Using Vignettes in Interviews: Exploring Discourses Around Child Sexuality


In this case study, I describe the process of data gathering using vignettes in both interview and focus group contexts. Vignettes offer multiple possibilities when researching sensitive topics in which participants may experience vulnerability. This research examines understandings of sexuality in childhood. As a child and family counselor working closely with principals and teachers in primary schools, I supported schools and families responding to children’s “sexual" activity. Parents and teachers questioned the causes and effects of these children’s actions. Many adults responded from fear, naivety, confusion, and assumptions about children’s actions. These adult reactions led toward over-reactive and punitive consequences for children. Informed by adults’ discomfort and subsequent inscriptions of children’s actions as sexual, I developed six vignettes to elicit participant knowledge. I worked alongside two primary schools and a community counseling agency. In this case study, I will discuss developing the vignettes and their implementation in interviews with teachers, parents, and counselors.

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