Publications and Conference Papers

Abstracts of upcoming presentations:

York University, 11th October 2017

‘Competence, Capacity, Consent and Assent in Health, Education, Law and Social Science Research with Children and Young People’
Tracy Kirk, Northumbria University
Research across health and social sciences relating to children and young people (under 18s) is a national and global priority. Researchers face many legal and ethical issues when attempting to understand and support adolescents in areas of health – and life in general – that are ‘real but risky’, including self-harm and suicide, substance misuse and sexual behaviour. This talk will explore how the concepts of competence, capacity, consent and assent apply to health and social sciences research with adolescents. It will discuss how researchers could potentially use articles from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, in addition to Gillick competence, to maximise the autonomy and decision-making capacities of adolescents in the context of research participation. Drawing on examples from mental health and educational research, and using the social phenomenon of ‘sexting’ as a case in point, it will be argued that, to conduct meaningful research with adolescents, we must balance protecting them from harm with respecting their right to autonomy. Arguably, it is in the long-term best interests of adolescents to be included and participate in research studies about their own physical, mental and social wellbeing; to this end, we must enable adolescents to make informed decisions and to give their consent as autonomous participants.



  • The North East Law Forum, Newcastle, June 2017
    • ‘Are Abitrary Age Limits Working Against our Children? -A Comparitive Examination of the Law in Scotland with England and Wales’ – with M. Unnithan
  • Invited presentation – launch of the Child Orientated Mental health Intervention Centre (COMIC), University of York, January 2017
    • ‘Competence, Capacity, Consent and Assent in Mental Health Research with Children and Young People’
  • Contemporary Childhood Conference, Strathclyde University, September 2016
    • ‘Could the Gillick Competence test be used more widely in the private law sphere to enhance the civic participation of adolescents?’
    • ‘Could the Named Person Scheme be the catalyst needed to prompt increased discussion of children’s rights?’
  • North East Law Forum, Newcastle University June 2016
    • ‘Increased Rights for Adolescents’
  • Poster Presentations:
    • Doctoral Conference, Northumbria University, June 2016
      • Should adolescents have their own distinct set of rights, which recognises their increasing autonomy?