Teachers Understanding of Child Protection Issues- Pakistan
Protecting children is a collective responsibility. Different stakeholders – including parents, teachers, and medical staff – should all be involved in the process of detecting, managing and preventing maltreatment of children. In order to do this, these stakeholders need to be adequately trained in issues of child protection. Associated laws, policies and regulating systems in the country should oversee and facilitate this process. The first step in implementing effective policies is gauging how child protection issues such as child abuse, neglect, exploitation and exposure to violence are generally understood within the social fabric. This preliminary study aimed to investigate the level of existing knowledge, as well as the associated attitudes and practices of teachers, regarding issues of child protection. In doing so, differences between school systems were also investigated. It was a quantitative study and data was compiled from four mainstream educational systems in Pakistan. 270 teachers from across Lahore participated in this study: 86 teachers from private schools, 67 teachers from public schools, 89 teachers from Islamic schools, and 27 teachers from NGO-run school settings. Results were analysed according to various issues of child protection including child physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, emotional neglect, physical neglect and exposure to violence. Results showed that only around 15 % of the participating teachers had previously received any formal training on child abuse and neglect. Although the sample of teachers in this study were more qualified than average teachers in the country and taught in well-reputed schools of the region, they showed lack of understanding in critical areas regarding child protection. This was especially the case in child physical abuse and sexual abuse. They showed a reasonably better understanding about child emotional abuse, emotional neglect, physical neglect, and exposure to violence. Across school settings, teachers from private schools showed the highest understanding regarding physical abuse and emotional neglect. Alternatively, teachers from the public-school setting showed the highest understanding of issues related to exposure to violence whereas teachers from the NGO school setting showed the highest understanding of sexual abuse, emotional neglect and physical neglect. Teachers from the Islamic school setting showed an average understanding of all issues highlighted in the study. VI In the future, the need to train teachers in the field of child protection will be necessary so they can detect, manage and prevent child maltreatment at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. This study’s results has attempted to gauge the knowledge and attitudes of teachers regarding child abuse, neglect and exposure to violence at a preliminary level. Hence, all issues that are touched upon in the study need to be thoroughly further investigated. Further research needs to be conducted regarding teachers and school characteristics associated with child maltreatment, the use of different approaches in preventing child maltreatment, and the identification of factors influencing, moderating and protecting child maltreatment as well as child protection issues in Pakistan.
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