In contrast to corporal punishment, positive parenting is characterized by non-violent discipline and warmth in parent-child interactions. Benefits of positive parenting include healthier child development, better parental health, and less family conflict. Research suggests positive parenting is beneficial for families around the world; yet, research has also documented many barriers to positive parenting. Some of these barriers include war and societal conflict, natural disasters, material hardship, racism and discrimination, and cultural norms about violence. This symposium brings together four novel papers that examine complementary approaches to promoting positive parenting around the world in the context of these barriers.
The first paper uses nationally representative survey data harmonized across 56 low- and middle-income countries to address a thought-provoking question: what would happen if spanking were eliminated across the world? The authors estimate that if spanking were eliminated, there would be a one-third reduction in the prevalence of physical abuse, underscoring the importance of preventing corporal punishment globally.
The second paper is a randomized controlled trial, which tested two brief parenting education interventions, Triple P-Level 2 and Play Nicely, among mothers at Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) service clinics in the metro New Orleans area in the United States. Findings suggest that brief parenting education can promote positive discipline strategies and reduce parental support of the use of spanking among minoritized and economically disadvantaged families.
The third paper evaluates the implementation of the Positive Discipline in Everyday Parenting (PDEP) intervention in two settings: occupied Palestinian territories, a context besieged by decades of war, and Sendai, Japan, a region recovering from a natural disaster. The authors find evidence that the intervention was relevant and effective in both contexts, suggesting it may be useful in other settings experiencing violence or disaster.
The fourth paper uses data from a population-based survey of school children in 16 countries to examine how legal bans of corporal punishment in the home are associated with children's experiences at home. Findings suggest that corporal punishment bans are associated with children feeling safer at home and having more positive interactions with their parents, underscoring the role of policy interventions in promoting positive parenting.
The symposium's discussant is a scientist-practitioner who uses research to improve child and family services and to inform child and family policy. She has extensive experience conducting implementation and impact evaluations of early childhood and prevention programs. She will reflect on the strengths and limitations of the four papers and their implications for social work practice and policy in the U.S. and around the world.