Monthly Archives: December 2015

Shackling Pregnant Women Poses Risks to Mother and Fetus

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Image source: Flickr user Crawford Learmonth on Flickr, under Creative Commons

By Danielle Dallaire, PhD (Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the College of William and Mary) and Rebecca Shlafer, PhD (Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics (Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Health) at the University of Minnesota)

Since 1990, the number of women incarcerated in the United States has more than doubled. Although much has been written about the overall poor health of incarcerated individuals, most of this work has focused on incarcerated men, perhaps understandably, since the overwhelming majority of incarcerated adults are male. Far less is known about the health of incarcerated women, despite high rates of mental health problems, substance abuse, and trauma histories documented in this population.  Furthermore, many women involved with the criminal justice system are of reproductive age.

Of the more than 200,000 incarcerated women in U.S. prisons and jails, it is estimated that 6%-10% of those women are pregnant. Although there is a dearth of research data on these women, we do know that, when compared to women in the general population, pregnant prisoners are more likely to have risk factors associated with poor perinatal outcomes, including preterm and small-for-gestational-age infants. These outcomes are likely a result of exposure to a combination of risk factors, including lack of access to or failure to attend prenatal care, substance use, toxic stress, domestic violence, poor nutrition, and sexually transmitted infections. In addition, African American, Native American, and Hispanic women – three groups that are also at highest risk for poor birth outcomes – are disproportionally represented in the prison system.

These risks for poor birth outcomes may be exacerbated by the care and treatment pregnant women receive during their incarcerations, including the dangerous practice of restraint. Despite strong evidence of danger to mother and child, 13 U.S. states allow indiscriminate use of restraints on incarcerated women and adolescent girls during pregnancy, labor, and recovery, even though the vast majority are incarcerated for nonviolent offenses.

Shackling has negative physical and mental health effects on mothers and their infants:

  • Shackling women and adolescent girls in transport to prenatal care and during labor and delivery can obstruct necessary medical care and, during labor, lead to extreme physical pain and complications because of the mother’s inability to move freely.
  • Shackling increases the likelihood of falls, inability to break a fall, life-threatening embolic complications, and impediments to epidurals, emergency caesarian section, and other interventions, all of which may also affect the fetus.
  • In one documented case, a woman shackled during labor experienced a hip dislocation that caused permanent deformities and pain, stomach muscle tears, and an umbilical hernia.
  • Mental health problems exist among incarcerated women in higher rates than the general population; pregnancy and the postpartum period bring increased risk of symptoms of mental health problems, such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Women subjected to shackling during childbirth report severe mental distress, depression, anguish, and trauma, and use of shackles during or immediately following childbirth can cause or exacerbate pregnancy-related mental health problems.
  • The presence of shackles after delivery may inhibit or interfere with a mother’s ability to bond with and safely handle her infant, to initiate breastfeeding, and may negatively affect the infant’s health.

These risks clearly compromise women’s health, and also have important implications for the health of their future offspring. We know very little about this population and what happens once they return to their families, making intervention and research with pregnant incarcerated women a priority. This also reflects a pressing need for gender-responsive and trauma-informed policies in the nation’s jails and prisons.

APA anticipates legislative action on this issue in the early part of 2016. Please check back or sign-up for our Federal Action Network, to participate in this important public policy advocacy effort.

Biographies

Danielle Dallaire, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the College of William and Mary. She received her PhD in developmental psychology from Temple University. Dr. Dallaire’s research examines children’s social and emotional development in the context of risk, including research on how children cope with the multifaceted risk of parental incarceration.

Rebecca Shlafer, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics (Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Health) at the University of Minnesota. She received her PhD in child psychology from the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on understanding the developmental outcomes of children and families with multiple risk factors. She is particularly interested in children with parents in prison, as well as the programs and policies that impact families affected by incarceration.  In addition to her academic work, Dr. Shlafer also volunteers as a guardian ad litem.

