The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) is dedicated to preventing and reversing trends of increased delinquency and violence among adolescents. These trends have alarmed the public during the past decade and challenged the juvenile justice system. It is widely accepted that increases in delinquency and violence over the past decade are rooted in a number of interrelated social problemschild abuse and neglect, alcohol and drug abuse, youth conflict and aggression, and early sexual involvementthat may originate within the family structure. The focus of OJJDP's Family Strengthening Series is to provide assistance to ongoing efforts across the country to strengthen the family unit by discussing the effectiveness of family intervention programs and providing resources to families and communities.
The Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14 (SFP 10-14) is a 7-week curriculum designed to bring parents together with their 10- to 14-year-old children, with the goal of reducing substance abuse and other problem behaviors in youth. Bringing parents and youth together in such a program has been particularly effective in building skills and changing behavior. A controlled study demonstrated that both parents and youth who attended the program showed significant positive changes. Youth who participated in the study had less substance use, fewer conduct problems, and better resistance to peer pressure. These positive changes were indicated by both delayed onset of problem behaviors and relatively more gradual increases in these behaviors compared with the control group during the 4 years following the study pretest. Results indicated that program parents were better able to show affection and support and set appropriate limits for their children. According to program theory, these parenting skills help parents protect youth from becoming involved in substance abuse and other problem behaviors.