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Children should help choose charities their schools or families support
08 April 2019
Children as young as four should be given more autonomy to choose the charities their schools and families support, according to new research from Canterbury Christ Church University and the University of Kent.
Researchers set out to find out how much children aged between four and eight understand about charitable giving. In total, 150 four-to-eight year-olds were asked by a team of 60 student researcher associates about their understanding of charity and their experiences of fundraising events.
The initial findings showed pupils were chiefly only aware of charities and events they had been taken part in at school such as Comic Relief, Children in Need or harvest festivals. Furthermore, they were often not always aware of the actual reason for the event beyond being something out of the ordinary.
The researchers then worked with the children to explain more about the range of charities and causes that can be donated too. This included helping them research areas they might want to give money to based on their own interests.
After this the children showed a greater understanding that they had the autonomy to select charities that they supported. They also became more engaged in developing their own ideas around charitable giving, rather than just following orders from teachers or parents.
As such, when offered the chance to theoretically give £100 to a type of charity there was an array of choices. Overall charities that relieve human suffering, such as homelessness of poverty, were the most popular, with 28% selecting money for charities in this area. Wildlife charities (26%) and charities supporting children and young people (27%) were also popular areas of giving.
Medical research charities (12%) and international relief charities (7%) were not as popular, though, which the researchers said were because children lacked as much direct experience or understanding of these issues so they did not resonate as much as the more popular areas.
Co-author, Emily Lau, Partnership Development Lead in the School of Teacher Education Development at Christ Church, said: “Our research shows the depth of thinking and empathy our children have and celebrates the amazing and varied ways schools and nurseries nurture those voices.
“This report calls for greater alliances with third sector organisations so that schools can build even further on their charitable activities in order to deepen children’s understanding of inequality, providing a space for them to engage in social action.”
The researchers suggest both parents and schools should do more to engage children with charity, to try and understand what causes they are most interested in and want to support, rather than defaulting to the most popular causes.
The findings have been published in a report entitled Engaging Child in Charities and Charitable Giving.
Lead researcher is Dr Ali Body from the University of Kent and co-authors are Emily Lau and Jo Josephidou from Canterbury Christ Church University.