Youth and Philanthropy Initiative

Student Care & Ethics

The material on this page was adapted from the work of Dr. Sherene H. Razack and Dr. Elizabeth Ellsworth, scholars in the areas of critical race theory, social change and public pedagogy (i.e. how we teach) who have been advocating for the rights of students for over two decades. 

YPI strongly believes in centering youth voices and experiences in ways that are authentic, respectful and ethical to all those involved. During the course of YPI, many students may feel strongly about talking about issues, events, and local charities that are personally relevant to them.

The aim of this document is to encourage students to reflect on the following key ethical considerations during their experience with YPI. Underpinning each of these considerations is the position that students have the right to have their voices, experiences, expertise be heard and learning needs and exceptionalities met throughout YPI, while also protecting their own, and others’, privacy. 

1. Personal Stories

Students, you do not need to share your own personal story about experiencing or overcoming a social justice issue in order to be valued, important, or heard, or to help people understand that your chosen charity is doing valuable work. As an alternative to telling your personal story, you can show how important the social issue is to you through how you speak about it, what information you present, and by promoting ways to support their work through meaningful action.

2. Privacy & Digital Imprint

Anything shared over the internet can stay there forever. Students should be aware that any photos, videos, digital products/presentations and any other digital media captured and created through their YPI experience could be seen by classmates, the larger school community, parents/guardians, other members of the community, and sometimes people you may not directly know. Anything shared online could resurface in the future, and could have consequences on mental health and well-being.

3. Permission & Consent

Unless you have full consent and permission, it may not be your story to tell. Sometimes, when we feel inspired or moved by something, we might share personal stories we have heard from our friends, siblings, extended family, community members, and even acquaintances. While our intention might be good, the impact is that we are sharing a story and personal information about an individual that is not ours to share, and it might have consequences that we are not aware of.

At times, we may be directly or indirectly impacted by the same social issue, but that does not mean we have the same experiences or outcomes from that interaction. Sometimes, when we know someone who has personally lived through a social issue or injustice, like a family member or a friend, we sometimes may unintentionally claim their story as ours, as well as their struggle as our struggle. This can be harmful because living with someone who has faced injustice is not the same thing as facing that injustice yourself.

For Example

If you live with someone who has a disability, has lived in poverty, has experienced assault or violence, it is best not to share these stories without their permission and consent. Sometimes, even when we mean to do the right thing, we might actually be hurting the person we care about indirectly.
Lightbulb icon

1. Sherene H. Razack (2007) Stealing the Pain of Others: Reflections on Canadian Humanitarian Responses, Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies, 29:4, 375-394.

See also: Ellsworth, Elizabeth. “Why Doesn’t This Feel Empowering? Working Through the Repressive Myths of Critical Pedagogy.” Harvard Educational Review. Sep. 1989: 297-325.