Tuesday, October 29th, 2013
In an updated policy statement, its first since 2001, the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending that schools make condoms available to teenagers alongside providing instruction on sexual education topics. More from Reuters:
There is still some resistance to making condoms more accessible for young people, researchers said.
“I think one of the main issues is the idea that if you provide condoms and make them accessible, kids will be more likely to have sex. But really, that’s not the case,” Amy Bleakley said.
“Getting over the perception that giving condoms out will make kids have sex is a real barrier for parents and school administrators,” she told Reuters Health.
Bleakley studies teen sexual behavior and reproductive health at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia but wasn’t part of the AAP committee.
She said some studies suggest teenagers with access to condoms and comprehensive sex education actually start having sex later than their peers who don’t.
Teen birth rates have been declining in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2011, there were 31 births for every 1,000 U.S. women aged 15 to 19.
But that number is still higher than in other developed countries.
Rates of many sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including Chlamydia and gonorrhea, are also highest among teenage and young adult women.
Image: Condoms, via Shutterstock
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Monday, October 14th, 2013
Programs meant to deter bullies and empower kids to speak out against bullying may actually have a negative impact on the big picture of bullying in schools, a new study by researchers at the University of Texas in Arlington has found. Anti-bullying programs are especially common in October, which is National Bullying Prevention Month. More from The Huffington Post:
Released in September by the University of Texas in Arlington, the study found that unintended consequences may result from campaigns designed to educate students about the harms of physical and emotional harassment. According to researchers’ findings, bullying prevention programs in schools generally increase incidences of physical and emotional attacks among students by teaching kids about the ins and outs of bulling.
The study’s findings challenge commonly held beliefs about the benefits of bullying prevention programs.
“The schools with interventions say, ‘You shouldn’t do this,’ or ‘you shouldn’t do that.’ But through the programs, the students become highly exposed to what a bully is and they know what to do or say when questioned by parents or teachers,” lead study author Dr. Seokjin Jeong said in a statement released by the university.
Using data from an earlier national study that looked at the well-being of adolescents, researchers found that students in schools with anti-bullying programs are more likely to be victimized. Specifically, they found that male students were more likely to be victims of physical harassment, while girls were more likely to face emotional harassment.
“This study raises an alarm,” Jeong told CBS Dallas. “Usually people expect an anti-bullying program to have some impact — some positive impact.”
Image: Anti-bullying message, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, August 29th, 2013
A survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that schools are making some strides in helping kids make healthy choices. The report revealed a jump in the number of schools phasing out junk foods, and found more elementary schools offering gym classes. More from The Washington Post:
[A]fter years of efforts to phase out junk food like candy and chips, the percentage of school districts that prohibited such food in vending machines increased from 29.8 percent in 2006 to 43.4 percent in 2012, according to the CDC’s 2012 School Health Policies and Practices Study. Also, slightly more than half of school districts – up from about 35 percent in 2000 — made information available to families on the nutrition and caloric content of foods available to students.
“Schools play a critical role in the health and well-being of our youth,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, in the news release. “Good news for students and parents — more students have access to healthy food, better physical fitness activities through initiatives such as ‘Let’s Move,’ and campuses that are completely tobacco free.”
Since 2000, the number of school districts that require elementary schools to teach physical education increased. In addition, the number of districts entering into agreements with local YMCAs, Boys & Girls Clubs or local parks and recreation departments went up, according to the study.
Meanwhile, the percentage of districts with policies that prohibited all tobacco use during any school-related activity increased from 46.7 percent in 2000 to 67.5 percent in 2012.
The CDC study is a periodic, national survey that examines key components of school health at the state, district, school, and classroom level, including health education; physical education and activity; health services; mental health and social services; nutrition services; healthy and safe school environment; faculty and staff health promotion; and family and community involvement.
Image: Student in cafeteria, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, August 22nd, 2013
A recent essay on TIME magazine’s website argues that schools are becoming “hostile environments for young boys.” In the aftermath of school violence in places including Newtown, Connecticut, many schools have adopted zero tolerance policies related to firearms, but those rules are sometimes interpreted very strictly, with boys as young as seven being suspended for pretending to “shoot” bad guys with pencils, or for throwing imaginary hand grenades. As a result, writer Christina Hoff Sommers worries that schools are no longer letting boys engage in the action-oriented, good-guys-versus-bad-guys play that she says comes naturally to them.
Here’s more from her essay on TIME.com:
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Across the country, schools are policing and punishing the distinctive, assertive sociability of boys. Many much-loved games have vanished from school playgrounds. At some schools, tug of war has been replaced with “tug of peace.” Since the 1990s, elimination games like dodgeball, red rover and tag have been under a cloud—too damaging to self-esteem and too violent, say certain experts. Young boys, with few exceptions, love action narratives. These usually involve heroes, bad guys, rescues and shoot-ups. As boys’ play proceeds, plots become more elaborate and the boys more transfixed. When researchers ask boys why they do it, the standard reply is, “Because it’s fun.”
According to at least one study, such play rarely escalates into real aggression—only about 1% of the time. But when two researchers, Mary Ellin Logue and Hattie Harvey, surveyed classroom practices of 98 teachers of 4-year-olds, they found that this style of play was the least tolerated. Nearly half of teachers stopped or redirected boys’ dramatic play daily or several times a week—whereas less than a third reported stopping or redirecting girls’ dramatic play weekly.
Play is a critical basis for learning. And boys’ heroic play is no exception. Logue and Harvey found that “bad guy” play improved children’s conversation and imaginative writing. Such play, say the authors, also builds moral imagination, social competence and imparts critical lessons about personal limits and self-restraint. Logue and Harvey worry that the growing intolerance for boys’ action-narrative-play choices may be undermining their early language development and weakening their attachment to school.
boys, Christina Hoff Sommers, gun violence, school, schools, social behavior, Time magazine, violence | Categories:
Education, Parenting News, Parents News Now, Trends
Thursday, June 27th, 2013
New federal school nutrition standards were released today, requiring that schools offer healthy snack choices to students and avoid unhealthy options like candy and chips. Healthy choices include items such as granola bars, trail mix, and baked chips according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new “Smart Snacks in School” nutrition standards. CNN has more on the standards, which are the first such measure to be passed in three decades:
The regulations set limits for fat, salt and sugar sold in places such as vending machines and snack bars. School foods must contain at least 50% whole grains or have a fruit, vegetable, dairy or protein as the first ingredient. Foods that contain at least ¼ cup of fruit and/or vegetables will also be allowed.
Beverages will be under the microscope as well. Sports drinks, which contain relatively high amounts of sugar, are prohibited. Low-fat and fat-free milk, 100% fruit and vegetable juice, and no-calorie flavored waters are permitted. Potable water must be made available to kids for free where meals are served.
Schools and food and beverage companies must meet these standards by July 1, 2014, according to the USDA. That means the rules would be in effect for the 2014-2015 school year….
…”Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our children,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. “Parents and schools work hard to give our youngsters the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong, and providing healthy options throughout school cafeterias, vending machines, and snack bars will support their great efforts.”
Children will still be allowed to bring in any snacks from home that they choose, and parents can continue to deliver treats for birthday celebrations or holidays to the classroom. Special fund-raising events such as bake sales are also allowed.
Image: School vending machine, via Shutterstock
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