Category Archives: Children

‘Marlboro Boys’: Indonesia’s child smokers

From Dangerous Minds:

‘Canadian documentary photographer Michelle Siu records “vulnerable people and disenfranchised cultures.” In the past that has meant the First Nations people of Lake St. Martin in Manitoba, who have been displaced from their land by flooding, or the destruction wrought upon the Philippines by Typhoon Haiyan. In her series, “Marlboro Boys,” the disaster is man-made.’

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Anti-terrorism coloring books: ‘What are you going to do when they come for you?’

Meg Wagner reports for New York Daily News:

Really Big Coloring Books has reissued its line of controversial terrorism-themed books with a new section on the Islamic State, the company's founder Wayne Bell announced.‘A St. Louis-based coloring book company updated its controversial terrorism-themed books to include lessons about the Islamic State.

Really Big Coloring Books’ reissued series hit the Internet last week. The rereleased books feature supplemental pages that detail the Islamic State, the terrorists released in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and the Boston Marathon bombings.

“These books tell the truth,” Really Big Coloring Books founder Wayne Bell said in a video announcing the reissue. “We’re trying to educate the country on these animals, these brutal people, these terrible humans on the planet called ISIS.”‘

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Fiona Woolf, boss of VIP child abuse investigation, linked to Leon Brittan

Martin Beckford and Simon Murphy report for The Mail On Sunday:

‘The new chairman of a long-awaited Government inquiry into historic child sex abuse was facing calls to resign last night after The Mail on Sunday discovered her astonishing links to Leon Brittan – a key figure embroiled in the scandal.

Fiona Woolf, the Lord Mayor of London, was appointed to carry out the important role of investigating claims of an Establishment cover-up of VIP paedophile rings on Friday, two months after the original chairman was forced to step down over conflicts of interest.

But this newspaper has found that the top corporate lawyer is also closely linked to Lord Brittan – who is likely to give evidence to her inquiry.’

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Advancing Backwards: Bolivia’s Child Labor Law

Malavika Krishnan writes for the Council on Hemispheric Affairs:

2014 830 bol st‘In the midst of a global fight against child labor and poverty, Bolivia stands alone on an empty street. As the world actively seeks to reduce the exploitation of young children in the workforce, La Paz recently amended its child labor law, making it more flexible and allowing children as young as 10 years old to work legally. Indeed, Bolivia’s recent actions reflect its unfortunate reality: approximately 45 percent of its 10 million population lives under the national poverty line. With the recent transformation of the country’s labor laws, the government claims to‘solve’ poverty by 2025; but instead, the move will likely exacerbate the situation and perpetuate the poverty cycle. Although President Evo Morales and his administration may mean well, to succeed in reality, Bolivia must search for other alternatives in order to effectively combat its poverty.’

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In Bosnia’s schools, three different people learn three different histories

Kristen Chick reports for The Christian Science Monitor:

‘Two decades after Bosnia’s brutal civil war ended, reconciliation is still a dream, one the education system is pushing further away from reality. Bosnia Serbs, Bosniak Muslims and Croats typically study in schools with curricula tailored to their ethnic biases. World War II is hardly the only period that receives wildly different treatments depending on the school.

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Federal Cybersecurity Director Found Guilty on Child Porn Charges

Kim Zetter reports for Wired:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services building is shown August 16, 2006 in Washington, DC.‘As the acting cybersecurity chief of a federal agency, Timothy DeFoggi should have been well versed in the digital footprints users leave behind online when they visit web sites and download images. But DeFoggi—convicted today in Nebraska on three child porn charges including conspiracy to solicit and distribute child porn—must have believed his use of the Tor anonymizing network shielded him from federal investigators.

He’s the sixth suspect to make this mistake in Operation Torpedo, an FBI operation that targeted three Tor-based child porn sites and that used controversial methods to unmask anonymized users. But DeFoggi’s conviction is perhaps more surprising than others owing to the fact that he worked at one time as the acting cybersecurity director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.’

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Rotherham child abuse files deleted

The Telegraph reports:

‘Top ranking staff ordered raids to delete and remove case files and evidence detailing the scale of Rotherham’s child exploitation scandal, sources have revealed.

More than 10 years before the damning independent inquiry revealed sexual exploitation of 1,400 children in Rotherham a raid was carried out on the orders of senior staff to destroy evidence, it has been claimed.

In 2002 high profile personnel at Rotherham Council ordered a raid on Risky Business, Rotherham council’s specialist youth service, which offered one-to-one help and support to vulnerable teenage girls, ahead of the findings of a draft report, according to the Times.’

