Triple P goes to the White House

Representatives from Triple P America, the organisation licensed to disseminate Triple P in the United States, will attend the event at the invitation of the White House Office of Social Innovation and My Brother’s Keeper (MBK).

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj said Triple P’s invitation to the White House showed a welcome belief that the pursuit of quality research could help overcome persistent global problems, such as a lack of opportunity for young men and boys of colour.

“The continued development and evaluation of Triple P internationally is an outstanding example of how research conducted in direct response to social need can inform the development of programs designed to improve the lives of individuals and  families while also providing community-wide benefits,’’ Professor Høj said.

Triple P founder and UQ Parenting and Family Support Centre director Professor Matt Sanders said the invitation to present at the White House was a strong endorsement for the program.

“The My Brother’s Keeper What Works presentation at the White House aims to give communities and the philanthropic and corporate sectors guidance on the type of quality, evidence-based programs they can be considering as part of this wonderful initiative,’’ Professor Sanders said.

“Internationally, and particularly in the US, we have seen that Triple P used in partnership with other evidence-based programs means great things can happen to provide opportunities for children and youth.’’

My Brother’s Keeper was established two years ago by US President Barack Obama to ensure all young people in the US reached their full potential.

Nearly 250 communities spanning all 50 US states have accessed $1.6 billion in private sector and philanthropic grants and low-interest financing as part of the initiative.

Triple P America Chief Executive Officer Bradley Thomas said Triple P had been invited to participate because its programs had been identified as being able to support the first of six My Brother’s Keeper milestone areas which encourage positive outcomes across the lifespan.

This milestone was ‘Getting a healthy start and entering school ready to learn’.

“Triple P America’s invitation to the White House is an indication of the strong evidence base of the Triple P system, as well as the outstanding results being obtained by sites rolling out the program in the United States,’’ Mr Thomas said.

The event can be viewed at

A public health approach to child maltreatment prevention is critical, argues University of South Carolina’s Professor Ron Prinz

In the emerging field of child maltreatment prevention, public health approaches to prevent child abuse are novel but necessary, the director of the University of South Carolina’s Parenting and Family Research Center, Professor Ron Prinz, writes in a recent edition of the journal, Child Abuse & Neglect.

Ron Prinz

Professor Ron Prinz

Professor Prinz argues that interventions focusing on improving parenting are a crucial ingredient to the prevention of child maltreatment. However, few parents will sign up for a program that explicitly sets out to reduce child abuse.

He suggests that researchers who have been trained in disciplines that focus heavily on strategies which help one family at a time, or in small groups, could benefit from lessons learnt from public health campaigns, such as anti-smoking and public safety campaigns.

“Several years ago, parking lot footage played repeatedly on CNN of an abusive parent caught in the act was both alarming and informative,’’ Professor Prinz writes.

“The parent first buckled the young child into a car seat located in the back seat and then proceeded to pummel her with fists. Somehow even an abusive parent had been affected by public health messaging to secure the child properly in the car seat.’’

Professor Prinz said that while it was still an open question whether public health strategies could make a dent in child-maltreatment related indicators at a population level, several years ago, his group conducted a controlled study to test the proposition using the Triple P—Positive Parenting Program system.

“Despite power constraints associated with having only 9 Triple P counties and 9 comparison counties, the study showed that large effects could be produced on child out-of-home placements, child hospital-treated maltreatment injuries, and CM substantiations,’’ Professor Prinz writes.

“This type of study sorely needs to be replicated, although getting communities, states, and funders to embrace a place randomization design is not easy.’’

He says that while broad parenting intervention is important, it must be joined with other critical facets of a public health approach, such as the need to address poverty factors and parental substance abuse.

Professor Prinz argues that the parenting-focused aspects of child maltreatment prevention can extend beyond the original goal, including the prevention of childhood social, emotional, and behavioural problems; the reduction of risk for adverse adolescent outcomes (such as substance use, delinquency and academic failure); and parental engagement for school readiness.

He also suggests that media can help normalise help-seeking behaviour among parents and provide positive models of how parents can encourage pro-social behaviour in their children while providing boundaries without resorting to coercive parenting practices.

A public health approach does not mean, Prof Prinz argues, that all parents receive equal access to the same “dose’’ of support.

“Universal access to parenting support is important, but this does not mean every parent in the population needs to participate in the same intensity, or even any, level of parenting support,’’ Professor Prinz writes.

“A blended approach to prevention makes the most sense, which means indicated, selective and universal preventive interventions are combined in an organized framework.’’

The article points out that some families also need support in relation to basic needs, such as food, housing and medical care, parental substance-use problems, mental health disorders, or other specific conditions.

