Protecting children in research: Safer ways to research with children who may be experiencing violence or abuse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Southampton, Southampton, SO17 1BJ, United Kingdom
  • Univ Edinburgh


Children participating in research, like other children, may be being maltreated. There is also potential for exposure to abuse during research. Research training, practices and protocols to respond to disclosure and discovery of abuse to protect both researchers and children may not be sufficiently robust. Our aim was to compare and contrast research practices reported in the literature related to protecting children and to recommend safer ways to conduct research. The simultaneous increase in research with children, along with an increased willingness to listen to child victims of abuse, means that researchers must consider the protection of children in the research setting. Twenty-three papers were identified in a literature review. These studies reported a wide variation of ethical considerations, methods, methodology and came from different disciplines. From the 23 papers, two overarching themes were identified: social justice and research and safer research. To make research safer teams should consider training, safety protocols and support for child protection, which includes support to report safeguarding concerns to social care. Further work is required to ensure that training, protocols and support are effective in facilitating researchers to identify and make appropriate child abuse referrals. Ethics practices in abuse research need further debate.


Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Child Health Care
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Jun 2015


  • Child abuse, maltreatment, Child Protection, Research, Ethics