Mothers who live in poverty and who have abused their children can stop if they are taught parenting skills and given emotional support.
A new study has found that mothers in families in which there is a history of child abuse and neglect were able to reduce how much they cursed at, yelled at, slapped, spanked, hit or rejected their children after a series of home visits from therapists who taught them parenting skills.
There were large improvements in mothers' parenting in the families that received the intensive services, compared to families that did not receive the services, according to SMU psychologists Ernest Jouriles and Renee McDonald at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
As a result of the intensive, hands-on training, the women in the study said they felt they did a better job managing their children's behavior, said Jouriles and McDonald, two of the study's eight authors. The mothers also were observed to use better parenting strategies, and the families were less likely to be reported again for child abuse.
"Although there are many types of services for addressing child maltreatment, there is very little scientific data about whether the services actually work," said McDonald. "This study adds to our scientific knowledge and shows that this type of service can actually work."
Help for violent families
The parenting training is part of a program called Project Support, developed at the Family Research Center at SMU and designed to help children in severely violent families.
The study appears in the current issue of the quarterly Journal of Family Psychology. The article is titled "Improving Parenting in Families Referred for Child Maltreatment: A Randomized Controlled Trial Examining Effects of Project Support." SMU psychologist David Rosenfield also authored the study. For a link to the article abstract and related information see www.smuresearch.com.
|Contact: Margaret Allen|
Southern Methodist University