The need and importance of Child Friendly Cities (Part 3 of 5)

The mechanism of a Child Friendly City

It is an attempt to define literature and interconnect it with real life contexts. It has most of the important parameters concerning children including safety and security, health, education, mobility, etc. Their participation (wrt above mentioned participatory forms) and perspective is also taken into account. The need and importance of Child Friendly Cities is highlighted through the following heads.

  • Transformative and Empowering Inclusiveness
  • City Planning Policies
  • Planning Practice
  • The Media
  • Implementation
  • Transportation and Safety
  • Public and Play Spaces
  • Children Perspective

Transformative and Empowering Inclusiveness

Transformative and empowering involvement of children in planning and decision making processes could enable development of capacities of children in respect of awareness building, critical thinking and collective problem solving. Children could be made compulsory and collaborative stakeholders in decision making processes concerning their welfare and development. Governments need to make adequate resource commitments and budget provisions for children. Setting of indicators, benchmarks and baselines would help turning advocacy to action. Equitable distribution of civic amenities including a focus on underprivileged children is equally important. All of this is possible through interventions in the form of policies.

Transformative and Empowering Inclusiveness

City Planning Policies

Planning policies emanate from diverse sources and have multiple impacts on children as on youth and elders. Making cities children friendly must integrate issues facing children in city planning policies. While participatory processes can only allow engagement of children at local levels in order to understand their needs, post occupancy evaluation of living environments, particularly by involving children in such evaluations, is crucial for sustaining these gains. Urban planning has a direct impact on children and their role in urban prosperity and development.

Planning Practice

Involvement of children in planning practice could be achieved through a three dimensional approach. First, research on earlier process is important. Second, the need of advocacy and training cannot be denied. Third, it is important to create the type of change that we need. It will not only create Child Friendly Cities for the present, but also ensure livability (points towards sustaining the Child Friendly Cities) of generations to come. Child friendly planning practices are required to be located at the center of urban agenda. Partnerships with organizations working for children could help in successful fulfilment of. Investment in early childhood care and development is also essential.

The Media

Media could play a crucial link between children and decision making bodies. It can be used as an important tool to report issues relating to living conditions of children, especially correlation with their health and well-being. It induces safety and security through awareness. Technological advancements and educational integration may bring about many socio-economic changes. Approach of media is generally a solution-oriented approach. Forums for children to take their perspectives can be created. Sanitizing programs, children summits play an important role in child’s safety.


Implementation is actualization of policy intents on ground. It induces a relationship between accessibility, sustainability and adaptability. Providing physical and social infrastructure is not enough; making self-sustaining communities is important. It has long term impacts. Community based planning is important. It is not just limited to caste, gender, race or religion, age also plays a significant role. The implementation of plans has got a relation with age integrity. Including children in plan formulation and after implementation, gaining feedbacks from them is important.

Transportation and Safety

Child friendly infrastructure footbridges, subways, traffic signals, street lights, signals, designated non-motorized lanes, proper road markings, route maps etc. and inclusive transportation system plays important role in Child Friendly Cities. Inclusion of child safety is necessary in development plans. Accessibility for physically disabled children is another topic of concern. Children should be identified as one of the significant user groups. Creation of accessible amenities for children is important. Mobility of female children is greatly important.

Public and Play Spaces

Public sphere generally and public spaces particularly play important role in promoting children’s well-being, safety, learning and social development. Lack of spaces, traffic levels large use of motorized vehicles and also neglect of traffic rules, concerns about safety has reduced opportunities for children. Creation of imaginative, innovative, stimulating, accessible, safe and secure spaces for children is a topic of concern -because it is difficult: to gain a common consensus and ultimately create a space that achieves the said objectives. The prevailing notion that land is precious and hence cannot be dispensed for children has led to a lack of usable space in urban areas. Auditing of spaces is important. Some spaces are meant and registered to serve a particular task, for example a park, but are used as something else, for example parking. So some level of auditing and recovery of land that serve the needs of children is needed. Distinction between open spaces and play spaces plays a pivotal role in overall development of children. Identification of unused spaces can help in augmenting land stock of open spaces for children. Access and safety issues need to be considered while designing such spaces.

Child Friendly City- safety

Children Perspective

Children being a distinct stakeholder group (Such indication being technically right), their needs for water and sanitation, nutrition, housing, early childhood care, safety and security, infrastructure for education, health and overall development are crucial to their well-being. Many of the important aspects cannot be quantified but in reality, play a significant role in creating better environment for children. Bridging the gap between institutions and real life by linking the infrastructure and amenities meant for children is a small step towards desired outcome. The following table illustrates the indicators of the local environment through a child’s eyes. Various aspects have been taken care of and are included. Environmental changes, communal disputes, crimes, cultural adaptations are significant events that play an important role in development of young minds. Care and support enables children to contribute positively towards development.

Child Friendly City- Children Perspective Care

Indicators of Local Environment



Social integration Green Areas
  Safety and security Basic services
  Community identity Gathering places
  Sense of solidarity Freedom of movement
  Opportunities No physical dangers
NEGATIVE Social exclusion Unclean spaces
  Political powerlessness Inadequate essential services
  Racial tension Heavy traffic
  Fear of harassment and crime Geographic isolation
Boredom No activity setting

Child Friendly City Enabling Environment

To note, though the above mentioned indicators are defined by adults, not children. Of course, we may argue that adults do not act in bad faith or wish of any ill for children. This is an example of a paternalistic approach to children that predominates in urban planning. According to Eliana Riggio, “Behind this paternalism is a fairly simplistic perspective of childhood and some very widely held beliefs – for example, the notion that adults have the right and the responsibility to make decisions for children, to decide in their stead. We justify this thinking by referring to the lack of experience and the limited perspective young people may have with respect to urban issues.”

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