Thursday, March 14, 2013

Child Research

This was a very interesting article concerning the rights of children, specifically in the context of research. Children’s’ rights were officially stated in the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1989.  Most UN countries have signed and ratified it; however the USA has only signed it.  This surprised me, as rights are very important to Americans.  The CRC does not specifically talk about research, however many associations have based their policies regarding research on children on the CRC.

How do the rights of a child differ from those of an adult? One of the biggest differences is that children are not old enough to make official decisions on their own.   Thus children cannot give informed consent for research. This makes it much easier to exploit a child “for the good of society”, if their guardian agrees to the research, than an adult.  Thus, to protect children from mistreatment, only the potential benefits to the child are considered when determining if the research is worth the risks. On the other hand, the potential benefits to society as a whole are considered when evaluating the viability of research on an adult.  This protects children; however it also provides a large barrier to the progression of technological benefits for children.  In addition, this leads to more research being done on sick individuals and those with disabilities.  I don’t think this is right as it doesn’t seem to be treating kids equally but rather targets those who have more to gain.  The progression of technological advancements is potentially much more important for those with disabilities than for those without.  As 90% of kids with disabilities in developing countries drop out of school (this includes people with bad eyesight who can’t get glasses), research needs to be done to reduce that number and help limit the effect of those disabilities on their lives. I can’t think of a good solution.  I understand the current policy and agree with the extra protection provided for children, but I am not sure how to minimize the negative effects of such a position.  What do you think?   

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