7.3 Ethical frameworks
Having introduced some of the more problematic issues of the ethics of research with children, let’s now turn to the frameworks within which psychologists structure their work to minimise these dangers. It is important to note that while the welfare of the child participants is always paramount, they are not the only ones at risk; there are secondary risks to other stakeholders too.
Researchers themselves are at risk if harm is caused to any child with whom they make contact in the course of their research. A researcher is always personally liable to prosecution for negligent or deliberately harmful behaviour, even when working under contract for an institution such as a university. Similarly, the institution itself may be liable for the researcher’s conduct, and there may also be a risk of harm to a funding body if it is seen to be supporting potentially harmful research. Finally, the researcher’s profession as a whole may suffer damage to its reputation if harm is caused by research with which it could be associated.