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Innocenti researchers contribute to international youth and gender conference

Several UNICEF Innocenti researchers will make important contributions to a major conference exploring current paradigms, concepts and approaches to adolescence, youth and gender issues in relation to international development policy. The Adolescence, Youth and Gender: Building Knowledge for Change conference, organised by Young Lives, on September 8-9 at the University of Oxford, will bring together up to 150 researchers and academics to promote dialogue and share the latest global evidence on adolescence, youth and gender and the implications for policy and programming.UNICEF Innocenti researchers will share recent research findings on adolescent well-being, the drivers of violence against children and the impact of cash transfers in sub-Saharan Africa.An Innocenti organised panel will discuss the Impacts of Deprivation and Economic Empowerment on the Well-Being of Adolescents and Young People.As part of the panel, Leah Principe and Lucia Ferrone will present on The Evolution of Adolescent Outcomes in Multi-dimensional Poverty. Jacob de Hoop, an Innocenti social policy specialist will present Economic Empowerment and Children’s Activities.   Richard de Groot, a consultant with UNICEF Innocenti will explore Unconditional Cash Transfers and Schooling Outcomes in Ghana: Heterogeneous Effects for Boys and Girls in Secondary School.Continuing the theme of cash transfers, social policy specialist Tia Palermo will sit on a panel titled Influencing Gender Socialisation in Adolescence. She will present insights from a recent impact evaluation of a Tanzanian conditional cash transfer programme and discuss its impact on youth well-being and the transition to adulthood. The talk will analyse baseline results and present future plans for the project.  Research and evaluation specialists, Mary Catherine Maternowska and Alina Potts will present on Understanding the Key Drivers of Violence Against Children as part of a panel on children’s experiences of violence and building a framework for violence prevention. You can watch a live stream of parts of the conference here. For more information on conference activities and speakers visit here.(19 August 2016)
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Evidence on parenting of adolescents in Africa challenges conventional views

A new discussion paper examines research findings and evidence on parenting of adolescents in eastern and southern African countries. The paper aims to shed new light on how adolescents are raised, what social and structural factors affect parenting and where families turn for support in this important region. Parenting, Family Care and Adolescence in East and Southern Africa: An evidence-focused literature review, seeks to deepen understanding of family life, care practices and support networks so as to inform policies and interventions that seek to improve adolescent-family relations and reduce risk behaviours. Countries selected in the literature review include Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Heidi Loening-Voysey, a child protection research and evaluation specialist at UNICEF Innocenti explained the key findings in the paper.“The paper highlights the notion of adolescents and parents living within the cultural ideals of a community and how the responsibility of raising teenagers through to adulthood is shared with kin and community members.“The usefulness of this paper lies in the depth of understanding that it provides to the way in which families are adversely affected by socio-economic factors and the potential for intervention designs to strengthen and preserve families.She added: “It refers to adolescents’ expectations of parents in expanding and adapting the five dimensions of parenting defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2007 which were love, limit setting, respect for individuality, modelling behaviour and provision.”Key findings in the paper challenge conventional views on parenting which, it argues, emanate largely from the western world. The findings highlight that parenting in the southern and east African region has to be seen in the context of strong cultural values, high levels of migration, the HIV epidemic and extreme poverty, each of which make an impact on parenting in the region.Evidence shows how community and kinship structures still play prominent roles facilitating adolescents’ entry into adulthood in eastern and southern Africa. In adolescent households, the mother and grandmother play key roles in adolescent upbringing, however, traditional community and kinship structures are beginning to fade due to a range of factors including joblessness and migration.The paper also examines support networks for parents and adolescents with results showing that they often turn to support form outside of the family as it can prove to be more reliable and does not threaten integrity. Support groups established by health based organisations have become an important source of help for adults; however, adolescents and young parents often do not possess relevant social status required to access formal and informal community networks.An evidence-informed model for understanding the ecology of adolescent-parent relationships in the cultural and economic contexts of the region is provided in the discussion paper. In addition, a framework for exploring context relevant dimensions of parenting through research and practice is offered.The methodology used is a rigorous, evidence-focused literature review based on the core principles of a systematic review. The review encompassed academic and grey literature from six countries and from the region as a whole.(9 August 2016)
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Peru makes strides in understanding drivers of violence against children

