Category Archives: Children

Police called to deal with girls building den in woods

From I Acknowledge:

A005On Easter Sunday, police were called to deal with children committing the appallingly anti-social act of building a den in a wooded area near their Northumbrian home. The group of girls were busy making their tree house in Warkworth Woods when local dog walkers called police reporting children ‘dragging wood into the wood’.  Police arrived on the scene and the children were stopped in their tracks.  A mother of one of the children involved has spoken to the media in protest at the ridiculous over reaction – saying it underscores the growing trend to criminalise childhood itself.

[...] Just days before the incident, a bunch of boys had been ordered to tear down a tree house built over the holiday period. The mother, a local primary school teacher, has gained support from her local MP Chi Onwurah, who warns against the demonisation’ of children.  The pair have a very good point. While we’re all used to the newest crop of human beings being denigrated by their elders ‘Oh they’re not like we were in our day’, and ‘no respect!’ etcetera – this latest batch of tiny people are facing the criminalisation of the act of being a child. Their freedom to play in any public space is restrained, by law, in a way unheard of by any living generation.


A quarter of UK teachers bring food into school to help hungry pupils

Richard Garner reports for The Independent:

Teachers are having to bring in food to give their pupils breakfast every day because they are too hungry and exhausted to learn as a result of increased poverty, according to a report out today. A survey of 4,000 teachers concluded that the educational opportunities for thousands of children were being blighted by the impact of the Government’s social and economic policies.

The survey, by the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said 80 per cent of teachers observed pupils lacking in energy and concentration as a result of eating poorly. Many were also unable to participate in activities like school trips because their parents could not afford to pay for them. In addition, 27 per cent said they brought in food for pupils themselves because they knew they were too hungry to learn, while 55 per cent said pupils were missing out on important education activities because they had no money to pay for them.


Professors object to Condoleezza Rice’s inclusion in civil-rights lecture series

Joe Kimball writes for MinnPost:

Nearly 200 University of Minnesota professors have joined the controversy over a scheduled speech on Thursday by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, saying in a public letter that they don’t think the Humphrey School lecture series is an appropriate forum for her talk. The speech at the university’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs is part of the Distinguished Carlson Lecture Series, which, this year, focuses on civil rights.

Students and others have been protesting the appearance of Rice, who was involved in many of the Bush administration’s controversial human-rights decisions before and during the Iraq War, on such issues as prisoner renditions, torture, the detention of militants at Guantanamo Bay, and others. The professors signing the letter say they support Rice’s right to free speech, and would like to hear her talk about her foreign-policy decisions and experiences, but they don’t feel the civil-rights lecture series is the right time or place.


Nine-month-old baby attempted murder charges thrown out by Pakistan court

Heather Sual reports for The Independent:

A judge in Pakistan has thrown out charges of attempted murder against a nine-month-old baby on Saturday, lawyers said, after the infant appeared in court for a second time. At his first appearance in court last week, baby Musa Khan cried while his fingerprints were taken by a court official.

He appeared in court in the city of Lahore again today, calmly sitting on his grandfather’s lap and drinking from a bottle of milk after being bailed. But the judge said the case should never have come to court


Pakistani baby taken into hiding after attempted murder charge

From Reuters:

Relatives of a nine-month old baby charged with attempted murder in Pakistan have taken him into hiding, one said on Tuesday, in a case that has thrown a spotlight on Pakistan’s dysfunctional criminal justice system. Baby Musa Khan appeared in court in the city of Lahore last week, charged with attempted murder along with his father and grandfather after a mob protesting against gas cuts and price increases stoned police and gas company workers trying to collect overdue bills.

“Police are vindictive. Now they are trying to settle the issue on personal grounds, that’s why I sent my grandson to Faisalabad for protection,” the baby’s grandfather, Muhammad Yasin, told Reuters, referring to a central Pakistani city. The baby is on bail and due to appear at the next hearing on April 12 but Yasin said he was not sure if he would take him to court for the case.


