Archive | April, 2014

Southern Education Foundation report: Juvenile justice education programs do more harm than good

17 Apr

Plessy v. Ferguson established the principle of “separate but equal” in race issues. Brown v. Board of Education which overturned the principle of “separate but equal.” would not have been necessary, but for Plessy. See also, the history of Brown v. Board of Education

If one believes that all children, regardless of that child’s status have a right to a good basic education and that society must fund and implement policies, which support this principle. Then, one must discuss the issue of equity in education. Because of the segregation, which resulted after Plessy, most folks focus their analysis of Brown almost solely on race. The issue of equity was just as important. The equity issue was explained in terms of unequal resources and unequal access to education.

Alyssa Morones reported in the Education Week article, Juvenile-Justice System Not Meeting Educational Needs, Report Says:

Many of the teenagers who enter the juvenile-justice system with anger problems, learning disabilities, and academic challenges receive little or no special help for those issues, and consequently fall further behind in school, a report released Thursday concludes.
“Way too many kids enter the juvenile-justice system, they don’t do particularly well from an education standpoint while they’re there, and way too few kids make successful transitions out,” said Kent McGuire, the president and CEO of the Atlanta-based Southern Education Foundation, which produced the report, “Just Learning: The Imperative to Transform Juvenile Justice Systems Into Effective Educational Systems.”
The report characterizes the problems plaguing the juvenile-justice system as “systemic.” It found a lack of timely, accurate assessments of the needs of students entering the system, little coordination between learning and teaching during a student’s stay, and inconsistency in curricula. Many of the teaching methods were also inappropriate, outdated, or inadequate, and little or no educational technology was used.
“We need to help find ways to create structures and dramatically change how schools and principals and teachers [in the juvenile-justice system] are held accountable,” said David Domenici, the executive director of the Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings, in Washington.
“We have kids who have not done well in school, but, more or less, they have to come every day. They’re a captive audience,” he said. “We can transform their perspective on school. But the reality is, education has been forgotten [in juvenile-justice systems].”
On any given day, 70,000 students are in custody in juvenile-justice systems across the country. Nearly two-thirds of those young people are either African-American or Hispanic, and an even higher percentage are male. Those systems, though, may be doing more educational harm than good, according to the report.

Here is the press release from the Southern Education Foundation:

Juvenile Justice Education Programs in the United States and Across the South Do More Harm Than Good
ATLANTA-April 17, 2014-With awareness growing that schools are disciplining and suspending minority students at alarming rates, a report released today by the Southern Education Foundation (SEF) provides powerful evidence that young people placed in the juvenile justice system-predominately minority males incarcerated for minor offenses-are receiving a substandard education.

The report-Just Learning: The Imperative to Transform Juvenile Justice Systems into Effective Educational Systems-argues that education for the 70,000 students in custody on any given day is setting them even further back in their ability to turn their lives around.

Drawing upon the most recently available data from the nation’s largest database on teaching and learning in juvenile justice systems, the report finds that the quality of the learning programs for incarcerated youth have had “little positive, enduring impact on the educational achievement of most children and youth in state custody.”

In 2009, for example, most “longer-term” students (those enrolled for 90 days or more) whose progress was documented failed to make any significant improvement in learning and academic achievement. Incarcerated youth in smaller facilities closer to their local communities actually made less progress than students enrolled in state systems. That was particularly true in the 15 Southern states, where the proportion of students enrolled in local facilities increased from 21 percent of all incarcerated students in 2007 to almost 60 percent in 2011. Part of the problem, the report says, is that the programs, which serve youth with serious learning and emotional problems, provide young people with limited supports.

Taken as a whole, the report found that effects of juvenile justice programs are “profound and crippling,” and set young people back when they should be turning lives around, according to the report.

An ‘Invisible Population’
“We conducted this study to get a clear look at what happens to a truly invisible population,” says Steve Suitts, vice president of the Southern Education Foundation and author of the study. “The juvenile justice education programs that serve hundreds of thousands of students are characterized by low expectations, inadequate supports to address student needs, and ineffective instruction and technology. Students come out of the juvenile justice system in worse shape than when they entered, struggling to return to school or get their lives back on track.”

While some studies show that as many as 70 to 80 percent of young people released from residential correctional facilities will return to jail after two or three years, Just Learning notes that this is not inevitable. “Because effective education in the juvenile justice system helps to reduce recidivism and the number of youth who are in need of custody in the future, it can reduce the need and cost of future placement in juvenile justice facilities,” the report says.

Savings from Reducing Recidivism
According to the report, juvenile justice programs that help prevent young people from becoming re-offenders could save society about $3.9 million per youth.

“The institutionalization of hundreds of thousands of young people is a detriment to their future and to society’s interests,” says Kent McGuire, president of the Southern Education Foundation. “It is up to states to ensure that students in custody leave with the skills that can help them be independent and self-sustaining.”

Emulating Effective Models
The report says that education in juvenile justice programs can be successful. It cites programs-such as the Maya Angelou Academy in Washington, D.C.-that use teaching and learning approaches that have proven to be effective for many high-risk students and in the general population. The report also highlights research on an innovative educational program in Chicago demonstrating that cognitive behavior therapy resulted in a 44 percent reduction in violent crime arrests among participants during the program, as well as gains in schooling, measured by days in attendance, GPA, and school persistence.

To ensure that youth leaving the juvenile justice system have the skills and education they need to reenter school, find jobs, and become productive members of society, the report urges that states:
* Re-organize programs so that they are designed and operated to advance the teaching and learning of students.
* Set and apply the same educational standards that exist for all students in a state to the schools and educational programs in the juvenile justice system.
* Establish effective and timely methods of testing and reporting on the educational status and progress of every child and youth in the juvenile justice system.
* Develop and implement an individual educational plan and learning strategy-including special education, developmental services, academic motivation and persistence, and meta-cognition-to guide the instruction and services of every student in the juvenile justice system.
* Establish systems of coordination and cooperation to provide a seamless transition of students from and back into public schools.
* Create and maintain data systems to measure institutional and system-wide educational progress and identify areas in need of improvement.

Read the summary and the full report.
Just Learning: Executive Summary

Just Learning:The Imperative to Transform Juvenile Justice System Into Effective Educational Systems

Kids Count Data Center has statistics about the number of children in detention centers.

According to the report, Youth residing in juvenile detention and correctional facilities:
Location Data Type 2001 2003 2006 2007 2010
United States Number 104,219 96,531 92,721 86,814 70,792

Rate 335 306 295 278 225
A change is underway in out nation’s approach to dealing with young people who get in trouble with the law. Although the United States still leads the industrialized world in the rate at which it locks up young people, the youth confinement rate in the US is rapidly declining.
Read Reducing Youth Incarceration in the United States to learn more.


Although, the number of children in detention was declining as of the date of this report, these children must have their needs addressed and the Southern Education Foundation report indicates that that is not happening.

3rd world America: Many young people headed for life on the dole

The Civil Rights Project report: Segregation in education

Study: Poverty affects education attainment

Center for American Progress report: Disparity in education spending for education of children of color

Education funding lawsuits against states on the rise

3rd world America: The link between poverty and education

Race, class, and education in America
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Canadian study: Teens who have suffered a concussion at higher risk for bullying and suicide

16 Apr

Kids Health has some great information about concussions at their site:

What Is a Concussion and What Causes It?
The brain is made of soft tissue and is cushioned by spinal fluid. It is encased in the hard, protective skull. When a person gets a head injury, the brain can move around inside the skull and even bang against it. This can lead to bruising of the brain, tearing of blood vessels, and injury to the nerves. When this happens, a person can get a concussion — a temporary loss of normal brain function.
Most people with concussions recover just fine with appropriate treatment. But it’s important to take proper steps if you suspect a concussion because it can be serious.
Concussions and other brain injuries are fairly common. About every 21 seconds, someone in the United States has a serious brain injury. One of the most common reasons people get concussions is through a sports injury. High-contact sports such as football, boxing, and hockey pose a higher risk of head injury, even with the use of protective headgear.
People can also get concussions from falls, car accidents, bike and blading mishaps, and physical violence, such as fighting. Guys are more likely to get concussions than girls. However, in certain sports, like soccer, girls have a higher potential for concussion.
See, Update: Don’t ignore concussions

Bryan Toporek reported in the Education Week article, Once-Concussed Teenagers Found to Be at Higher Risk for Bullying, Suicide:

Teenagers who have suffered a traumatic brain injury such as a concussion are twice as likely to be bullied and roughly three times as likely to attempt suicide compared to those who haven’t, according to a new study published online today in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.
The study drew upon data from the 2011 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey, which contains responses from nearly 9,300 students between grades 7 and 12 in 181 publicly funded schools across Ontario. Questions about traumatic brain injuries were added to the OSDUHS for the first time in 2011 and were answered by a subsample of 4,816 students.
The teenagers were asked whether they had ever suffered a head injury that resulted in them being unconscious for at least five minutes or required at least one night’s stay in a hospital. Just under 20 percent of the students involved in the study had suffered at least one head injury that met either of those qualifications….


