Research with and by Migrant Children
Department of Social, Cognitive and Quantitative Sciences University of Modena and Reggio Emilia Reggio Emilia, Italy
Child-centred approaches focus on the children's perspective and participation. Participatory action research could be an interesting methodology to investigate topic as the labour of children. In the framework of a survey project on the labour of migrant young people in Italy, we chose to involve actively a group of foreign girls and boys as peer researchers. The research was an action in progress during two years, testing different methodologies.
After a first stage of training, the teenager group was involved in the elaboration of the survey methodologies, elements to be investigated, subjects to be interviewed and actions to be realised. Peer researchers have collected 105 interviews in two years and discussed the collected data with adults who accompanied the whole process. The way of disseminating results was decided together with children, elaborating two final documents, brochures for peer and employers and a video with some interviews. Peer researchers participated in the evaluation process and, the second year, in the implementation of action.
The active participation by children in the survey entailed several ethical and methodological challenges and questions, offering stimulating reflection areas. The setting of flexible working methods, able to follow both the survey evolution and personal needs and paths of children involved as peer researchers, enabled to build the research path while researching and to adapt it depending on the resources of the subjects.
The experience made has, moreover, favoured among kids a process of empowerment and support to self-confidence end the enhancement of their knowledge, in a view of proposal and project exchange with adults.