End Notes

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Health Beat

Astudy in an upcoming issue of the journal Reproductive Health links teen birth rates to conservative religious beliefs. While the study does not draw conclusions about cause and effect, researchers say that teen birth rates are higher in states with more conservative beliefs; Mississippi leads the nation on both measures. Researchers suggest that more religious communities may frown upon contraception, and if teen sex is not discouraged as well, it may lead to the higher rates. The correlation was strong even after accounting for income and abortion rates. Measures of religiousness come from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, while the birth rates are statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the study, of the states with the 10 highest teen birth rates, 5 were also among the 10 most religious.

TB culture

Late in September the United States changed tuberculosis testing requirements for children adopted abroad, after stories like 4-year-old Tsehaynesh Rigotti's surfaced. As reported in the News & Observer, Tsehaynesh's adoptive parents went to Ethiopia in late July to pick up their new daughter, who had been exposed to TB and had a positive skin test, but did not have the active, infectious form of the disease. Pediatric infectious disease experts say that young children are only rarely contagious and do not pose a health risk. Their views helped convince the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to change the policy they had implemented last spring, which had required children to remain outside the United States for the results of their TB cultures. Now children under 10 who have no symptoms and no known exposure to a person with drug-resistant TB can wait for the results of their cultures inside the United States.

Research Report

Presenting findings from the National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention released Children's Exposure to Violence: A Comprehensive National Survey in October. The survey was conducted between January and May 2008, and questioned more than 4,500 children or their parents or adult caregivers about their past year and lifetime exposure to violence. A short bulletin about the survey, available at www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/227744.pdf, highlights the survey's findings, including that more than 60% of the children surveyed were exposed to violence in the past year, and nearly half had been assaulted in the past year.

Foods and beverages offered in schools outside of U.S. Department of Agriculture school meal programs (such as in vending mac-hines) are not subject to federal nutrition standards and generally are of lower nutritional quality than food served in the meal programs. To estimate changes in the percentage of schools in which students could not purchase less nutritious foods and beverages, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed 2002-2008 survey data from its School Health Profiles for public secondary schools. A recent report, available at www.cdc. gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ mm58e1005a1.htm, summarizes the results of those analyses. It concludes that while the percentage of schools in which students could not purchase candy or soda increased overall, state-by-state data ranges widely.

Dispatch From Abroad

The Mannerheim League for Child Welfare in Finland has sent parents of seventh-graders a letter outlining the importance of sleep for adolescents. A study by the World Health Organization found that Finnish teens are the most tired of any in Europe. The Mannerheim League says this is simply because teens don't get as much sleep as they need. Many adolescents lack a proper sleep rhythm, and having regular evening routines that curb cell phone use, television watching, and Internet surfing helps get them into bed on time, the League says.

Arecent series in the Los Angeles Times tells the story of babies adopted from China who were stolen by officials and put up for foreign adoption, their parents allege. Family planning officials enforcing the country's one-child policy--which actually allows second children in some locations and in some circumstances--allegedly took infants instead of finding the parents, hoping to profit by taking the babies to orphanages and saying they had been found abandoned. "Our children were exported abroad like they were factory products," Yang Libing told the Times. Some of the parents say that officials told them they were empowered to take the babies under Chinese law, but this is not the case. In fact, even when babies are actually abandoned, the law requires the officials to search for birth parents, according to the Times. Newspapers run ads with infants' photos asking for information about their families. But many of the parents are illiterate, and even if they could read, they do not get newspapers in their rural villages. The Chinese Center for Adoption Affairs, the government agency that oversees Chinese adoptions, did not comment in the Times story.

The Northern Authority in Manitoba, Canada, more than a year into a quality assurance review of Awasis Agency, recently placed the agency's executive director on administrative leave and appointed its own administrator, as allowed under provincial laws. A report from the Winnipeg Free Press says that Awasis is one of Manitoba's biggest Indian child welfare agencies, reaching more than a dozen communities. Over the last year, there have been several deaths of children served by the agency, including a teen's suicide, a 5-year-old's drowning, and the death of a 13-month-old boy who was in foster care, and whose foster father is now charged with second-degree murder. Manitoba has launched agency reviews in the past due to child deaths or mismanagement, but this examination is part of a systematic review of all Indian child welfare agencies in the province.

Speaking Out

"Please stop the pastors who hurt us. I believe in God and God knows I am not a witch."
-- Jerry, a Nigerian boy accused of witchcraft, who was beaten by his pastor, starved, made to eat cement, and set on fire by his father, speaks to an Associated Press writer. The Children's Rights and Rehabilitation Network in Nigeria says more than 15,000 children have been named witches by churches.

"I treat people, I figure, equal. I have one problem with mixed marriages and that is the offspring."
-- Louisiana Justice of the Peace Keith Bardwell, who refused to issue a marriage license to a white woman and a black man in October on the grounds that their children would suffer, speaking to the Associated Press. Bardwell refuses to resign, and the couple are reportedly considering legal action against him.


"The future prosperity of any society depends on its ability to foster the health and well-being of the next generation."
-- Linda O'Neal, executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, a CWLA member agency, in a guest editorial in The Tennessean encouraging investment in child welfare programs because of the long-term gains it brings the state.

Have an opinion on child welfare issues in the news, especially the comments above? Send a letter to the editor to voice@cwla.org.

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