July 12.pdf
THE
INDIAN JOURNAL
OF
SOCIAL WORK
Tata Institute
Volume 73, Issue 3
of
Social Sciences
July 2012
Attitudes of Social Care Professionals
towards Children in Turkey
VELI DUYAN, ELIF GÖKÇEARSLAN CIFCI AND ISMET GALIP YOLCUOGLU
This study assesses the attitudes of 215 social care professionals employed in the
child protection services in Turkey towards children. The study concludes that female
social care professionals, who are at the age of 41 and above, have a more favourable
attitude towards children. This fi nding is refl ected in the scores attained for the different
variables, which vary signifi cantly.
Veli Duyan is Professor; and Elif Gökçearslan Cifci is Assistant Professor with the
Department of Social Work, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ankara University. Ismet Galip
Yolcuoglu is Assistant Professor with the Department of Social Work, Faculty of Health
Sciences, Istanbul University.

INTRODUCTION
The family plays a signi cant role in the development of children. The
state provides a variety of services and undertakes this role in the case of a
child who is deprived of the care of a family. Although these services vary
from country to country, preventive maintenance (of nurseries, orphanages,
‘house of love’, and house of children), fostering and adoption are the most
widespread services in Turkey. In addition, Children and Youth Centers
(CYC) also provide services for children living or working on the streets.
The Turkish Association for Protection of Children was founded after
the end of three consecutive wars—the Balkan War, the First World War
and the Turkish war of independence—to help the martyrs’ children. This
association was also founded on the child welfare reforms framed by
Atatürk. The most comprehensive law for the protection of children was
enacted in 1949. The responsibility for the care and protection of children
was given to the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health by
IJSW, 73(3), 395–408, July 2012

396 Veli Duyan, Elif Gökçearslan Cifci and Ismet Galip Yolcuoglu
an act of law. The Social Services and Child Protection Institution was
founded in 1982 by an act of law numbered as 2828. The United Nations
Convention on the Rights of the Child was signed by Turkey in 1990.
Subsequently, the Social Services and Child Protection Institution was
replaced by the Directorate of General Children’s Services under the
Ministry of Family and Social Policy.
Children who need protection in Turkey fall within the scope of
‘protective care services’ in the relevant boarding institutions established
by the Ministry of Family and Social Policy, General Directorate Child and
Youth Services. As per the Social Services and Child Protection Institution
law numbered 2828, ‘Children in Need of Protection’ is de ned as the
physical, mental and moral development or personal safety of a child:
1. who is an orphan;
2. whose mother or father or both are unknown;
3. who has been abandoned by the mother, father or both; and
4. who has been neglected by the mother or father and left vulnerable to
a wide range of social dangers and harmful habits such as prostitution,
begging, alcohol and substance abuse, and bereft of guidance.
Based on the investigation report prepared by social workers, children
between 0–12 years are placed in nurseries, while those between
13–18 years are placed in orphanages. The staff comprise nursemaids
and child trainers; while professional help constitutes social workers,
child development specialists, psychologists and teachers. Some of the
nursemaids employed in these institutions are not permanent employees.
Generally, staff working for government institutions are permanent
employees. The care and cleaning staff are graduates of child development
departments of high schools. The care staff work in three shifts. Barring
the foster-mother, none of the other staff are assessed for suitability/
compatability for working with children.
The attitudes of the caregivers and other professional help towards
children are crucial to their development. Many studies have indicated
that poor preventive maintenance is detrimental to the healthy growth
of children in the early childhood period. Institutions with poor physical
infrastructure and an inef cient and incompetent staff can leave a lasting
negative impact on children, especially, on those who spend the rst
years of their life there (Bowlby, 1951; Ainsworth 1979; Güçray, 1989;
Erkan, 1995; Groze and Ileana, 1996; Ames and others, 1997; Rutter and
Kreppner, 1998; O’Connor and Brendenkamp, 1999; Hatemi and others,
IJSW, 73(3), 395–408, July 2012

