Parents Forgo Booster Seats While Carpooling, Survey Finds
2/2/2012 11:09:41 AM
released in this month's edition of Pediatrics found that 76% of parents with children ages 4 to 8 used a safety seat when their child was in their own car. However, when children are riding in another's car, 21% of parents who use a safety seat in their own car do not ask the driver to use a safety seat. Additionally 55% of parents who use a booster seat in their own car do not always require their child to use a booster seat when driving other children who do not have boosters. Car crashes are the leading cause of death
for children ages 3 to 14, and NHTSA estimates that child safety seats have saved nearly 9,000 lives since 1975.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
recommends that all children ages 4 to 7 ride in a car seat until they outgrow the recommended weight or height limit, and then ride in a booster seat. Children ages 8 to 12 should also ride in a booster seat until they are tall enough to safely use a seat belt. Ohio law
requires that all children under age 4 or 40 pounds ride in a child safety seat and that all children ages 4 to 7 and below 4 feet 9 ride in a booster seat. University Hospitals' Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital Injury Prevention Center
offers car seat inspections for parents wishing to to ensure that their child's car seat is safely installed. Other car seat inspection stations can be found by visiting NHTSA's website
.Read a NPR article on the survey.
Tags: Children, Health
Family Violence Changes Children's Brains
1/20/2012 7:31:10 AM
A recent study in Current Biology explores the ways in which exposure to family violence changes children's brains. Exposure to violence in the household includes physical abuse, which is experienced by between 4 and 16% of children, and intimate partner violence, which is witnessed by between 8 and 25% of children. The study used MRIs to compare the responses of children exposed to family violence with those of children not exposed to family violence when shown pictures of angry, neutral and sad faces.
When shown the angry face, children who had experienced family violence showed greater reactivity in both the amygdala, which moderates emotional responses and preparation for stress, and the anterior insula (AI), which works with the amygdala to anticipate pain, than children who had not experienced family violence. Although this heightened response may be beneficial when faced with an immediate threat, previous research links increased reactivity in these areas of the brain to several anxiety disorders.The authors suggest that this hypervigilance may limit a child's ability to master certain social skills and may even predispose children to future aggression. The study did not include children with symptoms of depression or anxiety disorders, implying that there are neurological consequences of family violence even in children without mental health symptoms.
Several Schubert Center Faculty Associates study violence and its effects on children. Daniel Flannery researches the effects of violence on children in Cuyahoga County. Read a policy brief on his work. Patrick Kanary studies youth violence prevention and childhood exposure to violence. Jeffrey Kretschmar studies violence and aggression. Judith Lipton studies inter-disciplinary strategies for addressing domestic violence and the rights of immigrant victims of family violence. Mark Singer studies youth violence and the community. James Spilsbury researches how family violence can affect children's sleep and health.
Read The Atlantic's summary of the study.
Tags: Children, Family, Health, Violence
Study Finds 42% of India's Children Under 5 Are Malnourished
1/11/2012 2:32:32 PM
Photo by Neil Palmer of CIAT International Center for Tropical Agriculture
A recent survey
by the Naandi Foundation found that 42% of all Indian children younger than five are underweight, defined as having low weight for their age. Another 59% were found to be stunted, defined as having low height for age. The study surveyed 109,093 children in 3,360 villages in 9 states. The report also notes that 58% of mothers do not exclusively breastfeed for the first 6 months, which is important for preventing childhood malnutrition. Key factors in child malnutrition were family socioeconomic status and the educational status of mothers.
With recent droughts leading to famine in East Africa
, child hunger is increasingly gaining international attention. Doctors Without Borders/Médicins Sans Frontières
estimates that 146 million children under the age of five are underweight, with sixty million children considered wasted, meaning below the normal weight for height. Most of these children live in the Sahel, South Asia and the Horn of Africa. UNICEF
notes that malnutrition is implicated in 40% of all child deaths under the age of five in developing countries. In addition to deaths from starvation, malnutrition can stunt children's growth, reduce their immunity, and damage intellectual achievement.
In 2010, MSF launched the Starved for Attention
campaign to draw attention to the issue of widespread child malnutrition and the importance of providing malnourished children with nutritionally adequate foods. According to MSF
most food aid provided to malnourished people in crises is a corn-soy blend that does not adequately meet the nutritional needs of growing children.
Tags: Children, Early Childhood, Healthy Eating, Poverty
Article Profiles the Success of the Finnish Educational System
1/5/2012 9:55:25 AM
This month's issue of The Atlantic
highlights the success of the Finnish educational system in achieving near the top of international educational assessments while using methods quite different from those in the United States. Finland's schools focus on education as a means of achieving social equality, rather than producing high achieving students. Additionally, Finnish schools eschew extensive drilling and testing for less homework and more creative play. All education is publicly financed, from preschool to university. The article notes that, although Finland has fewer foreign-born residents than the United States, its achievement levels continue to exceed that of Norway, a neighboring country with similar ethnic makeup that uses a more American approach to education.
Understanding successful educational models is particularly important as the United States considers how to replace No Child Left Behind, which has long been criticized for its emphasis on standardized testing. In September 2011
, President Obama announced that states would be allowed to apply for waivers to NCLB's requirement that all students achieve proficiency in reading and math by 2014, as long as states were willing to replace NCLB with their own accountability measures. The importance of including play in school has been studied by Schubert Center Faculty Associate Sandra Russ
. In a previous blog post
, she stated that play, especially pretend play, has an essential role in child development and that playtime should be included within children's daily lives.
Tags: Children, Development, Education
Michael Wald Speaks On Rethinking Child Protection
12/2/2011 7:49:49 AM
On November 29, the Schubert Center hosted Stanford University Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor of Law, Emeritus, Michael Wald as part of the Schubert Center's 2011-2012 lecture series Child Well-Being in Challenging Times. In the talk, titled Rethinking Child Protection, he discussed how child protective services should focus on threats to children's physical well-being and that the development of a second system is needed to serve at-risk families of children with developmental challenges. Additionally, he highlighted key areas of achievement that all children should reach by adulthood, including graduating high school, avoiding criminal conviction and incarceration, and delaying parenthood until age 18 or later. He argued that the current systems and intervention programs during early childhood do not improve these outcomes for the "bottom 20 percent" of children, due to their parents' isolation from the larger community. After his talk, Professor Wald was joined by Patricia Rideout, the Director of the Cuyahoga County Department of Juvenile and Family Services, and Dr. Mark Feingold, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at CWRU's School of Medicine, who discussed their experiences working with maltreated children and the Child Protective Service in Cuyahoga County. The Schubert Center and its faculty associates have long been involved in issues of child maltreatment. Director Dr. Jill Korbin, Dr. Claudia Coulton, Dr. David Crampton, and Dr. James Spilsbury studied the impact of neighborhood conditions on child maltreatment and child wellbeing. Read an article on their findings, co-written by former Child Policy Director Molly Irwin.
Learn more about this event.
Get information about upcoming Schubert Center lectures.
Tags: Children, Family, Parenthood, Violence, Welfare
Ohio Improves Premature Birth Rate
11/4/2011 8:08:09 AM
Image from March of Dimes
A recently released report from the March of Dimes
shows that Ohio's premature birth rate is on a steady decline, from 13.3% in 2006 to 12.3% in 2009. While Ohio's numbers are still lower than the March of Dimes 2020 goal of 9.6%, earning the state a C, the continuing decline is a good sign for Ohio's children. Ohio's rate is comparable to that of the nation as a whole, 12.2%.
A more detailed report card
shows that Ohio could further improve its score by reducing the percentages of uninsured women and women smoking, both of which contribute to preterm births. Preterm birth statistics include all births of babies before 37 weeks gestation. Although in many cases the exact cause of preterm birth is unknown, risk factors for preterm labor include: obesity, pregnancy with multiples, mothers younger than 17 or older than 35, and high levels of stress. African-American women and low income women are also at a higher risk of preterm labor. Preterm birth has been linked to a variety of negative health outcomes, including mental retardation, cerebral palsy, and blindness. Prematurity is also the leading cause of newborn deaths in America.
In an article in The Plain Dealer
on the report, Schubert Center Faculty Associate H. Gerry Taylor
commented on his recently published study of premature children that found children born prematurely learn spelling and math skills more slowly than other children during kindergarten. He said, "We had demonstrated previously, as had many researchers, that children born [very early] had problems with memory, executive function and were more prone to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. If we can show that these problems can be documented and that we have the tools to document them, we can do something about these problems before a child starts falling too far behind." Download a research and policy brief from a recent Schubert Center talk given by Dr. Taylor.
Dr. Taylor is just one of several Faculty Associates studying premature births. Maureen Hack
studies the long term outcomes for very low birth weight children. Download a research and policy brief on her work. Marilyn Lotas
researches the health issues of very low and low birth weight infants. Susan Ludington
conducts research on the benefit of kangaroo care for preterm infants.
Tags: Children, Health Insurance, Infancy, Low Birth Weight
Study Finds Achievement Gap Between White and Black Children Present as Early as Age 3
10/28/2011 11:35:31 AM
Photo by nycstreets
This month's issue of Child Development contains an article exploring the origins of a phenomenon known as the Black-White Achievement Gap, which refers to the substantial difference in achievement in reading and mathematics present when African American and White children enter school, which grows throughout schooling. The authors followed 314 lower income American children from birth through fifth grade. Measures of academic achievement, demographic characteristics, childrearing attitudes, depressive symptoms, parenting, neighborhood disadvantage, child care, school characteristics, and early cognitive skills were used to asses children at eight time periods.
The authors found that differences in family, child care and schooling experiences accounted for much of the gap, which was present in children by age 3. Instructional quality was especially important for Black children, who made gains in mathematics skills in the presence of certain school characteristics. These findings suggest the importance of early intervention to reduce racial inequalities in school achievement. The authors also note the importance of programs that focus on parenting skills to promote cognitive and social development in children under 3, as well as high quality child-care access for low income families.
Several Schubert Center Faculty Associates study the importance of early childhood development and interventions, especially for disadvantaged children. Dr. Claudia Coulton studies urban poverty and neighborhood impacts on children and families. Dr. David S. Crampton conducts research on child and family welfare policy. Dr. Gerald J. Mahoney studies the role of family and parental influences on children's development and socio-emotional well being. Dr. H. Gerry Taylor researches the developmental and educational impacts of low birthweight and premature birth.
In March 2010, Nobel Laureate James Heckman spoke at at a lecture sponsored by the Schubert Center on the importance of investment in early childhood education. Find out more information about his talk and watch a video of his lecture.
