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Researching children: are we getting it right? A discussion of ethics
Includes video content
Recommended by Warc editors
Agnes Nairn and Barbie Clarke, International Journal of Market Research, Vol. 54, No. 2, 2012, pp. 177-198
As the role of children in society becomes more prominent, their participation in research seems set to increase.
As the role of children in society becomes more prominent, their participation in research seems set to increase. In this paper we review whether we are getting the ethics of children’s research right. We show that, since the late 1980s, children have been treated universally as a special case and that they have been accorded their own special set of human rights (UNCRC), which primarily grants them rights to protection and participation. We go on to argue (with practical examples) that the core MRS research principles of well-being, voluntary informed consent and privacy/confidentiality must be applied to children with particular caution and care. We note that, as research with children grows and as new techniques are developed, we are presented with fresh challenges for keeping children safe and maintaining their trust. We end by presenting the results of a survey that sought children’s views on being research participants in a quite sensitive piece of research. We found that children are highly appreciative of being consulted about their lives in general and being asked about their feelings. However we also found that some children can be uncomfortable with some of the issues raised and can feel compelled to answer the questions. We conclude that, while we have good industry codes, ethics evolves with shifting social, political and cultural patterns, and we need to keep challenging ourselves to maintain best practice.
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