Alan Schwarz and Sarah Cohen
Nearly one in five high school age boys in the United States and 11 percent of school-age children over all have received a medical diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to new data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
These rates reflect a marked rise over the last decade and could fuel growing concern among many doctors that the A.D.H.D. diagnosis and its medication are overused in American children.
The figures showed that an estimated 6.4 million children ages 4 through 17 had received an A.D.H.D. diagnosis at some point in their lives, a 16 percent increase since 2007 and a 41 percent rise in the past decade. About two-thirds of those with a current diagnosis receive prescriptions for stimulants like Ritalin or Adderall, which can drastically improve the lives of those with A.D.H.D. but can also lead to addiction, anxiety and occasionally psychosis.
"Those are astronomical numbers. I'm floored," said Dr. William Graf, a pediatric neurologist in New Haven and a professor at the Yale School of Medicine. He added, "Mild symptoms are being diagnosed so readily, which goes well beyond the disorder and beyond the zone of ambiguity to pure enhancement of children who are otherwise healthy."
Read more here.
A thoughtful (and personal) commentary here.
THIS is America's college town par excellence. Kids from all over the world flock to Boston to learn. I have a son who is a freshman here. Last autumn, as he entered school, I listened to warnings about the dangers of binge drinking. I think they missed the point. The real epidemic involves so-called smart drugs, particularly Adderall, an amphetamine prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (A.D.H.D.) but so freely available as to be the pill to take whenever academic pressure requires pulling an all-nighter with zero procrastination to get a paper done.
"Just popped an Addie, so I'm good to go" -- this sort of pretest attitude has become pervasive. Conversations with several students suggested Adderall was always available, costing from $2 to $5 a pill. Adderall has become to college what steroids are to baseball: an illicit performance enhancer for a fiercely competitive environment. What to say to doctors to get a prescription is now so widely known among students -- "It's like my thoughts are channel-surfing and I can't stop" -- as to have become a kind of joke.
"If there are no A.D.H.D. symptoms prior to college I have a very hard time writing a prescription," Jill Kasper, a pediatrician, told me. "But if somebody wants a prescription for Adderall, they can find someone to give it to them." The problem is that Adderall is dangerous, a Class 2 controlled substance like cocaine. While it has helped countless A.D.H.D. sufferers, it can also lead down a dark road of dependency, ever higher doses, fight-or-flight anxiety levels, sleeplessness and depression.
Here, in his own words, is the Adderall story of Steven Roderick, 24, a smart, soft-spoken, lost senior studying health science at the University of Massachusetts Boston:
I started taking it my first year in college. My performance had always fluctuated a lot. It was hard to pay attention, even in classes I was interested in. I was getting D's. I felt something had to change. Adderall flies around campus. The first time I took it I wrote a paper for an astronomy class that was out of this world. I could not believe it -- I was so inspired it made me want to be a doctor! I thought -- oh my God! -- this is the whole problem. You have the ability. You are intelligent. You just don't have the link between intelligence and the capacity to be productive. The pill is the link. I felt literally unstoppable.
I went to the doctor, said I'd like to give Adderall a try. There were no diagnostic procedures. Doctors give in too easily. I did not think there could be a risk later on. I started on 20 milligrams. I went from D's and F's to straight A's. But your brain adapts, you have to increase the dose, and by 2011 I was up to 45 milligrams. In the spring of that year I started to feel Adderall was my best friend and my worst enemy at the same time. Because I could not sleep I went to see my psychopharm, and she prescribed me Ativan to sleep. That worked O.K. for a while. But I really ran into trouble last year. I was up to 65 milligrams, and then during finals went to 80, even 120, milligrams, and I was just locked into this Adderall-Ativan cycle. My doctor seemed scatterbrained. She'd prescribe something but not follow up.
It's a complicated dependency. I mean I never took Adderall to get high, never took it in a way that was not academically oriented; and I think there's a distinction between dependency and addiction, taking something for a purpose or for a rush. But I feel awful. My baseline anxiety level would be most people's highest anxiety level. The drop of a pin makes me spin around. I am living at home. My parents are clueless, and it is hard to discuss with them, although my Mom helps me now. I alternate between 'on' and 'off' states -- I come off the Adderall, take Ativan and sleep for days. I miss appointments. I know I need to go to the appointments, but I wonder if I will be functional enough.
Adderall suddenly turned its back on me. It enabled me to focus, got me to a higher place academically. But then I could no longer rely on it. I was on my own. And although I have less than three credits to go, I may have to withdraw from school because I have not been able to make it to enough classes. "Look, I am in a culture that constantly justifies the means to an end. So how do we persuade people not to take it? All you hear is how impossible it will be to get a job when you get out, and you are going more and more into debt, and you think without this I won't be top of the class. With other drugs you know you are ruining your life. But Adderall manipulates you into thinking you are doing what is needed to have a great life.
The Daily Beast
Recently, the Huffington Post published an article titled "I am Adam Lanza's mother" by a woman named Liza Long. The article presents a picture of a 13-year-old boy who threatened his mother, sometimes going so far as to pull a knife on her, scream obscenities at her, and leap out of cars as they're driving down the highway.
The rest of the world has reacted to the idea of such a child with horror and incomprehension. I sympathize with the horror. I can only wish that I shared the incomprehension. I understand, intimately, how Liza Long's son feels. I was like him.
Like the author of that piece, Liza Long, my mother had no idea what to do about my sudden transformation (in my case, around 16) into a borderline homicidal maniac. Like her son, I used knives to try and make my threats of violence seem more real. Like her son, I would leap out of our car in the middle of the road just to get away from my mother, over the most trivial of offenses. Like her son, I screamed obscenities at my mother shortly after moments of relative peace. And worse than this poor woman's son, whose mindset toward his peers we can only guess, I will admit that I fantasized multiple times about taking ordnance to my classmates.
By the logic which leads Liza Long to say, "I am Adam Lanza's mother," I have to say: "I was Adam Lanza."
This is a very honest, generous, and thought-provoking piece ... and one from an important source.
Not long ago few doctors - not even pediatricians - concerned themselves much with nutrition. This has changed, and dramatically: As childhood obesity gains recognition as a true health crisis, more and more doctors are publicly expressing alarm at the impact the standard American diet is having on health.
"I never saw Type 2 diabetes during my training, 20 years ago," David Ludwig, a pediatrician, told me the other day, referring to what was once called "adult-onset" diabetes, the form that is often caused by obesity. "Never. Now about a quarter of the new diabetes cases we're seeing are Type 2."
Ludwig, who is director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center in Boston, is one of three authors, all medical doctors of an essay ("Viewpoint") in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association titled "Opportunities to Reduce Childhood Hunger and Obesity."
That title that would once have been impossible, but now it's merely paradoxical. Because the situation is this: 17 percent of children in the United States are obese, 16 percent are food-insecure (this means they have inconsistent access to food), and some number, which is impossible to nail down, are both. Seven times as many poor children are obese as those who are underweight, an indication that government aid in the form of food stamps, now officially called SNAP, does a good job of addressing hunger but encourages the consumption of unhealthy calories.
Given the role that nutrition plays -- from conception onward -- in brain development, learning, etc., clearly this is an achievement gap issue.
In the 1990s, the term "digital divide" emerged to describe technology's haves and have-nots. It inspired many efforts to get the latest computing tools into the hands of all Americans, particularly low-income families. Those efforts have indeed shrunk the divide. But they have created an unintended side effect, one that is surprising and troubling to researchers and policy makers and that the government now wants to fix.
As access to devices has spread, children in poorer families are spending considerably more time than children from more well-off families using their television and gadgets to watch shows and videos, play games and connect on social networking sites, studies show. This growing time-wasting gap, policy makers and researchers say, is more a reflection of the ability of parents to monitor and limit how children use technology than of access to it.
"I'm not antitechnology at home, but it's not a savior," said Laura Robell, the principal at Elmhurst Community Prep, a public middle school in East Oakland, Calif., who has long doubted the value of putting a computer in every home without proper oversight. "So often we have parents come up to us and say, 'I have no idea how to monitor Facebook,' " she said.
The new divide is such a cause of concern for the Federal Communications Commission that it is considering a proposal to spend $200 million to create a digital literacy corps. This group of hundreds, even thousands, of trainers would fan out to schools and libraries to teach productive uses of computers for parents, students and job seekers. Separately, the commission will help send digital literacy trainers this fall to organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, the League of United Latin American Citizens, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Some of the financial support for this program, part of a broader initiative called Connect2Compete, comes from private companies like Best Buy and Microsoft.
These efforts complement a handful of private and state projects aimed at paying for digital trainers to teach everything from basic keyboard use and word processing to how to apply for jobs online or use filters to block children from seeing online pornography. "Digital literacy is so important," said Julius Genachowski, chairman of the commission, adding that bridging the digital divide now also means "giving parents and students the tools and know-how to use technology for education and job-skills training."
F.C.C. officials and other policy makers say they still want to get computing devices into the hands of every American. That gaps remains wide -- according to the commission, about 65 percent of all Americans have broadband access at home, but that figure is 40 percent in households with less than $20,000 in annual income. Half of all Hispanics and 41 percent of African-American homes lack broadband.
But "access is not a panacea," said Danah Boyd, a senior researcher at Microsoft. "Not only does it not solve problems, it mirrors and magnifies existing problems we've been ignoring." Like other researchers and policy makers, Ms. Boyd said the initial push to close the digital divide did not anticipate how computers would be used for entertainment. "We failed to account for this ahead of the curve," she said.
A study published in 2010 by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that children and teenagers whose parents do not have a college degree spent 90 minutes more per day exposed to media than children from higher socioeconomic families. In 1999, the difference was just 16 minutes.
The study found that children of parents who do not have a college degree spend 11.5 hours each day exposed to media from a variety of sources, including television, computer and other gadgets. That is an increase of 4 hours and 40 minutes per day since 1999. Children of more educated parents, generally understood as a proxy for higher socioeconomic status, also largely use their devices for entertainment. In families in which a parent has a college education or an advanced degree, Kaiser found, children use 10 hours of multimedia a day, a 3.5-hour jump since 1999. (Kaiser double counts time spent multitasking. If a child spends an hour simultaneously watching TV and surfing the Internet, the researchers counted two hours.)
"Despite the educational potential of computers, the reality is that their use for education or meaningful content creation is minuscule compared to their use for pure entertainment," said Vicky Rideout, author of the decade-long Kaiser study. "Instead of closing the achievement gap, they're widening the time-wasting gap." Policy makers and researchers say the challenges are heightened for parents and children with fewer resources -- the very people who were supposed to be helped by closing the digital divide.
The concerns are brought to life in families like those of Markiy Cook, a thoughtful 12-year-old in Oakland who loves technology. At home, where money is tight, his family has two laptops, an Xbox 360 and a Nintendo Wii, and he has his own phone. He uses them mostly for Facebook, YouTube, texting and playing games. He particularly likes playing them on the weekends. "I stay up all night, until like 7 in the morning," he said, laughing sheepishly. "It's why I'm so tired on Monday." His grades are suffering. His grade-point average is barely over 1.0, putting him at the bottom of his class. He wants to be a biologist when he grows up, he said. Markiy attends Elmhurst Community Prep, located in a rough area (the school has a tribute hanging in its hallway to a 15-year-old girl recently stabbed to death by the father of her baby). Thirty-five percent of the students, like Markiy, are black, and most of the rest are Hispanic.
Alejandro Zamora, 13, an eighth grader, calls himself "a Facebook freak." His mother, Olivia Montesdeoca, said she liked the idea of him using the computer (until it recently broke) but did not have much luck getting him to use it for homework. "He'd have a fit. He'd have a tantrum," she said, adding that she really did not understand some of what he did online. "I have no idea about YouTube. I've never even heard of a webcam." Ms. Robell, the principal, said children needed to know how to use technology to compete, but her priorities for her students were more basic: "Breakfast, lunch and dinner."
Many lower-income families take great pains to manage how their children use their devices. In Boston, Amy and Randolph Ross, neither of them a college graduate -- she works in a hospital and he at a bookstore -- recently bought their twin 15-year-old girls laptop computers as a reward for good grades. The parents make sure the computers are used mostly for homework or for the girls to explore their interest as budding musicians. "If you just buy the computer and don't guide them on the computer, of course it's going to be misused," Ms. Ross said.
Her mother-in-law, Edna Ross, the matriarch of their African-American family who lives nearby in Dorchester, Mass., feels the same way. She got a new Hewlett-Packard computer last year through a project funded by the National Institutes of Health intended to provide both access and nine months of digital literacy training.
Edna Ross is strict about how her grandchildren use the computer when they visit. One of her grandsons once sneaked onto the computer and put a picture of himself on his Facebook page making an obscene gesture. She told him if he could not control himself, he could not use the computer. Training, she said, is crucial. "If you already have a child who feels like anything goes and you put a computer in his hand," she said, "he's going to do the first negative thing he can find to do when he gets on the computer."
THREE million children in this country take drugs for problems in focusing. Toward the end of last year, many of their parents were deeply alarmed because there was a shortage of drugs like Ritalin and Adderall that they considered absolutely essential to their children's functioning.
But are these drugs really helping children? Should we really keep expanding the number of prescriptions filled?
In 30 years there has been a twentyfold increase in the consumption of drugs for attention-deficit disorder.
As a psychologist who has been studying the development of troubled children for more than 40 years, I believe we should be asking why we rely so heavily on these drugs.
It was Jamie Oliver's toughest challenge... getting US youngsters to ditch junk food and eat a healthier diet.
But six months after he convinced an LA school to swap fattening burgers for low-calorie salads, his revamped menu is - literally - being binned.
Hundreds of students at West Adams Preparatory High School, where his hit show Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution was filmed, are refusing to eat his cuisine.
Instead, bins are overflowing with the TV chef's veg curries, quinoa salads, Thai noodles and wheatbread burgers.
Many youngsters even go without lunch altogether.
"What was he thinking?" It's the familiar cry of bewildered parents trying to understand why their teenagers act the way they do.
How does the boy who can thoughtfully explain the reasons never to drink and drive end up in a drunken crash? Why does the girl who knows all about birth control find herself pregnant by a boy she doesn't even like? What happened to the gifted, imaginative child who excelled through high school but then dropped out of college, drifted from job to job and now lives in his parents' basement?
If you think of the teenage brain as a car, today's adolescents acquire an accelerator a long time before they can steer and brake.
Adolescence has always been troubled, but for reasons that are somewhat mysterious, puberty is now kicking in at an earlier and earlier age. A leading theory points to changes in energy balance as children eat more and move less.
Perhaps the most widespread peril children face isn't guns, swimming pools or speeding cars. Rather, scientists are suggesting that it may be "toxic stress" early in life, or even before birth.
This month, the American Academy of Pediatrics is issuing a landmark warning that this toxic stress can harm children for life. I'm as skeptical as anyone of headlines from new medical studies (Coffee is good for you! Coffee is bad for you!), but that's not what this is.
Rather, this is a "policy statement" from the premier association of pediatricians, based on two decades of scientific research. This has revolutionary implications for medicine and for how we can more effectively chip away at poverty and crime.
Toxic stress might arise from parental abuse of alcohol or drugs. It could occur in a home where children are threatened and beaten. It might derive from chronic neglect -- a child cries without being cuddled. Affection seems to defuse toxic stress -- keep those hugs and lullabies coming! -- suggesting that the stress emerges when a child senses persistent threats but no protector.
Cues of a hostile or indifferent environment flood an infant, or even a fetus, with stress hormones like cortisol in ways that can disrupt the body's metabolism or the architecture of the brain.
The upshot is that children are sometimes permanently undermined. Even many years later, as adults, they are more likely to suffer heart disease, obesity, diabetes and other physical ailments. They are also more likely to struggle in school, have short tempers and tangle with the law.
The crucial period seems to be from conception through early childhood. After that, the brain is less pliable and has trouble being remolded.
"You can modify behavior later, but you can't rewire disrupted brain circuits," notes Jack P. Shonkoff, a Harvard pediatrician who has been a leader in this field. "We're beginning to get a pretty compelling biological model of why kids who have experienced adversity have trouble learning."
This new research addresses an uncomfortable truth: Poverty is difficult to overcome partly because of self-destructive behaviors. Children from poor homes often shine, but others may skip school, abuse narcotics, break the law, and have trouble settling down in a marriage and a job. Then their children may replicate this pattern.
Liberals sometimes ignore these self-destructive pathologies. Conservatives sometimes rely on them to blame poverty on the poor.
The research suggests that the roots of impairment and underachievement are biologically embedded, but preventable. "This is the biology of social class disparities," Shonkoff said. "Early experiences are literally built into our bodies."
The implication is that the most cost-effective window to bring about change isn't high school or even kindergarten --although much greater efforts are needed in schools as well -- but in the early years of life, or even before birth.
"Protecting young children from adversity is a promising, science-based strategy to address many of the most persistent and costly problems facing contemporary society, including limited educational achievement, diminished economic productivity, criminality, and disparities in health," the pediatrics academy said in its policy statement.
One successful example of early intervention is home visitation by childcare experts, like those from the Nurse-Family Partnership. This organization sends nurses to visit poor, vulnerable women who are pregnant for the first time. The nurse warns against smoking and alcohol and drug abuse, and later encourages breast-feeding and good nutrition, while coaxing mothers to cuddle their children and read to them. This program continues until the child is 2.
At age 6, studies have found, these children are only one-third as likely to have behavioral or intellectual problems as others who weren't enrolled. At age 15, the children are less than half as likely to have been arrested.
Evidence of the importance of early experiences has been mounting like snowflakes in a blizzard. For example, several studies examined Dutch men and women who had been in utero during a brief famine at the end of World War II. Decades later, those "famine babies" had more trouble concentrating and more heart disease than those born before or after.
Other scholars examined children who had been badly neglected in Romanian orphanages. Those who spent more time in the orphanages had shorter telomeres, a change in chromosomes that's a marker of accelerated aging. Their brain scans also looked different.
The science is still accumulating. But a compelling message from biology is that if we want to chip away at poverty and improve educational and health outcomes, we have to start earlier. For many children, damage has been suffered before the first day of school.
As Frederick Douglass noted, "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men."
Nicholas Kristof is a columnist for The New York Times.
The quest to harness the power of DNA to develop personalized medicine is on the threshold of a major milestone: the $1,000 genome sequencing.
Life Technologies Corp., a Carlsbad, Calif., genomics company, plans to introduce Tuesday a machine it says will be able to map an individual's entire genetic makeup for $1,000 by the end of this year. Moreover, the machine and accompanying microchip technology, both developed by the company's Ion Torrent unit, will deliver the information in a day, the company says.
Instant messages are ubiquitous and convenient, but something primal may be lost in translation.
When girls stressed by a test talked with their moms, stress hormones dropped and comfort hormones rose. When they used IM, nothing happened. By the study's neurophysiological measures, IM was barely different than not communicating at all.
"IM isn't really a substitute for in-person or over-the-phone interaction in terms of the hormones released," said anthropologist Leslie Seltzer of the University of Wisconsin, lead author of the new study. "People still need to interact the way we evolved to interact."
They have the same piercing eyes. The same color hair. One may be shy, while the other loves meeting new people. Discovering why identical twins differ--despite having the same DNA--could reveal a great deal about all of us.
Every summer, on the first weekend in August, thousands of twins converge on Twinsburg, Ohio, a small town southeast of Cleveland named by identical twin brothers nearly two centuries ago.
They come, two by two, for the Twins Days Festival, a three-day marathon of picnics, talent shows, and look-alike contests that has grown into one of the world's largest gatherings of twins.
Dave and Don Wolf of Fenton, Michigan, have been coming to the festival for years. Like most twins who attend, they enjoy spending time with each other. In fact, during the past 18 years, the 53-year-old truckers, whose identical beards reach down to their chests, have driven more than three million miles together, hauling everything from diapers to canned soup from places like Seattle, Washington, to Camden, New Jersey. While one sits at the wheel of their diesel Freightliner, the other snoozes in the bunk behind him. They listen to the same country gospel stations on satellite radio, share the same Tea Party gripes about big government, and munch on the same road diet of pepperoni, apples, and mild cheddar cheese. On their days off they go hunting or fishing together. It's a way of life that suits them.
A fabric cap is fitted to my head and 32 electrodes are inserted into the cap's sockets, each with a dose of conducting gel to make sure there is good contact with my scalp. The final touches are a pair of eye tracking sensors above each eyebrow.
Then the experiment begins, recording brainwaves as I look at film clips with different degrees of violence and romantic engagement. The half-hour session is entirely painless; the apparatus does not irradiate the brain but passively measures its electrical activity at different frequencies to assess my attention, emotional engagement and likely memory retention of each clip. The only after-effect is hair messed up by the gel.
My electroencephalography (EEG) session typifies the experience of hundreds of subjects who have their brains scanned every day in laboratories around the world, in the cause of better marketing. As they look at product prototypes, packaging designs and advertising campaigns, neuromarketing experts read their brainwaves to glean insights into their unconscious likes and dislikes, which might not appear through questioning in conventional market research.
It's lunchtime at Van Nuys High School and students stream into the cafeteria to check out the day's fare: black bean burgers, tostada salad, fresh pears and other items on a new healthful menu introduced this year by the Los Angeles Unified School District.
But Iraides Renteria and Mayra Gutierrez don't even bother to line up. Iraides said the school food previously made her throw up, and Mayra calls it "nasty, rotty stuff." So what do they eat? The juniors pull three bags of Flamin' Hot Cheetos and soda from their backpacks.
"This is our daily lunch," Iraides says. "We're eating more junk food now than last year."
For many students, L.A. Unified's trailblazing introduction of healthful school lunches has been a flop. Earlier this year, the district got rid of chocolate and strawberry milk, chicken nuggets, corn dogs, nachos and other food high in fat, sugar and sodium. Instead, district chefs concocted such healthful alternatives as vegetarian curries and tamales, quinoa salads and pad Thai noodles.
An increasingly cozy alliance between companies that manufacture processed foods and companies that serve the meals is making students -- a captive market -- fat and sick while pulling in hundreds of millions of dollars in profits. At a time of fiscal austerity, these companies are seducing school administrators with promises to cut costs through privatization. Parents who want healthier meals, meanwhile, are outgunned.
Each day, 32 million children in the United States get lunch at schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program, which uses agricultural surplus to feed children. About 21 million of these students eat free or reduced-price meals, a number that has surged since the recession. The program, which also provides breakfast, costs $13.3 billion a year.
One out of every 15 high school students smokes marijuana on a near daily basis, a figure that has reached a 30-year peak even as use of alcohol, cigarettes and cocaine among teenagers continues a slow decline, according to a new government report.
The popularity of marijuana, which is now more prevalent among 10th graders than cigarette smoking, reflects what researchers and drug officials say is a growing perception among teenagers that habitual marijuana use carries little risk of harm. That perception, experts say, is fueled in part by wider familiarity with medicinal marijuana and greater ease in obtaining it.
Although it is difficult to track the numbers, "we're clearly seeing an increase in teenage marijuana use that corresponds pretty clearly in time with the increase in medical marijuana use," said Dr. Christian Thurstone, medical director of the adolescent substance abuse treatment program at Denver Health and Hospital Authority, who was not involved in the study. Medical marijuana is legal in 16 states, including Colorado, and the District of Columbia.
One drive back from Dallas on Interstate 30 is indelibly etched into my memory. I was in the center lane. And just forward of me in the right lane, a soft-top Jeep slowly started drifting across all three lanes of traffic, never slowing down. I honked my horn to alert the driver, but the Jeep left the highway and slammed into the first wooden pike in a crash barrier, throwing the vehicle's rear end so high that I thought it might flip over.
Pulling onto the shoulder 50 or so feet ahead of the Jeep, I ran back, expecting the worst. But, while the driver was certainly going to be bruised, she was actually all right. So was her dog, in the front passenger floorboard. When I asked what had happened, she said she'd leaned over to pour some water into her dog's bowl on the floorboard and just wasn't paying attention. But I'd watched this accident unfold over five to seven seconds: She didn't just lean over for a second, she was completely oblivious to her loss of control of her vehicle until it crashed. I couldn't help but notice all the prescription bottles littering the Jeep's interior; one, filled the day before, was for Valium.
Because I had my cell phone with me, I had called Arlington 911 before I ever made it to her wreck.
Appearances suggest Madisonians would be sympathetic to Madison Preparatory Academy.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School, here.
Here is a citizenry known for its progressivism, inclusiveness and embrace of the disenfranchised.
And here is a five-year educational experiment aimed at helping students of darker skin and lesser means who are sometimes only a couple of years removed from failing schools in Chicago and Milwaukee.
I guess appearances can be deceiving.
On Monday, the Madison School Board is likely to go along with district administrators' recommendation to vote down a five-year charter for Madison Prep, a project of the Urban League of Greater Madison that would aim to improve the performance and life prospects of students the district has so far failed to reach.
I suspect Madison Prep's future wouldn't be so dire if over the last year Madison's supposedly liberal power structure had been willing to take up its cause.
As a fledgling voice of reform in higher education, Salman Khan is an oddity. He cannot name any higher education accrediting agencies off the top of his head. He advocates for competency-based credentialing, but has never heard of Western Governors University. He is capable of talking on the phone for a full hour without using the word "disruptive" once. Until recently, he was an analyst for a hedge fund.
Here is what Khan does know: algebra, statistics, trigonometry, calculus, computer science, biology, chemistry, astronomy, physics, economics, and finance -- well enough, at least, to demonstrate the concepts via brief video tutorials on Khan Academy, his free learning website. What began in 2006 as an attempt to tutor his young cousin from afar has evolved into a 2,700-video library with millions of monthly visitors.
Many have lauded Khan's natural skill as a teacher. Khan's charmingly unpolished home recordings form the public face of the organization and provide a peg for media narratives about online learning and the YouTube-ification of the textbook in an era where the rising prices and demand for higher education has collided with the Internet's culture of free.
When the end finally came, it came fast. Spotting Steve's red BMW convertible parked in the driveway, Culver City police in tactical vests and armed with assault weapons quickly deployed, swarming the front and rear entrances. Wearing a green nylon jacket with RAID splashed across the shoulders, Sergeant Jason Sims knocked on the front door, then ordered his men to break it down with a battering ram. Inside, kids screamed, cried, or just stood there trying to wrap their heads around what they were witnessing--and what their parents were witnessing. Because this was a Thursday, this was Family Night. Expecting to endure an evening of candor with impunity--Guess what, Mother? The world doesn't revolve around you!--parents had their bean dip and decaf upended by an armed raid. Tilling the big wayward ship of their children's adolescence had left them chronically alert to trouble, but not like this.
More parents are opting out of school shots for their children. In eight states now, more than one in 20 public school kindergartners aren't getting all the vaccines required for attendance, an Associated Press analysis found.
That growing trend among parents seeking vaccine exemptions has health officials worried about outbreaks of diseases that once were all but stamped out.
Take measles, for example. It can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis and death. Since 2000, one in every 250 Americans who got measles died.
The measles vaccine is so effective, 99.9% of those who get vaccinated gain immunity, said Geoffrey Swain, associate professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and chief medical officer for the Milwaukee Health Department.
Many children cannot get the measles vaccine, though, because they aren't old enough - the first dose of vaccine is recommended between 12 and 15 months. Or, they have medical issues or families with religious beliefs that leave them unprotected and susceptible to measles through no fault of their own, Swain said.
As soon as the school day ended, the rush at the health clinic began.
Two high school seniors asked for sports physicals. A group of teenagers lined up for free condoms. A girl told a counselor she needed a pregnancy test.
The clinic, at Belmont High School near downtown Los Angeles, is part of a rapidly expanding network of school-based centers around the nation offering free or low-cost medical care to students and their families.
In California, there are 183 school health centers, up from 121 in 2004. Twelve more are expected to open by next summer, according to the California School Health Center Assn.
The centers have become a small but important part of the nation's healthcare safety net, experts say, treating low-income patients who might otherwise not have regular medical care. Now, they add, campus clinics are serving as a model for health officials trying to reduce costs.
South Korean police have detained a teenager suspected of murdering his mother after she allegedly beat him with a golf club to get better school grades, in a case that has raised questions about the high-pressure nature of the country's education system.
The macabre incident has shocked the nation, with younger mothers questioning the values of previous generations who have been pushing children hard to improve their school performance.
"Children are being driven to the limit ... so many of them suffer from depression, kill themselves or commit impulsive crimes out of desperation," says Oh Sung-sook, head of the Citizens' Council for Educational Reform, an activist group.
Psychologists argue that the educational rat-race - children are routinely forced to study late into the night seven days a week and corporal punishment is still permitted - is stunting social development.
For lunch, Josh Rivera chose a plate of saffron rice, Jerusalem salad and a Greek-marinated kebab of free-range chicken raised without antibiotics.
"Last year I used to get a burger and pizza, but they were really greasy," the high school sophomore said. "This is a lot tastier than before."
Lynn Vo, a sophomore who was eating organic fruit salad along with penne in a Bolognese sauce made with grass-fed beef, agreed. "Last year the pasta tasted like sweat," she said. "But this year it's really good."
It's astonishing enough that notoriously picky high schoolers would have something nice to say about their cafeteria, in this case the one at Niles North High School in Skokie, Ill., just north of Chicago. But these meals containing premium ingredients are provided free to low-income students or sold for $2.25 at most.
A decade ago, a neuroscientist named Charles Nelson traveled to Bucharest to visit Romania's infamous orphanages. There, he saw a child whose brain had swelled to the size of a basketball because of an untreated infection and a malnourished one-year-old no bigger than a newborn. But what has stayed with him ever since was the eerie quiet of the infant wards. "It would be dead silent, all of [the babies] sitting on their backs and staring at the ceiling," says Nelson, who is now at Harvard. "Why cry when nobody is going to pay attention to you?"
Nelson had traveled to Romania to take part in a cutting-edge experiment. It was ten years after the fall of the Communist dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu, whose scheme for increasing the country's population through bans on birth control and abortion had filled state-run institutions with children their parents couldn't support. Images from the orphanages had prompted an outpouring of international aid and a rush from parents around the world to adopt the children. But ten years later, the new government remained convinced that the institutions were a good idea--and was still warehousing at least 60,000 kids, some of them born after the old regime's fall, in facilities where many received almost no meaningful human interaction. With backing from the MacArthur Foundation, and help from a sympathetic Romanian official, Nelson and colleagues from Harvard, Tulane, and the University of Maryland prevailed upon the government to allow them to remove some of the children from the orphanages and place them with foster families. Then, the researchers would observe how they fared over time in comparison with the children still in the orphanages. They would also track a third set of children, who were with their original parents, as a control group.
Forget everything you may have read about coping with children's temper tantrums. Time-outs, sticker charts, television denial--for many, none of these measures will actually result in long-term behavior change, according to researchers at two academic institutions.
Instead, a set of techniques known as "parent management training" is proving so helpful to families struggling with a child's unmanageable behavior that clinicians in the U.S. and the U.K. are starting to adopt them.
Aimed at teaching parents to encourage sustained behavior change, it was developed in part at parenting research clinics at Yale University and King's College London.
Even violent tantrums, or clinging to the point of riding on a parent's leg, can be curbed, researchers say.
Lots of kids have tried lentils. But what about Ethiopian-style lentils, accompanied by injera bread, couscous and cucumber salad?
Fourth graders in Santa Fe, N.M. prepared this lunch feast themselves as part of a nutrition education program called Cooking with Kids. And nutrition experts say programs like this one are not just about expanding timid kids' palates.
Even as home economics classes have been phased out in recent years, some schools are bringing cooking back. And a new study that evaluates cooking curriculum says these hands-on classes do more than just prepare students to cook a decent meal.
"Teachers and principals are seeing how the classroom cooking experience helps support critical thinking, collaboration, and problem-solving skills," says study author Leslie Cunningham-Sabo, a nutrition researcher at Colorado State University. The study appears this week in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.
Banning sugar-filled sodas from American schools as an effort to combat childhood obesity doesn't reduce overall consumption levels of sweetened beverages, research found.
In U.S. states that banned only soda, about 30 percent of middle-school students still purchased sugary drinks like sports and fruit beverages at school, similar to states that had no policy, according to a study released online today in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. In states that banned all sugar-sweetened beverages, students still consumed the drinks outside of school, the researchers said.
Over the past 25 years, children have gotten more of their calories from sugary beverages and consumption of the drinks has been associated with childhood obesity and weight gain, the authors said. Today's study is the first to look at whether efforts by states to curb these drinks really works, said Daniel Taber, the lead study author.
In the opening scene of The Social Network, Jesse Eisenberg portrays a cold Mark Zuckerberg getting dumped by his girlfriend, who is exasperated by the future Facebook founder's socially oblivious and obsessive personality. Eisenberg's Zuckerberg is the stereotypical Silicon Valley geek -- brilliant with technology, pathologically bereft of social graces. Or, in the parlance of the Valley: 'on the spectrum'.
Few scientists think that the leaders of the tech world actually have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which can range from the profound social, language and behavioural problems that are characteristic of autistic disorder, to the milder Asperger's syndrome. But according to an idea that is creeping into the popular psyche, they and many others in professions such as science and engineering may display some of the characteristics of autism, and have an increased risk of having children with the full-blown disorder.
Inequality is inevitable; life is a bell curve. Such are the brute facts of biology, which can only evolve because some living things are better at reproducing than others. But not all inequality is created equal. In recent years, it's become clear that many kinds of wealth disparity are perfectly acceptable -- capitalism could not exist otherwise -- while alternate forms make us unhappy and angry.
The bad news is that American society seems to be developing the wrong kind of inequality. There is, for instance, this recent study published in Psychological Science, which found that, since the 1970s, the kind of inequality experienced by most Americans has undermined perceptions of fairness and trust, which in turn reduced self-reports of life satisfaction:
Yet I am surprised--surprised and disappointed. This is a very dangerous level of immunization--the level where herd immunity gets lost, disease reservoirs are established, and children emerge from their school to infect infants, immunocrompromised adults, and people whose vaccinations didn't take or have waned, with potentially fatal diseases.
Some New York City children take after-school classes in dance, pottery or softball. Once a week, Gillian and Hunter Randall add an unusual activity to the list: lessons on how to shake hands.
It's a class taught by SocialSklz:-), a company founded in 2009 to address deteriorating social skills in the age of iPhones, Twitter and Facebook friends.
"It's hard to have a real conversation anymore. And you know what? I'm guilty of it too," said the Randalls' mother, Lisa LaBarbera, noting that her 10-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son both have iPod touches and handheld videogame devices. "You get carpal tunnel, but you're not building those communication
Some New York City children take after-school classes in dance, pottery or softball. Once a week, Gillian and Hunter Randall add an unusual activity to the list: lessons on how to shake hands.
It's a class taught by SocialSklz:-), a company founded in 2009 to address deteriorating social skills in the age of iPhones, Twitter and Facebook friends.
"It's hard to have a real conversation anymore. And you know what? I'm guilty of it too," said the Randalls' mother, Lisa LaBarbera, noting that her 10-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son both have iPod touches and handheld videogame devices. "You get carpal tunnel, but you're not building those communication
Recently there has been a significant move among Chinese educators to provide better sex education to students in college, primary schools and even kindergartens.
The Ministry of Education recently issued a circular requiring colleges to make courses on reproductive physiology and sex psychology part of the standard curriculum.
This kind of education as a rule is included in courses known as physiology and hygiene in middle schools, but in actual practice some more sensitive topics are either not addressed or glossed over by instructors who consider them embarrassing and not essential.
In the past, this kind of information about sexuality was generally passed on informally outside the schools, by young people.
One of the many stated reasons for offering formal, medically accurate instruction is to protect children from sex abuse, and to prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Scientists think they can prove that free will is an illusion. Philosophers are urging them to think again.
The experiment helped to change John-Dylan Haynes's outlook on life. In 2007, Haynes, a neuroscientist at the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience in Berlin, put people into a brain scanner in which a display screen flashed a succession of random letters1. He told them to press a button with either their right or left index fingers whenever they felt the urge, and to remember the letter that was showing on the screen when they made the decision. The experiment used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to reveal brain activity in real time as the volunteers chose to use their right or left hands. The results were quite a surprise.
"The first thought we had was 'we have to check if this is real'," says Haynes. "We came up with more sanity checks than I've ever seen in any other study before."
The conscious decision to push the button was made about a second before the actual act, but the team discovered that a pattern of brain activity seemed to predict that decision by as many as seven seconds. Long before the subjects were even aware of making a choice, it seems, their brains had already decided.
Considerable research confirms the relationship between school start times, sleep deprivation, and student performance, truancy, and absenteeism, as well as depression, mood swings, impulse control, tobacco and alcohol use, impaired cognitive function and decision-making, obesity, stimulant abuse, automobile accidents, and suicide. Mounting evidence about the biology of adolescent sleep, and about the impact of later start times, shows that starting school before 8 a.m. not only undermines academic achievement but endangers health and safety. Because logistical and financial issues prevent local school systems from establishing safe and educationally defensible hours, however, federal legislation mandating start times consistent with student health and educational well-being is essential.Terra Snider:
As the parent of two former and one current Severna Park High School student, I've been living with the issue of early high school start times for years. Although the consensus of scientific opinion is that teenagers (and young adults) would be better off if school hours were better aligned with their biological clocks, the possibility of changing school hours inevitably sparks raging controversy, both here and across the country.
Changing school hours costs money, and we all know school systems don't have a lot of that on hand. It also means changing the way we do things, and most of us don't like doing that much either. On the other hand, Moses didn't come down from Mount Sinai with commandments that schools must start at 7:17 a.m. and end at 2:05 p.m.
Surely if we know students learn better, and are healthier and safer, with different hours, we should make that our number one priority. Shouldn't we?
The Severna Park High School CAC (and the now defunct countywide CAC) have been working on the issue of high school start time for years, decades even - to no avail. Many of us have become convinced that the only solution to the problem is a national mandate. That's why I created a petition on We the People on WhiteHouse.gov, a new platform that allows anyone to create and sign petitions asking the Obama Administration to take action on a range of issues.
Parents of infants and toddlers should limit the time their children spend in front of televisions, computers, self-described educational games and even grown-up shows playing in the background, the American Academy of Pediatrics warned on Tuesday. Video screen time provides no educational benefits for children under age 2 and leaves less room for activities that do, like interacting with other people and playing, the group said.
The recommendation, announced at the group's annual convention in Boston, is less stringent than its first such warning, in 1999, which called on parents of young children to all but ban television watching for children under 2 and to fill out a "media history" for doctor's office visits. But it also makes clear that there is no such thing as an educational program for such young children, and that leaving the TV on as background noise, as many households do, distracts both children and adults.
"We felt it was time to revisit this issue because video screens are everywhere now, and the message is much more relevant today that it was a decade ago," said Dr. Ari Brown, a pediatrician in Austin, Tex., and the lead author of the academy's policy, which appears in the current issue of the journal Pediatrics.
I notice that last summer Karl Smith asked "Why Are There Short People?" His logic is pretty good, except for the fact that the fitness variation seems to be much starker in males than females (there is some evidence I've seen that shorter women can be more fertile, though that's balanced by the fact that larger women seem to be able to manage gestation better). In any case, height seems to be a fitness enhancing trait which is highly heritable, and yet the variation in height remains!
Karl's readers offered some reasons. What do you think? Mind you, something which immediately comes to mind is that the logic presented for why everyone should be tall and vary only a touch is logic. Not all the assumptions need to hold. For example, has the advantage to height been invariant at all times and places? I have posited for example that the fact that humans became smaller after the Ice Age may have something to do with increased morbidity and declining mortality, where agricultural settlements "hugged" the Malthusian boundary more consistently than hunter-gatherers. In this sort of environment smaller individuals may have gained a fitness advantage because they required fewer resources to make it through the inevitable "starving times."*
Roll call is a thing of the past in Washington County Schools. Students now check in with finger scanning devices.Wow....
School Superintendent Sandra Cook said the old method just wasn't cutting it.
"We got to talking about attendance in our district and how it was inconsistent," said Cook.
The systems have been up and running for two months inside the schools, but since the majority of students ride the bus every day, district officials decided to move the devices there.
But the transition hasn't been easy. One of the biggest challenges they've faced is where to put the devices on the buses. State safety codes require the isles to be kept completely clear, so one of the ideas they've discussed is to put a laptop on one side of the steering wheel and the finger scan system on the other.
I've prescribed Ritalin type drugs to children for 33 years. In the early 1990s I began feeling ethically uneasy about my professional role. I went public with my concerns in a book called "Running on Ritalin." In the process I was involuntarily enlisted into what has been called, "The Ritalin Wars," an often-polemical public debate about whether psychiatric drugs are good or bad for children.
Recently I published an article on The Huffington Post called "The United States of Adderall." I mentioned that we are 4 percent of the world's population but produce 88 percent of the world's legal amphetamine (Ritalin, Adderall, Concerta, etc.) virtually all for the treatment of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adults. I tried to maintain a balanced view on ADHD and medication. The article generated over 200 mostly extreme comments from my point of view.
The outbreak of scarlet fever in Hong Kong earlier this year caught the attention of specialists at the World Health Organisation. We think of scarlet fever in developed societies as a disease that was pretty well vanquished decades ago. So the emergence of a scarlet fever outbreak in a modern city like Hong Kong and in mainland China was something of an unexpected event. But more disquieting was the suggestion that the bacteria causing the disease had become resistant to certain antibiotics. Happily, the worst of the outbreak is over, but the global problem of drug resistance is definitely not.
The discovery early last century of penicillin and antimicrobial drugs changed the course of history. Science began to gain the upper hand in the war on disease, and, at last, scourges such as leprosy, tuberculosis, gonorrhoea, syphilis and many more could be mastered. But now many of those miracle drugs and the generations of others that followed could finish up in the rubbish bin as increasing levels of drug resistance threaten their effectiveness.
The National Education Policy Center finds that districts, including L.A. Unified, have increasingly suspended minority students, mostly for nonviolent offenses, over the last decade.
In the decade since school districts instituted "zero tolerance" discipline policies, administrators have increasingly suspended minority students, predominantly for nonviolent offenses, according to a report released Wednesday.
The National Education Policy Center found that suspensions across the country are increasing for offenses such as dress code and cellphone violations. Researchers expressed concerns that the overuse of suspensions could lead to dropouts and even incarceration.
Suspensions are falling mostly on black students; nearly a third of black males in middle school have been suspended at least once, researchers from the University of Colorado-based group found.
If the FDA won't go after diet sodas for all the dangerous chemicals they contain, maybe the FTC can take action for false advertising.
There's nothing "diet" about diet sodas. After all, studies have linked them to metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart problems, and more.
And now, yet another study confirms that people who drink the most diet soda have the biggest bellies.
Researchers from the University of Texas medical school examined data on 474 seniors who took part in the San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging, and found that the waistlines of those who drank diet soda grew 70 percent more than those who didn't drink the stuff during the average follow-up of nearly 10 years.
And the more they drank, the more they grew: The researchers say those who drank two or more diet sodas a day had five times the increase in belly size than those who drank no soda, according to the study presented at a recent American Diabetes Association meeting.
Denmark is to impose the world's first "fat tax" in a drive to slim its population and cut heart disease.
The move may increase pressure for a similar tax in the UK, which suffers from the highest levels of obesity in Europe.
Starting from this Saturday, Danes will pay an extra 30p on each pack of butter, 8p on a pack of crisps, and an extra 13p on a pound of mince, as a result of the tax.
The tax is expected to raise about 2.2bn Danish Krone (£140m), and cut consumption of saturated fat by close to 10pc, and butter consumption by 15pc.
"It's the first ever fat-tax," said Mike Rayner, Director of Oxford University's Health Promotion Research Group, who has long campaigned for taxes on unhealthy foods.
It's 9 a.m., and the rush is on.
Buses disgorge hundreds of students at one side of Bailey Elementary School in Woodbury. On the other side, parents line up in SUVs to drop off their kids.
"Bye-bye," says Silva Theis of Woodbury, kissing her fourth-grade daughter.
In the hubbub, no one notices what's missing - the dying practice of walking to school. Of 620 students at Bailey, not one walks - not even those who live one block away.
Managers of a 6-year-old federal program think they know why.
The current research explores how roles that possess power but lack status influence behavior toward others. Past research has primarily examined the isolated effects of having either power or status, but we propose that power and status interact to affect interpersonal behavior. Based on the notions that a) low-status is threatening and aversive and b) power frees people to act on their internal states and feelings, we hypothesized that power without status fosters demeaning behaviors toward others. To test this idea, we orthogonally manipulated both power and status and gave participants the chance to select activities for their partners to perform. As predicted, individuals in high-power/low-status roles chose more demeaning activities for their partners (e.g., bark like a dog, say "I am filthy") than did those in any other combination of power and status roles. We discuss how these results clarify, challenge, and advance the existing power and status literatures.
Texas children are fat -- and getting fatter.
It is something state policy makers have known and have struggled to address for years. In the last decade, the Legislature has passed laws that set nutritional standards for school meals, required body mass index screenings for children and adolescents, and instituted physical activity requirements.
The latest effort came during this year's legislative session with a bill passed by Senator Jane Nelson, Republican of Flower Mound, that allows a deeper study of schools' fitness data.
Under the new law, researchers can access unidentified individual student data, which they say will help bolster aggregate analyses that already show correlations between physical fitness and academic performance, gang activity and absenteeism.
To see past the distracting, dopey teenager and glimpse the adaptive adolescent within, we should look not at specific, sometimes startling, behaviors, such as skateboarding down stairways or dating fast company, but at the broader traits that underlie those acts.
Let's start with the teen's love of the thrill. We all like new and exciting things, but we never value them more highly than we do during adolescence. Here we hit a high in what behavioral scientists call sensation seeking: the hunt for the neural buzz, the jolt of the unusual or unexpected.
Seeking sensation isn't necessarily impulsive. You might plan a sensation-seeking experience--a skydive or a fast drive--quite deliberately, as my son did. Impulsivity generally drops throughout life, starting at about age 10, but this love of the thrill peaks at around age 15. And although sensation seeking can lead to dangerous behaviors, it can also generate positive ones: The urge to meet more people, for instance, can create a wider circle of friends, which generally makes us healthier, happier, safer, and more successful.
As more Chicago public schools cash in on Mayor Rahm Emanuel's longer-day financial incentives by adding 90 minutes to their school day, the previous votes by a dozen schools to add about a half hour to the day by bringing back recess are going unnoticed.
Restoring recess is part of a broader health push by parents, advocacy groups and some city officials to bring more exercise and better nutrition to both schoolchildren and preschoolers.
Beginning in November, the city's Department of Public Health will require children who attend preschool or day care centers in Chicago to spend less time in front of television or computer screens -- 60 minutes or less -- and more time, at least an hour a day, participating in physical activity. At snack or meal time, milk cannot have a fat content higher than 1 percent, unless a child has written consent from a doctor. Only 100 percent juice can be served.
In Chicago, 22 percent of children are overweight before they enter school, more than twice the national average, according to research compiled by the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children, a group of organizations and health advocates.
Ask most third-graders whether they'd rather run laps in hundred-degree temperatures or play a video game, and it doesn't take a genius to correctly predict their answer.
What did take some brainpower, however, was figuring out how use that fondness for electronic games to get some of the same benefits as running.
Wee Can Fight Obesity is a fitness program for third-graders in Alabama public schools, and uses the Wii Fit Plus Bundle and EA Sports Active video games to improve physical fitness three days a week during P.E. class.
The one-year program is in 30 schools this year, and was in 30 different schools last year. The goal is to eventually offer the program to every elementary school.
