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Ethical Research Involving Children

Ethical issues, research and vulnerability: gaining the views of children and young people in residential care.

Kendrick, A., Steckley, L., & Lerpiniere, J. (2008). Ethical issues, research and vulnerability: gaining the views of children and young people in residential care. Children’s Geographies, 6 (1). pp.79-93.

Abstract: Children and young people in residential care are some of the most vulnerable in our society. They may have experienced violence and physical, sexual or emotional abuse. They may be involved in offending or the misuse of drugs and alcohol. They are separated from their families and have to cope with living in a group situation with other young people and staff members. Children and young people in residential care also possess strengths, competencies and resilience. We have much to learn from their experiences and perspectives, both generally and surrounding their time in care. This paper will address the ethical issues which arise from gaining the views of children and young people in residential care, drawing on the experience of carrying out three studies in particular (Docherty, Kendrick, Sloan & Lerpiniere, 2005; Kendrick, Mitchell & Smith, 2004; Steckley & Kendrick, 2005; forthcoming). The paper will discuss: information, consent and choice about involvement in the research; confidentiality, privacy and safety. It will also explore some of the more complex issues of ethical good practice which arise from researching children in their own living space. The negotiation of children’s time and space must be approached carefully, with consideration of their rights and wishes. Sensitivity to children and young people’s priorities and preoccupations must be paramount. (Abstract © Taylor & Francis, reprinted by special permission from Taylor & Francis Group, a division of Informa UK, http://www.tandf.co.uk).

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