Maintaining Safety Nets and Peace for Children and Youth at Risk

Maintaining Safety Nets and Peace for Children and Youth at Risk

Jenny Shumba (University of Fort Hare, South Africa), Symphorosa Rembe (University of Fort Hare, South Africa), Toyin Adewumi (University of Fort Hare, South Africa), Henry Chinhara (University of Fort Hare, South Africa), Sibangani Shumba (University of Fort Hare, South Africa) and Cosmas Maphosa (University of Fort Hare, South Africa)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7476-7.ch005

Abstract

A safe school environment is conducive for learning at all levels of education. However, schools sometimes enroll children who are generally at risk due to various factors. The chapter discussed how schools and early childhood centers (ECD) can maintain safety and peace for children and youths in their care. By virtue of their age, young children are a population at risk as they depend on adults for their sustenance. A safe environment for children entails physical safety, mental health, social security, and nutrition. The chapter focused on safety nets, strategies/models of maintaining safety, peace projects for children and youths, description of children at risk, stakeholders in maintaining safety, risk factors affecting children and youths. It presents Bronfenbrenner's ecological systems theory that informs the role of systems surrounding the child in maintaining safety nets and peace. The chapter proffers a model that can be adopted to maintain safety nets and peace.
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Introduction

A safe and peaceful school environment is conducive for learning (Winslade & Williams, 2012). By virtue of their age young children are a population at risk as they depend on adults for their sustenance. Adults may supply or withdraw the benefits at any time voluntarily or unwillingly. A safe environment for the children in early childhood development centres, the foundation phase entails physical safety, mental health, social security and nutrition among others. However, schools sometimes enrol children who are generally at risk due to various factors.

Schools are regarded as microcosms of the society at large (Winslade & Williams, 2012), as such portray the ills found in the communities around them. Violence that exists in the society is thus mirrored in the school set-up. In the same vein, Noddings (2002) in Winslade and Williams (2012), opines that schools harbour conflicts among the occupants and may not be safe nor peaceful spaces and may result in the children living in perpetual fear. Noddings (2002) in Winslade & Williams (2012) further states that the fear of the occurrence or the witnessing of violence affects an individual’s ability to learn.

The objective of this chapter is to discuss how schools and early childhood centres (ECD) maintain safety and peace for children and youths in their care. The chapter carries the following sections; an introduction, a case study and a reflection; background; theoretical framework; strategies/models of maintaining safety and peace in schools and ECD centres; Peace projects in ECD centres and schools; Future research directions, Recommendations and conclusion. Case studies, reflections and talking heads are used intermittently to boost the discussion. Below is Case Study 1 depicting the harsh realities encountered by children and youths in schools and ECD centres as well as the safety nets in place for them.

Case Study 1

Mana Primary School is situated in a rural area and has a population of 525 students from different socio- economic backgrounds. Many learners fail to raise money for school fees. A few metres away lies a fee paying Misi ECD centre run by the community. Children at both institutions face many challenges such as lack of school fees, food shortage and poor health and sanitation. The environment is not safe for children as cases of child abuse and violence are rife in the community. The community with the support of non-governmental organisations and police, among others, has put in place some measures to protect children and youths from abuse and violence and to ensure that peace reigns in their area. Stakeholders (such as, teachers, police, church leaders, health personnel, community leaders, social workers) meet at regular intervals to map up strategies for improving safety for the children and youths. In both the centre and the school, children at risk (such as those affected by HIV and AIDS, children from abusive homes and those from poor backgrounds) are identified and programmes to embrace and cushion them from adversity are set up. The programmes include sourcing funds for school fees for orphans and other vulnerable children as well as providing food for them.

Reflect

  • Who are the children and youths at risk?

  • What risks and dangers do children and youths encounter as highlighted in the case study?

  • How do the stakeholders mentioned in the case study and others ensure safety and peace for the children and youths in the community?

  • How do schools and ECD centres ensure safety and peace for the children and youths in their care?

Key Terms in this Chapter

Risk Factors: Those things that increase susceptibility or vulnerability.

Cash Transfers: Payments of money to selected groups of people by the state or any other organizations in a bid to eradicate poverty.

Peace Education: Teaching and learning of principles and practices of living together in harmony.

Children’s Rights: Children’s entitlements.

Adultism: The power that adults have on children and the prejudices against young children.

Parental Involvement: When parents participate in issues that pertain to their children.

Safe Environment: An environment free of danger.

Stakeholder Participation: Involving those who are affected.

Children at Risk: These are children who are prone to various abuses.

Participation: The action of taking part.

Social Protection: Concerned with prevention and overcoming situations.

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