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Press Releases

News from the field of Child and Youth Care

August 2010


Taking action to improve child and youth mental health in Ontario

The Provincial Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health at CHEO (the Centre) applauds the provincial government's recommendations in "Navigating the Journey to Wellness: The Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan for Ontarians." One in five Ontario children and youth suffer from a mental illness or disorder. Half of all lifetime cases of mental illness start by age 14 years and 75 per cent by age 24 years.

"It is critical for us to highlight child and youth mental health in any plan that hopes to address the mental health of Ontarians across the lifespan. Focusing on mental health early and having access to effective services for those in need will help our young people grow more fully into their adult years," says Ian Manion, Executive Director, the Centre. "The members of the Standing Committee have heard the heart-wrenching stories of young people and families who are suffering and recognize the need for us to do better in child and youth mental health."

The challenge is to provide those gateways or opportunities to improved mental health at every point in a child's life - in their families and communities, at their schools and activities, and throughout the healthcare system. "The government's Action Plan, together with the Centre's commitment to working collaboratively with leaders across all sectors, will help achieve far better outcomes for those who suffer from mental illness," explains Simon Davidson, MD, Chief Strategic Planning Executive, the Centre. "It is rewarding to see that the Select Committee recognizes the value of centres of excellence, such as ours. Yet much more work is needed to create a collaborative mental health system."

The Centre is a cornerstone of Ontario's commitment to equipping front line workers with the practical tools and evidence they need to improve the overall mental health system for the province's two million children and youth. Launched in 2004, the Centre works with thousands of social workers, child and youth workers, psychologists, nurses, educators, as well as youth, parents and caregivers to build a better mental health system for children and youth in Ontario.

Press release: CNW
27 August 2010


Doctors tell Hollywood to stop luring youth into smoking

Actors have been lighting up on the silver screen at least as far back as 1942, when Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman puffed their way through “Casablanca.” But some medical professionals in Canada and the United States say smoking in Hollywood movies lures young people into taking up the habit, and wants rating systems changed to ensure youth-rated films do not depict smoking.

“Tobacco Vector,” a new study commissioned by Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada, suggests that 130,000 Canadian teenagers may have taken up smoking as a result of being exposed to it in movies. Of those, an estimated 43,000 will die prematurely from smoking. The study is based on research from the World Health Organization, the U.S. Institute of Medicine, and the U.S. National Cancer Institute. “Studies worldwide show smoking in movies is one of the most powerful recruiters of young people into lifelong tobacco addiction,” said Neil Collishaw, research director of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada.

The report also found that federal and provincial subsidies to Hollywood studios undermine public health efforts to reduce smoking among youth. “Canadian provincial and federal governments are unintentionally contributing to the problem,” said Jonathan Polansky, author of the study, and a consultant to tobacco prevention agencies and policy research projects in the United States, Canada, Britain, and other countries.

“First, the provincial rating systems allow many of the U.S. studio films with the most smoking—R-rated in the U.S.—to be dumped into the Canadian youth market, spiking youth tobacco exposure. Second, scores of U.S. studio films with smoking, accessible to young people, are actually being paid for by Canada’s taxpayers through generous production tax credits.”

Because so many R-rated films are re-rated 14A or PG when they cross the border, Canadian youth can watch more than two-thirds of such movies while American youth see fewer than half. A 14A rating means that under 14-year-olds of age must be accompanied by an adult.

Every dollar in film subsidies granted by the federal and provincial governments—which totaled a quarter of a billion dollars over the past five years—ultimately costs Canada $1.62 in tobacco-related medical care and productivity loss, the study said.

Although incidences of people smoking in movies have been falling since 2005 when they reached a peak, health organizations in both Canada and the United States want the rating systems changed. These groups, among several others, have consistently called for steps to substantially and permanently reduce young people’s exposure. The U.S. film industry, however, has been reluctant to change its self-administered rating system to apply an adult rating to new films with tobacco content.

The same day the Canadian study was released on Aug. 19, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released their own report focusing on the amount of smoking in major motion pictures over the past 18 years. The report found that while 2009 was the first year that a majority of all films were smoke-free, theatre audiences were still exposed to 17 billion “smoking impressions” in that year alone. Just over half (54 percent) of PG-13 films featured tobacco imagery in 2009, including tobacco brand display.

The CDC said an R rating would not only substantially reduce the likelihood of an adolescent seeing a film with smoking, but would also create an economic incentive for producers to leave smoking out of films that are marketed to youth.

A couple of drags on a cigarette by Sigourney Weaver in “Avatar” earned the movie a “black lung” by, which rates films based on the smoking incidents they contain. “Avatar” director James Cameron has said that while smoking is “is a filthy habit which I don’t support,” he told Cinema Blend that smoking has its place in movies. “I don’t believe in the dogmatic idea that no one in a movie should smoke. Movies should reflect reality. If it’s OK for people to lie, cheat, steal, and kill in PG-13 movies, why impose an inconsistent morality when it comes to smoking?” Cameron added however that he agrees “young role-model characters should not smoke in movies, especially in a way which suggests that it makes them cooler or more accepted by their peers.”

With the release of the Canadian study, the Youth Advocacy Training Institute (YATI), a youth arm of the Canadian Lung Association, is also asking the film industry to cut smoking scenes from youth-rated films. “We pay good money to see movies and shouldn’t be manipulated by the tobacco industry’s product placement,” Mimosa Kabir, a member of YATI, said in a press release. The film industry and government need to better protect children and youth against glamorous celebrity smoking with the same vigilance as other R-rated content.”

Studies show that most smokers take up the habit in their teens. About 15 percent of Canadian youth between 15 and 19 smoke daily, according to Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada.

The CDC urges film studios to endorse four Smoke-Free Movies goals:

Report on Press release from YATI
26 August 2010


Advance America awards

Advance America, the nation's leading provider of non-bank cash advance services, today announced the winners of the "America Deserves a Raise" campaign, a nationwide essay contest and sweepstakes to reward hardworking Americans for extraordinary service.

Joan Dalton of West Linn, Oregon has been awarded the Grand Prize among thousands of contestants; she and the person who nominated her, Nancy Hill of Portland, will receive $40,000 each. Hill's essay described Dalton's exceptional efforts to provide a "second chance to two groups many consider untouchable: incarcerated youth and dogs nobody wants."

Dalton runs an educational program for incarcerated boys within a youth correctional facility. She developed a program in which the boys adopt dogs facing euthanasia from a nearby animal shelter, and train and groom the dogs before finding them loving homes. Hill said this about Dalton's achievements:

"She transformed an unused building on the correctional facility's ground into a kennel and sold her house to expand the program, creating components for job, computer, and communication skills… General contractors worked with participants to renovate the building, and soon dogs and youth were learning from each other; the dogs teaching the youth patience, trust, and compassion… A 2001 study showed the 100+ youth who'd then been through it had a zero-percent recidivism rate. To Joan's knowledge, that hasn't changed."