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Plugged-In Over Preppy: Teenagers Favor Tech Over Clothes

Elizabeth A Harris And Rachel Abrams write for The New York Times:

‘For some teenagers, wearing last season’s jeans will always be unthinkable.But a growing number consider texting on a dated smartphone even worse. For teenage apparel retailers, that screen-obsessed teenager poses a big threat in the still-important back-to-school sales season.

Muscle shirts and strategically ripped jeans no longer provide an assured spot for retailers like Hollister and American Eagle Outfitters in the marketplace of what’s cool at an American high school. The social cachet these days involves waving the latest in hand-held technology.’

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What Happens When You Take Kids’ Gadgets Away

Melissa Dahl writes for New York Magazine:

‘To be a modern American, child or adult, is to spend a third of your day staring at a screen. Children ages 8 to 18 spend an incredible seven and a half hours a day — outside of school — using some sort of electronic media, and adults are slightly worse, racking up an additional half-hour of screen time. It’s not yet clear what impact this is having on face-to-face communication, and that’s especially true for the kids who are growing up glued to an iPad. So one team of researchers decided to try to find out, and they took a creative approach. Instead of measuring what happened to kids who used these devices, they measured what happened to kids whose gadgets were taken away.’

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U.S. gun debate after 9-year-old girl kills instructor

Study concludes that Britain is “deeply elitist” with a “closed shop at the top”

Andrew Sparrow reports for The Guardian:

An establishment acrostic‘Britain is “deeply elitist” because people educated at public school and Oxbridge have in effect created a “closed shop at the top”, according to a government report published on Thursday.

The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission said its study of the social background of those “running Britain” was the most detailed of its kind ever undertaken and showed that elitism was so embedded in Britain “that it could be called ‘social engineering'”.

[...] The commission’s 76-page report mostly focuses on analysis, but it does include recommendations, saying government, schools, universities, employers and even parents all need to play their part in promoting social diversity.

Looking at the background of more than 4,000 people filling jobs at the top of government, the civil service, the judiciary, the media, business and the creative industries, the commission investigated where they went to school, on the grounds that going to a private school is reasonably indicative of a wealthy background.’

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A War on Gaza’s Future? Israeli Assault Leaves 500 Kids Dead, 3,000 Injured, 373,000 Traumatized

‘As the Israeli offensive in Gaza resumes, we look at the impact the military campaign has had on the children of Gaza. More than 467 Palestinian children have died since July. That is more than the combined number of child fatalities in the two previous conflicts in Gaza. According to the World Health Organization, more than 3,000 children have been injured, of which an estimated 1,000 will suffer from a life-long disability. The United Nations estimates at least 373,000 children require direct and specialized psychosocial support. And, based on the total number of adults killed, there may be up to 1,500 children orphaned. Gazan children’s right to an education has also been severely compromised with at least 25 schools reportedly damaged so severely that they can no longer be used. We speak to Pernille Ironside, chief of UNICEF’s Gaza field office. “There isn’t a single family in Gaza who hasn’t experienced personally death, injury, the loss of their home, extensive damage, displacement,” Ironside says. “The psychological toll that has on a people, it just cannot be overestimated, and especially on children.”’ (Democracy Now!)

The Government-Industry Conspiracy that Promotes Crap Food in School

Michele Simon writes for Al Jazeera America:

‘People often ask me, “How does lobbying work?” Last week it was with fat and sugar, when the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) hosted its 32nd annual Capitol Hill Ice Cream Party. Some 6,000 bowls of ice cream were served up to Sen.Tom Harkin, Reps. Pete Sessions, Robert Aderholt, Jeff Denham, John Shimkus, Ron Kind and Lamar Smith, among others, according to Politico.

Dairy lobbyists are ever present in Washington, and their efforts usually pay off. For example, last year when the IDFA implored the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to give dairy foods a pass in the new snack food guidelines for schools, the agency capitulated, opening school doors to even more junk food, such as YoCrunch Lowfat Yogurt with M&Ms.

This is just one of many examples I uncovered in a report I published last month, “Whitewashed: How Industry and Government Promote Dairy Junk Foods” (PDF). The dairy industry, propped up by government, has convinced us of the health benefits of milk and other dairy products. The assumption that eating dairy is essential to the diet has obstructed our ability to criticize federal government support for unhealthy dairy products, of which there are many.

One of the most important forms of government support is the federally mandated collection of industry fees for checkoff programs that promote milk and dairy.’

