Protective indigenous collective value of Ubuntu and child neglect: Implications for rural child protection practice

Alhassan Abdullah, Hajara Bentum, Margarita Frederico, Felix Mensah, Lucy P. Jordan, Clifton R. Emery

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Theories on collective efficacy and social support suggest that indigenous values that support collective practices and sanction community obligations to childcare would be protective against child neglect. Likewise, new qualitative findings show that collective values are stronger in rural areas than in urban. This study tested the claims that the value of Ubuntu, which is a symbolic cultural value of ‘being for others’, will be protective against the likelihood of neglect; this relationship will be stronger in rural compared with urban communities in Ghana. Using data obtained from a nationally representative sample of 1100 mothers (from 22 communities) in Ghana, we tested the claims using fixed effects logistic regression. The Ubuntu norms were significantly endorsed in rural communities compared with the urban. The overall model showed that higher levels of Ubuntu are associated with lower odds of child neglect (OR.47, [.29,.76] p < 0.05), and the relationship remained significant only in the rural sample (OR.13, [.06,.31] p < 0.001). Similar evidence was recorded for the Ubuntu norms of community care and compassion. The results suggest that child protection in rural Ghana can be fruitful when interventions are developed to boost the value of Ubuntu and the norms of collective childcare.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalChild and Family Social Work
Early online date19 Apr 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Apr 2023


  • child neglect
  • child protection
  • collective values
  • indigenous values
  • rural
  • Ubuntu


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