"What Predicts 'Anti-Risk Planning' Between Parents and Teenagers? A Comprehensive Analysis of Mediating and Moderating Pathways

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Social Policy and Intervention


Adolescence (approximately spanning the ages 10 - 19; Sawyer et al., 2012) is an important decade in a child's development, marking the period of transition from childhood to adulthood (Steinberg & Morris, 2001). It is, however, also a high-risk stage in which teenagers are particularly vulnerable, experiencing high rates of physical, emotional, as well as sexual violence victimisation (Meinck, Cluver, Boyes, & Loening-Voysey, 2016), abuse and neglect (WHO, 2006), and often first exposure to gender based violence (GBV) or intimate partner violence (IPV) (e.g., UNICEF, 2011; Russell et al., 2015). In Sub-Saharan Africa, teenage victimisation is disproportionately elevated (e.g., UNICEF, 2014) with 56.3% of 10 - 17 year olds reporting lifetime physical abuse, 35.5% emotional abuse, and 9% sexual abuse (Meinck, Cluver, Boyes, & Loening-Voysey, 2016). What can be done to reduce these excruciatingly high rates of violence against teenagers?
Violence prevention is increasingly recognized as a key public health issue in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) (Mercy et al., 2008; WHO, 2010) with an increasing interest in using parenting interventions as a mean to reduce victimisations (Butchart, 2006; Eshel et al., 2006; Kumpfer et al., 2008). Indeed, a systematic review of reviews identified behavioural parenting programmes as having a promising evidence-base for child abuse prevention (Mikton & Butchart, 2009). Although there is a clear lack of research for LMICs, the small number of (evaluated) programmes conducted within Africa have shown positive effects on a number of variables (including parent-child interaction and reduced harsh parenting) for parents with younger children (6 years of age) (see Knerr, Gardner, & Cluver, 2013 for a review) and adolescents (Cluver et al., 2016), indicating that parenting programs have the potential to reduce victimization perpetrated by the caregiver. Yet, there is currently a lack of research on the ways in which parenting programs in LMICs could also facilitate the reduction of adolescent victimisation outside the home (i.e., in the community).
The proposed project aims to fill this research gap by exploring the pathways leading to 'Planning for Risk Avoidance' (or 'Anti Risk Planning') performed jointly by parents and teenagers as a means of reducing the teenagers risk for victimisation. Previous research suggests that paying "attention to and tracking the child's whereabouts and activities" (Dishion & McMahon, 1998, p.1) is a key protective parenting skill, especially within poor and dangerous neighbourhoods (Kotchick & Forehand, 2002). In fact, the 'Optimus Study South Africa' (2016) found that parents' knowledge of who their children spend their time with, how they spend their time, and where they go were significantly associated with lower likelihood of teenagers reporting sexual abuse victimisation. Whilst these studies indicate that parental monitoring plays a significant role in their childrens' safety, the possibility that actively planning against risk could further reduce risk is yet unexplored. That is, no known quantitative studies to date have looked at the predictors of 'Anti Risk Planning' and there is currently no standardized, validated scale available to assess the level of 'Planning for Risk Avoidance' parents and adolescents engage in.
Hence, the ultimate purpose of this proposed DPhil project will be twofold:
1. Examining psychometric properties of the currently used 'Anti Risk Planning' scale in order to provide an improved scale for future research, and
2. Developing a theoretical pathway model investigating hypothesized predictors of 'Anti Risk Planning' within multiple interacting spheres of influence.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/R501037/1 01/10/2017 31/03/2021
1925458 Studentship ES/R501037/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2020 Janina Jochim