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‘If We Help You What Will Change?'—Participatory Research with Young People

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This article explores the ways in which young people were included as research participants in a major study on teenage pregnancy and young parenthood. The study was funded by UK government through the Teenage Pregnancy Unit (TPU) and the Department of Health (DoH) Policy Research Programme and was part of a national programme of nine projects. This project, ‘Living on the edge (LOTE): Sexual behaviour and young parenthood in seaside and rural areas' (Bell et al., 2004), took place between 2002 and 2004. It involved three seaside towns and their rural hinterlands in the North‐West, North‐East and South of England. The study was qualitative and most of the interviewees were young people in years 8, 10 and, where available, year 12 in selected secondary schools in both urban and rural areas. Additional interviews were undertaken with young people outside mainstream education, with young parents and with a small number of professionals. This article has been co‐written by a researcher on the project and two peer researchers, who are also young mothers, from one of the study sites. Legislative and ethical support for participatory research with young people is outlined, followed by an examination of a number of methodological approaches that are available in this area. The article concludes by discussing whether or not it is possible to involve young people in research in ways that are more than tokenistic. It also considers whether or not the research process, the researchers and research participants benefit from such involvement.

Keywords: Methodology; Participation; Teenage Pregnancy; Young People

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2006

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