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Breakthrough study says $500 worth of therapy and $200 cash saves men from a life of crime

More proof that therapy works.

crime, cognitive behavioral therapy, chris blattman, Liberia

Chris Blattman shares the results of a 10-year study on crime.

"What if I told you that roughly $500 for therapy + a little cash helped the most troubled young men in West Africa drop their crime and violence by half. For at least 10 years," Chris Blattman, professor of global conflict studies at the University of Chicago, opens a stunning tweet thread introducing the results of a study he began 13 years ago.

Blattman traveled to Liberia in 2009 with his wife as she did research on reintegrating ex-fighters from the war. Blattman had free time so he met up with Johnson Borh.

“He was a combatant in the war and now ran some kind of NGO. He seemed to know everyone and be able to go everywhere. So I asked him to show me around how the crime and drug markets worked,” Blattman tweeted.

Blattman couldn’t get over the fact that wherever they went, men would run over to Borh and give him a big hug. “How do you know Borh?” he asked them and every time he heard a similar response.

“I used to be like them,” and they’d point to the drug den or pickpockets. “But then I went through Borh’s program.”


For 15 years, Borh and his colleagues ran the STYL: Sustainable Transformation of Youth in Liberia program to help transform the most dangerous men in the city. “They met in abandoned buildings, in groups of maybe 20, for a couple of hours a day. Johnson trained some counselors, and they eked out a living on the program,” Blattman wrote.

Blattman got his team of researchers together to do a larger version of a similar program using the cognitive behavioral therapy techniques used by Borh. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an approach for reducing self-destructive beliefs and behaviors and promoting positive ones.

“Things looked really good. So I recruit my coauthors to help run a large-scale study,” Blattman tweeted. “We scaled up, raised a million dollars, and ran a huge randomized controlled trial with 999 of the toughest men in Monrovia.”

The therapy sessions focused on three types of behavioral change. The first was an attempt to get the men to “behave and self-identify as normal society members rather than as an outcast or criminal.” The second was to foster future orientation over present-biased behavior. The program taught skills to “manage emotions, reduce impulsivity, become more conscientious and persevering, and become more planful and goal-oriented in their daily activities.”

Finally, the team worked to teach the men how to deal with anger, interpersonal violence and threatening situations.

The researchers also held a cash lottery where some men were randomly selected to win $200. The men were told they could do anything with the money but were encouraged to use it to start a business or make home improvements.

The team followed up a year later and the results were inspiring.


Those who received the CBT and the cash slashed their antisocial behaviors by 50%. Those who had just therapy saw decreasing results over time, but those who received the cash and therapy had their new, positive behaviors more deeply entrenched.

Ten years later, the team was a little uneasy about seeing if the impact had lasted.

“I was pessimistic,” Blattman said. “We surveyed experts in advance. Almost all expected CBT Only or Cash Only to have no effect whatsoever after 10 years. For Therapy plus Cash, one-third of the experts predicted no effect at all. 2/3 predicted steeply diminished impacts.”

However, the researchers found that crime and violence were still down by 50% with those who got the CBT and cash.

“The therapy helped participants change their intentions, identity and behavior, and provided almost daily commitment and reinforcement,” the study’s conclusion states. “After eight weeks of therapy, the grant provided some men with the cash they needed to maintain their new identity—to avoid homelessness, to feed themselves, and to continue to dress decently.”

Blattman believed that his team’s findings are important and should be put into practice today in America for two reasons. “Gun violence is spiking in the Americas,” he tweeted. “Cities need solutions. They’re searching for ones that don’t involve coercion.”

Second, it works.

“All the evidence suggests CBT-informed programs are fast, effective, hyper-targeted, non-coercive ways to reduce violence,” he wrote.

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Music’s biggest night took place Sunday, February 4 with the 66th Annual GRAMMY Awards. Now, fans have the opportunity to take home a piece of the famed event.

Longtime GRAMMY Awards partner Mastercard is using this year’s campaign to shine a light on the environment and the Priceless Planet Coalition (PPC), a forest restoration program with the goal of restoring 100 million trees. Music fans are 1.5 times more likely to take action to help the environment, making the GRAMMY Awards the perfect opportunity to raise awareness.

