08 SES 16, School Food, Equity and Social Justice – Reflections From a Health Education Perspective Part 2
Symposium continued from 08 SES 16
Researchers continue to probe school students regarding their food practices -frequently to assess the impact of interventions; some may contend that directly involving children in this field is indispensable. Participatory approaches have increasingly shifted away from utilitarian, functional relationships with children and young people. A full participatory approach (Christensen and Prout 2002) requires “ethical symmetry” (p. 482), i.e., considering children and young people in the same way as adults. This demands that researchers actively address the ways in which power distribution and relations may create or emphasize differences between adults and children and young people. Researchers may be viewed as authority figures, and in contexts of disadvantage or exclusion, this power imbalance may be more marked. This raises major ethical issues regarding how consent and compliance are built and exercised, and access obtained, where poverty and inequality rates may emphasize social and economic disparities. Based on her extensive experience in LMIC, Ennew developed “the right to be properly researched” (Ennew, 2009; Ennew and Plateau, 2004), proposing guidelines such as: finding the methods for children to adequately and freely express their perspectives and opinions, carefully recruiting and monitoring researchers, being sensitive, and finding ways to communicate with children, including giving explanations about the research being conducted -and receiving feedback as well as following up. But, this requires more time than may be available to develop interpersonal relations with participants, and a permanent process of reflexivity in the researcher that is not easy to develop. At the same time, scholars have proposed to reduce the mechanisms to protect children and young people arguing that these have actually prevented them from having the right to participate (Molloy et al., 2012). In the same line, Abebe and Bessel (2014) criticize procedural ethics as responding to a Western tradition -emphasizing procedure and adherence to norms. In contrast to a rights-based approach, Noddings (1992; 2013) proposes an ethic of care focusing less on justice than on needs, emphasizing relationships rather than individuals, and underscoring the importance of dialogue and reciprocity -and defending the right to privacy of children. Drawing from my experience and reflections on conducting research on the rural school in areas with high poverty levels in Ecuador, I critically examine the notions of social justice and equity in school food research, additionally giving consideration to how a framework of care may help to make this kind of research meaningful for children and young people.
Abebe, T. and Bessell, S. (2014) Advancing ethical research with children: critical reflections on ethical guidelines. Children's Geographies, 12(1), 126-133. Benn, J. (2014) Food, nutrition or cooking literacy-a review of concepts and competencies regarding food education. International Journal of Home Economics, 7(1), 13-35. Christensen, P. and Prout, A. (2002) Working with Ethical Symmetry in Social Research with Children. Childhood, 9(4), 477-497. Ennew, J. (2009) The Right to Be Properly Researched: How to Do Rights-Based, Scientific Research with Children. Bangkok, Thailand: Black on White Publications. Ennew, J. and Plateau, D. P. (2004) How to research the physical and emotional punishment of children. Bangkok: Keen Publishing, International Save the Children Southeast, East Asia and Pacific Region Alliance. Molloy, C. J., Hayes, N., Kearney, J., Slattery, C. G. and Corish, C. (2012) Researching young children’s perception of food in Irish pre-schools: An ethical dilemma. Research Ethics, 8(3), 155-164. Noddings, N. (1992) The Challenge to Care in Schools: An Alternative Approach to Education (Vol. 8). New York: Teachers College Press. Noddings, N. (2013). Caring: a relational approach to ethics & moral education (2. ed., updated. ed.). Berkeley: University of California Press.
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