Category Archives: Community Blog

Community Blog

Pharmacies’ Time to Mitigate Opioid Epidemic’s Effect on Children is Long Overdue

Written by Lily McIntyre, Lisvette Batista, Julian Balkcom, Ilona Eaton, Lily Kurtz, Michelle Liu, Lily McIntyre, and Olivia Smith

Approximately 8,986 children and adolescents died from opioid overdoses from 1999 to 2016, and these numbers are growing (Devitt). Opioid strength has increased immensely in recent years in drugs such as codeine and methadone, yet pharmacies still sell these opioids without visibly displaying child-safe cabinet locks. Well-known pharmacies like CVS and Rite-Aid take a controversial stance against tobacco products by not selling them, yet these same pharmacies won’t stand for the safety of young children by visibly selling these locks.

More and more children accidentally ingest medication partly because prescription bottles are “child-resistant,” which means that “the packaging meets a standard that requires it to be significantly difficult for children under five years of age to open within a reasonable time, and not difficult for normal adults to use properly” (Safe Kids Worldwide). However, resistant packaging is insufficient, as a recent study found that children aged three to five could open child-resistant bottles in seconds (Safe Kids Worldwide). According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines, a package is deemed “child-resistant” as long as 80% of children are unable to open the package in 5 minutes (Fitzwater). Therefore, a package labeled “child-resistant” can still be opened by about 20% of children.

In addition to the ineffectiveness of child-resistant bottles, parents are not implementing safe storage practices. In a study conducted with 681 households, in which a guardian using prescription opioids lived with children under seven, only 32.6% of adults self-reported using safe storage practices (McDonald et al).  Some parents falsely assume that their young children know to stay away from prescription medicine; as a result, one third of parents believe that safely storing their drugs does not matter as long as their children are supervised (Safe Kids Worldwide). Cabinet locks provide a much safer solution: they require a lock combination or a key to open, making it more difficult for a child to access prescriptions.

How can parents lock up opioids when there are no drawer locks being openly sold at the counter of pharmacies? Massachusetts state law requires pharmacies to display a sign near the counter telling customers that locks are sold; however, the signs only need to be four by five inches in size (Massachusetts). Because of the signs’ diminutive size, individuals are virtually unaware that these locks are available in their local pharmacies.

Pharmacies must offer simple safety options for parents, guardians, and all prescription users, especially given that prior testing has proven that “child-resistant” bottles are not effective enough to keep children safe from accidental ingestion. Moving forward, pharmacies must sell child safety locks at a visible location at the counter. While education about safe storage of opioids is important, it is insufficient without making these locks accessible to the public. Pharmacies can take simple measures to save many innocent children. The time for pharmacies to mitigate their effects of the opioid crisis is long overdue. Our children’s lives are at stake.


References

Devitt, Michael. “New Research Finds Rise in Pediatric Deaths From Opioids.” American Academy of Family Physicians. 18 Jan. 2019, https://www.aafp.org/news/health-of-the-public/20190118pedopioids.html

Fitzwater, Travis. “Child-Resistant Is Not Child-Proof.” The Missouri Pharmacy Blog, 14 Oct. 2009, http://www.thepharmacyblog.com/child-resistant-is-not-child-proof/.

“Massachusetts Legislature Homepage.” The 191st General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, malegislature.gov/. https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXV/Chapter94C/Section21B

McDonald, Eileen M., et al. “Safe Storage of Opioid Pain Relievers Among Adults Living in Households With Children.” American Academy of Pediatrics, vol. 139, no. 3, Mar. 2017, p. e20162161. pediatrics.aappublications.org, doi:10.1542/peds.2016-2161.

Safe Kids Worldwide. “Safe Medicine Storage: Recent Trends and Insights for Families and Health Educators.” 2018. PDF File. https://www.safekids.org/sites/default/files/safe_medicine_storage-march_2018.pdf

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Pharmacists: On The Front Lines. https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/pdf/pharmacists_brochure-a.pdf


This blog was written by Lily McIntyre, Lisvette Batista, Julian Balkcom, Ilona Eaton, Lily Kurtz, Michelle Liu, Lily McIntyre, and Olivia Smith; they were students last year in a CSHD course, Physical and Mental Health in Childhood.
Community Blog

