Building on the successful public education campaign to help youth recognize the warning signs of violence, this year APA launched "Warning Signs for Parents," which aims to help parents spot signs of violence and show them ways to improve communication with their children.
"We've been hearing from parents that they want to learn how to better communicate with teens, especially on the topic of violence," says APA's Executive Director for Practice Russ Newman, PhD, JD.
APA held its most recent national forum for parents on Nov. 18 in Dallas, in conjunction with the Texas Parent Teacher Association (PTA) state convention. The effort is part of APA's Public Education Campaign, "Talk to Someone Who Can Help," which promotes the importance of good mental health and the role of psychological services.
Pointers for parents
The "Warning Signs for Parents" forums follow a model similar to those offered to teens since APA launched its initiative with MTV in April 1999. Psychologists lead a discussion with parents about the warning signs of youth violence, show a documentary produced by APA and MTV and provide additional information about how parents can talk about difficult issues with their children. Since APA and MTV joined forces on the teen effort, 85,000 youth have attended more than 900 psychologist-led forms about violence prevention in schools and community centers across the country.
At the Dallas forum for parents, APA's Newman, Texas Psychological Association (TPA) President Richard M. McGraw, PhD, Texas parent Ellen Jones and Texas educator Janie Casey discussed concerns that teens have about bullying and the pressure to fit in. The Dallas forum was hosted by APA in cooperation with the TPA and the Texas PTA.
In addition to presenting forums for parents, APA also developed "Communication Tips for Parents," which provide suggestions to help parents develop better approaches to discussing violence and other difficult matters with their children.
Forums for teens
Meanwhile, APA is continuing to host its forums for teens. On Nov. 13 at a Warning Signs forum in Albuquerque, N.M., APA and MTV convened a youth antiviolence forum as part of the Youth Power Peer Conference.
More than 700 teens viewed an APA/MTV documentary on youth violence and talked about their concerns about violence. Gideon Yago, a member of MTV's "Street Team" was a featured speaker, encouraging the youth to speak up when they spot signs of violent behavior. Yago also led a discussion between a panel of experts and the teen audience. The panel members were Ann E. Hammond, PhD, from the New Mexico Psychological Association (NMPA), 22-year old Mario Benavidez, who draws on his own troubled past to counsel New Mexico teens, and APA's Newman.
Forum attendees also received a "Warning Signs" guide, which offers information about violence prevention. The event was also sponsored by the NMPA and the New Mexico State Department of Health.
APA members can receive a free kit for conducting both parent and youth community forums by calling toll free (877) 274-8787, ext. 135. For more information about the "Warning Signs" campaign, log on to helping.apa.org or call toll-free (800) 268-0078 for copies of the "Warning Signs" guide or "Communication Tips for Parents."
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