CDC - October 2012 Edition - Public Health Law News - Public Health Law
October 2012—CDC Public Health Law News
Don’t be a bully! October is National Bullying Prevention Month!
Thursday, October 18, 2012
From the Public Health Law Program,
Office for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support,
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
In this Edition
This Month's Feature: National Bullying Prevention Month
Quotation of the Month
- Journal article on local legal infrastructure. “Local Legal Infrastructure and Population Health,” by Julia F. Costich and Dana J. Patton, was published in the American Journal of Public Health: October 2012, Vol. 102, No. 10, pp. 1936–41. The paper, supported by funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, explores the association between the legal infrastructure of local public health, as expressed in the exercise of local fiscal and legislative authority, and local population health outcomes. The analyses suggested that public health legal infrastructure, particularly reformed county government, had a significant effect on population health status as a mediator of social determinants of health. Because states shape the legal infrastructure of local public health through power-sharing arrangements, the findings suggested recommendations for state legislation that positions local public health systems for optimal impact. Find more information and access the article for free.
- Journal article on New Jersey’s HIV exposure laws. “New Jersey’s HIV Exposure Law and the HIV-Related Attitudes, Beliefs, and Sexual and Seropositive Status Disclosure Behaviors of Persons Living With HIV,” by Carol L. Galletly, Laura Glasman, Steven D. Pinkerton, and Wayne DiFranceisco will be published in the American Journal of Public Health. The paper, supported by funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, explores associations between awareness of New Jersey’s HIV exposure law and the HIV-related attitudes, beliefs, and sexual and seropositive status disclosure behaviors of HIV-positive persons. Fifty-one percent of participants knew about the HIV exposure law. This awareness was not associated with increased sexual abstinence, condom use with most recent partner, or seropositive status disclosure. Contrary to hypotheses, people unaware of the law experienced greater stigma and were less comfortable with positive serostatus disclosure. Criminalizing nondisclosure of HIV serostatus does not reduce sexual risk behavior. Although the laws do not appear to increase stigma, they are also not likely to reduce HIV transmission. Find more information and access the article for free.
- Job opening with North Carolina General Assembly. The North Carolina General Assembly’s Research Division seeks a Medicaid/Mental Health Staff Attorney/Legislative Analyst to serve as legal counsel and staff to standing and study committees of the House and Senate in the North Carolina General Assembly, specifically working with Health and Human Services Appropriations Committees and Subcommittees. This employee will provide legal counsel and advice to General Assembly members individually and collectively on the structure and delivery of Medicaid programs and services within the framework of state and federal laws, rules, and regulations. Applicants must have a strong working knowledge of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the United States Supreme Court Olmstead decision and their applicability to health and mental health services. This employee will work collaboratively with the staffs of the Fiscal Research and Bill Drafting Divisions. Application packet (cover, resume, application, transcripts, and references) must be submitted by October 23, 2012, at 5:00 pm. Find more information and apply for the position [PDF - 50KB].
- Call for Nominations: Foundations of Health Law. The American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics (ASLME) and the Association of American Law Schools Section on Law, Medicine & Health Care seeks nominations of foundational works of scholarship in health law, very broadly defined, published in English before December 31, 2010. ASLME intends to publish an edited volume in an academic press. Nominations must be accompanied by a brief description, not to exceed 300 words, of the importance of the scholarly work, addressed to: Ted Hutchinson, Executive Director, American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 765 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02445. firstname.lastname@example.org. The first round of nominations will close on December 31, 2012. Find more information about the call for nominations.
- The American Public Health Association (APHA) is hosting the 140th Annual Meeting and Expo on October 27-31, 2012, in San Francisco, California. APHA and the Partnership for Public Health Law created a guide to help meeting attendees with a special interest in public health law and related public policy issues. Find more information and access the guide.
- The Public Health Law Program’s Public Health Law Bench Book collection is a valuable tool for public health law practitioners. Bench books are functional practice guides designed to accelerate judges’ understanding of an area of law. Courts in most states typically have civil and criminal law bench books. Some devote a portion to a treatise-like discussion of public health law intended for use by the judiciary; public health officials; state and local public health attorneys; and the public. This month, the Public Health Law Program added South Carolina’s new Public Health Emergency bench book [PDF - 701KB]. Find South Carolina’s bench book [PDF - 700KB] and others in the Public Health Law Program’s bench book collection.
