The violence prevention campaign Adults and Children Together (ACT) Against Violence will launch its third national media campaign this month, with new radio, billboard and newspaper ads that educate parents about the negative effects of everyday aggression.
The ACT consortium includes APA, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the Ad Council and the MetLife Foundation, among others. Its goal is to help parents and other adults who care for young children to be positive role models and teach children nonviolent ways to resolve conflicts and handle anger. The group sponsors ad campaigns and community training programs.
"This is based on years of research that violence can be a learned behavior, and that the early years are very critical," says Rhea Farberman, APA's executive director for public and member communications. "When children witness violence, they learn that that's the way to solve problems. If they see the opposite, they'll model the opposite."
The ads are geared for all families, not just those with serious violence problems, says Farberman. They highlight the everyday irritations that can cause tempers to flare. In one radio ad, for example, a kind-sounding father gives his child helpful life hints, such as "lefty-loosy, righty-tighty" and "put one bunny ear around the other, and then your shoe's tied." Then, the sound suddenly switches to blaring car horns and the father shouting "Where'd you learn how to drive, you moron!" The commercial ends with the voiceover, "Remember you're always teaching--teach carefully."
The goal of the ads is to give adults an "Aha!" moment in which they might recognize their own behavior, says senior account executive Ken Zendel, of the advertising agency Chemistri, which developed the ads pro bono as a member of the Ad Council. The Chemistri team began the ad development process by interviewing focus groups of parents, teachers and caregivers.
"We found that awareness of violence is not the problem--parents understand that their children come into contact with things like TV that promote aggressive behavior," he says. "But they tend not to consider how their own behavior could influence children."
Another purpose of the ads is to let people know about the ACT Web site and, through the site, the ACT training program. The program trains psychologists and others to convey the ACT message and distribute materials to adults through workshops, presentations and meetings in collaboration with schools, child-care centers, churches and other community venues, says Julia Silva, the training program director in APA's Public Interest Directorate.
ACT has trained more than 100 program community coordinators through an annual national workshop organized by APA and NAEYC, Silva says, and through these workshops has reached more than 30,000 parents and other adults nationwide. People who find the ACT Web site via the ads often e-mail her to ask for more information, she says, and she either invites them to apply for the national workshop or directs them to a nearby local program.
"The media campaign calls attention to the issue and drives people to the Web site," Silva says, "and the training is a more long-term intervention. We see them as complementing each other."
The Public Interest Directorate will sponsor an Adults and Children Together (ACT) Against Violence continuing-education workshop, "Violence prevention in the early years," on Friday, Aug. 19, at 1 p.m. at APA's Annual Convention in Washington, D.C.