The America Deserves a Raise runner-up, Violeta Singson of New Berlin, Wisconsin, has also devoted her time to helping the less fortunate. She and her nominator, Brenda Quinn of Milwaukee, will each receive a $5,000 bonus. Quinn described Singson as someone who "never stops doing amazing things," adding:

"Despite lower pay and other difficulties, Violeta chose to focus on serving children in the inner city. She also teaches at the local medical college and is an active volunteer in several community groups, including one that travels to and provides medical care and supplies in the Philippines...Violeta has also established a free medical clinic, which operates two mornings a month and serves people regardless of race, age, gender, religion, employment or immigration status. Services and medications are provided to all absolutely free."

"This campaign brings to life an ethic that is very important to our Company – supporting and applauding the efforts of those who continually seek to improve their communities and the lives of others," said Ken Compton, Advance America President and CEO. "We are pleased to honor these four individuals for their deep commitment to helping people in need and for recognizing the importance of such contributions to society."

The essay contest and sweepstakes sought to honor and reward hardworking Americans. More than 5,000 people nominated someone they know, or themselves, for the contest's Grand Prize by submitting essays explaining why a special individual "deserves a raise." The general public was invited to read and rate the stories on the contest's website to help determine the most deserving nominee, and more than 650,000 people participated. A panel of judges reviewed the top 100 essays, based on votes from the public, and the winners will be presented with their awards during events planned in the coming weeks.

As part of the "America Deserves a Raise" campaign, the Company also donated $50,000 to United Way of the Piedmont and the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen to support activities in the local Spartanburg community, where Advance America is headquartered. United Way of the Piedmont plans to use the contribution to support its Gifts-In-Kind Center, which helps provide supplies to more than 130 non-profit organizations that offer assistance to those in need, while the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen intends to use Advance America's contribution to help finance the construction of a new facility.

Press release: PRNewswire-USNewswire
23 August 2010


Share TV time, then talk with kids

I don't usually recommend that parents schedule quality time with their kids in front of the TV, but over the summer I've done just that with my daughter.

On the occasions I've allowed her to stay up super-late, we've found ourselves drawn to episodes of an MTV show for teens (or in her case, preteens) that is compelling and disturbing in that it serves as an eye-opener about the struggles that youths are facing every day. The show, "If You Really Knew Me," airs Tuesdays at 11 p.m. on MTV and each week features students in a high school somewhere in America who have agreed to participate in Challenge Day.

Adult moderators pair the students with classmates they wouldn't otherwise socialize with, and guide them to open up about who they really are, and what they deal with on a daily basis. The goal is to break down barriers, eliminate cliques and help students value one another. On the surface, it seems like just another reality show. But within minutes, it is remarkable to witness the teens' vulnerability as they share truths about their lives.

A homecoming queen admits that she's lonely; the school sports star acknowledges that he lacks self-confidence; and the so-called school nerd shares that her mother is in jail and her dad is verbally abusive. On one show, a teen reveals that she has contemplated suicide because she has a mental illness. Another weeps as she questions aloud why her father abandoned the family. Half the school acknowledges they've been bullied in some way or live in single- parent homes.

By the end of each hourlong episode, the students (and viewers like me) are often stunned, and sometimes in tears. The students finally see past who's wearing what, the giggles or snide remarks about others, or a classmate's bad attitude or anger. They see the other person. They begin to care.

The moderator who leads the teens to tears and heartfelt confessions reminds them that they've gone this far to reach a place of understanding, where they can learn to love and support one another, despite their differences. She encourages them to apologize to one another for being judgmental or mean.

I'm not sure what gives the youths the courage to be so open with the cameras rolling, but their authenticity is life-changing. And the moderator reminds each of them that after Challenge Day, they should never feel alone again - they have an entire high school of supportive peers.

I finish each episode with more than enough to chat about with my daughter. She's clearly moved by what students just a few years older than she is are grappling with. Viewing the show with her opens the door for dialogue about any questions or concerns she might have, or for discussion about how she can be more empathetic to her classmates. In my opinion, it is important viewing for teens and preteens, and for parents and adults who work with children.

It's the kind of reality show that for once makes sense if it can help a youth feel less isolated and find the courage to open up, or if it can help care-giving adults be in tune to signs that the children they're nurturing need more support. Talking about tough stuff might not be comfortable, but if your teens or preteens are willing, we adults must meet them halfway.

Stacy Hawkins Adams
21 August 2010


School nurses call on parents to vaccinate their preteens and teens against meningococcal meningitis before school year begins

More than half of adolescents 13 to 17 years of age have not been vaccinated against meningococcal disease, a rare but serious disease that can cause meningitis and take the life of a child in just a single day. In a recent Ipsos national survey, the majority of mothers with children in this age group had not vaccinated their children because they were not fully aware of the need for vaccination. However, once they were informed of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) recommendation to vaccinate preteens and teens 11 to 18 years of age, nearly 90 percent said they were now likely to vaccinate their children.

The National Association of School Nurses' (NASN) Voices of Meningitis campaign is encouraging families to add meningococcal vaccination to their back-to-school checklists. Voices of Meningitis is a public education initiative that brings together school nurses, parents, survivors of the disease and public health officials to share their experiences to help educate families with preteen and teenage children about the dangers of meningitis and importance of vaccination.

"As a school nurse and a mom myself, I am committed to keeping children healthy and ready to learn," said Sandi Delack, RN, MEd, NCSN, president of the NASN and a school nurse for more than 20 years. "With another school year upon us, I have joined the NASN's Voices of Meningitis program to call on all parents to have their children vaccinated against this potentially deadly disease. Every health-care visit, including back-to-school check-ups, is an opportunity to have your child vaccinated against meningitis."

Preteens and teens are at a greater risk for getting meningitis and death rates from meningitis are up to five times higher among teens and young adults compared with other age groups. Everyday activities such as prolonged close contact among large groups of adolescents, sharing drinking glasses and kissing, can increase the risk for getting the disease.

Meningitis can be devastating
Although rare, meningitis can kill or disable an otherwise healthy young person in just a single day. Of those who survive, one in five is left with serious medical problems, including amputation of limbs, brain damage, deafness and organ damage.

Olga Pasick lost her son, David, to meningococcal meningitis when he was 13 years of age, shortly after he started a new school year. "David was a typical, outgoing and healthy teen. But one night in September, he had a high fever and was vomiting throughout the night," said Olga. "The next morning, my husband and I took David to the pediatrician, who sent him straight to the emergency room. Our son died within hours. It was only after his death that I learned vaccination may have saved his life," said Olga.

"If David had been vaccinated, he might still be here today. No parent should have to bury their child," said Olga. "I hope other families will learn from our story and have their children vaccinated before sending them back to school."

Parents can help protect their children by getting them vaccinated
Vaccination against meningococcal disease has been recommended for years and is a safe and effective way to help protect against this disease. The CDC first recommended immunization of adolescents in 2005.

Visit to learn more about meningococcal meningitis and vaccination and to hear the compelling stories of families and people who have been personally affected by meningitis.

