Ethically sensitive research with ‘children’ and ‘adults’ in custody
AbstractThis chapter draws on data from young men interviewed on two occasions; first as ‘children’ aged 17 years within juvenile Young Offenders’ Institutions (YOIs); and then again as ‘adults’ aged 18 years within young adult/adult prisons about their experiences of transitions. Ethical reviews typically reflect age-determined constructions of child/adult status and those aged under 18 years are deemed to be more ‘vulnerable’, thus attracting more scrutiny from research ethics committees (Economic and Social Research Council [ESRC] 2020). This concern heightens the methodological difficulties of prison research, as incarceration renders children ‘doubly vulnerable’ (Jacobson and Talbot 2017). Such institutions may be obstructive and access must be obtained from a series of gatekeepers. Negotiating the balance between participants’ rights and their best interests (Heptinstall 2000, Thomas and O’Kane 1998), along with gatekeepers’ priorities can be challenging. This chapter outlines how tricky ethical tensions were balanced with participants’ best interests in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) (UN 1989). Despite the difficulties encountered, the researcher (JP) took the view that there would be ‘ethical implication[s] of NOT conducting the research’ (Girling 2017, p. 38). The chapter offers recommendations for how researchers might conduct ethically sensitive research with similar cohorts of young people.
CitationPrice, J. (2021). Ethically sensitive research with ‘children’ and ‘adults’ in custody. In G. Spencer (Ed.), Ethics and Integrity in Research with Children and Young People (pp. 57-72). Emerald Publishing.
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/