Middle school and high school students who have not received the required whooping cough vaccine are denied attendance at some California schools. This comes as a result of a law passed last year, after a spike in potentially fatal diseases swept through schools. Last year, there were 70 reported cases for whooping cough.
This law, passed in September 2010, required all students entering grades seventh through twelfth grade to be vaccinated by the start of 2011-2012 school year. Even after a 30 day extension period before the law went into effect, students were still unable to meet the deadline for the vaccination.
A group of researchers said that by examining the whole genome of a family of four, they were able to make unusually specific findings, including the daughter's risk of blood clots, and suggestions for preventive care.
The study, published Thursday in the journal PLoS Genetics, was led by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, Calif., but also listed as co-authors John and Anne West, a father and daughter who were researching their own genetic make-up at home in Silicon Valley and met the Stanford team in the process. The research is part of scientists' continuing quest to extract truly useful information from the genome, a person's complete genetic code.
This is the second time a paper has been published about a family's whole genome. In the earlier paper, published last year in Science Express by a different group of researchers, the two children in the family had rare genetic conditions, and researchers were searching for the genes that caused them. The goal in the current study was to better predict the disease risk of a family and how family members might respond to medications.
For many middle school students, the words "Phys Ed" are enough to provoke fear--fear of getting dressed in the locker room, of wearing a nerdy uniform, of looking clumsy, of being picked last.
Tammy Brant, a gym teacher at Selma Middle School, in Selma, Ind., is rethinking the way schools have taught girls and boys about fitness. Instead of group calisthenics and contests that favor the most athletic kids, Ms. Brant, like many other teachers nationwide, devotes class time to fitness instruction and to games structured so that more kids can play and enjoy.
Instead of pushing everyone to hit specific performance targets, she urges them to progress toward individualized "fitness zones." She teaches the stages of a workout--warm-up, training, cool-down--and straps a heart monitor on each child. The goal is to instill healthy habits for life.
The cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants is in hot water from a study suggesting that watching just nine minutes of that program can cause short-term attention and learning problems in 4-year-olds.
The problems were seen in a study of 60 children randomly assigned to either watch "SpongeBob," or the slower-paced PBS cartoon "Caillou" or assigned to draw pictures. Immediately after these nine-minute assignments, the kids took mental function tests; those who had watched "SpongeBob" did measurably worse than the others. Previous research has linked TV-watching with long-term attention problems in children, but the new study suggests more immediate problems can occur after very little exposure -- results that parents of young kids should be alert to, the study authors said.
Kids' cartoon shows typically feature about 22 minutes of action, so watching a full program "could be more detrimental," the researchers speculated, But they said more evidence is needed to confirm that.
The results should be interpreted cautiously because of the study's small size, but the data seem robust and bolster the idea that media exposure is a public health issue, said Dr. Dimitri Christakis. He is a child development specialist at Seattle Children's Hospital who wrote an editorial accompanying the study published online Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
Christakis said parents need to realize that fast-paced programming may not be appropriate for very young children. "What kids watch matters, it's not just how much they watch," he said.
University of Virginia psychology professor Angeline Lillard, the lead author, said Nickelodeon's "SpongeBob" shouldn't be singled out. She found similar problems in kids who watched other fast-paced cartoon programming. She said parents should realize that young children are compromised in their ability to learn and use self-control immediately after watching such shows. "I wouldn't advise watching such shows on the way to school or any time they're expected to pay attention and learn," she said.
Nickelodeon spokesman David Bittler disputed the findings and said "SpongeBob SquarePants" is aimed at kids aged 6-11, not 4-year-olds. "Having 60 non-diverse kids, who are not part of the show's targeted (audience), watch nine minutes of programming is questionable methodology and could not possibly provide the basis for any valid findings that parents could trust," he said.
Lillard said 4-year-olds were chosen because that age "is the heart of the period during which you see the most development" in certain self-control abilities. Whether children of other ages would be similarly affected can't be determined from this study. Most kids were white and from middle-class or wealthy families. They were given common mental function tests after watching cartoons or drawing. The SpongeBob kids scored on average 12 points lower than the other two groups, whose scores were nearly identical.
In another test, measuring self-control and impulsiveness, kids were rated on how long they could wait before eating snacks presented when the researcher left the room. "SpongeBob" kids waited about 2 1/2 minutes on average, versus at least four minutes for the other two groups. The study has several limitations. For one thing, the kids weren't tested before they watched TV. But Lillard said none of the children had diagnosed attention problems and all got similar scores on parent evaluations of their behavior.
Online: Pediatrics: http://www.pediatrics.org
"Motivation is part of education and classroom teachers should have input because they are the ones doing the work. "
"Not all candy purchases are used for motivation."
"The question becomes do we want to be the food police in the schools. "
"Teachers and principals might not understand why this issue is being pushed so hard. "
---Administration Response to "Candy Purchases" issue (Minutes of the Finance Committee meeting 8-22-11)
Randy White of the Dallas Cowboys, star defensive tackle of the 1970s, member of both the College Football Hall of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame: What a joy it was to watch him play! White was a master of leverage, burst and anticipation. Today, he might not even make an NFL roster. If White got on the field, he'd be crushed.
White played defensive tackle at 257 pounds, across from centers weighing 240 or 250 pounds and guards who were considered huge if 265. Last year's Super Bowl featured defensive tackles B.J. Raji (337 pounds) and Casey Hampton (330 pounds) versus guards Chris Kemoeatu (344 pounds) and Josh Sitton (318 pounds). Either guard would have steamrolled Randy White as if he wasn't there.
As for today's biceps: Your Honor, I call to the stand America's leading expert on these matters, Mel Kiper Jr. Everyone assumes today's football players are bigger, faster and stronger than those who came before. But what does the data show? No one is better suited to answer that question than Kiper.
Far, far in the past -- about 1980 -- the United States was not obsessed with the NFL draft. Of course that's hard to imagine today. Once, bread did not come sliced. But I digress.
Now that children are back in the classroom, are they really learning the lessons that will help them succeed?
Many child development experts worry that the answer may be no. They say the ever-growing emphasis on academic performance and test scores means many children aren't developing life skills like self-control, motivation, focus and resilience, which are far better predictors of long-term success than high grades. And it may be distorting their and their parents' values.
"What are we really trying to do when we think about raising kids?" asked Dr. Kenneth R. Ginsburg, an expert in adolescent medicine at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "We're trying to put in place the ingredients so the child is going to be a successful 35-year-old. It's not really about getting an A in algebra."
Take the question of praising a child's academic achievement. In his new book "Letting Go With Love and Confidence: Raising Responsible, Resilient, Self-Sufficient Teens in the 21st Century" (written with Susan Fitzgerald), Dr. Ginsburg draws a crucial distinction between hard work and simply getting an A or "being smart."
In one set of studies, children who solved math puzzles were praised for their intelligence or for their hard work. The first group actually did worse on subsequent tests, or took an easy way out, shunning difficult problems. The research suggests that praise for a good effort encourages harder work, while children who are consistently told they are smart do not know what to do when confronted with a difficult problem or reading assignment.
"When we focus on performance, when we say 'make sure you get A's,' we have kids who are terrified of B's," Dr. Ginsburg said. "Kids who are praised for effort, those kids learn that intelligence is something that can be built."
Academic achievement can certainly help children succeed, and for parents there can be a fine line between praising effort and praising performance. Words need to be chosen carefully: Instead of saying, "I'm so proud you got an A on your test," a better choice is "I'm so proud of you for studying so hard." Both replies rightly celebrate the A, but the second focuses on the effort that produced it, encouraging the child to keep trying in the future.
Praise outside of academics matters, too. Instead of asking your child how many points she scored on the basketball court, say, "Tell me about the game. Did you have fun? Did you play hard?"
Dr. Ginsburg notes that parents also need to teach their children that they do not have to be good at everything, and there is something to be learned when a child struggles or gets a poor grade despite studying hard.
"One of the feelings people often have is that in order to succeed, a child has to be good at absolutely everything," he said. "Human beings in the adult world are absolutely uneven, but we don't accept that in our children -- which pressures them in a way that's incredibly uncomfortable for them."
One strategy is to teach children that the differences between easy and difficult subjects can provide useful information about their goals and interests. Subjects they enjoy and excel in may become the focus of their careers. Challenging but interesting classes or sports can become hobbies. Subjects that are difficult and uninteresting are just something "you have to get past," Dr. Ginsburg said.
"We need to approach failure and difficulty and struggle as data that teach us what we should do with our lives," he said. "It's when you say to a child, 'I expect you to do well in everything,' that we're preparing them to fail."
Outside of school, parents have many opportunities to teach children about focus, self-control and critical thinking, said Ellen Galinsky, author of "Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs" and president of the Families and Work Institute, a nonprofit research group in New York.
When reading to children, for example, ask them what a character is thinking or feeling. That simple exercise helps develop perspective, an important social cognition skill.
In one experiment, children are given a crayon box but discover it really contains paper clips. Then the child is asked what a friend might think is in the box. Children younger than 4 typically respond "paper clips" because that's what they know to be true. But about 4, they begin to see things from others' perspective, understanding that the packaging would mislead another person just as it misled them.
"Perspective taking helps with school readiness and literacy," Ms. Galinsky said. "The child has to understand a teacher has a different perspective, their friends have different perspectives."
In young children, playing board games or games like Simon Says or Red Light, Green Light can help develop focus and self-control.
And in older children, parents willing to put in a little extra effort can help children develop critical thinking skills rather than just answering their questions. Ms. Galinsky recalls the time her son complained about boys being portrayed more negatively than girls on television.
She suggested he conduct an experiment: collect data on positive and negative portrayals by watching different shows and keeping a record. And when her son thought his data proved his point, Ms. Galinsky challenged the television sample, noting that he had watched only shows aimed at boys.
"Rather than dismiss it, I told him it was interesting, let's make a chart," she said. "I kept pushing back and talked about how to design a really good experiment. He got really into it, and it was an example of not answering him too quickly and letting him find out himself in order to help him become a critical thinker."
Of course, parents don't have to help children set up complicated experiments every time they ask a question. But when a question arises, Ms. Galinsky said, resist the temptation to say, "Look it up." Instead, say, "Let's look it up," and guide your child in ways to get the information.
"It's not just knowing the information," she said. "It's knowing how to find the answers to the questions that is the basis of critical thinking."
Four obese children are on the brink of being permanently removed from their family by social workers after their parents failed to bring their weight under control.
In the first case of its kind, their mother and father now face what they call the 'unbearable' likelihood of never seeing them again.
Their three daughters, aged 11, seven and one, and five-year-old son, will either be 'fostered without contact' or adopted.
Torn apart: The parents, far left and right, with six of their children who they fear will be taken away from them
Torn apart: The parents, far left and right, with six of their children who they fear will be taken away from them
Either way, the family's only hope of being reunited will be if the children attempt to track down their parents when they become adults.
The couple, who have been married for nearly 20 years and are not being named to protect their children's identities, were given a 'draconian' ultimatum three years ago - as reported at the time by The Mail on Sunday.
Warned that the children must slim or be placed in care, the family spent two years living in a council-funded 'Big Brother' house in which they were constantly supervised and the food they ate monitored.
TEAM REAL is made up of students from your community that are in-the-know about drugs of abuse. The facts provided will raise awareness of the local drug trends, costs of illicit drugs, ways kids are getting high, and the use of over-the-counter and licit medications as drugs of abuse.A larger version of this image is available here.
Like many North American college students, I am an experienced binge drinker. Most weekend nights during my undergraduate years, I would "pregame" with my dorm mates, before moving to local bars, and then one of my college town's crappy dance clubs, before staggering home, and, often, ending up with my head perched above the toilet. As part of my college's crew team, I would celebrate our victories (and losses) by drinking half-liters of vodka straight out of the bottle. And I would often make my way to my morning classes feeling like one of the worms from "Tremors" had just tried to wedge itself into my forehead.
In retrospect, all of this sounds both obnoxious and exhausting, but when I was 18 years old, drinking held a real, magical appeal. When drunk, I would feel socially skilled, and wonderfully impulsive, and far more fun than I'd ever been before. I was drawn to alcohol because it allowed me to escape my natural shyness and bond with people I barely even knew.
For years, researchers have published papers that associate chronic stress with chromosomal damage.
Now researchers at Duke University Medical Center have discovered a mechanism that helps to explain the stress response in terms of DNA damage.
"We believe this paper is the first to propose a specific mechanism through which a hallmark of chronic stress, elevated adrenaline, could eventually cause DNA damage that is detectable," said senior author Robert J. Lefkowitz, MD, James B. Duke Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator at Duke University Medical Center.
The paper was published in the August 21 online issue of Nature.
Most parents can safely assume that if their kids are at large, they're also online. What they're doing in cyberspace is another matter. With sexting and cyber-bullying in the headlines, a new set of programs is promising to help parents keep track.
Already some 50% of parents have installed software or another monitoring program to keep tabs on their kids' online activities, more than double the parents who had three years ago, according to software company Symantec. But unlike the old offerings, which typically monitor only the home computer, the new programs are specifically aimed at today's hyper-mobile, socially-networked teens. For up to $100 per month, they promise to keep track of online posts and communiqu s that show up on your kid's social networking accounts from wherever a teen sends them -- via a laptop, smartphone or even a friend's iPad. "Parents feel overwhelmed and out-gunned with the level of social media their kids are using," says Caroline Knorr, a spokeswoman for advocacy group Common Sense Media. "These programs can offer a measure of control and supervision."
Kids will be heading back to school soon and that means colds, flu and other easily shared infections are bound to pick up. But illness and school absenteeism can be significantly reduced through a program of mandatory hand hygiene, according to a recently published study in the American Journal of Infection Control.
For three months in 2007, 290 Danish schoolchildren age 5 to 15 were asked to disinfect their hands with ethanol-based gel three times a day. The children also were taught proper hand-washing techniques.
By contrast, at a nearby school, which served as a control group, parents of 362 pupils in the same age range received written information about a study of hand hygiene and absenteeism, but the kids weren't required to alter their habits.
Since the early 1990s, more young women than young men have been completing college. The survey attempted to gauge the public's reaction to this educational trend. Respondents were asked whether the fact that women are now more likely than men to get a college degree is a good thing for society, a bad thing or if it doesn't make much difference. Slightly over half of the public (52%) say this is a good thing for society, 39% say that it doesn't make much difference, and only 7% view this as a bad thing.
A similar share of men and women (50% and 55%, respectively) view the female advantage in college education as a good thing for society. Men are somewhat more likely than women to view this as neutral for society (45% vs. 34%), while women are nearly twice as likely as men to say it is a bad thing for society (9% vs. 5%).
A municipal vote in Seoul on Wednesday over free school lunches is shaping up as a test of South Koreans' sentiment on government welfare spending, and the outcome is expected to influence races in parliamentary and presidential elections next year.
Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon, a member of the conservative Grand National Party that controls the Parliament and presidency, pushed for the referendum as a challenge to the city council's decision to expand a free-lunch program.
The council, which is controlled by the opposition Democratic Party, earlier this year voted to provide free school lunches to all of Seoul's 850,000 elementary and middle-school students, at a cost of about $378 million a year. Supporters of the free-lunches-for-all policy say it removes the stigma that recipients of free lunches face.
By putting RFIDs on children and monitoring their interactions over a single day, researchers have produced one of the most detailed analyses ever of the roiling, boiling social free-for-all that is school.
The findings, published August 16 in Public Library of Science One, document the minute-by-minute interactions and locations of 232 children aged 6 to 12 and 10 teachers.
Reconfigured as pulsing network maps and flows of color are the universal experiences of middle school: the between-class rush, playground cliques, snatched hallway conversation and the fifth-graders who are too cool for everyone else.
"We can compare different types of assumptions or modeling with a model that takes into account all interactions," said Alain Barrat, who studies complex networks at the Institute of Scientific Interchange in Turin, Italy.
Dear Young, Gifted, Talented, and Black (YGTB),
Something has occured within our Black Community which needs to be addressed and I'm going to peel the scab off of it. The chasm has been widened between those in our community who possess knowledge, resources, wisdom, creativity, and determination and those who should be moving into the fold to advance our race. It is a slow death which if prolonged, will choke off any feasible possibility for future survival and success for our people.
YGTB, I sit positioned between you and our elders... not young enough nor mature enough to be in either category. I am transitioning and this is what I want to give you now during my journey (breadcrumbs to follow). Our (some) elders have eaten of the tree of (trick)knowledge bearing the forbidden fruit integration. The false promises of this fruit tantalized those who tasted its flesh with the hope of equality to White People, justice, freedom, legacy, and political power in America (our wilderness).
YGTB, stop!!!!! I am telling you not to follow down their path! Reject this fruit and the lies which flow from its bosom. What you need only to do is observe the plight of our people and judge if the present course (last 2 generations) of our direction produced results that have uplifted the majority of our people? If you see what I do, then you agree that our condition is getting worse. Do not continue to do what has failed us.
Would you rather have someone graduate high school with good computer skills or good character traits?
I grant it's a false choice. You ought to have both, and they're not in conflict. But I ask this as a way of asking what our priorities are when it comes to educating children.
It's hard to find a school that doesn't have lots of computers these days. The intense push to load schools up with computers seems to have eased, compared with a decade ago. Money is tighter now, and many schools don't need much more because they have a lot already.
But it's not so easy to find schools that have good character education programs.
Schools are held accountable for teaching reading and math and so on. The pressure is always on for academic records for each student and for a school as a whole. But students' character? Other than attendance and discipline for behavior problems, interest in that is pretty inconsistent.
Of course, many would say, it's not the school's job to civilize children. That's the parents' job. Absolutely correct, and I think more should be done to try to get more parents to do that job.
Questions about what social networks mean for personal privacy and security have been brought to a head by research at Carnegie Mellon University that shows that Facebook has essentially become a worldwide photo identification database. Paired with related research, we're looking at the prospect where good, bad and ugly actors will be able identify a face in a crowd and know sensitive personal information about that person.
These developments mean that we no longer have to worry just about what Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and other social sites do with our data; we have to worry about what they enable others to do, too. And it now seems that others will be able to do a lot.
Brothers Mike and Matt Wickert arrived at Twins Days here last weekend dressed alike. But their matching blue polo shirts and khaki shorts didn't gain them much attention.
The 32-year-old fraternal twins from Cincinnati don't share all that many features. Mike has blue eyes, Matt has brown. Mike's face is angular, and Matt's nose is more rounded. Matt's hair is dark brown; Mike's is blonder.
"I feel shafted here because everybody looks the same," said Matt Wickert who was attending the festival with his brother in the town named for a set of identical twin landowners, Moses and Aaron Wilcox.
Mike Wickert chimed in: "Yeah, we're the redheaded stepchild here, the fraternals."
According to a new study which will be presented August 4 at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, technology has made it possible to identify and gain the personal information of strangers by using facial recognition and social media profiles like Facebook.
The study, led by Alessandro Acquisti from Carnegie Mellon University, combined the use of three different technologies - cloud computing, facial recognition and public information that can be found on various social networking sites.
They used these technologies in three different experiments. In the first experiment, Acquisti and his team were able to identify members of an online dating site where members do not use their real names for identification. The second experiment allowed the research team to identify college students in real life walking on campus based solely on their face and information gathered online.
Just under half of British children aged 12 to 15 own a smartphone, with many claiming to be "addicted" to the devices, which they use while eating, at the cinema and in bed.
Research published by Ofcom, the communications market regulator, on Thursday found that smartphone ownership was highest among younger teenagers, with 47 per cent owning a device, compared with 27 per cent of British adults.
About 60 per cent of teenagers who owned smartphones described themselves as "addicted" to their handsets and around 71 per cent of smartphone owning teens have their device switched on all the time.
The seeds of prejudice are being planted in the minds of Hong Kong children as young as three, a study has revealed.
Face-to-face questioning of 152 youngsters aged between three and six discovered many hold more negative attitudes towards people with darker skin.
The results of the survey, commissioned by the Equal Opportunities Commission and the first of its kind to be carried out in the city, have prompted calls for better pre-school education and parenting.
The children were asked to describe their attitudes towards different skin colours by rating eight positive and negative qualities, including friendliness, beauty, honesty, courtesy, selfishness and rudeness.
As Internet giants Facebook Inc. and Google Inc. race to expand their facial-recognition abilities, new research shows how powerful, and potentially detrimental to privacy, these tools have become.
Armed with nothing but a snapshot, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh successfully identified about one-third of the people they tested, using a powerful facial-recognition technology recently acquired by Google.
When the fleeing motorcycle hit the curb, scraped past a utility pole and hurled 20-year-old Craig Eney to his death, a bogus South Carolina driver's license was in the hip pocket of his jeans.
He spent the final hours of his life trading on that phony license to buy shots for his buddies at two downtown Annapolis bars, places so popular among underage drinkers that bouncers are stationed outside to check everyone's ID.
Yet scores of young people flash fake driver's licenses and waltz on by to the bar.
The days when faking driver's licenses was a cottage industry -- often practiced in college dorm rooms by a computer geek with a laminating machine -- have given way to far more sophisticated and prolific practitioners who operate outside the reach of U.S. law enforcement.
In an era when terrorism and illegal immigration have transformed driver's licenses into sophisticated mini-documents festooned with holograms and bar codes, beating the system has never been easier.
McDonald's Corp. plans to promote more nutritional options, such as automatically including fruit or a low-fat dairy option in every Happy Meal.
The fast-food giant said the new Happy Meal, being rolled out in September, will have about 20% fewer calories and less fat.
The company also will promote nutrition in its national kids' advertising and Happy Meal packaging.
Childhood obesity is a growing concern in the U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama has made it her mission to promote environments that support healthy choices through her "Let's Move" initiative.
The familiar heel prick that newborns receive is revealing more about a baby's health than ever before. But, as technology opens the possibility of screening newborns for hundreds of diseases, there is controversy over how much parents need to know.
Within days of an infant being born, a few drops of blood are taken from the baby's heel and tested for signs of more than two dozen different conditions, including congenital hypothyroidism and sickle-cell diseases. In many places, babies also are given tests to identify the likelihood of hearing or vision disorders.
Some states have expanded their checks, including testing for amino-acid and metabolism disorders. Many of the new conditions being looked at have no definitive treatment or it isn't clear whether immediate intervention is necessary. That can present an emotional dilemma for parents who may want to know if anything is wrong with their baby but in many cases have no therapy to pursue.
During the past semester, a time where I constantly felt split between my academic life and my civic life, I became acutely aware of an attitude among undergraduates that perplexed me. I tried writing about it , describing what readers pointed out (in a far more articulate manner than I'd managed) was a notable lack of empathy among some students.
Since I've spent the last 10 years trying to make convince higher education institutions to prioritize their students' needs and desires, these realizations about who some of the students seemed to be and especially what they seemed to believe, made me pretty depressed. Don't get me wrong: it's not that I expect students to speak and act in one voice--far from it, given how much I value the democratic process. I don't want them to share my opinions or perspectives, but rather simply want them to formulate opinions and perspectives after asking good questions and gathering and evaluating information. But what I hope for, most of all, is their recognition that they are part of a worldwide community of students, and their strength lies in that community. I hope that such a larger sense of the world will guide them to think of more than themselves, and to act for the greater good.
The Ivy League will announce on Wednesday that, in an effort to minimize head injuries among its football players, it will sharply reduce the number of allowable full-contact practices teams can hold.
The changes, to be implemented this season, go well beyond the rules set by the N.C.A.A. and are believed to be more stringent than those of any other conference. The league will also review the rules governing men's and women's hockey, lacrosse and soccer to determine if there are ways to reduce hits to the head and concussions in those sports.
The new rules will be introduced as a growing amount of research suggests that limiting full-contact practices may be among the most practical ways of reducing brain trauma among football players. According to a study of three Division I college teams published last year in the Journal of Athletic Training, college players sustain more total hits to the head in practices than in games.
Universities are keen to present themselves as morally upright organisations committed to the very highest standard of conduct.
In recent years, a lot of attention has focused on ethics in research. Here, universities have introduced tight rules and approval processes for academics wanting to do research on human subjects.
But one of the most significant ethical issues in university life receives far less attention. This is how universities handle romantic and sexual relationships between faculty and students.
How did more than 160 million women go missing from Asia? The simple answer is sex selection -- typically, an ultrasound scan followed by an abortion if the fetus turns out to be female -- but beyond that, the reasons for a gap half the size of the U.S. population are not widely understood. And when I started researching a book on the topic, I didn't understand them myself.
I thought I would focus on how gender discrimination has persisted as countries develop. The reasons couples gave for wanting boys varies: Sons stayed in the family and took care of their parents in old age, or they performed ancestor and funeral rites important in some cultures. Or it was that daughters were a burden, made expensive by skyrocketing dowries.
But that didn't account for why sex selection was spreading across cultural and religious lines. Once found only in East and South Asia, imbalanced sex ratios at birth have recently reached countries as varied as Vietnam, Albania, and Azerbaijan. The problem has fanned out across these countries, moreover, at a time when women are driving many developing economies. In India, where women have achieved political firsts still not reached in the United States, sex selection has become so intense that by 2020 an estimated 15 to 20 percent of men in northwest India will lack female counterparts. I could only explain that epidemic as the cruel sum of technological advances and lingering sexism. I did not think the story of sex selection's spread would lead, in part, to the United States.
The widespread use of search engines and online databases has affected the way people remember information, researchers are reporting.
The scientists, led by Betsy Sparrow, an assistant professor of psychology at Columbia, wondered whether people were more likely to remember information that could be easily retrieved from a computer, just as students are more likely to recall facts they believe will be on a test.
Dr. Sparrow and her collaborators, Daniel M. Wegner of Harvard and Jenny Liu of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, staged four different memory experiments. In one, participants typed 40 bits of trivia -- for example, "an ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain" -- into a computer. Half of the subjects believed the information would be saved in the computer; the other half believed the items they typed would be erased.
Sugary soft drinks, diet sodas, and artery-clogging food will be a thing of the past at Massachusetts public school snack shops, vending machines, and a la carte cafeteria lines under rules unanimously approved yesterday by state health regulators.
The nutrition standards adopted by the Public Health Council take effect in the 2012-2013 school year and are believed by advocates to be among the most comprehensive in the country.
But the council - an appointed panel of doctors, consumer advocates, and professors - delayed a ban on sweetened, flavored milk until August 2013 to give schools more time to find other ways to encourage children to drink milk.
AMERICA'S obesity epidemic is so called for a reason. Roughly one in three adults is obese. In 2008 close to 25m Americans were diabetic, according to a study published on June 25th. Nevertheless, Americans are living longer than ever. In 2007 the average life expectancy at birth was 78 years. This follows decades of progress. The question is whether obesity might change that.
National progress in life expectancy masks wide local disparities, according to a study published on June 15th and written by researchers at the University of Washington and Imperial College London. Men in Holmes County, Mississippi, for example, have a life expectancy of 65.9 years, the same as men in Pakistan and 15.2 years behind men in Fairfax, Virginia. Gaps between America's counties have widened since the early 1980s. Most alarming, 702 counties, or 30% of those studied, saw a statistically significant decline in life expectancy for women from 2000 to 2007; 251 counties saw a statistically significant decline for men.
A new study of twins suggests that environmental factors, including conditions in the womb, may be at least as important as genes in causing autism.
The researchers did not say which environmental influences might be at work. But other experts said the new study, released online on Monday, marked an important shift in thinking about the causes of autism, which is now thought to affect at least 1 percent of the population in the developed world.
"This is a very significant study because it confirms that genetic factors are involved in the cause of the disorder," said Dr. Peter Szatmari, a leading autism researcher who is the head of child psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at McMaster University in Ontario. "But it shifts the focus to the possibility that environmental factors could also be really important."
When a child goes missing at a large public event, worried parents and the police would normally search through CCTV footage of the surrounding area. In the future they might try hunting through the photos being taken by smartphone owners instead, using a new system called Theia developed by a team of US researchers.
Privacy concerns aside, searching smartphone photos is a clever idea, but constantly querying someone's phone sounds like a great way to drain their battery - not a service that many people are likely to sign up for. That's why Theia is designed to cleverly manage energy usage, while also paying smartphone owners for sharing their photos.
It works like this. People sign up to Theia by downloading a mobile app that can search through photos stored in a folder designated for sharing, while search requests are carried out with a separate piece of software that runs on an ordinary computer. Searchers can select a number of options, such as face and body detection, texture matching, and colour filtering. For example, the system can find pictures of people's faces against a cloudy sky by combining face detection with a search for cloudy textures and the colour blue.
My editor proposed this story about "that's racist" after hearing her young son's friends using it as a joke. Just the night before, it had been a punchline on one of my favorite sitcoms, Parks And Recreation. (Someone calls sorting laundry into whites and darks racist.)
Our sense that "that's racist" was evolving into a commonplace catchphrase that only occasionally had to do with racism and race was confirmed by conversations with parents, teachers and a website that tracked how it started as an online meme. A video clip from the cult TV show Wonder Showzen showed an African-American kid with the words "that's racist" underneath. It became a virtual retort on online message boards. People started dropping it into Internet arguments, to quench or inflame them.
Legislation to reform Delaware's charter school system by requiring background checks for charter founders and board members and placing the schools under tighter financial oversight got a unanimous passing grade in the House Thursday.
House Bill 205, sponsored by Rep. Terry Schooley, D-Newark, was prompted by a News Journal investigation that found the state Department of Education failed to check the credentials or criminal background of the founder of Reach Academy. Reach Academy is facing closure amid serious financial problems and a fight over control of the board.
The legislation, which now moves to the Senate for consideration, would require yearly mandatory external audits for charter schools and allow the Office of Management and Budget to analyze the financial status of a struggling school and manage some of the school's finances. It also would require that decisions to close a school be made no later than January so parents can enter their children in the school-choice program and meet deadlines to get into charter schools.
The number of overweight kids and adolescents in the U.S. has almost tripled since the 1980s. That's pretty troubling, but the Institute of Medicine says we need to be paying more attention to the littlest kids: those under five.
Almost 10 percent of babies and toddlers carry too much weight for their size. And more than 20 percent of children 2 through 5 are already overweight, the IOM says, which could have pretty serious repercussions later in life.
"Contrary to the common perception that chubby babies are healthy babies and will naturally outgrow their baby fat, excess weight tends to persist," Leann Birch, chair of the IOM's childhood obesity prevention committee, said in a statement. The committee's report released today makes some recommendations on what to do about it.
"My e-mail?" The boy looks at me as if I had just suggested staying in touch by carrier pigeon. "What, you don't have an email?" I ask, insecure now. "Sure I do. But I only use it for my parents and my grandparents," he says. "Aren't you on Facebook?" I am. Phew. Of course I mostly check my Facebook profile when I'm prompted by an e-mail notification, but I don't tell him that. Trevor Dougherty is 19 and to him, I am a geriatric 36-year-old who belongs to that amorphous generation of people-who-don't-really-get-social-networking that stretches all the way back to, well, his grandparents.
I met Trevor in January, during a dinner debate on social networking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he was by far the youngest and most eloquent speaker on the subject. I have perhaps 100 people in my life I call friends. Trevor has 1,275. At one point he tried to add someone called Trevor in every capital so he would have friends to visit across the world. He chats, posts, tweets and consults "his community" on important decisions: "I'm going to start producing/DJing electronic music. What should my stage name be? #youtellme."
The encounter made me curious: what does it do to teenagers to be "on" all the time? Are they just doing what we did 20 years ago -- gossiping, dating, escaping pubescent solitude -- and simply channeling those age-old human urges through this new technology? Or is this technology changing humanity in a more fundamental way? What kind of citizens, voters, consumers, leaders will kids like Trevor grow up to be?
A new study shows one in four high school students drink soda every day -- a sign fewer teens are downing the sugary drinks.
The study also found teens drink water, milk and fruit juices most often - a pleasant surprise, because researchers weren't certain that was the case.
"We were very pleased to see that," said the study's lead author, Nancy Bener of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Still, a quarter have at least one soda each day. And when other sugary drinks like Gatorade are also counted, the figure is closer to two-thirds of high school students drinking a sweetened beverage every day.
That's less than in the past. In the 1990s and early 2000s, more than three-quarters of teens were having a sugary drink each day, according to earlier research.
In nature, the balance of males and females is maintained by natural selection acting on parents. As Sir Ronald Fisher brilliantly pointed out in 1930, a surplus of one sex will be redressed by selection in favour of rearing the other sex, up to the point where it is no longer the minority. It isn't quite as simple as that. You have to take into account the relative economic costs of rearing one sex rather than the other. If, say, it costs twice as much to rear a son to maturity as a daughter (e.g. because males are bigger than females), the true choice facing a parent is not "Shall I rear a son or a daughter?" but "Shall I rear a son or two daughters?"
So, Fisher concluded, what is equlibrated by natural selection is not the total numbers of sons and daughters born in the population, but the total parental expenditure on sons versus daughters. In practice, this usually amounts to an approximately equal ratio of males to females in the population at the end of the period of parental expenditure.
Note that the word 'decision' doesn't mean conscious decision: we employ the usual 'selfish gene' metaphorical reasoning, in which natural selection favours genes that produce behaviour 'as if' decisions are being made.
This video has been all over New York-based internet sites in the past few days. But I don't think it has yet been on any of the Atlantic's sites, and it is worth another look for "the way we live now" purposes.
It shows a young woman passenger chewing out a train conductor who has asked her to stop talking so loudly on the phone and swearing. OK, I've sometimes gotten exasperated with officialdom, and I am glad that no one had a camera running when I did. But the approach the passenger takes is significant, and stunning.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Next, a Health Unit report about a medical mystery, and the questions it's raising about the drug-monitoring system. It involves a class of antibiotic drugs that some people say are making them very ill.
Health correspondent Betty Ann Bowser has the story.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Just a few years ago, Jenne Wilcox was a happily married healthy first-grade teacher in Oroville, Calif., helping husband Rob raise his son Cole from a previous marriage.
But all that changed suddenly after she took a prescription drug called Levaquin to prevent infection following routine sinus surgery. Wilcox developed severe pain in her joints and muscles, and even when she stopped taking the medication, the symptoms grew worse, until she could no longer walk.
JENNE WILCOX, patient: I couldn't even hold my head up. And I was bedridden for over a year. And when I say that, I mean, I couldn't even get myself out of bed to get into my wheelchair to go use the restroom. I had to be picked up out of bed.
My wife and I have sent five children to college and our youngest just graduated. Like many parents, we encouraged them to study hard and spend time in a country where people don't speak English. Like all parents, we worried about the kind of people they would grow up to be.
We may have been a little unusual in thinking it was the college's responsibility to worry about that too. But I believe that intellect and virtue are connected. They influence one another. Some say the intellect is primary. If we know what is good, we will pursue it. Aristotle suggests in the "Nicomachean Ethics" that the influence runs the other way. He says that if you want to listen intelligently to lectures on ethics you "must have been brought up in good habits." The goals we set for ourselves are brought into focus by our moral vision.
"Virtue," Aristotle concludes, "makes us aim at the right mark, and practical wisdom makes us take the right means." If he is right, then colleges and universities should concern themselves with virtue as well as intellect.
I want to mention two places where schools might direct that concern, and a slightly old-fashioned remedy that will improve the practice of virtue. The two most serious ethical challenges college students face are binge drinking and the culture of hooking up.
In May 1846, a year and a half before gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill, several extended families and quite a few unattached males headed with their caravans from Illinois to California. Due to poor organization, some bad advice, and a huge dose of bad luck, by November the group had foundered in the deep snows of the Sierra Nevada. They came to a halt at what is now known as Donner Pass, and, in an iconic if unpleasant moment in California's history, they sat out winter in makeshift tents buried in snow, the group dwindling as survivors resorted to cannibalism to avert starvation.
From an evolutionary point of view, what makes the story interesting is not the cannibalism -- which, in the annals of anthropology, is relatively banal -- but who survived and who did not. Of the 87 pioneers, only 46 came over the pass alive in February and March of the next year. Their story, then, represents a case study of what might be termed catastrophic natural selection. It turns out that, contrary to lay Darwinist expectations, it was not the virile young but those who were embedded in families who had the best odds of survival. The unattached young men, presumably fuller of vigor and capable of withstanding more physical hardship than the others, fared worst, worse even than the older folk and the children.
The world's most embarrassing father is no more.
Over the course of the 180-day school year, Dale Price waved at the school bus carrying his 16-year-old son, Rain, while wearing something different every morning outside their American Fork home.
He started out by donning a San Diego Chargers helmet and jersey, an Anakin Skywalker helmet, and swim trunks and a snorkel mask, the Daily Herald of Provo and Deseret News of Salt Lake City reported.
Among others, he later dressed up as Elvis, Batgirl, the Little Mermaid, the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz, Princess Leia, Nacho Libre and Santa Claus. He wore spandex, pleather, feathers, wigs, flips flops, suits, boots, fur, Army fatigues and several dresses, including a wedding dress.
Dale Price said it took a lot of effort to keep up, but he did it to have fun and show his son he really cared about him.
A conservative society and ignorance are behind an alarming number of cases of newborn babies being killed by young Hong Kong mothers
It's a familiar story told too many times, and it has a tragic end.
An unmarried girl secretly gives birth. She is alone; one helpless child burdened with another. In this tale, it is the innocent who perishes, at the hands of the ignorant - a teenage mother.
As the mother of a special needs child and as someone who works professionally with individuals with disabilities, I support Assembly Bill 110, the Special Needs Scholarship Act. The bill would allow the small group of parents whose children's needs cannot be met by their school district to pursue an appropriate education for their children, just as any parent would want to do.
It is a sad fact that some school districts across this state fail to provide special needs students with the education they require due to lack of funding/resources, specialized training and sometimes willingness. In these few cases, the scholarships would help move these children into a program that meets their needs and prepares them for success.
Our family lives in the Racine Unified School District. We removed our son from the district when he was 3 due to inappropriate, undocumented, unapproved and sustained restraint by teachers at his school. (In 2007, the Journal Sentinel reported on the case, with the state Department of Public Instruction echoing concerns about the school's use of restraint. Following an investigation, the DPI determined that teachers in the district had improperly used restraint.)
Tara Parker-Pope:School bullies and children who are disruptive in class are twice as likely to show signs of sleep problems compared with well-behaved children, new research shows.
The findings, based on data collected from 341 Michigan elementary school children, suggests a novel approaching to solving school bullying. Currently, most efforts to curb bullying have focused on protecting victims as well as discipline and legal actions against the bullies. The new data suggests that the problem may be better addressed, at least in part, at the source, by paying attention to some of the unique health issues associated with aggressive behavior.
The University of Michigan study, which was published in the journal Sleep Medicine, collected data from parents on each child's sleep habits and asked both parents and teachers to assess behavioral concerns. Among the 341 children studied, about a third were identified by parents or teachers as having problems with disruptive behavior or bullying.
Divorce is a drag on the academic and emotional development of young children, but only once the breakup is under way, according to a study of elementary school students and their families.
"Children of divorce experience setbacks in math test scores and show problems with interpersonal skills and internalizing behavior during the divorce period," says Hyun Sik Kim, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "They are more prone to feelings of anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem and sadness."
Kim's work, published in the June issue of American Sociological Review, makes use of data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study describing more than 3,500 U.S. elementary school students who entered kindergarten in 1998. The study, which also made subjects of parents while checking in periodically on the children, gave Kim the opportunity to track the families through divorce -- as well as through periods before and after the divorce.
While the children fell behind their peers in math and certain psychological measures during the period that included the divorce, Kim was surprised by to see those students showing no issues in the time period preceding the divorce.
"I expected that there would be conflict between the parents leading up to their divorce, and that that would be troublesome for their child," Kim says. "But I failed to find a significant effect in the pre-divorce period."
The results add nuance to the long-held assumption that divorce is harmful to children all the way through the process.
"There is also some thinking that children are resilient, and that they would learn how to cope with the situation at some point," Kim says.
To a certain extent the detrimental effect of the divorce period fades, but not to the point that Kim would call it resiliency.
"After the divorce, students return to the same growth rate as their counterparts," he says. "But they remain behind their peers from intact families."
Why divorce would be an anchor on elementary school students is not hard to figure. Stressful new experiences associated with the divorce process include a confusingly adversarial relationship between mom and dad, shuttling between homes, the emotional effect the breakup has on parents and more.
But why there wouldn't be a corresponding effect on children before parents decide to divorce is a trickier question.
"The results here support the idea that not all divorces are plagued by harmful parental conflict in the pre-divorce period," Kim says.
Once the effects of a divorce do begin to erode a child's progress, they do their work on more vulnerable developing skills. Mathematics, in which new concepts often build on recently learned material, is seen as more susceptible to external issues than reading -- a subject in which children of divorce showed no detrimental effects.
Similarly, children of divorce maintain their more robust positive externalizing behaviors -- making friends, resolving conflict without fighting and resisting disruption of quiet times -- while losing their grip on more fragile internal emotional aspects.
The study may be useful to parents and educators, though Kim expected that differing school philosophies and variations from child to child may inform different interpretations.
"If a teacher is aware of a student experiencing a divorce situation, it may be in the student's interest that the teachers intervene by adjusting as early as possible to prevent that student from falling behind," Kim says. "Because if that student falls behind, he or she is unlikely to recover even after the divorce."
A revolutionary skin patch that may cure thousands of deadly peanut allergy has been developed by paediatricans.
Researchers believe it presents one of the best possible ways of finding an effective treatment for a life threatening reaction to peanuts.
Developed by two leading paediatricians the device releases minute doses of peanut oil under the skin.
The aim is to educate the body so it doesnt over-react to peanut exposure.
Human safety trials have started in Europe and the United States and it is hoped that the patch could become become available within 3-4 years.
One of its two French inventors, Dr Pierre-Henri Benhamou, said: We envisage that the patch would be worn daily for several years and would slowly reduce the severity of accidental exposure to peanut.
Sleep deprivation can make it hard to concentrate. A possible reason is that neurons in different regions of the brain seem to go "off line," or shut off for brief periods, during forced periods of wakefulness, according to a study of rats published in Nature. U.S. and Italian researchers kept laboratory rats awake for four hours past their normal sleep time by stimulating them with new objects. EEG (electroencephalogram) readings, which test the brain's electrical activity, were typical of an awake state and the rats moved about freely with their eyes open. However, electrodes implanted in the rat brains showed that some neurons went off line briefly in seemingly wide-awake animals while other neurons remained on. Neuronal off periods increased with prolonged sleep deprivation, impairing the rats' performance in the routine task of reaching for a sugar pellet. Researchers said these off periods during wakefulness aren't well understood but they may be a means of conserving energy or part of a restorative process.
Caveat: It's not clear if the periods of neuronal off-time reflect the capacity of neurons to exist in two states, a phenomenon known as bistability, researchers said.
Earlier this year, women became the majority of the workforce for the first time in U.S. history. Most managers are now women too. And for every two men who get a college degree this year, three women will do the same. For years, women's progress has been cast as a struggle for equality. But what if equality isn't the end point? What if modern, postindustrial society is simply better suited to women? A report on the unprecedented role reversal now under way-- and its vast cultural consequences.Related: The War Against Boys by Christina Hoff Sommers.
In the 1970s the biologist Ronald Ericsson came up with a way to separate sperm carrying the male-producing Y chromosome from those carrying the X. He sent the two kinds of sperm swimming down a glass tube through ever-thicker albumin barriers. The sperm with the X chromosome had a larger head and a longer tail, and so, he figured, they would get bogged down in the viscous liquid. The sperm with the Y chromosome were leaner and faster and could swim down to the bottom of the tube more efficiently. Ericsson had grown up on a ranch in South Dakota, where he'd developed an Old West, cowboy swagger. The process, he said, was like "cutting out cattle at the gate." The cattle left flailing behind the gate were of course the X's, which seemed to please him. He would sometimes demonstrate the process using cartilage from a bull's penis as a pointer.
In the late 1970s, Ericsson leased the method to clinics around the U.S., calling it the first scientifically proven method for choosing the sex of a child. Instead of a lab coat, he wore cowboy boots and a cowboy hat, and doled out his version of cowboy poetry. (People magazine once suggested a TV miniseries based on his life called Cowboy in the Lab.) The right prescription for life, he would say, was "breakfast at five-thirty, on the saddle by six, no room for Mr. Limp Wrist." In 1979, he loaned out his ranch as the backdrop for the iconic "Marlboro Country" ads because he believed in the campaign's central image--"a guy riding on his horse along the river, no bureaucrats, no lawyers," he recalled when I spoke to him this spring. "He's the boss." (The photographers took some 6,500 pictures, a pictorial record of the frontier that Ericsson still takes great pride in.)
When Christine Lagarde launched her bid to be the new head of the IMF last week she declared that she would bring to the job all her "experience as a lawyer, a minister, a manager and a woman".
The first three strands of her experience are self-explanatory - and formidable. But what did Ms Lagarde mean by the fourth? What exactly is her experience as a woman? And how does it make her a better candidate for a job that involves flying round the world rescuing countries that are going down the financial plughole?
The most obvious thing that sorts out a woman's experience from a man's is that women bear children. On two occasions, Ms Lagarde has spent the best part of a year with a growing lump in her abdomen, and then endured the tricky business of getting it out. For most women this is a very big deal, though it's not obvious how such an experience sets anyone up for running the IMF.
As children grow up, however, a mother (or, in truth, a father) can find herself doling out pocket money. Human nature being what it is, this often gets blown instantly on sweets, leaving nothing to spend on, say, a sibling's birthday present. The mother then faces the tricky decision of whether to bail the child out, and what conditions to impose on any loan extended. I can see that dealing with such dilemmas could be relevant to a future head of the IMF, the only difference being one of degree: rather more countries requiring rather larger sums.
THROUGHOUT history, twins have provoked mixed feelings. Sometimes they were seen as a curse--an unwanted burden on a family's resources. Sometimes they were viewed as a blessing, or even as a sign of their father's superior virility. But if Shannen Robson and Ken Smith, of the University of Utah, are right, twins have more to do with their mother's sturdy constitution than their father's sexual power.
At first blush, this sounds an odd idea. After all, bearing and raising twins is taxing, both for the mother and for the children. Any gains from having more than one offspring at a time might be expected to be outweighed by costs like higher infant and maternal mortality rates. On this view, twins are probably an accidental by-product of a natural insurance policy against the risk of losing an embryo early in gestation. That would explain why many more twins are conceived than born, and why those born are so rare (though more common these days, with the rise of IVF). They account for between six and 40 live births per 1,000, depending on where the mother lives.
Dr Robson and Dr Smith, however, think that this account has got things the wrong way round. Although all women face a trade-off between the resources their bodies allocate to reproduction and those reserved for the maintenance of health, robust women can afford more of both than frail ones. And what surer way to signal robustness than by bearing more than one child at a time? In other words, the two researchers conjectured, the mothers of twins will not only display greater overall reproductive success, they will also be healthier than those who give birth only to singletons.
Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being. By Martin Seligman. Free Press; 368 pages; $26. Nicholas Brealey Publishing
The idea that it is the business of governments to cheer up their citizens has moved in recent years to centre-stage. Academics interested in measures of GDH (gross domestic happiness) were once forced to turn to the esoteric example of Bhutan. Now Britain's Conservative-led government is compiling a national happiness index, and Nicolas Sarkozy, France's president, wants to replace the traditional GDP count with a measure that takes in subjective happiness levels and environmental sustainability.
DAEJEON, South Korea -- It has been a sad and gruesome semester at South Korea's most prestigious university, and with final exams beginning Monday the school is still reeling from the recent suicides of four students and a popular professor.
Academic pressures can be ferocious at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, formally known as Kaist, and anxious school psychologists have expanded their counseling services since the suicides. The school president also rescinded a controversial policy that humiliated many students by charging them extra tuition if their grades dipped.