Tags: Children, Development, Early Childhood, Education, Family, Neighborhoods, School
Some Youth Incompetent to Stand Trial Due to Cognitive Impairments and Immaturity
10/13/2011 8:20:38 AM
A study published in September's issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law found that many youth in the juvenile justice system are determined as incompetent to stand trial due to cognitive impairments and an inability to understand the long-term consequences of their actions.The authors attribute the high rate of incompetency to stand trial in adolescents, especially those under fourteen, to a "myopic temporal perspective" which leads them to misunderstand or underestimate the consequences of their actions.
The researchers used the MacArthur Competence Assessment Tool-Criminal Adjudication (MacCAT-CA), the Judgement in Legal Contexts (JILC) instrument, the Welchsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI) and the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument-Second Version (MAYSI-2) to evaluate competence, future orientation, intellectual ability and psychopathy in 453 detained youth and 474 youth in the community who were not involved in the juvenile justice system. They found that competency was strongly associated with both intelligence and age. Additionally, youth with psychiatric symptoms were less competent than youth without psychiatric symptoms.
The authors note the importance of these findings in the juvenile justice system, as not all states require a consideration of maturity in evaluating juvenile defendant's competence. Aaron Kivisto, the lead author of the article, states, "When we're teenagers, we're focused on short-term consequences. Teens think about what might happen later today if they do something. Because courts can impose consequences that can affect someone's life for years, it appears that adolescents approach these longer-term and very serious implications blindly."Gabriella Celeste
, Child Policy Director, spoke with Faculty Associate Patrick Kanary
and Marcia Egbert of the George Gund Foundation on October 11, 2011 about recent reforms to juvenile justice programs in Ohio. These reforms will result in more youth remaining in their communities in evidence-based programs who would have previously been incarcerated. Download the powerpoint of their talk.
A number of Schubert Center Faculty Associates study child development, including:
Tags: Adolescence, Children, Development, Juvenile Justice, Violence
President Obama Announces Waivers for No Child Left Behind
10/11/2011 7:49:33 AM
On September 22, President Obama announced that states would be allowed to apply for waivers to be exempt from No Child Left Behind’s requirement that all children be proficient in reading and math by 2014. These waivers would only be granted when states develop standards to prepare students for college and careers and to evaluate teachers and principals. Education secretary Arne Duncan said that the waivers are intended to provide a bridge between the current law and new legislation by Congress.
In a speech announcing the decision, Obama criticized No Child Left Behind for requiring teachers to teach to the test and to limit education in history and science. He said “This does not mean that states will be able to lower their standards or escape accountability. If states want more flexibility, they’re going to have to set higher standards, more honest standards that prove they’re serious about meeting them.”
Congressional leaders criticized the announcement on the grounds that the president is overstepping his powers. Representative John Kline of Minnesota said “In my judgment, he is exercising an authority and power he doesn’t have.” However, officials from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Idaho, Minnesota, Virginia, and Wisconsin have stated that they would probably seek waivers.
Tags: Children, Education, School
Article Brings Insight to How Adolescent Brains Work
10/6/2011 8:18:50 AM
This month’s National Geographic Magazine highlights new scientific understanding of adolescent brain development and the neurological changes that occur with adolescence. Although the brain doesn’t grow much between the ages of 12 and 25, massive changes lead to a faster and more sophisticated brain by adulthood.
During adolescence, axons, the nerve fibers used to send signals between neurons, become insulated with a fatty substance, myelin, in order to boost the axon’s transmission speed. Heavily used synapses grow much stronger. At the same time the brain goes through a process known as synaptic pruning, whereby infrequently used synapses wither allowing the brain to become more efficient.
Studies of impulse control show that although teens at age 15 can perform as well as adults if motivated, they were less able than adults to use regions of the brain that help them resist impulses. Among those performing the test at age 20, these regions of the brain were as easily accessed as adults. However, adults shouldn’t look at adolescents as neurologically inferior.
The article also states that from an evolutionary perspective teen brains are “exquisitely sensitive, highly adaptable creature[s] wired almost perfectly for the job of moving from the safety of home into the complicated world outside.” Thrill-seeking behaviors by adolescents, which peak at age 15, leads teens to have an openness to new and exciting experiences. Changes during adolescence also lead teens to seek out people of their own age, building important relationships for success in adulthood.
On October 6, Dr. Laurence Steinberg of Temple University, whose research on adolescent risk-taking is described in the article, will be speaking at Baldwin Wallace College on adolescent brain development and risk taking. Learn more about his talk.
Schubert Center Faculty Associate Andrew Garner recently spoke at the County Commissioners Association of Ohio about adolescent brain development as part of a panel organized by Voices for Ohio’s Children. He was accompanied by Child Policy Director Gabriella Celeste. View their presentation. Gabriella Celeste will also be speaking at an upcoming Schubert Center event on Tuesday October 11 on her involvement in juvenile justice reform in Ohio. Learn more about this event.
Read the National Geographic article.
Little known fact: Schubert Center graduate assistant Sarah C. Miller is from Austin, Texas, where National Geographic photographer Kitra Cahana followed teens for a year in the photographs accompanying the story
Tags: Adolescence, Children, Development, Juvenile Justice
Child Abuse Increased During the Recession, Study Says
9/19/2011 12:15:48 PM
A study, published this week in Pediatrics and conducted in Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Washington, found that the number of children diagnosed with abusive head trauma in hospitals rose from 8.9 in 100,000 before the recession to 14.7 in 100,000 during the recession. Abusive head trauma, such as Shaken Baby Syndrome, is the leading cause of child death, and previous research suggests that times of stress can lead to increases in child abuse.
The study found 422 cases of abusive head trauma in hospital emergency rooms, with the average age of the child at 9 months. Sixteen percent of the children in the study died due to their injuries. The authors mention that an important factor in the rise in cases of AHT may be that the recession forced many people who had previously not been caretakers to be the primary caretakers for young children. In a MSNBC article on the study, Dr. Rachel P. Berger, one of the authors, notes the importance of teaching parents that it is ok to leave a crying baby safely in a crib and walk away after all basic needs have been taken care of when stressed. She also says that government decreases in programs to help infants and young children may also contribute to increased parental stress.
Schubert Center Director Dr. Jill Korbin has studied child maltreatment for over 35. She is currently editing a volume on C. Henry Kempe, a pediatrician who was the first to identify child abuse in a medical setting.
To read the study, click here.
To read an NPR article on the study, click here.
To read an MSNBC article on the study, click here.
Tags: Children, Early Childhood, Family, Parenthood, Violence
Article Proposes Prenatal and Early Childhood Origins of Violence
9/14/2011 11:08:30 AM
In an article published in January 2011 in the journal Aggression and Violent Behavior, Dr. Jianghong Liu of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing proposes a framework for understanding the pre- and early post-natal origins of violence. Dr. Liu argues that the current literature neglects the role of early childhood in child and adolescent violent behavior and lacks long-term studies of how early childhood health impacts later behavior.
She proposes a variety of early health risk factors that may increase risk of childhood aggression, including smoking during pregnancy, birth complications, alcohol and drug consumption during pregnancy, teenage pregnancy, maternal depression, malnutrition, lead exposure, head injury, child abuse and maternal stress. These risk factors do the most damage during early childhood, when children’s neuro-development is at its peak. She argues that public health prevention programs targeting these risk factors are a heretofore-unused opportunity for violence prevention.
In a news article about her research, Dr. Liu says, “As a society we should invest in better health care for early life – as early as a growing fetus – in order to minimize their health risk factors for violence. It is never too early to intervene in the development of violent tendencies.” Her statement echoes the work of Dr. James Heckman, Nobel Laureate, who advocates for economic investment in early childhood education. A summary of his talk at the Schubert Center in March 2010 can be accessed here.
On September 27, Schubert Center Faculty Associate Dr. Daniel Flannery will be giving a talk on Merging Research, Practice, and Policy in Addressing Children’s Exposure to Violence. He is the director of the Semi J. and Ruth J. Begun Center for Violence Prevention at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences. His current research projects include Project Tapestry, which studies violence prevention services for youth, and evaluation of the Fugitive Safe Surrender Program.
Several other Faculty Associates study violence in children and youth. Dr. James Spilsbury of the Center for Clinical Investigation studies the role of sleep disturbances in children who have been exposed to violence. Dr. Mark Singer of the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences studies youth violence and co-existing drug and mental disorders.
To read the original article online, click here.
To read a Science Direct article on the study, click here.
Tags: Children, Development, Early Childhood, Family, Infancy, Violence
Study Finds Secondhand Smoke Exposure Increases School Absenteeism
9/7/2011 10:20:12 AM
A study released in June from Massachusetts General Hospital found that children exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes missed significantly more days of school and reported significantly more ear infections and chest colds than children who do not live with smokers.
The study was an analysis of data from the National Health Interview Survey. Fourteen percent of children surveyed lived with a smoker, representing 2.6 million children in the United States. Households without smokers were more likely to be higher educated, have a higher income and were more likely to be Hispanic than households with smokers. Households with one smoker had higher incomes and were more likely to be white than households with two or more smokers.
Children who lived with one smoker had on average one more day absent from school per year and children with two or more smokers one and a half more days absent than children without smokers in their homes. The authors found that eliminating smoking from the homes of children living with smokers could reduce their absenteeism by 24% to 34%. These data suggest that between one quarter and one third of missed school days are the result of secondhand smoke exposure. Additionally, this excess absenteeism resulted in caregivers losing $227 million per year in wages and household production while taking care of sick children.
Several Schubert Center Faculty Associates study the impact of low birth weight and prematurity, also associated with secondhand smoke exposure. Dr. H. Gerry Taylor studies the neurological implications of low birth weight. A policy brief on his recent talk on school progress in children with extreme prematurity can be downloaded here. Dr. Marilyn Lotas studies the health issues very low and low birth weight infants. Dr. Maureen Hack’s research interests include the outcome of very low birth weight children. Additionally, Dr. Scott Frank studies smoking cessation programs.
To read the study on Pediatrics website, click here.
To read a Science Daily article on the study, click here.
To read a CNN article on the study, click here.
Tags: Children, Education, Health, School
Three Recent Studies on Eating Disorders Show New Trends and Concerns
6/22/2011 8:46:49 AM
Three recent studies on eating disorders show new trends in prevalence of eating disorders internationally and new comorbidities of eating disorders in the United States.