Research Article
Suicidality, Bullying and Other Conduct and Mental Health Correlates of Traumatic Brain Injury in Adolescents
Gabriela Ilie mail,
Robert E. Mann,
Angela Boak,
Edward M. Adlaf,
Hayley Hamilton,
Mark Asbridge,
Jürgen Rehm,
Michael D. Cusimano
Published: April 15, 2014
•DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0094936

Our knowledge on the adverse correlates of traumatic brain injuries (TBI), including non-hospitalized cases, among adolescents is limited to case studies. We report lifetime TBI and adverse mental health and conduct behaviours associated with TBI among adolescents from a population-based sample in Ontario.
Method and Findings
Data were derived from 4,685 surveys administered to adolescents in grades 7 through 12 as part of the 2011 population-based cross-sectional Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (OSDUHS). Lifetime TBI was defined as head injury that resulted in being unconscious for at least 5 minutes or being retained in the hospital for at least one night, and was reported by 19.5% (95%CI:17.3,21.9) of students. When holding constant sex, grade, and complex sample design, students with TBI had significantly greater odds of reporting elevated psychological distress (AOR = 1.52), attempting suicide (AOR = 3.39), seeking counselling through a crisis help-line (AOR = 2.10), and being prescribed medication for anxiety, depression, or both (AOR = 2.45). Moreover, students with TBI had higher odds of being victimized through bullying at school (AOR = 1.70), being cyber-bullied (AOR = 2.05), and being threatened with a weapon at school (AOR = 2.90), compared with students who did not report TBI. Students with TBI also had higher odds of victimizing others and engaging in numerous violent as well as nonviolent conduct behaviours.
Significant associations between TBI and adverse internalizing and externalizing behaviours were found in this large population-based study of adolescents. Those who reported lifetime TBI were at a high risk for experiencing mental and physical health harms in the past year than peers who never had a head injury. Primary physicians should be vigilant and screen for potential mental heath and behavioural harms in adolescent patients with TBI. Efforts to prevent TBI during adolescence and intervene at an early stage may reduce injuries and comorbid problems in this age group….
Here is the press release from St. Michael’s Hospital:
Teenagers who have had a concussion also have higher rates of suicide attempts, being bullied and high-risk behavior, study finds
Toronto, April 15, 2014
Teenagers who have suffered a traumatic brain injury such as a concussion are at “significantly greater odds” of attempting suicide, being bullied and engaging in a variety of high risk behaviours, a new study has found.
They are also more likely to become bullies themselves, to have sought counselling through a crisis help-line or to have been prescribed medication for anxiety, depression or both, said Dr. Gabriela Ilie, lead author of the study and a post-doctoral fellow at St. Michael’s Hospital.
They have higher odds of damaging property, breaking and entering, taking a car without permission, selling marijuana or hashish, running away from home, setting a fire, getting into a fight at school or carrying or being threatened by a weapon, she said in a paper published today in the journal PLOS ONE.
Dr. Ilie said the study provides the first population-based evidence demonstrating the extent of the association between TBI and poor mental health outcomes among adolescents.
“These results show that preventable brain injuries and mental health and behavioural problems among teens continue to remain a blind spot in our culture,” Dr. Ilie said. “These kids are falling through the cracks.”
The data used in the study was from the 2011 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey developed by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. The survey, one of the longest ongoing school surveys in the world, contains responses from almost 9,000 students from Grades 7-12 in publicly funded schools across Ontario. The OSDUHS began as a drug use survey, but is now a broader study of adolescent health and well-being. Questions about traumatic brain injury were added to the survey for the first time in 2011.
“We know from a previous study based on OSDUHS data that as many as 20 per cent of adolescents in Ontario said they have experienced a traumatic brain injury in their lifetime,” said Dr. Robert Mann, senior scientist at CAMH and director of the OSDUHS. “The relationship between TBI and mental health issues is concerning and calls for greater focus on prevention and further research on this issue.”
Dr. Ilie said the teenage years are already a turbulent time for some, as they try to figure out who they are and what they want to be. Since a TBI can exacerbate mental health and behavioural issues, she said primary physicians, schools, parents and coaches need to be vigilant in monitoring adolescents with TBI.
In addition, she said many TBI experienced by youth occur during sports and recreational pursuits, and are largely preventable through use of helmets and the elimination of body checking in hockey.
The study found that adolescents who had suffered a TBI sometime in their life had twice the odds of being bullied at school or via the Internet and almost three times the odds of attempting suicide or being threatened at school with a weapon compared to those without a TBI.
This research was funded by a Canadian Institute of Health Research Team Grant in Traumatic Brain Injury and Violence and by the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation. Additional funding was obtained from a grant from AUTO21, a member of the Networks of Centres of Excellence program that is administered and funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, in partnership with Industry Canada, and ongoing funding support from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
About St. Michael’s Hospital
St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.
Media contacts
For more information, or to arrange an interview with Dr. Sievenpiper, contact:
Leslie Shepherd
Manager, Media Strategy
About CAMH
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world’s leading research centres in its field. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental health and addiction issues. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. For more information, please visit
For more information on OSDUHS or to interview Dr. Mann, please contact:
Kate Richards
Media Relations
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
Office: 416 535 8501 x36015
Mobile: 416 427 7743

The Sports Concussion Institute has some great information about concussions

People must take concussions very seriously.




Concussion – Overview

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Small colleges face fight for survival

15 Apr

College Data describes what is meant by a small college in the post, College Size: Small, Medium or Large?

Colleges Considered Small, Medium, or Large
• Colleges considered “small” have fewer than 5,000 students. These are typically private colleges like Hobart, Colgate, Grinnell, and Reed. Yet, it is entirely possible to find small public colleges, such as SUNY Geneseo and Delaware State University.
• Many colleges fall into the “medium” category, between 5,000 to 15,000 students. Yale, Brown, Howard, Duke, University of Arkansas, University of Montana, and Binghamton University are all medium-sized.
• “Large” usually means more than 15,000 students. University of Southern California, New York University, and University of Pennsylvania qualify as large on the private side; UCLA, Michigan State, and University of Texas at Austin on the public side. A label of “huge” would be more accurate for those public universities that have more than 30,000 students.
The Social Side of College Size
Deciding between a large college and a small college often comes down to the social environment you prefer. Knowing whether you feel more comfortable as “a small fish in a big pond” or a “big fish in a small pond” can help you make a decision.
• Smaller schools can easily set the stage for camaraderie and team spirit. You can get to know just about everybody in a small school, and see familiar faces whether you are in the library, the cafeteria, the quad, or in class.
• Larger colleges may seem impersonal on the surface, but most offer many opportunities to become part of a smaller community of students with common interests. You may need a bit of self-control to say “no” to all the socializing that tempts you away from your studies.
Small Colleges Don’t Have a Monopoly on Small Classes
Small colleges are more likely to offer classes with fewer students, enabling professors to give students more individual attention. At larger colleges, classes may be more lecture-oriented. But many such classes are supported by lively discussion sessions. Also, university honors programs can provide a small-class environment….

There should not be a one-size-fits-all in education. Many small colleges are facing financial challenges which they may not survive.

Michael McDonald of Bloomberg reported in the article, Small U.S. Colleges Battle Death Spiral as Enrollment Drops:

Dozens of schools have seen drops of more than 10 percent in enrollment, according to Moody’s. As faculty and staff have been cut and programs closed, some students have faced a choice between transferring or finishing degrees that may have diminished value…
The number of private four-year colleges that have closed or were acquired doubled from about five a year before 2008 to about 10 in the four years through 2011, according to a study last year by researchers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, citing federal data. Plus, among all colleges, 37 merged in the three years through 2013, more than triple the number from 2006 to 2009, according to Higher Education Publications Inc., a Reston, Virginia-based directory publisher.
‘Difficult Steps’
“There will clearly be some institutions that won’t make it and there will be some institutions that will be stronger because of going through these difficult steps,” said David Warren, president of the Washington-based National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities….
Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen has predicted that as many as half of the more than 4,000 universities and colleges in the U.S. may fail in the next 15 years. The growing acceptance of online learning means higher education is ripe for technological upheaval, he has said…
“I’m not sure a lot of these institutions have the cushion to experiment with how to stay afloat,” said Michelle Weise, a senior research fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, a think tank the Harvard professor helped establish in San Mateo, California.
Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, New Hampshire, said in January that it would discontinue six majors, said Lisa Murray, a spokeswoman for the school, which has about 1,400 undergraduates.
Ratings Cut
Net tuition revenue fell 14 percent to $30.3 million last year from 2009 as Franklin Pierce boosted financial aid to attract freshmen and keep students from transferring. Standard & Poor’s cut the Rindge, New Hampshire-based school’s credit rating last year to B, five steps below investment grade, from BB. Moody’s reduced its rating to B3 from B1 the year prior.
“Disheartening is certainly a valid term,” said Carl Brezovec, a math professor whose program will no longer be offered as a major, the second time it’s been cut in a decade.
Ashland University, a 136-year-old college in Ohio, reduced tuition by about $11,000 — and direct aid commensurately — for the coming school year, with the goal that a lower-tuition/lower-discount model will eliminate sticker shock and lure students. In November, Moody’s downgraded Ashland’s rating to Caa2, eight levels below investment grade, saying the probability it will default has increased after three years of enrollment declines….
Enrollment Targets
Even wealthier schools are working to plug budget gaps. Yeshiva University in New York, which has a $1.2 billion endowment, has been selling real estate around its campus.
Some colleges are looking beyond belt-tightening for more permanent solutions. Morgan State University in Baltimore, a historically black college, is targeting more Hispanic applicants and those of other ethnicities, according to Moody’s. Chatham University in Pittsburgh, whose undergraduate program is women-only, said in February it was considering going co-ed to boost enrollment.
All of the schools in the Vanderbilt study that closed in recent years were small, with fewer than 1,000 students and average assets of less than $50 million. Most had endowments of about $1 million. Many were religious, such as Bethany University in Scotts Valley, California, which shut in 2011. Some folded into other colleges such as Southern New England School of Law, whose assets were acquired by the University of Massachusetts in 2010.
Investment Return
“We haven’t hit bottom yet,” said Glenn Harlan Reynolds, a law professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and author of the book, “The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education From Itself.” Students are shopping for a less expensive education as the cost of college has increased and the job market worsened, he said.
“It’s a question of return on investment,” Reynolds said.
Declining enrollment has forced many colleges to offer deeper tuition discounts to attract students, according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers. The average freshman discount rate rose to 45 percent in 2012 from about 40 percent in 2008, according to Nacubo.
Moody’s found that expenses are outpacing revenue at 60 percent of the schools it tracks even as many try to slash their way to balanced budgets, according to Fitzgerald….

