Data-Driven Decision-Making Beyond COVID-19: Incorporating the Voice of the Child

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Data-driven decision-making was central to the UK Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many decisions, informed by data but made without reference to children’s views, had a significant, negative, impact upon children. Pre-pandemic some children had already expressed concern that politicians were not considering their views and interests. During the pandemic, the Government’s reliance upon data, and combined with its pre-disposition to view children as incapable of contributing meaningfully to debates on matters affecting them, and thus its propensity to take decisions without considering children’s views and interests, meant many children felt they had not been heard or respected. This chapter discusses the findings of a small-scale study which sought children’s views about the Government’s data-driven pandemic response and confirms that some children want and expect the Government to consider their views about matters affecting them, including how their data is used.

The Government suggests the success of its data-driven pandemic response requires it to do more with public sector data. Although, pre-pandemic significant concerns were being raised about commercial collection and analysis of children’s data, little attention has previously been given to public sector use of children’s data. The UK Government’s response to the COVID-19 emergency has highlighted the complex relationship between public sector data-driven decision-making and children’s participatory rights. Assertions it will continue its data-driven approach post-pandemic justify a renewed focus both upon the state’s use of children’s data and upon how children’s views feed into state decision-making. This chapter calls for the Government to respect its obligations under the UNCRC and ensure that decision-making is informed not only by data but also by children’s views and interests.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGovernance, democracy and ethics in crisis-decision-making
Subtitle of host publicationthe pandemic and beyond
EditorsCaroline Redhead, Melanie Smallman
Place of PublicationManchester
PublisherManchester University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9781526180032
ISBN (Print)9781526180049
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2024

Publication series

NameThe pandemic and beyond
PublisherManchester University Press

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