A study from Taiwan published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing found that 16% of boys and 10% of girls ages 10 to 18 had vomited in order to lose weight. Younger children were more likely to report inducing vomiting to lose weight, as 16% of 10 to 12 years olds vomited to lose weight compared to 15% of 13 to 15 year olds and 8% of 16-18 year olds. Self-induced vomiting was more common in adolescents with a sedentary lifestyle, who slept less and who ate unhealthily. Using a computer screen for more than two hours a day, eating fried food everyday and having nighttime snacks increased the odds of vomiting.
Another recent study from the University of North Texas found that pressure from peers to be thin accounts for a significant amount of lost sleep for white female adolescents. Author Katherine Marczyk said “There is a significant amount of research on other areas regarding pressure on adolescent females to minimize body weight, but this pressure as it relates to sleep health is a less-explored topic and its consequences are mostly unknown.”
The Journal of Women’s Health published a study this month on the relationship between pregnancy related depression and eating disorders. A survey of women receiving treatment in a perinatal psychology clinic found that one third of patients reported a history of eating disorders. Postpartum depression has serious consequences for both mothers and their children. Author Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody stated “Children of depressed mothers are more likely to develop mental health problems, and children of mothers with an active eating disorder may also be more likely to develop an eating disorder themselves.” The authors also note that pregnancy is a key time for mental health screenings and for helping women get access to mental health treatment services.
Dr. Lucene Wisniewski of the Cleveland Center for Eating Disorders recently gave a talk on current best practices for girls with eating disorders as a part of the Schubert Center’s Girlhood Series. A policy brief on her talk can be downloaded here. Schubert Center Faculty Associate Dr. Eileen Anderson-Fye joined discussants from the Cleveland Clinic and the University School to talk about her work studying eating disorders in adolescent girls in Belize.
To read the study from Taiwan, click here. A press article on the study is also available here.
To read an article on the study on eating disorders and sleep loss, click here.
To read the article on pregnancy-related depression and eating disorders, click here. A popular article on the study can be found here.
Tags: Adolescence, Children, Healthy Eating, Girls, Mental Health, Parenthood
USDA Unveils New Dietary Standards
6/3/2011 3:05:17 PM
On June 2, First Lady Michelle Obama and Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin unveiled the USDA’s new dietary guidelines, called MyPlate, which will replace the previous food pyramid. MyPlate aims to make making healthy food decisions easier by replacing the previous standards which used daily numbers of servings with a graphic depiction of a plate filled on one half with fruits and vegetables, with whole grains and lean protein occupying a quarter each, and a small serving of dairy. MyPlate is an extension of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to reduce childhood obesity. Several Schubert Center Faculty Associates study childhood obesity and related health problems.
Click here to visit the official MyPlate website and learn more about the new recommendations.
- Dr. Leona Cuttler of the Department of Pediatrics studies diabetes and childhood obesity.
- Dr. Elaine Borawski of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and the Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods studies various health behavior interventions aimed at obesity and diet modification.
- Dr. Marilyn Lotas of the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing recently spoke at the Schubert Center on her research on childhood hypertension and obesity in Cleveland public schools. A policy brief on that study can be downloaded here.
Click here to read an NPR article on the changes.
Click here to read a Washington Post article on the changes.
Tags: Children, Healthy Eating, Obesity
Children with Public Health Insurance Less Likely to Get Emergency Appointments with Dentists & Ohio Falls Behind in Important Dental Health Markers
5/24/2011 10:05:38 AM
A study published this week in Pediatrics found that children who have public health insurance are less likely than children with private health insurance to get an appointment in a dental emergency. The study had six research assistants call 85 Illinois dental practices twice pretending to be mothers of a 10-year-old boy with a fractured front tooth, with the only difference in the two calls being whether the child was enrolled in the public Medicaid and CHIP dental program or private Blue Cross dental coverage. Only 36.5% of calls regarding children in the Medicaid and CHIP program were able to obtain an appointment, compared to 95.4% of calls regarding children with private insurance. The difference remained even when only considering the 41 dental practices enrolled in the Medicaid program, as children with public insurance were 18.2 times more likely to not receive an appointment from Medicaid enrolled providers compared to children with private insurance. An article in US News on the study notes that Medicaid reimburses all emergency dental care, regardless of whether the provider seen is enrolled in a Medicaid program.
Ohio recently received a grade of “B” for access to dental care for children from the Pew Children’s Dental Campaign. An article in The Plain Dealer states that while Ohio scores better than the national standards in sealant programs in high-risk schools, fluoridated water access, dental care used by Medicaid-enrolled children, payment for preventative services and keeping records on children’s dental health, Ohio children lack access to primary dental care providers, and Ohio dentists are insufficiently reimbursed by Medicaid. Some policymakers suggest licensing a new type of dental care provider, called a dental therapist, to address the shortage of dentists in Ohio and other states.
Schubert Center Faculty Associate Dr. James Lalumandier directs the Healthy Smiles Sealant Program in conjunction with Cleveland Metropolitan School District to improve dental health and sealant coverage for second, third and sixth grade students. A policy brief on his work can be downloaded here. A video on the Healthy Smiles Sealant Program can be viewed here.
Tags: Children, Dental, Health, Health Insurance
Improving Access to Books in Poorer Neighborhoods
5/20/2011 11:36:50 AM
Research consistently shows the importance of access to reading materials for children, especially low-income children. A meta-analysis published last August by Reading is Fundamental found that access to print materials, and in particular access to print materials to own, improves children’s reading performance, helps children learn the basics of reading, causes children to read more and for longer lengths of time, and produces improved attitudes towards reading and learning. A recent report by the Annie E. Casey foundation found that children who were not reading proficiently in third grade are four times more likely to not graduate high school on time. Additionally, the Schubert Center was privileged to host Nobel Prize Winner Dr. James Heckman of the University of Chicago in March 2010 for a lecture on the economic case for investing in early childhood education. A video of Dr. Heckman’s lecture as well as other resources related to his talk can be found from our website.
An 2001 study from the University of Michigan and Temple University comparing access to reading materials in low-income and middle-income urban neighborhoods found that while middle-income neighborhoods had as many as 13 book titles available for every child, low-income neighborhoods had as few as 1 title for every 300 children. Additionally, both public and school libraries in low-income neighborhoods had fewer hours and fewer books than libraries in middle-income neighborhoods. This finding follows an earlier study that found that classroom, school and public libraries combined in a high-income neighborhood had an average of nearly 261,000 books, while libraries in low-income neighborhoods had between 113,000 and 106,000 books.
However, the limited access to books in these neighborhoods does not indicate that parents are unwilling to buy books for their children. Susan B. Newman, a co-author of the 2001 study, said in a recent New York Times article “When poor people, even those at low literacy levels, have a little extra money, they will buy inexpensive books. But some families have so little disposable income, they can’t afford any books.”
The New York Times recently profiled an organization that works to increase the number of books in the homes of low-income children, First Book Marketplace. First Book Marketplace sells books discounted far below their retail prices to programs that serve low-income children. Their website shows classic titles such as To Kill a Mockingbird, Where the Wild Things Are, and A Very Hungry Caterpillar, as well as SAT preparatory materials and nonfiction, discounted by 50% or more.
A number of Schubert Center Faculty Associates study children in low-income households and literacy:
More information about First Book Marketplace can be found on their website.
For those interested in improving access to books in their communities, the Corporation for National and Community Service provides a toolkit for starting a book distribution team.
Tags: Children, Development, Early Childhood, Education, Poverty, School
U.S. Proposes Stricter Guidelines Limiting Unhealthy Food Advertising to Kids
5/10/2011 11:53:40 AM
The federal government released new guidelines April 28 pressuring food companies to reduce marketing of unhealthy foods to children by 2016. The guidelines aim to limit advertising tactics aimed at children, such as the use of cartoon characters, online video games, and free toys, for foods high in sugar, fat or salt.
The Federal Trade Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, the Agriculture Department and the Centers for Disease Control developed the guidelines, which were created at the request of Congress. The guidelines require that foods that advertise to children include healthful ingredients, like whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, or low fat milk, and do not contain unhealthful amounts of sugar, saturated fat, trans fat and salt.
Although the guidelines are voluntary, experts suggest that companies will face significant pressure to adopt them. Margo Wooton, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, was quoted in the New York Times as saying, “With all the concern about childhood obesity, I think there’s a lot of pressure on companies to do the right thing and follow these standards.”
Several Schubert Center Faculty Associates study childhood obesity and related health problems.
To read a New York Times article on the new guidelines, click here.
- Dr. Leona Cuttler of the Department of Pediatrics studies diabetes and childhood obesity.
- Dr. Elaine Borawski of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and the Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods studies various health behavior interventions aimed at obesity and diet modification.
- Dr. Marilyn Lotas of the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing recently spoke at the Schubert Center on her research on childhood hypertension and obesity in Cleveland public schools. A policy brief on that study can be downloaded here.
To read a Washington Post article on the new guidelines, click here.
To read a Wall Street Journal article on the new guidelines, click here.
Tags: Children, Healthy Eating, Health, Obesity
Faculty Associate Studies Relationship Between ADHD and Poor Academic Achievement
4/26/2011 2:00:02 PM
Faculty Associate Dr. Lee Thompson of the Department of Psychological Sciences recently co-authored a study on the relationship between ADHD behaviors and academic performance, published in Psychological Sciences. The study, which included 271 pairs of ten-year-old identical and fraternal twins, found that the link between Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and academic performance is due to a variety of interactions between genes and environment.
Although the majority of twins did not have ADHD, Dr. Thompson and her colleagues studied a variety of behavioral symptoms of ADHD on a continuum, focusing on inattention and hyperactivity, as rated by mothers and researchers, as well as mathematics and reading ability. In analyzing their data, they found that some genes influence behavioral symptoms, mathematics ability and reading ability simultaneously while others influence each specifically.
In a press release about the study, Dr. Thompson notes that although the study does show a relationship between poor academics and ADHD behaviors, genes are not everything and interventions can modify the environmental influence on both academic achievement and ADHD behaviors. Finally, the study notes that future research should focus on identifying the mechanisms behind the connection between ADHD symptoms and poor academic achievement to identify areas for intervention.
Tags: Children, Development, Disabilities, Education, School
Recent Killings Draw Attention to Mothers Who Kill Their Children
4/21/2011 12:49:27 PM
Last week, a shocking case of a mother who drover her car filled with her four children into the Hudson River made national headlines. However, a series of articles following this event note that parents and particularly mothers are far more common than the public perceives them to be. One such article notes that parents kill their children at least 100 times a year and that mothers are more likely than fathers to kill children under the age of 5.
