Search Cornell

Preventing sexual violence by addressing boys

(0) Comments  |   Tags: Jane Powers,   Janis Whitlock,   Mary Maley,   sexual health,   youth,  
Share

Jane Powers, Mary Maley, Amanda Purington, and Janis Whitlock

Jane Powers, Mary Maley, Amanda Purington, and Janis Whitlock

By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

BCTR researchers are working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to evaluate a program for adolescent boys that aims to prevent them from becoming future perpetrators of sexual violence. Center researchers, coming together from across existing BCTR projects, will work together on the new Sexual Violence Prevention Project.

The partnership comes through the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), which was awarded a $1.8 million from the CDC over four years to investigate programs the prevent sexual assault. State public health officials are collaborating with the BCTR to conduct the research.

The team of BCTR researchers is collecting data from 12 sites in western New York who are offering the program over the next two years. In addition, the team is collecting data from 12 control sites, which are offering different types of youth programming for boys.

“We plan to enroll over 700 boys in the study, and our first groups launched this summer,” said Mary Maley, a BCTR extension associate for research synthesis and translation. “Participants complete questionnaires right before and after the program, and again three and six months later. We’re hoping to find that the boys in the intervention groups show improved attitudes and behaviors compared to the boys in the control groups. We’re very excited to be at the implementation phase of the project.”

Last month, the team visited the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta to meet with CDC officials and other researchers across the country working on this issue for what they called a “reverse site visit.”

“This provided our team with a great opportunity to meet with a  number of CDC scientific officers and other researchers who are building the evidence base for effective sexual assault prevention programs,” said Jane Powers, senior extension associate and co-investigator. “We broadened our knowledge of the issues, learned about valuable CDC resources to support our work and expanded our network by meeting new colleagues and building partnerships.”

The program, Brothers as Allies, is based on the Council for Boys and Young Men developed by the One Circle Foundation. It enrolls boys ages 12 to 14 in small groups of 8 to 10 participants, which meet once a week with a male role model to focus on activities and discussions that define that it means to be a “real man.”  Boys in the program will learn how to step in when they observe bullying and work on developing empathy, communication, and relationship skills.

“The idea behind the program is entirely strength-based,” said Janis Whitlock, co-principal investigator and lead of the research team. “Boys are helped to build strong relationships with each other and with a positive adult role model as a means of understanding what positive relationships look and feel like. The male facilitators can then use these group bonds to encourage exploration and discussion of areas related to difficult topics, such as sexual violence.”

Many of the risk factors for sexual violence, such as hypermasculinity and endorsement of aggression, are based on attitudes and start to develop at this age through interactions with other boys and men, Whitlock said.

“This is a perfect time to be giving them a variety of models to choose from, because boys in particular face fairly narrow models of what it means to be a man,” she said.

Save

Save

Save

Save

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: Jane Powers    Janis Whitlock    Mary Maley    sexual health    youth   
Share

Researchers evaluate a program for boys to avert sexual violence

(0) Comments  |   Tags: 4-H,   ACT for Youth,   Amanda Purington,   Jane Powers,   Janis Whitlock,   Mary Maley,   media mention,   youth,  
Share

By Susan Kelley for the Cornell Chronicle

Jane Powers, Mary Maley, Amanda Purington, and Janis Whitlock

Jane Powers, Mary Maley, Amanda Purington, and Janis Whitlock

Cornell is helping to usher in new, more effective ways to prevent sexual violence.

A team from the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research (BCTR) is evaluating a curriculum for boys aged 12-14 aimed at preventing sexual violence. The program is a shift from previous approaches, which generally focused on helping people avoid becoming victims of sexual assault.

Instead, this approach aims to keep boys and young men from committing sexual violence in the first place.

“If you want to stop perpetration, this may be the best tack to take,” said Mary Maley, extension associate for research synthesis and translation. “This is an innovative approach, because we’re looking at reducing risk for perpetration, not reducing risk for becoming a victim.”

BCTR is working in partnership with the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), which recently was awarded a $1 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). New York state is one of five awardees nationwide to receive a CDC grant to evaluate various programs to prevent sexual assault.

BCTR is the research arm of the NYSDOH project. The team will spend this first year refining the methodology, developing research tools and protocols, and recruiting program sites and participants. Data collection will begin in the fall of 2017.

The BCTR team will be working with a curriculum, the Council for Boys and Young Men, developed by the One Circle Foundation, which provides training and curricula that promote resiliency and healthy relationships. The basic idea is that male facilitators will set up and lead “councils” which consist of eight to 10 boys in seven to nine urban upstate sites.

Much of the content focuses on prosocial behavior. Councils will meet a few hours a week for several months, focusing on activities, dialogue and self-expression that challenge myths about what it means to be a “real man.” They’ll learn behavior that prevents violence, such as how to step in when they see bullying. They’ll also work on activities that develop empathic behavior, communication and relationship skills, and the ability to respect difference. Another seven to nine sites will serve as study controls to enable the researchers to test the efficacy of the curriculum.

“The idea is that they’re building strong relationships with each other and with a positive adult role model, so they’re actually able to model what positive relationships can be,” said Janis Whitlock, co-principal investigator and lead of the research team.

The middle school years are a prime time to help boys develop these skills, she said. This is the age at which they start to tune in to broader ideas about what it means to be a man or a woman.

Many of the risk factors for sexual violence, such as hypermasculinity and endorsement of aggression, are attitudinal and start to develop at this age through many moments of interactions with other boys and men, Whitlock said.

“This is a perfect time to be giving them a variety of models to choose from, because boys in particular face fairly narrow models of what it means to be a man,” she said.

Evaluation of this type of program comes at an opportune time, Whitlock said, as the definition of sexual assault has greatly expanded in recent years. Historically, sexual violence has meant penetration only. Now it includes unwanted touch, comments, penetration in various ways, and negative online behavior.

That’s important, because middle school boys have the potential to be involved in minor forms of sexual violence, such as unwanted touch, sexting and sharing of others’ images online, Whitlock said.

In this environment, the CDC’s vision was to evaluate the most innovative programs available, Whitlock said. “They wanted to push the envelope so we can get some traction on this issue, because it’s not getting better.”

The project continues a long and fruitful partnership between NYSDOH and BCTR, according to co-investigator Jane Powers. Together the two entities have collaborated over two decades to strengthen community support for youth using research-based programs and practices, she said.

“Results of this research will potentially improve the health and wellbeing of youth in New York state and beyond,” Powers said.

 

Researchers evaluate a program for boys to avert sexual violence - Cornell Chronicle

Save

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: 4-H    ACT for Youth    Amanda Purington    Jane Powers    Janis Whitlock    Mary Maley    media mention    youth   
Share

Supporting Young Families: The Role of Social Network Analysis

Share

Young parents, especially teen parents, must depend on a network of support and multiple services to raise their children, achieve educational and financial goals, and keep their families healthy. Resources for expectant and parenting teens and young adults may come from many directions: supportive housing, child care, and employment services, to name a few – but often there is no clearly identifiable system that coordinates these efforts.

Pathways to Success, an initiative of the New York State Department of Health, aims to better connect parenting teens and young adults to key resources in Buffalo, Rochester, and the Bronx. The initiative funds one community college and one public school district in each community, with technical assistance provided by the BCTR’s ACT for Youth Center of Excellence. Specifically, ACT staff members Amanda Purington, Dora Welker, Divine Sebuharara, Mary Maley, Christy Heib, Jane Powers, and Heather Wynkoop-Beach have all played important roles on various parts of this initiative.

While Pathways grantees had a good sense of available services, coordinating these services to best serve youth in need was a daunting challenge. ACT staff recognized that social network analysis could be used in these communities to both create a distinct picture of existing networks and identify ways to strengthen collaborations.

