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Protecting the children of Tanzania and Zanzibar

In 2011, UNICEF commissioned an extensive study of violence against children in Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar revealing alarmingly high levels of physical, emotional and sexual violence against children. In 2014 The Centre for Applied Childhood Youth and Family Research at the University of Huddersfield was commissioned by UNICEF Tanzania to undertake a follow up study exploring the role of Knowledge Attitudes and Practices that give rise to violence against children.

Expertise at Huddersfield

The Centre for Applied Childhood Youth and Family Research has an established international reputation in research concerning violence and abuse against children as well as participatory action research with children and communities.

Developing a deeper understanding to inform policy and programming

The aim of the study was to gain a better understanding of the drivers of violence against children and the possibilities for developing a protective environment for children. The overall purpose of the research is to inform policy and programme development whilst at the same time build capacity at a local level through community engagement.

International collaboration

The study was undertaken between October 2014 and December 2015 in 10 regions across mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar and involved a collaboration with Mzumbe University in Tanzania. A team of 10 researchers from Mzumbe University and 20 community researchers from each of the 10 regions were trained by University of Huddersfield staff to undertake the field work.

Community action research

The research was conducted in two phases. The first phase involved focus groups with children, parents, community leaders and professionals in each region. The second phase involved a community action research process involving a total of 60 research workshops. Action research is a different sort of research. Instead of collecting data, action research involves a process of ‘learning for change’ in which participants critically reflect on their own values and practices in order to consider possibilities for change. In this research, issues and questions emerging from the focus groups were explored further in a participatory appraisal process to map attitudes and practices in the community. Parents and community leaders then engaged in critical reflection and dialogue in response to findings, with a view to exploring possibilities for developing a protective environment for children.

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[Image caption: Adults involved in participatory appraisal of values and practices relating to violence against children]

Giving children and young people a voice

In parallel to the adult community action research groups, participatory research with children and young people aged 11-18 years was undertaken in each area. The voices of children are often overlooked in Tanzania, so in this study emphasis was placed on ensuring children and young people had an opportunity to share their views and experiences of violence.

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[Image caption: Young people working together to map violence in their community]

Policy and programme development

UNICEF along with other NGOs (non-governmental organisations) is working with the government in Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar to improve child protection. In January 2016 two national workshops were facilitated by the University of Huddersfield during which national stakeholders engaged with the findings from the study and discussed implications for policy and programme development. Findings from this study will feed into the next 10 year strategy to reduce violence against children in Tanzania. At the same time emphasis was placed on building capacity at a local level by engaging community members and local stakeholders as research partners and agents of change. Their role is to activate learning and development at a local level to respond to violence against children.

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[Image caption: National stakeholders engaging with research findings]

Future research

A subsequent proposal has been submitted to the Oak Foundation for a study of Healthy Relationships in Adolescence, which is a participatory action research project with young people to develop preventative strategies in response to sexual abuse and exploitation.

This project consolidates the reputation of the Centre for Applied Childhood Youth and Family Research for high quality research in the field of child abuse and exploitation.

For further information contact the project leader:

Professor Barry Percy-Smith
Email: b.percy-smith@hud.ac.uk

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