Walking or cycling to school represents an opportunity for children to engage in physical activity. The study objectives were to: 1) describe active transportation policies, programs, and built environments of Canadian schools and their surrounding neighbourhoods, and 2) document variations based on urban-rural location and school type (primary vs. secondary vs. mixed primary/secondary schools).
397 schools from across Canada were studied. A school administrator completed a questionnaire and responses were used to assess schools' policies and programs related to active transportation and the safety and aesthetics of their respective neighbourhoods. Built environment features in a 1 km-radius circular buffer around each school were measured using geographic information systems.
Greater than 70% of schools had passive policies (e.g., skateboards permitted on school grounds) and facilities (e.g., bicycle racks in secure area to avoid theft) to encourage bicycle and small-wheeled vehicle use. Less than 40% of schools had active programs designed to encourage active transportation, such as organized 'walk to school' days. Garbage in the streets, crime and substance abuse were barriers in most school neighbourhoods. Approximately 42% of schools were located on high-speed roads not amenable to active transportation and 14% did not have a sidewalk leading to the school. Secondary schools had less favourable active transportation policies/programs and neighbourhood safety/aesthetics compared to primary schools. Rural schools had less favourable built environments than urban schools.
Canadian children, particularly those from rural areas, face a number of impediments to active transportation as a method of travelling to school.
A substantial challenge in addressing adolescent tobacco use is that smoking behaviors occur in complex environments that involve the school setting and larger community context.
This study provides an integrated description of factors from the school and community environment that affect youth smoking and explains variation in individual smoking behaviors both within and across schools/communities.
Data were collected from 82 randomly sampled secondary schools in five Canadian provinces (British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland, and Labrador) during the 2003-2004 school year. Cross-sectional data were obtained from students; school administrators (school-based tobacco control policies and programs); and from observations in the community. In 2009, hierarchic logistic regression was used to model the role of individual, school, and community variables in predicting student smoking outcomes.
Students who attended a school with a focus on tobacco prevention (OR=0.87, 95% CI=0.81, 0.94) and stronger policies prohibiting tobacco use (OR=0.92, 95% CI=0.88, 0.97) were less likely to smoke than students who attended a school without these characteristics. A student was more likely to smoke if a greater number of students smoked on the school periphery (OR=1.25, 95% CI=1.07, 1.47). Within the community, price per cigarette (OR=0.91, 95% CI=0.84, 0.99) and immigrants (OR=0.99, 95% CI=0.98, 0.99) were inversely related to students' smoking status.
The results suggest that school and community characteristics account for variation in smoking levels across schools. Based on the current findings, the ideal school setting that supports low student smoking levels is located in a neighborhood where the cost of cigarettes is high, provides tobacco prevention education, and has a policy prohibiting smoking.
Comment In: Am J Prev Med. 2010 Dec;39(6):609-1021084083
This study investigated crisis intervention in three secondary schools after the suicides of five students, focusing on the relation between crisis intervention and suicide contagion. The contagion hypothesis was supported. Following a suicide, the number of suicides that occurred in secondary schools in one year were markedly increased beyond chance. No new suicides took place at schools where adequate first talk-throughs and psychological debriefing were conducted by a mental health professional. Proper crisis intervention is recommended to prevent suicide contagion in schools.
This study sought to determine the influence of individual factors on active transportation to school among Danish seventh graders and whether school district factors are associated with such behaviour independently of individual factors.
Mixed effects logistic regression models determined the effects of individual (gender, family affluence, enjoyment of school and academic performance) and school district factors (educational level, household savings, land use and size) on active transportation to school (by foot, bicycle or other active means) among 10 380 pupils aged 13-15 years nested in 407 school districts.
Of all students, 64.4% used active transportation to school daily. Boys, those with perceived higher school performance and those with lower family affluence were more likely to use active transportation to school. After adjustment for all individual factors listed above, high household savings at the school district level was associated with higher odds of active transportation to school. As factors of land use, low level of farming land use and high proportion of single houses were associated with active transportation to school.
Policies aiming at reducing social inequalities at the school district level may enhance active transportation to school. School districts with farming land use face barriers for active transportation to school, requiring special policy attention.
We prospectively tested the extent to which witnessing school violence predicts psychosocial and school adjustment in students while accounting for their prior psychosocial characteristics and peer victimization. We also explored the role of feelings of insecurity in explaining this relationship.
Questionnaires were administered to 1104 students (52% boys) from five high schools from the Montreal area (Quebec, Canada) at the beginning, middle, and end of seventh grade. Self report measures included sociodemographic characteristics, victimization, witnessing violence, feelings of insecurity, internalizing and externalizing behavior problems, and measures of engagement, achievement, and truancy as indicators of school adjustment.
Witnessing school violence was a comparatively better predictor of subsequent externalizing problems and school adjustment than actual victimization. Conversely, relative to having experienced violence as a witness, actual victimization more reliably estimated later internalizing problems. Feelings of insecurity partially explained the development of school engagement and truancy.
Our findings underscore the implications of school violence as a public health and safety issue, the consideration of witnessing as important in estimating its impact, and a comprehensive approach when developing and implementing strategies that aim to prevent this form of community violence.
The aim of this study was to examine whether vandalism, bullying, and truancy among pupils at school are associated with absence due to illness among teachers. Data on such problem behaviour of 17,033 pupils in 90 schools were linked to absence records of 2364 teachers. Pupil reported vandalism and bullying at the school-level were associated with teachers' short-term (1- to 3-day) absences. Cumulative exposure to various forms of pupils' problem behaviour was associated with even higher rates of short-term absences among teachers. No association was found between pupils' problem behaviour and teachers' long-term (>3-day) absences. In conclusion, there seems to be a link between pupils' problem behaviour and teachers' short-term absence due to illness. Further work should determine whether problem behaviour is a cause or a consequence of absences or whether the association is noncausal.
Despite an overall improvement in oral health status in several countries over the past decades, chronic oral diseases (COD) remain a public health problem, occurring mostly among children in the lower social strata. The use of publicly available indicators at the school level may be an optimal strategy to identify children at high risk of COD in order to organize oral health promotion and intervention in schools.
To investigate whether school deprivation indices were associated with schoolchildren oral health status.
This ecological study used a sample of 316 elementary public schools in the province of Quebec, Canada. Data from two sources were linked using school identifiers: (i) Two school deprivation indices (in deciles) from the Ministry of Education, a poverty index based on the low income cut-offs established by Statistics Canada and a socioeconomic environment index defined by the proportions of maternal under-schooling and of unemployed parents and (ii) Oral health outcomes from the Quebec Schoolchildren Oral Health Survey 1998-99 aggregated at the school level. These included proportions of children with dental caries and reporting oral pain. The relation between school deprivation indices and oral health outcomes was assessed with linear regression for dental caries experience and logistic regression for oral pain.
The mean DMF-S (mean number of decayed, missing and filled permanent teeth surfaces) by school was 0.7 (SD = 0.5); the average proportions of children with dental caries and reporting oral pain were 25.0% and 3.0%, respectively. The poverty index was not associated with oral health outcomes. For the socioeconomic environment index, dental caries experience was 6.9% higher when comparing schools in unfavourable socioeconomic environments to the most favourable ones [95% confidence interval (CI): 2.1, 11.7%]. Furthermore, the most deprived schools, as compared to least deprived ones, were almost three times as likely to have children reporting oral pain in the previous week.
The school socioeconomic environment index was associated with oral health outcomes, and should be studied for its potential usefulness in planning school-based oral health promotion and screening strategies.
Several interrelated factors, including depression, influence adolescents' chances of risky sexual behaviour. We examined the relation between depression and sexual risk-taking behaviours in adolescents after accounting for the effects of other variables.
We surveyed male (n = 1120) and female (n = 1177) adolescents at 4 high schools in central Nova Scotia, measuring factors known to be associated with sexual risk taking. Risk of depression was assessed using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. Outcomes were self-reported sexual behaviours. We used logistic regression to assess associations of multiple factors with sexual risk taking.
In univariate analyses, risk of depression was associated with 3 risk-taking behaviours for females (being sexually active, having unplanned sex when using substances, and not using effective contraception at last intercourse) and 2 for males (having unplanned sex when using substances and having more than 1 partner in the previous year). In full multivariate models, risk of depression in females remained significantly associated with unplanned sex and nonuse of effective contraception at last intercourse, but was no longer associated with being sexually active. For males, both associations remained significant.
Risk of depression is consistently and independently associated with adolescent sexual risk behaviours after adjusting for other variables. Health care providers working with teenagers should screen for risky sexual behaviours and sexually transmitted infections if depression is apparent in their patients.
The purpose of this study was to provide a descriptive profile of the availability of limited service food outlets surrounding public schools in British Columbia, Canada.
Data from the 2010 Canadian Business Data Files were used to identify limited service food outlets including fast food outlets, beverage and snack food stores, delis and convenience stores. The number of food outlets within 800 metres of 1,392 public schools and the distance from schools to the nearest food outlets were assessed. Multivariate regression models examined the associations between food outlet availability and school-level characteristics.
In 2010, over half of the public schools in BC (54%) were located within a 10-12 minute walk from at least one limited service food outlet. The median closest distance to a food outlet was just over 1 km (1016 m). Schools comprised of students living in densely populated urban neighbourhoods and neighbourhoods characterized by lower socio-economic status were more likely to have access to limited service food outlets within walking distance. After adjusting for school-level median family income and population density, larger schools had higher odds of exposure to food vendors compared to schools with fewer students.
The availability of and proximity to limited service food outlets vary widely across schools in British Columbia and school-level characteristics are significantly associated with food outlet availability. Additional research is needed to understand how food environment exposures inside and surrounding schools impact students' attitudes, food choices and dietary quality.
We investigated the timing of fertility and marriage in Sweden using exogenous variation in the age at school graduation that results from differences in birth month. Our analysis found that the difference of 11 months in the age at leaving school between women who were born in two consecutive months, December and January, implies a delay in the age at first birth of 4.9 months. This effect of delayed graduation also persists for the timing of second births and first marriages, but it does not affect completed fertility or the overall probability of marriage before age 45. These results suggest the existence of a relatively rigid sequencing of demographic events in early adulthood, and the age at graduation from school emerges as an important factor in determining the timing--but not the quantum--of familyformation. In addition, these effects point to a potentially important influence of social age, defined by an individual's school cohort, instead of biological age. The relevance of social age is likely due to social interactions and peer-group influences exerted by individuals who are in the same school cohort but are not necessarily of the same age.