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Behav Anal. 1994 Fall;17(2):335-51.

Increasing the prevalence of successful children: The case for community intervention research.


This paper makes a case for research on community interventions on child rearing. Sufficient evidence has accumulated about the development of children's problem behavior to justify evaluating efforts to reduce the prevalence of these problems in whole communities. The contextual risk factors for diverse child behavior problems are well understood, and interventions to ameliorate individual risk factors have been developed and evaluated. Because interventions with individual children have proven to be efficacious, it is now appropriate to direct energy toward reducing the prevalence of children with behavior problems. At the same time, existing interventions have limitations. Community interventions may be needed to modify the larger social context for families. This paper enumerates possible components of a community intervention to improve child-rearing outcomes. Existing evidence indicates that communities would benefit from making parent training and family support programs available to parents. Validated methods of identifying and remediating academic and behavioral problems in schools are available, but influencing schools to adopt them remains a problem. Community organizing could mobilize communities to allocate the resources necessary to support such parenting and schooling programs as well as encourage their adoption. Media campaigns could foster community support and directly influence parenting practices. Efforts to modify peer influences to use illicit substances have received empirical support; similar efforts may be relevant to preventing other problems. The development of a science of community interventions on child rearing is hampered by overreliance on randomized control trials. For this reason, two examples of time-series experimental evaluations of community intervention components are described here.

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