Schubert Center Director Dr. Jill Korbin has studied women who fatally maltreat their children for over 35 years. In a recent Associated Press article, she noted that, unlike reducing auto fatalities, finding means of preventing these deaths has proved difficult. She does state that society’s desire to be supportive of a “good mother” may result in hesitancy to intervene even when friends and family members may see a mother struggling.
Case Western Medical School professor Dr. Phillip Resnick is a forensic psychologist who has testified in a number of prominent cases, including the 2001 Andrea Yates case. He spoke with NPR about a variety of circumstances in which parents kill their children, including what he calls an “altruistic killing” which occurs when a depressed parent decides to kill his or her children to spare them from the cruelty of the world. In a previous study, he found one in every 33 mothers in the United States is a parent killing his or her child.
To read the Associated Press article that Dr. Korbin contributed to, click here.
To listen to an NPR conversation with Dr. Resnick and two mothers, click here.
Tags: Children, Family, Mental Health, Parenthood, Violence, Welfare
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month
4/14/2011 10:40:22 AM
Since 1983, Congress has declared April National Child Abuse Prevention Month. In 2007, Child Protective Services confirmed 772,000 cases of abused or neglected children, and in 2006, 1,530 children died from maltreatment. In addition to short-term physical injuries, child abuse can cause permanent visual, motor and cognitive impairments as well as long-term mental health impacts.
However, there are protective factors that can be nurtured in order to prevent child abuse. Childwelfare.gov describes 5 protective factors in preventing child maltreatment: nurturing and attachment, knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development, parental resilience, social connections, and concrete supports for parents.
Several Schubert Center Faculty Associates study issues related to child abuse and neglect:
To learn more about National Child Abuse Prevention Month and what you can do, click here.
- Schubert Center Director Dr. Jill Korbin has over 35 years of experience in the field of child maltreatment and neglect, with a focus on child abuse in a cross-cultural setting. She is currently participating in a committee at the Centers for Disease Control to rewrite the parameters defining child abuse. Additionally, she is editing a series of edited volumes on contemporary issues in child maltreatment research and policy.
- Dr. Victor Groza of the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences studies child welfare in the context of adoption.
- Dr. Lolita McDavid in Pediatrics is the medical director of the department of Child Advocacy and Protection at University Hospital’s Case Medical Center.
To learn more about the health effects of child abuse and neglect, click here.
Tags: Children, Family, Parenthood, Welfare
New Report Shows Children with Poor Reading Skills in Third Grade More Likely to Not Graduate from High School
4/12/2011 11:13:37 AM
A recent report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that children who are not reading proficiently in third grade are four times more likely to not graduate from high school on time. The report was released just days after U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan criticized recent cuts to early education programs, saying “if we want to close achievement gaps -- if we're serious about giving every single child a chance to be successful -- we have to enter kindergarten ready to learn and ready to read.”
The report analyzed statistics from a longitudinal national study of nearly 4000 students born between 1979 and 1989. The study also found that 22 percent of children who have lived in poverty do not graduate from high school, compared to 6 percent of those who have never been poor and that poor Black and Hispanic students had the highest rate of failure to finish high school by age 19. The report note the importance of third grade as “the time when students shift from learning to read and begin reading to learn”, meaning that interventions after third grade are less effective than earlier ones.
Several Schubert Center Faculty Associates study issues related to literacy and early education:
Additionally, the Schubert Center was privileged to host Nobel Prize Winner Dr. James Heckman of the University of Chicago in March 2010 for a lecture on the economic case for investing in early childhood education. A video of Dr. Heckman’s lecture as well as other resources related to his talk can be found from our website.
- Schubert Center Associate Director Dr. Elizabeth Short studies cognitive development in school-aged children as well as cognitive and academic consequences of attention deficit disorder, language disabilities, and reading disabilities. A policy brief on her work on assessing developmental differences through play can be downloaded here.
- Dr. Lee Thompson of Psychological Sciences studies the development of language in childhood and early environmental influences on reading skills in twins. A policy brief on her research on children’s development of mathematical skills can be downloaded here.
- Dr. Barbara A. Lewis of Psychological Sciences studies the role of genetics in speech, language and literacy. A policy brief on her work in this area can be downloaded here.
To read the Casey Foundation's report, click here.
Tags: Children, Development, Early Childhood, Education, School
Women Abused During Childhood at Increased Risk for Having Low Birthweight Babies
3/31/2011 9:12:44 AM
A recent study from the University of Washington has found that emotional, sexual, and physical abuse and poverty before age 10 leads to an increased risk of having a low birth weight baby. The study also found links between alcohol and drug use during adolescence and pregnancy and low birth weight.
Children are considered low birth weight if they are born weighing less than 2500 grams. Low birth weight has been linked with a variety of negative impacts to health and development including cerebral palsy, increased rates of conduct disorders, obesity, and increased risk of death before age one.
The study is the first to find a link between maternal childhood maltreatment and low birth weight. The authors also found the childhood maltreatment increased risk of substance abuse during high school and that women who used drugs during high school were more likely to smoke and drink alcohol during later pregnancies. The study is part of a recent trend in looking at the effects of early life experiences on later health outcomes.
Several Schubert Center Faculty Associates study various issues related to low birth weight and child maltreatment.
- Schubert Center Director Dr. Jill Korbin has studied child maltreatment with a focus on child abuse in a cross-cultural setting for 35 years.
- Dr. Maureen Hack studies the outcomes for low birth weight and very low birth weight children. A policy brief on the findings of her research on the impact of low birth weight throughout the lifespan can be downloaded here.
- Dr. H. Gerry Taylor studies the impact of low birth weight and premature birth and future learning and neurological status. A policy brief from a recent talk he gave on early school progress for children with extreme prematurity can be downloaded here.
- Dr. Marilyn Lotas studies the health issues related to low and very low birth weight.
To read the article, click here.
To read a news article about the study, click here.
Tags: Children, Family, Low Birth Weight, Parenthood, Poverty, Violence
Study Finds Parental Involvement Key in Reducing Childhood Obesity
3/29/2011 10:31:18 AM
A study released today in Pediatrics found that an obesity reduction program that combined twice-weekly exercise sessions for children with once-weekly nutrition and behavior modification classes for children and parents resulted in improvements in body weight, body composition, blood lipids and insulin that were sustained for 2 years after the intervention. To read a brief LA Times article on the study, click here.
The findings of this study are particularly noteworthy because the study specifically targeted ethnically diverse children with very high BMIs. The intervention took place in disadvantaged, inner-city areas and was offered in both Spanish and English. The study was the first to provide long-term results in a disadvantaged or minority population. The study also shows the importance of including parents in nutrition education programs in order to promote long-term adoption of healthier lifestyles.
Several Schubert Center Faculty Associates conduct research and other programs that aim to reduce the prevalence of obesity in children.
To read the study on Pediatrics's website, click here.
To download a policy brief on Dr. Lotas’s program to screen children in CMSD for hypertension and obesity, click here.
Tags: Children, Healthy Eating, Family, Health, Obesity
Recession Leaves Increasing Numbers of Children Homeless
3/18/2011 10:54:52 AM
60 Minutes recently profiled several families with children who had become homeless as a result of the current economic recession. The number of American children in poverty has increased from 14 million in 2008 to 16 million in 2010. A million houses were foreclosed on in 2010. An accompanying article also states that the child poverty is expected to hit 25 percent. In Seminole County, Florida, just outside of Disney World, nearly 1000 children have recently lost their homes and are living in cars, homeless shelters or motels. According to the county’s director of programs for homeless children, between 5 and 15 students are newly homeless every day. Click here to watch the segment from 60 Minutes.
According to the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, in Cuyahoga County, 1,944 children in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District used services for homeless children in the second half of 2009, as compared to 1657 in the second half of 2008. While family and friends take in 60 percent of these children, 19 percent reported living in shelters and 20 percent were unaccompanied homeless youth. An earlier report from Case’s Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development found that from 2005 to 2008, 65 percent of all homeless individuals living in families are children, and the average length of stay in a shelter for individuals in families was 51 days.
Several Schubert Center Faculty Associates study the impact of child homelessness and the recession.
Click here to read the 2009 State of Homelessness report from the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless.
Click here to read the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development’s report on Family Homelessness in Cuyahoga County.
Tags: Children, Family, Poverty
One-Third of Ohio Third Graders Obese or Overweight, Report Finds
3/4/2011 10:51:29 AM
A recent report released by the Ohio Department of Health found one third of Ohio third graders are overweight or obese. The report, based on data collected in schools from 2004 to 2010, shows Ohio falls far behind the Health People 2010 objective of reducing the population of overweight or obese children and adolescents to five percent.
The report also found a variety of health disparities between different communities in Ohio. Non-Hispanic black and Hispanic children were found to be significantly more overweight or obese than non-Hispanic white children, and low-income children were significantly more likely to be obese compared to other children. The prevalence of obesity also varied significantly between geographic areas. Children in Appalachian countries had higher prevalence of being overweight or obese than children in other areas, and in some counties, more than 50 percent of children were overweight or obese.
The report describes links between a variety of lifestyle factors and weight in children. Children who drank more than one sugar-sweetened beverage a day were more likely to be overweight or obese than children who had one or fewer sugar-sweetened beverage a day. Children who watched 3 or more hours of TV a day were also more likely to be overweight or obese compared to children who watched less than 3 hours of TV a day.
The report makes several policy recommendations for reducing the level of overweight and obese children, including increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables, providing safe areas for children to be active and play, reducing screen time and reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.
A variety of Schubert Center faculty associates conduct research and other programs that aim to reduce the prevalence of obesity in children. Dr. Marilyn Lotas at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing developed a partnership with Cleveland Metropolitan School District to screen 4th and 7th grade children for hypertension and obesity. This program found 42.8% of children in Cleveland schools were overweight and obese, and 15.7% of children were hypertensive. Children who were overweight and obese were more likely to be hypertensive or pre-hypertensive than those in other weight categories.
Dr. Elaine Borowski and Dr. Leona Cuttler are both involved with Case’s Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods (PRCHN). The PRCHN has several programs aimed at improving access to healthy foods, teaching youth about nutrition and promoting physical activity to reduce childhood obesity. Their FreshLink project aims to increase access to healthy foods in urban areas and educate residents about nutrition and the benefits of healthy foods through programs with local schools, food retail establishments, community gardens, and community centers. The PRCHN recently received a $12.5 million grant to begin a seven-year project following 450 overweight and obese Cleveland Metropolitan School District students and examining the effectiveness of three different approaches to reduce childhood obesity and high blood pressure.
To download a copy of the report, click here.
