Childrearing Practices Among Sub-Saharan African Migrants in Australia: a Systematic Review
Australian Child Protection practitioners who work with children from sub-Saharan African migrant backgrounds often face challenges when applying child protection laws and policies to address childrearing and parenting issues. The aim of this study is to examine the influence of cultural beliefs, values, attitudes and practices on childrearing practices within sub-Saharan African communities.
The systematic review was guided by the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses statement. Databases searched included Science Direct, ProQuest Central, Embase, EbescoHOST (Medline; PsychINFO; CINAHL; ERIC; SocINDEX; PsycARTICLES), Web of Science (SCI-EXPANDED; SSCI) and Google Scholar; the search dates were from January 2000 to December 2016. The studies were assessed using the Consolidated Criteria for Reporting Qualitative Research (COREQ) and the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational studies in Epidemiology guidelines (STROBE). The search strategy identified 2631 articles, of which 57 met the inclusion criteria for the review. Participants were children aged from three months old to seventeen years and adults aged eighteen years or older.
Data analysis resulted in 7 primary themes: Illness Conception, Traditional Beliefs and Health-seeking Behaviour; Fosterage and Community Responsibility; Family Dynamics; Discipline; Child Spirits and the Supernatural; Body Stimulation; and Female Genital Mutilation.
Framed within the acculturation theory, the review identifies important factors that converge to provide insight into the specific caregiving context of sub-Saharan African families. It further makes clear that, for the most part, the childrearing practices of sub-Saharan African migrants who settle in Australia are influenced by their cultural values and norms.
KeywordsChildrearing Parenting Styles Culture Child Protection Sub-Saharan Africa
H.M. conceptualised and executed the study, analysed the data and led the write up of the manuscript. B.M. contributed to review and analysis of the data. B.S. contributed to the write up of the manuscript and reviewed its content. N.W. contributed to the data search strategy, and A.R. contributed to the design of the project and evaluated the study concept and materials. All authors contributed to the development of this manuscript, reviewed drafts and approved the final version.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.
- Ababio, A. M. (2000). Challenges to the application of international women’s human rights in Ghana. Canadian Woman Studies, 20(3), 167–171.Google Scholar
- ABS (2011). 16th Census of population and housing. http://www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/censushome.nsf/home/historicaldata2011?opendocument&navpos=280.
- ABS (2016a). 2071.0—Census of population and housing: reflecting Australia—stories from the census, 2016 http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/2071.0~2016~Main%20Features~Cultural%20Diversity%20Article~60.
- ABS (2016b). Cultural diversity in Australia. http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/2071.0~2016~Main%20Features~Cultural%20Diversity%20Article~20?OpenDocument&ref=story. Accessed 27 July 2017.
- Abubakar, A., Holding, P., Mwangome, M., & Maitland, K. (2011). Maternal perceptions of factors contributing to severe under-nutrition among children in a rural African setting. Rural & Remote Health, 11(1), 1–11.Google Scholar
- Abubakar, A., Van Baar, A., Fischer, R., Bomu, G., Gona, J.K., & Newton, C.R. (2013). Socio-cultural determinants of health-seeking behaviour on the Kenyan Coast: a qualitative study. Plos One, 8(11). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0071998.
- AIFS (2017). Corporal punishment: key issues. https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/publications/corporal-punishment-key-issues.
- AIHW (2012). A picture of Australia’s children 2012. In C. AIHW (Ed.). (Vol. Cat. no. PHE167). Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.Google Scholar
- Amos, P. M. (2013). Parenting and culture–evidence from some African communities parenting in South American and African contexts: IntechOpen - Open Access - https://www.intechopen.com/books/parenting-in-south-american-and-african-contexts/parenting-andculture-evidence-from-some-african-communities.