After the last of the student deaths, on April 7, the Kaist student council issued an impassioned statement that said "a purple gust of wind" had blown through campus.
According to food revolutionary Alice Waters, what we choose to eat says as much about our values as the way we vote. In an interview with WSJ's Alan Murray, the author and chef outlines her vision for thoughtful eating and sustainable farming, while accusing corporations of having little interest in health and nutrition.
Successfully treating a mother with depression isn't just good for the mom; it also can provide long-lasting benefits for her children's mental health, new research shows.
About 1 in 8 women can expect to develop depression at some point in her life. Incidences peak in the childbearing years, with as many as 24% of women becoming depressed during or after pregnancy. More than 400,000 infants are born to depressed mothers each year in the U.S.
And decades of research have borne out the old expression "when Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." About half of kids with depressed mothers develop the condition--three times the typical risk.
Sadness isn't the only symptom. Children of depressed mothers are more likely to be anxious, irritable and disruptive than other kids.
A WEEK ago South Korea observed "Children's Day", an occasion when every school and office is closed, and the nation's families march off in unison to chaebol-owned theme parks like Lotte World or Everland. Cynical expat residents are fond of asking "isn't every day Children's Day?" They mean it sarcastically but their sarcasm is itself ironic. In reality the other 364 days of the year are very tough for Korean youngsters.
Results of a survey released last week by the Institute for Social Development Studies at Seoul's Yonsei University show that Korean teenagers are by far the unhappiest in the OECD. This is the result of society's relentless focus on education--or rather, exam results. The average child attends not only regular school, but also a series of hagwons, private after-school "academies" that cram English, maths, and proficiency in the "respectable" musical instruments, ie piano and violin, into tired children's heads. Almost 9% of children are forced to attend such places even later than 11pm, despite tuitions between 10pm and 5am being illegal.
Psychologists blame this culture for all manner of ills, from poor social skills to the nation's unacceptably high rate of youth suicide, which is now the leading cause of death among those aged 15-24. Recently, a spate of suicides at KAIST, a technology-focused university, has drawn national attention. For most students the pinnacle of stress is reached somewhat earlier, in the third year of high school. This is the year in which the suneung (university entrance exam) is taken. Tragic reactions to the stress it creates are all too common.
There are tons of reasons why people don't take the medications they've been prescribed, including side effects, cost and complicated drug regimens.
A couple of different approaches to improving adherence are in the news today. The first is Script Your Future, a multi-year public-education campaign spearheaded by the National Consumers League and supported by health-industry companies, government agencies, nonprofits and others.
It's aimed chiefly at patients with diabetes, respiratory diseases including asthma and cardiovascular disease, all of which affect big swaths of the U.S. population and can be particularly troublesome when not treated correctly. The campaign emphasizes the consequences -- such as poor health and quality of life -- that can spring from skipping meds.
An Illinois lawmaker says parents who have obese children should lose their state tax deduction.
"It's the parents' responsibility that have obese kids," said state Sen. Shane Cultra, R-Onarga. "Take the tax deduction away for parents that have obese kids."
Cultra has not introduced legislation to deny parents the $2,000 standard tax deduction, but he floated the idea Tuesday, when lawmakers took a shot at solving the state's obesity epidemic.
With one in five Illinois children classified as obese and 62 percent of the state's adults considered overweight, health advocates are pushing a platter of diet solutions including trans fat bans and restricting junk food purchases on food stamps.
Today, the Senate Public Health Committee considered taxing sugary beverages at a penny-per-ounce, in effect applying the same theory to soda, juices and energy drinks that governs to liquor sales. Health advocates say a sin tax could discourage consumption, but lawmakers are reluctant to target an industry supports the jobs of more than 40,000 Illinoisans.
"It seems like we just, we go after the low-hanging fruit, where its easy to get," said state Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford. He said the state needs to form a comprehensive plan to address physical fitness and disease prevention, rather than taking aim at sugary drinks.
Does the Nanny State have no bounds? Apparently not, as even beverages are at risk. The newest example of "government knows best" can be found in public schools, where chocolate milk is soon to be banned in an effort to target childhood obesity.
MSNBC reports, "With schools under increasing pressure to offer healthier food, the staple on children's cafeteria trays has come under attack over the very ingredient that made it so popular-sugar."
Some school districts have already moved towards removing flavored milk from the menu. Others have sought milk products that are flavored with sugar, a healthier alternative to high-fructose corn syrup.
In the state of Florida, the Board of Education is currently considering a statewide ban of chocolate milk in schools. School boards in Washington, D.C., and Berkeley, California, have already done so. Similarly, Los Angeles Unified's Superintendent John Deasy has announced plans to push for the removal of chocolate and strawberry milk from school menus.
For the first time, researchers have studied an entire population sample and found that one in 38 children exhibited symptoms of autism. The study was published Monday in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
"These numbers are really startling" said Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer for Autism Speaks, one of the three organizations that funded the project. Most previous researchers have found that about one in 110 children is autistic.
The NewsHour explored the puzzling condition of autism in the recent Autism Now series, anchored by Robert MacNeil.
Sylvia Holloman's busy world went like this on Friday afternoon: Get off work, drive home, gather up her three youngest sons, haul them and the family's dirty laundry to the laundromat, wash clothes for 90 minutes, drive back home, prepare pork chops and peas -- boys still at her side in the kitchen.
For Holloman, a D.C. police officer, it is the best strategy she's found for keeping Rahim, 15, Raphael, 11, and Ryan, 5, out of harm's way in a country where young black men often face peril -- never let them out of her sight.
"I constantly worry," said Holloman, 48, of District Heights.
"I worry because of the way the world is today for young black men," said the mother of six, including a fourth son, Ronnie, 26. "It seems like there are so many ways they can get caught up: discrimination, drugs, not being able to find a job, going to jail, violence. You have to be on the lookout constantly to make sure they are safe."
Women who give birth during the fall and winter are twice as likely to suffer from postpartum depression than if they deliver in the spring, according to a study in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Seasonal variations in mental disorders are well documented, but few studies have examined seasonal births and postpartum depression. From 2006 to 2007, 2,318 new Swedish mothers, 76% of whom had no previous psychiatric history, completed questionnaires containing a post-natal depression scale five days, six weeks and six months after giving birth. Results showed that women who gave birth from October to December were twice as likely to develop postpartum depression at six weeks and six months than women who delivered from April to June. The risk of postpartum depression was 43% higher for women who gave birth from July to September and 22% higher from January to March. There was no risk associated with deliveries from April to June. Researchers said reduced exposure to daylight may alter the activity of serotonin, causing mood disorders. Mothers giving birth in the fall might benefit from closer postpartum support and follow-up from doctors, they said.
Physical education classes may be scarce in some schools, but an activity program combined with school lessons could boost academic performance, a study finds.
Research presented recently at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting in Denver looked at the effects of a 40-minute-a-day, five-day-a-week physical activity program on test scores of first- through sixth-graders at a public school. This program was a little different from most, since it incorporated academic lessons along with exercise.
For example, younger children hopped through ladders while naming colors found on each rung. Older children climbed on a rock wall outfitted with numbers that challenged their math skills. The students normally spent 40 minutes a week in PE class.
Members of the younger generation in today's Hong Kong are different from their parents, who grew up watching only television. Technology, in the form of the internet, has given them a more interactive medium, with two-way communication and an ability to have a say in things and express opinions. However, this new environment that young people take completely for granted has hidden dangers in the form of bullying and intimidation.
Online, people can persecute or harass others behind a shield of anonymity. It is a world where the bullies may not see the impact of their work; they may think what they are doing is funny, or they may not realise the consequences of their behaviour. Incriminating or embarrassing words or pictures placed online by others may come back to haunt people later when they apply for college or a job.
Los Angeles schools will remove high-sugar chocolate- and strawberry-flavored milk from their lunch and breakfast menus after food activists campaigned for the change, L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy announced this week.
Deasy revealed his intent, which will require approval by the Los Angeles Unified Board of Education, during an appearance with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" Tuesday night.
The policy change is part of a carefully negotiated happy ending between the Los Angeles Unified School District and Oliver. The chef's confrontations with the school system became a main theme in the current season of the TV reality show "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution."
The timing of the flavored-milk ban, which had been under consideration for some time, gave Oliver a positive outcome and allowed the nation's second-largest school system to escape the villain's role. Deasy quickly alerted the school board to the deal before going on television.
A novel strategy developed by autism researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, called "The One-Year Well-Baby Check Up Approach," shows promise as a simple way for physicians to detect cases of Autism Syndrome Disorder (ASD), language or developmental delays in babies at an early age.
Led by Karen Pierce, PhD, assistant professor in the UC San Diego Department of Neurosciences, researchers at the UC San Diego Autism Center of Excellence (ACE) assembled a network of 137 pediatricians in the San Diego region and initiated a systematic screen program for all infants at their one-year check up. Their study will be published in the April 28 online edition of the Journal of Pediatrics.
"There is extensive evidence that early therapy can have a positive impact on the developing brain," said Pierce. "The opportunity to diagnose and thus begin treatment for autism around a child's first birthday has enormous potential to change outcomes for children affected with the disorder."
How Portland, Maine Took a Stand Against Childhood Obesity. It Spent $3.7 Million to Rally Schools and Other Sites in the State. More Families Adopted 5-2-1-0 a Day: At Least 5 Servings of Fruits and Vegetables , 2 Hours or Less of Screen Time, at Least 1 Hour of Exercise, and 0 Sugary Drinks. After All That, the Childhood Overweight-and-Obesity Rate for Southern Maine Dipped 1.5 Percentage Points to 31.3%.
At first, it seems obvious: Recess and fruit keep kids trimmer and healthier than videogames and cookies. But there isn't much that's obvious about moving the needle on childhood obesity rates in the U.S.
Nine year-old Ayub Mohamud was gaining weight rapidly when he went to see his doctor at a pediatric clinic here in September. At home, Ayub and his four siblings snacked regularly on candy, chips and soda; a younger brother also was overweight. Ayub ate two breakfasts, one at home and one at school, and got little exercise during the long Maine winters. He had a dark skin coloring on the back of his neck called "acanthosis nigricans," which can be a sign of being prediabetic.
By the end of January, after implementing some of Portland's 5-2-1-0 principles, Ayub had lost three pounds. His mother stopped buying a lot of candy, soda, and chips, and Ayub started eating carrots and broccoli. He and his 7-year-old brother were competing to do push-ups and sit-ups or try new foods. "I like it," Ayub says of his healthier new life.
I. Introduction A. Title/topic -Alternative Redesign to Address Mental Health Concerns B. Presenter/contact person- Sue Abplanalp, John Harper, Pam Nash and Nancy YoderThis initiative was discussed during Monday evening's Madison School Board meeting. Watch the discussion here (beginning at 180 minutes).
Background information -The Purpose of this Proposal: Research shows that half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14.1 Scientists are discovering that changes in the body leading to mental illness may start much earlier, before any symptoms appear.
Helping young children and their parents manage difficulties early in life may prevent the development of disorders. Once mental illness develops, it becomes a regular part of a child's behavior and more difficult to treat. Even though doctors know how to treat (though not yet cure) many disorders, a majority of children with mental illnesses are not getting treatment (National Institute of Mental Health).
II. Summary of Current Information: Success is defined as the achievement ofsomething desired and planned. As a steering committee, our desire and plan is to promote a strategic hub in three sites (Hoyt, Whitehorse and Cherokee) that connect, support and sustain students with mental health issues in a more inclusive environment with appropriate professionals, in order to maximize students' success in middle school and help them achieve their aspirations in a setting that is appropriate for their needs. The new site will also offer mini clinics from a community provider
Current Status: Currently, there is one program housed at Hoyt that serves 28-30 students in self contained settings. There is currently a ratio of 1:4 with 4 staff and 4 special educational assistants assigned to the program. In addition, there is a Cluster Program housed at Sherman with 2 adults and 6-7 students in the program.
Proposal: This proposal leaves approximately half of the students and staff at the current Hoyt site (those students who pose more of a danger to self or others) and removes all of the students and staff from Sherman (no program at Sherman) to the new sites. Students will attend either Whitehorse or Cherokee Middle Schools with a program that provides ongoing professional help and is more inclusive as students will be assigned to homerooms and classes, with alternative settings in the school to support them when they need a more restrictive environment with support from a smaller student ratio and a psychologist or social worker that is assigned to the team.
Connecticut school officials cannot be held liable for their decision to discipline a student for an Internet posting she wrote off school grounds, a federal appeals court ruled Monday as it defended the leeway given school administrators who act reasonably when confronted with dilemmas that test the boundaries of what is Constitutionally protected.
The 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan sided with Burlington, Conn., school officials after they punished Avery Doninger by preventing her from serving as class secretary as a senior.
Doninger sued the administrators at Lewis B. Mills High School, saying her free speech and equal protection rights were violated after she distributed the 2007 posting criticizing administrators for canceling a popular school activity. A lower judge had twice ruled school officials were entitled to immunity.
A three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit agreed.
LEANDRA RAMM (pictured) is a mezzo-soprano with more on her mind than music. Someone--a deranged Singaporean cyber-stalker, she claims--has posted around 4,000 internet messages in the past five years, depicting her as a talentless, sex-crazed swindler. He has also created a blog under her name and has left obscene messages on her own website.
Ms Ramm, who lives in New York, has had scant help from the American police, who say the offence is committed in Singapore. But she says the police in Singapore have shown no interest. Ms Ramm says her career, social life and emotional well-being have all suffered. Not only does she get daily death threats, but so do all those associated with her: friends, family, colleagues and boss. She says she feels "humiliated, helpless and abused".
Hong Kong has escaped the anti-MMR childhood vaccine movement - linking the jab to autism - which spread across many English-speaking countries in the past decade.
But despite the overseas movement's dangers and the fraudulent study that inspired it, a prominent paediatrician has nevertheless warned that local parents are too complacent about potential environmental factors that could trigger the onslaught of autism among some young children.
"They just don't know about it. They are just ignorant about it," said Dr Wilson Fung Yee-leung, who is a council member of the Hong Kong Medical Association.
He said it was dangerous not to be concerned about autism and its potential environmental causes.
In the fall of 1984, a 17-year-old freshman at the University of Virginia named Liz Securro was invited to a fraternity party. While there, she was given a tour of the historic house and offered a cup of the dark green cocktail that was its specialty. Within minutes she was incapacitated. She was carried into a bedroom and raped. She woke up wrapped in a bloody sheet (she had been a virgin) and watched as the rapist coldly packed his backpack and told her, "You ought to get out of here before someone sees you."
Alone, bruised and bleeding, she walked to the emergency room, waited for hours, was sent to Student Health and began a weeks-long ordeal. One school official suggested she take some time off or perhaps transfer. Many doubted her story. She realized she had no real hope for justice, and so she gave up trying to find it.
But 20 years later, something remarkable happened: Her rapist, who had joined Alcoholics Anonymous, sent her a letter of apology--or, as Liz came to see it, a handwritten confession. The story of his prosecution and ultimate imprisonment is detailed in her riveting new book, "Crash Into Me," which includes a horrifying revelation. She learned during the discovery process of the trial that she had been gang raped.
ROBERT MACNEIL: As we've reported, autism now affects one American child in a 110. Last month, a committee convened by public health officials in Washington called it a national health emergency. The dramatic rise in official figures over the last decade has generated a surge of scientific research to find what is causing autism.
Among the centers for such research is here, the University of California, Davis MIND Institute in Sacramento. Here and around the country, we've talked to leading researchers about where that effort now stands. Among them is the director of research at the MIND Institute, Dr. David Amaral.
DR. DAVID AMARAL, MIND Institute: Well, I think we're close to finding several causes for autism. But there's -- I don't think there's going to be a single cause.
ROBERT MACNEIL: The science director of the Simons Foundation in New York, Dr. Gerald Fishbach; Dr. Martha Herbert, professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School; and Dr. Craig Newschaffer, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Drexel University in Philadelphia. First, I asked, how close are we to discovering the cause of autism?
One by one, the children trooped to our table and put their apples in front of my son. By the fourth apple, I asked Christopher--my date for "Lunch with Your Second Grader" at the local elementary school in Kinnelon, N.J.--what was going on.
"Oh, they don't like the apples that come with lunch, so they give them to me," he reported, shrugging. "I can't eat them all."
I'm the mother of two boys, now middle-schoolers, one a good eater and one who would live on pizza and root beer if I let him. Christopher eats apples, and Nicholas leaves his on the lunch tray. He's the one who needs his chocolate milk. Yes, chocolate.
And so it was disturbing to hear about the recent chocolate milk ban in the Fairfax County, Va., school system and elsewhere around the country. Ditching chocolate milk to cut down on our children's sugar intake might be the right sentiment, but it's the wrong solution.
Several readers of the Consults blog recently had questions about the long-term course of autism, including succeeding in college and beyond. Our experts Dr. Fred Volkmar of the Yale Child Study Center and Dr. Lisa Wiesner, co-authors of "A Practical Guide to Autism," respond. For more on this and other topics, see their earlier responses in "Ask the Experts About Autism," and The Times Health Guide: Autism. The authors also teach a free online course on autism at Yale University, which is also available at iTunesU and on YouTube.
Are you aware of any longitudinal studies of occupational outcomes and successful (independent) living for high-functioning autistic adults? Where would I find those? Are there particular strategies that should be pursued in high school or college to enhance the likelihood of success in these areas?
Clear Water Bay toddler Stella Sipma is back home after spending weeks in a New York hospital having three major brain operations that have changed her life dramatically.
The two-year-old, who suffers from a rare genetic disease that has caused major developmental delays, returned home to Sheung Sze Wan on Monday with mum Alison, dad Marcel and older sister Sophie.
Stella has tuberous sclerosis, which causes non-cancerous tumours to grow in vital organs, including the brain.
She was diagnosed at nine months and suffered daily violent seizures until last month when she had three operations to remove the tumours.
Before the operations, Stella was unsteady on her feet and had limited speech but since returning home, she has been full of energy, running around the house and playing with her older sister.
"The girls were really happy to be back and Stella was running around like a maniac," Alison said.
For the first time in more than 15 years, Robert MacNeil is returning to the program he co-founded, with a major series of reports on Autism Now. The subject that drew him back is one that resonates deeply with his own family and many others. Robin's 6-year-old grandson, Nick, has autism.
The six-part series, "Autism Now," will air on the PBS NewsHour beginning April 18. It's the most comprehensive look at the disorder and its impact that's aired on American television in at least five years. For more than a year, Robin has been researching and preparing these stories. He and his producer, Caren Zucker, have been criss-crossing the country producing the reports for the past five months.
As Robin told Hari Sreenivasan during a recent visit to our Washington studio, the series is designed to provide viewers with an authoritative, balanced look at the latest scientific research and medical thinking about the disorder. Equally important, it chronicles the growing impact of autism as seen through the eyes of families, children, educators and clinicians.
Since Friday is the beginning of Autism Awareness Month, we are posting Hari's interview with Robin to introduce our audience to the series:
Nine years ago my wife had her first sonogram. The technician seemed to be asking routine questions: "How long have you been pregnant?" "Twelve weeks." "Any family history of genetic diseases?" "No." "Any family history of twins?" "No." Then she showed us the screen. "Well, you're having twins." My wife and I were scared. We were first-time parents. How were we supposed to raise two babies at the same time?
Strangely enough, I already knew a lot about twins. I'd been an avid consumer of twin research for years. Identical twins (like ours turned out to be) share all their genes; fraternal twins share only half. Researchers in medicine, psychology, economics, and sociology have spent decades comparing these two types of twins to disentangle the effects of nature and nurture. But as our due date approached, none of my book learning seemed remotely helpful.
Only after our twins were born did I gradually realize how much I was missing. Twin researchers rarely offer parenting advice. But much practical guidance is implicit in the science.
Fernando Dominguez cut the figure of a young revolutionary leader during a recent lunch period at his elementary school.
"Who thinks the lunch is not good enough?" the seventh-grader shouted to his lunch mates in Spanish and English.
Dozens of hands flew in the air and fellow students shouted along: "We should bring our own lunch! We should bring our own lunch! We should bring our own lunch!"
Fernando waved his hand over the crowd and asked a visiting reporter: "Do you see the situation?"
I spent the first two months of 2011 living in Los Angeles, filming the second season of "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution" for ABC. After last year's experience of trying to change food culture in the beautiful town of Huntington, West Virginia, I expected the challenges in L.A. to be very different. Shockingly, they were all too familiar.
L.A. is home to the nation's second biggest school district, which feeds 650,000 children every day. Half of these kids are eligible for free school meals. Within a few miles of the Hollywood sign there are entire communities with no access to fresh food. People travel for well over an hour to buy fruits and vegetables, and in one of the communities where I worked, children had an 80% obesity rate.
I had planned to work in the L.A. schools to try to figure out how school food could be better--and, ideally, cooked from scratch. Thousands of outraged parents, not to mention teachers and principals, wanted me in their schools. But I couldn't even get in the door: the Los Angeles Unified School District banned me from filming any of their food service operations, claiming that they didn't need me because they were already leading the charge. [You can read the LAUSD's response here.]
For students who have been treated for addiction, going back to a conventional high school is like sending an alcoholic into a bar, experts say. But, they add, it's extremely hard to find a safe, nurturing educational option for teens who are struggling to stay drug or alcohol-free.
Horizon High School is a tiny, non-profit, Madison-based recovery school where students learn and help keep each other on track and sober, day in and day out. It's one of only three recovery schools in Wisconsin.
Horizon High School serves about a dozen mostly local kids each year, employs a handful of teachers and counselors and operates out of rented space at Neighborhood House on Mills Street in Madison. For the students, it means close relationships with their teachers and each other, and routine, random drug tests as a fact of life.
Do you agree that your life has a sense of purpose? Would you say that, overall, you have a lot to be proud of? Do you wish you lived somewhere else? Coming out of the blue, these are tricky questions to answer. Yet they aren't aimed at adults. They come from a questionnaire for children aged 11 to 16.http://www.actionforhappiness.org/
The charity think-tank New Philanthropy Capital has devised the questions as part of its "well-being measure", a 15-minute survey that asks about relationships with family, school and community, as well as self-esteem and life satisfaction. The tool, being tested now, is designed to be used by charities, schools and youth groups to work out how happy (or not) children are. John Copps, who runs the project at NPC, believes the survey is capturing something that has been elusive: it is, he says, "putting a number on a feeling".
The desire to match numbers to feelings is popular at the moment. In November last year, prime minister David Cameron put happiness at the centre of government policy when he announced that the Office for National Statistics would produce a national "well-being index" alongside its usual tables measuring income, health, births and deaths. And from this month, as part of the data-gathering, about 200,000 people a year will be asked new questions about their life satisfaction as part of the Integrated Household Survey.
PhD candidate in the School of Psychology, Karen O'Brien, said children with autism could have difficulties in social interactions and that their siblings played an important role in their development, particularly when it came to social skills.
"Children acquire the ability to identify mental states, also known as 'theory of the mind' (ToM), at around four years of age," she said.
"Research has shown that children with autism typically struggle on ToM tests and their everyday ToM skills are impaired, making it rare for even the highest-functioning autistic child to pass these tests before the age of 13 years."
Mental states identified in ToM include intentions, beliefs, desires and emotions, in oneself and other people, and understanding that everyone has their own plans, thoughts, and points of view.
According to Ms O'Brien, typically developing children show a significant advance in ToM understanding between the ages of three to five years.
Three children in Pingliang, Gansu, have died and 36 others have fallen ill from nitrite poisoning after drinking milk bought direct from farmers.
Pingliang's No2 People's Hospital recorded the first food-poisoning death around 9am on Thursday and another hospital recorded two similar deaths shortly afterwards.
"The three dead children were all under three years old. The rest of the patients were mostly children under 14 years old," a Pingliang government spokesman said.
In the never-ending quest to help people co-exist peacefully with their spouses, children, siblings and in-laws, therapists are turning to tools used to assess the psychological stability of pilots, police officers and nuclear-power plant operators: personality tests.
I'm not talking about the pop quizzes in magazines that claim to help you determine the color of your aura or what breed you'd be if you were a dog. I am referring to tests that are scientifically designed and heavily researched, consisting of dozens if not hundreds of questions that identify specific aspects of your personality. Are you a thinker or a feeler? Intuitive or fact-oriented? Organized or spontaneous?
Answering questions like these helped Mardi and Richard Sayer get through a difficult period a few years ago when their adult daughter, Maggie Sayer, moved back into their Middletown, R.I. home.
Three new studies conclude that many widely used behavioral and medication treatments for autism have some benefit, one popular alternative therapy doesn't help at all, and there isn't yet enough evidence to discern the best overall treatment.
Parents of children with autism-spectrum disorder often try myriad treatments, from drugs to therapy to nutritional supplements. The studies being published Monday and funded by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, were part of the effort to examine the comparative effectiveness of treatments in 14 priority disease areas, including autism-spectrum disorders.
Autism and related disorders, conditions marked by social and communication deficits and often other developmental delays, have become more common over the years and now affect 1 in 110 U.S. children, according to estimates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A bill that would ban trans fats in Nevada public schools got support from health advocates and some mild opposition from administrators who don't want to be food police.
A Senate committee on Friday heard Senate Bill 230, which bans trans fats from vending machines, student stores, and school activities. The current bill version exempts school lunches, but pending rules through the national school lunch program would ban trans fats there, too.
Trans fats raise levels of harmful cholesterol and decrease levels of healthy cholesterol. They are common in processed snack foods, fried foods and baked goods.
Terry Mazany, interim chief of Chicago Public Schools, was like a baseball manager beckoning a star relief pitcher an inning early to hold a lead. Rather than Mariano Rivera, he waved in Kate Maehr to last week's Board of Education meeting.
He had opened an ultimately melancholy session dominated by budget woes by suddenly and without explanation defending the Breakfast in the Classroom program, quietly pushed through in January.
The defense was due partly to an earlier mention in this column that generated lots of "Huh, are they serious?" responses among parents and others, according to board officials. The program mandates that the first instructional class open with pupils having breakfast at their desks, even at schools already offering pre-class breakfast.
As more kids are diagnosed with food allergies, more schools are faced with figuring out how to deal with students who require a special environment. Should schools be expected to inconvenience all students when only one of them has a severe peanut allergy? This debate is currently playing out at a school in Florida.
A 6-year-old girl at a school in Florida has a peanut allergy so severe that she could have a reaction if she were to breath traces of nut dust in the air. Her elementary school in Edgewater, Fl., has taken extraordinary measures to accommodate her.
All students are now required to wash their hands and rinse out their mouths before stepping inside the classroom. Desks must be regularly wiped down with Clorox wipes. School administrators have banned all peanut products and snacks are no longer allowed in the class. Earlier this month, a peanut-sniffing dog walked through the school to make sure everyone is following the rules.
The school is legally obligated to take these safety precautions because of the Federal Disabilities Act, according to Nancy Wait, the the spokeswoman for Volusia County Schools.
In the pale-turquoise ladies' room, they congregate in front of the mirror, re-applying mascara and lip gloss, brushing their hair, straightening panty hose and gossiping: This one is "skanky," that one is "really cute," and so forth. Dressed in minidresses, perilously high heels, and glittery, dangling earrings, their eyes heavily shadowed in black-pearl and jade, they look like a flock of tropical birds. A few minutes later, they return to the dance floor, where they shake everything they've got under the party lights.
But for the most part, there isn't all that much to shake. This particular group of party-goers consists of 12- and 13-year-old girls. Along with their male counterparts, they are celebrating the bat mitzvah of a classmate in a cushy East Coast suburb.
We all know that the delineation between public and private was eroded by Facebook a long time ago. Over. Done. But now Facebook's sheer scale is pushing it in a new direction, one that encroaches on your authenticity.
Facebook is no longer a social network. They stopped being one long before the movie. Facebook is really a huge broadcast platform. Everything that happens between its walls is one degree away from being public, one massive auditorium filled with everyone you've ever met, most of whom you haven't seen or spoken to in years.
Last week a bunch of massive sites across the web, including TechCrunch, adopted Facebook commenting. The integration of the formatting and fonts is so strong that when you're reading comments you actually feel like you are on Facebook, not a tech focused vertical site.
our fifth-grade boys at Grace Patterson Elementary School in Vallejo became ill after eating part of a cookie that contained marijuana, officials said Tuesday.
While on his way to school Monday, one of the boys, an 11-year-old, was given two individually wrapped cookies by a clerk at the Calco Mart and Gas station at 200 Maine St.
The author of The Cult Of The Amateur argues that if we lose our privacy we sacrifice a fundamental part of our humanity.
Every so often, when I'm in Amsterdam, I visit the Rijksmuseum to remind myself about the history of privacy. I go there to gaze at a picture called The Woman in Blue Reading a Letter, which was painted by Jan Vermeer in 1663. It is of an unidentified Dutch woman avidly reading a letter. Vermeer's picture, to borrow a phrase from privacy advocates Louis Brandeis and Samuel Warren, is a celebration of the "sacred precincts of private and domestic life". It's as if the artist had kept his distance in order to capture the young woman, cocooned in her private world, at her least socially visible.
Today, as social media continues radically to transform how we communicate and interact, I can't help thinking with a heavy heart about The Woman in Blue. You see, in the networking age of Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare, the social invisibility that Vermeer so memorably captured is, to excuse the pun, disappearing. That's because, as every Silicon Valley notable, from Eric Schmidt to Mark Zuckerberg, has publicly acknowledged, privacy is dead: a casualty of the cult of the social. Everything and everyone on the internet is becoming collaborative. The future is, in a word, social.
Anyone who has ever tried to sneak healthy food into kids' lunches knows what Chicago Public Schools is going through.
Sometimes kids openly embrace the new food. Sometimes they eat it without realizing the difference. And sometimes they refuse it altogether.
CPS has met with all three reactions this school year, when it stopped serving daily nachos, Pop-Tarts and doughnuts and introduced healthier options at breakfast and lunch. But in a sign of how challenging this transition can be for schools, district figures show that lunch sales for September through December dropped by about 5 percentage points since the previous year, or more than 20,000 lunches a day.
Click on the images above to view the full screen panoramas on mac/pc/iPhone/iPad and Android devices. Look for one or two more panoramas tomorrow.
I've posted a number of still images, here.
Many Madison residents went about their weekend as always, including the ice fisherman captured in this scene (look closely for the eagle):
With the new school year starting in March, high school teacher Jennifer Chung is worried about coping without her longtime classroom companion --- a hickory stick for smacking misbehaving students.
"I don't know if I can survive the jungle of 40 restless boys in each class, let alone keeping them quiet with no means to punish them," said the 36-year-old maths teacher in Gyeonggi province surrounding Seoul.
Education authorities in Seoul, the country's largest school district with 1.36 million pre-college students, last November banned corporal punishment.
Gyeonggi and one other province followed suit, with the new rule to take effect there in March.
Children are often happier with their online lives than they are with reality, a survey has revealed.
They say they can be exactly who they want to be - and as soon as something is no longer fun they can simply hit the quit button.
The study also shows that, despite concerns about online safety, one in eight young people is in contact with strangers when on the web and often lies about their appearance, age and background.
Researchers for children's charity Kidscape assessed the online activities of 2,300 11- to 18-year-olds from across the UK and found that 45 per cent said they were sometimes happier online than in their real lives.
The report - Virtual Lives: It is more than a game, it is your life - lays bare the attitudes of children today to the internet and includes revealing insights into how they feel when they are on the web.
Beginning March 1, public schools in Madison and across the state will be constrained in their ability to dispense medication to students and respond to health emergencies.
"Our options are now limited," says Freddi Adelson, the Madison district's health services coordinator.
The changes, crafted by the state Department of Public Instruction and passed by the Legislature last year, set stricter rules for dispensing medications at school than current district policy.
For instance, Madison schools now let school nurses dispense acetaminophen or ibuprofen to the students of parents who give written permission. The new rules say schools can dispense only medications
A study of more than 1,000 sixth graders in several schools in southeastern Michigan found that those who regularly had the school lunch were 29 percent more likely to be obese than those who brought lunch from home.
Spending two or more hours a day watching television or playing video games also increased the risk of obesity, but by only 19 percent.
Of the 142 obese children in the study for whom dietary information was known, almost half were school-lunch regulars, compared with only one-third of the 787 who were not obese.
"Most school lunches rely heavily on high-energy, low-nutrient-value food, because it's cheaper," said Dr. Kim A. Eagle, director of the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center, and senior author of the paper, published in the December issue of American Heart Journal. In some schools where the study was done, lunch programs offered specials like "Tater Tot Day," he said.
In my short time as a teacher in Connecticut, I have muddled through President Bush's No Child Left Behind act, which tied federal funding of schools to various reforms, and through President Obama's Race to the Top initiative, which does much the same thing, though with different benchmarks. Thanks to the feds, urban schools like mine--already entitled to substantial federal largesse under Title I, which provides funds to public schools with large low-income populations--are swimming in money. At my school, we pay five teachers to tutor kids after school and on Saturdays. They sit in classrooms waiting for kids who never show up. We don't want for books--or for any of the cutting-edge gizmos that non-Title I schools can't afford: computerized whiteboards, Elmo projectors, the works. Our facility is state-of-the-art, thanks to a recent $40 million face-lift, with gleaming new hallways and bathrooms and a fully computerized library.
Here's my prediction: the money, the reforms, the gleaming porcelain, the hopeful rhetoric about saving our children--all of it will have a limited impact, at best, on most city schoolchildren. Urban teachers face an intractable problem, one that we cannot spend or even teach our way out of: teen pregnancy. This year, all of my favorite girls are pregnant, four in all, future unwed mothers every one. There will be no innovation in this quarter, no race to the top. Personal moral accountability is the electrified rail that no politician wants to touch.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates sat down recently with CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta in Davos, Switzerland.
The billionaire philanthropist was attending the World Economic Forum to push his mission of eradicating polio by 2012. Gates, through his foundation, also pledged $10 billion to provide vaccinations to children around the world within a decade.
Gupta asked Gates for his thoughts about the alleged autism-vaccine connection. He also asked: Who holds ultimate accountability for the billions of dollars being spent on aid? Is a certain amount of corruption and fraud expected? Below is an excerpt of their conversation.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Ten billion dollars [pledged] over the next 10 years to make it "the year of the vaccines." What does that mean exactly?
A little over two weeks after celebrity cook Jamie Oliver started shooting the second season of his Food Revolution reality TV show at the Westwood-based Jamie's Kitchen, the Los Angeles Unified School District remains at odds with the production company about letting the show shoot in district schools.
However, Robert Alaniz, spokesperson for the district said that officials have been meeting with Oliver's team.
"He'd be more than welcome, but sans cameras," Alaniz said, adding that district officials simply believe that the school district is no place for a reality television show.
Children born to mothers who live close to freeways have twice the risk of autism, researchers reported Thursday. The study, its authors say, adds to evidence suggesting that certain environmental exposures could play a role in causing the disorder in some children.
"This study isn't saying exposure to air pollution or exposure to traffic causes autism," said Heather Volk, lead author of the paper and a researcher at the Saban Research Institute of Children's Hospital Los Angeles. "But it could be one of the factors that are contributing to its increase."
The emotional health of college freshmen -- who feel buffeted by the recession and stressed by the pressures of high school -- has declined to the lowest level since an annual survey of incoming students started collecting data 25 years ago.
In the survey, "The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2010," involving more than 200,000 incoming full-time students at four-year colleges, the percentage of students rating themselves as "below average" in emotional health rose. Meanwhile, the percentage of students who said their emotional health was above average fell to 52 percent. It was 64 percent in 1985.
Every year, women had a less positive view of their emotional health than men, and that gap has widened.
Campus counselors say the survey results are the latest evidence of what they see every day in their offices -- students who are depressed, under stress and using psychiatric medication, prescribed even before they came to college.
One hundred down, 1,150 more to go.
Waukesha County researchers have identified 100 babies who'll be part of a landmark study of children's health - a tiny fraction of the 100,000 nationwide who may eventually be identified for the largest long-term study of children's health ever conducted in the country.
Waukesha County is among the first seven pilot locations, the only one in Wisconsin and part of 105 centers eventually who'll participate in the National Children's Study. The $2.7 billion study will follow children from before their birth until age 21 with the aim of identifying the influence of environmental factors, including physical, chemical, biological and psychosocial, on their health and development.
A celebration at the study's Waukesha office Wednesday highlighted the success in finding the first 100 local participants.
Another 1,150 babies will eventually be added in Waukesha County, and researchers are still recruiting from Brookfield, Big Bend, Hartland, Pewaukee, Oconomowoc, Dousman, New Berlin, Waukesha, Menomonee Falls and Sussex.
A Dane County jury has awarded $1 million to a former Madison couple who claimed therapists created in their daughter false memories of childhood sexual and physical abuse.
Jurors early Sunday found two of the three therapists who treated Charlotte Johnson in the early 1990s professionally negligent, said attorney Bill Smoler, who represented her parents, Dr. Charles and Karen Johnson.
The couple, now of St. Louis, had been accused by their daughter of being Satanists and incest perpetrators. Charlotte Johnson had come to believe that her father had raped her at age 3, that her mother had come after her with a knife and tried to drown her, and that the family dabbled in cults and infanticide, said Smoler, who termed the alleged memories "outrageous."
Jamie Oliver, the celebrity chef who is beating the drums for a school lunch revolution, received a warm reception this weekend from hundreds of the people who make and serve food to children every day. It's the Los Angeles Unified School District that isn't so welcoming.
"I'm going to be honest. I'm actually petrified," Oliver said as he started his keynote address Saturday at the annual meeting of the California School Nutrition Assn. at the Pasadena Convention Center.
Perhaps he feared the "lunch ladies" might not be happy to hear from the man who clashed with their colleagues in Huntington, W.Va., last year on "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution." But he was applauded several times.
A Memphis, Tennessee high school is trying to come to grips with a teen pregnancy epidemic.
Ninety students who attend Frayser High School are currently pregnant or have already had a baby this year.
The stunning number means nearly 11 percent of the school's approximately 800 students are already experiencing the trials of parenthood.
A Title One school, Frayser receives federal dollars based on the number of students from low income families who qualify for free or reduced lunch.
Nearly 100 percent of the students who attend the school qualify.
Such a high rate of pregnancy at one school is dire, but sources say there is a massive initiative in the works dedicated to preventing teen pregnancy in the Frayser community.
Jeff Lowell, an assistant principal at Interlake High School in Bellevue, Wash., normally dismisses the e-mails he gets from businesses trying to sell to his 1,500 students.
He was intrigued, however, by the pitch he received in September from Fresh Healthy Vending, a San Diego franchise operation that offers vending machines stocked with snacks and drinks it touts as alternatives to junk food.
"Everybody (understands) what eating right does for you and how much it ends up affecting your ability to think," Lowell says. "We decided we wanted to try it."
Lowell signed a one-year contract allowing Fresh Healthy to park its machines near Interlake's gym in exchange for 15 percent of profits. In late November, Fresh Healthy installed three machines, featuring goodies such as Kashi granola bars and Stonyfield Farm fruit smoothies, next to older machines that sell Powerade and Dasani water. The top seller in the new machines so far: Pirate's Booty cheese puffs.
SARAH WILSON was speaking proudly the other day when she declared: "My house is a little messy."
Ms. Wilson lives in Stroudsburg, Pa., a small town in the Poconos. Many days, her home is strewn with dress-up clothes, art supplies and other artifacts from playtime with her two small children, Benjamin, 6, and Laura, 3. "I let them get it messy because that's what it's here for," she said.
Ms. Wilson has embraced a growing movement to restore the sometimes-untidy business of play to the lives of children. Her interest was piqued when she toured her local elementary school last year, a few months before Benjamin was to enroll in kindergarten. She still remembered her own kindergarten classroom from 1985: it had a sandbox, blocks and toys. But this one had a wall of computers and little desks.
"There's no imaginative play anymore, no pretend," Ms. Wilson said with a sigh.
Kids' Turn, a divorce education program located in San Francisco, encourages children grappling with their parents' split to express their feelings through art. Founded in 1988, the program--which serves five counties in the Bay Area--has been replicated nationally and internationally, and will be implemented in Great Britain later this year. The following pictures, which were drawn by kids and teens ages 5 to 15, express in crayon and marker feelings often too difficult to explain in words.
In the wake of several tragedies that have made bullying a high-profile issue, it's becoming clear that harassment by one's peers is something more than just a rite of passage. Bullied kids are more likely to be depressed, anxious, and suicidal. They struggle in school -- when they decide to show up at all. They are more likely to carry weapons, get in fights, and use drugs.
But when it comes to the actual harm bullying does, the picture grows murkier. The psychological torment that victims feel is real. But perhaps because many of us have experienced this sort of schoolyard cruelty and lived to tell the tale, peer harassment is still commonly written off as a "soft" form of abuse -- one that leaves no obvious injuries and that most victims simply get over. It's easy to imagine that, painful as bullying can be, all it hurts is our feelings.
A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids. They wonder what these parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it's like inside the family, and whether they could do it too. Well, I can tell them, because I've done it. Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do:
- attend a sleepover
- have a playdate
- be in a school play
- complain about not being in a school play
- watch TV or play computer games
- choose their own extracurricular activities
- get any grade less than an A
- not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama
- play any instrument other than the piano or violin
- not play the piano or violin.
New evidence suggests children with ADHD have trouble switching off the "daydreaming" regions in the brain that often interfere with concentration, particularly on tedious tasks.
Using a "Whac-a-Mole" style game, researchers found evidence from brain scans that children with ADHD require either much greater incentives--or their usual stimulant medication--to switch off those regions and focus on a task. The findings are published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
"The results are exciting because for the first time we are beginning to understand how in children with ADHD incentives and stimulant medication work in a similar way to alter patterns of brain activity and enable them to concentrate and focus better," says Chris Hollis, a professor of health sciences at the University of Nottingham. "It also explains why in children with ADHD their performance is often so variable and inconsistent, depending as it does on their interest in a particular task."
Sherri Oliver lives in a small town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. It's a two-hour bus ride to get to the Mount Washington Pediatric Hospital in Baltimore -- and she has brought her daughter, Katie Dail.
Katie has dangerously high levels of lead in her blood.
She's a fast-moving first-grader with copper-colored hair. Katie has bright brown eyes but has trouble making eye contact. She also has autism -- and she doesn't really speak, but she makes a kind of whooping sound when she's happy.
But Katie is not here for autism treatment. The treatment she has been getting -- chelation therapy -- is to get her lead levels down. Although hospitals offer the treatment, some desperate parents are turning to home-based chelation kits and over-the-counter pills, which doctors say can be more dangerous.
For decades, parents of children with autism have been searching for a drug or diet to treat the disorder.
Their latest hope is the hormone oxytocin. It's often called the trust hormone or the cuddle hormone. And just to be clear, it has nothing to do with the narcotic oxycontin.
But some children with autism are already being treated with oxytocin, even though it's not approved for this purpose.
The Trust Hormone
It's no wonder parents of children with autism have high hopes for oxytocin. So do a lot of researchers, like Jennifer Bartz at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.
An analysis of the growing problem of obesity in China and its relationship to the nation's changing diet, lifestyle trends and healthcare system.
'When Deng Xiaoping said 'To get rich is glorious', he probably didn't realize that getting wealthy would make many Chinese fat... In an informative and entertaining style, French and Crabbe reveal the dark side of China's growing middle-class: a fast increase in obesity-related illnesses such as diabetes. A great read on an important topic.' Andy Rothman, China economist, CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets, Shanghai
'In this remarkably well researched and thought-provoking book, French and Crabbe expose a darker side of globalisation in China... Western multinationalists have submerged the Chinese consumer in a sea of chocolate and ice cream. The consequences for public health are incalculable.' --Tim Clissold, China investment specialist and author of 'Mr China'
'While some people around the world agonize about the rapid spread of China's global influence, others within China are more worried about the spread of the country's waistlines - or at least they should be, according to this fascinating and exhaustively researched study by Paul French and Matthew Crabbe. By turns colourful, witty and alarming, this book provides fascinating insights into China's fast-changing society.' --Duncan Hewitt, Shanghai correspondent for 'Newsweek' and author of 'Getting Rich First: Life in a Changing China'
Made any New Year's resolutions yet? Here's an idea: Focus on the state of your relationships instead of the state of your abs.
Increasingly, experts have been telling us how important social bonds are to well-being, affecting everything from how our brains process information to how our bodies respond to stress. People with strong connections to others may live longer. The quality of our relationships is the single biggest predictor of our happiness.
With personal bonds this important, it would seem prudent to put a little work into improving them, especially if they are struggling or even just a little lackluster. And it might not hurt to forge some new ones, too.
Gage Martindale, who is 8 years old, has been taking a blood-pressure drug since he was a toddler. "I want to be healthy, and I don't want things in my heart to go wrong," he says.
And, of course, his mom is always there to check Gage's blood pressure regularly with a home monitor, and to make sure the second-grader doesn't skip a dose of his once-a-day enalapril.
These days, the medicine cabinet is truly a family affair. More than a quarter of U.S. kids and teens are taking a medication on a chronic basis, according to Medco Health Solutions Inc., the biggest U.S. pharmacy-benefit manager with around 65 million members. Nearly 7% are on two or more such drugs, based on the company's database figures for 2009.
Doctors and parents warn that prescribing medications to children can be problematic. There is limited research available about many drugs' effects in kids. And health-care providers and families need to be vigilant to assess the medicines' impact, both intended and not. Although the effects of some medications, like cholesterol-lowering statins, have been extensively researched in adults, the consequences of using such drugs for the bulk of a patient's lifespan are little understood.
Germany's main school teaching body has called for classroom weigh-ins and the enforced removal of ultra-overweight pupils to combat rising obesity in society.
Josef Kraus, the DL teaching federation president, said: "When parents don't make sure their children eat healthily and get enough exercise, then it can be the beginning of child abuse in extreme cases." He said school doctors should take a more active role and conduct regular consultations and weight measurements of students. The should also report problem cases to authorities.
"When parental notices about overweight children are thrown to the wind, then youth services must be contacted and as a last resort there should be cuts to their parental benefits or welfare," Mr Kraus said.
His remarks follow the release of official figures which showed that 51 per cent of Germans are considered overweight. Sixty per cent of men and 43 per cent of women have a Body Mass Index (BMI) - a measure calculated by body weight and height - of more than 25, up from 56 per cent and 40 per cent respectively in 1999.
Ted Kaptchuk at Harvard Medical School and colleagues at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center conducted a clinical trial and found a placebo pill without any active ingredient was better than no treatment at helping patients with irritable bowel syndrome.
The therapeutic effect observed in the IBS patients who received the placebo treatment was not the common placebo effect, which is something observed in patients who do not know they are taking a dummy pill in the first place.
In this study, the researchers actually told those on the placebo treatment that they were using a placebo pill, but not a medicine.
The study published on December 22 in PLoS ONE suggests that any placebo treatment (which at least won't cause adverse or side effect) can be better than no treatment.
John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist, has a lifelong fascination with how the mind reacts to and organizes information. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School--a provocative book that takes on the way our schools and work environments are designed. His latest book is a must-read for parents and early-childhood educators: Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child From Zero to Five You might ask, "What does this topic have to do with small business? Well, if you're having issues with your kids, you're not going to be on top of your game at the office.
Q: What's the gist of what one should do to foster emotionally health and intellectually successful kids?
By outfitting students and teachers with wireless sensors, researchers simulated how the flu might spread through a typical American high school and found more than three-quarters of a million opportunities for infection daily.
Over the course of a single school day, students, teachers and staff came into close proximity of one another 762,868 times -- each a potential occasion to spread illness.
