Children and young people's rights in research

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is an agreement signed by almost all countries in the world (including Australia).

This agreement says that people in every country have the duty to protect and support children everyone who under 18 years old.

The Convention is a long document that contains and explains many different rights for children and young people (check out the website of the Australian Human Rights Commission (2023) for a useful summary). These rights also apply every time a child or young person participates in research.

Check out the different tabs to explore your rights in research

  • The right to be treated fairly
    • Everyone who participates in the research should be treated fairly and equally.
    • You have the right to know about the results of the research.
    • You have the right to ask any questions: Researchers love questions. If you are curious about the study, they will be happy to give you all the information that you need.
    • You should not feel rejected or discriminated because of your gender, culture, religion, age, or anything else about you.
  • The right to have a say about decisions that affect you
    • You have a right to have a say on whether you want to participate in research (or not).
    • You should have a say on how research about children and young people is done, why and for what reasons.
    • Your opinions should always be respected when you participate in research.
    • Researchers must listen to children and young people.
  • The right to live and grow up healthy
    • Research should be done in a way that does not have any negative impacts on your health and wellbeing.
    • Research should help support and improve the health and wellbeing of all children and young people.
  • The right to be safe no matter where they are
    • You should not feel scared or threatened by anyone or anything during the research.
    • You should not feel forced to talk about bad things that have happened to you and still make you feel very sad, scared or angry, if you do not want to.
    • You should never suffer any physical injuries or get sick from participating in research.
  • The right to get an education
    • Participating in research should give you the opportunity to learn new things and skills that are important and interesting to you.
    • Participating in research should not affect you time at school or other learning opportunities in the community.
  • The right to play and have fun
    • Participating in research should be a fun and interesting experience for you.
    • You have the right to express yourself according to your interests, skills, abilities and culture.
    • Children and young people should not be asked to do activities that they dislike or have to miss out on other hobbies and activities that are important to them.

When you participate in research, you also have the right to:

  • Privacy and confidentiality
    • Everything that you say during the research should be private and confidential. This means that, when the researchers share the results of the study, nobody has to know your name, where you live, or other personal information about you.
    • Only the people who where there with you when the research took place should know what you said and did.
    • The researchers will do everything to help protect your privacy. But you should consider that someone may guess who you are from something you said, or another child or young person who was there may tell others what happened during the research. The researchers cannot control this, so if this is something that makes you feel very worried, it may be better that you do not participate in the study.
    • Sometimes, researchers take pictures or record videos of what happens during the research. Researchers should ask for your permission to use those images and videos.
  • Freely decide if you want to participate in research (also known as voluntary participation)
    • You are always free to decide if you want or not to participate in the research.
    • If you accept, you may also change your mind later, at any time.
    • It is completely OK if you do not want to participate in research or you want to quit. No one should pressure you to participate and there will be no negative consequences for you.
    • If you decide to quit a study, you also have the right for all your personal information to be deleted from the study, unless the study was already published or the researchers cannot separate what you said from what other people said.

Would you like to know more about your rights? Check out this resource created by UNICEF, specially for children and young people.

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