I am often asked how one can conduct research with children in order to truly represent their voice in the findings, whether its for public consultations, academic research or program evaluations. My first task is to probe with questions about the underlying purpose of involving children in the research. Unfortunately, I’ve had some conversations where the involvement of children is only surface-level deep–a tokenistic inclusion of children’s voices. Usually, this only serves to weaken and undermine the true purpose of research: to uncover truths about our world through scientific methods including representative samples. It can also harm and misrepresent children that are involved in the research.
If you are starting to think about how to genuinely involve children’s participation in research, you better be ready to read A LOT! By reading some of the great material on research with children you can begin to understand children’s position in research–and even in our adult-centric world. Meaningfully and authentically involving children’s participation in research can contribute immensely to the truths that you are trying to uncover in your research. Not only will your program be better off with a good understanding of your stakeholders, but you will be actively supporting and advocating for the realization of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child–one of the most important and widely accepted international conventions. Doesn’t that sound great?!
Here is some material to get your started on you reading adventure:
- Better Evaluations’ ‘Evaluation and Children’
- UNICEF and Better Evaluations’ Impact Evaluation Series
- Ethical Research Involving Children (ERIC) Website
- Ethical Standards for Research from the NAEYC
- Gerrard Resource Centre at Ryerson University
- The Sociology of Childhood in relation to Children’s Rights [PDF]
- Addressing Adultism & Being an Ally in Youth-Focused Evaluations from AEA365
Also, these organizations publish material that relates to involving children in research, monitoring and evaluations:
- Save the Children’s Publications
- Children’s Rights International Network’s Publications
- International Institute for Child Rights and Development