Corporal Punishment and Child Development and Learning in Low- and- Middle- Income Countries
Jorge Cuartas

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



Harvard University

Primary Discipline

Teacher Education/Teaching and Learning
Corporal punishment remains widespread in homes and schools worldwide, constituting a major threat to children?s developmental and educational trajectories. Whether corporal punishment is detrimental across cultures and countries is still controversial in policy, practice, and research, primarily due to disputes around the internal and external validity of prior studies. Specifically, most research has relied on cross-sectional designs, conventional covariate adjustment, and samples from high-income countries. Furthermore, there are few low-cost, scalable, evidence-based interventions to prevent corporal punishment in low- and- middle-income countries (LMICs), further intensifying the vast underrepresentation of these populations in the field. The proposed dissertation comprises three integrated studies that will respond to these controversies and produce a global good to support the prevention of corporal punishment in LMICs. Paper 1 will meta-analyze existing studies on the links between corporal punishment in the home and schools and children?s developmental and educational outcomes in LMICs, assessing heterogeneity across countries/settings and due to child, context, and study characteristics. Paper 2 will strengthen evidence regarding the causal links between corporal punishment and young children?s school readiness in LMICs, leveraging data from five longitudinal studies and following best-practice recommendations for mitigating selection bias in observational research. Finally, Paper 3 will present the design, pilot, and curriculum/materials for an open-access, flexible, scalable universal violence prevention program targeted toward Colombia. Collectively, these studies will inform future research, legislation, policy, and practice aimed at protecting children from all forms of violence ? including corporal punishment ? so that children can develop, learn, and thrive globally.
About Jorge Cuartas
Jorge Cuartas is a Colombian Ph.D. candidate in Education (Human Development, Learning and Teaching) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and co-director of the NGO Apapacho. His research focuses on early childhood development and parenting in global contexts, the effects of corporal punishment and other forms of violence on children?s neural, cognitive, and socioemotional development, and the development and evaluation of early childhood and violence prevention programs and policies. Jorge?s research has been published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, Child Development, and Developmental Psychology, among other journals. Prior to his doctoral studies, Jorge worked as a researcher at Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. Jorge holds a Bachelor?s degree in Economics from Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano, a Masters? degree in Economics from Universidad de los Andes, and a Master?s in Human Development & Psychology from Harvard University.

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