Imagine a world where each child has the right to live in a happy family that is full of hope, where children can play in clean playgrounds, where no child is beaten or hit with a piece of wood, belt or hanger, or is cursed, pinched, slapped, or made to kneel on mung beans.
That was the dream of a non-violent and non-discriminatory family and community expressed by a group of street youth in Manila (1).
Such a dream is something we strive for in our work to combat child maltreatment worldwide. It is not something that will be easily achieved, but we need to do all we can to promote it through education, family support and early intervention, services for abused children, legislation, and research. It is fitting, therefore, that our final issue in the 25th anniversary volume of Child Abuse Review, now available online, should focus on research from different countries, bringing a global perspective on different aspects of safeguarding children.
The research being reported by Daniel Wartenweiler and Roseann Mansukhani in this issue is a powerful example of what can be achieved through participatory work with young people in a resource-poor setting. The 11 young people who took part in the research reported often quite disturbing examples of both physical and verbal abuse within the guise of discipline. The young people reported feelings of rejection, anger and resentment, rifts in the parent-child relationship, and defiant behaviours as a result. However, their participation in the research project truly empowered them and enabled them to effect change in their relationships and their community.
‘From the safety of their storytelling, [the young people] had made the transition to the bigger world, and from being hidden and disempowered, they had become actors on social transformation. Because they had been empowered themselves, they now wanted other children to become empowered too.’
As part of the research project, the young people themselves decided to produce a short video, communicating what they wanted to say about corporal punishment, and to show the video to parents from their community. An abbreviated version of the video with English subtitles is available online (https://youtu.be/dP5nFhj_9O4) and is well worth watching.
Most impressive, however, were the reported changes following the parents’ meeting, with most participants reporting changes in parental discipline and parent-child relationships, summed up in the experience of one young person who had previously reported that:
‘Sometimes […] she [mother] shamed me in front of my friends and she took my clothes off in front of many people. Sometimes she tied me to a pedicab with a chain. Sometimes she beat me and she banged my head on the steel bars.’
Following the project, this young person reported that she had returned to live with her mother, and that their relationship had improved:
‘I am not scared anymore because I know my mother is now listening to my problems and to my feelings’
As well as Wartenweiler and Mansukhani’s inspiring work from the Philippines, this issue of Child Abuse Review also features research from Kenya, Nigeria, Ukraine, Romania, Lithuania and the USA.
Olusesan Ayodeji Makinde’s paper on infant trafficking and baby factories in Nigeria makes disturbing reading, but brings to light a crucial issue and presents a challenge to the international community in relation to infant trafficking for adoption and exploitation.
There are some equally challenging issues in relation to institutional care and international adoption flagged up in papers by Lavinia Barone and her colleagues, and by Shihning Chou and Kevin Browne.
You can read my editorial (free open access) and see the other papers (BASPCAN members and subscription only – sorry) by clicking on the links below. I hope you will take the time to read these, and that you, like me, will be both challenged and inspired.
Table of Contents
Peter Sidebotham Kneeling on Mung Beans (pages 405–409)
Daniel Wartenweiler and Roseann Mansukhani Participatory Action Research with Filipino Street Youth: Their Voice and Action against Corporal Punishment (pages 410–423)
Toby Candler, Hannah Gannon and John Wachira Child Protection in a Low-Resource Setting: Experiences From Paediatric Professionals in Kenya (pages 424–432)
Olusesan Ayodeji Makinde Infant Trafficking and Baby Factories: A New Tale of Child Abuse in Nigeria (pages 433–443)
Shihning Chou and Kevin D. Browne The Relationship over Time between International Adoption and Institutional Care in Romania and Lithuania (pages 444–453)
Lavinia Barone, Antonio Dellagiulia and Francesca Lionetti When the Primary Caregiver is Missing: Investigating Proximal and Distal Variables Involved in Institutionalised Children’s Adjustment (pages 454–468)
Marina Lalayants and Jonathan D. Prince Child Neglect and Onset of Substance Use Disorders among Child Welfare-Involved Adolescents (pages 469–478)
- Wartenweiler D, Mansukhani R. Participatory Action Research with Filipino Street Youth: Their Voice and Action against Corporal Punishment. Child Abuse Review. 2016;25(6):n/a-n/a.