Around one in ten children and young people experience psychiatric disorders, creating huge additional costs for public services. But it is schools and special education that are bearing the brunt, rather than health or social care services, say economic impact analysts in the UK.
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The recent death, aged 101, of Dr Andrew Semple, former Medical Officer of Health for Liverpool, has highlighted the great achievements of public health pioneers in the UK – and the continuing relevance of their work for prevention science today.
If parents of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were better educated about the condition, might it help reduce the severity of symptoms and improve attention levels? Research into a 12-week “psychoeducation” program in Spain provides a positive answer.
Up to a quarter of children grow up with mentally ill or addicted parents, making them vulnerable to a range of psychological, social and cognitive problems. Attending a support group can help these children to reduce their negative thoughts and improve their social skills, a new study claims.
The ability to identify young people prone to risky health and sexual behaviors could help reduce the likelihood of negative life outcomes, and ultimately costs for public health services. A recent study of teenage girls in the UK revealed that those who saw their world as chaotic and uncontrollable were more likely to be involved with alcohol, drugs, and risky sex.
Prevention scientists have speculated that children’s genes play a part in determining how receptive they will be to early intervention. A long-term study of programs for reducing impulsive and aggressive behavior among American schoolchildren provides hard evidence that this may, indeed, be the case.
When transferring an evidence-based intervention program across national frontiers, a simple language translation may not be enough. Results from a substance use prevention program in Mexico suggest that wider cultural adaptations are necessary to maximize effectiveness.
Play, reading, and storytelling help children learn. Knowing which groups in society who are less likely to engage in these activities could help target preventative programs that promote reading and play.
Research from the United States shows that parent training programs can result in big improvements in parents’ skills and children’s behavior. Now, a version of the Incredible Years program translated to Portugal shows similarly impressive preliminary results.
Surveys suggest as many as one in five young people are affected by internet ‘cyberbullying’ – on-line abuse whose most serious consequences for victims extend to depression, self-harm and even suicide. Results from the first-known trial of a prevention program, conducted in Germany, reveal a promising approach to tackling a growing social menace.
Postnatal depression affects around 70,000 women and their families in the UK each year. Popular interventions have improved mothers’ mental health but don’t always improve developmental outcomes for infants. The Mellow Babies program offers a fresh approach.
While the adverse effects on children of growing up amid chronic poverty are well documented, the impact of the local cost of living on their development has not been paid much attention. Yet this can be significant – calling into question why governments expect “one size” flat-rate welfare provision to “fit all”.
Every year sees more evidence-based interventions enter the children’s services market. Many are promoted on online clearinghouses such as Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development. But isn’t it time that more untried practices were properly tested – and those that really do not work consigned to the trash bin?
When it comes to school-based programs, too much flexibility puts a burden on teachers that they may not be willing or able to carry. Too little flexibility means the program may clash with local needs. How much flexibility is just right?
Imagine learning to talk and read, learning to thread beads, and learning to pay attention. These three skills – examples of language skills, motor skills, and executive function – seem like three distinct developmental areas. So why do problems in one area often forecast problems in another? Researchers are working to understand their shared roots.
Children with a rare disorder called selective mutism find it impossible to speak in certain situations. Long considered hard to treat, children with the condition improved during a three-month program that gradually encouraged them to talk in front of adults.
Aggressive behavior in schools is a problem that can disrupt teaching and learning for all students, not just those that are hostile or engage in fighting. Research in Spain suggests that a socio-emotional learning (SEL) program can help to reduce aggression among youth by increasing their levels of empathy.
Cognitive behavioral programs can help children learn better behavior, especially when their parents are involved. But services that target parents of kids with disruptive behavior often have astonishingly high dropout rates. School-based interventions are a good alternative for hard-to-reach children, a recent study argues.
Resources may be scarce and policy makers might have to make difficult decisions about what to buy. But a more rational strategy that invests early for later benefits would make sometimes nitpicking and frequently complicated comparisons between the value of one "flagship" prevention program and another irrelevant.
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.
Nick Axford explains the differences between English and Welsh approaches to implementing and evaluating Sure Start – and considers the lessons for the future.
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.
A popular program for helping children with language learning difficulties is found to have no impact and even detrimental effects in some cases.
Introduction of year-round schooling with shorter breaks to limit the damage holidays do to the education of poorer children has failed a test in Ohio. "Year-round calendars do not fix the problem of summer learning," the research team reports. "They simply sweep it under the rug of fall, winter, and spring."
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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?