See, Private Distress

Related articles:
Tuition Revenue Down

Downgrading Elite Colleges

Don’t Panic … Yet

Big Trouble, Potentially, for Little Colleges

Revenue Dip for Private Colleges
There are many reasons to go to a small college.

Jeremy S. Hyman and Lynn F. Jacobs wrote in the U.S. News article, 10 Reasons to Go to a Small College:

1. You get small classes. Unlike large research universities where you could regularly find yourself in lecture halls with many hundreds of other students, at a small college you’ll rarely be in classes of more than 50 students; in most cases two-thirds of your classes will have fewer than 20 students. (Again, the U.S. News Best Colleges rankings include the percentage of classes under 20 at each school.) The small class environment will give you a much greater opportunity to ask questions, participate in discussion, and have a professor who actually knows who you are. It’s always nice to be a real person, rather than a nameless spectator in the crowd of a mega-university.
[Search for the best school for you.]
2. All the teaching is done by professors. Since most small colleges only grant undergraduate degrees, they don’t have graduate students. And if you don’t have graduate students, you don’t have to stick graduate students in the classroom to get trained on how to be a professor. This means that you won’t have to deal with inexperienced TA’s teaching your class. (It doesn’t mean that you might not get stuck with inexperienced young professors. But with many colleges “tenured in,” and with not much chance for professors to change jobs in this ultra-tight economy, there should be fewer beginning professors compared to the steady stream of green graduate students coming into the research university.)
[Read 10 Warning Signs of a Bad Professor.]
3. Your professors will be more committed to teaching. At many research universities, “publish or perish” is still the phrase of the day. As a result, professors there who seek tenure and promotion have to make research their No. 1 priority and teaching, at best, No. 2….
4. Your work will be evaluated more carefully. In larger schools, professors, TA’s, and/or graders have to rush through huge stacks of papers and exams to grade (that is, when they haven’t relegated the grading to a computer), so they don’t have much time to offer feedback and suggestions on individual pieces of work….
5. You’ll have a chance to write more papers. Grading papers is quite time consuming and papers are one of the first things to go when an instructor is faced with a large class. The limited size of classes at small colleges, though, makes it possible for professors to assign more written work (or other sorts of projects)….
6. You’ll have more opportunity for one-on-one contact with your professor. At the big universities, your professor may just be a speck in the distance, someone you would never dare approach….
7. You’ll have more freedom in the curriculum. Often smaller colleges are more flexible about requirements and give you more leeway to construct programs that meet your individual interests….
8. You’ll have more opportunities to collaborate with a professor. At larger schools, the are endless hordes of graduate students waiting in line to partner with a professor in his or her research program. At smaller schools, it’s the undergraduates who are called upon to look up the sources, help conduct the experiments, and often even write up—or present at a conference—the findings with the professor…..
9. You’ll face less bureaucracy. At small colleges you will be spared the endless lines at registration, the hand-to-hand combat to get into closed classes, and the sprinting between innumerable offices to try to get your simplest questions answered. Sounds like a good deal, doesn’t it?
10. You get the feeling that you count. Large universities can be very alienating places. There it’s easy to feel that no one cares about you and whether you learn anything. At most small colleges, they have room to care. Group hug, anyone?

A college degree is no guarantee of either employment or continued employment. Still, because of the economic uncertainty there is an “arms race” in education. Laura Pappano is reporting in the New York Times article, The Master’s As the New Bachelor’s Whether a person chooses to attend a four year college after high school is a very personal decision and there is no one right answer. One thing the current economic climate has taught many is there are no guarantees in life, even with a college degree.

That Facebook post may affect your college acceptance

More colleges are putting college applicants on mid-year acceptance for enrollment

Study: Prior criminal behavior does not necessarily predict behavior on campus

Is a woman’s college the right college for you?

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University of Iowa study: Children learn aggressive ways of thinking and behaving from violent video games

14 Apr

The Center for Sport Policy and Conduct (Sport Center) at Indiana University, Bloomington has excellent capsule definitions of violence, aggression, and deviance According to the Sport Center violence is defined as:

Violence can be seen as a form of physical assault based on an intent to injure another person or destroy the property of others. To continue this definition, “violence in sport violates the norms and rules of the contest, threatens lives and property, and usually cannot be anticipated by the persons affected” (Smith, 1983, p. 6).

Aggression is defined as:

Aggression can be generally defined as all behavior intended to destroy another person’s property or to injure another person, physically or psychologically. It has been reported that action has to violate norms and rules shared by society in order to be defined as aggressive. Several experiments (Tedeschi, Gaes, & Rivera, 1977) found that a protagonist who intends to cause injury is only judged by witnesses to be aggressive when his behavior is also judged to be antinormative; in other words, when they are opposing the social rules that apply to that particular situation. Judgment is the same when the action or “intent to injure” constitutes a response to a previous provocation. If, however, the action exceeds the preceding deed, the revenge is viewed as excessive and judged as inappropriate and aggressive.

Deviance is defined as “Deviant behavior is usually that which departs from the norm; anything that goes against the accepted societal standards could be classified as such.”

Science Daily reported in the article, Life lessons: Children learn aggressive ways of thinking and behaving from violent video games, study finds:

Children who repeatedly play violent video games are learning thought patterns that will stick with them and influence behaviors as they grow older, according to a new study by Iowa State University researchers. The effect is the same regardless of age, gender or culture. Douglas Gentile, an associate professor of psychology and lead author of the study published in JAMA Pediatrics, says it is really no different than learning math or to play the piano…
Researchers found that over time children start to think more aggressively. And when provoked at home, school or in other situations, children will react much like they do when playing a violent video game. Repeated practice of aggressive ways of thinking appears to drive the long-term effect of violent games on aggression.
“Violent video games model physical aggression,” said Craig Anderson, Distinguished Professor of psychology and director of the Center for the Study of Violence at Iowa State and co-author of the report. “They also reward players for being alert to hostile intentions and for using aggressive behavior to solve conflicts. Practicing such aggressive thinking in these games improves the ability of the players to think aggressively. In turn, this habitual aggressive thinking increases their aggressiveness in real life.”
The study followed more than 3,000 children in third, fourth, seventh and eighth grades for three years. Researchers collected data each year to track the amount of time spent playing video games, the violent content of the game and changes in a child’s behavior. The length and size of the study made it possible for researchers to detect and test even small effects.
Boys reported doing more physically aggressive behaviors and spending more time playing violent games than girls. However, even when researchers controlled for gender, the violent video game effects on behavior were the same for girls and boys.
To test whether violent games had a greater effect on children who were more aggressive, researchers compared children with high and low levels of aggression. Much like gender, they did not find a significant difference in terms of the effect from violent games.
“The results make a pretty strong argument that gender and age really don’t affect this relationship between video game play, aggressive thinking and aggressive behavior,” said Sara Prot, a graduate student in psychology at Iowa State. “There are lasting effects on thinking and behavior. You can’t say one group, because of their gender, age or culture, is protected from the effects in some special way.”
Children learn both good and bad behavior
More than 90 percent of children and teens play video games, and researchers say the majority of those games contain some type of violent content. However, that does not mean all games are bad and that children will only develop bad habits. These latest results build upon a previous study, published in Psychological Science, that analyzed the influence of prosocial media….


