Some children’s hospital wards are decorated with ‘fun’ images of clowns. This is supposed to cheer up the patients and help healing, etc. Then someone thought of actually asking the young people what they thought.

It turns out that they thought clowns were sinister and odd. And really, who doesn’t? There’s a reason why Stephen King’s It was voted the scariest programme to ever appear on TV, by readers of the Radio Times.

But the real point is, how much of a difference it makes to actually ask the young people themselves. One of the researchers pointed out, "As adults we make assumptions about what works for children." Or, (for my obligatory plug I’m a Councillor plug, I know you saw it coming), as Cllr Philip Smith from Mansfield said, when asked what he’d learnt from taking part, “we don’t know as much as we thought we did about young people’s views”.

If you ask the people actually affected by something, they may say something you didn’t expect and you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble in the long run.

(although, in this particular case what sort of sadistic hospital managers didn’t think clowns were sinister??)


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