In the Read

Ethically researching with children and young people

This week’s In the Read is on ethical research and ethics approvals for research with children and young people. A recent Child Family Community Australia article discussed the main ethical considerations for incorporation into research or evaluation projects involving children: consent and assent; informed consent; the power dynamics between adults and potential child research participants; and that consent is an ongoing not one-off event in which the child must know they can withdraw as well as how to withdraw from the research. There are links to papers and other resources, including a handbook that provides guidance on understanding consent in research with children.

There is also a link to an article about demystifying ethical review, but applies to researching with children. Information is provided about the ethical review process and how it may apply to those outside of a ‘research organisation’. The principles of conducting ethical research – respect, research merit, justice, beneficence – are described and examples are given about how to apply the principles and when to seek ethical review and approval for involving humans in research. Again links are included, for example, to the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research.

The Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services (AHRECS) offer commentary on a foundational consideration, Ethical research with young children: Whose research, whose agenda?. The article asserts that while much child research claims to be with children rather than onfor or about them, the research is “typically driven by agendas of research productivity, performativity and empirical leverage of research within policy and provision for young children – by and for adults.” Consequently some children, families and communities experience the over-burden of research.

Another AHRECS article considers the ethics and the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in social research. Noting the absence of a comprehensive and unified framework beyond the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research, the NHMRC’s Values and Ethics: Guidelines for Ethical Conduct in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research, and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Guidelines for Ethical Research in Australian Indigenous Studies, readers are referred to the author’s thesis which offers a child rights-based approach informed by Indigenous research methodologies using child friendly and culturally sensitive social research methods.

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