Attitudes of Social Care Professionals towards Children in Turkey 397
2000; Gökçearslan, 2003). The studies conducted by Bowlby (1951)
reveal that the need for love is one of the most crucial factors necessary
for a child’s development. Moreover, it has been determined that for the
development of a baby, the role of a caregiver is more important than
the condition of the physical environment. The Emotional Quotient of
the caregivers contribute to the emotional development of babies, thus
facilitating learning. Emotional motivation can also help the development
of the brain (Greenspan and Shanker, 2004; Tronick, 2006). Erkan (1995)
concludes that children who get more care from their caregivers in the
institutions have higher levels of self-esteem than children who do not get
enough care.
There are limited studies available on the healthy development of
children and the physical conditions of the institutions (Vashchenko,
Easterbrooks and Miller, 2010). Many personnel employed in these
institutions have only completed formal education and are not trained
in child care (St. Petersburg–USA Orphanage Research Team, 2008;
Rosas and McCall, 2009). There are a few studies undertaken where
the behaviours of caregivers—psychological situation, job satisfaction,
attitudes toward children, knowledge about care giving, work stress,
coping ability and support, anxiety and depression issues are discussed
(Orphanage Research Team, 2009).
Caregivers play an important role in the psycho-social and physical
development of children. However, there is a wide gap in existing
literature on caregiver-children relationship and the characteristics of
caregivers. Groark, Mccall and Fish (2011) investigated the conditions of
three orphanages in the USA. The study determined that caregivers did not
give enough support to children by way of empathy or counselling.
The data gathered from a multiple choice survey carried out by
Vashchenko and others (2010) on the quality and the attitude of the
caregivers determined that 54 percent of the caregivers de ned their
relationship with children as professional. While 47 percent de ned their
relationship with children as warm, about 45 percent described their
relationship similar to that between a mother and her child. Majority of the
respondents (41 percent) were working because of the income and bene ts
accrued. Spiritual and moral considerations for working with children
accounted for 39 percent of the responses; 37 percent of the respondents
reported that they were working as caregivers because they loved to work
with children; and 30 percent reported that they were compelled to work
in these institutions because of certain life situations.
IJSW, 73(3), 395–408, July 2012

398 Veli Duyan, Elif Gökçearslan Cifci and Ismet Galip Yolcuoglu
One of the main aims of social work is to increase the self suf ciency of
individuals. When families are unable to take care of their children, social
workers are required to guide them with alternative coping strategies. It is,
therefore, important to ensure that caregivers employed by institutions are
adequately trained in childcare and are also fond of children.
OBJECTIVES
The main aim of this study is to investigate the socio-demographic
characteristics and the attitudes of professionals employed in child
protection services under the Social Services and Child Protection Agency
in Turkey. These include social service specialists, psychiatrists, teachers,
child development specialists, child educators and caregivers.
Questions related with the sub goals of the study are:
1. Do scores of caregivers on the Barnett Liking of Children Scale
(BLOCS) vary according to their socio-demographic characteristics
(sex, age, marital status and presence of children)?
2. Do scores of caregivers on the BLOCS vary according to their work-
ing environment (institution, seniority, length of service, change in the
institution, and the number of children)?
3. Do scores of caregivers on the BLOCS vary according to involve-
ment in the activities related with children (reading children’s books,
following news about children, knowledge about children’s games,
voluntering for activities in institutions)?
BARNETT LIKING OF CHILDREN SCALE
The Barnett Liking of Children Scale is an instrument developed by
Barnett and Sinisiin in 1990 to analyse the attitudes of people towards
children. It has been tested in terms of validity and reliability in Turkish
conditions by Duyan and Gelbal (2008). In this study, test-retest reliability
and the internal consistency coef cient have been determined as 0.85
and 0.92 respectively. According to Fischer and Corcoran (1994), a scale
is a reliable and valid instrument to use for analysis of people’s attitude
towards children since internal consistency and test-retest reliability of
BLOCS has been determined as 0.93 and 0.91 respectively. The scale
consists of 14 items and participants are expected to select one of the seven
options ranging from ‘I completely disagree’ to ‘I completely agree’ for
each of the items. Four items related with the state of liking of children are
unfavorable (3rd, 6th, 10th and 13th items) and 10 of them are favorable.
IJSW, 73(3), 395–408, July 2012

