# 101

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Many of us aren’t talking to our children about sexual abuse, even when the statistics make it crystal clear why we should be: As many as one in four girls and one in six boys is sexually abused before their 18th birthday” (statistics from the CDC). While school counselors aren’t directly identified as part of this article’s target audience, the information it contains is vitally important.

Girls who are told they are fat by a parent, siblings, friend, classmate or teacher when they are 10 years old are at a higher risk of being obese by the time they turn 19, according to a new study.” The study results haven’t been replicated, but if true, this is alarming—especially in light of how quick students are to fat shame their peers.

I see the occasional assumption in the media that bullying is primarily a problem of the middle and lower socio-economic classes. But a “new review, published in the American Journal of Public Health, advises that policymakers should be wary of assuming that bullies are more likely to come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.” (Note: Original study is pay walled, but you can find it here.) Especially apropos is this quote from the article which says, “We need to think of ways to channel the abilities of bullies into prosocial activities where they can use their popularity and leadership qualities to benefit themselves and others.” Yes.

A senior-class prank created more than a mess in the halls and classrooms at Teaneck High School. It landed 63 students — 18 percent of the 12th-graders — in a mess of their own. Three weeks from the prom and eight weeks from graduation, they’re in trouble with school officials, the law and possibly the colleges they plan to attend.” This is a prime example of the poor impulse control and decision making abilities many teens struggle with. I hope that the authorities involved choose consequences that don’t ruin these kids’ futures. I suggest avoiding the comment trail on this one. It’s pretty vitriolic.

A new study … finds that people remember lectures better when they’ve taken handwritten notes, rather than typed ones.” This is interesting and, when you think about it, not all that surprising. As somebody who types much faster than she writes, though, the thought of handwriting everything makes my wrist ache. There’s a link to the original study in the article.

Three Allentown high school students have been charged with ethnic intimidation for allegedly recording themselves bullying other students and posting the resulting ‘smack cam video’ on Facebook.”

# 100

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50 years after the Supreme Court decision struck down ‘separate but equal,’ scholastic opportunities for African-Americans have expanded. But inequality remains a major problem.” An interesting read about current demographic trends from The Atlantic.

For the first time in U.S. history, the national high school graduation rate surpassed 80 percent in 2012.” The related report is here (pdf). Exciting news.

Here we go again.  “Yik Yak, which launched in December 2013, ‘allows individuals to post comments anonymously, essentially operating as a Twitter without handles.’ It’s similar to confession apps like Secret and Whisper, but it’s worse, because it works in hyper-local zones like schools.” You can read a first person account of the problems it caused at one school here. I’ve mentioned Yik Yak before, and while I’m pleased to know that they’ve geo-fenced most U.S. middle and high schools, the app still concerns me.

# 099

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Here’s a cautionary tale for those well-intentioned school counselors who sometimes make decisions that embroil their communities in controversy. In this case, a student-made video intended to promote No Name Calling Week was forwarded to parents via the school’s email. Its contents? A three-minute explanation of the differences between LGBT and Q.

The relationship between education and technology is by turns amicable and adversarial, with many educators aware of both the potential benefits and possible pitfalls of allowing things like iPads and cell phones in their classrooms. With all that in mind, here’s an interesting story about a developer who’s working hard to harness the powers of technology to help meet the needs of classroom teachers.

In an attempt to put pressure on colleges to address their rape and sexual assault statistics, Congress has suggested that U.S. News & World Report consider taking this data into account when determining its annual college rankings.

On Thursday, [Tennessee] Governor Bill Haslam signed the Religious Viewpoints Anti-Discrimination Act, which affirms that religious students should have the same free-speech rights as secular ones.” On its surface, there doesn’t seem to be anything controversial about this, but read the article. Things are more complicated than they seem.

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As a 3-year-old, [children’s book author] Eric [Carle]was photographed in an embrace with a little girl in a white dress. The image carried no identification. Over many decades, he grew more intrigued about the tale behind the girl in the photo, to the point where a fanciful take on her story became central to a book called “Friends” that Eric released last year.” This is the sweet, heartwarming story of how Eric Carle finally found his old friend. Read the story for yourself, then share it with your students, maybe during a classroom guidance lesson about friendship and based on Mr. Carle’s book (Amazon link).

This article is written by the author of the the book College is Yours 2.0 (Amazon link), so it isn’t exactly unbiased. Still, it makes a fair point about the need for dedicated coursework in college counseling as a part of school counselor preparation programs.

Just under 66 percent of the class of 2013 was enrolled in college last fall, the lowest share of new graduates since 2006 and the third decline in the past four years.” This is a concerning, if understandable trend. College costs more than ever, leaving many students deeply in debt, and too often, students who do get degrees, can’t find suitable work. But the fact is, students who complete a college degree still have a significantly higher annual earnings potential than those who don’t

# 097

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Some may still consider bullying a harmless part of growing up, but mounting evidence suggests that the adverse effects of being bullied aren’t something kids can just shake off. The psychological and physical tolls, like anxiety and depression, can follow a person into early adulthood.” The results of this British study won’t come as any surprise to anybody who suffered at the hands of a bully as a child.

This is a brilliant way to help kids understand and give meaningful apologies. Found by way of Metafilter. The original link, with its comment trail, is here. Note: I generally find Metafilter comment trails to be thoughtful and troll free.

In an earlier post I linked to an article about how long it takes to form a habit. Here’s one in a similar vein, only instead of being about how long it takes to create a habit this one’s about how best to use that time (ie: massed practice vs. spaced practice).

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School dress codes. I can’t remember a time when they haven’t been a cause of contention.

