A major part of research is getting permission from the subjects… this becomes even more difficult when the subjects are minors. Standing in the way of unrestricted access to research data are gatekeepers – when dealing with youth, gatekeepers usually present themselves in the form of adults responsible for those children. I don't think I ever truly realized that there are so many hurdles to jump when trying to permission to talk to a group of kids. Building upon my last post, I bring up the role that ethics play – as a researcher you want to make sure that you're protecting those you are studying as well as yourself. If you make sure you go through the proper channels and have all the necessary paperwork there should be no reason that you'd get in trouble with the gatekeepers involved… unless something unsettling happens during the research itself and in that case, keeping those same gatekeepers in the loop should save your tail.
Collecting research is tough on its own, and when you need to jump through hoops in order to have the opportunity to meet with potential sources of information a lot of stress is added to the shoulders of the researcher. This is why I think that being open is key, with the exception of confidentiality of responses, unless there's a pressing need with someone's safety.
In the type of research that I would like to do, I think that I will mostly be dealing with getting permission from library officials as well as the parents or guardians of the individuals who are minors. The research question that I'd like answered is one about how teen reading habits are impacted by adults' perception/definition of reading. More and more teens are reading magazines, newspapers, and online blogs and sites. These should still be considered reading. I think I would have to approach teens, their parents, and other adults that influence reading choices. I know I'd have to approach the library and its officials, local schools and their officials, teachers, parents/guardians and students themselves. I think that I would need to also present myself in a way that makes the teens see me as a person who understands that reading can come in many forms so that they see me as on their side, like Madeline Leonard states in her essay in the book Representing Youth.
Leonard, M. (2007) With a capital "G": Gatekeepers and gatekeeping in research with children. In Best, A. L. (Ed.), Representing Youth: Methodological Issues in Critical Youth Studies. (pp. 133-156). New York: New York University Press.