Women As Economic Providers

June 30, 2015

key findings graphic

In new research from UNH, Professor Kristin Smith examines married and single women’s contributions to family income using Current Population Survey data for 2000 and 2013. Key findings are contained in the graphic above. Read the full analysis here.

Smith is a family demographer at the Carsey School and research associate professor of sociology.

The Winds of (Climate) Change

June 29, 2015

Larry Hamilton

On Thursday, June 18, 2015, Pope Francis made history in an encyclical — a papal letter that is distributed to all bishops in the Roman Catholic Church — entitled “Laudato Si,” in which he acknowledged that climate change is real. The 180-page document is the first to focus only on environmental issues. In it, the pope stated that climate change “represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day,” and he hopes the letter will help us recognize “the appeal, immensity and urgency of the challenge we face.”

UNH Today asked some of UNH’s climate change experts about the implications of the encyclical. UNH sociology professor Larry Hamilton, who studies environmental sociology, says that Pope Francis’s words could influence people’s political views on climate change. “A lot of people who don’t have much information on climate change are not very set in their opinions,” he says, “so the pope’s statements have the potential to be influential.” However, not everyone’s opinions will change. Hamilton notes that more than 95 percent of scientists who study this topic already think that human-caused climate change is real and problematic, and the pope’s encyclical adds a moral dimension to this scientific consensus. He adds that those with “hardcore ideological views” that climate change is a hoax and conspiracy will not be swayed, but instead “will go to back to sources of information that tell them they’re still right.”

When asked about the effect the encyclical will have on the upcoming 2016 presidential election, Hamilton thinks the candidates are “not talking enough about science in general,” and that there is an “anti-science sentiment in the race.” He hopes that, regardless of whether the pope has changed people’s minds about climate change, his statements bring the conversation about climate, the environment and science back to the public’s attention.

The above post was excerpted from a piece by Madeleine Shuldman in UNH Today.

Education Professor Publishes Book on School Uniform Debate

June 24, 2015

book cover

Todd DeMitchell has published a new book that explores the issue of public school uniform requirements. The Challenges of Mandating School Uniforms in the Public Schools: Free Speech, Research, and Policy was co-written with Richard Fossey, Paul Burdin Endowed Professor of Education at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and published by Rowman & Littlefield.

DeMitchell, the John & H. Irene Peters Endowed Professor of Education at UNH, spent eighteen years in the public schools serving as a teacher, principal, director of personnel and labor relations, and superintendent. He now studies and teaches school law and labor relations at UNH. DeMitchell and Fossey are also the co-authors of a companion book, Student Dress Codes and the First Amendment: Legal Challenges and Policy Issues, published last year by Rowman & Littlefield.

School uniform polices, often associated with private schools, are increasingly being adopted in public schools; but not without controversy. The often asserted reasons for mandating uniforms include improved student behavior, better attendance, less competition over clothing, and improved student learning because students would not be distracted by who was wearing what and could focus on their studies. Wishful thinking or empirically tested hypotheses? However, opponents assert that a mandated uniform seeks to homogenize the students, violates their free speech rights, and does not solve the problems the policy is intended to remedy. The Challenges of Mandating School Uniforms in the Public Schools: Free Speech, Research, and Policy explores the policy rationale, the constitutional rights of students, and the research on the impact of school uniforms.”  –Rowman & Littlefield

UNH Expert Weighs In On Duggar Drama

June 17, 2015

photo of David Finkelhor

UNH Today asked sociologist David Finkelhor to weigh in on the sex scandal that emerged in the Duggar family, the subjects of the TLC show “19 Kids and Counting.” Here is Finkelhor’s response to the question:

In your opinion how should we be handling juvenile sex offenders?

DF: The juvenile justice system is intended as a rehabilitative process. When it works well, it is sensitive to the developmental needs of the offender as well as the victim. The research suggests that most adolescent offenders have a pretty good prognosis to not re-offend; an incident as a juvenile is not a sign that they are headed for a lifetime of sexual deviance. The recidivism rate among juveniles is relatively low — around 5 percent. The problem is that we live in a time of enormous alarm and anxiety about sex offenses, and there’s been a big political effort to make sure that people don’t get away with it. Recently, a lot of statutory changes have occurred to have made the criminal response to juvenile offenders much more punitive and draconian, such as the Adam Walsh Act of 2006, which required states to put juvenile sex offenders on sex offender registries — quite a few states have refused to comply. There could be a scenario where a teenager sends a naked picture of him or herself and ends up on a sexual offender registry. So anyone working with adolescent perpetrators, including therapists and family members, have some credible trepidation about involving the justice system. But at the same time, clinicians and advocates feel it is important for these offenders to get some kind of treatment, and that there is some kind of restitution.

Read the full interview by Michelle Morrissey ’97

Sociological Research Finds Coverage Rates Stabilized for Children’s Health Insurance

June 12, 2015

Rates of health insurance coverage for children remained stable in 2013 relative to 2012 because decreases in rates of private insurance coverage were offset by increases in rates of coverage by public insurance, according to new research from the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire. National coverage remained stable at 92.9 percent.

