- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 25, 2001

Teens and their families are the focus of a new peer-reviewed scientific journal published by a Washington-area nonprofit group.
"While there are journals that focus on adolescent health and others on family structure and health, there are none that combine these two critical elements," said Shepherd Smith, president of the Institute for Youth Development (IYD).
Adolescent & Family Health: A Journal of the Institute for Youth Development should fill that gap, he said.
"It is our sincere hope that looking at young people and families together will stimulate research that has been considered, but not pursued in the past," he added.
The first issue, which can be found at www.afhjournal.org, debuts with five articles on each of the journal's major interests: teen violence, sexual involvement and use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs.
The studies found:
A significant reduction in tobacco use among teens who were arrested for violating tobacco laws and were sent to "tobacco court."
Mentoring programs but not "life skills" or "community service" programs were associated with lower levels of substance abuse and higher levels of self-control, cooperation and attachment to school and family.
Lack of parental monitoring and ease of access were the strongest predictors of increased teen alcohol use.
The two other studies looked at the impact of urban life on child sexual abuse and family attachments on youth violence.
Mr. Smith said the new journal should attract studies on overlooked teen subjects, such as how youths are affected by a family's religious habits, meal times, vacations and work.
Studying teens' families should provide valuable insights about how to prevent and treat problems, said Dr. Alma L. Golden, a Texas pediatrician and editor in chief of the journal.
Parents have long been viewed in professional circles as "the source of all the problems that teen-agers have," she said, adding that she has often heard the comment that "if we could just remove the parent, [the teens] would do fine."
The massive National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, known as Add Health, "defused that fallacy about parents" by showing the positive influence that parents can have with their children, she said.
Dr. Golden promised the journal would be understandable to laymen, offer practical applications for the data, and be diverse and provocative.
Publishing diverse perspectives is an important challenge for this journal, said Christine Bachrach, chief of the demographic and behavioral sciences branch at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
"The Institute for Youth Development is not an advocacy organization, but it does hold strong positions about youth behavior and the best ways to improve adolescent health," Mrs. Bachrach wrote in the first issue of the journal.
"Will it be willing to publish articles with results that are contrary to its positions?" she asked.
Other journals that have succeeded in similar circumstances provide models, she said, listing the Alan Guttmacher Institute's Family Planning Perspectives as an example.
Mr. Smith said Adolescent & Family Health will be available by subscription only, with the first year free. The journal is underwritten by foundations and private sources, he said.


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