Representing Youth

I took a short breath after my literature review, but had to dive right back in due to limited free time because of work and the fact that the semester is QUICKLY winding down…. My birthday is next Tuesday and I get three days off, but I’d really like to just enjoy them since dangit, it’s my birthday! And I’m turning 30 this year! So, I need to get a decent amount accomplished sooner than later. I have my program evaluation due the day before my birthday, so I will knock that out this week. I have all my notes, as I attended the program in the end of March but was in Literature Review mode and couldn’t do much with it until now!

Right now, I’ve just been reading and enjoying some of the chapters of Representing Youth. I really like how the book is set up as a collection of narratives and reflections of researchers and the issues they’ve encountered while studying children and teens. I most recently read the chapter about gatekeeping and I wanted to document my discussion post about it, since I’ll lose access to them after the semester:

At this point in my MLIS journey, I have taken a few courses surrounding youth services, but this is the first time I have encountered the concept of “gatekeeping” and gatekeepers.

Essentially, this concept states that conducting research that involves children requires two steps of consent: A gatekeeper such as a parent, teacher or anyone else with a duty to care for the child has to grant the initial consent, and then the child itself then has to consent as well. The key to remember is that the child is the participant and not the gatekeeper, so in order to conduct ethical research, it is imperative that the child also consent to participate.

This reminds me of the section of the IRB training about the need to obtain “assent” from a child. This is because children may not be able to fully comprehend the details of the purpose of the study more than what is required of them to participate. In this sense, the gatekeeper is a crucial role as someone who can be fully informed about the research study and then decide whether or not it would be appropriate for their child to participate. It may be easier to explain to the child what actually is needed from them to participate in simpler terms in order to discover if the child itself is willing to participate. The child needs only to provide an element of understanding, cooperation and a feeling of inclusion in order to participate, though this should not be confused with the mere lack of objection by the child.

As I said, this was an interesting concept for me and not something I have encountered or even pondered before mostly because I never considered that my career might take me down the path of conducting any sort of formal research. I’m glad to now have some insight into researching and know of some resources I can refer to should the time come.

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