Program Evaluation Results
The ACT program is well evaluated by studies conducted in the United States and overseas. Several studies of parental outcomes have indicated:
- Significant improvement of knowledge of anger management, social problem-solving, non-violent discipline, and media literacy.
- More positive parenting practices following parents’ completion of the program.
- Parents’ discontinuation of physical punishment of their children.
- Reduced spanking and reduced rate of hitting children with objects compared with participants in a wait-list comparison group.
- Improved knowledge, behaviors, and beliefs regarding violence prevention and parenting among parents/caregivers.
- Increases in prosocial parenting practices, effective anger management, use of positive discipline practices, calm communication with children, as well as reduction in arguments.
- Increased nurturing behavior, decreased harsh parenting, and decreased negative discipline.
Studies have also indicated that among children of parents who completed the program, there have been benefits related to changes in children’s behaviors.
- These findings suggest that the ACT Program may be effective in preventing or reducing children’s behaviors problems.
- Children’s behaviors improved significantly more than treatment-as usual comparisons.
- Children had significantly reduced aggressive and disruptive behavior problems relative to comparison group children.
- There was evidence of decreased bullying and oppositional defiant problems.
Two randomized, controlled studies of the ACT program have been completed:
- A multi-site, randomized, controlled study funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated significantly reduced harsh discipline and improved social support for parents who completed the ACT program relative to controls (Portwood, Lambert, Abrams, & Nelson, 2011).
- A second multi-site, randomized, controlled trial indicated improved nurturing, positive parenting behaviors, and use of nonviolent discipline as well as lower rates of psychologically and physically aggressive behavior toward children. These improvements occurred independent of children’s age and prior levels of aggression in a sample of both Spanish- and English-speaking parents (Knox, Burkhart, & Cromly, 2013).
Altafim, E.R. & Linhares, M.B., (2016). Universal violence and child maltreatment prevention programs for parents: A systematic review. Psychosocial Intervention, 25 (1), 27-038.
Knox, M., & Burkhart, K. (2014). A multi-site study of the ACT Raising Safe Kids Program: Predictors of outcomes and attrition. Children and Youth Services Review, 39, 20-24.
Burkhart, K., Knox, M. & Brockmyer, J. (2013). Pilot evaluation of the ACT Raising Safe Kids Program on children's bullying behavior. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 22, 942-951.
Knox, M., Burkhart, K. & Cromley, A. (2013). Supporting positive parenting in community health centers: The ACT Raising Safe Kids Program. Journal of Community Psychology, 41(4), 395-407.
Portwood, S. G., Lambert, R.G., Abrams, L.P., & Nelson, E. B. (2011). An evaluation of the Adults and Children Together (ACT) Against Violence Parents Raising Safe Kids Program. Journal of Primary Prevention, 32, 1 47-160.
Knox, M., Burkhart, K., & Howe, T. (2011). Effects of the ACT Raising Safe Kids parenting program on children’s externalizing problems. Family Relations, 60, 491-503.
Weymouth, L.A., & Howe, T.R. (2011). A multi-site evaluation of Parents Raising Safe Kids Violence Prevention Program. Children and Youth Services Review, 33, 1960-1967.
Knox, M., Burkhart, K., & Hunter, K. E. (2010). ACT Against Violence Parents Raising Safe Kids Program: Effects on maltreatment-related parenting behaviors and beliefs. Journal of Family Issues, 32 (1), 55-74.
Porter, B. E., & Howe, T.R. (2008). Pilot evaluation of the ACT Parents Raising Safe Kids violence prevention program. Journal of Child and Adolescent Trauma, 1, 1-14.
Silva, J. (2007). Parents Raising Safe Kids: ACT 8-Week Program for Parents. Washington, D.C. American Psychological Association
Miguel, J.J., & Howe, T.R. (2006). Implementing & evaluating a national early violence prevention program at the local level: Lessons from ACT (Adults & Children Together) Against Violence. Journal of Early Childhood & Infant Psychology, 2, 17-38.