Category Archives: Children

In Turbulent Iraq, Children Bear the Brunt of War

Chau Ngo reports for IPS News:

In January, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited the Kawrgosik Refugee Camp near Erbil, in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, where more than 200,000 refugees from Syria are being hosted by the regional government. Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe‘As the ambulance stopped in Iraq’s northern city of Kirkuk, people rushed in to help. They unloaded six children, from several months to 11 years old, all injured allegedly by an air attack in the neighbouring town of Tuz Khurmatu. “The situation in Iraq is grave,” said Tirana Hassan, senior emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch, recalling a scene she witnessed during a recent research trip there. “Families, including those with children, are stuck in the middle of an increasingly violent war and they are paying the price,” she told IPS.

Nearly two months since the outbreak of violence between Islamist militants and Iraqi government forces, civilian casualties have surged. In June alone, 1,500 people were killed, the highest in a month since 2008, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said. “In all conflict-affected areas, child casualties due to indiscriminate or systematic attacks by armed groups and by government shelling on populated areas have been on the rise,” said UNAMI. Activists have also reported child casualties caused by government airstrikes against fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).’


Cambodia’s Ongoing Human Trafficking Problem

Kyla Ryan reports for The Diplomat:

Cambodia’s Ongoing Human Trafficking Problem‘Victims of sex trafficking are often girls from poor families, who are tricked into working as prostitutes. Many girls are also sold to brothels by their own parents, often to pay off debts. A majority of the children taken into prostitution were students at the time, although children are vulnerable regardless of their school attendance. Girls who are forced to work in brothels endure regular rape and abuse, and may be tortured if caught attempting to escape. Some of the girls in the brothels are just 5 years old. Trade in virgins is also a big market, with buyers paying from $500 – $4000 to purchase a young girl’s virginity.

This shocking trade can be linked at least in part to Cambodia’s tragic history. The genocide during the Khmer Rouge era from 1975 to 1979 killed approximately two million people. The educated and religious communities of mainly Buddhists were nearly wiped out, along with social institutions, leaving behind a fractured society after the Khmer Rouge regime collapsed. Although the country has shown signs of development, there is a large wealth gap, and Cambodia remains one of the poorest countries in Asia.


Study: Childhood Traumas More Common Among Military Members

The Associated Press reports:

‘Childhood traumas are more common among military members and veterans than among civilians, according to a new study. Researchers say the results support the notion that for some, enlistment serves as an escape from troubled upbringings. The study is the largest to examine how common bad childhood experiences are among military men and women. Disparities were most striking among men during the volunteer era: More than 25 percent had experienced at least four childhood traumas, versus about 13 percent of civilian men.

“These results suggest that, since the beginning of the all-volunteer U.S. military in 1973, there has been a meaningful shift in childhood experiences among men who have served in the military,” said lead author John Blosnich, a researcher at the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System. He said research is needed “to explore whether the differences in adverse childhood experiences are associated with health outcomes among men and women with military service history.”‘


Hug A Terrorist

Are Students Who Protest Against the Cuts ‘Extremists’?

Josh Allen writes for Vice:

‘Letters to parents requesting a meeting to discuss “concerns that have been raised” usually only happen at school to the parents of kids with the foresight to realise that smoking while your lungs are still developing is totally badass. When you’re an adult, you don’t have to worry about your parents finding out what you get up to, unless you’re stupid enough to get duped into taking a free holiday by BBC3.

So you can imagine the surprise University of Birmingham Politics student Pat Grady’s parents felt when a letter from counter terrorism police, landed on their doormat inviting them “into the local police station” to “discuss concerns” that their son “[might] be involved with domestic extremism”.’


Alexei Sayle: “Israel is the Jimmy Savile of nation states”

From the Belfast Telegraph:

‘Alexei Sayle has fiercely condemned Israel’s air strikes in the Gaza Strip, by comparing the nation’s behaviour to that of prolific sex offender Jimmy Savile. The comedian’s comments were released after Israel resumed airstrikes in the Gaza Strip – killing one Palestinian civilian – after Hamas rejected a ceasefire plan and continued rocket attacks. 166 people in Gaza have died in the week-long offensive, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

“Israel is the Jimmy Savile of nation states,” Sayle said on Tuesday [July 15th] during an interview with Caabu (Council for Arab-British Understanding). “It clearly doesn’t care about damaging the lives of children,” he added, referring to the late entertainer.

Sayle also described Israel as a “teenager that’s never been given any boundaries. [Israel] is endlessly indulged by its doting parents, the West, and has become a psychopath as a result. It thinks that everybody else is in the wrong and it is in the right,” he said.’


