ERIC Identifier: ED414280
Publication Date: 1997-12-00
Author: Massey, Marilyn S. - Hendricks, Charlotte M.
ERIC Clearinghouse on Teaching and Teacher Education Washington DC.
Identifying and Evaluating Children's Health Resources. ERIC
Parents and teachers partner to teach young children about their health and
to provide opportunities develop a knowledge and skills base that is the
foundation for future health and lifestyle decisions. Parents and teachers need
accurate, timely, and developmentally appropriate materials, including books,
songs, videos, and instructions for hands-on activities, that help children
learn key health concepts.
Not all health education materials are appropriate for all audiences. The
format, content, reading level, or location can limit the appropriateness or
effectiveness of materials for some populations. Inaccurate materials may even
endanger a child. The purpose of this Digest is to provide guidance in helping
parents and teachers judge the quality of health education resources and
identify sources of appropriate materials.
WHERE TO LOCATE HEALTH RESOURCES FOR CHILDREN
Many important sources of information about children's health can be accessed
through libraries. Most university and some community libraries have computer
databases that allow an individual to search for topics of interest. Databases
that cover children's health include ERIC, Medline, and PsycINFO. Also,
libraries have paper indexes (e.g., Child Development Abstracts and
Bibliography, and Family Index), reference works (e.g., Childhood Information
Sources and Resources for Early Childhood), and children's literature. Reference
librarians can help locate information from these and other sources.
PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS/AGENCIES. Many national organizations publishoutstanding health
resources for children. Examples include: Hipon Health and Tell Me About AIDS
(American School HealthAssociation); HIV Prevention Education for Teachers of
Elementaryand Middle School Grades (American Association for HealthEducation);
Children Riding on Sidewalks Safely and Walk inTraffic Safely (National
Association for the Education of YoungChildren); Family Shopping Guide to Car
Seats and ParentingGuides (American Academy of Pediatrics); 5 A Day
Adventures(Dole); Learn Not to Burn (National Fire Protection
Association);Nutrition Education Materials Catalog (National Dairy Council);and
Sesame Street Lead Away! (National Safety Council). Severalorganizations are
listed before the reference section in thisDigest, and many others are cited in
school health educationtextbooks (see Gilbert & Sawyer, 1995; Meeks, Heit,
INTERNET. There is a worldwide repository of inform available to anyone with
access to an Internet connection and a graphical browser for accessing the World
Wide Web (WWW). Two health specific search engines are Health Explorer
(http://www.healthexplorer.com) and Yahoo Health Directory
(http://www.yahoo.com/health). On-line resources that can be helpful in learning
more about the Internet include:
*The Help Web (http://www.imagescape.com/helpweb)
*About the Internet (http://home.netscape.com/assist/about_the_internet.html)
*UCLA Libraries- Instructional Resources on the Internet
There are a number of credible Internet sites that deal with children's
health. Ritzel (1996) supplies addresses for sites relating to safety education
and injury prevention. In addition, most national health and education
organizations/agencies have WWW sites that provide links with children's
health-related resources (see list before the reference section). For tips on
evaluating credible sites, see Pealer and Dorman (1997).
One guideline for judging content
accuracy is to verify the credibility of the publisher or the source of the
materials. For example, a media advertisement about a health product is
primarily intended to sell the product, not to deliver health information.
However, materials produced by well-known professional organizations have
education as a purpose and have been thoroughly reviewed by experts.
A related guideline is to review the author's credentials. While an author's
credentials such as MD (Medical Doctor), RN (Registered Nurse), CHES (Certified
Health Education Specialist), or RD (Registered Dietitian) do not guarantee the
accuracy or appropriateness of materials, they do indicate the author has had
formal training in a particular health-related field. One's own knowledge is
also helpful in judging accuracy and in recognizing misinformation. For example,
many adults know that aspirin is not recommended for children's fever because of
the potential for developing Reye's Syndrome. Therefore, an article or book that
recommends aspirin as a child's fever reducer is likely to contain other errors
as well. Likewise, because it is well known that helmets help prevent head
injury, one should not use a children's video that depicts people riding
bicycles without helmets.
View with skepticism materials containing claims that sound too good to be
true. Materials promoting unusual diets or health regimens should be verifiable
avoid those that do not include a bibliography of references that actually
relate to the subject, cite resources other than the author, and provide
background information detailed enough to verify claims.
Also consider content appropriateness to assure the material meets the needs
and interests of the target audience. Guidelines are available to assist parents
and teachers in dealing with sensitive subjects like HIV and AIDS, alcohol and
other drugs, human sexuality, depression, and suicide (see Kerr, Allensworth,
& Gayle, 1991; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1988).