The flu, like the common cold and whooping cough, spreads through tiny droplets that contain the virus, said lead study author Marcel Salathe, an assistant professor of biology at Pennsylvania State University.
This is a season that begins with the story of a couple that wanted a family. Mary and Joseph had some high-profile intervention, of course. But when modern couples who want children find themselves frustrated, their first reaction these days is often to get to a fertility clinic.
Many couples pay tens of thousands of dollars for rounds of medical wizardry instead of adopting children who are already among us, crying for our love and support. I think some of the people who choose assisted fertility may be missing out on a miracle.
I know that the impulse to bear children is deep. My wife and I tried, in the time honored way, for many years, and then with the assistance and injections of fertility experts. But at some point, the costs began to match those of an adoption and prompted us to ask, "Why are we doing this? There are already so many millions of children out there."
Adoption is as old as Abraham-and-Sarah-style begetting. To sit at a Seder dinner holding daughters in your lap (our two girls were left along roadsides in China) and hear the story of a baby boy who was floated into the bulrushes along the Nile, reminds you that the instinct to care for castaway children is ancient and inborn. When disease, slaughter or smiting felled or scattered families, friends and even enemies took in and loved the children left behind.
In 1991, Charlotte Johnson dropped a bomb on her parents. She accused her father, Charles Johnson, of sexually abusing her. Two years later she accused her mother, Karen Johnson, of being complicit in the sexual abuse and of being physically abusive to her. The abuse, she believes to this day, happened when she was a young child.
The painful memories, buried deep in Johnson's subconscious, surfaced in adulthood.
Charles and Karen Johnson, of St. Louis, say the abuse never happened and that mental health treatment providers encouraged and fostered false memories of abuse.
In 1996 the Johnsons sued Rogers Memorial Hospital, where their daughter was admitted for treatment. They also sued Heartland Counseling Services in Madison, Madison therapist Kay Phillips, Oconomowoc therapists Jeff Hollowell and Tim Reisenauer, and the defendants' insurers. The lawsuit has crept through the legal system for more than 14 years, including two trips to the state Supreme Court.
A Kansas coroner confirmed Thursday that the brain injury that killed Spring Hill High School football player Nathan Stiles on Oct. 29 came from a part of the 17-year-old's brain that had bled earlier this year.
Michael Handler, the Johnson County corner and a neuropathologist, informed the Stiles family Thursday that the exact cause of death was a subdural hematoma, which Nathan Stiles likely suffered Oct. 1 during Spring Hill's game against Ottawa.
"[Handler] said it was a perfect example of a subdural hematoma," Connie Stiles said. "You could see where his brain had been healing. You could see where it was starting to get better. It seems like everything can be traced back to that first hit. That's what he thinks."
The morning after the Ottawa game is when Stiles, Spring Hill's homecoming king and team captain, first began complaining of headaches. Five days later Connie Stiles took her son to Olathe Medical Center, where he underwent a CT scan and was diagnosed with a concussion.
Rushing a student to a psychiatric emergency room is never routine, but when Stony Brook University logged three trips in three days, it did not surprise Jenny Hwang, the director of counseling.
It was deep into the fall semester, a time of mounting stress with finals looming and the holiday break not far off, an anxiety all its own.
On a Thursday afternoon, a freshman who had been scraping bottom academically posted thoughts about suicide on Facebook. If I were gone, he wrote, would anybody notice? An alarmed student told staff members in the dorm, who called Dr. Hwang after hours, who contacted the campus police. Officers escorted the student to the county psychiatric hospital.
Desperate for clues to a 4-year-old's gut-destroying disease, doctors wonder whether a pioneering DNA technique could help.
On a Saturday morning in June, when his children are at piano lessons and the Whitefish Bay house is quiet, pediatrician Alan Mayer composes the e-mail he hopes will persuade a colleague to try a costly new technology. He has been shaping the argument in his mind - the chance to take the first steps into the future of medicine and maybe save the life of a very sick little boy.
"Dear Howard - I hope you are well," he writes, addressing Howard Jacob, director of the Medical College of Wisconsin's Human and Molecular Genetics Center. "I'm writing to get your thoughts on a patient of mine . . . "
Nicholas Volker is a short, blue-eyed4-year-old who loves Batman and squirt gun fights and steak - on the rare occasions when he's not restricted to a feeding tube.
Food has become his dream - and his curse. Severely underweight, he arrived at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in 2007 with the bony arms and distended belly of a famine victim. Yet when he ate, unusual holes would open between his intestine and skin, causing feces to leak into a large wound in his abdomen.
As a strong proponent of parental responsibility, it both amuses and angers me to see some parents lining up behind an initiative to sue McDonald's over the inclusion of toys in their Happy Meals.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest is leading the charge in this case by pushing the state of California to ban the toys. The group suggests that the toys in Happy Meals are inducing children to eat the burger and fries, thus contributing to the obesity epidemic in America.
As I asserted in a past column that supported first lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" initiative, I fully back efforts to end obesity among our children. But at what point do some folks use common sense?
When she gave birth to her daughter last July, Cassie Friesen, of Broomfield, Colo., imagined she was inside a bubble and repeated the word "peace" with each contraction.
The 25-year-old former nanny learned these relaxation and visualization techniques in a hypnotherapy course she took in hopes of minimizing the pain of childbirth. "It's so corny-sounding," she says, and yet it worked. She describes her daughter Aster's July 7 arrival as "fun--even enjoyable," words not many other mothers use when describing the experience.
Melissa Hoistion was enjoying dinner with her husband and their three children at a restaurant in Freehold, N.J., recently--until the waiter disappeared for 20 minutes.
Her husband, Tim, began muttering. Ms. Hoistion braced herself. "Uh-oh, here it comes," she remembers thinking.
"EXCUSE ME!" he screamed across the room to another waiter, then stormed off to complain to the manager. When the original server finally returned to the table, her husband yelled, "Where the hell have you been for the last 45 minutes?" and continued berating him until the man walked away.
Last week it was announced that the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders removed 50% of the personality disorders currently on its list. However none of the excluded disorders have gotten as much attention as the removal of "narcissistic personality disorder," or NPD.
The uproar is unsurprising. Narcissism is one of the most obvious examples of a personality disorder. We see it everywhere in our culture. Narcissism can explain part of the motivation for participating in reality TV show antics, and Hollywood has always seemed a refuge for beautiful people who need to be the center of attention. We know that not much will change in Hollywood with this announcement. But will it change any other parts of our culture?
Over the last year, Save the Children emerged as a leader in the push to tax sweetened soft drinks as a way to combat childhood obesity. The nonprofit group supported soda tax campaigns in Mississippi, New Mexico, Washington State, Philadelphia and the District of Columbia.
At the same time, executives at Save the Children were seeking a major grant from Coca-Cola to help finance the health and education programs that the charity conducts here and abroad, including its work on childhood obesity.
The talks with Coke are still going on. But the soda tax work has been stopped. In October, Save the Children surprised activists around the country with an e-mail message announcing that it would no longer support efforts to tax soft drinks.
In interviews this month, Carolyn Miles, chief operating officer of Save the Children, said there was no connection between the group's about-face on soda taxes and the discussions with Coke. A $5 million grant from PepsiCo also had no influence on the decision, she said. Both companies fiercely oppose soda taxes.
Mark Hyman loves the case study; when one of his posts at Huffington Post deals with an almost magical healing he's engendered, well, chances are, there's gonna be a kid involved. This time up, it's Hyman curing autism cuz he's teh man.
Let's look at his first paragraph: "Imagine being the parent of a young child who is not acting normally and being told by your doctor that your child has autism, that there is no known cause, and there is no known treatment except, perhaps, some behavioral therapy."
Fortunately, I don't have to imagine this scenario; I can and do speak from experience. The whole assessment thing for Bobby was hell on wheels from 1994 when we first began the process through 1998 when we got a thorough assessment. We were never told there were no known causes. Even in the mid 90s there were known causes and tests to run, like Fragile X, so that right there is BS on Hyman's part. We were also, despite the crap we were told, never told there was no known treatment. Speech, OT, PT and therapy were begun in 1994, even as we went through a string of inaccurate diagnoses.
The chief executive of McDonald's has described critics of the company who have tried to curtail the sale of Happy Meals aimed at children as "food police" and accused them of undermining parents in making decisions for their families.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Jim Skinner responded to last month's vote by the San Francisco board of supervisors to forbid restaurants from offering toys with meals unless the food complied with limits on calories, sodium, sugar and fat.
"We'll continue to sell Happy Meals," said Mr Skinner, in the face of a ban that does not become effective until December 2011. The new rule "really takes personal choice away from families who are more than capable of making their own decisions".
Mom's admonishment still rings true today, with only minor adjustment: "Starving children in North Korea would be happy to have that beef and bean burrito."
Or, as it's known in the Madison School District, the least popular lunch among students this past October and a poster child for the dilemma faced by lunch ladies across this land of plenty: How to get children to eat things that are good for their bodies, not just pleasing to their tongues.
The irony in trying to solve this problem -- also known as a "blessing" in food-deprived parts of the world -- is so old as to be left unmentioned. I mention it here only as a reminder that in our free-flowing-capital-and-consumer-products global economy, we still can't manage to keep kids from starving to death.
In any case, my first reaction to the healthy choices conundrum was simple: Let them go hungry.
Healthier lunches are coming with a heftier price tag as school districts struggle to get students to buy meals rich in green produce and whole grains yet short on sugar, fat and salt.
The dilemma has added urgency as Madison and Dane County parents become increasingly vocal in urging better food in the lunch line. Districts are getting creative, making pizzas with wheat crusts and low-fat cheese, for example. But that only goes so far, officials said.
"Try as we might, there are some kids who are not going to eat raw broccoli," said Robyn Wood, food services director for the Oregon School District, which ran a $50,000 deficit last school year in its $1.5 million lunch program. "They're not going to buy an apple over a cookie. We serve apples at the high school and kids leave campus and buy cookies."
The Madison School District has experienced a 35 percent reduction in revenue for its a la carte menu in the past five years after healthier options were introduced as part of a new wellness policy, said Food Services Director Frank Kelly.
A surprising trend among working parents in recent years has been that they are actually spending more time with their kids. But this intense parenting comes with a cost.
Since 1965, married fathers' time caring for children nearly tripled to an average 7.0 hours a week from 2.5; married moms' child-care time also rose, by 36%-to 13.9 hours from 10.2 hours, based on research released at a conference Tuesday in Washington, D.C. The child-care hours include only the time parents were focused mainly on the child, such as feeding, clothing, bathing, playing with or reading to the child. It excludes time spent with children present when the parent's primary focus was something else, such as cooking dinner or watching TV.
Parents are paying for the increase in other realms of life, says the author, Suzanne Bianchi, a sociology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. Married mothers spend less time on grooming - 8.2 hours a week, down from 10.1 hours in 1965, her data show; moms are also doing less housework.
Has your kid had a checkup for heart disease lately?
The vast majority of heart attacks happen to people well past middle age, so a potential problem a half-century away may not be high on your list of child health-care worries. But it is well-established that heart disease begins to develop in childhood. Now, two new studies add to a burgeoning body of evidence that developing heart-healthy habits as a youngster or adolescent may have lasting benefits in adulthood.
One of the reports, based on a pooling of data from four major studies that tracked people from early childhood into their 30s and 40s, suggests that the presence of such risk factors as high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol by about age 9 strongly predicts a thickening of the walls in the carotid or neck arteries in early adulthood. Experts consider this condition, called carotid intima media thickness, a precursor to heart attacks and strokes.
Remember that telephone game we played as children?
We all sat in a circle and the first person whispered a simple statement such as, "She is a girl" into a person's ear. By the time the phrase was whispered to everyone in the circle it would turn into "She is a nice gorilla."
It was funny at the time, but now when our friends say, "Did you hear about ____" our ears perk up and an audience is born.
Gossip hurts people, but most of us love to hear it anyway. Tabloids make a mint writing about celebrities and people getting their hearts smashed to smithereens. Gossip tends to hold a bottomless well of interest, yet when you are talking about someone when they are not around, ask yourself if you would feel comfortable sharing the same information if they were standing right in front of you?
Elementary breakfastsPasco County Schools.
All elementary breakfasts include a choice of one main fare item, one fruit or 100 percent fruit juice and one milk choice plus an option for cereal with graham crackers.
Monday: Whole wheat cinnamon bun or yogurt with graham crackers.
Tuesday: Breakfast burrito or Zac Omega bar.
Wednesday: Breakfast pizza or muffin loaf with cheese.
Students face a test as they walk in the doors of Waterloo East High School each morning.
Their clothes must meet the definition of a school uniform enforced by adults who stand guard at the building entrances.
No shirt collar? No dress pants or skirts? No entry.
The routine will be familiar to every public school student in Waterloo by next year, if district officials win a battle to become the first in Iowa to require school uniforms.
On the eve of a pivotal academic year in Vishal Singh's life, he faces a stark choice on his bedroom desk: book or computer?
By all rights, Vishal, a bright 17-year-old, should already have finished the book, Kurt Vonnegut's "Cat's Cradle," his summer reading assignment. But he has managed 43 pages in two months.
He typically favors Facebook, YouTube and making digital videos. That is the case this August afternoon. Bypassing Vonnegut, he clicks over to YouTube, meaning that tomorrow he will enter his senior year of high school hoping to see an improvement in his grades, but without having completed his only summer homework.
Steven and David Elmore were born identical twins, but their first days in this world could not have been more different. David came home from the hospital after a week. Steven, born four minutes later, stayed behind in the ICU. For a month he hovered near death in an incubator, wracked with fever from what doctors called a dangerous viral infection. Even after Steven recovered, he lagged behind his twin. He lay awake but rarely cried. When his mother smiled at him, he stared back with blank eyes rather than mirroring her smiles as David did. And for several years after the boys began walking, it was Steven who often lost his balance, falling against tables or smashing his lip.
Those early differences might have faded into distant memory, but they gained new significance in light of the twins' subsequent lives. By the time Steven entered grade school, it appeared that he had hit his stride. The twins seemed to have equalized into the genetic carbon copies that they were: They wore the same shoulder-length, sandy-blond hair. They were both B+ students. They played basketball with the same friends. Steven Elmore had seemingly overcome his rough start. But then, at the age of 17, he began hearing voices.
The voices called from passing cars as Steven drove to work. They ridiculed his failure to find a girlfriend. Rolling up the car windows and blasting the radio did nothing to silence them. Other voices pursued Steven at home. Three voices called through the windows of his house: two angry men and one woman who begged the men to stop arguing. Another voice thrummed out of the stereo speakers, giving a running commentary on the songs of Steely Dan or Led Zeppelin, which Steven played at night after work. His nerves frayed and he broke down. Within weeks his outbursts landed him in a psychiatric hospital, where doctors determined he had schizophrenia.
The stairwell at East High School where an alleged sexual assault took place last week will soon be off limits to students except in emergencies, a Madison School District official said Tuesday.
The door at the top of the stairwell, which leads to a building exit, will be labeled as an emergency exit, and an alarm will sound if it is opened, security coordinator Luis Yudice said.
"We're talking about a comprehensive reassessment of building security at East," Yudice said. "This incident served as a reminder to other schools that we always need to be vigilant and alert."
The district also plans to add a sixth security officer to the school (other high schools have five), extra surveillance cameras and a visitor welcome center by January, as well as asking school staff to help patrol hallways.
It's been a rough week in Madison schools, with the first degree sexual assault of a student in a stairwell at East High School and an alleged mugging at Jefferson Middle School.
The sexual assault occurred on Thursday afternoon, according to police reports. The 15-year-old victim knew the alleged assailant, also 15, and he was arrested and charged at school.
On Wednesday, two 13-year-old students at Jefferson allegedly mugged another student at his locker, grabbing him from behind and using force to try to steal his wallet. The police report noted that all three students fell to the floor. According to a letter sent to Jefferson parents on Friday, "the student yelled loudly, resisted the attempt and went immediately to report the incident. The students involved in the attempted theft were immediately identified and detained in the office."
The mugging was not reported to police until Thursday morning and Jefferson parents did not learn about the incident until two days after the incident. When police arrived at school on Thursday, they arrested two students in the attempted theft.
Parents at East were notified Thursday of the sexual assault.
Luis Yudice, Madison public schools safety chief, said it was unusual for police not to be notified as soon as the alleged strong arm robbery was reported to school officials.
A Madison East High School student has been arrested and charged on suspicion of sexually assaulting another student on school grounds this week.
Madison police said the 15-year-old boy was arrested on a charge of first-degree sexual assault on Thursday after a 15-year-old girl reported the incident.
Dan Nerad, superintendent of the Madison Metropolitan School District, said while these cases are rare, they happen and it forces district officials to take a step back and look how this could have been prevented. Officials sent a letter home to parents to explain the incident and the district's next steps.
"We're going to work real hard to deal with it, we're going to work real hard to learn from it. We're going to work real hard to make any necessary changes after we have a change to review what all of these facts and circumstances are," Nerad said.
Nerad said that while there are things the district can do to prevent such incidents, he believes much more help is needed from the community. He said the fact that this type of activity has entered the school door should be a wake up call to society.
Kids still getting visits from the Tooth Fairy are getting braces.
The number of children 17 and younger getting orthodontic treatment has grown 46% over the past decade to 3.8 million in 2008, the latest figure available from the American Association of Orthodontists. The association doesn't break the number down further by age, but Lee W. Graber, the Association's president, estimates that in his own practice 15% to 20% of the 7- to 10-year-olds he sees get treatment.
Parents' hope is that the more early treatment a child gets--that is, before all the adult teeth have come in--the less treatment the child will need later on. While that's true in some cases, what many parents don't realize is that for some of the most common orthodontic problems, early treatment offers no guarantees against a second round of treatment in the teenage years and may not save time or money.
For everyday snacking, Oz and Jakubczak suggest these treats, which, eaten in moderation, don't add too many calories to the day's total:
3 Reduced-fat microwave popcorn. When you're studying, you munch unconsciously, Jakubczak says. Microwave popcorn is low enough in calories (about 20 per cup) that you can eat a lot. Bonus: Popcorn counts as a whole grain.
Political scientist Barry Rubin has an interesting column criticizing the modern tendency to teach kids that playing to win is bad:My son is playing on a local soccer team which has lost every one of its games, often by humiliating scores. The coach is a nice guy, but seems an archetype of contemporary thinking: he tells the kids not to care about whether they win, puts players at any positions they want, and doesn't listen to their suggestions.
He never criticizes a player or suggests how a player could do better. My son, bless him, once remarked to me: "How are you going to play better if nobody tells you what you're doing wrong?" The coach just tells them how well they are playing. Even after an 8-0 defeat, he told them they'd played a great game.
And of course, the league gives trophies to everyone, whether their team finishes in first or last place.....
[A]m I right in thinking that sports should prepare children for life, competition, the desire to win, and an understanding that not every individual has the same level of skills? A central element in that world is rewarding those who do better, which also offers an incentive for them and others to strive....
Despite efforts to limit their availability, public elementary school students in the United States have more outlets to buy unhealthy beverages at school, U.S. researchers said on Monday.
Over a three-year period ending in 2009, more students could buy sweetened beverages like sodas, higher-fat milk and sports beverages from vending machines and school stores, they said. Such drinks are a major source of calories, and removing them from schools could help curb the nation's obesity epidemic.
"Elementary school students are still surrounded by a variety of unhealthy beverages while at school," said Lindsey Turner of the University of Illinois at Chicago, whose study appears in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
This certainly is an education for me," Gregory Thornton, superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools, told School Board members as he watched them chew up the first controversial matter that has come before the board since Thornton took office July 1.
The issue involved was not the biggest one MPS will face. There are lots more difficult decisions coming up as the economic problems of the school system accelerate.
But the way the board majority came down on this issue definitely sent messages.
For some, such as union members, the main message was a reassuring one; for others, such as some MPS administrators and some business and civic leaders, the message was an alarming one.
The issue, in a nutshell: Thornton, who has emphasized the need to make MPS a well-run business, thought the system's leaders should find out what all the options are for the future of a food service operation that provides about 100,000 meals a day.
At last month's Food for Thought Festival in Madison, Martha Pings attended a panel discussion titled "Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children." Among the panelists was Frank Kelly, director of food services for the Madison school district, who spoke of his desire to provide kids with nutritious food.
Two weeks later, Pings' daughter came home from O'Keeffe Middle School on Madison's east side with news that the cafeteria had a new a la carte option: a slushie machine.
The machine drew a backlash from Pings and other O'Keeffe parents, and last week was removed from the school at the request of the principal, Kay Enright (see article, 10/21/10). "I wish they would have asked me to begin with," says Enright, who agrees the slushies were not "a healthy addition to our menu of choices."
But there are larger issues here, as Pings, a member of Madison Families for Better Nutrition, related in a letter to school officials posted on the group's website.
Half of high school students say they've bullied someone in the past year, and nearly half say they've been the victim of bullying, according to a national study.
The survey released Tuesday by the Los Angeles-based Josephson Institute of Ethics asked more than 43,000 high school students whether they'd been physically abused, teased or taunted in a way that seriously upset them. Forty-three per cent said yes, and 50 per cent admitted to being the bully.
The institute's president, Michael Josephson, said the study shows more bullying goes on at later ages than previously thought, and remains extremely prevalent through high school.
"Previous to this, the evidence was bullying really peaks in middle school," Josephson told The Associated Press.
Worried about the potential risks of online interactions, the school board in Norton last week urged teachers not to become friends with their students on Facebook and other social media sites and advised them to avoid friendships with former students as well.
Tom Golota, a school board member, said the ban is designed to maintain a divide between teachers' professional and private lives and send a message that becoming too friendly with students is not acceptable.
"We want to head it off at the pass,'' Golata said. "Teachers know this already, but we wanted to have something official on the books.''
Spanish-speaking parents filled the cafeteria at Moffett Elementary School in Lennox earlier this month to watch Lorena Marin, a parent coordinator and literacy coach, demonstrate how to use a digital thermometer and liquid-medicine dispenser.
"What do you do when your child is choking?" Marin asked the crowd of about 50, some toting babies.
Get them to hold their arms up or look at a bird in the sky, parents said. Marin pointed to a section in a simply worded medical reference book that each had received that morning as part of the program. The book explained in Spanish about choking hazards and resuscitation.
Tanya Lawler was taken aback. Her daughter, returning from West High's homecoming dance on Sept. 25, mentioned that students were randomly selected to take a breath test as they arrived, to see if they'd been drinking.
While her daughter was not tested, Lawler considers this a "violation of Fourth Amendment rights" because officials lacked probable cause to suspect the people being tested. Her son attended La Follette's homecoming dance, held the same night, and reported that no testing was done there.
In fact, West is the only high school in Madison that has a formal written policy (PDF) regarding student dances, and the only one that randomly tests students as they enter using "a passive alcohol detection device." Students and a parent must sign a form agreeing to these rules.
Lawler, who doesn't remember this form, advised her daughter to refuse this test. "I would rather forfeit the price of the ticket and have her call me. I'd say, 'No, they're not going to violate your rights.'"
In a ruling that puts new restraints on get-tough "zero tolerance" discipline, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled Friday that schools must provide strong reasons for denying alternative schooling or tutoring to students after they are suspended for misbehavior.
The case was brought on behalf of two girls who were suspended for five months in 2008 after a brief fistfight at their high school in Beaufort County that involved no weapons or injuries. The suit did not question the district's right to suspend them, but protested the additional, harsher step the district took, denying them access to the county's alternative school for troubled students or help with study at home.
Legal experts said the decision, in a case that had drawn national attention from civil rights groups, children's advocates and school leaders, was likely to be cited as a precedent as other states confront similar issues. The ruling affects one aspect of the zero-tolerance discipline policies that spread throughout the country over the last two decades, a policy originally intended to weed out dangerous children but one that critics say is used too readily for lesser infractions, derailing the lives of black children in particular.
The author of a new Canadian study linking manganese in drinking water to lower intelligence levels in children said the research should prompt tougher regulation of the metal, which has been a concern in Madison's public water supply.
Drinking water experts in Madison said the study is one of the first important scientific looks at connections between manganese and human health. But water officials also said the report should be viewed in the context of extensive efforts by the utility the last four years to reduce the city's manganese levels.
"I think that here, when we talk about manganese, we're seeing levels that are more appropriately an aesthetic concern," said Joseph Grande, water quality manager for the Madison Water Utility. "We're seeing tremendously lower levels of manganese."
Where are you right now? Maybe you are at home, the office or a coffee shop--but such responses provide only a partial answer to the question at hand. Asked another way, what is the location of your "self" as you read this sentence? Like most people, you probably have a strong sense that your conscious self is housed within your physical body, regardless of your surroundings.
But sometimes this spatial self-location goes awry. During a so-called out-of-body experience, for example, one's self seems to be transported outside the physical body into a surreal perspective--some people even believe they are viewing their bodies from above, as though their true selves were floating. In a related experience, people with a delusion known as somatoparaphrenia disown one of their limbs or confuse another person's limb for their own. Such warped perceptions help researchers understand the neuroscience of selfhood.
One of the many outrages perpetrated under the Reagan administration was the proposal to classify ketchup as a vegetable for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's subsidized school lunch program. If it weren't so sad for the kids who depended on school lunches for an integral part of their daily meals, it would have been funny.
The truth is, school-provided lunches have never been great. Who can forget overcooked canned vegetables and gray mystery meat?
As pendulums swing, that stuff was supplanted by fried and greasy hamburgers, pizza and tons of fattening junk food for our already overweight kids to consume. Well, there's a movement afoot to change all of that, and one of the epicenters of that movement is here in Wisconsin, in the small, southwestern city of Viroqua. A consortium of farmers, educators and high school kids is out to change the way students connect to food and the sourcing of food.
What child hasn't dreaded September, the end of summer and the return to school. But for some kids, the prospect of school produces a level of fear so intense that it is immobilizing, resulting in what's known as school-refusal behavior.
These are the kids who may be absent for weeks or months. Some may cry or scream for hours every morning in an effort to resist leaving home. Others may hide out in the nurse's office. Some kids who miss school are simply truant--they'd just rather be doing something else. But in about two-thirds of cases, a psychiatric problem, most commonly an anxiety disorder, is the cause, according to research led by Christopher A. Kearney, professor and director of clinical training at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Anywhere from 5% to 28% of children will exhibit some degree of school-refusal behavior at some point, including truancy, according to Dr. Kearney, a leading authority on the behavior, and other experts. For kids with anxiety-fueled school refusal, the fear is real and can take time to overcome. Families may struggle for months to help a child get back into the classroom. Ignoring the problem, or failing to deal with it completely, can lead to more-serious problems later on.
The REAP Food Group will stage what sounds like a pretty daunting culinary challenge that should be fun to watch at its Food for Thought Festival at the end of September. On Saturday, Sept. 24, three local chefs will join three local school principals as kitchen collaborators, working together to plan and prepare a healthy, nutritious, child-friendly meal that will be judged by the harshest critics around: school age kids themselves.
And that's not all. The intrepid cooks must do it all on a budget, under a deadline and in front of an audience. School cooks would say it's almost as hard as what they face daily in the lunchroom.
"I know they will be hard on us," chef Steve Eriksen says of the young judges. Eriksen is one of the contestants and associate team leader for the kitchen at Madison's Whole Foods grocery store. "What you get out of children's mouths is brutal honesty."
But Eriksen says he has a secret weapon as he prepares for the competition: his 3-year-old daughter, Ella, who is a picky eater. "If we can make something that I think Ella will eat, any kid will like it," he says with a grin.
The Madison School District's Ken Syke via email:
Jim,I phoned (608) 252-6120 the Wisconsin State Journal (part of Capital Newspapers, which owns madison.com) and spoke with Jason (I did not ask his last name) today at about 2:20p.m. I asked about the status of this story [Dane County Case Number: 2010CF001460, Police call data via Crime Reports COMMUNITY POLICING 03 Sep 2010 1 BLOCK ASH ST Distance: 0 miles Identifier: 201000252977 Suspicious Vehicle Agency: City of Madison]. He spoke with another person, returned to the phone and said that a police officer phoned the reporter, Sandy Cullen and said the report she mentioned was incorrect. They then took the article down. I asked him to email me this summary, which I will post upon receipt.
I've been made aware of the entry on the School Info Systems site about La Follette student taking gun to school. That story has been retracted by madison.com and thus the story excerpt on the the SIS site is not supported any longer. It's our understanding that this madison.com story will remain retracted.
Thus we request that the story excerpt be pulled from the School Info Systems site.
Links from the original post:
Fascinating: I don't think this will help. The Madison School District 55K PDF:
WASB Policy Modifications Related to Open Enrollment Recommended changes to the current WASB resolution on open enrollment (Policy 3.77):Related: Madison School Board Discussion: Private/Parochial, Open Enrollment Leave, Open Enrollment Enter, Home Based Parent Surveys.
Current f.: The options for the districts to limit the number of students leaving the school district under the open enrollment program, if the school board believes that number is large enough to threaten the viability of the district.
Proposed f.: The option for the districts to limit the number of students leaving the school district under the open enrollment program, if the school board believes the fiscal stability of the district is threatened.
Rationale - As school districts are confronted by a combination of revenue limits and declining state aid, fiscal issues are overriding attention paid to the educational programs offered to our children. The law originally limited open enrollment transfers to 3% of a district's total enrollment and was designed to provide parents with enrollment options for their students.
Now, districts lack the flexibility or capacity to adjust to large scale student population shifts. Districts already fiscally weakened by nearly two decades of revenue limits, and more recently, cuts to general state aids - particularly in small, rural districts - are left with the options of dissolving the district, or Draconian cuts to the educational program.
Current i.: The WASB supports a clarification in state statutes to limit the number of students enrolling in nonreSident school districts to 10 percent of the resident district membership.
Proposed i.: The WASB supports limiting the number of students enrolling in nonresident school districts to 3 percent of the resident district membership.
Rationale - The law originally capped open enrollment to 3% of a district's total enrollment. This change returns control of open enrollment transfers to locally elected school board members. If districts choose to limit open enrollment transfers to less than 3%, correspondingly, a district would have to use the same method/policy for accepting students through open enrollment. **********
Proposed i: The WASB supports a fiscally neutral exchange of state dollars in open enrollment transfers.
Rationale - Current law requires that a sending district pay the receiving school district approximately $6,500. The $6,500 payment is the estimated statewide cost of educating a student; however, in practice this amount doesn't really reflect the costs of educating a student in the receiving district, or takes into account the loss of revenue to the sending district.
The law could be changed by lowering the dollar amount to $5,000, or the amount of state aid per pupil received by the sending district in the prior year, whichever is less.
While the WASB supports public school open enrollment, participation in the program should not be a fiscal hardship. The current state/nation fiscal climate and local economic circumstances confronted by school districts, has dramatically changed the fiscal equation and requires modifications to the state's open enrollment law.
Approved by the School Board of: Madison Metropolitan School District Date: 9/13/10
kt:4tf,s;:.C~ Signed: (Board President)
The year-round program covers annual physical exams, primary care office visits at the assigned clinic, including visits when the child is sick, as well as some prescription medicines.
"It's a new program so I think I signed up 12 families probably in a couple weeks time at the end of school last year," she said.
The program starts with the school nurse in every school in the district. The nurse identifies students based on two main criteria: they don't have any health insurance and do not qualify for any state programs like Badger Care.
The nurse then forwards an application for the program to the health care provider that has been paired up with the school. The health care provider then contacts the student's parents.
The program is available to undocumented students. MMSD Superintendent Dan Nerad defends this decision by citing the U.S. Supreme Court case that requires schools to educate all children regardless of immigration status.
"These are children that have needs and we have an obligation to educate them both legally and ethically and morally but underscoring it's a legal obligation first and foremost for us," he said. "And when kids aren't well they need to be taken care of."
A La Follette High School student who police say was involved in a gang-related, armed altercation Friday outside West High School was charged Wednesday with felony possession of a firearm in a school zone.Much more, here.
Uriel Duran-Martinez, 18, also was charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct and cited for possession of marijuana, according to online Dane County Circuit Court records.
Court Commissioner W. Scott McAndrew ordered Duran-Martinez released from Dane County Jail on a signature bond.
According to Madison police:
An armed altercation Friday outside West High School involving known and suspected members of two street gangs involved in an April homicide heightened concerns of possible retaliation, police and school officials said Tuesday.Related: Gangs & School Violence Forum audio / video.
Sgt. Amy Schwartz, who leads the Madison Police Department's Crime Prevention Gang Unit, said it is not known if members of the South Side Carnales gang went to the high school looking for members of the rival Clanton 14, or C-14 gang.
But staff at West and the city's three other main high schools and two middle schools were told Tuesday to determine if safety plans are needed for any students who might be at risk, said Luis Yudice, security coordinator for the Madison School District.
Police have not notified the School District of a specific threat against any student, Yudice said.
But authorities have been concerned about possible retaliation since the April 28 shooting death of Antonio Perez, 19, who police say founded Madison's C-14 gang several years ago while he was a high school student. Five people, who police say are associated with the South Side Carnales and MS-13 gangs, are charged in Perez's slaying. Two of them remain at large.
A kind reader noted this quote from the article:
"But authorities have been concerned about possible retaliation since the April 28 shooting death of Antonio Perez, 19, who police say founded Madison's C-14 gang several years ago while he was a high school student."Much more here.
The children most at risk of attempted abduction by strangers are girls ages 10 to 14, many on their way to or from school, and they escape harm mostly through their own fast thinking or fierce resistance, according to a new national analysis.
Probing a crime that is infrequent but strikes fear in the hearts of parents as little else does, analysts from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children found that children who encountered would-be abductors were usually alone, often in the late afternoon or early evening.
It's a chilling thought for working parents and all those who have asked children to hold hands tightly in crowds or to phone as soon as they get home from school. It calls to mind last year's killing of Somer Thompson, 7, snatched en route from school in Florida as she ran ahead of her siblings, and the highly publicized case of Elizabeth Smart, taken from her Utah bedroom at age 14.
In a ruling by California's chief justice nominee, a state appeals court has barred a school district from drug testing all students in extracurricular activities such as choir, the school band and Future Farmers of America.
The Shasta Union High School District in Northern California began the testing in 2008, saying the prospect of being disqualified from a favorite after-school activity would discourage youths from using drugs or alcohol.
The district noted that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that random drug tests of all students in extracurricular programs did not violate the constitutional ban on unreasonable searches.
A few years ago, a Madison gang targeted a prominent detective for murder. That plot failed. But police say gangs have been responsible for at least three murders in the last three years.Gangs & School violence forum audio / video.
Although there are now more than 1,100 gang members in the Madison area, they're not always visible. Nor is the connection between gangs and crime. Regardless, police and social workers say the gang problem here is real and they're actively trying to combat it.
What you've always suspected is true: your elders kind of like it when you have to suck on the lemons of life experience. According to a study conducted by Drs. Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick of Ohio State and Matthias Hastall, from the Zeppelin University in Friedrichshafen, Germany, older folks are often shown in a negative light, derided as stodgy and absent-minded. So, says Dr. Knobloch-Westerwick, older folks in "a youth-centered culture" are grateful for what they see as "a boost in self-esteem." She continues: "That's why they prefer the negative stories about younger people, who are seen as having a higher status in our society." Knobloch-Westerwick and Hastall studied nearly 300 German adults, ages ranging from 18-30 and 55 to 60. They showed the adults a fake online news site and gave them a few moments to browse either negative or positive versions of several articles. Older test subjects tended to pick negative articles about younger people. In general, they had no interest in articles about people in their age group or older.
Students are returning to school this week. But they're not heading back to class -- they're walking straight into a war zone. Our kids have become cannon fodder for two rival ideologies battling to control America's future.
In one camp are conservative Christians and their champion, the Texas State Board of Education; in the other are politically radical multiculturalists and their de facto champion, President Barack Obama. The two competing visions couldn't be more different. And the stakes couldn't be higher. Unfortunately, whichever side wins -- your kid ends up losing.
That's because this war is for the power to dictate what our children are taught -- and, by extension, how future generations of Americans will view the world. Long gone are the days when classrooms were for learning: now each side sees the public school system as a vast indoctrination camp in which future culture-warriors are trained. The problem is, two diametrically opposed philosophies are struggling for supremacy, and neither is willing to give an inch, so the end result is extremism, no matter which side temporarily comes out on top.
Both visions are grotesque and unacceptable -- and yet they are currently the only two choices on the national menu. Which shall it be, sir: Brainwashing Fricassee, or a Fried Ignorance Sandwich?
It will be at least 20 days before the Rhode Island Department of Education holds a hearing on a complaint protesting Woonsocket's mandatory school uniform policy, but free speech and other constitutional issues many see as central to the dispute will be on the back burner when it begins.
Lawyers for the Woonsocket Education Department and the American Civil Liberties Union have agreed to first take up some comparatively uncomplicated procedural issues that might end the dispute and delve into the constitutional questions only if necessary.
Their plans were were mapped out by lawyer John Dineen of the ACLU and Richard Ackerman, legal counsel for the WED, during a preliminary hearing at RIDE headquarters yesterday. Education Commissioner Deborah Gist appointed RIDE counsel Forrest Avila as hearing officer to preside over the dispute.
Dineen sat across from Ackerman and Woonsocket Schools Supt. Robert Gerardi at a long conference table as a half-dozen reporters from around the state listened during the session, which lasted about 20 minutes. No arguments were made and no witnesses were called.
Children who carry schoolbags and adopt improper postures while sleeping, walking and doing homework are susceptible to spinal problems, chiropractors warned.
A Children Chiropractic Foundation survey of 1,298 Primary One to Six students from September last year to May this year found 18 percent of them suffered from spinal problems.
Foundation member Tony Cheung Kai-shui said girls are more susceptible to spinal problems as their growth development is faster compared with boys of the same age.
Cheung noted that common symptoms of spinal problems are headaches, chest pains, asthma, back pains and overall weakness.
Americans, plugged in and on the move, are confiding in their pets, their computers, and their spouses. What they need is to rediscover the value of friendship.
Science-fiction writers make the best seers. In the late 1950s far-sighted Isaac Asimov imagined a sunny planet called Solaria, on which a scant 20,000 humans dwelt on far-flung estates and visited one another only virtually, by materializing as "trimensional images"--avatars, in other words. "They live completely apart," a helpful robot explained to a visiting earthling, "and never see one another except under the most extraordinary circumstances."
We have not, of course, turned into Solarians here on earth, strictly limiting our numbers and shunning our fellow humans in revulsion. Yet it's hard not to see some Solarian parallels in modern life. Since Asimov wrote The Naked Sun, Americans have been engaged in wholesale flight from one another, decamping for suburbs and Sunbelt, splintering into ever smaller households, and conducting more and more of their relationships online, where avatars flourish. The churn rate of domestic relations is especially remarkable, and has rendered family life in the United States uniquely unstable. "No other comparable nation," the sociologist Andrew J. Cherlin observes, "has such a high level of multiple marital and cohabiting unions."
A world without antibiotics could be a mere 10 years away as science and nature compete in a battle that may render some routine operations too risky to consider.
Just 65 years ago, David Livermore's paternal grandmother died following an operation to remove her appendix. It didn't go well but it was not the surgery that killed her. She succumbed to a series of infections that the pre-penicillin world had no drugs to treat. Welcome to the future.
The era of antibiotics is coming to a close. In just a couple of generations, what once appeared to be miracle medicines have been beaten into ineffectiveness by the bacteria they were designed to knock out. Once, scientists hailed the end of infectious diseases. Now, the post-antibiotic apocalypse is within sight.
Hyperbole? Unfortunately not. This month, the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases posed the question over a paper revealing the rapid spread of drug-resistant bacteria. "Is this the end of antibiotics?" it asked.
"It isn't fair."
I'd be willing to bet that somewhere, some kid is uttering those words at this very moment. And most likely the outburst was triggered by sibling rivalry.
Amy and I got a taste of it (hardly our first) a while back when we took our 13-year-old son to see the latest installment of the "Twilight" movie saga. He has read all the books and seen the first two movies, so we've been promising we would take him as soon as we could.
Our 7-year-old daughter stayed with her grandmother, Amy's mom. We knew various scenes in the movie -- as well as the dark, overarching theme of vampires and werewolves -- would simply be too scary for her.
So we arranged for her and her grandmother to have dinner at a restaurant our daughter likes. That way everyone would be happy.
Or so we thought.
Recently, I found my 2-1/2-year-old son sitting on our building doorstep, waiting for me to come home. He spotted me as I was rounding the corner and the scene that followed was one of inexpressible loveliness, right out of the film I'd played to myself before having a child, with him popping out of his babysitter's arms and barrelling down the street to greet me. This happy moment, though, was about to be cut short and, in retrospect, felt more like a tranquil lull in a slasher film.
When I opened our apartment door, I discovered my son had broken part of the toy wooden garage I'd spent an hour assembling that morning. This wouldn't have been a problem, except that as I attempted to fix it, he grew impatient and began throwing its various parts at the walls, with one plank narrowly missing my eye. I recited the rules of the house (no throwing, no hitting). He picked up another large wooden plank. I ducked. He reached for the screwdriver. The scene ended with a time-out in his cot.
Life expectancy at birth ranges from 80 years in Hawaii to 72 in Washington, DC; and from 83 in Japan to 40 in Swaziland. In vitro fertilisation is available in some regions of the UK within months; in others it takes years. Fill in your own example here, because it is now a commonplace that the price, availability and quality of anything from a nursing home to a good education will vary depending on where you live.Harford makes an excellent point. It is clearly futile to impose one size fits all approaches, particularly in education. We, as a society are far better off with a diverse governance (many smaller schools/districts/charters/vouchers) and curricular environment.
I am not sure whether the British complain more about this than anyone else, but we have developed our own term to describe it: the "postcode lottery". For community-minded gamblers there is actually a real postcode lottery, in which prizes are shared between winning ticket-holders and those fortunate enough to have homes on the same street. But for most Britons, the term is a lazy shorthand for the fact that where you live affects what you get.
There is a glaring problem with this phrase: while the ticket that gets pulled out of the tombola is chosen at random, the postcodes where you and I live are not. We aren't serfs. If we want to move and we can afford to move, we can move.
I live in Hackney, a London borough where crime is high and the schools are poor. If I had a few spare million, perhaps I would move to Hampstead or Chelsea. I do not. People who shop at Harrods expect better food than those who shop at Tesco. Ferraris are faster and sexier than Fords. There are many words to describe this state of affairs, but "lottery" is not the one I would choose.
Come to Milwaukee and help grow the good food revolution. Hosted by Growing Power--a national organization headed by the sustainable urban farmer and MacArthur Fellow Will Allen--this international conference will teach the participant how to plan, develop and grow small farms in urban and rural areas. Learn how you can grow food year-round, no matter what the climate, and how you can build markets for small farms. See how you can play a part in creating a new food system that fosters better health and more closely-knit communities.
Science-fiction writers make the best seers. In the late 1950s far-sighted Isaac Asimov imagined a sunny planet called Solaria, on which a scant 20,000 humans dwelt on far-flung estates and visited one another only virtually, by materializing as "trimensional images"--avatars, in other words. "They live completely apart," a helpful robot explained to a visiting earthling, "and never see one another except under the most extraordinary circumstances."
We have not, of course, turned into Solarians here on earth, strictly limiting our numbers and shunning our fellow humans in revulsion. Yet it's hard not to see some Solarian parallels in modern life. Since Asimov wrote The Naked Sun, Americans have been engaged in wholesale flight from one another, decamping for suburbs and Sunbelt, splintering into ever smaller households, and conducting more and more of their relationships online, where avatars flourish. The churn rate of domestic relations is especially remarkable, and has rendered family life in the United States uniquely unstable. "No other comparable nation," the sociologist Andrew J. Cherlin observes, "has such a high level of multiple marital and cohabiting unions."
If you want a little entertainment, you could check out a movie or head to the bookstore. But you might have better luck firing up YouTube to watch the latest crop of video résumés. Since the start of the recession, thousands of unemployed hopefuls have posted clips of themselves wooing imaginary recruiters, and many seem to have gone mad in their quest for a job. They look tired, they look bored, they look angry. They talk about themselves in the third person. And they don't mind making their private ambitions public. As one candidate told the camera, "I just want to commit my life to, you know, a job that, you know, my life can be committed to."
Video résumés aren't new, but as high unemployment drags on, they're increasingly pitched to job hunters looking to stand out. Colleen Aylward, CEO of video service InterviewStudio.com, says she sees a new competitor launch just about every week. The services are popular with career counselors as well. Todd Lempicke, founder of OptimalResume.com, says more than 260 colleges, libraries and job centers will be offering his video services to their constituents, double the number in 2009.
A video résumé can run you anywhere from $7,000 (for "executive Web portfolio" packages) to $50 (for guided tutorials that have candidates recording presentations with a webcam). And, of course, many folks take the DIY route. When done right, the results can be impressive: It's a chance to flaunt engaging qualities that a paper CV can't capture. But more often, the effort goes horribly wrong.
The number of college students who are afflicted with a serious mental illness is rising, according to data presented Thursday at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in San Diego.
The findings came from an analysis of 3,265 college students who used campus counseling services between September 1997 and August 2009. The students were screened for mental disorders, suicidal thoughts and self-injurious behavior.
In 1998, 93 percent of the students seeking counseling were diagnosed with one mental disorder, compared to 96 percent of students in 2009. The percentage of students with moderate to severe depression rose from 34 percent to 41 percent while the number of students on psychiatric medications increased from 11 percent to 24 percent.
At 6-foot-2 and 240 pounds, Stephen Kemp, had to move his size-14 feet to avoid tripping toddlers at his pediatrician's office in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. "It was kind of awkward, but I love my pediatrician. We're really good friends," says Mr. Kemp. Now 19 years old and a student at Butler University, he's still looking for another doctor he likes as much and still consults his pediatrician occasionally.
Every kid outgrows the pediatrician at some point--but when that point comes can vary. Some can't wait to escape the Highlights magazines and Barbie Band-Aids. Others never want to leave--finding it just as awkward to be the youngest patient in a grown-up internist's waiting room by four or five decades.
These days, more young adults are staying with their pediatricians at least through their college years, says David Tayloe, a past president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, who still practices in Goldsboro, N.C.
Even though most colleges have health services on campus, when students are home for weekends and holidays and need a doctor, the pediatrician's office may be staffed when the adult-oriented internist's office isn't.
Teacher Donald Hawkins shouts enthusiastically to his 3- and 4-year-old students: "Can you name any animals that hop?"
The answers trickle in from the sleepy but smiling youngsters: a kangaroo, a frog, a rabbit. They decide to mimic the frog. It's 9:30ish in the morning inside Browne Education Campus's comfortably warm gymnasium in Northeast Washington. Fast-tempoed music gets the kids in the mood to hop, and off they go, rhythmically squatting and bouncing across the room. When the music stops, the children rise, a little more awake.
"Are you ready?" Hawkins yells. "I can't hear you!"
"Ready!" they reply.
In the next year or so, the market for statins may get a further boost.
The National Cholesterol Education Program, the group that drafted the 2001 and 2004 guidelines on statin use, is expected to update its treatment recommendations. In doing so, the group will decide whether to suggest the broad use of statins for healthy patients with high readings of a marker for inflammation called C-reactive protein.
If the group does urge statins for these healthy individuals, at least 6.5 million new patients could sign up for long-term statin use.
When was the last time you spoke to a student about his or her experiences at school? I don't think anyone working in education reform can have these conversations often enough. I was fortunate to hear from a group of high school students last week at one of The Broad Center's professional development sessions.