E-P Grad Student Helps Create Michigan Policy for COVID-19 Education

By Melissa Lovitz

This summer I worked at Michigan State University (MSU) at the Education Policy Innovation Collaborative (EPIC) Lab. In April, the Michigan Department of Education asked EPIC to help them understand how Michigan districts planned to continue educating students as school buildings closed due to COVID-19. To do so, our research team obtained and coded Continuity of Learning (COL) plans from 813 Michigan school district put in place for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year to address how school districts would function with the suspension of face-to-face instruction. I had several responsibilities including developing a coding rubric and creating a codebook for the data collection team, monitoring data collection progress, and interpreting the results. We wrote up our findings in policy brief to share with Michigan education partners and education researchers. To me, this is a great example of 21st Century research. We responded to a real world, practice-related issue, developed a research study to answer critical questions about how Michigan school districts planned to educate students during Covid-19, and created a resource for policymakers to help inform decisions for the 2020-2021 school year. You can read the policy brief here: https://epicedpolicy.org/how-did-michigan-school-districts-plan-to-educate-students-during-covid-19/

About the Author: Melissa Lovitz is an E-P doctoral student and a Research Analyst at the Tufts Interdisciplinary Evaluation Research (TIER) group. Melissa received her Bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Connecticut and her Master’s degree in Urban Education Policy from Brown University. At Tufts, she studies parent-child relationships, family engagement across students’ educational trajectory, and parental role construction in the contexts of early childhood education and development.

Community Blog

Managing During a Pandemic: Resources for Families

With schools in many states closing through the end of the academic year, stress is at an all-time high for many caregivers as they navigate their own remote work schedules with homeschooling and caring for their families. To help support parents and educators in need, students in the Assessment of Children course at Eliot-Pearson created a series of informational videos to share with families on ways to manage effectively care for young children during the pandemic.


Creator: Li Yin Cheok

Description: If you are having trouble distinguishing between facts and fake news, this video might help! It will show you some steps you can take to ensure the sources of information you find on the internet are trustworthy and relevant to you.


Creators: Sara Dionisio and Twinkle Suthar

Description: During these uncertain times, it can feel overwhelming as parents of young children, but we just wanted to let you all know that you are not alone in this and that you are all doing amazing! Here are some activity ideas from our families to your families!


Creators: Deyun Gong and Xihan Yang

Description: This video offers some suggestions to parents whose children are toddlers and preschoolers on how to plan a virtual playdate.


Creator: Jessica Rocha

Description: Given this uncertain time, this video is meant to reassure and validate parents that it is okay to feel anxious and overwhelmed. Parents are being asked to juggle a lot of different roles right now and wearing so many new hats at once can coincide with feelings of failure, inadequacy and frustration. It is okay if every day is not productive or the perfect balance of homeschooling, working from home, and parenting. The best way that we can support children through this pandemic, is by making sure that we are supporting parents.


Creators: Rachel Viselman and Nicole Zolli

Description: This video is intended to provide parents of children with ADHD a variety of disorder-specific resources to support them in teaching their children about COVID-19. These resources include (1) evidence-based communication techniques and (2) engaging, physical activities to explain the science and psychosocial implications of COVID-19. We hope that these resources, especially the activities, engage children with ADHD, lessen their anxieties around COVID-19 and strengthen the parent-child bond.

Community Blog

Helping Families in Need: EPCS Graduate Fellows Create Fun Activities For Parents

With schools across the country closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of parents and caregivers are in need of resources and guidance when it comes to continuing the education of their children at home.

Eliot-Pearson Children’s School (EPCS) announced that it will close for two weeks, beginning on 3/16/2020, as a precautionary measure to protect the health and safety of their students, staff, and families. To help the families of their students, all EPCS Graduate Fellows have stepped up to create a series of age-appropriate activities for parents to implement at home with their children!

Click here to access all of the activities!

Community Blog

Q&A with Professor George Scarlett on His New E-Magazine: “Tomorrow’s Earth Stewards”

George Scarlett is a senior faculty member, faculty advisor for the Master’s Student Association, EP Student Affairs Coordinator and Tisch Faculty Fellow.

With expertise in children’s play, spiritual development, and adolescent’s development as ‘earth stewards’, Professor Scarlett recently published the inaugural edition of a new online magazine: Earth Stewards Tomorrow.

Read on to learn more about Professor Scarlett’s background and the genesis of his new publication.

Tomorrow’s Earth Stewards

Professor George Scarlett, Editor of Tomorrow’s Earth Stewards

Nick: What sparked your interest in the topic of children and earth stewardship?

Professor Scarlett: Like most, my interest in earth stewardship came from early experiences of wonder and adventure in the natural world – in my case, in the mountains of New Hampshire where I first experienced awe in the presence of mountains and a paradoxical love for unexpected adversity – electric storms, climbing in the dark, and so forth.  There is nothing like being up-close and in constant, intimate contact with the natural world to come to know and respect nature and care for its strength and beauty.  In short, I, like most, came to care for the natural world by being out there in the natural world in exciting and very satisfying ways.  And because my major vocational/career interest has been in children and their development, it was a match made in heaven for me to take up this topic of children, youth and  their development as earth stewards.

Nick: Why do you feel that supporting children’s development as earth stewards is so important?

Professor Scarlett: There are enduring reasons and more recent reasons for supporting children’s and youth’s development as earth stewards.  The enduring reasons have to do with the physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness that comes from being in and caring for the natural world; the more recent reasons have to do with climate change and the need for an “All hands on deck” approach that includes preparing children and youth to be the next generation to take on the problems around healing our planet.

Nick: How has connecting children and youth to nature and to becoming earth stewards changed over the years?

Professor Scarlett: Just focusing on changes in our own country, in the latter part of the 19th and early part of the 20th century, the talk was about the nature study movement with its concern for introducing children to the wonders and order in the natural world, an order that reflects the ‘hand’ of the divine.  Then, throughout the 20th century, there was a strong emphasis on conserving what had been disappearing under the influence of population growth, industrialization and the widespread use of automobiles and highways that gave access to wilderness.  Today, the conversation is more about simply connecting children and youth to nature and fighting the trend of children and youth being disconnected from nature because of suburbanization, worries about stranger danger, social media, playing indoors with technology, and more.  

Nick: What are commonly held misconceptions with regards to children and earth stewardship?

One common misconception is that the foundation of earth stewardship is children becoming  natural scientists through being taught by adults. The actual foundation is more likely to be children having a great time in nature, experiencing wonder, and having lots of control over what they are doing (building forts, playing games, exploring streams, etc.).  Another common misconception is that earth stewardship today means focusing on reducing carbon emissions and recycling when a more productive focus when serving children and youth may well be that of restoring natural systems and biodiversity – that is, a more eco-restoration approach to supporting the development of earth stewards. 

Nick: Are there particular headlines coming out of the work done on children’s and youth’s development as earth stewards?

The headlines for the past decade have been about today’s children and youth being disconnected from nature, about the need to foster place-based (local) connections between children and nature, and about the incredible youth climate movement taking place around the world.

Nick: What was the genesis for the publication of “Tomorrow’s Earth Stewards”?

While there are excellent websites and programs that support good ways to connect children, youth and nature, the focus of these websites and programs can be so broad as to lose the focus on stewardship, and virtually all the websites and programs adopt a fairly ethnocentric perspective rather than an international perspective.  Furthermore, when discussing climate change, very little is said to foster in children and youth an eco-restoration way of thinking about climate change. The genesis, then, had to do with offering a web magazine that was international in scope with an emphasis on an eco-restoration way of thinking about stewardship. 

Nick: What types of content and/or resources are on this new online magazine and what may be unique or special about its mission and offerings?

Tomorrow’s Earth Stewards offers articles on interesting and important programs and methods found in different parts of the world.  For example, in the inaugural edition, there are articles on programs in China, Africa, and Scotland – as well as in the U.S.. There are also what we call “ideas” articles that help readers understand better what is meant by an eco-restoration paradigm or approach and what is meant by a developmental perspective or approach.  And there are films and ebooks that can be shared with children and youth – as well as reviews of children’s books. Together, the materials provide a special way of thinking about children, youth and earth stewardship, one that is decidedly international, emphasizing eco-restoration, developmental in a particular sense of developmental – all infused with the delights and inspiration coming from an artistic approach to providing visuals and explaining ideas and programs.

Nick: What do you hope the Tomorrow’s Earth Stewards web magazine will contribute to the field and to the movement?

My hope is that the web magazine will contribute not just information but also inspiration for those already involved in supporting children’s and youth’s development as earth stewards – and that it will eventually interest others to do the same.  We are today at a crossroads in how we relate to the natural world and our planet.  We can remain thinking and doing in the same old ways and suffer severe consequences, or we can change and become the caring partners with nature that we were always intended to be or, at least that we were evolved to be.  Survival of the fittest no longer should mean survival of those who can dominate.  We are at last coming to the realization that survival of the fittest means survival of those who can cooperate.  This is a wonderful message coming from a variety of sources, including the natural sciences.  It is also a wonderful message for every child and youth to hear, consider and eventually live by so as to become earth stewards.

