Gendered and Trauma-informed Child Protection Services: Resource guide for social workers working with violence against children cases

Final project
Year of publication:
Supervisors: Geir Gunnlaugsson
Violence against children, gender analysis, trauma-informed practice


Namibia has a high prevalence of violence against children. The Violence Against Children study in Namibia (2019) is the first of its kind to provide detailed information on patterns and trends of children’s experiences of emotional, physical, and sexual violence. It reveals information about the child victim’s relationship to perpetrators, time and place of the incident, and the consequences these incidents have on a child’s health and behaviour. The data shows that perpetrators are known to child victims, and that assumed ‘safe spaces’ are where violence against children occurs. This challenges governments in its efforts to prevent such abuse. By the time child protection and law enforcement service providers get involved, the child has already experienced some form of violence.

Current efforts to address violence against children in Namibia appear to be administrative. Organizational capacity building trainings of social workers mostly focuses on the Child Care and Protection Act, the national case management system, forensic report writing, and other legal frameworks related to gender-based violence. Social Workers also attend child witness trainings which enable them to write trauma impact reports and support child victims during court cases. Implementation of awareness raising activities was influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, and topics mostly covered provisions in legal frameworks. This project proposes an intervention which will change the way Social Workers understand and interact with clients who have experienced violence. It allows investigations to be based not only on legal and forensic processes but to include an intersectional gender analysis and an intersectional trauma-informed approach.

Incorporating an intersectional gender analysis means taking into consideration the differences in girls, women, boys and men, and their socially constructed roles, attributes, responsibilities, and behaviour, and how they intersect with power and other factors to create conditions of discrimination and vulnerability. It serves as a preventive action to end violence against children, and as a tool to analyse gender-related factors contributing to violence against children and incorporate them into statutory reports. Intersectional gender analysis allows Child Care and Protection Directorate national level staff and operational Social Workers to consider social factors which make children more vulnerable to violence. Intersectional trauma-informed practice recognizes violence against children as a traumatic event and the realization that child protection interventions may be trauma inducing for children and families. It can be viewed as an early intervention action which address trauma in children and improve children’s access to mental health services.

The goal of this project is to improve services and programs to victims of violence against children by incorporating an intersectional gender analysis and integrating an intersectional trauma-informed approach into the Namibian child protection services. To achieve this goal, this project will develop intersectional gender analysis and intersectional trauma-informed manuals to train CCPD staff members. Once these approaches have been fully integrated into the CCPD, the Social Workers can conduct awareness sessions with parents and children on these approaches to eliminate violence against children, and to promote reporting of such abuse, especially if perpetrated in safe spaces and by known perpetrators.