How overstated scientific claims undermine ethical principles in parenting interventions
The scientific constructs, standards and findings used to guide parenting interventions are overwhelmingly based on research in Euro-American settings, resulting in a Western bias when applied to communities in low/middle-income countries.
Ignoring this Western bias and overstating scientific evidence is a major obstacle to the fulfilment of ethical principles in parenting interventions because it fosters the imposition of external standards and prevents full recognition of local ways, needs and strengths that are known to be ecologically adaptive and socially valuable.
We conclude that there is an urgent need to raise awareness for the Western biases in existing early childhood development research in order to increase sensitivity to local ways of childrearing that are different but not necessarily deficient, and to foster research that specifically tackles these weaknesses.
Parenting interventions in LMICs need to carefully consider existing practices, beliefs and developmental goals in the targeted communities to ensure that ethical principles of beneficence, autonomy and justice are fulfilled.
Scheidecker G, Oppong S, Chaudhary N, et al, How overstated scientific claims undermine ethical principles in parenting interventions, BMJ Global Health 2021;6:e007323.
IMAGE CREDIT: Dassanech Tribe by Rod Waddington is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0