A PROMISING STRATEGY TO ADDRESS VIOLENCE AGAINST BOTH WOMEN AND CHILDREN
Parenting programmes work with caregivers to support the healthy development of children, positive relationships in the family, and non-violent discipline. Many parenting programmes focus on very young children, but programmes do exist for parents of children of other ages, including adolescents. Parenting programmes to prevent violence can involve group-based participation, long-term home visitation, and/or early detection via educational settings or social protection.
This page gives key resources and selected examples.
Factors common to both intimate partner violence and violence against children make parenting programmes a promising strategy to reduce both types of violence:
- Men who are violent towards their intimate partners are more likely to be violent towards their children.
- Women who experience intimate partner violence are more likely to use harsh parenting and violent discipline with their children.
- Children who witness or experience violence in childhood are more likely to experience (girls) or perpetrate (boys) intimate partner violence as adults.
Some studies show that parenting programmes that integrate speciﬁc content on gender relations can be eﬀective in reducing both violence against children and intimate partner violence, as well as in improving other parenting and health outcomes. However, few intentionally set out to do so.
“WHILE THE HOME AND FAMILY CAN BE THE PRIMARY SETTING WHERE VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN OCCURS, THEY CAN ALSO BE THE MOST IMPORTANT SOURCES OF PROTECTION FROM VIOLENCE, AND OF CARE AND SUPPORT WHEN VIOLENCE HAS OCCURRED.”
Promising approaches to preventing violence within parenting programmes include:
- Promoting nurturing relationships and responsive caregiving
- Strengthening skills to manage children’s behaviour through positive reinforcement and non-violent discipline
- Developing caregivers’ emotional self-regulation skills and reducing their stress
- Promoting gender-equitable relationships in the family
Participants in parenting programmes need longer-term, participatory programmes that provide the opportunity and support to learn and practice new skills, especially around positive, non-violent discipline. They also need space for critical reflection on gender and violence. Reducing the perceived acceptability of violence as a form of discipline is key to reducing both corporal punishment and intimate partner violence.
Many parenting programmes have trouble recruiting fathers and male caregivers, as gender norms around the world affirm childcare as a woman’s responsibility. But to reduce children’s exposure to and experience of violence in the home—including intimate partner violence—men must be involved. Intentional and creative ways to engage men as fathers include developing specific materials and recruitment strategies and holding single-sex sessions to discuss men’s roles as fathers.
NOTE: Supporting parents is a key strategy under both the United Nations framework to reduce violence against women (RESPECT) and the United Nations strategy to reduce violence against children (INSPIRE).