Porn Sniffing Police Dogs

The Persecution of Witches, 21st-Century Style

Mitch Horowitz writes for The New York Times:

‘Most people believe that the persecution of “witches” reached its height in the early 1690s with the trials in Salem, Mass., but it is a grim paradox of 21st-century life that violence against people accused of sorcery is very much still with us. Far from fading away, thanks to digital interconnectedness and economic development, witch hunting has become a growing, global problem.

In recent years, there has been a spate of attacks against people accused of witchcraft in Africa, the Pacific and Latin America, and even among immigrant communities in the United States and Western Europe. Researchers with United Nations refugee and human rights agencies have estimated the murders of supposed witches as numbering in the thousands each year, while beatings and banishments could run into the millions. “This is becoming an international problem — it is a form of persecution and violence that is spreading around the globe,” Jeff Crisp, an official with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, told a panel in 2009, the last year in which an international body studied the full dimensions of the problem. A report that year from the same agency and a Unicef study in 2010 both found a rise, especially in Africa, of violence and child abuse linked to witchcraft accusations.’


Study: Children exposed to religion have difficulty distinguishing fact from fiction

Scott Kaufman reports for Raw Story:

child praying on shutterstock‘A study published in the July issue of Cognitive Science determined that children who are not exposed to religious stories are better able to tell that characters in “fantastical stories” are fictional — whereas children raised in a religious environment even “approach unfamiliar, fantastical stories flexibly.”’


Child Sex Robots Could Be Used to Treat Paedophiles

Mary-Ann Russon reports for the International Business Times:

Kodomoroid, a robot news presenter that resembles a human child‘Robotics experts at a recent robot ethics panel held at Berkeley, University of California have suggested that child sex robots could be introduced to help rehabilitate paedophiles.

Pop culture has long theorised that robots could be used for a variety of purposes, such as being a home butler like Rosie in The Jetsons or Andrew in Bicentennial Man; a perfect robot woman like Valerie 23 in The Outer Limits; or even a robot child for people who cannot have children of their own like David in A.I. Artificial Intelligence.

The concept of robot sex workers has been bandied about for a while, and a recent poll found that one in six people in the UK would have sex with a robot, but a child sex robot doesn’t yet exist.’


Report: Over-fortified cereals may pose risks to kids

Michelle Healy reports for USA Today:

‘Young children who dig into a bowl of fortified breakfast cereal may be getting too much of a good thing. A new report says that “millions of children are ingesting potentially unhealthy amounts” of vitamin A, zinc and niacin, with fortified breakfast cereals the leading source of the excessive intake because all three nutrients are added in amounts calculated for adults.

Outdated nutritional labeling rules and misleading marketing by food manufacturers who use high fortification levels to make their products appear more nutritious fuel this potential risk, according to the report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a Washington, D.C.-based health research and advocacy organization.’


Working Mother Arrested for Letting Her 9-Year-Old Play Alone at Park

Conor Friedersdorf reports for The Atlantic:

‘In South Carolina, a 46-year-old black woman has been arrested for letting her daughter play in a nearby park while trying to earn a living. “The mother, Debra Harrell, has been booked for unlawful conduct towards a child,” a local TV station reports. “The incident report goes into great detail, even saying the mother confessed to leaving her nine-year-old daughter at a park while she went to work.”‘


Wearable GPS tracking for children, to ease parents’ minds

CBS News reports:

LG Announces KizON, a smartwatch designed to let parents keep track of where their child is and listen to what they are up to. Courtesy photo of LG Electronics.‘For parents who are worried about keeping track of their children, technology offers a possible solution: kid-friendly wearable devices with GPS tracking built in.

Wearable technology has exploded in recent years, with health monitoring technology such as Fitbit, and wearable computers, such as Google Glass. There are wearables for adults — even wearables for pets — so it makes sense that companies would design models with kids in mind.

One such option is kidsport GPS, a GPS-equipped wristband or ankle bracelet that promises to let parents know where their kids are, whenever they want.’


OECD: England’s teachers overworked and ‘not valued by society’

Graeme Paton reports for The Telegraph:

A teacher helps a boy in red school sweater working at a laptopTeachers in England are working longer hours than those in most other developed nations despite being badly paid and feeling “undervalued” by society, according to international research.

A study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found that just a third of teachers – 35 per cent – believe they are appreciated by the general public.

The study, which was based on an analysis of 106,000 teachers in 34 countries, found that the profession in England generally performed well across most indicators.’


