Office of Juvenile Justice
Parents can help each other improve relationships with their children by providing guidance, encouragement and support, according to a new Bulletin released today by the Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). "Parents Anonymous: Strengthening Families" describes how parents can help other parents learn how to ask for help, use community resources and build supportive, positive peer relationships for themselves and their children.
Parents Anonymous (PA), the nation's largest child abuse prevention organization, features a national network of 2,300 community-based groups that sponsors weekly meetings for parents
and children. Many PA activities also include specialized children's programs, public awareness campaigns, and 24-hour telephone helplines for parents.
"Through Parents Anonymous, parents receive guidance and support that make a critical difference in preventing child abuse and neglect," said OJJDP Administrator Shay Bilchik. "The services that PA provides increase the likelihood that young people will grow up in safe and secure family environments, which lessens the chance that they will turn to crime or drugs."
PA programs are based on four guiding principles:
PA groups meet weekly for an average of two hours and are led by parents with the help of a professionally trained facilitator such as a teacher or social worker. Most parents attend voluntarily, although some are required by the courts to participate. Meetings are free of charge for participants.
Local PA organizations also work with the greater community to raise public awareness and encourage concerned parents to seek help. In addition, these organizations work with local school
systems to help educators recognize the signs of child abuse and neglect and provide the needed guidance to those children and their families.
The Bulletin describes how the PA program can be tailored to best fit the needs of the community. A PA program in East Los Angeles serves primarily the local Mexican community and features
bilingual services and materials. Some PA groups in Montana are designed for Native American communities and have modified the PA concept to fit tribal traditions and customs.
The national network of state and local PA programs is coordinated by Parents Anonymous, Inc. in Claremont, CA. Parents Anonymous, Inc., through its National Parent Leadership Team,
provides training for parents and professionals that work with children and families.
OJJDP has supported Parents Anonymous, Inc. since 1994 to expand the PA model of strengthening families through parent leadership and mutual support into additional communities. With OJJDP support, Parents Anonymous, Inc. has developed new programs in such diverse settings as Head Start centers and prisons, and has intensified its efforts to serve parents from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. OJJDP has also recently issued a request for proposals to evaluate the PA model.
In 1996, the University of Utah selected Parents Anonymous as a model family strengthening program to prevent juvenile delinquency. It was also featured in two nationwide Strengthening
America's Families conferences in an effort to encourage development of local programs.
Copies of "Parents Anonymous: Strengthening Families" and information about other OJJDP publications, programs and conferences are available through the OJJDP Web site at http://ojjdp.ncjrs.org and from OJJDP's Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse, Box 6000, Rockville, Maryland 20857. The toll-free number is 1-800-638-8736.
Information about other Office of Justice Programs (OJP) bureaus and program offices is available at www.ojp.usdoj.gov. Media should contact OJP's Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at 202-307-0703.
Information about Parents Anonymous is available at http://www.parentsanonymous.org/paIndex1.htm and from Parents Anonymous, Inc., 675 West Foothill Boulevard, Suite 220, Claremont, CA 91711. The phone number is 909-625-6304.