Smart Solutions|School Health (Jan 2014)

From the Editor

Well, 2014 has become a reality now, but the year is still fairly new. Many of us are reflecting on the year that was and the one to come. We can’t read your future, but we’re pretty sure transition, transformation and evolution will be part of it.

We were pleased to see some of you at the Center for Family Life Education’s December conference in New Jersey, where ETR’s Director of Professional Development, Debra Christopher, led a workshop on the adolescent brain and technology.

We had an award-winning end of year here at ETR. Staffer Laura Norvig won the annual member appreciation engagement award from the Nonprofit Technology Network, in acknowledgement of her helpful posts and community-building efforts in the NTEN community. It was well deserved—Laura’s mastery of social media is awesome!

Douglas Kirby, PhD, world-renowned researcher and ETR senior research scientist, died suddenly last December. He has received many posthumous awards for his important work, most recently the 2013 TeenNow California David S. Crawford Member of the Year Award.

We also learned that 11 of our new titles won 2013 National Health Information Awards. These are very competitive submissions, so it’s always an honor to be a winner of NHI awards.

Finally, 12 participants in ETR’s TEC (Technology-Education-Community) program, students from Watsonville High in Watsonville, California, were recognized in a national competition sponsored by the Hispanic Heritage Foundation. Their winning submission was a mobile app they built to help other students in their high school navigate the path to college. Two of the students were invited to travel to Washington, D.C., with other national winners, most of whom were in college. The TEC students networked with peers, met with members of Congress and the White House Office of Science and Technology, and were selected to present at an official White House Briefing on youth and technology.

In one of my favorite stories of the year, TEC Project Manager Jacob Martinez told me, “The girl who came with us had never even been on a plane before. During the flight to D.C., she talked about her plans to attend a local community college. After all of these fantastic experiences in Washington, she spent the flight back talking about planning to attend someplace like MIT, Stanford or the University of California.”

What a great story of successful and authentic transformation—something we’re big on here at ETR. Here’s hoping your work and your organization have a positive and transformative 2014. Forward!

Marcia Quackenbush, MS, MFT, MCHES

My Take: Believing in Young People

Elizabeth Schroeder, EdD, MSW

I’m the executive director for Answer, a national organization dedicated to providing and promoting unfettered access to sexuality education for young people and the adults who teach them.

There is so much misunderstanding today about what sexuality education is. Most people tend to think it only has to do with preventing pregnancy and infections. But when we refer to “sexuality education,” we’re talking far more holistically. This enables us to promote overall sexual health and education, while also ensuring that young people know how to prevent an unintended pregnancy and STDs.

We believe strongly that sexuality education should start early, meaning it should be basic at younger ages and build in complexity as a young person grows. It’s an egregious mistake when lessons on sexuality—whether at home or in school—don’t begin until the teen years.


Video Picks: Vids & Media We Like

Smackdown: Broccoli vs. Kale

How would you promote healthy food? Michael Moss of the New York Times worked with ad agency Victors & Spoils to come up with a brilliant campaign for broccoli. We’re just sorry that it was an intellectual exercise, not a true campaign. Fun and enlightening. Watch. > >

The Video on Video Culture

The Pew Internet & American Life Project has completed a report on Americans’ use of online video. Learn more by—you guessed it!—watching an online video. If your attention span lasts more than two minutes, you can also read their full report. Watch. > >

Infographics Keep Making Complexity Clear

We love the power of the infographics being done by Information is Beautiful, and these two will make you see health information in completely new ways.

Influ-Venn-Za is a Venn diagram that actually offers meaningful information about who can catch which strain of the flu. Watch. > >

20th Century Death is filled with heart-breaking shockers. Murder and suicide caused more death than war. HIV/AIDS surpassed only rabies in number of deaths, dwarfed by measles, diarrhea, smallpox, malaria and respiratory illness. Explore and find your own surprises (double click the screen to enlarge). Watch. > >

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From Research to Practice

Research: Help Those Kids Get Some Sleep!

Children get less sleep as they become teenagers, and some teens struggle at school and in other settings because of poor sleep. Hormonal changes, especially the decline of melatonin levels, play a part. But new research from the University of Cincinnati suggests that relationships with peers and parents may play an even bigger role. Other important factors include a sense of connectedness to school and associations with pro-social friends who care about academics, have a positive outlook and maintain good social relationships.

Here’s an article about the study. > >


Practice: Building Connection

This study reinforces the importance of supporting children, youth and families in developing strong emotional bonds, and of creating meaningful connections between young people and their schools. When we as providers have opportunities to enhance connectedness in families, schools and communities, we are helping improve health in an impressive number of ways.

Check out our other report on adolescent sleep in the On Topic segment on Mental Health and Wellness, below. > >

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What’s Up, ETR?