Attitudes of Social Care Professionals towards Children in Turkey 399
When favourable items are scored, the option of ‘I completely agree’
is scored as ‘7’ and the item of ‘I completely disagree’ is scored as ‘1’.
When unfavorable items are scored, the option of ‘I completely disagree’
is scored as ‘7’ and the item of ‘I completely agree’ is scored as ‘1’. If
one gets a higher score, this means that he/she has a favourable attitude
towards children; and if the reverse is the case, his/her attitude towards
children is categorised as more unfavourable.
Statistical Analysis
Parametric or non-parametric statistical methods appropriate to the
structure and qualities of the variables were utilised. Scores on BLOCS is
regarded as the dependent variable of the research. A dependent variable
is assumed to have a normal distribution. Independent variables include
work and involvement in activities with children.
When the independent variable is classi ed in two categories and ‘t’
test is applied; and when the independent variable is classi ed in more
than two categories ‘F’ test is applied. The level of statistical signi cance
is determined as 0.05.
METHODOLOGY
Questionnaire
A questionnaire based on the Turkish version of the Barnett Liking of
Children Scale has been applied in this study. The average time taken to
complete the questionnaire was twenty minutes.
The rst section of the questionaire is concerned with the socio-
demographic characteristics (sex, age, marital status, presence of children).
The second section includes questions related to working conditions
(institution, status, length of service, change of institutions worked in and
the number of children attended to in one workday).
The last section seeks information on the activities undertaken by the
caregivers (reading books on children, following news about children,
knowledge about children’s games, getting involved in the voluntary
activities of institutions working with children).
Sample of the Study
The provinces of Ankara, zmir and stanbul were selected for the study as
they are the most populated and offer a diverse range of services.
IJSW, 73(3), 395–408, July 2012

400 Veli Duyan, Elif Gökçearslan Cifci and Ismet Galip Yolcuoglu
The sample covered 215 respondents from a total of 455 professionals
working in nurseries, orphanages, and or CYCs.
FINDINGS
The ndings of this study are analysed in three sections: socio-demographic
characteristics; some qualities regarding work life; and activities related
with children.
The following table (Table 1) shows the socio-demographic variables
of caregivers. The scores are analysed using the BLOCS scale.
TABLE 1: Socio-demographic Variables of Caregivers
Characteristics of the
N
Mean
SS
Statistics
Sample
Sex
Female
142
87.87
12.35
t = 2.887*
Male
73
82.66
12.86
Age
20-25
38
87.61
10.12
F = 0.826
26-30
50
84.16
18.14
31-35
28
85.25
10.47
36-40
44
85.14
13.36
41+
55
88.02
08.22
Marital status
Married
130
85.71
12.25
F = 0.250
Single
71
86.42
14.32
Divorced
14
88.07
08.45
Have a child/children
Yes
109
86.22
12.04
t= 0.644
No
34
84.71
11.72
* p < 0.01
There is a signi cant difference between female (n=142; X=87.87)
and male (n=73; X=82.66) members of the profession with respect to the
scores on BLOCS (t=2.887; p < 0.01).
Members of the profession at the age of 41 and above have the
highest score on BLOCS (n=55; X=88.02). The lowest score in
this respect is obtained for caregivers between the ages of 26-30
years. Divorced members of the profession have the highest score
on BLOCS (n=14; X=88.07).
IJSW, 73(3), 395–408, July 2012

