This study is concerned with how much teaching students studying to become social workers, teachers, and pre-school teachers have received when it comes to four major areas of knowledge: the UN convention of the rights of the child, physical and sexual abuse of children and a methodological model for communication with children. The study also focuses on whether or not the students believe they have received enough teaching concerning these areas in regards to their future professional work.
In order to find the answers to these questions a survey was developed and then answered by 161 social work students, 178 teaching students and 209 pre-school teaching students. In total, 548 students answered the survey. The survey was filled out both on paper and on the web. The answers were processed in SPSS. The students also had the option of writing comments at the end of the survey. The comments were not systematically analysed but used only as examples and illustrations.
The results show that all three groups of students feel there is something missing in their education when it comes to all four areas of knowledge. The group that reports this the most are the students studying to become teachers. This group is also the group that is the most unsatisfied with the way their educational program has prepared them to work with abused children. Among the students studying to become social workers and the pre-school teachers only 15 percent say they have not received any education about the UN convention of the rights of the child. The equivalent number for the students studying to become teachers is 57 percent. Among the teacher students, 88 percent say they have not received enough teaching concerning the convention in regards to their future professional work. The students studying to become teachers are also the ones who report that they have received the least amount of teaching concerning physical abuse of children (58 percent says no), sexual abuse of children (56 percent says no) and a methodological model for communication (57 percent says no).
The vast amount of social work and pre-school teacher students have received some teaching concerning all four areas of knowledge. Despite this, the majority of them say that they feel they have not received enough teaching in regards to their future professional work. Judging from the comments written at the end of the survey and the question regarding the point at which they received this teaching, we understand this finding as a lack of quantity and continuity in the education. Teaching about these issues often takes the form of one lecture with a guest lecturer or one sporadic day during a semester when the class focuses on issues such as sexual abuse of children. Our study shows that the students wish for a clearer focus on these issues during their educational program.
We argue that our results show that there are serious flaws when it comes to quantity of education concerning all four areas of knowledge that our study focuses on for all three student groups. But first and foremost this lack of teaching concerns the students studying to become teachers. The results show that the majority of this group say that they have received no teaching at all about the UN convention of the rights of the child, physical and sexual abuse of children and a methodological model for communication with children. Consequently, this group feels that they are the least prepared to meet and work with abused children in the future. The results also show that the teaching the students receive is primarily theoretical and that the students would like teaching with a methodological and practical perspective.
The Norwegian Center for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies (NKVTS) and Save the Children Norway would like to offer the following suggestions:
• The UN convention of the rights of the child has to be an explicit primary objective in the basic framework of the educational plan.
• A separate subject on children exposed to violence and assault must be introduced into the framework of the educational plan for the education of general and pre-school teachers. In all programs there should be allocated a certain amount of credits to ensure that the subject receives sufficient attention within the offered education.
• Work experience and practical training is to be included in the teaching.