Report Roundup for June 2006

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Child Welfare

What About the Dads? Child Welfare Agencies’ Efforts to Identify, Locate and Involve Nonresident Fathers
Urban Institute
This study examines the extent to which child welfare agencies involve nonresident fathers of foster children in casework and permanency planning; describes how local agencies identify fathers of children in foster care, establish paternity and locate nonresident fathers; and identifies challenges to father involvement – including caseworkers’ opinions of nonresident fathers. The report was funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Free. 186 pages. (202) 833-7200,

Trends in Service Receipt: Children in Kinship Care Gaining Ground
Urban Institute
The standard of living for children in kinship care – totaling some 2.3 million in 2002 – improved significantly from 1997 to 2002, says this brief, which is based on data from the National Survey of America’s Families. The report highlights changes among youth in kinship care during years that saw growing awareness of the needs and characteristics of kinship families in the areas of policy, research and advocacy.

As a result, the report says, youth and families involved in kinship care have seen improvements in their finanicial circumstances and increases in insurance coverage and payments through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Poverty rates for children in public kinship care (placed in the care of relatives with the help of child welfare agencies) have decreased to levels very close to those of children living with their parents, according to the report. Free. Six pages. (202) 833-7200,


Guide to Federal Resources for Youth Development
America’s Promise
Published by America’s Promise – a coalition of communities, organizations, businesses and individuals that support youth development programs – the guide provides information on federal funds available to support such programs.

The guide lists more than 100 federal programs in nine agencies and cross-references them to “five core resources” regarded as crucial to effective youth development: caring adults, safe places, a healthy start and future, effective education/marketable skills, and opportunities to help others. Information on each funding source’s goals, grantee eligibility and appropriate contacts is provided. Free. 165 pages. (703) 684-4500 ext. 3871,

Juvenile Justice

Cost Effective Corrections: Rationalizing the Fiscal Architecture of Juvenile Justice Systems
Justice Policy Institute (JPI)
It costs counties much less to confine juveniles in secure state facilties than it would to provide county-level rehabilitation services – creating a financial incentive for counties to send youth to the most restrictive environment, JPI researchers say.

The study profiles five states that have made it cheaper to treat juvenile offenders at home: Pennsylvania, California, Wisconsin, Ohio and Illinois. Some of the five reimburse counties for costs incurred in managing youth locally, but require the counties to pay part of the cost of confining juveniles in state institutions. Others have increased the costs for counties to send youth to state institutions, creating an incentive for the development of local programs. Free. 28 pages. (202) 558-7974,


Highlights of the 2004 National Youth Gang Survey
U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)
A two-page fact sheet summarizing findings from the 2004 National Youth Gang Survey (NYGS), a comprehensive roundup of national gang activity, including the number of gangs, gang members and gang-related homicides, as reported by law enforcement agencies.

NYGS estimates that “760,000 gang members and 24,000 gangs were active in more than 2,900 jurisdictions” in 2004, slightly more than in previous survey years. The number of gang homicides also rose slightly. In Los Angeles and Chicago, more than half of all homicides were thought to be gang-related. Free. Two pages. (800) 851–3420,


Music, Substance Use and Aggression
PIRE Prevention Research Center
Youth who listen to rap and hip-hop music are more prone to use alcohol and drugs and to be violent than are listeners of other types of music, according to this study. Reggae and techno listeners are also likely to use alcohol and illicit drugs at higher rates. Unfortunately, the report points out, these music genres are also widely used for advertising.

The study, funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, asked 1,000 people ages 15-25 about their music listening habits, alcohol use, illicit drug use and aggressive behaviors. Results were not affected by a respondent’s gender or ethnicity. The report appears in the May issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol. Free. Two pages. (301) 755-2445,

Mental Health

The Virtual Cutting Edge: The Internet and Adolescent Self-Injury
Cornell University
Part of a small but growing body of research examining the implications of Internet chat rooms, news groups and message boards on adolescent behavior, this study investigates the prevalence and nature of self-injury message boards and their users, and explores correlations among topics raised for discussion on the boards. The study appears in a special edition of the journal Developmental Psychology (Vol. 42, No. 3).

