NUIG researchers seek the child’s perspective for new study

NUI Galway researchers are seeking volunteers to help answer questions on how children and young people in Ireland experience and cope with the process of their parents’ separation and divorce and the subsequent changes to family life.

The research has been approved by NUI Galway’s ethics committee and will be conducted by Professor Chris Curtin, Dr Bernadine Brady, and Ms Ann O’Kelly at the NUI Galway UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre.

Ann O’Kelly, the main researcher on this project, is a doctoral fellow at the UNESCO centre and is also a family mediator with the Family Mediation Service, with many years’ experience of working with parents and children who experience separation, divorce, and a break-up of the family unit. “Children’s views are vital to research of this kind to develop more knowledge about what parents’ separation or divorce is like for children in Ireland and is particularly important given that separation and divorce are increasing in this country,” she says. “Research of this kind has the potential to inform children, parents, and policy makers about services needed by children at this time.”

Children and young people aged 8 to 17 years are invited to participate, provided they and their parents have given informed written consent. Informed consent means that a person gives their permission to take part in research with full knowledge of what the research is about, the reasons behind it, and what risks, if any, might be involved. The research team will only have access to the gathered data and confidentiality is guaranteed in accordance with the NUI Galway code of practice relating to research data. Each child and young person will be invited to choose a ‘nickname’ and no unnecessary identifying information will be used when reporting on the findings of the research.

As a family mediator with over 14 years experience, the researcher is aware that speaking about sensitive issues that have occurred within the family of a child or young person may cause distress. The researcher can offer assurances that the research will be conducted in a caring and sensitive manner, using tried and tested child-appropriate research methods. Details of appropriate support services will be provided to participants and their parents should a child or young person become distressed and, if necessary, the research will not continue. The safety of each participant will be paramount throughout the research process and will be conducted in line with the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre’s Child protection policy.

The location of the interview can be decided upon by the volunteers. Each interview will last for approximately one hour, will be audio recorded, and may include the use of visual aids, drawings, and story-telling. Each participant will also receive a token of appreciation from the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre.

Past research has shown that children and young people benefit from participating in research of this kind, even though they may not directly reap the benefits. It has also been shown that children and young people appreciate being given an opportunity to have their views heard and are pleased to be involved in research that might bring about change for other children and young people in similar situations.

Volunteers are asked to contact Ann O’Kelly on 085 7412711 or via email at [email protected]

Ann will answer any relevant questions and provide more information for parents, children, and young people on the research and what it will involve.

Further information on the research is available at www.childandfamilyresearch.ie/anne-okelly

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