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Ethical Research Involving Children

Children and Consent to Participate in Research.

Keith-Spiegel, P. (1983). Children and consent to participate in research. In G. B. Melton, G. P. Koocher, & M. J. Saks (Eds.), Children’s competence to consent. (pp. 179-211) New York: Plenum Press/Springer. ISBN: 978-1-468-44291-5.

Chapter Introduction: The contemporary concept of consent for participation in scientific investigation utilizing minors provides an array of perplexing issues set against an unsettled backdrop. However, this situation compares favorably to but a few years ago when research consent issues were not actively examined. The recent and drastic increase in the literature on research consent issues generally, and consent issues when the participants are minors specifically, attests to the rising concern within the scientific community and regulatory agencies for those upon whom experimentation is conducted. But at this point one could hardly characterize the movement as a uniform set of marchers headed toward a well-defined horizon. Indeed, for every eloquent and well-reasoned view there exists an equally articulate and plausible counter-argument. And although it is not usually explicitly stated, diverse assumptions about the competency of minors appear to be at the base of most of these arguments. Whereas there may be an overall agreement that research participants, and especially those from vulnerable populations such as children, require respect and protection from harm and undue invasion, views about how to achieve these aims vary greatly. (Reproduced with permission. © Springer-Verlag US.)

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