How graduate student, Elena Gallitto, is contributing to complex societal issues such as parenting styles and their influences on children's development

Posted on Wednesday, November 8, 2017

How do our graduate students are contributing to complex society issues?

Each year, several students begin or continue their studies at the graduate level. Their research touches on complex issues in our society and is at the heart of our faculty. We invite you to discover our students every month, and their research, in relation to the United Nations theme days

Father playing airplane with his son
Tell me about your journey.

I am currently a Ph.D. student in Experimental Psychology from the University of Ottawa. Supervised by Dr. Elisa Romano and kindly supported by a SSHRC doctoral fellowship and SSHRC insight grant for my dissertation – under the provisional title of “Evaluation of the Positive Discipline in Everyday Parenting Program (PDEP)". The PDEP program was developed by Dr. Joan Durrant, a developmental psychologist at the University of Manitoba, as a primary prevention strategy to reduce child corporal punishment. This program focuses on the rights of children to healthy development, protection from violence, and active participation in the life of their family. It aims at enhancing general knowledge of child and youth development as well promoting the use of alternative disciplinary measures based on non-violent confrontation and sensitive responding. 

What motivated or inspired you to do research on this topic?

Certainly, my supervisor has been a very important influence on my current research interests. Dr. Romano has been a supporter and advocate of children’s rights. She encouraged me to pursue this project and embrace this philosophy. Children depend on adults to protect them and feel safe. As such, we (adults) are responsible for ensuring their safety and happiness. We need to make sure that we protect our children in the best way possible.

Why is your research important in today’s society?

My research is important in that it could potentially shed light on alternative treatments to reduce and potentially eliminate corporal punishment. The program will instruct parents on how to provide discipline with warmth and structure without violence. Parents are not adequately informed on alternative forms of discipline and/or have never considered the possibility of harming their own child by choosing to use corporal punishment. It is important to raise such awareness and protect children from any form of violence, however mild.

What would you like to see or accomplish in the future?

I would like to mobilize resources to promote large-scale studies aimed to create awareness regarding the importance of children’s rights and put into action programs that would eventually influence policing making and possibly even legislation.

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