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May 15, 2017 BOOKLIST
Find more Teen Health & Wellness
Roger Rosen is president and CEO of Rosen Publishing. We caught up with him at the Midwinter Conference this year, and asked him to tell us about the company’s flagship database.
This year we celebrate the tenth anniversary of Rosen Publishing’s inaugural and award-winning database, Teen Health & Wellness. When we launched the database, in early 2007, we could never have imagined the impact it would have on teen users throughout the world. We knew that it would help students succeed, but we did not anticipate the way in which it would transform the lives of teens in need of credible information and nonjudgmental support.
Looking back, it is not surprising that we at Rosen decided to begin our digital-publishing effort by addressing the subject area of teen health and guidance. Librarians, teachers, and students had come to regard our publications as the gold standard in dealing with sensitive topics such as teen pregnancy, date rape, alcoholism, drug abuse, grief, romantic breakup, and thousands of other topics that affect the inner life or physical safety of young adults. After all, we had been publishing in this space since 1959, when we launched our first title, The Teenager and V.D., a groundbreaking book of its kind for teens. We were—and indeed are—editorial experts at finding the right reassuring, nonjudgmental voice with which to speak to teens. We were never polemical, nor did we ever see our role as pushing any agenda—except the agenda of serving the well-being of the whole child. In this context and with this history, it made sense to continue to fulfill our mission of serving teens via a digital offering, utilizing all the power of discoverability and dissemination that access to such a database would provide.
We also could never have imagined what a living organism Teen Health & Wellness would become. Over the past decade, the database has developed in concert with both the demands and opportunities of the digital revolution as well as the changing needs of digital citizens. We made some key choices early in the database development that proved critical to our success. We decided to commit to building an IT team in-house that would work hand in hand with our editorial team from day one. We instinctively knew that form would be inextricably tied to function and that content creation would be altered by the architecture of the site. And so, it proved to be. As time passed, we expanded the trusted resource of the site to embrace interactivity and student-created content through our personal-story project, surveys and polls, “Ask Dr. Jan Q&A,” and student-created “PSA Video Challenge.”
It’s been thrilling for us to evolve the database to serve our users better and better each year. From mobile apps to Google integration to support for sight- or hearing-impaired learners, Teen Health & Wellness has met and even surpassed the needs of our diverse community of users. Ten years ago, who would have thought that Teen Health & Wellness would be translatable into more than 100 languages—from Arabic to Hmong to Urdu and more? Today, it is.
Over the past decade, we have added hundreds of articles to the product, covering topics of pressing concerns to teens ranging from ADD/ADHD and social-networking privacy to female genital cutting and human trafficking. As we reach this milestone of 10 years of serving teens and those who educate them, we continue our commitment to providing a unique and unparalleled resource. We have not just educated teens—we have changed their lives. Over the past decade, teens have told their poignant and personal stories in Teen Health & Wellness. Sharing challenges confronted and overcome is more than empowering; it’s a way to connect with others and say, “You are not alone.” We are humbled by the honesty and optimism of these young writers as they grapple with who they are and who they hope to be via our personal-story project:
“At that point, I realized that if my friends stop liking me, then they were never really my friends in the first place. If I had to give one piece of advice to anyone, gay or straight, it would be to love yourself and not take to heart what anyone else thinks about you.” —Matthew, on coming-out
“That night I realized something about myself: there was more to being a big, tough, strong, macho football player, who is loud and has a lot of friends. Maybe my teachers were right. Maybe I had the potential to do great things and to lead others.” —James, on leadership
What could be more gratifying than to know that we at Rosen have contributed to teen lives in this way? We look forward to the next 10 years of service to our community as Teen Health & Wellness continues to evolve as societal needs morph. Whether the topic is online shaming or fake news, Rosen’s Teen Health & Wellness will be there for teens with vetted, trusted, compassionate information.
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