JAMA Pediatrics
Original Investigation|March 24, 2014
Mediators and Moderators of Long-term Effects of Violent Video Games on Aggressive Behavior Practice, Thinking, and Action
Douglas A. Gentile, PhD1; Dongdong Li, PhD2; Angeline Khoo, PhD2; Sara Prot, MA1; Craig A. Anderson, PhD1
[+] Author Affiliations
JAMA Pediatr. Published online March 24, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.63
Text Size: A A A
Importance Although several longitudinal studies have demonstrated an effect of violent video game play on later aggressive behavior, little is known about the psychological mediators and moderators of the effect.
Objective To determine whether cognitive and/or emotional variables mediate the effect of violent video game play on aggression and whether the effect is moderated by age, sex, prior aggressiveness, or parental monitoring.
Design, Setting, and Participants Three-year longitudinal panel study. A total of 3034 children and adolescents from 6 primary and 6 secondary schools in Singapore (73% male) were surveyed annually. Children were eligible for inclusion if they attended one of the 12 selected schools, 3 of which were boys’ schools. At the beginning of the study, participants were in third, fourth, seventh, and eighth grades, with a mean (SD) age of 11.2 (2.1) years (range, 8-17 years). Study participation was 99% in year 1.
Main Outcomes and Measures The final outcome measure was aggressive behavior, with aggressive cognitions (normative beliefs about aggression, hostile attribution bias, aggressive fantasizing) and empathy as potential mediators.
Results Longitudinal latent growth curve modeling demonstrated that the effects of violent video game play are mediated primarily by aggressive cognitions. This effect is not moderated by sex, prior aggressiveness, or parental monitoring and is only slightly moderated by age, as younger children had a larger increase in initial aggressive cognition related to initial violent game play at the beginning of the study than older children. Model fit was excellent for all models.
Conclusions and Relevance Given that more than 90% of youths play video games, understanding the psychological mechanisms by which they can influence behaviors is important for parents and pediatricians and for designing interventions to enhance or mitigate the effects.

Here is the press release from the University of Iowa:

Life lessons: Children learn aggressive ways of thinking and behaving from violent video games
Posted Mar 24, 2014 3:00 pm
AMES, Iowa – Children who repeatedly play violent video games are learning thought patterns that will stick with them and influence behaviors as they grow older, according to a new study by Iowa State University researchers. The effect is the same regardless of age, gender or culture. Douglas Gentile, an associate professor of psychology and lead author of the study published in JAMA Pediatrics, says it is really no different than learning math or to play the piano.
“If you practice over and over, you have that knowledge in your head. The fact that you haven’t played the piano in years doesn’t mean you can’t still sit down and play something,” Gentile said. “It’s the same with violent games – you practice being vigilant for enemies, practice thinking that it’s acceptable to respond aggressively to provocation, and practice becoming desensitized to the consequences of violence.”
Researchers found that over time children start to think more aggressively. And when provoked at home, school or in other situations, children will react much like they do when playing a violent video game. Repeated practice of aggressive ways of thinking appears to drive the long-term effect of violent games on aggression.
“Violent video games model physical aggression,” said Craig Anderson, Distinguished Professor of psychology and director of the Center for the Study of Violence at Iowa State and co-author of the report. “They also reward players for being alert to hostile intentions and for using aggressive behavior to solve conflicts. Practicing such aggressive thinking in these games improves the ability of the players to think aggressively. In turn, this habitual aggressive thinking increases their aggressiveness in real life.”
The study followed more than 3,000 children in third, fourth, seventh and eighth grades for three years. Researchers collected data each year to track the amount of time spent playing video games, the violent content of the game and changes in a child’s behavior. The length and size of the study made it possible for researchers to detect and test even small effects.
Boys reported doing more physically aggressive behaviors and spending more time playing violent games than girls. However, even when researchers controlled for gender, the violent video game effects on behavior were the same for girls and boys.
To test whether violent games had a greater effect on children who were more aggressive, researchers compared children with high and low levels of aggression. Much like gender, they did not find a significant difference in terms of the effect from violent games.
“The results make a pretty strong argument that gender and age really don’t affect this relationship between video game play, aggressive thinking and aggressive behavior,” said Sara Prot, a graduate student in psychology at Iowa State. “There are lasting effects on thinking and behavior. You can’t say one group, because of their gender, age or culture, is protected from the effects in some special way.”
Children learn both good and bad behavior
More than 90 percent of children and teens play video games, and researchers say the majority of those games contain some type of violent content. However, that does not mean all games are bad and that children will only develop bad habits. These latest results build upon a previous study, published in Psychological Science, that analyzed the influence of prosocial media.
That earlier cross-cultural study, led by Prot, Gentile and Anderson, found that prosocial media – video games, movies or TV shows that portray helpful, caring and cooperative behaviors – positively influence behavior regardless of culture. The study, the first of its kind, tested levels of empathy and helpfulness of thousands of children and adolescents in seven countries. In combination, these studies show that the content of the video games youth play – prosocial or antisocial – determines their impact on real world behavior.
Contacts Douglas Gentile, Psychology, 515-294-1472, Craig Anderson, Psychology, 515-294-3118, Sara Prot, Psychology, 515-294-1742, Angie Hunt, News Service, 515-294-8986,
– See more at:

Science Daily reported in the article, Violent video games delay development of moral judgment in teens:

Mirjana Bajovic of Brock University set out to discover whether there was a link between the types of video games teens played, how long they played them, and the teens’ levels of moral reasoning: their ability to take the perspective of others into account.
She quizzed a group of eighth-graders (aged 13-14) about their playing habits and patterns, as well as determined their stage of moral reasoning using an established scale of one to four.
Blagovic’s results, published in Educational Media International, indicate that there was a significant difference in sociomaturity levels between adolescents who played violent video games for one hour a day and those who played for three or more.
Bajovic suggests that both the content of the games and the time spent playing contribute to the fact that many of the violent gamers achieved only the second stage of sociomoral maturity…

That old saying that you are what you eat referring to what people put in their stomach is looking more like children and others are what the watch, read, and put into their mind.


Stanford University study: Sexualization of women in the tech world

Two studies: Social media and social dysfunction

Brock University study: Violent video games can delay children’s moral judgment

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An ADHD related disorder: ‘Sluggish Cognitive Tempo’

12 Apr

Tania Tirraoro posted the article, It’s not ADHD, it’s Sluggish Cognitive Tempo at Special Needs jungle:

Have you heard of “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo” (SCT)? It’s apparently regarded by psychiatric professionals as a subtype of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Until now, that is.
Medscape has reported some research that concludes it is most likely to be a distinct attention disorder, although there is notable overlap with ADHD.
The researchers, Dr Catherine Saxbe and Dr Russell A. Barkley from the Medical University of South Carolina in the US, have based their findings on reviewing nearly three decades’ worth of research on SCT and their own clinical experience. They’re predicting that, given the evidence, SCT may “eventually be accepted as an identifiable attention disorder with its own diagnostic criteria that distinguish it from ADHD.”. Writing in the Journal of Psychiatric Practice they claim that SCT may represent an exciting new frontier in psychiatry.
Characteristics of Sluggish Cognitive Tempo
• Like ADHD, SCT typically presents in childhood.
• Being daydreamy, mentally foggy, and easily confused.
• Staring frequently.
• May have symptoms of hypoactivity, lethargy, slow movement, possibly sleepiness.
• Children with SCT also appear to have slow processing speed and reaction times.
There are no officially endorsed criteria for SCT but the researchers believe that may change in the “foreseeable future,” and that most doctors who see children with ADHD have probably come across someone who falls within the parameters of SCT.
First, there needs to be more research on the cognitive deficits, such as which areas of the brain are most active when the patient appears the most distracted ― in other words the researchers say, “where does the mind go?”

See, Slow Cognitive Tempo (SCT): The Second Attention Disorder

Alan Schwartz reported in the New York Times article, Idea of New Attention Disorder Spurs Research, and Debate:

With more than six million American children having received a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, concern has been rising that the condition is being significantly misdiagnosed and overtreated with prescription medications.
Yet now some powerful figures in mental health are claiming to have identified a new disorder that could vastly expand the ranks of young people treated for attention problems. Called sluggish cognitive tempo, the condition is said to be characterized by lethargy, daydreaming and slow mental processing. By some researchers’ estimates, it is present in perhaps two million children.
Experts pushing for more research into sluggish cognitive tempo say it is gaining momentum toward recognition as a legitimate disorder — and, as such, a candidate for pharmacological treatment. Some of the condition’s researchers have helped Eli Lilly investigate how its flagship A.D.H.D. drug might treat it.
The Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology devoted 136 pages of its January issue to papers describing the illness, with the lead paper claiming that the question of its existence “seems to be laid to rest as of this issue.” The psychologist Russell Barkley of the Medical University of South Carolina, for 30 years one of A.D.H.D.’s most influential and visible proponents, has claimed in research papers and lectures that sluggish cognitive tempo “has become the new attention disorder.”
In an interview, Keith McBurnett, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, and co-author of several papers on sluggish cognitive tempo, said: “When you start talking about things like daydreaming, mind-wandering, those types of behaviors, someone who has a son or daughter who does this excessively says, ‘I know about this from my own experience.’ They know what you’re talking about.”
Yet some experts, including Dr. McBurnett and some members of the journal’s editorial board, say that there is no consensus on the new disorder’s specific symptoms, let alone scientific validity. They warn that the concept’s promotion without vastly more scientific rigor could expose children to unwarranted diagnoses and prescription medications — problems that A.D.H.D. already faces.
“We’re seeing a fad in evolution: Just as A.D.H.D. has been the diagnosis du jour for 15 years or so, this is the beginning of another,” said Dr. Allen Frances, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Duke University. “This is a public health experiment on millions of kids.”
Though the concept of sluggish cognitive tempo, or S.C.T., has been researched sporadically since the 1980s, it has never been recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which codifies conditions recognized by the American Psychiatric Association. The editor in chief of The Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, Charlotte Johnston, said in an email that recent renewed interest in the condition is what led the journal to devote most of one issue to “highlight areas in which further study is needed…”


Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology
January 2014, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 1-6
Sluggish Cognitive Tempo in Abnormal Child Psychology: An Historical Overview and Introduction to the Special Section
• Stephen P. Becker,
• Stephen A. Marshall,
• Keith McBurnett
• …show all 3hide
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There has recently been a resurgence of interest in Sluggish Cognitive Tempo (SCT) as an important construct in the field of abnormal child psychology. Characterized by drowsiness, daydreaming, lethargy, mental confusion, and slowed thinking/behavior, SCT has primarily been studied as a feature of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and namely the predominately inattentive subtype/presentation. Although SCT is strongly associated with ADHD inattention, research increasingly supports the possibility that SCT is distinct from ADHD or perhaps a different mental health condition altogether, with unique relations to child and adolescent psychosocial adjustment. This introductory article to the Special Section on SCT provides an historical overview of the SCT construct and briefly describes the contributions of the eight empirical papers included in the Special Section. Given the emerging importance of SCT for abnormal psychology and clinical science, there is a clear need for additional studies that examine (1) the measurement, structure, and multidimensional nature of SCT, (2) SCT as statistically distinct from not only ADHD-inattention but also other psychopathologies (particularly depression and anxiety), (3) genetic and environmental contributions to the development of SCT symptoms, and (4) functional impairments associated with SCT. This Special Section brings together papers to advance the current knowledge related to these issues as well as to spur research in this exciting and expanding area of abnormal psychology.
Within this Article
1. An Historical Overview of SCT
2. Special Section Studies
3. Conclusion
4. References
5. References
References (46)
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About this Article
Sluggish Cognitive Tempo in Abnormal Child Psychology: An Historical Overview and Introduction to the Special Section
Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology
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Gallup report: American teachers stressed and it may be affecting students

10 Apr

Melanie Smollin has an excellent post at Take Part, Five Reasons Why Teacher Turnover Is On The Rise:

With approximately 1.6 million teachers set to retire in the next decade, replenishing America’s teaching force should be a top priority. But filling classrooms with new teachers is only half the battle. Retaining them is equally important.
Numerous studies show that teachers perform best after being in the classroom for at least five years. According to a McKinsey study, 14 percent of American teachers leave after only one year, and 46 percent quit before their fifth year. In countries with the highest results on international tests, teacher turnover rates are much lower—around 3 percent.
This constant cycling in and out of new teachers is a costly phenomena. Students miss being taught by experienced educators, and schools and districts nationwide spend about $2.2 billion per year recruiting and training replacements.
Why are so many new teachers fleeing the profession after so few years in the classroom? Here are the top five reasons teacher turnover is an ongoing challenge:
5. BURNOUT: A recent U.C. Berkeley study of Los Angeles charter schools found unusually high rates of teacher turnover. At the 163 charter schools studied, teacher turnover hovered around 40 percent, compared to 15 percent at traditional public schools.
Since demands on charter school educators are seemingly boundless, including extended hours, researchers theorized, burnout is a viable explanation for the teacher exodus. “We have seen earlier results showing that working conditions are tough and challenging in charter schools,” explained U.C. Berkeley’s Bruce Fuller. “Charter teachers wear many hats and have many duties and are teaching urban kids, challenging urban kids, but we were surprised by the magnitude of this effect.”
4.THREAT OF LAYOFFS: In response to annual budget shortfalls, districts nationwide have sent pink slips to tens of thousands of teachers each spring for the past four years. In 2011, California sent out 30,000….
3. LOW WAGES: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently said that teachers should earn between $60,000 and $150,000 per year. That’s a far cry from the current national average starting salary for teachers, which is $35,139….
2. TESTING PRESSURE: Since the No Child Left Behind Act was introduced in 2001, standardized test scores in math and reading have become the most important accountability measure used to evaluate schools.
Studies show that pressure to raise student test scores causes teachers to experience more stress and less job satisfaction. Many educators resent narrowing curriculum and stifling creativity in favor of teaching to the test.
On the National Center for Education Information’s “Profile of Teachers in the U.S. 2011,” the majority of comments submitted by survey respondents were “expressions of strong opposition to the current emphasis on student testing.”
As states increasingly rely on standardized test scores to evaluate individual educators, determine teacher pay and make lay-off decisions, testing pressure will only increase.
1. POOR WORKING CONDITIONS: When the Gates foundation polled 40,000 teachers about job satisfaction, the majority agreed that supportive leadership, time for collaboration, access to high quality curriculum and resources, clean and safe buildings, and relevant professional development were even more important than higher salaries.
But working conditions in many public schools remain far from this ideal—especially for beginning teachers, who are most likely to be assigned to the highest-need schools. Despite the added challenges they face, these teachers are often given few resources and little professional support.

Since many teachers will be leaving the profession in the next few years, the question is what effect teacher departures have on students and are there traits of teachers who choose to remain in the classroom which should be studied.

Rebecca Klein of Huffington Post reported in the article, American Teachers Feel Really Stressed, And It’s Probably Affecting Students:

American teachers feel stressed out and insignificant, and it may be impacting students’ educations.
Gallup’s State Of America’s Schools Report, released Wednesday, says nearly 70 percent of K – 12 teachers surveyed in a 2012 poll do not feel engaged in their work. The study said they are likely to spread their negative attitudes to co-workers and devote minimal discretionary effort to their jobs.
At the same time, nearly half of teachers reported feeling daily stress. When compared to 12 other occupational groups, teachers were least likely to report feeling like their “opinions seem to count” at work. The survey also found, however, that teachers tend to be satisfied with their lives overall.
While Gallup notes that most American workers — and not just teachers — report high levels of disengagement from their jobs, the attitudes of teachers have a direct and tangible impact on the achievement of students.
“The problem is that when teachers are not fully engaged in their work, their students pay the price every day,” says the report. “Disengaged teachers are less likely to bring the energy, insights, and resilience that effective teaching requires to the classroom. They are less likely to build the kind of positive, caring relationships with their students that form the emotional core of the learning process “
The report also surveyed 600,000 students in grades five through 12 on their feelings of hope, engagement and well-being — three factors the report says can affect a student’s success in school. Forty-five percent of these students reported feeling “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” from school, with rates of disengagement increasing by grade level. The report also says teachers have the biggest influence on student engagement levels. For example, students who reported having “at least one teacher who makes me excited about my future” and feeling that their school was “committed to building the strengths of each student” were 30 times more likely to be engaged at school.
The report points to “professionalizing” the occupation of education, as has been done in Finland, to improve the quality and morale of teachers. In Finland, action was taken decades ago to “move teacher preparation from teachers’ colleges into more rigorous university programs, thereby helping professionalize the occupation and making it more attractive to talented, ambitious young people.” Since that time, Finland has boasted top scores on international assessments and been lauded for having the “best education system in the world.”
“More rigorous hiring standards need to be accompanied by improved working conditions, greater autonomy, and professional development opportunities that provide career momentum. Otherwise, U.S. schools will continue to struggle to find enough applicants with the talent to be great teachers,” says the report.
Teachers’ and students’ lack of engagement with school seems to have filtered down to the public’s perception of American education at large. According to a previous Gallup poll cited in the report, just 17 percent of Americans think high school graduates are ready for work, and just 29 percent think they are ready for college. Indeed, on the latest set of international exams produced by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, American scores remained stagnant and mid-pack compared to foreign peers….

Allie Bidwell further reports in the U.S. News article, Most Teachers Are Not Engaged in Their Jobs, Gallup Finds:

On two points, teachers were the least likely of any profession surveyed on workforce engagement to respond positively: whether they feel their opinions at work count, and whether their supervisor creates an “open and trusting environment.”
“That’s a really big eye-opener,” says Brandon Busteed, executive director of Gallup Education. “So there’s something about the open, trusting environment that isn’t working in schools and that they don’t believe their opinions count. That is definitely weighing down the potential of making them more engaged in their workplace.”
Teacher engagement appears to significantly drop off within the early years of teaching. According to the report, teachers with less than a year on the job are most likely to be engaged, when 35 percent were enthusiastic about and committed to their jobs. The numbers continue to slip to a low of 28 percent for those with between three and five years of teaching experience.
Overall, the fact that so many teachers are not engaged in their jobs was surprising, Busteed says, because teachers generally reported having a better level of well-being than other professions. Aside from reporting higher levels of stress, Busteed says teachers have a “high mission purpose, they laugh more, they smile more” and they have “more positive emotions than most people in their work.” In fact, teachers scored the second highest of 14 professions on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, just after physicians….

Here is the press release from Gallup:

Monday, April 7, 2014
This Week on The “State of Education” Series
By Art Swift, Gallup Managing Editor

The way we evaluate whether a student receives “a proper education” continues to evolve. While students have more ways to receive an education, especially through online learning, education leaders everywhere are now asking different, more pointed questions about the state of education and how to make it more effective. Namely, is the student’s interest level at school — how “engaged” he or she is — as important, or even more important, than grades and standardized test scores? How accountable should teachers be for their own performance? Currently the U.S. is involved in a debate over “Common Core,” a set of academic standards that students will need to know by the end of a given school year. Are these standards helpful or a hindrance to a student receiving a quality education?

