September 6, 2016
By ANN LUKITS
Many forms of bullying among elementary and high-school students gradually declined after anti-bullying legislation took effect in one U.S. state, but the chance of being cyberbullied increased, according to a study published online in Injury Epidemiology.
Most U.S. states have anti-bullying laws in place, but their effectiveness in preventing bullying wasn’t known, the researchers said. Cyberbullying—receiving hurtful or threatening electronic messages from other students—may be the most difficult form of bullying for schools to address, with constant technological advancements opening new avenues for harassment, the study suggested.
Researchers at the University of Iowa surveyed 253,000 students in grades 6, 8 and 11, two years before Iowa’s anti-bullying legislation took effect in September 2007. The students were surveyed again in 2008 and 2010. On each survey, the students reported how often they were targets of verbal, psychological, physical or electronic bullying in the past month, and how often teachers intervened.
Over the study period, 47.3% of students reported being the target of bullying.
Cyberbullying was the least common form of bullying. But the chances of being cyberbullied increased by 44% in the first post-law year, compared with the two years before the law took effect, and further increased to 47% over three years.
Other forms of bullying increased in the year immediately after the law was implemented, possibly due to greater awareness and reporting, the researchers said. This was followed by a two-year decline in bullying, but levels were still higher than in the pre-law period. Although students gave teacher intervention generally high ratings on the surveys, teachers were less likely to try to stop bullying under the new legislation, the study found.
Grade 11 students were the only group to report a decrease in one form of bullying—verbal—to below pre-law levels, suggesting that anti-bullying laws may have greater impact in high schools, the researchers said.
Caveat: Declines in bullying could be due to other anti-bullying initiatives, the researchers said. The study didn’t include a control group.
Women who participated in group prenatal care were more likely to arrive at the hospital closer to delivery than women who opted for traditional one-on-one prenatal care, according to a study in the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health.
Group prenatal care follows the normal schedule of monthly checkups during pregnancy—in the study, this was with a nurse-midwife— but the visits are longer and include group discussions as well blood-pressure and weight checks.
Researchers suggest that contact with other women during group prenatal care may increase a woman’s resilience and capacity to cope with labor pain outside the hospital. Admission to hospital during the latent or early phase of labor increases the risk of medical interventions, including cesarean deliveries, they said.
Group care is associated with better maternity outcomes, but its effect on phase of labor at admission wasn’t known, the researchers said.
The study, at Oregon Health & Science University, in Portland, involved 150 pregnant women in their early 30s, who received group prenatal care between 2009 and 2014. They were matched by age and other characteristics with 225 controls who got standard prenatal care during the same period.
Among women who received group care, 80% were in active labor when admitted to hospital compared with 69.8% of control women. Those receiving group care also had more advanced cervical dilation upon admission and fewer epidural procedures during labor. There was no difference in cesarean deliveries between the groups.
Pregnant women who chose group prenatal care were 73% more likely to be admitted to the hospital during active labor than those who opted for one-on-one care, according to the adjusted results, which considered multiple factors, such as chronic health conditions and previous births, the researchers said.
The group prenatal-care program used in the study was similar to the CenteringPregnancy model but didn’t use any of the organization’s materials, the researchers said.
Caveat: It isn’t known if women who chose group prenatal care attended childbirth-education classes. The subjects were almost all married, white women.
A weekly telephone call helped to improve balance in a group of older people at high risk of falling, according to a study in the Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy.
Compared with a control group that didn’t get calls, participants who got regular telephone support encouraging them to stick with a 12-week home-exercise program made significantly greater improvements. There were also fewer dropouts in the group that received calls.
Weekly telephone contact may have created a feeling of responsibility to the caller that helped subjects stay with the program, the researchers suggested. Home-exercise programs can be convenient for older people without easy access to transportation, but participation rates are usually extremely low, the researchers said.
The study, at Brenau University in Gainesville, Ga., involved 77 people age 64 to 88 recruited from a veterans’ hospital outpatient clinic. The subjects, mostly men, had fallen at least twice in the previous year and were enrolled in a physiotherapist-designed home-exercise program to strengthen muscles in the hips and legs and improve mobility. Half of the subjects also received a weekly 15-minute call that allowed them to ask questions and report any falls or near-falls.
Balance was assessed every four weeks with a scale that measured the subjects’ ability to perform 14 actions, such as standing on one foot or retrieving an object from the floor.
Both groups made similar progress during the first month. Balance control leveled off in the no-call group during the second month but continued to improve in the group getting calls. Over the study, balance improved by 6.3 points in the call group and 3.9 points in the no-call group, a statistically significant change in both groups, the researchers said. The improvement in the call group closely approached a clinically meaningful change, which is 6.5 points for balance disorders, the study said.
Caveat: The study included only three women. Depression, pain and other factors that might affect adherence to the exercise program weren’t assessed.
Children who are overweight—even slightly—may not be able to sense when they are eating too much or too little, a study in PLOS One suggests.
The researchers for 18 months gave sugar-free drinks instead of sugary drinks at morning recess to school children, who weren’t aware of the switch. Children with a lower body-mass index tended to increase their intake of calories during the day.
But those with a higher body-mass index, who didn’t eat or drink as much to make up the difference, may have an impaired ability to notice that calories were missing from their morning drink, the researchers said. This can work both ways, and these children also may not notice when they are overeating, they added.
The study, in the Netherlands, involved 477 children, age 5 to 11 years old, from an earlier study that examined the impact on body weight of replacing one sugary drink a day with a sugar-free drink. In this follow-up study, the children were categorized into high and low body-mass-index groups with 238 and 239 subjects, respectively.
Approximately half of each group received an artificially sweetened, calorie-free beverage during morning break, and the rest got their usual drink containing 6.5 teaspoons of sugar, or about 104 calories.
The children with a lower BMI compensated for 65% of the missing calories while those with a higher BMI made up only 13%, according to a statistical model that predicted calorie intake from other foods based on child growth and energy balance.
The low-BMI children who received sugar-free drinks gained 1.4 fewer pounds, on average, than those given sugary drinks. In contrast, the high-BMI children fed sugar-free drinks gained 3.4 fewer pounds than classmates who consumed sugary drinks.
A number of U.S. cities have clamped down on the sale of sugary drinks to reduce diabetes and obesity. Such measures may be more effective in children with a tendency to become overweight, the study said.
Caveat: Other factors, such as genetic predisposition and ethnic background, may play a role in children’s weight gain, the study said.
Do you think anti-bullying legislation is effective? Why? Why not?