Research News You Can Use
Welcome to the University of Florida/IFAS Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences
research newsletter: Research News You Can Use. This helpful series shares up-to-date, reliable
research in Family, Youth and Community Sciences with you.
Table of Contents
Bridging the Gap Between Community Club Environments & Youth Life Skill Development:
Adult Volunteers as "Mediators" Dr Kate Fogarty, Dr. Joy Jordan, Dr. Marilyn Lesmeister
Lessons From Those on the Front Lines of Disaster Relief: Nonprofits and Community Recovery
Parental After-School Stress Dr. Suzanna Smith
Teens and Dating: Tips for Parents and Professionals Dr. Kate Fogarty
To Wash or Not to Wash: A Tale of Two Products: Raw meats Versus Raw Produce Dr. Amy
Bridging the Gap Between Community Club Environments &
Youth Life Skill Development: Adult Volunteers as "Mediators"
Submitted by: Kate Fogarty, Ph.D. Assistant Professor 4-H Youth Development, Joy Jordan, Ph.D.,
Associate Professor, 4-H Youth Development, & Marilyn Lesmeister, Ph.D., Assistant Professor 4-H
Written by: Abbe DeGroat, M.S., 4-H Educational Instructor, Pinellas County, Kate Fogarty, Ph.D.,
Assistant Professor 4-H Youth Development, Joy Jordan, Ph.D. Associate Professor 4-H Youth
Development & Marilyn Lesmeister Ph.D., Assistant Professor 4-H Volunteer Development
Learning environments that promote positive youth development have notable features. Recent studies
have shown that youth spending time in engaging, safe, structured, supervised, and healthy activities, are
less likely to become involved in health risk behaviors, as well as attain a variety of competencies and
life skills outcomes (Dierking & Faulk, 2003; Eccles & Gootman, 2002; Roth et al.,1998).
Ideal settings for youth are those that provide (Eccles & Gootman, 2002):
positive expectations of behavior;
opportunities for empowerment;
connections between youth environments (e.g., family, school, & community)
life skills development.
The purpose of the following report-as part of a statewide evaluation of 4-H clubs across Florida
conducted in the summer of 2005* is to examine the roles of 4-H organizational support, learning
opportunities, and supportive, safe learning environments as they contribute to youth life skill
development in community clubs. Most important, the role of volunteers in providing support (attitudes,
caring), and creating the settings which motivate life skill development among youth, will be described.
The 4-H club evaluation survey* was completed by 628 youth from about 30 Florida counties in the
summer through fall of 2005. Evaluation reports were produced for individual counties in addition to a
statewide report. The evaluation research process began with a factor analysis (principal components
with varimax rotation); items fell into a number of expected factors including: (1) volunteer support
systems; (2) 4-H organizational support; (3) learning opportunities; and (4) safe, supportive club
environments. The goal of this research was to illustrate, through regression analysis, how the above
factors fall into a conceptual model. Namely, it was expected that contextual influences (organizational
support, learning opportunities, and supportive club environments) influence youth life skills by way of
volunteer support systems. In other words, volunteers are believed to mediate or bridge the relation
between environmental forces and life skill outcomes.
Outcome: Life Skills and Youth Development
Life skills gained by youth demonstrate positive youth development and are the outcome measure of
interest. Youth reported on the degree to which they possessed the following life skills: decision-making
(self-responsibility, personal accountability for actions, selecting positive peers, and avoiding risky
behaviors), developing marketable skills (career choices, planning) leading and serving others
(community service, leadership skills) and relationship and communication (communication skills,
conflict management skills). (Cronbach's alpha= .94)
Volunteer Support Systems: The Bridge Between Club Environments and Life Skills
The ability of Programs to provide safe and secure environments for youth depends upon the
management and quality of trained staff and volunteers. Volunteers not only help maintain safe, secure
environments for youth but also provide caring and support as well as ample learning opportunities.
