On accessible playgrounds

imgresFrom the New York Times: “The first time I buckled Ruth in a swing she was 18 months old, but looked younger from the emaciating effects of cerebral palsy.Born in Uganda and quickly abandoned, she had spent much of her first year in an orphanage, which sent her to Maine for six months of physical therapy. Friends signed up to host her.

“My husband, Dana, and I were interested in adoption and received permission to take Ruth on weekends to see what caring for her was like. That’s how we found ourselves standing under a canopy of backyard trees, buckling Ruth into a red, plastic baby swing.

Unable to sit, crawl or even lift her head, Ruth shrieked as she soared through the air, her patent-leather baby shoes shivering the low-hanging leaves. I imagine she felt free of her captive body for the first time. A decade after that cool October morning, I’ve never heard a sound so joyful.

We officially welcomed Ruth into our family of three young children in the winter of 2005. Over the years, swinging remained among Ruth’s favorite activities — along with whizzing down the slide at our local playground. But as she grew, it became increasingly difficult to find play areas designed with equipment Ruth could use. Continue reading “On accessible playgrounds”

Cooking wine and kids

images-1Cooking wine has about double the alcohol as regular wine and can be bought by grocery store customers of any age.

 

Anyone have a problem with that?

According to the CBS Philadelphia, “Some teens are turning to the grocery store to get drunk, buying cooking wine. Cooking wine is readily available on most Pennsylvania grocery store shelves even though the alcohol-by-volume can be as high as 17 percent. It’s not regulated by the state liquor control board because it’s considered non-potable, loaded with so much salt that most people wouldn’t consider drinking it.

“A whole bottle of cooking wine is equivalent to three or four beers,” says Emily Rubin, a registered dietician with Jefferson University Hospital. Rubin says although the alcohol is the major concern among teens, a 12-ounce bottle of cooking wine carries nearly 1½ times the recommended daily allowance of sodium. “It is very high in sodium, so consuming that in conjunction with, if they’re eating a fast-food meal or pretzels or popcorn or snack food, they are eating close to 10,000 milligrams of sodium per day.” Which, she warns, could be a problem in the long term, especially if there’s a family history of high blood pressure, kidney disease, or liver disease.

 

More at: http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2013/12/02/local-expert-warns-of-underage-drinkers-consuming-cooking-wine/

Stay out of politics, kid

By a 2-to-1 margin, 64% to 31%, Americans would not like their child to go into politics as a career. The results are the same whether the question is asked about a “child,” a “son,” or a “daughter.” There has been little change in the percentage of Americans who would favor a political career for their son or daughter over the past two decades.

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The results are based on a June 20-24 Gallup poll, and find generally little change in the desirability of politics as a profession even as trust in government and confidence in political institutions, particularly Congress, are low.

The largest demographic differences among major subgroups are by race, with nonwhites much more likely than whites to say they would like to see their son or daughter go into politics. This is not a reaction to the fact that the current president is black, as Gallup has found that same racial difference when the question was asked in the 1990s when George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton were president.

The racial differences may be behind the slight tendency for Democrats to favor a political career for their sons and daughters more than Republicans do, with a larger party difference for daughters. There are also small, but not necessarily meaningful, differences by gender and being a parent of a young child.

The 31% of Americans who favor a political career for their son or daughter can be seen as an average because respondents answer the questions differently depending on the order in which they are asked. Specifically, Americans are significantly more likely to say they would like both their daughter and son to go into politics when they are asked about a daughter first.

When Gallup asks about a daughter going into politics first, 37% say they would like to see their daughter go into politics. But 37% also say they would like to see their son go into politics when asked about it after being asked about a daughter going into politics.

In contrast, when Gallup asks about a son going into politics first, the percentage wanting to see their son go into politics is 12 percentage points lower, at 25%. And the percentage wanting their daughter to go into politics is lower, at 26%, when asked after the question about a son going into politics.

 

More at Gallup: http://www.gallup.com/poll/163373/child-avoid-career-politics.aspx?utm_source=tagrss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=syndication

Gender in a Lego world

images-1It’s obvious from walking through a toy store that LEGO has focused its licensing and product development around boys.

Today’s CNN.com carries an article on how LEGO is shifting on gendered products––driven, of course, by a profit motive.

“To capture the girl market, LEGO created the alternate, girl-only world of Heartlake City for Friends instead of incorporating more females into existing LEGO sets. LEGO says the line was one of its most successful to date, “surpassing early projections to triple the number of girls building with LEGO bricks” in 2012.