To read the ODH summary of the report, click here.
To download a Schubert Center policy brief on Dr. Lotas’s program to screen children in CMSD for hyptertension and obesity, click here.
Tags: Children, Healthy Eating, Obesity
Read Across America Celebrates Dr. Seuss’s Birthday, Inspires Kids to Read
3/1/2011 2:52:28 PM
Since 1998, the National Education Association celebrated Read Across America every March 2. The date was chosen in honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday in the hopes of inspiring children to read 365 days a year. The goal of Read Across America is to motivate children to read in order to improve student achievement and create lifelong successful readers.
Promoting reading during early childhood is linked to success in a wide variety of areas once children begin school. Nobel Prize winner Dr. James Heckman, who the Schubert Center hosted in March 2010, has found that the development of early childhood skills, such as literacy skills, will impact a child’s success throughout life.
The Read Across America Website gives a variety of activities for schools and parents to do with kids to celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday and encourage reading, including bringing in guest readings, a list of good books to read with kids and making Cat in the Hat hats.
To read more about National Reading Day and find resources for educators and parents, click here.
To learn more about what you can do at home to improve your child’s literacy, click here and here.
To read more about Dr. Heckman’s work on the importance of investment in early childhood, click here.
If you are interested in learning more about child development related to reading, two Schubert Center faculty associates conduct research on reading a child development:
Dr. Lee Thompson
Dr. Barbara Lewis
- Dr. Thompson is currently conducting two research studies on development of twins. One explores on early environmental influences on reading skills in twins, while the other studies math skills in twins and their parents.
- Dr. Lewis studies a variety of genetic, medical, and neurological conditions that impact speech and language development. She is currently heading the Family Speech and Reading Study. The FSRS has followed 275 families with early childhood speech sound disorders (SSD) and found that children with SSDs are more likely to encounter challenges with reading writing and spelling later in life.
Tags: Children, Early Childhood, Education, School
The Creativity Crisis
2/25/2011 11:13:53 AM
Authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman discuss the decline in creativity among Americans in their recently published article “The Creativity Crisis” in Newsweek Magazine. Creativity is the production of something original and useful and requires divergent thinking skills (generating many ideas) and convergent thinking skills (combining those ideas for the best result). Kyung Hee Kim of the College of William and Mary analyzed the creativity scores of 300,000 children and adults over time and found that American creativity scores were on the rise until 1990 and then started to fall. The article entertains several hypotheses, from increased tv and video game time, to standardized education to explain for the fall in creativity scores in the 1990’s.
While there is no clear cause for the creativity decline researchers like James C. Kaufman of California State University, San Bernardino are finding that creativity can be taught. The article goes on to talk about progressive schools like the National Inventors Hall of Fame School in Akron, OH that are using project-based learning methods and finding that children are not only enjoying school they are mastering the demands of curriculum requirements while utilizing creative thinking and problem solving skills to learn. If finding children enjoying school wasn’t a hard enough sell for encouraging creative thinking in schools, in the first year of opening the school’s state achievement scores placed them among one of the top 3 schools in Akron, Ohio.
Despite the decline in creativity scores among children over the past 20 years, there is hope that with a better understanding of the creative process, policymakers, educators, and caregivers will be better able to foster a sense of creativity throughout a child’s development.
To read the Creativity Crisis click here
To read more about how to foster creativity click here
Listen to Po Bronson, James Kaufman, and Robert Slavin discuss issues of Creativity on NPR
If you are interested in learning more about this area, the following Schubert Center faculty associates conduct research on similar topics:
Sandra Russ, PhD
- Dr. Russ' research interests include investigating how creativity and pretend play is involved in child development and understanding the role of affect in the creative process.
Elizabeth Short, PhD
- Dr. Short's research interests include cognitive development in preschoolers and school-aged children; cognitive, metacognitive, affective, and motivational factors that impact academic achievement; and individual differences in learning.
Tags: Adolescence, Children, Development, Early Childhood, Education, School
Leaded Gasoline Responsible for Spike in Childhood Lead Exposure, Study Finds
2/22/2011 1:28:54 PM
A recent study conducted by Case Western Reserve University professors Dr. Norman Robbins, Dr. James A. Lalumandier and Dr. Richard A. Shulze found that leaded gasoline usage lead to dangerously high levels of lead exposure for children during the mid-1970s. The study, titled “Childhood Lead Exposure and Uptake in Teeth in the Cleveland Area During the Era of Leaded Gasoline”, was published in Science of the Total Environment in 2010.
The study examined lead levels through testing of tooth enamel, a more reliable method for study of past lead exposure than blood lead levels. Tooth enamel develops with layers, similar to tree rings, that can give a picture of the environment at the time of development. In comparing tooth enamel to data from Lake Erie’s core, the researchers were able to show that lead exposure for children rose and fell with levels of atmospheric lead, which usually comes from car emissions. Additionally, lead levels were higher in people who had lived in high traffic neighborhoods during their childhood. The reduction in lead exposure during the phasing-out of leaded gasoline occurred concurrently with the reduction in lead from other sources, such as paint and food cans, which may have also been a factor in the drop in the level of lead found in teeth.
Lead exposure in children can lead to various gastrointestinal, neuromuscular and neurological symptoms. Currently, lead paint is the leading source of lead exposure in children in the United States. However, leaded gasoline is still in use in some parts of South America, Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East and is used extensively in North Korea, Yemen and Afghanistan.
Dr. James Lalumandier is a Schubert Center Faculty Associate. He has previously given talks for the center on his efforts to provide local school children with free dental examinations and sealants. A policy brief on his work can be downloaded here.
To watch a video on the study, click here.
Tags: Children, Development, Neighborhoods
February is National Children's Dental Health Month
2/15/2011 2:13:36 PM
The American Dental Association has declared February National Children’s Dental Health Month. This year’s campaign includes posters reminding kids to brush and floss every day as well as a program planning guide for parents and teachers to promote kids’ oral health. Associated with National Children’s Dental Health Month is the Give Kids A Smile program, which so far this month has provided free oral health care for nearly 400,000 kids.
A recent survey from the Ohio Department of Health found that Ohio families of all income levels identify dental care as a top unmet health need for their children. Additionally, nearly 340,000 Ohio children have never visited a dentist and fifty percent of Ohio third graders have tooth decay. Poor dental health has been linked to adverse health outcomes such as respiratory infections, heart disease, obesity, preterm birth and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Schubert Center Faculty Associate and Professor in the School of Dental Medicine Dr. James Lalumandier works with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District to improve oral health of local students. The Healthy Smiles Sealant Program, a joint initiative of the Saint Luke’s Foundation, Case Western Reserve University’s School of Dental Medicine and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, provides second, third, and sixth grade students with free, in-school dental examinations and sealants on key molars. Dental School students and local dentist volunteers examined 6,000 students during the 2009 to 2010 school year.
To see more resources from the ADA to promote kids’ oral health, click here.
To learn more about Give Kids A Smile, click here.
To read an article on the importance of dental care for Ohio children, click here.
Tags: Children, Dental, Health
Schubert Center associate director weighs in on how to tell if you are too strict with your children
2/8/2011 12:15:13 PM
Schubert Center associate director Dr. Elizabeth J. Short was recently interviewed for a WebMD article on signs a parent may be too strict with their child.
In the article, Dr. Short states that, although Americans tend not to be strict enough with their children, being too strict may also lead to negative outcomes because “They are eager to please and worried about parental approval, so you end up with kids that are anxious and indecisive. Or sometimes they know there is no way they can hit the bar you have set, so they don’t even try.”
The article then provides sixteen signs that parents are being too strict with their children and examples of how parents can recognize these signs. The signs include setting too many rules, setting rules that overstep parental boundaries, not putting in time to help kids successfully follow rules, not giving children time to express their opinions, not giving kids time to play and not being warm towards children.
In addition to her role as the Schubert Center’s associate director, Dr. Short is a professor of Psychology at Case Western Reserve University. Her research is on cognitive development in preschool- and school-aged children as well as various learning disabilities. A research and policy brief on Dr. Short’s work on assessing developmental differences through play is available at the Schubert Center’s website.
Tags: Children, Family, Parenthood
We Run This City Youth Marathon Program Encourages Physical Activity
2/1/2011 10:31:21 AM
Reserve University’s Prevention Research Center for Health Neighborhoods have teamed up to help 650 Cleveland Metropolitan School District students prepare to run in the Rite-Aid Cleveland Marathon.
The program is targeted at all kids, not just athletes, and nearly 40% of this year’s participants are considered overweight. Program Director Tara Taylor has stated that, in addition to helping kids increase their physical activity, the program can help kids learn to set and achieve goals.
Starting in 2006 with just 81 middle school students, the program has grown to over 600 participating students in 2010. The program is offered for free to schools and lasts for 12-14 weeks, during which students run 25 miles with the final 1.2 run during the marathon itself. This year, YMCA staff, CMSD nurses, Case Western Reserve University students and other volunteers screened 650 students for BMI, blood pressures and a wide variety of body composition measures.
Schubert Center faculty associates Claudia Coulton, David Crampton, Dorr Dearborn, Scott Frank, and Carol Musil are also affiliated with the Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods.
Click here to listen to an NPR article with comments from Program Director Tara Taylor.
Click here to read Case Western Reserve University’s The Daily’s article on how CWRU graduate student volunteers are helping with this year’s pre-program evaluations.
Click here to visit the YMCA’s We Run This City Youth Marathon Program’s official page.
Click here to learn more about the Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods and their involvement in the program.
Tags: Children, Health, Neighborhoods, Obesity, School
Cleveland Schools Selected to Pilot New Common Core Standards
1/21/2011 10:28:20 AM
This August, Cleveland Metropolitan School Districts will be one of six test sites for the new national standards for math and English. The district, chosen as a pilot site for the Council of the Great City Schools and the American Federation of Teachers, received a $500,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop the pilot program.
Forty states, including Ohio, have adopted the Common Core State Standards, which will go into effect in 2014. The standards were developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices in an attempt to establish a shared set of educational standards nation-wide.
The Common Core for English includes essential literature for all students, research as a key part of writing education and a "staircase" approach to reading education to prepare children for college level reading by the time they graduate. For math, the Common Core provides specific standards for each grade level, including algebra in grade 8 and a new emphasis on mathematical modeling.
Click here to read a Cleveland.com blog post about Cleveland school’s participation and events related to the pilot program.
