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Involving children in health and social research - 'human becomings' or 'active beings'?

Balen, Rachel, Blyth, Eric, Calabretto, Helen, Fraser, Claire, Horrocks, Christine and Manby, Martin (2006) Involving children in health and social research - 'human becomings' or 'active beings'? Childhood, 13 (1). pp. 29-48. ISSN 0907-5682

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Abstract

This article draws on the authors’ experiences of undertaking health and social research involving children in Australia and England and focuses on securing the informed consent of children to participate in such research. A clear trend within literature, service provision, legislation and international conventions recognizes children as ‘active beings’ in all aspects of their lives. The services that are the focus of the research and evaluation projects in which the authors have been involved sought to empower children as active agents and decision-makers. Crucially, not only were these services available directly to children without requiring parental permission, but many children were also accessing these services without their parents’ knowledge. However, when it came to researching and evaluating users’ experiences of these services, the authors faced the problem that existing research gatekeeping systems tended to construct children as dependent, in need of protection and as ‘human becomings’. The authors found that research ethics committees would permit the research to take place only if both the child’s informed consent and that of his or her parents was obtained. The authors outline the implications of such dilemmas, which may not only be counter productive in terms of research objectives but also risk failing to afford children rightful regard in contemporary society. While the authors conclude that there are no quick fixes to the resolution of such dilemmas, they believe that researchers need to engage with the gatekeepers of research to ensure that the laudable effort to protect potentially vulnerable participants avoids overprotection, paternalism and the further disenfranchisement of already marginalized young people.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: UoA 40 (Social Work and Social Policy and Administration) © 2006 SAGE Publications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Schools: School of Human and Health Sciences
School of Human and Health Sciences > Centre for Applied Childhood Studies
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Depositing User: Sara Taylor
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2008 14:06
Last Modified: 04 Jan 2011 13:20
URI: http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/644

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