Press release-PR Newswire
18 August 2010


Decline in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome contributed to overall decline in infant mortality in New Jersey

The rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), a leading cause of infant mortality, declined in New Jersey by 45 percent between 2000 and 2006, the most recent year for which final SIDS data are available, report Barbara M. Ostfeld, PhD, and Thomas Hegyi, MD, professors in the Department of Pediatrics at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and program director and medical director, respectively, for the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Center of New Jersey. According to Dr. Hegyi, this decline has contributed to the 17 percent reduction in overall infant mortality in New Jersey between 2000 and 2007 that is described in 2010 KIDS COUNT, the newly issued report of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The report also notes that the decline in New Jersey’s overall infant mortality far exceeds the national trend of a 3 percent decline, placing New Jersey's rate fifth lowest among 50 states. According to Drs. Ostfeld and Hegyi, New Jersey’s SIDS rate also falls below the national rate.

“In 2006, the rate for SIDS in New Jersey fell to 0.3 per thousand live births, the equivalent of three such deaths per 10,000 live births,” said Dr. Ostfeld. “By contrast, in 2000, five infants in every 10,000 live births succumbed to SIDS, and a decade earlier, eight per 10,000 live births did so.”

“Preliminary data from the Center for Health Statistics of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services suggests that the lower rate of SIDS deaths in 2006 was also observed in the period 2007 and 2008,” explained Dr. Hegyi, who also serves as vice chair of the Department of Pediatrics.

SIDS is defined as the sudden and unexpected death of an infant before the first birthday that remains unexplained even after a complete evaluation consisting of an autopsy, a death scene investigation and a review of the medical history. Many studies now suggest that one of the potential causes of such an unexplained death may turn out to be an abnormality in the brainstem that diminishes an infant’s capacity to arouse and respond to breathing challenges such as those posed by sleeping prone (on the stomach) on soft bedding. Other risk factors for SIDS, such as exposure to tobacco smoke or overheating, can further compromise arousal.

“A comprehensive education program provided by healthcare professionals throughout the state that follows guidelines established by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has contributed to the improved outcomes for infant mortality in New Jersey,” added Dr. Hegyi. “The decline in SIDS has been associated in great part with improved compliance with these recommendations by parents and other caregivers.”

Referring to the recent study in Pediatrics by Drs. Ostfeld and Hegyi that found that more than that 78 percent of SIDS cases contained multiple concurrent risk factors, Dr. Hegyi commented, “Risk-reduction education of new parents and all other caregivers, such as grandparents and babysitters, should be comprehensive. In addition to education about placing infants ‘Back-to-Sleep,’ the position associated with the lowest risk, all other recommendations of the AAP should also be described and discussed.”

The risk reduction education provided by the SIDS Center of New Jersey is all-inclusive, addressing all the risk factors and safe sleep guidelines described by the AAP including those related to prone sleep, sharing sleep surfaces with a sleeping adult, smoke exposure, presence of pillows, and other soft and loose bedding, and overheating. The SIDS Center of New Jersey promotes knowledge and compliance through the education of health and social service providers for infants and families, including providers in hospitals, child care centers, offices of the Division of Youth and Family Services, and health clinics, as well as with families directly.

“Until the biological causes for SIDS are fully defined and lead to the identification and treatment of living infants who may be vulnerable, the risk-reducing guidelines recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics are considered by both researchers and healthcare providers to be the most effective interventions to date,” says Dr. Ostfeld.

The complete guidelines of risk reduction practices recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics can be found on the SIDS Center of New Jersey website: The site also contains a link to the publication by the American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, with additional details on risk reduction. The safe sleep practices described in these guidelines also help reduce the likelihood of accidental suffocation.

Press relwease: NewsWise
18 August 2010


Former President of Chile Michelle Bachelet heads global panel to promote social protection

Former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet presided over the first meeting of the Social Protection Floor Advisory Group, held in Geneva on 11 and 12 August and convened by the ILO Director-General, Juan Somavia.

The social protection floor is a set of basic social security rights and transfers, as well as essential services in the area of employment, health, water and sanitation, nutrition, education and family-support, to protect and empower poor and vulnerable people to work out of poverty. These social policies must be combined in a coherent and integral life cycle approach and have a special focus on the most vulnerable groups of society, including women, children and youth.

Globally, four out of five persons in the working-age population have no access to adequate social protection, lacking access to social security, health and unemployment assistance. The economic crisis has impacted adversely these vulnerable populations both in developed and developing countries. Global unemployment has reached its highest level on record, and is expected to increase throughout 2010.

It is estimated that the combination of the economic and food crises has added around 98 million people to the population living on less than $2 a day in 2009. Young people have been particularly affected. By the end of 2009, of some 620 million economically active youth, 81 million – or 13 per cent – were unemployed. Today, young people are nearly three times more likely than adults to be unemployed - 24 per cent of the world’s working poor are young people, versus 18.1 per cent of total global employment.

During the two-day meeting, Ms. Bachelet engaged with prominent experts and policy-makers from an array of countries and backgrounds – the members of the Group – in discussions concerning the meaning of a Social Protection Floor; its main components; its political, economic and financial feasibility, as well as its institutional dimensions, fiscal space availability and overall sustainability in very diverse situations and according to different countries' circumstances and needs.

The Group also includes ILO Director-General, Mr. Juan Somavia, and Ms. Margaret Chang, Director-General of the World Health Organization ( WHO ), who act as ex-officio members.

“No one can deny the crucial role that social protection measures have played during the current global economic crisis. They not only prevented millions of people from falling further into poverty by ensuring access to much needed social services, but also helped to reduce the likelihood of social unrest and made an important contribution to limiting the fall in aggregate demand, thus curtailing the potential depth of the recession”, said Ms. Bachelet. “But social protection policies – and the goal of a social protection floor – will be even more important in the months and years ahead to tackle the enormous human cost that the economic crisis has left behind. It is now time to come together in an effective coalition and synergize our activities to make social protection a reality for all. The launch of this group is the first step forward”, Ms. Bachelet added.

Innovative experiences such as the Chilean social protection system, Brazil’s Bolsa Familia, the Revenue de Solidarité Active ( RSA ) in France, and the Indian unfolding 100-day employment guarantee scheme, served as the basis for the discussion.

To fill the social protection gap and support countries to cope with the human toll of the crisis, the United Nations system, the IMF, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization ( WTO ), under the leadership of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, have agreed to jointly promote the implementation of a Social Protection Floor.

This is one of the nine joint initiatives adopted in April 2009 by the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination ( UNCEB ) to cope with the effects of the economic crisis. The Social Protection Floor Initiative is led by the ILO and WHO and involves a group of 17 other agencies.

The Group discussed ways to enhance policy coherence in social policies and recognized the importance of the Social Protection Floor as a key lever to accelerate the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals ( MDGs ). It was stressed that a Social Protection Floor is relevant and needed also for developed countries, and an important factor for the achievement of a fairer and sustainable globalization, in particular to combat poverty, empower people, reduce inequalities and build social inclusion.

“The launch of the Advisory Group comes at a critical time. The global financial and economic crisis has created greater vulnerabilities in terms of decent work, health, hunger and education which will have dramatic social effects unless decisive action is taken. It risks compromising progress towards internationally agreed development goals, including halving global poverty by 2015 and the other MDGs. It is the United Nations’ duty to protect those fundamental elements of social cohesion that make human development possible, but which are often the first to be discarded in a recession”, said ILO Director-General, Juan Somavia.

