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THE PROVISION OF PSYCHO-SOCIAL SUPPORT TO CHILDREN TRAUMATIZED BY THE 2007-2008 POST ELECTION VIOLENCE IN KIBERA, KENYA
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ABSTRACT

Following the 2007-2008 post-election violence in Kenya children suffered direct and indirect injustices leading them to being traumatized.  Exposure to violence is associated with a variety of aggressive and otherwise mal-adaptive behavior that can disrupt children school adaptation, academic competencies, generally disruptive behavior and anti-social behavior among others.

Both the government and non-governmental organizations offered psycho-social support services to the affected children so as to limit the effects of children – such as heavy emotional, social and spiritual burdens, associated with death, separation from and loss of parents, attack and victimization, and destruction of homes and communities – so as to prevent further harmful events such as suicide, drug abuse and crime.  The provision of psycho-social support focused on three main interventions mainly education, community participation and livelihood support.

The purpose of this study therefore was to find out the effectiveness of the three interventions for children traumatized by the 2007-2008 post-election violence. Trauma can be defined as an event that overwhelms the individual's coping resources. Traumatic situations are those in which the person is rendered powerless and great danger is involved (Matsakis, 1992:16).

The second chapter covers the literature review both empirical and theoretical literature. Theories applied in the study include, Social learning theory which explains the link between exposure to violence and aggressive behavior in children. Human needs theory helps in explaining that when basic needs are not met, it may traumatize children thus interfering with a child’s psycho-social well-being. Psycho-social theory explains that children exposed to violence may encounter psycho-social crises which if not resolved may recur in future. Social conflict theory helps in understanding how conflict comes about in society.

The target sample comprised 80 children ranging between 8 to 17 years, 20 teachers, 10 government officers and 10 officers from non-governmental organizations. The unit of analysis was the child, the unit of observation was also the child. Purposive sampling was used where the researcher purposively targeted a group of people believed to be reliable in the study.  In answering research questions the techniques used thematic analysis.  Data presentation was in form of tables, frequencies and percentages.

Four interview schedules were used targeting children, teachers, government and non-governmental officers.  Focus groups discussions were appropriate for both children and teachers. This type of qualitative research can provide in-depth information on what people think and believe thus generating rich information.  Key informant face to face interviews, using interview schedules for government and non-governmental organization were used so as to get in-depth information.

Findings of the study indicate children appreciated education activities played an essential role in their lives because over half 62.5% of them, stated that attending activities/programmes in schools helped them cope with trauma, the most popular activity being sports education. Although the teachers expressed concerns about the children eroding ability to concentrate, poor grades and negative change of behavior the children, the children found school to be a peaceful place where they could regularly enjoy and express themselves in a peer setting. Teachers also stated that as they spent more time on guiding the children as a result their behavior of some children changed for the better. The findings suggest despite the many challenges encountered by key informants and teachers, education as a psychosocial intervention has been effective in building resiliency for the children.

Findings on livelihood support suggest that it was not effective because 80% (64 of 80) of the children whose parents lost their livelihood ended up engaging in child labour, to supplement the earning of their parents/caregivers. The money given by the government was also insufficient considering the high cost of living. The findings of community participation indicate that less than half 20% the children benefited from community participation and was therefore not effective.

The three interventions namely: education, livelihood support and community participation faced various challenges as stated by key informants but the major challenge of each was funding. Adequate funding should be provided so as to make the interventions more effective. Findings also indicate that another common hindrance of these interventions was negative ethnicity, which has led to a lot of mistrust among children, self-help groups, teachers and community members.  The issue of negative ethnicity seems to be deep rooted and efforts to stop this vice should be intensified.

http://erepository.uonbi.ac.ke/handle/11295/9000