Youth overall rated 4-H club volunteers as effective at individual mentoring and support. Items
indicating mentoring and support of youth needs included: "listens to me and my club members"; "talks
with me or other members when we have a problem"; "lets me know that he/she has high expectations
of me"; and "encourages me to take leadership roles and helps me succeed." A significant correlation
was found between volunteer support and youth life skills (r=.676, p<.000). This finding leads us to the
next question, "How do the organizational supports, learning opportunities, and supportive environments
provided by 4-H contribute to youth life skill development?" (Cronbach's alpha = .96)
Contextual Influences: Organizational Supports, Learning Opportunities and
A question the evaluation survey aimed to answer is how effective 4-H has been at supporting youth in
their counties. Items that measured this effectiveness factored into two areas: (1) 4-H organizational
supports; and (2) learning opportunities. Items measuring 4-H organizational support include: "4-H is
my primary activity outside school"; "In 4-H I feel useful and important"; and "My 4-H Club involves
youth from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds" (Cronbach's alpha = .86). Items measuring
learning opportunities in 4-H club environments include: "4-H offers projects to meet my interests";
"Project materials I receive help me gain new knowledge and skills"; and "4-H provides me training
events to support my project work" (Cronbach's alpha = .81)
Beyond organizational supports and learning opportunities, there must be safe supportive environments
created by volunteers working with youth in community clubs. Items measuring safe supportive
environments in clubs include: "4-H clubs are supportive environments where I feel accepted"; "My 4-H
club provides a safe place for learning and growing"; and "In my 4-H club, I can explore my own
interests" (Cronbach's alpha = .82)
Relations among contextual influences, volunteer support systems and life skills
Organizational supports, learning opportunities in the environment, and supportive environments
(contextual influences) each correlated significantly with both youth life skills and volunteer support
systems. This leads to the questions: (1) what might a model containing life skills, volunteer support
systems, organizational supports, and environmental opportunities look like? and (2) how does such a
model explain how volunteers and environmental supports work to influence youth development?
Following a factor analysis, the researchers attempted to create a concept map among influences,
treating life skills as a positive youth development outcome. A number of combinations of variables
were tested using Baron and Kenny's (1986) method for testing mediation with multiple regression.
Consistent support was found for volunteer support systems (adult volunteers' attitude and the way they
interacted with youth) as a partial mediator of the relation between environmental influences and youth
life skill outcomes.
Simply stated, a mediator is an influence that comes between two variables and helps explain how the
two variables relate. For example, the relation between poverty and youth school performance can be
better explained by the mediator, "parents' involvement in schooling." One cannot assume because a
youth is poor, that he or she will automatically do poorly in school. Also, when a mediator (usually a
person-based factor) explains the relation between an environmental or contextual factor and a youth
development outcome, it helps us know where to intervene (Hansen, 1996)- for example, creating a
program that encourages low-income parents to increase their involvement in a child's schooling.
The figure that follows statistically illustrates the relations among the five variables.
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Although at first glance, the model appears complex, it can be easily summarized.
About 70% of the life skills outcome (variance in youth life skills) is explained by the three
Almost 50% of life skills are explained by volunteer support.
Supportive safe environments, learning opportunities and 4-H organizational support all
influence youth life skills.
Without the presence of volunteers, the environmental influences (safe environments, learning
opportunities, and 4-H organizational support) lose impact. In other words, when volunteers are taken
out of the equation (for example, the supportive safe environment a life skills path coefficient reduces
from .262 to .200), the impact of environmental influences on youth outcomes lessens.
It's all about volunteer support. Volunteer support systems mediate or serve as a bridge between
environmental influences and youth life skill outcomes. This is because volunteer support is
related to each of the environmental influences and related to life skill outcomes.
Volunteers support the development of key youth life skills such as: communication skills
(conflict resolution, self-confidence, public presentation), relationship skills (making and
keeping friends, relationship building skills), decision-making skills (planning, organizing time
and resources, setting goals, self-responsibility), and leading and serving others (community
service, planning club activities in community, learning leadership).
Because volunteers are the key, the 4-H organization as a whole can have the most impact on
youth through volunteer development provided by agents and specialists.
Implications for Extension Programs/Conclusion
Ultimately, volunteers provide support to youth and help create environments of safety, challenging
learning, and convey the message of 4-H organizational support and systems to youth.
