Children speaking truth to adults: ethics and participation

Session Number: 1278
Track: Youth Focused Evaluation
Session Type: Panel
Tags: children, children's rights, ethics, youth empowerment, youth voice, youth-focused evaluation
Session Chair: Mónica Ruiz-Casares [Associate Professor & Investigator - McGill University & SHERPA-Institut Universitaire]
Presenter 1: Jessica Ozan [Research Associate - Policy Evaluation and Research Unit, Manchester Metropolitan University]
Presenter 2: Nick Petten [Principal Evaluator - Petten Consulting]
Presenter 3: Mónica Ruiz-Casares [Associate Professor & Investigator - McGill University & SHERPA-Institut Universitaire]
Time: Nov 02, 2018 (11:30 AM - 12:15 PM)
Room: CC - 26B

Abstract 1 Title: Challenges to child participation: parental consent in the European Union
Presentation Abstract 1:

Focusing on parental consent, this presentation will provide an overview of differences in regulations across Europe. EU Members States have different rules when it comes to involving children in research. For instance, the age under which parental consent is required varies from 13 years old to 18 years old in some countries, whilst others have no clear law or regulation. The rules appear to change depending on the field of research (medicine vs social sciences), its purpose (research vs evaluation), or setting (classroom vs individual child). Nevertheless, there is a growing consistency around best practice. Going beyond laws and regulations, it is now expected that children should consent to take part in research and evaluation and that their refusal takes precedent on their parents’ consent. This has important implications for evaluators who need to find better and more attractive ways to engage children and young people.

Abstract 2 Title: Ethics-in-Action in the Evaluation of an After-School Program in Toronto, Canada
Presentation Abstract 2:

Children are fully capable of expressing and communicating their lived realities and those realities are a valued focus of study. Just like any potentially vulnerable and marginalized population, conducting research with children requires an ethical understanding of how to involve them in research and how not to perpetuate systemic injustices and discriminations that they often face in their daily lives. Through the example of an evaluation of an arts-based after-school program in low income urban schools, this presentation will demonstrate various rights-based evaluative activities, protocols and processes that emphasize collecting high quality data from child participants that avoid potential harms and maximize the benefits of participating in the evaluation activities. Beginning with articulating the justification for involving children in the evaluation, this evaluation utilized an ethics-in-action approach from McLaughlin (2015) that articulates the ethical and moral procedures of engaging children in research before, during and after the data collection efforts.

Presentation 2 Other Authors: Wendy Suh, MA
Petten Consulting
Abstract 3 Title: Ethics and Visual Methods in Evaluation with Children Cross-Culturally
Presentation Abstract 3:

In their quest to gather information to assess child-related programs and policies, evaluators must find ways to access children’s perspectives directly, rather than through adults. Visual methods have successfully been used to facilitate child participation and level power differentials with children. However, balancing child participation and protection raises important dilemmas for those committed to genuine child participation. This presentation will explore ethical issues that evaluators need to consider when using visual methods with children. It will also outline alternative solutions to ensure respect for confidentiality and other ethical considerations throughout the cycle of evaluation. Illustrations from diverse cultural contexts across high, middle- and low-income countries will be presented. Conference delegates will be encouraged to share their experiences and ideas to move the ethical conduct of evaluation with children forward.

Audience Level: All Audiences

Session Abstract (150 words): 

In order to speak truth to power, children and young people have to overcome multiple obstacles. Despite several conventions supporting their right to participate in decisions that concern them (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Treaty of Lisbon), their involvement often remains limited. Children’s meaningful engagement in research and evaluation is indeed challenging. It requires time and resources to adapt evaluation tools and materials. It also involves specific ethical issues, such as informed parental and child consent. This panel brings ethics at the forefront of their discussion on children’s participation.  It will consider how several gatekeepers (parents, schools, local authorities) can interfere with children’s right to participate. The panel with offer a cross-national perspective with examples from Canada, Europe, and Low and Middle Income Countries. The discussion will focus on ways to ensure meaningful participation, such as visual methods and robust consent processes.