The Group also said that special attention should be given to women and the youth. "Young people are the drivers of economic development. Foregoing this potential is an economic waste and can undermine social stability”, Mr. Somavia declared, adding that “the impact of the crisis has not been gender neutral, with disproportionate burden placed on women in both developed and developing countries”.

The WHO, under the leadership of Ms. Chang, said that “ensuring universal access to health care is key. A comprehensive national health policy that is part of the broader developmental plan of countries can ensure complementarities between all elements needed to improve health outcomes and achieving the MDGs. The importance of the social protection floor is that it provides a framework so that these complementarities are there and that social protection reaches out to the most vulnerable”.

The Social Protection Floor Advisory Group will provide general guidance and catalyze policy coherence to the work in this area. It will also promote the exchange of experiences, capacity building and implementation of the social protection floor concept according to different socioeconomic and institutional contexts at the global, regional, national and local levels. The group will also collaborate in the identification of good practices around the world and contribute to catalyze exchanges and cooperation across countries, including South-South cooperation.

Press release: Meia Newswire
17 August 2010


A press opinion


Family unit is not complete without a father in the picture

In today’s society, and to its detriment, more and more fathers are being viewed as an optional part of the family unit. But in reality, as the father goes, so goes the family.

Seldom, if ever, do I give much credence to what celebrities think or say. Most of them don’t live anywhere near the real world you and I live in, and, most of the time, they pontificate on things for which they have absolutely zero experience. Actress Jennifer Aniston is currently promoting her new movie, “The Switch,” which is about a woman wanting to have a baby via artificial insemination. Her character chooses not to have a father be a part of the process other than donation of sperm.

In a People magazine interview, Aniston said that “times have changed” in regard to the idea of the traditional family. So if that means having a family without the man in the picture, that’s OK. “They (women) are realizing if it’s that time in their life and they want this part, they can do it with or without that,” she said.

The “that” she referred to is a father. Aniston says that family life has “evolved” from strictly “the traditional stereotype of family. The point of the movie is,” she said, “what is that which defines family?” Her answer: “It isn’t necessarily the traditional mother, father, two children and a dog named Spot. Love is love and family is what is around you.”

Naïve, childless, Ms. Aniston could not be more wrong about the importance of a father in the life of the family. Her nonsensical blathering is nothing more than Hollywood fantasy. And the facts confirm that the absence of a father in the family has a dramatic, lasting, negative impact on children. Make no mistake, single mothers perform heroically when forced to raise children alone. But ask any single mother and she will tell you how important a kind, loving father is to her and her children – and they long for that.

I am not talking about abusive fathers. No woman should have to endure that kind of relationship. I believe the good Lord counts a mother’s tears and fathers will be held accountable for their actions and omissions regarding their responsibilities to their families. I believe there is nothing more noble than motherhood. But the notion of a father as optional family equipment, as Ms. Aniston alludes, is absurd.

Her comment that the traditional family of mother and father has evolved into a higher and more complex something else is false. Consider these facts. Children from fatherless homes account for:

Karl Zinsmeister, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said: “Fathers play critical roles for their children as teachers. Clinical work shows that fathers are more likely than mothers to encourage children to explore the outer levels of their competence and withstand frustration. As children get older, one area where fathers frequently concentrate is in helping their offspring navigate through specific life crises.

“Research also shows that fathers are critical in the establishment of gender in children. Interestingly, fatherly involvement produces stronger sexual identity and character in both boys and girls. It’s well established that the masculinity of sons and the femininity of daughters are each greatest when fathers are active in family life.

“It would be idiotic to suggest that among the different traits and capacities that fathers and mothers bring to the family any one set of qualities is superior to another. The point is these varied skills and outlooks combine in lovely ways to give children everything that they need.”

A father is vital to the success and well-being of the family. No father is perfect, but the fact is, when we start to marginalize his importance or buy into the notion that he is just an optional part of the family unit, future generations will suffer – because, as the father goes so goes the family.

Robin L. Quillon
15 August 2010



Help to make foster care permanent

A new welfare initiative will provide financial and professional support to parents taking on foster children permanently in a manner of care which stops short of full adoption.

Many people act as foster parents and care for children in conjunction with Child, Youth and Family (CYF), with the goal generally being for them to return to their families when the families are in a position to cope. Adoption involves birth parents signing over legal guardianship of their child, but the Home for Life scheme will put neglected children into the permanent care of foster parents, who will get a state assistance package. That includes a $2500 up-front payment for clothing and other costs, free necessities such as a cot and pushchair, assistance with legal costs, CYF support, seminars and time out "respite breaks".

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said the package made it easier to offer a child a permanent home. "There are just over 2000 foster parents currently, many of whom want to take on a child permanently, but are concerned about losing state support and being left to cope alone," she said.

The new measures are expected to reduce the length of time children are in state care, and reduce the number of children in care by 1200 over four to five years. "There is an urgent need to do this for the children in care, because the benefits to them are obvious," Ms Bennett said. It was also important for the carers. She said if potential Home for Life parents were reluctant to open the door permanently to those who need it, the support announced yesterday would hopefully make the difference.

Ms Bennett said at any one time there were about 5500 children in CYF custody, without certainty or stability. About 300 under the age of 5 had been in care for more than two years, and some older ones had never left. Many had experienced violence, abuse or neglect before being shifted into care.

People can opt in to Home for Life from October 1.

13 August 2010 



Youth bullying expert to talk to Brisbane Community

Leading psychologist and bullying expert Dr Michael Carr-Gregg will be on the southside of Brisbane on Monday next week to deliver his bullying seminar series for principals, school staff and parents.

Education and Training Minister Geoff Wilson said the Action Against Bullying forums were being held across the state as part of a major initiative of the Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence. "The Bligh Government takes bullying in our schools and online very seriously which is why we have invited Dr Carr-Gregg to Queensland to share his insights," Mr Wilson said.

"This is a unique opportunity to hear from a bullying expert and I would encourage all parents and school staff in the southern suburbs of Brisbane to attend these forums. The seminars are open to all school sectors - state, Catholic and independent - and are an initiative of the special bullying taskforce, the Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence. During the forums, Dr Carr-Gregg will work with principals and teachers on developing policies and actions. This, combined with the support of parents, can help to protect children from the negative impact of bullying. He will also work with parents to help break the bullying cycle. A strong focus of his forums will also be cyber safety, an issue that continues to grow as online technologies and social networking become more popular with young people.”

Dr Carr-Gregg is holding 30 seminars across 10 Queensland locations between May and August, with each location hosting a breakfast seminar for school leaders, a half day workshop for teachers and school staff and an evening workshop for parents.

