• By Dartington SRU
  • Posted on Friday 14th October, 2011

Public policy by numbers

By several measures, crime is down in America’s Washington state. Relative to national rates, juvenile crime, adult reoffending, and total crime are down. Something is going right – but what? Can this success be traced to something as apparently mundane as, well, great data analysis?In fact, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) may have contributed to this remarkable tri…

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  • By Dartington SRU
  • Posted on Thursday 13th October, 2011

Comparative caution

Among psychometric measures, the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) is one of a rare breed: it is favored by researchers and practitioners alike. Its success is partly due to its ability to identify children and adolescents who are likely to have mental health impairment – and therefore to screen in (and out) those who need additional support.As a result, the SDQ, developed by Rober…

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  • By Dartington SRU
  • Posted on Wednesday 12th October, 2011

How can a mother’s depression help explain her teen’s aggression?

The recent riots in England have given a fresh urgency to the question of how adolescent aggression develops. Although it is a complex phenomenon, one important factor that has been shown to have severe and far-reaching effects is maternal depression. Previous research has shown that the depression of mothers has a harmful effect on many aspects of child development, including adolescent aggressi…

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  • By Dartington SRU
  • Posted on Tuesday 11th October, 2011

How to best waste time and money on criminalizing children - keep the minimum age of criminal responsibility low

Children suspected of crimes are believed to be more resilient and sometimes even more sophisticated than other young people. However, the exact opposite is true, says Elly Farmer, an NSPCC psychologist, writing in a special edition of the Journal of Children’s Services. Young people caught up in the justice system are in fact much more vulnerable than the average child, and more likely to have…

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  • By Dartington SRU
  • Posted on Monday 10th October, 2011

Europe’s youngest criminals

England and Wales have Europe’s youngest criminals. Fifty years ago, the age of criminal responsibility was set at 10 years old – and it hasn’t been changed since. If anything, public support for a low minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) became more entrenched after the killing of two-year-old James Bulger in 1993. The two 10-year-old killers were tried as adults, and the case w…

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  • By Dartington SRU
  • Posted on Friday 07th October, 2011

Good timing counts with prevention

The terrible situation of children in Romania, which came to light with the fall of communism - hundreds of unwanted children being looked after in orphanages in appalling conditions – offered the chance not only to find new homes form them, to lay the foundations for a modern child care system, but also to look at some key issues in child development.Some children were, of course, adopted by fa…

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  • By Dartington SRU
  • Posted on Wednesday 05th October, 2011

Why don’t smart teens have sex?

There are consequences for all those who engage in unprotected sex. However, teenagers are particularly at risk, mostly because they use effective contraception less consistently than adults. No surprises, then, that the reduction or delay of sexual involvement among young people has become a major priority for policy-makers motivated by concerns about sexually transmitted infection and unintended…

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  • By Dartington SRU
  • Posted on Tuesday 04th October, 2011

Building better bridges

Imagine a chasm, with child development researchers on one side, and practitioners and policy-makers on the other. The gap may still be wide in many places, but in recent years moves have been made on both sides to build better bridges. On one side, policy-makers and practitioners have become increasingly interested in using good research to inform their decisions. Researchers have done their p…

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  • By Dartington SRU
  • Posted on Friday 30th September, 2011

The benefits of tinkering

In 2008, there were approximately 772,000 substantiated cases of child maltreatment in the US. Not all racial and ethnic groups are equally affected. Rates among African-American children, for example, were 17 per thousand compared with 9 per thousand for Caucasian children. It is easy to assume that different ethnic groups need slightly different responses. But do they?There is a significant push…

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  • By Dartington SRU
  • Posted on Thursday 29th September, 2011

New, but not improved: Managing the risks of innovation

Almost everyone is in favor of innovation in the public sector. After all, who could be against? Policy-makers and the public seem to assume that innovation is always a good thing – but, in reality, innovation carries risks that are not often recognized. Moreover, while the UK government urges innovation, there is less evidence that it facilitates innovation, at least in social work with chil…

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  • By Dartington SRU
  • Posted on Wednesday 28th September, 2011

Inheriting violence

Violence between parents is enough to start a chain reaction of anti-social behavior in the following generations, new research finds. Exposure to violence between parents affects children’s ability to regulate their emotional responses to conflict – laying the groundwork for a new cycle of violent relationships.To extend our view of generational influence and explain how forms of antisocial…

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  • By Dartington SRU
  • Posted on Tuesday 27th September, 2011

Perspectives from the front line

The past two decades have seen an explosion in the development and evaluation of parenting programs and other preventive and early interventions. As service providers have begun to take on the challenge of delivering these evidence-based programs in the community, new questions are being asked. Does it matter whether programs are chosen from the “top down” or “bottom up”? How well do serv…

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  • By Dartington SRU
  • Posted on Monday 26th September, 2011

When self-help parent training is “as effective as therapy”

There is a solid evidence base to support the efficacy of therapist-led, group-based parent training interventions such as Incredible Years and Triple P. However, these types of programs can be costly to deliver, relying on many hours of trained therapists’ time. Moreover, parents hampered by problems with transport, childcare, and work commitments often find it difficult to attend groups.By con…

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  • By Dartington SRU
  • Posted on Friday 23rd September, 2011

Mental illness prevention: more “punch for the pound”

Social and emotional learning programs could return £83 in long-term savings for every £1 spent, a recent report finds.The financial return on investment for social and emotional learning (SEL) programs was the highest of any of the mental health strategies evaluated by a team of academics for the UK Department of Health. But researchers found that several other mental health strategies also del…

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  • By Dartington SRU
  • Posted on Wednesday 21st September, 2011

Cause and effect?

Violence, it is commonly believed, breeds further violence. Indeed, this assumption underlies the belief that children who are exposed to violence will either commit, or be the victim of, violent acts later in their lives.New research from Finland, however, reveals a rather more complex picture. It studied 208 male and 308 female adolescents aged between 12 and 17 years-old who had been admitted t…

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