. From this perspective, we offer a conceptual framework for research and education in child advocacy.



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