Ethics approved ✔ by young people
Most of us would agree that research ethics is a pretty dry subject - a tick box exercise to get 'ethics approval' for research activities. The ETHYCS project is proving otherwise. It brings together two worlds - academic researchers trying to reach and gain an in-depth understanding of populations of exploited young people. And practitioners undertaking action research in order to provide support services that are based on the realities of young people's lives.
Our experience so far highlights that practitioners focus their concern on connecting research activities to safeguarding or child-protection procedures. And academics are concerned with respecting the privacy and confidentiality of participants through ethical collection and dissemination of data.
The ETHYCS project is exploring ethics for participatory research with exploited children and young people in four countries, working through local NGOs in Guyana, Nepal, Indonesia and Kenya. Two issues that have already been highlighted are the importance of gatekeepers in gaining informed consent from hidden populations of young people, and a growth in self-care strategies by young people when they are discussing 'support networks' they utilise.
For Children Unite, this project connects our work on survivor-informed safeguarding with participatory action research we have undertaken with sexually exploited young people. The project will result in guidance that can be used by those undertaking research in the two worlds - where academia and practice meet.
Photo: an example of the flower tool used by youth researchers in Guyana to explore their support networks