Bullying Among Middle and High School Students
April 2011: Multiple studies have documented the association between substance use, poor academic achievement, mental health problems, and bullying. A small but growing body of research suggests that family violence is also associated with bullying. To assess the association between family violence and other risk factors, and being involved in or affected by bullying as a bully, victim, or bully-victim, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the CDC analyzed data from the 2009 Massachusetts Youth Health Survey. This report summarizes the results of that analysis, which showed significant differences in risk factors for persons in all three bullying categories, compared with persons who reported being neither bullies nor victims.
Addressing Distracted Driving with Teens
April 2011: When I chat with middle and high school students, I often query them about recent health care visits, yearly check-ups or sports physicals. I then ask how many of them were questioned by their health care providers about sensitive personal issues such as sexual activity, sexual orientation or identity issues, relationship violence, depression or suicidal ideation, alcohol or drug use, social stress or peer pressure, family and school stressors, to name just a few. I inform them to expect these questions,and to answer them honestly, to ensure that they receive the best possible health care.
While some might find such questions odd, especially during a brief routine sports physical, those who provide health care and education to adolescents know how critical these concerns can be and how seldom they are addressed by caring adults.
A new health issue has emerged, adding yet another question to the intake history. In a June 2010 piece in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Amy Ship recommends asking patients about their driving habits, including use of cell phones and text messaging. While Ship cites a graphic British PSA seen by millions online, she posits that a conversation with one’s health provider might go further in changing unhealthy and unsafe behaviours. Additionally, she cites a federal Department of Transportation website containing more information for teens and those who care for and about them.
Marijuana Use Among High Schoolers
March 2011: Two recent national surveys, Monitoring the Future, and the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, revealed that almost 42% of high school seniors surveyed had used marijuana at some point, more than 30% in the past year and about 20% in the preceding month. This prevalence of marijuana use is exceeded only by alcohol and tobacco use.
Risks associated with marijuana use include higher anxiety levels, symptoms of depression, and an increased risk of psychosis. Heavy marijuana use is also associated with “a host of neuro-cognitive deficits including attentional, learning, memory, and intellectual functioning decrements.”
In a recent study (Schepis et al. Gender differences in adolescent marijuana use and associated psychosocial characteristics. J Addict Med 2001 March;5:65-73), investigators surveyed 4523 Connecticut public high schools to determine which, if any, factors are correlated with adolescent marijuana use. Students with a A/B grade average were less likely to use than those with B/C averages or C and below grades. Participation in extra-curricular activities was associated with lower use, while holding a job was associated with a greater likelihood of use. Finally, this survey revealed prevalence very similar to aforementioned surveys: 40.4% had used marijuana at some point, while 24.5% had used during the past 30 days.
Association Between STD and Young Adults' Self-Reported Abstinence
Jan 2011: DiClemente RJ, Sales JM, Danner F, Crosby RA. Association between sexually transmitted diseases and young adults' self-reported abstinence. Pediatrics 2011;127:208-213.
This study examines a discrepancy between some adolescents’ STI test results and adolescents’ self-reports regarding sexual activity. In this study, part of ADD Health’s (Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health) third wave research findings, ten percent of adolescents diagnosed with a sexually-transmitted infection reported having no sexual intercourse during the past twelve months.
Pilot Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program
Jan 2011: ABC News reports Memphis, TN initiating a two-year pilot of a teen pregnancy prevention program titled NO BABY in response to report of 90 pregnant and/or parenting teens in one local high school.