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Table 2 Delphi statements reaching clear consensus

From: Ethical considerations for children’s participation in data collection activities during humanitarian emergencies: A Delphi review

Number Statement Consensus AI DI
S11 Children have a right to decide whether to participate in evidence generation. A child’s decision not to participate must be respected. 100% 0.98 0.00
S99 Data collection activities should be conducted in a language that child participants understand and are comfortable with. 100% 0.83 0.00
S59 Expectations need to be managed appropriately and transparently. Children should be informed about the data collection process before, during, and after the assessment. They should be told what will happen to the information and when and what they can expect. 100% 0.80 0.00
S85 While all children may lack power in relation to adults there are also power imbalances amongst children. These can be due to cross-cutting factors of age, gender, ethnicity, class-caste, etc. Care is needed to avoid silencing of some children by their more powerful peers. 100% 0.78 0.00
S94 We need to be thinking a lot more about adapting questions for different age groups – not just how we ask the questions but what we want to know. 100% 0.73 0.00
S93 Data collection activities should consider different methods to collect data from children, and these should be simple, age-specific, and culturally-adapted (e.g. focus group discussions, questionnaires, individual interviews, safety maps, drawings, etc.). 100% 0.68 0.00
S96 Data collection activities need to recognize and accommodate the other demands on children’s time in the context (e.g. are we taking time from children who would otherwise be generating income, caring for younger siblings, or attending food distributions?). 100% 0.59 0.00
S108 Those conducting data collection must be well-trained to collect data from children, must be familiar with available standards, and should be experienced in working with children directly. 100% 0.59 0.00
S102 The setting of data collection activities must be considered before involving a child in data collection, taking into account the child’s preference and the potential risks to the child and researcher of conducting the interview. For example, children may prefer to be interviewed in their home, or it may be better to interview them in child-friendly spaces or schools. 100% 0.56 0.00
S121 If indirect methods need to be used to assess children’s needs, or if exclusion of children from assessments is inevitable, the resulting report should note the absence of these children from the data and the implications of not having this information. 100% 0.56 0.00
S120 Feeding back information and results to children needs to be done in a child-friendly, simple manner, including if possible the visualization of information. 100% 0.54 0.00
S113 When recording the information provided by children it is crucial that the data collector is familiar with cultural norms and local customs to correctly record and interpret information provided by children using the local language, paraphrases, and typical local references. 100% 0.34 0.00
S15 Before any data collection is conducted with children, a risk analysis should take place, taking into account the political context, security situation, degree of stability/volatility, cultural factors, power dynamics, exclusion issues, the impact of the humanitarian context on these, and the risks posed by the data collection process itself. This risk analysis will inform decision making about when and how children’s participation may or may not be appropriate. 98% 0.73 0.00
S55 The child must have the psychological, cognitive and emotional ability to participate in data collection. 98% 0.27 1.00
S60 Children should be made aware that no one will be punished or receive any less help than anyone else if they do not participate – and likewise they should be told that neither they nor anyone else is going to get a reward or receive extra of anything for agreeing to participate. 98% 0.88 1.00
S110 Those conducting data collection need to be trained in recognizing any signs of distress demonstrated by children, need to be able to provide any immediate response required (reassure, record) and be able to assess the need to terminate the data collection appropriately. 98% 0.70 0.00
S62 If using a digital device to record a child’s participation, researchers should assess if this is appropriate (e.g. for security reasons or cultural belief), and if both children and parents are comfortable using the device. 98% 0.53 1.00
S114 Analysis teams for data that came from children need to value and be able to interpret a variety of types of evidence (e.g. visual as well as text-based). 98% 0.48 1.00
S86 Clear and transparent criteria for inclusion/exclusion of children in evidence gathering processes should be developed and should reflect considerations of participant safety, cultural acceptability, and appropriateness for evidence gathering. 98% 0.45 0.00
S95 Data collection instruments for children should undergo careful cognitive and field testing prior to implementation to ensure that minors will understand the questions/activity, to identify implementation challenges, and to assess risks and impacts on children of using the instrument. 98% 0.40 0.00
S92 In all contexts assessment team members should observe the situation of girls and boys (of different ages and abilities), including observation and recording the roles and responsibilities undertaken by girls and boys of different ages and backgrounds. 98% 0.38 0.00
S28 There should be a mechanism with clear protocols for following up on urgent issues and/or resolving pressing issues that have come to light. 98% 0.87 1.00
S98 There should be sufficient time for children of different ages to formulate their ideas, react to information, react to each other, and adequately discuss and be heard. 98% 0.41 0.00
S101 Child-friendly interpretation must be provided for any interviews or activities with children (e.g. it is not enough that someone has linguistic skills; they must appreciate the additional issues involved in interpreting for children). 98% 0.36 0.00
S103 If the child is being interviewed alone, clear SOPs are needed, and the regulations, local cultural beliefs, and laws need to be respected. 97% 0.42 0.00
S14 The principles of respect, beneficence (harm and benefits), and justice should underpin all assessment activities, with children and adults. 95% 0.85 0.50
S12 The quality of the participatory process is important for children’s experience of data collection activities. 95% 0.83 0.00
S6 Child rights and humanitarian principles, including the principle of the child’s best interests and the principle of ‘do no harm’ may over-ride the principle of children’s participation in some contexts. 95% 0.75 1.00
S20 Cultures where the expectation is that children do not talk, or do not talk when adults are present, or do not talk about certain issues need to be understood and carefully negotiated by contact with adult ‘gatekeepers’ so that children do not face retaliation, forms of punishment, or other negative consequences as a result of their participation. Children need to be approached through the ‘proper channels’ in context. 95% 0.53 0.00
