This week the NSW state government of Australia launched a $20M innovation fund to tackle domestic violence. The Innovation Fund will provide a financial investment for initiatives in the following areas:
- Early intervention
- Improving the delivery of crisis services in response to domestic and family violence.
In the US it is estimated that 10.2% of children are subject to abuse and that the lifetime impact of new cases in 2008 alone was $124 billion dollars, with children going on to be at risk of a range of serious adult problems according to a study by HMHB. Accordingly, providing high risk parents with effective interventions is critical.
Reaching these parents is hard. Getting them to turn up to classes is particularly difficult with logistical challenges for parents, the stigma associated with turning up and the high cost of “in person” delivery.
The biggest challenge however is engagement. A study done in 2012 showed that the least engaging methods were the ones most often used such as workshops, therapists and home visits whilst the most popular, TV and online, were poorly delivered, despite have the best engagement, reach and cost characteristics.
Enter Triple P – An online forum designed to reach and engage parents that:
- Delivers an evidence-based parenting program in a format that young adults prefer, smartphones, tablets, and desktops;
- Encourages peer support by allowing users to share and read program work and “star” each other’s postings;
- Incentivizes the practice of positive parenting strategies through a reward “badge” system;
- Decreases stigma by allowing participants to create a virtual identity which promotes peer support while maintaining anonymity;
- Ensures safety through the presence of a Triple P accredited facilitator who responds to posts, answers questions, rewards and features parents’ exceptional shared work, and monitors the site for inappropriate postings.
In 2013 the University of California commenced a study to determine the efficacy of such a program with some solid results. It took a group of 155 parents recruited from various agencies and cross various risk categories including:
- 76% had family income of less than $15,000
- 41% had been incarcerated
- 38% were in drug/alcohol treatment
- 24% had child removed due to maltreatment
At the centre of the program was a core set of learning modules
- What is positive parenting?;
- Encouraging behaviour you like
- Teaching new skills
- Managing misbehaviour
- Dealing with disobedience;
- Preventing problems by planning ahead;
- Making shopping fun;
- Raising confident, capable kids.
Satisfaction with the program including the gaming and social elements was high, with parents actively sharing concepts, strategies and attitudes with friends and family, with the integrated reward system, including badges, proving an important motivator for sharing. The 155 participants created 1,188 top level posts over the 12-week period of the study which concluded that a gamified online and social program had better reach and engagement than traditional programs.
It’s great story of the power of digital to have significant social impact.
Expressions of Interest in the NSW Domestic Violence Innovation project close this week. I encourage all innovators to put their thinking caps on and their hands up.