Ethical issues, research and vulnerability : gaining the views of children and young people in residential care.
Children’s Geographies, 6 (1).
young people in residential care are some of the most vulnerable in our
society. They may have experienced violence and physical, sexual or
emotional abuse. They may be involved in offending or the misuse of
drugs and alcohol. They are separated from their families and have to
cope with living in a group situation with other young people and staff
members. Children and young people in residential care also possess
strengths, competencies and resilience. We have much to learn from their
experiences and perspectives, both generally and surrounding their time
This paper will address the ethical issues which arise from
gaining the views of children and young people in residential care,
drawing on the experience of carrying out three studies in particular
(Kendrick et al. 2004, The development of a residential unit working
with sexually aggressive young men. In: H.G. Eriksson and T. Tjelflaat,
eds. Residential care: horizons for the new century. Aldershot: Ashgate,
38-55; Docherty et al. 2006, Designing with care: interior design and
residential child care. Farm7 and SIRCC.
Steckley, L. and Kendrick, A., 2005. Physical restraint in residential
child care: the experiences of young people and residential workers.
Childhoods 2005: Children and Youth in Emerging and Transforming
Societies, University of Oslo, Norway, 29 June-3 July 2005, Steckley and
Kendrick 2007, Young people’s experiences of physical restraint in
residential care: subtlety and complexity in policy and practice. In: M.
Nunno, L. Bullard and D. Day, eds. For our own safety: examining the
safety of high-risk interventions for children and young people.
Washington, DC: Child Welfare League of America, forthcoming).
will discuss: information, consent and choice about involvement in the
research; confidentiality, privacy and safety. It will also explore some
of the more complex issues of ethical good practice which arise from
researching children in their own living space. The negotiation of
children’s time and space must be approached carefully, with
consideration of their rights and wishes. Sensitivity to children and
young people’s priorities and preoccupations must be paramount.