Image source: Flickr user Crawford Learmonth on Flickr, under Creative Commons

Copyright 2015 American Psychological Association


Filed under: Health and Wellness, Human Rights and Social Justice, Public Policy, Women and Girls Tagged: incarceration, public policy, women's health

Shackling Pregnant Women Poses Risks to Mother and Fetus

423951347_52a2094f20_z

Image source: Flickr user Crawford Learmonth on Flickr, under Creative Commons

By Danielle Dallaire, PhD (Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the College of William and Mary) and Rebecca Shlafer, PhD (Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics (Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Health) at the University of Minnesota)

Since 1990, the number of women incarcerated in the United States has more than doubled. Although much has been written about the overall poor health of incarcerated individuals, most of this work has focused on incarcerated men, perhaps understandably, since the overwhelming majority of incarcerated adults are male. Far less is known about the health of incarcerated women, despite high rates of mental health problems, substance abuse, and trauma histories documented in this population.  Furthermore, many women involved with the criminal justice system are of reproductive age.

Of the more than 200,000 incarcerated women in U.S. prisons and jails, it is estimated that 6%-10% of those women are pregnant. Although there is a dearth of research data on these women, we do know that, when compared to women in the general population, pregnant prisoners are more likely to have risk factors associated with poor perinatal outcomes, including preterm and small-for-gestational-age infants. These outcomes are likely a result of exposure to a combination of risk factors, including lack of access to or failure to attend prenatal care, substance use, toxic stress, domestic violence, poor nutrition, and sexually transmitted infections. In addition, African American, Native American, and Hispanic women – three groups that are also at highest risk for poor birth outcomes – are disproportionally represented in the prison system.

These risks for poor birth outcomes may be exacerbated by the care and treatment pregnant women receive during their incarcerations, including the dangerous practice of restraint. Despite strong evidence of danger to mother and child, 13 U.S. states allow indiscriminate use of restraints on incarcerated women and adolescent girls during pregnancy, labor, and recovery, even though the vast majority are incarcerated for nonviolent offenses.

Shackling has negative physical and mental health effects on mothers and their infants:

  • Shackling women and adolescent girls in transport to prenatal care and during labor and delivery can obstruct necessary medical care and, during labor, lead to extreme physical pain and complications because of the mother’s inability to move freely.
  • Shackling increases the likelihood of falls, inability to break a fall, life-threatening embolic complications, and impediments to epidurals, emergency caesarian section, and other interventions, all of which may also affect the fetus.
  • In one documented case, a woman shackled during labor experienced a hip dislocation that caused permanent deformities and pain, stomach muscle tears, and an umbilical hernia.
  • Mental health problems exist among incarcerated women in higher rates than the general population; pregnancy and the postpartum period bring increased risk of symptoms of mental health problems, such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Women subjected to shackling during childbirth report severe mental distress, depression, anguish, and trauma, and use of shackles during or immediately following childbirth can cause or exacerbate pregnancy-related mental health problems.
  • The presence of shackles after delivery may inhibit or interfere with a mother’s ability to bond with and safely handle her infant, to initiate breastfeeding, and may negatively affect the infant’s health.

These risks clearly compromise women’s health, and also have important implications for the health of their future offspring. We know very little about this population and what happens once they return to their families, making intervention and research with pregnant incarcerated women a priority. This also reflects a pressing need for gender-responsive and trauma-informed policies in the nation’s jails and prisons.

APA anticipates legislative action on this issue in the early part of 2016. Please check back or sign-up for our Federal Action Network, to participate in this important public policy advocacy effort.

Biographies

Danielle Dallaire, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the College of William and Mary. She received her PhD in developmental psychology from Temple University. Dr. Dallaire’s research examines children’s social and emotional development in the context of risk, including research on how children cope with the multifaceted risk of parental incarceration.

Rebecca Shlafer, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics (Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Health) at the University of Minnesota. She received her PhD in child psychology from the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on understanding the developmental outcomes of children and families with multiple risk factors. She is particularly interested in children with parents in prison, as well as the programs and policies that impact families affected by incarceration.  In addition to her academic work, Dr. Shlafer also volunteers as a guardian ad litem.

Image source: Flickr user Crawford Learmonth on Flickr, under Creative Commons

Copyright 2015 American Psychological Association


Filed under: Health and Wellness, Human Rights and Social Justice, Public Policy, Women and Girls Tagged: incarceration, public policy, women's health

Does Fatigue Among U.S. Workers Contribute to a Lackluster Post-“Great Recession” Come-back?

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Image source: Flickr user Adam Tinworth on Flickr, under Creative Commons

By Bengt B. Arnetz, MD, PhD, MScEpi, MPH (Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine and Chair, Department of Family Medicine, College of Human Medicine, Michigan State University)

The recovery after the “Great Recession” in terms of high-quality jobs and economic growth has been slow. This is usually attributed to economic reasons. However, I believe a major reason for the current challenges to a healthy economy is the nonsustainable working conditions facing a majority of the U.S. workforce.

Numerous studies, including our own, show a high level of fatigue, lack of energy, and disengagement among the nation’s workers. Productivity growth is at a multiyear low.  Mental health issues are the primary contributing factor to lack of worker productivity. The number of workers out on social disability is at an all-time high, and the proportion of persons of working age actually engaged in the workforce is down to approximately 6 of 10. This is a waste of human resources, and it means that the workers in the workforce have to work harder, work longer, and contribute more to those not working or not able to work, which results in higher taxes.

We can increase the productivity of workers in the workforce by improving their health and well-being. To do that we need to integrate the sustainable workforce perspective and Total Worker Health™ into the sustainable environmental movement. The public and private sectors need to take a broader approach to sustainability and plan for the long-term mental, social, economic, and ecological health of our globe and of those inhabiting it, now and in the future.

This is a challenging goal, but it can be done. Workplaces that promote sustainable worker health tend to include these features:

  • Worker engagement in process improvements
  • Effective and goal-driven organizations
  • Skills development
  • Focus on achievements and not hours worked
  • Flexible working conditions and strategic use of information technologies
  • Healthy work-life integration
  • Nonjudgmental approach to mental health challenges among workers
  • Fair and equitable distributions of revenue generated from product and services
  • Strategic management to optimize and not maximize stress

My colleagues and I have worked with hundreds of workplaces and tens of thousands of workers. By integrating sustainable workforce concepts into organizational performance strategies, the health and well-being of both workers and organizations improve.

Steps to increase workplace sustainability are extremely cost effective. Let us all work to make sustainable worker health and working conditions a global movement that becomes an integrated part of the overall sustainability movement. The U.S. could take the lead in a transition to sustainable workplaces, while industry develops high quality jobs of the future and strengthens its competitiveness.

We as individuals can also promote such a shift by using our power as consumers and voters. What has your employer done? What improvements can you suggest for U.S. employers?   Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Biography:

Bengt B. Arnetz, MD, PhD, MScEpi, MPH is Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine and Chair, Department of Family Medicine, College of Human Medicine, Michigan State University. He is Board Certified by the American Board of Preventive Medicine in Occupational and Environmental Medicine. His work focuses on addressing adverse effects of stress on workplace safety, quality and worker health, with special attention to first responders and other knowledge  workers in the healthcare and information technology sectors. Dr. Arnetz is also committed to enhancing environmental health for underserved and vulnerable populations, not least immigrants and refugees.

Copyright 2015 American Psychological Association

Image source: Flickr user Adam Tinworth on Flickr, under Creative Commons


Filed under: Stress and Health, Work, Work, Stress and Health Tagged: work, work-related stress

Does Fatigue Among U.S. Workers Contribute to a Lackluster Post-“Great Recession” Come-back?

2888803088_9f9eab5165_z

Image source: Flickr user Adam Tinworth on Flickr, under Creative Commons

By Bengt B. Arnetz, MD, PhD, MScEpi, MPH (Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine and Chair, Department of Family Medicine, College of Human Medicine, Michigan State University)

The recovery after the “Great Recession” in terms of high-quality jobs and economic growth has been slow. This is usually attributed to economic reasons. However, I believe a major reason for the current challenges to a healthy economy is the nonsustainable working conditions facing a majority of the U.S. workforce.

Numerous studies, including our own, show a high level of fatigue, lack of energy, and disengagement among the nation’s workers. Productivity growth is at a multiyear low.  Mental health issues are the primary contributing factor to lack of worker productivity. The number of workers out on social disability is at an all-time high, and the proportion of persons of working age actually engaged in the workforce is down to approximately 6 of 10. This is a waste of human resources, and it means that the workers in the workforce have to work harder, work longer, and contribute more to those not working or not able to work, which results in higher taxes.

We can increase the productivity of workers in the workforce by improving their health and well-being. To do that we need to integrate the sustainable workforce perspective and Total Worker Health™ into the sustainable environmental movement. The public and private sectors need to take a broader approach to sustainability and plan for the long-term mental, social, economic, and ecological health of our globe and of those inhabiting it, now and in the future.