Sixty years after Brown v. Board of Education, the schools in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, show how separate and unequal education is coming back.” This is a well-written and thought-provoking article from The Atlantic. Well worth your time.

From 1996 to 2009, states that took federal money for sex education were required to teach kids that the only acceptable time to have sex was in a heterosexual marriage, and that premarital sex was likely to have harmful effects. The percent of students learning about abstinence and not contraception grew from 10 percent in 1995 to 25 percent in 2006.” If there’s a more controversial aspect of the high school curriculum, I don’t know what it is. Unfortunately, “Abstinence-only education … had no perceptible effects on whether students had sex, how many people they had sex with, whether they practiced safe sex, or their knowledge of birth control and its effectiveness.” There are links to federally funded research studies in the article. 

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Here’s a fascinating article on how long it takes to form a new habit. Hint: It isn’t 21 days.

People often believe that character causes action, but when it comes to producing moral children, we need to remember that action also shapes character.” An interesting article about the power of action vs. words when it comes to teaching character. (Note: This is an editorial, so it’s subjective by definition, but the author does reference professional research)

I can’t help being a little skeptical about the power of probiotics as a treatment for mental illness, but this is still intriguing: “For decades, researchers have known of the connection between the brain and the gut. Anxiety often causes nausea and diarrhea, and depression can change appetite. The connection may have been established, but scientists thought communication was one way: it traveled from the brain to the gut, and not the other way around. But now, a new understanding of the trillions of microbes living in our guts reveals that this communication process is more like a multi-lane superhighway than a one-way street. By showing that changing bacteria in the gut can change behavior, this new research might one day transform the way we understand — and treat — a variety of mental health disorders.” Interesting as this article is, it’s hard not to remember other health fads that supposedly had their basis in science, as well.

This is one of those stories that isn’t directly related to school counseling, but it pays to be informed. With that in mind: “As many as 1,400 children each year are harmed as a result of violent shaking, according to numbers compiled by the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome. More than 300 of those kids die. So … prosecutors are often inclined to file child abuse charges.”  And yet, “a 2001 postmortem study of children allegedly killed by violent shaking pointed to alternative causes of death beyond SBS.” Links to the research are included in the article.

I don’t disagree with the sentiment here. If (even if only by their demeanor) parents disrespect schools and education, their children probably will, as well. But I’m not sure a public forum will help.

There’s a growing body of scientific evidence that being hangry is a completely real thing — and that low blood sugar leads to bad behavior.” Okay, um … Yes? Didn’t people pretty much already know this? Certainly anybody who works with kids does. That said, if you need proof for whatever reason, this article links to some research on the issue.

# 094

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Scientists have known about childhood amnesia for more than a century. But it’s only in the past decade that they have begun to figure out when childhood memories start to fade, which early memories are most likely to survive, and how we create a complete autobiography without direct memories of our earliest years.” An interesting article, courtesy of NPR, about the phenomenon known as  childhood amnesia.

What constitutes bullying, exactly? When does it become a crime? And how do you punish it when both the victim and the accused are sixth-grade girls?” The flip side of the Rebecca Sedwick case.

And in a timely addendum to the above link, the CDC has finally released a uniform definition of bullying. (pdf link) From the report:  Bullying is any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated. Bullying may inflict harm or distress on the targeted youth including physical, psychological, social, or educational harm.

According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that surveyed teen girls between the ages of 15 and 17, most young women don’t receive formal sexual health instruction until after they’ve already become sexually active. Federal health researchers warn that “this represents a missed opportunity” to ensure teens are receiving the medically accurate information they need to prevent pregnancy and STDs.” Original report here. (pdf)

A 92-pound Yale University student has finally ended her face-off with school officials who spent months insisting that she either gain weight or be suspended.”

# 093

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“… boys from severely disadvantaged circumstances suffer much faster telomere (regions of DNA on the tips of each chromosome that protect the DNA from degradation) shrinkage than their well-off counterparts, which could lead to health problems and an earlier mortality.” Genetic proof of the life-long consequences of poverty.

Schools around North America are trying to replace traditional report card grids of letters and numbers with descriptive feedback about students’ mastery of topics. Rather than a series of cumulative scores in each subject based on a mashup of tests, homework, extra credit and behavior, schools are trying to show how well students understand core concepts — and involve parents more in the process.” This seems like a great idea, if it can be implemented without adding to teachers’ already heavy burdens.

20% of black boys and 12% of black girls are suspended from school each year in the United States, compared to 6% of white boys and 2% of white girls. … once suspended, students experience academic delays and become twice as likely to drop out, get involved in street violence, then get sucked into the criminal justice system.” In an attempt to turn those statistics around, some schools are implementing systems of restorative justice.

# 092

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An Ohio juvenile correctional facility placed a child, who was on suicide watch and psychiatric medication, in solitary confinement for 1,964 hours between April and September of last year.” I wonder if this situation is at all related to this one.

Kalamazoo … best known for its strange name and the industries it was no longer home to, was about to launch the most generous municipal college scholarship program in the country, an audacious experiment not only in education reform but in re-engineering a troubled town.” Grab a beverage, settle in, and read.

How many school counselors use posters or something similar to help our younger students identify emotions? Well, they’re about to get more complicated.

A growing number of educators and social entrepreneurs across the country are discovering that the secret to learning empathy, emotional literacy, self-awareness, cooperation, effective communication, and many of the other skills classified as ‘social and emotional learning,’ lies in experience, not in workbooks and rote classroom exercises.” Something to think about when planning your classroom guidance lessons.