- Anane-Agyei, A. (2002). Working with Black African children and families: a report on two one day workshops held in April and September 2001. London, UK: Learning Design Ltd.Google Scholar
- Australian Government (2014). Child Protection Australia 2013–2014. In C. Australia Institute of Health and Welfare (Ed.).Google Scholar
- Ayokunle, A. M., Wuraola, A. G., & Obuchi, D. (2013). Influence of socio-cultural factors on child’s upbringing in Oshodi/Isolo Local Government Area of Lagos State, Nigeria. IFE Psychologia, 21(1), 206–216.Google Scholar
- Bakshi, S. S., McMahon, S., George, A., Yumkella, F., Bangura, P., & Kabano, A., et al. (2013). The role of traditional treatment on health care seeking by caregivers for sick children in Sierra Leone: results of a baseline survey. Acta Tropica, 127(1), 46–52. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actatropica.2013.03.010.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Bartolomei, L., Eckert, R., & Pittaway, E. (2014). “What happens there… follows us here”: resettled but still at risk: refugee women and girls in Australia. Refuge, 30(2), 45–56.Google Scholar
- Betancourt, T. S., Williams, T. P., Kellner, S. E., Gebre-Medhin, J., Hann, K., & Kayiteshonga, Y. (2012). Interrelatedness of child health, protection and well-being: an application of the SAFE model in Rwanda. Social Science & Medicine, 74(10), 1504–1511. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.01.030.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Bukuluki, P. (2013). “When I steal, it is for the benefit of me and you”: is collectivism engendering corruption in Uganda? International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences, 5, 27–44. https://doi.org/10.18052/www.scipress.com/ILSHS.5.27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Carra, C., Lavelli, M., & Keller, H. (2014). Differences in practices of body stimulation during the first 3 months: ethnotheories and behaviors of Italian mothers and West African immigrant mothers. Infant Behavior & Development, 37(1), 5–15. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.infbeh.2013.10.004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Coleman, M., Ganong, L. H., Clark, J. M., & Madsen, R. (1989). Parenting perceptions in rural and urban families: is there a difference? Journal of Marriage and the Family, 51(2), 329–335.Google Scholar
- Crimes Act (1900). Australia: Austlii—New South Wales Consolidated Acts.Google Scholar
- Degni, F., Pöntinen, S., & Mölsä, M. (2006). Somali parents’ experiences of bringing up children in Finland: exploring social-cultural change within migrant households. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 7(3). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-7.3.139.
- Fakunmoju, S. B., Bammeke, F. O., Antwi Bosiakoh, T., Asante, R. K. B., Wooten, N. R., & Hill, A. C., et al. (2013). Perception and determination of child maltreatment: exploratory comparisons across three countries. Children and Youth Services Review, 35(9), 1418–1430. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2013.06.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Ferraro, G. P. (2002). The cultural dimension of international business. 4th edn. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
- Futterman, M. (2003). Seeking a standard: reconciling child abuse and condoned child rearing practices among different cultures. The University of Miami Inter-American Law Review, 34(3), 491–514.Google Scholar
- Hofstede, G. (2004–2015). Clearly cultural: making sense of cross cultural communication. http://www.clearlycultural.com/geert-hofstede-cultural-dimensions/power-distance-index/.
- Hofstede, G. (2011). Dimensionalizing cultures: the hofstede model in context. Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, 2(1). https://doi.org/10.9707/2307-0919.1014.
