Working with children and young people in education

Summary of the main argument of the article
Jabeen (2009) conducted a quantitative and a qualitative children-related study in Pakistan. By using quantitative research methods in the first study she could differentiate between certain groups of children, examine their demographic features and outline their problems. This was done from the “adult perspective”. The second study was based on qualitative-interpreting methods and constituted a participatory approach which had an added value to the evaluation. While participatory research can be resource- and time intensive it provides an insight into children’s lives which constitutes a necessity in order for society to understand children’s experiences. In addition this kind of research increases the likelihood of being able to protect the wellbeing of children and young people. In Jabeen’s second study the children were involved in the research and determined the terms of their interaction with the researchers. Children participants could maintain their individuality, autonomy and privacy. Such research ensures children’s rights to form opinions and express them in their preferred form and protect them against exploitation through research processes. This is very important since in the Pakistani cultural context there are no national statements or standards for the ethical conduct of research (Jabeen, 2009) and thus rights-based research involving children is not being guaranteed.

Jabeen (2009) suggests that the role of ‘least-adult’ i.e. operating on the children’s level in their social worlds, could be beneficial in such a context in order to engage the trust of children whilst conducting research with them. Jabeen described the children’s participation as enthusiastic because they had “never been asked before” and had the chance to express their opinions and talk about their personal experiences.
Discuss the ethical considerations or implications in working with children/and or young people. Refer to the article selected (about 700 words)
Rights-based research with children (but also with adults) makes it necessary to implement an approach that reveals patterns and differences within children’s experiences across times, places and cultures (Beazley et. al, 2009, p.369).
The UNCRC points out, that children have the same rights as adults (Beazley et. al, 2009, p.368). These rights include respect, dignity, equality, expression, non-discrimination, life, and civil participation.
However as Robson et. al (2009) observe, an international treaty such as the UNCRC can only refer to basic common rights of daily life, which are depending on different cultural values. It is however of importance, that children’s rights are defined by considering the respective cultural context. The authors stress out the significance of four ethical considerations, namely: (i) participation, (ii) acting in the best interests of children, (iii) protecting children from exploitation and (iv) researching young people “properly” (Robson et. al., 2009, p.468).
With respect to the first ethical consideration, the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child provides children with the right to have a say in those matters affecting their lives (Robson et. al., 2009, p.467), thus legitimizing children’s participation in research.
For the successful implementation of participatory research, it is essential that adult researchers behave respectfully towards children and young people, encourage the trust of children, are flexible with respect to the research design using methods which enable children to express their opinions, views and experiences and provide a transparent research process (Beazley et. al, 2009, p.370).
Regarding the acting in the best interests of children it is essential that researchers try to conduct their research as ethically as possible. Robson et. al (2009) indicate that this is not always possible. For example by trying to ensure children’s participation in their research, the authors did not consider collisions between the young people’s school studies and their involvement in research (Robson et. al, 2009, p.471).
The third ethical consideration concerns the protection of a possible exploitation of children. While the UNCRC states in Article 19 the right of children to be protected from exploitation which is being specified in article 32, a definition of the term “exploitation” is missing. This is somehow problematic since the limits of ethical research have to be decided in this case by the individual researcher (Robson et. al., 2009, p.472).
The last ethical consideration concerns the children?s right to be researched properly i.e. researching the lives of children is expected to maintain reasonable academic standards. This raises the question of who is eligible to research children properly. Jabeen (2009) suggests that a combination of different methods of data collection can increase the reliability of research and could be a proper way of pursuing children-based research. An answer as if to whether the “adult perspective” or the “children perspective” is the only proper way to research children cannot be easily given.
It seems that ethical practice which often involves the balancing of different demands is not easy in practice (Robson et. al., 2009, p.467). Successful rights-based research depends more on the political and ethical commitments of the researchers (Robson et. al., 2009, p.477).
However doing research “right” and “properly” means above all trying to maintain high ethical standards to protect children and young people from exploitation and respecting their rights, opinions and views.
Beazley, H.; Bessell, S.; Ennew, J.; and Waterson, R. (2009) The right to be properly researched: research with children in a messy, real world. Children’s Geographies, 7(4), 365-378.
Jabeen, T. (2009) “But, I’ve never been asked”: Research with children in Pakistan. Children’s Geographies, 7(4), 405-419.
Robson, E.; Porter, G.; Hampshire, K.; and Bourdillon, M. (2009) ‘Doing it right?’: working with young researchers in Malawi to investigate children, transport and mobility. Children’s Geographies, 7(4), 467-480.

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