Lee Camp: You Don’t Even Know You’re Being Manipulated

The less Americans know about Ukraine’s location, the more they want U.S. to intervene

Kyle DroppJoshua D. Kertzer and Thomas Zeitzoff write for The Washington Post:

Where’s Ukraine?  Each dot depicts the location where a US survey respondent situated Ukraine; the dots are colored based on how far removed they are from the actual country, with the most accurate responses in red and the least accurate ones in blue. (Data: Survey Sampling International; Figure: Thomas Zeitzoff/The Monkey Cage)

Since Russian troops first entered the Crimean peninsula in early March, a series of media polling outlets have asked Americans how they want the U.S. to respond to the ongoing situation.  Although two-thirds of Americans have reported following the situation at least “somewhat closely,” most Americans actually know very little about events on the ground — or even where the ground is.

On March 28-31, 2014, we asked a national sample of 2,066 Americans (fielded via Survey Sampling International Inc. (SSI), what action they wanted the U.S. to take in Ukraine, but with a twist: In addition to measuring standard demographic characteristics and general foreign policy attitudes, we also asked our survey respondents to locate Ukraine on a map as part of a larger, ongoing project to study foreign policy knowledge. We wanted to see where Americans think Ukraine is and to learn if this knowledge (or lack thereof) is related to their foreign policy views. We found that only one out of six Americans can find Ukraine on a map, and that this lack of knowledge is related to preferences: The farther their guesses were from Ukraine’s actual location, the more they wanted the U.S.  to intervene with military force.


Millennials: The greatest generation?

Chris Erskine writes for the LA Times:

All hail the millennials. If not now, then soon.The current crop of young people, the millennials (hatched roughly 1982 to 2004), show all the signs of becoming the greatest generation in human history, surpassing the legendary minds of the Renaissance, or the American Revolution or Brokaw’s esteemed and very worthy WWII America.

I’m not merely being provocative or Pollyannaish — because every generation of parents believes in the promise of its own progeny, even as we mock their awful music. Nor have I been puffing on the wrong end of the peace pipe. I’m simply stating what I’ve found, in teaching them, coaching them and working alongside the sassy little punks: They stand to become the greatest generation we’ve ever seen.

They are inherently more adaptive, they are idealistic, they are tolerant of differences. They are aspirational in all the right ways. At our prodding, they worked harder in high school than we ever did in college.

As a result, the older ones (26 to 33) are the best-educated segment of young adults in American history, according to a Pew Research Center study of millennials that was released in March. (One-third of that group has a four-year college degree or better.) The think tank’s sweeping study of millennials’ attitudes toward religion, race and politics also surveyed the group’s view of the future.


George Washington University launches a master’s program in lobbying for aspiring global influencers

From Politico:

A new Master’s degree program at The George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management will focus on preparing students for careers in global governance and policy influence. The 39-credit Advocacy in the Global Environment degree is designed to meet today’s global emphasis among corporations, organizations and associations. It will be offered both on campus and online and includes a weeklong study abroad in key international cities.

Graduates will learn to lobby before legislatures of foreign countries, create advocacy plans for multinational corporations, non-profits and NGOs and advise clients on regulatory and policy changes for a foreign country or region.

“Whether you are seeking commerce or a cause, learning advocacy in a global environment is an essential skill to really be successful,” said GSPM Director Mark Kennedy. “This is the first program that will teach students not just how to engage your own state capital or Washington, but how do you engage Beijing, Brussels or Brasília.”

Overweight seen as the norm, says chief medical officer

Nick Triggle reports for BBC News:

ScalesBeing overweight is increasingly seen as the norm, England’s chief medical officer says.

In her annual report on the state of health, Dame Sally Davies said this was concerning, pointing out many people did not recognise they had a problem.

Parents of overweight children were also failing to spot the signs too, she said. Dame Sally blamed the way weight was being portrayed by the media and clothes industry.


Cereal Box Psychology: Why Cereal Mascots Are Staring at You

From Newsy:

Ever notice how the mascots on cereal boxes have the same creepy stare? Well, science says there’s a reason for it—and might explain why the cereal aisle has become such a kids’ trap. According to a Cornell study, the angle at which cereal box characters stare has a lot to do with convincing shoppers to buy the product and creating brand loyalty. Characters on children’s cereal boxes tend to look downward to make eye contact, while those on adult cereals look straight ahead. In fact, the magnetic gaze was a major factor explaining how shoppers felt about a particular brand.

