UW News

February 16, 2006

Faculty lecturer to speak about helping aggressive children

Carolyn Webster-Stratton, a professor in the UW School of Nursing and founding director of the UW Parenting Clinic, will present the 2005-2006 UW Annual Faculty Lecture. This honor is bestowed on one faculty member each year to recognize outstanding accomplishments in research, teaching or academics.

Webster-Stratton will present a talk titled Helping Young Aggressive Children Beat the Odds: Parents, Teachers, Schools and Dinosaurs, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21, in 130 Kane. The event is free and open to the public.

During her lecture, Webster-Stratton will review how and why aggression develops in children. Early childhood is a strategic time for schools and families to focus on socializing children. She will show how “friendly dinosaurs” can help take the bite out of anger by teaching children self-control processes such as emotion management, problem solving and social skills, and avoiding physical aggression.

As many as 8 percent of young children are highly aggressive, oppositional and difficult to parent or teach. Long-term studies show that such children frequently develop conduct disorders that lead to delinquency, violence and substance abuse. Because conduct disorders are the most expensive mental health disorder in this country, this is a problem of public health importance.

Webster-Stratton, professor of family and child nursing, has spent 25 years researching ways to help prevent and treat aggressive behavior in young children, as well as developing and researching programs to promote children’s social and emotional competence. She joined the UW faculty in 1976 and holds adjunct appointments in the Department of Psychology and School of Social Work.

Webster-Stratton, a licensed clinical psychologist and nurse practitioner, has conducted nine randomized trials evaluating the impact of parent, teacher and child training programs for reducing young children’s behavior problems and promoting their social, emotional and academic ability. She has developed evidence-based prevention and treatment programs that have been translated into a number of languages and are being used by teachers and mental health specialists in nearly 20 countries around the world. She has published numerous scientific articles, books, and training videotapes for parents, teachers and children. In recent years she has researched the use of her parent, teacher and child training programs as school-based prevention programs delivered in day care centers, Head Start and the early grades of public schools.

In 1997, Webster-Stratton received the National Mental Health Lela Rowland Prevention Award from the National Mental Health Association for her interventions with families. She also has received the prestigious National Mental Health Research Scientist Award from the National Institute of Mental Health. An evaluation of her treatment program for children with conduct problems by an independent commission of the American Psychological Association found it to be one of only two evidence-based programs shown to reduce aggression in children ages 4 to 8.

Her treatment programs also have received numerous “best practices” reviews — including those from the Office of Juvenile Delinquency Prevention, Blueprints for Violence Prevention and the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention — recognizing them as model programs that have a proven evidence base for treatment of children’s conduct problems. During the past 25 years, she and her Parenting Clinic staff of mental health workers have assessed and treated more than 500 children diagnosed with conduct problems and offered prevention programs to over 3,000 children in Seattle area schools.