The perceived risk and protective factors that play a role in the psycho-social well-being of children in middle childhood in a rural high-risk community
Mosang, Tebogo Bridgette
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This study focuses on the perceived risk and protective factors that play a role in the psycho-social well-being of children in middle childhood in a rural high-risk community. Middle childhood can be a period of significant challenges for many children as they may struggle to adapt to the demands of this life phase and their external environment. Research has shown that negative experiences in middle childhood hold long-lasting and detrimental consequences for the child. The external environment of the child is central for positive development and quality of life. The situation is even worse for children who live in a rural high-risk community, facing many environmental risks and the impact of their parents’ poverty. The current research took place in the Magogong Village in Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati District, Greater Taung Local Municipality in the North-West Province of South Africa. This environment represents a blueprint of a rural high-risk environment. Many studies on risk and protective factors over decades indicate that the individual develops in continual interaction with the environment. It is reasoned that individual change is unlikely without social change in contexts where there are significant social, economic, and political challenges. Therefore, if health workers such as social workers have the information and skills to influence both individual psychological factors and the social determinants of well-being, then they have a toolbox of appropriate equipment to use and to broaden interventions beyond those focused on individuals or immediate family members. This qualitative study used a qualitative descriptive research design and data were collected via individual interviews (parent participants) and focus group discussions (teacher participants). Thematic and content analysis were used allowing for an inductive process. Four main themes were identified as the findings of this research. The first two themes display the negative influences of a disempowering setting. The first theme highlights that children in middle childhood are continuously being exposed to unhealthy lifestyles such as substance abuse and violence in this rural high-risk community. The second theme shows the dangers for families and family functioning associated with poverty and crime, and the many implications for daily survival within this context. The remaining themes raise the importance of all stakeholders involved to develop resources, namely a safe environment, as well as supportive adults for the optimal growth and development of children in middle childhood in this community. Although valuable information was collected, it is a limitation of the study that individual interviews with parent participants were mainly conducted with female participants; data obtained from male participants could add even richer information. It is recommended that future research should look at effective interventions within the South African context of high-risk communities to enhance children in middle childhood’s psycho-social well-being via the strengthening of families as well as the children’s psychological well-being. These efforts should include all relevant stakeholders in particular communities. The main contribution of this research is to emphasize the urgency to think beyond mere poverty eradication towards the resilient living of South African children in the selected community.
- Health Sciences