This week, will reveal data and insights that will help answer these questions in “The State of Education” series.

The topics we will be covering in this series include:
• Americans’ views of higher education and whether it needs to change (Monday)
• Americans’ confidence in online institutions (Tuesday)
• Perceptions of the quality of public education in grades K through 12, by state (Wednesday)
• Statewide perceptions of U.S. public schools’ ability to prepare students for success in the workplace (Wednesday)
• How the education level of a parent plays a major role in their child’s education in sub-Saharan Africa (Wednesday)
• Whether teachers in one’s local area are respected or not, by state (Thursday)
• Students’ opinions on how ready for workplace success they are (Friday, in Gallup Business Journal)
• Whether the “Common Core” — requiring U.S. schools to adopt the same curriculum — is effective (Friday)
We look forward to you joining us for “The State of Education.” To get these stories as soon as they publish, sign up for Gallup News alerts.

No matter where a teacher is in their career lifecycle, they will be confronting the issues of elimination of teacher tenure and more rigorous teacher evaluation. Increasingly, one component of teacher evaluation will focus on whether students are showing academic achievement gains. The point of contention, which may provoke disagreement between the evaluator and the teacher is how student achievement is measured.
In times of recession, all jobs become more difficult to find and often job seekers do not have the luxury of finding the perfect job. New teachers may find jobs in schools often considered less desirable or schools led by principals who are not considered to be leaders or supporters of their staff. Not all learning occurs during the academic portion of your life’s journey. If one finds that the first job is not the perfect opportunity, then prepare for the time you will find the perfect opportunity. Look for a teacher(s) you admire and who are successful and model what has made them successful. People who are skilled and become expert at their craft or profession will weather whatever change comes along, whether it is an elimination or modification of tenure and changes to the way evaluations are conducted.


A Lively Debate Over Teacher Salaries

Are Teachers Overpaid?

Some Teachers Skeptical of Merit Pay


Washington D.C. rolls out merit pay

Report from The Compensation Technical Working Group: Teacher compensation in Washington

Fordham Institute report: Teacher pensions squeezing states

Landmark California case regarding teacher tenure: Vergara v. California

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Artic University of Norway study: Too much screen time can cause osteoporosis in boys

9 Apr

Play is important for children and outside play is particularly important. Kids Discover Nature has some excellent resources about outside play. In the post, 10 Reasons Why Kids Should Play Outside reasons for outside play are given.

1. K-12 students participating in environmental education programs at school do better on standardized tests in math, reading, writing and social studies.
Abrams, K.S. (1999). Summary of project outcomes from Environmental Education and Sunshine State Standards schools’ final report data. Louv, R. (2005). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder. New York: Algonquin Books. (p. 206) Louv, R. (2005). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder. New York: Algonquin Books. (p. 206)
2. Children and adults find it easier to concentrate and pay attention after spending time in nature.
Wells, N.M. (2000). At home with nature: Effects of “greenness” on children’s cognitive functioning. Environment and Behavior 32: 775-795.
Hartig, T., Mang, M., & Evans, G.W. (1991). Restorative effects of natural environment experiences. Environment and Behavior 23: 3-26.
3. Nature provides a rich source of hands-on, multi-sensory stimulation, which is critical for brain development in early childhood.
Rivkin, M.S. Natural Learning.
4. Children’s play is more creative and egalitarian in natural areas than in more structured or paved areas.
Faber Taylor, A., Wiley, A., Kuo, F.E. & Sullivan, W.C. (1998). Growing up in the inner city: Green spaces as places to grow. Environment and Behavior 30(1): 3-27.
5. Living in “high nature conditions” buffers children against the effects of stressful life events.
Wells, N. & Evans, G. (2003). Nearby nature: A buffer of life stress among rural children. Environment and Behavior 35: 311-330.
Louv, R. (2005). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder. New York: Algonquin Books.
6. Views of nature reduce stress levels and speed recovery from illness, injury or stressful experiences.
Frumkin, H. (2001). Beyond toxicity: Human health and the natural environment. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 20(3): 234-240.
Louv, R. (2005). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder. New York: Algonquin Books.
7. The ultimate raw material for much of human intellect, emotion, personality, industry, and spirit is rooted in a healthy, accessible, and abundant natural environment.
Kellert, Stephen R. (2005). Building for Life: Designing and Developing the Human-Nature Connection.Washington: Island Press.
8. Access to nature nurtures self discipline.
Source: Faber Taylor, A., Kuo, F.E., & Sullivan, W.C. (2002). Views of Nature and Self-Discipline: Evidence from Inner City Children. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 22, 49-63.
9. Nearby Nature Boosts Children’s Cognitive functioning.
Source: Wells, N.M. At Home with Nature: Effects of “Greenness” on Children’s Cognitive Functioning. Environment and Behavior. Vol. 32, No. 6, 775-795.
10. Children diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or attention-deficit disorder (ADD) showed reduce symptoms after playing in natural areas.
Kuo, F.E. & Faber Taylor, A. (2004). A potential natural treatment for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: evidence from a national study. American Journal of Public Health 94(9):1580-1586.

An Arctic University of Norway study reported about the risk of osteoporosis for boys who spend too much time in front of computer screens.

The International Osteoporosis Foundation reported about the Arctic University of Norway’s study regarding boys and screen time.

April 4, 2014
Study of Norwegian students finds great variation in impact on bone mineral density in boys and girls, concluding that teenage boys that spend more time in front of screen have weaker bones.
Results of a study presented today at the World Congress on Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases, showed that in boys, higher screen time was adversely associated to bone mineral density (BMD) at all sites even when adjusted for specific lifestyle factors.
The skeleton grows continually from birth to the end of the teenage years, reaching peak bone mass – maximum strength and size – in early adulthood. Along with nutritional factors, physical activity can also greatly impact on this process. There is consequently growing concern regarding the possible adverse effects of sedentary lifestyles in youth on bone health and on obesity.
The skeleton grows continually from birth to the end of the teenage years, reaching peak bone mass – maximum strength and size– in early adulthood. Along with nutritional factors, physical activity can also greatly impact on this process. There is consequently growing concern regarding the possible adverse effects of sedentary lifestyles in youth on bone health and on obesity.
The Norwegian study explored the hypothesis that greater computer use at weekends is associated with lower BMD. The data was obtained from 463 girls and 484 boys aged 15–18 years in the Tromsø region of Norway. The students participated in the Fit Futures study from 2010–2011 which assessed more than 90% of all first year high school students in the region.
BMD at total hip, femoral neck and total body was measured by DXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry). Lifestyle variables were collected by self-administered questionnaires and interviews, including questions on time per day during weekends spent in front of the television or computer, and time spent on leisure time physical activities. The associations between BMD and screen time were analyzed in a multiple regression model that included adjustment for age, sexual maturation, BMI, leisure time physical activity, smoking, alcohol, cod liver oil and carbonated drink consumption.
Not surprisingly, the researchers found that boys spent more time in front of the computer than girls. As well as high screen time being adversely associated to BMD, in boys screen time was also positively related to higher body mass index (BMI) levels. In contrast to the boys, girls who spent 4–6 hours in front of the computer, had higher BMD than counterparts who spend less than 1.5 hours screen time each day – and this could not be explained by adjustments for the different parameters measured.
Lead author of the study Dr Anne Winther, Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, stated, “Bone mineral density is a strong predictor of future fracture risk.O ur findings for girls are intriguing and definitely merit further exploration in other studies and population groups. The findings for boys on the other hand clearly show that sedentary lifestyle during adolescence can impact on BMD and thus compromise the acquisition of peak bone mass. This can have a negative impact in terms of osteoporosis and fracture risk later in life.”
According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF), approximately one in five men over the age of fifty worldwide will suffer a fracture as a result of osteoporosis. Very low levels of awareness about osteoporosis risk and bone health in males has prompted IOF to focus on osteoporosis in men as a key World Osteoporosis Day theme in 2014.
Abstract reference
OC 49 Leisure time computer use and adolescent bone health: findings from the Tromsø study–Fit Futures.
A. Winther, E. Dennison, O. A. Nilsen, R. Jorde, G. Grimnes, A. S. Furberg, L. A. Ahmed, N. Emaus. Osteoporos Int. Vol 25, Suppl. 2, 2014
Download abstracts from the IOF-ESCEO World Congress on Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases

See, Does too much time at the computer lead to lower bone mineral density in adolescents?

