Research with children and young people: Lessons learnt from the implementation of a national children’s research programme
Sinéad Hanafin, Department of Health and Children
Keywords: Children, access, methods, ethics, challenges
This paper draws on the implementation of a national children’s research programme to examine issues arising in data collection and research with children and young people. Particular attention is paid to the issues arising with groups of children and young people who have additional needs and therefore higher vulnerability. This research programme is situated within a broader strategic approach around children’s lives that recognises their right to have a voice in matters that affect them and the research activities, therefore, privilege children’s own views. Under the programme, research has been carried out with children in respect of many different areas of their lives, including, for example, their wellbeing and quality of life. In addition, children with additional needs and those in hard to reach populations have been part of the programme. These include, for example, children in hospital, in situations of domestic violence, in need of protection, in the care of the State, within the juvenile justice system, and those caring for others. The paper highlights practical, methodological and ethical issues arising in the execution of such studies. Consideration is given to the balance between ensuring that children are protected within the research process, while at the same time ensuring their right to have their voice heard is asserted. Achieving this balance is accentuated in situations where children are in hard to reach populations and also within longitudinal studies. Challenges identified in achieving the balance above are set out with a consideration of the compromises that must be made and the implications for developing and implementing programmes of data collection and research with children.