The Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP) III is undertaking the first phase of a parenting intervention aimed at equipping parents with the necessary tools to enable the use of non-coercive methods to discipline children and manage conflicts in the home.
Implementation of the Parenting Education Programme commenced in mid-November and is being administered at the community level through in-home training sessions, parent support groups and parenting workshops.
Speaking at a recent JIS Think Tank, CSJP III Senior Regional Case Management Coordinator for Kingston, Orville Simmonds, said 100 parents are currently being engaged in the six-month intervention.
He noted that more parents will be engaged over the next few months in an effort to reach 600 parents over the first phase.
“It is early days yet… but what we are observing is a thirst among parents for this type of engagement. Initially, there might have been some hesitation; however, once the lessons have started, we see parents demonstrating a strong desire for this service,” he said.
The intervention utilises Community Parent Trainers (CPTs), community-based volunteers who are trained in effective parenting methodologies and who engage parents at their homes. A total of 112 CPTs have been trained across the Kingston and St Andrew Central and Western regions.
Mr. Simmonds told JIS News that the CSJP collaborates with schools to identify and select parents of children with behavioural issues. Community organisations, as well as CSJP’s community case officers, recommend parents at risk of coercive parenting styles for the intervention.
Regional Case Management Coordinator, CSJP Central Region, Alva Marie Graham, said the initiative is important in the overarching treatment of youth that the programme targets.
“In treatment of vulnerable youth… sometimes they go back to the home and there is no change in that environment, as parents are aggressive in dealing with children, and violent practices continue to be perpetuated among the young people. If you are not addressing the parenting approach in the homes, then you are not going to be able to sustain and reduce the violence as we want to,” she pointed out.
Mrs. Graham said research indicates that a coercive parenting approach leads to development of conduct disorder among children and later antisocial behaviour. Children also transfer this learned behaviour to the school environment and, over time, to the community, leading to violence becoming pervasive.
“It is out of this understanding of the destructive nature of this practice in the home that the fundamental goal of the programme is designed to reduce the high levels of coercive parenting practices in the society as a means of reducing the risk for violent behaviour.
“The programme directly engages parents who are high-risk for coercive parenting, with a view to effect the reform that will reduce this type of practice in our society,” she explained.
Mrs. Graham said the programme provides skills and services to support and strengthen positive parenting practices, in addition to facilitating the development of an enabling environment in the school and wider community.
“We believe if parents are trained to identify, define and respond to their children’s problems using positive reinforcement, communicating and negotiating, understanding how to apply consequences to problem behaviours, it will go a far way in reducing the need for coercion to get compliance from children,” she said.