Web MD gives a good explanation of what osteoporosis is in the article, Osteoporosis Health Center:

Overview & Facts
Learn about osteoporosis and take action against this silent disease.You may not know you have it until your thinned, weakened bones fracture in a bump or fall.
What Is Osteoporosis?
What Is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis weakens bones and increases the risk of unexpected fractures. Serious consequences can occur with some fractures. Read this overview article about osteoporosis and how to keep your bones strong.
Picture of Osteoporosis
Want to see what a bone with osteoporosis looks like, compared to a healthy bone? This link will show you photos of normal and osteoporotic bone.
What Causes Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease. It can be prevented with a healthy diet and staying physically active. Learn about factors that can make bones stronger or weaker.
What Causes Compression Fractures?
Most spinal compression fractures are never diagnosed because many patients and families think the back pain is merely a sign of aging and arthritis. These weakened bones cause the spine to collapse. Read more.
Are You at Risk?
Osteoporosis: Are You at Risk?
See what factors increase risk of osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis Risk Factors: Fact vs. Fiction
Think you know all about osteoporosis? Chances are, some of the things you think you know about osteoporosis risk factors may be wrong.
Osteoporosis in Men
Find out what risk factors increase the chances of osteoporosis in men.
Osteoporosis Prevention
Osteoporosis can be prevented. People of all ages can get involved in protecting their bones. Exercise and a healthy diet can cut osteoporosis risk. Here are some tips for keeping your bones strong.
Vitamin D Deficiency?
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. And we need more vitamin D as we get older. Are you getting enough? If your diet doesn’t contain sufficient amounts of this bone saver, supplements may help. Read about vitamin D deficiency….

There is something to be said for Cafe Society where people actually meet face-to-face for conversation or the custom of families eating at least one meal together. Time has a good article on The Magic of the Family Meal,9171,1200760,00.html See, also Family Dinner: The Value of Sharing Meals
Perhaps, acting like the power is out from time to time and using Helen Robin’s suggestions is not such a bad idea.


Two studies: Social media and social dysfunction

Common Sense Media report: Kids migrating away from Facebook

Is ‘texting’ destroying literacy skills

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Penn State study: Stress alters children’s genomes

8 Apr

Moi said in Schools have to deal with depressed and troubled children:
Both the culture and the economy are experiencing turmoil. For some communities, the unsettled environment is a new phenomenon, for other communities, children have been stressed for generations. According to the article, Understanding Depression which was posted at the Kids Health site:

Depression is the most common mental health problem in the United States. Each year it affects 17 million people of all age groups, races, and economic backgrounds.
As many as 1 in every 33 children may have depression; in teens, that number may be as high as 1 in 8.

Schools are developing strategies to deal with troubled kids.

Jyoti Madhusoodanan and Nature magazine reported in the Scientific American article, Stress Alters Children’s Genomes:

Growing up in a stressful social environment leaves lasting marks on young chromosomes, a study of African American boys has revealed. Telomeres, repetitive DNA sequences that protect the ends of chromosomes from fraying over time, are shorter in children from poor and unstable homes than in children from more nurturing families.
When researchers examined the DNA of 40 boys from major US cities at age 9, they found that the telomeres of children from harsh home environments were 19% shorter than those of children from advantaged backgrounds. The length of telomeres is often considered to be a biomarker of chronic stress.
The study, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, brings researchers closer to understanding how social conditions in childhood can influence long-term health, says Elissa Epel, a health psychologist at the University of California, San Francisco, who was not involved in the research.
Participants’ DNA samples and socio-economic data were collected as part of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, an effort funded by the National Institutes of Health to track nearly 5,000 children, the majority of whom were born to unmarried parents in large US cities in 1998–2000. Children’s environments were rated on the basis of their mother’s level of education; the ratio of a family’s income to needs; harsh parenting; and whether family structure was stable, says lead author Daniel Notterman, a molecular biologist at Pennsylvania State University in Hershey.
The telomeres of boys whose mothers had a high-school diploma were 32% longer compared with those of boys whose mothers had not finished high school. Children who came from stable families had telomeres that were 40% longer than those of children who had experienced many changes in family structure, such as a parent with multiple partners.
Genetic links
The link between stressful home environments and telomere length is moderated by genetic variants in pathways that process two chemical transmitters in the brain, serotonin and dopamine, the study found. Previous studies have correlated variants in some of the genes studied, such as TPH2, with depression, bipolar disorder and other mental-health issues. Variants of another gene, 5-HTT, reduce the amount of the protein that recycles serotonin in nerve synapses. Some alleles of these genes are thought to increase the sensitivity of carriers to external risks….


Social disadvantage, genetic sensitivity, and children’s telomere length
1. Colter Mitchella,
2. John Hobcraftb,
3. Sara S. McLanahanc,1,
4. Susan Rutherford Siegeld,
5. Arthur Bergd,
6. Jeanne Brooks-Gunne,
7. Irwin Garfinkelf, and
8. Daniel Nottermand,g,1
Author Affiliations
This paper makes two contributions to research on the link between the social environment and health. Using data from a birth cohort study, we show that, among African American boys, those who grow up in highly disadvantaged environments have shorter telomeres (at age 9) than boys who grow up in highly advantaged environments. We also find that the association between the social environment and telomere length (TL) is moderated by genetic variation within the serotonin and dopamine pathways. Boys with the highest genetic sensitivity scores had the shortest TL when exposed to disadvantaged environments and the longest TL when exposed to advantaged environments. To our knowledge, this report is the first to document a gene–social environment interaction for TL, a biomarker of stress exposure.
Disadvantaged social environments are associated with adverse health outcomes. This has been attributed, in part, to chronic stress. Telomere length (TL) has been used as a biomarker of chronic stress: TL is shorter in adults in a variety of contexts, including disadvantaged social standing and depression. We use data from 40, 9-y-old boys participating in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to extend this observation to African American children. We report that exposure to disadvantaged environments is associated with reduced TL by age 9 y. We document significant associations between low income, low maternal education, unstable family structure, and harsh parenting and TL. These effects were moderated by genetic variants in serotonergic and dopaminergic pathways. Consistent with the differential susceptibility hypothesis, subjects with the highest genetic sensitivity scores had the shortest TL when exposed to disadvantaged social environments and the longest TL when exposed to advantaged environments.
↵1To whom correspondence may be addressed. E-mail: or
Author contributions: C.M., J.H., S.S.M., J.B.-G., I.G., and D.N. designed research; C.M., J.H., S.S.M., J.B.-G., I.G., and D.N. performed research; S.R.S. and D.N. contributed new reagents/analytic tools; C.M., J.H., S.S.M., A.B., J.B.-G., I.G., and D.N. analyzed data; and C.M. and D.N. wrote the paper.
Reviewers: T.E.S., Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles; S.J.S., Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health.
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
This article contains supporting information online at
Freely available online through the PNAS open access option.

Here is the press release from Penn State:

Disadvantaged environments affect genetic material, study finds
By Scott Gilbert
April 8, 2014
HERSHEY, Pa. — Children experiencing chronic stress from a disadvantaged life have shorter telomeres than their advantaged peers, according to a study led by Dr. Daniel Notterman, vice dean for research and graduate studies, and professor of pediatrics, and biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State College of Medicine.
Telomeres are DNA sequences at the end of each chromosome that protect the ends of the chromosomes from damage. They vary in length per person and shrink as a person ages, a process that may be linked to health and disease.
The negative health effects of long-term chronic stress may be connected to the shortening of telomeres. Telomeres shorten faster in individuals experiencing chronic stress, such as that from living in a disadvantaged environment.
Notterman and colleagues studied genetic information from 40 9-year-old African-American boys.
Boys from disadvantaged environments had shorter telomeres than peers in the study who were not. In addition, the effect of environment on telomere length was mediated by genes involved with the function of two neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin. Neurotransmitters help transmit signals between brain cells and send information throughout the body.
For boys with genetic variants of dopamine or serotonin pathways that conferred greater sensitivity to environmental signals associated with stress, those from disadvantaged environments had the shortest telomeres, and those from advantaged environments had the longest.
The results suggest a link between genetic factors and social environment associated with changing telomere length and provides a biomarker for chronic stress exposure in children as young as 9, according to the authors.
Researchers also from Penn State College of Medicine are Arthur Berg, associate professor of biostatistics and bioinformatics, and Sue Siegel, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology.
The study is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and was supported by the National Institutes of Health-National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute. For more information, visit PNAS’s Early Edition.
Sarah D. Sparks writes in the Education Week article, Research Traces Impacts of Childhood Adversity:
The stress of a spelling bee or a challenging science project can enhance a student’s focus and promote learning. But the stress of a dysfunctional or unstable home life can poison a child’s cognitive ability for a lifetime, according to new research.
While educators and psychologists have said for decades that the effects of poverty interfere with students’ academic achievement, new evidence from cognitive and neuroscience is showing exactly how adversity in childhood damages students’ long-term learning and health….
Good experiences, like nurturing parents and rich early-child-care environments, help build and reinforce neural connections in areas such as language development and self-control, while adversity weakens those connections.
Over time, the connections, good or bad, stabilize, “and you can’t go back and rewire; you have to adapt,” Dr. Shonkoff said. “If you’ve built on strong foundations, that’s good, and if you have weak foundations, the brain has to work harder, and it costs more to the brain and society…”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides access to the peer-reviewed publications resulting from The ACE Study.

See, School psychologists are needed to treat troubled children

Our goal as a society should be:

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©


Schools have to deal with depressed and troubled children

School psychologists are needed to treat troubled children

Battling teen addiction: ‘Recovery high schools’

1. About.Com’s Depression In Young Children

2. Psych Central’s Depression In Young Children

3. Psychiatric News’ Study Helps Pinpoint Children With Depression

4. Family Doctor’s What Is Depression?

5. WebMD’s Depression In Children

6. Healthline’s Is Your Child Depressed?

7. Medicine.Net’s Depression In Children

If you or your child needs help for depression or another illness, then go to a reputable medical provider. There is nothing wrong with taking the steps necessary to get well.