“Through our GRAMMY Awards campaign, we’ve created an opportunity for our brand, our partners and consumers to come together over shared values, to participate during a moment when we can celebrate our passion for music and our commitment to make meaningful investments to preserve the environment,” says Rustom Dastoor, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Communications, North America at Mastercard.

The campaign kicked off with an inspired self-guided multi-sensory tour at the GRAMMY House presented by Mastercard, where people journeyed through their passion of music and educational experience about Mastercard’s longstanding commitment to tree restoration. Then, this year’s most-nominated GRAMMY artist and a passionate voice for the environment, SZA, led the charge with the debut performance of her new song, Saturn.

Mastercard’s partners are also joining the mission by encouraging people all over the country to participate; Lyft and Sirius XM are both offering ways for consumers to get involved in the Priceless Planet Coalition. To learn more about how you can support these efforts, visit mastercard.com/forceofnature.

While fashion is always a highlight of any GRAMMY Awards event, SZA’s outfit worn during her performance of Saturn was designed to make a statement; made of tree seeds to help spread awareness. Fans can even comment ‘🌱’ and tag a friend on Mastercard’s designated post of SZA’s GRAMMY House performance for a chance to win a tree seed from the performance outfit*.

“SZA has a personal passion for sustainability – not just in forest restoration but in the clothes she wears and the platforms and partners she aligns herself with. It was important to us to partner with someone who is not only showing up big at the GRAMMY Awards – as the most GRAMMY-nominated artist this year – but also showing up big for the environment,” says Dastoor.

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How often do you change your sheets?

If you were to ask a random group of people, "How often do you wash your sheets?" you'd likely get drastically different answers. There are the "Every single Sunday without fail" folks, the "Who on Earth washes their sheets weekly?!?" people and everyone in between.

According to a survey of 1,000 Americans conducted by Mattress Advisor, the average time between sheet changings or washings in the U.S. is 24 days—or every 3 1/2 weeks, approximately. The same survey revealed that 35 days is the average interval at which unwashed sheets are "gross."

Some of you are cringing at those stats while others are thinking, "That sounds about right." But how often should you wash your sheets, according to experts?

Hint: It's a lot more frequent than 24 days.

While there is no definitive number of days or weeks, most experts recommend swapping out used sheets for clean ones every week or two.

Dermatologist Alok Vij, MD told Cleveland Clinic that people should wash their sheets at least every two weeks, but probably more often if you have pets, live in a hot climate, sweat a lot, are recovering from illness, have allergies or asthma or if you sleep naked.

We shed dead skin all the time, and friction helps those dead skin cells slough off, so imagine what's happening every time you roll over and your skin rubs on the sheets. It's normal to sweat in your sleep, too, so that's also getting on your sheets. And then there's dander and dust mites and dirt that we carry around on us just from living in the world, all combining to make for pretty dirty sheets in a fairly short period of time, even if they look "clean."

Maybe if you shower before bed and always wear clean pajamas you could get by with a two-week sheet swap cycle, but weekly sheet cleaning seems to be the general consensus among the experts. The New York Times consulted five books about laundry and cleaning habits, and once a week was what they all recommend.

Sorry, once-a-monthers. You may want to step up your sheet game a bit.

What about the rest of your bedding? Blankets and comforters and whatnot?

Sleep.com recommends washing your duvet cover once a week, but this depends on whether you use a top sheet. Somewhere between the Gen X and Millennial eras, young folks stopped being about the top sheet life, just using their duvet with no top sheet. If that's you, wash that baby once a week. If you do use a top sheet, you can go a couple weeks longer on the duvet cover.

For blankets and comforters and duvet inserts, Sleep.com says every 3 months. And for decorative blankets and quilts that you don't really use, once a year washing will suffice.

What about pillows? Pillowcases should go in with the weekly sheet washing, but pillows themselves should be washed every 3 to 6 months. Washing pillows can be a pain, and if you don't do it right, you can end up with a lumpy pillow, but it's a good idea because between your sweat, saliva and skin cells, pillows can start harboring bacteria.

Finally, how about the mattress itself? Home influencers on TikTok can often be seen stripping their beds, sprinkling their mattress with baking soda, brushing it into the mattress fibers and then vacuuming it all out. Architectural Digest says the longer you leave baking soda on the mattress, the better—at least a few hours, but preferably overnight. Some people add a few drops of essential oil to the baking soda for some extra yummy smell.

