Children are a vulnerable group. We recommend that before you
use NPC's Well-being Measure you take into account the ethical
issues that arise in undertaking research with children and young
It is up to you to decide how you review your research. Here we
outline the main principles of ethical research with children. More
general principles of ethical research are covered in NPC's Research Ethics Framework.
Fully informed consent
It is not a legal requirement to ask for consent from parents
for children to take part in the research. However, you may want to
consider asking for consent from parents or give them the right to
withdraw their children from the intervention and the
If you work in a school, the school is 'in loco parentis', which
means that you have a duty of care towards children under your
supervision, measured as being that of a 'reasonable parent'. You
may want to write to parents telling them about the project and why
it is important.
The text below shows what you might ask if you want to seek
consent form parents.
"We are doing some research to measure the well-being of the
children we work with so that we can adapt and improve our services
The survey we are using is designed to measure different
aspects of children's well-being such as self-esteem, emotional
well-being and friendships. It takes about 10 to 15 minutes for
children to complete.
We are asking children to complete the questionnaire on ___
and again ___ weeks later (delete if not appropriate). We will not
look at individual answers and any analysis of the results happens
at a group level. You should also know that:
- your child's answers are anonymous and
- the data will be used for this research and no other
- your child does not have to take part if he or she does not
want to and your child can withdraw from the research at any
You should carefully explain the details of the intervention and
evaluation to the children involved in a language appropriate to
their age and understanding. You should inform them that they do
not have to take part, can stop at any time and do not have to
answer any questions the do not want to.
Anonymity and confidentiality
You should inform children or parents about the confidentiality
and anonymity of the information they provide when asking for
consent. The use of unique identification numbers means that
personal information, including names, is always kept separately
from any non-personal data, such as their responses to the
well-being questions. You can read about the NPC Well-being Measure
It is important that children understand that there are 'limits
to confidentiality'. If during the course of the evaluation a child
is identified as being in immediate danger or at risk of
significant harm, then steps need to be taken to protect the child.
You should inform the child that this is happening. Also, before
the start of the intervention procedures should be in place to deal
with such a situation.
Avoidance of personal harm
You should avoid harm to research participants in all instances.
For example, you should not put young people under pressure to fill
in the questionnaire, or request that they do it at a stressful
Generally you should not give children monetary rewards as an
incentive for completing the questionnaire. However, certificates
and tokens (eg, for the school library) may be appropriate in some