The results of a Parenting Education Programme implemented by the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP) III is expected to inform scientific and sociological exploration into the impact of strategic parenting intervention on the use of coercive forms of discipline.
The programme, which was rolled out in November 2017, builds on a pilot project that was implemented by the CSJP III in the western section of the island with positive results. The inaugural execution of the programme included the training of 138 parents and 112 Community Parent Trainers (CPTs), who provided one-on-one in-home intensive coaching, over an eight-month period, which ended in June.
Psychological Services Coordinator with the CSJP III, Dr. Melva Spence, says the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), one of the funders of the CSJP, has initiated an impact evaluation for the programme, which will be used to determine its success in nurturing in parents, the capacity to engage in effective parenting strategies without the use of coercion.
Baseline data was collected prior to implementation of the initiative and follow-up surveys were conducted at the end of the training period. Final follow-up surveys are expected to be done within another six months, to assist the evaluators in determining whether coercive parenting practices have been reduced and whether other changes are observed.
Dr. Spence, who was speaking at a graduation ceremony on October 10, for the 250 parents and CPTs who have received training through the programme, said the results from the initiative will be critical in informing parenting intervention within the Jamaican culture and context.
“Parenting education material developed outside of our country are not easily adaptable or even sometimes appropriate for use in our context,” she said.
Dr. Spence further noted that with many youth across the communities it serves reporting problematic psychological functioning at the clinical level, the Parenting Education Programme merits attention at the policy level, to address both parental practices and children developmental outcomes.
She said the National Parenting Support Commission, a partner on the programme, can also use the results to inform its work going forward.
“While the programme cannot claim categorically that the intervention is totally responsible for changes seen, there are individual testimonies that have shown that there were some changes in mutual respect, applying logical consequences, open communication and behaviour modification as an alternative to coercive parenting after family interventions were conducted,” she said.
The Parenting Education Programme seeks to reduce the incidents of corporal punishment by parents, to promote positive communication, to help parents establish effective rules, to improve parental involvement in the lives of children, to train parents in conflict resolution techniques and to promote a cadre of CPTs in each region as resource persons in communities to assist parents in achieving the desired goal.
“The CSJP’s philosophy on parenting is that all parents with the right kind of help, will develop the capacity to learn and hone parenting skills to teach their children acceptable values and attitudes, and to prepare them to be active, contributing citizens in their families and communities,” Dr. Spence said.
According to experts in the field of parenting, lack of adequate parenting skills, lack of adult supervision and a reliance on punitive disciplinary strategies are amongst the greatest challenges. When these are coupled with the coercive behaviour of some parents, it contributes significantly to violent conflicts within families, Dr. Spence said.