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Program Profile: Active Parenting of Teens: Families in Action

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on July 20, 2012

Program Summary

A family-based alcohol, tobacco, and other-drug abuse prevention program that targets families with middle school children. The program is rated Promising. Participants reported greater family cohesion, school attachment, higher levels of self-esteem, and an older age for alcohol consumption than the control group. Also, program parents reported stronger attitudes against minor alcohol use. There was no significant difference between the control and treatment group on attitudes of tobacco use.

Program Description

Program Goals/Theory
Active Parenting of Teens: Families in Action is a family-based alcohol-, tobacco-, and other drug (ATOD) abuse–prevention program that targets families with children entering middle school. The specific goals of Active Parenting of Teens: Families in Action are to 1) increase youths’ positive attachment to their families and their schools, 2) increase their positive peer relations, 3) promote unfavorable attitudes toward the use of ATODs, and 4) increase self-esteem. The goals for parents are very similar: 1) increase positive attachment to their families; 2) increase positive involvement in their children’s schools; and 3) promote unfavorable attitudes toward the use of ATODs by minors.

The program is based on a social developmental model that emphasizes the contributions of family, school, and peers to adolescent development and proposes that if a youth bonds with prosocial individuals and social groups he or she is less likely to use ATODs. The program teaches a combination of general life skills and social resistance techniques and provides opportunities for youths to practice these skills. It also incorporates modules promoting self-esteem, since Active Parenting of Teens: Families in Action staff hypothesized that youths who feel good about themselves are more likely to feel that they can succeed in school and make friends.

Target Population
The program serves both parents and their children, specifically concentrating on families with children entering middle school or between the ages of 11 and 14. The program can be used with both males and females.

Program Activities
The Active Parenting of Teens: Families in Action program includes several components or modules, which promote youths’ attachment to their family, school, and prosocial peers. These address a wide range of topics, including parent–child communication, positive behavior management, adolescent alcohol and tobacco use, interpersonal relationships for adolescents, school success, family fun activities, and enhancement of adolescent self-esteem.

The program is offered several times each year in middle and junior high schools as an afterschool activity. There are six 2½-hour sessions. Sessions are administered once a week for 6 weeks. Typically, the sessions are held in classrooms on weekday evenings, with groups ranging from 5 to 12 families. The core instructional component is the use of videotaped vignettes that show different families handling a variety of problems. There is also a parent handbook and an accompanying student handbook and curriculum.

Sessions 1 and 2 concentrate on positive thinking and on using positive, rather than negative, strategies to reach behavioral goals. The sessions also discuss normal adolescent development and emphasize maintaining self-esteem during this difficult period. Sessions 3 and 4 teach interpersonal communication skills and demonstrate the logical consequences of individual actions as part of a family management style. Youths are taught that their actions have consequences; parents are taught how to help their children make appropriate choices. Sessions 5 and 6 focus on applying the resistance skills and concepts from the first four sessions to the prevention of ATOD usage, early sexual activity, and violence. Every session is designed to teach children and parents separately and then bring them together for group activities. Skills are taught through role-playing activities and group discussion of how to handle different situation.

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
Family Measures
Abbey and colleagues (2000) report findings from the 1-year follow-up survey. Students who participated in the Active Parenting of Teens: Families in Action program reported having significantly greater family cohesion and significantly lower levels of family fighting than students in the comparison group. However, there were no significant differences between the treatment and control groups on measures of family communication.

School Attachment and Self-Esteem
Students that participated in the program reported greater school attachment and higher levels of self-esteem than students in the comparison group.

Peer Support
There were no significant differences on measures of peer support.

Attitudes Toward Alcohol Use
Treatment group students reported that it was okay to consume alcohol at an age that was significantly older than the age that students in the comparison group reported. Specifically, treatment group students believed that it was acceptable to drink more than a sip of alcohol at age 18 where the comparison group students reported that it was acceptable to drink more than a sip of alcohol at age 17.

Attitudes Toward Tobacco Use
There were no significant differences between the treatment group and control group on measures of students’ attitudes toward tobacco use.

Parents Results
Parents participating in the program reported significantly stronger attitudes in opposition to alcohol use by minors. Parents in the program also reported that alcohol should not be consumed until an age (about 21 years) that was significantly older than the age that parents in the comparison group reported (about 20 years).

However, no significant program effects were found for parents on measures of school attachment, family cohesion, family fighting, family attachment, and attitudes toward tobacco use.
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
Abbey and colleagues (2000) used a quasi-experimental design with nonequivalent comparison groups to evaluate the effectiveness of the Active Parenting of Teens: Families in Action program at preventing alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use (ATOD). Four schools in a rural county of northeastern Michigan were used in the evaluation. Almost the entire population in the county was white (96 percent), and 21 percent of the families were below the poverty line.

