Ethical Research Involving Children

Computer-administered interviews with children about maltreatment: Methodological, developmental, and ethical issues.

Black, M. M., & Ponirakis, A. (2000). Computer-administered interviews with children about maltreatment: Methodological, developmental, and ethical issues. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 15(7). pp. 682-695.

Abstract: It is widely recognized that maltreatment research should include a more child-oriented perspective. Although there are guidelines for directly interviewing children about their maltreatment experiences, oftentimes the children’s ability to respond to sensitive questions may be hindered by embarrassment, shame, and/or guilt. With the technological advances of talking computers, computer-administered questionnaires may be an optimal way to interview children about maltreatment, because questions can be presented in two modalities—aurally, through headphones, and visually, on the screen. This method ensures privacy and presents questions in a gender-specific format that can be tailored to the developmental level and specific experiences of each child. This article reviews the advantages and disadvantages of using computer-administered questionnaires to ask children about their maltreatment history. Attention is also directed toward the methodological, developmental, and ethical aspects of interviewing children about maltreatment. (The final, definitive version of this paper has been published in Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 15/7, 07/2000 by SAGE Publications, Inc., All rights reserved. © Sage Publications Inc.)

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