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News & Views - March, 2002 Issue  


(Dec. 19, 2001) This annual survey of 44,300 students in 8th, 10th and 12th grade, found that since 1991, American teens are less likely to use alcohol and tobacco, but their use of illegal drugs has increased.

(December, 2001) Youth Today reported a study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and by the Departments of Education and Justice that “student homicide event rates are usually highest near the start of the fall and spring semesters” and gradually declined during the fall semester. They exhibited a similar pattern during the spring semester, with “one event every 7 school days.” A suicide occurred an average of every 31 school days and was more likely in the spring. [more...]

(February 14, 2002) A marriage study concludes children are healthier both physically and emotionally when parents stay together through the hard times. The study, entitled, "Why Marriage Matters: 21 Conclusions from the Social Sciences," was conducted by 13 scholars and social scientists, and was sponsored by Miss Sollee's Coalition, the Institute for American Values in New York and the Center of the American Experiment in Minneapolis. The general conclusions were that communities where successful marriages are common, have better outcomes for children, men and women than those where the divorce rates are high.

(February 27, 2002) The New York Times reported about "Teen Tipplers," a recent report by Columbia University's National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse that was based on an annual Household Survey on Drug Abuse conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. It had been given prominent national headlines that stated 25% of all alcohol consumption was by under aged children. This report was found to have inflated figures due to the failure to adjust the data for over-sampling of people ages 12 to 20. After catching the error and properly adjusting the data, the real figure is about 11 percent.

(February, 2002) In the paper, "The Twin Challenges of Mediocrity and Inequality: Literacy in the U.S. from an International Perspective" by Andrew Sum, Irwin Kirsch and Robert Taggart, of the Policy Information Center, Educational Testing Service, "the U.S. spends more per capital on education than nearly all other high-income countries. Even so, “our average proficiency scores at best only match the world average.” The “U.S. appears to be living off its past higher educational investments and will inevitably lose ground in the coming decade." It found older adults are more literate than younger adults, suggesting "big trouble lies ahead in terms of America's economic competitiveness as well as various gauges of domestic equality." [more...]

(March 2, 2002) The New York Times explains that although Justin Chapman had been billed as "the smartest little boy in the world," with IQ scores at 298+ and a perfect 800 on the math portion of the SAT, when the New York Times interviewed his mother, she admitted she had falsified his IQ, and the SAT scores "belonged to a former neighbor's son." Although probably bright, he had also "been hospitalized for psychiatric problems and had been taken from his mother and put in foster care."

SYLVAN CENTERS AND STRUGGLING CHILDREN (March 4, 2002) Sylvan Centers have recently been doing an e-mail campaign promoting their online services for children struggling in school. It consists of an online skills assessment, which creates a customized program designed around the child's skill gaps and provides online contact with certified teachers. [more...]

(March 14, 2002) The New York Times reports a whistle-blower case where allegedly drug companies aggressively marketed illegally the drug Neurontin for medical conditions "for which it was not approved," such as attention deficit disorder in children, neurological pain and bipolar disorder. The drug was only approved to treat epilepsy.

(March 15, 2002) A report found in the Washington Times reports that "chewing gum improves short and long-term memory by up to 35 percent.... The key to better brain power is the repetitive motion, according to the study." Science has not always been so favorable. A Doctor in 1869 wrote that chewing gum would "exhaust the salivary glands and cause the intestines to stick together."

(March, 2002), 888-816-1999, a leading consumer education website, recently re-launched its award-winning parent site,, to support the home-to-school connection, with over one million pages of content. Their resources include expert parenting advice, tips to help kids succeed at school, and fun family-based learning activities. A collection of well-known parenting experts, pediatricians, family therapists, and school counselors offer advice on hundreds of important parent topics – from bedwetting to ADHD – answering parent's questions via e-mail. Learning Network is part of Pearson Education, America’s largest education textbook company which includes Prentice-Hall, Addison Wesley, and Scott Foresman. (Courtesy of Internet Wire)

(March, 2002) The "cyber charter school" movement in Pennsylvania, which supporters hope can revolutionize education for home-schooled and special-needs children, is “bogging down in a morass of lawsuits and bureaucratic battles,” according to the Washington Post and the United Press International wire service. School districts have refused to pay cyber charter schools whose costs are unclear and whose performance can't be monitored, the Post reported. Because of legal troubles, one cyber charter company, the Einstein Academy Charter School, has been shut off from funding and is on the verge of collapse. Others were weeks late in sending students their essential supplies, including computers and books.

(March, 2002) The Harvard Mental Health Letter for March 2002, summarized a recent study sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which showed, “people with a friend or acquaintance who had attempted or committed suicide were less likely to be suicidal,” as were “people who remembered encountering suicide stories in the mass media.” Apparently, experiencing the consequences, “either in real life or vicariously through the newspapers and television,” caused them to be “less, rather than more likely to make a suicide attempt. Teenagers were no more likely than adults to be infected by a suicidal contagion. People with a parent, brother, or sister who had committed suicide did have a higher risk of a suicide attempt – but only if they had also been alcoholic or depressed or had moved in the previous year.”

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