Exploring children's understanding of law in their everyday lives

  • Dawn Watkins, Effie Lai-Chong Law, Joanna Barwick, Elee Kirk
  • Legal Studies, March 2018, Cambridge University Press
  • DOI: 10.1017/lst.2017.8

Children's understanding of law

What is it about?

Using a specially-designed digital game, we worked with over 600 children to investigate how far - if at all - they understand the relevance of law in their everyday lives. We found that children have a strong concern for gender equality and good levels of consumer knowledge - but very little understanding of human rights, and confusion about the levels of force adults are allowed to exercise over them.

Why is it important?

We challenge the mainstream view of children as lacking legal capacity and we argue that children have the potential to deal effectively with many of the law-related issues that they encounter in their day to day lives.


Professor Dawn Watkins
University of Leicester

We are delighted to have published this work in a general law journal, as we hope to prompt discussion and debate among a broad readership. We were all deeply saddened by the death of the brilliant and still very young Elee Kirk soon after the project, and we dedicate this paper to her memory.

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The following have contributed to this page: Professor Dawn Watkins