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Collecting Informed Consent with Juvenile Justice Populations: Issues and Implications for Research


Correspondence to: Naomi E. S. Goldstein, Department of Psychology, Drexel University, MS 626, 1505 Race Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102, USA. Email:


Researchers must provide participants with opportunities to make informed decisions about whether to participate in research studies. Investigators conducting research with youth in the juvenile justice system face unique ethical, legal, and practical challenges to obtaining informed consent. Juvenile justice researchers must navigate multiple legal and ethical standards for collecting informed consent, take into account youths’ dual vulnerabilities as children and prisoners, and overcome practical limitations to obtaining parental/guardian permission. Given the challenges and complexity of obtaining standard informed consent of youth in juvenile justice facilities, this paper provides suggestions for overcoming obstacles to recruiting these youth for research participation. It offers guidance for fostering the enrollment of juvenile justice youth in research studies using procedures that comply with ethical and legal standards for research with this dually vulnerable population. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.