The International Charter for Ethical Research Involving Children is an aspirational statement of seven key commitments aimed at elevating the status, rights and well-being of all children involved in research. It has been written with and for researchers and others who are committed to children and to fulfilling their responsibility to undertake quality, ethical research, irrespective of context.
International Charter for Ethical Research Involving Children
As a research community working with children, we are committed to undertaking and supporting high quality ethical research that is respectful of children’s human dignity, rights and wellbeing. The following seven commitments guide our work:
Ethics in research involving children is everyone’s responsibility
We, the research community, including all who participate in undertaking, commissioning, funding and reviewing research, are responsible for ensuring that the highest ethical standards are met in all research involving children, regardless of research approach, focus or context.
Respecting the dignity of children is core to ethical research
Ethical research is conducted with integrity and is respectful of children, their views and their cultures. Involving children respectfully requires that researchers recognise children’s status and evolving capacities and value their diverse contributions.
Research involving children must be just and equitable
Children involved in research are entitled to justice. This requires that all children are treated equally, the benefits and burdens of participating are distributed fairly, children are not unfairly excluded and that barriers to involvement based on discrimination are challenged.
Ethical research benefits children
Researchers must ensure that research maximizes benefits to children, individually and/or as a social group. The researcher bears primary responsibility for considering whether the research should be undertaken and for assessing whether research will benefit children, during and as a consequence of the research process.
Children should never be harmed by their participation in research
Researchers must work to prevent any potential risks of harm and assess whether the need to involve the individual child is justified.
Research must always obtain children’s informed and ongoing consent
Children’s consent must always be sought, alongside parental consent and any other requirements that are necessary for the research to proceed ethically. Consent needs to be based on a balanced and fair understanding of what is involved throughout and after the research process. Indications of children’s dissent or withdrawal must always be respected.
Ethical research requires ongoing reflection
Undertaking research involving children is important. Ethical research demands that researchers continually reflect on their practice, well beyond any formal ethical review requirements. It requires ongoing attention to the assumptions, values, beliefs and practices that influence the research process and impact on children.