I was pleased to see this recent article in the New York Times (http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/20/helping-the-parents-to-spare-the-children) regarding mental illness and public safety. While the public policy debate muddles through the divisive and confusing issues of gun violence and treatment options for those with mental illness, this article suggests our collective approach to reducing violence in our communities and homes should include the topic of parenting. I like it.
Beyond the laws designed to protect children from abuse, no one has the right to tell a parent how to raise their child. But too often, well intentioned parents find that the parenting techniques they are using are not working. They want help.
Fortunately, there has emerged a number of evidence-based parenting services that are proven effective in these situations. Unfortunately, these services are currently only accessible to parents who have abused their children.
This is truly unfortunate for one group of parents and children in particular. These are the parents who seek a developmental screening for their child through the Single Entry Access to Services (SEAS) program at (360) 715-7485, a therapist, or through the special services programs offered at their child’s public school. For many of these parents, they are looking for answers as to why their child is not responding well to the parenting techniques they learn through classes, books, and their own support network of family and friends.
Evaluators testing these children are all too familiar with informing the worried and often desperate parent that the good news is that their child does not have a diagnosable disability. But, the bad news is that they are not eligible for specialized services that could make a real difference in addressing the behavior challenges of their child.
Why is this important to our public strategy to reduce violence? As the article suggests, without specialized parenting training these families often find themselves on a course of disruption and dysfunction. For these families, the course can include an accumulation of incidents of traumatic emotions and physical aggression that continue on through the child’s teens and early adulthood. In many cases, specialized parenting training can prevent these destructive patterns from developing.
It may be several years before we gather enough outcome data for evidence-based parenting services to be included in public policy decisions related to violence reduction. In the meantime, let’s figure out how to help these parents and children.
Keep checkin’ in. Byron
Whatcom County SEAS (Single Entry Access to Services) where Children with Special Health Care Needs Coordinators (CSHCN) can help children get screened and connected to services in their area if there is a medical concern or developmental delay. Mon – Fri 8:00am – 5:00pm. 360-715-7485.