Friday, August 2nd, 2013
Significantly more girls than boys have committed an act of physical violence when dating, according to a longitudinal study presented this week at the American Psychological Association’s annual meeting. More from NBC News:
For her study, Dorothy Espelage, professor of educational psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and her colleagues conducted a longitudinal study among 625 students starting in grades 5, 6, and 7, and followed them over a period of four years. Researchers interviewed the students at intervals over that time.
The study looked at a spectrum of behaviors, ranging from name calling and expressing anger, spreading rumors, and using controlling behaviors such as keeping track of dating partners, to physical violence such as slapping, hitting and biting, and sexual violence including forced kissing. Taken as a whole, one in three reported being the victim of at least one of the behaviors on that spectrum.
While most of us may not rank name-calling, or bad-mouthing another to their friends as “violence,” the researchers say they included the psychological and relationship tactics because they can have a profound impact.
“We see in other research that the psychological stuff has just as much of a negative impact on health outcomes as the physical and sexual” violence, said Carlos Cuevas, associate professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Northeastern University, who is also presenting a study on youth dating violence at meeting.
Image: Teen couple arguing, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, October 24th, 2012
A growing number of American boys are experiencing the changes associated with puberty at an earlier age than in the recent past, in a trend that echoes what girls have been experiencing, according to a new study published in the journey Pediatrics. From CNN.com:
In the study, lead author Marcia Herman-Giddens from the University of North Carolina’s School of Public Health and her colleagues show that boys are starting to sexually develop six months to two years earlier than medical textbooks say is standard.
This research has been a long time coming. Herman-Giddens first documented early puberty in girls in 1997, and several studies have since backed up those findings.
One of the reasons it took so long to do a comprehensive study on early puberty in boys, Herman-Giddens said, is that the onset is more difficult to identify. For girls, breast development and the start of a menstrual cycle are obvious clues. For boys, the onset of puberty comes in the form of enlarged testes and the production of sperm.
Researchers responded: ” ‘Yikes, we don’t want to ask about that!’ ” Herman-Giddens said with a laugh.
But ask they did — 212 practitioners across the country examined more than 4,100 boys aged 6 to 16. The practitioners recorded information on the boys’ genital size and pubic hair appearance.
Image: Tween boy, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, October 18th, 2012
The vaccine against human papillomavirus, which is the sexually transmitted virus that raises the risk of cervical and other cancers, has been a source of controversy among some parents who worry that vaccinating young girls and boys will inadvertently teach them that sex is permissible and safe. But a new study published this week in the journal Pediatrics has found that having the vaccine does not alter sexual behavior at all. The New York Times reports:
Looking at a sample of nearly 1,400 girls, the researchers found no evidence that those who were vaccinated beginning around age 11 went on to engage in more sexual activity than girls who were not vaccinated.
“We’re hopeful that once physicians see this, it will give them evidence that they can give to parents,” said Robert A. Bednarczyk, the lead author of the report and a clinical investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research Southeast, in Atlanta. “Hopefully when parents see this, it’ll be reassuring to them and we can start to overcome this barrier.”
HPV, the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States, can cause cancers of the cervix, anus and parts of the throat. Federal health officials began recommending in 2006 that girls be vaccinated as early as age 11 and last year made a similar recommendation for preadolescent boys. The idea is to immunize boys and girls before they become sexually active to maximize the vaccine’s protective effects.
Image: Tween girl and boy, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, July 11th, 2012
Tweens and teenagers are so vulnerable to messages they receive in movies that any film that depicts a character smoking should automatically earn an “R” rating, a new study suggests. CNN.com has more:
PG-13 films account for nearly two-thirds of the smoking scenes adolescents see on the big screen, according to the two-year study, which surveyed roughly 5,000 children ages 10 to 14 about the movies they’d seen and whether they’d ever tried a cigarette.
Smoking in PG-13 films — including background shots and other passing instances — was just as strongly linked with real-world experimentation as the smoking in R-rated films. For every 500 smoking scenes a child saw in PG-13 movies, his or her likelihood of trying cigarettes increased by 49%. The comparable figure for R-rated movies was 33%, a statistically negligible difference.
Assigning an R rating to all movies portraying smoking would lower the proportion of kids who try cigarettes at this age by 18%, the authors estimate. (Children under 17 must be accompanied by an adult to buy a ticket for an R-rated movie.)
“The movie industry [should] treat smoking like it treats profanity and sex and violence,” says lead author Dr. James D. Sargent, a cancer-prevention specialist and professor of pediatrics at Dartmouth Medical School, in Lebanon, New Hampshire. “If saying the ‘F’ word twice gets you an R rating, certainly something as important as smoking should get you an R rating.”
Image: Teenagers at the movies, via Shutterstock.
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Thursday, February 23rd, 2012
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has unveiled a new crash test dummy meant to test child booster seats and restraints for children weighing more than 65 pounds. The move comes in advance of the 2014 implementation of new car safety guidelines, and with the introduction of a number of new booster seats and other safety devices aimed at children from ages 8-12.
“It’s good news that manufacturers are making more car seats and boosters than ever before designed to keep older and heavier children safer on our roadways,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.
“As the marketplace evolves to accommodate changing consumer needs, it’s important that safety regulators also have the best tools possible for evaluating how well these products work. The new test dummy breaks new ground for the department’s crash test program and is a significant step forward for evaluating child seat performance.”
The test dummy, known in government speak as the “Hybrid III 10-year-old child test dummy (HIII-10C),” weighs 35 kilograms (78 pounds) and will be used to check child seats and safety restraint systems, for children weighing between 66 and 80 pounds, in crash tests.
The government began requiring tests of child seats in 1979 with a 6-month-old child and a 3-year-old child, and has expanded the number and sizes of crash test dummies as new state-of-the-art models have become available, NHTSA said. But previous child dummies were limited to dummies representing 6-year-olds.
Image: Tween girl about to get into a car, via Shutterstock.
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