HELP’s International Scholar Public Lecture Series kicks off March 4!

Join us for Dr. Ilina Singh’s presentation entitled Self-Control and Moral Experience: Children’s perspectives on ADHD behaviors and stimulant drug treatments

Date: March 4, 2013
Time: 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Location: Lecture Theater (Rm 102), Michael Smith Laboratories
The University of British Columbia
#301 - 2185 East Mall
Vancouver,BC V6T 1Z4

The use of stimulant drugs to treat Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has been hotly debated for decades. A wide range of stakeholders has contributed to these debates, but there has been no systematic research effort to investigate the perspectives of children. This talk reports on findings from the Wellcome Trust-funded VOICES study (Voices on Identity, Childhood, Ethics & Stimulants: Children join the debate). Using a mixed-methods, empirical ethics approach, we interviewed over 150 young people, ages 9-14, in the US and the UK to examine their perspectives on ADHD-type behaviors; drug and non-drug interventions; and moral concerns such as personal responsibility, authenticity and moral agency.

Dr. Singh will outline two distinctive ecological niches (Bronfenbrenner, 1979) described in the study: a performance niche and a conduct niche. Niche conditions make a difference to how children perceive and enact ADHD behaviors; how they experience the effects of medication; and how they conceptualize ‘good’ and ‘bad’ behavior. Across both niches there was little empirical evidence that stimulant drug treatment plays a negative role in individual moral development; in fact, stimulant drug treatment is valued by children because it supports aspects of their moral agency. However, children’s reports identify broader ethical concerns. Two of these will be discussed: children’s experience of a lack of  substantive engagement with medical professionals responsible for their care; and a neglect of environmental risk factors when treating children from socially disadvantaged backgrounds.

In closing, she will posit some implications of the VOICES study findings for an eco-bio-developmental model of child mental and behavioral health, and offer ideas for productive interdisciplinary research in this area.

Dr. Ilina Singh is Reader in Bioethics and Society in the Department for Social Science, Health and Medicine at King’s College London. She is cross-appointed to the Institute of Psychiatry. Her work examines the psycho-social and ethical implications of advances in biomedicine and neuroscience for young people and families. She is particularly interested in bringing first person perspectives of children into research, theory and policy. Current projects include: the VOICES project (Voices on Identity, Childhood, Ethics & Stimulants: Children join the debate); and an edited volume on biomarkers and bio-prediction, published in 2013 by Oxford University Press. Future projects involve a mindfulness intervention for children with behavioral difficulties; and a major research programme on ‘character’ and moral education.

To register, please click here.

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