The paper provides detailed reflections on the educational, economic and social circumstances that impact on the lives of many disadvantaged and vulnerable children and young people. Drawing largely on primary research data collected in Romania, Germany and the United Kingdom, three illustrative case studies are presented for consideration focusing on: life in residential care and youth offending institutions; experiences of educational vulnerability; and human trafficking. The methodological approach adopted across the research projects explored, was shaped by the demands and expectations of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). All of the reported data reflects the views of children and young people who were interviewed as part of three research projects. It is argued that the difficult and challenging circumstances that many children and young people find themselves in, place them at significant disadvantage and increased vulnerability in terms of their social and educational development and life chances.
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