A new report has revealed insights into the scope of physical, psychological and sexual violence affecting children in Peru. Produced by the Government of Peru with support from UNICEF, the findings are intended to support improved national violence prevention efforts. The Spanish language report, Understanding for Prevention: Summary of violence against children and adolescents in Peru, was led by Peru’s national Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations with support from UNICEF Peru and several other government and academic partners. The study feeds into the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti’s Multi-Country Study on the Drivers of Violence Affecting Children on-going in Peru as well as in Italy, Viet Nam and Zimbabwe. Key findings from a nationally representative survey show that about 70 per cent of adolescent boys and girls report experiencing physical or psychological violence at home during their lifetimes, while about half of all boys and girls have experienced peer-to-peer violence in schools. Three out of four children in Peru aged 9 – 17 report having experienced emotional violence at home or in school. According to other data in the Cuzco Region up to one in five females had experienced sexual violence in their lifetimes, while equal percentages of adolescent girls and boys reported experiencing sexual violence in their lifetime.“These findings highlight the need for targeted research, policy and programming responses for prevention of violence,” said Mary Catherine Maternowska, who leads the Innocenti study for UNICEF. The Understanding for Prevention report employed a comprehensive investigation of reliable quantitative and qualitative data sources. Peru’s 2015 National Survey of Social Relations of over 3,000 children and adolescents in all parts of the country provides a robust quantitative national data sample. The Young Lives Longitudinal Study of Childhood Poverty contributes further understanding about violence based on cohort data from 4,000 Peruvian children who were followed from infancy to age 19. In addition, over 100 published and unpublished research articles on violence against children in Peru were analyzed and 60 violence prevention interventions carried out by government and private institutions were mapped and assessed.Maternowska notes that the study views violence affecting children not merely as an issue of personal behaviour, but as a complex social phenomenon.“Violent behavior is influenced by a host of ecological factors.  Parents’ and children’s levels of education, the quality of interpersonal relationships with the family to the family’s social connections to the community and a community’s social norms concerning the discipline and supervision of children can conspire against children in different ways in different cultures. Even more distal issues, like a family’s financial security can determine the types and intensity of violence.” The report focuses on violence occurring in different forms and in different settings. Physical, psychological and sexual violence are quantified and analyzed on the basis of age, gender and setting such as home, community and school. This allows Peruvian policy makers to organize more appropriate and better targeted interventions. In 2015 the Peruvian Parliament passed a law prohibiting corporal punishment against children in all settings, including the home, citing data from UNICEF’s Multi Country Study as having contributed to this historical moment.  Results from Understanding for Prevention are currently being used to calculate Peru’s overall Burden of Violence—a rigorous approach to estimating the impact of violence in Peru across multiple sectors (health, education, gender, social policy, etc.). A Burden of Violence study highlights the proportion of negative outcomes that could be reduced if violence was prevented.Additional findings highlighted in the report:The relationship between violence in childhood and poorer educational outcomes is profound and complex, affecting children across and between settings where they live, sleep, play and learn.  Violence tends to be normalized—or widely accepted—passed down from one generation to another.  Many violent mothers and fathers were themselves physically and psychologically abused in childhood, and they repeat those behaviours with their children who, in turn, use violence to resolve their own conflicts.Exposure to domestic violence can be psychologically harmful to children, and is often associated with physical violence against children and neglect. Alcohol abuse is highlighted in the literature as a risk factor for spousal violence.Girls who experienced physical violence at home were nearly twice as likely to have failed a course in the last year, or to have ever repeated a grade in school. Boys who experienced psychological violence, or were verbally threatened at home, were over three times more likely to have ever been expelled from school.Violence in schools, including physical and verbal abuse by teachers and peers, is the number one reason children give for disliking school. This is probably associated with grade repetition and slow progression through school. Children physically beaten in school at age 8 are 10 per cent more likely to have repeated a grade by age 12 than those who were not beaten. Entender para prevenir: Violencia hacia las niñas, niños y adolescentes en el Perú is a multi-sectoral publication of Peru’s national Ministerio de la Mujer y Poblaciones Vulnerables (MIMP) in cooperation with Perú Instituto Nacional de Estadística e Informática (INEI). It was produced by a multi-disciplinary team consisting of Peruvian government, researchers and practitioners with support from the Pontifica Universidad Católica del Perú. External international support was provided by UNICEF Office of Research—Innocenti with technical support from the University of Edinburgh.(8 August 2016)
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Cooperation agreement with Istituto degli Innocenti renewed

The Istituto degli Innocenti and UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, on 22 July, formally renewed their cooperation, signing an agreement to work together for another four year period (1 January 2017 – 31 December 2020). The new agreement defines the range of activities that the two institutions will collaborate on over the coming years in order to promote recognition and observance of children's rights on the national and international levels, including joint management of the public Innocenti library.Among many features in the new agreement, a highlight is finalization of terms and conditions for the use of new office premises made available by Regione Toscana and Istituto degli Innocenti for UNICEF Innocenti. The new facilities were agreed upon in a 27 March 2012 Memorandum of Understanding. The facilities, currently under renovation, will become available for use in May 2017 and will allow UNICEF Innocenti to expand its functions both as a global research centre on children and as a convening centre. Over the next few years the Istituto and UNICEF will also collaborate to integrate within the new Museum Degli Innocenti (MUDI), exhibitions that feature displays on global children’s issues and the contributions of UNICEF to research at Innocenti. Cooperation between UNICEF and the Government of Italy at Innocenti began in 1988 when they launched an effort to establish a “new global ethic for children” in Florence. Eventually UNICEF established its international research function at the nearly 600-year-old Ospedale, an institution that can be viewed as one of the earliest efforts by secular authorities to elevate the concerns of vulnerable children to the level of civic priority. (22 July 2016)
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Cash transfers: What’s gender got to do with it?

by Jennifer Yablonski, Amber Peterman
(17-05-2016) UNICEF works on social protection programs in over 100 countries, and many are expanding rapidly. In discussions with stakeholders, there are two gender assu ...

What drives changes in inequality in child well-being in rich countries?

by Yekaterina Chzhen
(14-04-2016) Research on inequality often loses sight of where children stand in relation to one another. The new Innocenti Report Card Fairness for Children: A league ta ...