Sociology Professor: The Cinderella Law is emotional correctness gone mad

Frank Furedi writes for the Independent:

Whatever the intention of the promoters of the new “Cinderella Law”, its main accomplishment will be to turn the emotional landscape of family life into a dangerous battlefield. The aim of this law is to change existing legislation on child neglect by expanding the meaning of criminal abuse to encompass the complicated domain of the emotion. The Conservative MP Robert Buckland, who is the principal Parliamentary campaigner for a law that would criminalise the emotional abuse of children, claims that without such legislation “the wicked stepmother of Cinderella” gets “away scot-free”. However, once the emotional behaviour of parents becomes a target for policing, every mother and father is at risk of being labelled an abuser.

The call for the Cinderella Law represents the latest phase of a campaign to continually expand the range of parental behaviour that can be condemned as abusive. These days, parents who smoke or drink alcohol in front of children risk being characterised as child-abusers. Opponents of the tradition of male circumcision condemn Jewish and Muslim parents as abusers of children. Health activists denounce parents of overweight children for the same offence. Mothers and fathers who educate their children to embrace the family’s religion have been characterised as child abusers by anti-faith campaigners. Precisely because the abuse of children is regarded as such a terrible crime, advocates of a variety of different causes frame their campaign in the language of child protection.

The concept of emotional cruelty or abuse trumps all other forms of parental misbehaviour, for it embraces just about every type of ambiguous, emotionally charged encounter within the family. Campaigners devoted to the criminalisation of emotional abuse have deliberately defined it in an amorphous and expansive manner. According to the different guidelines drawn up on this subject, emotional abuse can refer to virtually every parental failing.


Bioethicist Julian Savulescu: We have a moral obligation to increase the intelligence of our children

Xavier Symons writes for Bio Edge:

Oxford bioethicist Julian Savulescu has again sparked controversy, this time advocating for the genetic screening of embryos and foetuses for intelligence genes.

In article published Wednesday in The Conversation, Savulescu referred to new research that identified specific genetic factors that contribute to low intelligence. A recent study, conducted by researchers from Cardiff University, showed that children with two copies of a common gene (Thr92Ala), together with low levels of thyroid hormone are four times more likely to have a low IQ.

… Accusations of eugenics have been leveled at Savulescu in the past, and this article is likely to garner similar responses. This most recent piece forms part of Savulescu’s growing corpus of articles advocating for human enhancement.


Australian judge warns of psychological effects of commercial surrogacy on children

Xavier Symons writes for Bio Edge:

An Australian judge recently expressed grave concerns about the effects of international surrogacy arrangements on children born through via the procedure. In a judgment that could have significant influence on future surrogacy rulings, Justice Paul Cronin of the Family Court of Australia warned that children could very easily encounter an identity crisis when they become aware that they were conceived via commercial surrogacy.


Cyber-bullies could face two years in jail under new internet troll rules

Samuel Gibbs reports for the Guardian:

People convicted of cyber-bullying and text message abuse could face up to two years in prison, under plans backed by the government. The justice secretary, Chris Grayling, has backed an amendment to the criminal justice bill that would target new rules at combating trolls that sexually harass and verbally abuse people on the internet or via mobile phones in England and Wales.

The amendment, due to be discussed in parliament on Thursday, was proposed by the Conservative MP for Ealing Central and Acton Angie Bray, after one of her constituents said her 14-year-old daughter had been “verbally raped” by 2,000 obscene texts sent by an older man, who escaped conviction. “Just tabled amendment to criminal justice bill to make life just a bit harder for cyber-bullies and sex pests using texts to harass victims,” said Bray on Twitter.


Girl suspended from school for shaving her head in support of friend with cancer

UK Ministers defend ban on sending books to prisoners in England and Wales

Alan Travis reports for the Guardian:

Justice ministers have defended their ban on sending books to prisoners in England and Wales, saying it is integral to a new system of rewards and punishments.

The ban on books being sent to prisoners by families and friends is part of a new “incentives and earned privileges” regime, introduced last November, which allows prisoners access to funds to buy books and other items as they move up from “basic” level.

Justice ministry officials say lifting the ban on sending in books would undermine the basis of the new regime.


