Parole aux jeunes” project comes to an end

December 31, 2023 saw the end of the “Parole aux jeunes” (PAJ) project, implemented since 2021 by the International Bureau for Children’s Rights (the Bureau) and its partners. For two years, more than 70 teenagers from Montreal and the North Shore mobilized to question themselves, strengthen their skills and equip themselves, in order to demonstrate the importance of listening to young people’s voices and taking their perspectives into account in decisions that concern them.

It all started with one observation in 2021: the significant increase in Quebec of reports and cases of online sexual exploitation and sextortion, exacerbated by the pandemic and the advent of the all-on-screen era. Recognizing that the strengthening of protection and justice systems cannot be achieved without the meaningful participation of children in these processes, one of the Bureau’s key approaches was to launch the “Parole aux jeunes” project.

Relying on five partners working directly with teenagers, the project involved 70 young people, aged between 14 and 17, bringing them together in a meaningful and safe space for participation and skill-building, enabling them to gain the confidence and tools to sharpen their critical thinking skills, express their opinions and then engage in dialogue with adults. 

After a year spent exchanging, debating and discussing the role and place of young people in society, the young people involved in the project started collecting information among family and friends in summer 2022, with a goal to find out their views on targeted themes, such as the influence of social networks on young people, interpersonal relationships (including couple relationships, friendship, power, trust, etc.) and sexual consent. From this work and commitment came recommendations to ensure that the tools, means of prevention and awareness campaigns aimed at them are more effective and reflect their realities in a better way.. 

Young people produce and distribute their recommendations

The recommendations were presented by 40 young people involved in the project, at an evening event on May 11, 2023, where over 80 people gathered to discover their proposals. They put forward concrete ideas for improving prevention and awareness-raising tools, reflecting their needs and realities, particularly in terms of preventing online sexual exploitation. 

Aimed at the province’s key players and political decision-makers, the recommendations are intended as a basis for further reflection on the role of children and young people in the processes and issues that affect them, and on the need to involve them more. Both the event and the recommendations attracted the attention of Le Devoir and Radio-Canada, which devoted special features to them. 

Discover the recommendations of the “Parole aux jeunes”

Young people get involved in decisions that affect them

In the last days of summer 2023, the young people of the “Parole aux jeunes” project gathered at a summer chalet to reflect on an advocacy strategy aimed at addressing decision-makers and promoting effective change in the decisions that concern them! An enriching moment of collaboration with young people, actors in the respect and implementation of their rights. Participants had the opportunity to deepen and share their reflections during a film shooting that took place over the two days. 

Following their stay and to close the event, the young people decided to orchestrate a round table on participation. This event took place on Thursday, December 7, 2023 in Montreal. A privileged moment where creative minds, decision-makers from the City of Montreal and young people came together to share their visions. Together, they not only shared the diversity of their perspectives, but also laid the foundations for a plea to better integrate the participation of young people in the decisions that concern them. 

At the same time, the young people were actively involved in researching data, awareness-raising tools and current public policies relating to children’s participation. They drafted a letter to the Minister of Youth, Mathieu Lacombe. The purpose of this letter was to inform the Minister of the current needs of young people in terms of access to spaces where they can act positively on issues that concern them. It also called for a constructive dialogue between young people and adults, with a view to developing strategies and an action plan to enhance the voice of young people. 


A behind-the-scenes documentary

Throughout the project, images and testimonials were collected to document the process and demonstrate its added value to other young people, decision-makers and changemakers. 

A collaborative, participatory project

This project would not have been possible without the commitment and participative work of numerous stakeholders, starting with the young people who were involved and who carried the project through its two-year duration, as well as the partner organizations: Externat Sacré-Cœur, École secondaire des Patriotes, Collège Notre-Dame, Motivation-Jeunesse 16-18 Inc. and Maison des Jeunes Magi de Mercier-Ouest. Financial support from the Ministère de la Justice du Québec and Ville de Montréal also made this initiative possible. 

The project’s monitoring and advisory committees also played a major role in its success. The evolution of adultsapproaches and perceptions is a fundamental element in generating change when it comes to taking children’s voices into account. This is why the project also relied on the support of these committees. The monitoring committee has enabled the project to be readjusted according to the progress made by the groups and the challenges encountered. The Advisory Committee, made up of MNAs, representatives of the Ministries of Public Security and Education, the Secrétariat à la condition féminine, the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal and representatives of several organizations working to prevent and combat sexual exploitation, helped consolidate the project on the basis of past experience and lessons learned in the field, as well as demonstrating to decision-makers that the participation of young people is an added value, and getting them involved in order to increase this participation. 


In conclusion, the “Parole aux jeunes” project is a clear demonstration of the Bureau’s commitment to creating meaningful experiences of participation for children, whether in Quebec or elsewhere. The participation of young people in issues that concern them is essential to generate concrete and immediate changes for the respect and full realization of all their rights. Sustainability was at the heart of the project, and the young people involved now have all the key skills and tools they need to continue the process on their own and take action on a larger scale. 


Project partners :

Afficher l’image source    Afficher l’image source