Men's low participation in parenting programs must be turned around to prevent violence and antisocial behaviour among future generations of boys, according to new research.
With the participation rates of fathers in parenting programs non-existent in some parts of Australia, a $2.6 million project is engaging and supporting fathers to help manage aggressive behaviours in their sons.
The Like Father Like Son project is being led by Professor Mark Dadds at the University of NSW and a team of international researchers including Professor Paul Frick from ACU’s Learning Sciences Institute of Australia.
Professor Frick says research has clearly indicated that children with serious conduct problems are at risk for a host of problems later in life.
“These include risk for later violence and criminal behaviour but also risk for other mental health problems, such as substance abuse, anxiety, depression, and suicide,” said Professor Frick.
“Finding effective treatments for children with conduct problems is critical and this project is innovative in that its primary goal is to test and implement strategies that enhance father involvement in the prevention and treatment of serious conduct problems, by fostering positive father-son relationships and by developing strategies to engage fathers in the child mental health treatment system.
“This is vital because, although serious conduct problems are much more prevalent in boys, the treatment is typically provided through mothers and by mental health providers that are usually women but research supports the importance of the father-son relationship in healthy development and has shown that treatment for conduct problems is enhanced when fathers are involved.”
Researchers are now calling on fathers to share their views on what would make them more likely or would stop them from participating in parenting programs.
This information will be used to develop the world’s first online parenting program to help fathers learn advanced parenting strategies to manage their child’s aggression and antisocial behaviour.
Clinicians and therapists who deliver parenting programs or treat child conduct problems are also invited to share their experiences of working with fathers by completing this survey.
Like Father Like Son, Fathers Against Violence and Aggression is funded by the Movember Foundation. The project includes researchers from ACU, the University of Sydney, and the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.