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New Study Provides Hints for Better Child Development

Uganda currently has no evidence based parenting model. As a result, parents tend to employ interventions they saw their own parents or other parents employing to raise their kids into respectful and responsible citizens. scientists have found danger in this and embarked on a study to establish what entails better parenting. The study addressed parental bonding, inequitable gendered socialization, harsh parenting and spousal conflict.
Involvement of men in running homes leads to better child development, a study on responsible parenting Conducted by Makerere University Child Health and Development Centre shows.  

According to the study, harsh parenting reduced after training men who were participating in the assessment, with evidence showing reduced slapping, hitting, embarrassing, criticizing and heavy work given to children, as a form of punishment.  

According to the results, only 5 per cent of children reported being punished by doing heavy tasks, a reduction from 23 per cent who reported being punished that way, six months before the training. Another 31 per cent of children reported being slapped from 69 per cent, while those that were hit by a stick reduced from 75 to 34 per cent.  

Children reporting being criticized reduced from 79 to 54 per cent. 44 per cent of the over 600 parents and guardians that participated in the study were males.  

Carolyn Namutebi Byekwaso, one of the researchers said while more women were interested in participating in the training sessions, they deliberately sought to recruit more fathers into the research that started with a baseline in 2017 initially recruiting 400 patients and 182 children. Later in October 2018, they embarked on a bigger study involving 645 parents and 79 children.  

Namutebi explains that they drafted a set of questions that they asked respondents before the training and then waited for six months to again ask them the same questions that were formulated basing on four themes – Bonding or parental connectedness, disciplinary strategy, gender socialization and spousal conflict and disrespect in relation to how they affect child development.  

“We asked children of between 10 to 14 years because this age group tends to be honest and then for parents and caregivers we selected those that have children of 0 to 17 years”, she said the training sessions for parents always lasted about three hours and each parent attended a total of 16 interactive sessions.  

Dr Godfrey Sui, the Principal Researcher on the study said that they had embarked on the study after they realized that the country lacks an evidence-based parenting model and yet how children are raised and what they are exposed to in the development process are vital tools in not only tackling both violence against children and gender-based violence but to also raise children to become more open-minded, resilient and respectful. 

The study, the researchers say, is already showing positive results. After six months, 93 per cent of the parents reported to have played with their children, 91 per cent knew their child’s friends, 81 per cent reported to have talked to their child’s friend and 77 per cent hugged their children.

However, when asked whether results of this study paint a picture of what’s happening across the country and representative enough to provide guidance in child development nationwide, Sui said the study was limited to the central region and majorly among the Baganda. He added that they are now planning to widen the scope to cover other parts of the country in order to come up with concrete evidence to inform what interventions parents should rely on.

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