- The Public Health Law Research Program launched a new tool for providing access to public health law research, LawAtlas.org. The portal allows visitors to explore variation in laws by state and over time. The site provides access to data that maps laws relating to specific current public health issues like distracted driving, syringe exchange, overdose prevention, and sports concussions, with many more to come in the near future. Find more information and access LawAtlas.org.
- The Network for Public Health Law released a 50-state survey of tattoo ink safety regulations and statutes. The survey is a valuable tool for boards of health and legislative bodies that are considering promulgating tattoo regulations and need to be aware of existing regulations. Find more information and access the 50-state survey [PDF - 480KB].
- New Jersey: Anti-bullying events at NJ schools—since 2011 it’s the law Inquirer (10/05/2012) Rita Giordano
New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights became law in early 2011 and has been hailed as one of the strongest state bullying prevention laws in the US. The first week of October 2012 marks the second annual Week of Respect for New Jersey children. Public and charter schools are required to teach children how to prevent harassment, intimidation, and bullying.
New Jersey’s law defines bullying and explains how to investigate and address suspected bullying. In addition to outlining action plans, the law requires school districts to report harassment, intimidation, and bullying to the state.
According to the first annual bullying report to the state, more than 12,000 harassment, intimidation, and bullying incidents occurred in the 2011–2012 school year. While some educators argue that the numbers may be high due to the newness of the report and interest in reporting, anti-bullying advocates prefer over-reporting to under-reporting. “Reporting has gone up, and that’s a good thing. Reporting is key,” said Valerie Vainieri Huttle, New Jersey Assemblywoman and key supporter of the bill.
While the impact of the law is still being assessed, a task force appointed to follow the law’s implementation and offer guidance to school districts has met three times. “We’re still in our getting-information mode,” said Patricia Wright, chair of the task force and director of the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association.
[Editor’s note: Find more information about New Jersey’s anti-bullying programs and Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights.]
- California: Prop. 37 will test California’s appetite for GMO food Huffington Post (10/06/2012) Alicia Chang
In November California will vote whether to require specific raw and processed foods to carry labels denoting genetic engineering. The measure, Proposition 37 (Prop. 37), would also preclude advertisements claiming that genetically altered food is “natural.”
Over the past 10 years, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been an integral part of the farming industry. Many crops cultivated in the US, including soybeans, sugar beets, cotton, and corn, have been genetically altered to increase their resistance to insects and pesticides. Most GMO crops are used to feed animals, but some are ingredients in processed foods like cereal, potato chips, and cookies.
Those in favor of Prop. 37 say consumers have a right to know what is in the food they purchase so they may make informed decisions. “They’re fed up. They want to know what’s in their food,” said Stacy Malkan, spokeswoman for the California Right to Know campaign.
Currently, large international food and chemical manufacturing companies have donated about $35 million to defeat Prop. 37. Kathy Fairbanks, spokeswoman for the No on 37 campaign, said the labels will confuse shoppers and be misinterpreted. “It’s not necessary. Worse, it leaves people with the impression that there’s something wrong with the food. That’s not the case,” said Fairbanks.
GMO plants and animals are approved individually by the federal government. The US Department of Agriculture does not allow the use of GMO plants that may harm other plants. The US Food and Drug Administration may only require labeling of GMO status if the alterations to the food make it different from other, non-engineered versions, such as changing the smell or taste. If the measure passes, California will become the first state to require disclosure of genetic modification.
- California: New law bans ‘nonscientific therapies’
California is first state to ban gay ‘cure’ for minors
New York Times (09/30/2012) Erik Eckholm
- California: County struggles to address symptoms of homelessness
Law against smelling bad is among many Orange County ordinances targeting the homeless
Mercury News (10/08/2012) Gillian Flaccus
- Maryland: 2012 law gives state oversight and may lower lead poisoning casesSurvey shows fewer Maryland children suffered lead poisoning in 2011
Baltimore Sun (10/04/2012) Yvonne Wenger
[Editor’s note: Learn more about Maryland’s lead poisoning prevention plan and laws.]
