Professor Lucie Cluver is one of the five recipients of the inaugural Horizon Impact Award, presented in Brussels earlier today. This award is the European Commission's initiative to recognise and celebrate outstanding projects that have used their results to provide value for society. The award aims to show the wider socio-economic benefits of EU investment in research and innovation.
Lucie was the Principal Investigator of the winning Parenting for Lifelong Health teen project. Professor Frances Gardner, Dr Inge Wessels and Dr Jamie Lachman (DSPI/ Clowns Without Borders South Africa) worked on the project, along with Dr Ohad Green (also DSPI). Professor Cathy Ward at the University of Cape Town was a Research Partner, and Lulu Ngcobo (Clowns Without Borders South Africa) was an implementing partner.
'SAFE' - Stopping Abuse through Free Evidence
Child abuse is highest in the developing world, with severe lifetime consequences. Through an ERC Starter Grant and Proof of Concept Grant, we developed and tested a free, effective parenting program that is now delivered in 21 developing countries. By 2021, it will reach an estimated two million children in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America.
From 2013-18, we worked closely with UNICEF, the World Health Organization, USAID, African governments, and families themselves. They identified a major unmet need: for an evidence-based, open-access parenting program for low-resource settings. We developed a group-based program, delivered by local community members. This supports family relationships, shares alternatives to violent arguments, helps families budget despite extreme poverty, and supports their plans to protect children inside and outside the home.
A gold-standard randomized trial of the program in 40 South African sites found 48% less physical and emotional abuse, reduced alcohol use, caregiver stress, depression and alcohol use. It improved parental involvement, supervision and economic welfare: families in the program were less likely to run out of food at the end of each month (Cluver et al, 2018). The child and adolescent versions of the program are now freely available on the WHO and UNICEF websites. They are endorsed by the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children and USAID. Program uptake includes NGOs and governments in Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, the Czech Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, India, Kenya, Lesotho, Macedonia, Malawi, Moldova, Montenegro, the Philippines, Romania, South Africa, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda and Zimbabwe. New adaptations with USAID will reach an estimated new 1.5 million children each year, with sustained benefits as programs are embedded within national services. Horizon 2020 research has made these children’s lives more supported, secure and safe.
Many congratulations to all the researchers and implementing partners involved in this project. It is wonderful to see the impact and reach of these programmes being recognised by the European Commission.