Child abuse is of
great concern for every human being around the world. This chapter reviews the relevant researches
on child abuse in the early childhood education. The definition of child abuse will be
given. Particular attention will be
given to better empower early childhood teachers to cater for the Preschool
child in Mauritius.
2.2 Definitions of child abuse
Jonathan Davidov, Laura I Sigad, and Rachel
Lev-Wiesel Ziv Elsikovits) article first published online March31, 2016; issue
published: September 1, 2017 stated that “child abuse is a complex social
problem that cannot be understood from a single disciplinary perspective.
Successful intervention requires involvement of various professional
groups. While such cooperation has many
potential advantages, in practice, it presents challenges to effective
intervention”. (The case of child abuse
work, Jonathan Davidov, Laura I Sigad, Rachel Lev-Wiesel Ziv Elsikovits)
article first published online March31, 2016; issue published: September 1,
However the UN
world report on “Violence against children” 2006 states that child abuse is a
substantial and serious global problem. Children are abused in various settings
by different people such as parents, family members at home, by care givers and
teachers. Sexual abuse, physical and
psychological violence, and sexual harassment are forms of violence which occur
in all settings by different people. (World report on violence against
There are many types of child abuse
among which are:
Physical Abuse: Physical hitting,
unlawful corporal punishment or injury, wilfully harming or endangering a
child, hot cars.
Neglect: General and severe,
lack of basic needs, malnutrition.
Emotional Abuse: Causing psychological
or emotional instability.
Verbal Abuse: Yelling, screaming,
belittling, bullying, and cursing.
Sexual Abuse: Sexual assault,
Domestic Violence: Dysfunctional or
violent home or family.
Abandonment: Parent’s identity or whereabouts
unknown, no support.
According to common definitions,
The WHO (World Health Organisation), together
with the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect
(IPSCAN) defines Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) broadly as the involvement of a child
in sexual activity that he or she does not fully comprehend, is unable to give informed consent to, or
else that violate the laws or social taboos of society. WHO 2006: 10 (Preventing Child Sexual Abuse)
Evidence, policy and practice Stephen smallbone, William L.Marshall and Richard
Wortley published by Routledge 2014.
The WHO 2006, recognised that along with
physical abuse, neglect and negligent treatment, emotional abuse and the
commercial or other exploitation of children, CSA is one of the five types of
child abuse that is of a considerable magnitude. Early prevalence studies used broad
definitions of CSA that included behaviours such as being invited to do
something sexual, being kissed, and nongenital intercourse. There is no agreed definition of child sexual
abuse (Macdonal 2001; Trickett 2006). It
is a term used to describe a range of experiences involving a child in unwanted,
inappropriate, coercive and unlawful sexual exploitation by an adult or older
child. The WHO defines that CSA is the
involvement of a child in sexual activity that he or she does not fully
comprehend, is unable to give consent, or that violates the laws of social
taboos of society (WHO 1999, p.15)
According to the figures from the Australian
Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), rates of child abuse have increased
across the world. Dr Freya Petersen,
staff 25 Oct 2013). Across Australia,
emotional abuse was most common type of abuse followed by neglect and physical
abuse. However, sexual abuse was more
common among girls.
In Mauritius, a
rise in different types of abuses is being registered. Despite the ratification of the child’s
rights made by the Mauritian Government, the increasing number of child abuse
cases is alarming.
Mauritius was one among the countries who ratified the CRC on
the 29th July 1990. Since
Mauritius has adopted and ratified the CRC, it has the duty to protect the child
rights among which one is abuse as stated in the article 19 of the CRC
1 describes that “a child means every human being
below the age of eighteen years unless under the law applicable to the child,
majority is attained earlier”. According to the CRC the child has 42 rights
that have been internationally adopted in the general assembly of the United
Nations on the 20th November 1989 and entry into force on
the 2nd September 1990.
19 of the CRC clearly describes each stakeholder’s responsibility; 1. ” States
Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and
educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental
violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or
exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal
guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.”
Such protective measures should, as appropriate, include effective procedures
for the establishment of social programs to provide necessary support for the
child and for those who have the care of the child, as well as for other forms
of prevention and for identification, reporting, referral, investigation,
treatment and follow-up of instances of child maltreatment described
heretofore, and, as appropriate, for judicial involvement.”
Article 19 of the CRC, clearly defines the
responsibility of all stakeholders concerned with the child protection and
mainly in connection with child abuse.
Starting from the government to all people connected directly or
indirectly with the child is responsible and has the duty to protect, care and
report any type of abuse caused to a child who is under his/her responsibility.
Fayez, Hanan Mahmoud Takash & Eman Khleif Al-Zboon (2014) Combating
violence against children: Jordanian pre-service early childhood teachers’
perceptions towards child abuse and neglect, Early Child Development and Care,
184:9-10, 1485-1498, DOI: it states that Early
childhood teachers play major roles in defying child abuse and neglect and
alleviating its detrimental effects on young children. Therefore, that study
aimed at exploring how Jordanian pre-service early childhood teachers define
and perceive violence against children and their role in child abuse detection
Similarly in Mauritius also the pre primary school teachers play
an important role in caring for the young child aged 3 to 5 years. The National Curriculum Framework of the pre
primary (2010) clearly mentions that educators have an important role in the
educational life of the preschool child. It clearly describes the role of
teachers towards parents, community and children. It also mentions that teachers should respect
the CRC. . Educators are in the
perfect position to help children learn about their rights. Teachers
guide children toward understanding their rights. Educators
are also good role models for respecting the dignity and integrity of children.
