09 December 2014

Almost everyone agrees that programs for children in need should be based on the best possible evidence. In many cases, the ideal evidence would come from a randomized controlled trial (RCT). But randomization can clash with the day-to-day concerns of local authorities and social workers. A recent article offers a rare behind-the-scenes look at a social work RCT.

04 December 2014

If you agree with your mother that you won’t drink alcohol until you’re older, and often talk with her about alcohol, she would probably believe that you understand the dangers of drinking at a young age. However, new research from the Netherlands suggests that having a mother-child non-drinking agreement actually decreases children’s perception of the harm caused by alcohol.

02 December 2014

An estimated five million 16 to 24-year olds in the United States are not in education or employment at any one time. The National Guard Youth Challenge Program – combining residential training with community support – shows how positive youth development work offers some of them a “second chance”.

27 November 2014

It’s a tough world for girls in chaotic home and school situations. Among other perils, they face risks from unsafe sex and violence. Can a program address both risks at the same time? Maybe it can – if it helps youth build skills through steady, supportive relationships. A new study of Prime Time, a program for teen girls at high risk of pregnancy, offers encouraging results.

24 November 2014

Obesity among children holds debilitating, lifelong implications for their health and wellbeing and is a growing international problem. Preschool settings have a potentially crucial contribution to make towards prevention, but research among black children in Chicago shows up the implementation challenges as well as opportunities.

19 November 2014

In the UK, one in 10 children reports a low level of subjective well-being, according to the latest report from the Children’s Society. The results from England and Scotland give particular grounds for concern.

11 November 2014

Stress and depression in pregnant women are linked to poor birth outcomes and a variety of long-term medical and developmental problems in children. Typical interventions focus on treating the mother’s stress, and leave the father out of the picture. But a program that takes a different approach – aiming to improve the parents’ relationship – shows encouraging results.

05 November 2014

Training for foster parents that encourages sensitive caregiving and stronger bonds of attachment could lead to more stable care placements for abused and neglected toddlers, according to researchers in the United States.

27 October 2014

Many homeless young people think about suicide. Does working with them and their parents on communication, parenting, and stress management make a difference? A recent study of 11-14 year olds in New York City finds that it might.

22 October 2014

You are growing up in a war zone where a ceasefire has just been declared. How might prevention science help you to avoid the potential for long-term harm caused by exposure to armed conflict and stress?

16 October 2014

New evidence from Germany on the widely used Triple-P parenting program finds parents maintaining improvements in their skills an impressive four years after they took part. But a lack of evidence for matching, long-term reductions in children’s behavior problems may leave service planners scratching their heads.

13 October 2014

Could schools play a more active part in preventing eating disorders as children reach adolescence? Research from Germany’s “Torera” project suggests a positive answer when teachers are equipped with well-conceived program materials and training.

Two teenagers sit on a bench in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Two teenagers sit on a bench in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Birute Vijeikiene /

28 January 2015 | Research

Returning from residential care to home is often a bumpy ride for both families and young people. A Boys Town program that aims to smooth the transition shows early promise as a way to keep youth in school and out of trouble.

21 January 2015 | Research

The Communities That Care program has been shown to reduce risk factors for youth problem behavior. But the absence of risk is not the same as the presence of protection. Now a new study suggests that CTC also increases protective factors like social skills, healthy friendships, and recognition for good behavior.

19 January 2015 | Research

INSIGHTS Into Children’s Temperament (INSIGHTS) is an intervention aimed at helping young children in low-income schools to manage their emotions. By doing so, it hopes to increase children’s attention span and reduce disruptive behavior. The theory is that this will lead to improved school performance. Now the results from a new randomized trial are in.

13 January 2015 | Research

Child victimization, abuse and bullying and their harmful consequences are among the most troubling public health issues of our time. An everyday safety skills program in California shows how elementary schools can play an active part in safeguarding children.

23 December 2014 | Research

A study of a new reading and language intervention for six-year-olds found a few small improvements, but no effect on reading. In fact, targeted interventions before the start of formal reading instruction usually make little long-term difference to children at risk of dyslexia. Do such findings mean that these programs don’t work – or that, in this case, regular school teaching and parent assistance are already offering good support?

17 December 2014 | Research

In compulsory education systems the law provides a final resort when children and young people fail to attend school regularly. But a response to persistent truants based on restorative justice and tailored family support appears more constructive than seeking a court order.

11 December 2014 | Research

Politicians, researchers, and program designers are increasingly aware that a segment of families – perhaps up to 5 percent – face multiple, intertwined problems. Ten for the Future, an integrated, needs-led and potentially long-term intervention, is the Dutch welfare system’s response to multi-problem families.

Most popular

10 May 2010 | Comment

Resources may be scarce and policy makers might have to make difficult decisions about what to buy. But a more rational strategy that invests early for later benefits would make sometimes nitpicking and frequently complicated comparisons between the value of one "flagship" prevention program and another irrelevant.

11 May 2010 | What Works

The family systems approach that underpins parenting programs such as Multisystemic Therapy, Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care and Functional Family Therapy may have a value in the treatment of juvenile sex offending, psychologists at the Medical University of South Carolina suggest.

01 May 2007 | What Works

Results of introducing an American parenting program to parts of Wales under the aegis of the well-established UK prevention initiative, Sure Start, have been so encouraging that they pose important challenges to makers of UK policy.

08 November 2007 | Comment

Nick Axford explains the differences between English and Welsh approaches to implementing and evaluating Sure Start – and considers the lessons for the future.

20 April 2011 | What Works

A popular program for helping children with language learning difficulties is found to have no impact and even detrimental effects in some cases.

04 September 2007 | Research

Introduction of year-round schooling with shorter breaks to limit the damage holidays do to the education of poorer children has failed a test in Ohio. "Year-round calendars do not fix the problem of summer learning," the research team reports. "They simply sweep it under the rug of fall, winter, and spring."

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Editor's Picks

There is more to the international transfer of prevention programs than just hitting the “copy and paste” buttons. The introduction of the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program to Ireland offers insights into how to succeed.

Few people working with children will have heard the term “prevention scientist,” let alone know what one is or does. Yet this relatively new breed of researcher is behind the growing list of evidence-based programs being promoted in western developed countries. A new publication puts them under the microscope.

Crime and antisocial behavior prevention efforts have flourished over the last 10 years in the US. This progress can and should be used to help communities improve the life chances of their young people, a recent update urges.

Given the well-known barriers to implementing evidence-based programs, is it better to identify their discrete elements and trust practitioners to combine them in tailored packages depending on the needs of the child and family in question?

The final official review on child protection offers a shakeup of services.