Contextualizing Risk and Protection: Perceptions of Bedouin Mothers From Unrecognized Villages in the Naqab

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Abstract

This qualitative study utilizes ecological theory, a context-informed perspective, and an interactive model to study minority children, while considering structural factors, oppression, segregation, power dynamics, and awareness of the political context. It examines perceptions of risk and protection using “snowball” sampling of 33 Bedouin mothers, citizens of Israel, from the unrecognized villages (UVs) in the Naqab in Southern Israel. Data were collected via in-depth, semistructured interviews during 2011 to 2013. The interviews were thematically analyzed and then arranged according to the 5 contextual levels of the ecological systems theory. The findings demonstrate a wide range of risks to child development including immediate physical environment, lack of supervision, child characteristics, relationships in the child’s life, difficult life conditions, sociopolitical risks, and risks related to the entry of technology. Despite these numerous risk factors, Bedouin families cope by trying to prevent risks, utilizing the mothers’ constant investment in their children, family and tribal support, spirituality and religious beliefs, the positive use of technology, formal education, and cultural identity. Our findings suggest that marginalization and political discrimination affect child development on different contextual levels. Moreover, the findings highlight the need to include parental voices in discourse on risk and protection and the contribution of a context-informed perspective that includes awareness of historical and political effects.

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