Active parental consent in school-based research: An examination of ethical and methodological issues

Finn Aage Esbensen, Elizabeth Piper Deschenes, Ronald E. Vogel, Madeline Jennifer West, Karen Arboit, Lesley Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

77 Scopus citations


To date, most school-based research has used passive parental consent. However, the Family Privacy Protection Act of 1995 aims to change these requirements. The proposed legislation requires written parental consent if minors are to be asked "sensitive" questions as part of any program or activity funded in whole or in part by the federal government. This act is representative of a growing trend toward restricting research involving minors. Whether or not this act is passed by Congress, two lines of concern are highlighted by this legislation. The first deals with ethical issues surrounding consent procedures. For instance, are parental rights compromised when active consent is not mandated? A second line of inquiry pertains to the effect of active consent procedures on response rates and sample bias. In this article, the authors discuss ethical issues surrounding passive and active consent procedures and then report response rates from two projects in which active consent procedures were implemented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)737-753
Number of pages17
JournalEvaluation Review
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1996


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences(all)

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