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Kim Schuurman wins 2023 Jaap Doek Children’s Rights Thesis Award

Each year, the Jaap Doek Children’s Rights Thesis Award is presented to the student who has written the best master’s thesis in the Netherlands or Belgium in the field of children’s rights. The award was established by Defence for Children and Leiden University's Department of Child Law.

On 15 December, Kim Schuurman won the 2023 Jaap Doek Children’s Rights Thesis Award with her thesis entitled Game Design: No Child’s Play. This annual award for the best master's thesis in the field of children's rights was presented in 2023 for the eleventh time by Defence for Children Netherlands in collaboration with Leiden University's Department of Child Law. Professor Jaap Doek, namesake of the award and jury chairman: 'It was a photo finish this year. Kim crossed the line just slightly ahead of the rest with her thesis on online video games. Reading her research was a learning experience for the jury: it's clear that online games need to become much more child friendly over the next few years.'

Game Design: No Child’s Play

Comprising five experts in children's rights, the jury selected Kim's thesis from the top six nominees. Kim's research focused on how children's rights can be best promoted and protected in the context of online video games. She found that today's online video games are designed to draw the gamer into putting in more time, information and money. Children are particularly vulnerable to that. Therefore, within the online gaming environment, they need to be protected from economic exploitation and privacy violations. However, children's right to play online video games, either alone or with others, also needs to be considered. Kim concludes that the key to child-friendly online video games is in finding the right balance between protecting our children and our children's right to play in the online playground.

Kim was awarded €500 for her thesis, to be spent as she chooses, in addition to an organised trip to Geneva. The trip will include a visit to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Award ceremony

Before Professor Jaap Doek announced the winner, Ton Liefaard, Professor of Children’s Rights, and Mirjam Blaak, Executive Director of Defence for Children Netherlands, welcomed all attendees. Dr Mikiko Otani, an international human rights lawyer and member and former chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, then gave a lecture. She discussed her research on children in armed conflict and highlighted the urgent need to expose violations to their rights. The six young candidates then explained their nominated theses with energy and enthusiasm.

More information

This article is based on an article (in Dutch) that previously appeared on the website of the award's co-initiator, Defence for Children, and was written in collaboration with Leiden University's Department of Child Law. The link to this article contains another link to a radio item (in Dutch) by Sleutelstad Radio about the award presentation.

Photo at top of article: Oleg Ivanov through Unsplash+.

Kim Schuurman with the Jaap Doek Children's Rights Thesis Award (Photo by Daniella van Bergen)
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