We are currently implementing a research project involving children. For a researcher, there are probably fewer assignments that are trickier or riskier than handling young research participants. This kind of research raises a myriad of complex ethical considerations. Before embarking on the project, we consulted several resources on the subject. One of the most useful has been the resource trove of the Ethical Research Involving Children (ERIC) project, which can be accessed here. But resources alone are not sufficient. The researcher must be fully engaged in the complex ethical issues that will invariably arise with children research subjects.
As the ERIC guide says, "Ethical Research Involving Children (ERIC) assumes that ethics is much more than procedural compliance with a prescribed set of rules or code of conduct that can deliver good or safe research in any given context. While such codes play an important role, the ERIC approach recognizes the myriad ways in which researchers’ own knowledge, beliefs, assumptions, values, attitudes and experience intersect with ethical decision-making. As such, ERIC requires critical reflection; cross-cultural, inter-sectoral and cross-disciplinary dialogue; context-specific problem-solving; and international collaboration, learning and engagement."