Ethics and Behavior 4 (2):147 – 155 (1994)
AbstractThe articles by Brooks-Gum, Fisher, Hoagwood, Liss, and Scott-Jones (all this issue) present a panoply of real-world ethical issues in conducting scientific research on risky behaviors of children, adolescents, and their parents, particularly those from vulnerable populations. The universal, ethical principles of beneficence, justice, and respect for others are always applicable, but they do not resolve issues of child assent, parental consent, legal reporting requirements for illegal behaviors, and the special problems of studying risky behaviors in risky populations. Taken as a group, the articles raise some of the most interesting ethical problems that arise in developmental research. My discussion elaborates some issues and fails to resolve others. I hold the view that both science and ethics can be served by thoughtfully designed and implemented research on important social issues, but that the studies themselves cannot simultaneously solve the many societal problems of participants and be scientifically credible.
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