Research Participants Telling the Truth About Their Lives: The Ethics of Asking and Not Asking about Abuse
Becker-Blease, Kathryn A., and Jennier J. Freyd. “Research Participants Telling the Truth about Their Lives: The Ethics of Asking and Not Asking about Abuse.” American Psychologist 61, no. 3 (April 2006): 218–26.
Participants themselves provide information that both adds to the overall accuracy of information on abuse and is unavailable in any other way. Finkelhor and Hashima (2001) found that caretaker reports of physical abuse resulted in twice the incidence reported by child protective agencies. Hardt and Rutter (2004) reviewed studies that included both retrospective and corroborative reports of abuse. They concluded that adult retrospective reports underrepresent the true prevalence of maltreatment and do not inflate estimates. (218)
In the end, we conclude that carefully asking about abuse is not only ethically defensible, but required. (218)