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Are We Turning Our Babies Into Real Life Tamagotchis?

Brandy Zadrozny writes for The Daily Beast:

140806-zadrozny-fitbit-embed‘Driving my two-day-old son home from the hospital, I was struck with a terror familiar to most new parents. How was it possible, I wondered, that I could care for this little person on my own?

Time did not breed confidence. As the weeks went on, I spent late nights poring over The Baby Book and Googling “Why does my baby ______?” I glued my eyes to a Blair Witch-style monitor for any sign of distress and yes, I even felt under his nose to make sure he was still breathing. I wanted answers to the big questions about eating, sleeping, crying, weight gain, breathing, pooping, and teething. But all my research boiled down to one concern: Was my newborn’s behavior, and the panic it inspired, normal?

Now big data claims to have the answer, or at least the start of one, but is the quest for more information making parenting easier, or chipping away at our instincts and turning our babies into Tamagotchis?’

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Children: The New Billionaires

Isaac Asimov: “Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is”

Teenagers from wealthy backgrounds still dominate top universities

Richard Garner reports for The Independent:

Piles of £10 notesTeenagers from wealthy backgrounds are still around 10 times more likely to get into top universities than those from poorer homes. Efforts to revive social mobility in Britain by widening access to the best universities have stalled, research indicates.

The report from an independent commission set up to examine the impact of higher university fees also reveals that the gender gap in university admissions is growing with you men from disadvantaged backgrounds the least likely to obtain a university place.

Will Hutton, who chairs the Independent Commission on Fees, said the findings showed “serious gaps in access to university remain. Young men from disadvantaged backgrounds are particularly badly affected and remain under-represented in applications to all universities.”’

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Paedophile snared as Google scans Gmail for images of child abuse

Martin Evans reports for The Telegraph:

From 'Am I pretty?' to 'Why won't he have sex with me?', it's Google we ask about all our darkest worries. So how did a search engine become our closest confidant? ‘Technology giant Google has developed state of the art software which proactively scours hundreds of millions of email accounts for images of child abuse. The breakthrough means paedophiles around the world will no longer be able to store and send vile images via email without the risk of their crimes becoming known to the authorities. Details of the software emerged after a 41-year-old convicted sex offender was arrested in Texas for possession of child abuse images.

Police in the United States revealed that Google’s sophisticated search system had identified suspect material in an email sent by a man in Houston. Child protection experts were automatically tipped off and were then able to alert the police, who swooped after requesting the user’s personal information from Google. It is hoped the software will play a significant role in the ongoing fight against paedophiles who believe they can use the Internet to operate in the shadows and avoid detection.’

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GCHQ targets the ‘Xbox generation’ with cyber security university degrees

James Vincent reports for The Independent:

‘Intelligence agency GCHQ has partnered with six universities in the UK to offer specialized degrees in internet security. The BBC reports that the accredited master’s degrees are part of the UK’s 2011 cyber security strategy, with the aim being “to expand the pool of experts with in-depth knowledge of cyber” in the country.

The degrees will target the so-called ‘Xbox generation’ said one official, who have social media and gaming skills but no formal computer education. Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said that the program was a “crucial part” of the government’s long-term plans for the British economy and would help make the “UK one of the safest places in the world to do business online”.’

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Study shows link between TV and children’s learning and development

Heather Spangler reports for Iowa Now:

two children playing in front of a television screenParents, turn off the television when your children are with you. And when you do let them watch, make sure the programs stimulate their interest in learning.

That’s the advice arising from University of Iowa researchers who examined the impact of television and parenting on children’s social and emotional development. The researchers found that background television—when the TV is on in a room where a child is doing something other than watching—can divert a child’s attention from play and learning. It also found that noneducational programs can negatively affect children’s cognitive development.’

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New Zealand school plans microchip bracelets to encourage “good behaviour”

Fairfax Media reports:

‘A North Canterbury school’s plan to fit students with microchip bracelets to track their behaviour has prompted concern among parents.

Swannanoa School wants to use silicon bracelets as part of a scheme to reward good behaviour, minutes from a Parent Teacher Association meeting show. Teachers would use portable scanners to add points to a student’s online good behaviour chart with a reward when a certain amount of points was accumulated.

The school says the scheme would cost $7000 to set up. The proposal has been opposed by some parents. The Ministry of Education said it did not recommend the bracelets and would expect broad parent support before it was adopted by the school.’

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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).’

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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.

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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.”‘

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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”.’

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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.’

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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.’

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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.”’

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