I don’t know how many of you educators were able to catch parts of PBS’ ‘American Graduate‘ series this year. It’s a great series that’s focused on the major issues of (mostly public) education in America, including urban versus rural education struggles, mentoring and counseling, adolescent health issues like substance use and sexual activity, ensuring that we’re serving the needs of immigrant students, social and economic class issues and how they impact opportunity and subsequently achievement (measured most commonly as high school graduation) and what’s behind some of the alarming and rising rates of dropping out across the country.
The latter three issues were behind a documentary that I was featured in and that aired in September. It was pioneered by a group of teen filmmakers at an organization based in Brooklyn called Reel Works, a group with a great mission that I encourage you to check out. If you want more background on the piece, check out the PBS brief before the video, which also includes a great interview with some of the teen filmmakers. Hope you find it interesting!
A fantastic interactive graphic by the Guardian highlights which countries are in the most dire straits. Check it out here, and hover over a country’s name to get the statistics.
Some of the facts I found most interesting:
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has one physician and five nurses per 10,000 people and the infant mortality rate is 199 deaths before age five per 1,000 births.
Tanzania has less than one physician and two nurses per 10,000 people and an infant mortality rate of 103.
Chad also has less than one physician and three nurses per 10,000 people, and an infant mortality rate of 209.
Highest infant mortality rate? Afghanistan.
Check it out.
A new study by researchers at my alma mater, University of Southern California, found that young people with smart phones were 1.5 times more likely to be sexually active than those without. Results were presented at this week’s American Public Health Association annual conference. I’ve written before about the relationship between media and imagery and its particular impact on healthy human development, so I found this study particularly interesting.
The lynchpin is the internet access, obviously, since that’s where smart phones differ from regular cell phones. The key findings pulled from the study are:
- young people with smartphones are two times as likely to have been approached online for sex — and more than twice as likely to be sexually active with an Internet-met partner;
- 5 percent of high school students used the internet to seek sex; and
- non-heterosexual high school students were five times more likely to seek sex online — and more than four times as likely to have unprotected sex during their last intercourse with an online-met sex partner.
The odds of having unprotected sex with a casual and perhaps anonymous partner are of course the most troubling to public health professionals. It’s not surprising that non-heterosexual students were five times more likely to seek sex online than heterosexual teens, since those findings have been seen before and highlight the difficulty that many non-heterosexual students may have come out, the lack of social support they may feel, and the isolation that coming out may have brought on.
The researchers used a sample of 1,839 Los Angeles high school students between the ages of 12-18, and they controlled for age, race, gender, and sexual orientation. Since this is the first study to really explore this, I’d be really interested in follow-up studies looking at other markers of sexual behavior in teens in relation to these findings. I’m also fascinated by the fact that 5% of high school students used the internet to seek sex, and am really interested in seeing how that number changes as smart phones become ubiquitous even in high school.
I love infographics, as regular readers of this blog know. Today, the American Public Health Association came out with a great one showing the intersections of public health and how various initiatives, supported by policy, save lives and money. Prevention is key!
Courtesy of APHA
Scientific American released a couple of interesting interactive graphs and infographics showing the rise of poor health behaviors among Americans, focusing on the changes between 1995 – 2010. Pretty interesting findings – overall, Americans are drinking more heavily, binge drinking more frequently, and overeating more regularly – but we are also smoking less, overall.
Vermont was the worst state for heavy drinking in 2010 (Tennessee had the fewest heavy drinkers), Wisconsin was the worst for binge drinking (Tennessee again had the fewest!), West Virginia was the worst for tobacco use (Utah had the fewest smokers), Mississippi was the worst for obesity (Colorado had the lowest obesity rates), and Oregon did the best in terms of exercising and physical activity (Mississippi was the worst).
You can toggle between health behaviors divided by regions in this piece, and here is the infographic showing the trends:
Image via Scientific American
Check out my post over at 2×2 about how the most vulnerable Americans remain at risk even after the Affordable Care Act was passed.