A question of omission of care or social reciprocity? Low-income families’ perception of child neglect in Ghana
Keywords:Child neglect, Child welfare, Ghana, Parenting, Poverty
Child neglect is the most contested type of child maltreatment as its definition and measurement are more subjective, however, the less researched area of concern is the basis of its construction. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore what low-income families deem as child neglect to inform more acceptable interventions for both Social Workers and families to ensure better outcomes for children. This paper presents the findings of a pilot study in Assin Assempanaye, a low-income community in the Central Region of Ghana. Adopting an interpretative phenomenological analysis approach with an in-depth interview guide, 18 parents from different households’ views were explored using thematic analysis. The findings of the study revealed that age and expected social behaviour were the basis for neglect. Where omission of care for a child below 10 years was deemed as parental failure, for those, 10-17 years, the incidence of neglect was linked to the child’s failure to conform to the reciprocal social relationship between a parent and a child. It is suggested that Social Workers have to address adolescent neglect differently in programme interventions by also focusing on social role expectations.
Abdullah, A. (2022). Thresholds for Intervention in Child Neglect by Ordinary Citizens: Implications for Measuring Informal Social Control of Child Neglect. The British Journal of Social Work
Abdullah, A., Ayim, M., Bentum, H., and Emery, C. R. (2021) Parental poverty, physical neglect and child welfare intervention: Dilemma and constraints of child welfare workers in Ghana. Children And Youth Services Review, 126, 106036.
Abdullah, A., and Emery, C. R. (2022a) Dose–Response Relationship Between Protective Family Informal Social Control and Chronic Child Neglect: Does Household Size Matter? Journal of interpersonal violence, 08862605221123280.
Abdullah, A., and Emery, C. R. (2022b). Caregivers’ perceptions of informal social control practices to reduce child neglect: A qualitative study in Ghana. Child Abuse & Neglect, 133, 105848.
Abdullah, A., Frederico, M., Cudjoe, E., and Emery, C. R. (2020) Towards culturally specific solutions: Evidence from Ghanaian kinship caregivers on child neglect intervention. Child Abuse Review, 29(5), 402-415.
Abdullah, A., Manful, E., Cudjoe, E., and Boateng, L. K. (2021) How did I know when to report physical neglect? Ghanaian mothers’ views on delinquent child maintenance. Practice, 33(3), 233-249.
Amoah, P. A. (2020) Perceptions of neglect and well-being among independent child migrants in Ghana. Child Indicators Research, 13(2), 455-479.
Andoh, C. (2017) Child Neglect, lead cause of defilement. Accra, Ghana: Graphic Online. https://www.graphic.com.gh/features/opinion/child-defilement-a-societal-menace.html
Adonteng-Kissi, O. (2022) Cultural Responsiveness in Child Protection: Stakeholders and Parental Perceptions of Working Children and Culture-appropriate Assessment in Ghana. The British Journal of Social Work.
Arndt, C., McKAY, A. and Tarp, F. (2016) Growth and Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa. WIDER Studies in Development Economics. Oxford University Press
Barnett, S. W. and Belfield, R. C. (2006) Early Childhood Development and Social Mobility. The Future of Children, 16 (2), 73-98.
Belanger, K. (2015) Having a Rural Impact on Poverty and Child Abuse: Hope and Care for the Future. Texas: Austin State University Press.
Boakye-Boaten, A. (2010) Changes in the concept of Childhood: Implications on Children in Ghana. Journal of International Social Research, 3(10).
Bogdan, R. C. and Biklen, S. K. (2003) Qualitative research for education: An introduction to theory and methods. Boston: MA: Ally and Bacon.
Bywaters, P., Skinner, G., Cooper, A., Kennedy, E., and Malik, A. (2022) The Relationship Between Poverty and Child Abuse and Neglect: New Evidence.
Cassey, B. (2013) Performing Child Neglect in Social Work Practice (unpublished Ph.D. theses). Durham: School of Applied Social Sciences.
Canadian Incidence Survey. (2008) Canadian Incidence of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect Guidebook. Canada: Default files Publication.
Chirawurah, D., Fishkin, J., Santuah, N., Siu, A., Bawah, A., Kranjac-Berisavljevic, G., and Giles, K. (2020) Deliberation for development: Ghana’s first deliberative poll. Journal of Deliberative Democracy, 15(1).
