Entries in Boys (10)


Girls Can Hang Athletically with the Boys, Says Study

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Who said girls can’t hang with the boys?  At least according to one study, young ladies can perform just as well in certain sports as their male counterparts.

Researchers from Indiana University examined data from USA Swimming-registered boys and girls ages 6 to 19.  The total data included 1.9 million swims between 2005 and 2010.

The research showed no difference in swim performances among girls and boys younger than eight.  The study also found little difference in 11- and 12-year-olds.  It was only when children started hitting puberty, around 13 years old, that boys started beating girls.

It is a commonly held belief that girls and boys cannot compete equally due to differences in physique and skill, Joel Stager, professor in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation at Indiana University at Bloomington and lead author of the study, wrote in an email to ABC News.

“Our data would seem to argue that this is not always the case,” he said.  “Due to differences in developmental pace it seems to be true that at least in some sports there are periods of time during which girls and boys might be athletic equals.”

The increased muscle mass found in boys compared to girls does not happen until puberty, said Dr. David Rubin, assistant professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College.

“As a result, the finding that boys and girls aged 8 and under perform the same in a task driven by muscle mass and function makes sense,” said Rubin.  “The 11 to 12 year old group is interesting, in that the girls overall are likely taller, and more of them would be in puberty compared to the boys.

The relatively fewer boys that are in puberty in this group, however, are likely developing more muscle mass and increasing performance,” Rubin continued.  “Overall, the groups again even out.”

After everyone hits puberty full swing, results begin to mirror what is expected in adults.  Boys, due to their increased muscle mass, will often outperform in tasks specifically related to muscle mass.

“It’s important to remember, however, that sports often rely on more than just muscle,” said Rubin.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sexual Abuse: Does Society Train Boys to Be Silent Victims?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When the abuse began, Paul Treml was 14 years old, a schoolboy athlete, 5-feet 6-inches tall and 115 pounds.

His abuser, he said, was a decade older and seven inches taller, a hulking ex-college athlete who almost made it to the pros and who ran the youth sports league in Treml's Pennsylvania hometown.

For 21 years after that torture ended, Treml, now 53, kept the details secret from his even closest kin.

He started smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol, trying to blot out the fear, shame, guilt, hurt and assorted confusions about his sexuality that abuse survivors and the clinicians who treat them say are particularly acute for sexually assaulted males in a culture still prone to telling boys not to cry and to always be ready to defend themselves.

Sexual predators, clinicians say, are keenly aware that those complexities fuel male reluctance to discuss what happened.

"Boys are less likely to disclose," says University of Massachusetts clinical psychologist David Lisak, who works with male victims and victimizers.  Convicted Catholic "priests understood this dynamic and picked boys partly because they are less likely to be believed," he said.

Allegations that Jerry Sandusky, the former assistant football coach at Penn State University, was a serial child molester have brought those fraught realities to the fore at a time when, by the most frequently cited reference, an estimated one in six boys will be sexually assaulted before they turn 18.

"As a kid, you're completely frightened by what's happening to you.  You don't know what to do or what to say," said Treml, a regular public speaker on sexual abuse of men and boys.

"In my mind, no one would believe me. Or they'd think it was my fault or I was asking for this or I was homosexual.  Those emotions become so powerful you become numb.  Then you just go into denial," added Treml.

While rape is traumatic for everyone, boys and men are more likely than girls or women to keep that violence to themselves for extended periods of time -- if not, forever -- and to grapple with a host of mental and emotional ills that accompany their decision, clinicians say.

"It's somehow much more shameful for a male to admit to being abused.  It not only stirs their sense of weakness about being victimized but also the whole issue of sexual attitude and identity," says Dr. David Reiss, who, during more than 25 years as a practicing psychiatrist, has mainly treated adults who were abused as children, including sexually assaulted males.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Why Do Sex Crimes Against Boys Often Go Unreported?