This is a challenging goal, but it can be done. Workplaces that promote sustainable worker health tend to include these features:

  • Worker engagement in process improvements
  • Effective and goal-driven organizations
  • Skills development
  • Focus on achievements and not hours worked
  • Flexible working conditions and strategic use of information technologies
  • Healthy work-life integration
  • Nonjudgmental approach to mental health challenges among workers
  • Fair and equitable distributions of revenue generated from product and services
  • Strategic management to optimize and not maximize stress

My colleagues and I have worked with hundreds of workplaces and tens of thousands of workers. By integrating sustainable workforce concepts into organizational performance strategies, the health and well-being of both workers and organizations improve.

Steps to increase workplace sustainability are extremely cost effective. Let us all work to make sustainable worker health and working conditions a global movement that becomes an integrated part of the overall sustainability movement. The U.S. could take the lead in a transition to sustainable workplaces, while industry develops high quality jobs of the future and strengthens its competitiveness.

We as individuals can also promote such a shift by using our power as consumers and voters. What has your employer done? What improvements can you suggest for U.S. employers?   Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Biography:

Bengt B. Arnetz, MD, PhD, MScEpi, MPH is Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine and Chair, Department of Family Medicine, College of Human Medicine, Michigan State University. He is Board Certified by the American Board of Preventive Medicine in Occupational and Environmental Medicine. His work focuses on addressing adverse effects of stress on workplace safety, quality and worker health, with special attention to first responders and other knowledge  workers in the healthcare and information technology sectors. Dr. Arnetz is also committed to enhancing environmental health for underserved and vulnerable populations, not least immigrants and refugees.

Copyright 2015 American Psychological Association

Image source: Flickr user Adam Tinworth on Flickr, under Creative Commons


Filed under: Stress and Health, Work, Work, Stress and Health Tagged: work, work-related stress

How to Get Your Children to Eat Better, Brain’s Signaling Systems Might Determine PTSD Severity, How Terrorism Affects Voter Psychology and more- In Case You Missed It– December 14th, 2015

roundup imageWelcome back to In Case You Missed It (our weekly roundup of articles touching on psychology, health, mental health and social justice issues from multiple news and commentary websites). This week, we address how to get your children to eat better, how the brain’s signaling systems might determine PTSD severity, how terrorism affects voter psychology, and more. 

How to Get Your Children to Eat Better – The Wall Street Journal

18% of American children from 6 to 11 years of age are obese, and pediatricians are seeing rising numbers of children who eat no vegetables at all. So why is this happening?  A contributing factor may be that we treat meals as occasions for getting a child quickly fed, rather than opportunities for learning how to eat in a healthy way. But forcing our children to eat healthy food doesn’t work—so how do we encourage children to enjoy healthy foods? Rather than pushing for a clean plate, help children learn to stop eating when they are full – that is, teach children hunger management. Parents have great power in teaching this crucial eating skill and others, like appreciating a wide range of foods. Our eating habits are a consequence of familiarity, not biology. The trick to getting your children to eat better is make trying new foods feel like a game, not a punishment. For more information, check out Public Interest’s ABCDE brochure.

Brain’s Signaling Systems Might Determine PTSD Severity– U.S. News & World Report

A new study published recently in the journal Molecular Psychiatry suggests people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may have an imbalance between two of the brain’s signaling systems. Previous research has shown that people with PTSD have changes in brain anatomy and function, and this also involves a shift in the balance between brain signaling systems. But this recent study may be the first to actually show that shift, and this could lead to improvement in the understanding of PTSD and to better treatments for the condition.

How Terrorism Affects Voter Psychology – New York Magazine

With the shocking rise of ISIS and the recent terror attacks that have killed civilians abroad and at home, terrorism has become a major issue in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Stanford sociologist Dr. Robb Willer notes that in past research “probably the most reliable finding from research on the political impact of terrorism is that the threat of terrorism increases support for standing leaders.” Incumbents often benefit because of the “rally around the flag” effect, and people seem to gather behind their leaders when faced with terror attacks. But this election cycle is uncharted territory from a political-psychology-of-terrorism standpoint.

