Broad Access To Parenting Support Lowers Child Maltreatment Risk

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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When parents have access to proven parenting information and support designed to address problems all families face - from tantrums to encouraging good behavior - key measures of child maltreatment fall, according to a study released in the online edition of the journal Prevention Science.

The study, which was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), found lower rates of confirmed abuse cases, child out–of–home placements, and hospitalizations and emergency room visits for child injuries in counties where parenting support was implemented.

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“Previous studies have shown reductions in children′s social, emotional and behavioral problems,” said Ron Prinz, Ph.D., at the University of South Carolina, the study′s lead investigator. “This is the first large–scale study to show that by providing all families, not just families in crisis, with access to parenting information and support, we can reduce the rates of child maltreatment in whole communities.”

Using a multi–level system of parenting support called the Triple P—Positive Parenting Program, nine study counties in South Carolina implemented a wide range of support mechanisms for parents including local media, brief public seminars, and parent consultation by specially trained providers in clinics, schools, churches, and community centers.

Researchers estimate the results of this study could translate annually into 688 fewer cases of child maltreatment, 240 fewer out–of–home placements, and 60 fewer children with injuries requiring hospitalization or emergency room treatment for every 100,000 children under age 8.

“Engaging parents is an important step in our ongoing efforts to prevent child maltreatment and promote safe, stable, nurturing, relationships for children in all communities,” said Rodney Hammond, Ph.D., director of the CDC′s Division of Violence Prevention. Child maltreatment harms people and society, contributing to costly long–term health problems ranging from heart disease and obesity to depression and anxiety, making this type of prevention study critical.”

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