View Full Version : Teen input for book

Sliding Otter
06-03-2008, 05:50 PM
I am in the process of writing a book tentatively titled Commonsense Wisdom for Teens based on input from teens about their life experience in a variety of areas and my commentary on their input based on many years of individual and family therapy with teens. I have conducted some live interviews and had other teens complete questionnaires. I am interested in a broader sampling. An editor suggested gathering information online. I wonder if anyone here has had experience with such an undertaking. Two specific questions I have are how to go about the process of gathering teen information online and whether parental permission is required to use the data, assuming that replies will be kept confidential. Any help would be appreciated.



06-03-2008, 06:10 PM
There are teenagers who are members of AW. They might like to fill in your questionnaire given certain guarantees, I suppose, of security of information etc.

Sliding Otter
06-03-2008, 07:30 PM

Thanks for your reply. I had thought of the teens here but am not sure who to approach. Perhaps the moderator of the teen forum.

Sliding Otter
06-03-2008, 07:32 PM

I have thought the same thing. What I wonder about is how I would know I have parental permission for information teens send through the internet. "Is a puzzlement."



Sliding Otter
06-03-2008, 11:42 PM
Todd, I am aware of the concerns. I wrote my first novel about an abusive priest. I am wondering about dealing with them through the moderator of a teen forum such as the one at Critique Circle. Any thoughts?

06-05-2008, 04:01 PM
Great question - in my book, I interviewed numerous teenagers, but they had recently graduated. I was asking about their experience as teens, but was able to skip a lot of the parental permission piece because they were in college.

06-05-2008, 04:30 PM
You may also find success connecting with teenagers through their blogs -- or you could ask youth bloggers to visit your blog and give their input. If you published your questions on your blog, you could ask other adult and youth boggers to spread the word by linking to your questions.

Just an idea. Potentially this would all be anonymous - I don't know if that helps you or not. But also, you might determine this way the youth you'd like to follow up with. Then you only need to do the parental permission and research on the teens that seem like promising interviewees.

I could probably send some people your way if this was the format.

06-06-2008, 08:01 AM
I will provide a lengthy reply because I've gone through similar situations.

I would stay away from "research" and "data" and instead focus on interviewing sources. You will have more flexibility as a journalist and writer rather than a therapist doing research or collecting data. I know about this because I just wrote a book targeting teens and their parents yet part of my "day job" involves program development and assessment of youth programs where I interview youth or ask them to take online surveys (with their parents permission). There is a difference in the protocols.

There are four issues that I think you touch on and I offer this framework to help you:
1. consent of minors and their parents, 2. authorization to use their words or quotes in the book, 3. release of rights/release from harm, and 4. privacy.

In addition, here are some suggestions and tips, although this is offered in the spirit of writer-to-writer since I am not a lawyer:

If the subject is under 18, definitely get a signed consent (not implied) from their parents.

You might consider partnering with teen-oriented groups to streamline your efforts. For instance, could you approach the Girl Scouts? 4-H? Honor Society? What types of students are you looking to interview? Find the affinity groups to match. The organization "What Kids Can Do" published a book of first-generation college students' stories...they worked with pre-college and college organizations to identify the students. Perhaps look at their work or partner with them if need be.

Instead of youth, you could try to reach the parents first. Here's one way: I am a member of a journalist/writer source email listserv. Basically, reporters pitch their story and what kinds of sources they need. It's kind of like an uber organized classified ad. Publicists then respond if their product or client matches the pitch. As a member of this free source I'm not supposed to post the address in a public forum or blog but if you PM me I can share the website with you.

For legal issues regarding collection of information on the internet, COPPA (child online privacy protection act) covers children under the age of 13 but I don't know of anything for 13 - 18 year olds. Myspace collects tons of personal information....the difference is in usage...i.e. being very clear about how the information will be used and if and how you will ensure privacy among other protections. This is called a privacy policy. By law, every website that collects personal information is supposed to have one.

Administratively think about your capacity as a writer. What will the flow of information be and how will you best respond?

1. Recruit online, get consent, and then do phone or paper interviews? Mail, fax, or pdf consent forms?
2. Recruit in person or through partnerships , get consent, and then do online gathering of interviews? A poll, website or survey monkey-type service?

I know this is a lot to absorb but many people have helped me here and when I actually know something I feel a duty to share it. Hope this helps.

06-06-2008, 05:56 PM
Joe, You might try posting this in the 'Story Research' forum at Absolute Write for more replies.