Abstract: Policies and Programs to Promote Child Well-Being in the Gulf Countries (Society for Prevention Research 27th Annual Meeting)

95 Policies and Programs to Promote Child Well-Being in the Gulf Countries

Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Pacific D/L (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Anis Ben Brik, PhD, Director, Doha International Family Institute, Doha, Qatar
Jennifer Lansford, PhD, Research Professor, Duke University, Durham, NC
Heba Al-Fara, MSW, Family Policy Officer, Doha International Family Institute, Doha, Qatar
This article provides a review of policies and programs that strengthen child well-being in six Gulf Countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates). An overview is provided of the international agenda (e.g., the Sustainable Development Goals) and national strategies as they provide broad policy frameworks in which country-specific programs are designed to work toward the policy goals. The goal of this article is to highlight how holistic child well-being in the Gulf countries can be promoted at a variety of levels (international, national, local) through well-conceived policies and programs that build on strengths and challenges in the Gulf countries. Challenges to child well-being and gaps in programs to promote child well-being in the Gulf countries are related to child disabilities; regional disparities; enforcement, monitoring, and evaluation; and multi-sectoral coordination.

Focusing on how the international agenda, national strategies, and country-specific programs can foster child well-being draws attention to resources and challenges at multiple levels and in multiple domains. This review focused on physical health, behavioral adjustment, psychological well-being, social relationships, safety, cognitive well-being, and economic security in the Gulf countries as a way to take a holistic approach to child well-being that is best fostered through a multisectoral approach with different government and non-governmental organizations working together. Enforcement of existing policies as well as monitoring and evaluation to ensure that policies and programs are having their intended effects are an important part of efforts to promote child well-being. Recommendations are provided to promote child well-being in seven domains: (1) physical health (e.g., increase breastfeeding; promote healthy eating and exercise to address obesity); (2) behavioral adjustment (e.g., treat drug use as a public health rather than criminal matter to remove barriers to prevention and treatment); (3) psychological well-being (e.g., prioritize mental health as much as physical health); (4) social relationships with parents, peers, and non-family adults (e.g., implement anti-bullying programs; (5) safety (e.g., train professionals in how to respond to reports of abuse, outlaw corporal punishment); (6) cognitive well-being (e.g., promote school readiness through early childhood education, reform education systems to build skills for a knowledge economy); (7) economic security (e.g., ensure social safety nets of government benefits).