Ethical Framework for Voice

This ethical framework has been adopted by the YorOK Voice and Involvement Group as a tool for members of the YorOK framework to give ethical consideration to their work relating to voice and involvement. This framework has been adapted from the children and participation framework developed by Save the Children.

Participation and protection:

Ensure that work with children is in their best interests and does them no harm. It is important to bear in mind that there is an automatic power imbalance between the adult and the child and that the duty to protect a child is fundamental. Assess any possible dangers at an early stage. Understand how you would identify and respond to any safeguarding issues that may arise from your work.

Conflicting agendas:

Adults are happy to accept children’s views, but often only if they fit in with their own ideas. Adults, children and organisations come to research with their own agendas. It is important to be honest about these and to negotiate differences.

Informed consent:

Ensure that the child knows what they are being asked to do, and that they have the right to say no to anything. Be aware that the inherent power relationship between the adult and the child means that the child may feel nervous saying no to anything. Also ensure that young researchers gain the necessary consent from the parents of the young people they are interviewing.

Purposes of research:

It is important to be sure that the child knows the purpose of what they are undertaking and what the activity they undertake contributes towards.

Confidentiality and trust:

Be honest with the researchers and respondents, so that they know if confidentiality will ever be broken and what the parameters are. A key reason for breaking confidentiality would be if you had safeguarding concerns.


Be clear about how much time the process is likely to take up, and what the likely outcomes will be.

Reward and Recognition:

It is important to consider how much to reward or recognise young people for taking part in a consultation or being involved in service design and delivery. For example is it appropriate to pay them for their time? To refund travel expenses? How does this reward and recognition impact on the validity of the messages from children and young people? To help with this are a toolkit on reward and recognition has been developed.

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