Wednesday, October 16th, 2013
Erin Cox, a high school senior from North Andover, Massachusetts has lost her status as volleyball team captain–and been suspended for 5 games–after she drove to a party to pick up a friend who had called her, saying she was too drunk to drive home. Cox, police officers verified, had not been drinking. More from The Associated Press:
North Andover High School’s Erin Cox says she got a call two weeks ago from a friend at a party who said she was too drunk to drive. She said she went to pick up the friend, because she didn’t want the friend driving drunk or getting into a vehicle with an intoxicated driver.
By the time Erin arrived at the party, police were already there. They arrested several students for underage possession of alcohol.
Erin was cleared by police for not drinking or being in the possession of alcohol, but that didn’t stop school officials from punishing her for violating a no tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol, her mother, Eleanor Cox, told WBZ-TV.
‘‘She did what she thought was right, and I’m very proud of her,’’ Eleanor Cox said.
The family has hired a lawyer and filed a lawsuit last week, but a judge ruled the court did not have jurisdiction.
Image: Police siren, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, October 8th, 2013
A new study has found that forced sexual contact, from unwanted kisses to rape, are all too common among American teens. Nine percent of the more than 1,000 young men and women surveyed admitted to using coercive tactics with unwilling partners. More from NBC News:
From a hastily forced kiss to outright rape, violent or at least coerced sexual contact may be worryingly common among teens and young adults, researchers reported Monday.
They found 9 percent of youths aged 14 to 21 admitted to some kind of forced sexual contact, using tactics from guilt to threats and actual physical force. Half blamed their victims.
Four percent of the more than 1,000 young men and women surveyed admitted to having raped someone else, the researchers report in the American Medical Association journal JAMA Pediatrics.
But most who tried or completed rape said they didn’t use physical force – 63 percent of those who said they had forced someone to have sex against their will said they used guilt as their main tactic, while 32 percent said they used arguments and other verbal pressure.
And the problem behavior tends to really begin at around age 16, said Michele Ybarra of the Center for Innovative Public Health Research in San Clemente, California and Kimberly Mitchell of the University of New Hampshire.
Ybarra says the study doesn’t paint the whole picture and she says the findings should encourage other researchers to dig a little deeper into questions about sexual behavior in the teen years, and whether it’s possible to predict and even prevent sexual violence.
What is clear is that many teens are not getting the message that ‘no’ means no, she said.
“What we wanted to find was the intent to get somebody to do something sexually when they knew the person did not want to do it,” Ybarra said in a telephone interview.
It’s hard to know just how common the problem really is, or how representative the teens and young adults in the survey are of the whole population. They’d all been taking part in a broader survey of teen use of violent media that started in 2006, when most were about 12, Ybarra and Mitchell say.
“We know that adolescence is an important time when these types of behavior emerge,” Ybarra said.
The questions are very detailed and do not include words such as “rape”. The teens were asked questions such as “In the last 12 months, how often have you kissed, touched, or done anything sexual with another person when that person did not want you to?”
Image: Teen couple, via Shutterstock
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Friday, September 13th, 2013
Group therapy sessions may prevent episodes of depression in at-risk teens, especially those whose parents are also depressed, according to a new study conducted at Boston Children’s Hospital. Reuters has more:
“What was exciting was the sustained effect over the length of the follow-up,” said lead author Dr. William R. Beardslee of the psychiatry department at Boston Children’s Hospital.
He and his coauthors had previously found a reduced risk of depression nine months after the cognitive behavioral therapy sessions began. The new results show that risk was still reduced two years after they ended.
The study included 316 teenagers of parents with current or past depressive disorders.
Half were assigned to the therapy program, which involved eight weekly 90-minute group sessions with a trained therapist followed by six monthly sessions, and the other half received standard care. The kids had symptoms of depression, but not diagnosable depressive disorders.
The researchers tracked teens’ “depressive episodes” lasting at least two weeks, as reported by the kids and their parents.
During the study and the two-year follow-up period – a total of 33 months – 37 percent of kids assigned to the therapy sessions had at least one depressive episode, versus 48 percent of those in the comparison group.
But that difference was only seen among teens whose parents were not clinically depressed when the study began.
When parents were not depressed at the time of the study, cognitive behavioral therapy prevented one depressive episode for every six kids in the program, the researchers found. However, for kids with currently depressed parents, therapy sessions didn’t seem to have an effect, they wrote in JAMA Psychiatry.
“First, we need to understand how current parental depression is related to differential outcomes,” Beardslee told Reuters Health. “Then, we need to target these factors to reduce their effects on child outcome.”
Image: Teens talking, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, September 12th, 2013
Adopted children may be more likely to attempt or commit suicide than their non-adopted siblings, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Minnesota. More from Reuters:
Researchers urged doctors to be on the lookout for signs of trouble in adopted teen patients but said parents should not be overly alarmed by the results.
“While our findings suggest that adoptees may have an elevated risk for suicide attempt, the majority of the adopted individuals in our study were psychologically well-adjusted,” lead author Margaret Keyes, a psychologist at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, said.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 10 and 24 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the agency, 4,600 youth deaths each year in the U.S. are suicides, and a much larger number of young people make attempts to take their own lives.
Previous research in Sweden found that adopted kids in that country were more likely to attempt suicide than nonadopted kids, but no comparable study had been done in the U.S., according to Keyes and her coauthors writing in the journal Pediatrics.
Image: Sad teenager, via Shutterstock
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Monday, September 9th, 2013
Researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, both federal agencies, have released new data confirming that the number of babies born to teenaged mothers has dropped by 6 percentage points to 29.4 births per thousand in 2012–the lowest number since the agencies started collecting this data 73 years ago. The decline was across all racial and ethnic groups, and analysts attribute much of the drop to more women using effective birth control methods. More from NBC News:
The 2012 number is “a considerable one year drop,” says pediatrician Dr. John Santelli, a professor of population and family health at Columbia University who has no connection to the study. And it follows fairly sizable declines since 2007, when the rate was 41.5 births per thousand young women ages 15 to 19. In fact, except for a small uptick between 2005 and 2007, the teen birth rate has been steadily declining since 1991, when it reached 61.8 births per thousand.
“Our data comes from the birth certificate that parents complete at the hospital and it provides a wealth of information,” says Brady E. Hamilton, a statistician with the National Center for Health Statistics and the lead author of the report. But to figure out why the teen birth rate is falling, “we have to rely on other sources,” Hamilton says, such as surveys that the CDC conducts of high schoolers.
Santelli has studied those and other survey results. “There is not much evidence of a change in abortion use and not much change in sexual activity” since 2003, says Santelli. For example, the percentage of high school kids reporting ever having sexual intercourse was about 54 percent in 1991, according to the CDC survey, declined through 2002, and then held steady at about 47 percent through 2011, the last year of available data.
“What we have seen is greater availability of much more effective birth control methods,” says Santelli. While condom use increased substantially in the 1990s and early 2000s among high schoolers, it actually declined slightly after that, according to the CDC survey. At the same time, medical professionals have increasingly been recommending the IUD, a small, plastic device that is inserted and left inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy, says Santelli. While it does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases, it can be used in combination with a condom, which does offer such protection.
“Young people sometimes use condoms incorrectly, and sometimes they forget to use condoms,” says Santelli. “There is almost zero user error with the IUD. Once it is in place, it works every time.”
Image: Teenage couple, via Shutterstock
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