Professor Prinz also suggests that public health approaches to child maltreatment prevention could benefit from linking parenting-focused interventions to broad community mobilisation strategies.

“Efforts like Strong Communities (developed by psychologist Gary Melton and colleagues), which seeks to change the culture within neighbourhoods to one of mutual engagement and assistance, are compatible with interventions that champion and promote pro-social parenting and positive contagion for the raising of healthy children,’’ he writes.

It may be awkward, but we need to talk to kids about porn

The ease of access to pornography has changed rapidly. The stash of hidden magazines you might remember from your youth is vastly different from the sexually explicit content children can be exposed to today. And parents often underestimate the extent of their child’s exposure to online porn.

International estimates of the proportion of children and young people who have viewed porn vary, from around 43% to 99% in older age groups. Exposure to online porn often begins around the age of ten or 11, and increases with age.

Research suggests young porn users are more likely to have unrealistic attitudes about sexual activity and relationships. They tend to be more accepting of stereotyped gender roles.

While young porn users often have a more relaxed and permissive attitude to sex, they may not have a clear understanding about the importance of consent, pleasure, sexual health or safety in their sexual relationships.

The benefits of having open, clear, factual discussions with children about online media and digital relationships are clear. Children who receive sex and relationship education from an early age are more likely to:

  • understand and accept physical and emotional changes with confidence
  • feel positive about their bodies
  • appreciate and accept individual differences
  • make informed and responsible sexual decisions later in life
  • feel good about themselves and their gender
  • be capable of communicating about sexual matters
  • understand what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate behaviour.

They’re also less likely to be exploited or sexually abused.

So we need to talk to our kids about sex, and porn, without sending them cringing back to their bedrooms.

Overcoming the barriers

Your own views about porn and respectful relationships are likely to influence how you feel about discussing the issue with your children.

But regardless of whether your view is that consensual adult porn is a normal and enjoyable part of adults’ sex lives, or an exploitative practice, the most important thing you need to do is to keep open the channels of communication with your children.

Discuss your family’s values and beliefs as well as the continuum of beliefs that may be held in the community. In response to a young person’s exposure to material online, for example, a parent could say:

I can see you were a bit worried about what you saw this morning on the computer. There were some pretty explicit sex acts shown there.

What’s important to remember is that people have different ideas about pleasure and how they express their sexuality, and that may not agree with our values and how you or I view things.

I’d really like to hear what you thought about it and how you felt…

Children are more likely to keep the communication lines open if you are being honest and truthful.

Dealing with young children

Young children under the age of seven or eight are unlikely to understand the meaning of any pornography that they see.

At this age, the best approach is to focus on accurate and open information about bodies being private, and on consent, personal space and safety. You don’t have to go into great detail about pornography; you can tell them that sex is an adult or older person’s activity.

But don’t avoid or ignore their questions if they ask. Keep conversations brief, factual and honest, and use correct terminology for body parts.

Monitor your child’s use of electronic devices and the internet, but also let your child know you are always happy to talk with them. Tell them that if they see something in public – and the internet is public – to let you know.

Older children and adolescents

It’s normal for young people to want to learn about sex and relationships, and they will access online media for all forms of learning. Monitoring what older children and adolescents access is important, but open, honest communication is even more critical.

If you’ve laid the groundwork, as your child gets older and becomes more interested in the topic, it will be easier to have conversations about sex, what’s good and not so good about it, and about portrayals of sex, relationships and sexual identity in the media.

There is no one right age for these discussions, but you’ll want to tailor your conversations so they’re age-appropriate. If your four-year-old comes home and tells you that Johnny has two mummies, for instance, you might use it as an opportunity to discuss how families are different.

If you notice your 11-year-old giggling at the cover of a women’s magazine’s “ten tips for better sex”, take the time to engage in a conversation about what they find amusing or uncomfortable.

If your child is either purposefully or accidentally accessing porn, rather than shaming them or getting angry, talk calmly to them about what they saw, how it made them feel, and the implications of what they saw.

Regardless of your own views about porn, it’s important to let children know that what is portrayed is not reflective of most relationships. The actors and the sex acts may not represent reality and may present a simplified and incorrect – and sometimes non-consensual – image of sex and relationships.

Note that any material involving sexual activity with or between people under 18 years of age may constitute child abuse material. To a child or young person, these actors may look like peers. So it’s important to discuss age, power and consent.

When parents are able to respond to children’s curiosity and talk about porn, they can help young people develop safety skills and recognise the importance of their own sexual health and well-being.

