Frances's research focuses primarily on Parenting interventions for reducing child antisocial behaviour and violence against children. She researches the development of anti-social behaviour or conduct problems in children and young people, particularly how early parenting style influences young people's adjustment, and how this can help inform intervention development, and understand its mechanisms of effect. She conducts randomised controlled trials of community-based parenting programmes in several countries, as well as systematic reviews, investigating questions about effectiveness of parenting interventions for families and children, for reducing antisocial behaviour, and for reducing harsh parenting and violence against children. She has a particular interest in investigating differential effects of interventions for families and children with varying clinical characteristics and from different social and cultural backgrounds; and in parenting intervention mechanisms of change, and transportability across countries and cultures. She has experience in direct observational methods for assessing parent-child interaction.
Her secondary area of interest is in Risk and resilience in young people’s mental health: this work investigates factors promoting poor mental health versus resilient outcomes in young people, using longitudinal studies of the development of antisocial behaviour and other mental health problems in young people, with low income families in the USA, and with orphans and vulnerable children in South Africa. She has also used UK national cohort data to assess how risk factors for antisocial behaviour, such as parenting, have changed over recent decades.
Her work has considerable impact on policy and practice; she advises to government ministries in many countries, as well as to WHO and UNICEF; she is a founder member of WHO’s ‘Parenting for Lifelong Health’ initiative; she serves on the Board of ‘Blueprints for Violence Prevention’, on a WHO Expert Panel on Standard of Evidence in Violence Prevention, and previously, the Scientific Advisory Board for the National Academy of Parenting Practitioners, and for SFI, the Danish National Centre for Social Research; and on a UNODC Expert Panel on worldwide family skills training. She is Associate Editor of ‘Prevention Science’, and serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology.