An online newsletter produced by EdSource
with support from The California Endowment 


May 15,
Issue 60
Student Health
Rates of teen births, sexually transmitted diseases and children in poverty portray health by county
Teen birth rates by county. Dark blue indicates the highest rates. Source: 2017 County Health Rankings

Teenage girls in five Central Valley or rural counties -- Fresno, Madera, Kings, Del Norte, Imperial, Kern and Tulare -- gave birth at a rate five times higher than their peers in Marin County, which reported the lowest teen birth rate in the state, over a seven year period, according to the 2017 County Health Rankings.

Intended to provide communities and school staff with data and strategies to improve health, the annual rankings are a project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

Among the findings:
  • Teen birth rates were lowest in Marin, Placer and San Francisco counties. Rates were highest in Tulare, Kern and Imperial counties.
  • Rates of a chlamydia, most commonly diagnosed in young women, were lowest in Modoc, Sierra and Trinity counties and highest in Kern, San Francisco and Fresno counties.
  • Thirty-six percent of children under age 18 live in poverty in Tulare, Merced, Fresno and Alpine counties. Of California's 58 counties, 20 counties report that more than 1 in 4 children live in poverty, with short and long term consequences for their health.
Student Mental Health

Actress Katherine Langford plays the lead character in "13 Reasons Why." Courtesy of Netflix.
The popular Netflix series "13 Reasons Why" about a high school girl who commits suicide is coming back for a second season, while its first season continues to raise concerns that its portrayal of a teen suicide is more hurtful than helpful to suicide prevention. The National Association of School Psychologists has issued guidance to schools cautioning that youth who struggle with depression or other mental health issues may be strongly affected by the themes in the first season of the show.

"We do not recommend that vulnerable youth, especially those who have any degree of suicidal ideation, watch this series," said the association. 

Teenage fans have praised the show for its stark portrayal of fictional 17-year-old Hannah Baker, who endured harassment on social media as well as rape. But the National Association of School Psychologists said "13 Reasons Why" provided a skewed view of suicidal tendencies. Missing from the portrayal of Hannah's decision to take her own life was the common factor in most suicide deaths, the group said -- "the presence of treatable mental illnesses."

"Suicide is not the simple consequence of stressors or coping challenges, but rather, it is most typically a combined result of treatable mental illnesses and overwhelming or intolerable stressors," the group said.

The National Association of School Psychologists posted resources for schools and families about how to talk to students about "13 Reasons Why," suicide and mental health treatment. The Los Angeles Unified School District also created a list of tips on how to talk about the issues examined in "13 Reasons Why."

The psychologists encouraged schools and parents to pass on this message: "Suicide is never a solution. It is an irreversible choice regarding a temporary problem. There is help. If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or know someone who is, talk to a trusted adult, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text "START" to 741741."

Related: "13 Reasons Why" makes a smarmy spectacle of suicide, by Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker

School Discipline

When Erika Jones, a kindergarten teacher in Los Angeles, needed to know what to do for a tantrum-throwing, book-hurling kindergartner in lieu of sending him to the principal's office, she discovered she'd have to teach herself a new approach to school discipline. "For me personally, I didn't receive any training from the district," she said.

Read more at EdSource.

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, founder of the Center for Youth Wellness, will speak at a luncheon plenary at the 2017 School-Health Alliance Convention.
The School-Based Health Alliance, a national, Washington, D.C.- based organization, and the California School-Based Health Alliance, an affiliate, are co-hosting the 2017 National School-Based Health Care convention in Long Beach, June 18-21.

It's a packed agenda. Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, founder of the San Francisco-based Center for Youth Wellness, will give a plenary speech on the effect of severe trauma and stress on children's health and academics, and how to intervene and prevent such effects. Other speakers include Judy Appel, executive director of the California School-Based Health Alliance, and California State Senator Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens.

Dozens of presentations are scheduled. Staff from the school health centers in the San Leandro Unified School District will talk about how they are working with schools to provide behavioral interventions and reduce suspensions.

Presenters from the Orange County Department of Education will discuss how schools are meeting the mental health needs of students. Other presentations include information from schools that are successfully providing students with dental and vision care. 

What: 2017 National School-Based Health Care Convention
When: June 18-21
Where: Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center in Long Beach
Click here to learn more and to register.
This webinar is intended to help school and community leaders make the case that social and emotional wellbeing is a worthwhile focus for schools.

Dr. Kim Schonert-Reichl, director of the Human Early Learning Partnership at the University of British Columbia, will present evidence on the benefits of focusing on social and emotional health and share strategies for sharing this information effectively.

The webinar is co-presented by WellAhead, a project of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation.

What: "Communicating the importance of social and emotional wellbeing in schools"
When: Wed., May 31, 11 a.m. PT
For more information and to register, click here.
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