Articles, Leading Stories

October 1st, 2010

Fire-setting: an under-addressed issue

By Phyllis Hanlon

In 2008, 30,500 fires were set, resulting in 315 deaths and $866 million in loss, according to the United States Fire Administration (USFA). Even more alarming, Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics from the same year report that 47 percent of intentionally set fires were done by individuals under the age of 18; three percent of those arrested were younger than 10. Paul Zipper, sergeant with the Massachusetts State Police, explains that the literature on juvenile fire setting behavior identifies four motives: curiosity, crisis, delinquency and pathology. Younger children who have access to matches and/or lighters tend to experiment out of [More]

October 1st, 2010

Arts programs make inroads with DYS students

By Jennifer E Chase

The Mass. Department of Education holds youth who are serving time in juvenile detention centers to the same state-mandated compliance standards as their counterparts “on the out.” So when their sentences for convicted misbehaviors are completed, they must be prepared to integrate back into whatever school setting from which they came. Middle and high school is difficult on kids – and that’s barring the emotional and situational obstacles that land youth in court-appointed facilities in the first place. Coupled with the state’s Department of Youth Services’ (DYS) Education System factoring in special needs that can make their learning more difficult [More]

October 1st, 2010

In Practice: “Genuine Voices” heals as it teaches

By Jennifer E Chase

After the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Berklee School of Music Senior Juri Ify Love chose a community service-based senior project that would change her life as much as those she sought to help. After reading an article about a Los Angeles program that brought journalism to detention center students as a way for them to express themselves, Love took her own background in music to Boston-based youth who were incarcerated and living in small spaces. “I started thinking about their small cell and came up with the idea of beat sequencing – making small beats in a small space,” says [More]

October 1st, 2010

Special education and residential schools gradually disappearing

By Phyllis Hanlon

As states across the country continue to seek ways to reduce costs, services and programs relating to mental health issues often suffer the greatest cuts. In New England, the fiscal picture is no brighter. While many services have shifted to community-based programs, there still remains a need in some cases for residential treatment. However, in the last year, a few more facilities have closed their doors. Peter Mendelson, director of Behavioral Health and Medicine at the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, confirms that High Meadows in Hamden has ceased operations. This residential treatment center, the state’s smallest, had been the [More]

October 1st, 2010

New Hampshire wants new women’s prison

By Catherine Robertson Souter

As far back as 2004, a report by the New Hampshire Commission on the Status of Women detailed issues with the state’s services for female inmates including overcrowding and a shortage of space to provide programs to help reduce recidivism. Compared to programs offered to the state’s male prisoners, the women are provided with fewer options for rehabilitation programs including vocational training. In June, the state’s corrections department made a plea to change that situation with a proposal for construction of a new $37 million facility to house female prisoners and a halfway house for those nearing release. If approved, [More]

October 1st, 2010

FDA warns maker of alternative autism treatment

By Nan Shnitzler

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in June sent a warning letter to the maker of a product that was being used to treat symptoms of autism, the Chicago Tribune reported. The product, OSR#1, was being sold as a dietary supplement by a Kentucky company, but the FDA wrote that it was an unapproved drug with inadequately disclosed side effects. The company, CTI Science, was founded by Boyd Haley, Ph.D., an emeritus professor of chemistry at the University of Kentucky, who is well known in alternative autism treatment circles for his concern about mercury toxicity. The June 17 letter said [More]

October 1st, 2010

Pre-schoolers display mental health issues

By Ami Albernaz

It’s well-known that social competence and behavior problems that are apparent when children are five or six are predictors of their later academic and social functioning. Yet a team of psychologists has shown that these problems can be identified earlier on, suggesting intervention need not begin only when formal schooling does. In a longitudinal study of more than 1,300 children from the New Haven-Meriden area of Connecticut, Alice S. Carter, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts-Boston and colleagues found that problems noted by parents and teachers in kindergarten and first grade were evident at earlier ages. [More]

October 1st, 2010

Study: Older people happier

By Ami Albernaz

If you’re facing down 50 with some degree of dread, you may find comfort in a study that suggests people who’ve passed that milestone tend to experience less stress and greater happiness on a daily basis than do younger adults. Analyzing data from a 2008 Gallup phone survey of over 340,000 Americans between ages 18 and 85, a research team led by Arthur Stone, Ph.D., professor and vice chairman of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Stony Brook University, concluded that not only do feelings of overall well-being improve as people age – replicating findings from previous research – but that [More]

October 1st, 2010

Legislation proposed to ban corporal punishment in schools

By Ami Albernaz

For some of us, corporal punishment brings to mind school days of old, with nuns rapping across the knuckles of the disobedient. Though corporal punishment is no longer used in New England schools (Connecticut, the last of the New England states to ban it, did so in 1989), it still is allowed in 20 states – though a bill introduced in late June by Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) would eliminate it in U.S. schools entirely. Critics of corporal punishment have long argued that it doesn’t work, citing research that suggests it impairs academic performance and is even linked to higher [More]

October 1st, 2010

Research: Spanked children have lower IQs

By Ami Albernaz

Those against corporal punishment may have found support in research presented last fall that suggests kids who are spanked have lower IQs than kids who are not. Murray Straus, Ph.D., a sociology professor and co-director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire and Mallie Paschall, Ph.D., senior research scientist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, studied nationally representative samples of 806 children ages 2 to 4 and 704 children ages 5 to 9. They looked at the children’s IQ scores and how often the kids were subjected to corporal punishment, as reported by their [More]

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