If you think your child may be excessively viewing pornography, viewing violent or degrading material, or not processing the fiction of the content, you may want to seek the advice of a sexual health provider, such as state-based family planning clinics.

This article was co-authored by Melanie Grabski from True: Relationships and Reproductive Health.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Proud rugby school famous for turning out All Blacks takes Triple P founder back to where it all began

A New Zealand boys high school famous for its connection to the mighty All Blacks has recognised The University of Queensland’s Professor Matt Sanders among its first distinguished alumni.

Professor Sanders is the founder of the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program, a Professor of Clinical Psychology and director of UQ’s Parenting and Family Support Centre. He has published more than 300 research papers.

However, as a very young student at Kelston Boys High School, in West Auckland, Professor Sanders says he was not one of the top academic achievers.

“The key for me was that my very early academic career wasn’t seen by the school as a limitation. I had one teacher in particular who got me aside and basically told me, ‘come on, you can do it’,’’ Professor Sanders said.

“For me it reinforces the idea that people should not make too many judgments too soon about young people and what they are capable of if they have good family and school support.’’

Professor Sanders (pictured left in picture above), who attended Kelston from 1966-70, was recognised at Keltson’s inaugural alumni for his achievements in academia alongside the chief executive of the Pascoe Group, David Norman (1962-1965, second from left), for his services to business; current New Zealand Sevens rugby union captain, DJ Forbes (1997-2000, second from right), for services to sport; and former New Zealand rugby league captain, Duane Mann (1979-1983, right), for services to the community and sport.

Kelston principal Brian Evans said the school was honoured to have someone of the calibre of Prof Sanders as one of its first distinguished alumni.

“Professor Sanders’ work and achievements speak for themselves and he is a very proud Kelstonian and an inspiration for our current students on what can be achieved with such dedication,’’ Mr Evans said.

“It was a wonderful evening for our old boys and a great celebration of what great things our ex-students go on to achieve.’’

Kelston Boys High School in West Auckland is highly regarded for the quality of its rugby program, with former All Blacks coach Graham Henry a former principal of the school, and for its support of Maori and Pacific Island families.

Professor Sanders graduated from Kelston to enrol at University of Auckland where he completed three degrees, a Bachelor of Arts, a Master of Arts and a Dip Ed in Psychology before starting his PhD thesis which was the genesis of Triple P.

He then transferred to The University of Queensland where his completed his doctorate.


Data bank could ensure early intervention research for years to come

AN eight-year study into the effectiveness of early intervention programs in an historically disadvantaged community in Ireland could have research implications that last a lot longer than the original study.

Dr Orla Doyle

Dr Orla Doyle

Funded by Atlantic Philanthropies and the Irish Government, the experimental evaluation of the Preparing for Life early childhood intervention in a community in Dublin, Ireland, is now reaching the end of its data collection period.

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Ireland and the population-level effect: How schools were the key to reaching those most in need

Brief interventions played a major role in the success of a population-level delivery of the Triple P system in the Irish Midlands, the director of the partnership involved in the rollout, Conor Owens, told this year’s Helping Families Change Conference (HFCC) in Amsterdam.

The Longford Westmeath Parenting Partnership made Triple P available free to all parents of children under the age of eight to reduce prevalence rates of clinically elevated social, emotional and behavioural problems in children, estimated to be one in five children in Ireland.

Their goal was also to help parents become more confident and feel more supported, as well as to reduce parents’ levels of anxiety and depression relating to their children’s behaviour.

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The quest for glycemic control in children with type 1 diabetes. Can a parenting intervention such as Triple P help?

Parenting interventions such as Triple P have been shown to reduce mental health problems in children. But can a parenting intervention moderate the impact of type 1 diabetes in children as well as improve their mental health and wellbeing?

Two separate studies into the effects of Triple P – one conducted by a team across Melbourne, the other by an international team from Manchester and the University of Queensland’s Parenting and Family Support Centre – suggest these research questions are definitely worth pursuing.

The Melbourne randomised controlled trial (RCT), published in Pediatric Diabetes last year, tested whether Triple P could reduce or prevent mental health problems and improve glycemic control in children with type 1 diabetes.

Meticulous glycemic control is regarded as crucial in preventing serious complications for people diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

If not managed properly, type 1 diabetes can lead to serious short-term consequences, such as extremely low and high blood glucose levels, both of which can be fatal. Long-term complications include blindness and damage to kidneys, nerves and heart.

Unfortunately, day to day management of type 1 diabetes is complicated and onerous, especially for teens who would prefer someone “just invent a cure already’’ and parents struggling with behaviour problems in their kids.

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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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