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Sex crimes against boys, like the ones that allegedly occurred at Penn State University at the hands of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, often go unreported -- not just by educators and witnesses, but by the victims themselves -- because of the discomfort society feels about male-on-male assaults, particularly in the "hyper-masculine" world of sports.

Authorities say head coach Joe Paterno never went to police about Sandusky's alleged involvement with young boys, even after his graduate assistant coach told him he had witnessed an attack in the school's locker room back in 2002.

The graduate assistant, Mike McQueary, testified to a grand jury that he heard slapping noises and looked in the showers and saw a naked 10-year-old boy "with his hands up against the wall, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky."

But even McQueary, who was 28 at the time, only called his father and waited to report to Paterno the next day.

Experts in child abuse say that Paterno and others could and should have done more.

"There is a certain stigma attached to male-on-male assaults," said Jennifer Marsh, hotline director for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN).  "We expect men to be protectors and we find it's much easier to discuss if it's a female victim.

"When a man is a victim it brings it more into their realm -- what if they were involved in this themselves?" she said.  "It's certainly difficult for male victims to reach out and tell what happened, too.  Loved ones shy away and feel uncomfortable."

More than 10 percent of all child abuse victims are male and nearly half of them are under the age of 18, according to RAINN.  An estimated 93 percent of the victims know their attacker.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


CDC Panel: All Young Boys Should Get HPV Vaccine

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- All males starting at age 11 should receive the HPV vaccine Gardasil to protect themselves against sexually transmitted forms of human papillomavirus, the cause of most cervical and anal cancers as well as most mouth and throat cancers, a Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory committee voted Tuesday.

Thirteen members of the committee voted in favor of extending the HPV vaccine to young boys, and one member abstained. The recommendation now goes to the director of the CDC and the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for final approval.

The CDC already recommends routinely immunizing girls with a three-dose vaccine beginning at age 11 or 12, before they become sexually active, although they can be vaccinated as young as age 9. The agency has previously issued a so-called permissive recommendation giving males from ages 9 through 26 the option of receiving the vaccine.

The prospect of requiring that preteen boys and girls get vaccinated against a sexually transmitted infection has drawn the sharpest outcry from some parents, who fear that vaccinating preteens might encourage promiscuous behavior. Vaccination policies also have become an issue in the 2012 presidential campaign, with several GOP candidates objecting to mandates for HPV vaccination.

In a background memo leading up to the vote, the CDC estimated that routinely vaccinating 11 and 12-year-old boys would likely be cost-effective. If 1 million 12-year-old boys were vaccinated, over the course of a lifetime, they would prevent 2,381 cases of mouth and throat cancer; 633 cases of anal cancer and 169 cases of penile cancer, assuming the vaccine was 75 percent effective against those conditions.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


CDC Committee to Vote on HPV Vaccine Recommendation for Boys

iStockphoto/ThinkstockUPDATE: The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted 13-0 on Tuesday to recommend that all boys get the HPV vaccine at ages 11 and 12.

(WASHINGTON) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) planned meeting Tuesday morning to decide whether the HPV vaccine should be recommended for all males ages 9 to 26 has created a firestorm among medical experts, most of whom seem to be rooting for the committee to recommend that all boys within the age group get the vaccine.

Still, some are shaking their heads at the lack of evidence to suggest that the vaccine even works for boys.

The HPV vaccines -- commonly known as Cervarix and Gardasil -- are currently recommended for girls ages 9 to 26.  Both vaccines have been shown to prevent cervical cancers, with Gardisil also preventing vaginal, vulva and anal cancers.  Some studies also suggest that the vaccine could protect against penis, head, neck and throat cancers.  Gardasil, shown to also protect against genital warts, is the only vaccine of the two that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for boys.
The strongest data of male HPV prevention is limited to men with compromised immunity and men who have sex with other men.  Some parents may argue that the vaccinating their sons would encourage promiscuous behavior.  But medical experts say that isolating the vaccine to just some segments of the population will only exacerbate that way of thinking.

