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Children, young people, parenthood and families

The Children and Young People research group in the School of Health, Welfare and Social Care brings together academics and research students conducting social research into the lives of children and young people and policy / practice applications.

Particular areas of expertise include; gender identities, youth and childhood transitions; professional identities; youth justice; ‘different childhoods’; special educational needs; exploring mothering and fathering as social identities; critical examinations of policy and practice in relation to parenting. It includes a cluster of studies around the themes of motherhood focusing on issues such as intergenerational transmission, young motherhood, disability and consumption. Research on fathering has explored the experiences of young fathers, fathers in prison and men’s experience of family services.

The group holds a regular seminar series and works collaboratively with academics and students across the university interested in children and young people, including the International Development Centre, The Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET) and The Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance (CCIG).

Mixed race family at home


Dr Lindsay O'Dell talks about the research group

Young men, masculinity and wellbeing

Martin Robb

In the autumn of 2016, a team from The Open University led by Martin Robb, a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies, carried out a research project on young men, masculinity and wellbeing, in partnership with Promundo, a global organisation that promotes gender equality by engaging men and boys in partnership with women and girls, and funded by Axe/Unilever.

The study, which involved organising four focus groups with a diverse cross-section of young men in London and Yorkshire, was part of a wider three-country study in the United States, Mexico and the United Kingdom.

The project report (pdf) discusses some of the key findings from the study, and explores young men’s experiences and opinions on a range of issues, including:

Young men, masculinity and wellbeing report
  • images of masculinity
  • gender equality
  • relationships
  • sexuality
  • violence
  • emotions
  • family
  • fatherhood
  • frendship
  • work
  • community.

For further information, please contact Martin Robb at

Book cover 'Re-imagining Child Protection'. Courtesy of Policy Press.

Stories of Children’s Pain: Linking Evidence to Practice

Bernie Carter and Joan Simons.

We are pleased to announce that Sage Publications have released ‘Stories of Children’s Pain: Linking Evidence to Practice’, which is co-written by Professor Bernie Carter (University of Central Lancashire) and Dr Joan Simons (The Open University).

Working with a child in pain is difficult, unavoidable and especially challenging when the child cannot explain what they are feeling. In this important book, Bernie Carter and Joan Simons bring together experience, evidence and research to deconstruct the topic and present the reality of children's pain.

Each chapter starts with a personal story from a child, a family member or a healthcare professional. The stories are drawn from a wealth of original research, and focus the reader on the individual child and their family. The chapter then goes on to introduce the relevant research, theory and implications for practice, so health professionals can use the evidence to support compassionate, child-centred care.

Among the topics addressed are:

  • Ethical dilemmas
  • Assessing pain
  • Working in different settings
  • Inexplicable pain

It is valuable reading for any healthcare student or professional working with children of all ages.

“This excellent, evidence-based book will help practitioners personalise children’s pain in age-appropriate and family-centred ways. Every nurse that has contact with neonates and children should read it and take note.” - Professor Jane Noyes (Chair in Health Services Research and Child Health, Bangor University and Visiting Professor of Child Health, University College Dublin).

For further information, please visit the Sage Publications website

Potential research projects

We're actively looking for more postgraduate students to join us. For further information on potential research projects, supervisors and applying to study please see our ‘Children, Young People and Families’ page within the Open University Research Degrees Prospectus.