How Your Job Can Make You Smarter The Wall Street Journal

New studies by neuroscientists show your job could also be making you smarter. On the job skills may help sharpen your cognitive abilities. Training in certain mental skills can build the brain’s capacity to process information and solve problems.  Jobs that are hard enough that we make mistakes, that are continually challenging, and that we can’t quite master can improve our cognitive abilities.  Dr. Merzenich, co-founder of Posit Science in San Francisco, notes that to build brainpower, workers must remain “engaged in the world in all its details.” Cynthia Green, a speaker and president of Total Brain Health, also notes that working in a stimulating environment with other people also “gives people an opportunity to work out” cognitive skills.

What do you think of these stories? What did we leave out?

Leave us a comment.

For more In Case, You Missed It,  go to our homepage and subscribe to our blog via RSS or email. 

Moreover, don’t forget to follow us on social media:
You can follow APA Public Interest on Twitter – @APAPublicInt and Instagram – APAPubInt.

You can also follow APA on Twitter (@APA) and Facebook.

Make sure to also check out these APA publications:

Copyright 2015 American Psychological Association


Filed under: Children and Youth, Culture, Health and Wellness, Work, Work, Stress and Health Tagged: Children, children and media, parenting, psychology workforce, PTSD, terrorism, work

Creating New Holiday Traditions: 10 Questions to Ask Your Older Relatives

Mother and Daughter laughing

iStock.com/Photo by FangXiaNuo/Getty Images.

By Kimberly E. Hiroto, PhD (Clinical Geropsychologist, VA Puget Sound Health Care System, Tacoma, WA) and Glenn Smith, PhD (Clinical Neuropsychologist and Elizabeth Faulk Professor and Chair, Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, University of Florida)

The holidays are often about three Rs: relationships, reflection, and remembering. Research suggests that as we age our view of relationships changes. Older generations tend to focus on intergenerational similarities, while younger generations focus on their differences, possibly in an effort to form their own identities (Giarruso, Du, & Bengtson, 2004).

It is important for individuals to do this work – to form their own identities, different from their parents and family. However, we also risk losing something in this process – appreciation for our family heritage, understanding of the hardships our family members may have endured and the resiliencies they possess, and gratitude for the privileges we hold as the next generation.

Take a moment to think about your grandparents or other older relatives. Consider what their lives were like growing up. What were they like at your age? What events helped shape their view of the world? This holiday season, amid the stress of shopping and preparing for guests, we invite you to set aside a few minutes to sit with an older family member or friend interested in sharing parts of their story. Simply start a conversation, and take time to listen. You might be surprised what you learn about the person across from you. You might be surprised by how much you have in common, and perhaps learn a bit more about yourself in the process.

Not sure how to begin? Here are 10 questions to help get the conversation started:

  1. What is your earliest memory?
  2. What were your parents like?
  3. Outside of your family, what person most influenced you?
  4. Growing up, what was your neighborhood like?
  5. How did you earn your very first paycheck?
  6. If you had a spouse/life partner, how did you meet him/her?
  7. Tell me about your most memorable vacation?
  8. What was your favorite pet?
  9. What is the most amazing invention in your lifetime?
  10. What do you wish for 2016?

For information on steps individuals of all ages can take to live a happy and healthy life, take a look at APA’s Life Plan for the Life Span .

We’d like to hear from you: What are your memories of conversations with older family members?   What did you learn?   What surprised you?

Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Reference

Giarruso, R., Du, F., & Bengtson, V. L. (2004). The intergenerational-stake phenomenon over 20 years. Annual Review of Gerontology & Geriatrics, 24, 55-76.

iStock.com/Photo by FangXiaNuo/Getty Images.

Biographies

Kimberly E. Hiroto, PhD is a Clinical Geropsychologist at the Puget Sound VA American Lake Division in Washington State. She serves aging veterans living with complex chronic and often life-limiting illnesses in Primary Care Mental Health and outpatient Geriatric Mental Health. She received her doctoral degree from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs in Clinical Psychology with a curricular emphasis in geropsychology and completed an internship in geropsychology and a fellowship in hospice/palliative care at the Palo Alto VA. She is a member of the APA Committee on Aging.

Glenn Smith, PhD is a board-certified Clinical Neuropsychologist and Elizabeth Faulk Professor and Chair of the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology at the University of Florida. He received his PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Nebraska, completed his internship in neuropsychology and geropsychology at UCLA and a fellowship in clinical neuropsychology at the Mayo Clinic.  He currently serves as Chair of the APA Committee on Aging.

