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Promoting Positive Parenting: Preventing Violence Against Children Joan van Niekerk President ISPCAN.

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Presentation on theme: "Promoting Positive Parenting: Preventing Violence Against Children Joan van Niekerk President ISPCAN."— Presentation transcript:

1 Promoting Positive Parenting: Preventing Violence Against Children Joan van Niekerk President ISPCAN

2 Parents as Partners? Professionals in the child protection field tend to see parents as clients Should we be looking at them differently? As partners in providing child protection services? A far more empowering attitude!

3 Marta Santos Pais, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, (June 2014). “The family plays a critical role in violence prevention and in the protection of young children. Family love, affection and supportive advice help children develop trust and confidence; nurture their self-esteem and promote a growing sense of responsibility that give competence to overcome challenges and solve disputes without resorting to violent means. Providing a nurturing environment for children in early years, and supporting families and caregivers in their child-rearing responsibilities is critical to child development and protection from violence.”

4 The focus on the prevention of violence against children Has identified the importance of working with parents and caregivers The public health approaches to prevention of violence against children have identified various levels of prevention - Primary - Secondary - Tertiary Services to parents and caregivers should include all three levels.

5 Prevention and Parenting

6 Adverse Childhood Experiences Studies Inform us of the negative impact of abuse, neglect and exploitation On children On adult adjustment and coping On parenting capacity in respect of children Perpetuating the cycle of inter-personal violence

7 The Family – the first Child Protection System (GC 13 on Art 19 of the UNCRC) “The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recognizes the primary position of families, including extended families, in child caregiving and protection and in the prevention of violence. Nevertheless, the Committee also recognizes that the majority of violence takes place in the context of families and that intervention and support are therefore required when children become the victims of hardship and distress imposed on, or generated in, families;”

8 The Family – the first Child Protection System (GC 13 on Art 19 of the UNCRC) States parties have a positive and active obligation to support and assist parents and other caregivers to secure, within their abilities and financial capacities and with respect for the evolving capacities of the child, the living conditions necessary for the child’s optimal development. The General Comment 13 on Article 19 of the UNCRC therefore emphasises the importance of strengthening parenting as a child protection strategy.

9 The World Study on Violence against Children The report on the Study recognised that the family is the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members, particularly children, and recognised that the family has the greatest potential to protect children and provide for their physical and emotional safety. However the report also noted that the privacy and autonomy of the family are valued in all societies and the right to a private and family life, a home and correspondence is guaranteed in international human rights instruments. Eliminating and responding to violence against children is perhaps most challenging in the context of the family, considered by most as the most ‘private’ of private spheres.

10 The World Study on Violence Against Children The report noted that the prevalence of violence against children by parents and other close family members physical, sexual and psychological violence, as well as deliberate neglect – has been acknowledged and documented in recent decades. From early infancy until 18 years of age, children are vulnerable to various forms of violence within their homes. Perpetrators vary according to the age and maturity of the victim and may include parents, step-parents, foster parents, etc.

11 The World Study on Violence Against Children Violence against children in the family may frequently take place in the context of discipline and take the form of physical, cruel or humiliating punishment. Harsh treatment and punishment in the family are common in both industrialized and developing countries. Children, as reported in studies and speaking for themselves during the Study’s regional consultations, highlighted the physical and psychological hurt they suffer as a result of these forms of treatment and proposed positive and effective alternative forms of discipline.

12 The World Study on Violence Against Children recognised non-physical forms of violence against children The study noted that physical violence is often accompanied by psychological violence. Insults, name-calling, isolation, rejection, threats, emotional indifference and belittling are all forms of violence that can be detrimental to a child’s psychological development and well-being – especially when it comes from a respected adult such as a parent. It is of critical importance that parents be encouraged to employ exclusively non- violent methods of discipline.

13 Specific recommendations from the World Study relating to the family States should develop or enhance programmes to support parents and other carers in their childrearing role. Investments in health care, education and social welfare services should include quality early childhood development programmes, home visitation, pre- and post-natal services and income-generation programmes for disadvantaged groups;

14 Specific recommendations from the World Study relating to parenting Develop targeted programmes for families facing especially difficult circumstances. These may include families headed by women or children, those belonging to minorities or other groups facing discrimination, and families caring for children with disabilities;

15 Specific recommendations from the World Study relating to parenting Develop gender-sensitive parent education programmes focusing on non-violent forms of discipline. Such programmes should promote healthy parent-child relationships and orient parents towards constructive and positive forms of discipline and child development approaches, taking into account children’s evolving capacities and the importance of respecting their views.

16 Ending Violence Against Children: 6 Strategies for Action (UNICEF 2014) 1)Supporting parents, caregivers and families 2)Helping children and adolescents manage risks and challenges 3)Changing attitudes and social norms that encourage violence and discrimination 4)Promoting and providing support services for children 5)Implementing laws and policies that protect children 6)Carrying out data collection and research All of the above relate directly to parenting and child caregiving.

