Researching young people: don't fall foul of the United Nations

Barbie Clarke

Esearch with children and teenagers is fun, creative and often innovative. But it can sometimes appear daunting and complex.

International criticism about the way food and drink products are advertised to children has highlighted the way in which kids are treated as consumers. When one adds in global changes in social and family structure, working in this market can appear to be a minefield.

Research with children and young people has to tread a careful path between meeting clients' need for clear and informed insight, and listening to children's views in the most effective but responsible way possible.


So how does research with children and young people differ from adult research? Children's research can take many guises. Global research is carried out by respected organisations, such as UNICEF's 'Voices of Youth' and UK's Ofsted annual 'Tell Us' survey, which asks children important questions about their wellbeing. Much of this work is coming about through the passing of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (see panel, above right).