Child Protection in Early Childhood: Professionals’ Experience towards protecting children in Early Childhood from Abuse and Neglect - A Comparative Study of Kinondoni, Ilala and Temeke Districts in Dar-es-Salaam City- Tanzania
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Early Childhood Abuse and Neglect has been a concern across the globe. Studies have shown that children in Early Childhood (0-8 years) are more victims of abuse and neglect than older children of which the most common types of maltreatments are neglect by a rate of 71% and physical abuse by a rate of 16.1%. It further shows that the severe violations come from parents, family members, teachers, employed caretakers, law enforcement authorities and other state actors. The Tanzania Law of Child Act no 21 of 2009 explains the protective needs of all children below 18 years and that in every action, the best interest of the child should be the primary consideration. Tanzania has established structures with key professionals and stakeholders that jointly intervene and ensure that the best interest of the child is highly considered. The purpose of this thesis is to examine how professionals experience and assess their work with children affected by or at risk of abuse and neglect, with a specific focus on children in early childhood (0-8 years). It is a comparative study on the experience of professionals i.e. the Social Welfare Officers, Police Officers in the Police Gender and Children Desk (PGCD) and the Medical practitioners who have mandatory responsibility towards the wellbeing and protection of the child in the 3 districts of Kinondoni, Ilala and Temeke in Dar es Salaam City-Tanzania. The thesis is based on in-depth interviews and document reviews as means of data collection. Theoretical perspectives informing the findings is based on street-level bureaucracy theory, organizational culture theory and ecological system theory. The findings indicated that the working condition of these professionals have been a major hindrance in implementing their roles to protecting these children from abuse and neglect as well as early recognition of signs of abuse have been a gap. Also, some cultures/behaviors established within organizations have shown to limit the aspiration of these professionals to implement their roles and their job performance. In addition to this, family and community systems have been major risk factors in protecting children of which the driving factors expressed by the professionals were those in relation to the poverty, harmful traditional practices, culture of silence, behavioral factors like drug use and ignorance of the community. This study also highlighted that most of the interventions are responsive in nature, demanding the need to invest further on preventive interventions to ensure children are protected at the earliest to avoid further damage.
Master i International Social Welfare and Health Policy