Multi-country longitudinal Research on Faith Community Contribution to Ending Violence Against Children (01 Apr 2017 – 01 July 2021)

Countries: Senegal, Uganda and Guatemala

Faith leaders can have widespread influence over their communities particularly when it comes to taboo or divisive issues. This influence can often have further reach than governments and NGOs, especially in fragile settings. Children are some of the most vulnerable in these communities and can be severely affected by behaviours encouraged or discouraged by their faith leaders.

World Vision International is leading a Channel of Hope Child Protection (CoH CP) Project which empowers faith leaders, their spouses, and faith communities to take action that contributes to the well-being of children. The CoH CP project is premised on a theory of change (ToC), that states strengthening the engagement of local faith communities on issues of child protection in a manner that increases the protective attitudes and draws upon and informs their religious perspectives is an effective and sustainable strategy for improving child well-being within communities.

Through this project and using their own scriptures, faith leaders are engaged in workshop training to come to understand that children’s safety and well-being is the responsibility of the whole community, not just parents - and that they can play a crucial role in bringing about positive changes into the protective environment.

The CoH project envisages that faith leaders and their spouses pass the CP information acquired during the training on to their congregations through sermons and church groups and encourage them to form Community Hope Action Teams to work on child protection. As an outcome of these actions, communities are expected to change their behaviours to make sure all children go to school and are protected from abuse, such as forced labour, early marriage and corporal punishment.

QMU’s role in this project

After a pilot study based in Malawi, led by QMU, this current project is collecting and collating evidence from CoH CP interventions across three countries to rigorously establish the impact of engaging local faith communities in efforts to strengthen the protective environment supporting child well-being.

Our team applies a mixed-method approach by using qualitative and quantitative data collection tools. The study involves a range of stakeholders including faith leaders, their spouses, faith communities, child protection actors, and community leaders to hear the views of all actors involved in the CoH CP project as well as child protection in the community. We have designed a survey tool to explore if and how knowledge, attitudes, practices and theological reflections of faith leaders and their spouses change as a result of project activities. We also track any changes to the communities' norms pertinent to child protection by applying our Community Norms Measure Survey.

Most importantly, our team is keen on listening to the voices of children. We have developed participatory activities for children that enable them to engage in the discussion of child protection issues easily and to share their experiences and views freely.

In each country, data is being collected at five time points in the course of the CoH CP implementation. This is a unique opportunity to explore the impact of the CoH CP project from a longitudinal perspective.

More information can be found on the World Vision Channels of Hope webpage.

  • About this project
  • Funding
  • Project objective
  • Project publications

In many cultures around the world, it is commonplace for children not to have similar rights to those in Scotland. Many children don’t attend school and are working instead, some marry at a young age and many experience harsh physical punishment.

Researchers at QMU are studying how faith leaders, their spouses, and faith communities can challenge the traditional values, norms, and practices that undermine child protection. Our team is working in three countries that differ in their religious backgrounds: Senegal (Muslim), Guatemala (Christian) and Uganda (a mixture of the two religions).

Faith leaders have significant influence in the communities of these countries. By exploring their influence, our researchers, Drs Carola Eyber and Kanykey Jailobaeva will help deepen the knowledge and understanding of the role that faith leaders, their spouses, and faith communities can play in child protection. The findings of our study can contribute to more effective programmes and projects implemented by international NGOs and donor organisations working with faith communities on child protection.

The study is funded by World Vision International.

The objective of the global study is to collect and collate evidence from Channels of Hope Child Protection interventions across a range of settings, to rigorously establish the impact of engaging local faith communities in efforts to strengthen the protective environment supporting child well-being.

March 2018 – Academic Paper - Eyber, C., Kachale, B., Shields, T. & Ager, A. (2018) The role and experience of local faith leaders in promoting child protection: a case study from Malawi. Intervention, 16 (1). Read this paper