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Posted January 6, 2005

JANUARY NEWS & VIEWS

[Items relating to the situation of contemporary young people]

ATTEMPT TO BLOCK MANDATORY MENTAL HEALTH SCREENING OF CHILDREN FAILS
(November 24, 2004) The WorldNetDaily reported that the attempt, by Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, to add a parental consent clause to the Congressional bill that would demand mental-health screening for all children, failed. According to the story, the New Freedom Initiative will eventually recommend mental health screening for every American. Critics of the mental-health screening plan say it is a thinly veiled attempt by drug companies to provide a wider market for high-priced antidepressants and antipsychotic medication, and puts the government directly in those areas of Americans' lives that it does not belong.
www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=41606

BOSTON PARENTS OPPOSE CUTTING BACK RECESS
(November 24, 2005) The Boston Herald reported the Peabody Elementary School in Massachusetts is cutting kids' recess time in half. Superintendent Nadine Binkley, who came up with the new policy, said, "I've been at this job for a year, and I was hired with a mandate to improve academic achievement. Research tells us this is the way to increase student achievement. The district eliminated 20 minutes of silent reading and 10 minutes from recess, giving teachers an extra half-hour to teach." Parents say recess is an important complement to reading, writing and arithmetic. School officials say this is an attempt to boost the district's MCAS scores, which are among the lowest on the North Shore.
http://news.bostonherald.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=55582

HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER TIED TO BRAIN IRREGULARITIES
(November 29, 2004) CNN.com International reported that scientists have said that brain scans of children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder show abnormalities in the fiber pathways along which brain signals pass. Using an imaging technique called diffusion tensor imaging, researchers found subtle anatomical differences in children diagnosed with ADHD that may affect communication between key areas of the brain. "These areas are involved in the process that regulates attention, impulsive behavior, motor activity and inhibition, the key symptoms in ADHD children," said lead researcher Manzar Ashtari, an associate professor of radiology and psychiatry at North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System in New Hyde Park, NY.

ARE AUSTRALIAN TESTS ON READING IMPROVEMENT ACCURATE?
(November 29, 2004) An article in The Australian states that the reading accuracy rates of children in lower grade levels have reportedly increased by up to 15 percent over the last six years. However, the analysis of data from a series of studies over the period 1975 to 1998 indicated little change in the average level of achievement on tests of reading comprehension, meaning scores remained stable over this period. The concern is that children who have passed five years of schooling, received good reports in reading progress, and have passed the Year 3 benchmark test in reading, were still found to be illiterate.
http://theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,11526142%255E13881,00.html

BAPTIST CHILDREN'S HOMES GROUNDBREAKING
(November 30, 2004) The CITIZEN-TIMES in Ashville, TN, reported the President of the Baptist Children's Homes of North Carolina, Michael C. Blackwell, and Executive Vice President, CF McDowell, hosted a groundbreaking ceremony on November 30, to celebrate the expansion of its services to developmentally disabled adults. The ministry provides long-term residential care in community-based, gender-specific group homes. The program provides opportunities for spiritual enrichment, nutritional meal preparation, transportation, assistance with and teaching of daily living skills, and planned social and recreational activities in a safe environment. Up to six residents can live in the home with their caregivers. www.citizen-times.com/cache/article/news/71575.shtml

FAMILIES ACCUSE CHRISTIAN PROGRAMS OF ABUSE IN FLORIDA
(December 2004) Mollye Barrows with WEAR TV, a TV reporter in Pensacola, FL, did a special three part series entitled, "Secrets in the Schoolhouse, Part I, Part II, Part III." The series reported on two private Christian programs in Northwest Florida that some families and former students are accusing of physical and mental abuse and in one instance, rape. The two programs are Victory Christian Academy in Jay, FL, which is owned and operated by Michael Palmer, and New Beginnings Rebekah Academy in Pace, FL, owned and operated by Pastor Wiley Cameron and his wife Faye. www.weartv.com