Coe, C. (2011) What is love? The materiality of care in Ghanaian transnational families. International Migration, 49(6), 7-24.
Cooke, E., Hague, S. and McKay, A. (2016) The Ghana Poverty and Inequality Report: Using the 6th Ghana Living Standards Survey. University of Sussex.
Coope, C. M. and Theobald, S. (2006) Children at risk of neglect: Challenges faced by child protection practitioners in Guatemala City. Child Abuse and Neglect, 30, 523–536.
Daniel, B., Taylor, T., Scott, J., and Derbyshire, N. (2011) Recognising and Helping the Neglected Child: Evidence-based Practice for Assessment and Intervention. London: Jessica Kingsley.
Deb, S., and Ray, M. (2022) Child Abuse and Neglect in India, Risk Factors and Protective Measures. In Child safety, welfare and well-being (pp. 47-72). Springer, Singapore.
Doherty, P. (2017) Child protection threshold talk and ambivalent case formulations in ‘borderline care proceedings cases. Qualitative social work, 16(5), 698-716.
Doku, P. N. (2022) Child maltreatment and associated sociodemographic factors among children affected by HIV/AIDS in Ghana: a multi-informant perspective. AIDS care, 1-8.
Dolan, P., Zegarac, N., & Arsic, J. (2020) Family Support as a right of the child. Social Work and Social Sciences Review, 21(2), 8-26. https://doi.org/10.1921/swssr.v21i2.1417
Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit. (2017) Child neglect, lead cause of defilement. Accra, Ghana: Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit.
Eshetu, F., Haji, J., Ketema, M., and Mehare, A. (2022) Determinants of rural multidimensional poverty of households in Southern Ethiopia. Cogent Social Sciences, 8(1), 2123084.
Finlay, L. (2011) Phenomenology for therapists: Researching the lived world. West Sussex, United Kingdom: Wiley-Blackwell.
Forkuor, D., and Korah, A. (2022) NGOs and sustainable rural development: experience from Upper West Region of Ghana. Environment, Development and Sustainability, 1-24.
Fusch, I. P. and Ness, R. L. (2015) Are we there yet? Data saturation in qualitative research. The Qualitative Report, 20(9), pp. 1408-1416.
Geldard, D., Geldard, K., and Foo, R. Y. (2017) Basic personal counselling: A training manual for counsellors. Cengage AU. Ghana News Agency (21st January 2009). Cases of child neglect rising in Central Region.
Ghana Statistical Service. (2021) 2021 Population and Housing Census: National Analytical Report (Ghana). Accra, Ghana: Ghana Statistical Service.
Ghana Statistical Service. (2019) Ghana Living Standards Survey Round 7 – Main Report. Accra, Ghana: Ghana Statistical Service.
Ghana Statistical Service. (2018) Poverty Trends in Ghana: 2005-2017: Ghana Living Standards Survey Round 7. Accra, Ghana: Ghana Statistical Service.
Goody, E. (1970) Kinship fostering in Gonja. Socialization: The approach from social anthropology, 51-74.
Gordon, T., Booysen, F., and Mbonigaba, J. (2020) Socio-economic inequalities in the multiple dimensions of access to healthcare: the case of South Africa. BMC Public Health, 20(1), 1-13.
Gupta, A., Featherstone, B., and White, S. (2016) Reclaiming humanity: From capacities to capabilities in understanding parenting in adversity. The British Journal of Social Work, 46(2), 339-354.
Hennink, M., Hutter, I., and Bailey, A. (2020) Qualitative research methods. SAGE Publications Limited.
Herrera-Pastor, D., Frost, N., & Devaney, C. (2020). Understanding contemporary Family Support: Reflections on theoretical and conceptual frameworks. Social Work and Social Sciences Review, 21(2), 27-45. https://doi.org/10.1921/swssr.v21i2.1420
Hildyard, K. L., and Wolfe, D. A. (2007) Cognitive processes associated with child neglect. Child Abuse & Neglect, 895-907.
Hornor, G. (2014) Child neglect: Assessment and intervention. Journal of Pediatric Health Care, 28(2), 186-192.
Hotez, P. J. (2021) Forgotten people, forgotten diseases: The neglected tropical diseases and their impact on global health and development. John Wiley & Sons.
