BACKGROUND : A child rights-based approach to research articulates well with Article 12 of the
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and highlights the importance and
value of including children’s own views about aspects that concern them. The aim of this study is to
compare children with intellectual disability’s own ratings (as self-raters) to those of their primary
caregivers (as proxy raters) regarding human rights of children. The study also aims to establish
whether there is an inter-rater agreement between the self-raters and proxy raters concerning
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
METHOD : This study is nested in a larger study examining the human rights of children with
intellectual disability in South Africa. In total, 162 children with intellectual disability from 11
schools across three provinces and their primary caregivers participated by answering parts of a
Children’s Rights Questionnaire (CRQ) developed by the researchers based on the United Nation’s
CRC.We compared the answers for six questions in the questionnaire that were addressed to
self-raters (children) and proxy raters (primary caregivers) in the same way.
RESULTS : Questions regarding basic needs, such as access to clean water or whether the child had
food to eat at home, were answered similarly by self-raters and proxy raters. Larger differences were
found when self-raters and proxy raters were asked about whether the child had things or friends
to play with at home. Socio-economic variables seemed to affect whether self-raters and proxy
raters answered similarly.
CONCLUSION : The results underscore the importance of promoting children’s rights to express
themselves by considering the opinions of both the children as self-raters and their primary
caregivers as proxy raters – not only the latter. The results indicate that it is especially important to
include children’s own voices when more complex needs are surveyed. Agreement between selfand
proxy ratings could be affected by socio-economic circumstances.