Research Involving Minors

When a research project involves children, (in Massachusetts, those under 18 years), permission must be obtained from a parent/legal guardian. Children above age seven should be given the opportunity to assent. Assent means the child’s affirmative agreement to participate in research; mere failure to object should not be construed as assent. The child should be given an explanation of the proposed research procedures in a language that is appropriate to the child’s age, experience and maturity. The assent document should also discuss the study purpose, any discomforts or inconveniences the child may experience if he/she agrees to participate, and that participation is voluntary.