Copyright 2015 American Psychological Association


Filed under: Aging, Culture Tagged: aging

New KFF/CNN Survey on Race, Covering Transgender Care Is Good Economics for Insurance Companies, Making Sense of the Senseless Violence, Too Much TV and Chill Could Reduce Brain Power Over Time and more- In Case You Missed It– December 8th, 2015

roundup image

Welcome back to In Case You Missed It (our weekly roundup of articles touching on psychology, health, mental health, and social justice issues from multiple news and commentary websites). This week, we address a new KFF/CNN survey on race, how covering transgender care is good economics for insurance companies, making sense of the senseless violence, too much TV and chill could reduce brain power over time, and more. 

New KFF/CNN Survey on Race Finds Deep Divisions in How Blacks, Whites and Hispanics Experience and View Race Relations, Discrimination and the Police – The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

With racial incidents and concerns continuing to make national headlines, a new Kaiser Family Foundation/CNN Survey of Americans on Race probes deeply into the views and experiences of Blacks, Hispanics, and Whites, including their personal experiences with discrimination. The survey captures both similarities and differences in how people of different races view race relations, the criminal justice system, incidents of police violence against Blacks, and the Black Lives Matter movement. It also explores their experiences on racial issues and the dramatic differences in the ways people of different races view them. CNN is featuring the poll’s findings on air and across its digital platforms. A Foundation report summarizes the poll’s findings and provides the detailed question-by-question results.

Covering Transgender Care Is Good Economics for Insurance Companies– The Atlantic

While some health insurance companies are starting to pay for gender-reassignment surgery and hormone therapy, a majority of them still do not. The American College of Physicians, the American Medical Association, and the American Psychological Association are just a few organizations that consider gender-transition services to be medically necessary for transgender people. Treatments like gender-reassignment surgery and hormone therapy are an investment in reducing future health expenses. William Padula, at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health, looks at the cost-effectiveness of transgender health care.  He found that “coverage is of really good value and it’s a low-budget impact for society from an insurance standpoint.” His view?  Health insurances companies can absolutely afford to cover the health concerns of transgender people

Making Sense of the Senseless Violence– U.S. News & World Report

Mass shootings have become a regular part of life in America. Mental health experts warn that this exposure to violence may have some major consequences for the nation. Americans are left numb by the constant exposure to violence, which according to psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert, is a normal reaction. APA Fellow Russell Jones, PhD says “people can become very fearful and apprehensive,” some people have become more isolated as they continue to be exposed to constant violence. Dr. Renee Binder, President of the American Psychiatric Association, believes there are steps that can be taken to cope. These steps include reassuring your children that they are safe and creating an open and safe space to talk about these issues with your children. APA has tips for talking to kids about difficult news and disasters.

Too Much TV and Chill Could Reduce Brain Power Over Time – NPR

According to a study at the University of California, San Francisco, published in JAMA Psychiatry, people who get little exercise or watch at least 3 hours of TV a day do worse on tests measuring cognitive focus and speed. Marcus Richards, a psychologist at the University College London, says it’s reasonable to think the gap in cognitive function between high-volume TV watchers and infrequent watchers might widen over the years. For some, the early decline in cognitive functioning could become serious later in life.

What do you think of these stories? What did we leave out?

Leave us a comment.

For more In Case, You Missed It,  go to our homepage and subscribe to our blog via RSS or email.

Moreover, don’t forget to follow us on social media:

You can follow APA Public Interest on Twitter – @APAPublicInt and Instagram – APAPubInt.

You can also follow APA on Twitter (@APA) and Facebook.

Make sure to also check out these APA publications:

Copyright 2015 American Psychological Association


Filed under: Culture, Culture, Ethnicity and Race, Ethnicity and Race, In Case You Missed It, LGBT Issues, Uncategorized Tagged: discrimination, race, transgender

Can a Bystander Make a Difference in Sexual Assault Prevention?

