Parenting skills that create resilient, happy, and safe children

Prevent Child Sexual Abuse

23 February 2022

Photo by Larry Crayton on Unsplash

Parenting is a vital yet challenging task under the best of circumstances. How do parents learn to care for their children? How do they develop positive relationships with their children? What are the best methods for disciplining children? Sometimes, parents and carers need help to learn skills to create resilient, happy, and safe children. And recently, with the Covid-19 lockdowns and school closures, the need for support in bringing up happy families has perhaps never been greater.  

Parenting programmes have major long-lasting benefits in preventing child mistreatment and reducing violence both to and by young people. These programmes, however, can be expensive, and they are not always culturally appropriate for low- and middle-income countries.

That’s where ‘Parenting for Lifelong Health’ comes in. This is an international initiative to develop, test, and disseminate effective and low-cost parenting programmes and resources for families with babies, young children, and adolescents worldwide. Parenting for Lifelong Health is a suite of programmes developed in the Global South, for the Global South. The programmes have been adapted to suit contexts across the world, including in Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and Eastern Europe, and are starting to be adapted for Latin America. Through all the programmes, there is a focus on building positive parent-child relationships and reducing violence against children, by: teaching people how to manage difficult behaviour; creating structure and routines; keeping children safe online; and reducing stress and conflict.

Parenting for Lifelong Health programmes are rigorously tested to make sure they work. When brought to scale, they have the potential to transform the lives of millions of parents and their children for a better future.

The Parenting for Lifelong Health model underwent drastic adaptation and innovation during the Covid-19 pandemic to meet the needs of families around the world, when in person programmes weren’t possible. Programme developers, with backing from WHO, UNICEF, UNODC, USAID, CDC, the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, the Early Childhood Development Action Network, World Without Orphans, and others, adapted the core elements from the programmes into a set of freely-available COVID-19 Parenting resources. These included user-friendly tip sheets, public service announcements, caseworker guides, animated videos, social media kits, and audio packages for radios. The Parenting for Lifelong Health programmes were adapted to be delivered remotely through an app, a chatbot, online chat groups, and a series of hybrid delivery models using web-based platforms. During this adaptation of the programmes, Oak Foundation’s Prevent Child Sexual Abuse programme supported Oxford University to lead the integration of a sexual abuse prevention component into the project.

The results of the Covid-19 initiative has surpassed expectations: 197 million families in 198 countries and territories have been reached, and the materials have been taken up by 34 governments. At the same time, preliminary evidence from ten countries suggests that the programme is helping families increase their competence in protecting children from sexual abuse.

Building on the success of the programme, the Prevent CSA Programme will be collaborating with other funders to support the more ambitious Global Parenting Initiative. This will include embedding male engagement and sexual violence prevention into the initiative, and supporting scale-up and an impact evaluation. 

This grant falls under Oak’s Prevent Child Sexual Abuse programme, and within that our Solutions and Advancing Action sub-programme, which seeks to build the evidence base and scale up solutions that prevent child sexual abuse. You can read more about the programme here. You can find out more about Parenting for Lifelong Health on Twitter, and on its website here.  

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