Voices and lack of voice in services. A review of data relating to children and young people’s service experiences

Marja Peltola & Jenni Moisio

(In Finnish: Ääniä ja äänettömyyttä palvelukentillä. Katsaus lasten ja nuorten palvelukokemuksia koskevaan tietoon)


The aim of this review is to collect existing, research based data on the service experiences of children and young people from 2000–2016. The data that was collected was mainly written in Finnish and is available electronically. Through electronic searches 224 research-oriented publications were chosen to be included in the review material, and among these the most common types of publications were scientific articles and accounts. The service sectors that were covered by most publications were primary and secondary education, child protection, hobby services and youth work, but the aim was also to include extensive research data on both services aimed at children and young people, and services aimed at all ages which are used by children and young people. In addition, data has been collected on experiences of services aimed at special groups, and the special groups’ experiences of these services. The special themes that were considered most often in the publications were multiculturalism, using child protection services, and disabilities. In the field of research into the service experiences of children and young people, certain gaps were also identified where there was only a small amount of research available for this review. These were primary health care services, mental health and substance abuse services, as well as the services for and service experiences of certain special groups.

The central concepts that have been highlighted in the review are inclusion, equality and unexpected meetings. These themes can be found across publications relating to different service sectors. Even though the challenge of inclusion is identified more often within services, children and young people’s experiences of not being included, not being spoken to directly and their views being ignored are still alarmingly common. There still seems to be a long road ahead before inclusion is achieved within services. Equal access to services, equal treatment of children and young people within services, and meeting them in a way that respects their agency are prerequisites for achieving inclusion. In service meetings, the use of different ways of acting, interacting and meeting clients should be made possible to a larger extent, and the importance of children and young people’s relationships with peers should also be identified.

Keywords: services, children, young people, experiences, review