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Strengthening Families

Prevention programmes within the family are among the most effective, since they have proven to prevent substance abuse and other risk behaviours. Family behaviour influences the healthy development of children and adolescents: positive parent-children relationships, effective discipline and supervision and positive parenting practices are linked to lower problematic and/or risky behaviours among adolescents. This e-book focuses largely, although not exclusively, on the Strengthening Families Programme (SFP). SFP was developed in order to reduce the influence of family risk factors in drug addicts' sons and daughters and, at the same time, to strengthen the protective factors in order to improve young people’s resilience towards drug consumption and other behavioural and/or mental health issues. Further, programmes focused on the family as a whole are more effective than those involving parents only (parent education programmes) or children only (social skills programmes for children and adolescents).

This e-book includes articles about longitudinal studies, cultural adaptation, the changes in prosocial skills driven by a family prevention programme, and a new family programme design. In relation to longitudinal studies, it is emphasised that future investigations should prioritise long-term data collection. It is also highlighted that causal inference in longitudinal studies requires rigorous methodological designs, eliminating alternative explanations for the changes achieved.

As regards cultural adaptation, the special issue refers to the debate about the suitability of North American programmes in a European context and the specific characteristics that these cultural adaptations of programmes should have. Culturally adapted versions of SFP have been implemented in various countries within Europe. In comparison with programmes of a different sort, such as school or community programmes, here it is argued that North American family programmes seem relatively easy to adapt in Europe. In this sense, a greater effort is being put into developing databases of evidence-based programmes with a view to the potential implementation of such programmes in European children’s services.

This e-book also deals with the improvement of prosocial behaviour in children after their participation in an evidence-based family prevention programme. In order to know the factors promoting prosocial behaviour, it helps to understand which educational resources should be used to enhance this behaviour, and it helps to improve the design of family prevention programmes.

Lastly, regarding the design of a new programme, this special issue includes the example of developing “Building Everyday Life”, a programme that aims to improve parenting outcomes through the better sharing of family responsibilities. New family cohabitation models should also be taken into consideration, since they represent new challenges for programme adaptation and implementation. They include both new families (i.e. homosexual and foster families) and the growth of family types such as single-mother families and families with adopted children. Further, family instability and the growing frequency of family breakups usually lead to changes in parental models, especially male parental models.

On the whole, the development of evidence-based family programmes, such as the Strengthening Families Programme, should take into account issues such as: the connection between theory, the aetiology of the problems in question and the contents of the intervention; the impact of the messages and the preventive contents of the programme on the target population; the development of new recruiting systems; the motivation of the families; the role of group dynamics in delivery sessions; how to foster social links; how to answer families’ worries, interests, needs and expectations; and how to eliminate barriers to participation."

Development of prosocial behaviour in children after the improvement of family competences,Effectiveness of culturally adapted Strengthening Families Program 6-11 years among Portuguese families,Evaluation of the Building Everyday Life positive parenting programme,Guest Editorial - Strengthening families: changes and developments,How much do we know about the long-term effectiveness of parenting programmes? Advances, shortcomings, and future directions,Is the Strengthening Families Programme feasible in Europe?,The Strengthening Families Programme in Spain: a long-term evaluation

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