Rolf Harris: PR battle waged behind the scenes by Bell Pottinger to protect TV star’s reputation

Paul Peachy reports for The Independent:

‘Rolf Harris hired the controversial PR firm Bell Pottinger as his reputation as one of the world’s most celebrated children’s entertainers was picked apart by allegations of abuse and his own admissions of infidelity. The company – which has previously represented regimes such as Belarus and Sri Lanka – previously worked for Asil Nadir, the former head of Polly Peck, after his misguided decision to return to Britain from his northern Cypriot bolthole in order to fight fraud charges which resulted in a 10-year jail term.

The prosecution claimed that Mr Harris had “manipulated publicity” with his daily “staged, slow walk” into court past photographers with his entourage that included wife, Alwen, and daughter, Bindi, in a show of family support for the man who steadfastly denied any wrongdoing.  While the prosecution claimed it was “nothing more than a public relations exercise”, the publicists claimed that the slow walk was necessary because of the state of wife Alwen’s knees. Bell Pottinger is no stranger to controversy after its executives were secretly recorded in 2011 boasting about their access to the heart of Government and how it could bury bad coverage and influence public opinion.’


Nixon’s Failed Drug War and Immigration from Central America: Interview with Dana Frank

‘Thom Hartmann talks with Dana Frank, History Professor at University of California, Santa Cruz / author of Bananeras: Women Transforming the Banana Unions of Latin America / currently writing a book about the AFL-CIO’s cold war intervention in the Honduran labor movement – about a surge of children coming from Hondorus and El Salvador illegally to the United States.’ (Thom Hartmann)

FDA considering ban on electric shock therapy

My Fox Boston reported last month:

‘A doctor who was part of an FDA advisory panel on electric shock therapy says the Judge Rotenberg Center is not reporting device malfunctions that randomly shock students to the government as required.

“We have no data on how often this device is malfunctioning,” said Dr. Steven Miles, a physician who served on a panel advising the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the devices used to deliver the shocks. “Any time that you have a medical device failure, in this case administering random shocks, you cause trauma to people. And in this case you traumatize people with learning disabilities.”

The Canton-based Rotenberg Center, the only place in the country using the devices, disagrees, saying the misfires don’t meet the FDA reporting standard of causing death or serious injury. The FDA, however, is not so sure.’


Thatcher’s former Home Secretary Leon Brittan urged to comment on 1980s “paedophile dossier”

From BBC News:

‘A Labour MP has called for a former home secretary to make public what he knew about allegations of paedophiles operating in Westminster in the 1980s. Simon Danczuk said that a dossier of allegations about paedophiles was presented to Leon Brittan when he was home secretary between 1983 and 1985. “It would be welcome if he stepped forward and shared his knowledge of the allegations”, he told MPs.

The MP helped expose the late Liberal MP Cyril Smith as a child sex abuser. Speaking at a meeting of the Commons Home Affairs Select committee, Mr Danczuk called for a national overarching “Hillsborough-style” inquiry into historical allegations of child sex abuse. He said that politics was “the last refuge of child sex abuse deniers” and there was a view among many politicians that alleged offenders should not be named. An inquiry would help identify other perpetrators, he said.’


Hundreds of British children under 10 being subject to stop and search by police

From The Telegraph:

The data would suggest that stop and search was used 'disproportionately' on black and ethnic minority children and young people‘Hundreds of children under the age of 10 are being subject to stop and search by police, despite being under the age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales, according to a parliamentary report. The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children found that over the last five years 1,136 stop and searches were carried out on under 10s over 22 police forces.

Over the same period, more than one million stop and searches were carried out on children and young people under the age of 18 across 26 forces – accounting for between 13% and 26% of all stop and searches done by the forces. The report said the data it collected suggested that stop and search was used ”disproportionately” on black and ethnic minority children and young people.’


Ha-Joon Chang: Trickle-down economics doesn’t work…

Schools should fine ‘bad parents’, says Ofsted chief

From the Press Association:

Michael Wilshaw‘Teachers should confront “bad parents” and heads should be given powers to fine mothers and fathers who fail to support their children’s education, the chief inspector of schools has said. Sir Michael Wilshaw called for headteachers to be given the authority to impose financial penalties on parents who allow homework to be left undone, miss parents’ evenings or fail to read with their children.

The head of the schools watchdog, Ofsted, also said that poverty was too often used as an excuse for educational failure among white working-class families, whose children were often outperformed by those from immigrant communities. His comments come after the education secretary, Michael Gove, indicated that parents would face “stronger sanctions” if they failed to ensure their children turned up to school and behaved properly, potentially in the form of deductions from benefits.’


