IMPACT OF FAMILY CONFLICTS ON THE ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE AND INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS OF PUPILS IN PUBLIC PRIMARY SCHOOLS IN NAKURU MUNICIPALITY
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1.1 Background Information Conflict can be defined as the lack of peace in an environment. Conflict in a family therefore refers to a situation whereby the smooth interaction and relation among members of a family is disrupted because of one thing or another. It can be between the two parents or between parents and their children. Conflict in a family can be as a result of lack of trust, drunkenness, lack of dialogue, lack of respect, joblessness and idleness. It comes in form of fights, quarrels, spouse battering, child abuses and child molestation. It can result to a bad atmosphere in the home, separation or even divorce. According to Walker (1999), studies carried out have shown that when one form of violence was found in the family, other forms were more likely to also occur and that violence in the family has a direct relationship to community violence and other forms of aggression and gender based violence. Law enforcement in many countries will not intervene in what is often called a “domestic quarrel” even though psychological research indicates that without such intervention, abusers are unlikely to seek help to stop their battering behaviour. Research has found a strong relationship between violence in the home and violence in the community. Golden (2000) reports that it has been found that prior history of abuse can increase the likelihood of abusive behaviour. According to Steinberg (1996), parental conflict and aggression or a conflict atmosphere in the home is related to offspring’s personal or violent crimes. Murphy and O’Farrell (1994) highlighted the view that parents play a central role in shaping the child’s development through their influence.
Thus if parents keep having conflicts in their homes, children are bound to be affected as they grow up. They also asserted that children learn through imitating and identification with the parents and other significant adults. If the children grow up in a family where violence is a common phenomenon, they may end up doing the same in their families, unless intervention is carried out. The first important influence on children is the family but children and families are interactive members of a large system of social institutions, such as the school, the workplace and 2 community. Parental involvement and education improve both family and child functioning. It has been found out that parental involvement in a child might have lasting effects on its behaviour. Steinberg (1996) assets that conflict is a critical aspect of family functioning that often outweighs the influence of family structure on the child’s development. He also reports that studies carried out have found that children’s healthy and social development is most effectively promoted by love and at least some moderate parental control. According to Seifert and Hoffnung (1997), children who have lived for years in situations of neglect or abuse suffer severe stress. They also state that students often receive long term support from parents or other adults at home as well as strong support from teachers and others at school. Involving parents in learning activities with their children at home is one kind of parental involvement that many educators believe is an important aspect of the child’s learning. If the family is undergoing conflict, parents will not have time for their children. Men, who more often use violence, do so in order to obtain and maintain power and control over others. The APA task force on violence and the family defined domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behaviours including a wide range of physical, sexual and psychological maltreatment used by one person in an intimate relationship against another to gain power unfairly or maintain that person’s misuse of power, control and authority.
Berk (1999) asserts that problematic school performance is among the more common problems associated with child abuse and neglect. Such children often experience difficulties with social relationship, problem solving and the ability to cope with new or stressful situations. According to studies carried out, some abused or neglected children develop aggressive behaviour patterns, others become withdrawn while others even get PTSD or major depression. Kiura (1999) asserts that a healthy relationship between husband and wife depends on selfunderstanding, understanding spouse, balance between individuality, mutual relationship, proper management of conflicts, sexual harmony and sound skills in mutual dialogue and communication. He also says that parents need to assume responsibility for their children’s eternal destiny, educate them, prepare them for life and guide them towards the right way. If parents are not in harmony, it follows that their children will suffer too. They not only suffer at home but also when they go to school or visit friends by carrying the burden of their parents with them.
3 1.2 Statement of the Problem
In Kenya today, hardly a week goes by before it is reported in the media that a child or its parents or both have been hospitalized or killed as a result of family conflicts. Other cases reported are those whereby a woman packs and leaves her matrimonial home with her children because she can no longer tolerate her husband’s behaviour. There are even cases whereby it is the men who move out of their homes to look for peace elsewhere. There have also been cases of suicidal killings, where the head of the family kills his wife and children before killing himself. There is also the case of street children, some of whom are on the streets because they have run away from violent home environments. These incidents take place not only in rural areas but also in urban ones. Nakuru Municipality has also recorded some of these incidents. When families are in conflict, it affects children in their physical, cognitive, affective and even spiritual growth. Their lives are enclosed or imprisoned if they continue being exposed to a violent environment. For some, such an environment means that they have no access to formal education and their cognitive and affective developments are tampered with. This study, therefore, sought to find out the impact of family conflicts on a pupil especially on his or her academic performance and relationship with peers. 1.3 Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of family conflicts on the academic performance and interpersonal relationships of pupils in public primary schools in Nakuru Municipality.
1.4 Objectives of the Study
This study was guided by the following objectives:
(i) To determine the extent to which conflicts in a family affect pupils’ academic performance.
(ii) To establish the nature of the relationship between pupils who experience family conflicts and their peers.