Houshyar, S. (2014) Poverty and Child Neglect: What we know and what we need to do. Child Abuse & Neglect, 10-36.
John, P. L. (2006) What is Rural? Beltsville: Rural Information Centre.
Korbin, J. (1997) Cross-cultural perspectives and research directions for the 21st century. Child Abuse and Neglect, 67-77.
Ksoll, C., Lilleør, H. B., Lønborg, J. H., & Rasmussen, O. D. (2016) Impact of Village Savings and Loan Associations: Evidence from a cluster randomized trial. Journal of Development Economics, 120, 70-85.
Laird, S. E. (2016) Protecting children from nutritional and medical neglect in sub-Saharan Africa: A five-country study. International Journal of Social Welfare, 25, 47–57.
Laverty, S. M. (2003) Hermeneutic phenomenology and phenomenology: a comparison of historical and methodological considerations. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 2:1–29.
Lawrence, R., and Irving, P. (2004) Redefining fatal child neglect. Child Abuse Prevention Issues No 21. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.
Lockhat, R. (2000) South African children: a history of adversity, violence, and trauma. Department of Psychology, University of Western Cape Town, 291-302.
Maguire-Jack, K., Yoon, S., and Hong, S. (2022) Social cohesion and informal social control as mediators between neighborhood poverty and child maltreatment. Child maltreatment, 27(3), 334-343.
Manful, E., and Abdullah, A. (2021) Conceptualisation of child neglect: A Ghanaian practice narrative. International Social Work, 64(3), 341-353.
Manful, E., Abdullah, A., and Cudjoe, E. (2020) Decision-making on child neglect: Ghanaian social workers’ views and experiences. International Journal on Child Maltreatment: Research, Policy and Practice, 3(2), 271-285.
Manful, E. and McCrystal, P. (2011). Ghana’s Children’s Act 560: A Rethink of its Implementation? International Journal of Children’s Rights, 19, 151-165.
Marvin, R. S., and Stewart, R. B. (1990) A family systems framework for the study of attachment. Attachment in the preschool years: Theory, research, and intervention, 51-86.
Mare, Y., Gecho, Y., and Mada, M. (2022). Assessment of multidimensional rural poverty in Burji and Konso area, Southern Ethiopia. International Review of Economics, 69(1), 49-69.
Mensa-Bonsu, H. J. A. N., and Dowuona-Hammond, C. (1996) The child within the Ghanaian family. The changing family in Ghana, 5-20.
McGinty, E. E., Nair, R., Assini-Meytin, L. C., Stuart, E. A., and Letourneau, E. J. (2022) Impact of medicaid expansion on reported incidents of child neglect and physical abuse. American journal of preventive medicine, 62(1), e11-e20.
McLloyd, V. (2007) The impact of economic hardship on black families and children. Child Development, 311-346.
Mellor, D., Stokes, M., Firth, L., Hayashi, Y., and Cummis, R. (2008) Need for belonging, relationship satisfaction, loneliness, and life satisfaction. Personality and individual differences, 45(3), 213-218.
Mensah, B. F., Agyaho, F. J., Kofinti, E. R and Sebu, J. (2020) Multidimensional poverty in Ghana. Accra: Ghana Statistical Service.
Mulder, T. M., Kuiperb, K. C., van der Puta, C. E., Stamsa, G. J., and Assinka, M. (2018) Risk factors for child neglect: A meta-analytic review. Child Abuse & Neglect, 77, 198–210.
Noon, E. J. (2018) Interpretive phenomenological analysis: An appropriate methodology for educational research. Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice, 6(1).
Palmer, L., Font, S., Eastman, A. L., Guo, L., and Putnam-Hornstein, E. (2022) What does child protective services investigate as neglect? A population-based study. Child maltreatment, 10775595221114144.
Platt, D., and Turney, D. (2014) Making threshold decisions in child protection: A conceptual analysis. British Journal of Social Work, 44(6), 1472-1490.
Ridge, T. (2006) Childhood poverty: a barrier to social participation and inclusion. Children, young people, and social inclusion: Participation for what, 23-38.
Rubin, A., and Babbie, E. (2011) Research Methods for Social Work. Belmont: CA: Cengage Learning Inc.
Sasu, D. D. (2022) International poverty rate in Ghana from 2017 to 2022. Accra, Ghana: Statista.
