Parents AnonymousSM and OJJDP: A Vital Partnership

PhotoParents Anonymous, Inc., and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) began working together in 1994 to advance the Parents AnonymousSM model of shared leadership and mutual support in ethnically and culturally diverse settings throughout the country because strengthening families is the first principle of OJJDP's Comprehensive Strategy for Serious, Violent, and Chronic Juvenile Offenders (Wilson and Howell, 1993). Parents AnonymousSM has become a valuable partner in working toward that goal. The OJJDP publication Family Life, Delinquency, and Crime: A Policymaker's Guide (Wright and Wright, 1995) focuses on the following points:

Bullet Positive parenting practices appear to act as buffers by preventing delinquent behavior and assisting adolescents involved in such behavior to avoid continued delinquency.
Bullet Children raised in supportive, affectionate, and accepting homes are less likely to become deviant.
Bullet Children who are rejected by their parents, grow up in homes with considerable conflict, are abused, or are inadequately supervised are at greatest risk of becoming delinquents.
Bullet Children's behavior has a role in this dynamic, in that children who are troublesome are more likely to be rejected by parents, creating an escalating cycle that may lead to delinquency.
Bullet The presence of a capable mother who is self-confident and affectionate and who has leadership skills provides a buffer against delinquency.

Research demonstrates that strengthening families is an essential component in the effort to prevent juvenile delinquency. By supporting the expansion of Parents AnonymousSM, OJJDP has helped ensure that many more families have access to this promising program. Through its partnership with OJJDP, Parents AnonymousSM has made important progress toward reducing the risk of juvenile delinquency by:

Bullet Developing new groups that focus on serving families of color, and developing more than 40 new programs in the Parents AnonymousSM national network in such diverse settings as Head Start centers and prisons that focus on strengthening families and children.
Bullet Providing intensive public awareness and outreach to thousands of parents, professionals, and volunteers through national and local print and electronic media.
Bullet Conducting site visits, focus groups, written surveys, and intensive telephone interviews with successful programs serving families of color to identify the best practices for developing groups in diverse settings and publishing and disseminating a new manual, Strategies for Best Practice, that incorporates those findings.
Bullet Increasing the ethnic and cultural diversity of the National Parent Leadership Team membership to ensure a stronger voice for parents who represent a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences.
Bullet Creating a families-of-color task force consisting of parent and professional representatives from the national network who meet regularly to assist with planning, implementing, and evaluating programs and materials for families of color.
Bullet Producing and distributing new publications such as a media bulletin and a program bulletin and publishing relevant articles in Innovations and The Parent Networker, newsletters distributed to thousands of parents, professionals, policymakers, and advocates throughout the country.
Bullet Convening two Parents AnonymousSM national leadership conferences, an executive directors' meeting, and two regional conferences (in Georgia and Arizona) -- all offering an intensive focus on promoting, maintaining, developing, and expanding Parents AnonymousSM programs.
Bullet Developing closer working relationships with Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) programs and with local courts working with children and families.

In 1996, the University of Utah selected Parents AnonymousSM as a model family strengthening program to prevent juvenile delinquency. The program was highlighted through workshops and a plenary presentation at two national Strengthening America's Families conferences at which community representatives were encouraged to develop new local programs. In addition, Parents AnonymousSM is a member of OJJDP's National Training and Technical Assistance Center and a resource for sites participating in OJJDP initiatives.

Parents AnonymousSM Juvenile Justice Bulletin   ·  April 1999