Friday, May 14, 1999

Parent program
aims at kids’behavior

The Parent Project, 'based on discipline
and love,' has seen 'awesome results'

By Susan Kreifels


A mainland expert on troubled teens believes shootings and other violence in schools around the nation could have been prevented with correct parent intervention -- the most important factor to a child's success.

Ralph Fry, retired California police sergeant and founder of a nationally recognized program that helps parents change their children's bad behavior, said at a seminar yesterday that parents need to be like "job supervisors," not their child's friend.

"Their health, safety and welfare supersedes relationships," Fry said. "Get away from 'They won't like me anymore.' They will come back."

A sample of his advice:

Bullet Rings in the nose and tongue? OK if they don't hurt your child's health, attitude or behavior.
Bullet Locks on your teen-agers' bedroom doors? Not a good idea, especially if you don't trust them.
Bullet Trench coats, "Gothic" fads, dark-walled bedrooms? Absolutely not.

"Dark thoughts are not good," Fry said.

Fry spoke before 100 people including educators, law enforcement officials and parents about Parent Project, a program recently kicked off in Hawaii.

He said many parents don't recognize the signs that children are troubled, or if they see them, they don't now how to respond. The Parent Project teaches them.

The 8-year-old program, used in 27 states, has earned honors on the mainland, including the California governor's award for contributions to crime prevention; and recognition from the Idaho Supreme Court for its work in the Minidoka County School District, where expulsions dropped from 50-60 a year to virtually zero.

The Center for Parenting Teens in Crisis -- recently launched as a public service by Hawaii Youth for Christ -- sponsored Fry's talk. The center started a pilot Parent Project program at Kaimuki High School in March which involves 14 families.

Stan Morikawa, a former Big Island real estate agent and restaurant owner who devotes his time to working with youth, has also held five programs there involving 50 families.

Morikawa said he's seen "awesome results" in the 10- to 16-week program, which has drawn support from the Big Island prosecutor's office and a handful of schools.

"It's based on discipline with love," Morikawa said. Example: the father who resisted taking away car privileges from his poorly behaved child. "He finally did it and the kid changed. But you have to follow the program," Morikawa said.

The price of the programs in Hawaii range from $50 to $150 for individual families. The Center for Parenting Teens in Crisis provides financial help for needy families.

A facilitator training workshop will be offered Aug 16-20 for $595 a person. For more information, call 836-0600.


The basics of the Parent Project program:

Bullet First step: Letting children know you love them, in person or writing.
Bullet Active supervision on a daily basis. Spot checks on what your child is doing: three to four times a week if you don't trust your child, once a month if you do. "Trust is earned," Fry said.
Bullet Structured discipline to help change bad behavior.
Bullet Cutting relationships with peers you know are a bad influence.
Bullet Creating a "blameless society." That means convincing parents they aren't to blame for their children's willful behavior, which can be genetic.
Bullet Providing a support group for parents, letting them know many share similar problems. When the program ends, parents are encouraged to continue meeting.

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