Community Blog

E-P Faculty Call for Reinstatement of Deferred Action Policy for Immigrants with Critically Sick Children

Sometimes during these late days of summer, we choose not to pay much attention to the news. School is starting, and everyone’s moving around Labor Day. But we need to pay attention.

The Boston Globe reported on August 27 that the Trump Administration had abruptly changed a longstanding policy of granting medical deferral requests to immigrant  families whose children were receiving treatment in U.S. hospitals to remain in the country legally. Instead, families received letters from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that such requests from undocumented immigrants would no longer protect them from deportation while receiving treatment in the U.S. The letters warned that deportations would begin within 33 days; some families receiving letters found they were already partway through this period. You can read the letter families received on the WBUR website.

As grievous as this policy would be for adults dealing with life-threatening illnesses, it’s perhaps even more extreme in the case of children. As reported in Commonwealth Magazine, there are many children currently receiving treatment for cystic fibrosis, cancer and other serious illnesses at Boston Children’s Hospital and other medical facilities around the country whose families have been informed that they need to leave – and to leave treatments that are not available for their children in their home countries.

News organizations reported on August 30 that many elected officials, medical professionals and advocates for immigrant rights have called for oversight and commenced lawsuits to block this reversal of policy.

As faculty dedicated to promoting research about and practice with children, youth and families that focuses on health, inclusivity and equity, we are strongly committed to our support of families seeking critical care for their children. The health and well-being of children – allchildren – is key not only to our mission at Eliot-Pearson, but, we believe, for the health and well-being of our collective futures. We members of the EP faculty believe the “deferred action” policy should be revisited, and we join with the elected officials, medical providers and advocates who have called for review and oversight.

While the Trump Administration has partially reversed course and agreed to “complete the caseload that was pending” when they abruptly ended the policy in August, we believe the administration must find a permanent solution that is equitable and that enables children to get the care they desperately need, regardless of their country of origin.

Community Blog

Fantasy Play in a Refugee Center

Lily Samuel, MA Child Study and Human Development, working with students at the Eliot-Pearson Children’s School

by Lily Samuel, MA Child Study and Human Development

Surrounded by art supplies, cars, a marble run and a toy kitchen, I could be anywhere in the world. The children who enter this particular room are cheerful and curious but sometimes also scared. Where am I? I’m in the “Nest,” a place for children displaced or fleeing from Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Cameroon, Eritrea, and a dozen other countries. Some children arrive with families, some arrive alone.

I traveled to Lesvos, Greece, last summer to do what I do every day during the year at the Eliot-Pearson Children’s School: play with puzzles, pretend to eat wooden foods and mix water colors on paper. As a Wertlieb Fellow, I worked at a community center called One Happy Family (OHF), which serves over 1000 asylum seekers who have fled from violence, conflict, or disaster. It’s just three miles up the road from Moria and Kara Tepe refugee camps on this Greek island nine kilometers off the coast of Turkey where some refugees arrive by washing up onto the shore with nothing in their hands.

The Nest is a space just for the OHF children, ages 3 to 8. My role was to manage the space and ensure the play remained safe. I soon figured out, though, that my more important role was to act as a spirit guide to help the children travel from their real world into the world of fantasy play. This was not automatic. A child entering the Nest for the first time typically examined every object and then dropped it on the floor. Those who had been there before bee-lined for the puzzle or set of blocks they previously enjoyed to recreate their work. Many children walked around adrift, and then I’d invite them to join me in a project or I’d simply accompany them in parallel play.

As a preschool teacher, I know play—especially dramatic play—often requires planning: What will I create? What role will I play? Play itself is often the vehicle for children to ask even more important questions: Who will I be? Where do I belong? As Brian Sutton-Smith wrote, “If play prepares the future, it is by creating more vigorous, active children who find in their play a dream of confidence that they can also manage their fate” (Smith, 146).

When humanitarian aid is provided to refugee populations, children are often considered an extension of their parents: if food, water, shelter, and basic healthcare are provided, their needs are assumed to be satisfied. The need for a space where children can take ownership of their fates is not understood. The Nest offers this space. It was not designed to be clinically therapeutic so young people could “work through” their traumas. It is a space for children to play: where children can step fully into a fantasy world and take control within the safety of the Nest.

Lily Samuel just graduated with her MA and was a Graduate Assistant in the Eliot-Pearson Children’s School. Her graduate work focused on how policy affects developmental outcomes for immigrant and refugee families. Lily’s work with refugees in Lesvos, Greece was funded by the department’s Wertlieb Fellowship, and was the topic of her presentation at the 26th Annual Fred Rothbaum Student Presentation Day on April 5th, 2019