While parental harsh disciplining of children is a global concern, children living in Nigeria often experience particularly high levels of harsh discipline. Constrained by the lack of parenting skills to effectively manage children, most Nigerian parents rely too heavily on the use of violent methods in the disciplining of their children, which poses a huge threat to their well-being and development. Given the high levels of harsh parenting and the lack of understanding of its harms, we set out to develop a program of intervention called Psychoeducational parenting program to prevent violence against children (PEPVAC), guided by psychological principles of social learning theory, to help parents reverse the trend. We tested the effectiveness of the program using a quasi-experimental design with questionnaire and observation as data collection tools. Participants were 300 parents of children age 3-12 years, who endorsed using harsh discipline. Parents (n = 150) who received the 8-week intervention were compared with parents in the control group (n = 150). A mixed-model ANOVA revealed that the PEPVAC parents demonstrated a reduced use of harsh disciplinary tactics and a decreased incidence of parents beating their children compared to parents in the control group who continued with business-as-usual. Findings suggest that PEPVAC can be a useful intervention tool in the prevention of punitive violence against children, especially in a culturally-oriented country like Nigeria with over 91 million population of children who are at risk of disciplinary violence in the home.
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