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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Columbia Professor Provides Assessment of Early Childhood Development and Violence Prevention

A landscape analysis by Dr. Cassie Landers, assistant professor of population and family health at the Mailman School of Public Health, shows that progress has been made in developing and evaluating interventions to reduce violence against and abuse, neglect, and exploitation of young children. Yet, progress in achieving deeper and more sustainable impact by building synergy across areas of early childhood development and violence prevention has been limited. The report, sought: to identify key networks, campaigns, and initiatives to highlight gaps and opportunities; and to propose recommendations for moving forward.

Summary and Recommendations:

The insights reported here generated through the scaling up and replication of evidence-based strategies provides a roadmap for the next set of challenges that need to be addressed. Dr. Landers, who is also affiliated with the CPC Learning Network of academics, policymakers, and practitioners to promote innovative research and build the next generation of advocates for children and families, proposes the following five recommendations:

1. Engaging Families with Young Children: The Power of Multiple Entry Points

A consistent finding of the review was the identification of multiple pathways for reaching families with young children. “One size does not fit all” and the challenge lies in finding the balance between the goals of a program and the problems it seeks to address. Greater collaboration between the early childhood and violence prevention communities is essential to achieve the significant work that remains to be done. It is also important to replicate best practices, while allowing for flexibility to adapt to different cultural contexts and settings.

According to Dr. Landers, several areas where the combined expertise of both early childhood and violence prevention is particularly urgent include (a) the role of fathers in parenting, and strategies for reaching (b) families with children with disabilities, and (c) marginalized families with limited access to services.

2. Building on and Enriching Existing Campaigns

Existing violence prevention campaigns can be used to raise attention to the scale and scope of violence abuse and neglect of young children.  In developing these campaigns, it is important to focus on what parents, families and communities can do. The powerful  story of early child development can be used to craft messages and materials that highlight solutions illustrating the positive.

3. Creating Space for Innovation and Creativity

Improving the power of prevention efforts requires more than replication and adaptation – it calls for innovation. For example,  new mobile technologies can be used to link families to the different services and resources available in their communities.

4. Fostering Linkages between Services, Systems, and Policies

The role of early childhood services as a key component of child protection systems assessment has received minimal attention. This assessment coupled with development of a simplified toolkit to identify priorities would help identify  and strengthen the linkages between early childhood and child protection systems.

5. Creating a Dynamic Global Learning Platform

While there has been progress, early childhood violence prevention strategies are not uniformly available  across regions and countries, placing some of the most vulnerable communities and families at greatest risk. To ensure continued progress, it is essential that advocates and experts from across the fields of early childhood and violence prevention collaborate and pursue cohesive strategies.

The report was supported by the UBS Optimus Foundation.

Download the report here.