Navigation Links
Good Schools May Be Good for a Teen's Health, Too

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 21, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Low-income teenagers who get into a more rigorous high school may take fewer health risks than their peers at other schools, a new study suggests.

The study, of low-income Los Angeles teens, found that those who attended "high-performing" high schools were less likely to carry a weapon, binge-drink, have multiple sex partners or take certain other health risks.

And it wasn't just a matter of "good kids" being more likely to go to good schools, researchers said.

The study included teens who had applied to one of three top-performing charter schools in Los Angeles. And those schools used a lottery system to offer admissions -- which is similar to a scientific study where people are randomly assigned to an "intervention" or not.

"We think this is an effect of the schools themselves," said lead researcher Dr. Mitchell Wong, of the University of California, Los Angeles.

Many studies have suggested that kids who go to safe, higher-performing schools fare better -- and not just academically. They also tend to have fewer behavior issues and better mental health.

"But the question has been, is it really the schools or is it all the other things that go with education?" Wong said. Among those "things," he noted, are supportive parents, and friends who care about school and stay out of trouble.

So for the study Wong's team took advantage of what they call a "natural experiment." They surveyed 521 students who had gotten into a high-performing charter high school by the luck of the draw, and compared them with 409 students who had applied to the top schools but didn't win the lottery.

Overall, 36 percent of kids at the charter schools admitted to at least one "very risky" behavior -- such as binge-drinking, carrying a weapon, having unprotected sex, or using drugs other than marijuana. That compared with 42 percent of students at other schools, the study found.

When it came to more common types of risky behavior -- such as lighter drinking, or smoking cigarettes or marijuana -- there was no clear difference between the two groups.

According to Wong, that was unexpected. "We were surprised we didn't see more differences," he said. "But it is encouraging that we found lower rates of very risky behaviors -- the kinds of behaviors you don't want any teenager engaging in."

The findings were published in the July 21 online edition and in the August print issue of the journal Pediatrics.

A researcher who reviewed the study called it a "beautifully conducted natural experiment."

"The findings emphasize the importance of high-performing schools for both academic and health outcomes, which provides even greater imperative to enhance the academic performance of all schools," said Kelli Komro, a professor at the University of Florida, Gainesville, who studies the effects of social factors on kids' health.

It's not completely clear why a higher-performing school would influence teens' risk-taking. But Komro said "positive connections" between teachers and students could be one reason. Plus, she added, those schools may create a "culture of high expectations" when it comes to student behavior.

Wong's team found that two factors seemed key in explaining the lower rate of very risky behavior: Kids at high-performing high schools were less likely to switch schools or drop out, and they generally scored higher in standardized English and math tests.

Wong said it's possible that kids who fare better academically feel more "hopeful" about the future, make better choices -- or may be too busy with homework to get into trouble.

Whatever the reasons, he said, "we think this shows that schools do more than teach reading and math. They may have a strong impact on how students behave outside of school."

Wong added that any high-performing school might have such an impact; his team studied charter schools because of their lottery system. "We don't think there's anything magical about charter schools," he said.

He added that future research should look into the long-term health effects of attending a higher-performing school -- since those kids may get better jobs and lead healthier lives.

"The biggest effects of education might happen later, in adulthood," Wong said.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on schools and kids' health.

SOURCES: Mitchell Wong, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor, medicine, University of California, Los Angeles; Kelli Komro, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate director, Institute for Child Health Policy, University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla.; July 21, 2014, Pediatrics, online

Copyright©2014 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. Some Schools Dont Let Kids Carry Asthma Inhalers
2. Study: More Pre-Teens Get Vaccines When Middle Schools Require Them
3. U.S. Schools Throwing the Book at Unhealthy Drinks
4. U.S. High Schools Lax in Preventing Dating Abuse: Study
5. Sugary Sports Drinks Plentiful at U.S. Schools: Study
6. Junk Food Laws in Schools May Mean Healthier Kids: Study
7. Most U.S. Schools Unprepared for Pandemics: Study
8. Many US schools are unprepared for another pandemic
9. Attractive names sustain increased vegetable intake in schools
10. Majority of US Schools not ready for next pandemic, SLU researchers say
11. Only half of adults say schools should take action when kids bully with social isolation
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/25/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... for Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC), as well as raising public awareness of the ... they need it—presented a third donation of $35,000 to bolster progress at the ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... 25, 2015 , ... Bunion Bootie , the newest ... of the early holiday shopping season. Starting Wednesday November 25th, Bunion Booties are ... Friday promotional pricing is in addition to any automatic discounts applied when buying ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... ... Dr. Todd S. Afferica, a noted general dentist in Norcross, GA ... Afferica now uses the BIOLASE WaterLase iPlus 2.0™ in many of his dental procedures. ... traditional cutting tools, such as the scalpel and high-speed drill, which can both cause ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... , ... Charitable giving is at its peak during the holidays. In ... of the year totalling over $358 billion in 2014. With more than 1.5 ... those individuals who want to “give back” during the holidays. , “With so many ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... technologies and development solutions for drugs, biologics, consumer health and global clinical supply ... present at the upcoming Clinical Trial Supply East Asia Conference, to be held ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... -- Teledyne DALSA , a Teledyne Technologies company and ... its CMOS X-Ray detector for mammography at the ... 3, at McCormick Place in Chicago . ... imaging will be on display in the South Hall, Booth ... X-Ray detectors is the industry benchmark for high speed imaging ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015  Boston Scientific Corporation (NYSE: ... Oppenheimer 26th Annual Healthcare Conference on December 8, in ... Susie Lisa , vice president, Investor Relations, will participate ... beginning at approximately 8:35 a.m. ET. --> ... in a 30-minute question-and-answer session with the host analyst ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 2015   Renowned ... deliver s advice and insights on supplements ... More than 50% of Dubai ... to the DHA   femMED launches comprehensive solutions for women ... Dubai residents are not consuming enough to keep themselves ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: