On Martin Luther King Day, we remember the hard task of integrating our society–starting with our schools. Now there’s another reason why this is important: it turns out that the good grades that high schoolers earn aren’t just good for making the honor roll–they also make them healthier as adults, too.

Studies have long shown that education is linked to better health, but new research shows that higher academic performance in high school plays a critical role in better health throughout life. The higher a study participant’s high school rank was, the lower the probability that participant experienced worsening health between 1992 and 2003, when the class members neared retirement age.

Today gender stereotypes matter as much as race used to and it starts early: When preschool teachers call attention to gender, such as when they have boys and girls line up separately, kids start expressing sexual stereotypes more. Even starting the day with "Good morning boys and girls" can do it. In LiveScience.com, Clara Moskowitz quotes psychologist Lynn Liben as saying, "You would never say ‘good morning black children and white children,’ or have white and black kids line up separately. We observed kids playing in free playtime, and there was a significant drop in the amount of time children in those classrooms were seen playing with children of the other sex." Research shows that co-ed classrooms are better for kids than single-sex schools, which perpetuate stereotyped thinking, such as "girl-ness" and "boy-ness." This is especially important in later life, when a male may have a woman for a boss.

Meanwhile, teachers are on the alert because Almost half of US youth who experience violence, abuse or crime have had at least one of their victimizations known to school, police or medical authorities. Researcher David Finkelhor says, "Childhood/adolescent abuse is frequently described as a hidden problem, and victimization studies regularly have shown that much abuse goes undisclosed." School authorities were more likely to be aware of victimization events, with 42.3% in a recent survey being aware compared with 12.7% among police and 1.8% among medical authorities. Finkelhor says his result "is understandable given how much time children and adolescents spend in school and interact with school professionals."

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