A Community that Cares

Heartland for Children believes that all parents want to be good parents.

It is this foundational belief that fuels our work in establishing a Positive Culture Framework within the Communities that we serve. Part of this framework is a Prevention Portfolio highlighting the great child abuse prevention work already being done in our community, as well as some opportunities for new approaches and methods that can positively impact parenting practices and keep children safe. One such opportunity is a Positive Community Norms campaign.

Positive parenting norms exist in our community and we believe they are worth growing.

Working with the Center for Health and Safety Culture at Montana State University, we were able to show just how strong parenting norms are in the communities we serve. It is our goal to build upon these existing norms by educating our community and working to correct any misperceptions about parenting beliefs and attitudes. Along with the strong parenting norms we found, we also identified that many parents do not believe that other parents have the same strong parenting beliefs and attitudes. This creates an opportunity to educate those parents and the community at large about the true parenting norms in an effort to correct widely held misperceptions about parenting.

Normative theories tell us that people tend to do (or believe) what they think most people do or believe. This is the basis for this work. We are looking to make sure that parents in our community as well as the community at large understand the true strong parenting norms that exist to help grow these norms so that misperceptions about parenting don’t hold sway.

We are rolling out a series of messages over the course of the next year and we can use your help. Please consider sharing these messages with your family, friends and colleagues. Give us your thoughts on the campaign by participating in the pilot testing section of this site. Join your local county-level taskforce for the prevention of child maltreatment to help stay up to date with the campaign progress and assist with other prevention efforts. Refer individuals to this website or to our contact listed below. And above all else, continue to do a good job protecting and nurturing children.

Kathie Southern
(863) 519-8900, x.205
ksouther@heartlandforchildren.org

Summary of Survey Data

Summary of Survey Data

Heartland for Children contracted with the Center for Health and Safety Culture of Montana State University to apply the Center’s Positive Community Norms framework to reducing child maltreatment in Hardee, Highlands, and Polk Counties. As a critical step in this process, the Center conducted a survey to measure actual and perceived norms among Hardee, Highlands, and Polk County parents to support efforts to reduce and prevent child maltreatment and promote positive outcomes for children. Specifically, the survey examined parenting norms supporting safe, stable and nurturing relationships, creating safe sleeping environments and behaviors, and reducing shaken-baby syndrome.

A random sample of 4,600 households with children was provided by a local marketing firm. In April and May, these households were sent a letter by Heartland for Children introducing the survey. This letter was followed by a survey packet with a $1 cash incentive sent by the Center. Households that did not respond to the initial survey were sent a reminder post card and a second survey packet. Some of the surveys (391) were returned due to inaccurate addresses. Overall, 733 parents responded to the survey resulting in a response rate of 17 percent. The confidence interval of the responses is ±4 percent at a 95 percent confidence level. The overwhelming majority of respondents (73 percent) were female; half (50 percent) had a child under the age of 18 living in their household; the average age of the respondents was 52 years.

Additionally, individuals providing a variety of services to families and children in these three counties were given an opportunity to participate in an internet-based version of a similar survey. The following service providers participated: case management agencies, children’s legal service and regional counsel attorneys, protective investigators, guardian ad litems, Healthy Families, Healthy Start, LPTs, mental health and substance abuse clinicians, and staff at Heartland for Children. These individuals were sent emails by Heartland for Children requesting their participation in the survey. They were only asked their perception of how most parents would respond to the same questions, and 249 individuals responded to the survey.

Most parents shared very strong protective values and attitudes promoting safety, stability and nurturing of their children. However, many did not perceive that most other parents had the same values and attitudes. For example, 90 percent of respondents strongly agreed with the statement “I want to do what’s best for my children.” However, 62 percent of parents and 73 percent of service providers did not think most parents would strongly agree.

Most parents valued the support of family, friends and the broader community and felt they could get support from physicians, child care providers and the faith community. However, not everyone indicated the same level of support.

Many parents indicated that they were interested in learning about new parenting ideas and skills including new and better ways to discipline and ideas on preparing their children for school.

Most parents reported positive beliefs and behaviors about safe sleeping and shaken baby syndrome. However, many misperceived that most other parents felt and acted the same way.

While this survey revealed many positive norms among parents, there are also many opportunities to grow these norms and thereby improve positive outcomes for children in these three counties. Correcting the misperceptions revealed in this survey is one component of a comprehensive effort.

Hardee County

Hardee County

96% of Hardee County parents want to do what's best for their children.

Click Here for more Hardee County information.

Highlands County

Highlands County

Polk County

Polk County

97% of Polk County parents want to do what's best for their children.

Click Here for more Polk County information

Pilot Testing

Pilot Testing

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What Can I Do?

What Can I Do?

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