Young people’s perspectives on participatory ethics: Agency, power and impact in domestic abuse research and policy-making.
Houghton, C. (2015). Young people’s perspectives on participatory ethics: Agency, power and impact in domestic abuse research and policy-making. Child Abuse Review, 24(4), pp. 235-248.
Abstract: Children’s perspectives literature repositions children and young people as active participants in surviving domestic abuse, protecting their family, opposing the violence and recovering from abuse. However, key tenets of safeguarding in relation to domestic abuse, both in practice and childhood research ethics, struggle to fully recognise children’s agency and the need to empower children and young people as well as women. Children’s right to participation now extends to national policy-making in many countries, yet has not been explored in relation to the interdependency of women and children’s rights, safety and wellbeing where both have been subject to abuse. This paper challenges the current exclusion of young voices from the development of ethical praxis. It outlines a participatory ethical approach that promotes the inclusion and empowerment of young survivors in research and policy. Young expert advisors on Scottish domestic abuse policy (2009–11) co-develop the approach (participatory action research) which is informed by a wider study (2004–11) about children’s help-seeking and solutions for practice. Mullender et al.’s accepted model of three Cs and Ds (consent, confidentiality, child protection: danger, distress, disclosure) are adapted to focus on children’s agency. Three Es are added focusing on children’s power and impact: enjoyment, empowerment and emancipation.
‘This paper challenges the current exclusion of young voices from the development of ethical praxis’
Key Practitioner Messages
* Children and young people have a distinct, essential voice in risk assessment and management.
* They are competent and central decision-makers, they can consent to participation.
* Participation can be a powerful therapeutic tool.
* Enjoyment, empowerment and emancipation are intrinsic to participation, alongside recognition of children’s agency in safeguarding.
* Access to power, equal voice and impact on children’s lives are preconditions of participation to young survivors – to be worth the inherent risk of speaking out. ‘Participation can be a powerful therapeutic tool’ ‘Access to power, equal voice and impact on children’s lives are preconditions of participation to young survivors’
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