Ethical Research Involving Children

Silence in the context of ‘child voice’.

Lewis, A. (2010). Silence in the context of ‘child voice’. Children & Society, 24(1), pp. 14-23.

Abstract: Recent decades have seen growing enthusiasm internationally for the concept and practice of ‘child voice’. This was encapsulated in, and stimulated, by Article 12 of the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This article presents the case for incorporating the equally important concept of ‘child silence’ in both research and applied contexts. ‘Child voice’ has become a powerful moral crusade and consequently criticism of voice has been muted. This is despite the growing articulation of reservations about ‘child voice’ in various research and applied contexts. Two particular sets of emerging concerns are discussed: one set is around the purposes behind such engagement with children; and one set relates to the ethical protocols involved. Finally, the article makes a series of recommendations for researchers working in the fields of ‘child voice’. These concern five methodological aspects: recognising, noting, responding to, interpreting and reporting silence from children. It is concluded that it is timely to take a step back from assumed support for ‘child voice’ as necessarily ‘a good thing’. Rather, we need to consider more reflexively how, why and when ‘child voice’ is realised in co-constructed research and professional contexts. (Abstract published by arrangement with Wiley Subscription Services, Inc.).

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