When an Intent to Protect becomes a License to Harm
Over the last few decades ethics committees have become a powerful force in academic life. This has not occurred in isolation but in the context of profound cultural changes that have altered social models of relationships between people. Trust has declined and suspicion increased to the point that it now seems that everyone is potentially either a victim or an abuser, terms that come with an extra charge of sexual anxiety. Suspicion is particularly aimed at anyone in a position of power or authority, including teachers, researchers and scholars. Increased restrictions placed on researchers, and justified as needed to curtail harm, represent one example of the decline of the power and prestige of the professions generally.
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