Gender and Child Behavior Problems in Rural Nepal: Differential Expectations and Responses.
Whereas epidemiologic studies consistently identify different rates and types of problematic behavior in boys and girls, there has been little research examining the ecocultural context in which these gender differences in child behavior problems develop, especially in non-Western settings. This qualitative study in rural Nepal explored how behavioral expectations differed based on gender role, gender discrimination, inequity, and treatment of children based on their gender identity. We conducted semi-structured interviews with a total of 14 parents, school workers, and community leaders from a village in rural Nepal. Interview transcripts were coded by two authors using predetermined and emergent codes to identify expectations, behavior problems, and responses to behavior problems, stratified by gender. Authors then arranged codes into categories based on emergent themes. Four major themes in the interviews were identified: (1) self-reported gender non-bias; (2) differentiated role expectations; (3) gender, "goodness", and differential thresholds for problem behaviors; and (4) boys and girls require different responses for misbehavior. Results from our study in Nepal reflect nearly universal models of gender differences in behavior. Of particular importance in South Asia, patrilocal marital practices were used to frame gender differences in expectations. To protect girls' future potential to marry, local cultural practices provide girls with lesser opportunities and less cultural space to conduct themselves in a disruptive manner than boys. Greater understanding of differential expectations and responses to disruptive behaviors by gender will be important for culturally-appropriate equitable programming in child development.
Langer, JA; Ramos, JV; Ghimire, L; Rai, S; Kohrt, BA; Burkey, MD
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