Professor sees through youth

THEY appear super-confident and are often brash, cocky and aggressive.

But scratch beneath the mask young delinquents show the world and you're likely to find kids who are insecure, confused and troubled, says CQUniversity's Kevin Ronan.

The professor of clinical psychology has been working with children with behavioural problems since 1985, including running a state facility in the US for highly delinquent youth, providing services to them and their families.

And he will bring his expertise to bear in a new program to help approximately 50 a year of the region's youngsters at risk - and their families - to turn their lives around.

His team of three child therapists will work, in partnership with the local youth justice office, with children and adolescents identified as at risk of becoming anti-social adults.

Rockhampton has been chosen by the Department of Communities for the project, which will use the world's best practice intervention policies.

“We are confident we can make a difference if we can act quickly and with the consent of families who want us to help,” he said.

Professor Ronan said there had been an increase in the number of problem kids, including larger numbers of girls falling into crime and anti-social activity like bullying.

And he believes that most often the solution to these kids' problems lies within the family.

“We will be dealing with the whole package, working not just with the child, but with parents who are often having difficulty coping with the stresses of caring for a youngster with difficult behaviour.”

He said while peer group pressure to push the boundaries was behind a lot of problems, solutions often started with helping parents identify strengths they have and then build on them with strategies for disciplining their children, including setting firm, appropriate limits, knowing where they were, and interacting with them.

“Some parents do go too far and abuse their kids, who then rebel, and some inadvertently reward their children for acting up.”

The professor's Rockhampton-based team will work with children as young as eight and up to 15 and and will spend time in family homes.

The team will take referrals from police, youth justice and some other agencies.



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