Assent for Minors/Children
When research involves minors or individuals under the age of eighteen, assent may be required, (i.e., the minor's agreement or willingness to participate in the study). This assent is in addition to parental or guardian permission. Assent may only come from children capable of making this decision. However, parental permission may suffice when a child is not capable of making this decision. Regardless of the situation, investigators are required to provide a method of assent with their IRB proposals involving minors. Usually, consent from one parent/guardian is sufficient for research involving minimal risk or may directly benefit the child/minor. A parental/guardian consent document includes all of the required elements on the informed consent checklist.
In addition to the consent of parents or guardians, you must obtain and document the assent of children/minors who are capable of deciding whether or not to participate in your research (typically, age 8-17). The amount and complexity of information you present will vary depending upon the age and maturity of your potential subjects. A simple description might be appropriate for a 9 year-old whereas a full explanation of the required elements of informed consent may be appropriate for a 17 year-old.
A single project could require: