October 2017 Newsletter
As Texas, Florida and now Puerto Rico are recovering from record storms over the past month, it is important to consider how these life-altering events affect youth and their resiliency. In the following newsletter, we will provide links to resources that might be useful in this time of distress.
Youth Development Resources
The devastation caused by hurricanes can be overwhelming to anyone, but poses unique challenges for children. Compared to adults, children suffer more from exposure to disasters-including psychological, behavioral, and physical problems, as well as difficulties learning in school. While a nationally representative study found that 14 percent of children in the United States (ages 2-17 years) have experienced a disaster, most will never have direct experience. However, even those who hear about a disaster or see images on television may show symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety. Psychological impacts on children are particularly likely to reverberate after a disaster.
Hurricane warnings result in heightened anxiety and emotional distress, as people try to figure out when and where the hurricane will hit. Often the fear is contagious, as the community prepares for the storm and people shop frantically for food, water, and emergency supplies, board up their homes, pack up and evacuate, or plan how to meet up with family members in a safe place after the storm. Evacuation from home and relocation away from family and friends can disturb family support and social networks. Families frequently suffer financial hardships because adults lose their jobs or have to rebuild homes and businesses. Schools and business may close for extensive periods. Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast in August 2005, displaced 500,000. In the hardest-hit area of Louisiana, employment declined 35% in the immediate aftermath of the storm and flooding.
Research Projects on the Rise
Dr. Ettekal to Extend Study of Intellectual Humility to Texas Youth
With generous funding from John Templeton Foundation, Dr. Ettekal and her colleague from Tufts University, Dr. Richard Lerner, will be extending a nationwide study of youth intellectual humility (IH) to Central Texas. The intellectually-humble scientist represents an ideal role model for understanding the fundamental reality of life, and explores aspects of reality that scientists can observe “and those vast uncharted areas for which they have not yet devised technologies and methodologies for research” (Sir John Templeton, 1998, p. 50). Developing the virtue of intellectual humility – a disposition to be alert to and to “own” (e.g. to admit and/or take responsibility for) one’s cognitive limitations and mistakes – should be an important goal of education. This project creates an educational tool that introduces IH into school settings in order to promote such humility among middle-school students. We use a short (about 30 minute) educational film to promote discussions of, develop positive attitudes towards, and advance the understanding of, IH among middle school students. Tests will be conducted among middle school children in California, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, and Texas to examine if the film can elicit changes in thoughts and emotions related to IH.
April 8-11, 2018,
education, policy, and social programs. The 6th Youth-Nex Conference, “Youth Act: Social Justice, Civic and Political Engagement,” (#YouthAct17), will provide a forum for educators, policy-makers, and practitioners across the country to focus on critical questions about a range
of issues around youth civics activism and political engagement.
2017 Strengthening Youth and Families Conference
The Strengthening Youth and Families Conference is Texas’ only interagency-funded annual conference for youth-serving professionals, attracting over 300 attendees who come together for several days of networking and professional development.
The Conference Planning Committee seeks to offer workshops related to the promotion of positive youth development and the prevention, intervention, and treatment of high risk behaviors in youth. Workshops will be geared to a multi-disciplinary audience of youth-serving professionals, volunteers, and family members.