Segregation in Public Schools Still Thriving

Abby Martin goes over a disturbing new report by the US Department of Education, which shows how black students at public schools are suspended or expelled at a rate three times higher than white students.’ (Breaking the Set)

New China study reveals a link between air pollution and genetic mutation in babies

Katherine Martinko reports for Tree Hugger:

Credit: Kevin SpooleyDeveloping fetuses are extremely vulnerable to the harmful effects of environmental pollution. As the cells of major organs develop during the first trimester, genetic mutations can occur that are impossible to reverse.

A new study conducted by Columbia University and Chongqing Medical University shows a clear connection between children conceived and raised near a Chinese coal-fired power plant and reduced neurological development when assessed at age two.


Report: Aborted babies were incinerated to heat UK hospitals

Evan Bleier reports for UPI:

A new documentary by British filmmakers about stillbirths and miscarriages has reportedly revealed that hospitals across the U.K. burned the bodies of thousands of aborted and miscarried fetuses to produce heat.

According to the Channel 4 Dispatches documentary, the remains of more than 15,000 babies were incinerated as “clinical waste” or burned in power plants to produce heat.

The Daily Telegraph reported that “10 NHS trusts have admitted burning fetal remains alongside other rubbish while two others used the bodies in ‘waste-to-energy’ plants which generate power for heat.”


Unpaid student loans ‘a fiscal time bomb for universities

Rowena Mason and Shiv Malik report for the Guardian:

The university sector is facing a “fiscal time bomb”, the chairman of the Commons business committee has warned, after it was revealed that the government has dramatically revised down the proportion of student debt that will ever be repaid. Adrian Bailey said the Treasury needed to face up to the problem, after David Willetts, the universities minister, revealed the rate of non-repayment of student loans is near the point at which experts believe tripling tuition fees will add nothing to Treasury coffers.

…The Guardian revealed on Friday that the proportion of graduates failing to pay back student loans is increasing at such a rate that the Treasury is approaching the point at which it will get zero financial reward from the government’s policy of tripling tuition fees to £9,000 a year. New official forecasts suggest write-off costs have reached 45% of the £10bn in student loans made each year, all but nullifying any savings to the public purse made following the introduction of the new fee system.


Chomsky: From Hiroshima to Fukushima, Vietnam to Fallujah, State Power Ignores Its Massive Harm

‘World-renowned political dissident, linguist, author and MITProfessor Noam Chomsky traveled to Japan last week ahead of the three-year anniversary of the Fukushima crisis. Chomsky, now 85 years old, met with Fukushima survivors, including families who evacuated the area after the meltdown. “[It's] particularly horrifying that this is happening in Japan with its unique, horrendous experiences with the impact of nuclear explosions, which we don’t have to discuss,” Chomsky says. “And it’s particularly horrifying when happening to children — but unfortunately, this is what happens all the time.”‘ (Democracy Now!)

Stop fretting about 3-parent embryos and get ready for “multiplex parenting”

Michael Cook writes for Bio Edge:

The controversy over three-parent embryos could soon be old hat. Writing in one of the world’s leading journals, one of Britain’s best-known bioethicists has outlined a strategy for creating children with four or more genetic parents. He calls it “multiplex parenting”.

John Harris, of the University of Manchester, and two colleagues, César Palacios-González and Giuseppe Testa contend in the Journal of Medical Ethics (free online) that this is one of many exciting consequences of using stem cells to create synthetic eggs and sperm. (Or as they prefer to call them, in vitro generated gametes (IVG).)

After the discovery of induced pluripotent stem cells in 2007, theoretically any cell in the body can be created from something as simple as a skin cell. Mice have already been born from sperm and eggs created from stem cells. Harris and his colleagues believe that the day is not far off when scientists will be able to do the same with humans. In their paper, they spin an ethical justification for this and outline some possible uses.


Are we raising a generation with digital dementia?

Mary Ann Roser writes for the Sydney Morning Herald:

Parents are advised to create ''screen-free zones'' at home.The obsession with all things digital, from smartphones to online games, has some health experts worried about kids today – especially their brains. The two-year-old who can nimbly use an iPad or kill a gazillion monsters playing a video game isn’t necessarily a genius, says Manfred Spitzer, a neuroscientist and psychiatrist. That child could be en route to trouble with memory and thinking, a condition Spitzer and others call “digital dementia”.

