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Dennis Embry

CEO/President of Paxis Institute

Ending Youthanasia: Evolutionary Understanding Meets a Retail-Driven Prevention Science Mode

Friday, January 30, 2009
Engineering Building 110, 4:00 PM


Through selection-by-consequences, US and global businesses are highly successful in selling products and altering policies that have increased morbidity and mortality of young people through multiple causes, such as mental illnesses, learning disabilities, addictions, physical health, and even intelligence or competencies driving educational success. This state of events can be described as “Youthanasia”—the unconscious and conscious policies and practices killing or harming children and youth. The products and policies that create youthanasia directly tangle with evolutionarily selected human adaptations and result from selection of economic consequences for organizations. The short-term consequences of economic profit presently favor profit-making organizations (PMO’s) producing products that can harm children or youth, compared to non-profit organizations (NGO’s) advocating well being of children and youth. This can be explained by simple mathematical laws and game theory, without any attribution of evil intent. One solution for this problem is the creation of a consumer-driven industry, providing low-cost products from prevention science that counteract Youthanasia. Such a new, global industry could occasion the selection by consequences of products and policies that increase the well being of children and youth, by explicitly rewarding the invention and diffusion of such products and policies with proximal economic consequences. This talk outlines how Binghamton can become a unique place to test the consumer model to improve child, family and community well-being.


Dennis D. Embry, Ph.D., is the CEO/president of PAXIS Institute in Tucson, Arizona; co-investigator at the National Center on Early Adolescence in Oregon, and co-investigator at the Center on Prevention and Early Intervention at Johns Hopkins University. His work on prevention of health, safety, substance abuse, violence and mental illness among children has been featured in national media such as the Today Show, Good Morning America, Life Magazine, People Magazine, the New York Times, the LA Times, the Associated Press and others. He has been a policy and program consultant for diverse organizations on child and family issues, from Sesame Street to the Pentagon, from state governments to foreign governments, from foundations to corporations. Dr. Embry and PAXIS have prevention and research projects in Arizona, Maryland, Wisconsin, Kansas, Oregon, Washington, Maine, Florida, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, California, Texas, Virginia and various Native American sites. His recent prevention work focuses on low-cost evidence-based kernels and behavioral vaccines. Dr. Embry is the author of more than 40 books and training materials for science-based prevention of children’s injuries, parenting and family difficulties, violence, substance abuse and mental health and on positive youth and child development. He is the scientist and creator behind PeaceBuilders®, the PAX Good Behavior Game™ and other “best practices.” Dr. Embry writes extensively on behavior and the brain, with publications in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Intervention in School and Clinic, Developmental Psychology, Brain and Mind, Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, and the Journal of Community Psychology. Dr. Embry and his colleagues have recently completed the first prevention project with a scientific evaluation of success across states.


  1. Embry, D. D. (2002). “The good behavior game: a best practice candidate as a universal behavioral vaccine.” Clinical child and family psychology review 5: 273-297.
  2. Embry, D. D. (2002). “Nurturing the Genius of Genes: The New Frontier of Education, Therapy, and Understanding of the Brain.” Brain and Mind 3: 101-132
  3. Embry, D.D., et al. (2003) “Initial Behavior Outcomes for the PeaceBuilders Universal School-Based Violence Prevention Program.” Developmental Psychology 39: 292-308
  4. Embry, D.D. (2004). “Community-Based Prevention Using Simple , Low-Cost, Evidence-Based Kernels and Behavior Vaccines.” Journal of Community Psychology 32: 575-591
  5. Embry, D.D., and Biglan, A. (2008). “Evidence-based Kernels: Fundamental Units of Behavioral Influence.” Clin Child Fam Psychol Rev

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Embry Presentation