ABUSES OF TECHNOLOGY IN SCHOOL A GROWING PROBLEM
(December 1, 2004) The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that school officials say hand-held electronic devices make it possible for students to pass information silently via cell phone text-messaging or faxing, or by using the radio wave or infrared technology in personal digital assistants such as Palm Pilots. School officials are concerned that students have the ability to visit restricted websites during school hours while using phones and hand-held gadgets that have internet access. School directors in the Peters Township School District are finding it's hard to come up with the right wording to restrict, but not stifle, the changing technology. www.post-gazette.com/pg/04336/419517.stm

WEB FUTURE UP FOR GRABS
(December 2, 2004) The Christian Science Monitor reported that the Internet, some observers say, could collapse in the next few years under the strain. Part of the problem is the increasing volume of spam, digitized scams, and viruses. A new version of the Internet called Internet2, currently operates over the proprietary Abilene Network instead of the open Net and moves 1,000 times faster than the typical broadband connection. Internet2 also transmits "really large digital objects" from scientific data to the latest Hollywood movie in seconds. www.csmonitor.com/2004/1202/p13s02-stin.html

FLORIDA JUVENILE JUSTICE - FIRED EMPLOYEES GET REHIRED
(December 5, 2004) The Palm Beach Post reported a review of records from the state and 40 of its private contractors uncovered at least 200 employees were hired at juvenile justice centers in recent years, after they were fired from similar jobs for violence, misconduct, incompetence and having sexual relationships with teenagers. Hiring companies never checked with past employers, past employers gave neutral references for their worst workers, some broke the law by withholding/ losing personnel files and others were so desperate to find low wage workers that they simply looked the other way. State officials say they have improved their background screening practices since the Post began investigating the system's hiring practices.
www.palmbeachpost.com/news/content/news/epaper/2004/12/05/m1a_JUVENILES_1205.html

BRITISH OFFICIALS ADVISE LESS USE OF ANTIDEPRESSANTS
(December 7, 2004) The Washington Post reported British health officials advised doctors not to prescribe antidepressants for about 70 percent of the patients who complain of depression without first trying exercise, self-help, talk therapy or just giving themselves time to feel better. British regulators and a standards-setting panel said patients with mild depression who are able to go to work and function normally, should avoid widely used antidepressants at first because of the possibility of side effects and withdrawal symptoms. Some experts are reexamining the use of antidepressant medications for first line treatment of mild depression because of the widespread enthusiasm for prescription drug use. www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A41332-2004Dec6?language=printer

US STUDENTS LAG IN MATH COMPARISON
(December 9, 2004) eSchool News online reported that compared with their peers in other countries, 15-year-olds in the United States are below average in math skills, real-life tasks, and in every other math-specific area tested in 2003, which included geometry and algebra to statistics and computation. One expert who reviewed the scores, Jack Jennings of the independent Center on Education Policy, said the test is more a measure of how math is taught than what students know. Many US math classes teach analytical or theoretical thinking, not everyday math application, Jennings said.
www.eschoolnews.com/news/showStoryts.cfm?ArticleID=5411 (free registration required)

ABC SCHEDULES BRAT CAMP
(December 20, 2004) ABC Family cable channel will launch a four-week reality series on Monday, January 10. "The project tracks a group of badly behaved teenagers that are sent to a pioneering wilderness camp in Utah by their parents in a final attempt to change their behavior.

AUSTRALIAN OUTDOOR EDUCATION COUNCIL HOSTS NATIONAL CONFERENCE
(December 21, 2004) Kelly Stock, Project Officer, Queensland Outdoor Recreation Federation, Brisbane, Australia, 07-3369-9455, kelly@qorf.org.au, www.qorf.org.au, announced that the 14th National Outdoor Conference is set for July 3-6, 2005 at the Radisson Resort Gold Coast, Palm Meadows, Queensland. This year's conference, hosted by the Australian Outdoor Education Council, will focus on outdoor education and recreation, and is entitled "The Challenges We Face." Detailed information will be available on the website listed above on January 31.