Social network analysis is a set of methods for examining social structures and relationships within a network. Using the PARTNER social network analysis tool (created at the University of Colorado Denver), ACT staff worked with grantees to build customized online surveys and analyzed results in order to better understand collaborative activity within grantee networks and possibilities for new connections.

To define their networks, all the Pathways grantees were asked to compile a list of organizations with whom they already have relationships, or would like to be connected. ACT staff then developed PARTNER-based surveys tailored to each community. Next grantees distributed the surveys to their network lists, encouraging participation. Finally, ACT staff quantified the results, creating a visual representation of how the different organizations are -- or are not – connected.

ACT maps visual

These example maps show a city's grantees' (yellow dots) network with all collaborations (top) and then those at the "networking" and "coalition" levels of engagement.

Using the survey results, ACT staff created two types of network maps for the Pathways to Success initiative. The first map illustrates the level of collaboration. “Networking” is the most basic level: members of the network are aware of one another and may have informal relationships, but do not make any major decisions together. Networking is followed on the continuum by cooperation, coordination, and coalition, with collaboration at the highest level – when all major decisions are made collectively. The second map depicts frequency of contact among organizations. “Higher” and “more frequent” are not always ideal or feasible. The maps help spur discussion of what level of collaboration and frequency of contact would best serve young families in each community.

Three network indicators are also included in the analysis: 1) density -- the number of network ties relative to the total number of possible ties – which demonstrates the overall cohesiveness of the collaborative, 2) degree centralization, which refers to how well connected the members of the network are collectively, and 3) the level of trust among the members as a whole. For example, one community network had an overall trust score of 78%, indicating that a majority of responding organizations reported high levels of mutual trust. In addition to these whole network indicators, many other metrics can also be examined for each of the organizations in the network.

To discuss the findings, ACT for Youth held “data dialogue” sessions with grantees in each community. The network maps clarified where communication and collaboration are strong, and where there are opportunities to help the community better serve expectant and parenting young people. Some grantees were surprised that while their community was rich in resources, those resources were not being evenly accessed. Grantees also recognized a lack of coordination among certain organizations, resulting in some members of the network “doing the same job many times over.” Other grantees realized the need to focus on strengthening and building community systems to include organizations that may not have completed the survey, but should be at the table. For example, one group was surprised when they noticed that their county health department and a home visiting program had not responded to the survey, prompting the grantees to think about strengthening connections to include these valuable resources in future conversations.

Following these initial sessions, the grantees are holding meetings with their networks of community organizations. These meetings mirror the first data dialogue session, but allow an opening for the larger community to discuss how they can strengthen relationships in the entire network, bring others to the table, decrease duplication of services, and take steps to bridge gaps.

For the Pathways to Success initiative, this first implementation of the survey will serve as a baseline for the communities. ACT for Youth will help grantees administer the survey annually, documenting change over time, including stronger relationships among the vital organizations within each community.

Share

New systematic translational review on improving young children’s reading skills

(0) Comments  |   Tags: childhood,   education,   Mary Maley,   systematic translational reviews,  
Share

A new systematic translational review (STR) from the BCTR Research Synthesis Project examined whether there are brief, low-cost, home-based parenting interventions that improve pre-reading skills for children ages 2–5. The review of existing research on this subject found that there is an at-home method that has demonstrable positive effects on young children's reading skills: dialogic reading. For more information on the review process and findings, see the full STR, Parenting Interventions to Improve Pre-literacy Reading Skills for Children Ages 2–5.

STRs are the result of a new research synthesis protocol designed to include practitioner input in the review process while maintaining the structure of a systematic review and speed of a rapid review. The method was developed by Research Synthesis Project director Mary Maley to improve the accessibility and use of research evidence by community practitioners and policy makers. Review topics focus on applied practice questions which require a synopsis of evidence to use in order to strengthen program implementation. More about the STR process can be found here.

