NUI Galway Researchers Seek Children’s Voices to Study the Effects of Divorce and Separation on Children

Sep 19 2013 Posted: 09:20 IST

UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre study aims to give recognition to children’s voices

NUI Galway researchers are seeking volunteers to help answer questions about how children and young people in Ireland experience, and cope, with the process of their parents’ separation and divorce and subsequent changed family life.

The research has been approved by NUI Galway’s Ethics Committee and will be conducted by Professor Chris Curtin, Dr Bernadine Brady and Ms Ann O’Kelly at the NUI Galway UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre.

Ann O’Kelly, the main researcher on this project, is a doctoral fellow at the UNESCO Centre and is also a family mediator with the Family Mediation Service, with many years’ experience of working with parents and children who are experiencing separation and divorce.  She says “Children’s views are vital to research of this kind to develop more knowledge about what parents’ separation or divorce is like for children in Ireland and is particularly important given that separation and divorce are increasing in this country. Research of this kind has the potential to inform children, parents and policy makers about services needed by children at this time.”

Children and young people aged 8-17 years are invited to participate, provided they and their parents have given informed written consent. Informed consent means that a person gives their permission to take part in research with full knowledge of what the research is about, what it is for and what risks, if any, it might involve. The research team only will have access to the data gathered, with confidentiality being guaranteed in accordance with the NUI Galway Code of Practice relating to research data.  Each child and young person will be invited to choose a ‘nickname’ and no identifying information (such as location) will be used when reporting on the research findings.

As a family mediator with over fourteen years’ experience, the researcher is aware that speaking about sensitive issues that have occurred within a child’s or young person’s family may cause some distress and can offer assurance that the research will be conducted in a caring and sensitive manner, using tried and tested child appropriate research methods.  Details of appropriate support services will be provided to participants and their parents should a child or young person become distressed and, if necessary the research will not continue. The safety of each participant will be paramount throughout the research process and will be conducted in line with the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre’s Child Protection Policy.

The location of the interview can be decided by the volunteers. Each interview will last about one hour and will be audio recorded and may employ the use of visual aids, drawings and story-telling.  Each participant will receive a token of appreciation from the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre.

Past research has shown that children and young people benefit from participating in research of this kind, even though they may not directly reap the benefits. It has also been shown that children and young people appreciate being given an opportunity to have their views heard and are pleased to be involved in research that might bring about change for other children and young people.

Volunteers are asked to contact Ann O’Kelly at a.okelly2@nuigalway.ieor 085 7412711. Ann will answer questions and provide more information for parents, children and young people about the research and what it will involve.

Further information available at


Marketing and Communications Office


Featured Stories