Health content must be current. Some information does not change over time
(e.g., milk and dairy products contain calcium). However, information such as
child safety has changed dramatically in the last decade. Wearing helmets and
other protective gear when bike riding or roller blading is not only
recommended, but, in some states, required. To judge whether health materials
are current, look at the copyright date, which indicates date of publication.
Because the health information knowledge base changes rapidly, some health
materials are outdated in one to three years. However, as with accuracy, one
should review health materials to determine if they adhere to current
recommendations in child health, safety, and education.
After identifying several health resources that seem appropriate, reliable,
and current, there are experts in the community that a person can consult to
answer questions and/or clarify information. Health educators at local
universities, hospitals, or health departments; pediatricians, dentists, or
nurses; or staff of national health organizations that have local chapters, such
as American Heart Association and American Cancer Society, are often willing to
share their expertise.
CHOOSING FORMAT. Teachers need health education materials that are easily
integrated into their classroom routine and curriculum, are culturally relevant,
and adapt easily for students with special needs. Children's literature is an
effective medium for teaching health concepts and Miller, Telljohann, and Symons
(1996) suggest such with themes related to self-esteem, personal health, safety
education, alcohol and other drug prevention, nutrition, environmental health,
aging, death, HIV/AIDS, and sexuality.
First-rate children's health resources are of utmost importance to parents,
teachers, and anyone who cares about the well-being of children. Through
teaching children about health and by helping them to experience physical,
mental, and social well-being, parents and teachers can wisely invest in the
PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS/AGENCIES
*American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), 141
Northwest Point Blvd, Elk Grove Village, IL 60007; (847) 228-5005;
*American Association for Health Education (AAHE), 1900 Association Drive,
Reston, VA 20191-1599; (703) 476-3437; (800) 213-7193;
*American Cancer Society, (800) ACS-2345; (offices in every state);
*American Heart Association,(800) 242-1793; (offices in every state);
*American School Health Association (ASHA), PO Box 708, Kent, OH 44240-0708;
*Children's Safety Network, Education Development Center, Inc., 55 Chapel
Street, Newton, MA 02158; (617) 969-7101 x. 2207; (http://www.edc.org/HHD/csn/).
*Dole Food Company, Inc., 155 Bovet, Suite 476, San Mateo, CA 94402; (415)
*Food and Nutrition Information Center, USDA, National Agricultural Library,
Room 304, 10301 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD 20705; (301) 504-5719;
*healthfinderTM , U.S. Department of Health and Human Services gateway to
federal health informationonline.(http://www.healthfinder.gov).
*Healthy CHILDcare Magazine, Healthy Child Publications, P.O. Box 624, Harbor
Springs, MI 49740.
*National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), 1509 16th
Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036-1426; (202) 232-8777; (800) 424-2460;
*National Dairy Council, 10255 W. Higgins Rd, Suite 900, Rosemont, IL
60018-5616; (708) 803-2000; (800) 426-8271.
*National Fire Protection Association, 1 Batterymarch Park, Quincy, MA 02269;
(617) 770-3000; (800) 344-3555; (http://www.nfpa.org/).
*National Parent Information Network, ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and
Early Childhood Education, University of Illinois, 51 Gerty Dr., Urbana, IL
61801; (217) 333-1386; (800) 583-4135;
*National Safe Kids Campaign, 1301 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 1000,
Washington, DC 20004; (202) 662-0600; (http://www.safekids.org/).
*National Safety Council, 1121 Spring Lake Drive, Itasca, IL 60143; (630)
INTERNET SITES FOR HEALTH LEARNING RESOURCES
*Blue Web'n (www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/bluewebn/#table)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
(1988). Guidelines for effective school health education to prevent the spread
of AIDS. MMWR, 37 (S-2), 83-87.
Gilbert, G. G. & Sawyer, R. G. (1995). Health education: Creating
strategies for school and community health. Boston: Jones and Bartlett.
Kerr, D., Allensworth, D., & Gayle, J. (1991). School-based HIV
prevention: A multidisciplinary approach. Kent, OH: American School Health
Krol, E. (1994). The whole internet user's guide & catalog (2nd ed.).
Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly & Associates.
Meeks, L. B., Heit, P., & Page, R. (1996). Comprehensive school health
education: Totally awesome strategies for teaching health (2nd ed.). Blacklick,
OH: Meeks Heit.
Miller, D. F., Telljohann, S. K., & Symons, C. W. (1996). Health
education in the elementary & middle-level school (2nd ed.). Madison, WI:
Brown & Benchmark.
Pealer, L. N., & Dorman, S. M. (1997). Evaluating health related web
sites. Journal of School Health, 67(6), 232-235.
Ritzel, D. O. (1996). Resources in safety education and injury prevention.
The Health Education Monograph Series, 14(3), 34-38.