Child polyvictimization in Zongo communities in Ghana: Young people's reflections on systemic resilience enablers

Alhassan Abdullah, Ebenezer Cudjoe, Lucy P. Jordan, Clifton R. Emery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Polyvictimization is often commonplace for young people living in violent communities. The situation is no different for young people in Ghanaian Zongo communities where poverty, social disorder and social vices are prevalent due to structural reasons. 

Objective: Using the social ecology approach to resilience, the study sought the perspectives of young people about how systemic aspects of community contribute to their positive development in high-risk communities. 

Methods: Following the short narrative approach, 23 young people ages 18–24 from two Zongo communities in Ghana were engaged in qualitative interviews. 

Findings: Cultural values of solidarity and peer support were common systemic enablers that facilitated young peoples’ resilience. These enablers provided context and resources which ensured their survival in cases of neglect and abuse. Cultural values of solidarity exemplified by care for each other among residents created a safe environment and cultural capital contributed to the young peoples’ resilience. Additionally, the “base” within Zongo communities provided a social structure that enabled peer support and promoted young peoples’ resilience in the face of polyvictimization experiences. 

Conclusion and implications: The findings shift the resilience discourse from a conception of personality traits to one of collective aspects of community systems. They also identify cultural values of solidarity within the community that provide cultural capital for the social functioning of young people dealing with polyvictimization in high-risk environments. The findings provide pathways for professionals to promote resilience and develop resilience-oriented primary preventive measures for adolescents living in high-risk environments in Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105075
Number of pages12
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Issue numberPart 2
Early online date29 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Community systems
  • Ghana
  • Polyvictimization
  • Social ecological approach to resilience
  • Systemic sources of resilience
  • Zongo


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