17 UNICEF’s description of this strategy This approach seeks to prevent violence and abuse from the outset by reducing the factors that make families vulnerable to violent behaviour and by strengthening parents’ and caregivers’ child-rearing skills. Parents and caregivers receive support in a variety of settings, from home visits to community-based centres staffed by nurses, social workers and other trained professionals. Support service institutions, including economic assistance agencies, also do outreach. These programmes have been implemented both at the community level as well as among targeted at-risk populations.

18 UNICEF’s description of this strategy continued Home visits and parent education classes are designed to increase parents’ and caregivers’ knowledge about child development and to promote positive parent-child interactions, including the use of non-violent discipline. The visits and classes combine health care, parenting education, child abuse prevention and early intervention services for infants and toddlers.

19 So – what is positive/optimal parenting? An attitude? A strategy? Not a specific programme…. Positive parenting is parental behaviour that respects the rights and best interests of the child. The positive parent nurtures, empowers and guides children, recognizing them as individuals in their own right. Positive parenting is not permissive parenting: it sets the boundaries that children need to develop their full potential. A key part of positive parenting is raising children in a non-violent environment. (Council of Europe)

20 Positive Parenting Provides Nurture – responding to a child’s need for love, warmth and security; Structure and guidance – giving a child a sense of security, a predictable, routine and necessary boundaries; Recognition – listening to children and valuing them as people in their own right; Empowerment – enhancing children’s sense of competence and personal control; A non-violent upbringing – excluding all corporal or psychologically demeaning punishment. (Council of Europe 2007)

21 Positive initiatives during childhood, such as Positive Parenting programmes, can enhance the resilience of children in all settings. Increased resilience, in turn, reduces the likelihood of children reacting with violence or falling victim to it in any of the settings identified in the UN Study.

22 So is positive parenting this easy?

23 Certainly not that simple – and babies are not born with a manual!

24 What do we need to support positive parenting Integrated law and policy The Council of Europe notes that While parenting is, in many respects, private, it is also a legitimate domain for public policy: and legislation can send a clear message about the unacceptability of violence in every setting, including the home the role of public authorities in supporting parents to learn and practice good parenting skills and positive discipline is crucial.

25 An example from South Africa The Children’s Act has a Chapter on Prevention and Early Intervention of abuse and neglect. Parenting skills are specifically mentioned and promotion: (1) Prevention and early intervention programmes must focus on- (a)preserving a child's family structure; (b)developing appropriate parenting skills and the capacity of parents and care-givers to safeguard the well-being and best interests of their children, including the promotion of positive, non-violent forms of discipline….

26 Other examples include Clear bans in legislation and policy on the use of corporal (physical) and harsh punishment – In both developed (so- called) and developing countries. Ideally – a ban on CP in all contexts including the home, not just the school, all situations in which children play, learn and develop.

27 Parent education programmes – developing the evidence base An increasing number of programmes that support positive parenting are being offered in countries – both developing and developed (so-called) However parenting practices are strongly linked to history, culture, religion Programmes therefore cannot be transplanted from one context to another without consideration of these and other factors It may also be helpful to study and reinforce existing and indigenous parenting practices that promote positive parenting along with introducing and implementing principles and programmes tested in other cultures and contexts.

28 Changing form and structure of family units in many countries There is a shift from the extended family to a nuclear family form – from where a number of adults in a family took responsibility for raising children to children being raised in one or two parent family structures, supplemented by caregivers in creches and other places of care. However many countries are also experiencing a shift from biological parenting to non- related caregivers in many situations such as - Foster care - Adoption - Children displaced by migration, disaster, war, pandemics – including HIV and AIDS,

29 Positive parenting begins with secure attachment Traditionally, across many cultures, young parents were supported by the extended families. In many cultures mothers were attended and supported by close female relatives during the birth and neo-natal period. The support and care of the mother facilitated bonding between baby and mother – and other members of the family. With the demise of the extended family, and the increased mobility of young families in many countries many of these practices have fallen away. Programmes that promote attachment and offer support to new parents are particularly important.

30 Getting it right from the beginning Barlow (Bentovim and Gray Eds 2014) notes that a key aspect of parenting is the ability of parents to bond with their infants and to respond to their needs with sensitivity. notes that a failure to do this constitutes emotional abuse and neglect.

31 In conclusion The home is the first context for learning for children. There is a growing evidence base to support positive parenting as a primary preventive strategy for reducing violence against children and breaking the cycle of violence across generations

32 Questions for Discussion How is the concept of positive parenting understood? What constitutes positive parenting? How is positive parenting supported, developed and sustained (at both local and national levels) through evidence based programming? Give examples of evidence based programmes and any publications that refer to the evidence base of these. Are different interventions and programmes required at different stages of childhood? In your experience how do your cultural norms and practices have an impact on positive parenting – give some examples

33 Questions for discussion What policy initiatives and decisions can be used to support positive parenting? Give examples at local and national levels. How is the evidence base being or been developed in your country? In your country, what constitutes a “good enough” evidence base for positive parenting? Do you have any evidence to support the hypothesis that positive parenting breaks the cycle of violence, perpetrated by both adults and children, in the long term?

34 Thank you!


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