Tags: Children, Education, School
Reductions in the Recommended Level of Fluoride in Drinking Water
1/11/2011 2:42:08 PM
Reductions in the Recommended Level of Fluoride in Drinking Water
On January 7, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the first reduction in the recommended level of fluoride in drinking water in 50 years, lowering the recommended level to 0.7 parts per million. This decision is prompted in part by recent data noting an increase in the level of fluorosis, a form of enamel damage and tooth discoloration due to too much fluoride. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that in 2004, 41 percent of children ages 12 to 15 have some level of fluorosis.
Many attribute the rise in fluorosis to increasing use of multiple products containing fluoride, such as toothpaste and fluoride-containing mouthwash. The addition of fluoride in drinking water has been controversial since its inception, in 1962 when the decision was described as a step toward Communism. Few countries outside of the US add fluoride to drinking water.
Several articles about the new recommendations stress the importance of giving children under 6 no more than a pea sized amount of toothpaste and make sure they spit it out after brushing. Toothpaste with fluoride is not recommended for children under 2.
Schubert Center faculty associate James Lalumandier, DDS, MPH teaches at the School of Dental Medicine. He works with the Health Smiles Sealant program to provide sealants and oral health care to children in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. In October 2010, he gave a talk as part of the Schubert Center’s Conversations on Children in Research, Policy and Practice on how the program has increased sealant rates to 80% of all third graders in the district.
To read Cleveland.com’s article on the new recommendation, click here.
Tags: Children, Health
The Importance of Imaginative Play
1/10/2011 9:44:46 AM
Published on January 5, 2011, a recent New York Times article draws attention to the importance of imaginative play in child development. As children become increasingly scheduled with extracurricular activities and schools reduce time for play in order to prepare for tests, finding time for creative play often falls on busy parents. American children ages 8 to 18 spend 7 hours and 38 minutes a day looking at television, computer and video game screens, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Additionally, only one in five children live within walking distance of a playground or park, contributing to the rise in childhood obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The article also describes the important skills, such as impulse control, problem solving and teamwork, learned through classic games such as Simon Says and building forts. Parents can encourage creative play by providing more unstructured time and limiting screen time. The article notes the value of spaces set aside for play and the mess that comes with it, as well as toys that inspire creative play such as blocks and dress-up supplies.
Schubert Center faculty associate Sandra Russ studies the role of pretend play in child development and in child psychotherapy. “It is important to educate parents about the importance of children’s play – especially pretend play,” says Dr. Russ, “Parents should enjoy their child’s play and provide time and space for play. Children are not ‘wasting time’ when they play.”
In New York City, a recent event, called the Ultimate Block Party and supported by the National Science Foundation, attracted 50,000 people to Central Park with games such as I Spy, puzzles and sidewalk chalk. Dr. Roberta Golinkoff and Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, founders of the event, are now working to create similar events in other cities and to make the New York event an annual gathering.
Organizations such as KaBOOM! and Creative Play Plus encourage creative play. KaBOOM! helps parents identify local areas to play and provides tools for parents and community members to fundraise and build playscapes in their area. Creative Play Plus, written by several Cleveland area child educators and sponsored by Step2, provides information about the benefits of creative play and provides ideas for caregivers for inspiring creative play in children.
To read the article, visit NYTimes.com
To learn more about creative play and get ideas for engaging children in imaginative play visit Creative Play Plus.
To learn more about finding and creating accessible and safe play areas in your neighborhood visit KaBOOM!’s website.
Tags: Children, Development, Early Childhood, Family, Neighborhoods, Play, School
The Impact of Daycare on Children's Health
1/4/2011 11:46:57 AM
Many parents are apprehensive about placing their child in daycare for fear that exposure to large numbers of other children will negatively impact their child’s health. Indeed, research has repeatedly shown that children who attend daycare, and particularly large group daycare facilities, experience more frequent infections than children who remain at home.
However, a recent study from the University of Montreal provides new insight that may put parents’ minds at ease. The results of this study, published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, suggest that although children who attend large daycare centers do experience more infections while in daycare, it may be keep them healthier later in life. Researchers tracked children’s health for eight years and compared the health of the children who did and did not attend daycare both in the period when they were attending daycare and through their first years of school. They found that children who attended large daycare facilities actually experienced fewer infections when they entered school when compared to children who had not attended daycare. These data suggest that experiencing infections in the first few years of life may provide a protective effect, strengthening a children’s immune systems and making them more resilient to infections upon entering school.
To access the original study from the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, click here.
Dr. Lolita McDavid, Schubert Center Faculty Associate and a pediatrician at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, was recently featured on News Channel 5 WEWS in Cleveland. Dr. McDavid explains the results of the study and gives advice for parents on keeping their children healthy.
To watch the video of Dr. McDavid discussing the study, click here.
Tags: Children, Health, School
School Lunch Bill Provides More Funding, Healthier Choices
12/16/2010 1:19:48 PM
On Monday December 13, President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, a $4.5 billion expansion of the school lunch program. The bill adds 6 cents per reimbursed school meal, the first noninflationary increase in federal reimbursement of school lunches in more than 30 years. The increase is intended to provide funding to help schools increase the nutritional standards of federally-subsidized lunches. Additionally, the bill increases the number of children eligible for fully or partially reimbursed meals by 115,000 and streamlines the process of receiving free or reduced-price lunches.
The bill also gives the USDA the authority to set nutritional standards for all foods sold in schools, including vending machines, and requires audits every three years to ensure compliance with nutritional standards. A sample menu showing elementary school meals before and after the bill shows that meals such as pizza sticks with marinara sauce with a banana, raisins and whole milk will be changed to meals such as chef salad featuring low-fat mozzarella and grilled chicken with a whole wheat soft pretzel, cooked corn, baby carrots, a banana, skim chocolate milk and low-fat dressing. The bill also aims to source some foods in school lunches from local farms and create school gardens.
Michelle Obama has heavily supported the bill as part of her initiative to reduce childhood obesity and improve child nutrition. She released a statement saying “We can all agree that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, all children should have the basic nutrition they need to learn and grow and to pursue their dreams, because in the end, nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our children. Nothing. And our hopes for their future should drive every single decision that we make.”
Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Hunger, Nutrition and Family Farms, was a strong supporter of the bill. The director of legislative services for the Ohio School Boards Association in Colombus, Damon F. Asbury, mentioned concerns about whether the bill provides sufficient funding to offset the increased costs of implementing the new standards.
Tags: Children, Healthy Eating, Education, Obesity, Poverty, School
Hope for High School Graduation
12/2/2010 12:21:52 PM
While high school dropout rates continue at epidemic levels in American high schools, recent research suggests that change may be in sight. A new report from America’s Promise Alliance, titled, “Building a Grad Nation,” provides evidence that trends in high school graduation rates may be improving. Overall, the high school graduation rate nationwide rose from 72 percent in 2002 to 75 percent in 2008. This trend has been fueled by multiple factors, including the concurrent 13 percent decrease in the number of “dropout factory” high schools nationwide. These schools, defined by graduation rates of 60 percent or less, produce half of the nation’s dropouts each year. Also encouraging is the distribution of improvement across states. While a few states with improvement rates as high as 15 percent are in part responsible for the rising national average, more than half the states (29 in total) also reported significant improvements, and only three states experienced noticeable declines. This distribution suggests a nationwide movement toward improving education outcomes.
Ohio’s performance in the report was somewhat mixed. The state ranked 32nd out of 50 in progress toward improving high school graduation rates. The state reported a 1.5 percent increase in the high school graduation rate, bringing the rate to 79 percent in 2008. While this is slightly above the national average of 75 percent, it is still an unacceptably low graduation rate, particularly when compared to other Midwestern states (e.g. Wisconsin) which boasted a graduation rate of almost 90 percent in 2008. An encouraging trend, however, is found in Ohio’s success in improving or eliminating dropout factory high schools. Ohio, which reported a net decrease of 12 dropout schools (from 75 in 2002 to 68 in 2008), was one of the top seven states reporting significant decreases in dropout factory high schools.
Despite this trend toward improvement, however, the authors of the “Building a Grad Nation” are only cautiously optimistic, and emphasize the importance of continued efforts to improve graduation rates in successful states and increased attention to states in which dropout rates remain high.
To read more about “Building a Grad Nation,” including the original report, click here.
Tor read a recent New York Times Article discussing dropout trends, click here.
Tags: Children, Education, School
Eating Disorders Rise Among Young Children
11/30/2010 2:08:19 PM
Eating disorders, which include anorexia, bulimia, and other behavior patterns marked by extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding weight and food, continue to be a pervasive problem affecting children and youth. An estimated 0.5 percent of American women suffer from anorexia, and between one to two percent from bulimia, resulting in 0.8 to 14 percent of Americans generally having at least some of the physical and psychological symptoms of an eating disorder. These disorders can have significant and long-term effects on the physical, mental and emotional health of both the affected individual and his or her family and friends. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, and anorexia is particularly deadly. The mortality rate associated with anorexia is 12 times higher than the death rate for all causes of death for females 15 – 24 years old.
A recent report published in the journal Pediatrics suggests that not only are eating disorder rates continuing to rise, these disorders are spreading into new populations. Of particular concern is the significant increase in eating disorders for children under the age of 12; hospitalizations for eating disorders for this age group have jumped by 119 percent in recent years. Also of concern are the increasing rates of eating disorder among boys, minority populations and individuals from a lower socioeconomic background, all groups that have previously had low rates of eating disorders. These data suggest the need for more intensive research into both the etiology and treatment of eating disorders.
Also of note, the report suggests an increase in eating disorders both among immigrant populations in the United States and in other non-Western countries. Dr. Eileen Anderson-Fye, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at CWRU and a Schubert Center Faculty Associate, conducts research examining the phenomenon of eating disorders in other cultural contexts. Her work focuses on the role of culture in mediating notions of body image and norms around food and eating, specifically in Belize. Dr. Anderson-Fye’s work also addresses how body image and eating may change in the context of globalization, a process which is itself associated with increased rates of eating disorders. Click here to learn more about Dr. Anderson-Fye’s work.
To learn more about recent trends in eating disorder rates, access the original article in Pediatrics by clicking here.
To read a summary of the journal article, click here.
Tags: Adolescence, Children, Healthy Eating, Mental Health
Bed Rest: Good for Moms and Babies?
11/23/2010 2:07:43 PM
Preterm birth is a pervasive and persistent maternal and child health concern in developed countries. In the United States in particular, the rate of preterm birth has been rising, reaching 12.5% in 2005. This is significantly higher than other developed countries–the rate of preterm birth in European countries is only 5–7%. Preterm birth compromises the health of infants, putting him or her at high risk of early death. In 2005, infants born preterm accounted for 68.6% of all deaths of infants under one year of age.
Despite these concerning statistics, methods for prevention of preterm birth are not well understood. The most common strategies include prescribing bed rest and/or activity restriction for antepartum mothers at risk for preterm delivery. Though this strategy is widely used, however, the risks and benefits of this practice are still under research.
Dr. Judith Maloni, professor in the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at CWRU, has been working with women on bed rest for over twenty years. She has recently published a critical review of the existing researcher examining the risks and benefits of bed rest for the health of both pregnant women and their infants. This review suggests that there is not sufficient scientific evidence that bed rest improves child outcomes. Furthermore, the article documents significant evidence of negative outcomes of bed rest for the mother, including bone density loss, muscle atrophy and depression. These data suggest that bed rest needs to be reexamined as a strategy for preventing preterm birth. Furthermore, Dr. Maloni advocates for the use of alternative strategies to prevent preterm birth, such as home-based care, for which there is scientific evidence to support efficacy.
To read Dr. Maloni’s recent article published in Biological Research for Nursing, click here.
To read a recent press release summarizing Dr. Maloni’s research, click here.
Tags: Children, Health, Infancy
Research on Childhood Obesity at CWRU
11/16/2010 8:55:00 AM
Childhood obesity is a widespread problem affecting children’s health. Obesity during childhood is associated with a range of health problems including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, joint problems and sleep apnea. In addition, obese children are at greater risk for becoming obese adults, which affects their long-term health.
In Cleveland, approximately 40 percent of children are overweight or obese, a rate significantly higher than the national average, estimated at around 30 percent. These rates have been rising in recent years, despite increasing public awareness of the problem. This trend is due, at least in part, to the lack of obesity treatment interventions that are effective over the long term. While clinical interventions may be effective in treating obesity over the short term, their impact is rarely sustainable once the intervention is complete.
Schubert Center Faculty Associate Dr. Leona Cuttler
is on the front lines of the fight against childhood obesity. Cleveland has been chosen as one of four sites in the NIH-sponsored Childhood Obesity Prevention and Treatment Research initiative. Dr. Cuttler, together with her colleagues at CWRU and University Hospitals, will be collaborating with other local partners to recruit and follow more than 400 families to assess the effectiveness of various treatment interventions for obesity. The three treatment interventions include:
- “Usual Care,” a program including education on healthy lifestyles that will be used as a control group,
- “HealthyChange,” a program of additional interventions targeting variables associated with obesity such as TV watching and sleep habits,
- “SystemChange,” an even more intensive intervention designed to reconfigure the microdynamics of the family environment by mapping the families' daily behaviors and targeting unhealthy patterns.
Each family will receive one of these three intervention programs. The researchers will follow the families throughout the six month intervention and a six month follow-up period in order to determine the relative effectiveness of the different interventions. The most success intervention could provide a new model for treating childhood obesity nationally.
Tags: Children, Healthy Eating, Family, Health, Obesity
Patterns of Lead Exposure in Childhood
11/10/2010 1:10:51 PM
Though the incidence is declining, lead exposure remains one of the most common preventable poisonings affecting children. Exposure to lead has been linked to a number of neurological, behavioral, and developmental problems both in childhood and in later life. Children who experience lead exposure early in life often have difficulties with inattentiveness and hyperactivity, which can affect their performance in school and, ultimately, their educational achievement over the long term.
While almost all children are exposed to at least small amounts of lead, a child’s individual risk of exposure to harmful amounts of lead – particularly in urban areas – is closely linked to his or her neighborhood and socioeconomic status. Recent data published by researchers working in Rhode Island illustrates the importance of neighborhood in risk for lead exposure. The researchers mapped statewide data on incidence of childhood lead poisoning taken over a 12-year period. They found that in some census blocks, the risk for lead poisoning was almost 50 percent higher than in others. The highest rate of lead poisoning occurred in the state’s lowest income communities, in which many families also still live in older housing that is more likely to contain lead-based paint. Researchers hope that these findings may be used to improve the efficacy of clean-up efforts in the state.
Click here to read the Science Daily article on this research.
Lead poisoning is also a serious public health concern in Cleveland. As recently as 2007, rates of childhood lead poisoning were 16% in Cuyahoga County, 22% in Cleveland and 24% in East Cleveland. While these numbers are still unacceptably high, they have been declining in the last decade. This decline may be attributed in part to public health efforts to clean up lead-based paint, but a multidisciplinary team of researchers at CWRU, including Schubert Center Faculty Associate Dr. James Lalumandier, has offered an alternative explanation. A chemical analysis of the layers of teeth extracted from Cleveland residents has shown that lead levels are lower in the layers that were formed in later years. Furthermore, researchers estimate that this decline in lead levels in teeth occurred simultaneously with the decline in leaded gasoline use in the United States as a whole. This research provides a more comprehensive explanation for the declining levels of lead poisoning nationally. The researchers emphasize, however, that these findings do not undermine the importance of improving housing standards, including removal of lead-based paint, which is still essential to preventing childhood lead poisoning.
Click here to read a more detailed summary of the work of Dr. Lalumandier and colleagues.
Tags: Children, Development, Early Childhood, Health, Neighborhoods, Poverty
The Role of Video Games in Child Development
10/29/2010 1:47:47 PM
Research on video game use by children has illustrated the potential for serious harmful effects of overuse, including increased hostility and aggressive behaviors as well as decreased time spent on physical activity, interaction with family and completing schoolwork. While these negative effects are a real concern for parents, new research is illustrating the potential for video games to be used to improve children’s health and development. Research has suggested that playing video games may actually enhance children’s development of visual cognition by improving mental rotation skills and visual and spatial memory. Enhanced visual cognition may have a variety of benefits – further research indicates that surgeons who regularly played video games as children make significantly fewer errors in the operating room than other surgeons. When the surgeons were placed in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine and given certain game-like tasks, it appeared that those who regularly played video games were able to access and utilize an entirely different part of the brain to complete these tasks. Though the full implications of such findings warrant further examination, they provide an interesting insight the effects of video games – and the environment as a whole – on a child’s developing brain.
Research also suggests that video games have the potential to provide an effective alternative form of education, and some schools have begun to incorporate video games as a teaching tool in the classroom. Quest To Learn, a new public middle school in New York City, centers its curriculum on the use of visual media, and video games in particular, as learning spaces for educating children. The school, which takes a “systems” approach to learning, uses technology as a tool for teaching standard middle-school curriculum, with additional classes on video game design. The “game-like” lessons are intended both to hold children’s attention and to teach them to apply knowledge on a certain topic (e.g. fractions) to other domains of thinking and learning.
To watch a New York Times video on Quest To Learn, click here.
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University are also integrating technology, games, and child development. Dr. Kiju Lee, Schubert Center Faculty Associate and Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, has been working with colleagues to develop sensor-integrated geometric blocks (SIG-Blocks), a technologically improved version of the basic geometric blocks children have been playing with for decades. While geometric blocks are already a commonly-used tool for assessing children’s cognitive and learning processes, SIG-blocks provide automated, computerized feedback mechanism for measuring fine motor skills and indicators of cognitive growth. These data may be used by parents and health professional to monitor an individual child’s development, and to conduct research to enhance our understand human cognitive development.
Tags: Children, Development, Education, Health, Play, School
The Impact of Prenatal Exposure on Later Development
10/22/2010 7:20:03 AM
Scientific research continues to provide evidence that the prenatal stage of human development can have significant effects on health and development in subsequent life stages. Exposure to toxic substances such as lead, alcohol, cocaine and other drugs has been linked to various problems, including low birth weight, delays in cognitive and neurological development, and later behavioral and learning disorders. These developmental disorders have a significant impact on not only the child, but also the family and community. Schubert Center Faculty Associates Dr. Maureen Hack and Dr. Lynn Singer are among a number of researchers conducting longitudinal research with low birth weight infants, many with a history of prenatal exposure to toxic substances, to examine the effects of these early exposure infants’ biological, psychological and behavioral development throughout their lives.
While there is clear evidence that fetal exposure may impact later development, the relationship is complex and warrants further investigation. For example, research has established a relatively clear connection between alcohol use during pregnancy and developmental disorders in childhood. However, a recent article published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health suggests that light alcohol use during pregnancy does not appear to negatively impact development. While alcohol use during pregnancy clearly can be detrimental, the mechanisms through which alcohol impacts development is still being explored.
To read more about Dr. Hack’s and Dr. Singer’s ongoing research projects, access the Schubert Center for Child Studies Policy Briefs :
The impact of prenatal exposures, both positive and negative, are also subject of a new popular book exploring the effects of various fetal exposures, including mother’s diet, nutrition, stress, trauma and drug exposure, on human development. In Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives, author Annie Murphy Paul provides a personal account of her own attempts to sift through the growing body of scientific literature examining prenatal exposure as she makes decisions as an expectant mother. Though not intended as a scientific review of the literature on the topic, Paul provides an engaging survey of topics currently under investigation and insight into the ways in which these findings may shape parental behavior.
Tags: Children, Development, Early Childhood, Health, Infancy, Low Birth Weight, Parenthood
Bullying in Northeast Ohio
10/14/2010 7:01:40 AM
Bullying is a persistent and pervasive problem affecting children and adolescent from preschool through college. Though recent data suggest that bullying has declined slightly in recent years, 38 percent of students nationwide still report either bullying others or having been bullied in their lifetime. In Northeast Ohio, bullying rates reach as high as 41 percent, exceeding the national average. Perhaps of even greater concern, students who are bullied in Northeast Ohio appear to report their harassers to adults less frequently. Nationwide, 36 percent of children bullied report having told an adult, while only 23 percent of children bullied in Northeast Ohio did so.
These troubling statistics have spurred a number of investigations examining the steps schools and families are taking to address bullying. WKSU, the public radio station of Kent State University, recently aired a series titled “Mean Kids,’ examining the problem of bullying in Northeast Ohio, with a focus on the concerning case of Mentor High School. The school boasts an internationally recognized anti-bullying program, but despite these efforts, between 2005 and 2008, five Mentor High School students have committed suicide, all allegedly, “bullied to death.”
Ohio does have anti-bullying laws designed to combat these behaviors in schools, but identifying and prosecuting bullies is a difficult process. This process is further complicated by the increasing use of technology as a medium for bullying. Bullies no longer “wait in the ally with a baseball bat,” but take advantage of cell phones and internet access to harass their victims. The tragic consequences of this trend were recently illustrated by a Rutgers University freshman’s suicide, which he committed after his intimate encounter with another student was broadcast over the internet, allegedly by his roommate and another acquaintance. This is only one of many ways in which bullies may use technology to harass their victims.
This trend also makes bullying particularly difficult to identify and address. Cyberspace may allow bullies to act anonymously, and both computers and cell phones allow for bullying of schoolmates outside of the school environment. As a result, schools have difficultly determining when and how to intervene when bullying is discovered. Though a number of anti-bullying programs are currently used to combat bullying in schools, it appears that many schools still lack the mechanisms for addressing the serious problem of bullying.
Tags: Bullying, Children, Education, School
The Importance of Oral Health
9/30/2010 1:23:51 PM
This September, Cleveland public radio, WCPN Ideastream, is broadcasting a special program examining the importance of oral health to overall systemic health, and the many barriers to dental health care access individuals face.
The series, entitled, “Watch Your Mouth,” features interviews with leading dental professionals in the Cleveland area, including many from our own CWRU School of Dental Medicine. Dr. Nabil Bissada of CWRU highlights the connections between gum disease, heart disease, diabetes, and even premature birth to emphasize the importance of oral health to overall health. Oral infections provide easy access for disease-causing bacteria to enter the body, and sustained oral inflammation can also have adverse effects on the heart, liver, pancreas and joints.
Oral health is a particularly important issue to address in childhood. Dr. Gerald Feretti, also a professor at CWRU, discusses the high rates of oral health problems in children. Early childhood tooth decay, he notes, is the number one chronic infection in childhood, occurring even more frequently than asthma or ear infections. Dr. Feretti emphasizes that poor oral health habits in childhood lead to poor oral and systemic health through adulthood.
In October, the Schubert Center for Child Studies is also addressing the issue of oral health for children. Dr. James Lalumandier, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Community Dentistry at CWRU and a Schubert Center Faculty Associate, will be presenting a decade of work helping to improve the oral health of children in Cleveland. The Healthy Smiles Dental Sealant Program, founded by Dr. Lalumandier, works to provide preventive dental health services to children in low-income communities in Cleveland. At the Center’s October Conversation on Children in Research, Policy, and Practice, Dr. Lalumandier will discuss this work and suggest ways in which policy could be used to improve children’s oral health.
To listen to WCPN’s “Watch Your Mouth,” click here.
To view details of Dr. Lalumandier’s lecture, click here
To view Dr. Lalumandier’s Faculty Associate profile, click here.
Tags: Children, Development, Early Childhood
Effects of Health Care Reform on Children and Adolescents
9/23/2010 7:49:15 AM
The New York Times article “For Many, Health Care Relief Begins Today,” marks the first round of amendments to the health care system, enacted September 23rd, 2010, as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). A number of the PPACA provisions that go into effect on this date have important implications for health care access for children and adolescents.
First, a new provision in the PPACA requires group health plans and health insurers issuing group or individual policies to extend coverage until dependents reach age 26. This provision will allow children to stay on their parents’ insurance plan for a longer period of time. This change could have a significant impact on the large numbers of adolescents and young adults who are currently uninsured.
Second, the patients' “Bill of Rights” takes effect. These provisions eliminate most annual and lifetime limits on insurance coverage, prohibit private insurers from refusing any individual (including children) coverage based on a pre-existing condition, and prevent health plans from dropping coverage when a child or adult becomes ill. These provisions will relieve the burden of health care costs on the chronically ill of any age, including parents of chronically ill children, many of whom are currently forced to purchase an expensive individual insurance policy for a sick child.
Finally, new provisions require private insurers to cover routine preventive services (e.g. physical examination, immunizations, hearing and vision screening and developmental screening) without any cost-sharing. This provision has the potential to greatly improve access to prevention and screening for children and adults alike.
These provisions represent only a small sample of the provisions within the PPACA that will impact children and adolescents. The Center for Adolescent Health and the Law, a nonprofit organization working to promote the health of youth and their access to comprehensive health care, publishes policy briefs containing cogent analysis of the effects of health care policy on youth. For more information on the impact of these and other aspects of the new health care reform laws on youth, please see their most recent publication:
Tags: Adolescence, Children, Health Insurance
Antipsychotic Drugs for Children
9/13/2010 12:31:58 PM
The New York Times has published a story describing one young child’s experience with psychotic drugs and the potential dangers these drugs may pose for children. Kyle Warren, now age six, was first prescribed antipsychotic drugs when he was only 18 months old. His mother, overwhelmed by the child’s severe temper tantrums, sought help from her pediatrician. This was the beginning of a string of diagnoses with various mental illnesses from different physicians who prescribed a range of drugs, often at one time. Though Kyle has since been weaned off these drugs and is now receiving coordinated care, his case represents a dangerous trend in the treatment of children’s mental health.
As Dr. Robert Findling, professor of psychiatry at CWRU’s School of Medicine notes in a recent interview posted on Medscape, the number of antipsychotics prescribed to children has been increasing in recent years. This trend is alarming because many antipsychotic drugs have not been tested on children, and therefore their effects are unknown. Furthermore, the scarcity of child psychiatrists in the medical system means that treating children with symptoms of mental illness is often left to primary care physicians, who may not have the expertise needed to precisely assess and treat their young patient’s mental illness.
The question of whether children should be prescribed antipsychotics – and by whom – must be answered using systematic research assessing the effects of these drugs on children. Unfortunately, this research is still ongoing and answers are not yet available for children and families currently in need of mental health services.
Tags: Children, Mental Health
Nutrition Interventions in Cleveland
8/20/2010 11:29:39 AM
Jessica Kelley-Moore, PhD and Schubert Center Associate Elaine Borawski, PhD are leading the way in building better opportunities for Cleveland community members to make healthy choices when eating. Their work on the Corner Store Project has improved the accessibility of fresh produce for members of the Cleveland community. The pilot Cleveland Corner Store Project, completed in the summer of 2009, and served as valuable evidence to support expanded efforts in this and other areas of neighborhood health. Recently, the School of Medicine went after and won a prized grant from the CDC to launch the Case Western Reserve University Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods (PRCHN).
“Increasing Access to Healthy Foods in Urban Neighborhoods” is the first major research effort—the core project—for the PRCHN. “The kick-off project takes aim at the problem of poor nutrition and its adverse health effects, which disproportionately plague those in underserved urban communities,” says Borawski, who is director of the School of Medicine’s Center for Health Promotion Research and co-director and principal investigator of the PRCHN.
Of the scope of the new project, Kelley-Moore, says, “Multiply the corner store project by four. Add schools, community gardens and community centers as points of impact with corner stores, and you have an idea of the promise of this Healthy Neighborhoods core project.”
To read an article about Drs. Kelley-Moore and Borawski's research click here
To read more about health food initiatives in Cleveland and nationwide:
Center for Health Promotion Research at Case Western Reserve University
The Senate passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act on August 6, 2010, a bill that provides an additional $4.5 billion over 10 years to federal child nutrition programs including school lunch. If signed into law, it will be the first time that the federal government has increased funding for the programs in 30 years.
Tags: Adolescence, Children, Development, Early Childhood, Healthy Eating, Health Insurance, Obesity
New research finds shared risk factors and predictors of becoming a bully, victim, or both
7/14/2010 10:45:53 AM
A press release by the American Psychological Association highlights recently published research by Clayton Cook, PhD and colleagues examining predictors for those at risk becoming bullies, victims, or both. The major finding of the study was that both the bullies and victims shared deficits in problem solving abilities and often had academic difficulties. Second, the authors found that age effected how much bullies and victims acted out their aggressions or internalized their feelings. Overall they found that younger bullies tend to be more defiant, aggressive and disruptive, whereas older bullies were more withdrawn, depressed and anxious. Moreover, older bullies were more bothered by rejection and being unpopular. In looking at the characteristics of victims, the researchers found that older victims suffered from depression and anxiety more than younger victims.
The authors advocate that that it may be more promising to develop interventions that target the behaviors and the environments that are putting these young people at risk of becoming bullies and/or victims. In particular, Cook suggests: “Intervene with the parents, peers and schools simultaneously. Behavioral parent training could be used in the home while building good peer relationship and problem-solving skills could be offered in the schools, along with academic help for those having troubling in this area.”
Click here to read the press release discussing this article
Click here to read the full text of the article
Article: "Predictors of Bullying and Victimization in Childhood and Adolescence: A Meta-analytic Investigation," Clayton R. Cook, PhD, Louisiana State University; Kirk R. William, PhD, Nancy G. Guerra, EdD, Tia E. Kim, PhD, and Shelly Sadek, MA, University of California, Riverside; School Psychology Quarterly, Vol. 25, No.2.
If you are interested in learning more about this area, the following Schubert Center faculty associates conduct research on similar topics:
- Interests include translating developmental models into prevention and intervention programs for at-risk youth; development and treatment of conduct problems and substance use in youth
- Research interests include child and family interventions; social/behavioral interventions for youth. Dr. Fischer is co-director of Center for Urban Poverty and Community Development
- Research interests include youth violence and adolescent behavior problems
Tags: Adolescence, Bullying, Children, School
Is Moving a Lot Bad for Kids?
6/28/2010 11:12:01 AM
Drs. Oishi and Schimmack published an interesting article this month in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology concerning the long-term impact of children who moved frequently. This study found that introverted children were at greater risk of having more difficulties developing quality social relationships, while extroverted children tended to have the psychological resources to handle the distress of moving and creating new social bonds. Research such as this can potentially help families and school districts intervene more effectively as children transition to a new residence.
Read about this study in the Washington Post
Tags: Children, Development, School
The End of the Best Friend
6/28/2010 10:48:39 AM
A recent article in the New York Times discussed an interesting trend of school officials discouraging best-friend bonds in an effort to curb exclusivity and bullying. While some may see the benefits of encouraging children to develop multiple relationships, nothing compares to the social and emotional benefits of a forming close, intimate relationships. When children have people to call their best friend, they are able to develop the emotional capacity and communication skills needed to manage and maintain close relationships through difficult circumstances. Moreover, children then develop the confidence and ability to form healthy adult relationships.
Click here to read the article
Tags: Bullying, Children, Development, Education
Cartoon Characters Attract Children to Junk Food
6/28/2010 10:40:39 AM
According to a new study, between fifty and fifty-five percent of children say that food from a package decorated with a cartoon character tastes better than the same exact food from a plain package. The use of cartoon characters to sell products to children is not new. This study also questions the role of emotions when marketing products to children. This study concludes with a call for new research examining the potential of using characters to market healthy vegetables and fruits to children.
Click here to read the article
Tags: Children, Healthy Eating