- New York: Few parents resist school contraceptive programMore access to contraceptives in city schools
New York Times (09/23/2012) Anemona Hartocollis
- National: States begin implementing PPACA provisionsLiking it or not, states prepare for health law
New York Times (09/23/2012) Abby Goodnough
- National: In wake of fungal meningitis outbreak, pharmacies scrutinizedIllnesses fuel scrutiny of pharmacies
Wall Street Journal (10/04/2012) Jonathan D. Rockoff and Timothy W. Martin
[Editor’s note: Read the US Food and Drug Administration statement and learn more about fungal meningitis.]
- National: Peanut butter salmonella recall extended to other products, tahini, gelatoPeanut butter recall expands as salmonella outbreak worsens
[Editor’s note: Find more information about the FDA’s recall of peanut butter made by Sunland, Inc.]
- International: HIV positive people not required to disclose status to partnersCanada Supreme Court eases HIV disclosure law
Profiles in Public Health Law: National Bullying Prevention Month Profiles in Public Health Law: Interview with Alana Vivolo-Kantor
Title: Health Scientist
Organization: CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC), Division of Violence Prevention (DVP)
Education: BA in psychology from Boston College, MPH in behavioral sciences and health education from Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, PhD in public health candidate at Georgia State University
CDC Public Health Law News (PHLN): Please describe your duties and responsibilities as a health scientist in NCIPC’s DVP.
Vivolo-Kantor: As a health scientist in the Research and Evaluation Branch in DVP most of my projects involve implementation and evaluation of evidence-based violence prevention programs in high-risk communities across the US. My projects have traditionally spanned the field of violence, from youth violence and bullying to sexual violence and dating violence. My primary responsibilities involve administration of the team’s extramural research projects (i.e., grant funding to academic universities). I also collaborate with colleagues to prepare, analyze, and disseminate our research findings.
CDC PHLN: How did you become a health scientist specializing in violence prevention?
Vivolo-Kantor: Violence prevention was always an interest and passion of mine. While an undergraduate at Boston College, I delved into the field of violence prevention by volunteering at local rape crisis centers and interning with a sexual violence coalition. These experiences guided me toward a career in public health; specifically, I became interested in understanding why youth become violent and what we can do to stop it from happening in the first place. These invaluable experiences led me to Emory University to continue my studies in public health. While a student at Emory, I completed an internship in DVP that involved collaborating with top notch scientists to continue my interest in understanding more about violence. I was afforded an amazing opportunity to work with the late Dr. Merle Hamburger to develop a compendium of bullying assessment tools for researchers and schools. The compendium, published in April 2011, has been one of the most successful publications in DVP thus far, distributing over 12,000 copies in just under six months. Since then, the rest is history!
CDC PHLN: Do you see yourself as working with an issue affected by public health law?
Vivolo-Kantor: Absolutely. Violence is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the US. In fact, among youth ages 10–24 years suicide is the second leading cause of death and homicide is the third. This is unacceptable, yet preventable. There are many opportunities to understand the intersection between violence and public health law. Research on youth violence prevention over the last 30 years has been successful in applying tested strategies that are effective at preventing violence by working in schools and with families. However, little research has focused on evaluating the impact of strategies designed to change economic or environmental factors. This is an area where public health law can have some particular relevance. Prevention strategies that focus on changing the characteristics of communities that are associated with violence have great potential to reduce rates of serious crime and violence. Policies and interventions that focus on addressing community factors may be effective strategies for preventing violence. However, relatively little research has been done to evaluate whether policies that address community conditions associated with violence are effective at reducing violence. This is an area ripe for research because we need to have a better understanding of the potential for public health law to influence rates of violence.
CDC PHLN: Why is violence prevention such an important aspect of CDC’s work, and what are NCIPC and DVP’s roles within CDC?
Vivolo-Kantor: Violence is a significant problem in the United States. From infants to the elderly, it affects people in all stages of life, both directly and indirectly. In 2010, over 16,000 people died as a result of homicide and over 38,000 took their own lives. The number of violent deaths tells only part of the story. Many more survive violence and are left with permanent physical and emotional scars. Violence also erodes communities by reducing productivity, decreasing property values, and disrupting social services.
