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Preteens Are Focus of New Website for Parents, Guardians

New Report Highlights Data About Health of Local Preteens

PALO ALTO – Parents of preteens: Next time you run up against one of those knotty issues — myspace, bullying, gangs, diet — log on to and chat with fellow parents in the same situation.

The new website, sponsored by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health and The Preteen Alliance, provides a forum for discussion of timely preteen-related topics, such as stress, the transition to middle school, peer pressure, health care, single parenting and testing in the schools. In addition, a home page blog aims to spark community conversation on issues in the news, such as sleep patterns and advertising aimed at preteens.

The site also provides a calendar of events and community resources in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties; data about preteens; and a “Member Directory” listing of professionals with expertise in preteen-related issues.

The website offers a place for parents to discuss how they handle these transition years, when children go through major physical, emotional and behavioral transformations and the world outside the family becomes much more influential.

The Preteen Alliance, founded in 2003 by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, is a local collaborative of nearly 600 members with an interest in promoting the emotional and behavioral health of preteens in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. Anyone can sign up by clicking on the “join” link at

First-ever report on local preteens

Earlier this year, the Alliance released a report, “A Portrait of Preteens in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties: What We Know About 9- to 13-Year-Olds,” that provides a first-ever assessment of the health and behaviors of preteens in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

The report notes research indicating that the attitudes and habits developed during the preteen years can shape a child’s behavior as an adult even more strongly than those adopted during the teen years.

The report’s findings document how Latino and African American preteens fare less well than other preteens on a wide range of indicators of health and well being. Other report findings include:

  • In Santa Clara County, 25 percent of fifth-graders and 53 percent of seventh-graders consider themselves either overweight or underweight and not “about right.”

  • Almost a quarter of seventh-graders in the counties report having felt so sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks that they stopped doing usual activities; rates for Latinos and girls were even higher.

  • A disproportionate number of African American and Latino preteens are subjected to child abuse and are placed in the foster care system.

  • More than 40 percent of fifth- and seventh-grade students in the two counties reported that they had been “pushed, slapped, hit or kicked at school by someone not kidding around in the last year.”

  • There are more than 5,000 elementary and middle school students for every school nurse in San Mateo County and more than 6,000 students per nurse in Santa Clara County.

The report also notes that data are not available on many important aspects of preteens’ lives, and much additional research is needed to answer key questions.

This 60-page report, along with other foundation-sponsored reports and surveys on local preteens, can be downloaded by clicking on “News/Research” at

The Palo Alto-based Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health is a public charity whose mission is to “promote, protect, and sustain the physical, mental, emotional and behavioral health of children.”