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New chair aims to reduce violent behaviour in youth

January 27, 2011

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A new $4.5-million B.C. Leadership Chair at SFU, the first of its kind in B.C., will develop new strategies to reduce and prevent violent and aggressive behaviour in children and youth.

Robert McMahon, an internationally renowned clinical child psychologist, has been appointed as the B.C. Leadership Chair in Proactive Approaches to Reducing Risk for Violence Among Children and Youth.

Approximately 40,000 B.C. youth exhibit conduct disorder, the childhood psychiatric condition with the most frequent and severe levels of conduct problems. About 50 per cent maintain a pattern of anti-social behaviour and other mental health challenges into adulthood.

“This leadership chair will allow me to launch a program of interdisciplinary research to better understand the causes and development of violence and other serious conduct problems in children and adolescents, and, most critically, to develop more effective prevention and treatment strategies,” says McMahon. He joined SFU’s psychology department last year from the University of Washington, where he was director of the Child Clinical Psychology Program.

The $4.5-million chair is being funded with $2.25 million from the B.C. government’s Leading Edge Endowment Fund (LEEF), and matching funds from SFU. The matching funds include a leadership gift from Len and Judy Libin whose son, Joel, was a victim of youth violence.

The Chair will also establish a new Institute for the Reduction of Youth Violence, at SFU and at the Child and Family Research Institute (CFRI). B.C.’s Ministry of Children and Family Development is supporting the new institute with a $500,000 grant.

The institute will bring together SFU researchers in psychology, criminology and health sciences, researchers in CFRI’s developmental neurosciences and child-
health research groups, and researchers at other B.C. universities.

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