“Research has shown that parents are more enthusiastic regarding universal recommendations rather than targeting "at risk" groups,” said Dr. Lawrence Stanberry, pediatrician-in-chief at New York Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital.  “Recommending universal immunization for girls and making the recommendation for boys permissive sends parents mixed messages.”

According to William Muraskin, professor in the department of urban studies at Queens College, one of the challenges is identifying who may benefit from the vaccine. 

“The HPV vaccine if given before males become sexually active will also protect those who will become homosexual or bisexual,” said Muraskin.  "Routinely vaccinating the entire cohort of young males protects an important sub-group that otherwise will be at significant risk but cannot be identified until it is too late.”

But some experts say the data showing long-term benefit to both homosexual and heterosexual males is slim.

“It is misguided to think that all boys will gain any health benefit from HPV vaccination,” said Diane Harper, Director, Gynecologic Cancer Prevention Research Group at the University of Missouri.

Harper said the vaccine only provides absolute protection against cervical cancer and, “mass vaccination for the prevention of the other HPV associated cancers puts large numbers of people at risk for harms from vaccination compared to both the personal and public health risk of anal, penile, and oropharyngeal cancers.”

Studies have also only shown a nearly 3-year window of protection, Harper said.

“The benefit of HPV vaccination in preventing these cancers which develop much later in life and require vaccination efficacy to last much longer is not proven,” she said. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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Is It Mom's Fault When Sons Turn Delinquent?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Are teenage boys delinquent because they don't have a close relationship with their mothers, or does a child's character determine how easy it is for a parent to foster warmth and closeness? Is it anyone's fault?

A new longitudinal study published this week in the journal Child Development suggests that mother-son bonds are critical in determining a boy's behavior as a teenager.

Both the study and a new film -- We Need to Talk About Kevin -- raise questions about which comes first: the inability of a mother to show warmth toward the child or the child's inability to bond with the parent.

Reseachers say it's not anyone's fault, but the relationship is critical to the child's healthy development.

The study was conducted at Wayne State University, Oklahoma State University, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Montreal and the University of Oregon. It was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

The study concluded that the biggest influence on future delinquency was extended conflict -- "arguing and fighting and it feels like you are struggling" -- after the child starts school and then grows into adolescence.

"Continued conflict, long after the child is 5, is the highest predictor of delinquency," according to lead author Christopher Trentacosta, an assistant professor of psychology at Wayne State University. "Continuing to have conflict -- that matters."

The study evokes the theme of the new film, We Need to Talk About Kevin, which drew stellar reviews at the Cannes Film Festival this year. Tilda Swinton plays a mother whose unusually difficult son tests the limits of her love and eventually grows into a psychotic teenager.

In the study, researchers looked at the development of the quality of the mother-son relationship between the ages of 5 and 15, paying particular attention to parental warmth and conflict. They followed 265 families as part of the Pitt Mother and Child Project in Pittsburgh, which examined vulnerability and resilience in low-income boys.

In each pair of mother and son, scientists evaluated where the family lived, the mother's relationship with her husband or partner, the quality of her parenting and the child's temperament. Other variables were the boys' behavior, their relationship with friends and their "sense of morality" during the teen years.

Boys who were difficult as toddlers had lower levels of closeness with their mothers over time. And when mothers had positive relationships with their romantic partners, the boys stayed closer and fared better.

How a teen related to his mother also reflected better relationships with best friends in adolescence.

The study concluded that "rather than remaining static, parent-child relationships during middle childhood and adolescence are characterized by transformations and realignment."

Scientists say the warmth of the parent-child relationship may stabilize during middle childhood, then turn sour during the early teen years before improving in the late teens. Often, children, as they grow older, experience conflict with their mothers, which subsides before typical rebellion sets in during the teen years. That, too, wanes in late teens.