To help make our discussions about the current state of education a little more real, we invited a group of students and teachers from local schools to talk about their views on education today. It was a powerful, stark reminder that our young people are amazingly resilient, but also keenly aware that we as adults are, in general, letting them down.
One high school student had this to say about the current budget crisis in her local school district: "I don't understand why we have to suffer because adults don't know how to manage their money. It's not right. If we are the country's future, you are cutting off the tree at the root."
High school sports are becoming increasingly popular with teens, and with that comes injuries. A new study reveals that fractures are not to be taken lightly. They are they fourth-most-common injury and can cause players to drop out of competition and rack up medical procedures.
The study, published recently in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, looked at fractures that occurred among high school athletes at 100 randomly selected high schools around the country from 2005 to 2009. The injuries were categorized to determine who gets them, what causes them and what effect they may have.
Fractures were the fourth-most-common injury after ligament sprains, muscle strains and bruises. Football had the highest fracture rate, and volleyball had the lowest. Fractures happened more often during competition than in practice for every sport except volleyball.
As soon as he received his roommate assignment in the mail, Sam Brown did what any 17-year-old about to enter college would do: He looked him up on Facebook.
When Sam, who will be attending the University of Colorado at Boulder, couldn't find him, he turned to Google Earth. By searching the address the college provided, Sam could see aerial photos of his future roommate's house in Encino, Calif.--his lawn, his basketball hoop, the cars in his driveway, his pool.
I had lunch this summer with a prospective graduate student at the evangelical college where I teach. I will call him John because that happens to be his name. John has done well academically at a public university. Nevertheless, as often happens, he said that he was looking forward to coming to a Christian university, and then launched into a story of religious discrimination.
John had been a straight-A student until he enrolled in English writing. The assignment was an "opinion" piece and the required theme was "traditional marriage." John is a Southern Baptist and he felt it was his duty to give his honest opinion and explain how it was grounded in his faith. The professor was annoyed that John claimed the support of the Bible for his views, scribbling in the margin, "Which Bible would that be?" On the very same page, John's phrase, "Christians who read the Bible," provoked the same retort, "Would that be the Aramaic Bible, the Greek Bible, or the Hebrew Bible?" (What could the point of this be? Did the professor want John to imagine that while the Greek text might support his view of traditional marriage, the Aramaic version did not?) The paper was rejected as a "sermon," and given an F, with the words, "I reject your dogmatism," written at the bottom by way of explanation.
I never gave much credence to the theory that one's personality is formed by first or second grade, until I recently found my elementary school report cards.
Reading what my teachers wrote about me at Tularcitos Elementary in Carmel Valley in the late 1970s, I realized I am in many ways the same person - just bigger.
By second grade, I was already exhibiting signs of becoming a bookworm:
"Not too interested in physical education. Would prefer to stay in room and work. Works very hard in classroom; I often have to throw her out at recess." - Second-grade report card, December 1977.
"You do not interest me. No man can say these words to another without committing a cruelty and offending against justice," writes philosopher Simone Weil. To turn a deaf ear is an offence not only to the ignored person but also to thinking, justice and ethics. Coleridge's Ancient Mariner is cursed because no one will listen to his story. The Italian chemist-turned-writer Primo Levi was preoccupied with this fable because of his fear that on returning from Auschwitz people like him would be either ignored or simply disbelieved. Regardless, listening gets a very mixed press amongst critics and intellectuals. There is a suspicion of "wistful optimism" or the quasi-religious appeal to "hold hands" and play priest at the confessional. These qualms miss the centrality of listening to a radical humanism which recognises that dialogue is not merely about consensus or agreement but engagement and criticism. This is something that Primo Levi understood.
“You do not interest me. No man can say these words to another without committing a cruelty and offending against justice,” writes philosopher Simone Weil. To turn a deaf ear is an offence not only to the ignored person but also to thinking, justice and ethics. Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner is cursed because no one will listen to his story. The Italian chemist-turned-writer Primo Levi was preoccupied with this fable because of his fear that on returning from Auschwitz people like him would be either ignored or simply disbelieved. Regardless, listening gets a very mixed press amongst critics and intellectuals. There is a suspicion of “wistful optimism” or the quasi-religious appeal to “hold hands” and play priest at the confessional. These qualms miss the centrality of listening to a radical humanism which recognises that dialogue is not merely about consensus or agreement but engagement and criticism. This is something that Primo Levi understood.
It took an offer to appear on a national TV show for Wade Warren to reluctantly give up what he calls his "technology" for a week.
That was the only way, his mother says, that he would ever pack his 2006 MacBook (with some recent upgrades, he'll tell you), his iPad tablet computer, and, most regretfully, his Nexus One smart phone into a cardboard box and watch them be hustled out the door of his room to a secret hiding place.
Wade, who's 14 and heading into ninth grade, survived his seven days of technological withdrawal without updating his 136 Twitter followers about "wonky math tests" and "interesting fort escapades," or posting on his photography product review blog, or texting his friends about... well, that's private. But he has returned to his screens with a vengeance, making up for lost time.
The Madison School District will ask for proof of age when registering students who live with people other than their parents or guardians or those who are 18 years or older and are enrolling themselves for school.
The district disclosed the new procedure -- which goes into effect next month for the 2010-11 school year -- in a statement to the State Journal dated July 23 and received Monday.
The announcement comes three months after the revelation that a 21-year-old gang member charged in a fatal April shooting had enrolled in Madison's West High School and later transferred to Middleton High School under a fake name and age.
Ivan Mateo-Lozenzo, 21, was enrolled at Middleton High School as 18-year-old junior Arain Gutierrez at the time of the shooting. Middleton officials have said Mateo-Lozenzo, who police have identified as an illegal immigrant from Veracruz, Mexico, had transferred from Madison's West High School.
Susan Engel & Marlene Sandstrom, via a Rick Kiley email:
HERE in Massachusetts, teachers and administrators are spending their summers becoming familiar with the new state law that requires schools to institute an anti-bullying curriculum, investigate acts of bullying and report the most serious cases to law enforcement officers.
This new law was passed in April after a group of South Hadley, Mass., students were indicted in the bullying of a 15-year-old girl, Phoebe Prince, who committed suicide. To the extent that it underlines the importance of the problem and demands that schools figure out how to address it, it is a move in the right direction. But legislation alone can't create kinder communities or teach children how to get along. That will take a much deeper rethinking of what schools should do for their students.
It's important, first, to recognize that while cellphones and the Internet have made bullying more anonymous and unsupervised, there is little evidence that children are meaner than they used to be. Indeed, there is ample research -- not to mention plenty of novels and memoirs -- about how children have always victimized one another in large and small ways, how often they are oblivious to the rights and feelings of others and how rarely they defend a victim.
Social networks are made up of different types of social interactions. This multi-relational aspect is usually neglected in the analysis of large social networks. A monochrome representation, such as provided by mobile phone data (see figure 1), leads to a gross representation of the system. The richness of the interactions can only be uncovered by identifying the nature of the links between people (represented by the different colours in figure 2). Because players are immersed in a virtual world in online games, all their actions/communications are stored in log files, resulting in rich data.
A new study analysing interactions between players in a virtual universe game has for the first time provided large-scale evidence to prove an 80 year old psychological theory called Structural Balance Theory. The research, published today in PNAS, shows that individuals tend to avoid stress-causing relationships when they develop a society, resulting in more stable social networks.
Therapists for years have listened to patients blame parents for their problems. Now there is growing interest in the other side of the story: What about the suffering of parents who are estranged from their adult children?
While there are no official tallies of parents whose adult children have cut them off, there is no shortage of headlines. The Olympic gold medal skier Lindsey Vonn reportedly hasn't spoken to her father in at least four years. The actor Jon Voight and his daughter, Angelina Jolie, were photographed together in February for the first time since they were estranged in 2002.
A number of Web sites and online chat rooms are devoted to the issue, with heartbreaking tales of children who refuse their parents' phone calls and e-mail and won't let them see grandchildren. Some parents seek grief counseling, while others fall into depression and even contemplate suicide.
Joshua Coleman, a San Francisco psychologist who is an expert on parental estrangement, says it appears to be growing more and more common, even in families who haven't experienced obvious cruelty or traumas like abuse and addiction. Instead, parents often report that a once-close relationship has deteriorated after a conflict over money, a boyfriend or built-up resentments about a parent's divorce or remarriage.
A research group led by Dr. Li-Huei Tsai from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology had recently discovered that the psychiatric risk gene, Disrupted in Schizophrenia-1 (DISC1), is an essential regulator of the proliferation of early brain cells (known as neural progenitor cells) via inhibition of a molecule called GSK3? and modulation of the Wnt signaling pathway. Disruptions in the Wnt pathway, which is critical for embryonic development, have previously been linked with developmental defects and with various human diseases.
"Our recent finding was particularly interesting because one of the actions of lithium, the most common mood disorder drug, is to inhibit GSK3?." explains Dr. Tsai. "Although DISC1 was one of the first psychiatric illness risk genes to be identified and we know that it plays a key role in brain development, the mechanisms by which DISC1 is regulated remain unknown." In this study, Dr. Tsai and colleagues built on earlier work and investigated how DISC1 is regulated during cortical development by looking for novel DISC1-interacting proteins.
When kids act out, it's often the parents who get the blame.
Whether they're getting in trouble in school or misbehaving with family, many parents worry they're doing something wrong. But that may not always be the case.
Po Bronson, author of NurtureShock
House Democrats are moving forward on first lady Michelle Obama's vision for healthier school lunches, propelling legislation that calls for tougher standards governing food in school and more meals for hungry children.
A bill approved by the House Education and Labor Committee Thursday would allow the Agriculture Department to create new standards for all food in schools, including vending machine items. The legislation would spend about $8 billion more over 10 years on nutrition programs.
"This important legislation will combat hunger and provide millions of schoolchildren with access to healthier meals, a critical step in the battle against childhood obesity," Mrs. Obama said in a statement after committee passage.
Some Republicans on the committee expressed concern about how the bill would be paid for, but three of them ended up voting for it. The legislation was approved on a 32-13 vote.
New research paints a decidedly mixed picture when it comes to mandatory drug testing for high school students trying out for sports or other extracurricular activities: While testing seems to reduce self-reported drug use in the short term, it has virtually no effect on teens' plans to use drugs in the future.
A U.S. Department of Education study, out today, surveyed students at 36 high schools that got federal grants to do drug testing. Half of the schools had already begun testing for marijuana, amphetamines and other drugs; the other half had not.
"I don't know what I've done wrong," the patient told me.
She was an intelligent and articulate woman in her early 40s who came to see me for depression and anxiety. In discussing the stresses she faced, it was clear that her teenage son had been front and center for many years.
When he was growing up, she explained, he fought frequently with other children, had few close friends, and had a reputation for being mean. She always hoped he would change, but now that he was almost 17, she had a sinking feeling.
I asked her what she meant by mean. "I hate to admit it, but he is unkind and unsympathetic to people," she said, as I recall. He was rude and defiant at home, and often verbally abusive to family members.
The objectives of the drug-testing trial scheme in Tai Po schools were made abundantly clear at the outset. It was meant to strengthen the resolve of students to stay away from drugs. With the support of their parents, more than 12,400 students have joined the scheme voluntarily to make that pledge. Now they are in a better position to say "no" to their peers when tempted to try drugs.
The scheme is also meant to assist students troubled by drugs and to motivate them to seek help. Since the scheme was announced last summer, the Counselling Centres for Psychotropic Substances Abusers serving Tai Po have received some 80 self-referral cases involving youngsters, more than double the number over the same period in the previous year.
A proposed sex education program that teaches fifth graders the different ways people have intercourse and first graders about gay love has infuriated parents and forced the school board to take a closer look at the issue.
Helena school trustees were swamped Tuesday night at a hearing that left many of the hundreds of parents in attendance standing outside a packed board room. They urged the school board in this city nestled in the Rocky Mountains to take the sex education program back to the drawing board.
The proposed 62-page document covers a broad health and nutrition education program and took two years to draft. But it is the small portion dealing with sexual education that has drawn the ire of many in the community who feel it is being pushed forward despite its obvious controversial nature.
Female twins who shared the womb with a brother are better at visualizing shapes being rotated than those who shared the womb with a sister, according to a study in Psychological Science. Sex differences in mental rotation tasks--in which participants try matching rotated versions of 3-D block figures--have been linked to testosterone levels, with males outperforming females from an early age. Previous studies have reported that female twins from opposite-sex pairs are exposed to higher levels of testosterone in the womb than those from same-sex pairs. That degree of testosterone exposure appears to masculinize certain physiological features, such as finger-length ratios. In the present study, 804 twins, the average age of which was 22 years old, performed a mental rotation test in which they matched figures that were identical but rotated. Out of a maximum score of 24, females with a twin sister scored 9.01 on average, while females with a twin brother scored 10.26--a statistically significant difference after the researchers factored in age, birthweight and other variables. Male twins from same-sex pairs scored 12.87, while those from opposite-sex pairs averaged 13.74, but the difference between the two groups wasn't statistically significant.
Caveat: Environmental differences between same-sex and opposite-sex twins might have influenced rotation test scores.
When Stanford University School of Medicine became the first medical school in the nation this summer to offer a course to teach students how to interpret genetic tests, the 50 people who signed up to take it were asked to make a controversial choice: whether to study their own genotypes.
The course has proved popular. It has a waiting list for admission - unheard of for a summer class - but it took a yearlong debate before it was introduced.
Its originator, a grad student, said the course was conceived to fill a growing discipline in the field of medicine.
Children in Everett will be walking up to a mile to get to school next year. The budget saving plan has some parents worried about traffic and safety.
The school board says the plan will save the district more than $400,000.
There was a day a few weeks ago when I found my 2½-year-old son sitting on our building doorstep, waiting for me to come home. He spotted me as I was rounding the corner, and the scene that followed was one of inexpressible loveliness, right out of the movie I'd played to myself before actually having a child, with him popping out of his babysitter's arms and barreling down the street to greet me. This happy moment, though, was about to be cut short, and in retrospect felt more like a tranquil lull in a slasher film. When I opened our apartment door, I discovered that my son had broken part of the wooden parking garage I'd spent about an hour assembling that morning. This wouldn't have been a problem per se, except that as I attempted to fix it, he grew impatient and began throwing its various parts at the walls, with one plank very narrowly missing my eye. I recited the rules of the house (no throwing, no hitting). He picked up another large wooden plank. I ducked. He reached for the screwdriver. The scene ended with a time-out in his crib.
As I shuffled back to the living room, I thought of something a friend once said about the Children's Museum of Manhattan--"a nice place, but what it really needs is a bar"--and rued how, at that moment, the same thing could be said of my apartment. Two hundred and 40 seconds earlier, I'd been in a state of pair-bonded bliss; now I was guided by nerves, trawling the cabinets for alcohol. My emotional life looks a lot like this these days. I suspect it does for many parents--a high-amplitude, high-frequency sine curve along which we get the privilege of doing hourly surfs. Yet it's something most of us choose. Indeed, it's something most of us would say we'd be miserable without.
Giving teens 30 extra minutes to start their school day leads to more alertness in class, better moods, less tardiness, and even healthier breakfasts, a small study found.
"The results were stunning. There's no other word to use," said Patricia Moss, academic dean at the Rhode Island boarding school where the study was done. "We didn't think we'd get that much bang for the buck."
The results appear in July's Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. The results mirror those at a few schools that have delayed starting times more than half an hour.
Researchers say there's a reason why even 30 minutes can make a big difference. Teens tend to be in their deepest sleep around dawn -- when they typically need to arise for school. Interrupting that sleep can leave them groggy, especially since they also tend to have trouble falling asleep before 11 p.m.
Germany's left has its own tales of abuse. One of the goals of the German 1968 movement was the sexual liberation of children. For some, this meant overcoming all sexual inhibitions, creating a climate in which even pedophilia was considered progressive.
In the spring of 1970, Ursula Besser found an unfamiliar briefcase in front of her apartment door. It wasn't that unusual, in those days, for people to leave things at her door or drop smaller items into her letter slot. She was, after all, a member of the Berlin state parliament for the conservative Christian Democrats. Sometimes Besser called the police to examine a suspicious package; she was careful to always apologize to the neighbors for the commotion.
The students had proclaimed a revolution, and Besser, the widow of an officer, belonged to those forces in the city that were sharply opposed to the radical changes of the day. Three years earlier, when she was a newly elected member of the Berlin state parliament, the CDU had appointed Besser, a Ph.D. in philology, to the education committee. She quickly acquired a reputation for being both direct and combative.
The briefcase contained a stack of paper -- the typewritten daily reports on educational work at an after-school center in Berlin's Kreuzberg neighborhood, where up to 15 children aged 8 to 14 were taken care of during the afternoon. The first report was dated Aug. 13, 1969, and the last one was written on Jan. 14, 1970.
It is agreed, then, that bad eating habits are a government problem. Up to now, you would have been forgiven for thinking that all social ills are to be cured by television presenters. Then this week, the Health Secretary took Jamie Oliver and his well-intentioned - if sadly ineffective - efforts to reform school dinners to task. Take-up of meals is down, argued Andrew Lansley, suggesting that Jamie's formula for school dinner reform is not working. I would suggest Andrew Lansley aims his guns in a different direction.
Oliver has often talked of his frustration and, indeed, has even burst into tears at the refusal of sinners to convert to his way of eating, or stay faithful afterwards. But their diets are not his fault, or his responsibility. He valiantly highlighted an important issue. Millions watched; the previous government made a lot of the right noises, but they never ran with Oliver's campaign.
What happens when you force kids to eat healthy food at school? They find a way to down junk food anyway. That's what the U.K.'s health minister is accusing celebrity chef Jamie Oliver of causing with his attempt to rid cafeterias of unhealthy lunches. (via Wellness)
Oliver is best known in the U.S. for his show Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, in which he attempted to get a West Virginia town to eat more healthfully. He had previously started a program in the U.K. called School Dinners, with a similar goal. Unfortunately, the result may not have worked out as planned. Wellness sums it up:
The new test works by extracting the DNA of the foetus from the mother's blood and screening it for Down's syndrome and other abnormalities.
At present, pregnant women are given the odds on whether they are carrying a child with Down's syndrome, and if they want to know for certain they have to undergo one of two invasive processes; either amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling. The first involves taking a sample of fluid from around the foetus and can, in some cases, cause a miscarriage even if the woman is carrying a healthy foetus. The second requires taking a fragment of the placenta.
The new test involves the same equipment needed for amniocentesis testing, but uses blood instead of amniotic fluid and is not invasive.
So far, researchers have been able to prove the technique works in principle and have described the results as "promising". They hope to use the same method to detect other abnormalities in an unborn child's DNA such as Edwards' syndrome, which causes structural malformations in the foetus, and Patau's syndrome, which can result in severe physical and mental impairment and is often fatal.
Everyone warns parents about the drama of the teen years--the self-righteous tears, slamming doors, inexplicable fashion choices, appalling romances.
But what happens when typical teen angst starts to look like something much darker and more troubling? How can parents tell if a moody teenager is simply normal--or is spinning out of control? This may be one of the most difficult dilemmas parents will ever face.
Studies show that about 20% of teenagers have a psychiatric illness with depression, anxiety and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder being among the most prevalent. Yet parents of teens are often blind-sided by a child's mental illness. Some are unaware that mental illnesses typically appear for the first time during adolescence. Or they may confuse the symptoms of an actual disorder with more normal teen moodiness or anxiety.
I was standing on what used to be the stage on what used to be called the Old Hall at the school I used to attend. It was a stage on which I'd won minor acclaim as Dame Crammer ("Girls! Girls! Cease this vulgar brawl at once!") and Lady Lucre ("Hark! Here comes Sir Jaspar, your first cousin once removed and twice convicted"). My Mother Abbess from The Sound of Music had done her mountain climbing in the New Hall round the corner, and my "When the Lord closes a door somewhere he opens a window" had brought the house down for some reason. It wasn't even meant to get a laugh.
I had been invited to my old school to fire the pupils up about Oxford University. I'd sent round a warning in advance. "I had quite a mixed time," I wrote, "but I will try to stay positive."
I dressed smartly, but not luxuriously, for my talk. My schooldays had had a shabby, down-at-heel flavour due to slender means, so I was eager to make a fresh impression. When I was there the establishment had boasted girls so shiny it was pointless trying to keep up, let alone compete. The girls with curls had their hair straightened on Saturday mornings at their mothers' beauty parlours, and the girls with straight hair had theirs curled. This evening my hair was newly cut and freshly curled, my nails short and neat, my outlook springy and optimistic.
My shoes and handbag very nearly matched. In fact, there was nothing about me that was remotely macabre. Apart from the 3cm thread hanging from the hem of my pencil skirt, I was damn near immaculate.
The room, containing about 60 teenagers and their parents, crackled with anxiety. It felt as though the souls in the Old Hall wanted Oxford almost more than life itself. Various experts spoke before me.
New Yorkers seem to oppose Gov. Paterson's proposed penny-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. But over the next decade, the tax could curb soda consumption and prevent tens of thousands of cases of adult obesity and Type 2 diabetes, a change that would save state residents an estimated $2.1 billion in related medical expenditures, according to a new study commissioned by the New York City Health Department.
The study, conducted by Dr. Claire Wang, a professor of health policy and management at Columbia University, analyzed various surveys on sugary drink consumption, related health risks and the effects of price on consumer choices. The findings: a soda tax would reduce consumption of sugary beverages by 15% to 20%. It would also prevent an estimated 37,000 or more cases of Type 2 diabetes and an estimated 145,000 or more cases of adult obesity over the next decade.
Recess will be one of the topics on today's The Conversation starting at noon. Call in if you have thoughts, 543-KUOW. Here's their report on it. Interesting finding:
Another big difference between the schools is that at Thornton Creek, most of the students are white and middle-class. At Dunlap, nearly all of the students are black, Latino or Asian and from low-income families.
That corresponds to what KUOW found when we surveyed recess times across the Seattle school district. For instance, we looked at the 15 highest-poverty and lowest--poverty schools. Kids at the low-poverty schools average 16 minutes more recess than kids at the high-poverty schools. That amounts to about one whole recess more.
And amount of recess?
Dornfeld: "A lot of schools in the district give kids 45 minutes to an hour of recess every single day. Is that something that you see as realistic for this school?"
AM I awake or am I dreaming?" I ask myself for probably the hundredth time. I am fully awake, just like all the other times I asked, and to be honest I am beginning to feel a bit silly. All week I have been performing this "reality check" in the hope that it will become so ingrained in my mind that I will start asking it in my dreams too.
If I succeed, I will have a lucid dream - a thrilling state of consciousness somewhere between waking and sleeping in which, unlike conventional dreams, you are aware that you are dreaming and able to control your actions. Once you have figured this out, the dream world is theoretically your oyster, and you can act out your fantasies to your heart's content.
Journalistic interest notwithstanding, I am pursuing lucid dreaming for entertainment. To some neuroscientists, however, the phenomenon is of profound interest, and they are using lucid dreamers to explore some of the weirder aspects of the brain's behaviour during the dream state (see "Dream mysteries"). Their results are even shedding light on the way our brains produce our rich and complex conscious experience.
In response to the questions raised at the June 7 meeting of the Performance and Achievement Committee, the following information is shared in hopes ofclarifying proposed changes to the Student Code of Conduct:
Will there be a more specific definition ofbullying than the one that currently exists in the Explanation of Conduct Rules and Terms?
The following definition comes from the draft Anti-Bullying & Anti-Harassment Protocol and it, or a similar definition, will be brought forward with the version of the revised Code for which Board approval will be sought in July:
Bullying is the intentional action by an individual or group of individuals to infiict physical, emotional or mental suffering on another individual or group of individuals when there is an imbalance of real or perceived power. Harassing and bullying behavior includes any electronic, written, verbal or physical act or conduct toward an individual which creates an objectively hostile or offensive environment that meets one or more of the following conditions:
Places the individual in reasonable fear of harm to one self or one's property
Has a detrimental effect on the individual's personal, physical or mental health
Has a detrimental effect on the individual's academic performance
Has the effect of interfering with the individual's ability to participate in or benefit from any curricular, extracurricular, recreational, or any other activity provided by the school
Has the intent to intimidate, annoy or alarm another individual in a manner likely to cause annoyance or harm without legitimate purpose
Has personal contact with another individual with the intent to threaten, intimidate or alarm that individual without legitimate purpose
South Korea has some of the world's most over-educated bakers. In one class in Seoul teaching muffin and scone-making, there are graduates in Russian, fine art and animation. For South Korean parents, the world's highest spenders on their children's education, something is going horribly wrong.
"I wanted to ease the burden on my parents by earning just a little something and finding a job that could give me something more dependable than temporary work," said one 29-year-old trainee baker. Since graduating in art she could only find part-time work as a waitress. Like so many young people asked about finding work in a socially competitive society where unemployment is a stigma, she was too embarrassed to give her name.
South Koreans often attribute their economic success to a passion for education. But the country of 48m has overdone it, with 407 colleges and universities churning out an over-abundance of graduates.
New research adds to a growing body of evidence showing the perks of a good night's sleep.
A study from researchers at Stanford University finds that extra hours of sleep at night can help improve football players' performance on drills such as the 40-yard dash and the 20-yard shuttle.
"The goal was to aim for 10 hours of sleep per night," says Cheri Mah of the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic. At the beginning of the season, Mah found that the players had moderate levels of daytime fatigue, even though they thought they were getting enough rest at night. Seven players were included in the study.
It's not easy to convince college students to add hours of sleep to their schedules each day. "It's a lot to ask," Mah says, but throughout the season she was able to document a significant extension of nighttime sleep.
A good friend of mine, James, has an interview this morning. It is quite important. If he is successful, it will mean quite a lot in the future. If he fails, he will certainly be at a disadvantage.
Given the importance of doing well, he has spent some time preparing and rehearsing answers to practice questions. What he wears to the interview has been carefully thought out as first impressions are very important. There is a lot riding on the 15 minutes he will spend being questioned.
James, however, is not taking this very seriously. I am confident that he does not have the faintest idea how important this is. In fact, it is fairly likely that he will not even realise that he has to do an interview at all until he is right there in the room.
James is two years old. His interview is for the purpose of whether he will get into primary school, in a couple of years. There is nothing particularly special about the school he is applying to; its admission policies are the same as a lot of schools in Hong Kong.
I have been known to produce pieces of pure fiction in this column from time to time, but I am not making this up. This actually happens. Schools really employ people to interview two-year-olds and make a decision about each toddler's academic future.
Overly protective parents might be leaving a lasting impact on their child's personality, and not in a good way, a new study finds.
The results show having so-called "helicopter parents" was associated with being dependent, neurotic and less open, a slew of personality traits that are generally thought of as undesirable.
The study, which surveyed college freshman, is one of the first to try to define exactly what helicopter parenting is, and measure it. The term was originally coined by college admissions personnel when they started to notice a change in parents of prospective students -- parents would call the admissions office and try to intervene in a process that had previously just been between the student and the college, said study researcher Neil Montgomery, a psychologist at Keene State College in N.H.
The district has developed over time a very detailed Student Code of Conduct that clearly outlines student misbehavior and prescribes suspension and expulsion as the specific responses for some misbehavior. While the current code is clear regarding which misbehaviors require suspension and a recommendation for expulsion, it does not offer administrators a sufficient array of options that can be used to intervene in order to support behavior change in students when suspension and expulsion are not an appropriate consequence.Related: Disciplinary Alternatives: Abeyance Option Phoenix Program:
Current research shows that a reactive model in the absence of positive, proactive strategies is ineffective. As an evidence-based national model that has recently been adopted at the state level in Wisconsin, Positive Behavior Supports (PBS) provides the mechanism for schools to shift to data driven decision making and practices grounded in a tiered approach that emphasizes teaching, modeling and reinforcing pro-social skills and behavior. Many districts across the country are developing Codes of Conduct that align with the PBS Model.
As all elementary, middle and high schools move toward full implementation of Positive Behavior Supports (PBS), it is important that the Code of Conduct is aligned with the PBS model which is grounded in teaching appropriate behaviors to students and acknowledging students for learning and exhibiting positive behavior. PBS provides a framework for defining and teaching in positive terms what is expected from students as behavior expectations that are defined only by
Appendix LLL-12-11 June 14,2010
rules and "what not to do" provide an inadequate understanding for students and families.
The proposed Code o f Conduct represents a step toward improved alignment with the PBS model and reflects a shift in thinking from an approach that relies heavily on rules, consequences and reactive practices to an approach that provides a multi-tiered, progressive continuum of interventions to address a wide range of student behavior. While the current code is used primarily by administrators to determine which misbehaviors are appropriate for suspension and expulsion, the proposed code would also be used by teachers and other staff to determine which behaviors they are expected to handle in the classroom and which behaviors should be referred to the administrator or designee. It will provide all staff with multiple options in three (3) categories of intervention: Education, Restoration and Restriction (see details in attached chart). In addition, the proposed code presented in 'chart form' would be used as a teaching tool to give students a visual picture o f the increasing severity o f behaviors and the increasing intensity of interventions and consequences that result from engaging in inappropriate behaviors.
The District has developed overtime, an extensive and very clear expulsion process, that is compliant with state and federal law, that focuses on procedure and is based on zero tolerance for some behaviors, In the 2007/08 school year, 198 students were recommended for expulsion with 64 actually being expelled. In the 2008/09, 182 students were recommended for expulsion with 44 actually being expelled.
Students are expelled from two to three semesters depending on the violation with an option to apply for early readmission after one semester if conditions are met. Approximately 72% of the students meet early readmission conditions and retum after one semester. Currently, no services are provided to regular education students who are expelled, Expelled special education students are entitled to receive Disciplinary Free Appropriate Public Education services.
Concems have been raised by members of the Board of Education, MMSD staff and community about the zero tolerance model, lack of services to expelled students and the significant disruption caused in the lives of these students, families and neighborhoods when students are expelled.
Approval is being sought for the implementation of an abeyance option, the Phoenix Program, including the budget, to be implemented at the beginning of the 2010/11 school year,
Stefan Hagmann, MD, MSca, Richard Neugebauer, PhD, MPHb, Eli Schwartz, MDc, Cecilia Perret, MDd, Francesco Castelli, MDe, Elizabeth D. Barnett, MDf, William M. Stauffer, MDg, for the GeoSentinel Surveillance Network:
OBJECTIVE By using a large, multicenter database, we investigated the characteristics and morbidities of 1591 children returning from 218 global destinations and presenting for care in 19 countries.
METHODS Data reported to the GeoSentinel Surveillance Network between January 1997 and November 2007 were analyzed, to assess demographic features, travel characteristics, and clinical diagnoses of ill pediatric travelers. Data were compared between children and adults and among 3 pediatric age groups (0-5 years, 6-11 years, and 12-17 years).
RESULTS Children were predominantly tourist travelers returning from Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, or Latin America. Compared with adults, children disproportionately presented within 7 days after return, required hospitalization, lacked pretravel health advice, and had traveled for the purpose of visiting friends and relatives. Diarrhea (28%), dermatologic conditions (25%), systemic febrile illnesses (23%), and respiratory disorders (11%) accounted for the majority of diagnoses reported for children. No fatalities were reported. Diarrhea occurred disproportionately among children after exposure to the Middle East/North Africa, dermatologic conditions after exposure to Latin America, systemic febrile illnesses after exposure to sub-Saharan Africa or Asia, and respiratory disorders after exposure to Europe or North America. The proportionate morbidity rates of travel-associated diseases differed among the pediatric age groups and between children and adults.
Teenage smoking is often thought of as kind of innocent experiment, but a drag on a friend's cigarette may be the beginning of something that will be hard to shake.
A study of adolescent smokers in the journal Pediatrics tracks the course of addiction to nicotine among a group of sixth-graders. After following 1,246 middle-school children for four years, researchers say a pattern emerged of occasional smoking that led to an addiction to tobacco: A cigarette a month will do it.
"When people are just wanting a cigarette, every now and then, they think they just enjoy smoking," says study coauthor Dr. Joseph DiFranza of the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. "As time passes, then they start to notice they will crave a cigarette. So even when they are with someone who is not smoking, something will pop into their mind that will tell them it is time for a cigarette."
Pediatricians should screen children for possible mental health issues at every doctor visit, according to new, extensive recommendations a national pediatrician group issued Tuesday.
These doctors also should develop a network of mental-health professionals in the community to whom they can send patients if they suspect a child needs further evaluation, according to the task force on mental health convened by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The recommendations were made in a series of reports published in a supplement to the journal Pediatrics.
In recent years, pediatricians and mental health professionals have been calling for increased attention to mental health in primary-care settings because of growing rates of disorders in children such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism and anxiety.
At the same time, there is a shortage of child mental-health experts, particularly psychiatrists. While 21% of U.S. children and adolescents have a diagnosable mental illness, only one-fifth of that group receives treatment, according to the academy.
A documentary from a pair of Dutch filmmakers about urban farming at a Detroit school for pregnant teens and young mothers is getting wider recognition as the school's program faces the prospect of being uprooted.
Mascha and Manfred Poppenk made "Grown in Detroit" first for Dutch public television and began screening it last year. It focuses on the Catherine Ferguson Academy for Young Women, which has its own working farm.
"This is really a film Americans should see," Mascha Poppenk said. "They need to see there are good things going on in Detroit."
The building that houses Catherine Ferguson could be closed in June and its program moved to another one about a mile away. It's part of a plan announced in March by district emergency financial manager Robert Bobb to close 44 schools.
Detroit Public Schools, which is fighting years of declining enrolment and a $219 million budget deficit, closed 29 schools before the start of classes last fall and shuttered 35 buildings about three years ago.
California middle-and high schoolers will have to find another way to quench their thirst during lunch, other than those brightly-colored, sugar-sweetened sports drinks.
On Thursday, the California Senate passed Senate Bill: 1255, which prohibits the sale of sugar-sweetened sports drinks in public middle and high schools as part of an effort to combat childhood obesity, according to the Ventura County Star.
"Studies have shown weight gain is connected to consuming sports drinks, and I applaud the California Senate for taking action to help prevent childhood obesity," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-Calif., said in a press release. Schwarzenegger sponsored the bill, which was authored by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles.
An original 32-ounce Gatorade has four servings per container, with 14 grams of sugar, meaning consumers are taking in 56 grams of sugar if they drink one regular-size bottle. It contains no fruit juice.
Cell phone companies are finding that they're sitting on a gold mine--in the form of the call records of their subscribers.
Researchers in academia, and increasingly within the mobile industry, are working with large databases showing where and when calls and texts are made and received to reveal commuting habits, how far people travel for public events, and even significant social trends.
With potential applications ranging from city planning to marketing, such studies could also provide a new source of revenue for the cell phone companies. "Because cell phones have become so ubiquitous, mining the data they generate can really revolutionize the study of human behavior," says Ramón Cáceres, a lead researcher at AT&T's research labs in Florham Park, NJ.
With young children receiving twice as many vaccines as they did 25 years ago, many parents are seeking to postpone at least some shots. A new study, though, finds no benefit to a child's development in delaying vaccines, and doctors warn that waiting can expose kids to possible disease.
One of the researchers, Michael J. Smith, a pediatric infectious-disease specialist at the University of Louisville School of Medicine in Kentucky, says some parents request alternative immunization schedules out of concern that getting so many vaccines in such a short time period might lead to health problems later on.
Dr. Smith and Charles R. Woods, also a pediatric infectious-disease specialist, looked at results of intelligence, speech and behavior tests conducted on children several years after receiving their infant vaccines and found few differences between children who were vaccinated on schedule and those who waited. "This study suggests that delaying vaccines does not give infants any advantage in terms of brain development," Dr. Smith said. Published online Monday in the medical journal Pediatrics, the study is believed to be the first to address the issue of delayed vaccination.
A former Pennsylvania high school student has sued school and county officials for damages in a controversial sexting case.
The student alleges a violation of her constitutional rights, in a civil suit filed last week that could serve as a cautionary tale to other officials considering punishing students over risque self-portraits.
In the complaint filed in a U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania, the former student -- identified only as "N.N." -- accuses former District Attorney George P. Skumanick, Jr., principal Gregory Ellsworth, the Tunkhannock School District and Wyoming County of violating her constitutional rights (.pdf). The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.
The complaint alleges that officials had no probable cause to seize and search her phone, and violated her privacy and her right to free expression by punishing her for storing nude and semi-nude photos of herself on her phone.
If I were looking for people who had done much to curb the use of performance-enhancing drugs, I think I might take Arnold Schwarzenegger over Bud Selig. Apparently, the Taylor Hooton Foundation thinks differently.NEW YORK -- Commissioner Bud Selig was named the first recipient of Taylor's Award, presented by the Taylor Hooton Foundation to an individual who has made a major impact on efforts to educate and protect American youth from the dangers of using performance-enhancing drugs.
It's a question that can make most any mom stop in her tracks: "Can I wear makeup?"
In a world where little girls of 5 or 6 get spa treatments and mega-birthday parties, can lip gloss and mascara be such a leap?
What's the right age? What's the right "starter makeup"? Why can't she wait just a little while?
It's a question that's popping up sooner than it once did. Little girls whose ages have not yet reached the double-digits are wanting to wear makeup more and more.
A new report by the NPD Group, which researches consumer trends, finds that makeup usage is going up in the fresh-faced group known as tweens (ages 8 to 12).
A bill introduced this month in Congress would put the federal and state governments in the business of tracking how fat, or skinny, American children are.
States receiving federal grants provided for in the bill would be required to annually track the Body Mass Index of all children ages 2 through 18. The grant-receiving states would be required to mandate that all health care providers in the state determine the Body Mass Index of all their patients in the 2-to-18 age bracket and then report that information to the state government. The state government, in turn, would be required to report the information to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for analysis.
The Healthy Choices Act--introduced by Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee--would establish and fund a wide range of programs and regulations aimed at reducing obesity rates by such means as putting nutritional labels on the front of food products, subsidizing businesses that provide fresh fruits and vegetables, and collecting BMI measurements of patients and counseling those that are overweight or obese.
ALL month schools in China have been on what the state-controlled press calls a "red alert" for possible attacks on pupils by intruders. In one city police have orders to shoot perpetrators on sight. Yet a spate of mass killings and injuries by knife or hammer-wielding assailants has continued. To the government's consternation, some Chinese have been wondering aloud whether the country's repressive politics might be at least partly to blame.
In the latest reported incident, on May 12th, seven children and two adults were hacked to death at a rural kindergarten in the northern province of Shaanxi. Eleven other children were injured. It was one of half a dozen such cases at schools across China in less than two months. Three attacks occurred on successive days in late April, when more than 50 children were injured. The previous deadliest attack killed eight children in the southern province of Fujian on March 23rd. The killer was executed on April 28th.
This has been embarrassing for a leadership fond of trumpeting its goal of a "harmonious society". In 2004, two years after Hu Jintao became China's top leader, he and his colleagues called for better security at schools. But occasional attacks continued. Assailants were often said to be lone, deranged, men venting their frustrations on the weak. A report last year in the Lancet, a British medical journal, said that of 173m Chinese it estimated were suffering from mental illness, fewer than 10% had seen a mental-health professional (see article). Knives are the weapons of choice in China, where firearms are hard to obtain.
Infants aged 5 months react very differently to a fearful face than those aged 7 months. "At the age of 7 months babies will watch a fearful face for longer than a happy face, and their attentiveness level as measured by EEG is higher after seeing a fearful than a happy face. By contrast, infants aged 5 months watch both faces, when they are shown side by side, for just as long, and there is no difference in the intensity of attention in favour of the fearful face," said Mikko Peltola, researcher at the University of Tampere, at the Academy's Science Breakfast this week.
It seems that at age 6 months, important developmental changes take place in the way that infants process significant emotional expressions. A fearful face attracts intense attention by the age of 7 months. In addition, it takes longer for infants to shift their attention away from fearful than from happy and neutral faces.
"Our interpretation of this is to suggest that the brain mechanisms that specialise in emotional response and especially in processing threatening stimuli regulate and intensify the processing of facial expressions by age 7 months," Peltola said.
It began for Alyssa Pometta, as these habits so often do, with the soft stuff. We are talking, of course, about lip gloss. She began wearing it in fourth grade - Bonne Bell's Lip Smackers, a girl's rite of passage - after yearsof wearing ChapStick and pretending it was Revlon. But the thrill of flavoured lip gloss was fleeting, and in January, 11-year-old Alyssa asked her mother, Phyllis Pometta, if she could graduate to the hard stuff: lipstick, eyeliner and mascara.
Pometta's first instinct was to send her daughter to her room, but she reconsidered. Instead, she took her for a makeover.
"I'm using the choose-your-battles kind of parenting," Pometta, an independent publicist, reasons. "I figured, better that she's informed and has the right tools than she goes into it blindly with her friends in the bathroom and comes out looking like a clown."
"Medical school is the wrong place to train psychiatrists," writes Daniel Carlat in his new book, Unhinged: The Trouble with Psychiatry - A Doctor's Revelations About a Profession in Crisis. In place of the sort of education that makes psychiatrists fifteen-minutes-per-patient pill dispensers, and gives them little in the way of slower, psychotherapeutic skills, he proposes something like a "doctor of mental health" program: Perhaps "two years of combined medical and psychological courses, followed by three years of psychiatric residency."
An ego- and money-driven need to be the equal of other MD's will, as Carlat knows, probably keep this from happening any time soon; indeed, a need to feel that one's clinical activity has the same empirical warrant as a heart surgeon's will also keep the pills flowing.
Yet I lost track of the number of times Carlat, in the course of this book, cautions the reader that
new diagnoses are based on votes of committees of psychiatrists, rather than neurobiological testing. Because diagnosis in psychiatry is more art than science, the field is vulnerable to 'disease-mongering,' the expansion of disease definitions in order to pump up the market for medication treatment.
Driving through some of this city's neighborhoods is like driving through an alternate, horrifying universe, a place where no one thinks it's safe to be a child.
You follow a map in which the coordinates are laid out in blood. Over there, in front of that convenience store, is where Fred Couch, 16, was shot to death last December. The Couch boy went to the same school, Christian Fenger Academy, as Derrion Albert, an honor student who was beaten with wooden planks and kicked to death three months earlier in a broad daylight attack that was recorded on a cellphone by an onlooker.
Right there, on South Manistee Avenue, is where a 7-year-old girl riding her scooter was shot in the head and critically injured a few weeks ago.
And here, on East 92nd Street, is where a toddler, just 20 months old, was shot in the head and killed in the back seat of her father's car.
Slow food stirs up battle in heartland.
Agricultural establishment fighting back at movement.
From Pennsylvania church ladies to Iowa dairymen, the locavore, small-is-good, organic food movement born in Northern California has penetrated America's heartland, where it is waging a pitchfork rebellion, much of it on the Internet, against the agricultural establishment.
After long dismissing the new food movement as a San Francisco annoyance, the establishment is fighting back.
"Alice should drown in her own waters," said High Plains Journal's Larry Dreiling of Berkeley food guru Alice Waters.
Reasonable people may disagree as to whether it's appropriate for middle-school-age children to have a Facebook page or belong to any other online social network.
Anthony Orsini, principal at the Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Ridgewood, N.J., does not seem to be a reasonable person, at least not based upon my reading of an e-mail he sent to parents that all but accuses them of child abuse should they allow their youngsters to use such networks. From a local CBS television station's Web site:
"It is time for every single member of the BF Community to take a stand! There is absolutely no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site! ... Let me repeat that - there is absolutely, positively no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site! None."
In the past few months, the perennial controversy over psychiatric drug use has been growing considerably more heated. A January study showed a negligible difference between antidepressants and placebos in treating all but the severest cases of depression. The study became the subject of a Newsweek cover story, and the value of psychiatric drugs has recently been debated in the pages of the New Yorker, the New York Times and Salon. Many doctors and patients fiercely defend psychiatric drugs and their ability to improve lives. But others claim their popularity is a warning sign of a dangerously over-medicated culture.
The timing of Robert Whitaker's "Anatomy of an Epidemic," a comprehensive and highly readable history of psychiatry in the United States, couldn't be better. An acclaimed mental health journalist and winner of a George Polk Award for his reporting on the psychiatric field, Whitaker draws on 50 years of literature and in-person interviews with patients to answer a simple question: If "wonder drugs" like Prozac are really helping people, why has the number of Americans on government disability due to mental illness skyrocketed from 1.25 million in 1987 to over 4 million today?
"Anatomy of an Epidemic" is the first book to investigate the long-term outcomes of patients treated with psychiatric drugs, and Whitaker finds that, overall, the drugs may be doing more harm than good. Adhering to studies published in prominent medical journals, he argues that, over time, patients with schizophrenia do better off medication than on it. Children who take stimulants for ADHD, he writes, are more likely to suffer from mania and bipolar disorder than those who go unmedicated. Intended to challenge the conventional wisdom about psychiatric drugs, "Anatomy" is sure to provoke a hot-tempered response, especially from those inside the psychiatric community
Minnesota lawmakers approved legislation that increases punishment for bringing weapons to school while going a little easier on fake guns and BB guns.
The bill, from Rep. Sandra Peterson, DFL-New Hope, passed the House 111-18 on Thursday.
It would punish bringing dangerous weapons onto school property with a sentence of up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000 or both. That's more than double the current prison sentence and twice the maximum current fine.
Local foodies are cheering the news that Wisconsin lawmakers this week passed legislation that will help bring local farm products to school lunchrooms.
The Assembly passed AB 746, which creates a statewide council to coordinate the process of selling Wisconsin-grown products to schools. The Senate concurred on the Farm-to-School initiative which is cheering news to Wisconsin farmers and advocates for more fresh foods on school menus.
Meanwhile, a newly released report from chef Beth Collins and Lunch Lessons about Madison's school meal program says the Madison school district's food service facilities, staff and organization pose no barriers to putting healthier, less processed food on kids' plates at school. But district budget woes and time constraints, plus the lack of a well-focused plan, still pose significant hurdles to upgrading what kids eat at school.
Has anyone been watching Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution? I have and I have to say that Jamie is truly inspiring. He's got so much passion and drive. I wish I had a pinky's worth of his. If you're not familiar with Jamie, he has a long career that I believe started with his simple cooking show The Naked Chef. Since then he's revolutionized the British school lunch program and is now on to America's unhealthiest city to continue the revolution.
So just what is so bad about school lunches? Well, this is certainly not a new topic for The Green Mama, but it's important because kids are the future and habits are created when we're young. This is the first generation that is not expected to live longer than their parents due mostly to obesity. One in three Illinois children is overweight or obese and according to the Community Food Security Commission, 1 in 3 children will develop type 2 diabetes. It's heartbreaking.
The ongoing health care debate has focused on accessible and affordable health care. Although reforming health care policies is important, we need to change the health behaviors that make our health system one of the most expensive in the developed world. Costly chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease are linked to obesity, smoking and diet - things we can do something about.
The Michigan Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that nearly one-fifth of high school students smoke cigarettes and binge drink. Over 50% do not attend any physical education classes, and the number of overweight youth has been increasing. These behaviors set the stage for lifelong obesity, smoking habits and poor diet.
According to Trust for America's Health, in five years, Michigan could save $545 million in annual health care costs by spending just $10 per person on programs to increase physical activity, encourage better nutrition and prevent the use of tobacco.
The recent disclosure that African-American fourth-graders in Wisconsin have the worst reading skills in the entire country came as a shock to many Milwaukeeans.
Keisha Arnold wasn't among them.
Her 10-year-old son has experienced reading problems and poor grades at his Milwaukee school for some time. Arnold has been frustrated with her inability to find a way to address the problem.
