Public policies that aim to improve children’s outcomes usually focus first on their intellectual development, second on their conduct, and finally – if at all – on children’s emotional health. But as far as life satisfaction is concerned, these priorities may be exactly backward.
Teachers, daycare workers, and clergy are responsible for nearly two-thirds of the reports of sexual abuse to child protective services in the US. But programs that prepare these professionals to recognize and prevent abuse are rare. A brief training program called Stewards of Children aims to fill the gap.
Millions of teenagers and young adults in the US smoke and drink – far too many to be reached by human-delivered interventions. And, given the stigma of treatment, many of those who want to curb their tobacco or alcohol use would not choose to see a provider even if one was available. Could text messages fill the unmet need?
Over the last decade, medical clinicians and researchers have become more aware of the need to report financial conflicts of interest. So far, the focus has been on drug research funded by pharmaceutical companies. What about conflicts of interest associated with psychosocial interventions?
Although popular in “western” countries as a way of improving the life chances of underprivileged children, mentoring has received scarce attention in China. Now a pioneering study conducted in Hong Kong suggests that strong support from an adult mentor can contribute to children’s academic attainment while fostering their hopes for the future.
While cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is often the “go-to” treatment for anxiety disorders among teenagers, there has been little to suggest it works well with younger children. Researchers in Manchester, England are intent on changing that by merging CBT methods into a promising new program where parents get the intervention and over-anxious children get the benefits.
Advertisers decided years ago that texting provides a cheap, effective way to target large numbers of young people. A review of research using text messages to combat substance use suggests prevention scientists might usefully follow their example.
Schools seem an obvious place to prevent anxiety and other, less common emotional problems among youth. Yet persuading teaching staff to make precious curriculum time available can prove difficult. Might a program that reduces test and exam anxieties prove the key to opening classroom doors?
Quality of parenting has long been recognized as a crucial influence on childhood behavior and overall mental health. But could parenting interventions increase their value by paying more attention to children’s choices, initiative taking and sense of autonomy? Canadian research makes the case for further investigation.
In a study of Australian local government, public health decision makers said that they relied more on community views than on research evidence, and more on data produced internally than that published in peer-reviewed journals. What stops them from making decisions informed by more academic evidence?
Many parents who believe in corporal punishment are unaware of the psychological as well as physical harm that spanking causes children. Exposing them to the facts provides a quick and easy way of persuading some, at least, to change their minds.
Programs usually work better if they are implemented as the designers intended. So which teachers are most likely to do this? A recent study of the Responsive Classroom approach found little direct relationship between fidelity and teachers’ experience, education, or skills. But when they looked at teachers’ engagement with training, they found one tantalizing clue.
Demand for cost-effective services to improve children’s welfare and wellbeing has grown dramatically in the past twenty years. But how can commissioners select programs will benefit young people and, importantly, avoid those that might prove harmful? Registries of evidence-based programs, such as Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development, provide a rigorously researched answer.
Researchers are calling for bullying prevention to be given priority alongside other child protection measures following new evidence that it harms young people’s mental health in ways similar to child abuse by parents. Their groundbreaking analysis of data gathered in Britain and the United States finds that the long-term impact of peer bullying in terms of anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide attempts can, in some cases, be even worse.
The results of many clinical trials never see the light of day. As the World Health Organization calls for all trials to be released into the public domain, physician and writer Ben Goldacre argues for practical steps to speed up change. But why should we care if some trials don’t publish their results?
Exercise is critically important for children’s health and development. But high levels of obesity in the United States and other Western societies provide worrying evidence that too many children are physically inactive. School programs that promote playground games can help raise activity levels – especially among girls.
Enthusiasts for Outward Bound courses and other “wilderness experiences” have long argued that they contribute to preventing youth disengagement and delinquency. In this article, Professor Roger Bullock, notes how conclusive evidence of lasting, positive effects remains scarce. But a recent study by researchers in Singapore has encouraged him to keep an open mind.
Having children can be one of the most joyful experiences of life. But it comes with challenges, and when children display difficult behavior, often parents need extra help. A Belgian parenting program teaches mothers and fathers to be more aware of their own thoughts and choices as parents, with positive results.
Children taken into care tend to do less well in school than classmates as they progress through school. But are their relatively low levels of educational attainment the result of pre-existing factors or a direct consequence of being placed in care? Oxford University analysts have sought to shed new light on a continuing controversy.
The family systems approach that underpins parenting programs such as Multisystemic Therapy, Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care and Functional Family Therapy may have a value in the treatment of juvenile sex offending, psychologists at the Medical University of South Carolina suggest.
A popular program for helping children with language learning difficulties is found to have no impact and even detrimental effects in some cases.
Results of introducing an American parenting program to parts of Wales under the aegis of the well-established UK prevention initiative, Sure Start, have been so encouraging that they pose important challenges to makers of UK policy.
Schools invest scarce time and money to put a stop to bullying and end the misery that it inflicts on children. Can they trust that the programs they adopt really work? Maybe not, according to reviews of the evidence. However, a new study encouragingly finds that one program makes a small but reliable difference.
How can we reduce the criminal behavior of juvenile offenders? We do know which programs work and which don’t, two South Carolina researchers claim, yet fewer than 5% of juvenile offenders in the US receive evidence-based programs.
Children abused by adults are known to be at increased risk of developing the serious and persistent mental illness known as borderline personality-disorder (BPD). New research suggests that bullying and victimization by other children is another important risk factor.
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There is more to the international transfer of prevention programs than just hitting the “copy and paste” buttons. The introduction of the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program to Ireland offers insights into how to succeed.
Few people working with children will have heard the term “prevention scientist,” let alone know what one is or does. Yet this relatively new breed of researcher is behind the growing list of evidence-based programs being promoted in western developed countries. A new publication puts them under the microscope.
Crime and antisocial behavior prevention efforts have flourished over the last 10 years in the US. This progress can and should be used to help communities improve the life chances of their young people, a recent update urges.
Given the well-known barriers to implementing evidence-based programs, is it better to identify their discrete elements and trust practitioners to combine them in tailored packages depending on the needs of the child and family in question?