Children's Hospital Boston presents at the Society for Adolescent Medicine Annual Meeting
March 22, 2007
Society for Adolescent Medicine Annual Meeting
Denver, March 28-31, 2007
The Marriott City Center Hotel, 1701 California Street
Children's Hospital Boston researchers will present on the following topics at this year's Society for Adolescent Medicine Annual Meeting:
- Gay and lesbian teens face more bullying (Wednesday, 3/28)
- What are your kids watching? Capturing media habits (Friday, 3/30)
Note: There is no embargo on these items, since abstracts of the research appeared in the February issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.
Gay and lesbian teens face more bullying
In the broadest study of bullying and sexual orientation to date, lesbian/gay adolescents were three to four times more likely to report having been bullied than heterosexuals while bisexuals and those identifying as "mostly heterosexual" were twice as likely, after adjustment for age and other factors. "It's clear that sexual minority youth are a population vulnerable to bullying," says researcher Elise Berlan, MD, in the Children's Hospital Boston Division of Adolescent Medicine. "This needs to be addressed, particularly in schools."
The study, led by Berlan and Bryn Austin, ScD, also of Children's, analyzed data from more than 7,500 adolescents aged 14 to 22 participating in the Growing Up Today Study, a large national study of American youth. Overall, about 90 percent of participants described themselves as heterosexual, 8 percent as mostly heterosexual, 1 percent as bisexual and 1 percent as lesbian or gay. Nearly half of the lesbian and gay youth in the study had been bullied in the past year.
Berlan and Austin hope to conduct a more detailed follow-up study to better understand how bullying affects health outcomes. "We know that, in general, sexual minorities are more likely to smoke, drink, use drugs and have eating disorders and depression," says Austin. "We suspect that social isolation, harassment, bullying and sometimes frank violence against these adolescents may be an explanation."
Bullying and harassment of children who behave or appear outside expected gender norms begins in elementary school. According to the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, a national advocacy group, students who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered are five times more likely to skip school than the general population, and do worse academically. Ten states and the District of Columbia now have a safe schools initiative to prevent harassment based on sexual orientation, and a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 284) proposes amending the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act to include bullying and harassment prevention programs.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007, 7-8:30 p.m.
Research Poster Presentation Session 1
Colorado Ballrooms A-B-C-D, Lower Level 2
Poster #22, "Sexual orientation and bullying in adolescents"
For interviews with high school students who have experienced bullying based on sexual orientation, contact Daryl Presgraves of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) (212-727-0135, x6577).
GLSEN website: www.glsen.org/cgi-bin/iowa/all/about/index.html
Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) Safe Schools Initiative: www.pflag.org/From_Our_House_to_the_Schoolhouse.schools.0.html
TVs, radios, magazines, I-Pods, cell-phone videos, instant messaging, Web surfing, car DVD players. Today's adolescents are so saturated in media, often more than one form simultaneously, that it's hard even to measure their exposure to determine its health impact. Michael Rich, MD, MPH, David Bickham, PhD, and Lydia Shrier, MD, MPH of Children's Hospital Boston led a pilot study with 19 teens and preteens that combined multiple data gathering methods to get the most complete picture possible.
"Until we get much more finely tuned data collection, we won't have a full understanding of the nature of media exposure, or the effects of that exposure in the context of a very complex and evolving media environment," says Rich, director of the Center on Media and Child Health.
In addition to recall questionnaires, which asked about the previous week's exposure to TV, video games, music, phone, computer, and print media, participants completed detailed daily time-use diaries. They also underwent two methods of "momentary sampling" - beeped at random four to six times a day, they first answered a series of questions on a handheld computer, then created an audiovisual record of actual media exposure by doing a 360-degree pan of their environment with a camcorder, zooming in on TV screens, computers and other visible media.
After one week of such measurement, it became clear that the most complete and accurate portrait of media exposure comes through combining and cross-validating all four methods. For example, when diaries did not mention TV exposure, both momentary sampling methods showed TV to be on almost two thirds of the time. The multi-pronged approach captured not only the duration and content of media exposure, but also the context, how much attention was paid, salience or importance to the viewer/listener, and emotional state at the time of exposure.
With intriguing preliminary findings about gender and age differences in media use, the researchers now hope to scale up their study, adding one-year follow-up measurement plus assessment of health outcomes like smoking and obesity.
Friday, March 30, 2007, 12:45-2:30 p.m.
Platform Research Presentations - Session II
Colorado Ballroom E, Lower Level 2
Measuring Youth Media Exposure: A Pilot Study (2:15-2:30 p.m.)
Contact: Jamie Newton
Founded in 1869 as a 20-bed hospital for children, Children's Hospital Boston today is the nation's leading pediatric medical center, the largest provider of health care to Massachusetts children, and the primary pediatric teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. In addition to 347 pediatric and adolescent inpatient beds and comprehensive outpatient programs, Children's houses the world's largest research enterprise based at a pediatric medical center, where its discoveries benefit both children and adults. More than 500 scientists, including eight members of the National Academy of Sciences, 11 members of the Institute of Medicine and 10 members of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute comprise Children's research community. For more information about the hospital visit: www.childrenshospital.org/newsroom.