gently questioned about their drinking and its consequences and are given tips for changing their behavior if they choose to do so. People who have been exposed to traumatic events are helped to accept that these events have happened and to move forward in their lives. Families struggling with parental depression are helped to understand and accept and to develop a shared approach to coping with it. Adolescents and young adults experiencing psychotic symptoms for the first time receive assistance in dealing with them.

In contrast to many punitive societal reactions to young people’s problem behavior, none of these interventions emphasizes punishment. The Good Behavior Game helps teachers reinforce desirable behavior and thereby reduce the behaviors that commonly draw punitive responses. Parenting programs help families replace harsh and inconsistent discipline practices with time-outs and brief removal of privileges, while parents are prompted to greatly increase positive reinforcement for desirable behavior. Several studies with families that have experienced major disruptions, such as marital separation and bereavement, have provided consistent evidence that the ability of such parenting programs to increase nurturance (warmth) and improve effective discipline accounts for their effectiveness in reducing internalizing and externalizing of problems in the short term and up to six years following the intervention (DeGarmo, Patterson, and Forgatch, 2004; Forgatch, Beldavs, et al., 2008; Tein, Sandler, et al., 2004, 2006; Zhou, Sandler, et al., 2008; Martinez and Forgatch, 2001). The principles of richly reinforcing desirable behavior and minimizing punishment are practices that may go a long way toward reducing problem behaviors among young people (see also Chapter 11).

Durlak and Wells (1997) reviewed 177 interventions targeted at reducing behavioral and social problems in children and adolescents, including both prevention and mental health promotion interventions. They found significant mean effects for programs that modified the school environment, helped children negotiate stressful transitions, and provided individually focused mental health promotion. Most of these programs both significantly increased competencies and significantly reduced problems.

Catalano, Berglund, and colleagues (2002, 2004) identified 25 youth development programs that focused on building positive constructs, such as social, emotional, and cognitive competence; self-determination; and self-efficacy. They concluded that the programs showed evidence of improving measures of positive development and reducing a range of problem behaviors, such as risky sexual behavior, alcohol and drug use, violence, and aggression. For example, Raising Healthy Children (Catalano, Mazza, et al., 2003), an extension of the successful Seattle Social Development Program, focuses on promoting positive youth development by improving classroom and family support for prosocial behavior. A trial matched 10 schools and

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement