Renee McDonald

UPI: Abusive mothers can improve parenting

MotherDaughter.jpgUPI covered the research of SMU psychologists Ernest Jouriles, Renee McDonald, David Rosenfield and Deborah Corbitt-Shindler in a July 30 story “Abusive mothers can improve parenting.”

The research found that abusive mothers, who are taught parenting skills and given emotional support, can improve their parenting skills, the researchers say. Continue reading

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Abusive mothers improve their parenting after home visits, classes and emotional support from therapists


Each year, U.S. child welfare agencies log more than 3 million reports of child abuse and neglect involving nearly 6 million children.

There are many types of services to address child abuse but very little scientific data about whether the services actually work, according to SMU psychologists Ernest Jouriles and Renee McDonald.

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Practicing assertiveness skills on virtual-reality “dates” may help women prevent sexual victimization

avatar-06-web.jpgWomen can choose from four avatars when using SMU’s virtual reality technology to learn skills for resisting sexual coercion and rape.

In a program at Southern Methodist University, young women are using virtual reality to practice how to recognize and resist unwanted sexual advances in the real world. Continue reading

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Children’s sense of threat from parental fighting determines trauma symptoms

artist-dolls-fighting.jpgIf children feel threatened by even very low levels of violence between their parents, they may be at increased risk for developing trauma symptoms, new research suggests.

A study by SMU psychologists found that children who witness violence between their mother and her intimate partner report fewer trauma symptoms if they don’t perceive the violence as threatening. The research highlights the importance of assessing how threatened a child feels when his or her parents are violent toward one another.
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Extreme reality: Women avoid sexual assault in virtual zone

virtual-reality-dating-violence-300.jpgSMU’s Department of Psychology and The Guildhall at SMU have joined forces against dating violence.

Psychology Professors Ernest Jouriles and Renee McDonald, with Guildhall Lecturer Jeff Perryman and Deputy Director Tony Cuevas, are collaborating on a role-playing program that combines virtual reality with behavioral insight to help teach and test sexual assault avoidance techniques.

The program’s environment of a rain-lashed car parked in an isolated area immerses women into not just a location, but also a “conversation” with a potential attacker.
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