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BACKGROUND: There is limited evidence regarding the effectiveness of online parenting programs for preventing child maltreatment in low- and middle-income countries. Therefore, this study aimed to examine the effectiveness of the online Parenting for Lifelong Health for Young Children (PLH-YC) program in preventing child maltreatment among Chinese families specifically. METHODS: A quasi-experiment was conducted, wherein 274 parents with children aged 2-9 years were assigned to either the online PLH-YC group (n = 135) or a waitlist control group (n = 139). Data were collected at baseline and one week after intervention. A difference-in-differences (DiD) design with propensity score weighting was used to estimate the between-group difference for child maltreatment as well as the associated risk and protective factors. RESULTS: Compared to the parents in the control group, parents in the online PLH-YC intervention reported a significant reduction in the occurrence of corporal punishment (b = -1.21; 95 % CI [-2.37, -0.03]), emotional abuse (b = -3.09; 95 % CI [-5.36, -0.82]), and general maltreatment (b = -4.94; 95 % CI [-8.86, -1.02]) as well as an increased frequency of positive parenting strategies (b = 6.46; 95 % CI [2.21, 10.72]). Additionally, parents with high levels of depressive symptoms were significantly more likely to drop out of the program, and those with lower education levels engaged in fewer sessions. CONCLUSION: The online PLH-YC program can benefit families with young children by reducing the incidence of child maltreatment through improved positive parenting strategies. More randomized controlled trials with long-term follow-ups are required to further verify the accuracy of the results obtained in this study.

Original publication




Journal article


Child Abuse Negl

Publication Date





Child maltreatment, Chinese parents, Online parenting programs