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Learn About the Many CDC Initiatives that Work to Keep America Safe, the Mental Health Effects as Students Transition to High School, the Early Childhood Predictors of Youth Violence in Low-Income Male Adolescents, and More

In this issue, we take a deeper dive into the CDC initiatives that work to keep America safe and healthy, the mental health effects on adolescents as they transition to high school, the early childhood predictors of youth violence in low-income male adolescents—and more.* 

Evaluation of the Health Rocks! Program: The Association of Youth Engagement with Program Outcomes

This evaluation research examined the relationship between program process and program outcome, specifically, youth engagement in the national 4-H Council Health Rocks! program and their program outcomes. Based on program evaluation surveys completed after the program by participants, youths’ engagement in the program was associated with their gains in knowledge and skills about substance use, and personal assets related to avoiding risks. When youth participants find a program interesting, are actively engaged in the program, and find the program staff friendly, they benefit more from the program. Findings underscore the importance of engaging curriculum and friendly staff to the success of extension or afterschool youth programs. The evaluation method may offer an example of balancing rigor of evaluation design and feasibility of implementing an evaluation.

Health barriers to learning: The prevalence and educational consequences in disadvantaged children

This report describes the Health Barriers to Learning (HBL) and the supporting evidence base for their impact on academic success. It also describes the disproportionate prevalence of HBLs in disadvantaged children, the extent of unmet need for services for identification, management and treatment, and each HBL’s impact on learning. Screening and management for each of these should be essential to supporting school and learning readiness. This report offers parents, practitioners and policymakers in the healthcare, education and children’s services sectors recommendations to strengthen and integrate the safety net for children. 

Adolescents Transitioning to High School: Sex Differences in Bullying Victimization Associated with Depressive Symptoms, Suicide Ideation, and Suicide Attempts 

Adolescents transitioning to high school may be at greater risk of depression and suicide if they are victims of bullying behavior. This study explored sex differences in bullying victimization (physical, verbal/social, and cyberbullying) and the impact on depressive symptoms and suicidal behaviors in ninth-grade students (N = 233). Females reported significantly more verbal/social and cyberbullying than male students. There were no significant sex differences in physical bullying; male students who reported physical bullying victimization were more likely to experience depressive symptoms. Verbal/social bullying predicted depressive symptoms in males and females. Females who reported being victims of cyberbullying were more likely to report depressive symptoms, suicide ideation, and suicide attempts. Eighteen students reported suicide attempts, and each also experienced verbal/social bullying. School nurses are positioned to reach out to transitioning students, screen for mental health issues, provide a safe place to talk about bullying experiences, and promote positive mental health.

Students’ Comprehension of Scientific Discussion: Using Eye-tracking Technique to Investigate the Effects of Social-media Messages on Television

Although social-media messages may influence our cognitive process of understanding television content, we know very little of its influence. Most research on television and social media has mainly focused on emotional aspects such as motives behind using social media while watching television, how viewer’s motivation to engage in television programs can be increased, and analysis of attitudes towards advertisements and sponsors. On the other hand, only a small number of investigations have been conducted on the influence social media has on our cognitive aspects. The present study aims to reveal the effects of social-media messages on comprehension of the contents of television programs.

Early Childhood Predictors of Severe Youth Violence in Low-Income Male Adolescents

Using a cohort of 310 low-income male adolescents living in an urban community and followed prospectively from 18 months through adolescence (ages 15–18 years), the current study examined whether individual, family, and community risk factors from ages 18 to 42 months were associated with adolescents' violent behavior, as indexed by juvenile petitions. Results of multivariate analyses indicated that although family income was the only factor to discriminate those with no arrest record from those with nonviolent arrests, rejecting parenting, child oppositional behavior, emotion regulation, and minority status during the toddler period contributed unique variance in distinguishing male adolescents arrested for violent behavior compared to those never arrested and those arrested for nonviolent behavior. Implications for prevention efforts are discussed. 

Bystanders’ Behavior in Cyberbullying Episodes: Active and Passive Patterns in the Context of Personal-Socio-Emotional Factor

The present study explored bystanders’ behavior in cyberbullying (CB) episodes among children and youth, focusing on active and passive behavior patterns. The study examined prevalence and characteristics of bystanders’ behavior following CB episodes, and their active–passive intervention patterns in relation to personal (age, gender) and socio-emotional (self-efficacy, social support, sense of loneliness) factors. Of the 1,094 participants (ages 9–18), 497 (46.4%) reported they were bystanders to CB episodes. Of the bystanders, 55.4% were identified as having a passive pattern of behavior—they did not provide any help to cyber-victims, whereas 44.6% were identified as having an active pattern—helping the cyber-victim. In line with the “bystanders’ effect,” only 35.6% of the bystanders offered direct help to cyber-victims after witnessing CB. When studying the personal–socio-emotional differences between active and passive bystanders, it was found that the “active bystanders” are more often girls, older, have more social support from significant others, and have lower levels of emotional loneliness than bystanders in the passive group. Differences within the passive and active patterns were studied as well. A logistic regression revealed the unique contribution of each predictor to the probability of being an active bystander. It was found that gender and age predicted the probability of being an active bystander: Girls are more likely than boys, and older bystanders are more likely than younger ones, to choose an active pattern and provide help to cyber-victims. In addition, implications for CB prevention and intervention involvement programs to encourage bystanders to help cyber-victims are discussed. 

*The above text is not our own; it is pulled from the linked research articles to preserve original meaning.