Attitudes of Social Care Professionals towards Children in Turkey 401
There is no signi cant difference between members of the profession
who have children (n=109; X = 86.22) and those who do not have (n= 34;
X = 84.71).
TABLE 2: Variables Related to the Working Environment
N
Mean
SS
Institution
Nursery
63
86.06
14.64
F = 0.106
Orphanage
107
86.42
12.55
CYC-Children and Youth Centre
45
85.38
10.36
Position
Social Service Specialist
47
87.09
7.13
F = 1.239
Child Development Specialist
22
86.32
13.62
Child Educator
31
87.74
18.41
Teacher
70
83.77
14.40
Psychiatrist
22
84.36
9.01
Caregiver
23
90.39
7.76
Length of the service (year)
First Year
45
87.67
13.61
F = 3.665*
1-5
97
83.56
14.82
6 +
73
88.51
7.76
Change of work place/institution
0
44
87.18
9.34
F = 1.024
1
55
86.93
9.81
2
46
88.17
10.00
3
24
82.50
18.81
4
25
83.60
19.67
5
21
84.19
12.31
The number of children attended to in one working day
1-5
10
79.90
18.60
F = 1.026
6-10
96
86.55
11.96
11-15
30
85.23
16.26
16-20
31
88.71
14.13
21+
48
85.33
8.89
Willingness to change the job
Willing to
96
81.77
12.86
t = - 4.526**
Not willing to
113
89.51
11.85
* p < 0.05
** p < 0.001
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402 Veli Duyan, Elif Gökçearslan Cifci and Ismet Galip Yolcuoglu
The above table (Table 2) presents data on the working environment.
Variables include the type of institution, seniority, length of service, change
in job/institution, number of the children attended to in one working day,
and any inclination to quit the present job. With respect to the type of
the institution, no signi cant difference has been determined between the
members of the profession employed in the nursery, orphanage and CYC
(F=0.106).
With regard to the work position, caregivers are found to have the
highest score on BLOCS (n=23, X=90.39), followed by child educators
(n=31, X=87.74), social service specialists (n=47, X=87.09), and child
development specialists (n=22, X=86.32).
Signi cant difference among members of the profession was found
in the duration of service (F=3.665, p<0.05). The ones who have been
working for six to ten years (n=73, X=88.51) have higher scores on
BLOCS. With respect to change of institution, scores on BLOCS do not
vary signi cantly (F=1.024, p>0.01). Members of the profession who
have never changed their places of work (n=23, X=90.39) have higher
scores than those who have changed their institutions (s=44, X=87.18);
while those who have changed their places of work more than three times
have lower scores on BLOCS (n= 24, X=82.50).
Scores on BLOCS do not vary according to the number of the children
attended to in one working day (F=1.026, p>0.01). However, members of
the profession who have attended to 16-20 children have higher scores on
BLOCS (n=31, X=88.71).
There is a signi cant difference between those who are inclined
to quit the job and those who are not (t= 4.526, p<0.01). Those who
are not inclined to quit their job got higher scores on BLOCS (n=113,
X=89.51).
The scores for variables related to activities conducted with children
are shown in Table 3. These include reading books to children, following
news about children, having suf cient knowledge about children’s games,
and doing voluntary work in institutions serving children.
There is signi cant difference (t=4.077; p < 0.001) between members
of the profession who read books on children (n=138; X = 88.54) and
those who do not read books on children (n=74; X = 81.28).
With regard to following news about children, scores for members of
the profession who follow news about children is higher than the scores
for members of the profession who do not follow the news about children
IJSW, 73(3), 395–408, July 2012

Attitudes of Social Care Professionals towards Children in Turkey 403
(n=11; X =75,09). The difference between these two groups is signi cant in
favour of members of profession following news about children (t=2.815;
p < 0.01).
Signi cant difference in scores was found for those who had knowledge
about children’s games as compared to those who did not (t= 3.870;
p<0.001).
Between members of the profession doing voluntary work and those not
doing voluntary work there is no signi cant difference (t=0.506, p>0.001).
TABLE 3: Variables Related to Activities Conducted for/with Children
State
Number
Mean
SS
Statistics
Reading books on children
Yes
138
88.54
11.63
t = 4.077**
No
74
81.28
13.60
Following the news about children
Yes
186
86.33
12.62
t = 2.815*
No
11
75.09
16.87
Have knowledge about children’s games
Yes
184
87.56
12.07
t = 3.870**
No
21
76.67
13.50
Doing voluntary work
Yes
41
85.07
16.82
t = - 0.506
No
165
86.21
11.75
* p < 0.05
** p < 0.001
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION
The study determined signi cant differences in the scores for male
and female members of the profession. Women, by their very nature,
are instinctively inclined to care giving. Moreover, societal roles of
motherhood predispose women with attributes favourable to care giving.
This could explain the higher scores for women (Özgüven, 2005).
Higher scores were obtained for respondents belonging to the age group
of 41 years and above. The lowest scores were seen for those in the age
group of 26–30 years. The period between the ages of 26–30 years can
be considered as the period of preparing and adaptation to new social
roles. In this period, people get engaged, married, and encounter new
challenges in life. They are saddled with additional responsibilities of
married life including adapting to their spouses and marital family (Onur,
IJSW, 73(3), 395–408, July 2012

404 Veli Duyan, Elif Gökçearslan Cifci and Ismet Galip Yolcuoglu
2003). Therefore, people belonging to this age group are more focused
on their private lives rather than work. Age 41 years and above can be
considered as the maturation period of inidviduals. Individuals are in the
most productive sphere of their lives and perceive events realistically,
are precise in determining their needs, and are better equipped with
coping mechanisms to deal with stressful situations (Onur, 2003). Thus,
caregivers serving in the child protection services during their middle age
may understand children’s problems better and care about them deeply.
Divorced members of the profession have the highest average of scores,
while single and married members of the profession have lower scores
on BLOCS. A similar study conducted by Duyan and Gelbal (2010) also
reported that married teachers have a more favourable attitude towards
children as compared to single and divorced teachers. The results of
this study are speci c to professionals working in the area of protection
services. Child protection services operate for twenty four hours every day
and care givers have to ll in for the absence of parents besides ful lling
professional responsibilities.
This study also reveals that caregivers have higher scores for ‘liking
children’ when compared to the scores achieved by other members of the
profession. Caregivers are followed by child educators, social service
specialists, child development specialists, psychiatrists and teachers
respectively in the variable ‘liking children’. Social service specialists,
psychiatrists and child development specialists usually work with
caregivers, teachers and child educators on the same oor of the buildings
located in institutions. As caregivers are responsible for the children’s
physical care, they are closer to children. Teachers serve as group leaders
and they work with children closely too. Therefore, it is worrisome to nd
that teachers have the lowest average of scores on BLOCS.
With regard to change in the place of work, members of the profession
who have never changed their place of work have the highest score
average on BLOCS. These professionals like to work with children and
are sympathetic to their needs and hence, do not want to change their place
of work. Similarly, those not inclined to change their place of work also
obtained high scores.
Working conditions in the Social Services and Child Protection
Institutions are very harsh and the level of burnout among personnel is
very high (I khan, 2010). Hence, improved working conditions will
ensure better satisfaction at work.
IJSW, 73(3), 395–408, July 2012

Attitudes of Social Care Professionals towards Children in Turkey 405
Members of the profession who read books on children obtained
higher scores from BLOCS. This nding is similar to the ndings of the
study on teachers conducted by Gelbal and Duyan (2010) and another
study on pediatric nurses conducted by Erdem and Duyan (2011). As
shown for the other occupational groups, members of these professions
can understand children better and can easily empathise with them
if they read books on children. At the same time, reading books on
children enables people to see the events unfolding through the eyes of
children. The fact that members of the social service profession are more
favourably disposed to reading books about children is bene cial to the
cause of children’s welfare.
The average scores obtained from BLOCS is higher for those who
follow news and information concerning children. This nding is
corroborated with the ndings of a study on teachers conducted by Gelbal
and Duyan (2010) and another study on pediatric nurses by Erdem and
Duyan (2011).
There is a signi cant difference in attitude towards children among
members of the profession concerning knowledge about children’s games.
This nding has some parallels with reading books on children and
following news about children. Hence, playing games can help caregivers
to establish closer relationships with children. This will help professionals
to identify problems faced by children.
Professionals, who voluntarily spend additional time with children,
have higher average scores on BLOCS. Here, it must be kept in mind
that volunteering to do additional activities with children is a matter of
personal choice.
In conclusion, lack of one-to-one relationship between adults and
children causes introversion, socialisation problems and behavioural
problems among children. Therefore, while selecting personnel for
institutions giving protection services for children, it is important to
determine the attitude of professionals towards children.
In-service training programmes should be held to enrich the knowledge
of professionals on the different ways and methods to spend time with
children effectively. With the aid of routine evaluations, members of
the profession who experience ‘burn out’ or have low levels for ‘liking
children’ can be directed to work in other institutions to improve
ef ciency.
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406 Veli Duyan, Elif Gökçearslan Cifci and Ismet Galip Yolcuoglu
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