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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Reducing Child Abuse: Tackling Challenges in High Violence Societies -Bernadette Madrid

With a focus on adolescence, Bernadette Madrid, from the Univeristy of the Philippines and Director of the Child Protection Unit, highlighted the fact that this stage in life is a critical period in the life course. She made a very interesting point that, "no matter when we intervene in childhood; primary, secondary, or tertiary, ultimately it is all primary intervention for adulthood and for the next cycle of violence (family)". I thought this was a really interesting point to make because it requires a broader thought process that forces us to really consider the longer term objectives. It also fits nicely into the concept of reducing violence 50% in 30 years because it highlights that if we start to focus on violence reduction and intervention in adolescence, then we are essentially instilling primary prevention for those who will potentially parent the children of the next generation. If we do not think about the cycle of violence, then we will constantly play catch up.

Another really interesting point was made about the development of a research capacity in developing countries. Developing countries are working with very limited resources and politicians that are attracted to structural reform (improving schools, unemployment etc). However, because of the electoral cycles, issues such as dealing with the 'disconnected youth' in developing countries (child trafficking, sexual exploitation, etc) are not prioritised. 

Bernadette made a few recommendations on what we need to do to improve the means and resources for research in developing countries. 

1)We need to have universal access to secondary school education : This includes having young people complete high school which is of good quality and improve links to employment. Graduating highschool was found to have links with decreasing other negative life outcomes (marrying when young, re-victimisation of abuse) 

2) Universal Access to Mental Health:  Mental health problems affect 10-20% of children and adolescents worldwide, but in many low medium income countries, no psychosocial resources exist (Philippines as an example). There needs to be a promotion of interventions and socio-emotional development which includes developmental problems such as ADHD.

3) Reorganisation of services for better intervention and collaboration: We need to collaborate, engage citizens, independent agencies and experts. 

4) Collaborate to increase the capacity in prevention and implementation research: This includes making cultural adaptations to traditional risk factors and research, but also to consider that there are many steps that need to be made before programmes can be implemented. For example, Bernadette attended some training on DNA data bases in America, and when she went back to the Philippeans she was told that in order to consider the database, there was first a need to develop the infrastructure such as where to store the DNA, the tools to collect the DNA, etc etc. All things that did not exist and make building the research capacity important. 

In her final thoughts, Bernadette recommended the use of technology and music to begin to shape the views of violence prevention. These are things that already exist and can be further developed if we can make the cultural adaptations. Technology can be used in a rule of capacity training, and music can be used as a method of communication within communities as it's effective and is something that goes straight to an individual's emotion. 

A. Neaverson 

Posts are on-the-go and are my views. 

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