Action Research

is a participatory, democratic endeavor to create practical knowledge that benefits society, and that is driven by the concerns of people (Reason and Bradbury, 2006). The motive force for action researchers lies in a vision of a more just society, where people are supported to flourish, learn new vocabularies of practice and develop self-help competencies that contribute to achieving democracy and social change (Gergen, 2003; Reason & Torbert, 2001; Susman & Evered, 1978). Action Research aims to understand previous and present events, but it also aims at transforming social realities into more just forms.


is built when parents respond sensitively to infants’ signals, consistently conveying to the child that they are being understood in the deepest sense. Attachment lays the basis for brain development, emotional regulation and people’s ability to hold down satisfying and secure relationships. Repeated experience of attachment and the associated positive emotions become encoded in the child's implicit memory of expectations, and their mental models of the world, and creates a secure base for the child that enables them to regulate themselves as they grow.

Collective action

arises when the efforts of two or more individuals are needed to achieve an outcome. It may require mobilising community members, engaging in the public domain, accumulating social and financial resources, connecting to networks outside of one’s own, participating in organized protest, or joining an association of others. Collective action involves governance because different members of the group will express different opinions, and whenever a decision is taken on behalf of the group, at least some members won’t get their way (Shirky, 2009). Collective action has more power than individual action because it requires a shared awareness that allows otherwise uncoordinated groups to begin to work together more quickly and effectively. Group action is harder to get going than individual action, but once going, it is harder to stop.
CCR promotes collective action because we think that protectors would take decisions that are in children’s best interests if they drew on resources and capacities that may be available within their network. We think that they would be better placed to make demands on the government to provide child protection services if they acted together. And we think that if individuals built confidence and skills from their involvement with the wider group they may be able to influence others who currently walk past and ignore children's suffering (McAlpine, 2014).


is both a process and a conversation where participants are supported to shift their understanding of themselves and of the world. Dialogue helps people to surmount the worldviews of individual members and to transcend these limited perspectives into a more creative and generative group insight. In dialogue one asked ‘what does it mean?’ This requires not detachment, but immersion and sympathetic resonance through sharing and talking. Dialogue creates space for a multiplicity of views, commentaries, and critiques and for eventual conjoint meaning making (Gergen, 2003; O’Brien, 1998). Dialogue is not only a cognitive process, but also an embodied experience where receptivity, empathy, presence, and attunement are awoken from within (Front, 2008).


In Tanzania the elite consists of a dominant coalition where the ruling party, Chama cha Mapinduzi or CCM is at the core. Former and current politicians, bureaucrats and army personnel are members of the elite and benefit from their association with CCM (Cooksey & Kelsall, 2011). In addition to this core group, certain civil society actors have been co-opted by the elite and either intentionally or not facilitate their dominance of Tanzanian society. Prior to the transition to a free-market and multiparty model both the state administration and politics in Tanzania were intertwined. Now, constitutionally speaking, CCM and the state are distinct. In practice, members of the elite are members of CCM and also of the state bureaucracy. Under liberalization linkages
between politics, bureaucracy, and the private sector have deepened. Many individuals straddle the politico-bureaucratic divide. “Thus professors become bureaucrats and politicians; bureaucrats become politicians; retired bureaucrats and politicians become businessmen … They represent a state that is inherently both a political and a bureaucratic entity” (Cooksey & Kelsall, 2011, p. 96).


is the ability to figuratively put yourself in the shoes of someone else so that you can feel what emotions s/he experiencing. You feel these emotions whist understanding that these are not your own emotions. You allow yourself to fully accept the other’s emotions, by ‘attuning’ to that person. As you offer empathy the other person will feel as though their emotions are being cradled and nurtured in your emotional arms. They will feel understood, accepted, connected, important, and loved.


consists of unexpected actions that are rooted in intuition, are emergent and surprising (Bada & Aniebonam, 2004). Improvisation requires experimentation, spur of the moment decisions, and a comfort with the unknown (Barrett, 1998). Once child protectors have made a decision to protect a child they are required to improvise. This is because they take action even though they cannot call upon the formalized support of the state authorities and child protection professionals, because they lack knowledge and skills that they can draw upon when dealing with complex situations, and finally because they are behaving in ways that are counter to the ways of many of their peers, and may go against communal expectations of how they should behave.
Thus they are required to improvise their way through potential sources of opposition (McAlpine, 2014).

