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Parenting skills

Millions of families worldwide are being helped by a media-based approach to passing on parenting skills.

An estimated seven million families in 25 countries have benefited from TV programmes, DVDs and resources developed by a team from The University of Manchester's Parenting and Family Research Group.

Their research has directly influenced policy development by local and national government and the United Nations.

Researchers were led by Professors Rachel Calam and Matthew R Sanders, who founded the internationally-recognised Triple P - Positive Parenting Programme in the 1990s.

Their studies showed a TV programme based on their work was an effective way of improving accessibility to parenting techniques and reducing levels of social and emotional problems in children.

Researchers challenged orthodox opinion on delivering the programme and looked at whether it was possible to help families away from the usual setting of clinics, the community and meetings with therapists, both in the UK and abroad.

2005 saw the transmission of 'Driving Mum and Dad Mad', a TV series presenting the Triple P parenting programme in a popular format and based on their research. It reached over five million viewers and a second series was commissioned.

The Great Parenting Experiment - a trial funded by the Home Office - evaluated the programme's effectiveness in changing parenting practices. A similar study followed the second TV series.

The research found that broadcast TV and other media could improve parenting skills and help families experiencing difficulties by offering advice and support on day-to-day complications and more serious issues which lead to behavioural problems in 15 per cent of children.

Other web-based materials had even greater impact and helped significantly in safeguarding against parenting practices associated with child maltreatment.

Triple P Online is a recent development and footage from the original TV series has been incorporated into DVD material for families and professionals, with 47,580 practitioners trained between 2008 and 2012.

"ITV ran a series with Triple P to show how it works. The TV series, Driving Mum and Dad Mad, proved very popular, with over 5 million viewers."

Rachel Calam / Professor of Child and Family Psychology