Dr Carr-Gregg said bullying was one of the most serious adolescent mental health issues facing Australia today. "A lack of action can cause serious long-term psychological consequences for the young person involved so knowing how to protect a child in your care and what to do if your child is affected is vitally important," Dr Carr-Gregg said. "Whether you're a principal, a teacher, a guidance counsellor or a parent, there are many tools and approaches that can be used and I will discuss these in my forums. I’m looking forward to visiting Brisbane and sharing my knowledge so we can work together as a community to alleviate youth bullying.”

The Brisbane South Action Against Bullying seminars will be held at River Park Place at Morningside on August 9. To register to attend or for more information please visit

Press release: Media Newswire
11 August 2010


SOS Children's Villages marked Day of Youth in Azerbaijan

Association SOS Children's Villages of Azerbaijan have held an event on the Day of Youth at Youth House 1.

The Day of Youth has been officially marked in many countres since 12 August 1998. The issues of attracting young people to development of public and humanity are discussed on this day.

The Association SOS Children's Villages of Azerbaijan has been rendering assistance to children deprived of parental care for already 10 years. The main aim of the association is to ensure the comprehensive development of children taken for custody. The association is taking an active part in preparing youth for adult life as independent, competent and comprehensively developed members of public.

The event held on August 10 was dedicated to the opportunities of education of youth within the framework of programs implemented by the Association SOS Children's Villages of Azerbaijan.

As a result of durable assistance to children that live in child campuses in Baku and Ganja, as well as other talented children who enjoy other projects of the organization, the ward of the Baku SOS Children's Villages Ulviyya Macnunova entered the state university Dogu Akdeniz of Turkey’s Cypru. The Dogu Akdeniz University that created this opportunity for Ulviyya has been functioning since 1979. It accounts for 150,000 students from 68 countries and leading professors of 35 different countries work here. The directorate of the university which encourages the education of Azerbaijani students at the University intends to continue creating opportunities for children especially those who are deprived of parental care. It should be noted that the education fee at this university ranges between $6000 and 8000 depending on the major. The university that provides 50% discount for students from Azerbaijan created an opportunity of free education for Ulviyya Majnunova this year. In addition, it ensures the transport and staying fees of Ulviyya Majnunova.

SOS Children's Villages Azerbaijan Association that has carried out these and other measures in the sphere of education, invites media representatives to a briefing to be held at the Youth House at 11.00 on August 10.

Dear media representatives, do not miss the chance to get informed about the success and achievements of young people on the International Day of Youth and hear their voices. We will be glad to see all of you at the briefing.

10 August 2010


The internet generation prefers the real world

They may have been dubbed the "Internet generation," but young people are more interested in their real-world friends than Facebook. New research shows that the majority of children and teenagers are not the Web-savvy digital natives of legend. In fact, many of them don't even know how to google properly.

Seventeen-year-old Jetlir is online every day, sometimes for many hours at a time and late into the night. The window of his instant messaging program is nearly always open on his computer screen. A jumble of friends and acquaintances chat with each other. Now and again Jetlir adds half a sentence of his own, though this is soon lost in the endless stream of comments, jokes and greetings. He has in any case moved on, and is now clicking through sports videos on YouTube.

Jetlir is a high school student from Cologne. He could easily be a character in one of the many newspaper stories about the "Internet generation" that is allegedly in grave danger of losing itself in the virtual world.

Jetlir grew up with the Internet. It's been around for as long as he can remember. He spends half of his leisure time on Facebook and YouTube, or chatting with friends online.

In spite of this, Jetlir thinks that other things - especially basketball - are much more important to him. "My club comes first," says Jetlir. "I'd never miss a training session." His real life also seems to come first in other respects: "If someone wants to meet me, I turn off my computer immediately," he says.

'What's the Point?'

Indeed, Jetlir does not actually expect very much from the Internet. Older generations may consider it a revolutionary medium, enthuse about the splendors of blogging and tweet obsessively on the short-messaging service Twitter. But Jetlir is content if his friends are within reach, and if people keep uploading videos to YouTube. He'd never dream of keeping a blog. Nor does he know anybody else his age who would want to. And he's certainly never tweeted before. "What's the point?" he asks.

The Internet plays a paradoxical role in Jetlir's life. Although he uses it intensively, he isn't that interested in it. It's indispensable, but only if he has nothing else planned. "It isn't everything," he says.

Jetlir's easy-going attitude towards the Internet is typical of German adolescents today, as several recent studies have shown. Odd as it may seem, the first generation that cannot imagine life without the Internet doesn't actually consider the medium particularly important, and indeed shuns some of the latest web technologies. Only 3 percent of young people keep their own blog, and no more than 2 percent regularly contribute to Wikipedia or other comparable open source projects.

Similarly, most young people in Germany ignore social bookmarking websites like Delicious and photo-sharing portals such as Flickr and Picasa. Apparently the netizens of the future couldn't care less about the collaborative delights of Web 2.0 - that, at least, is the finding of a major study by the Hans Bredow Institute in Germany.

The Net Generation

For years, experts have been talking about a new kind of tech-savvy youth who are mobile, networked, and chronically restless, spoilt by the glut of stimuli on the Internet. These young people were said to live in perpetual symbiosis with their computers and mobile phones, with networking technology practically imprinted in their genes. The media habitually referred to them as "digital natives," "Generation @" or simply "the net generation."

Two of the much cited spokesmen of this movement are the 64-year-old American author Marc Prensky and his 62-year-old Canadian colleague, Don Tapscott. Prensky coined the expression "digital natives" to describe those lucky souls born into the digital era, instinctively acquainted with all that the Internet has to offer in terms of participation and self-promotion, and streets ahead of their elders in terms of web-savviness. Prensky classifies everyone over the age of 25 as "digital immigrants" - people who gain access to the Internet later in life and betray themselves through their lack of mastery of the local customs, like real-world immigrants who speak their adopted country's language with an accent.

A small group of writers, consultants and therapists thrives on repeating the same old mantra, namely that our youth is shaped through and through by the online medium in which it grew up. They claim that our schools must, therefore, offer young people completely new avenues - surely traditional education cannot reach this generation any longer, they argue.

Little Evidence

There is little evidence to back such theories up, however. Rather than conducting surveys, these would-be visionaries base their arguments on impressive individual cases of young Internet virtuosos. As other, more serious researchers have since discovered, such exceptions say very little about the generation as a whole, and they are now avidly trying to correct the mistakes of the past.

Numerous studies have since revealed how young people actually use the Internet. The findings show that the image of the "net generation" is almost completely false - as is the belief in the all-changing power of technology.

A study by the Hans Bredow Institute entitled "Growing Up With the Social Web" was particularly thorough in its approach. In addition to conducting a representative survey, the researchers conducted extensive individual interviews with 28 young people. Once again it became clear that young people primarily use the Internet to interact with friends. They go on social networking sites like Facebook and the popular German website SchulerVZ, which is aimed at school students, to chat, mess around and show off - just like they do in real life.

There are a few genuine net pioneers who compose music online with friends from Amsterdam and Barcelona, organize spontaneous protests to lobby for cheaper public transport passes for schoolchildren, or use the virtual arena in other imaginative ways. But most of the respondents saw the Internet as merely a useful extension of the old world rather than as a completely new one. Their relationship to the medium is therefore far more pragmatic than initially posited. "We found no evidence whatsoever that the Internet is the dominating influence in the lives of young people," says Ingrid Paus-Hasebrink, the Salzburg-based communication researcher who led the project.