Integral Theory

Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory (2002, 2003a, 2003b, 2003b; 2012; 1996, 1997, 2003, 2011) can be seen as a map of reality, as a way to work across disciplines and as a personal practice. The theory involves a set of orienting generalizations that create a broad map of the place of people in relation to the universe, life and spirit. The emphasis is that it is impossible to fully understand the experience of being human without exploring the domains of the individual’s subjective and objective experience and the group’s inter-subjective and inter-objective worlds. These four domains, or quadrants are the fundamental dimensions of any event or occasion.

Integral Methodological Pluralism

IMP and the three principles that underpin it, which are non-exclusion, enfoldment and enactment, are guidelines that support the integration of multiple research practices and their various truth claims (Wilber, 2003). IMP emphasizes that every perspective has important, but partial truths to offer in understanding phenomena.

Integral Life Practice

is a set of practices from pre-modern, modern, and postmodern bodies of wisdom that support people’s growth and development (Wilber et al., 2012). Possession of an integral perspective requires that the scholar seek to understand reality in all of its manifestations, that they work across disciplines and that that they consciously strive to develop their own self-awareness.

Moral Development

Morality evolves and “development in humans is towards less and less egocentric states” (Wilber, 1996). The moral line of development is activated when people answer the question, “What should I do?” Moral imagination demands that we possess the humility to see the world for what it is and the audacity to imagine the world  as it could be, the ability to put ourselves in another person’s shoes and lead from that perspective.
Protectors have a moral code that reminds them that, “It's the right thing to do” and “I can't close my eyes and do nothing.” They are concerned with their responsibility as a member of society, but also know that when they take action to protect a child from violence they will face impossible choices, or moral dilemmas.

“Our moral muscles can be built with the steady exercise of good habits” (Brooks, 2011).

CCR supports protectors on a path of personal development. Individuals’ level of cognitive development determines what they are aware of, and therefore, what they can describe and reflect on. The moral line reveals the contents of an individual’s thinking. The relationship between cognition and moral development is important because if individuals cannot possess awareness of the contents of their consciousness they become subject to their behavior without knowing why they behave as they do. They are “unconscious.” Thus efforts to nurture moral development involve helping individuals to take what they are subject to (i.e., those perspectives that they possess but that are invisible to them) and helping them to turn these perspectives into objects that they can scrutinise and possess some element of control over (Kegan, 1982; Wilber et al., 2012; Wilber, 2011).
Ways of achieving this include engaging in dialogue, telling different stories about ourselves, cultivating both / and thinking, engaging in mind-body practices, and tapping into creative activity that transcends one's limited way of thinking and speaks to other unused intelligences (Gardner, 1983).

Narrative therapy

When we create a coherent narrative of our childhood it can be liberating. It requires us to put our story into words so that we can convey it to another, and in doing so to integrate past experiences into a cohesive sense of how the world works and who one is. We can develop an earned secure narrative even if we did not have a secure childhood. The act of memory retrieval can modify the form in which memory is re-encoded and the narrative process may build on that to alter the memory of childhood in a useful way (Siegel, 2012).


are those commonly practiced behaviours in a society that are largely unquestioned by people in a society.

Poverty + the Developing BraiN

Psychosocial and behavioural research has established the deleterious effects of poverty on child development. Unsupportive parenting, poor nutrition and education, lack of caregiver education, and high levels of stress are used as a proxy for cumulative developmental stress. However, only recently has neuro-scientific inquiry revealed that poverty, in and of itself, negatively impacts on brain development in multiple ways (Luby et al., 2013).

