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Bullying Prevention Seen Having Impact

School-based programs have been developed that can cut down on bullying behaviors among children by as much as 50 percent, and putting those programs in place would stem the tide of bullying violence in American schools, suggests a report from Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a national, Washington- based network of police chiefs, sheriffs, and prosecutors.

The report, released last week, points out that victims of bullying are more likely than other children to be suicidal, and that the bullies themselves are far more likely than other children to commit crimes as adults.

Educators should use bullying-prevention programs that were proved effective by "rigorous scientific research," the report recommends. It gives examples of some of those efforts.

—Kevin Bushweller

Autism Research

The incidence of autism in Danish children was not connected to the use of mercury-based preservatives in vaccines, a new study shows.

Published in the September issue of the journal Pediatrics, the study further rebuts a controversial belief among some parents that their children's autism was caused by the preservative called thimerosal used in vaccines. Researchers examined data from 956 children between the ages of 2 and 10 who were diagnosed with autism between 1971 and 2000.

For More Info
An abstract of the study, "Thimerosal and the Occurrence of Autism: Negative Ecological Evidence From Danish Population-Based Data," is available from American Academy of Pediatrics.

The belief in a connection between mercury and autism exists, experts say, because many children first show signs of autism, a developmental disorder that affects a child's ability to communicate and connect with the outside world, around the age of 2, when they receive vaccines.

—Lisa Goldstein

Student Drug Use

Students who take part in school extracurricular activities are far less likely to use illegal drugs than are their peers who don't participate, according to a recent survey of 110,000 6th through 12th graders nationwide.

The survey, conducted by Bowling Green, Ky.-based PRIDE Surveys, found that 34 percent of students who never participate in school activities reported drug use, compared with 18 percent who are involved in such activities. It also examined the overall percentages of students who use illegal drugs, drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, or carry weapons inside or outside of school.

—Kevin Bushweller

Teacher Quality

There is a "woeful lack of adequate research" on what it takes to be a good teacher, concludes a recent report about teacher quality by the Education Commission of the States.

In an attempt to fill the void, the Denver-based ECS tries to tie together existing research from 92 studies to come up with recommendations for improving teacher quality. The report examines issues such as how much subject-specific knowledge teachers need and how much classroom experience prior to certification contributes to teacher effectiveness. It also includes a comparison of traditional teacher-preparation routes and alternative ones.

—Kevin Bushweller

Parent Involvement

Despite widespread rhetoric about the importance of involving parents in their children's education, families are often held at arm's length by schools, especially in low-income communities, says a report about family involvement in school and youth programs.

Produced by the Washington-based American Youth Policy Forum, the report draws on analyses of more than 100 evaluations of school and youth programs. It then provides insights into the role that family involvement plays in 27 of those programs, discusses misconceptions about families that the report says must be discarded, and issues a number of recommendations for policymakers.

—Kevin Bushweller

Vol. 23, Issue 2, Page 12

Published in Print: September 10, 2003, as Report Roundup
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