 

Previously pr0duced STRs:

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: childhood    education    Mary Maley    systematic translational reviews   
Share

Linking research to the practice of youth development

Share

0089_12_082.jpg

Stephen Hamilton

A special issue of the journal Applied Developmental Science explores the application of a truly translational research process to "youth development." The issue is edited by Stephen Hamilton, BCTR associate director for youth development.

From the abstract for the issue:

The articles in this special issue address some of the challenges of strengthening the links between research and the practice of youth development and identify some approaches that have worked well. Youth development emerged from practice rather than from theory or research. Research that is most useful in the practice of youth development honors that primacy both by exploring questions that are important in practice and by engaging practitioners as partners, not merely as consumers.

...

A consistent theme of this issue is that the conventional portrayal of research-practice linkage as uni-directional is both inaccurate and inadequate. Different kinds of research inform different dimensions of practice; practice can and should guide research. Efforts to aid practitioners in accessing, understanding, and using research findings should be accompanied by efforts to aid researchers in posing questions about topics that matter to practitioners, conducting research that comprehends the complexity in which those topics are embedded, honoring practitioner wisdom, and enlarging the circle of those who conduct research.

The issue includes the following articles (BCTR staff in bold):

Stephen F. Hamilton (2015) Linking Research to the Practice of Youth Development, Applied Developmental Science, 19:2, 57-59, DOI: 10.1080/10888691.2015.1030016

Stephen F. Hamilton (2015) Translational Research and Youth Development, Applied Developmental Science, 19:2, 60-73, DOI: 10.1080/10888691.2014.968279

Reed W. Larson, Kathrin C. Walker, Natalie Rusk & Lisa B. Diaz (2015) Understanding Youth Development from the Practitioner's Point of View: A Call for Research on Effective Practice, Applied Developmental Science, 19:2, 74-86, DOI: 10.1080/10888691.2014.972558

Mary Agnes Hamilton & Stephen F. Hamilton (2015) Seeking Social Inventions to Improve the Transition to Adulthood, Applied Developmental Science, 19:2, 87-107, DOI: 10.1080/10888691.2014.975227

Jane Powers, Mary Maley, Amanda Purington, Karen Schantz & Jutta Dotterweich (2015) Implementing Evidence-Based Programs: Lessons Learned From the Field, Applied Developmental Science, 19:2, 108-116, DOI: 10.1080/10888691.2015.1020155

Nicole Yohalem & Vivian Tseng (2015) Commentary: Moving From Practice to Research, and Back, Applied Developmental Science, 19:2, 117-120, DOI: 10.1080/10888691.2014.983033

 

Linking research to the practice of youth development - Applied Developmental Science

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: Amanda Purington    article    Jane Powers    Jutta Dotterweich    Karen Schantz    Mary Agnes Hamilton    Mary Maley    publication    Stephen Hamilton    youth    youth development   
Share

ACT for Youth at American Evaluation Association conference

(0) Comments  |   Tags: ACT for Youth,   Amanda Purington,   evaluation,   Jane Powers,   Mary Maley,  
Share

Powers, Purington, and Maley

Powers, Purington, and Maley

This October, staff from the ACT for Youth Center of Excellence participated in the annual conference for the American Evaluation Association held in Denver, CO. For the conference, Jane Powers, Mandy Purington, and Mary Maley organized a panel on the theme of building capacity to strengthen youth programming through the use of evaluation findings. The ACT team described how the Center of Excellence has been supporting the implementation of evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs. Through case examples, they illustrated how implementation data are summarized and made accessible to program staff, and how these data help staff reflect on evaluation findings and identify ways to improve fidelity and quality. Colleagues from the University of Wisconsin joined the panel to present on their work in Madison with community program staff, educators, and youth.

In a demonstration session, the ACT team described the three-phase needs and resources assessment process they developed to identify gaps in local supports for expectant and parenting young people. Their approach includes a community partner brainstorm phase, a key informant interview process, and youth focus groups with expectant and parenting young people. They described how the information gained from this process led to action planning for each of the participating communities.