The research findings reveal no surprises. The best way to positively influence youth life skill
development as well as the community club environment and organizational support is through
supporting and training adult volunteers who work with youth. The research shows that the volunteers
who worked with the surveyed 4-H youth were strong in their knowledge of 4-H as an organization,
offered challenging learning opportunities for youth, created safe healthy environments for youth in
clubs, and supported them through caring, encouraging relationships. The research here simply sums up
a well-known truth in 4-H that "volunteers hold the key" to youth development. Also, youth
development is represented by the life skills that youth possess life skills that volunteers and 4-H
organizational structures and delivery systems help to develop.
The 2005 statewide club evaluation survey provides supporting data from youth on three focus areas of
4-H program effectiveness namely:
Creating high quality community-based learning environments for youth in clubs
Creating caring adults support systems for youth
Developing life and career skills through subject-matter topics.
Moreover, the data provided a useful means of conceptually organizing the influence of each of these
three areas (and components of these areas) on one another. Keeping the above model in mind, the
support and training of adult volunteers should include and appears to be currently strong in these
sharing information on 4-H opportunities and supports to both adult volunteers and youth at the
county, district, state, and national levels
opportunities for professional growth in the areas of facilitating youth life skills as well as
developing youth and adult subject matter skills
moral support of volunteers at the county (extension agent, program assistant) and state
support for youth-adult partnerships in the club environment (as well as alternate delivery
systems), encouraging growth on both sides
education on creating/fostering developmentally appropriate (ages and stages), safe, structured
environments for youth
Baron, R.M., & Kenny, D.A. (1986). "The moderator-mediator variable distinction in social
psychological research: Conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations." Journal ofPersonality and
Social Psychology, 51, 1173-1182.
Dierking, L.D., & Faulk, J.H. (2003). "Optimizing out-of-school time: The role of free-choice learning."
New Directions for Youth Development, 97, 75-88.
Eccles, J., & Gootman, J.A. (2002). Community programs to promote youth development. Washington,
D.C.: National Academy Press.
Hansen, W.B. (1996). "Pilot test results comparing the All Stars Program with seventh grade D.A.R.E.:
Program integrity and mediating variable analysis." Substance Use & Misuse, 31, 1359-1377.
Roth, J., Brooks-Gunn, J., Murray, L. & Foster, W. (1998). Promoting healthy adolescents: Synthesis of
youth development program evaluations. Journal ofResearch on Adolescence, 8, 423-459.
*More information on the overall evaluation of youth is available in the 2006 Florida 4-H evaluation
publication by Joy Jordan and Abbe DeGroat entitled, "Florida 4-H Develops Positive and Productive
Lessons from Those on the Front Lines of Disaster Relief:
Nonprofits and Community Recovery
Submitted by: Elizabeth Bolton, Ph.D. Professor of Community Development
Newport, Gus. "Why Are We Replacing the Furniture When Half the Neighborhood is Missing?" The
Nonprofit Quarterly, Volume 12, Issue 4, Winter 2005.
"If we are truly concerned about the effectiveness of community-based nonprofits, a central question we
must absolutely ask ourselves is whether the governance of individual community organizations
enhances or interferes with good governance on a community-wide level" (Hall, p. 32). This article is
provocative in that it challenges the view that the more non profit organizations there are the better it is.
Gus Hall writes from the perspective of being the Vanguard Foundation program director in charge of
ground efforts in New Orleans in response to the Katrina disaster. During the time since the Katrina
hurricane, nonprofits have been seen at their best and their worst. This article suggests that as a
community resource it is appropriate to examine their mission and the accountability of their board to
the mission. Including client groups in the board membership increases the probability that the board
will be accountable to its mission and to the public on a continuing basis. This is important whether the
funding comes from grants made by local, state of federal government or voluntary contributions.
Does the governance of individual community organizations interfere with good governance on a
community wide level? Gus Hall believes it does. He says that nonprofits were created to serve
communities in a great variety of ways to include health care, food security, child care and jobs and
more. The nonprofit sector fills in the gap between the deficits of the public sector and the private sector.
But what about the negative effects of all these nonprofit organizations? Hall says that when bad public
policy and poor governance are covered up by creating more and more nonprofits, this allows issues that
should be connected or joined together to be handled as separate issues because the nonprofits will be
competing with each other for limited public funds and private donations. Another effect is that some of
the issues that get attention cannot bring about beneficial change because they are limited in scope. The
effect of working on an issue through the efforts of many organizations rather than as a system wide
issue is that the beneficiaries get short changed in the process. Some people are served but many are not.