A baseline survey was administered in fall of the school year to all students; the same survey was administered 1 year later as a follow-up. Participation in Active Parenting of Teens: Families in Action was completely voluntary. Those families who participated in the program served as the treatment group, and those families who did not participate acted as the comparison group. The treatment group had 37 students and 38 parents; the comparison group had 268 students and 134 parents. Parents were mailed a survey with a stamped-and-addressed return envelope to send back to the research team. Treatment students were not significantly different from students in the comparison group. However, treatment parents had significantly lower scores at baseline on attitudes toward tobacco, age at which parents considered it acceptable for their children to drink, and family cohesion. They also reported higher levels of family fighting. That is, the baseline difference favored the comparison group, as the treatment group parents reported more lenient attitudes toward substance use and higher levels of family fighting.

There were several multi-item scales used to measure student and parent attitudes and behavior. Family measures included family cohesion, communication, and fighting. Family cohesion was measured with a nine-item subscale from the Family Environment Scale. Family cohesion assessed the degree of commitment, help, and support that family members provided one another, with higher scores reflecting greater cohesion. Family communication and family fighting were measured with a nine-item scale and a four-item scale, respectively, created by the research team. Example questions included “How many times have you discussed your feelings with your parent (child)?” and “How many times have you yelled at your child (parent)?” School attachment was measured with a 10-item subscale from the Effective School Battery. Attitudes toward ATOD use (rather than actual use) were measured with a seven-item scale that was adapted from previously existing scales. Students and parents both were asked about their attitudes toward ATOD use by minors.

Peer support and self-esteem were measured only for students. Perceptions of friends’ supportiveness were measured with a 15-item subset of the Inventory of Peer Attachment. Self-esteem was measured with the 16-item behavior subscale from the Piers–Harris Children’s Self-Concept Scale. All survey items and scales used had high Cronbach coefficient alphas and are considered reliable.

One-way analyses of variance (ANOVAs) were used to determine the significant differences between program participants (treatment group) and nonparticipants (comparison group). Baseline differences were accounted for in all of the analyses by treating baseline scores and demographics as covariates.
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Supplies for the program can be purchased through the Active Parenting™ Publishers Web site:
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Implementation Information

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Information on Active Parenting training opportunities is available on the Active Parenting™ Publishers Web site: Leader Training Workshops, Online Leader Training Workshops, and Training of Trainers Workshop are available for anyone interested in implementing the program.

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Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Study 1
Abbey, Antonia, Colleen Pilgrim, Peggy Hendrickson, and Sue Buresh. 2000. “Evaluation of a Family-Based Substance Abuse Prevention Program Targeted for the Middle School Years.” Journal of Drug Education 30(2): 213–28.
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Additional References

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Active Parenting™ Publishers Web site. 2012.

Mullis, Fran. 1999. “Active Parenting: An Evaluation of Two Adlerian Parent Education Programs.” The Journal of Individual Psychology 55(2):225–32.

Pilgrim, Colleen, Antonia Abbey, Peggy Hendrickson, and Sue Lorenz. 1998. “Implementation and Impact of a Family-Based Substance Abuse Prevention Program in Rural Communities.” Journal of Primary Prevention 18(3):341–61. (This study was reviewed but did not meet criteria for inclusion in the overall program rating.)

Popkin, Michael H. 1989. “Active Parenting: A Video-Based Program.” In Martin J. Fine (ed.). The Second Handbook on Parent Education: Contemporary Perspectives. New York, NY: Academic Press Inc.
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Program Snapshot

Age: 11 - 14

Gender: Both

Race/Ethnicity: Black, American Indians/Alaska Native, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic, White

Geography: Rural

Setting (Delivery): School

Program Type: Family Therapy, Leadership and Youth Development, Alcohol and Drug Prevention

Targeted Population: Families

Current Program Status: Active

Listed by Other Directories: Model Programs Guide, National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices

Program Developer:
Michael H. Popkin
Active Parenting Publishers
1220 Kennestone Circle, Suite 130
Marietta GA 30066-6022
Phone: 800.825.0060
Fax: 770.429.0334

Antonia Abbey
Professor and Area Chair
Wayne State University, Psychology Department
5057 Woodward
Detroit MI 48201
Phone: 313.577.6686
Fax: 313.577.7636

Peggy Hendrickson
Demonstration Program Director and Principal Investigator
Independent Contractor
1199 S. Bay Drive
Tawas City MI 48763
Phone: 989.362.3643