- Hofstede, G., Hofstede, G. J., & Minkov, M. (2010). Cultures and organizations: software of the mind—intercultural cooperation and its importance for survival. 3rd edn. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Inc.Google Scholar
- Hugo, G. (2009). Migration between Africa and Australia: a demographic perspective. Background paper for African Australians: a review of human rights and social inclusion issues. Australian Human Rights Commission. Sydney, Australia: Australian Human Rights Commission.Google Scholar
- Isiugo-Abanihe, U. C. (1991). Parenthood in Sub-Saharan Africa: child fostering and its relationship with fertility. In T. Locoh, and V. Hertrich (Eds). The onset of fertility transition in Sub-Saharan Africa. Liège: Derouaux Ordina Editions.Google Scholar
- Jakubowicz, A. (2010). Australia’s migration policies: African dimensions. Background paper for African Australians: a review of human rights and social inclusion issues. Australian Human Rights Comission.Google Scholar
- Johnsdotter, S., Moussa, K., Carlbom, A., Aregai, R., & Essén, B. (2009). “Never my daughters”: a qualitative study regarding attitude change toward female genital cutting among Ethiopian and Eritrean families in Sweden. Health Care for Women International, 30(1–2), 114–133. https://doi.org/10.1080/07399330802523741.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Katz, I., Corlyon, J., Placa, V.L., & Hunter, S. (2007). The relationship between parenting and poverty. Community Care (79).Google Scholar
- Kaur, J. (2009). Developing “culturally sensitive” practice when working with CALD communities in child protection: an Australian exploratory study. Developing Practice: The Child, Youth and Family Work Journal, 23, 22–24.Google Scholar
- Kaur, J. (2012). Cultural Diversity and child protection: a review of the Australian research on the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) and refugee children and families. Queensland, Australia: JK Diversity Consultants.Google Scholar
- Lewig, K., Arney, F., & Salveron, M. (2010). Challenges to parenting in a new culture: implications for child and family welfare. Evaluation and Program Planning, 33(3), 324–332. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2009.05.002.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Lynn, J., Roona, S., & Ruth, L. (2011). Researching families and relationships. (pp. 232) Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Marcus, R. (2014). Poverty and violations of children’s right to protection in low-and middle-income countries: a review of the evidence. London: Overseas Development Institute.Google Scholar
- Marlowe, J., Harris, A., & Lyons, T. (2014). South Sudanese diaspora in Australia and New Zealand: reconciling the past with the present. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.Google Scholar
- McEvoy, M., Lee, C., O’Neill, A., Groisman, A., Roberts-Butelman, K., & Dinghra, K., et al. (2005). Are there universal parenting concepts among culturally diverse families in an inner-city pediatric clinic? Journal of Pediatric Health Care, 19(3), 142–150. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pedhc.2004.10.007.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Mendes, P., Snow, P., & Baidawi, S. (2014). Some ethical considerations associated with researching young people transitioning from out-of-home care. Communities, Children and Families Australia, 8(2), 81–92.Google Scholar
- Mills, M. (2014). Globalisation and family life. In A. Abela and J. Walker (Eds), Contemporary issues in family studies: global perspectives on partnerships, parenting and support in a changing world (pp. 249–261). West Sussex, UK: Wiley Blackwell, West Sussex.Google Scholar
- Moher, D., Liberati, A., Tetzlaff, J., & Altman, D. G. (2009). Preferred reporting Items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: The PRISMA statement. Annals of Internal Medicine, 151(4), 264–269. https://doi.org/10.7326/0003-4819-151-4-200908180-00135.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Mudany, M. A., Nduati, R., Mboori-Ngacha, D., & Rutherford, G. W. (2013). Perceptions of child discipline and its contributions to child abuse in a low-income community in Nairobi, Kenya. Paediatrics and International Child Health, 33(4), 228–232. https://doi.org/10.1179/2046905513Y.0000000071.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Neumann, K. (2013). The resettlement of refugees in Australia: a bibliography. http://apo.org.au/files/Resource/resettlement%20bibliography.