Hall calls for inclusiveness of the recipients of services in the decision making process. This is important
because boards change, conditions in communities change and without a constant outreach and
communication to the target audience, the real message may get lost. The interpretation of this is that the
mission may get side tracked. This happens all too often and what was once a mission with focus and
purpose becomes a new mission with only a nuance of the former one remaining. Large foundations that
were funded by wealthy benefactors with clear ideas about how their funds should be spent have been
known to redirect the mission and the subsequent use of the funds.
It is well known that policies change and strategies must be in place to recognize which policies change
and in what ways they change. When this is known, then determine how these policy changes might
affect the governance of the organization and most particularly the client group. If these policy changes
do not become connected to the issue they are supposed to influence, nonprofit boards become
entrenched and separated from the issue and ultimately their mission.
Before being the program director of the Vanguard Foundation, Hall was the executive director of the
Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DNSI) in Boston which was one of many nonprofits serving
different issues, ethnic groups and personal or organizational histories. He notes that despite all the
nonprofits working the area it was a profile of urban devastation with vacant lots, dangerous
playgrounds, and widespread evidence of lack of public interest and investment. The Mable Louise
Riley Foundation led the way to organize the nonprofits into a coalition that would engage the
community in the decision making process to determine what the residents determined as the greatest
need and how they might be met. Initially, the Foundation visited Dudley Street with the idea of funding
the purchase of office furniture. They were shocked by the vacant lots and empty buildings. One board
member remarked that it seemed strange to replace the furniture when half the neighborhood was
missing. From this observation emerged the theme that the presence of a great many nonprofit
organizations does not necessarily mean that the situation will improve. Rather, it might indicate that the
governance of these organizations may well be interfering with the governance on a community wide
Through the efforts of the Riley Foundation and nonprofit leaders in the community, the element of
inclusiveness became a major factor in uniting the nonprofits in the community development initiative.
Hall describes the rebuilding and redevelopment process that occurred in Boston's Dudley Street
neighborhood as the stages of an organization's growth. He ends by challenging nonprofit boards to
rethink the role they could play in rebuilding neighborhoods and whole communities. He calls for
forming more partnerships, creating interlocking agendas with more players, learning from and working
with one another in new and different ways. Hall is a visionary who sees the potential in community
based nonprofit organizations working together through their boards and client group representatives to
become more responsive to the needs of the citizens who live there.
Implications for Extension
During the past few years Florida has had more than its share of hurricane disasters that have caused
major damage in practically every part of the state. Community responses have ranged from organized
plans to waiting for help to arrive. Community based organizations are called on to provide volunteer
services, rebuild infrastructure, and deliver food and supplies to families and many other tasks.
Community leaders are always proud to cite the efforts of these organizations in times of need.
The message in this article for extension is to seek to organize the nonprofits to act in a cohesive and
collaborative way with some overlapping mission or goals. Be prepared to help the community
organizations meet and form some common bonds. Assist the supporting organizations to work in
unison rather than in competition with each other. Help the participating organizations form an ad hoc
board of directors to represent the immediate need and the interests of their group. Stay in touch with
policy makers and policy changes that may affect the local situation. Be prepared to include the targeted
groups in the membership of the ad hoc board or on the permanent boards of local organizations.
Extension county faculty work with community based organizations in every aspect of extension
encompassing agriculture, family and consumer sciences, community development, sea grant, and 4-H.
No other local resource has a greater knowledge of the community and its needs. Further extension has
an existing network of personnel, technology and organization that can make a lasting difference before
and during a natural disaster such as a hurricane.
Parental After-School Stress
Submitted by: Suzanna Smith, PhD, Associate Professor, Human Development
Bamett, R. C. & Gareis, K. C. (2006). Parental after-school stress and psychological well-being. Journal
ofMarriage and Family, 68(1), pp. 101-108.