In 1979, violent behavior was identified by the US Surgeon General as a key public health priority. Shortly thereafter, in 1980, CDC began studying patterns of violence. These early activities grew into a national program to reduce the death and disability associated with injuries outside the workplace. In 1992, CDC established NCIPC as the lead federal organization injury and violence prevention. DVP’s mission is to prevent injuries and deaths by stopping violence before it begins (i.e., primary prevention). Our work focuses on monitoring violence-related injuries and behaviors; conducting research on the factors that put people at risk or protect them from violence; creating and evaluating the effectiveness of violence prevention programs; helping state and local partners plan, implement, and evaluate prevention programs; and conducting research on the effective adoption and dissemination of prevention strategies. We have strategic directions that guide our research and programmatic activities in child maltreatment, intimate partner violence, sexual violence, suicidal behavior, and youth violence—including bullying.
CDC PHLN: October is National Bullying Prevention Month. What is bullying and how is bullying related to violence prevention?
Vivolo-Kantor: Bullying is one unique form of youth violence that can contribute to serious and lasting problems. Defining the phenomenon of youth bullying has proven difficult for schools, communities, practitioners, and researchers. While there is some disagreement about the key components included in most bullying definitions, all would agree that bullying is an unwanted and aggressive behavior targeted at children and youth. Some of the key components of bullying include:
- Imbalance of Power: Kids who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
- Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.
- Aggressive act: Bullying includes making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.
CDC PHLN: Is creating a uniform definition of bullying a complicated task? What factors must be considered and why are they important to the definition?
Vivolo-Kantor: Working to develop the uniform definition has been an important and complicated task. The forthcoming document, “Bullying Surveillance Among Youth: Uniform Definitions and Recommended Data Elements, Version 1.0,” which includes the definition, is designed to help organizations, researchers, evaluators, community groups, educators, and public health officials define and gather systematic data on bullying. It is intended to improve the consistency and comparability of data collected on bullying so that these data can be used to better inform research, prevention, and response efforts. Current efforts to characterize bullying vary considerably. The lack of a uniform definition hinders our ability to understand the true magnitude, scope, and impact of bullying and track trends over time. Consistent terminology with standardized definitions is necessary to improve public health surveillance of bullying and inform efforts to address bullying.
To develop this uniform definition we engaged in a truly collaborative process between CDC, ED, and HRSA with extensive feedback and assistance from external researchers and practitioners working to prevent bullying in schools and communities. As you can imagine, all experts and practitioners do not share the same opinions and viewpoints when it comes to defining bullying. CDC’s role was to facilitate this process and determine the best information to use in developing the definition. That said, important factors needed to be considered when drafting this definition. First and foremost, we felt it was important to develop a definition that leads to accurate measurement of bullying and that can be easily understood by the field. Second, we needed to make the definition relevant for schools but also for youth. Lastly, we needed to acknowledge that this definition was developed for surveillance purposes. Additional work is needed to translate the definition for use in other contexts, such as state or school bullying policies.
CDC PHLN: How is DVP working to understand and prevent bullying?
Vivolo-Kantor: DVP has a very active bullying portfolio. As a public health institution we conduct our work with the public health model in mind: 1) uncover the “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” and “how” associated with bullying; 2) understand “why” it occurs and which factors protect people or put them at risk for experiencing or perpetrating violence; 3) develop and test prevention strategies that seek to change the relevant factors that increase a youth’s risk in experiencing bullying; and 4) ensure widespread dissemination and adoption of the programs that prevent bullying.
To better understand the magnitude, scope, characteristics, consequences, and risk factors associated with bullying DVP has collaborated on several projects. The first was the development and dissemination of “Measuring Bullying Victimization, Perpetration, and Bystander Experiences: A Compendium of Assessment Tools.” This publication provides researchers, prevention specialists, and health educators with tools to measure a range of bullying experiences: bullying perpetration, bullying victimization, bully-victim experiences, and bystander experiences. The ability to measure bullying experiences broadly and completely is crucial to the success of bullying-related research and the development of bullying prevention programs. This compendium represents a starting point from which researchers can consider a set of psychometrically sound measures for assessing self-reported incidence and prevalence of a variety of bullying experiences. A part of better understanding the measurement of bullying is gaining an understanding of the factors which place youth at risk for either victimization or perpetration. To that end, DVP and researchers from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign are examining the link between bullying and sexual violence including overlapping risk or protective factors among middle school aged adolescents in grades 5 through 8. Also, DVP researchers are also conducting several systematic reviews, one on the links between suicide and bullying and another looking deeper at current bullying measurement.
The third and fourth steps of the public health model begin with testing “what works” to prevent bullying then disseminating effectiveness programs for public consumption. To this end DVP is collaborating with others in the field to implement and evaluate two unique prevention programs aimed at decreasing bullying behaviors and increasing connectedness among youth who are at-risk for suicide. In addition, the DVP-funded National Academic Centers of Excellence in Youth Violence Prevention (ACE) and Striving To Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere (STRYVE) sites are currently implementing evidence-based youth violence prevention programs, some of which aim to prevent bullying specifically.
In addition to DVP’s bullying work, several of my co-workers and I are involved in the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention workgroup, which was founded in 2008 in order to provide effective and consistent federal guidance on bullying. This group was tasked with combining and coordinating the efforts of six federal agencies (Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Justice, Defense, Agriculture, and Interior). Collaborative projects led by the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention include the annual Bullying Summit, maintenance of the www.stopbullying.gov website, and activities for youth during Bullying Prevention Month such as the Stop Bullying Video Challenge.
CDC PHLN: Are you aware of any innovations in laws, regulations, or policies related to bullying or bullying prevention?
Vivolo-Kantor: While DVP does not currently work in this area, our partners at ED have spearheaded an effort to analyze state bullying laws and policies [PDF - 4.6MB]. Some key findings at time of publication include:
- Forty-six states had bullying laws, almost all of which included specific language for school district to adopt and enact bullying policies;
- Thirty-six states included language in their laws prohibiting cyber-bullying, and of those, thirteen states mandated that schools should hold jurisdiction over off-campus behavior if it created a hostile school environment; and
- State legislation could include components such as a definition of bullying with specific behaviors; reporting requirements and investigations for schools to follow; sanctions for bullying perpetrators; and required prevention or communications strategies.
Vivolo-Kantor: At this point, it is unclear what state or school-specific policies appear to be effective or ineffective. It is only recently that states have begun to enact such laws. There is a dire need for evaluations of these policies, which would provide a better understanding of how these policies affect bullying behavior at the school level but also which components of these policies are the most effective.
Even though we know little about effective state and school policies, we do have some information about what schools and communities can do to prevent bullying from occurring in the first place. A meta-analysis by Kenneth W. Merrell and colleagues of 16 bullying prevention programs concluded that school-based bullying prevention programs were likely to influence knowledge, attitudes, and self-perceptions about bullying behavior. More recently, research from the DVP-funded Johns Hopkins Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence found that a program called Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) was effective in decreasing teacher-reported bullying events in schools.
CDC PHLN: How can News readers learn more about and become involved with preventing bullying?
Vivolo-Kantor: News readers can visit www.stopbullying.gov, the federal one-stop-shop for information on bullying which includes more information about what constitutes bullying and cyber-bullying, who is most at risk for victimization and perpetration, how we can prevent bullying in schools and in communities, and how youth experiencing bullying or those who witness bullying can get help. To learn more about DVP-specific programs News readers can also visit our website.
- Massachusetts: Hospitals’ claims for reimbursement barred by sovereign immunityBoston Medical Center Corp. v. Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services
Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk Division
Case No: SJC-11139
Filed Sept. 14, 2012
Opinion by Justice Ralph D. Gants
- Missouri: Smoking liability case remanded for trial on punitive damagesSmith v. Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corp.
Court of appeals of Missouri, Western District
Case No. WD71918, Consolidated with WD71919
Filed Oct. 2, 2012
Opinion by Judge Joseph M. Elli
- Federal: UC Berkeley smoking ban covered by sovereign immunityJames B. Porter v. Tom Bates
United States District Court, Northern District of California
Case No: C-12-3523 EMC
Filed on Sept. 11, 2012
Opinion by Judge Edward M. Chen
- Federal: Ambulance Co.’s class-of-one claim fails, not similarly situatedMedicone Medical Response v. Marion County Emergency Telephone System Board [PDF - 82KB]
United States District Court, Southern District of Illinois
Case No. 11-CV-1067-DRH-PMF
Filed Sept. 13, 2012
Opinion by Chief Judge David R. Herndon
Quotation of the Month: Scott Mather, Director of Haven, a program assisting chronically homeless people in Orange County, California.
About Public Health Law NewsThe CDC Public Health Law News is published the third Thursday of each month except holidays, plus special issues when warranted. It is distributed only in electronic form and is free of charge.
The News is published by the CDC Public Health Law Program in the Office for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support.