Advertisement

Research Ethics, Children, and Young People

  • John OatesEmail author
Living reference work entry

Abstract

Special considerations apply to the ethics of research with children and young people. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (United Nations, 1989) highlights the need to respect children’s autonomy and agency while also recognizing the need for protection and support. For researchers, this means that particular care should be taken to ensure that children are fully involved in consenting processes, which may involve difficult ethical decision-making where local norms and values run counter to a rights-based approach. A rights-based approach also mandates a need to avoid excluding children from research that concerns them and to ensure that their voices are heard. The wide variations in how childhood is socially constructed around the world and the increasing use of social media and the Internet by children challenge researchers to adopt ethically sound practices. While children are widely seen as especially vulnerable, this should not mean that the protection and care imprimatur must dominate and override concern for autonomy. Research with teenagers is very different from research with younger children, and children’s capacities for understanding and relating to adults develop and change massively through childhood. The ethics of research with children and young people involves tensions between competing views and interests, and achieving good outcomes requires careful reasoning. This chapter discusses these issues and offers suggestions for solutions.

Keywords

Research ethics Children Young people Children’s rights Consent 

References

  1. Abebe T, Bessell S (2014) Advancing ethical research with children: critical reflections on ethical guidelines. Child Geogr 12(1):126–133Google Scholar
  2. Alderson P (1995) Listening to children: children, ethics and social research. Barnardo’s, LondonGoogle Scholar
  3. Alderson P (2008) Children as researchers. In: Christensen P, James A (eds) Research with children: perspectives and practices, 2nd edn. Falmer Press/Routledge, Abingdon, pp 276–290Google Scholar
  4. Alderson P, Morrow V (2004) Ethics, social research and consulting with children and young people. Barnardo’s, BarkingsideGoogle Scholar
  5. Alderson P, Morrow V (2011) The ethics of research with children and young people: a practical handbook. Sage, LondonGoogle Scholar
  6. Bourke R, Loveridge J, O’Neill J, Erueti B, Jamieson A (2017) A sociocultural analysis of the ethics of involving children in educational research. Int J Incl Educ 21(3):259–271Google Scholar
  7. British Educational Research Association [BERA] (2018) Ethical guidelines for educational research, 4th edn. London. https://www.bera.ac.uk/researchers-resources/publications/ethical-guidelines-for-educational-research-2018
  8. British Psychological Society [BPS] (2014) BPS code of human research ethics. 2nd edn. Leicester. https://www.bps.org.uk/news-and-policy/bps-code-human-research-ethics-2nd-edition-2014
  9. Carter B (2009) Tick box for child? The ethical positioning of children as vulnerable, researchers as barbarians and reviewers as overly cautious. Int J Nurs Stud 46:858–864Google Scholar
  10. Cashmore J (2006) Ethical issues concerning consent in obtaining children’s reports of their experience of violence. Child Abuse Negl 30:969–977Google Scholar
  11. Economic and Social Research Council [ESRC] (2014) Framework for research ethics. ESRC, Swindon. https://esrc.ukri.org/funding/guidance-for-applicants/research-ethics/Google Scholar
  12. Einarsdóttir J (2007) Research with children: methodological and ethical challenges. Eur Early Child Educ Res J 15(2):197–211Google Scholar
  13. Farrell A (ed) (2005) Ethical research with children. Open University Press, MaidenheadGoogle Scholar
  14. Graham A, Fitzgerald R (2010) Children’s participation in research: some possibilities and constraints in the current Australian research environment. J Sociol 46:133–147Google Scholar
  15. Harcourt D, Einarsdóttir J (2011) Introducing children’s perspectives and participation in research. Eur Early Child Educ Res J 19(3):301–307Google Scholar
  16. Hennessy E, Heary C (2005) Exploring children’s views through focus groups. In: Greene S, Hogan D (eds) Researching children’s experience. Sage, London, pp 236–252Google Scholar
  17. Herbert W (2011) On the trail of the orchid child. Sci Am Mind 25:70–71Google Scholar
  18. Hutchby I, Moran-Ellis J (eds) (1998) Children and social competence: arenas of action. Falmer Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  19. James A, Prout A (1990) Constructing and reconstructing childhood: contemporary issues in the sociological study of childhood. Falmer Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  20. James A, Jenks C, Prout A (1990) Theorizing childhood. Polity Press, Cambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
  21. Jones P, Welch S (2010) Rethinking children’s rights. Continuum Books, LondonGoogle Scholar
  22. Kellett M (2010) Rethinking children and research: attitudes in contemporary society. Continuum Books, LondonGoogle Scholar
  23. Kim C-Y (2016) Why research by children?, rethinking the assumptions underlying the facilitation of children as researchers’. Child Soc 30(3):230–240Google Scholar
  24. Kim C-Y (2017) Participation or pedagogy?, ambiguities and tensions surrounding the facilitation of children as researchers’. Childhood 24(1):84–98Google Scholar
  25. Kim C-Y, Sheehy K, Kerawalla L (2017) Developing children as researchers: a practical guide to help children conduct social research. Routledge, AbingdonGoogle Scholar
  26. Kotch J (2000) Ethical issues in longitudinal child maltreatment research. J Interpers Violence (7):696–709Google Scholar
  27. Lundy L, McEvoy L, Byrne B (2011) Working with young children as co-researchers: an approach informed by the united nations convention on the rights of the child. Early Educ Dev 22(5):714–736Google Scholar
  28. Meloni F, Vanthuyne K, Rousseau C (2015) Towards a relational ethics: rethinking ethics, agency and dependency in research with children and youth. Anthropol Theory 15(1):106–123Google Scholar
  29. Morrow V (2008) Ethical dilemmas in research with children and young people about their social environments. Child Geogr 6(1):49–61Google Scholar
  30. Morrow V (2009) The ethics of social research with children and families in young lives: practical experiences, Young Lives, Department of International Development, University of OxfordGoogle Scholar
  31. Morrow V, Richards M (1996) The ethics of social research with children: an overview. Child Soc 10(2):90–105Google Scholar
  32. O’Brien N, Moules T (2007) So round the spiral again: a reflective participatory research project with children and young people. Educ Action Res 15(3):385–402Google Scholar
  33. Parsons S, Sherwood GS, Abbott C (2015) Informed consent with children and young people in social research: is there scope for innovation? Child Soc 30(2):132–145Google Scholar
  34. Perret-Clermont A-N, Carugati F, Oates J (2004) A socio-cognitive perspective on learning and cognitive development. In: Oates J, Grayson A (eds) Cognitive and language development in children. Blackwell, Oxford, pp 303–332Google Scholar
  35. Powell M, Smith AB (2009) Children’s participation rights in research. Childhood 16:124–142Google Scholar
  36. Punch S (2002) Research with children: the same or different from research with adults? Childhood 9(3):321–341Google Scholar
  37. Roberts A, Nash J (2009) Enabling students to participate in school improvement through a students as researchers programme. Improv Sch 12(2):174–187Google Scholar
  38. Tatlow-Golden M, Verdoodt V, Oates J, Jewell J, Breda J, Boyland E (2017) A safe glimpse within the “black box”?: ethical and legal principles when assessing digital marketing of food and drink to children. Publ Health Panor 3(4):537–546Google Scholar
  39. United Nations (1989) Convention on the rights of the child, Geneva. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Washington, DC. Available online at www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/k2crc.htmGoogle Scholar
  40. Westcott HL, Littleton KS (2005) Exploring meanings in interviews with children. In: Greene S, Hogan D (eds) Researching children’s experience. Sage, London, pp 141–157Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Open UniversityMilton KeynesUK

Personalised recommendations