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Image source: Flickr user bitsorf: Thank you 1,500,000 times on Flickr, under Creative Commons

By Amy Zavadil , PhD (Associate Dean for Equity and Title IX Coordinator at Barnard College)

Federal law now requires colleges and universities to provide bystander skills training to all new students and employees.  Teaching bystander skills to all students and employees in college or university settings is necessary, but not sufficient to shift culture.  The current focus is on campus sexual assault, but sexual assault happens outside of college communities.  Society beyond campuses also needs to recognize factors that contribute to sexual violence, and commit to bystander intervention to shift culture.

An extension of Latane and Darley’s (1970) work in understanding the bystander effect, why individuals may not be inclined to help in emergency situations, bystander intervention is an increasingly common prevention approach focused on the steps that lead to helping.  In response to campus sexual violence, Victoria Banyard and colleagues have been working to research effective campus bystander intervention efforts to reduce campus sexual violence (Banyard, 2013; Banyard & Moynihan, 2011; Banyard, Moynihan, & Plante, 2004; McMahon & Banyard, 2012).

Bystander intervention acknowledges there are five steps that need to happen for help to occur:

  • Notice the event
  • Recognize it as a problem
  • See personal responsibility to assist
  • Know what to do
  • Take action

Bystander skills training includes recognizing the common barriers at each step, as understanding the barrier can then increase the likelihood that intervention will occur.  It is also important to focus on safe intervention, including both direct intervention to disrupt behavior or indirect intervention to seek help from a friend or professional.

In campus and community settings there is a disconnect, students who have learned to speak up, if they see something to say something, are often being shut down or dismissed by adults, many who may not have been exposed to the decision making steps of bystander intervention.  This may be further complicated by differences in perspectives of issues of identity and sexuality.  Instead of validating efforts to intervene or speak up, some minimize concerns that may be raised – particularly when intervening at the low risk level of addressing insensitive or biased language.

Bystander intervention can be used as primary prevention – intervening at early stages of concerning behavior to reduce the incidence of violence.  It might also be used as secondary prevention, disrupting adverse behavior that has already begun.  And, finally, bystander intervention can be tertiary prevention, or how one responds to assist someone who discloses their experience or sexual violence.  At each of these levels, it is important that we do not limit this education solely to students and school settings.

Although there is increased commentary on sexual assault in the media and elsewhere, there remain stereotypes about victims and perpetrators of such crimes. Media reports tend to focus on what a victim could have done differently, rather than highlighting facts such as the majority of sexual assaults are perpetrated by an acquaintance and the importance of understanding consent.

It is my hope that we expand our conversation to consider how each of us can contribute to the culture in which campus sexual violence is making headlines.  We each have the potential to learn about intervention, and barriers to intervention, to assist in the culture shift that seems to be just beginning.  One way to increase our own personal responsibility for bystander intervention is to consider:  What would you hope others would do for you?

References:

Banyard, V. (2013). Go big or go home: Reaching for a more integrated view of violence prevention.  Psychology of Violence, 3(2), 115-120. doi: 10.1037/a0032289

Banyard, V., & Moynihan, M. (2011). Variation in bystander behavior related to sexual and intimate partner violence prevention: Correlates in a sample of college students. Psychology of Violence, 1(4), 287-301. doi: 10.1037/a0023544

Banyard, V., Plante, E., & Moynihan, M. (2004). Bystander education: Bringing a broader community perspective to sexual violence prevention. Journal Of Community Psychology, 32(1), 61-79. doi:10.1 OO2Jjcop.10078

Latane, B., & Darley, J. (1970). The Unresponsive Bystander: Why Doesn’t He Help?. New York: Appleton-Century Crofts.

McMahon, S., & Banyard, V. L. (2012). When can I help? A conceptual frame-work for the prevention of sexual violence through bystander intervention. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 13(1), 3–14. doi: 10.1177/1524838011426015

Image source: Flickr user bitsorf: Thank you 1,500,000 times on Flickr, under Creative Commons

Biography:

Amy Zavadil is Associate Dean for Equity at Barnard College.  In this role she oversees community standards and serves as the Title IX coordinator, working with students, staff and faculty.  Amy earned a Ph.D. in counselor education and supervision.  Amy has presented to college counselors, prevention educators, student affairs staff, and Title IX coordinators at national conferences on sexual harassment in higher education, college student development, bystander intervention, and campus climate.  She has worked in higher education for eight years, as well as having prior work experience in law enforcement and project management.


Filed under: Culture, Violence Tagged: advocacy, culture