Beyond vulnerabilities: Exploring the coping mechanisms of children as family heads in child-headed households in Kampala district Uganda.

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för socialt arbete

Abstract: Uganda is a signatory of both local and international child protection protocols and has further shown its great commitment to child welfare through various agencies put up to implement child welfare-related issues. Yet with all this, children in Uganda continue to be abused and their rights violated. More to that, children are in the face of poverty, domestic violence, wars and conflicts, divorce and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)/ Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) scourge that has left families in disarray with high rates of child neglect and orphanhood. The extended family that used to take in Orphans and other Vulnerable Children (OVC) has been stretched by the increasing number of children and their needs but also the escalating rates of poverty. As a result, some children find themselves responsible for looking not only after themselves but also their siblings. They have formed Child-Headed Households (CHHs) where they have to cope with the adversities in their daily lives in order to survive. The study aimed to explore the coping mechanisms of children as family heads in child-headed households in Kampala Uganda. Study aims were to; explore the strengths exhibited by children as family heads; explore the coping mechanisms of children heading families and assess the resources available to children and how they make them cope with adversities. The study employed a qualitative approach with a case study design by collecting in-depth data through interviews among 6 household heads selected purposively. Interviews were recorded and later transcribed word by word. Thematic data analysis was used to explore the themes. Findings revealed that children as family heads have several abilities and strengths that cannot be overlooked. Children also revealed the positive and negative coping mechanisms. Children further pointed out the resources available to them that have enabled them to cope. The study points out implications for social work practice and social policy. The study also pointed out what future studies might focus on in relation to CHHs. The study concludes that all stakeholders must have genuine participation to ensure the welfare of children in CHHs. This participation must be child-led as social workers focus on creating an enabling environment for functioning.

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