Working parents of school age children often worry about what their children are doing after school in
the hours before parents get home from work. And the time is significant: "For most full time employed
parents, the gap between the end of the school day and the time they arrive home from work is [about]
20-25 hours per week" (Barnett & Gareis, 2006, p. 101), or 4 to 5 hours a day.
After-school programs are scarce in many communities, so parents often struggle with unreliable and
complicated informal arrangements (Bamett & Gareis, 2006). Or, children care for themselves and in
many cases, for younger siblings. Some researchers have found that 44% of 12 year olds were in self-
care after school.
Although some older children and teens are able to handle this responsibility, sometimes at-home
arrangements can be unreliable or dangerous. In addition, unsupervised children and teens are at high
risk for juvenile crime, substance use, sexual activity, and victimization (Barnett & Gareis, 2006).
Certainly, this can be distressing for parents, but there has been very little research on parental stress and
after-school child care.
The study looked at parents' after school stress, or their level of concern for their children's welfare after
school, and its impact on parents' psychological well being. The sample was 243 employed parents of
school age children (K-12) who were employees at a leading financial services corporation. They were
recruited to the study through an employees' parenting group. Survey packets were mailed to over 1000
parents in 6 states. Questions were asked about their psychological well being, parental after school
stress, child's unsupervised time after school, negative affectivity, and demographic characteristics.
Most respondents were mothers (84%). On average the sample worked 44 hours a week, but this ranged
from 20-86 hours, so some parents were able to be home after school. They worked at a variety of jobs
and occupational levels within the organization. The average age was 39 years but the age range was 25
to 59 years. Nearly two thirds (62.4%) had some college or a bachelors' degree. Mostly this sample was
married (74%) or partnered (5%). The vast majority (91%) of spouses or partners were also working, on
average 46 hours per week.
Parents with more than one school aged child answered the questions about the child whose name came
first alphabetically. There were about an equal number of boys and girls; the average age was 9 and the
age range from 4 to 18 years.
Over one-third (36%) of target children participated in a formal after school program for an average of
11 hours a week. One-fifth (21.5%) spent some time unsupervised after school each week, averaging
around 10 hours alone or watching younger siblings.
Parents were somewhat stressed about after school arrangements, and at least some parents were very
stressed. On average, they experienced signs of psychological well being some of the time.
Parental Stress and Psychological Well-Being
Parents with more after school stress had lower psychological well-being. This statistical relationship
between stress and well-being was stronger for parents of girls than boys. There was no difference
between mothers and fathers in after school stress scores; the relation between stress and well-being was
equally strong for mothers and fathers.
Although this study was based on a small, non-representative sample, it shows that parental after school
stress affects the psychological health of employed parents of school-aged children. Additional research
would tell us more about this important issue affecting a large segment of the workforce and their
Implications for Extension Programs
Extension has been successful in developing after school programs in some communities. These
programs provide supervised academic and recreational opportunities for school aged children in a safe
environment. This study confirms that such programs are important, not only to children but to their
parents. This may be particularly true in communities where there are few after school options and
children may get involved in risky situations and behaviors. In some communities, Extension could play
a leading role in helping communities improve after school care options. Programs on children's self-
care are important for working parents so that they can determine their children's readiness and safety in
taking care of themselves after school.
Parents' after school stress was associated with psychological well being-the more stress parents
experienced, the lower their well-being. There was a stronger connection between after school stress and
well-being for parents of daughters than of sons. Parents may view daughters as more vulnerable to
risky behaviors or victimization when there are problems in their after school arrangements (Barnett &
These findings suggest that after school stress is an important issue for working parents. And, although
we have come a long way in improving day care options for young children, far more working parents
have school-age than preschool age children, and there are fewer after school care options (Barnett &
Gareis). Schools, community leaders, and policy makers are urged to look at what can be done to
improve after school care for the working families in their areas. 7/01/2006
Teens and Dating: Tips for Parents and Professionals
Submitted by: Kate Fogarty, Ph.D., Assistant Professor 4-H Youth Development
Today's teens face strong pressures to date as well as get involved in a serious relationship (Teenage
Research Unlimited, 2006). Although most romantic relationships last less than 5 months among 12 to
14 year-olds, by age 16 relationships last an average of 2 years (Berk, 2005). In the early teen years
dating is more superficial for fun, status among peers, and exploring sexuality. In the older teen years
youth are looking for intimacy, companionship, affection, and social support.