Not Very Skilled

More surprising yet, these supposedly gifted netizens are not even particularly adept at getting the most out of the Internet. "They can play around," says Rolf Schulmeister, an educational researcher from Hamburg who specializes in the use of digital media in the classroom. "They know how to start up programs, and they know where to get music and films. But only a minority is really good at using it."

Schulmeister should know. He recently plowed through the findings of more than 70 relevant studies from around the globe. He too came to the conclusion that the Internet certainly hasn't taken over the real world. "The media continue to account for only a part of people's leisure activities. And the Internet is only one medium among many," he says. "Young people still prefer to meet friends or take part in sports."

Of course that won't prevent the term "net generation" being bandied about in the media and elsewhere. "It's an obvious, cheap metaphor," Schulmeister says. "So it just keeps cropping up."

In Touch with Friends around the Clock

In purely statistical terms, it appears that ever-greater proportions of young people's days are focused on technology. According to a recent study carried out by the Stuttgart-based media research group MPFS, 98 percent of 12- to 19-year-olds in Germany now have access to the Internet. And by their own estimates, they are online for an average of 134 minutes a day - just three minutes less than they spend in front of the television.
However, the raw figures say little about what these supposed digital natives actually do online. As it turns out, the kids of today are very similar to previous generations of young people: They are mainly interested in communicating with their peers. Today's young people spend almost half of their time interacting socially online. E-mail, instant messaging and social networking together accounts for the bulk of their Internet time.

For instance Tom, one of Jetlir's classmates, remains in touch with 30 or 40 of his friends almost around the clock. Even so, the channels of communication vary. In the morning Tom will chat briefly on his PC, during lunch recess he'll rattle off a few text messages, after school he'll sit down for his daily Facebook session and make a few calls on his cell phone, and in the evening he'll make one or two longer video calls using the free Internet telephony service Skype.

The Medium Is Not the Message

For Tom, Jetlir, and the others of their age, it doesn't seem to matter whether they interact over the Internet or via another medium. It seems that young people are mainly interested in what the particular medium or communication device can be used for. In the case of the Internet in particular, that can be one of many things: Sometimes it acts as a telephone, sometimes as a kind of souped-up television. Tom spends an hour or two every day watching online videos, mostly on YouTube, but also entire TV programs if they're available somehow. "Everyone knows how to find episodes of the TV series they want to watch," says fellow pupil Pia.

The second most popular use of the Internet is for entertainment. According to a survey conducted by Leipzig University in 2008, more young people now access their music via various online broadcasting services than listen to it on the radio. As a consequence, the video-sharing portal YouTube has become the global jukebox, serving the musical needs of the world's youth - although its rise to prominence as a resource for music on demand has gone largely unnoticed. Indeed, there are few songs that cannot be dredged up somewhere on the site.

"That's also practical if you're looking for something new," Pia says. Searching for specific content is incredibly simple on YouTube. In general all you need to do is enter half a line of some lyrics you caught at a party, and YouTube supplies the corresponding music video and the song itself.

In this way the Internet is becoming a repository for the content of older media, sometimes even replacing them altogether. And youthful audiences, who are always on the lookout for something to share or entertainment, are now increasingly using the Internet to find this content. But it's not exactly the kind of behavior that would trigger a lifestyle revolution.

Teens Still Enjoy Meeting Friends

What's more, there's still plenty of life beyond the many screens at their disposal. A 2009 study by MPFS found that nine out of every 10 teenagers put meeting friends right at the top of their list of favorite non-media activities. More striking still, 76 percent of young people in Germany take part in sport several times a week, although among girls that figure is only 64 percent.

In January, the authors of the "Generation M2" survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation published the remarkable finding that even the most intense media users in the U.S. exercised just as much as others of their age.

So how can they pack all that into a single day? Simply adding together the amount of time devoted to each activity creates a very false picture. That's because most young people are excellent media multi-taskers, simultaneously making phone calls, checking out their friends on Facebook and listening to music. And it appears that they're primarily online at times they would otherwise spend lounging around.

"I go online when I have nothing better to do," says Jetlir. "Unfortunately that's often when I should already be sleeping." Thanks to cell phones and MP3 players, young people can also fill gaps in their busy schedules even when they're away from static media sources like TVs, computers and music systems. Media use can therefore increase steadily while still leaving plenty of time for other activities.

'Time's Too Precious'

What's more, many young people still aren't the least bit interested in all the online buzz. Some 31 percent of them rarely or never visit social networking sites. Anna, who attends the same school as Jetlir, says she would "probably only miss the train timetable" if the Internet ceased to exist, while fellow student Torben thinks "time's too precious" to waste on computers. He plays handball and soccer, and says "10 minutes a day on Facebook" is all he needs.

By contrast, Tom will occasionally get so wrapped up in Facebook and his instant messaging that he'll forget the time altogether. "It's a strange feeling to realize you've spent so much time on something and have nothing to show for it," he admits. But he also knows that others find the temptations of the virtual world much harder to resist. "Everyone knows a few people who are online all day," Pia says, though Jetlir suggests that's only for want of something better to do. "None of them would turn down an offer to go out somewhere instead," he adds.

But even the most inveterate netizens aren't necessarily natural experts in the medium. If you want to make use of the Internet, you first have to understand how the real world works. And that's often the sticking point. The only advantage that young people have over their elders is their lack of inhibitions with regard to computers. "They simply try things out," says René Scheppler, a teacher at a high school in Wiesbaden. "They discover all sorts of things that way. The only thing is they don't understand how it works."

'I Found It on Google'

Occasionally the teacher will ask his students big-picture questions about the medium they take for granted. Questions like: Where did the Internet come from? "I'll get replies like, 'What do you mean? It's just there!'" Scheppler says. "Unless they're prompted to do so, they never address those sorts of questions. For them it's like a car: All that matters is that it works."

And because teenagers are basically inexperienced, they are all the more likely to overestimate their own abilities. "They think they're the real experts," says Scheppler. "But when it comes down to it, they can't even google properly."

When Scheppler scheduled a lesson about Google to teach his pupils how to better search the Web, they thought it was hilarious. "Google?!" they gasped. "We know all about that. We do it all the time. And now Mr Scheppler wants to tell us how to use Google!"

He, therefore, set them a challenge: They were to design a poster on globalization based on the example of Indian subcontractors. Now it was the teacher's turn to laugh. "They just typed a series of individual keywords into Google, and then they went click, click, click: 'Don't want that! Useless! Let's try another one!'" Scheppler recalls. "They're very quick to jettison things, sometimes even relevant information. They think they can tell the wheat from the chaff, but they just stumble about - very rapidly, very hectically and very superficially. And they stop the moment they get a hit that looks reasonably plausible."

Few have any idea where the information on the Web comes from. And if their teacher asks for references, he often gets the reply, "I found it on Google."

