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Public Affairs Update

  • Protection of prisoners involved in research . . . In March 2005, the National Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Ethical Considerations for Protection of Prisoners Involved in Research held its first of five meetings to discuss the risk of violating informed consent standards and exposing prisoners to abuse. The Committee will examine whether the conclusions reached by the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research in 1976 remain appropriate today. The committee will consider the impact of developments in correctional systems and the societal perceptions of the balance between research burdens and potential benefits of research. Recently there has been a shift among prisoner advocates from trying to protect prisoners from research abuses to pushing for higher participation in clinical trials. Similarly, there has been a shift from medical to social scientific research with prisoners as participants. More specifically, the committee’s four-part charge is to (1) consider whether the ethical bases for research with prisoners differ from those for research with non-prisoners; (2) develop an ethical framework for the conduct of research with prisoners; (3) identify considerations or safeguards necessary to ensure that research with prisoners is conducted ethically, and (4) identify issues and needs for future consideration and study. The committee is interested in receiving written comments and other materials that might be of assistance in addressing this charge. Submit materials to the project’s staff officer, Tracy G. Myers, at tgmyers@nas.edu. For more information, see www.iom.edu/event.asp?id=25095.

  • What’s the matter with kids these days? Bureau of Justice Statistics reports on the nature of crime in schools . . . . The U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics released its Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 2004, report, which presents data on crime at school from the perspectives of students, teachers, principals, and the general population. Research found that between 1992 and 2002, school crime dropped from 48 violent victimizations per 1,000 students to 24 per 1,000. Between 1995 and 2003, the percentage of students who reported being a victim of a crime of violence or theft at school also declined—from 10 percent to 5 percent. The report, a joint effort by the Department of Justice and the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, examines crime occurring in school as well as on the way to and from school. The joint report also provides new data on nonfatal student victimization, nonfatal victimization of teachers, students’ perceptions of personal safety, gangs, students’ reports of being bullied, avoiding places in school, being called hateful names or seeing hate-related graffiti, and students’ reports of being threatened or injured with a weapon, being in fights, carrying weapons at school, using alcohol and marijuana and drug availability on school property. The report can be accessed at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/iscs04.htm.

  • Census confirms college degree nearly doubles annual earnings . . . New information from the U.S. Census Bureau reinforces the value of a college education: Workers 18 and over with a bachelor’s degree earn an average of $51,206 a year, while those with a high school diploma earn $27,915. Workers with an advanced degree make an average of $74,602, and those without a high school diploma average $18,734. More surprisingly, Asian-American and black women with an undergraduate degree out-earned their white counterparts. According to the tables, titled “Educational Attainment in the United States: 2004,” 85 percent of those age 25 or older reported they had completed at least high school and 28 percent had attained at least a bachelor’s degree—both record highs. Educational attainment data are collected annually in the Current Population Survey and reported every March. The data on educational trends and attainment levels are shown by characteristics such as age, sex, race, Hispanic origin, marital status, occupation, industry, nativity, and, if foreign-born, when they entered the country. The tables also describe the relationship between earnings and educational attainment. For more information, see www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/education
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