Kimberly Noble and The Neuro-cognition, Early Experience, and Development Lab have used magnetic resonance imaging to examine the “neuro-cognitive profile” of children who come from different socio-economic statuses and their developing brains (Mariani, 2017). They have evidence that poverty itself – and not factors like nutrition, language exposure, family stability, or prenatal issues, as previously thought – may diminish the growth of a child's brain.

  • Poverty is associated with smaller white and cortical grey matter and hippocampal and amygdala volumes (Luby et al., 2013). Consequently, children with a low socio-economic status develop fewer social ties and experience more stress and deficits in emotion regulation.
  • Socio-economic disparities negatively affect the prefrontal cortex, which supports decision-making, judgment, and allocation of attentional resources.
  • Perkins and colleagues report that “for each $5,000 in extra income annually, vocabulary is raised an average of 2 points on a standard scale vocabulary measurement” (Perkins, Finegood, & Swain, 2013). 

This research has been conducted in the context of the USA; where there is political and popular consensus about the income level that constitutes poverty. What constitutes absolute poverty in a context such as Tanzania where almost everyone lives in a situation of generalized insecurity (Wuyts, 2006), and the implications of this neuro-scientific research for entire populations has yet to be explored. However, the consensus is that poverty represents a chronically sub-optimal developmental environment children, as much as it reflects a state of economic stress (Azma, 2013). 


is a powerful yet easy-to-use toolkit that promotes personal development and emotional safety. The toolkit includes the appropriate expression of feelings and the development of trusting, open relationships; problem solving skills that improve our decision making capacity; effective risking on purpose thereby increasing our self-esteem and personal resilience; self-responsibility that supports us to take healthy action and avoid becoming a victim. The word “safety” is used in its widest sense including both physical and emotional safety. It is about looking after ourselves better in relation to others and the world around us. It is not about physical restraint or overpowering others.

Public agency

is the spaces and processes in which citizens and authorities jointly shape decisions for the future of their communities and countries.


is the ability to recover from stresses and shocks and to maintain or enhance personal capabilities and assets. The concept comes from physics and describes a quality of a material that regains its original shape after being bent, compressed or stretched. With regard to children, it can be defined as a child’s ability to regain his/her shape after going through crises or adversities, the ability to cope and do well in life in spite of having had to face a number of difficulties.

Small world network

is a concept that was developed by Granovetter (1983) in this theory on the strength of weak ties. He saw society as being structured into highly connected clusters, or close-knit circles of friends, in which everybody knows everybody else. A few external links connecting these clusters keep them from being isolated from the rest of the world. In a small world network bonding ties within small clusters of community members are built, whilst individuals who are connectors within those clusters reach out to other clusters within the community (Shirky, 2009).

Social capital

focuses on the social networks that exist between us and the character of those networks, the strength of the ties, and the extent to which those networks foster trust and reciprocity. Social networks and the norms of trust and reciprocity that flourish through these networks is the essence of social capital. "At the heart of social capital are the relationships between individuals.” (Sander, p. 15). Differing forms of social capital emerge from different network structures and relational forms. Hyden (2002) proposes a fourfold typology of social capital:

  1. Bonding social capital is generated in exchanges in dense networks between members of a relatively homogenous group who try to gain benefits by strengthening their ties.
  2. Blinding social capital grows around causes that persons become strongly wedded to. Members engage in exclusivist types of exchanges and it is not easy to participate for those who are not converts.
  3. Bridging social capital arises from an increase in connections among relatively heterogeneous groups (Shirky, 2009), where people reconcile multiple identities and use bridging social capital to resolve different conflicts within their own minds or between themselves and others.
  4. Binding social capital grows out of exchanges in pre-modern settings where members of these exchanges build ad hoc alliances or networks that are not associated with specified rights and obligations.

Communities that are characterized by both bonding and bridging forms of social capital are more effective in solving big problems than those who have only close networks or
loose connections to the outside world (Ostrom & Alm, 2007).

