Violence Prevention/Child Behaviour

Violence is a leading worldwide public health problem and makes a substantial contribution to the burden of disease at the global level. Interventions in early childhood are an important component in the primary prevention of violence. Training young children’s caregivers in behavioural strategies to reduce child aggression and promote child social skills can 1) prevent the early development of antisocial behaviour and 2) reduce violence against children by caregivers.


Projects

  • The Irie Classroom Toolbox: a cluster randomised trial of a universal violence prevention programme in Jamaican preschools
  • Evidence for Better Lives, Foundational study
  • The Irie Homes Toolbox: Development and Evaluation
  • Development and evaluation of an integrated early childhood development and violence prevention teacher-training intervention in Jamaican preschools.

Publications

Parents' use of harsh punishment and young children’s behaviour and achievement: a longitudinal study of Jamaican children with conduct problems

Harsh punishment by parents is common in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), yet there is limited evidence from LMIC of the effects of harsh punishment on child outcomes.

A longitudinal, prospective study was conducted with children with conduct problems to examine the associations between parents’ use of harsh punishment during the preschool years on child behaviour and school achievement in grade one of primary school.

As part of an efficacy trial in 24 preschools, 225 children with the highest level of teacher-reported conduct problems were evaluated and their parents reported on how often they used harsh punishment. Outcome measures in grade one included child conduct problems by independent observation, teacher and parent report, child social skills by teacher and parent report, direct tests of children’s academic achievement and language skills, and tester ratings of child attention and impulse control.

It was found that disadvantaged, inner city, Jamaican children identified as high risk for developing conduct problems during the preschool years were exposed to high levels of harsh punishment (defined as physical violence and psychological aggression) at home. This study presents preliminary evidence that the frequency of parents’ use of harsh punishment leads to worse behaviour trajectories over time, in terms of increased conduct problems and reduced social skills at home and at school, for these young children. The high prevalence of harsh punishment and the evidence for its negative effect on children’s development demonstrate an urgent need for parenting programmes to train parents in alternative discipline strategies and to prevent violence against young children in Jamaica.

Download the PDF Article

Global Mental Health - Parents' Use of Punishment

CAIHR Researchers

Helen Henningham, Visiting Professor and Taja Francis, Junior Research Fellow

Citation

Baker-Henningham H, Francis T (2018) Parents' use of harsh punishment and young children’s behaviour and academic achievement in Jamaica A longitudinal study of Jamaican children with conduct problems. Global Mental Health 5: e32. https://doi.org/10.1017/gmh.2018.21