October 10, 2011
Strategies for Preventing Multiple Risky Behaviors among Adolescents
Each year, Child Trends hosts the Kristin Anderson Moore lecture to honor the work and research of Senior Research Scholar and former Child Trends President, Kristin Moore. This year's lecture focused on research by Dr. Richard Catalano on the Communities that Care (CTC) program implemented in 500 communities worldwide to provide services and supports to at-risk adolescents.
Dr. Catalano, from the University of Washington School of Social Work, spoke about the Communities that Care approach, a community-wide effort to reduce risk factors and to build protective factors, and one that has been found to have significant positive impacts on adolescents. Child Trends released a new brief, Mobilizing Communities to Implement Tested and Effective Programs to Help Youth Avoid Risky Behaviors, which reviews the CTC program model. The model integrates rigorously evaluated programs with community efforts to reduce risky behavior. Youth in CTC sites have been found to be less likely to start smoking, drinking, or engaging in delinquent behavior.
Following Dr. Catalano's presentation, two respondents were invited to offer reactions to the lecture. Dr. Michael Little of the Social Research Unit in the United Kingdom commented on the leadership of the U.S. in generating evidence of social interventions that work and underscored the importance of expanding access to effective programs. Patrick Lester of the Alliance for Children and Families offered a federal policy perspective on place-based initiatives, including those being advance through the Obama administration's Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative.
In addition, today Child Trends released Preventing Multiple Risky Behaviors among Adolescents, a brief that summarizes seven strategies for preventing multiple risky behaviors among adolescents. Child Trends identified these strategies through a comprehensive literature review which will be published later this fall. For each strategy, Child Trends synthesized scientific studies and evaluations to highlight several programs that have shown promise for reducing multiple risky behaviors by working with adolescents in family, peer, school, and community settings.
Risky behaviors are fairly common in adolescence and can be associated with serious, long-term consequences, particularly when adolescents engage in more than one behavior. Although adolescents often take part in multiple risky behaviors, most risk prevention programs have been designed to prevent a single risky behavior. However, research suggests that there are program approaches that may prevent multiple risky behaviors as well as common factors that can influence risk-taking. Designing programs to prevent multiple risky behaviors by specifically targeting common risk and protective factors may be more cost-effective and more likely to produce long-term behavioral change.
Read about the seven promising strategies.
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