- Obiakor, F. E., & Afolayan, M. O. (2007). African immigrant families in the United States: surviving the sociocultural tide. Family Journal, 15(3), 265–270.Google Scholar
- Okafor, C. B. (2003). Child rearing practices in eastern Nigeria: implications for social work in the United States. International Journal of Global Health, 2(2), 4–20.Google Scholar
- Pittaway, E., Muli, C., & Shteir, S. (2009). “I have a voice—hear me!” Findings of an Australian study examining the resettlement and integration experience of refugees and migrants from the Horn of Africa in Australia. Refuge, 26(2), 133–146.Google Scholar
- Purcell-Gates, V., Lenters, K., McTavish, M., & Anderson, J. (2014). Working with different cultural patterns & beliefs: teachers & families learning together. Multicultural Education, 21(3-4), 17–22.Google Scholar
- Rasmussen, A., Akinsulure-Smith, A., Chu, T., & Keatley, E. (2012). “911” among West African immigrants in New York City: a qualitative study of parents’ disciplinary practices and their perceptions of child welfare authorities. Social Science & Medicine, 75(3), 516–525. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.03.042.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Renzaho, A., McCabe, M., & Sainsbury, W. (2011). Parenting, role reversals and the preservation of cultural values among Arabic speaking migrant families in Melbourne, Australia. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 35(4), 416–424. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2010.09.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Renzaho, A. M. (2009). Immigration and social exclusion: examining health inequalities of immigrants through acculturation lenses. In A. Taket, B. R. Crisp, A. Nevill, G. Lamaro, M. Graham & S. Barter-Godfrey (Eds), Theorising Social Exclusion (pp. 117–126). Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Roelandts, L. (2016). The impact of a parenting training on parental monitoring in rural Ethiopia. Unpublished Master Thesis, Utrecht, The Netherlands: University of Utrecht.Google Scholar
- Sawrikar, P. (2009). Culturally appropriate service provision for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) children and families in the New South Wales (NSW) child protection system (CPS). Sydney, NSW: Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales.Google Scholar
- Stevenson-Hinde, J. (1998). Parenting in different cultures: time to focus. Developmental Psychology, 34(4), 698–700.Google Scholar
- T’shaka, O. (1995). Return to the African mother principle of male and female equality. Pan African Publishers and Distributors, Oakland, CA: Pan African.Google Scholar
- Togo, P. (2006). The nexus of parenting practices and acculturation challenges among African immigrants and refugees in the United States. Ann Arbor, MI: ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.Google Scholar
- Triandis, H. (1994). Culture and social behaviour. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Inc.Google Scholar
- United Nations. (2001–2018). The Report on the World Social Situation (RWSS). https://www.un.org/development/desa/dspd/report-on-the-world-social-situation-rwss-social-policy-and-development-division.html.
- United Nations (2017). Country classification - data sources, country classifications and aggregation methodology. Statistical Annex: Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP): New York.Google Scholar
- United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). (2001–2018). Resettlement. http://www.unhcr.org/en-au/resettlement.html. Accessed 05 Apr 2018.
- United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) (2011). Resettlement handbook. http://www.unhcr.org/46f7c0ee2.pdf.
- United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) (2009). Promoting synergies between child protection and social protection: West and Central Africa. Child Protection and Social Protection Synergies Regional Thematic Report 5 Study (UNICEF Regional Office for West and CentralAfrica).Google Scholar
- Von Elm, E., Altman, D. G., Egger, M., Pocock, S. J., Gøtzsche, P. C., & Vandenbroucke, J. P., et al. (2014). The strengthening the reporting of observational studies in epidemiology (STROBE) statement: guidelines for reporting observational studies. International Journal of Surgery, 12(12), 1495–1499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Wali, N., Georgeou, N., & Renzaho, A. M. N. (2018). ‘Life is pulled back by such things’: intersections between language acquisition, qualifications, employment and access to settlement services among migrants in Western Sydney. Journal of Intercultural Studies, 39(1), 85–101. https://doi.org/10.1080/07256868.2017.1410114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Wilson, A., & Renzaho, A. (2015). Intergenerational differences in acculturation experiences, food beliefs and perceived health risks among refugees from the Horn of Africa in Melbourne, Australia. Public Health Nutrition, 18(1), 176–188. https://doi.org/10.1017/s1368980013003467.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- World Health Organization. (2014). Programme on traditional medicine. WHO traditional medicine strategy 2014–2023. http://www.who.int/traditional-complementary-integrative-medicine/publications/trm_strategy14_23/en/.
- World Health Organization (2017). Female genital mutilation. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/.