Ethical Issues Concerning Consent in Obtaining Children's Reports on Their Experience of Violence
The University of Sydney Law School
Child Abuse & Neglect: The International Journal, Vol. 30, No. 9, pp. 969-977, 2006
Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 07/18
Over the last two decades, there has been increasing recognition of the importance of listening to and taking account of children's views and experiences in research, policy and practice, and in decision making that affects their lives. As a result, more attention is being paid to the ethical and methodological issues inherent in involving children in research, evaluation and consultation processes. The broader issues in relation to ethical research involving children concern the philosophical and ethical principles underpinning research methodology, from the design and implementation to the dissemination and responsible reporting of the findings. These issues include the principles of beneficence, respect for individual autonomy, justice, and the integrity of the researcher. In short, this means that research with children should be of sufficient importance, soundness and benefit to warrant their time and contribution; inclusive and respectful of their input and autonomy, using methodology that facilitates their participation; and it should do them no harm, protect their privacy and take account of their vulnerability. It also means that ethical issues are not merely an "add-on" nor a hurdle to overcome in gaining ethics approvals but an integral part of the research process. The series of ethical issues and related questions outlined by Alderson and Morrow (2004) provide a very useful guide for researchers conducting research that involves children; these questions also challenge researchers to address the various methodological and ethical issues so that the whole conduct of the research process involving children is respectful of their input and considers the impact of the research on children beyond but including those who participated. Professional journals and associations would also do well to encourage more discussion of these issues and require more information about the way these issues are addressed in studies with children, especially those asking children to report on child maltreatment and other sensitive areas.
Keywords: Ethical considerations, Research, Consent, Confidentiality, Participation
JEL Classification: K10, K40
Date posted: May 9, 2007