Independent evaluation of the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program shows population-level health benefits across an entire community

It’s been years in the making but now that the findings have been released, it’s immensely heartening to see that those who deserve the credit in Ireland are gaining the recognition they deserve.

The results of an independent evaluation conducted by a research team from the National University of Ireland in Galway into a population-wide rollout of Triple P were launched in Athlone, in the Irish Midlands, this week.

And the findings, which included a 37.5 per cent drop in the numbers of children with clinically elevated levels of social, emotional and behavioural problems, show just how powerful local partnerships can be when they share a vision to support all parents in the task of raising their children.

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When spanking is at the heart of controversy, so are the myths. Ron Prinz weighs into the debate in a South Carolina newspaper

Spanking and corporal punishment can set off a firestorm of debate under any circumstances.

Add a high-profile NFL case, and we have a recipe for a vigorous public dialogue about parenting, child abuse and best practices.

Public debate is healthy. Unfortunately, this one tends to be marked by myths and distracting generalities.

Myth No. 1: All spanking is child abuse and therefore should be banned. Fact: Most spanking episodes in fact do not rise to child abuse.

Myth No. 2: Parents who spank are bad parents, and spanked children will suffer poor outcomes. Fact: Parents who spank represent a very broad spectrum, ranging from effective to abusive. Generally speaking, children fare well if their families provide a warm, structured and safe environment with appropriate encouragement as well as discipline and limit-setting — whether parents spank or not.

Myth No. 3: Parents who do not spank are effective parents. Fact: Not necessarily. There are many other elements that go into what makes parents more or less effective.

We have all seen an out-of-control child running amok in the grocery store. And we have heard bystanders comment, “What that child needs is a good lickin.”

However, we also have observed parent-child struggles where the young child acts up in the market, is yelled at, continues to act up, gets slapped or spanked and a few minutes later acts up again.

In such common scenarios, the fundamental question is not whether to spank. Instead, it is how parents get into such predicaments and how they can extricate themselves or, better yet, prevent such events.

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Triple P making headway in Japan

Prof Matt Sanders with Associate Professor Chiyomi Agami, from the Fukuoka Prefecture University. Dr Egami has been running Triple P Group and Stepping Stones Group Triple P courses as a practitioner in Japan.

Prof Matt Sanders with Associate Professor Chiyomi Egami, from the Fukuoka Prefecture University. Dr Egami has been running Triple P Group and Stepping Stones Group Triple P courses as a practitioner in Japan.

The use of the Triple – Positive Parenting Program to treat and prevent child maltreatment may be finding high-level support in Japan, an article in last week’s Yomiuri Shimbun suggests.

Triple P founder and director of the University of Queensland’s Parenting and Family Support Centre, Prof Matt Sanders, was in Japan last week to address the Japanese Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.

Prof Sanders met with the Governor of Wakayama Prefecture, Yoshinobu Nisaka, and raised the importance of governments taking a public health approach to treat and prevent problems of child maltreatment.

The meeting was covered by Yomiuri Shimbun, a newspaper regarded as having the largest readership in the world with a daily circulation of more than 13 million readers.

Governor Nisaka is quoted in Yomiuri Shimbun as saying that he would like to actively implement Triple P.

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Can a childcare centre help prevent child maltreatment? AIFS study underlines the importance of a population approach

Moving a percentage of the population away from behaviours that can have a long-lasting impact on society has long been a key driver behind the development of the multi-level Triple P system.

Now a report by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) underlines the importance of a population approach to prevent child maltreatment and the role that family interventions can play.

The report refers to a Productivity Commission recommendation for the involvement of child care and early learning centres in risk assessment and early intervention to protect children. As well as providing a safe learning environment for children, early learning centres could also help improve life at home by offering skills development and information to parents.

The report, A safe and supportive family environment for children: Key components and links to child outcomes (2014, Mullan K and Higgins, D) analyses data from the AIFS longitudinal study, Growing Up in Australia, to identify the prevalence of different types of family environments and their links to children’s health and well-being.

The study looks at outcomes for children from different types of families and tracks what happens when those family environments change.

Among the findings:

  • Children from families displaying below-average levels of parental warmth and parent-child shared activities and above-average levels of hostile parenting – identified as disengaged families – had lower Year 5 NAPLAN reading and numeracy scores.
  • Children aged 2-3 from families displaying average levels of parental warmth but higher than average levels of parental conflict – identified as enmeshed families – were more likely to be underweight.
  • And children aged 2-3 from disengaged families were more likely to have one or more injuries per year.

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Brief, low-intensity interventions show promise in most comprehensive meta-analysis of the Triple P system to date

The recent publication of The Triple P – Positive Parenting Program: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of a Multi-Level System of Parenting Support in Clinical Psychology Review is the most comprehensive meta-analytical assessment of Triple P to date.

This was the first meta-analysis of the Triple P system to examine the full range of outcomes that Triple P seeks to influence.

The meta-analysis investigated data compiled from reported outcomes of 16,009 families who have participated in a Triple P program over the past 33 years from a range of sources, including independent studies, unpublished studies and agencies delivering Triple P as part of regular service.

The most compelling finding for the value of the Triple P multi-level system is evidence that now shows that all delivery methods of Triple P – as well as the full suite of intervention levels – produce significant effects for children and their families.

This is important given that families themselves differ in terms of their preferences, the amount of time they have available to engage with a parenting program, their location and the presence of other sources of adversity in their lives.

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‘A society which views smacking as acceptable is one in which children are far more at risk of being exposed to abuse’

When it comes to parenting, no other issue seems to invite as much debate. Even the Prime Minister has an opinion. And many appear to agree with him.

“What’s wrong with a good smack every now and again?’’ I often get asked. Usually, the answer is provided for me: “It didn’t hurt me as a kid.’’

Because Triple P doesn’t try to tell parents what not to do, I’ve often avoided a confrontational approach when it comes to stating the case against smacking.

Rather than say that what they were doing was wrong, I would suggest to parents that the problem with smacking is that it simply doesn’t work and that there are plenty of other strategies that do.

But now I’ve changed my mind, simply because the evidence shows that a society which views smacking as acceptable is one in which children are far more at risk of being exposed to abuse.

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Washington State Institute for Public Policy finds Triple P system returns highest cost-benefit ratio

A presentation at a US National Research Council and Institute of Medicine Forum has highlighted Triple P as an extremely cost-effective program delivering more economic benefits to the community than it costs. The presentation at the forum on Promoting Children’s Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioural Health in Washington earlier this year by Stephanie Lee highlights work by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP). WSIPP is involved in non-partisan research to advise government on evidence-based policies that provide a positive return on investment. It looks at whether or not these policies can save the communities they serve more than they cost by reducing the economic impacts of factors such as child abuse, crime and poor educational outcomes.

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Evaluation of Triple P delivery in NSW shows what is needed to make ‘the transition from good science to better service’

It’s always extremely gratifying to see the work that we do translated into an inter-agency, government-backed effort that transforms the lives of families.

But the NSW Government is to be congratulated not just for the work they are doing in making Triple P available free for families of children aged 3 to 8.

Their continual evaluation of the implementation of Triple P in NSW is taking the program’s reach beyond the welfare sector and into the broader community where it will make the most impact.

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