Ethical and Methodological Issues in Research with Child Victims of Domestic Violence – Mapping the Field in Portugal


Authors: Ana Isabel Sani and Paula Cristina Martins
Page Range: 205-221
Published in: International Journal of Ethics, 17#4
ISSN: 1535-4776

Table of Contents


Research on children who are victims of domestic violence necessarily involves careful methodological and ethical consideration, including an analysis of research planning, procedures and techniques while taking into account study objectives and the unique characteristics of the participants. In this chapter, we discuss the relevance of methodological and ethical aspects of studies on violence involving children and how these requirements may affect research validity in this domain. More specifically, we address what methods to use (qualitative vs. quantitative), sampling strategies and informants, how to determine the risks and benefits for children and how to manage informed consent. The role of ethics committees in assessing compliance with fundamental ethical assumptions and ensuring the quality of research is also debated. We conclude the chapter with a brief review of methodological options and ethical frameworks for a set of studies conducted in Portugal on violence involving children and young people (up to 18 years old) in the context of intimate partner violence among parents or caregivers. Most studies are exploratory in nature and use nonprobability samples. Mainly focused on participants’ perceptions, such studies lack clear definitions of violence, while ethical requirements are insufficiently described and rarely discussed.

Keywords: children; domestic violence; ethical issues; methodological issues

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