As teens approach their 20s, they tend to have fewer confrontations with their mothers, according to Trentacosta. "Speculation is that kids are better able to manage themselves and their behavior and don't have as many temper tantrums," he said. "There is a myth out there that conflict increases in adolescence. The overall frequency of conflict and how often you feel like you are struggling is more often when the child is 5 than at 12."

How the relationship between mother and son changes can affect boys' behavior when they become teens, according to researchers.

In a subset of the group of study participants -- fewer than 10 percent -- boys and their mothers reported consistently high levels of conflict that didn't dissipate after they grew older. For them, those conflicts spelled trouble.

But Dr. Alan Kazdin, director of the Yale Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic, said these study results have to be "parsed very carefully."

"Mothers may bond and attach better with a child who is less deviant, more cooperative, more affectionate and more like them," he said. "It's the other way around -- having a wonderful child leads to better outcomes."

Kazdin said that although this study confirms the importance of warmth and closeness, if the findings are misinterpreted, "it's just another way to put pressure on mom."

Many factors go into raising a healthy child, according to Kazdin, including parenting practices, genetics and environmental influences.

"People should not be alarmed if they have a bad relationship with a child," he said. "Of course, a good relationship is always better. But talk to them, listen to them and be comforting. If you don't have a good relationship, it's not that you blew it. Maybe it's the character of your child that made it difficult."

Conversely, establishing a good relationship with the child is "no guarantee to prevent delinquency," he said.

Kazdin noted that Yale has been working on changing parent-child interactions to prevent violent behavior, including improving communication.

"Parents get discouraged when they see their teens don't want anything to do with them, but that's totally false," he said. "Kids want to talk with their parents about drugs and sex, not with their peers, but the parents aren't approachable."

Trentacosta said his study took into consideration a child's temperament in measurements taken when the boys were 18 months and 24 months old.

"We found among the boys different temperaments predicted elevated levels of conflict and also predicted less warmth," he said. "There was a lot of arguing and fighting. Moms felt less closeness and warmth."

Trentacosta agrees that the findings are "more nuanced" than just whether or not the mother and son have a "good or bad relationship."

"It wasn't so much the parenting behavior, but more about how the parents perceived that aspect of their relationship," he said.

He said the study may have positive implications for prevention and intervention, addressing conflict in the parent-child relationship in family-focused programs with the ultimate goal of reducing delinquent behavior.

"Like all things, you shouldn't put it on the kid or on the parent, what matters most is the relationship," said Trentacosta. "If you want to prevent the kid from delinquency, [the parent and the child] need to do something different. The two could work on their relationship, especially at an early age."

The study findings encourage parents to pay attention to conflict early and to get help.

"Maybe you seek out more interaction therapy focused on the relationship," he said. "There are a lot of great treatment approaches working with the child and the parent together in a room to learn how to manage their conflict and to interact in a healthier and happier way.

"It's nobody's fault," he said. "You need to pay attention to the relationship."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Binge Drinking Teen Girls, Not Boys, Have Bad Spatial Memory

Polka Dot Images/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- Binge drinking is known to have a negative impact on a teen's working memory -- the kind that allows you to use a map, do math calculations, or perform complex sports plays.

But how does binge drinking's effects differ when compared amongst girls and boys?

Researchers at San Diego State University sought to answer this very question by examining how teenagers' brains reacted to various tests.  They gave attention and memory tests to 40 self-reported binge drinkers and 55 non-drinkers, all between the ages of 16 and 19, while they were in a brain scanner.

The authors of the study, published Friday in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, found that binge drinking girls had less activation of certain areas of the brain and performed worse on attention and memory tasks compared with non-drinking girls.

On the other hand, binge-drinking boys actually had more brain activation and did better on the task involving spatial memory than non-drinking boys.

