Journal Article

Protecting Children’s Rights in Social Science Research in Botswana: Some Ethical and Legal Dilemmas

Charles Manga Fombad

in International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

Volume 19, issue 1, pages 102-120
Published in print April 2005 | ISSN: 1360-9939
Published online April 2005 | e-ISSN: 1464-3707 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/lawfam/ebi005
Protecting Children’s Rights in Social Science Research in Botswana: Some Ethical and Legal Dilemmas

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Debate has raged whether it is ever right to use children in conducting research in the social sciences. Some have argued that the use of a non-consenting subject or a subject whose consent is often doubtful, such as is the case with children, is wrong whether or not there is any risk posed to the subject. Others support such research provided it involves no discernible risk to the children. Social science researchers may enlist children in their studies of social processes for a variety of reasons. Such research raises a number of complex ethical and legal problems and challenges that have unfortunately not been addressed in many countries including Botswana. For example, may the researcher obtain the information he needs based on the consent of the child or his parent or both? What are the obligations of the researcher who learns of secrets that the child would rather keep from his parents, to his own detriment? These are some of the questions that this article will attempt to address. It begins by showing why children constitute a special research population that deserve special attention. It then considers some of the fundamental ethical principles that usually apply in social research involving children. This is followed by an attempt to identify some of the legal principles that could be invoked to protect children in such situations. It is contended that the sensitive nature of children and the fact that their use in social research, whilst sometimes unavoidable and beneficial, carries certain risks that justify the introduction of legislation in Botswana to regulate and protect them from any abuse they may be exposed to due to their immaturity.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Family Law ; Marriage and the Family

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