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A systems analysis of child protection and a natural disaster: a study of Typhoon Yolanda and the Gigantes Islands

Hiddleston, Patricia Mary (2022) A systems analysis of child protection and a natural disaster: a study of Typhoon Yolanda and the Gigantes Islands. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.00004540


BACKGROUND: Over the last decade, there has been a growing policy emphasis on ‘strengthening the systems’ that protect children in periods of stability and of crisis by governments and nongovernmental organisations in collaboration with and encouraged by international actors to improve the protection of children. However, the need to understand pre-existing protection systems in a given context and to consider how to integrate any national and international protection policies with those local systems receives less attention. This study emanates from a desire to understand how the dynamic complex systems that sought to protect children in one context, the Gigantes Islands in the Philippines, functioned, interacted and evolved in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda (known internationally as Typhoon Haiyan) and what implications this might have for the strengthening of child protection systems. METHODS: A qualitative study of the complex adaptive systems that operated in the Gigantes Islands was conducted using mixed methods to provide an in-depth understanding of how children were protected in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda. FINDINGS: How children were protected generally did not reflect what formal child protection policies prescribed or intended for a number of reasons, including the prevailing attitudes that consider women and children as dependent on men, an acceptance that maltreatment be endured by the victims and an assumption held by many who have some ability or duty to take action that they are not under-resourced; prescriptive processes that provided a narrow range of options reflecting a general failure to take local conditions and individual circumstances into account and a lack of recognition of how children can be protected directly and indirectly through livelihood support in the health and education systems. IMPLICATIONS: I analyse the unintended consequences of the existing practice and the implications for the promotion of a ‘systems strengthening’ policy including using systems approaches that do not prescribe top-down child protection processes without taking local realities and social constructions of harm and protection into account, involving a wider range of potential protection actors and inter-sectoral collaboration and enabling a variety of responses. I also analyse how the application of systems concepts contributes to obtaining an in-depth understanding of how children and those who care for them understand child protection and perceive how children are protected in their context. Without this deep understanding, externally supported topdown policies and processes to protect children risk failure.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2022 Patricia Mary Hiddleston
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > Social Policy
Supervisor: Munro, Eileen and Seckinelgin, Hakan

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