ISS recently hosted a webinar entitled “Why Should Male Caregivers Attend Parenting Programmes?” The purpose of this webinar was to share lessons learnt from implementing and evaluating parenting programmes for fathers, in South Africa and Uganda.
Parents play an important role in reducing violence against children, and parenting programmes help parents to adopt parenting behaviours that are nurturing and non-violent. This extends to fathers and male caregivers, who, historically, have an influence on the intergenerational adoption of violence.
Parenting programmes that help parents shape nurturing and non-violent relationships with their children, fall into one of the seven INSPIRE Strategies for Ending Violence Against Children. The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) has led several important events to understand, unpack and take stock of how the INSPIRE package is being used to prevent violence against children in South Africa.
As part of the webinar the Mikhulu Trust presented their programme for fathers called “Ixesha lam noTata”, which is an early childhood book-sharing programme for fathers and their young children.
The project was run in partnership with the University of Cape Town and Sonke Gender Justice in 2021/2022. The purpose of the project was to adapt an existing evidence-based programme for parents to be more attractive to fathers and then pilot and test the impact of this programme on children’s risk factors for adopting violent behaviour later in life.
The programme was piloted in Gugulethu, Cape Town, early in 2022. Many of the lessons learnt through the evaluation were around understanding fathers’ contexts more deeply, and adapting the practicalities of implementing programmes with men/fathers. This includes developing a greater understanding of fathers’ contexts across multiple dimensions, understanding, and developing distinct recruitment processes that clearly communicate the requirements and expectations of fathers’ participation, developing flexible programme offerings to accommodate both employed and unemployed fathers, and purposeful thinking and planning around incentives of participation.
The members of the Mikhulu Trust say that they learnt many lessons from this evaluation, and a clear next step would be to identify what needs to be done to help fathers commit to participating in parenting programmes.