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'EVERYTHING THAT IS LEGAL IS NOT NECESSARILY ETHICAL' CRITICALLY DISCUSS THIS STATEMENT, DRAWING ON YOUR KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING OF ETHICAL AND LEGAL ISSUES RELATING TO RESEARCH WITH CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE The laws of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland when carrying out research are similar but they do vary. For this reason, as both Masson (2004) and Alderson's (2004) papers refer more to laws passed mainly in England and Wales, these will be the laws I will discuss in detail. It should also be noted that what is legal and ethical in research is being continually reviewed and updated. This essay will examine the statement made by Masson (2004) that 'everything that is legal is not necessarily ethical' by showing that ethical requirements go further than what is legally required. It will discuss specific areas of research such as consent, confidentiality and the responsibility held by researchers towards the children and young people involved in their research. I will use examples from research papers by Thorne (2004), Sutton (2004) and Aldgate and Bradley (2004) to illustrate how what is legal is not always necessarily sufficient to fulfil ethical requirements. One important issue to consider before beginning research is consent, which is one area where it is without a doubt that all that is legal is certainly not ethical. In order to conduct research with children and young people, it is a legal requirement to gain signed consent, normally through 'gatekeepers', such as parents, or educational ...read more.


Carrying out these legal requirements alone is unsatisfactory, as ethical requirements stipulate that researchers must go further by protecting the confidentiality of all participants, even small children. An example of this was evident in Aldgate and Bradley's (2004) paper, where the researchers made the participants aware that information given to them would be kept in confidence although they also made it clear that the children were free to discuss anything should they wish to do so with their parents or other gatekeeper. In Audio band 3, (06:28) Masson states that when carrying out individual interviews, for example with family members, it is useful to have separate interviewers so that researchers are honestly unable to repeat information they have received should they be asked. Legal and ethical issues overlap to an extent regarding confidentiality for example when issues of abuse come to light. Today, in the United Kingdom, there is no legal requirement to report abuse, although many local authorities have child protection procedures and professional codes of conduct, which require their employees to do so. Furthermore, if employees fail to report abuse, they run the risk of disciplinary action or having their employment terminated. Ethically, when researchers are seeking informed consent, they must inform participants that confidentiality has limits in areas such as these. This is one area where all that is legal is ethical when issues of abuse are brought to court; researchers are required legally as well as ethically to divulge this information. ...read more.


the research and although not legally he was not required to half the research, ethically he would have been required to do so. By examining issues such as consent, confidentiality and the researcher's responsibility towards participants, this essay has shown that all that is legal is not always necessarily ethical as ethics often make further demands of researchers. When conducting research, legally consent has to be gained from one parent only, which is insufficient to fulfil ethical requirements. Furthermore, the ethics that govern researchers state that not only must consent be obtained from the parent, but researchers must extend this and where possible obtain informed consent from the children themselves. However this is not always possible, so researchers must be alert to signs of assent and halt the procedure immediately, which highlights that to simply comply with legal requirements would not be good ethical practice. I also looked at the researcher's responsibility towards the child, which again demonstrates that legal requirements do not fulfill what is necessarily ethical. It is not illegal for researchers to counsel distressed children, but it is certainly unethical, as ethically researchers must recognize that their role has limits and that the child has the right to the best possible care. It can be said therefore in conclusion that there are certain situations where all that is legal is not necessarily ethical but one should take into consideration that both laws and ethics in the UK are continually being reviewed and are changing. ...read more.

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