Stigma in Childhood

Year: 2018
Topic: REACH, Stigma
Author: SUII

A cartoon showing how destructive stigma can beLast year, a series of workshops took place in Glasgow to examine the stigmatisation of children and young people in a wide range of cultural, social and political contexts. Facilitated by the Scottish Universities Insight Institute (SUII), the intention was to look across the experience of stigma from the perspectives of children with care experience, with disabilities, mental health issues, those who are refugees and asylum seekers, children of prisoners, child and youth offenders, children affected by HIV/AIDs, and children living in poverty.

Jennifer Davidson, Executive Director of CELCIS and Inspiring Children's Futures, explains why this programme came together and what it has helped to shape.

"For this programme of work we wanted to better understand where the commonalities are when it comes to stigma. It might seem a bit technical but in research, where we can see patterns and trends, we can look for solutions. And we can and should look for these together – it will take the collective power of many to change attitudes and behaviours.

"What the programme has revealed is that stigma across the different contexts, and countries and environments, the effects are just the same: feeling isolated, being on the receiving end of prejudice or discrimination, not getting the same opportunities as peers who do not share their experiences, and self-reflection concerning identify and worth. As we have continued our focus on this, it has never been clearer that stigma – by design or default – in all its forms is having an unacceptable impact on the lives, ambitions and rights of children and young people. It is no longer enough to call it out, we need deliberate, concerted ways to ensure that it is prevented, and where it continues, to the lessen the effects."

The programme aimed to identify the unique issues for children who experience stigma and worked to address three key questions:

  • How is stigma conceptualised and constructed across different disciplines and by children and young people themselves? What theoretical frameworks are useful in addressing stigmatisation across different groups of children and young people and across adult groups?
  • What are the issues in understanding the lived experience of stigma and how can stigma and its impact be measured?
  • What is our understanding of best practice in addressing and alleviation stigma in childhood, and how can this be implemented in policy and interventions across different groups?

All the resources

Graphic text - View all the resources on the SUII website
A cartoon with someone sitting on a rock in the middle of the sea, entitled: One of the worst results of stigma is the feeling of isolation
Reflections on stigma, self-harm and young people

Professor Andrew Kendrick of University of Strathclyde talks about the project with SUII