What Parents and Adults Need to Know About Teen Dating
Even when teens start dating, they are still not as close with romantic partners as they are with their
same-sex friends. Also, the relationships teens have with their parents especially the degree of support
and security they feel in their relationships influences their having warm and secure feelings about
friendship. Having a secure view of friendship is positively related to teens' security in their romantic
relationships (Berk, 2005). In other words, parents influence the quality of teens' friendships and dating
As long as dating doesn't start too early in the adolescent years, dating is a way to learn (Berk, 2005):
socially appropriate behavior
Although most adolescent romantic relationships do not last long (most teens are still forming their
identities), first romances are practice for more mature bonds in adulthood. In fact, warm and caring
romantic relationships in the teen years tend to lead to satisfying, committed relationships in early
adulthood (Berk, 2005).
The dark side of dating in the teen years is that it can put youth at risk. Frequent dating in early
adolescence is linked with adolescent risk behaviors such as school failure, drug use, and delinquency.
Also, a teen's chance of involvement in dating violence increases if he or she has experienced abusive
family relationships as well as frequent, early dating and/or sexual involvement. A portion of teens face
the dangers of dating violence. For example, in a representative poll of over 1,000 teens (13-18 years-
old) (Teenage Research Unlimited, 2006):
About half (49%) of 16- to 18- year-olds have been "seriously involved" in a relationship.
24% felt pressure to date and 14% said they would do almost anything to keep a boyfriend or
61% of teens who had been in a relationship stated they had a boyfriend/girlfriend who made
them "feel bad or embarrassed" about themselves.
15% have been "hit, slapped, or pushed" by a boyfriend or girlfriend and 25% of those in a
"serious" relationship were "hit, slapped, or pushed."
One-third (33%) of 16-18 year-olds said sex is "expected" of people their age who are in a
relationship about the same portion (31%) of teens who have been in a "serious" relationship
agreed with this statement.
The expectation for sex in teen relationships may be partly explained by the media which socializes
teens on dating and sexual behaviors (Ward & Friedman, 2006).
Ways to Discuss Dating with Teens
Parents and youth educators can use their knowledge of both the promises and pitfalls of dating in the
teen years to discuss dating openly with youth. Suggestions for how to communicate with teens about
First and foremost, make sure you are building a loving, supportive relationship with your teen.
(See "5 Ways to Show Love to Your Teen." ) Your relationship with your teen serves as a model
for the relationships she or he will have with friends and future romantic partners.
When your teen feels loved and supported, this will open the lines of communication and trust.
Take time to find out about your teen's friends and schedule of daily events through conversation.
This is a great way to learn about his or her peer network and what is important to your teen.
Ask tentative, open-ended questions of your teen about potential romantic interests. Avoid,
forcing the issue, though. Don't embarrass him or her with information your teen shares in
Be open to discussing your own relationship experiences with your teen. Share how you define a
healthy versus an unhealthy relationship. If you are currently in a significant relationship, serve
as a role model for healthy relationship behavior to your teen.
Share with your teen the positives of dating later in adolescence. Let him/her know your
views/values on dating with an optimistic attitude, using positive examples as needed. Avoid
dwelling on the don'tt" of dating.
Be willing to do the work to support your teen in his or her dating relationship, unless it is one
that appears to cause him or her psychological or physical harm.
Understand that your teen's identity as well as sexuality are still being formed and may be fragile.
Avoid letting your values dictate your teen's sexual identity. Sexual minority (gay, lesbian,
bisexual, transgendered) youth usually face much confusion and difficulty in this time and need
their parents' support.
Inform your teen about the rules (and consequences) you've set on dating and why the
appropriate age, age of partner, curfews, who they'll be with, and contact information. Make sure
to follow through with expectations and consequences.
Ask your teen to think carefully about dating: whether he or she feels pressured to date; whether
he/she knows of a teen couple who are having problems and why that may be the case; or what
he/she thinks dating should be like. If possible, share what you know about the research, in a
caring and casual way.
