Priorities for further cooperation

Childwatch International

Report form the First Meeting of Key Institutions continues…

Priorities for further cooperation


Although very different in structure, funding and mandate, the participating institutions defined themselves as having many common objectives and concerns. Most typically, they stressed the advantage of a multi-disciplinary or inter-disciplinary approach in child research, the need to take an applied or action-oriented approach, and the need to seek partnerships with, or outreach to, those who work with children on a daily basis as well as those who define policies for children at various levels in society. Capacity building was another issue of common concern, ranging from training of child welfare professionals to assisting the academic community in developing countries. In terms of their own research activities, they stressed the need for a better overview of what is going on globally within the field of child research and what is being published. Outreach to colleagues in other countries was seen as both a means to improve quality of own research, and as a means to improve quality and usefulness of child research globally. Childwatch was seen as a tool that could be used effectively in facilitating such a synergetic process and coordinating joint projects.

On the last day of the meeting these common concerns or interests were analysed in order to identify future joint efforts to address these concerns through international cooperation, and how Childwatch could serve as a facilitator. The meeting decided to cluster the various issues in groups to be followed up by task forces. Representatives from institutions especially interested in — or are already involved in — relevant activities could work together to develop a strategy and workplan and to come up with specific project proposals. The following clusters were tentatively established:

Information exchange

Participants felt that there is a lack of information about other institutions and what they are focussing on. A number of actions were suggested to improve the flow of information among institutions involved in child research, and to increase each individual institution�s knowledge of what is going on in the others:

a) develop a standardised format of information on institutions

b) circulate semi-annual updates through Childwatch

c) send other kinds of relevant information to Childwatch for dissemination, such as published materials, description of projects, information on existing data, conferences, meetings, who subscribes on which journals/periodicals, library inventories

d) exchange mailing lists

e) exchange support to translate material into other languages than own working language to increase the effect of information dissemination

Data bases

Data bases seemed to be a concern to all participating institutions, either the need for, the lack of, or problems connected with establishing or maintaining such. There were also concerns about costs, problems of overlap and compatibility between existing and planned data bases. The following actions could be taken to address the issue:

a) identify what the individual institutions currently are doing in terms of establishing and running data bases, a mapping of �who is doing what�

b) establish a database of databases

c) define what is meant by a data base, explore the technical and conceptual modalities for data bases, find common approaches to use of language and software

d) develop guidelines for relevant data bases within child research

e) define the purpose of data bases within child research and who their users would be, as well as the relevant sorts of data to be included

Mapping of existing capacities

In the extension of the discussion of data bases, the need to create a good overview of what are the capacities of existing child research institutions was identified as another common concern. This could be addressed e.g. through the following actions:

a) identify at least one focal point for child research within each country

b) develop an institutional database

c) map potential capacity (Ph.D.s and graduates)

d) create overview of which languages are used where, i.e. where to find relevant material within each of the major languages

e) map national networks

Capacity building

Capacity building in countries with weak infrastructures and capacity for child research is considered important for several reasons: Firstly because research is most needed in the least developed countries to increase knowledge about the situation of children and how to improve their living conditions. Researchers in these countries should have the same opportunities to conduct research and participate in a dialogue on research outcomes as their colleagues in developed countries, as well as access to and take advantage of latest developments in research and dissemination methodologies. Secondly, there is a strong realisation that researchers in developed countries could profit substantially from learning about research that is going on in developing countries. The participants in the meeting were also concerned about the need to assist research communities in countries in transition, such as the republics of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The following action lines were suggested:

a) define the various needs for capacity building or strengthening in developing countries

b) establish a data base on resource people

c) define various means and mechanisms for capacity building

d) address the question of ethics in child research, both in developed and developing countries

e) arrange training courses

f) establish exchange programmes

g) set up workshop/manual on publications

h) develop plan on how to create centres

i) i dentify strengths of already existing institutions in developing countries


All institutions are constantly searching funding, both for their general budgets and for specific projects. In order to facilitate and support fundraising, the following actions could be further explored:

a) establish database on funding agencies (formal/informal info)

b) develop programmes to �educate� donors, i.e. give them more specific information on research needs and the usefulness of various types of research

c) develop strategies for more systematic approach to contractors

d) develop new approaches to co-funding (filtering process)

e) clarify role that Childwatch could play in fundraising and identification of potential funding sources

f) explore ways to maximise potential of money

g) promote long-term commitments of donors


There is a need for strategies concerning outreach to target groups outside of the circles of child research. This goes both for dissemination of information from child research and for partnerships with groups outside of the research community. Activities could include:

a) develop strategies for dissemination of results of research, e.g. through Childwatch-TV and other media

b) develop strategies for working with children, peers, public, policy makers

c) develop strategies for making impact on decisions concerning children

d)take advantage of existing journals, publications, such as Childhood for dissemination of results of research

Identifying priority projects

In the discussion a number of substantive issues were also mentioned as areas that need research. A joint approach to this issue could e.g. contain the following:

a) develop strategies for identifying and prioritising among areas that need research;

b) develop strategies for division of labour and effective use of resources to avoid unnecessary overlap and replication.

The following substantive issues were mentioned in discussion as deserving special attention:

  • children in difficult circumstances
  • children and environment
  • resilience of children
  • child rearing
  • youth/adolescence
  • impact of politics on lives of children
  • children and violence (including domestic violence against children)
  • relationship between men/fathers and children

This list is by no means exhaustive, but serves as an indication of some themes that are currently on the agendas of some of the participating institutions, or should be included in future research. Further efforts to identify priority areas of research eill need to consult with more thorough overviews of already ongoing research, cf. 6.2 and 6.3 above.

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