News & Announcements

Policy Experts Address Challenges Facing LGBT Youth in the Juvenile Justice System

Posted: September 13, 2012

“Why are we focused on LGBTQI youth all of a sudden?” said Mykel Selph, director of the Office of Girls & Gender at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (JTDC) in Illinois. The DePaul University adjunct professor answered her own inquiry by bringing up findings from a 2010 report -- LGBT Youth in Detention Understanding and Integrating Equitable Services, that estimates approximately 15 percent of incarcerated youth self-identify as LGBT and/or gender nonconforming. According to Selph, that means that as many as 40 juveniles in Cook County’s JTDC right now are part of a detained population she believes are often “largely invisible” in the eyes of most policymakers.

Selph was one of three speakers who presented at the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's (OJJDP) Webinar, titled Understanding the Importance of Implementing an Effective Justice System Response for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Intersex (LGBTQI) Youth in Custody. The Webinar examined the needs of LGBT youth in custody, as well as the impact of new United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) regulations that call for specific protections for detained LGBTQI juveniles.

Selph said that LGBT youths were arrested for prostitution, running away from home or other placements and outstanding warrants at disproportionate rates compared to the general youth population. She also noted that they were at far greater risk for bullying, suicide, substance abuse and sexual transmitted infections (STIs). Additional issues, such as legal or educational concerns, she said, often compound LGBTQI identity.

“We can’t ignore it and we can’t put it aside,” Selph said. “We want to ensure the safety for all youth.” Selph said emotional safety is often implied, but not necessarily focused on, when addressing LGBT youth in detention facilities. She said that addressing such emotional concerns, particularly for “closeted” youth, were “of the utmost importance, because we don’t know who they are.”

Four years ago, Selph said that her facility enacted a series of new policies and programs that directly addressed the needs of detained LGBT youth. “In 2008, the JTDC began a large reorganization effort under the leadership of transitional administrator Earl Dunlap,” she said. These policy changes addressed staff shortages, improved and increased mental health and medical care services and introduced annual review processes, as well as developed leadership training programs for management staff and a six-week pre-service training program for incoming staffers. Additional relationships with community agencies were also created, she said, to help provide programming for both detained youth and juveniles on the verge of re-entry.

Read more on the Reclaiming Futures website.



Social Determinants of Equity and Health in the United States

Posted: September 12, 2012

In the United States she is considered black, but in some parts of Brazil she has been told that she looks white, and in South Africa she was considered "colored." "And so, I have been assigned three different races depending on where I was, based on the social interpretation of me in those different places," Camara P. Jones, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D. tells the Office of Minority Health Resource Center (OMHRC) "If I stayed long enough in any of those settings then my health outcomes would be similar to those of the group to which I'd been assigned even though I have the same genes in all three places."

On May 22 of this year, Jones delivered her presentation titled "Social Determinants of Equity and Social Determinants of Health" at a conference on "Innovations in Practice and Policy to End Infant Mortality Disparities," during the Higher Knowledge, Higher Service - First College to Community Health Outreach Week in Memphis, Tenn.

Jones says that in the United States being perceived as white is associated with better health. In her presentation Jones cited a 2004 survey of general health status, by self-identified and socially-assigned "race," in which people were asked to report excellent or very good health. Among participants, 39.8 percent of respondents who identified themselves as Hispanic and whom others saw as Hispanic said they were in excellent or very good health; 53.7 percent of those who self identified as Hispanic but other people saw as white said they were in excellent or very good health; and 58.6 percent of respondents who self identified as white and other people saw as white said they were in excellent or very good health. The numbers are similar when comparing American Indians or Alaska Natives (AIAN) to whites.

In the first section of her presentation, Jones talked about the need to understand the many levels of health interventions using the analogy of a person walking along a path and then falling off the cliff of good health. An ambulance at the bottom of the cliff represented medical care and tertiary prevention; a net or trampoline halfway down represented safety net programs and secondary prevention; a fence at the edge represented primary prevention; and moving the population away from the edge of the cliff represented adjusting the social determinants of health.

