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Academics from Oxford University's Department of Social Policy and Intervention will partner with governments and NGOs to plan, adapt and implement a child-abuse prevention programme in 14 countries across Africa

Bringing an evidence based child abuse prevention programme to the world

Image credit: Lars Ploughman via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

Since 2012, under the direction of Professor Lucie Cluver, Oxford University has led the research behind an adolescent abuse prevention programme developed in partnership with UNICEF South Africa, UNICEF Innocenti, and the South African Government. The Sinovuyo Teen programme has now been tested in two pilot studies in rural and township areas of South Africa’s poorest province. Both pilots showed reductions in child abuse and adolescent delinquency and improvements in positive parenting, social support and mental health for both caregivers and adolescents.

In the past year, a number of governments and international agencies have expressed interest in adapting and implementing the programme. The project team now plans to expand the project to the following 14 countries via 10 different organisations:

Each country scale-up requires adaptation of the Sinovuyo Teen programme to ensure they are culturally and linguistically relevant. To achieve this, they must be developed in close partnership with government and non-academic in-country teams who have local cultural expertise, whilst retaining the core evidence-based parts of the programme through consultation with the research team.

The project team will also facilitate close knowledge exchange partnerships between the international agencies/governments and NGOs that will do the training and implementation of the programme: Clowns Without Borders SA and the Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative.

Funding from Oxford University’s ESRC IAA will support the employment of an expert knowledge exchange (KE) officer who can specialize in working closely with each country partner. The KE officer will manage communication between agencies and different countries and co-design the manual adaptation with agencies, governments and NGOs. They will also support translation and training of local NGO workers. In addition, they will co-develop supervision and monitoring systems and record numbers of facilitators trained as well as children reached by the programme.

By building and sustaining strong relationships with non-academic partners as they plan, adapt and implement the programme, this project has potential for massive societal impact in highly-deprived countries, as well as informing future research at Oxford University.

Lucie Cluver is Professor of Child and Family Social Work in Oxford University's Department of Social Policy and Intervention.

This project was funded by Oxford's ESRC Impact Acceleration Account.