"I just don't understand why he can't seem to get the help he needs," said Arnold, 28, a single parent who returned to Milwaukee a few years ago after living in Phoenix.
When she returned to her hometown, she enrolled her son in a local charter school. "I didn't want him to go to MPS because I didn't think he'd get a good education there," she explained.
But it didn't take long for Arnold to recognize that deficiencies in her son's reading and math skills were not being addressed.
She met with his teachers and sought additional tutoring, but her son's grades failed to improve.
Nine students are being prosecuted for bullying a fellow student, Phoebe Prince, who committed suicide after being taunted and threatened. What, if anything, could and should the school have tried to protect Ms. Prince? What can and should teachers and administrators do at any school where students are bullying other kids?
In their article "9 Teenagers Are Charged After Classmate's Suicide," Erik Eckholm and Katie Zezima consider what happened at South Hadley High School in Massachusetts, and the legal fallout
As his patient lay unconscious in an emergency room from an overdose of sedatives, psychiatrist Damir Huremovic was faced with a moral dilemma: A friend of the patient had forwarded to Huremovic a suicidal e-mail from the patient that included a link to a Web site and blog he wrote. Should Huremovic go online and check it out, even without his patient's consent?
Huremovic decided yes; after all, the Web site was in the public domain and it might contain some potentially important information for treatment. When Huremovic clicked on the blog, he found quotations such as this: "Death makes angels of us all and gives us wings." A final blog post read: "I wish I didn't wake up." Yet as Huremovic continued scanning the patient's personal photographs and writings, he began to feel uncomfortable, that perhaps he'd crossed some line he shouldn't have.
Dads are helping out with childrearing more and more these days. The result can be both a boon and a letdown for super-moms, whose self-competence can take a hit when paired with husbands who are savvy caregivers, new research finds.
The findings reveal the fallout as women have entered the workplace in droves over recent decades, many of them leaving young children at home. One result is mothers have less time for care-giving. Past studies have shown working moms are torn between full-time careers and stay-at-home duties. And lately more diligent dads are helping out with the diaper-changing and other household duties.
But since mothers pride themselves on being just that -- moms -- their self-esteem can take a blow.
In 1978, a trio of psychologists curious about happiness assembled two groups of subjects. In the first were winners of the Illinois state lottery. These men and women had received jackpots of between fifty thousand and a million dollars. In the second group were victims of devastating accidents. Some had been left paralyzed from the waist down. For the others, paralysis started at the neck.
The researchers asked the members of both groups a battery of questions about their lives. On a scale of "the best and worst things that could happen," how did the members of the first group rank becoming rich and the second wheelchair-bound? How happy had they been before these events? How about now? How happy did they expect to be in a couple of years? How much pleasure did they take in daily experiences such as talking with a friend, hearing a joke, or reading a magazine? (The lottery winners were also asked how much they enjoyed buying clothes, a question that was omitted in the case of the quadriplegics.) For a control, the psychologists assembled a third group, made up of Illinois residents selected at random from the phone book.
am in the eighth grade and a student at Robert E. Howard Middle School. I have been attending the school since 2008. I'm writing to your newspaper in view of the recent allegations of bullying at the school. In all fairness, individual incidents of bullying can happen because they are hard to detect and manage. The reason for this is that bullying can take many forms.
Since being at the school, I have not personally seen anyone being bullied by another student. The security at Howard is good. Teachers monitor student activities while traveling to and from classes and at the end of the day. When teachers see something going on that should not be happening, they do their best to stop it.
Certain websites could soon be "pre-approved" by Facebook, so that if a user is logged into Facebook and then visits the third-party website, it would receive information including the "names, profile pictures, gender, user IDs, connections and any content shared using the Everyone privacy setting" of a user and his or her friends.
The sites might be able to retain that information "to the extent permitted under their terms of service or privacy policies".
Facebook said it would introduce the feature with a small group of partners and offer new controls for users to opt out.
However, the company could face resistance by users and advocates who see such a move as another invasion of privacy.
A 'culture' of hugging that reportedly got out of control led an Oregon middle school principal to outlaw the displays of affection, Oregonlive.com reported.
After students would "scream and run down the hallway and jump into each other's arms," the school decided enough was enough and have halted hugs as well as other behaviors deemed detrimental to teaching and learning, Oregonlive.com reported.
Principal Allison Couch told Oregonlive.com that the ban came after a school bus incident resulted in a call to police, but did not describe what happened.
New York city's standard-setting efforts to improve the heatlh of its citizens have provoked resistance in the past from bar owners, fastfood restaurants and global food and drink companies.
But this week it was the turn of parents selling muffins, brownies and spinach empanadas on the steps of City Hall.
About 300 people turned out to oppose new city regulations that in effect ban school "bake sales" - an all-American fundraising staple where students and parents sell homebaked cakes and cookies to fund museum trips and equip their sports teams.
The sales, which can raise as much as $500 a time, have fallen foul of efforts by the Department of Education to improve the nutritional quality of foods available in schools as part of its battle against rising levels of childhood obesity.
Why do Democrats put their least loyal Senator in charge of one of their highest profile issues? Michelle Obama started her government-wide "Let's Move" program to improve children's health and nutrition, but Blanche Lincoln's the author of the Senate child nutrition bill that just passed out of the Senate Agriculture Committee yesterday. And Blanche Lincoln is no Michelle Obama. She's not even as progressive as Barack Obama, who called for $10 billion in new money over 10 years for child nutrition, a number Lincoln reduced by more than half.
To put that in easier to understand terms, Obama's proposal would have given up to $.18 in addition funds to each child's school lunch. Lincoln's bill gives each lunch $.06. Compare that to the School Nutrition Association's request to raise the current $2.68 "reimbursement rate" (the amount the federal government reimburses schools for each free lunch served to a low income child) by $.35 just to keep the quality of the lunches the same and make up for schools' current budgetary shortfall. School lunch reformer Ann Cooper calls for an extra $1 per lunch to actually make lunches healthy. So any amount under $.35 is no reform at all, and Lincoln gave us $.06.
A Princeton University research team has demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.
In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides. The researchers say the work sheds light on the factors contributing to obesity trends in the United States.
"Some people have claimed that high-fructose corn syrup is no different than other sweeteners when it comes to weight gain and obesity, but our results make it clear that this just isn't true, at least under the conditions of our tests," said psychology professor Bart Hoebel, who specializes in the neuroscience of appetite, weight and sugar addiction. "When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they're becoming obese -- every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don't see this; they don't all gain extra weight."
FOR the evolutionarily minded, the existence of fairness is a puzzle. What biological advantage accrues to those who behave in a trusting and co-operative way with unrelated individuals? And when those encounters are one-off events with strangers it is even harder to explain why humans do not choose to behave selfishly. The standard answer is that people are born with an innate social psychology that is calibrated to the lives of their ancestors in the small-scale societies of the Palaeolithic. Fairness, in other words, is an evolutionary hangover from a time when most human relationships were with relatives with whom one shared a genetic interest and who it was generally, therefore, pointless to cheat.
The problem with this idea is that the concept of fairness varies a lot, depending on which society it happens to come from--something that does not sit well with the idea that it is an evolved psychological tool. Another suggestion, then, is that fairness is a social construct that emerged recently in response to cultural changes such as the development of trade. It may also, some suggest, be bound up with the rise of organised religion.
Joann Bruso, author of Baby Bites - Transforming A Picky Eater Into A Healthy Eater Book, a book on getting kids to overcome picky eating habits, has been blogging the half-life of a McDonald's Happy Meal that she bought a year ago. In the intervening year, the box of delight, plastic toys and food-like substances has experienced virtually no decay.
Teenagers could become smarter just by taking a pill that stimulates a part of the brain that controls learning and memory, scientists say.
Researchers claim to have discovered the brain receptor that dictates how much people can learn - especially during the all important puberty years - and armed with that knowledge they could develop a smart pill to help teenagers expand their minds.
The receptor called alpha4-beta-delta appears to slow down learning when teenagers hit puberty.
Instead of parents spending tens of thousands of pounds on private school fees, they could give their teenagers a regular dose of steroids to negate its effect, researchers say.
The brain receptor develops in the hippocampus, which controls learning and memory, when children hit puberty.
But researchers say giving children a steroid can stop the receptor and boost teenagers' memory.
Somewhere in America's suburbs, 16-year-old Blair sits in her pink-walled bedroom and shows off a slew of recent purchases from the fast-fashion chain Forever 21. She bought a black blouse, a slouchy cardigan, and $6.99 jeans. "OK, so normally it would bother me if my jeans didn't have any detail on the rear end," Blair says.
Pawan Sinha details his groundbreaking research into how the brain's visual system develops. Sinha and his team provide free vision-restoring treatment to children born blind, and then study how their brains learn to interpret visual data. The work offers insights into neuroscience, engineering and even autism.
British and Italian doctors have carried out groundbreaking surgery to rebuild the windpipe of a 10-year-old British boy using stem cells developed within his own body, they said.
In an operation Monday lasting nearly nine hours, doctors at London's Great Ormond Street children's hospital implanted the boy with a donor trachea, or windpipe, that had been stripped of its cells and injected with his own.
Over the next month, doctors expect the boy's bone marrow stem cells to begin transforming themselves within his body into tracheal cells -- a process that, if successful, could lead to a revolution in regenerative medicine.
The new organ should not be rejected by the boy's immune system, a risk in traditional transplants, because the cells are derived from his own tissue.
"This procedure is different in a number of ways, and we believe it's a real milestone," said Professor Martin Birchall, head of translational regenerative medicine at University College London.
PepsiCo Inc. said Tuesday it will remove full-calorie sweetened drinks from schools in more than 200 countries by 2012, marking the first such move by a major soft-drink producer.
PepsiCo announced its plan the same day first lady Michelle Obama urged major companies to put less fat, salt and sugar in foods and reduce marketing of unhealthy products to children. Pepsi, the world's second-biggest soft-drink maker, and Coca-Cola Co., the biggest, adopted guidelines to stop selling sugary drinks in U.S. schools in 2006.
The World Heart Federation has been urging soft-drink makers for the past year to remove sugary beverages from schools. The group is looking to fight a rise in childhood obesity, which can lead to diabetes and other ailments.
PepsiCo's move is what the group had been seeking because it affects students through age 18, said Pekka Puska, president of the World Heart Federation, made up of heart associations around the world. In an interview from Finland, Dr. Puska said he hopes other companies feel pressured to take similar steps. "It may be not so well known in the U.S. how intensive the marketing of soft drinks is in so many countries,'' he said. Developing countries such as Mexico are particularly affected, he added.
Some infants headed for a diagnosis of autism, or autism spectrum disorder as it's officially known, can be reliably identified at 14 months old based on the presence of five key behavior problems, according to an ongoing long-term study described March 11 at the International Conference on Infant Studies.
These social, communication and motor difficulties broadly align with psychiatric criteria for diagnosing autism spectrum disorder in children at around age 3, said psychologist Rebecca Landa of the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore. In her investigation, the presence of all five behaviors at 14 months predicted an eventual diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder in 15 of 16 children.
"That's much better than clinical judgment at predicting autism," Landa noted.
Her five predictors of autism spectrum disorders among 14-month-olds at high risk for developing this condition include a lack of response to others' attempts to engage them in play, infrequent attempts to initiate joint activities, few types of consonants produced when trying to communicate vocally, problems in responding to vocal requests and a keen interest in repetitive acts, such as staring at a toy while twirling it
For football fans, the indelible image of last month's Super Bowl might have been quarterback Drew Brees' fourth-quarter touchdown pass that put the New Orleans Saints ahead for good. But for audiologists around the nation, the highlight came after the game - when Brees, in a shower of confetti, held aloft his 1-year-old son, Baylen.
The boy was wearing what looked like the headphones worn by his father's coaches on the sideline, but they were actually low-cost, low-tech earmuffs meant to protect his hearing from the stadium's roar.
Specialists say such safeguards are critical for young ears in a deafening world. Hearing loss from exposure to loud noises is cumulative and irreversible; if such exposure starts in infancy, children can live "half their lives with hearing loss," said Brian Fligor, director of diagnostic audiology at Children's Hospital Boston.
When former President Bill Clinton enlisted the beverage industries in fighting childhood obesity, he did not expect so much progress in just four years.
"I have to admit I'm stunned by the results," Clinton said. "There has been an 88 percent reduction in the total beveraged calories shipped to schools."
CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller report the industry is now selling healthier - instead of high calorie - drinks to students. Still not good enough, say public health officials.
A growing number of cities and states want to reduce adult consumption of sugary drinks by taxing them. New York has revived a proposal to impose a penny per ounce tax on sweetened beverages. Colorado has already levied such as tax. So has Illinois. California is considering it.
A convicted sex offender has moved into a home across the street from Wildwood Elementary School in Piedmont, infuriating parents, who are asking school officials and the police why the 2006 state law mandating a minimum distance of 2,000 feet between schools and the residences of sex offenders is not being enforced.
But the Piedmont police, on the advice of county and state law enforcement officials, say there is nothing they can do.
On Feb. 12, James F. Donnelly, 71, a convicted sex offender, registered his new address as 256 Wildwood Avenue, where a blue-hued house overlooks Piedmont, Oakland's upscale, uphill neighbor.
Shortly after Mr. Donnelly filed his registration, Chief John Hunt of the Piedmont police realized that the house was almost directly across from the school.
"We said, Wait, this can't be, somebody dropped the ball," Chief Hunt said in an interview.
When a Verona High School student had a headache last month, he asked his friends for Tylenol or Advil to relieve the pain. But what he unwittingly took was an OxyContin pill that one of his friends slipped him.
The prescription painkiller sent the student to the school nurse's office, and his friend received what Verona School District Superintendent Dean Gorrell will only call "appropriate disciplinary action."
The story, disclosed in a recent note from the district to parents, underscores the cavalier attitude some teens take toward the powerful and addictive drug.
The consequences can be tragic. A 14-year-old girl in Rock County faces a possible reckless homicide charge for giving her grandmother's oxycodone-- the generic form of OxyContin -- to a friend, who died last month from an overdose of the drug.
Michigan boy reportedly has been suspended from school for curling his hand into the shape of a gun and pointing it at another student.
Erin Jammer, said her son, Mason, was just playing around when he made the gesture Wednesday, the Grand Rapids Press reported.
"I do think it's harsh for a six-year-old. He's six and he just likes to play. Maybe what you could do is take his recess away. He's only six and he doesn't understand any of this," Erin Jammer said.
But officials at Jefferson Elementary School said the behavior made other students uncomfortable, and they suspended Mason for the remainder of the week, the paper reported.
Killed, aborted or neglected, at least 100m girls have disappeared--and the number is rising
IMAGINE you are one half of a young couple expecting your first child in a fast-growing, poor country. You are part of the new middle class; your income is rising; you want a small family. But traditional mores hold sway around you, most important in the preference for sons over daughters. Perhaps hard physical labour is still needed for the family to make its living. Perhaps only sons may inherit land. Perhaps a daughter is deemed to join another family on marriage and you want someone to care for you when you are old. Perhaps she needs a dowry.
Now imagine that you have had an ultrasound scan; it costs $12, but you can afford that. The scan says the unborn child is a girl. You yourself would prefer a boy; the rest of your family clamours for one. You would never dream of killing a baby daughter, as they do out in the villages. But an abortion seems different. What do you do?
N SOFT, southern countries, snow is enough to close schools. In Sweden--a place that lives by the maxim that "There is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes"--fresh snow is a cue to send 18-month-olds into the playground, tottering around in snowsuits and bobble hats. It is an impressive sight at any time. But it is particularly striking in a Stockholm playground filled with Somali toddlers, squeaking as they queue for sledge-rides.
The playground belongs to Karin Danielsson, a headmistress in Tensta, a Stockholm suburb with a large immigrant population. Mrs Danielsson calls her municipal preschool "a school for democracy". In keeping with Swedish mores, even young children may choose which activities to join or where to play. All pupils' opinions are heard, but they are then taught that the group's wishes must also be heeded.
Swedes take preschool seriously. Though education is not compulsory until seven, more than 80% of two-year-olds are enrolled in preschool, and many begin earlier. Among European countries only Denmark has higher enrolment rates at that age.
via a kind reader's email: Parent Diane Harrington:
Dear Board Members, Dr. Nerad, and Madison Alders,Parent Lorie Raihala:
My 11-year-old and I visited John Muir Elementary for basketball practice one recent evening. Their gym has banners noting that for several years they've been named a "School of Excellence."
Ben's school, Orchard Ridge Elementary, had just been dubbed a "School of Promise."
Which school would YOU rather go to?
But Ben didn't need a marketing effort to tell him which school was which; he knows some John Muir kids. Ben, too, would like to go to a school where kids are expected to learn and to behave instead of just encouraged to.
Just like those banners, the very idea of your upcoming, $86,000 "branding" effort isn't fooling anyone.
You don't need to improve your image. You need to improve your schools.
Stop condescending to children, to parents and to the public. Skip the silly labels and the PR plans.
Instead, just do your #^%* job. (If you need help filling in that blank, head to ORE or Toki. Plenty of kids - some as young as kindergarten - use several colorful words in the hallways, classrooms, lunchroom and playground without even a second look, much less disciplinary action, from a teacher or principal.)
Create an environment that strives for excellence, not mediocrity. Guide children to go above and beyond, rather than considering your job done once they've met the minimum requirements.
Until then, it's all too obvious that any effort to "cultivate relationships with community partners" is just what you're branding it: marketing. It's just about as meaningless as that "promise" label on ORE or the "honor roll" that my 13-year-old and half the Toki seventh graders are on.
P.S. At my neighborhood association's annual Winter Social earlier tonight, one parent of a soon-to-be-elementary-age child begged me to tell him there was some way to get a voucher so he could avoid sending his daughter to ORE. His family can't afford private school. Another parent told me her soon-to-be-elementary-age kids definitely (whew!) were going to St. Maria Goretti instead of ORE. A friend - even though her son was finishing up at ORE this year - pulled her daughter out after kindergarten (yes, to send her to Goretti), because the atmosphere at ORE is just too destructive and her child wasn't learning anything. These people aren't going to be fooled by a branding effort. And you're only fooling yourselves (and wasting taxpayer money) if you think otherwise.
Regarding the Madison School District's $86,000 "branding campaign," recent polls have surveyed the many families who have left the district for private schools, virtual academies, home schooling or open enrollment in other districts.
Public schools are tuition free and close to home, so why have these parents chosen more expensive, less convenient options? The survey results are clear: because Madison schools have disregarded their children's learning needs.
Top issues mentioned include a lack of challenging academics and out-of-control behavior problems. Families are leaving because of real experience in the schools, not "bad press" or "street corner stories."
How will the district brand that?
Lorie Raihala Madison
n January 2010, a 9-year old boy named Montana Lance hung himself in a bathroom at the Texas elementary school he attended. Although certainly shocking, such acts are unfortunately becoming less and less unusual. In fact, the suicide of Montana Lance is very reminiscent of what happened in April 2009 when two 11-year-old boys, one in Massachusetts and one in Georgia, likewise committed suicide just days apart. What would cause these children to end their lives? The answer in each case is the same: all three suffered extreme levels of victimization at the hands of school bullies--bullying that others have described as involving "relentless homophobic taunts." And, as we can see from the fate of these three little boys, this form of harassment was obviously very traumatic.
In this article, I look at the growing problem of school bullying in America today. Now, almost all children are teased and most will even face at least some form of bullying during their childhood. However, studies reveal that some children will unfortunately become chronic victims of school bullying. Chief among that group are those children whose gender expression is at odds with what society considers "appropriate." As my article explores, the gender stereotypes that exist within our society are frequently to blame for the more extreme levels of bullying currently being carried out in our nation's schools. And the impact this bullying has on its victims is staggering. Earlier I mentioned three children who took their own lives as a result of bullying. These are but three examples of those who have lost their lives to gender-based bullying. However, there are countless other victims who, although not paying with their lives, are nonetheless paying dearly in other ways. Specifically, the psychological literature on the emotional impacts that befall these chronic victims of bullying reveals a whole host of resulting problems--debilitating consequences that can last a lifetime.
The shootings on February 12 at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, which left three faculty members dead and two more professors and a department assistant wounded, have sparked a good deal of soul-searching within higher education. Amy Bishop, an assistant professor of biology at the university who was recently denied tenure, was arrested at the scene and has been charged with murder and attempted murder.
Bishop's tenure denial may or may not be relevant to the shootings, but some scholars are asking what role, if any, the stresses of academic life played in the tragedy. What are the psychological effects of academic culture, particularly on rising scholars? Can or should something be done to change that culture?
The Chronicle asked a group of scholars and experts what they thought.
Cristina Nehring, writer and Ph.D. candidate in English literature at the University of California at Los Angeles:
Amy Bishop is nobody's poster girl--not even for the tragic perversity of the tenure process.
First lady Michelle Obama's new campaign against childhood obesity, dubbed "Let's Move," puts improvements to school food at the top of the agenda. Some 31 million children participate in federal school meal programs, Obama noted in announcing her initiative last week, "and what we don't want is a situation where parents are taking all the right steps at home -- and then their kids undo all that work with salty, fatty food in the school cafeteria," she explained. "So let's move to get healthier food into our nation's schools."
Last month I had a chance to see up close what all the school food fuss was about when I spent a week in the kitchen of my 10-year-old daughter's public school, H.D. Cooke Elementary, in Northwest D.C. Chartwells, the company contracted by the city to provide meals to the District's schools, had switched in the fall from serving warm-up meals prepackaged in a factory to food it called "fresh cooked," and I couldn't wait to chronicle in my food blog how my daughter's school meals were being prepared from scratch.
A woman's chance of having a child with autism increase substantially as she ages, but the risk may be less for older dads than previously suggested, a new study analyzing more than 5 million births found.
"Although fathers' age can contribute risk, the risk is overwhelmed by maternal age," said University of California at Davis researcher Janie Shelton, the study's lead author.
Mothers older than 40 were about 50 percent more likely to have a child with autism than those in their 20s; the risk for fathers older than 40 was 36 percent higher than for men in their 20s.
Even at that, the study suggests the risk of a woman over 40 having an autistic child was still less than 4 in 1,000, one expert noted.
The new research suggests the father's age appears to make the most difference with young mothers. Among children whose mothers were younger than 25, autism was twice as common when fathers were older than 40 than when dads were in their 20s.
Imagine that driving across town, you've fallen into a reverie, meditating on lost loves or calculating your next tax payments. You're so distracted that you rear-end the car in front of you at 10 miles an hour. You probably think: Damn. My fault. My mind just wasn't there.
By contrast, imagine that you drive across town in a state of mild exhilaration, multitasking on your way to a sales meeting. You're drinking coffee and talking to your boss on a cellphone, practicing your pitch. You cause an identical accident. You've heard all the warnings about cellphones and driving--but on a gut level, this wreck might bewilder you in a way that the first scenario didn't. Wasn't I operating at peak alertness just then? Your brain had been aroused to perform several tasks, and you had an illusory sense that you must be performing them well.
That illusion of competence is one of the things that worry scholars who study attention, cognition, and the classroom. Students' minds have been wandering since the dawn of education. But until recently--so the worry goes--students at least knew when they had checked out. A student today who moves his attention rapid-fire from text-messaging to the lecture to Facebook to note-taking and back again may walk away from the class feeling buzzed and alert, with a sense that he has absorbed much more of the lesson than he actually has.
This is going to be awkward, but someone has to tell you, so it may as well be me: you're kind of a loser. You know that feeling you sometimes have that your friends have more friends than you? You're right. They do. And you know how almost everyone at the gym seems in better shape than you, and how everyone at your book club seems better read? Well, they are. If you're single, it's probably a while since you dated - what with you being such a loser - but when you did, do you recall thinking the other person was more romantically experienced than you? I'm afraid it was probably true.
The only consolation in all this is that it's nothing personal: it's a bizarre statistical fact that almost all of us have fewer friends than our friends, more flab than our fellow gym-goers, and so on. In other words, you're a loser, but it's not your fault: it's just maths. (I mean, it's probably just maths. You might be a catastrophic failure as a human being, for all I know. But let's focus on the maths.)
To anyone not steeped in statistics, this seems crazy. Friendship is a two-way street, so you'd assume things would average out: any given person would be as likely to be more popular than their friends as less. But as the sociologist Scott Feld showed, in a 1991 paper bluntly entitled Why Your Friends Have More Friends Than You Do, this isn't true. If you list all your friends, and then ask them all how many friends they have, their average is very likely to be higher than your friend count.
Two months back, tiny Lincoln University attracted worldwide media attention when it threatened to withhold diplomas from overweight students unless they took a special fitness class.
Under its 2005 policy, which the Philadelphia area school rescinded in December after weeks of criticism from activists and the media, students with body mass indexes (BMI) over 30 were required to take a one-credit class called "Fitness for Life" in order to graduate from the historically black college. A person with a BMI of 30 is considered obese under health guidelines.
We'll get back to Lincoln. But the controversy made me curious about the role our schools are playing in our children's fitness and whether they are having any impact in the so far losing effort against the obesity epidemic.
When I went to high school in the early 1970s, phys ed was a requirement: three periods a week, if memory serves, through junior year. Team sports reigned. The athletic kids would park me on the offensive line during flag football and tell me to stay out of the way on the basketball floor. Let's not even bring up Greco-Roman wrestling.
Stanford's successful effort to exempt itself from Santa Clara County's new rules on underage drinking has put a focus on the university's growing effort to curb alcohol abuse on campus.
The county's new ordinance, which took effect last year, makes it easier for police to cite anyone hosting a party where underage drinking occurs. It can mean a fine of up to $1,000 plus costs anytime the police are called in.
About 95 percent of Stanford's 6,600 undergraduates, many of them younger than 21, live on campus in university-owned housing. As the landlord, the school could have found itself facing plenty of potential liability under the new county rules.
But the financial question didn't play a role in the university's attempt to persuade county officials to free Stanford from the regulations, said Jean McCown, the school's director of community relations.
Abstinence-only education has been a frequent point of contention between conservatives and liberals.
Conservatives, particularly religious ones, have argued that young people need to be taught the moral dimension of sexual activity as part of abstinence education and urged to avoid sex until marriage.
For those reasons, liberals and many health and education professionals have argued against abstinence-only education. Many of them have preferred comprehensive sex education.
Now a new study indicates that abstinence-only education works even when it doesn't have a moral component.
Why is a child born in northwest Los Angeles four times as likely to be diagnosed with autism as a child born elsewhere in California?
Medical experts have pondered for years why autism rates have soared nationwide, and why the disorder appears to be much more prevalent in certain communities than in others. Now, some recent studies that zero in on California may shed some light on these baffling questions.
A new autism study shows clusters of high autism rates in parts of California. WSJ's health columnist Melinda Beck joins Simon Constable on the News Hub with more.
Researchers from Columbia University, in a study published in the current Journal of Health & Place, identified an area including West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and some less posh neighborhoods that accounted for 3% of the state's new cases of autism every year from 1993 to 2001, even though it had only 1% of the population.
Another recent study, from the University of California, Davis, published in Autism Research, also found high rates of autism in children born around Los Angeles, as well as nine other California locations. Autism, usually diagnosed before a child is 3 years old, is a developmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction and communication and repetitive behavior.
More than a third of sex crimes against juveniles are committed by juveniles, according to new research commissioned by the Justice Department.
Juveniles are 36% of all sex offenders who victimize children. Seven out of eight are at least 12 years old, and 93% are boys, says the study by the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.
The report comes as states toughen penalties for adult sex offenders and wrestle with how to handle juveniles.
"They are different from adult sex offenders," says study co-author David Finkelhor. They are more likely than adults to commit sex offenses in groups, and their victims are younger and more likely to be male.
Can something as simple as the timing of recess make a difference in a child's health and behavior?
Some experts think it can, and now some schools are rescheduling recess -- sending students out to play before they sit down for lunch. The switch appears to have led to some surprising changes in both cafeteria and classroom.
Schools that have tried it report that when children play before lunch, there is less food waste and higher consumption of milk, fruit and vegetables. And some teachers say there are fewer behavior problems.
"Kids are calmer after they've had recess first," said Janet Sinkewicz, principal of Sharon Elementary School in Robbinsville, N.J., which made the change last fall. "They feel like they have more time to eat and they don't have to rush."
My family has much experience in higher education, not all of it happy. I spent six years as an often struggling undergraduate and grad student. My journalist wife did ten years in higher ed, including three of what she considered hard labor as a visiting professor. Our kids add another 11 years, with the youngest child about to sign up for three more. Please don't ask me what that will cost.
American colleges and universities are the great strength of our education system. They are revered around the world. But those schools put heavy stress on our families, since getting into, paying for and graduating from the ones we most want often exceeds our capabilities. We need to know more about what they are doing to us, so I am happy to see washingtonpost.com launch two higher education blogs: College Inc. by Daniel de Vise and Campus Overload by Jenna Johnson. Let me celebrate that event by grumbling about what I consider higher education's five biggest blind spots:
1. College privacy rules are a mess. They are difficult to understand and infuriating when they exacerbate a family crisis. I have heard many stories about students getting into trouble, and their parents being among the last to know. University officials will sometimes take pity on a frantic dad and reveal important things in the kid's personal file. But why can't we have more reasonable procedures? Academics who fear intrusive helicopter parents should read the National Survey of Student Engagement report, which reveals that the children of such people do better in college than kids like mine, who didn't hear much from us.
2. Professors know too little about what high schools are doing to prepare students for their classes.
The person who posted this video on YouTube said this fight happened 1/5/10... that's some way to say Happy New Year.
I know some of you readers cannot stand when I post video of US acting the fool... well that's life. Here's some reality for US to look at for the next 30 seconds and do something about OUR kids.
It's one thing to see these young girls fighting so viciously. It's a damn shame to see ALL the other kids are cheering on this ish. Where's the teachers and what took the security so long? I know this isn't going on everyday, but this ish is getting tired.
Cassie Frankel seems an unlikely martial arts warrior.
The sophomore at West High heard about the Mixed Martial Arts Club from her chemistry teacher and decided to give it a try. The group meets Thursdays at noon, learning and practicing a variety of fighting styles, including boxing, wrestling, judo and jujutsu.
"I like that it's an individual sport because I'm not that athletic," Frankel says during a break in practice. "It's more about how your body works." She likes boxing best: "I feel really tough with the boxing gloves, even though they're pink."
Frankel acknowledges the controversy over teaching kids to fight. But, she says, "I think it's a good idea because if you know how to fight you're less likely to get hurt."
One out of every five U.S. teenagers has a cholesterol level that increases the risk of heart disease, federal health officials reported Thursday, providing striking new evidence that obesity is making more children prone to illnesses once primarily limited to adults.
A nationally representative survey of blood test results in American teenagers found that more than 20 percent of those ages 12 to 19 had at least one abnormal level of fat. The rate jumped to 43 percent among those adolescents who were obese.
Previous studies had indicated that unhealthy cholesterol levels, once a condition thought isolated to the middle-aged and elderly, were increasingly becoming a problem among the young, but the new data document the scope of the threat on a national level.
"This is the future of America," said Linda Van Horn, a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University who heads the American Heart Association's Nutrition Committee. "These data really confirm the seriousness of our obesity epidemic. This really is an urgent call for health-care providers and families to take this issue seriously."
Youth are spending more time with nearly every form of media than ever, according to a report released Wednesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation. They spend more hours on the computer, in front of television, playing video games, texting and listening to music than an adult spends full-time at work.
The only media young people aren't soaking up, the study says, are newspapers, magazines and other print publications.
Youth spend more than 7 1/2 hours a day using electronic media, or more than 53 hours a week, the 10-year study says. "And because they spend so much of that time 'media multitasking' (using more than one medium at a time), they actually manage to pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes worth of media content into those 7½ hours."
Affirming parents' fears, the study showed those habits ripple throughout a youth's life. Those who were big media consumers were more likely than kids and teens who are only seldom in front of a screen to earn average or poor grades in school. Those who use more electronic media get in more trouble, and say they are often sad.
Here is a report from my CNAS colleague Jennifer Bernal-Garcia, who is working with Bob Killebrew on the merger of drug gangs and terrorism, about a meeting they held recently with law enforcement experts on gang violence:By Jennifer Bernal
Best Defense Drugs & Crime Correspondent
Cops are the first line of defense against gangs, and they have a pretty good understanding of the issue. Talking with them yields a pretty grim assessment: There is a huge gang problem in the United States. Our cops in attendance estimated that the U.S. might have up to 1 million gang members, although the problem is often underreported both because it is difficult to detect and because of local politicians' incentives to downplay crime figures in their areas. The gang problem is inherently tied in to broader regional criminal trends. The extensiveness of drug trafficking south of the border and the degree to which cartels violently contest state authority is well acknowledged. There is nonetheless a common misperception that drug networks disintegrate when you cross the border into the U.S. They don't. Gangs -- mostly youth gangs -- step in to domestically distribute the drugs that cartels traffic in.
In his brilliant and distressing essay on the cruelties of English boarding school life in the 1910s, "Such, Such Were the Joys," George Orwell devoted a few lines to the prevailing attitudes toward feeding children. A boy's appetite was seen as "a sort of morbid growth which should be kept in check as much as possible." At Orwell's school, St. Cyprian's, the food was therefore not only unappetizing but calorically insufficient; students were often told "that it is healthy to get up from a meal feeling as hungry as when you sat down." Only a generation earlier, school meals began with "a slab of unsweetened suet pudding, which, it was frankly said, broke the boys' appetites." Orwell described sneaking, terrified, down to the kitchen in the middle of the night for a slice or two of stale bread to dull the hunger pains. His contemporaries at public school had it better, and worse: so long as their parents gave them pocket money to buy eggs, sausages, and sardines from street vendors, they scrounged enough food to get through the day.
This spirit of tut-tut character building through patronizing if affectionate deprivation comes off as thoroughly British, but for a time the attitude spanned the Atlantic. In 1906, one American principal opposed the growing enthusiasm for a school lunch program by warning: "If you attempt to take hardship and suffering out of their lives by smoothing the pathway of life for these children, you weaken their character, and by so doing, you sin against the children themselves and, through them, against society." Let them starve a little, went the thinking--it won't kill them, and it's better than getting fat on sweets.
OU ARE A specialist in your field, you can see the opportunities before you, but there's little or nothing that you can do. If this place sounds vaguely familiar, it is where Dr Deirdre MacIntyre found herself almost a decade ago.
She wasn't a solo traveller, either. A colleague and close friend, Dr Moya O'Brien, had also reached that bus stop. The trick was to recognise when it was time to jump off.
"We had trained in psychology together, she was my bridesmaid, I was her birth partner and we had worked together in what was the Eastern Health Board before it became the Eastern Regional Health Authority ," MacIntyre recalls. "We both had families with small kids, and very heavy clinical caseloads at work.
"I loved my career in child guidance, I loved my clinical work, but both of us felt that our impact was limited within the health board structure," MacIntyre recalls.
At this point, she had nearly 20 years' experience as a clinical psychologist and was principal in charge of the ERHA's child and adolescent psychology services. She had been involved in establishing community-based psychology services for children and their families.
OK, I lied about no more wonky posts. Xeni's Facebook post reminded me of something. I want to float an idea about privacy as a commodity, vs. privacy as a right.
Tiger Woods, described frequently as a "very private" person, was unable to keep his private life private. Why? Because he interacted with non-private people. The reason Kim Kardashian and the Jersey Shore denizens have risen to positions of prominence in popular culture is because they each epitomize the non-private person. They have nothing to hide, so nothing that becomes public knowledge can hurt them. Ms. Kardashian can be urinated on in a sex tape and actually be helped in terms of being a public figure. My own ability to be effective as a transgender rights activist is because there's nothing anyone could expose about me that would deter me from my activism. That gives me enormous power over anonymous haters who vent their impotent fury at me to no avail. Their own fear of exposure (loss of privacy) is their greatest weakness. What does this mean for you, dear reader? Read on.
Schools these days focus mostly on preparing students for tests of reading and math, but during lunchtime at Kenmoor Middle School in Landover, the youngsters sitting in a small circle were tackling the really deep questions: Ethics. Fairness. How to split dessert.
All three issues turned up as the seventh- and eighth-graders in the Philosophy Club tackled the question of the day: "Imagine that you are babysitting a 6-year-old and an 8-year-old. The parents have left some treats for dessert: two bananas, a lollipop and an ice cream bar. The parents' instructions are to allow each child to choose one treat. Unfortunately, both kids want the ice cream bar. How can you distribute the goods fairly?"
Someone suggested that they split the ice cream bar in half, but other students had other ideas.
Sometimes it is the smartest, most concerned policymakers who do the most harm to schools. My favorite recent example is the Healthy Schools Act, a bill introduced by D.C. council member Mary M. Cheh and Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray two weeks ago.
Cheh and Gray are good people trying to address a national epidemic of childhood obesity and insufficient physical activity. In Cheh's press release she notes that 18 percent of D.C. high school students are obese, 70 percent fail to meet the U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommended levels of physical activity and 84 percent do not attend physical education classes daily. It is their solution that troubles me.
I am unqualified to comment on the food parts of the bill. I have never written about nutrition. I would be embarrassed to reveal the amount of crackers, cookies and ice cream I eat each day. I can only wonder how D.C. will pay for the required fresh produce from local growers in all schools, and how they will get students to eat it.
The bill's physical education requirements are its worst part-- a nifty-sounding reform that many of the District's best principals and teachers will declare one of the dumbest ideas they ever heard.
Across the rich world more women are working than ever before. Coping with this change will be one of the great challenges of the coming decades
THE economic empowerment of women across the rich world is one of the most remarkable revolutions of the past 50 years. It is remarkable because of the extent of the change: millions of people who were once dependent on men have taken control of their own economic fates. It is remarkable also because it has produced so little friction: a change that affects the most intimate aspects of people's identities has been widely welcomed by men as well as women. Dramatic social change seldom takes such a benign form.
Yet even benign change can come with a sting in its tail. Social arrangements have not caught up with economic changes. Many children have paid a price for the rise of the two-income household. Many women--and indeed many men--feel that they are caught in an ever-tightening tangle of commitments. If the empowerment of women was one of the great changes of the past 50 years, dealing with its social consequences will be one of the great challenges of the next 50.
Although the practice is viewed as essential to keeping babies safe, nearly a third of all caregivers still don't regularly put infants on their backs to sleep, according to a new report published Monday.
Despite guidelines from pediatricians and a national educational campaign in place since the mid-1990s, researchers found that while there was a dramatic increase in back-sleeping during the first years of the push, the percentage of parents following the recommendations has been virtually unchanged since 2001 - holding at just over 70 percent - although that's still a substantial improvement from the 25 percent rate in 1993.
Pediatricians and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development called for the change in sleeping practices in the face of a large body of evidence that placing infants on their backs reduced the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, the leading cause of infant death in the first year of life in the United States.
"All I remember was landing face first on the floor," said Tina, 18.
Tina - disguised for her safety - says the violence spiraled out of control during her six-month relationship with her 17-year-old boyfriend.
"I remember he got on top of me and he was slapping me back and forth," Tina said. "And he said, 'next time you walk by me, acknowledge me. Say that you love me.'"
Raped, beaten and berated on a regular basis, she stayed with him, believing the abuse was part of a normal relationship.
"I knew my aunt went through it so I thought, you know, if she stuck it out with him, with her husband for years, that I should just do the same and keep my mouth shut," she added.
When another 15-year old - who did not want to be indentified - met a cute boy in one of her high school classes - she was smitten.
In some hardscrabble East Bay neighborhoods, people die of heart disease and cancer at three times the rates found just a few miles away in more well-to-do communities.
Children living near busy freeways in Oakland are hospitalized for asthma at 12 times the rate of young people in Lafayette's wooded housing tracts.
The East Bay's striking health inequities extend far beyond life expectancy and involve more than differences between the rich and the poor. Disparities exist up and down the East Bay's socioeconomic ladder, according to data compiled by the Alameda County Public Health Department for Bay Area News Group.
Middle-class communities in Dublin, Castro Valley and Fremont have higher heart disease death rates than wealthier neighborhoods in Walnut Creek and Berkeley, but lower rates than struggling areas of East Oakland and North Richmond.
These facts have led public-health leaders to advocate to equalize opportunities for healthful living, instead of focusing only on a never-ending battle to treat disease.
Abdalla Mursal moved his family from Atlanta to southeastern Minnesota a decade ago to raise his four children in an area with good schools and low crime.I took a cab some time ago with a Somali Driver in the Western United States. The driver's cell phone featured a 612 area code - surprising outside of Minneapolis. I asked about this and heard a remarkable story of his entire family leaving Somali as refugees and, finally, in the early 1990's receiving asylum in the United States. His large family settled in Mineapolis for more than a decade. We had a fascinating discussion about culture, academics, particularly rigor and assimilation.
"This city is a very peaceful city and everybody who lives here likes it," Mursal said of Rochester. "I like this city."
But in recent months, Mursal and other Somali parents have discovered that their children's schools aren't so tranquil, as Somali youngsters have been in fights with white and African American students.
On Oct. 14, another student teased Mursal's son, Abdirahman, a high school junior, and hit him with a baseball bat at school.
Nearly 270 Kentucky children died of abuse or neglect during the past decade -- more than half of them in cases where state officials already knew of or suspected problems.
During one recent 12-month period, 41 children died -- the highest rate of any state, according to a recent report by the Every Child Matters Education Fund, a Washington child-advocacy group.
In a six-month review of the problem, The Courier-Journal found that:
-- Child-protection officials, day-care workers, and parents, friends and relatives missed signs of abuse such as suspicious bruising and evidence of previous injury, or were hesitant to act.
Facebook, the popular networking site, has 350 million members worldwide who, collectively, spend 10 billion minutes there every day, checking in with friends, writing on people's electronic walls, clicking through photos and generally keeping pace with the drift of their social world.
Make that 9.9 billion and change. Recently, Halley Lamberson, 17, and Monica Reed, 16, juniors at San Francisco University High School, made a pact to help each other resist the lure of the login. Their status might as well now read, "I can't be bothered."
"We decided we spent way too much time obsessing over Facebook and it would be better if we took a break from it," Halley said.
By mutual agreement, the two friends now allow themselves to log on to Facebook on the first Saturday of every month -- and only on that day.
When the Marquez sisters set out to get pregnant, Edelmira was 14 and Angela was 15.Related: Between Two Worlds: How Young Latinos Come of Age in America.
Having babies, the girls thought, would force their Salvadoran-born parents to stop trying to keep them and their teenage boyfriends apart.
Edelmira was the first to succeed, giving birth to a baby girl in the eighth grade. She regretted it almost immediately, and warned her sister not to get pregnant.
Angela, whose round, brown eyes and shy smile are so similar to Edelmira's they could almost be twins, stayed quiet.
"I didn't want her to know I was still trying," Angela recalls, sheepishly. "When I used to see my sister play with her baby, I was like, 'She's so cute; I want my own.' "
WITH the construction of the railways in the 19th century, a new sociological phenomenon was born: the travelling criminal. Until then, police had relied on local communities to recognise a bad apple in their midst, but now the felons were on the move, wreaking havoc in communities which had no knowledge of their past and hence no reason to be wary. For law enforcers trying to contain the problem by sharing descriptions of known recidivists, it became imperative to answer one question: what is it that identifies someone as a particular person?
This question has long troubled humanity, of course, and it is explored in all its facets in a new exhibition at the Wellcome Collection in London. One practical application lies in the forensic arena. The first solution offered, branding, was simple and effective. But even in a society that preferred to believe that criminals were born and not made, this was soon deemed unacceptable. So there was a need to find something innate to human beings that remains constant from the cradle to the grave, and that is sufficiently differentiated in the population to make it useful in identifying individuals.
A senator on the committee overseeing the National School Lunch Program called Monday for the government to raise its standards for meat sent to schools across the nation.
In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., urged "a strict testing program" for ground beef similar to those "used by industry leaders such as Jack in the Box and Costco."
Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture already sets special inspection and testing requirements for the meat it sends to schools, a USA TODAY investigation this month found that those requirements lag those set by many fast food restaurants and grocery chains.
It all started with the sound of static. In May 1964, two astronomers at Bell Labs, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, were using a radio telescope in suburban New Jersey to search the far reaches of space. Their aim was to make a detailed survey of radiation in the Milky Way, which would allow them to map those vast tracts of the universe devoid of bright stars. This meant that Penzias and Wilson needed a receiver that was exquisitely sensitive, able to eavesdrop on all the emptiness. And so they had retrofitted an old radio telescope, installing amplifiers and a calibration system to make the signals coming from space just a little bit louder.
But they made the scope too sensitive. Whenever Penzias and Wilson aimed their dish at the sky, they picked up a persistent background noise, a static that interfered with all of their observations. It was an incredibly annoying technical problem, like listening to a radio station that keeps cutting out.
At first, they assumed the noise was man-made, an emanation from nearby New York City. But when they pointed their telescope straight at Manhattan, the static didn't increase. Another possibility was that the sound was due to fallout from recent nuclear bomb tests in the upper atmosphere. But that didn't make sense either, since the level of interference remained constant, even as the fallout dissipated. And then there were the pigeons: A pair of birds were roosting in the narrow part of the receiver, leaving a trail of what they later described as "white dielectric material." The scientists evicted the pigeons and scrubbed away their mess, but the static remained, as loud as ever.
The facts of the braid-cutting case are not in dispute.
A Milwaukee Public Schools teacher was so upset with the behavior of a 7-year-old first-grader, she decided as punishment to cut off a section of her braided hair in front of a classroom of stunned students.
When she was done, she threw the piece of braided hair in a trash can and dared the girl to go home and tell her mother.
The child did just that.
The student's mother complained to school authorities that her daughter had been humiliated, confused and hurt by the teacher's actions. In response, the teacher was reported to authorities and she received a $175 ticket for disorderly conduct.
The girl was transferred to another classroom while the teacher faces a disciplinary hearing.
Before Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941, the out-of-wedlock birthrate for African-Americans was nineteen percent. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, in 2004 the illegitimate black birthrate was 69.4 percent. In contrast, the out-of-wedlock rates that year for Caucasians and Hispanics were 25 and 45 percent respectively. Consequently, in America well over half of our minority population enters the education sweepstakes with one parent tied behind their back. Our largest minorities groups have a parent gap that not only precedes the performance differential in math in reading, it guarantees it.
We are living in a moment in time where otherwise reasonable people debate the merits of raising a child in a same-sex-marriage home. Consequently, it is culturally reasonable to argue whether wealthy Americans can raise children in single-parent homes without handicapping their education. That said, it is criminally insane to suggest that a single parent of limited means is doing anything other than providing a rough life for both child and mother. Frankly, I have had it with televised images of sobbing single parent mothers lamenting the demise of their fatherless children because of the misdeeds of someone else's single-parent child.
Without discussion, the Milwaukee School Board voted 7-0 Thursday night to make condoms available at many of the city's high schools, paving the way to make Milwaukee Public Schools one of the relatively few districts in the nation to provide contraception to students.Somewhat related: biggovernment.com and mediamatters.org have been going back and forth on Obama Administration "safe school czar" Kevin Jenning's K-12 sex education activities.
The communicable disease prevention program, as the district calls it, could be in place as soon as the 2010-'11 school year.
The proposal sparked some opposition after being made public Dec. 2, but the board approved the condom distribution without much dissent. Comments from the public are not allowed at board meetings and a board committee had voted 5-0 on Dec. 9 to recommend adopting the program.
The condoms will be available free of charge, but only to students in high schools that have school nurses and only after students request them at the nurse's office, according to a fact sheet circulated by the school district. Up to two condoms will be distributed at a time.