Join your teen in watching his or her favorite television programs, particularly those that involve
teens having romantic relationships. Refrain from commenting during the show and take time for
discussion after the show is over. (For example ask your teen, "How might that situation really
end up?, "What is healthy/unhealthy about this relationship?", or "What overall message do you
get from this episode about teen relationships?").
Overall, it's important to: (1) Provide a safe and secure base for your teen to communicate with you
openly about his or her relationships; (2) Guide your teen with open-ended questions to think about
his/her own expectations and values in relationships; and (3) Share your own wisdom about
relationships with your teen.
Implications for Extension Programs
Dating in the teenage years is one of many ways to promote healthy development among teens.
Programs serving youth and their families can promote a positive emphasis or resilience perspective -
on teen dating. However, the problems of dating in adolescence should not be overlooked in
curricula/programming that serves teens. And, there are other ways to promote positive youth
development, especially in the younger teen years.
Programs for parents of teens benefit from including teens in the program in other words, promoting
healthy parent-teen interaction. For example, a revised Florida-based curriculum, "Teening-Up with
your Adolescent": Parenting Children Ages 9-16, is useful for both parent-only and parent-teen
Parent-teen programs ideally should focus on building parent-teen bonds, fostering communication, and
bolstering parental monitoring and support of teens. Developing these parent-teen relationship assets
help teens to build healthy relationships outside the family unit (Search Institute, 2006).
The relationship between parents or a parent and a romantic partner also sets an example for teens.
Family programming should focus on strengthening relationships between parents and between parents
and teens. Moreover, parents can be encouraged and motivated to set an example of healthy adult
relationships with their teens.
Dating in adolescence poses both promises and problems. Understanding the pros and cons of dating can
help parents in their communication with teens. Strengthening family communication is an important
goal of curricula and programming that serves youth and families in Extension.
Berk, L. E. (2005). Infants, children, and adolescents (5th Ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Search Institute (2006). 40 Developmental AssetsTM For Teens Minneapolis, MN: Search InstitutesM
http://www.search-institute.org/assets/40Assets.pdf. Accessed on March 24, 2006.
Teenage Research Unlimited (2006). Teen Relationship Abuse Survey. Northbrook, IL: Liz Claiborne
Ward, M.L., & Friedman, K. (2006). Using TV as a Guide: Associations Between Television Viewing
and Adolescents' Sexual Attitudes and Behavior. Journal ofResearch on Adolescence, 16, 133-156.
To Wash or Not to Wash: A Tale of Two Products: Raw meats
Versus Raw Produce
Submitted by: Amy Simonne, PhD, Assistant Professor, Food Safety and Quality
We are in an era of excessive information. When so much information is available, consumers can find
it hard to choose which guidelines to follow. When the information is also conflicting, it is even more
For example, take a case of washing of meat and poultry, according the current food safety guidelines
(Chapter 10) of the new 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, consumers should not wash raw meats
and poultry before cooking, 1 because it will increase chances of cross-contamination.
However, according to the leading food sanitation text book, 2 the recommendation for food service
operations is to wash poultry, fish, and variety meats before cooking. Washing poultry will reduce
contamination of some microbes.2 What would the consumer, who might also work in food service, do
when facing this situation? The objective of this article is to provide research-based information
regarding these two very different recommendations, so that consumers can make informed decisions
about how to reduce their risk for foodborne illnesses.
In theory, the internal tissues of healthy animals should be free of bacteria. In practice this is not the case,
because during the slaughtering and processing steps the meat came into contact with many sources of
contamination leading to varying numbers and types of microorganisms found on raw meat products.3
Because of this, raw or improperly cooked meats are often implicated in foodborne illness outbreaks.4
Fresh produce is an essential part of a healthy diet. Produce is a source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and
antioxidants; it can play an important role in weight management as well.5 In recent years, foodborne
illness traced back to fresh produce items, traditionally regarded as low risk foods, has been recognized
as an emerging problem in the United States.6
Consumers often consume fresh produce raw without cooking or minimally processed, without a major
kill step to reduce microbes. In order to reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses due to fresh produce, the
FDA believes that each person in the food chain, including consumers, must take responsibility to
minimize the risk of foodborne illness.5
Do you need to wash raw meats before cooking at home?
