Webinar Recording: Experts Prescribe Prevention Science to Keep Kids on Right Path

Posted May 3, 2016
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog expertsdiscusspreventionscience 2016

Tack­le trou­ble­some behav­ior among youths before it leads to poor out­comes like vio­lence, delin­quen­cy, drop­ping out of school, sub­stance abuse and teen pregnancy.

That lies at the heart of pre­ven­tion sci­ence,” experts told par­tic­i­pants in an April 28 webi­nar, Pre­vent­ing Prob­lems Before They Start. It’s part of a new Foun­da­tion webi­nar series, host­ed by the Forum for Youth Invest­ment, that high­lights tools and strate­gies used in the Foundation’s Evidence2Success frame­work, now oper­at­ing in four U.S. com­mu­ni­ties. The webi­nar series, Using What Works to Improve Child Well-Being, is designed to help local gov­ern­ment offi­cials, com­mu­ni­ty-based ser­vice providers, foun­da­tion and non­prof­it lead­ers and oth­ers work­ing to improve out­comes for chil­dren and families.

Kevin Hag­ger­ty, direc­tor of the Social Devel­op­ment Research Group at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton School of Social Work, explained pre­ven­tion sci­ence for youth with an anal­o­gy from pub­lic health. Heart dis­ease has decreased about 40 per­cent in the Unit­ed States in the past three decades, he said, large­ly because research, edu­ca­tion and grow­ing pub­lic aware­ness have led to reduced risk fac­tors such as smok­ing, obe­si­ty and high blood pres­sure, along with health­i­er liv­ing like eat­ing bet­ter and exercising.

That’s pre­ven­tion sci­ence – mov­ing upstream and find­ing the under­ly­ing fac­tors of cause and pre­ven­tion to attack a big­ger prob­lem at the root,” Hag­ger­ty told webi­nar participants.

Imag­ine if we could apply this suc­cess­ful pub­lic health approach to help­ing kids to grow up with a good edu­ca­tion and with­out being involved in vio­lence, delin­quen­cy, drug abuse and all the oth­er bad out­comes we see in our com­mu­ni­ties,” added Haggerty.

Pre­ven­tion sci­ence for young peo­ple has three key com­po­nents: risk fac­tors, pro­tec­tive fac­tors and test­ed, effec­tive pro­grams, he said.

Evi­dence-based pro­grams ground­ed in pre­ven­tion sci­ence help counter harm­ful influ­ences such as aca­d­e­m­ic fail­ure, fam­i­ly con­flict, lack of strong par­ent­ing, lit­tle impulse con­trol among youths and neg­a­tive peer pres­sure, he said.

At the same time, such pro­grams help youth devel­op mean­ing­ful involve­ment encour­ag­ing their emo­tion­al devel­op­ment and secu­ri­ty; nur­ture pos­i­tive rela­tion­ships with adults who pro­vide recog­ni­tion and guid­ance; build prob­lem-solv­ing skills; improve phys­i­cal health; and become moti­vat­ed to live accord­ing to healthy standards.

Jessie Watrous, a senior asso­ciate at Casey, showed par­tic­i­pants how to find pro­grams on the Blue­prints for Healthy Youth Devel­op­ment data­base, nation­al­ly rec­og­nized for its exact­ing stan­dards in choos­ing the pro­grams it lists.

Test­ed, effec­tive pro­grams are most like­ly to give the great­est return on invest­ment for those pre­cious pub­lic dol­lars,” Watrous told webi­nar par­tic­i­pants. Because these pro­grams con­cen­trate on risk fac­tors that show up before a prob­lem is ful­ly devel­oped, they also are usu­al­ly like­ly to cost much less than the pro­grams aimed at address­ing a full-blown problem.”

The next webi­nar in this series, Iden­ti­fy­ing Com­mu­ni­ty Pri­or­i­ties for Child Well-Being, will explore how com­mu­ni­ties can gath­er data on risk and pro­tec­tive fac­tors and choose pri­or­i­ty out­comes. The webi­nar will take place from 1 p.m. — 2 p.m. ET on Thurs­day, July 21. Reg­is­ter today.

Watch the record­ing of Pre­vent­ing Prob­lems Before They Start

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