Finally, Jane Powers served as a discussant on a panel organized by Abe Wandersman addressing the issue of organizational readiness for implementing innovations. The three papers in this session focused on how to assess, build, and evaluate organizational readiness.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: ACT for Youth    Amanda Purington    evaluation    Jane Powers    Mary Maley   
Share

ACT for Youth supports sex education and positive youth development at Provider Day

Share

Attendees at Provider Day

Attendees at Provider Day
Photo by Brian Maley

This September, the ACT for Youth Center of Excellence (COE) sponsored Provider Day 2014, a professional development conference for 224 teen pregnancy prevention program staff from communities across New York State. The COE provides technical assistance, training, and evaluation for three pregnancy prevention initiatives funded by the New York State Department of Health. Sex educators and youth service professionals from each initiative came together in Albany to share and gain new insights, strategies, and tools to promote healthy development among youth.

The evening before Provider Day, the BCTR hosted a reception that set a warm and collegial tone. Jane Powers and John Eckenrode opened the day’s events, and BCTR staff offered workshops on a range of topics, including Self-Care and Youth Work (Heather Wynkoop Beach and Michele Luc), Youth with Mental Health Concerns (Jutta Dotterweich), Using Evaluation Data (Mary Maley and Amanda Purington), and Life Purpose and Teens (Janis Whitlock), among others.

One participant wrote,

I found the day valuable and validating. I believe we need all the validation we can get when working in this field. It's not easy, and when we can recharge and gain new knowledge and tools, I know that I come back to the office looking for ways to use the information I have gotten. Thank you!

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: ACT for Youth    Amanda Purington    health    Heather Wynkoop    Jane Powers    Janis Whitlock    John Eckenrode    Jutta Dotterweich    Mary Maley    mental health    sexual health    youth   
Share

Research Synthesis Project releases first sytematic translational reviews

Share

The BCTR Research Synthesis Project released its first two systematic translational reviews (STRs) this spring. The first identified validated measures of youth nutrition program outcomes, and the second examined the concept of “engagement” in university-community partnerships. These two STRs are the result of a new research synthesis protocol designed to include practitioner input in the review process while maintaining the structure of a systematic review and speed of a rapid review. The method was developed by Research Synthesis Project director Mary Maley to improve the accessibility and use of research evidence by community practitioners and policy makers. Review topics focus on applied practice questions which require a synopsis of evidence to use in order to strengthen program implementation. More about the STR process can be found here.

Psycho-Social Evaluation Measures for 8-12 year-olds in Nutrition Education Programs explores the question, "Which validated surveys measure changes in nutrition knowledge, attitudes, behavioral intent and self-efficacy among 8-12-year-olds in nutrition education programs?" The reviewers found that there wasn't a singular measure to recommend across programs, but that practitioners should select the best fit for their program from the identified validated measures.

The second STR considers, "How is “Community Engagement” described and operationalized in practice?" Community Engagement in Practice concludes that empirical literature does "not reflect a consistent meaning of the term, or the activities associated with it," but suggests ways that both program practitioners and researchers can address and remedy this ambiguity.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: Mary Maley    nutrition    research    Research Synthesis Project    systematic translational reviews   
Share

RNI workshop connects extension educators with Cornell faculty

(0) Comments  |   Tags: CCE,   CRPSIR,   Janis Whitlock,   Jennifer Tiffany,   John Eckenrode,   Karl Pillemer,   Mary Maley,   media mention,   Research Navigator,   workshop,  
Share

Karl Pillemer presenting

Karl Pillemer presenting

On June 25-26, nineteen Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) educators from eight New York State counties attended a Research Navigator Initiative (RNI) workshop focused on skill-building, networking, and resource identification to form partnerships with campus researchers. The RNI is a BCTR initiative and a central component of the College of Human Ecology’s extension and outreach efforts. The workshop was planned and facilitated by Jennifer Tiffany, BCTR director of outreach and community engagement and executive director of CCE’s New York City programs, and Karl Pillemer, Hazel E. Reed Professor of Human Development and College of Human Ecology and associate dean for extension and outreach, in collaboration with the New York State affiliate of the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences.