Thursday's vote does not authorize funding for the program, but the district has said it will not use taxpayer money to buy condoms and instead will seek other sources of funding.
A decade of pesky germs, from SARS to avian flu to H1N1, has given rise to dozens of products bragging about their microbe-killing properties. Everything from hand-sanitizing liquids to products like computer keyboards, shopping carts and tissues tout that they kill 99.9%, or 99.99%, of common bacteria and fungi.
But some of these numbers look like the test scores in a class with a very generous grading curve. They often don't include all pesky germs, and are based on laboratory tests that don't represent the imperfections of real-world use. Human subjects, or countertops, in labs are cleaned first, then covered on the surface with a target bug. That is a far cry from a typical kitchen or a pair of grimy hands.
About 1 in 7 American teens with cellphones say they have received nude or nearly nude photos by text message, according to a new survey on the phenomenon known as "sexting."
Helping to define the little-understood trend in teen life, the poll found that 15 percent of adolescents ages 12 to 17 have received sexually suggestive photos or videos on their personal cellphones. Just 4 percent acknowledged sending out a naked image.
Older teens were more likely to report sexting, with 30 percent of 17-year-olds saying they had received such photos, compared with 4 percent of 12-year-olds, according to the report by Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project.
The provocative photos are usually sent as part of a romantic relationship -- or one that is wished-for, the study found.
With a concussion, there is no obvious injury - no blood, no swelling, no arm at an awkward angle.
Coaches and athletic trainers have to look for subtle signs from an athlete, such as a shake of the head, a vacant expression or a long pause before a football player lines up for the next play.
Until the past few years, a student athlete in Mesquite might have gone back into the game after a quick assessment. But that's changing as officials realize how common concussions are and how profound their effects can be over time.
"If a kid suffers a concussion in Mesquite, they are going to miss a minimum of two weeks," said Bucky Taylor, Mesquite High School's head athletic trainer.
ON THE surface, Framingham, Massachusetts looks like any other American town. Unbeknown to most who pass through this serene place, however, it is a gold mine for medical research. Since 1948 three generations of residents in Framingham have participated in regular medical examinations originally intended to study the spread of heart disease. In the years since, researchers have also used Framingham to track obesity, smoking and even happiness over long periods of time. Now a new study that uses Framingham to analyse loneliness has found that it spreads very much like a communicable disease.
Feeling lonely is more than just unpleasant for those who yearn to be surrounded by warm relationships--it is a health hazard. Numerous studies show that loneliness reduces fruit-fly lifespans, increases the chances of mice developing diabetes, and causes a host of adverse effects in people, including cardiovascular disease, obesity and weakening of the immune system. Simply being surrounded by others is no cure. In people, the mere perception of being isolated is more than enough to create the bad health effects. However, in spite of its significant impact, precious little is known about how loneliness moves through communities.
Another school-violence crisis is unfolding in Philadelphia's public schools. Asian American students at South Philadelphia High School felt they had to boycott classes to bring attention to a reign of terror by violent kids and an indifferent staff. State officials, who run the district in a "reform partnership" with city leaders, have responded with a deafening silence.
When the state Department of Education closed Philadelphia's Office of the Safe Schools Advocate last summer for supposed want of chump change in its multibillion-dollar budget, officials said the city's school-violence victims need not worry: Unnamed Harrisburg bureaucrats would protect them. A more hollow promise was never made.
Last year, state Auditor General Jack Wagner confirmed that the department had violated state law since 1995 by failing to establish a safe-schools office to gather violence data from all 501 of the state's school districts and to address safety issues. Instead, the department has reported false data to the public for years. For example, the Philadelphia School District habitually and significantly underreported school violence until 2005, when investigations by The Inquirer and the safe-schools advocate revealed the truth.
New federally financed drug research reveals a stark disparity: children covered by Medicaid are given powerful antipsychotic medicines at a rate four times higher than children whose parents have private insurance. And the Medicaid children are more likely to receive the drugs for less severe conditions than their middle-class counterparts, the data shows.
Those findings, by a team from Rutgers and Columbia, are almost certain to add fuel to a long-running debate. Do too many children from poor families receive powerful psychiatric drugs not because they actually need them -- but because it is deemed the most efficient and cost-effective way to control problems that may be handled much differently for middle-class children?
The questions go beyond the psychological impact on Medicaid children, serious as that may be. Antipsychotic drugs can also have severe physical side effects, causing drastic weight gain and metabolic changes resulting in lifelong physical problems.
All of the hoopla over Disney's "The Princess and the Frog" made me remember this honest, hard-hitting short documentary by Kiri Davis.
ABOUT THE FILM
For my high-school literature class I was constructing an anthology with a wide range of different stories that I believed reflected the black girl's experience. For the different chapters, I conducted interviews with a variety of black girls in my high school, and a number of issues surfaced concerning the standards of beauty imposed on today's black girls and how this affects their self-image. I thought this topic would make an interesting film and so when I was accepted into the Reel Works Teen Filmmaking program, I set out to explore these issues. I also decided to would re-conduct the "doll test" initially conducted by Dr. Kenneth Clark, which was used in the historic desegregation case, Brown vs. Board of Education. I thought that by including this experiment in my film, I would shed new light on how society affects black children today and how little has actually changed.
A flood of emails Monday resisting my suggestion of longer school days to raise achievement leads me to wonder if parts of the regular school day could be put to better use. Is the typical raucous high school lunch period, in an overcrowded and sometimes dangerous cafeteria, really necessary? My colleague Jenna Johnson wrote last week of imaginative principals letting students avoid the cafeteria in favor of staying in classrooms to catch up with work or having club meetings. Can lunch become a time for stress-free learning, rather than Lord of the Flies with tile floors?
Okay, I confess I have long considered lunch a waste of time. I avoided the cafeteria during high school. My favorite lunch was eating a sandwich in a classroom while convening the student court, of which I was chief justice, so we could sanction some miscreant for stealing corn nuts from the vending machine. (I heard a radio ad for that classmate's business when I was home recently---he has become a successful attorney.) At the office these days I stay in my cubicle and have crackers and fruit juice, maybe a cookie if somebody has brought them from home.
Five months after it first announced coming privacy changes this past summer, Facebook is finally rolling out a new set of revamped privacy settings for its 350 million users. The social networking site has rightly been criticized for its confusing privacy settings, most notably in a must-read report by the Canadian Privacy Commissioner issued in July and most recently by a Norwegian consumer protection agency. We're glad to see Facebook is attempting to respond to those privacy criticisms with these changes, which are going live this evening. Unfortunately, several of the claimed privacy "improvements" have created new and serious privacy problems for users of the popular social network service.
The new changes are intended to simplify Facebook's notoriously complex privacy settings and, in the words of today's privacy announcement to all Facebook users, "give you more control of your information." But do all of the changes really give Facebook users more control over their information? EFF took a close look at the changes to figure out which ones are for the better — and which ones are for the worse.
Our conclusion? These new "privacy" changes are clearly intended to push Facebook users to publicly share even more information than before. Even worse, the changes will actually reduce the amount of control that users have over some of their personal data.
Cavities have made a dismaying comeback in children in recent years, and the search is on among scientists to find new ways to fight tooth decay.
The prevalence of cavities in children aged 2 to 5 decreased steadily through the 1970s and 1980s, thanks largely to the expansion of water fluoridation and to advances in treatment and prevention, dental experts say. The trend appeared to hit a low around the mid-1990s, when about 24% of young children had cavities, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But tooth decay then began heading higher. A CDC survey found that 28% of small children--a significant increase, according to the agency--had cavities in the five years ended 2004, the latest data available. The reasons for the increase aren't entirely clear. But dental experts suggest it may be due to children drinking more bottled water that doesn't contain fluoride, and to changes in dietary habits.
In the category of "it makes you wonder," the student newspaper at Montgomery Blair High School reports that bathrooms on the second and third floors are now being locked during lunch.
Why? The school has a security shortage and couldn't figure out a better way to deal with it.
The story, in silverchips.online says that the Alex Bae, president of the Student Government Association met with Principal Darryl Williams on Monday, and that the principal said he hopes the situation can be fixed soon.
Apparently, the story says, the bathrooms were closed during lunch because students abuse their bathroom privileges. Acts of vandalism occur during lunch and kids hide out in the bathroom to avoid going to class.
New York City joined a national trend in 1998 when it put the police in charge of school security. The consensus is that public schools are now safe. But juvenile justice advocates across the country are rightly worried about policies under which children are sometimes arrested and criminalized for behavior that once was dealt with by principals or guidance counselors working with a student's parents.
Children who are singled out for arrest and suspension are at greater risk of dropping out and becoming permanently entangled with the criminal justice system. It is especially troubling that these children tend to be disproportionately black and Hispanic, and often have emotional problems or learning disabilities.
School officials in several cities have identified overpolicing as a problem in itself. The New York City Council has taken a first cut at the problem by drafting a bill, the Student Safety Act, that would bring badly needed accountability and transparency to the issue.
The draft bill would require police and education officials to file regular reports that would show how suspensions and other sanctions affect minority children, children with disabilities and other vulnerable groups. Detailed reports from the Police Department would show which students were arrested or issued summonses and why, so that lawmakers could get a sense of where overpolicing might be a problem.
It was during the 1999 Maghi festival, whose revelries grip western Nepal in mid-January each year, that Asha Tharu's parents sold her. Asha, who was then five years old, fetched $40. In return for the money, Asha was sent to work for a year as a bonded labourer at the house of her new owner in Gularia, a town near her village of Khairapur.
"I had to get up very early and I had to clean the pots, clean the rooms and wash the clothes," recalls Asha, now a bright 15-year-old. "I worked all day and I didn't get enough sleep."
I have come along jolting, unmade roads from Nepalgunj in western Nepal to meet Asha at her sister-in-law's hut, a rather beautiful dwelling of unbaked mustard-yellow bricks, more African in appearance than Asian. In the main living area are two large, exquisitely fashioned mud urns built into the walls for storing rice. In the unfurnished room where the family sleeps, Asha sits on the dirt floor and tells me about her new life. She says she is happy in school and that, on the weekends, she works in a brick factory, earning $1.30 for an eight-hour shift. That is enough to buy rice and to help her elder sister pay for school.
More than anything, Asha remembers the petty slights she endured during her eight years of servitude, which ended last year when her "master" agreed to release her. "They would give me scraps. I used to feel very hurt by that, receiving the left-overs of guests or the elder family," she says, glancing occasionally at the dusty ground outside the mud hut where she now lives. "Sometimes I'd get rotten food, or half-stomach food, not enough to stop my hunger," she says. "They would hit me or shout at me if I dared complain."
A reporter's seven-year correspondence with his 93-year-old cousin, illustrator Sam Fink, reveals a family's past and the beauty in old-fashioned letter writing
Shortly before Christmas 2002, I received my first letter from Sam Fink. On the envelope, he had drawn an elephant and colored it with orange, yellow, brown and blue crayons. "Good to remember. Happy New Year," he wrote above the address.
The letter was equally charming. He wrote about his son, David, who lived in Israel with a brood of grandchildren and great grandchildren. "When I visit my family in Jerusalem twice a year for a two-week stay, instead of asking about their lives, I share mine," Sam wrote. "In most instances, young people do not know how to share with old people." He signed it, "Your cousin, somehow, once removed, second, or whatever the term...Sam Fink."
That letter marked the start of a seven-year correspondence I have had with Sam, who is a family success story -- a noted illustrator who has drawn popular books about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. He was my father's first cousin, and though I hadn't seen him more than a dozen times in my life, a family photo my wife had mailed as a holiday card caught his interest and prompted him to write me.
Spend enough time riding the New York City subway--or any big-city metro--and you'll find yourself on the tenure-track to an honorary degree in transit psychology. The subway--which keeps random people together in a contained, observable setting--is a perfect rolling laboratory for the study of human behavior. As the sociologists M.L. Fried and V.J. De Fazio once noted, "The subway is one of the few places in a large urban center where all races and religions and most social classes are confronted with one another and the same situation."
Or situations. The subway presents any number of discrete, and repeatable, moments of interaction, opportunities to test how "situational factors" affect outcomes. A pregnant woman appears: Who will give up his seat first? A blind man slips and falls. Who helps? Someone appears out of the blue and asks you to mail a letter. Will you? In all these scenarios much depends on the parties involved, their location on the train and the location of the train itself, and the number of other people present, among other variables. And rush-hour changes everything.
The November 15 Washington Post had a story about gangs in Salinas, California, that deserves close attention from 4GW theorists. Salinas is reportedly overrun with Hispanic gangs. The Post wrote that its homicide rate is three times that of Los Angeles. It quoted a Salinas police officer, Sgt. Mark Lazzarini, on one of the classic results of state breakdown, chaos:"Only half of our gangs are structured; the Norteños," he said. "The southerners are completely unstructured. Half of our violence is kids who get into a car and go out and hunt. These kids don't know their victims. How do you stop that? It's very chaotic."Salinas's new slogan might be, "Salinas: where even the lettuce has tattoos."
But what is interesting in the Post's article is not the gangs themselves. It is a new response to the gangs. Salinas has brought in the U.S. military to apply counter-insurgency doctrine to a situation on American soil. The Post reports that:
A West High School student was arrested Monday afternoon after allegedly having a .22 caliber revolver in the waistband of his pants inside the school.Related: Police Calls near Madison high schools 1996-2006 and the 2005 Gangs & School Violence Forum.
The incident is considered the first time in at least a decade that a student has been discovered with a firearm inside a Madison Metropolitan School District facility, said Luis Yudice, coordinator of school safety for the district.
The 16-year-old student, a sophomore at West, was tentatively charged with possession of a firearm in a school zone.
The incident was reported at about 3:30 p.m. at the school, 30 Ash St.
Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain said the revolver was missing its cylinder (which holds the bullets) and the student had no ammunition.
"He didn't threaten anyone with the firearm," DeSpain said. "He told the officer he was simply holding onto the gun for someone else."
Whether rallying the crowd at a sporting event or participating in competition, cheerleading can be both fun and physically demanding. Although integral to cheerleading routines, performing stunts can lead to injury. Stunt-related injuries accounted for more than half (60 percent) of U.S. cheerleading injuries from June 2006 through June 2007, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital.
Published as a series of four separate articles on cheerleading-related injuries in the November issue of the Journal of Athletic Training, the study focused on general cheerleading-related injuries, cheerleading stunt-related injuries, cheerleading fall-related injuries and surfaces used by cheerleaders. Data from the study showed that nearly all (96 percent) of the reported concussions and closed-head injuries were preceded by the cheerleader performing a stunt.
"In our study, stunts were defined as cradles, elevators, extensions, pyramids, single-based stunts, single-leg stunts, stunt-cradle combinations, transitions and miscellaneous partner and group stunts," said author Brenda Shields, research coordinator in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital.
The first thing that jumped out at me about today's Washington Post story about kids in D.C. schools eating federally funded breakfasts was "sugar."
How much sugar was in the breakfast given to fourth-grader Alex Brown?
He had a bowl of Lucky Charms cereal, amount not mentioned; but a single serving, 1 cup, has 14 grams of sugar. That's not especially high in the sweetened cereal world,
but it's not great.
The breakfast also included graham crackers, amount not mentioned. But the amount of sugar per serving, which is one little square, in Nabisco graham crackers is 2.2 grams.
Then there was the juice. The article said the boy had milk and juice, amount and kind not mentioned. But one serving, which is 1 cup, of Minute Maid orange juice has 22 grams of sugar.
If the child had a cup of Lucky Charms, two graham cracker squares and an 8-ounce glass of Minute Maid orange juice, he would have consumed 40.4 grams of sugar for breakfast.
In a grimy shack near the entrance to an orphanage in the far north of Vietnam, Hoang's mother watches anxiously - seemingly torn between instinct and obedience - as her first-born child is taken from her and given to a woman offering to sell him for US$10,000.
"Look at him - he's such a handsome little boy," baby broker Tang Thi Cai says as the two-month-old kicks his legs and blinks. "If you want him, though, you've got to be quick. We've already started the paperwork to sign him over to the orphanage, so there's no time to lose."
Sensing my hesitation as she fusses around the fly-blown room, Cai adjusts her sales pitch. "If you'd prefer a girl, let me know," she says. "We have some pregnant women here about to give birth - and as soon as a girl is available, we can phone you."
When Hollywood superstars Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt adopted three-year-old Pax Thien from an orphanage in Ho Chi Minh City two years ago, it confirmed Vietnam's status as one of the world's most popular destinations for overseas adoptions. But a year later, adoptions from Vietnam to the United States were halted amid allegations of corruption, baby selling and irregularities in the way the infants were sourced. Today, the system is mired in even deeper suspicions.
The chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee wants an investigation into the safety of school lunches. Judging by what the nation has seen with E. coli outbreaks and other food scares, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., has good reason to be concerned that potentially fatal contaminants could be served up in school cafeterias.
A recent report to Congress found that the Agriculture Department's Food and Nutrition Service, which provides up to 20 percent of the food served in the nation's schools, doesn't always provide the schools with timely recall notices. That increases the risk of contaminated food making its way onto children's plates.
Miller notes that schools receive food from other sources and points to the recent E. coli outbreak from a meat packing plant in New York. None of the 500,000 pounds went to schools, but the contaminated meat -- which caused two deaths and sickened 16 others -- highlights another problem. The federal schools program mandates that all its beef be tested for E. coli. However, the meat that schools receive from other sources is not required to undergo E. coli testing.
Doonesbury covers the Facebook pulse....
More than three-quarters of the nation's 17- to 24-year-olds couldn't serve in the military, even if they wanted to. They're too fat, too sickly, too dumb, have too many kids, or have copped to using illegal drugs.
The armed services are willing to grant waivers for some of those conditions - asthma, or a little bit of weed. But the military's biggest concern is how big and how weak its potential recruits have become.
"The major component of this is obesity," Curt Gilroy, the Pentagon's director of accessions, tells Army Times' William McMichael. "Kids are just not able to do push-ups... And they can't do pull-ups. And they can't run."
23 percent of 18- to 34-year-old are now obese, up from just six percent in 1987.
The group of potential enlistees is further slimmed by the "propensity to serve" among American youths, which social scientists say also is declining. According to Gilroy, research shows that about 12 percent of all U.S. military-eligible youth show an interest in military service.
A 17-year-old boy, caught sending text messages in class, was recently sent to the vice principal's office at Millwood High School in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The vice principal, Steve Gallagher, told the boy he needed to focus on the teacher, not his cellphone. The boy listened politely and nodded, and that's when Mr. Gallagher noticed the student's fingers moving on his lap.
He was texting while being reprimanded for texting.
"It was a subconscious act," says Mr. Gallagher, who took the phone away. "Young people today are connected socially from the moment they open their eyes in the morning until they close their eyes at night. It's compulsive."
Because so many people in their teens and early 20s are in this constant whir of socializing--accessible to each other every minute of the day via cellphone, instant messaging and social-networking Web sites--there are a host of new questions that need to be addressed in schools, in the workplace and at home. Chief among them: How much work can "hyper-socializing" students or employees really accomplish if they are holding multiple conversations with friends via text-messaging, or are obsessively checking Facebook?
Collectivistic cultures, which promote social harmony over individuality, protect people who are genetically predisposed to depression from experiencing the condition. So says a study published today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, which looks at how genes and environment can evolve together.
People living in individualistic cultures such as Western societies are more likely to suffer from a genetic tendency for depression than people in Eastern cultures, despite fewer people carrying the specific 'depression gene' being studied, say psychologists Joan Chiao and Katherine Blizinsky from Northwestern University. The research supports the idea that depression can result from both genes and the environment, and an interaction of the two.
The support offered by a collectivist attitude, "seems to buffer vulnerable individuals from the environmental risks or stressors that serve as triggers to depressive episodes," argues Chiao.
Contracts have helped tone down the hyper-sexed dance floor at some campuses, giving students clear guidelines on what's acceptable and what's not.
Downey High School sent its homecoming queen packing, crown and all, after she was seen making sexually suggestive moves on the dance floor a few years back. Aliso Niguel High School Principal Charles Salter made good on a threat to cancel school dances in 2006 as officials there and elsewhere fretted over how to deal with freaking, grinding and other provocative dances.
Their solution: Fight explicit teen dancing with an equal dose of explicitness. Downey and Aliso Niguel are among the first schools to draft "dance contracts," binding agreements that parents and students must sign before a teenager can step onto the dance floor.
Administrators say the graphic descriptions in the contracts leave little room for arguments over interpretation and put everyone on notice about appropriate behavior.
The prom09contract.pdf, for example, specifies "no touching breasts, buttocks or genitals. No straddling each others' legs. Both feet on the floor." Students get two warnings about sexually suggestive behavior before being booted without a refund and barred from other dances.
JACKIE KLEIN is a devoted mother of two little boys in the suburbs of Portland, Ore. She spends hours ferrying them to soccer and Cub Scouts. She reads child-development books. She can emulate one of those pitch-perfect calm maternal tones to warn, "You're making bad choices" when, say, someone doesn't want to brush his teeth.
That is 90 percent of the time. Then there is the other 10 percent, when, she admits, "I have become totally frustrated and lost control of myself."
It can happen during weeks and weeks and weeks of no camp in the summer, or at the end of a long day at home -- just as adult peace is within her grasp -- when the 7- or 9-year-old won't go to sleep.
And then she yells.
Since April, the school district has had to pony up the $1.5 million monthly cost of the lunch program for low-income students after state inspectors on a surprise visit found violations they deemed so serious and recurring that they cut off the flow of federal reimbursements.
The violations had nothing to do with the quality of food being served, but stem from the school district's inability to follow bureaucratic rules governing the federally subsidized National School Lunch Program, which is administered by the state.
To ensure no child goes without a lunch, the district, meanwhile, has spent more than $11 million, money it will get back once city schools show they can follow the rules - something district officials have been working on since the inspection.
Questions on whether a baby should be given a pacifier or allowed to thumb-suck have existed for generations. The concerns center on whether sucking habits will impact tooth alignment and speech development. The latest evidence, published today, suggests that long-term pacifier use, thumb-sucking and even early bottle use increases the risk of speech disorders in children.
The study looked at the association between sucking behaviors and speech disorders in 128 children, ages three to five, in Chile. Delaying bottle use until at least 9 months old reduced the risk of developing a speech disorder, researchers found. But children who sucked their thumb, fingers or used a pacifier for more than three years were three times as likely to develop speech impediments. Breastfeeding did not have a detrimental effect on speech development.
To hear his enemies talk, you might think Paul Offit is the most hated man in America. A pediatrician in Philadelphia, he is the coinventor of a rotavirus vaccine that could save tens of thousands of lives every year. Yet environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. slams Offit as a "biostitute" who whores for the pharmaceutical industry. Actor Jim Carrey calls him a profiteer and distills the doctor's attitude toward childhood vaccination down to this chilling mantra: "Grab 'em and stab 'em." Recently, Carrey and his girlfriend, Jenny McCarthy, went on CNN's Larry King Live and singled out Offit's vaccine, RotaTeq, as one of many unnecessary vaccines, all administered, they said, for just one reason: "Greed."
Thousands of people revile Offit publicly at rallies, on Web sites, and in books. Type pauloffit.com into your browser and you'll find not Offit's official site but an anti-Offit screed "dedicated to exposing the truth about the vaccine industry's most well-paid spokesperson." Go to Wikipedia to read his bio and, as often as not, someone will have tampered with the page. The section on Offit's education was once altered to say that he'd studied on a pig farm in Toad Suck, Arkansas. (He's a graduate of Tufts University and the University of Maryland School of Medicine).
A FEW weeks after I visited Fenger Academy, on Chicago's far south side, television cameras swarmed the school. The incident at Fenger was so alarming that the White House dispatched two cabinet secretaries to quell anxiety. I came for happier reasons. The Fenger was still in the heady first days of school, exciting not only because every new year brings new opportunities, but because this year seemed particularly ripe with them.
Fenger is closer to Indiana's belching mills than to downtown Chicago. It has struggled for decades. From 2006 to 2008 less than 3% of students met Illinois's pathetic standards of achievement. But this meagre record had one good outcome: Fenger's district chose it as a "turnaround" school.
When I arrive in the main office, students are still milling about, a few parents with them, looking for registration or wondering where to pick up their new uniforms--black polo shirts with the school insignia on the breast. Don Fraynd, the turnaround officer, is waiting for me. He is a youngish man whose e-mail signature is punctuated by a proud "PhD". After a quick tour we sit in the principal's anteroom. He tells me that reformers have showered Fenger with programmes, to no avail.
We know that children need to eat more healthily but the message will be useless if they don't learn to cook - and enjoy doing so. Sadly, a generation has already grown up without learning to cook at school: when the National Curriculum was introduced into UK state schools in 1990, practical cookery was sidelined in favour of "food technology". Children learned to design logos for pizza boxes, rather than to make a pizza.
This gaping hole in our children's education is something Katie Caldesi, director of Italian cookery school Cucina Caldesi in Marylebone, London, is keen to correct. She has two sons aged seven and nine, and says: "It's criminal that we dropped cookery from the curriculum. Italian food lends itself to cookery for children as long as they don't just have white carbohydrates; in Italy you have pasta first, then meat, vegetables, then fruit."
To help get children cooking their favourite Italian dishes, Cucina Caldesi runs classes for those aged six and over alongside its adult programme. It also has a holiday workshop for teenagers, "La Cucina dei Ragazzi", led by Caldesi head chef Stefano Borella. I went to observe, while my 13-year-old son Ben, a keen eater and occasional cook, took part in the class alongside five others.
Borella, whose teaching style is informal but authoritative, won over the young cooks from the start. The aim of the session, he said, was to prepare, cook and eat a three-course meal: gnocchi with walnut pesto, fish skewers with lemon couscous and basil pannacotta served with berries.
"Eat the taco salad. It's good."
The reassuring comment came from a crowd of seventh-grade boys at Velma Hamilton Middle School as I prepared to eat my first school lunch in more than 40 years.
They politely made room for me at the front of a line that circled the cafeteria/multipurpose room, nodding enthusiastically as I took the salad. As a former food writer and restaurant critic newly returned to covering topics about children and education, I wanted to experience firsthand school lunches at Madison's elementary, middle and high schools. Madison, like communities across the nation, is re-evaluating school meals with an eye toward making them more nutritious and appealing.
The taco salad featured finely shredded lettuce, providing a reasonably crisp bed for a mound of mildly seasoned ground beef; a dab of sour cream, a small plastic container of salsa and a small package of salty, tortilla chips completed the spread. It was the most popular purchased lunch option that day, although a majority of Hamilton's sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders appeared to have brought their own lunches. With a half-pint of milk, the meal cost $3.30 (adult full-price middle school lunch). I'd probably give it a grade of C+ or B-.
Students entering Vincent High School will be subjected to a metal detector on a daily basis in the wake of widespread fighting at the school, Milwaukee Public Schools officials said Friday.
Superintendent William Andrekopoulos confirmed Friday that Matthew Boswell, principal of Northwest Secondary School, has been appointed Vincent principal, replacing Alvin Baldwin, who is being reassigned to an elementary school.
Andrekopoulos also said two additional support staff members would be brought to Vincent to aid the administration. Three of the four assistant principals at the school also have been replaced, according to MPS officials.
Andrekopoulos said he was moved to make leadership changes after a visit to Vincent this week. He said he was struck in particular when he observed the presence of 17 adults supervising the cafeteria and not one of them was talking with students.
"I want to make sure we build a positive climate" at the school, he said.
Andrekopoulos spoke at a news conference Friday at district offices, capping off a volatile week at Vincent that began with a spate of fights and ended with some 100 students on suspension. He said eight of those students were suspected of behavior so serious that they'd be given a hearing at MPS' central office.
It was three years ago that 15-year-old Eric Hainstock entered Weston High School with a 22-caliber pistol and a 20-gauge shotgun.
Within a few short minutes, Principal John Klang confronted Hainstock, trying to protect his school's students and staff.
After a brief struggle, Klang was shot three times. He died later that day.
Debate continues on exactly what Hainstock intended to do - get the school's attention for the help he needed, or execute a fatalistic death wish for himself and his school.
What is clear is Hainstock had been bullied.
He was bullied by his father who, he says, treated him like a slave and refused to let him wash. At school and after school, he claimed he was bullied by as many as 30 of his fellow classmates. He says he snapped.
We can't know how much of this is true or how much it contributed to the tragedy in Weston. What we do know is that nearly a third of America's school children say they've been the victims of bullying - or been bullies themselves - or both.
We know bullying can destroy a student's self-esteem and ability to learn. We know it can ruin students for the rest of their lives. It can ruin families and ruin schools.
We know it's a problem among girls and boys. We know it can be mental bullying as well as physical. We know it can border on torture for the young minds that are the victims of it.
It's a problem that affects us all. As such, it's a problem we must all help solve.
That's why we're partners with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, which just launched its curriculum to help teachers cope with bullying in their classrooms, halls and playgrounds.
The DPI curriculum, called "Time to Act - Time to React," is a set of lesson plans to help teachers identify bullies and bullying and to teach their students how to deal with it.
The WEA Trust, a not-for-profit group health insurance company that insures many of Wisconsin's public school employees, paid for the printing of 1,200 sets of the curricula (one for grades 3-5, another for grades 6-8), and a free, interactive DVD available to teachers in any public grade school and public middle school.
This isn't a state mandate. It's not a requirement. It's a helping hand for teachers who feel they need the extra help to keep their students safe.
The problem is clear. So are the goals.
We, along with a large coalition of groups including those with a focus on schools, mental health, law enforcement and child advocacy, are supporting this effort to help keep our schools safe and healthy.
That's important for insurance companies that feel good mental health is important to a healthy body.
That's important for the wife of a murdered husband whose life was abruptly ended by a young boy out of control.
We're encouraging teachers to use the new curriculum. We're encouraging parents to be aware of what is happening with their children at school. This curriculum is a step in making teachers' and children's lives safer today and tomorrow.
Sue Klang is the wife of John Klang, the Weston High School principal killed trying to wrestle a pistol away from a troubled 15-year-old student on Sept. 29, 2006. Evert is executive director of the WEA Trust, Wisconsin's largest provider of group health insurance for Wisconsin school districts.
Sir Terry Leahy, the chief executive of Tesco, the UK's largest retailer, has slated the UK's education system, saying "woefully low" standards in too many schools leave private sector companies to "pick up the pieces".
On an scathing attack, Sir Terry said that Tesco is the largest private employer in the country and therefore depends on high standards in schools.
"Sadly, despite all the money that has been spent, standards are still woefully low in too many schools. Employers like us are often left to pick up the pieces."
He added that too many educational agencies and bodies hamper the work of teachers in the classroom.
"One thing that government could do is to simplify the structure of our education system. From my perspective there are too many agencies and bodies, often issuing reams of instructions to teachers, who then get distracted from the task at hand: teaching children.
"At Tesco we try to keep paperwork to a minimum; instructions simple; structures flat; and - above all - we trust the people on the ground. I am not saying that retail is like education, merely that my experience tells me that when it comes to the number of people you have in the back office, 'less is more'," he said. Sir Terry was speaking at the Institute of Grocery Distribution's annual conference in London.
The timing could not have been much worse. The 10-year anniversary of Columbine had come and gone. We'd relearned the Columbine lessons we'd nearly forgotten -- that the questions are all too big and the answers all too small.
Even worse, all that we don't know was sadly reinforced by the spate of mass shootings that arrived, as if on some deviant schedule, in the weeks leading up to the anniversary.
And just as we'd put it behind us, Dylan Klebold's mother, Susan, chose to tell her story -- "for the first time ever" -- in O, the Oprah magazine.
So it all begins again.
There has been a school of thought -- or maybe better called a school of hope -- that if the parents of Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris would only talk, they could tell us something essential, that they held family secrets that would allow us to better understand what happened that day.
Last weekend, two football teams faced off in a fierce divisional rivalry. Both boasted intimidating offenses built around sumo-sized linemen; half of the two teams' centers, guards and tackles tipped the scales above 300 pounds.
The teams aren't from the NFL. They aren't big-time colleges, or even Division II or III squads. They are the Central Texas high schools of McNeil and Cedar Park. The largest of their linemen is approaching 350 pounds.
Once a rarity, teenaged mega-players have become a common sight under the Friday night lights. "If you were to weigh the lines of high school football teams, they're significantly higher in recent years," said Brian Carr, a physical therapist and trainer at Georgetown High School. "Compared to just 15 years ago, there's a huge difference."
Doctors and trainers are reporting increases in certain injuries -- stress-related muscle and ligament tears, knee strains and foot fractures -- that can be directly attributed to the strains placed on developing bodies by extra bulk. Weight-related medical problems are also beginning to crop up among the giant teenagers.
Over on Salon.com last week, senior editor Andrew O'Hehir posted the first in what will be a series of essays about home-schooling his 5-year-old twins with his wife, Leslie. It is long, but insightful and informative, filled both with the whys and the hows of this choice.
What struck me most about the piece, though, was not its practical bent, but its philosophical notes, where O'Hehir describes the reactions of strangers when he mentions home schooling to them -- the judgment, spoken or not, particularly from other parents. He writes:After various tense conversations with friends, family members and strangers, Leslie and I have concluded that earnest, heartfelt discussion of exactly how we're approaching our kids' education and why we're doing it is a bad idea. For reasons I can about halfway understand, other parents often seem to feel attacked by our eccentric choices. I guess this is what it's like to be a vegan, or a Mennonite convert. I can certainly remember having a weirdly defensive response ("You know, I hardly ever eat red meat"), one where I reacted to someone else's comment about themselves as if it were really all about me.
Sitting up straight in your chair isn't just good for your posture - it also gives you more confidence in your own thoughts, according to a new study.
Researchers found that people who were told to sit up straight were more likely to believe thoughts they wrote down while in that posture concerning whether they were qualified for a job.
On the other hand, those who were slumped over their desks were less likely to accept these written-down feelings about their own qualifications.
The results show how our body posture can affect not only what others think about us, but also how we think about ourselves, said Richard Petty, co-author of the study and professor of psychology at Ohio State University.
"Most of us were taught that sitting up straight gives a good impression to other people," Petty said. "But it turns out that our posture can also affect how we think about ourselves. If you sit up straight, you end up convincing yourself by the posture you're in."
Fewer U.S. high schools and middle schools are selling candy and salty snacks to students, the federal government said in a report released Monday.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report was based on a survey of public schools in 34 states that compared results from 2006 to 2008. The study did not report the total number of schools that have changed. Instead, it looked at the proportion of schools in each state.
It found that the median proportion of high schools and middle schools that sell the sugary or salty snacks dropped from 54 percent to 36 percent.
The share of schools that sell soda and artificial fruit drinks dropped from 62 percent to 37 percent.
There shall be no cupcakes. No chocolate cake and no carrot cake. According to New York City's latest regulations, not even zucchini bread makes the cut.
In an effort to limit how much sugar and fat students put in their bellies at school, the Education Department has effectively banned most bake sales, the lucrative if not quite healthy fund-raising tool for generations of teams and clubs.
The change is part of a new wellness policy that also limits what can be sold in vending machines and student-run stores, which use profits to help finance activities like pep rallies and proms. The elaborate rules were outlined in a three-page memo issued at the end of June, but in the new school year, principals and parents are just beginning to, well, digest them.
The increasing use of smart drugs or "nootropics," to boost academic performance, could mean that exam students will face routine doping tests in future, suggests an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics.
Despite raising many dilemmas about the legitimacy of chemically enhanced academic performance, these drugs will be near impossible to ban, says Vince Cakic of the Department of Psychology, University of Sydney.
He draws several parallels with doping in competitive sports, where it is suggested that "95%" of elite athletes have used performance enhancing drugs.
"It is apparent that the failures and inconsistencies inherent in anti doping policy in sport will be mirrored in academia unless a reasonable and realistic approach to the issue of nootropics is adopted," he claims.
I recently stopped to congratulate a young mother pushing her toddler in a stroller. The woman had been talking to her barely verbal daughter all the way up the block, pointing out things they had passed, asking questions like "What color are those flowers?" and talking about what they would do when they got to the park.
This is a rare occurrence in my Brooklyn neighborhood, I told her. All too often, the mothers and nannies I see are tuned in to their cellphones, BlackBerrys and iPods, not their young children.
There were no such distractions when my husband and I, and most other parents of a certain age, spent time with our babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Like this young mother, we talked to them. We read to them and sang with them. And long before they became verbal, we mimicked their noises, letting them know they were communicating and we were listening and responding. (And we've done the same with our four grandsons, all born after the turn of this wireless century.)
A lottery ticket or an online game of Texas Hold'em might be a little bit easier to avoid than a beer at a party, but an industry-funded panel released a report Tuesday urging colleges and universities to handle student gambling much like student drinking.
In its report, "A Call to Action," the year-old Task Force on College Gambling Policies has formulated recommendations aimed at helping institutions construct their own student health and disciplinary policies on gambling. The group was created by the Harvard Medical School-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance's Division on Addictions and funded by the American Gambling Association's charity, the National Center for Responsible Gaming.
A 2005 study conducted by the Division on Addictions and funded by the gaming center found that 22 percent of a scientifically selected group of 119 colleges had written gambling policies. In its press release on the report, the NCRG cites the study as the impetus behind the task force's creation.
FOR all its grand central squares and lively cultural scene, the Belgian port of Antwerp is not always a happy town. Flemish old-timers share its gritty streets with Arabs, Africans, Asians and, in the diamond district, Hasidic Jews. Race relations are not easy: in the latest local elections, a third of the vote went to Vlaams Belang, an anti-immigrant, far-right Flemish nationalist party. The handsome stone bulk of the Royal Atheneum, a once-elite state school with a 200-year history, has produced legendary free-thinkers and radicals in its day. Now, however, it is enjoying unhappy fame: as the centre of an experiment in multiculturalism wrecked by intolerance. The story defies neat conclusions.
In September 2001 Karin Heremans became headmistress of the Atheneum, which has students of 45 nationalities. The September 11th attacks on America came ten days after she took charge, and her schoolyard became the scene of "very intense" arguments. Ms Heremans responded by working hard to turn her school into a place of "active pluralism". A project about Darwin was led by science teachers but backed by a dialogue among the school's religious instructors. A local composer wrote a work with Christian, Jewish and Muslim passages for pupils to sing. There were debates on sexuality and elections. A fashion show saw girls invited to wear Muslim headscarves, or not: one teenager wore half a scarf to symbolise indecision.
In France Muslim headscarves, along with all ostentatious religious symbols, have been banned at state schools since 2004. It helps that France has a record of separating religion from the state going back more than a century (even a Christmas nativity play would be unthinkable at a French state school).
IT HAS long been a puzzle that girls who grow up without their fathers at home reach sexual maturity earlier than girls whose fathers live with them. For years, absent fathers have taken the blame for this, because growing up quickly has negative consequences for girls. For example, early-bloomers are more likely to suffer depression, hate their bodies, engage in risky sex and get pregnant in their teen years.
It could be a simple matter of not having as many eyes, particularly suspicious fatherly ones, watching over daughters. Or it could be a complicated physiological response to stress, in which girls adapt their reproductive strategy to their circumstances. If life is harsh, the theory goes, maybe they need to get their babies into the world as quickly as possible.
Hundreds of school buildings across the U.S. have caulk around windows and doors containing potentially cancer-causing PCBs, the Environmental Protection Agency said.
The danger to students is uncertain, and EPA doesn't know for sure how many schools could be affected. But the agency is telling schools that they should test old caulk and remove it if PCBs turn up in significant amounts.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said PCBs remain in schools and many other buildings built before the chemicals were banned in the late 1970s.
"We're concerned about the potential risks associated with exposure to these PCBs, and we're recommending practical, common-sense steps to reduce this exposure as we improve our understanding of the science,'' Ms. Jackson said in a news release.
School officials don't take it lightly when a student brings a knife to campus.
But when they draw no distinction between a Bowie and a bread knife, discipline can go awry.
This year, schools throughout North Texas are implementing a new state law that ends such "zero tolerance" policies. Under House Bill 171, administrators now must consider mitigating factors such as intent and self-defense when doling out punishment.
That's welcome news for Robert Hess, whose son Taylor was briefly expelled from L.D. Bell High School in Hurst after a bread knife fell out of a 20-year-old cutlery set bound for Goodwill, and was found in his truck bed on campus.
"That certainly would have saved us an awful lot of trouble," said Hess, who holds no ill will toward school administrators over the 2002 incident. "They were bound by their own rules that they had written to dole out this ridiculous punishment, which was one year in alternative education."
We have all seen them: adorable Chinese girls holding the hands of their (usually elderly, often overweight, but definitely doting) Caucasian parents, strolling the streets from New York to New South Wales, growing up in a white, white world, far away from the land and culture where they were born.
In some ways, they are a permanent blot on the image of China: surplus daughters the country couldn't care for, unintended consequences of the 30-year-old "one-child" policy that led to the abandonment of hundreds of thousands if not millions of female infants at birth. But now, as the balance of global economic and political power shifts subtly in favour of China, Beijing is reaching out to all these lost daughters - and welcoming them back home.
China has invited thousands of foundlings back to their birthplaces for government-sponsored "homeland tours" which, like last year's Beijing Olympics or next year's Shanghai World Expo, give the country a chance to show off to the world. On one level, what the Chinese adoption authorities call "root seeking tours" - filled with extravagant expressions of love and kinship and lavish gifts for the returning orphans - are a transparent public relations exercise aimed at raising money for Chinese orphanages, justifying the decision to export surplus children and countering decades of unfair international criticism that Chinese people "hate girls".
The Yale murder has heightened concerns about campus security. The Daily Beast crunches the numbers and ranks the 25 schools with the biggest crime problems.
The shocking murder of Yale doctoral student Annie Le had virtually every parent of a college student asking themselves the same question this week: Will my child be safe on campus?
Almost universally, that answer is yes. Statistics for campus crime--80 percent of which involve students both as perpetrator and victim--generally pale when compared to the general population, and university safety has been improving as parental pressure and federal laws have increased transparency.
Tatyana Ray has more than 1,200 Facebook friends, sends 600 texts a month and participated in four student clubs during the year and a half she attended high school online, through a program affiliated with Stanford University.
Although top public and private high schools abound in her affluent area of Palo Alto, the 17-year-old originally applied to the online school because she and her parents thought it looked both interesting and challenging. She enjoyed the academics but eventually found she was lonely. She missed the human connection of proms, football games and in-person, rather than online, gossip. The digital clubs for fashion, books and cooking involved Web cams and blogs and felt more like work than fun. Last winter, Ms. Ray left the online school and enrolled at a local community college for a semester.
As online high schools spread, educators are ramping up efforts to counter the social isolation that some students experience. At the same time, sociologists and child psychologists are examining how online schooling might hinder, or help, the development of social skills.
I imagine you've probably heard about this by now:The [Belleville, Illinois] School Board on Monday handed out the harshest punishment allowed to two students accused of violent attacks on another boy on a school bus last week, saying it was sending a message by expelling the two boys for the rest of this year and all of next.
Board President Curt Highsmith said the kind of violence caught on the school bus' surveillance camera and shown widely on TV and the Internet has "never been tolerated and never will be tolerated" in the Belleville Township High School District.
The video taken a week earlier by a camera on the bus showed a 17-year-old Belleville West High School student get on the bus and look for an open seat. He took a seat next to another teen, who after a few moments attacked the victim, punching him in the head several times. At one point, the attacker held the victim by the neck with one hand while he punched his face with the other.
A few minutes after that beating ended, another student argued with the victim and then punched him in the face several times. Each time, other students intervened in an effort to stop the attacks.
Do you keep phone numbers? I meticulously store contact details for everyone I meet, however random, and make notes of what they do and where I met them. My other modus operandi when meeting people is always to try to be as polite and helpful as possible (within reason).
Hence, I found myself giving up an hour or so earlier this year to cast an eye over the business strategy of a small enterprise. On meeting the people behind the business, I discovered that it was a rehabilitation clinic, and one of the people presenting to me was a very impressive addiction counsellor, and herself a recovering alcoholic.
And that is where I sat up and took notice, because I have a close relative who is alcohol-dependent. It is not Mr M or any of the cost centres, but it is someone very dear to me. Those of you who have someone in their family who is alcohol- or drug-dependent will know how emotionally scarring this is. You love them, you want to help, you try to help, but they are living in another world. In their world, they are not addicts; they believe that they could give up at any time. They always have an excuse. Something is always just around the corner that will fix their problems - if only they could meet the right person/get the right job/have the right amount of money, everything would be fine. Nothing and no one ever prepared me for the self-delusion of the alcoholic. Every time they say they are going to get help, your hopes rise; and invariably they end up being crushed again
As newly approved drugs harm and even kill children, more parents are fighting back.
The most dramatic moment for the 70 doctors and 200 spectators attending June FDA hearings about approving new psychiatric drugs for children came when two bereaved mothers approached the open mike.
Liza Ortiz of Austin, Texas, told the advisory panel her 13-year-old son died of Seroquel toxicity in an ICU days after being put on the antipsychotic. "His hands twisted in ways I never thought possible," she said.
Next was Mary Kitchens of Bandera, Texas, who described Seroquel's lasting effects on her 13-year-old son Evan after being given the antipsychotic without her knowledge or permission by a residential treatment center.
But for Kitchens the most dramatic moment came after the hearings when she approached Dr. Robert Temple, the FDA's director of the Office of Drug Evaluation, who had officiated on the panel.
Community college professor Kathleen O'Neill was setting the ground rules for her psychology students when she came to an issue she didn't normally have to address.
"What do we do if you fall asleep?" she asked. "What's a nice way to gently wake you up? Tap you on the head? Would you want your neighbor to just nudge you?"
Fair question, considering O'Neill's class begins just before midnight and runs until 2:30 a.m.
This semester, Bunker Hill Community College is offering two classes on the graveyard shift in a move to accommodate an unprecedented boost in enrollment attributed to the struggling economy as people look to augment their job skills without having to pay the tuition costs of more expensive schools.
Like all children, Perry Cunningham, age 4, wants friends. But until recently, he lacked the social skills to reach out to other kids.
When Perry tried to make a friend at his New Haven, Conn., preschool this year, he mimicked a move he had seen his 15-year-old brother make with his buddies--he gave another, much bigger child a playful shove. The big guy's response: A punch in the face, leaving Perry with a bloody nose.
Courtney Morse Costello is a mental-health consultant at Beary Cherry preschool.
In many classrooms, Perry might simply have been regarded as a troublemaker. But Barbara Giangreco, a mental-health therapist who works in child-care centers and preschools, understood that he was just trying to be friendly, and worked with his mother and teacher on helping him use words to reach out to other kids. All the adults involved agree that Perry's social skills have improved significantly. He is making friends, and while he still has conflicts with other kids sometimes, he knows how to apologize and make peace.
The idea of assigning mental-health workers to child-care centers and preschools is jarring; I was skeptical when I first heard the idea. Children so small shouldn't need mental-health help, it seems, and having therapists or counselors working in classrooms seems to risk stigmatizing them with labels, or simply interfering with the innocence of childhood.
David Rivera recently had someone "unfriend" him on Facebook: His own child.
For months, Dr. Rivera, an obstetrician in Lombard, Ill., had been exasperated that his 25-year-old son, Nate, often complained he was broke and asked for money, yet posted photos of himself on Facebook taken at bars, restaurants, movies and concerts.
Dr. Rivera says he tried to talk to his son, a senior in college, about his spending habits, but his son refused to listen. Frustrated, he finally wrote on his son's Facebook wall: "I can see what you are blowing your money on, so don't come whining to me about money."
"I think they figure that their friends are watching but we're not, because they think we are old and decrepit and we barely know how to turn the computer on," says Dr. Rivera, 54-years-old, of being a parent.
