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Ethical considerations and safeguards when working with children

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PhD Academy, LRB 4.02 Teaching Room

Lionel Robbins Building (4th Floor)

10 Portugal Street

WC2A 2HD

United Kingdom

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Doing research with children (aged 5-17) can be hugely rewarding and also hugely challenging, since they are always vulnerable research subjects, and sometimes doubly so by virtue of being children and members of a discriminated minority group or social class. This session focuses on a number of areas: How can one work with children as research subjects in ways that are respectful of their perspectives, experiences and autonomy but also mindful of the vast differentials in knowledge and power between a seven-year-old and a fifteen-year-old? Do we have an ethical duty to collect data only in ways which allow younger children to access the research materials – including the notions of confidentiality and informed consent – with as much comprehension as adolescents? How can we address the possible biases and misunderstandings built into the power dynamic of adult researchers/child subjects? Should children be peer-researchers, and in that case what kind of guidance do they need with regard to ethical considerations? In some contexts, the permission of parents or guardians is considered paramount, but what should be the researcher’s ethical response when children explicitly request that their parent or guardian remains ignorant about the interview? And what about children in the developing world who do not live with parents but rather reside with employers? Should one attempt to access very vulnerable children if the very act of accessing their stories might endanger them further? Finally, the session considers the ethics of ‘profiting’ academically from the testimonies of very excluded children and how to give something back.

We will explore these issues in the context of a range of projects with children in Europe and South Asia over the past decade, and with respect to your own research agendas and questions. If you’re attending this session and work with or intend to work with children, please bring your own research projects and examples, experiences, questions and concerns.

Note: Students attending this session are expected to have a solid understanding of the principles of informed consent.

Facilitator: Shakuntala Banaji (Department of Media and Communications)

A light lunch will be provided

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PhD Academy, LRB 4.02 Teaching Room

Lionel Robbins Building (4th Floor)

10 Portugal Street

WC2A 2HD

United Kingdom

View Map

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