(iii) To establish whether it is the male or female pupils who are more affected by conflicts in families.
(iv) To establish the nature of the relationship between pupils who experience family conflicts and their teachers. 4
(v) To determine the attitude of the pupils who experience family conflicts towards their parents, peers and school.
(vi) To determine the role of the school’s counsellor in assisting pupils who experience family conflicts.
1.5 Research Questions
This study aimed at answering the following questions:-
(i) To what extent do conflicts in a family affect pupils’ academic performance?
(ii) What is the nature of the relationship between pupils who experience family conflicts and their peers?
(iii) Who, in terms of male or female, is more affected by conflicts in families?
(iv) What is the nature of the relationship between pupils who experience family conflicts and their teachers? (v) What is the attitude of pupils who experience family conflicts towards their parents, peers and school?
(vi) What role does the school’s counsellor play in assisting pupils who experience family conflicts?
1.6 Significance of the Study
The findings of this study may be of help to teachers and parents and it will add knowledge to the body of literature on family conflict. The study will be of help to parents and especially those who experience problems in their families. They will understand how problems in a family can affect their pupils’ short-term life and to some extent, their future. This will encourage such parents to embrace dialogue and understanding in an effort of trying to solve their problems. In instances where the problems are severe, they can engage the services of a counsellor so that harmony prevails. The study will also contribute to the body of literature on family conflicts and its influence on a primary school pupils’ academic performance and interpersonal skills with specific reference to primary schools in Nakuru Municipality. This study dealt with primary schools and thus it will make an improvement to the related situations. 5 It may also be of benefit to counsellors, especially those stationed in schools. They can be able to offer intervention measures to pupils who come from families that experience conflict in an effort to help them concentrate on their studies and build good relationships with other pupils. The findings may be useful to teachers especially because they spend more time with the pupils at school. They can intervene by referring pupils to the school counsellor or by calling the parents of the pupil and discussing the pupil’s behaviour and academic performance. 1.7 Scope of the Study The study was carried out in Nakuru Municipality, Rift Valley Province. It involved ten public primary schools within the municipality. Two teachers per school and 384 pupils in class seven and eight were involved in filling in the questionnaires. The study was concerned with the impact of family conflicts on pupils in their academic performance and interpersonal relationships. The research was limited to Nakuru Municipality.
1.8 Limitations of the Study The study had the following limitations:-
i) It was limited to public schools only.
ii) It was limited to primary schools in Nakuru District which means results can only be generalized with caution.
iii) It looked at how family conflicts affect a pupil’s academic performance and interpersonal relationships. There are other reasons that affect pupils’ performance and relationship with others.
1.9 Assumptions of the Study
The study was based on the following assumptions:-
(i) The pupils would be willing to honestly fill in the questionnaires
(ii) The teachers would be willing to provide the correct information on their various experiences with different pupils.
6 1.10 Definition of Terms
The following terms, which were important to the study, had the following operational meanings:- Academic Performance: This is how pupils are ranked in terms of educational achievement. In this study, academic performance means how the pupils fair on in their studies as compared to others in the same class.
Child Abuse: The act of harming a pupil in a physical, sexual or emotional way. In this study, child abuse refers to any harm that pupils in public primary schools undergo, be it physical, sexual or emotional.
Conflict: It is a mutual opposition or difference between two parents or between parents and their pupils in a family. It is a state of disagreement or argument in a family. In this study, conflict means the disagreements or oppositions that pupil under study face in their families, either directly from their parents or indirectly when they witness their parents’ arguments.
Delinquency: Bad or Criminal behaviour, usually of young people. In this study, it means bad or criminal behaviour practised by public primary school pupils. Family: It is a social unit made up of people related to each other by blood, birth or marriage. In this study, family is a social unit made up of public primary school pupils and their parents or guardians.
Family Conflict: This refers to problems, oppositions or differences that occur within the family set up. In this study, it refers to problems, oppositions or differences that public primary school pupils face within their families. Family Violence: Physical force that is intended to hurt or kill within the family set up. It is characterized by serious physical injury, profound psychological trauma or sexual violation. In this study, family violence means physical or psychological injury that pupils experience within their families. 7 Impact: This means to have a powerful effect on something or someone. It can also refer to a force that drives someone into behaving in a certain way. In this study, it means the force that drives pupils to act in a certain way. Interpersonal Relationships: This is how someone communicates with others; the way a person relates to others in a family or school. In this study, it refers to the way pupils communicate with peers in school and family members at home. Maltreated Children:
These are children who experience cruelty from their parents. Maltreatment is characterized by minimal physical or sexual harm. In this study, it refers to pupils who are treated in a cruel way by their parents or guardians. Primary School: School for those pursuing the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education. It begins from class one to eight. In this study, primary school refers to those public primary schools within Nakuru Municipality. Pupil: This is anybody, child or adult, who is enrolled in a primary school or who is pursuing the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education. In this study, the pupils include those who come from families where there is conflict and those whose families do not experience conflict.