Category Archives: Children

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.’

READ MORE…

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?’

READ MORE…

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.”’

READ MORE…

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.’

READ MORE…

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”.’

READ MORE…

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.’

READ MORE…

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.’

READ MORE…

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).’

READ MORE…

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.

READ MORE…

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.”‘

READ MORE…

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”.’

READ MORE…

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.’

READ MORE…

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.’

READ MORE…

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.”’

READ MORE…

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.’

READ MORE…

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.’

READ MORE…

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.”‘

READ MORE…

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.’

WATCH THE REPORT…

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.’

READ MORE…

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.’

READ MORE…

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.’

READ MORE…

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.’

READ MORE…

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.’

READ MORE…

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