Learning How to Use the Internet Productively

Recent research into the way people conduct Internet searches confirms Scheppler's observations. A major study conducted by the British Library came to the sobering conclusion that the "net generation" hardly knows what to look for, quickly scans over results, and has a hard time assessing relevance. "The information literacy of young people has not improved with the widening access to technology," the authors wrote.
A few schools have now realized that the time has come to act. One of them is Kaiserin Augusta School in Cologne, the high school that Jetlir, Tom, Pia, and Anna attend. "We want our pupils to learn how to use the Internet productively," says music teacher André Spang, "Not just for clicking around in."

Spang uses Web 2.0 tools in the classroom. When teaching them about the music of the 20th century, for example, he got his 12th-graders to produce a blog on the subject. "They didn't even know what that was," he says. Now they're writing articles on aleatoric music and musique concrete, composing simple 12-tone rows and collecting musical examples, videos, and links about it. Everyone can access the project online, see what the others are doing and comment on each other's work. The fact that the material is public also helps to promote healthy competition and ambition among the participants.

Blogs are not technically challenging and are quick to set up. That's why they are also being used to teach other subjects. Piggybacking on the enormous success of Wikipedia, the collaborative online encyclopedia produced entirely by volunteer contributors, wikis are also being employed in schools. The 10th-graders in the physics class of Spang's colleague Thomas Vieth are currently putting together a miniature encyclopedia of electromagnetism. "In the past all we could do was give out group assignments, and people would just rattle off their presentations," says Vieth. "Now everyone reads along, partly because all the articles are connected and have to be interlinked."

Not Interested in Fame

One positive side-effect is that the students are also learning how to find reliable information on the Internet. And so that they understand what they find online, there are regular sessions of old-fashioned sessions on learning how to learn, including reading, comprehension and summarizing exercises. So instead of tech-savvy young netizens challenging the school, the school itself is painstakingly teaching them how to benefit from the online medium.

For most of the pupils it was the first time they had contributed their own work to the Internet's pool of data. They're not interested in widespread fame. Self-promoters are rare, and most young people even shun anonymous role-playing such as that found in the online world Second Life. The youth of today, it turns out, is much more obsessed with real relationships. Whatever they do or write is directed at their particular group of friends and acquaintances.

That also applies to video, the medium most tempting for people to try out for themselves. An impressive 15 percent of young people have already uploaded at least one home-made video, mostly shot on a cell phone.

Part of Their Social Life

One student, Sven, has uploaded a video he made to YouTube. It shows him and a few friends in their bathing suits first by a lake, then all running into the clearly icy water. "No, really," Sven says, "people are interested in this. They talk about it!" There are indeed already 37 comments under the video, all from his circle of friends.

"And here," Sven adds, pointing to the screen. "Here on Facebook someone recently posted just a dot. Even so, seven people have clicked on the 'Like' button so far, and 83 commented on the dot."

Older people might consider such activity inane, but for young people it's part of their social life and no less important than a friendly wave or affable clowning around in the offline world. The example of the dot shows how normal the Internet has become, and debunks the idea that it is a special world in which special things happen.

"Media are used by the masses if they have some relevance to everyday life," says Rolf Schulmeister, the educational researcher. "And they are used for aims that people already had anyway."

Turning Point

Young people have now reached this turning point. The Internet is no longer something they are willing to waste time thinking about. It seems that the excitement about cyberspace was a phenomenon peculiar to their predecessors, the technology-obsessed first generation of Web users.

For a brief transition period, the Web seemed to be tremendously new and different, a kind of revolutionary power that could do and reshape everything. Young people don't feel that way. They hardly even use the word "Internet," talking about "Google", "YouTube" and "Facebook" instead. And they certainly no longer understand it when older generations speak of "going online".

"The expression is meaningless," says Tom. Indeed the term is a relic of a time when the Internet was still something special, evoking a separate space distinct from our real life, an independent, secretive world that you entered and then exited again.

Tom and his friends just describe themselves as being "on" or "off," using the English terms. What they mean is: contactable or not.

Translated from the German (Free Intrnet Press)
8 Augut 2010,1518,710139,00.html



Hungry kids more likely to be sick kids

Childhood hunger leaves a legacy of ill health, particularly when the household repeatedly runs out of food, according to a longitudinal study.

Over 10 years of follow-up, younger children who were ever hungry because the family didn't have food or money to buy it were more than twice as likely to suffer poor general health as those who were never hungry (odds ratio 2.48, 95% confidence interval 1.32 to 4.64), Sharon Kirkpatrick, PhD, MHSc, RD, of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues found.

Older children showed a similar, though not significant, trend for poor health if they had ever gone hungry (OR 1.60), they reported in the August issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. But older kids with multiple episodes of hunger during follow-up also had higher odds of chronic health problems (OR 3.40, 95% CI 1.10 to 10.48) and asthma (OR 6.08, 95% CI 1.43 to 25.85) compared with those who were never hungry.

Physicians need to watch for the risk factors for household food insecurity -- largely predicted by economic disadvantage -- and take steps to get potentially vulnerable families the support they need, Kirkpatrick's group recommended. An accompanying editorial agreed that physicians have a role to play, but pointed more to an advocacy role in ensuring that healthcare policy supports childhood nutrition.

Because these longitudinal findings -- the first such study with more than five years of follow-up -- push the evidence closer to a causal link between food insecurity and poor child health, there's a clear rationale, explained editorialists led by Patrick H. Casey, MD, of Arkansas Children's Hospital. Pediatric health professionals should "educate policymakers that nutritious foods, which cost more than low-nutrient, energy-dense alternatives, are potent medicine for improving our children's health and developmental potential and decreasing costly hospitalizations and special-education needs," Casey's group wrote in the editorial.

Now is the time to act as Congress debates reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Program Act that pays for food stamps and school meals, they urged. Strengthening and expanding the system already in place could be a solution to the prevalence of food insecurity in households with children, which was already "unacceptably" high at 21% in the U.S. in 2008 and has likely risen, Casey and colleagues noted. In Canada, food insecurity affected one in 10 households in 2004 and likewise appears to be on the increase, Kirkpatrick's group added.

As hunger is a manifestation of food insecurity, Kirkpatrick and colleagues analyzed two cohorts of the Canadian National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth. The analysis included 5,809 children ages 10 to 15 at the last survey data collection (ages from birth to 5 at the first survey) and 3,333 youth ages 16 to 21 (6 to 11 at baseline).

At each biennial cycle of surveys through the 10-year period, the person most knowledgeable was asked about the child ever experiencing hunger because the family ran out of food or money to buy food. Once the child reached 16 or 17, they were asked to report hunger themselves. Overall, 3.3% of those 10 to 15 and 3.9% of those 16 to 21 had ever experienced hunger (1.1% and 1.4%, respectively, in two or more survey cycles). Adding in the child's reports brought the prevalence to 7.6%.

Poor general health was reported for 32.9% of kids who had ever experienced hunger compared with 12.8% of those never hungry. Diagnosed chronic conditions -- heart condition, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, kidney disease, asthma, bronchitis, or allergies -- were present in 36.9% of ever-hungry children versus 32.6% of never-hungry children. Asthma was reported at the final survey cycle for 24.8% of children who had ever gone hungry compared with 18% of those who had not.