No, when consumers purchase raw meats or poultry from the grocery store, they do not need to wash the
raw meats before cooking. Cooking is the most effective way to kill microbes that cause illness.
Although research studies showed that washing raw meats may reduce numbers of bacteria; in a home
setting, the washing process increases chances of cross-contamination of disease causing bacteria from
raw meats/raw poultry to other ready-to-eat products and food contact surface in the home kitchens.
Many studies have reveal that most consumers frequently use unsafe food-handling practices at home.
When handling raw meats and poultry at home, consumers must use special care not to cross-
contaminate other products.
In the food service setting, however, the recommendations may be different from the home setting
regarding washing raw meats or raw poultry. If the standard procedures indicate that raw meats and
poultry must be washed before the cooking process, it is perfectly acceptable. This is because:
1. The food service establishment must follow the FDA Food Code and other regulations to prevent
cross-contamination of the disease causing microorganisms within their establishments and to
provide safe foods to customers, and;
2. In the food service setting, the workers should receive training to handle the procedures.
Consumers need to recognize these differences between the two recommendations.
Do you need to wash raw produce before eating or cooking at home?
Yes, you definitely need to always wash your fresh produce before consumption or cooking at home.
Produce needs to be washed, scrubbed, and peeled before being consumed or cooked. Because produce
constitute a variety of plant parts, specific handling techniques of each of the produce are different.
Consumers can find information for safe handling of produce in Fresh Produce: Safe Handling Practices
New research evaluating the efficacy of home washing methods for controlling microbial contamination
on fresh produce8 suggests that consumers should wash produce under cold running tap water with
rubbing and brushing where applicable. This method can reduce bacteria on the surface of produce.
Do you need to wash ready-to-eat fresh cut produce before eating or cooking?
The answer can be "Yes" or "No" depending on the situation.
No, ready-to-eat, pre-washed, bagged, produce can be used without further washing, if kept refrigerated
and does not exceed the "use-by" date.
Consumers can reduce their risk of illness from fresh-cut produce by following safe handling practices
1. Refrigerating the product after purchase;
2. Using only clean hands, utensils or dishes in preparing the product; and
3. Discarding the product when the "use-by" date has expired.
Yes, if consumers desire to wash the ready-to-eat fresh cut produce again. If consumers decide to wash
the produce again, they should always wash the produce under running water.
Yes, if the pre-cut or pre-washed produce are sold in open bags or containers.
When washing produce, consumers should always wash the produce under running water. Washing
produce under running water is recommended over soaking the produce because soaking fresh produce
in water increases the potential of cross-contamination.
What about commercial produce wash? Are these products effective?
Commercial produce cleaning solutions may help remove additional dirt on some produce, but the
effectiveness of these washes is not standardized. Further, do not use antibacterial soap or detergent to
wash produce because the FDA does not have safety data regarding possible residue left on the produce
from the products. 9
Take home message
1. Do not wash raw meats and poultry purchased from the store, but cook them to a proper
2. Prevent cross-contamination by following safe food handling guidelines and practices.
3. Wash your produce before consumption or cooking to reduce your risk of foodborne illness.
1. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005.
2. Marriott, G. N. and R. B. Gravani. 2006. Principles of Food Sanitation.5th Ed. pp. 376-376.
3. Jay, J.M., M.J. Loessner, and D.A. Golden. 2005. Modem Food Microbiology. pp.63-145.
5. FDA, 2004. Produce Safety From Production to Consumption: 2004 Action Plan to Minimize
Foodbore Illness Associated with Fresh Produce Consumption.
6. Tauxe, R., H. Kruse, C. Hedberg, M. Potter, J. Madden, and K. Wachsmuth. 1997. A preliminary
report to the National Advisory Committee on Microbiologic Criteria for Foods. J. Food
7. Redmond, C.E. and Griffith, C.J. 2003. Consumer food handling in the home: A review of food
safety studies. J. Food Protection. 66: 130-161
8. Kilonzo-Nthenge, A., F-C. Chen, and S. L. Godwin. 2006. Efficacy of home washing methods in
controlling surface microbial contamination. J. Food Protection. 69:330-334.
9. Bruhn, C., A. Li-Cohen, L.J. Harris, 2004. Safe Handling of Fruits and Vegetables.