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Transitions from Childhood

Transitions in Childhood

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TRANSITIONS FROM CHILDHOOD TO ADOLESCENCE

  • Contextual, Behavioral, and Physiological Processes in Boys

Contacts:
Julia Graber, Ph.D., Andrea Bastiani-Archibald, Ph.D., and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Ph.D., Center for Children and Families, Teachers College, Columbia University.

Funder: National Institute of Health

Timeline: 1999 to 2004.

Summary:
The purpose of this research program is to conduct a prospective investigation of the biological and social correlates of emotional development and risk during middle childhood and the beginning of puberty in African-American and White boys. Over the course of four years, 200 boys and their families from integrated, working and middle-class communities will be studied in order to examine the influence of individual and social factors on the psychological development of boys beginning in fourth and continuing through seventh grade. The goal of this project is to understand in what ways physiological processes and relationships with parents and peers set boys on various mental health trajectories (both healthy and unhealthy). Adjustment is defined in terms of three domains: emotional development including aggressive and depressive symptoms, identity and self-concept, and school disengagement. Our goal is to understand better the processes underlying development prior to and during the transition into adolescence in order to add to the basic knowledge on development during this period as well as to identify the processes through which biological and contextual factors influence boys' adjustment and well-being during these years. Correlates of development to be considered are the onset of puberty, individual differences in responsivity to stress, family relationships and interactions, peer relationships, and identity and self-concepts. The project is designed to address six primary questions: (a) Do various indices of pubertal processes render boys at risk for problems in the three above-mentioned domains? (b) Does high reactivity to potentially stressful situations amplify the potential effects of pubertal development, especially in terms of impulse control and aggressive behavior? (c) Do poor peer relationships prior to the onset of puberty intensify the effects of pubertal development? (d) Do positive family relationships protect boys from the possible effects of pubertal development or the effects of early puberty in conjunction with high reactivity? (e) Do life events, particularly those in the family, influence pubertal timing in boys? (f) Finally, are the associations among puberty, reactivity, and interpersonal relationships vis-a-vis adjustment similar or different for White and African-American boys? This question is especially salient given the additional potential stressor of racial discrimination or rejection by peer groups based on racial group membership that many African-American boys are likely to experience.

  • Building Better Eating: Pilot Study of Program Effectiveness

Contacts:
Julia A. Graber, Ph.D., Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Ph.D., and Andrea B.
Archibald, Center for Children and Families, Teachers College, Columbia University.

Funders: N/A

Timeline:
Curriculum was implemented in 1998 -1999 academic year. Curriculum implemented for in the 1998-99 academic year.  Baseline assessments were conducted in October 1998 and Follow-Up assessments will be conducted in June 1999.

Summary:
The Building Better Eating (BBE) program was designed by developmental psychologists at our center in conjunction with youth development specialists at Asphalt Green Fitness Center.  The BBE program has two parts.  The first part is a seminar that includes interesting, interactive lessons and activities about adolescent girls’ health, development, fitness and wellness.  The seminars meet once a week throughout the school year, last for approximately 30 minutes, and are lead by Asphalt Green fitness educators and instructors, trained by our staff and Asphalt Green.  A 1 hour physical education class follows the seminar.In order to address the different developmental needs, abilities, and interests of younger and older adolescents, two seminar curriculum were developed: one for 7th and 8th grade girls, and the other for 9th and 10th grade girls.  Each curriculum was designed to improve girls’ health- and fitness- related knowledge, attitudes and behaviors.  The 7th and 8th grade curriculum includes topic-specific material concerning (1) nutrition and healthy food choices for young women, (2) fitness and exercise, (3) dieting, (4) pubertal development, and (5) body image, as well as more general information on decision making and goal setting.  The 8th and 9th grade curriculum includes topic-specific material concerning (1) body image and media literacy, (2) fitness-related self-care and hygiene, (3) fitness-related nutrition, (4) effects of tobacco, alcohol, and drug use on fitness and health, (5) stress reduction and anger management for a healthy lifestyle, (6) sportswomanship, and (7) careers in health and fitness, as well as more general information on decision making and goal setting. 

Program effectiveness is being evaluated in a sample of approximately 170, Black, White, and Hispanic 7-10th grade girls from the Young Women’s Leadership School of Harlem, NY who are participating in the program during the 1998-99 academic year.  Short baseline and post- program surveys tapping girls’ health- and fitness- related knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors will be administered. Demographic information, information on dieting attitudes and behaviors, body image, and self-reported pubertal timing will also be assessed through surveys and homework assignments, as potential correlates of the curriculum’s effectiveness.

  • Girls' Health and Development Project

Contacts:
Julia Graber, Ph.D., and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Ph.D., Center for Children
and Families, Teachers College, Columbia University.

Funder: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

Timeline:
Data collection began in 1995 and will continue with bi-annual and annual
follow-ups through 1999.

The Girls' Health and Development Project is a prospective investigation of the biological correlates of social and emotional development during middle childhood and the beginning of puberty in African-American and White girls. Over the course of 4 years, 140 girls and their families from integrated, working and middle-class communities in the New York City area are being studied in order to examine the influence of individual and social factors on the psychological development of girls beginning in 3rd and continuing through 6th grade. The goal of this project is to understand in what ways physiological processes and relationships with parents and peers set girls on various trajectories leading to more and less positive adjustment. Correlates of development to be considered are the onset of puberty, individual differences in responsivity to stress, family relationships and interactions, peer relationships, and identity and self-concepts. This is the age at which pubertal processes are initiated and at which peer relationships become more salient, and parental relationships may begin to change. Assessments are made via videotaped observations during home visits, parent and child surveys, structured interviews, and the collection of biological samples.

