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Keywords:

  • traditional practices;
  • childcare;
  • culture

Abstract

Professionals working in a multicultural society must be sensitive to diverse cultural approaches to child-rearing and be able to distinguish between those traditions that can cause harm and ones which positively enhance the child's cultural identity. This can be helped by viewing childcare practices on a continuum ranging from those that are unequivocally harmful, e.g. female circumcision, and therefore legitimate targets for abolition to those which, because of their benefits, deserve to be actively preserved and promoted. Most traditional practices encountered in the UK are between these two extremes, but can be positively or negatively influenced by local knowledge and attitudes. A West African culture is used to provide specific examples and to illustrate a framework based on the continuum. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.