Introduction

The main objective of this “Code of Ethics” is to help the involved stakeholders understand and uphold ethical standards in their work with children. The established ethical principles take as a starting point deep respect for human dignity and a commitment to advance rights of children in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). This “Code of Ethics” concerns all activities conducted in the scope of the “Colors of a Journey” project that involve newcomers children – either directly or via a representative. Considering the specific aim of the “Colors of a Journey” platform to facilitate a digital archive of paintings as life-narratives of newcomers children, focus is placed on the following

  1. general principles of ethical conduct in work with children
  2. ethical conduct in planning and implementation of information gathering/visual material gathering
  3. Ethical conduct in reporting on and dissemination of the collected material.

General Principles

  1. The project defines a child in line with the Article 1 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child as every human being below the age of eighteen years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.
  2. Dignity, well-being and rights of every child are to be respected regardless of the context. All decisions and actions concerning the nature and conditions of children’s’ participation in this project will be guided by respect for dignity, well-being and rights of children. This principle will be followed regardless of the issue-area, location, and methodological considerations.
  3. All decisions and actions will be respectful to needs, experiences, capabilities and perspectives of a child. Respectful conduct includes awareness of who is the child and consideration for the cultural context that defines the child’s experiences, capabilities and perspectives. Respectful conduct is fully embedded and adjusted to the life, experiences and perspectives of a child. This includes responsiveness to the family, school and community context in which the child is embedded.
  4. All decisions and actions will first and foremost consider a child’s well-being. This includes both, the principle of non-maleficence (i.e. “do no harm”) and the principle of beneficence. Stakeholders will avoid causing harm or injury to children through the act of commission or omission and they will actively strive for improving the status, rights and well-being of children.
  5. All decisions and actions will be just and fair to the child.

Stakeholders will not take advantage of a power relationship between themselves and participating children, they will be responsive to children’s views and positions, they will not place unduly burden of the project on the children. All benefits of the project will be shared with the children.

  1. Children are able and entitled to actively participate in all segments of the project. Visibility, legitimacy, and participation of children in all activities are guaranteed, while ensuring provision and protection of rights. To ensure that both a right to participation and a right to protection are duly  respected, the project recognizes and takes into account the complexity of multiple and differentiated contexts that shape a child’s life and experience. These contexts include cultural, social, political and economic conditions as well as multiple relationships that are formed around the project (including ties with the facilitates, other children and youth, parents, guardians, caregivers, involved institutions, funding bodies, etc.).
  2. All decisions and actions will take place in partnerships between a child and adults.  All participants are caring and competent to provide support and guidance to help the child formulate views and participate in a meaningful and safe manner.
  3. Ethical reflexivity is central to good conduct. While taking respect, benefit and justice as key and irrevocable principles of the project’s ethical code, stakeholders will use dialogue, collaboration, and critical reflection to navigate the complexity and uncertainty connected to ethical decision-making.

Ethical conduct in planning and implementation of activities linked to gathering of the visual material

  1. In any contact with children (such as – but not limited to – interviewing, painting, collection of other forms of visual/written/oral material), special attention is paid to each child’s right to privacy and confidentiality.
  2. In any contact with children (such as – but not limited to – interviewing, painting, collection of other forms of visual/written/oral material), special attention is paid to each child’s right to participation. Children’s positions are heard and respected. Children fully participate in decisions affecting them and are protected from potential and real harm and retribution.
  3. The best interests of each child are to be protected over any other consideration, including over advocacy for children’s issues and the promotion of child rights.
  4. Questions, attitudes, and comments that could be perceived as or are judgmental, insensitive to personal or cultural values, that place a child in danger or expose a child to humiliation, or that are reactivate a child’s pain and grief from traumatic events are avoided.
  5. Questions or comments that incite children to tell stories or take actions that are not a part of their own history will are avoided.
  6. Decisions and actions that discriminate or do not condemn discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, religion, socioeconomic status, marital status, political belief, mental or physical handicap, or any other preference or personal characteristic, condition or status will be avoided.
  7. No action will be taken before the child and a guardian are fully informed about the status of the facilitator and the nature of the project. Purpose of the interview or any related action and the purpose of the collected material will be fully disclosed.
  8. No action will be taken before the child and a guardian give an uncorked and informed consent (oral or written) to the interview, collection of the visual material (e.g. paintings), other forms of documentation such as videotaping of the sessions or taking documentary photographs. Consent must be obtained in circumstances that ensure that the child and guardian are not coerced in any way and that they understand that they are part of a project that might be disseminated locally and globally. This is usually only ensured if the permission is obtained in the child’s language and if the decision is made in consultation with an adult the child trusts.
  9. Special attention will be payed to the context of interaction with a child. Facilitators will assure that children are not pressured and that they feel comfortable and safe. The frequency and length of sessions will be fully adjusted to the needs of a child.

Ethical conduct in reporting on and dissemination of the collected material

  1. All information presented will be accurate and true to the child’s story or image.
  2. The information presented will at all costs avoid stigmatization of a child.  Categorizations or descriptions that present a child in a negative light or expose a child to negative reprisals – including physical or psychological harm, or to lifelong abuse, discrimination or rejection by their local communities – will be avoided.
  3. Privacy of children will be protected.  Anonymity of all participant children will be protected. An exception to this rule can be made if the participant child with a support of her/his guardian wishes to share information about her/himself  and/or her/his experiences. Safety of the child will always be put first. Anonymity of children identified as a) victims of sexual abuse or exploitation; b) perpetrators of physical or sexual abuse; c) HIV positive, or living with AIDS, d) charged or convicted of a crime will be protected without an exception.
  4. To avoid risk or potential risk of harm or retribution,  in certain circumstances anonymity of children identified as a) current or former child combatant; b) asylum seeker, a refugee or an internal displaced person will be protected.
  5. Child’s identity – their name and/or recognizable image – will be used and made known only if this is in the child’s best interest. If the child’s identity is used and made known, he/she must be protected against harm and supported through any stigmatization or reprisals.
  6. When presenting the collected material – children’s paintings and supporting written/visual material about the participating children – the choice of visual or audio background will not endanger or adversely affect the child. Also, the choice of visual or audio background will not reverse or overshadow the child’s story.

Consulted material

  • Canadian Art Therapy Association. ‘Standards of Practice.’
  • Kohli, Ravi KS, and Fiona Mitchell (eds.) ‘Working with Unaccompanied Asylum
  • Seeking Children: Issues for Policy and Practice. Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.
  • Malchiodi, Cathy A. ‘Understanding Children’s Drawings’. Guilford Press, 1998.
  • Malchiodi, Cathy, and Perry, Bruce D. (eds.) ‘Creative Interventions with Traumatized
  • Children’. Guilford Publications, 2014.
  • Unicef. “Convention on the Rights of the Child.” (1989).
  • Unicef. “The Media and Children’s Rights.” (2005)
  • Unicef. ‘Ethical Research Involving Children.” (2015)