Trend Lines Blog

Welcome to Child Trends’ blog, Trend Lines, where we share key findings from child and youth research and offer insights to inform  policies and programs.

Playful Banter or Bullying? Whose Perception Matters

(Also appears on Huffington Post)

How do we define and measure bullying? This is the question that continues to plague bullying prevention researchers, policymakers, and advocates alike. In his latest blog post, Dr. Justin Patchin ponders on the interactions between his adult friends, who actively tease, mock, and exclude each other, and suggests that perhaps some of our traditional techniques of measuring bullying, such as by asking youth if they’d ever been called mean or hurtful names, may be mis-capturing these friendly interactions. As Patchin writes,

“Often our research approaches don’t allow us to accurately distinguish between good-natured ribbing and malevolent meanness. As I have argued previously, I don’t believe that bullying can be done unintentionally. Even though someone’s feelings can certainly be hurt without intent, bullying by definition is deliberate.”

The issues Patchin ponders in his piece come down to a simple point – whose perspective matters when it comes to bullying—an objective observer, the one engaging in the behavior, or the one who feels bullied? Patchin seems to argue that for behavior to be bullying, the one doing the bullying has to consciously intend to hurt someone else. In other words, for bullying to be bullying, it is the perpetrator’s perspective that matters. This makes sense when our primary intervention strategies revolve around punishing, criminalizing, or otherwise solely addressing the one doing the bullying. If youth are joking around with friends it’s easy to shrug off the behavior, but when we look deeper things become even more complicated. Read More

More Than Just Preschool: Grant Opportunity Supports a Continuum of Early Learning and Development

Carlise King, executive director of the Early Childhood Data Collaborative

Carlise King, Executive Director of the Early Childhood Data Collaborative

This blog is being co-published by the Data Quality Campaign.

Did you know a child’s earliest experiences are predictive of his or her long-term health and educational success? Research has shown that targeted interventions to support at-risk children during the early childhood years can narrow the “school readiness gap” and put children on a path to becoming strong and healthy adults. This is one reason it is critical for states and appropriate stakeholders to effectively use early childhood data. Early childhood data can be used to understand the developmental needs of young children, inform instruction, and identify areas where children and families may need additional supports.

Recently, the US Departments of Education and Health and Human Services announced a competitive application process for Preschool Development and Expansion Grants that can be used to expand access to high-quality preschool programs in high-need communities. But the grant can be used for more than just preschool. Eligible states can also apply to use the funds to enhance their early care and education (ECE) data systems development to support a continuum of learning from birth to third grade. To qualify, states must describe their plans for “the creation of a more seamless progression of supports and interventions,” a process that should entail strong linkages between preschool programs, K–12 education, and data from related sectors such as home visitation and early intervention services. Read More

A Positive School Climate Can Mean a Successful School Year

caring teacher w studentAs the new school year begins so, too, does the excitement and expectations felt by students, parents, teachers, and school staff.  But sadly, that initial enthusiasm often fades as the routine of school takes over. What if we could gather up all the back-to-school energy and use it as fuel to propel students, school staff, and families through the school year to raise the achievements of students and staff alike?

An increasing number of schools and school districts across the country are focusing on creating a positive school climate, guided by a significant body of research attesting to the educational and developmental benefits of this approach.

But what, exactly, does a positive school climate look like for students, staff, and families on a day-to-day basis? Read More

Are the children well? Why the conversations sparked by Robin Williams’ suicide must address the need to promote mental wellness among the nation’s youth

children wellRobin Williams’ suicide has once again brought the issue of mental health to the top of everybody’s news feeds on social media.  Many news stories have pointed to the fact that Williams’ death is indicative of recent trends in suicide nationwide – suicide is up sharply among middle-aged Americans in recent years and just eclipsed homicide as the second leading cause of death among teens for the first time in two decades.  Sadly, nearly 22,000 adults between the ages of 35 and 64 committed suicide in 2010.  However, it is important to realize that the CDC estimates nearly one in four adults in America struggles with mental illness each year, and almost half of Americans will experience a mental illness in their lifetime (including substance abuse).  These numbers may be shocking to some, but what many find most surprising is that nearly half of all lifetime cases of mental illness are estimated to start by the age of 14.
Read More

Behind the Sharp Declines in Births Outside of Marriage

Nonmarital birth rates are going down. A new report by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) shows that between 2007 and 2013, the nonmarital birth rate—which measures the number of births that occur in any one year to unmarried women (per 1,000)—declined 14 percent, from its peak of 51.8 to 44.8. This marks a dramatic shift after decades of steady increases. Notably, the declines are particularly steep among some of the most vulnerable populations, teenagers and minority women. Read More