Sattler, K. M. (2022) Protective factors against child neglect among families in poverty. Child Abuse & Neglect, 124, 105438.
Sedlak, A. J., Mettenburg, J., Basena, M., Peta, I., McPherson, K., Greene, A., and Li, S. (2010) Fourth national incidence study of child abuse and neglect (NIS-4). Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services, 9, 2010.
Siedman, I. (2006) Interview as Qualitative Research: A Guide for Researchers in Education and the Social Sciences (3rd ed.). New York: Teachers College Press.
Silverman, D. (2013) Doing Qualitative Research. Los Angeles, USA: SAGE Publication.
Smith, J. A., Flowers, P., and Larkin, M. (2009) Interpretative phenomenological analysis: Theory, method and research. London: Sage Publications Ltd.
Smith, J. A., & Shinebourne, P. (2012). Interpretative phenomenological analysis. In H. Cooper, P. M. Camic, D. L. Long, A. T. Panter, D. Rindskopf, & K. J. Sher (Eds.), APA handbook of research methods in psychology, Vol. 2. Research designs: Quantitative, qualitative, neuropsychological, and biological (pp. 73–82). American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/13620-005.
Sumba, R., and Bwibo, N. (1999) Child battering in Nairobi and Kenya. East African Medical Journal, 688-692.
Svensson, R. and Johnson, B. (2022) Does it matter in what family constellations adolescents live? Reconsidering the relationship between family structure and delinquent behaviour. PLoS one, 17(4), e0265964.
The World Bank Group (2018) Poverty and shared prosperity 2018. Washington, DC: The World Bank
Turney, D. and Tanner, K. (2005) Understanding and working with neglect: Research in Practice. Every Child Matters Research Briefings, 47-56.
Twum-Danso, A. (2009a) Situating participatory methodologies in context: the impact of culture on adult-child interactions in research and other projects. Children’s Geographies, 7 (4), 379-389. DOI:10.1080/14733280903234436
Twum-Danso, A. (2009b). Reciprocity, respect and responsibility: the 3Rs underlying parent-child relationships in Ghana and the implications for children’s rights. The international journal of children’s rights, 17(3), 415-432.
Twum-Danso, A. (2009c) The construction of childhood and the socialisation of children in Ghana: Implications for the implementation of Article 12 of the CRC. In A Handbook of children and young people’s participation (pp. 155-162). Routledge.
Twum-Danso Imoh, A. (2022) Framing reciprocal obligations within intergenerational relations in Ghana through the lens of the mutuality of duty and dependence. Childhood, 29(3), 439-454.
United Nation. (2021) Reducing poverty and inequality in rural area: key to inclusive development. Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
UNICEF. (2018) Child protection regional profiles: preventing abuse and violence against children across Ghana. Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Accra.
UNICEF/GOG. (2011) Report of the Mapping and Analysis of Ghana’s Child Protection System. Kowloon, Hong Kong: Child frontiers Limited.
Uzodike, E. (1990) Child abuse and neglect in Nigeria socio-legal aspects. International Journal of Law, Policy and Family, 4 (1), 83-96.
World Bank. (2020) Ethiopia poverty assessment: Harnessing continued growth for accelerated poverty reduction. [Google scholar]
World Health Organization. (2018) Nurturing care for early childhood development: a framework for helping children survive and thrive to transform health and human potential.
Williams, S. E. (2017) Redrawing the line: An exploration of how laypeople construct child neglect. Child Abuse & Neglect, 68, 11–24.
Winsemius, H. C., Jongman, B., Veldkamp, T. I., Hallegatte, S., Bangalore, M., and Ward, P. J. (2018) Disaster risk, climate change, and poverty: assessing the global exposure of poor people to floods and droughts. Environment and Development Economics, 23(3), 328-348.
Zakaria, E., Kamarudin, N. N., Mohamad, Z. S., Suzuki, M., Rathakrishnan, B., Bikar Singh, S. S., ... and Kamaluddin, M. R. (2022) The role of family life and the influence of peer pressure on delinquency: qualitative evidence from Malaysia. International journal of environmental research and public health, 19(13), 7846.
Zamor, R. C. (2005) What is Community, and why is it important? Boston, Massachusetts: Ikeda Centre for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue.