|June 11, 2015||Posted by M. P. under Children and Family, Health, Juvenile Delinquency, Policy, Research, Youth Development||
According to 2011 data, 12.5 percent of children under the age of 18 are abused or neglected in the United States each year. A Facts on Youth brief from the Center for Health and Justice at TASC cites a study published in JAMA Pediatrics that found confirmed maltreatment for 1 in 8 youth, with nearly 6 percent of cases (just less than half of confirmed reports) involving children ages 5 and under. The brief also notes that studies of child abuse and maltreatment that rely on self-reports rather than substantiated reports indicate a rate of up to 40 percent.
The Child Trends brief Preventing Violence: Understanding and addressing determinants of youth violence in the United States reviewed relevant research on interventions and policy approaches to reducing youth violence, with an emphasis on individual, family and school/community factors. This review identified several predictors of violence, including domestic violence, dysfunctional parenting, gun availability, low self-control, and lack of connectedness to school. Child maltreatment, however, was a strong predictor of nearly every type of violence. The prevention of child abuse and provision of interventions to address the impact of such trauma appear to be critical actions in reducing the potential of future violence. That said, although child maltreatment is a risk factor for criminal behavior, the longer term negative effects of that experience may be offset or amplified by other life events. Completing high school/getting a GED and getting married were two factors identified by a research team at the Social Development Research Group at the University of Washington as having a positive impact on a person’s life, thus reducing the power of the relationship between the maltreatment and future high risk behaviors. A history of maltreatment combined with additional risk factors, such as poverty, increases the likelihood of criminal behavior.
As safety and health are essential factors in optimal child development, and may affect a multitude of life outcomes, new strategies have emerged to better identify and “triage” high-risk situations. States are turning to the big data playbook to assist in investigations of abuse and maltreatment, using predictive analysis to help prioritize reports and better provide preventive services. Information such as family history, school reports and other administrative data, plus case officer knowledge, gives child welfare decision-makers more (if not necessarily better) data to guide the use of resources for the protection of children. Along with Connecticut, Florida, and Los Angeles County, Allegheny County here in western Pennsylvania is utilizing predictive analytics in an effort to reduce child maltreatment, abuse, and fatalities. For more information on how predictive analysis is being used in child welfare, see Who will Seize the Child Abuse Prediction Market by Darian Woods and Checklists, Big Data and the Virtues of Human Judgement by Holden Slattery, both in The Chronicle of Social Change.
|May 12, 2015||Posted by M. P. under Behavorial Health, Children and Family, Drug and Alcohol, Health, Research||
Tobacco marketing reaches children as young as 5 years old influencing their attitudes about smoking and smokers, according to a study of children in Brazil, China, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Russia recently published in the journal Child: Care, Health & Development. The research study, led by Dr. Dina Borzekowski, research professor in the Department of Behavioral and Community Health at the University of Maryland adds to her body of work on the impact of media on children’s health.
The research team assessed the children’s level of familiarity with tobacco branding, their intention to smoke in the future, and their overall exposure to media. Among 5-and-6-year-old children in the six counties, nearly 68 percent were able to identify one tobacco logo and more than 25 percent could identify two or more. Higher levels of media exposure were not necessarily associated with better knowledge of tobacco brands. However, in three of the sample countries the presence of an adult in the home was also not a significant factor in brand knowledge, suggesting that advertising plays a role in the exposure of very young children to tobacco brands and smoking behavior.
Although tobacco companies face weaker regulations overseas, they spent $9.6 billion on advertising in the United States in 2012. A U.S. Surgeon General’s report suggests that these companies continue to target marketing to American adolescents, portraying smoking or smokeless tobacco use as a desirable behavior. Considering the approximately 3.5 middle and high school students who used tobacco in 2012, it’s working.
Extensive information about tobacco marketing and promotion is available at the Stanford Research Into the Impact of Advertising (SRITA) webpage.
Study Citation: Pires, P. P., Ribas, R. C., Borzekowski, D. L. G. (2015). Attitudes and intentions to smoke: a study of young Brazilian children. Child: Care, Health and Development.1365-2214 http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cch.12240
|April 16, 2015||Posted by M. P. under Health, Philanthropy, Research||
This week is National Volunteer Week, a program that began in 1974 by Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service. In 2013, 62.6 million volunteers averaged 32 hours of service each in the United States, with fundraising (25 percent) and the collection/distribution of food (24 percent) ranking as the most popular volunteer activities.
Besides benefiting the organizations and communities receiving these free services – that range from general labor, to tutoring and mentoring youth – volunteerism brings positive outcomes to those who serve. Research from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) indicated a link between volunteering and securing employment, finding that unemployed volunteers were 27 percent more likely to find work than their peers who do not volunteer. A study by UnitedHealth Group and Optum Institute found that participants who volunteered in the last year reported better moods, better health and lower stress levels.
Pennsylvania ranks 26th among the 50 states and Washington, DC with nearly 27 percent of residents volunteering in 2013 – providing over $7.5 billion in service. Just under 70 percent of residents are involved in “informal volunteering,” such as doing errands for neighbors or watching children for a friend. In Pittsburgh during the same time period, 27.7 percent of residents volunteered, putting Pittsburgh in the top half (19th) of the largest 51 Metropolitan Statistical Areas.
Haven’t been able to volunteer this week but looking for an opportunity to get involved? Check out these links to review the volunteer needs at The Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, The United Way of Allegheny County, The Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh, and Catholic Charities. A few months ago, Kidsburgh posted an article on places to volunteer as a family. It can be as easy as calling a favorite nonprofit or your local civic organization and asking if they need any help with spring cleanup or an upcoming event. Volunteering is GOOD for you!
|March 19, 2015||Posted by M. P. under Health, Research, Uncategorized||
Although the United States leads the world in obesity rates (don’t worry, the world is catching up) a recent study indicates that the majority of Americans do care about their health and put effort into improving or maintaining it. Data from a NPR/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health survey conducted last fall indicate that just over 60 percent of those polled were concerned with their health and 74 percent reported exercising or participating in vigorous activity at least a few times a week (29 percent reported exercising every day). However, just 16 percent were currently dieting to lose weight.
Also from the March 2015 brief What Shapes Health, approximately 50 percent of Americans feel they have control over their own health, but proportions vary by demographic characteristics. For example, respondents who made more than $50,000 a year were twice as likely to feel that they had control over their health than their peers earning less (28 percent compared to 13 percent). Far more respondents with a college degree (27 percent) reported having control over their health compared to those with a high school diploma or less (15 percent). Also, respondents in fair or poor health, or from a household making less than $25,000 a year, had the most concern for their own future health.
Respondents did not identify a single cause of American health problems, rather the responses clustered at the top included a lack of access to high quality care (42 percent), personal behavior (40 percent), and virus/bacteria (40 percent). The most popular responses regarding what could be done to improve health were also varied – increasing access to affordable, healthy food (57 percent), reducing illegal drug use (54 percent), reducing pollution and increasing access to high quality health care (both at 52 percent).