Children and Adolescents Speaking Truth to Adults: Ethics and Participation
In order to speak truth to power, children and adolescents have to overcome multiple obstacles. Despite several conventions supporting their right to participate in decisions that concern them (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Treaty of Lisbon), their involvement often remains limited. Children and adolescents' meaningful engagement in research and evaluation is indeed challenging. It requires time and resources to adapt evaluation tools and materials. It also involves specific ethical issues, such as informed parental and child consent.
This panel brought ethics to the forefront of their discussion on children’s participation. It considered how several gatekeepers (parents, schools, local authorities) can facilitate or interfere with their right to participate. The panel offered a cross-national perspective with examples from Canada, Europe, and Low and Middle Income Countries and focused on ways to ensure meaningful participation, such as visual methods and robust consent processes.
Jessica Ozan is a Research Associate at the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit at Manchester Metropolitan University. She has over 10 years’ experience of evaluation projects in the field of social interventions and policies targeting children and their families. She is currently involved in research measuring youth well-being across Europe (funded by the European Commission) and evaluations of programs targeting young people leaving the care system for the Department for Education and Nesta in the UK. Jessica is a Council member of the UK Evaluation Society.
Nick Petten is a researcher, consultant and evaluator that is primarily concerned with how to meaningfully and ethically involve children and youth in research, evaluation and program design. As a representative of his professional associations in several governance functions (Canadian Evaluation Society and American Evaluation Association) and as an independent evaluation consultant, Nick is continually facilitating knowledge exchange and demonstrating the social impact of programming and services for people using ethical and rigorous scientific methods.
Monica Ruiz-Casares, PHD
Mónica Ruiz-Casares, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Faculty Associate at the Centre for Research on Children and Families and the School of Social Work, McGill University. She is also Investigator at the SHERPA Research Centre in Montreal. Dr. Ruiz-Casares holds a PhD in Policy Analysis and Management/Human Services Studies and a MSc in Program Planning & Evaluation from Cornell University and Postdoctoral training in Transcultural Child Psychiatry at McGill University. Her current research focuses on the wellbeing and protection of orphan, separated, and unsupervised children and adolescents across cultures; ethics in global research with children; and social policy and program evaluation. An important part of her work concentrates on the wellbeing of children without parental care, particularly among ethno-culturally diverse communities. Dr. Ruiz-Casares served as an advisor to the international Ethical Research Involving Children (ERIC) project and has ongoing, international ethics studies involving young people. Her research privileges the voices of children, and is inspired by action research principles.
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