NEW EMOTIONAL GROWTH SOBER HIGH SCHOOL
(December 21, 2004) WKOW-TV in Madison, WI, reported a new recovery based high school is opening in Madison. Horizon High School will offer struggling teens a sober academic experience. With a small teacher/student ratio, the school will provide weekend events and create a safe environment where students can excel. "Horizon High School will be more than just a sober school, it'll be an emotional growth school, where kids can feel safe," said founder Shelly Dutch. Horizon High School is a non-profit organization and is not connected to the Madison School District. www.wkowtv.com/$spindb.!query.1listnews.storeview.13726.news

ARE YOUTH TOO TRUSTING OF INTERNET INFORMATION?
(December 22, 2004) eSchool News online reported that in a study on research habits, Wellesley College researchers Panagiotis Metaxas and Leah Graham found that fewer than two percent of students, in one Wellesley computer science class, used a non-Internet source. "Skepticism is part of their lives, yet they tend to believe things fairly readily because it appears on the Internet," said Roger Casey, who studies youths and pop culture at Rollins College in Winter Park, FL. Alex Halavais, professor of informatics at the University of Buffalo, said students are so accustomed to instant information that "the idea of spending an hour or two to find that good source is foreign to them." www.eschoolnews.com/news/showStoryts.cfm?ArticleID=5424&page=3 (free registration required)

STUDY: MIXED RESULTS ON TEEN DRUG USE
(December 22, 2004) The Washington Post reported illegal drug use by teenagers declined slightly in 2004. Since 2001, the number of high school students who reported using an illicit drug in the past month fell 17 percent to 16.1 percent this year. Alcohol use within the past 30 days declined 7.7 percent to 33 percent, according to the comprehensive "Monitoring the Future" survey. However, high school seniors reported using a broader array of illegal substances with more frequency. Fully 70 percent of 12th-graders said they have consumed alcoholic beverages during the past year, and 52 percent reported having been drunk at least once in 2004. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, speculated that teenagers do not see the same risks in alcohol consumption as in drug abuse.
www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A16715-2004Dec21.html?referrer=email (free registration required)

AUSTRALIAN WILDERNESS THERAPY CAMP
(December 23, 2004) The Border Mail, an Australian publication, reported on Operation Flinders, a wilderness therapy camp for troubled teens. Founded by former Army officer Pamela Murray White in 1991, the camp is set in Flinders Rangers at Warraweena Station, and is designed to prevent youth from entering the juvenile justice system. Senior Sgt. Barry McIntosh, from the Wodonga police, said the program had a positive impact on the teenagers and they would continue to receive support.
www.bordermail.com.au/newsflow/pageitem?page_id=866857

COMMUNITY SERVICE AN ALTERNATIVE FOR SUSPENDED STUDENTS
(December 27, 2004) Newsobserver.com in Raleigh, NC, reported on a new program that combines school work and community service for children suspended from school. The program focuses on students on long-term school suspension by allowing them to continue their academics through Internet courses and combining that with community service. This school year, 321 students received long-term suspensions and only 103 of them attend Richard Milburn High School, the home for long-term suspended students. Evaluating the program relies on where the students go after they complete their suspension. www.newsobserver.com/news/story/1965942p-8335883c.html (free registration required)

INCREASE IN DC FEMALE GANG ACTIVITY
(December 28, 2004) The Washington Post reported that experts say girl gangs have been on the rise for several years. Although no deaths are related to girl gang confrontations, an escalation of gang-related violence has alarmed officials. Most DC girl gangs do not affiliate with male gangs and are not typically involved in drug dealing, street robberies or other criminal acts and tend to pick only on their rivals. "Girls want to show their strength. Girls want respect," said Bridget Miller, a contractor hired by the DC schools as a supervisor with the Youth Gang Task Force. Youth gang workers, DC police officers who work at schools, and command officials tried to negotiate a truce for more than a year, with no success. www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A29940-2004Dec27?language=printer

Copyright © 2005, Woodbury Reports, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
(This article may not be reproduced without written approval of the publisher.)


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