Applause! Arnold School achievements recognized
October 16, 2012
Billings an author on major S.C. report
A new report seeking major changes in the way the state approaches promoting the sexual health and well-being of youth has been issued by the S.C. State Alliance for Adolescent Sexual Health (SAASH, www.saashsc.org ), a team of health professionals, nonprofit organizations, and community leaders.
Dr. Deborah Billings of the Arnold School was an author of the report, titled the Call to Action Resource Document, which asks that schools, health care providers, policymakers and parents take immediate action, including:
- Uniform implementation of the Comprehensive Health Education Act (CHEA), passed by the S.C. Legislature in 1988. District and school comprehensive health education staff continue to need professional development to implement effective programs and practices to meet the goals of existing policies.
- Investment in comprehensive, age-appropriate, medically accurate, evidence-based sexual health education;
- An increase in the number of teen-friendly clinics to improve access to testing and screening for youth;
- That teachers responsible for providing instruction in reproductive and sexual health receive relevant professional development.
In addition to providing concrete policy recommendations, the report shows that adolescents who are at risk for poor academic performance are also at risk for negative sexual health outcomes. This correlation has led to a significant health and education disparity for South Carolina’s young people. Teen birth, STD and HIV rates in South Carolina are consistently among the highest in the nation. Moreover, South Carolina continues to have one of the lowest graduation rates in the country.
“The statistics paint an alarming picture in South Carolina and reveal a dire need for immediate action on behalf of our youth,” said Billings, an assistant professor in the Arnold School’s Department of Health Promotion, Education and Behavior. “We know that well-designed, well-implemented community and school-based prevention programs have been proven to work. We need action that is collaborative, across health and education, to address these issues and act on the solutions detailed in our report.”
The Call to Action Resource Document relied on the latest data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the U.S. Department of Education and other national and state data sources.
Study examines afterschool hours of rural youth
A recent study by Dr. Justin Moore of the Arnold School’s Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior has examined environmental factors and afterschool health behaviors of youth living in rural areas. Since the report, “A Matter of Time – Risk and Opportunity in the Non-School Hours,” was released by the Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development in 1992, much attention has been given to youth behavior after school and also to intervention programs designed to promotion academic success and social skills.
The only problem is that few studies had looked at what was happening among rural youth during afterschool hours. Moore’s study, published in the American Journal of Health Studies, looked at afterschool environment of rural youth in grades 4, 8 and 11 and the self-reported health behaviors of these youth who were in four different afterschool settings – an afterschool sports program, an adult-supervised afterschool program, an adult-supervised home environment or a non-supervised home environment.
Moore’s report found that 1) supervised afterschool settings appear to diminish tobacco experimentation and use; 2) structured afterschool programs encourage physical activity among youth, and 3) only structured, adult-supervised non-sport programs were associated with less watching of TV during the week.
Moore said the findings suggest that schools encourage parents and families to impact behaviors related to smoking and physical activity. “These efforts would support what occurs in afterschool programs, and take advantage of a support that exists naturally in the home,” Moore said, citing that tobacco use and physical inactivity are leading causes of preventable death in American adults.
Developing effective preventive strategies is critically important in improving health conditions and reducing health disparities in the United States, said Moore, who recently was featured on a podcast from the Speaking of Schools show.
Visit http://www.sph.sc.edu/hpeb/default.htm and check out Moore’s podcast under “HPEB Making a Difference.”
DPT faculty member honored
Dr. Paul Beattie, a clinical associate professor in the Doctoral Program in Physical Therapy within the Department of Exercise Science, is the 2012 recipient of the Jules M. Rothstein Golden Pen Award for excellence in scientific writing.
The award is given by the American Physical Therapy Association to recognize individuals who have demonstrated continued excellence in scholarly contributions to the professional literature and have provided distinguished service to the field.