By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – When my sister Frieda told me I had to do something, I did it! I somehow knew she was right. So it’s good to learn about a program that shows that siblings do have power to encourage healthy relationships.

Researchers at Penn State sought to nurture positive behaviors in developing ‘Siblings Are Special’, an after school program involving 174 families in 16 rural and urban schools in which half were enrolled.

Fifth graders and their siblings, 2nd-4th grade, participated for twelve weeks in weekly group sessions with three family nights with parents. Findings showed that participating children had lower levels of problem internalization and higher self-control, social competence and academic performance than nonparticipating students.

With several recent reports of brothers encouraging siblings to engage in criminal behaviors, this abstract, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health is a good model for change.

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