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Do no harm: The ethics of researching child sexual exploitation

Posted on Apr 25, 2019

A comprehensive new project will explore the ethics of studying child sexual exploitation and abuse – and develop practical guidelines for assisting future research into the topic.

“Any research with children requires careful planning, engagement, and a need to consider ethical practices at all times. When research is about abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and similar issues involving children, there are additional ethical concerns – particularly due to the harm that may be caused to already vulnerable children.”

– Mark Kavenagh, Head of Research, ECPAT International

Experts from ECPAT International, ECPAT Taiwan and National Chung Cheng University Taiwan are working with academia and others engaged in the field from India, Pakistan, Taiwan, Nigeria, Ghana, Netherlands and Germany – and have so far developed a literature review on the topic that looks at the existing research and guidance.

The paper:

  • Identifies key overarching principles for research on sexual exploitation involving children that are based on children’s rights as articulated by the Convention on the Rights of the Child;
  • Summarizes the potential risks that could occur as a result of intended research;
  • Addresses how to identify and assess the potential benefits of intended research; and
  • Describes ways to weigh up the harms and benefits in order to decide whether or not to proceed with the intended research.

Later this year, simple and practical guidelines to assist researchers in the design and implementation of research into the sexual exploitation of children will be released.

Read the full literature review.