Community Dialogues as a Strategy for Identifying and Addressing Child Protection Needs in Shinyanga, Tanzania
Developmental science is both concerned with and has accumulated a wealth of evidence around factors that support and harm child development – many of which overlap substantially with the recently agreed upon global Sustainable Development Goals, placing developmental scientists in an apt position to contribute to the realization of these goals and targets.
We present community dialogues as a participatory research and program development strategy through which developmental scientists and local community partners can collaboratively surface, discuss, address, and evaluate child protection and well-being issues in their communities. We detail our experience with a case study from Shinyanga, Tanzania, in which community-based organizations worked with adults and children to collaboratively surface and discuss child protection issues in their communities. We sought to understand the key spaces in which children spend their daily lives, and the factors in each of these spaces that harm and support child safety, health, and well-being. Findings indicated that the home, school, and playground were among the most important spaces where children spend their time. Factors promoting children’s well-being fell mostly under social-economic factors (e.g., provision of basic needs) and appropriate social-emotional climates and relationships (e.g., where affection is expressed). Factors that compromised child well-being included abuse (sexual, physical, and verbal), family conflict, early marriages, and lack of basic resources. As we discuss the findings, we reflect on strengths, limitations, and implications for our case study in particular as well as for the community dialogues methodology more broadly.
KeywordsChild protection Child rights Community dialogues Community mapping Community-based participatory research Participatory action research Qualitative methods Tanzania
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