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April 2009Vol. 10, No. 3Positive Parenting for Prevention

A recent evaluation points to the success of a public health approach to the prevention of child abuse and neglect. A study published in the January 2009 issue of Prevention Science found that use of the Triple P (Positive Parenting Program) combined with Triple P workforce training and universal media and communication strategies promoted the prevention of child maltreatment.

The Triple P program was implemented in nine randomly selected South Carolina counties over 2 years. Results were compared with nine other counties in South Carolina providing usual services. The Triple P counties showed significant reductions in all three population indicators: substantiated child maltreatment, child out-of-home placements within the foster care system, and child maltreatment injuries recorded by hospitals.

The Triple P program is based on the following five core principles of positive parenting:

  • Ensuring a safe, engaging environment
  • Promoting a positive learning environment
  • Using assertive discipline
  • Maintaining reasonable expectations
  • Taking care of oneself as a parent

Parents learn to apply specific, individually tailored strategies that facilitate goal setting and self-regulation. Some of these techniques include:

  • Enhancing the parent-child relationship
  • Encouraging desirable behavior
  • Acquiring new skills
  • Managing misbehaviors
  • Preventing problems in a high-risk situation

A multimedia campaign (radio, newspapers, newsletters, mass mailings, and web information) also was launched to reach out to families, promote access to services, and encourage help seeking. Randomly surveyed households in the Triple P counties showed significant increases in awareness of these issues.

The article provides encouraging evidence of the preventive impact of a communication strategy and the use of parenting interventions in a large geographical area.

"Population-Based Prevention of Child Maltreatment: The U.S. Triple P System Population Trial," by Ronald J. Prinz et al., was published in Prevention Science, 10(1), and is available online: (225 KB)