Research involving the use of information about or the participation of children, youth, and families must take certain issues into consideration, such as informed consent and the confidentiality of data. The following resources discuss ethical concerns that may arise when performing research in child welfare and how to address those concerns.
Council on Accreditation
In Ethical Practice
Outlines standards for agencies that participate in or permit research involving service recipients, addressing the importance of the individual's right to refuse to participate without penalty and of the participant's right to confidentiality.
The Juvenile Justice Professional's Guide to Human Subjects Protection and the IRB Process: Ethical Standards for Collecting, Using, and Sharing Youth Information
National Center for Juvenile Justice (2005)
Provides an overview of the laws and regulations that govern human subjects research, the institutional review board process, and principles and details about implementation.
Institutional Review Boards (IRBs): What Are They, and Why Are They Important? (PDF - 188 KB)
Bronte-Tinkew, Allen, & Joyner (2008)
Supplies guidelines for the institutional review board process to protect the privacy, rights, confidentiality, and privileges of human subjects in research.
Building Evaluation Capacity: Collecting and Using Data in Cross-Project Evaluations: Guide II (PDF - 540 KB)
Campbell & Clewell (2008)
Addresses issues involved in different types of data collection, including data quality, cross-project data sharing, confidentiality, and the protection of human subjects.
Baker & Charvat (2008)
In Research Methods in Child Welfare
Provides a brief history of ethics in human subjects research, explains the role of the institutional review board in reviewing all child welfare agency-based research, and discusses ethical considerations that arise at key points in the research process.
Ethics of Asking Trauma-Related Questions and Exposing Participants to Arousal-Inducing Stimuli
Carter-Visscher, Naugle, Bell, & Suvak
Journal of Trauma and Dissociation, 8(3), 2007
Reports on the results of a study indicating that participants in trauma-related research have a positive experience overall, reporting low levels of distress when discussing childhood victimization experiences and being exposed to negatively arousing experimental conditions.
Evaluation Brief: Program Evaluation and Research Ethics
James Bell Associates (2007)
Defines informed consent, confidentiality, and anonymity, and explains requirements for obtaining informed consent for institutionally sponsored research, active versus passive consent by parents of children involved in research, and strategies for maintaining confidentiality when collecting, accessing, storing, and reporting data.
Guidelines for the Release of Public-Use Data
American Institutes for Research & Child Trends (2004)
Explains how to maintain the confidentiality of subjects whose information is included in databases that are accessible by the public. It addresses legal regulations, standards for privacy, dataset use agreements, and data collection methodology and codebooks.
Methods for Disaster Mental Health Research
Norris, Galea, Friedman, & Watson (Eds.) (2006)
Emphasizes methodological issues and logistical challenges of conducting research on the effects of disasters on mental health, including the ethical issues surrounding disaster research.
Research and Evaluation Ethics Review Committee Handbook (PDF - 284 KB)
Children's Board of Hillsborough County (2008)
Reviews guidelines for safeguarding the rights and safety of human subjects participating in research. The handbook includes policies, procedures, submission protocol, and other processes for ethical review.
So You Want to Involve Children in Research: A Toolkit Supporting Children's Meaningful and Ethical Participation in Research Relating to Violence Against Children (PDF - 622 KB)
Save the Children (2004)
Provides guidance on ethical ways to engage the participation of children in primary and secondary research related to violence against children.
The Utility of the Random Controlled Trial for Evaluating Sexual Offender Treatment: The Gold Standard or an Inappropriate Strategy?
Marshall & Marshall
Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 19(2), 2007
Proposes that a random controlled trial is not suitable for determining the effectiveness of sexual offender treatment. The authors examine two alternative strategies that may allow treatment providers to examine and report the results of their programs more effectively.