By Sarah Gorin, Ros Edwards and Val Gillies
Throughout our project we have been looking at parental social licence for the linking together of Government data about families’ lives across areas such as health, education and social care. Whilst our research focus has been on parents, it is also important we listen to children’s views. A vast amount of data is collected about children across Government and non-Government agencies, yet it would seem children and young people are rarely asked what they consider to be acceptable uses of their personal information. It is important that children are given this opportunity, under Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, that requires that children’s views should be heard and considered on all matters that affect them.
A recent report ‘Visibility, Vulnerability and Voice’ by The Office for Statistics Regulation (an independent body that regulates the use of official statistics) has drawn attention to the importance of including children and young people in official statistics.
The report provides a framework for considering the needs of children and young people in the development of official statistics that they have named the ‘3V’s’ framework and suggests seeing statistics about children and young people with 3 lenses: that of ‘Visibility’, making statistics on children and young people available; ‘Vulnerability’, ensuring collection and analysis of data about children who are vulnerable to poorer outcomes and ‘Voice’, ensuring statistics reflect the views of children and young people and they are given a voice in how their data is used.
In considering children’s ‘Voice’ the Office for Statistics Regulation reflect that all official statistics producers should:
- Seek the views of children and young people themselves rather than relying on proxies from adults.
- Consider, and respond to, the data needs of children and young people.
- Involve children and young people in the development of statistics for and about them.
- Ensure children and young people have a voice around how their data are used in official statistics and in research using the data underpinning them.
Whilst the report focuses on the need to involve children and young people in the development of official statistics, the same also applies more broadly to the development of policy around the use of data. A report by DigitalDefendMe,‘The Words We Use in Data Policy’ considers the way children are framed in data policy and the lack of representation or engagement with children about their views. We welcome these reports and the focus and commitment to improving opportunities for children and young people to be involved in developments in the way their data is linked together and used.