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr.

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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign study: Sexual violence a problem as early as middle school

7 Apr

Moi wrote about teen dating violence in Study: 1 in 3 teens are victims of dating violence: Many adults would be shocked by this report from the Chicago Tribune that many teens find dating violence normal:

Ed Loos, a junior at Lake Forest High School, said a common reaction among students to Chris Brown‘s alleged attack on Rihanna goes something like this:
“Ha! She probably did something to provoke it.” In Chicago, Sullivan High School sophomore Adeola Matanmi has heard the same. “People said, ‘I would have punched her around too,’ ” Matanmi said. “And these were girls!” As allegations of battery swirl around the famous couple, experts on domestic violence say the response from teenagers just a few years younger shows the desperate need to educate this age group about dating violence. Their acceptance, or even approval, of abuse in romantic relationships is not a universal reaction. But it comes at a time when 1 in 10 teenagers has suffered such abuse and females ages 16 to 24 experience the highest rates of any age group, research shows.

The teens interviewed by the Chicago Tribune placed little worth on their lives or the lives of other women. If you don’t as the old ad tag line would say “don’t think you are worth it” why would anyone else think you are worthy of decent treatment?

Rebecca Klein reported in the Huffington Post article, Sexual Violence Among Students Is A Significant Problem As Early As Middle School, Says Study:

A substantial amount of sexual violence in middle school takes place right under teachers’ noses in the classroom, according to a new study.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, found that 27 percent of surveyed girls and 25 percent of surveyed boys reported facing a form of sexual violence on middle school grounds in the past year. Most often, the sexual violence took place in school hallways or classrooms.
The study, which was conducted in the spring of 2008, surveyed 1,391 students from Midwestern middle schools in grades 5 through 8. Approximately half of the survey participants were female, 59 percent were African-American, and 41 percent were Caucasian. The researchers define sexual violence as “any act of a sexual nature that is accomplished toward another without his/her consent.”
The most common forms of sexual violence reported were physical sexual violence, rumor spreading, verbal sexual violence and homophobic sexual violence. However, in open-ended questions about the sexual violence, students were sometimes dismissive of the harassment, saying that the perpetrator was “joking” and that the incident was “not that bad or serious.”
The study concludes that issues surrounding sexual violence need to be addressed during early adolescence, before high school.
“We need to talk about homophobic language, educate boys and girls about sexual harassment in schools … and follow up on incidents and make sure teachers intervene when they see it,” Dr. Dorothy Espelage, co-author of the study and professor of educational psychology at the University of Illinois, told The Huffington Post. “It’s a precursor to teen dating violence.”
For Espelage, the most surprising finding was the frequency of sexual violence taking place in classrooms. However, those findings build on the results of a previous study conducted by the same researchers, which found that although teachers are trained on how to deal with school bullying, they are less educated on the issue of student-on-student sexual harassment.
“Early adolescents are extremely dismissive of [sexual violence] because no one has taught them what it is,” Espelage said. “Teachers have this dismissive attitude themselves.”
School personnel are required to address incidents of harassment under anti-discrimination laws like Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Although Education Secretary Arne Duncan sent a letter to schools reminding them of this fact in 2010, Espelage said that when traveling schools, she found that many teachers never read the letter….


Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence Experiences Among Middle School Youth
Presented at:
AERA 2014 Annual Meeting
April 6, 2014
Sarah Rinehart, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Namrata Doshi, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Dorothy Espelage, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
This study indicated that middle school-aged students are experiencing real acts of sexual violence. These findings are consistent with studies of high school and college-age students that find that sexual harassment is quite prevalent. Students who reported an upsetting sexual harassment experience often indicated that they were physically touched or forced to be kissed against their will. Sexual harassment experiences that were just verbal in nature (e.g., commentary about one’s body parts) were also common. This study indicates that middle school youth have experienced a wide range of upsetting sexual violence experiences that seem to be unaddressed by adults in these schools.
Read the full paper

Advice to Teens in Abusive Relationships

Terry Miller Shannon gives teens advice about avoiding abusive relationships She advises teens to watch for the following danger signs:

1. Sweeping you off your feet and declaring love immediately. This is the number one sign of a potentially battering relationship.
2. Jealousy: Not wanting you to have other friends. Thinking everyone around WANTS you. Expecting you to spend every second with him. Sorry, extreme jealousy isn’t a compliment – it’s a problem.
3. Controlling behavior: Keeping track of whom you’re with and where you are. Telling you what to wear. Picking your friends. Keeping you from getting a job. Taking your money. Threatening to commit suicide, to spread gossip about you, or out you if you’re part of a same-sex couple (gay and lesbian dating violence is under-reported due to pressures not to go public).
4. Violence (physical, mental, or sexual): Punching the wall. Yelling. Insults. Name-calling. Isolating you from family or friends. Slamming the door. Insisting on any kind of unwanted sexual activity. Throwing things. Pinching, pushing, spanking…enough said?
Bottom line: If you’re uncomfortable with your relationship, something’s wrong. Mind your instincts. Be realistic – don’t expect your mate to change. Don’t believe him when he tells you the way he acts is your fault.

Popular culture makes teens who are not involved in activities as “couples” seem like outcasts. Too often, teens pair up before they are mature enough and ready for the emotional commitment. The more activities the girl is involved in and the more sponsored group activities, where teens don’t necessarily have to be in dating relationships, lessen the dependence on an abusive relationship.


The ‘Animal House’ attitude of some college administrators doesn’t take rape seriously

A tale of rape from Amherst: Sexual assault on campus

Sexual assault on college campuses

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Parent involvement: Mobile apps increase parent involvement

6 Apr

Moi wrote about the importance of parental involvement in Missouri program: Parent home visits:
One of the mantras of this blog is that education is a partnership between the student, parent(s) or guardian(s), teacher(s), and the school. All parts of the partnership must be involved. Many educators have long recognized that the impact of social class affects both education achievement and life chances after completion of education. There are two impacts from diversity, one is to broaden the life experience of the privileged and to raise the expectations of the disadvantaged. Social class matters in not only other societies, but this one as well. A few years back, the New York Times did a series about social class in America. That series is still relevant. Janny Scott and David Leonhardt’s overview, Shadowy Lines That Still Divide the challenges faced by schools trying to overcome the disparity in education. The complete series can be found at Class Matters

Teachers and administrators as well as many politicians if they are honest know that children arrive at school at various points on the ready to learn continuum. Teachers have to teach children at whatever point on the continuum the children are. Jay Matthews reports in the Washington Post article, Try parent visits, not parent takeovers of schools.

The key ingredient is parental involvement. The Wisconsin Council on Children and Families (Council) has a great policy brief on parental involvement.
Parent involvement is crucial to the success of children.

Heather B. Hayes reported in the EdTech article, School Districts Use Mobile Apps to Engage Parents:

When Michael Thurmond, superintendent of the DeKalb County School District near Atlanta, challenged his staff to come up with new, innovative ways to bridge the gap between their highest- and lowest-performing schools, CIO Gary Brantley had a ready response: a mobile app for parents.
That might seem like a knee-jerk ¬reaction, given the current zest for all things mobile, but Brantley’s solution was strongly rooted in need and fact. The lowest performers among the district’s 137 schools also had the lowest levels of parent engagement, in large part ¬because a majority of parents didn’t have the time or ability to travel to school for parent-teacher conferences or other functions. However, an internal survey showed that those same parents had access to mobile technology, with more than 90 percent of all district parents owning either a mobile phone or tablet.
“The idea was, parents can’t always come to us, so let’s try to take this information to them,” Brantley says. “When a grade is entered into the system, their student is late to class or there’s an emergency notification, let’s push that out to their mobile devices immediately, so they know what’s ¬happening at all times.”
Parents also can email teachers, get real-time notifications of bus pickup and drop-off times, access calendars, and receive Twitter and Facebook news feeds and sports scores. The app, which launched in early January, is already seen as a success, having been downloaded more than 6,000 times in its first month and earning rave reviews from users…
The Added Benefits of Having a Mobile App
How do mobile apps pay off for schools?
• During the ice storms of 2014, parents who downloaded the DeKalb County (Ga.) School District’s mobile app were able to receive school ¬closing and delay alerts in real time — a fact that earned praise for district officials, even as other district leaders were criticized for their delayed and confusing communication efforts.
• Parents at Wichita (Kan.) Public Schools can now view a single calendar of all academic and athletic events at any schools they choose to follow — a capability that’s impossible to create on a regular website and that helps parents keep up with what’s happening at all times.

It is going to take coordination between not only education institutions, but a strong social support system to get many children through school. This does not mean a large program directed from Washington. But, more resources at the local school level which allow discretion with accountability. For example, if I child is not coming to school because they have no shoes or winter coat, then the child gets new shoes and/or a coat. School breakfast and lunch programs must be supported and if necessary, expanded. Unfortunately, schools are now the early warning system for many families in crisis.

Tips for parent and teacher conferences

Common Sense Media report: Media choices at home affect school performance

Parents can use tax deductions to pay for special education needs

Intervening in the lives of truant children by jailing parents

Making time for family dinner

Embracing parents as education leaders

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