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New Research Findings Support Early Intervention

8 November 2004

New Research Findings Support Early Intervention

Yet another endorsement for the early intervention work carried out by Christchurch’s Family Help Trust.

The Trust’s Manager of Clinical Services, Bill Pringle, says the study carried out by Psychologist, Dr. Nick Wilson, shows that working with high-risk families while children are young, is the most effective way to go.

“I agree with comments made by Howard League spokesperson, Kathy Dunstall, that there needs to be more investigation into what level of abuse and dysfunction is taking place in the early years of offenders lives,” he says. “Our research and experience show that it is the family environment that plays a key part in a child’s future.”

The 2002 study has revealed that the average age of a young persons first offending is 11 years, there’s a “chronic pattern by age of 12 and there are other members of the family involved in criminal activity.

“The fact that gang involvement features strongly in the findings also reinforces how important it is to strengthen the family unit and teach empowerment and the “right” choices for parents and families in general,” says Mr Pringle.

The Family Help Trust successfully works with at risk children in high-risk families while the children are very young, sometimes starting as early as when the mother is pregnant.

“Our programmes are intensive and long-term. We are changing ingrained attitudes, providing choices for families, supported by a service which can work with them for up to five years. That’s absolutely key to our success,” he says.

Dr Wilson’s study suggests that intervention must not only be early but also long-term and intensive, not just a short term fix. It addresses the issue of current programmes and suggests that many have been failed by treatment programmes. One suggestion for this is that they may not have been specifically targeted.

“Our programmes are targeted at the most at-risk children in very high-risk families, the “hard” end if you like,” says Mr Pringle. “If we can effect a change here, and we do, then the cycle of dysfunction from generation to generation is stopped.”


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