S9 In most societies, children lack power in relation to adults. This makes data gathering directly with children especially important since their views can be marginalized and/or misrepresented by adults. 95% 0.50 0.00
S58 Informed consent is not a one-off event, it is an ongoing process, which should be re-evaluated, depending on changes in the circumstances of the emergency and other contextual factors. 95% 0.79 0.00
S89 Since the effects of emergencies and the needed supports are gendered, one cannot defend the common practice of interviewing boys more than girls. It is crucial to learn from girls and engage with them as actors and participants who are agents of their own protection and well-being. 95% 0.51 0.50
S56 Children should only participate in data collection once they have provided informed consent/assent, and when needed, their care givers have also consented. 95% 0.49 1.00
S109 It is essential in training to ensure that staff demonstrate their skills in engaging children’s participation in data collection, and that only those who perform well be selected to conduct the activities. 95% 0.44 1.00
S111 The gender of the researchers capable of collecting data also matters in deciding if and which children to include in the data collection design. 95% 0.33 0.00
S81 Children should be offered privacy, without their participation drawing undue or unwanted attention and thus potentially singling them out. 95% 0.28 0.00
S49 After the initial 4-6 weeks of the sudden onset emergency response, opportunities for children’s participation in programme planning and implementation start to increase in contexts where the situation has become more stable. Especially in contexts where children and families are living in their own communities, and/or in established refugee or IDP camps, there may be increased opportunities for community based work and regular interactions with children and community members providing a basis for meaningful participatory processes supporting collaborative and/or child led initiatives. 95% 0.28 0.00
S21 The presence of a protective environment/support network needs to be in place when discussing more sensitive child protection issues such as sexual violence, child soldiers, etc. 95% 0.73 0.00
S38 I think children should be interviewed as part of family tracing work or care and protection proceedings to ensure that decisions are made in their best interests considering their own views. 93% 0.72 0.00
S10 Children can be respondents but also advisors, researchers, advocates, analysts, documenters. But this will depend on providing them with the necessary skills and information to be partners in this as well as applying the basic requirements for their ethical and meaningful involvement. 93% 0.59 0.33
S84 Confidentiality and protection of personal data should be guaranteed to all children. 93% 0.95 0.67
S106 Adult investigators enjoy a position of power in relation to children. The humanitarian context can exacerbate the power differential between investigators and children. Ethical data collection entails working to minimize power differentials by, for example, sitting at the same level as children, participating in games, showing careful attention to the views expressed and showing appreciation for each individual’s contribution. 93% 0.66 0.00
S80 The presence of the legal guardian or another trusted person during data collection might be necessary to put the child at ease, but it should be carefully weighed against any possible bias. 93% 0.24 0.00
S118 Children should receive feedback on the findings of an assessment, and should be able to provide ongoing reflections and ask further questions after data collection has stopped. 93% 0.32 0.00
S13 Children should not participate in data collection if doing so presents added child protection risks. 90% 0.74 1.00
S2 In principle, it is important to consult with children on matters affecting them – thus children should be a source for assessments that will influence humanitarian planning and budgeting. 90% 0.47 0.50
S1 Providing children the opportunity to express their experiences is a powerful exercise, allowing them to release their feelings and make their voices heard. 90% 0.47 0.75
S23 Depending on the subject, it may be more appropriate to ask children about the experiences of children in their community, rather than about their own experiences. 90% 0.29 0.25
S22 Consulting with child protection experts experienced with the local context, and other community members, such as teachers, is important for deciding what subjects can be discussed with children by age-group and what topics should be avoided. 90% 0.29 0.25
S43 It is often more appropriate to secure data on younger children during the early stages of emergencies by other means than direct interviews – whether through a caregiver or resilient existing support networks within the community. For older children, it may be appropriate to engage directly from the onset of assessment and design. 90% 0.11 0.25
S123 We should not be establishing a norm ‘for’ or ‘against’ participation, but should be providing guidance on when participation is useful, under what circumstances, who it should be done by and how. 90% 0.65 0.50
S119 Feeding back to adults the findings from discussions with children could in itself be a powerful intervention. At the same time, the asymmetry of power means that issues raised by children in data gathering that call into question the actions of adults need to be addressed with sensitivity in order to avoid any potential backlash against participants. 90% 0.32 0.00
S34 Multi-sector initial rapid assessments are critical to defining the needs and vulnerabilities of children and establishing a program strategy that addresses these holistically through integrated programming. Thus, wherever risk assessments identify a safe way to consult and involve girls and boys, there are likely to be significant benefits of interviewing them to better understand their experiences and priorities. 90% 0.30 0.50
S33 If a humanitarian agency has existing programming or partnerships that support children’s participation then the scope for children’s participation is much greater from the outset of an emergency response, and there may also be safe and meaningful opportunities to collaborate with children and young people in undertaking an emergency assessment. 90% 0.24 0.00
S88 Clan or tribal associations matters during assessments, especially if a child is isolated from others. 90% 0.14 0.25
S107 There should be a core set of criteria that lists the skills and knowledge that a researcher should possess in order to involve children directly in data collection activities, and these should be standardized across organizations and institutions. 90% 0.36 0.00
S35 In situations of extreme violence or devastation, it is important to consider whether, given what children have been through, it may be better to not conduct individual interviews with children immediately, but rather to first establish psychosocial and other services and learn more about children’s needs through service provision. 90% 0.31 0.50