The project is designed to address 6 primary questions: (1) Do various indices of pubertal processes render girls at risk for problems in the three above mentioned domains? (2) Does high reactivity to potentially stressful situations amplify the potential effects of early pubertal development? (3) Do poor peer relationships prior to the onset of puberty intensify the effects of early development? (4) Do positive family relationships protect girls from the possible effects of early pubertal development or the effects of early puberty in conjunction with high reactivity? (5) Do life events, particularly those in the family, influence pubertal timing? (6) Finally, are the associations among puberty, reactivity, and interpersonal relationships vis-a-vis adjustment similar or different for White and African-American girls? This final question is especially salient given the additional potential stressor of racial discrimination or rejection by peer groups based on racial membership that many minority girls are likely to experience.

  • Life Skills Training Project

Contacts:  
Julia Graber, Ph.D., and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Ph.D., Center for Children and Families, Teachers College, Columbia University; Gilbert Botvin, Ph.D., (Principal Investigator) Cornell University Medical College.

Funders: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Timeline: 
Time 1 data collection began in winter, 1998; follow-up assessments were conducted during spring, 1999, and will also done in spring 2000.

Summary:
This project is an extension of Cornell’s work in implementing and
evaluating the Life Skills Training intervention—a school-based drug abuse and violence prevention program with a sample of 6th graders in New York City schools.  The Life Skills Training Project is a 5-year investigation designed to identify cognitive-behavioral mediating mechanisms related to the efficacy of a broad-spectrum, competence enhancement and drug abuse prevention school-based intervention called Life Skills Training (LST). The LST intervention includes problem-specific material concerning drug abuse and violence prevention as well as more generic cognitive-behavioral skills, and was taught to a treatment group of 500 6th grade students. A control group of 500 6th grade students was given a basic health program.

A substudy is being conducted on 400 adolescents selected from the program and control groups for more analysis of social skills as assessed in videotaped interactions at the school. Coding of pre-test interactions is being conducted; codes assess the adolescent’s effectiveness in refusal skills in peer pressure scenarios, ability to engage in appropriate social interactions, and effectiveness in resolution of conflict.

Through this investigation we hope to determine the extent to which reductions in drug use and aggression /violence are mediated through changes in generic and problem-specific cognitive-behavioral skills.

  • Promoting Health Among Teens Project

Contacts:
Julia Graber, Ph.D., and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Ph.D., Center for  Children and Families, Teachers College, Columbia University; Gilbert Botvin, Ph.D. (Principal Investigator), Cornell University Medical College.

Funders: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Timeline: Data was collected in winter 1998.

Summary:
This project is an extension of Cornell’s work in implementing and
evaluating the Life Skills Training intervention--a school-based drug abuse and violence prevention program with a sample of 6th graders in New York City schools.  The Life Skills Training Project is a 5-year investigation designed to identify cognitive-behavioral mediating mechanisms related to the efficacy of a broad-spectrum, competence enhancement and drug abuse prevention school-based intervention called Life Skills Training (LST).  The LST intervention includes problem-specific material concerning drug abuse and violence prevention as well as more generic cognitive-behavioral material, and was taught to a treatment group of 500 6th grade students.  A control group of 500 6th grade students was given a basic health program.    

A substudy is being conducted on 50 adolescents and their families selected from the control group.  The adolescents and their families participated in a home visit at which time they were interviewed and videotaped for an analysis of family interactions and stress reactivity. Some of the goals of the substudy include gaining an understanding of the ways in which physiological processes and relationships with parents determine individual differences in behavior and adjustment.  Some of the specific aims of this investigation are to: (a) examine how children respond to challenges/stressors of adolescence; (b) explore how parents or parent figures promote better conflict resolution and social skills with their young adolescent children; and (c) increase our understanding of family interactions and physiological processes and their role in the etiology and prevention of drug abuse.

 

  • Intergenerational Pathways to Success
    Pathways to Adulthood: The Baltimore Prenatal Cohort Follow-up

Contacts:
Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Ph.D., (Principal Investigator), Center for Children
and Families, Teachers College, Columbia University; Janet B. Hardy, M.D., (Principal Investigator), Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD.

Funders: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, National Institute on Maternal and Child Health.

Timeline: Data collection in 1960's and 1993.

Summary:
This project is a thirty-year longitudinal study of families begun in the late
1950s/early 1960s.  The project allows for a comparison between parenting and childhood in two generations given its unique 30-year focus.  Between 1958 and 1965, 2640 low-income women about to have children were enrolled in the study.  Their children (n=3124) were born between 1960 and 1965, and were followed until the age of In 1993, when these second-generation individuals were between the ages of 28 and 33, subjects were contacted again and the children of the second generation were enrolled in the study.  The projects collected detailed assessment information on those members of the third generation who were between ages 7 and 9 at the time of the 30 year follow‑up (n=203).  All of the members of the second generation were seen at this middle childhood point as well.

Information on fertility, health, employment, poverty, and social status of the first two generations was obtained, as well as cognitive, linguistic, and behavioral outcomes during childhood for the second and third generations.  The primary objective is the identification of factors that enable children (second and third generation) to break out of the disadvantageous circumstances in which they were raised to become successful, self-sustaining adults. 

Information on the Baltimore Study can be obtained directly from the Baltimore Webpage: http://www.pop.upenn.edu/baltimore/

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