Karl Pillemer, who co-founded the RNI in 2010, introduced the workshop with a presentation on bridging the “two cultures” of research and practice. Tasha Lewis, assistant professor of fiber science and apparel design, shared her autobiography to demonstrate the motivations and interests of researchers. Janis Whitlock, director of the BCTR’s Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery (CRPSIR), presented with CCE educators Suzan Sussmann and Denyse Variano (Orange County) about their successful research-practice partnership, which has led to various dissemination efforts on non-suicidal self-injury prevention. Natalie Bazarova, assistant professor of communications, shared her research on social networking and asked for participants’ advice on outreach and dissemination strategies. Marianella Casasola, associate professor of human development, also consulted with the group about building community partnerships for her research on early childhood development.

Other Cornell faculty and staff, including BCTR director John Eckenrode, Monica Hargraves, and Mary Maley, discussed the resources available to CCE educators and executive directors in support of research-practice partnerships, and Carol Devine led an institutional review board training. The workshop included several networking opportunities where participants could informally meet Cornell faculty and discuss their research interests.

The RNI supports collaborations between Cornell faculty and CCE educators, promoting campus-community research partnerships. The RNI provides research-related workshops to CCE educators, and informs Cornell faculty about the resources and capabilities of CCE as a research partner and broker of community collaborations. For more information on the RNI, contact Jennifer Tiffany.

 

Workshop offers roadmap to link research, practice – Cornell Chronicle

 

Related articles:
Advanced Research Navigator Workshop held for CCE educators
Research Navigator Initiative trains extension staff in all NY counties

 

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: CCE    CRPSIR    Janis Whitlock    Jennifer Tiffany    John Eckenrode    Karl Pillemer    Mary Maley    media mention    Research Navigator    workshop   
Share

BCTR at the American Public Health Association annual meeting

Share

Jennifer Tiffany and Mary Maley

Jennifer Tiffany and Mary Maley

Jennifer Tiffany and Mary Maley presented papers at the American Public Health Association (APHA) annual meeting, held in Boston, November 2-6, 2013 and attended by approximately 13,000 public health professionals and stakeholders.

Jennifer Tiffany's paper, Context matters: Setting-level influences on active program participation and HIV risk reduction among urban youth (co-authored by Deinera Exner-Cortens, Mary Maley, Sara Birnel Henderson, and John Eckenrode) was part of a panel on Social-Ecological Supports for Reproductive Health Among Diverse Populations of Adolescents and Young Adults sponsored by APHA's Maternal and Child Health section.

Mary Maley's paper, 'It's just a piece of paper': Teen perceptions of orders of protection for dating violence was part of a panel on Issues in Family Violence: Policy, Prevention, and Intervention, also sponsored by the Maternal and Child Health section. It was co-authored by Jane Powers, Deinera Exner-Cortens, Sara Birnel Henderson, and Jennifer Tiffany.

Work from two BCTR projects were also presented:  Evaluating the implementation of evidence-based programs that promote adolescent sexual health: Lessons learned from New York State (Jane Powers, Christine Heib, Amanda Purington, and Mary Maley) and the poster Partnering with homeless youth to study the scope and nature of youth homelessness (Jane Powers, Christine Heib, and Amanda Purington).

The theme of this year's annual meeting was "Think global, act local: Best practices around the world" and included a rollout of the APHA's media campaign "We can do better" (video) aimed at building health equity as well as confronting and eliminating health disparities. This was the 141st annual meeting of the APHA, whose mission is to "improve the health of the public and achieve equity in health status" and whose new tag line is "For science. For action. For health."

Share