When conducting research with children, researchers focus mainly on gathering information from adults, parents, guardians, teachers and others. But a new approach, called ‘child-centered research’, offers children’s active participation so that their views, experiences, ways of thinking can be gathered directly. However, not every such study will be significant, detailed methodological and ethical preparations are needed.
Model of children’s participation in scientific research
There are three models of children’s direct participation in research: as consultants, as collaborators, and as owners or lead researchers. Children can make recommendations that will help researchers make important decisions, or participate even more actively by choosing a direction of research or participating in the choice of methods and other important things. Finally, children can conduct research to support adults.
Design of appropriate and ethical research methods
Researchers must adhere to ethical principles, seven of which are differentiated in working with children: e.g. respect, ill-will and benevolence, justice, the best interests of the child and some others. The rules of confidentiality must be observed and the potential negative effects must be minimized.
Why should children participate significantly in research?
Children are best able to present their experiences and perspectives. No one can do it better than them. This is the meaning of the right to participate as one of the most important rights in the Convention. Their active participation can also help develop social and other useful skills.
Potential risks of including children in research
The risks exist mainly when studying sensitive topics such as violence, crime, etc. Children are more sensitive than adults and special attention should be paid to drawing up a detailed plan and risk assessment in case of unforeseen circumstances.