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Ethical research for children

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UNICEF is committed to ensuring that all research, evaluation and data collection processes undertaken by UNICEF and its partners are ethical. To this end, procedures and guidelines have been created to embed ethical principles and practices in all our evidence generation programmes. UNICEF recognizes the critical importance of children’s voice in evidence generation and is developing tools to support and advocate for ethical evidence generation involving children. We also produce critical thinkpieces on new and emerging ethical issues relating to children and adolescents.

Project team

Kerry Albright, Gabrielle Berman

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Policies, Procedures, Tools and Guidance

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Useful external resources

Publications

Digital Contact Tracing and Surveillance During COVID-19. General and child-specific ethical issues
Publication Publication

Digital Contact Tracing and Surveillance During COVID-19. General and child-specific ethical issues

The response to the pandemic has seen an unprecedented rapid scaling up of technologies to support digital contact tracing and surveillance.This working paper explores the implications for privacy as the linking of datasets: increases the likelihood that children will be identifiable; increases the opportunity for (sensitive) data profiling; and frequently involves making data available to a broader set of users or data managers.
Digital Contact Tracing and Surveillance During COVID-19: General and child-specific ethical issues
Publication Publication

Digital Contact Tracing and Surveillance During COVID-19: General and child-specific ethical issues

The response to COVID-19 has seen an unprecedented rapid scaling up of technologies to support digital contact tracing and surveillance. This means that we need to establish clear governance processes for these tools and the data collection process and engage with a broader set of government and industry partners to ensure that children’s rights are not overlooked.
Ethical Considerations for Evidence Generation Involving Children on the COVID-19 Pandemic
Publication Publication

Ethical Considerations for Evidence Generation Involving Children on the COVID-19 Pandemic

This paper identifies key ethical considerations when undertaking evidence generation involving children during the mitigation stage of the pandemic (emergency phase), on subject matter relating to COVID-19 once the pandemic has been contained, and once containment policy measures, including lockdowns, have been lifted (post-emergency phase). While the COVID-19 pandemic is undoubtedly a global crisis, with evidence generation activities raising critical ethical issues that have been captured in the literature and relevant guidelines, there are specificities relating to this emergency that must be considered when unpacking potential ethical issues. Hence while ethical issues pertaining to evidence generation involving children in emergencies and humanitarian contexts are relevant and should be considered, there are factors that define this ‘special case’ that must be considered from the outset. These will inform the core ethical considerations that need to be addressed.
Ethical Considerations When Using Geospatial Technologies for Evidence Generation
Publication Publication

Ethical Considerations When Using Geospatial Technologies for Evidence Generation

Geospatial technologies have transformed the way we visualize and understand social phenomena and physical environments. There are significant advantages in using these technologies and data however, their use also presents ethical dilemmas such as privacy and security concerns as well as the potential for stigma and discrimination resulting from being associated with particular locations. Therefore, the use of geospatial technologies and resulting data needs to be critically assessed through an ethical lens prior to implementation of programmes, analyses or partnerships. This paper examines the benefits, risks and ethical considerations when undertaking evidence generation using geospatial technologies. It is supplemented by a checklist that may be used as a practical tool to support reflection on the ethical use of geospatial technologies.
Children and the Data Cycle:Rights and Ethics in a Big Data World
Publication Publication

Children and the Data Cycle:Rights and Ethics in a Big Data World

In an era of increasing dependence on data science and big data, the voices of one set of major stakeholders – the world’s children and those who advocate on their behalf – have been largely absent. A recent paper estimates one in three global internet users is a child, yet there has been little rigorous debate or understanding of how to adapt traditional, offline ethical standards for research involving data collection from children, to a big data, online environment (Livingstone et al., 2015). This paper argues that due to the potential for severe, long-lasting and differential impacts on children, child rights need to be firmly integrated onto the agendas of global debates about ethics and data science. The authors outline their rationale for a greater focus on child rights and ethics in data science and suggest steps to move forward, focusing on the various actors within the data chain including data generators, collectors, analysts and end-users. It concludes by calling for a much stronger appreciation of the links between child rights, ethics and data science disciplines and for enhanced discourse between stakeholders in the data chain, and those responsible for upholding the rights of children, globally.
What We Know about Ethical Research Involving Children in Humanitarian Settings: An overview of principles, the literature and case studies
Publication Publication

What We Know about Ethical Research Involving Children in Humanitarian Settings: An overview of principles, the literature and case studies

This working paper identifies and explores the issues that should be considered when undertaking ethical research involving children in humanitarian settings. Both the universal (i.e. relevant to all research involving children) and specific ethical issues that may arise when involving children in research in humanitarian settings are examined.
Ethical Research Involving Children
Publication Publication

Ethical Research Involving Children

This compendium is part of an international project entitled Ethical Research Involving Children. The project has been motivated by a shared international concern that the human dignity of children is honoured, and that their rights and well-being are respected in all research, regardless of context.

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