“But that still leaves the market wide open for children such as my daughter, who want more female “minifigs” in gender-neutral packaging. Instead, LEGO clearly distinguishes which sets are aimed at boys or girls, and our children take in the colors on the packaging and placement on the shelves through a cultural lens. They get the message loud and clear. LEGO is the second-largest toy manufacturer in the world; gender parity matters in a product that is consumed and loved by so many children. Continue reading “Gender in a Lego world”

Women, children, and potatoes

Who knew there was a potato war and that poor kids and their moms were the victims?images-1

According to current numbers, Americans eat (or attempt to eat) 112 pounds of potatoes per capita last year. But lately, according to NPR today, “the potato industry has been playing the part of jilted lover and taking its heartache to Congress.

“The National Potato Council is saying the U.S. Department of Agriculture “discriminates” against fresh, white potatoes. Huh?

“Back in 2007, the USDA ruled that women and children enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, known as WIC, couldn’t buy potatoes with the program’s vouchers. Instead, the nearly 9 million WIC participants, who have to be poor and at risk of under- or malnutrition to enroll in the program, are given a monthly benefit ($10 for women and $6 for children) to buy any fruit or vegetable except white potatoes.

“This month, industry groups persuaded some members of the House Appropriations Committee to introduce an amendment to change that — by permitting states the option to include potatoes in their WIC programs. The potato lobby is also hoping to change the final WIC rule on what foods are eligible for the WIC benefit. USDA is taking comments on it until June 29. Continue reading “Women, children, and potatoes”

Kids and gender non-conformity

From the time they are born, we put our boys in blue beanies and our girls in pink ones. So begins a piece in today’s Washington Post: “It’s a societal norm, an expectation even, that you just are what you are born — a boy or a girl.images“From early on, we divide toys and activities by very distinct gender lines, with superheroes and trucks and muck on one side and princesses and dolls and all things frilly on the other.
“Many children land, enthusiastically, on the expected side. Others dabble in both “girl” and “boy” things. But what if your kid, even from an early age, mostly showed interest in doing opposite-gender things? More importantly, what if they wanted to BE the opposite gender — or a less-defined mix of both? And what if they wanted to test those limits in public places, like school?”Would you let them?”It’s not, of course, that pat of a process. Parents don’t just decide to let their kids switch genders. But, whether parents are dragged through the process, or if they decide to work it through more openly, more kids are challenging the boundaries of traditional gender, and going public at younger ages. And they are doing so with the guidance of a growing faction of medical experts who no longer see this as something to be fixed. Last year, the American Psychiatric Association removed “gender identity disorder” from its list of mental health ailments.  Continue reading “Kids and gender non-conformity”

Dangerous kids

Now don’t laugh at this. Apparently more and more parents are showing up at the emergency with injuries inflicted by their kids.images-2

Although much attention is paid to the safety of infants and toddlers, their sudden jabs, bites, head-butts and kicks can inflict injuries on caregivers, usually parents, reports today’s New York Times. ” After her 2-year-old daughter “clocked” her under the eye, leaving a significant shiner, Alaina Webster, 31, coined a term on her blog to describe this common problem: “unintentional parent abuse.”

“In a “public service announcement” on the blog, Absolute Uncertainties, Ms. Webster called for battered parents to rise up: “Will you fight back against the 2-foot 6-inch tyrants taking over our subdivisions, or will you continue to let unsuspecting parents be beaten into submission simply for loving their child too closely?”

“According to emergency room physicians, pediatricians and other experts, U.P.A. is no laughing matter. With unpredictable infants and toddlers, meals, bath time or even cuddles can go terribly wrong. Though statistics for injuries caused by young children are difficult to find, parents routinely suffer concussions, chipped teeth, corneal abrasions, nasal fractures, cut lips and torn earlobes, among other injuries. Continue reading “Dangerous kids”

Unhappy kids more at risk for heart disease

A study found being prone to distress at the age of seven was associated with a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular disease in later life.

Conversely children who were better at paying attention and staying focused had reduced heart risk when older, reports the BBC. “The US researchers said more work was needed to understand the link.

“Their study looked at 377 adults who had taken part in research as children. At seven they had undergone several tests to look at emotional behaviour.They compared the results from this with a commonly used risk score for cardiovascular disease of participants now in their early 40s.imgres-4

“After controlling for other factors which might influence heart disease risk, they found that high levels of distress at age seven were associated with a 31% increased risk of cardiovascular disease in middle-aged women. Continue reading “Unhappy kids more at risk for heart disease”

What’s worth learning

We’ve heard a lot of criticism of schools in recent years – in recent decades for that matter.

