Original Articles

Child participation in research: reflections on ethical challenges in the southern African context


This article reflects on several challenges that particular cultural, socio-economic and catastrophic factors (such as the HIV epidemic) pose to ethical practice in research involving child participation in a region such as southern Africa. With reference to concrete situations, we discuss research practices in relation to: countering the widespread power disparity between adults and children; ensuring the authenticity of children's evidence; obtaining informed consent; ensuring non-malfeasance and beneficence; and preserving the anonymity of participants and their sources. Within the authors' own research experience, selected elements of practice that have been helpful in addressing these issues are offered. It is hoped that the article may have relevance not only in the southern African context, but also for developing countries elsewhere.

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