Quarterly Review

Our latest quarterly review, Engaging the Dynamics of Change, is posted and ready for online viewing or download. Read about some of our forward-looking projects and see some of the ways we’re dealing with the organizational demands of our ever-changing world.


“Where’s My Catalog?”

Are you one of the loyal ETR customers who’ve been asking, “Where’s my catalog?” In an effort to streamline our process, we’re now mailing our catalogs quarterly. We’ve transformed our catalog into a magalog—part magazine, part catalog—that features the full breadth of ETR’s services and solutions, and also includes articles about our staff and their work. It has a different look and feel from the catalogs.

You can still find topic-specific e-catalogs in the familiar style at our ETR store website along with an e-catalog version of our magalog.

Let us know how you like the changes.

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Cool Tools

Snacking Healthy at School

Looking for ideas about how to create a healthier school snack and beverage environment? The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has collected a great selection of reports and resources that can keep you informed and get you started.

Start here. >>


What’s Your Policy? Addressing Sexual Health in Schools

Advocates for Youth has published a comprehensive and thorough resource on sexuality education across the nation. It can help guide educators, administrators and advocates through local and state policies concerning sexuality education. It offers a review of research on best practices and links to a wide range of additional resources.

You can read it online or download the full PDF version >>

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School Report

Working WISE-ly to Boost Comprehensive Sexuality Education

Jeffrey Gould, MDiv

What’s the state of sex ed in your school district? Does your state have sound, science-based policies in place to support effective sexuality education? Are you in a district that considers it a political hot potato best left out of the picture? Are the schools in your area using untested and unproven curricula that may have no impact on students?

I’m the project coordinator for the California WISE—Working to Institutionalize Sexuality Education—Initiative, a foundation-supported program currently active in 10 states. We work with schools at the district level to bring about system-wide change that creates sustainable comprehensive sexuality education (CSE). Our model is helping schools in all of the circumstances described above make progress towards CSE that works. We help them establish programs that will build the knowledge, skills and behaviors students need to prevent STD and unplanned pregnancy, avoid sexual violence and coercion, and make choices that protect their futures.

Making CSE an Institution

What does it mean to institutionalize sexuality education? Basically, we want schools and communities to think about CSE the same way they think about an academic subject such as math. You’ll never hear someone say, “Well, if we have time, we’ll get around to teaching math.” We have state and district requirements around math performance. We test students to evaluate their progress. Checks and balances within the system help schools monitor and improve their efforts. In short, best practices in math education matter. That’s institutionalization.

The WISE initiative wants to see that same level of institutionalization for sexuality education.


On Topic: News of Interest


Updates on HIV Testing and Risk Behaviors in MSM

A recent report from the CDC provides updates on HIV testing rates, positive tests and risky behaviors among men who have sex with men. Unprotected anal sex increased nearly 20% from 2005 to 2011. Recommendations for increasing testing and reducing risk are made.

Read the report here. >>


Did you know?

These findings resonate with research ETR is doing on the importance of using a relationship-based framework for HIV/STD and pregnancy prevention. To learn more, read a recent column by Pamela Anderson, PhD, in our Smart Solutions | Health newsletter.

Why Do Teens Get Tested?

In a study of almost 1,000 high school students from Bronx, NY, predictors of testing weren’t exactly what you’d expect. Knowing a lot about HIV, having a partner with HIV risk behavior, or early age of first sexual encounter were not associated with testing. Being really worried about HIV was negatively associated with testing—which gives more support for the notion that fear-based education probably isn’t going to work. Students who had open HIV-related communication with a partner and those in a serious, committed relationship had the highest likelihood of being tested.

Read the abstract here. >>

Read an article about the report here. >>


What Makes Testing More Attractive for Youth?

Among U.S. youth, 60% with HIV don’t know their status. The National Prevention Information Network reports on a study that finds teens and young adults prefer rapid point-of-care testing—getting immediate results at their doctor’s office, a clinic or an emergency department.

Read the summary here. >>

Did you know?

About 4 in 10 sexually active adolescent females currently have an STD.

Did you know?

While 85% of 13- to 17-year-olds receive tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough vaccine, only 33% of girls receive all 3 recommended shots of the HPV vaccine.

Sexual & Reproductive Health

Adolescents and STDs

Young people ages 15 to 24 acquire half of the nearly 20 million new STDs diagnosed annually in the U.S. In another of their excellent briefs, ChildTrends gives us the facts, figures, trends and resources we need to know about young people and STD—and a better understanding overall of why the problems exist.

Definitely worth a look. >>


Working Those HPV Vaccines

The HPV vaccine is now recommended for both boys and girls. But we aren’t seeing enough teens get vaccinated. A recent Bloomberg analysis of 55 studies clarifies that parental attitudes are a major barrier to effective vaccination rates.

Here’s a review of the study findings. >>

Here’s a CDC Fact Sheet, suitable for parents, on the recommendations for boys and girls. >>

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