May 2012 Reports

Binge drinking among youth
A recent issue of Vitalsigns from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Binge Drinking: Nationwide Problem, Local Solutions, says that most binge drinkers are 18- to 34-years-old, and that more than 90 percent of all the alcohol youth drink is consumed while binge drinking. Binge drinking is defined as five or more alcoholic drinks within a short period of time for men, and four or more drinks within a short period of time for women. The publication says that most binge drinkers are not alcoholics or alcohol-dependent, but most drunk drivers binge drink. Rates of binge drinking range from 10.9 percent in Utah to 25.6 percent in Wisconsin, and binge drinking is most common in the Midwest, New England, the District of Columbia, Alaska, and Hawaii.

Cash, cars, and condoms
In a recent study of 715 African-American adolescent women from urban Atlanta, participants were found to be 50 percent more likely not to use condoms during sexual encounters with their boyfriends if those boyfriends supplied most of their spending money. According to Cash, Cars, and Condoms, appearing in the Journal of Adolescent Health, those young women whose boyfriends owned cars also were less likely to demand condom usage. If these young women found another spending money source later on, they were more likely to start using condoms.

Challenges for new urban principals
More than 20 percent of new urban principals leave within two years of placement. The odds a new principal will leave are highest if the principal is placed at a school that has failed to make NCLB’s Adequate Yearly Progress, or if test scores decline during their first year as the chief administrator. According to Rand Education’s report, First-Year Principals in Urban School Districts, 78 percent of principals who resigned after only one year experienced declining test scores at their schools.

Children in high-poverty communities
A KIDS COUNT Data Snapshot from the Annie E. Casey Foundation says that African-American, American Indian, and Latino children are six to nine times more likely to live in high-poverty communities -- communities where at least 30 percent of residents live below the federal poverty threshold of $22,314 per year for a family of four. Eight million American children now live in such communities, up 25 percent since 2000; among America’s largest cities, Atlanta (43 percent), Cleveland (57 percent), Detroit (67 percent), Fresno (43 percent), Miami (49 percent), and Milwaukee (48 percent) have the highest rates of children living in high-poverty communities.

Conservatives question college
A survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reveals a clear divide in attitude between conservative Republicans -- especially Tea Party sympathizers -- and Democrats when it comes to the relative importance of learning and faith. Colleges Viewed Positively, but Conservatives Express Doubts reports that Republicans were more positive about the impact of churches (68 percent) than of colleges (51 percent), while Democrats believed that colleges (67 percent) have a more positive impact than do churches (55 percent) on the U.S. Seventy-eight percent of responders aligned with the Tea Party said churches have a more positive effect on the country than do colleges (38 percent).

Costs of abuse
Victims of child abuse endure lifelong consequences, such as an increased risk of chronic disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, increased risk of adult criminality, and lower levels of adult economic well-being. (Documented child abuse survivors earn $5,000 less per year, on average, than their cohorts.) A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Economic Burden of Child Maltreatment in the United States and Implications for Prevention, pegs the estimated lifetime cost to society per child abuse survivor at $210,012, with most of this cost ($144,360) attributable to lost productivity.

Facts on American education
The Center on Education Policy has put together a compilation of facts about American education, A Public Education Primer: Basic (and Sometimes Surprising) Facts about the U.S. Educational System. The primer says that nine out of 10 U.S. students are educated in public schools; 45 percent of public school students are children of color; three-fifths of public school students live in the South and West; most U.S. students attend suburban public schools, but most African-American and Latino students attend urban schools; almost 20 percent of public school students go to a school their parents chose; and 3 percent of school-age children are home schooled.

Hyperconnected lives
Participants in a recent survey were slightly more positive than negative when considering the effects of modern technologies and social networking on Millennials’ future lives. Millennials Will Benefit and Suffer Due to their Hyperconnected Lives, reporting results from a Pew Research Center survey, reveals that 55 percent of respondents agreed that in 2020 the brains of teens and young adults will be “wired” differently from people over age 35, and that this will yield helpful results overall. Forty-two percent of those surveyed predicted this same situation will yield bad results.

Improving food selection
According to a research brief from Salud America!, Improving Food Purchasing Selection among Low-Income Spanish-Speaking Latinos, the percentage of overweight Latino youth in the U.S. has doubled over the past decade, and half of all Latino children born in 2000 or after are projected to develop diabetes at some point in their lifetimes. The study of 20 low-income Spanish-speaking Latino families with children younger than 18 found that the families spent 33 percent of their income on food that is low in fiber; calorie-dense; and high in fat, carbohydrates, and salt.

New school truths
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has transformed its Civil Rights Data Collection. It now contains school year 2009-10 data for 85 percent of the nation’s students, which reveal new facts about American public education. According to the data, students with disabilities represent 12 percent of all students, but account for almost 70 percent of students who are physically restrained at schools. Fifty percent of U.S. students are male and 50 percent are female, but 74 percent of expelled students are male, and African-American students are more than 3.5 times more likely to be expelled or suspended than white students.

School buildings and health http://mcgraw-hillresearch
A new report from the McGraw-Hill Research Foundation and the Center for Green Schools, The Impact of School Buildings on Student Health and Performance, says there is clear evidence that depriving children of natural light (daylighting) disrupts their melatonin cycles and affects their levels of alertness when at school. The report also says that, when ventilation rates in schools drop to minimum standards (15 cubic feet per minute per student) or fall below them, student performance drops by 5 percent to 10 percent, and that when ventilation rates drop to 10 cubic feet per minute/student, there is a 15 percent increase in Sick Building Syndrome.

Sugar consumption
A new data brief from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Consumption of Added Sugar Among U.S. Children and Adolescents, 2005-2008, says that added sugars make up 16 percent of children’s and adolescents’ total caloric intake at all income levels. More of these calories come from foods rather than beverages, and most of these calories are consumed at home. Boys consume more added sugars than girls in all age groups, and non-Hispanic white children and adolescents consume the most added sugars.

Teachers and the economy
Teacher job satisfaction is at its lowest rate in 20 years, according to the latest MetLife Survey of the American Teacher. Only 44 percent of teachers are satisfied with their jobs, and 29 percent of the teachers surveyed say they are likely to leave the teaching profession. The number of teachers who say their jobs are insecure has grown from 8 percent in 2006 to 34 percent. Two-thirds of teachers and 53 percent of parents say that teachers’ salaries are not fair.

Teen tobacco use
Ninety-nine percent of smokers report their first tobacco use occurred by age 26; 80 percent of them began smoking at 18 or younger. Twenty-five percent of high school seniors smoke regularly, and 80 percent will continue to smoke into adulthood. One-half will die 13 years earlier than their nonsmoking cohorts. The evidence revealed in the Surgeon General’s report, Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults, is suggestive that regular tobacco usage may be hereditary, but finds no link between smoking and weight loss. 

Compiled by Margaret Suslick, ASBJ’s Editorial Assistant.