Father charged with child endangerment after son, 8, skips church to play

How America’s Work Obsession is Killing Our Quality of Life

Abby Martin discusses President Obama’s criticism of US maternity leave policy and goes over how the US stacks up against other countries when it comes to this issue.’ (Breaking the Set)

Catholic archbishop defrocked by Vatican for sexually abusing teenage boys

The Telegraph reports:

‘A Catholic archbishop and former Holy See ambassador has been defrocked after being convicted of sexually abusing teenage boys, making him the most senior Vatican figure to be punished for such a crime.

Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, who was the Vatican’s nuncio or ambassador to the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean, was found guilty of sex abuse by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – the modern-day successor to the Inquisition.’


Association found between maternal exposure to agricultural pesticides and autism

From Science Daily:

‘Pregnant women who lived in close proximity to fields and farms where chemical pesticides were applied experienced a two-thirds increased risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder or other developmental delay, a study by researchers with the UC Davis MIND Institute has found. The associations were stronger when the exposures occurred during the second and third trimesters of the women’s pregnancies. The large, multisite California-based study examined associations between specific classes of pesticides, including organophosphates, pyrethroids and carbamates, applied during the study participants’ pregnancies and later diagnoses of autism and developmental delay in their offspring. It is published online in Environmental Health Perspectives.’


Camp CEO Kids: Business Summer Camp for 6-8-Year-Olds

Michelle Moons writes for Breitbart:

‘Former news producer Stephanie Antin is introducing a new type of kids’ camp in addition to the number of themed camps her company My Kids Clubhouse already offers over the summer months.

Camp CEO Kids is designed to teach kids from six- to eight-years-old money math, logo and branding, product development, and customer service and employee work ethic. A flyer for the camp states, “This camp will be taught exclusively by the CEO of My Kids Clubhouse, Inc.” Four hours a day for five days in the summer the camp will teach a maximum of ten kids at a cost of $200-225.’


“Cool” Kids Study: Teenage popularity fades by age 22

Elizabeth Armstrong Moore reports for Newser:

‘The cool kids don’t exactly win in the end: Teens who try to be cool by acting older than they are may be setting themselves up for future problems, according to a new study in the journal Child Development. Researchers followed 184 Southeastern teens from ethnically diverse backgrounds in public schools for 10 years starting when the teens were 13. The kids deemed popular by their peers tended to be in romantic relationships, engage in delinquent activities, and hang with the prettiest peers, but by 22 those kids were no longer at the top of the totem pole—and were also more likely to be involved in criminal activities and have serious problems with drugs and alcohol, reports Eureka Alert. They were also judged as being less competent in managing social relationships.’


Cory Doctorow novel pulled from school reading for ‘questioning authority’

Alison Flood reports for The Guardian:

Little Brother, Cory Doctorow’s novel about teenagers rebelling against the surveillance state, has been pulled from a school reading programme in Florida this summer following what the author said were concerns from the school’s principal over its questioning of authority and its “lauding” of hacker culture.

According to the National Coalition Against Censorship, Little Brother was chosen for a school-wide summer reading programme at Booker T Washington High School in Pensacola, Florida “after an extensive process by the professional staff”. It has subsequently been withdrawn “because of concerns that some parents might object to scenes involving sex and violence and the idea of questioning authority”, said the American free speech organisation. Doctorow wrote on his blog Boingboing that the principal, Dr Michael Roberts, “cited reviews that emphasised the book’s positive view of questioning authority, lauding ‘hacker culture’, and discussing sex and sexuality in passing … In short, he made it clear that the book was being challenged because of its politics and its content.”‘


Obama woos student borrowers with executive order on loan repayments

Heidi Moore reports for The Guardian:

Obama signs the order at the White House.‘In another attempt to stem the economic threat of high student debt and win favor for his party before November’s election, President Obama on Monday signed an executive order that will limit federal student loan payments for 5 million more people. Calling an education “the single best investment you can make in your future,” Obama extended the four-year-old Pay As You Earn initiative, which has lowered monthly payments for student who borrowed federal student loans for the first time between 2008 and 2011.’


Police defend decision to arrest parents of obese boy on suspicion of neglect

Ben Quinn reports for The Guardian:

man on weighing scalespolice force has defended its decision to arrest the parents of a 15 stone 11-year-old on suspicion of neglect for allowing their son to become obese. The un-named 49-year-old man and 44-year-old woman, both from the King’s Lynn area, are currently on bail pending further inquiries after concerns were raised about the boy’s welfare.

Norfolk police have said that intervention at this level was “very rare” and only took place where other attempts to protect the child had been unsuccessful. A spokesperson for the force said that officers from the child abuse investigation unit worked closely with health and social services to deal with “sensitive issues such as obesity and neglect of a child”.’