• By Kevin Mount
  • Posted on Friday 31st October, 2008

All lit up - and feeling good

The idea is as old as torchlight: illuminate the streets at night and there will be less crime, because there’s more chance of felons and miscreants getting caught in the act. As far back as the 1960s (before the spread of CCTV) criminologists and crime prevention experts have been testing out the theory in practice. Now two professors of criminology have summed up the evidence. True enough: res…

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  • By Kevin Mount
  • Posted on Thursday 30th October, 2008

Mental health services have too few strengths

It might be considered a fairly basic objective of any care system that children with mental health problems should get effective treatment from a well trained professional. But it remains an ideal: many western developed countries fall far short. In the UK, prominent clinicians working to correct this fundamental failure include Tamsin Ford, a senior lecturer in child psychiatry at the Peninsula…

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  • By Kevin Mount
  • Posted on Tuesday 28th October, 2008

When prevention needs a helping hand

In the US and UK alike, the last decade has seen growing interest in the value of local community partnerships as a vehicle for improving the co-ordination and outcomes of human services. Such collaborative efforts have generally produced mixed results in terms of their ability to demonstrate that they have improved outcomes for children. In the US the record of PROSPER, a university-community pro…

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  • By Kevin Mount
  • Posted on Thursday 23rd October, 2008

Support for teenage mums goes mobile

Even the most proven of proven programs aren’t much use unless the intended participants… well, participate. And, as anyone who has worked with teenage mothers, substance abusers, poor families, and other vulnerable groups will know, the biggest challenge is often just getting people to show up. Some programs try to make participation easier by taking the services to the client. Home visits a…

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  • By Kevin Mount
  • Posted on Wednesday 22nd October, 2008

After Chicago is Project Northland going west?

Suspicions that a Blueprints Promising Program on the verge of joining an elite group of “model" interventions is failing to stand the tests of time and social change are adding weight to the argument that communities under stress need to be involved directly in prevention research. Project Northland is a universal program that usually runs for six years. The curriculum of tasks and training is…

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  • By Kevin Mount
  • Posted on Tuesday 21st October, 2008

Compounding the public interest in children

The language seemed compelling until a few months ago: in the eyes of an economist, parents are investors, children are their portfolios, and the key questions are: how much and when is the best time to invest to maximize return? The potential return, in this case, is well-educated children who are self-sufficient, contributing members of society. These are the types of questions that Nobel Prize…

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  • By Kevin Mount
  • Posted on Monday 20th October, 2008

Telling stories about the troubles in young lives

It’s hard to get a four-year-old to talk about anxiety, depression and the like. Few very young children are mature enough or have the vocabulary they need to report on their psychological state with much precision or clarity. A common way to gain insight into a child’s interior world is through storytelling. There are many storytelling methods but all involve an interviewer embarking on a sto…

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  • By Kevin Mount
  • Posted on Saturday 18th October, 2008

Why must they break it before we’ve fixed it?

Among the many conundrums in children’s services that prevention science is struggling to overcome is this one: relatively few programs have passed any robust test of their effectiveness and those that have are even less likely to be implemented than ones that can claim no empirical support at all.Mulling over this disconcerting paradox, Brian Bumbarger and Daniel Perkins from the US Prevention…

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  • By Kevin Mount
  • Posted on Thursday 16th October, 2008

Good intention, right design – “wrong” answer?

Tutoring programs for young children have been promoted widely in the US since the 1990s as promising strategies for improving academic performance, particularly in reading and maths. Bill Clinton’s America Reads Challenge, for example, urges higher education institutions to increase their commitment to volunteerism within the surrounding local communities.The benefits of tutoring provided by ac…

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  • By Kevin Mount
  • Posted on Thursday 16th October, 2008

Trialing fidelity among the Welsh faithful

Collaboration between researchers and practitioners in Wales is shedding light on how to implement replication randomized controlled trials of evidence-based programs in mainstream policy and practice.The work focuses on the Incredible Years (IY) program, which strengthens relationships between parents and children by emphasizing the importance of play and encouraging good behavior through limit-s…

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  • By Kevin Mount
  • Posted on Tuesday 14th October, 2008

Lifting the curse of the squabbling witch doctors

For 30 years, Judith Gueron and her colleagues at the US Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC) have been battling to show that evaluation by randomized controlled trial is “feasible, ethical, uniquely convincing and superior” as a means of determining whether services make a difference. They have conducted more than 30 major random assignment studies in several hundred locations,…

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  • By Kevin Mount
  • Posted on Tuesday 14th October, 2008

Randomized trials, certain benefits

Randomized controlled were introduced in the 1930s, with undergraduate students at Purdue University in the US as the participants. The first trial focusing on children’s well-being, which began in 1936, was intended to find out the effects of social care support on young offenders (it made outcomes worse). Education and youth justice were among the pioneers of RCTs, but they were soon a rarity…

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  • By Kevin Mount
  • Posted on Thursday 09th October, 2008

The trouble is that violence works

Intriguing similarities between aggression among individuals and between countries are ruminated upon by Gerald R. Patterson, co-founder of the Oregon Social Learning Center in a recent article in Perspectives On Psychological Science. He reviews data from his own career of research into individual violence and aggression and also looks at the much smaller and younger body of work on the science o…

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  • By Kevin Mount
  • Posted on Wednesday 08th October, 2008

Setting course for every school – it's the turtle's turn

Twiggle the turtle is a furry green puppet who spends his time in classrooms helping preschool children develop their social and emotional learning. He is key player/actor in the PATHs program developed by the Prevention Research Center at Penn State University in the US. [See What prevention science can offer all Ireland's children and Penn State on the PATHS to resilience]Whenever Twiggle feels…

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  • By Kevin Mount
  • Posted on Tuesday 07th October, 2008

Running the marathon from Craigavon to the cutting-edge

The Together 4 ALL Programme for Schools which is harnessing the energies of teachers, parent representatives, researchers and community members to improve the behavior and mutual respect of children in the Craigavon district of Northern Ireland was launched with a celebration at the Lough Neagh Discovery Centre, County Antrim, last week.Together 4 All’s chief executive Nuala Magee explained wh…

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