The difference in particular health effects of hunger by age has been seen in prior studies, although the mechanism is not clear, the researchers said. They noted that their results appeared to hold even after accounting for baseline health and household markers of disadvantage, such as low income and lack of home ownership. However, some unaccounted for marker of deprivation or other factor could have accounted for both food insecurity and poor health, they cautioned in the paper. Limitations included use of a single indicator to assess hunger, averaging income across survey cycles, reliance on caregiver- and self-reports, and "constrained statistical power owing to the rarity of child hunger," they added in the paper.

The study was supported by the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Release: Crystal Phend
4 August 2010


South Africa: Bridging the education gap

In a country where the majority of learners achieve far below grade level and only 10% of students access tertiary education (SAIRR,2009), there is a need to address the educational gap existing between those who have the education, information, and financial means to access higher education and those who don’t.

IkamvaYouth is a township-based non-profit organisation, which is a "by-youth, for-youth innovative grassroots response to South Africa's education crisis," says IkamvaYouth chairperson Leigh Meinert. It was established in 2003, and now has branches in three provinces in South Africa. It currently operates from Khayelitsha, Nyanga and Masiphumelele in the Western Cape, Ivory Park in Gauteng, and the greater Cato Manor area and Molweni in KwaZulu-Natal.

From grade 9-12 learners participate in tutoring/mentoring sessions, winter schools, and career guidance initiatives to assist and guide them to tertiary institutes and/or employment based learning opportunities. The quantitative results are unprecedented. IkamvaYouth's matric pass rate has been between 87% and 100% each year since 2005. More than 70% of the last two matric groups went on to tertiary education (compared to the township average of around 5%).

The impact of IkamvaYouth goes far beyond these quantitative measures. The tutors and mentors are not merely providing academic support. They provide guidance, encouragement and direction for the student as a person, not just as a student in the education system. This, coupled with the youth-led structure, is at the heart of IkamvaYouth encouraging students to develop individuality, independence of character, responsibility for achievement, the momentum for change and ownership of their own future.

Tutors/mentors also have a profound effect on the student’s self-esteem. A self-esteem which is so often jeopardized by overpopulated, under-resourced schools and challenged by societal expectations of township youth. Having individual attention and encouragement gives students the confidence to share their stories, to voice their opinions, to ask questions and to explore their ideas.

Owing to Ikamva’s tangible impact there has recently been an influx of learners and an increase in demand for tutoring and career guidance. As a result the organisation is establishing a national structure and is seeking long-term strategic partners to enable replication of the model and expansion to meet the demand.

The global awareness of South Africa has increased dramatically with the World Cup and the media coverage has highlighted the extreme inequalities that still exist. It is hoped that such exposure will motivate the national and international community to take action.
Joy Oliver, co-founder of IkamvaYouth asserts that as "the world has watched us successfully host the World Cup, I am hoping it will continue to watch and assist as we enable today’s youth to be the positive change agents we need them to be for tomorrow."

To  find out more about IkamvaYouth go to

To contact the organisation email or

Zoe Mann
Press release: InkamvaYouth
August 4 2010



Guam: 3rd Annual Regional Conference on Systems of Care

In an effort to develop and enhance systems of care for children and adolescents with serious emotional needs, I Famagu’on-ta, Child and Adolescent Services Division of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse and Youth Enhancements Supports, Inc. are co-sponsoring the 3rd Regional Conference on Systems of Care.

This year’s conference will take place from August 9-10 & 12-13, 2010 at the Guam Westin Resort in Tumon. The focus of this year’s conference will be on assessment tools that will assist in determining the level of services, the intensity and level of care needed by the child and family; on August 9-10.

The Child, Adolescent Needs and Strength (CANS) assessment will be presented by Dr. John Lyons who currently holds the post of Endowed Chair of Child and Youth Mental Health, University of Ottawa School of Psychology, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

On August 12-13, Dr. Alfred M. Arensdorf will be presenting the Child and Adolescent Level of Care Utilization System/Child and Adolescent Services Intensity Instrument (CA-LOCUS/CASII. Dr. Arensdorf currently practices adolescent psychiatry and pediatric psychiatry in Wailuku, Hawaii.

The objective of the conference is to prepare a cohort of trainees to become certified trainers in the assessment tools so that Guam can maintain its local capacity to ensure ongoing reliable use of the various approaches.

News release: Pacific News Centre
3 August 2010



Commonwealth Court agrees with human service providers on payment

In a far reaching decision, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania issued a ruling on July 23, 2010 which has declared illegal certain administrative policies and procedures adopted by the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) relating to payment for child welfare services such as foster care, juvenile justice, residential services, therapeutic family care and shelter care. These services are provided by hundreds of private child welfare agencies on a daily basis to thousands of children and families throughout Pennsylvania.

This ruling was in response to a suit led by Northwestern Youth Services, Inc., a subsidiary of NHS Human Services headquartered in Lafayette Hill, PA, and joined by Adelphi Village, Appalachian Youth Services, Inc., Hermitage House Youth Services, Inc., Pyramid Healthcare, Inc. and Tabor Children's Services after unsuccessful attempts to convince DPW to halt its illegal practices. In July 2009 they sued the Department and demanded that it rescind a series of policy Bulletins and comply with state law and formally publish and adopt the policies as regulations. The Department rejected the providers' concerns and continued to apply the policies, and threatened severe financial sanctions for failure to comply. DPW established a payment rate of zero for services commonly utilized by the juvenile courts without any written explanation for its decision.

In striking down DPW's payment policies, the Court determined that the policies, as written and applied, were "restrictive, directive and substantive" in nature indicating that they were indeed regulations. Before adopting such policies that compel private agencies to perform certain duties, a government agency must subject the policies to public review and scrutiny. According to the Court's decision, the persistent failure and refusal of DPW to comply with that long standing requirement of state law compelled it to invalidate the process.

Senator M. Joseph Rocks, Chairman and CEO of NHS Human Services stated, "The immediate and long-range impact of the Commonwealth Court's decision is of great importance for Pennsylvania's children and their families as well as our counties and providers who have historically provided care to some of our most vulnerable citizens. This decision should stop the creeping tendency of the Pennsylvania bureaucracy to side step Pennsylvania statutes, the legislature, regulatory processes and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) and publish bulletins that set rates and change contractual structures between Counties and providers."

Rocks further observed that, "the Legislative intent and statutory language of Act 148 is to safeguard the authority and funding for children, youth and families in Pennsylvania. The Department's attempts to both side-step the law and intimidate counties was rejected by the Court's thoughtful opinion."

NHS Human Services is Pennsylvania's largest provider of non-profit human services with programs in 67 counties throughout the state. "We are proud to have taken the lead in this hard fought, but most worthwhile victory, on behalf of all the individuals we serve," Senator Rocks commented.

He also credited the NHS General Counsel, Joseph T. Kelley, Jr., and lead counsel, Jack Kane, for their work on this suit. The entire opinion is available at or


Press release: PR-USA.NET
1 August 2010


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