Ideologues blame teachers, administrators, funding sources, and even kids for deficiencies. Writing in today’s Truthout, Marion Brady takes a different tack, looking at outdated views of what counts as knowledge, of what is worth learning. Her opening paragraphs are excerpted below:

“The evidence is inescapable. Millions of kids walk away from school long before they’re scheduled to graduate. Millions more stay but disengage. Half of those entering the teaching profession soon abandon it. Administrators play musical chairs. Barbed wire surrounds many

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schools, and police patrol hallways. School bond levies usually fail.Superficial fads—old ideas resurrected with new names—come and go with depressing regularity. Continue reading “What’s worth learning”

Better life for the kids? Who knows?

American polling is a funny business, especially at a time when that nation seems unable to make up its mind on just about anything.

Today the Gallup organization reported that Americans have no idea whether their children will be better off in the future or not. According to Gallup,

“Americans are evenly divided about whether it is likely (49%) or unlikely (50%) that the next generation of youth in the country will have a better life than their parents. That is a slightly more positive assessment than in early 2011, when the slight majority, 55%, thought it was unlikely the next generation would achieve this goal.imgres

“Still, views today remain depressed compared with 2008 Continue reading “Better life for the kids? Who knows?”

Sales booming for bullet-proof backpacks

No this isn’t a joke. The Nation today reports that such things actually exist and that people are buying them for their children like crazy in the wake of the school shootings:

“Firms selling bullet-proof children’s gear – including Disney Princess and Avengers backpacks lined with Kevlar-type sheeting – are reporting a massive surge in sales in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre.

“Salt Lake City-based Amendment II is among several firms being accused of callously cashing-in on the tragedy in which 26 people were gunned down including 23 children.525082_10151216477798802_1898309770_n

“The firm is currently promoting a range of $300 bulletproof backpacks, Continue reading “Sales booming for bullet-proof backpacks”

A Grimm legacy considered

Grimm's Fairy Tale illustartion for Fitcher's Bird“Once upon a time, two German brothers began collecting the best fairytales of their age,” reads a story in The Guardian today about  the enduring legacy of a certain set of children’s stories. “They gathered an array of stories involving princes and princesses, forests, castles and magic, but also darker sagas of cannibalism, dismemberment, murder and evil stepmothers.

“The 200th anniversary on Thursday of the first publication of the Grimm brothers’ Die Kinder und Hausmärchen (Children’s and Household Tales), a collection of 86 stories that became worldwide classics, is triggering a year of feverish celebrations in Germany to mark the birth of one of the most frequently read books in the world. Continue reading “A Grimm legacy considered”

Phone apps collecting data on kids

The developer behind Mobbles, a popular free game app for children, temporarily pulled the product from the Apple App store and Google Play store on Tuesday after learning that it was the subject of a complaint to federal authorities by children’s advocates.

The app, introduced this year, is an animated, location-based game in which children collect, take care of and trade colorful virtual pets called Mobbles. Continue reading “Phone apps collecting data on kids”

Temper tantrums mean the child is crazy

Anyone paying attention knows that the forthcoming DSM-5 guide book for psychiatrists been getting plenty of advance criticism.

Because this medical volume influences very non-medical factors like insurance coverage and definitions of mental “health,” exactly who gets classified and in what manner can have huge material and social consequences.  The new DSM will redraw the lines on conditions ranging from autism to transgender identity. As Slate reports today, yet another diagnosis is drawing fire:

“Nothing burns the critics worse than “Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder,” a new diagnosis for kids 6 to 18 years old who three or more times a week have “temper outbursts that are grossly out or proportion in intensity or duration to the situation.” It actually started out as “temper dysregulation disorder with dysphoria” (tantrums, plus you feel bad) but got changed so as not to openly malign tantrums. But the diagnosis still focuses on them, and critics say it is Continue reading “Temper tantrums mean the child is crazy”

Gender bending in the toy aisle

“Barbies are for girls and construction sets are for boys. Or are they?” asks today’s New York Times. Stephanie Clifford writes that “For the first time in Barbie’s more than 50-year history, Mattel is introducing a Barbie construction set that underscores a huge shift in the marketplace. Fathers are doing more of the family shopping just as girls are being encouraged more than ever by hypervigilant parents to play with toys (as boys already do) that develop math and science skills early on.

“It’s a combination that not only has Barbie building luxury mansions — they are pink, of course — but Lego promoting a line of pastel construction toys called Friends that is an early Christmas season hit. The Mega Bloks Barbie Build ’n Style line, available next week, has both girls — and their fathers — in mind. Continue reading “Gender bending in the toy aisle”