If that all sounds like way too much work, maybe just start with the sheets. Pick a day of the week and make it your sheet washing day. You might find that climbing into a clean, fresh set of sheets more often is a nice way to feel pampered without a whole lot of effort.

Health

Teenager creates eye-opening videos that shatter stereotypes surrounding autism and girls

"I get that a lot, that because I'm good-looking, nothing can be wrong with me — so I want to show that mental illness is diverse."

via paigelayle / Instagram

The most recent data shows that about one in 68 children in the U.S. are affected by autism and boys are four times more likely than girls to be diagnosed.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is marked by communication and social difficulties, sensory processing issues, and inflexible patterns of behavior. Almost everything that researchers have learned about the disorder is based on data derived from studies of boys.

However, researchers are starting to learn that ASD manifests differently in girls. This has led many girls to be undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

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A collage of family photos.

Shannyn Weiler, a Utah-based interior designer, has caused a debate on TikTok after she urged people to use caution when displaying family photos in the home. The discussion started a debate over whether a home should be decorated for visitors or the family itself and if having a “shrine” dedicated to family members is tasteful.

The video began with a stitch from a designer passionately saying that one should “never’ display “personal photos” in the living room.

“So family photos can become a problem when they become what I refer to as the shrine,” Weiler begins the video. She shared an example from her life, to make the case why family photos should be hung judiciously.

“I got married when I was 21,” she shares. “We were both in school, absolutely broke, we had $50 to buy a couch, so imagine what type of couch that was. We went to go decorate our first apartment and lo and behold, there’s no money for decoration. So we do what most newlyweds do, we use our wedding photos, because we’re so cute and we’re so in love and we just love our wedding day. Everywhere in our apartment was wedding photos… it felt like what I call ‘the shrine.’”

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Florida teacher Yolanda Turner engaged 8th grade students in a dance-off.

We've said it before and we'll say it again: Teachers deserve all the kudos, high fives, raises, accolades, prizes and thanks for everything they do. Even if they just stuck to academics alone, they'd be worth far more than they get, but so many teachers go above and beyond to teach the whole child, from balancing equations to building character qualities.

One way dedicated educators do that is by developing relationships and building rapport with their students. And one surefire way to build rapport is to dance with them.

A viral video shared by an assistant principal at Sumner High School & Academy in Riverview, Florida shows a group of students gathered around one student as he challenges a teacher to a dance-off.

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@lacie_kraatz/TikTok

Lacie films as the mysterious man visibly gets closer.

It’s no secret that even the most seemingly safe of public places can instantly turn dangerous for a woman. Is it fair? No. But is it common? Absolutely, to the point where more and more women are documenting moments of being stalked or harassed as a grim reminder to be aware of one’s surroundings.

Lacie (@lacie_kraatz) is one of those women. On April 11th, she was out on a run when she noticed a man in front of her displaying suspicious behavior. Things got especially dicey when the man somehow got behind her. That’s when she pulled out her phone and started filming—partially to prove that it wasn’t just her imagination, and also out of fear for her safety.

“Hello. I’m just making this video so that women are a little more aware of them,” she begins in the video. “See this gentleman behind me? Yeah, this is what this video’s about.”

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Stop what you're doing. There's a dog that looks just like Snoopy.

Soooo, there's this dog and I'm pretty sure it's the actual Snoopy come to life. Seriously all the dog needs is a red dog house out back and a little yellow bird that follows it around. If you think it can't be true, then you're going to have to fight the entire internet about it because nobody can get enough of how much this sweet dog looks like the iconic cartoon character.

Snoopy is Charlie Brown's pet from the comic strip "Peanuts" that eventually spawned several movies and cartoon series, and Bayley is a dead ringer for the black and white animated pup. Since we live in a digital age, people across the country have been falling all over themselves to get to the pooch's Instagram account and admire her cartoonish mug.

Bayley is a 1-year-old mini sheepadoodle, which is a cross between a miniature poodle and an Old English Sheepdog. Her sweet face is something you have to see to believe and even then you may question if she's real.

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