Social norms

are the rules of behavior that are considered acceptable in a group or society, or the behavioral expectations that a social group holds for its individuals. A social norm tells you what you're supposed to do in any given situation, but these rules may be explicit or implicit. People who do not follow these norms may be shunned or suffer some kind of consequence. Norms change according to the environment or situation and may change or be modified over time. There are different types of norm:

  • Injunctive Norms are behaviors which are perceived as being approved of by other people.
  • Descriptive Norms are perceptions of how other people are actually behaving, whether or not these are approved of.
  • Explicit Norms are written or spoken openly.
  • Implicit Norms are not openly stated (but you find out when you transgress them).
  • Subjective Norms: Expectations that valued others have about how we will behave.
  • Personal Norms: Standards we have about our own actions.

Norms are transmitted by non-verbal behaviour, through stories, rituals and role-model behaviour.


Who knows whom in a community, and the character of those ties, influences both the form of social networks and the types of social capital that manifest. There are different social ties. These include:

  • Strong Ties: close personal friends; typically the people one goes to in times of great crisis (if one has lost a job, or has marital problems, or has a severe health problem) and needs personal support.
  • Weak Ties: more like nodding acquaintances – people who one might be able to go to for smaller favors but who you do not know that well. Episodic, single stranded and more fleeting ties, like those you formed in a one-day  cleanup
  • Public-regarding ties that tackle a public issue (e.g., a Parent Teacher Association) v. private regarding (e.g., a purely social club).
  • Formal ties(a dues-paying organization with committees and bylaws) vs. informal (a pickup basketball game). Social ties that exist within the context of a formal organization (with elements like by-laws, regular meetings, minutes, etc.).
  • Informal ties: social ties that exist outside the context of formal organizations (like neighbors talking over a back fence, ties through a pick-up basketball game, etc.).

Thought field therapy

TFT is a proven, highly effective, non-invasive brief therapy technique that utilizes a sequence of self‐tapping to stimulate specific acupuncture points while recalling a traumatic event or cue. It facilitates the relaxation response while the person experiencing exposure to the problem by simply thinking about the problem. The improvement is almost always relatively quick and, in most cases, long-lasting (Irgens, Dammen, Nysaeter, & Hoffart, 2012). The National Registry of Evidence Based Practices and Procedures (NREPP), a division of SAMHSA, has accepted TFT as an evidence base therapy for anxiety, trauma and self-concept.

Ujasiri mindset

Ujasiri literally translates from Kiswahili as ‘bravery’ or ‘confidence.’ Its enables a person to feel visceral pain when they witness children’s suffering, and this primes them to decide to act. Ujasiri is a reflection of what people value, and it consists of the belief that children are blameless, the hope that the child will pay forward the help that they have received, and the moral code that says “I must behave responsibly” (McAlpine, 2014). Empathy is the foundation of Ujasiri.

Social accountability

is about affirming and operationalizing direct accountability relationships between citizens and the state. It is an approach towards building accountability that relies on civic engagement, where ordinary citizens and/or civil society organizations participate directly or indirectly in exacting accountability from the state. Social accountability refers to the broad range of actions and mechanisms beyond voting that citizens can use to hold the state to account, as well as actions on the part of government, civil society, media and other societal actors that promote or facilitate these efforts (World Bank, 2004).


Humans are storytelling creatures and the mind is shaped by story. We learn by sharing our stories because they tap into our emotions, express ideas and experiences that are often hidden. Being inspired by stories of real people doing inspiring things that take us beyond ourselves. Stories also help us understand why we behave in the way we do. We can choose the narrative we tell about our lives, and we can tell different stories about ourselves. When we abandon the hypothesis-testing stance that seeks out stories that prove something, and instead just ask people for their stories they invariably have something to share (Josselson & Lieblich, 2014). Everyone makes up stories and gives intentions to their state (Mehl-Madrona, 2014). The act of telling a story is both an act of knowing oneself, but also an act of creating and sustaining relationships with others.