The number of message boards devoted to self-injury grew from 93 in 1998 to more than 2,300 in 2000, then fell to approximately 1,700 in 2005. Eighty percent of message board members say they’re between ages 14 and 20, with nearly one-third saying they’re 15 or 16. Free. 11 pages. (800) 374-2721,


Mentoring in America 2005: A Snapshot of the Current State of Mentoring
MENTOR/The National Mentoring Partnership
According to MENTOR’s second national poll, the number of youth involved in one-to-one mentoring relationships has increased by nearly 20 percent since 2002, from 2.5 to 3 million. However, given the study’s estimate that 17.6 million youth are in need of a caring adult, those numbers indicate a “gap” of nearly 15 million youth who need mentors but don’t have them.

The study also finds that approximately 44 million adults are willing to serve as mentors; the average mentoring relationship lasts nine months, and 38 percent of the relationships last at least a year; and most mentors are “willing to work with youth in unique or difficult situations, including children whose parents are incarcerated, youth with disabilities and immigrant youth.”

The authors note that finding new ways to connect youth with caring adults is “one of the principal challenges facing the mentoring community.” Free. 20 pages. (703) 224-2200,


Volunteers Mentoring Youth: Implications for Closing the Mentoring Gap
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS)
Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2005 Volunteer Supplement of the Current Population Survey, CNCS examined a variety of demographic factors that might help distinguish adult volunteers who mentor from those who don’t, in order to help identify and recruit the types of individuals who might favorably consider mentoring.

Among the key findings:
• More than four in 10 mentoring volunteers serve through religious organizations.
• Nearly 60 percent of volunteer mentors work full-time.
• Mentors are most likely to be between the ages of 16 and 24, while those 65 and older are least likely to be mentors.
• Black volunteers are more likely to be mentors than white volunteers.
• Men and women volunteers are equally likely to engage in mentoring. Free. 30 pages. (202) 606-5000,


Are Multiracial Adolescents at Greater Risk?
University of Washington
Multiracial middle-schoolers are significantly more likely to engage in violence and substance use than single-race youth, researchers at the universities of Washington and Chicago found. This study found that multiracial youth were more likely than white, black or Asian-American youth to have smoked cigarettes, used marijuana, gotten drunk, carried a weapon, been in a fight or threatened someone. Fewer differences were found between multiracial and black youths than among other ethnic groups.

The researchers note that “perceived racial discrimination in school and in home neighborhoods puts adolescents at risk for these problems,” but that “a strong, positive ethnic identity” can shield some multiracial youth from such behaviors. The article appears in the May issue of the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. Summary free online at Article available for download at a cost of $11.95 at

Sexual Behavior

Facts at a Glance: Strong Decline in Teen Birth Rate Has Slowed
Child Trends
Child Trends finds reason for “cautious optimism” about the rate of teenage births in the United States. After peaking in 1991, teenage birth rates have continued to decline, although the trend has slowed since 2003, and rates have increased slightly among among Hispanic teens.

The 2004 birth rate of 41.2 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 19 was only 1 percentage point lower than in 2003. The birth rate for Hispanic teens increased by 1 percentage point over that year. From 2003 to 2004, the number of births increased among teens younger than 15 and among 18- and 19-year-olds, and the percentage of repeat teen births increased from 20 percent to 21 percent from 2003 to 2004. Free. Six pages. (202) 572-6138,


Virginity Pledges by Adolescents May Bias Their Reports of Premarital Sex
Harvard School of Public Health/American Journal of Public Health, June 2006
Researcher Janet Rosenbaum found that adolescents who sign “virginity pledges” and then go on to have premarital sex often recant their experiences, disavow having signed a pledge, or lie about their histories of sexual intercourse. She concludes that the reports by these youth are unreliable for measuring the effectiveness of virginity pledges, which brings into question the efficacy of research on teen sexuality in general.

The report analyzes data collected from 13,568 adolescents who participated in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, the only large national study of its kind to ask questions about virginity pledges. Among Rosenbaum’s findings:
• Almost one-third of non-virgins in the first survey who later took a virginity pledge recanted their experience with sexual intercourse in the second survey.
• Of teens who reported a sexual experience in the first survey, those who later took a virginity pledge were four times as likely to retract reports of sexual experience as those who did not take such a pledge.
• Fifty-two percent of adolescent virginity pledgers in the first survey disavowed taking the virginity pledge in the second survey. Free online. (617) 432-4752,