The authors conclude that "women may be more vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of heavy alcohol use during adolescence, while men may be more resilient to the deleterious effects of binge drinking."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Boozed-Up Boys Visit the ER Twice as Much on July 4th Weekend

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The holiday weekend is almost here -- a time to celebrate the nation's birthday with parades, barbecues, fireworks and yes, booze.
A new study shows that alcohol-related visits to the emergency room more than doubles among underaged boys on the Fourth of July weekend compared to the rest of the month.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that on the July 4th holiday weekend in 2009, an average of 942 people under the age of 21 visited the ER with alcohol-related issues. The majority of them, 622, were males.
Less than one-third of the visits, 304, were by underaged females. Their trips to the hospital ER do not spike, but remain steady in July.
To discourage underage drinking,  the organization says parents should be very clear about their disapproval of the behavior. They advise parents to discuss alcohol with their children early and often.
For help with a plan of action, parents can go to
Getting the message across to their children now could prevent a holiday celebration from turning into a tragedy.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: Caffeine Gives Boys a Stronger Rush Than Girls

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BUFFALO, N.Y.) -- Boys are stimulated more by caffeine than girls, according to new research, and both genders have a preference for junk food after being primed with caffeine, leaving scientists with tantalizing questions that they can't yet answer.

Does early exposure to caffeine predispose a person toward drug abuse?  Is caffeine a contributor to the current obesity epidemic?

Scientists at the University at Buffalo are exploring an area that has not been studied much, probably because caffeine is the most widely used drug in the world, and it is thought to be largely benign.  Various studies show that, but those studies involved adults, not children.

And it turns out that lots of kids consume prodigious amounts of caffeine, mostly in sodas, but even very young children are drinking coffee.

That began worrying neurobiologist Jennifer Temple six years ago when she switched from animal research to human studies.

There's a fair amount more now because of a four-year research project by Temple and her colleagues at Buffalo.  The research is supported by the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

The latest study to come out of that work was published in December's issue of Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacolgy.  In that carefully controlled study, boys experienced a greater rush and more energy from caffeine than girls.

Boys, but not girls, also thought the caffeine gave them a boost on the athletic field.  Diastolic blood pressure increased in boys, but not girls, and pulse dropped to offset the rising blood pressure.  This is believed to be the first time a gender difference in caffeine reaction has been documented among adolescents.

The Buffalo research reinforces other studies showing that children who drink sodas tend to have poor diets, and Temple said the correlation between caffeine and a preference for junk food is convincing.

In the latest study, 26 boys and 26 girls, age 12-17, took part in a series of experiments designed to measure the effect of various levels of caffeine.  The participants received a different dosage of caffeine each time, ranging from high to none, the latter serving as a placebo.

The bottom line: the more caffeine they consumed, the more calories they ate, including junk food.  Of course, the sodas also had lots of sugar, so was it the caffeine or the sugar hit that caused them to turn to sweet foods?

Temple says she's confident it was the caffeine.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Case for Circumcision: Public Health Benefit?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BALTIMORE) -- When parents put their baby boys under the knife for circumcision, it's usually for religious or cultural reasons, but mounting evidence suggests that the removal of the foreskin might also serve a public health purpose: reducing the spread of human papillomavirus (HPV).

Not only does past research show that circumcised men are 32-35 percent less likely to contract HPV, but a new study published in The Lancet Thursday shows that women whose partners are circumcised are 28 percent less likely to become infected with HPV.

This finding has particular weight considering that persistent infections with high-risk strains of HPV in women can lead to cervical cancer.  Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths internationally for women.

Over the past five years, randomized control trials have shown that circumcision decreases the risk of HIV, HPV and herpes.  In women it reduces the risk of bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis, and now HPV.  Though these studies have been done in African countries, their findings, including Thursday's, support observational studies already performed in the U.S., says study author Dr. Aaron Tobian of Johns Hopkins University.

Given this evidence, Tobian says it's disquieting to see the rate of circumcision in the U.S. decline as it has in recent decades.  Though estimates vary between data sources, one CDC presentation put in-hospital neonatal circumcisions, which leaves those done in the Jewish ritual circumcisions at 32.5 percent in 2009, compared to 56 percent in 2006 and somewhere around 65 percent in the 1980s.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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