COVID-19 caused – and continues to cause – unprecedented stress for families: economic crisis, school closures, lockdowns, mental health distress, and consequent increased violence, with evidence showing that violence and vulnerability increase for children during periods of school closures associated with health emergencies. This project worked to address and alleviate these harsh risks and realities for children worldwide, especially families living in the most deprived and difficult contexts.
As 1.8bn children left school in March 2020, our project leads Prof Lucie Cluver and Dr Jamie Lachman brought together a network of international policy partners in child abuse prevention: UNICEF, WHO, UNODC, Global Partnership to End Violence, USAID and CDC. Together we adapted our existing evidence-based parenting programmes into open-source multi-media public engagement resources, focused on concrete tips to build positive relationships, divert and manage bad behaviour, and manage parenting stress, giving families effective strategies to survive lockdown. The initial materials were translated into over 100 languages, and expanded to a wide range of tip sheets, comic strips, audio packs for radio and public service announcements, social media messaging kits, digital apps in multiple formats, online parenting support programmes, community and caseworker templates, church leaders’ and imams’ packs, and a theme song by a Broadway producer. Importantly, these parenting resources are based on robust evidence from randomised controlled trials in low- and middle-income countries.
As of August 2021, these resources have reached over 193 million people in 198 countries and territories, with 33 governments using this research in their national pandemic responses/child violence prevention programmes.