Educators can engage parents, children and community members to promote
children’s rights by encouraging advocacy with local and national governments,
initiating dialogue on children’s issues and creating a forum for children to
express their opinions and views (UNICEF:
According to the National Association for the
Education of Young Children, the most important characteristic for teachers of
early childhood development is enthusiasm and passion for children. This goes
well beyond enjoying being with children. It means wanting to make a difference
to each and every child. Teachers must have the drive to unlock every child’s
door to learning, overcoming any obstacle a child may have. One of the obstacles may be child abuse.
2.3 Teachers role
Teachers have a very important role, place and
consideration in the life of a student.
Through their normal daily contact teachers can easily identify children
who are victims of child abuse. However,
they should be trained so as to be able to identify the signs of abuses. The teacher should be able to build a trust
between him/her and the child so as to be able to confirm the abuse
caused. As Erikson, the theorist clearly
points out about Trust V/S Mistrust.
Teachers should be able to put the CRC
into practice during the activities at school.
Teachers Training and empowerment
Nowadays, teacher training and
professional development are seen as central mechanisms for the improvement of
teachers’ content knowledge and their skills and practices in order to meet
high educational standards (Darling-Hammond & Mc Laughlin, 1995) cited in
the Importance of Teachers’ Training and Professional Development in the
Algerian Educational Context: Toward informed and Effective Teaching Practices
(accessed Dec 17 2017)
in the joint message of the UNESCO on the 5 October 2017 on the occasion of the World Teachers Day, it was pointed
out that “teachers are a critical foundation of every society’s
long-term strength — providing children, young people and adults with the
knowledge and skills they need to fulfill their potential. But around the
world, far too many teachers don’t have the freedom and support they need to do
their vitally important jobs. That is why the theme of this year’s World
Teachers’ Day –”Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers” – reaffirms the value
of empowered teachers and recognizes the challenges many encounter in their
professional lives across the globe”.
Therefore the quality of training is very important so as teachers can
be more empowered to cater for abused children.
Being an empowered teacher means having
access to high-quality training, fair wages, and continuous opportunities for
professional development. It also means having the freedom to support the
development of national curricula — and the professional autonomy to choose
the most appropriate methods and approaches that enable more effective,
inclusive and equitable education. Furthermore, it means being able to teach in
safety and security during times of political change, instability, and
An approach of
prevention is to train the teachers to identify and report signs of abuse and
offer support to children who have been victims of abuse. It is said that school personnel are in a
better position to observe signs of abuses (Child abuse training of teachers
significantly improve teacher’s knowledge about the signs of abuses and
increase their inclinations about reporting abuses. In Mauritius, early childhood teachers
training are provided by the Mauritius Institute of Education (MIE), the Open
University (OU), the Charles Telfair Institute (CTI), some private institutions
recognised by the MQA and the MITD.
Though teachers have
a wide range of training institutions, yet the subject of child abuse has not
been developed in particular course content.
The Modules Information do not provide one module separately for “child
Research is crucial to get an in-depth
understanding on how pre-primary school teachers in Mauritius can be empowered
to better cater for the pre-school abused children. This chapter addresses the
methodology used in this study. It is
organised into five major sections. The
purpose of this study is to examine how far preschool teachers recognise signs
of child abuse and whether they are able to cater for the abused child so as to
educate the abused child into a normal preschool setting.
A survey research design was used in this
study. Its purpose was to obtain data from pre primary school teachers
concerning child abuse in both public and private pre primary schools in
Mauritius. According to Aliaga and
Gunderson (2002), P.10), qualitative research is defined as “explaining
phenomena by collecting numerical data that are analysed using mathematically
based methods (in particular statistics)”. A quantitative research examines
results “based upon manipulating independent variables and when comparing the
level of independent variables related ” (Smith,2003,p.5).
Many studies made use of qualitative
approach. Bogler et al. 2014, Zulig, Koopman,Patton and Ubbes (2010) used
qualitative approach for assessing school climate. For this study, a survey was conducted in
order to assess child abuse in pre schools and how far teachers are able to
cater for the abused child.
The pre-primary schools in Mauritius are
divided into four zones. The sample for
this study consisted of 120 teachers from private, public and local government
schools. A total of 12 private, state
and local government schools from both rural and urban areas across the four
zones were selected. Only pre primary
school teachers were selected for this study.
A self administered questionnaire was used
in this study so as to assess child abuse in pre primary schools. The questionnaire is divided into sections.
After a review of the literature, 42 variables were grouped under 5
sections. These sections were: Profile
of teachers, profile of abused children, signs of abuse, reporting of Child
abuse, the approach used by teachers with the abused child and the behaviour of
the abused child.
Section A deals with the teacher concerning
his/her profile and years of experience as preschool teacher. Section B will
give an overview of the abused child in connection with the type of abuse and
when it occurred whereas, section C will try to evaluate teacher’s knowledge in
identifying abuse. Section D will deal with the reporting of child abuse by
preschool teachers. The teaching
approach used with the abused child also will be dealt in the section E and
finally the behaviour of the abused child will be inquired in the last section
that is section F
This study aims at
primary schools teachers in all the four zones of Mauritius were selected for
this study. The questionnaire was
personally distributed by me through mails and some were handed a printed
copy. This has facilitated the
collection of the completed questionnaires within a short period of time.
A reliability measurement was used in
this study. The statistical measurement
analysis was carried out with SPSS
FINDINGS AND DISCUSSIONS