The new research was conducted by Michael Staley, a research assistant at the Carsey School and a doctoral candidate in sociology at UNH.

“Since the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act in 2009, rates of public insurance have increased while rates of private coverage have declined,” Staley said. “Growth in overall rates of coverage have been driven by gains in public insurance. Since the beginning of the post-recession period rates of private insurance have stabilized but not grown. This new trend may indicate that the link between children’s health insurance status and parental employment-benefits status was weakened after the recession.”

According to Staley, for the first time in five years a slight decline occurred among children in the Northeast region, though it was offset by an increase in coverage in the West. Coverage in the Midwest and the South remained stable from 2012 to 2013.

“Coverage among children is highly dependent on state policy,” he said. “Although Medicaid and CHIP are federally subsidized programs, states have a great deal of leeway in how these funds are used and who is eligible. State-level policy changes may be the most effective way to increase the overall number of children insured nationally.”

Twenty-eight percent of the nation’s children live in just three states—California, Texas and Florida. Rates of coverage are relatively high in California where Medicaid expansion and continued efforts to enroll children have been a policy priority. In Texas and Florida, where no Medicaid expansion has taken place, rates fall short of the national average.

The complete report is available at https://carsey.unh.edu/publication/coverage-rates-stabilize-childrens-health-insurance. Link to infographic: https://carsey.unh.edu/coverage-rates-stabilize-childrens-health-insurance/infographic.

This analysis is based on U.S. Census Bureau estimates from the 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011, 2012, and 2013 American Community Survey.

UNH Center Releases Sexual Assault Prevention Findings to White House

June 11, 2015

PIRC logo

Prevention Innovations Research Center (PIRC) at UNH released important findings earlier this week in a report, “It’s Not Just the What but the How,” prepared for the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. The findings inform strategies for the prevention of and response to sexual violence on college and university campuses.

The findings conclude that campus sexual misconduct policies need to be disseminated in a manner that is engaging for students and provides opportunities for them to increase their knowledge and develop skills so that they are able to help themselves, their friends, and people they don’t know. Findings also indicate that varying the way the messages are delivered works best as does reminding students about the policies throughout their years on campus. The goal of creating campus communities that are free of sexual assault will be reached through strategic planning and resource allocation for multiple prevention and response strategies that reach students, faculty and staff in ongoing ways.

In April 2014, UNH was one of three universities tapped by a White House task force to conduct further research related to ending campus sexual assault. They were also identified in “Not Alone: The First Report of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault,” for developing and implementing evidenced-based prevention strategies.

Read more.

Cyberbullying Less Emotionally Harmful To Kids Than In-Person Harassment, Study Finds

June 10, 2015

Contrary to popular belief, cyberbullying that starts and stays online is no more emotionally harmful to youngsters than harassment that only occurs in-person and may actually be less disturbing because it’s likelier to be of shorter duration and not involve significant power imbalances, according to a study published by the American Psychological Association.

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire analyzed data from the Technology Harassment Victimization Study, funded by the National Institute of Justice. They focused on telephone interviews conducted in 2013-2014 with 791 American youth ages 10-20 (49 percent male). Of these, 34 percent reported 311 harassment incidents in the prior year. Among the harassment incidents, 54 percent were in-person only; 15 percent involved technology only; and 31 percent involved a combination of the two.

Although technology-only incidents were more likely to involve large numbers of witnesses, they were least likely to involve multiple perpetrators, the study found. Also, while technology-only incidents were more likely to involve strangers or anonymous perpetrators, this appeared to be less distressing to youth than harassment by schoolmates and other known acquaintances.

“Technology-only incidents were less likely than in-person only incidents to result in injury, involve a social power differential and to have happened a series of times,” said lead researcher Kimberly J. Mitchell, PhD, assistant research professor of psychology with the Crimes against Children Research Center. “Mixed episodes, those that involved both in-person and technology elements, were more likely than technology-only episodes to involve perpetrators who knew embarrassing things about the victim, happen a series of times, last for one month or longer, involve physical injury and start out as joking before becoming more serious. It is these mixed episodes that appear to be the most distressing to youth.”

Many researchers and advocates have assumed that technology-based bullying would be particularly damaging to victims because online harassers can post pictures or videos, anonymously and to large audiences, and because the aggression can reach the targets any time of the day or night. However, the new findings suggest that technology by itself does not necessarily increase the seriousness and level of distress associated with peer harassment. “Instead, data from this study indicated that factors such as duration, power imbalance, injury, sexual content, involvement of multiple perpetrators, and hate/bias comments are some of the key factors that increase youth distress,” said co-author Heather Turner, professor of sociology.

The researchers said the survey was designed in a way that allowed them to gather extensive details about separate harassment incidents and to examine new technology as one aspect of many possible aggravating incident features. Research on cyberbullying to date has mostly been conducted separate from or parallel to research about in-person bullying, they said.

“We believe that focusing on harassment incidents that involve both in-person and technology elements should be a priority for educators and prevention experts who are trying to identify and prevent the most serious and harmful bullying,” Mitchell said.

The study is published in APA’s journal Psychology of Violence®.

source: press release from the American Psychological Association

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