However, Jones says the cliff analogy does not explain how health disparities arise. For her, health disparities arise on three levels: differences in quality of care received within the health care system; differences in access to health care; and differences in life opportunities and stresses that make some individuals and communities sicker than others.

Read more on the Office of Minority Health website. Download Dr. Jones' presentation (pdf).



National Strategy for Suicide Prevention 2012: Goals and Objectives for Action

Posted: September 11, 2012

On September 10, 2012, World Suicide Prevention Day, the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (Action Alliance) released an ambitious national strategy to reduce the number of deaths by suicide. The 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, a report from the U.S. Surgeon General and the Action Alliance, details 13 goals and 60 objectives for reducing suicides over the next 10 years.

The Action Alliance highlights four immediate priorities to reduce the number of suicides: integrating suicide prevention into health care policies; encouraging the transformation of health care systems to prevent suicide; changing the way the public talks about suicide and suicide prevention; and improving the quality of data on suicidal behaviors to develop increasingly effective prevention efforts.

The Obama Administration also announced a series of activities that will help prevent suicide:

  • Secretary Sebelius announced $55.6 million in new grants for national, state, tribal, campus and community suicide prevention programs made possible under the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act and partially funded by the Prevention and Public Health Fund under the Affordable Care Act, the health care law enacted in 2010.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) launched, Stand by Them: Help a Veteran, a joint VA-Department of Defense (DoD) outreach campaign that includes a new public service announcement, Side by Side, designed to help prevent suicide among veterans and servicemembers and focuses on the important role family and community play in supporting Veterans in crisis.

The Action Alliance is composed of approximately 200 public- and private- sector organizations united by a common vision of a nation free from the tragic experience of suicide. One of the private sector partners, Facebook is supporting the strategy by harnessing the power of social networking and crisis support to help prevent suicides across the nation.

View the U.S. Surgeon General’s new “Everyone Plays A Role” PSA. Download the Fact Sheet How You Can Play a Role in Preventing Suicide (pdf).

Download an overview of the report (pdf). Download the full report (pdf).



New Online Tool Helps Latino Parents to Prevent Kids’ Substance Use

Posted: September 10, 2012

The Partnership at Drugfree.org recently launched a free online toolkit for Hispanic parents and families to use as a resource in order to help them prevent their children from abusing drugs and alcohol. This bilingual (Spanish and English) resource provides clear, understandable content with customized checklists, how-to guides and videos featuring Hispanic parents and experts touching on various aspects of substance abuse and is targeted towards parents who are at different stages in raising their children.

Access the toolkit in Spanish. Access the toolkit in English.



Video Dial-a-Doctor Seen Easing Shortage in Rural U.S.

Posted: September 08, 2012

Until recently, when children in Ware County, Georgia, needed to see a pediatrician or a specialist, getting to the nearest doctor could entail a four- hour drive up Interstate 75 to Atlanta. Now, there’s another option. As part of a state-wide initiative, the rural county has installed videoconferencing equipment at all 10 of its schools to give its 5,782 students one-on-one access to physicians. Telemedicine sites for adults have also sprung in the area. Instead of taking a full day off from work or school, residents can now regularly see their specialist online.

Putting telemedicine in schools and walk-in clinics makes perfect sense, said Debra Lister, 61, medical director of the Coffee Regional Medical Center in Douglas, Georgia. “In the very beginning most of the ones we did, oddly enough, involved dermatology,” said Lister, whose clinic began offering telemedicine about six years ago. “Now, most of what we do is child psychiatry.”

Lynn Rivers, the nursing coordinator for the Ware County Board of Education, says telemedicine offers a double benefit. Students get the medical care they need, and they don’t miss school to do it, she said.

While about a quarter of Americans live in rural areas, only 9 percent of doctors work there, according to the nonprofit National Rural Health Association.

The Georgia initiative is also placing telemedicine equipment in clinics, prisons and churches across the state to provide help to adults. Similar programs exist in Alaska, Hawaii and North and South Dakota.

Read more on the Bloomberg website.



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