“When you use the computer, you outsource your mental activity,” Spitzer said. While computers can be fine tools for adults who are using their minds all day long, they’re poison for kids, he said. Spitzer is author of the 2012 book Digital Dementia: What We and Our Children are Doing to our Minds.

Spitzer, medical director of the Psychiatric University Hospital in Ulm, Germany, is among those sounding an alarm on screen use by children. Although some say those fears are overblown, the American Academy of Pediatrics has also raised concerns. In 2011, it urged no TV for those under two.


The orphans of Agent Orange: Fifty years on, children suffer from the horrific effects of America’s use of chemical weapons during the Vietnam War

Sophie Jane Evans writes for the Daily Mail:

Agent Orange was designed to destroy vegetation but also resulted in terrible health defects in humans[...] During the Vietnam War, between 1962 and 1971, the U.S. military sprayed nearly 20 million gallons of material containing chemical herbicides and defoliants mixed with jet fuel over parts of Vietnam, eastern Laos and Cambodia.

Agent Orange is the combination of the code names for Herbicide Orange and Agent LNX – one of the herbicides and defoliants used as part of its chemical warfare program, Operation Ranch Hand.

The program’s goal was to destroy forested and rural land – depriving guerrilla fighters of cover while cutting off their food supply. But its devastating effects continue to this day – with many deformed children forced to live a life of destitution on the streets or in low-funded orphanages.


The industrial revolution in surrogacy

Xavier Symons writes for Bio Edge:

An Indian doctor cum businesswoman is looking to build the world’s biggest ‘baby factory’, a 110 bed hospital focused specifically on infertility treatment and surrogacy. Dr. Nayna Patel, who currently runs a large but poorly equipped surrogacy clinic, wants to provide a one-stop-shop for surrogate mothers and biological parents.

The hospital, to be commissioned in February next year, will be spread over four acres, with special dormitories to accommodate surrogate mothers, 25 rooms for IVF patients, 15 neo-natal ICUs and 40 special rooms for couples. The estimated cost is $8 million USD.

Dr. Patel wants the hospital to be a “family nest”, where biological parents, surrogate mothers and neo-natal children all live together as an integrated family. Patel intends for the hospital to be staffed largely by relatives and friends of the surrogates, so as to “improve the overall family atmosphere”.


64,000 Children Under 5 Taken to E.R. Every Year After Swallowing Pills at Home

Study: Preschoolers Better At Figuring Out How Gadgets Work Than College Students

From CBS Atlanta:

File photo of preschool children in a classroom. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)A recent study revealed that preschool-age children are better at figuring out how to use technological gadgets than college students. CBS News is reporting that researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, tasked 106 children between the ages of 4 and 5 and 170 college students with figuring out how to use a gadget with which they had no prior experience.

The gadget worked by placing different clay shapes in special boxes to determine which combination would cause a box to light up and play music. Ultimately, the younger children were reportedly much faster at figuring out the correct combination, CBS News learned.


Angry Young Men Are Making the World Less Stable

Gwynn Guilford writes for The Atlantic:

More emerging-market turmoil is coming in 2015, according to a recent note from Bank of America/Merrill Lynch research. And one likely source of short-term instability in particular is largely underappreciated: a huge male youth boom. There’s a close relationship between surging populations of young men and “revolutions, wars and upheavals,” argue Ajay Kapur, Ritesh Samadhiya, and Umesha de Silva. The Bank of America/Merrill Lynch analysts cite “civil war in medieval Portugal (1384), the English Revolution (1642-51), the Spanish conquistadores ravaging Latin America … the French Revolution of 1789, and the emergence of Nazism in the 1920s in Germany.”

Similar problems may be developing in emerging markets right now. While the analysts point out that the ratio of young men to older men has peaked in most emerging markets—generally a good sign for political stability—the raw number of males aged 15-29 is “massive.” When there aren’t enough jobs to employ the supply of young men, that can galvanize conflict, argue the analysts—as can stagflation, rising income inequality, unaffordable property, and other problems facing emerging markets. Particularly if they’re unmarried, these young men have less to lose by banding together and committing crimes, unrest, or violence.


Toxic Town In California Fights Landfill Expansion