In the new era of helicopter parenting, more and more parents and kids are meeting up, and clashing, on Facebook, MySpace and other social-networking sites.
Notice to my friends: I love you all dearly.
But I don't give a hoot that you are "having a busy Monday," your child "took 30 minutes to brush his teeth," your dog "just ate an ant trap" or you want to "save the piglets." And I really, really don't care which Addams Family member you most resemble. (I could have told you the answer before you took the quiz on Facebook.)
Here's where you and I went wrong: We took our friendship online. First we began communicating more by email than by phone. Then we switched to "instant messaging" or "texting." We "friended" each other on Facebook, and began communicating by "tweeting" our thoughts--in 140 characters or less--via Twitter.
All this online social networking was supposed to make us closer. And in some ways it has. Thanks to the Internet, many of us have gotten back in touch with friends from high school and college, shared old and new photos, and become better acquainted with some people we might never have grown close to offline.
Last year, when a friend of mine was hit by a car and went into a coma, his friends and family were able to easily and instantly share news of his medical progress--and send well wishes and support--thanks to a Web page his mom created for him.
But there's a danger here, too. If we're not careful, our online interactions can hurt our real-life relationships.
A boy hit by a car near from Sennett Middle School on Thursday sustained a skull fracture, bruises and cuts and is still in the hospital, Sennett principal Colleen Ludholz said today.
The 11-year-old Sennett student was crossing the street before the start of school when he was hit by the side mirror of a vehicle.
One day in January 1986, fourth-grade girls at Marie Murphy School in Wilmette, Ill., were called down to the principal's office.
A stranger was waiting there to ask each girl a question: "Are you on a diet?"
Most of the girls said they were.
"I just want to be skinny so no one will tease me," explained Sara Totonchi.
"Boys expect girls to be perfect and beautiful," said Rozi Bhimani. "And skinny."
I was the questioner that day. As a young Wall Street Journal reporter, I had gone to a handful of Chicago-area schools to ask 100 fourth-grade girls about their dieting habits. Researchers at the University of California at San Francisco were about to release a study showing 80% of fourth-grade girls were dieting, and I wanted to determine: Was this a California oddity, or had America's obsession with slimness reached the 60-pound weight class?
My reporting ended up mirroring the study's results. More than half of the 9-year-old girls I surveyed said they were dieting, and 75%--even the skinniest ones--said they weighed too much. I also spoke to fourth-grade boys and learned what the girls were up against. "Fat girls aren't like regular girls," one boy told me. "They aren't attractive."
Let's have a show of hands: How many of you have sent a child to school when you have suspected (I'm being polite here) that he/she was not well and might be contagious?
Maybe it will help if I tell you that my hand is up.
I know that you had your excuses: Your son didn't have fever when you dropped him off at school at 8 a.m.--even if the nurse says he has 102 degrees Fahrenheit an hour later... You thought your daughter was sneezing and coughing because of her allergies... It is sometimes hard to tell when your kid's physical complaint is an excuse to get out of a test.
I believe all of that. And I also believe that some people will keep sending their kids to school sick even if the secretary of Health and Human Services personally comes to their door and begs them not to.
But for those of us who are capable of changing our behavior, this is the time. Here's why:
In September 2008, when Nielsen Mobile announced that teenagers with cellphones each sent and received, on average, 1,742 text messages a month, the number sounded high, but just a few months later Nielsen raised the tally to 2,272. A year earlier, the National School Boards Association estimated that middle- and high-school students devoted an average of nine hours to social networking each week. Add email, blogging, IM, tweets and other digital customs and you realize what kind of hurried, 24/7 communications system young people experience today.
Unfortunately, nearly all of their communication tools involve the exchange of written words alone. At least phones, cellular and otherwise, allow the transmission of tone of voice, pauses and the like. But even these clues are absent in the text-dependent world. Users insert smiley-faces into emails, but they don't see each others' actual faces. They read comments on Facebook, but they don't "read" each others' posture, hand gestures, eye movements, shifts in personal space and other nonverbal--and expressive--behaviors.
Back in 1959, anthropologist Edward T. Hall labeled these expressive human attributes "the Silent Language." Hall passed away last month in Santa Fe at age 95, but his writings on nonverbal communication deserve continued attention. He argued that body language, facial expressions and stock mannerisms function "in juxtaposition to words," imparting feelings, attitudes, reactions and judgments in a different register.
ANN COOPER has made a career out of hammering on the poor quality of public school food. The School Nutrition Association, with 55,000 members, represents the people who prepare it.
A meal from the cafeteria at P.S. 89 in Manhattan does not contain processed food.
Imagine Ms. Cooper's surprise when she was invited to the association's upcoming conference to discuss the Lunch Box, a system she developed to help school districts wean themselves from packaged, heavily processed food and begin cooking mostly local food from scratch.
"All of a sudden I am not the fringe idiot trying to get everyone to serve peas and carrots that don't come out of a can, like that's the most radical idea they have ever heard of," she said.
The invitation is a small sign of larger changes happening in public school cafeterias. For the first time since a new wave of school food reform efforts began a decade ago, once-warring camps are sharing strategies to improve what kids eat. The Department of Agriculture is welcoming ideas from community groups and more money than ever is about to flow into school cafeterias, from Washington and from private providers.
"The window's open," said Kathleen Merrigan, the deputy secretary of agriculture. "We are in the zone when a whole lot of exciting ideas are being put on the table. I have been working in the field of sustainable agriculture and nutrition all my professional life, and I really have never seen such opportunity before."
In Dane County, vaccinations for the H1N1 virus likely will be offered to students at public schools this fall -- but stay tuned for details.
The Dane County Immunization Coalition -- a broad group of health providers that also includes school district representatives -- will meet Tuesday to discuss logistics for administering the vaccine, which isn't expected to arrive here until mid- or late-October, said Judy Aubey of the Madison-Dane County Public Health Department.
The coalition, Aubey said, will look to guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine who should be first in line for immunizations, which are given in two doses, 21 to 28 days apart. Unlike the seasonal flu vaccine, which traditionally focuses on the old and the young, the priority groups for H1N1 immunizations include pregnant women, adults in regular contact with infants under 6 months old, health care workers and children and young adults ages 6 months through 24 years.
So schools could be key players, Aubey said. "There are 80,000 kids in Dane County schools and we certainly don't have the numbers to carry this ourselves," she said. "We are going to need help."
Since April, the Madison school district has been communicating closely with the health department on swine flu issues, and that partnership will continue into the fall and beyond, said Freddi Adelson, health services coordinator for the district.
The voluntary school drug test would go ahead in Tai Po as scheduled at the end of the year despite reservations about it in various sectors, the chief secretary said yesterday.
Speaking after attending an anti-drug seminar for secondary teachers in Kowloon, Henry Tang Ying-yen said he had heard the community's different opinions about the plan.
"Our current goal is still to have [the pilot project] launched at the end of the year," he said. "We still have plenty of time ... when we can discuss details of the programme and how to improve it."
His comment came a day after the Professional Teachers' Union said schools should have more flexibility over when and how to conduct the drug-testing programme.
Three youth groups - the Youth Union, the Hong Kong Christian Institute and Ytalk! - have accused the government of not planning the scheme properly and urged students in Tai Po to boycott it. Social workers and the Catholic Church have also raised concerns about the programme, saying more resources should be deployed for it.
Mr Tang said: "We are serious about the scheme and will allocate an appropriate level of resources so it can be carried out successfully."
Deputy Education Secretary Betty Ip Tsang Chui-hing told yesterday's seminar she believed many students and parents supported the test.
Matthew Emmerling was just three days old and barely home from the hospital when his mother noticed his feet were unusually cold to the touch. Hours later, doctors determined that he was born with a critically narrowed aortic valve that prevented his heart from getting an adequate supply of blood to the rest of his body. He was in shock, and without quick intervention, his life was in danger.
To avoid risky open-heart surgery on the infant, doctors figured they could thread a tiny balloon into his heart and inflate it to stretch open the obstructed valve. The problem was that a balloon designed and approved to treat heart defects in patients as tiny as Matthew didn't exist. Instead, Robert Beekman, a pediatric cardiologist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, chose an angioplasty balloon that normally serves a different function: opening up clogged kidney arteries in adults.
The adult kidney balloon "is the right size for a newborn's aortic valve, so we use it," Dr. Beekman says. But, he adds, using a device in small children that wasn't designed for that purpose puts them at heightened risk for procedural complications and medical errors.
Matthew's situation highlights an enduring reality for children born with life-threatening heart defects: Hardly any of the myriad drugs and devices developed for the multibillion-dollar market for cardiovascular disease are designed with kids in mind. Children with heart disease represent too small a segment of that market to justify companies' investing the time and resources needed to develop specialized products. Litigation worries over products intended for children--and the challenge of conducting clinical trials for treatments often administered to newborns--are other impediments.
The first of what will surely be many, many sighs emitted by school children here came at about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday from a serious 7-year-old, Sullivan Saliby, as he buckled his seat belt in a brand new school bus.
That's right, his seat belt.
Sullivan and his sister, Emily, 12, were recruited along with Keaton Eichman, 14, and Kaleb Eichman, 19, to try out the first full-size seat-belt-equipped bus in a Wisconsin school district. The Janesville School District took delivery Wednesday of five school buses, purchased via Van Galder Bus Co.
The buses, Saf-T-Liner C2 models from the Thomas Bus Co. in North Carolina, are the rolling result of an 18-month effort to bring seat belts to school buses in Janesville. Whether the rest of the fleet of more than 30 full-size buses will eventually be similarly equipped has not been decided. Seat belts are not required on full-size school buses.
Very soon, parents everywhere will start gearing up for a new school year: plotting schedules, reorganizing desks and going though drawers and closets to remove items their children no longer use. In some cases, parents may find that it's not only clothes their children have outgrown, it's their bedroom, too.
Pastels, primary colors, firetrucks and fairy princesses: all sensible choices for a baby or toddler's room but not so cool for a tween or teen. Unfortunately, a makeover every few years isn't budget-friendly. Nor is it practical, says D.C. designer Annie Elliott. "If you're running around with kids, you're not going to have the energy to update their rooms," she says. "You're just going to be too exhausted to want to deal with it."
What is going on in teenagers' brains as their drive for peer approval begins to eclipse their family affiliations? Brain scans of teens sizing each other up reveal an emotion circuit activating more in girls as they grow older, but not in boys. The study by Daniel Pine, M.D., of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of National Institutes of Health, and colleagues, shows how emotion circuitry diverges in the male and female brain during a developmental stage in which girls are at increased risk for developing mood and anxiety disorders.
"During this time of heightened sensitivity to interpersonal stress and peers' perceptions, girls are becoming increasingly preoccupied with how individual peers view them, while boys tend to become more focused on their status within group pecking orders," explained Pine. "However, in the study, the prospect of interacting with peers activated brain circuitry involved in approaching others, rather than circuitry responsible for withdrawal and fear, which is associated with anxiety and depression."
Pine, Amanda Guyer, Ph.D., Eric Nelson, Ph.D., and colleagues at NIMH and Georgia State University, report on one of the first studies to reveal the workings of the teen brain in a simulated real-world social interaction, in the July, 2009 issue of the Journal Child Development.
One of the most biting scenes in The Group, Mary McCarthy's acerbic sendup of female friendship and aspiration, takes place on a play date. Priss Crockett, the grind of the Vassar class of 1933 and now a doctor's wife, is walking through Central Park with her toddler Stephen. She runs into a fellow alum, Norine Schmittlapp, and her 3-month-old baby, Ichabod. "Aren't you afraid he'll be called 'Icky' in school?" Priss asks before barely resisting the urge to tell Norine to raise the hood of the baby's carriage, to shield his head from the sun.
The two women are off and running for an afternoon of sniping and clashing. Norine mentions letting Ichabod sleep in the bed with her at night. Priss can't believe she doesn't know that "under no circumstances, not even in a crowded slum home, should a baby be permitted to sleep with an adult." Stephen sees Ichabod sucking on a pacifier and reaches up to touch the unknown object. Priss snatches his hand away. Norine brings up toilet training, the source of Priss' most bitter shame, since Stephen is not performing properly. Norine's theory is that children should train themselves. "Where in the world did you get such ideas?" Priss asks. The women repair to Norine's apartment, where a butler whisks Stephen away. The butler later returns to whisper in Norine's ear. "Stephen shat," she casually reports, to Priss' humiliation, even as she lets Stephen's nursemaid clean up the mess.
In the last minutes in this strange apartment, Stephen plunges his hand into the neck of the nursemaid's dress, and Priss, desperate to distract him, gives him a piece of chocolate cake. Stephen, a chocolate virgin, doesn't now what to do with it. "Look! It's good," Priss tells him, chewing. McCarthy makes Stephen's corruption complete with this last line of the chapter: "Soon he was greedily eating chocolate cake, from a Jewish bakery, with fudge frosting."
Beyond the celebration of the 40-year-old lunar landing, the big science news this week came Thursday from a group of Chinese researchers who figured out how to grow healthy mice from mouse stem cells.
The breakthrough is a huge step for research into induced pluripotent, or iPS, stem cells, which is taking adult stem cells and converting them into embryonic stem cells. But the Chinese discovery is causing some to worry that we're a lot closer to human cloning than we should be.
This story in Friday's Los Angeles Times frames the debate well.
Last year, my daughter's school backpack got so heavy, she would sometimes just drag it behind her rather than hoist it onto her shoulders. Backpacks with wheels are too bulky for her locker, so next year I'm thinking about buying an extra set of textbooks to keep at home.
In its latest rating of the most durable school backpacks, Consumer Reports has conducted its own survey to determine how much weight kids are carrying as a result of overloaded packs. The researchers visited three New York City schools and weighed more than 50 children's backpacks. They found that kids in the 2nd and 4th grades are carrying about 5 pounds worth of homework and books. But once kids reach the 6th grade, the homework load gets heavier. On average, 6th graders in the study were carrying backpacks weighting 18.4 pounds, although some backpacks weighed as much as 30 pounds.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a child's backpack weigh no more than 10 to 20 percent of a child's weight. Consumer Reports recommends keeping the weight closer to 10 percent of a child's weight. But one Texas study found that most parents don't check the weight of their child's backpack. According to Consumer Reports:
Dorothy Flint knew soon after her son William was born that she had a difficult child. He cried often and nursed nonstop. He slept so poorly that Ms. Flint took him on midnight drives in the car to calm him. He had separation anxiety so severe that she rarely left him. "He was really a tough baby," says the Crofton, Md., mother.
Later she found a silver lining. Ms. Flint took pains to choose an excellent child-care center for William, now 4, and he quickly surpassed other kids, sharing his toys and learning classroom rules. He wins praise from his teacher for his social skills. As high-maintenance as William was, Ms. Flint says, he has also been high-reward.
Working parents struggling with difficult children--marked by excessive crying, fussiness, emotional volatility, fear of strangers and clinginess--often worry about how they will fare in child care. Research has shown that sensitive, vulnerable kids can be at higher risk of problems later if they're mistreated or face other adversity early.
But new studies are discovering an upside: these difficult babies also have a significantly higher chance of surpassing other kids later if placed in the right kind of child care. The findings offer new guidance for parents in predicting how child care is likely to affect a child.
The death of an apparently healthy six-year-old child has helped to put swine flu back on the front pages. The Health Protection Agency says that 5 to 14-year-olds remain the group predominately affected by the illness -- 1 in 600 of them -- 1,500 a day -- went to their GPs with symptoms last week. The death of a child naturally provokes our shock and sympathy, and such events are now so rare that they are unfamiliar to most people. Statistically, 7 is the safest age to be in England and Wales -- there are 650,000 seven-year-olds and about 60 die each year. That's 1 in 10,000.
So what do young people die of, and what might swine flu do to those risks? The Office for National Statistics reports that of 6.3 million children aged between 5 and 14 in England and Wales, 721 died in 2007. The statistics rather coldly amalgamate 721 individual stories, each of which will be gone over endlessly by parents and others who were touched by their short lives.
We tend to hear about the 135 accidental deaths -- including 34 pedestrian fatalities, 18 killed on bicycles, 5 on motorbikes, 22 in cars, 2 in trains, 1 who fell from a tree, 8 drownings, 1 electrocution, 3 deaths in fires and 6 accidental poisonings. These events are so rare that it is unsurprising when they make local or even national news. We also hear about the 24 homicides in this age group -- about half of them committed by the child's parents -- though we hear less of the 16 suicides.
Several high-profile authors are to stop visiting schools in protest at new laws requiring them to be vetted to work with youngsters.
Philip Pullman, author of fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials, said the idea was "ludicrous and insulting".
Former children's laureates Anne Fine and Michael Morpurgo have hit out at the scheme which costs £64 per person.
Officials say the checks have been misunderstood and authors will only need them if they go to schools often.
The Home Office says the change from October will help protect children.
The measure was drafted in response to recommendations made by the inquiry into the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in 2002, by school caretaker Ian Huntley.
On a hot day last August, Max Gilpin, a high-school sophomore from Louisville, Ky., collapsed during a preseason football practice. Three days later, he died from complications of heatstroke. His coach, Jason Stinson, was later indicted for reckless homicide in the first known criminal case of its kind.
With high-school football season set to get under way in many parts of the country next month, Max's story, which received widespread media attention, has spurred a nationwide debate about how far high schools should go to prevent heat-related injuries among their athletes.
Last month, the National Athletic Trainers' Association, which represents accredited trainers with a background in sports medicine, issued new heatstroke-prevention guidelines for high schools. These included recommendations to limit the duration and intensity of practice sessions early in the season and in hot weather.
When it comes to choosing the foods we eat, we have so many choices that it often becomes confusing. As Americans, we are blessed with almost every kind of food imaginable, available right next door at the supermarket. There are, however, some very specific foods that help improve athletic performance. The foods listed below are particular important to keep in your diet. The following foods, in alphabetical order, provide premium fuel for the active athlete.
Andy Slater, a 22-year-old delivery driver in London, appears oblivious to the fact that the UK is suffering its worst recession since the second world war.
"You gotta have new trainers ain't you? Nike, Adidas, Lacoste - whatever looks good," he says, eyeing up the latest models in the Westfield shopping mall in west London.
He is not alone in his opinion. In a survey conducted by the US-based Westfield group in May, 70 per cent of its shoppers aged between 18 and 35 said they were spending the same or more on clothes and eating out.
Slaves to fashion and free of most financial commitments, young people have kept spending in economic downturns when others have cut back. But today's younger generation is particularly flush with cash and, after growing up during the credit boom, spending is deeply ingrained.
As a result, retailers geared towards the youth market - particularly clothing chains - have been basking in their good fortune.
On October 31 2006, Orange County teen Nikki Catsouras had an argument with her father. When Mr. Catsouras left for work, the his daughter "borrowed" his Porsche 911. Approaching a tollbooth, Catsouras rear-ended a Honda at 70 mph. The California Highway Patrol took photographs of the gruesome results. The photos hit the net and went viral. Catsouras sued the police for invasion of privacy. Lost in the shuffle: why was Miss Catsouras-a young, inexperienced driver-- legally entitled to drive the Porsche?
The issue is pretty easy to understand: should young, inexperience motorists be allowed to drive high-powered cars? Australia says no. This despite a 2006 study by the University of Australia (funded by red light camera income) that concluded that only three percent of young driver crashes involved vehicles with a high power to weight ratio. The state of Victoria, for example, has instituted a power-to-weight related graduated license program for young drivers. Since July 2007, a probationary driver can't drive a car which has:
At 17, Macklin "Mack" Jensen was getting ready to compete at a national wrestling tournament in Fargo, N.D.
Jensen also played rugby, like his father, Dan, had played years ago, and one of his teams won a national championship June 18 in Colorado.
"He loved life," said Dan Jensen. "Anybody that knew him could see that he had lots of life."
Mack died Friday while participating in "the choking game," also called "space monkey" or "gasp."
The game is typically played by adolescents who strangle themselves or have others push on their chests in order to feel light-headed for a few seconds, according to GASP, a campaign organized by parents of victims to educate about the dangers of the game.
The wife of the new head of MI6 has caused a major security breach and left his family exposed after publishing photographs and personal details on Facebook.
Sir John Sawers is due to take over as chief of the Secret Intelligence Service in November, putting him in charge of all of Britain's spying operations abroad.
But entries by his wife Shelley on the social networking site have exposed potentially compromising details about where they live and work, their friends' identities and where they spend their holidays. On the day her husband was appointed she congratulated him on the site using his codename "C".
The Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found adult obesity rates rose in 23 of the 50 states, but fell in none.
In addition, the percentage of obese and overweight children is at or above 30% in 30 states.
The report warns widespread obesity is fuelling rates of chronic disease, and is responsible for a large, and growing chunk of domestic healthcare costs.
Obesity is linked to a range of health problems, including heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
Dr Jeff Levi, TFAH executive director, said: "Our health care costs have grown along with our waist lines. "The obesity epidemic is a big contributor to the skyrocketing health care costs in the US.
Complications during pregnancy and giving birth later in life may increase the risk of having a child with autism, a review of dozens of studies suggests.
Researchers found the bulk of studies into maternal age and autism suggest the risk increases with age, and that fathers' age may play a role too.
The mothers of autistic children were also more likely to have suffered diabetes or bleeding during pregnancy.
The US review of 40 studies appears in the British Journal of Psychiatry.
The recorded number of children with autism has risen exponentially in the past 30 years but experts say this is largely due to improved detection and diagnosis, as well as a broadening of the criteria.
The cause of the condition is unclear, and the review team from the Harvard School of Public Health said there was "insufficient evidence" to point to any one prenatal factor as being significant.
When Animal House first came out just over 30 years ago, it dominated the cultural landscape. College students were nostalgic for the "raunchy, pre-1960s undergraduate ideal," says Peter Rollins, who has been studying pop-culture academically for over 30 years. Mr. Rollins, who attended Dartmouth in the 1960s, says that students back then tried to live "the fantasy" on their own campuses. Some still do, taking Bluto's counsel to heart: "My advice to you is to start drinking heavily."
Take Alpha Delta, the Dartmouth College fraternity that the infamous Delta house of the movie is based on. The movie, co-written by Dartmouth graduate and Alpha Delta brother Chris Miller, still inspires some of the fraternity's traditions today.
In spring 2008, a band covering Otis Day and the Knights played on Alpha Delta's front lawn to an audience of boozers, brawlers and, probably, future U.S. senators. This past spring, Alpha Delta organized an Animal House-themed party with the preppy brothers Sigma Alpha Epsilon, the inspiration for the sadomasochistic Omega house in the film. And on any given Friday night, it's not just beer making the basement floor of Alpha Delta sticky. Paying tribute to the movie that made their fraternity famous, the brothers of Alpha Delta relieve themselves in plain sight along their basement wall.
Transitioning from full-time student to working professional is challenging enough, but in this turbulent job market, what's a student to do? Our experts have help
Charles J. Sykes, Dumbing Down Our Kids
New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995, pp. 245-247
Ironically, "outcomes" were first raised to prominence by leaders of the conservative educational reform movement of the 1980s. Championed by Chester E. Finn, Jr. among others, reformers argued that the obsession with inputs (dollars spent, books bought, staff hired) focused on the wrong end of the educational pipeline. Reformers insisted that schools could be made more effective and accountable by shifting emphasis to outcomes (what children actually learned). Finn's emphasis on outcomes was designed explicitly to make schools more accountable by creating specific and verifiable educational objectives in subjects like math, science, history, geography, and English. In retrospect, the intellectual debate over accountability was won by the conservatives. Indeed, conservatives were so successful in advancing their case that the term "outcomes" has become a virtually irresistible tool for academic reform.
The irony is that, in practice, the educational philosophies known as Outcome Based Education have little if anything in common with those original goals. To the contrary, OBE--with its hostility to competition, traditional measures of progress, and to academic disciplines in general--can more accurately be described as part of a counterreformation, a reaction against those attempts to make schools more accountable and effective. The OBE being sold to schools represents, in effect, a semantic hijacking.
"The conservative education reform of the 1980s wanted to focus on outcomes (i.e. knowledge gained) instead of inputs (i.e. dollars spent)," notes former Education Secretary William Bennett. "The aim was to ensure greater accountability. What the education establishment has done is to appropriate the term but change the intent." [emphasis added] Central to this semantic hijacking is OBE's shift of outcomes from cognitive knowledge to goals centering on values, beliefs, attitudes, and feelings. As an example of a rigorous cognitive outcome (the sort the original reformers had in mind), Bennett cites the Advanced Placement Examinations, which give students credit for courses based on their knowledge and proficiency in a subject area, rather than on their accumulated "seat-time" in a classroom.
In contrast, OBE programs are less interested in whether students know the origins of the Civil War or the author of The Tempest than whether students have met such outcomes as "establishing priorities to balance multiple life roles" (a goal in Pennsylvania) or "positive self-concept" (a goal in Kentucky). Where the original reformers aimed at accountability, OBE makes it difficult if not impossible to objectively measure and compare educational progress. In large part, this is because instead of clearly stated, verifiable outcomes, OBE goals are often diffuse, fuzzy, and ill-defined--loaded with educationist jargon like "holistic learning," "whole-child development," and "interpersonal competencies."
Where original reformers emphasized schools that work, OBE is experimental. Despite the enthusiasm of educationists and policymakers for OBE, researchers from the University of Minnesota concluded that "research documenting its effects is fairly rare." At the state level, it was difficult to find any documentation of whether OBE worked or not and the information that was available was largely subjective. Professor Jean King of the University of Minnesota's College of Education describes support for the implementation of OBE as being "almost like a religion--that you believe in this and if you believe in it hard enough, it will be true." And finally, where the original reformers saw an emphasis on outcomes as a way to return to educational basics, OBE has become, in Bennett's words, "a Trojan Horse for social engineering, an elementary and secondary school version of the kind of 'politically correct' thinking that has infected our colleges and universities."
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The gym at Eberhart Elementary School is bright and spacious -- with high ceilings, several basketball hoops, even a large, colorful climbing wall.
But for much of the day, the gym doubles as a cafeteria where the school's 1,800-plus students are offered breakfast and lunch.
There's another gym on the fourth floor, but it's so old it has basketball hoops attached to ladders. Time and space limitations mean each class gets physical education just once a week for 40 minutes.
In the fight against childhood obesity, getting kids moving is one of the most effective ways to combat the problem. But only Illinois and Massachusetts require P.E. classes for all kids in kindergarten through 12th grade. And, as Eberhart's example shows, even those requirements sometimes are not enough.
"I understand the funding issue. I understand the space issue," said Betty Hale, one of two P.E. teachers at Eberhart. But "our children are getting shortchanged."
Children taking stimulant drugs such as Ritalin to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder are several times as likely to suffer sudden, unexplained death as children who are not taking such drugs, according to a study published yesterday that was funded by the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institute of Mental Health.
While the numbers involved in the study were very small and researchers stopped short of suggesting a cause and effect, the study is the first to rigorously demonstrate a rare but worrisome connection between ADHD drugs and sudden death among children. In doing so, the research adds to the evolving puzzle parents and doctors face in deciding whether to treat children with medication.
Doctors have speculated about such a connection in the past because stimulants increase heart rate and have other cardiovascular effects. Physicians are currently advised to evaluate patients for cardiac risks before prescribing the drugs, and FDA officials said yesterday that those guidelines do not need strengthening in light of the new study. About 2.5 million children in the United States take ADHD medications such as Ritalin and Adderall.
The Food and Drug Administration on Monday said children shouldn't stop taking drugs that treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, despite a study showing the stimulants may be associated with sudden death.
A study released in the American Journal of Psychiatry found an association between the stimulants, which include drugs such as Ritalin, and sudden death in children who take the medicines.
The FDA, which partly funded the study, said there isn't enough evidence to conclude the drugs are dangerous and recommends people continue taking their medications. The study compared 564 healthy children who died suddenly to 564 who died in a motor vehicle accident. The study found that two patients in the motor vehicle group were taking stimulants, while 10 in the group of those who died suddenly were taking the medicines. The children died between 1985 and 1996, before certain stimulants, such as Adderall, became more commonly used.
"Given the limitations of this study's methodology, the FDA is unable to conclude that these data affect the overall risk and benefit profile of stimulant medications used to treat ADHD in children," FDA said.
Breastfed babies seem more likely to do well at high school and to go on to attend college than infants raised on a bottle, according to a new U.S. study.
Professors Joseph Sabia from the American University and Daniel Rees from the University of Colorado Denver based their research on 126 children from 59 families, comparing siblings who were breastfed as infants to others who were not.
By comparing siblings, the study was able to account for the influence of a variety of difficult-to-measure factors such as maternal intelligence and the quality of the home environment.
The study, published in the Journal of Human Capital, found that an additional month of breastfeeding was associated with an increase in high school grade point averages of 0.019 points and an increase in the probability of college attendance of 0.014.
"The results of our study suggest that the cognitive and health benefits of breastfeeding may lead to important long-run educational benefits for children," Sabia, a professor of public policy who focuses on health economics, said in a statement.
Now, many thousands more people are contributing DNA samples for a wide array of follow-on studies designed to turn the project's findings to practical use in health care, genetics and biological research.
Researchers and doctors have opened a new era of "personalized medicine" that seeks to tailor therapies to patients based on their unique genetic makeups and medical histories.
According to the National Cancer Institute, the days are passing when most cancer tumors were thought to be essentially the same and patients got the same drugs.
"We're not very good at selecting therapies for individual patients," Dr. Rick Hockett, the chief medical officer of Affymetrix, a genetics firm in Santa Clara, Calif., told a conference on personalized medicine this month in Washington. "Targeted therapy," he said, can "improve the benefit-risk ratio for patients."
For example, Hockett said that heart patients who took the popular anti-clotting drug Plavix had a greatly increased risk of serious problems, including death, if they had two tiny mutations in their genes.
Until recently, the young-adult fiction section at your local bookstore was a sea of nubile midriffs set against pink and turquoise backgrounds. Today's landscape features haunted girls staring out from dark or washed-out covers. Current young-adult best sellers include one suicide, one deadly car wreck, one life-threatening case of anorexia and one dystopian universe in which children fight to the death. Somewhere along the line our teenagers have become connoisseurs of disaster.
Jay Asher's "Thirteen Reasons Why," which is narrated by a dead girl, came out in March 2007 and remains on the bestseller list in hardcover. The book is the account of a fragile freshman named Hannah Baker who kills herself by overdosing on pills and sends audiotapes to the 13 people she holds responsible for making her miserable in the last year of her life. There may be parents who are alarmed that their 12-year-olds are reading about suicide, or librarians who want to keep the book off the shelves, but the story is clearly connecting with its audience--the book has sold over 200,000 copies, according to Nielsen BookScan.
For those young readers who find death by pill overdose inadequately gruesome, there's Gayle Forman's "If I Stay," which takes as its subject a disfiguring car wreck. The book has sold a robust 17,000 copies in its first two months on sale, and was optioned by Catherine Hardwicke, the director of the film "Twilight." The story follows an appealing cellist named Mia who goes on a drive to a bookstore with her unusually sympathetic ex-punk-rocker parents. When a truck barrels into their Buick, Mia hovers ghost-like over the scene. She sees her family's bodies crushed, then watches on as her own mangled body is bagged and rushed to the hospital. Lingering somewhere between this world and the next, Mia must decide whether to join her parents in the afterlife or go it alone in the real world. The brilliance of the book is the simplicity with which it captures the fundamental dilemma of adolescence: How does one separate from one's parents and forge an independent identity?
I've been preoccupied by sleep lately. Not sleeping -- though as I approach the end of my first trimester I sure could use some -- but sleep itself. What it means to sleep a little or a lot, how it affects your daily interactions with others, etc. This is something I know a tiny bit about, having spent a solid year sleep-deprived after the birth of my first child, but not something I've devoted my academic time to.
Until now. I just spent two full days at the Cells to Society (C2S) Summer Biomarker Institute. C2S is also known as the Center on Social Disparities and Health at Northwestern University. It's directed by developmental psychologist Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, and has additional star power in folks like Thom McDade, Emma Adam, and Chris Kuzawa. These are social science researchers who have mastered the hard sciences as well, and are using medical tools to get at how social practices and environments "get under the skin."
What does that mean? Well, to explain I'll tell you why I'm thinking about sleep. It all begins with an attempt to understand the reasons why so many low-income kids drop out of college. A big problem, to be sure -- and one that we still don't know enough about. I'm thinking that has to do with the limited number of ways in which we've approached the problem. It's primarily treated as an educational issue, one we tackle with a combination of college practices and individual-level incentives like money.
Samara Brinkley dozed off just for a moment as she was watching cartoons on TV with her 4-year-old daughter.
Then "I heard the boom, and I woke up and I [saw] my child laying on the floor, and I [saw] a pool of blood coming out in the back of her head," said Brinkley, 26, of Jacksonville, Fla.
Dymounique Wilson, one of Brinkley's two daughters, died last Wednesday when the family's 27-inch television fell over on her.
Nearly 17,000 children were rushed to emergency rooms in 2007, the last year for which complete figures were available, after heavy or unstable furniture fell over on them, a new study reported this month. The study, published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics by researchers at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, found that the such injuries had risen 41 percent since 1990.
Though women still do more of the housework and child care, the so-called second shift scenario--in which working women are stuck doing all the work at home too--is less widespread than a decade or so ago.
The fact that men can do the grunt work at home doesn't mean that they will "naturally" do it though--usually the wife has to exert some leverage. Sometimes that leverage is her earnings; other times it's her ability to negotiate.
Unfortunately, the fear that abounds now is that the punishing economic climate may eviscerate a positive trend of more decision making by women.
Women Are Often the Deciders
The Pew Research Center conducted a study in 2008 of 1,260 people who were married or living together as couples and found striking equality in decision making in finances, weekend activities and big-ticket purchases.
One in six young children live on the brink of hunger in 26 states in the U.S., according to a new report issued today by Feeding America. The rate of food insecurity in young children is 33 percent higher than in U.S. adults, where one in eight live at risk of hunger
Child Food Insecurity in the United States: 2005 -- 2007 states that 3.5 million children, ages five and under, are food insecure.
The analysis includes the first ever state-by-state analysis of early childhood hunger, using data collected by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Decades worth of gains in health, safety and education for children in the United States are in danger as the country's economic crisis continues, according to an annual report sponsored by the Foundation for Child Development that measures economic, health, safety and social factors affecting children and teens. Based on current estimates, the report projects that the current recession will pare median annual family incomes back to $55,700 by 2010, down from $59,200 in 2007. While households run by single women will see their annual incomes fall to $23,000 in 2010, down from $24,950 in 2007, the steepest drop will be among single households headed by men, where median annual family income is expected to drop to $33,300 in 2010, from $38,100 in 2007.
The Dallas City Council voted Wednesday to enact a daytime curfew that prohibits children 16 and younger from walking city streets between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on school days.
Coupled with an existing nighttime curfew, the new restrictions will prohibit children from traveling unsupervised for more than half the day on weekdays.
Supporters of the daytime curfew, which passed on a 12-2 vote, hailed it as a critical tool in combating a rash of daytime property crimes that police attribute in part to kids skipping school, particularly in southern Dallas.
"To do nothing is to turn our back on the problem," Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway said in support of the ordinance. "Kids are running rampant at this very moment. I have a problem, and my problem is that kids are not taking advantage of getting their education. ... Some are running the risk of ruining their lives."
Public health advocates and the fast-food industry are preparing to go head-to-head over proposed federal legislation that would require restaurants to post calorie counts alongside prices. A patchwork of such laws at the state level have been enacted in recent years, and the restaurant industry has countered with proposing federal legislation on the issue - but public health advocates say the industry's proposed solution is too weak.
They do it late at night when their parents are asleep. They do it in restaurants and while crossing busy streets. They do it in the classroom with their hands behind their back. They do it so much their thumbs hurt.
Spurred by the unlimited texting plans offered by carriers like AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless, American teenagers sent and received an average of 2,272 text messages per month in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to the Nielsen Company -- almost 80 messages a day, more than double the average of a year earlier.
The phenomenon is beginning to worry physicians and psychologists, who say it is leading to anxiety, distraction in school, falling grades, repetitive stress injury and sleep deprivation.
Dr. Martin Joffe, a pediatrician in Greenbrae, Calif., recently surveyed students at two local high schools and said he found that many were routinely sending hundreds of texts every day.
As tragedies go, not getting what you want is the straightforward kind, and getting it can be the ironic variety. But there is also the existential tragedy of not knowing what you want to begin with. That's the species of catastrophe recounted in Walter Kirn's memoir, "Lost in the Meritocracy: The Undereducation of an Overachiever," the witty, self- castigating story of the author's single-minded quest to succeed at a series of tests and competitions that took him from one of the lowest-ranked high schools in Minnesota to Princeton. As Kirn, a noted critic and novelist, tells it, in childhood he leapt onto a hamster wheel baited with "prizes, plaques, citations, stars," and kept rattling away at it until his junior year in the Ivy League, when he suffered a breakdown that left him nearly speechless.
After channeling their complaints about school lunch into an effort to make a real difference, students at Onalaska High School are enjoying healthier, better tasting choices--not to mention some national attention for the improvements they've made.
In 2007-08, Amy Yin, then a junior at Onalaska and the student representative to the local school board, was hearing grumbling from students about the elimination of favorite food choices. According to the Onalaska Holmen Courier-Life, it was Principal Peter Woerpel who first planted the idea of starting a Student Nutrition Advisory Committee. Yin, a high-achieving Presidential Scholar semifinalist who got a perfect score on the ACT exam, ran with the concept, and it took off. The committee was a devoted group--meeting multiple hours every week, including on weekends.
Although some of the lost favorites didn't return--the chocolate chip muffins, for example, no longer met nutrition standards--the students were able to make an important impact. As they learned more about nutrition and the school lunch program, they were able to work with the school to provide choices that were both healthier and more appealing to the student body. These days, Onalaska High School serves fresh fruit instead of just canned, and offers a salad bar that became especially popular after the addition of ingredients in three different colors. Lunch participation and consumption in general is up, too.
Although sex education is optional statewide, Chicago public schools have been teaching abstinence, contraception and the prevention of sexually-transmitted diseases for at least three years.
Chicago School Board members approved an "age-appropriate'' and "comprehensive'' sexual health education policy for grades six through 12 in 2006, and last year mandated that such classes start in fifth grade.
At the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, physical education director Ken Bringe said sex education is covered freshmen year.
"Right off the bat, they get this," Bringe said. Why? "To prevent pregnancy.''
Bringe believes the class, which uses the Family Health and Sexuality curriculum by Health Teachers, is one reason why the school at 3857 W. 111th St. has only had about two teen pregnancies in seven years.
The growth in antipsychotic-drug prescriptions for children is slowing as state Medicaid agencies heighten their scrutiny of usage and doctors grow more wary of the powerful medications.
The softening in sales for children is the first sign that litigation, reaction to improper marketing tactics, and concern about side effects may be affecting what had been a fast-growing children's drug segment.
The six so-called atypical antipsychotics that dominate the market have limited approval from the FDA to treat patients under 18 years of age. Only one is cleared for children under age 10 -- risperidone, branded by Johnson & Johnson as Risperdal -- to treat irritability associated with autism.
Before the first lunch period begins at Oconomowoc High School, students sidle up to see what chef Brian Shoemake is cooking.
"Chicken pasta broccoli bowl," Shoemake says in answer to an inquiry. "I'll get you to eat your broccoli."
Well, maybe not that student. But in the 15 minutes that ensue, Shoemake manages to fill the bowls of at least 60 others with steaming rotini, strips of chicken breast, their choice of Alfredo sauce and, yes, freshly cooked broccoli spears.
The addition of Shoemake to the lunch lineup this school year is part of a larger effort at the school.
Like a number of schools throughout the state, Oconomowoc High School is trying to tackle that seemingly intractable barrier in the fight to improve childhood nutrition: the school lunch.
"Student tastes have changed so much in the last 10 years," said Brenda Klamert, director of child nutrition services for the Oconomowoc Area School District. "They're looking for healthy foods."
Schools have been slow to meet the demand.
Sure, many have added salad bars. But most lunches remain high in saturated fat and cholesterol and low in fiber- and nutrient-rich food, according to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. The Washington-based group advocates a more vegetarian approach.
They were 11 girls growing up together in Ames, Iowa. Now they are 10 women in their mid-40s, spread all over the country. And they remain the closest of friends.
Whenever "the Ames girls" get together, it's as if they've stepped into a time machine. They feel like they are every age they ever were, because they see each other through thousands of shared memories.
As 12-year-olds, they'd sit in a circle, combing each other's hair. As 17-year-olds, they'd go to parties together deep in the cornfields outside Ames. As 30-year-olds, they'd commiserate over the challenges of marriage and motherhood.
Like the Ames girls, millions of us have nurtured decades-long friendships, and we don't always stop to recognize the power of these bonds. As we age, friendships can be crucial to our health and even our sanity. In fact, a host of scientific studies show that having a close group of friends helps people sleep better, improve their immune systems, stave off dementia and live longer.
Tina Fey is, as usual, ahead of us all. A recent episode of her sitcom 30 Rock titled "The Bubble" evolved around a ridiculously handsome man who had no idea he was something of an idiot. Everyone around him treated him so well that his self-esteem soared far beyond his actual capabilities.
The character was a comic exaggeration, of course, but a new study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology suggests the episode was grounded in good science. It finds physical attractiveness has a significant positive influence on an individual's self-confidence, income and financial well-being.
"This study finds that, even accounting for intelligence, one's income prospects are enhanced by being good-looking," report authors Timothy Judge, Charlice Hurst and Lauren Simon of the University of Florida Department of Management. One reason for this, they explain, is that "people who are attractive do think more highly of their worth and capabilities," and this self-confidence "results in higher earnings and less financial stress."
It's the last class of the day Friday at Community High School, but instead of a lot of fidgeting and clock-watching, 24 teenagers are engaged in a spirited discussion about sex and "sexting" with a lawyer and a former journalist.
It is a five-year-old course that aims to prepare students to "talk about social issues at a cocktail party with their boss," according to Jason O'Brien, a co-teacher of the class at Community, a charter school in Milwaukee.
Students have a lot of questions for their professional visitors: Why is sexting, or sending sexually explicit photos of oneself over a mobile phone, a crime? Why shouldn't adults face charges as well if they take and send similar nude material of themselves to their peers?
It's a big diversion from your typical lecture environment, but O'Brien and co-teacher Roxane Mayeur believe in the value of exposing kids to multiple viewpoints on various topics through debate, essay writing and discussions with local experts.
Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice?
If so, do you tell this person he is "too serious," or ask if he is okay? Regard him as aloof, arrogant, rude? Redouble your efforts to draw him out?
If you answered yes to these questions, chances are that you have an introvert on your hands--and that you aren't caring for him properly. Science has learned a good deal in recent years about the habits and requirements of introverts. It has even learned, by means of brain scans, that introverts process information differently from other people (I am not making this up). If you are behind the curve on this important matter, be reassured that you are not alone. Introverts may be common, but they are also among the most misunderstood and aggrieved groups in America, possibly the world.
The video appeared on YouTube last June. Posted by a group of ninth-graders from a school in Železný Brod, a small town in northern Bohemia, it depicted a teacher requesting that a 15-year-old student clean the mess around his desk.
"Pick it up yourself, you piece of trash," the boy snapped back. Within seconds, the teacher charged the student and slapped him in the face.
The mobile recording received widespread attention, including a snippet on BBC News. Although it wasn't the cruelest and certainly not the only case of cyber-bullying in the Czech Republic, the video highlights how fast things have evolved in the past few years.
About a year ago, I made the circuit of kindergartens in my town. At each stop, after the pitch by the principal and the obligatory exhibit of art projects only a mother (the student's own) could love, I asked the same question: "What is your policy on homework?"
And always, whether from the apple-cheeked teacher in the public school or the earnest administrator of the "child centered" private one, I was met with an eager nod. Oh, yes, each would explain: kindergartners are assigned homework every day.
Bzzzzzzt. Wrong answer.
When I was a child, in the increasingly olden days, kindergarten was a place to play. We danced the hokeypokey, swooned in suspense over Duck, Duck, Gray Duck (that's what Minnesotans stubbornly call Duck, Duck, Goose) and napped on our mats until the Wake-Up Fairy set us free.
No more. Instead of digging in sandboxes, today's kindergartners prepare for a life of multiple-choice boxes by plowing through standardized tests with cuddly names like Dibels (pronounced "dibbles"), a series of early-literacy measures administered to millions of kids; or toiling over reading curricula like Open Court -- which features assessments every six weeks.
According to "Crisis in the Kindergarten," a report recently released by the Alliance for Childhood, a nonprofit research and advocacy group, all that testing is wasted: it neither predicts nor improves young children's educational outcomes. More disturbing, along with other academic demands, like assigning homework to 5-year-olds, it is crowding out the one thing that truly is vital to their future success: play.
The federal school lunch program, which subsidizes meals for 30 million low-income children, was created more than half a century ago to combat malnutrition. A breakfast program was added during the 1960s, and both were retooled a decade ago in an attempt to improve the nutritional value of food served at school.
More must now be done to fight the childhood obesity epidemic, which has triggered a frightening spike in weight-related disorders like diabetes, high-blood pressure and heart disease among young people. And the place to start is the schools, where junk foods sold outside the federal meals programs -- through snack bars, vending machines and à la carte food lines -- has pretty much canceled out the benefits of all those healthy lunches and breakfasts.
In interviews with The Wall Street Journal, Bill Gates Sr., Bill Gates and their family shared many details of the family's story for the first time, including Bill Gates Jr.'s experience in counseling and how his early interest in computers came about partly as a result of a family crisis. The sometimes colliding forces of discipline and freedom within the clan shaped the entrepreneur's character.
The relationship between father and son entered a new phase when the software mogul began working full-time seven months ago at the Gates Foundation. For the past 13 years, the father has been the sole Gates family member with a daily presence at the foundation, starting it from the basement of his home and minding it while his son finished up his final decade running Microsoft. They now work directly together for the first time.
At six-foot-six, Bill Gates Sr. is nearly a full head taller than his son. He's known to be more social than the younger Bill Gates, but they share a sharp intellect and a bluntness that can come across to some as curt. He isn't prone to introspection and he plays down his role in his son's life.
"As a father, I never imagined that the argumentative, young boy who grew up in my house, eating my food and using my name would be my future employer," Mr. Gates Sr. told a group of nonprofit leaders in a 2005 speech. "But that's what happened."
A group of fourth-graders at Nuestro Mundo Elementary School had planned to remain in their classroom through lunch and recess Friday, enjoying a meal of fresh fruit, vegetables and homemade pasta at cloth-covered tables with flower centerpieces.
The group from Joshua Forehand's class, which calls itself BCSL ("Boycott School Lunch") formed to protest what they see as unhealthy food offered in the school's cafeteria, but they scrapped their plan to host a "Good Real Food" picnic after Assistant Superintendent Sue Abplanalp called school administrators and parents to discourage it.
"There were too many obstacles," Abplanalp said in an interview, citing the possibility of allergy-causing ingredients in shared homemade food, lack of adequate supervision, and the presence of the news media as major concerns.
"We want students' voices to be heard. This just seemed to come together too fast, without various issues being addressed."
When asked if the district feared negative publicity, Abplanalp said no. Instead she cited student privacy as a major concern.
"We have strict guidelines about the media interviewing students on school grounds. The principal maintains a list of kids whose parents have given permission for media exposure."
young man I'll call Alex recently graduated from Harvard. As a history major, Alex wrote about a dozen papers a semester. He also ran a student organization, for which he often worked more than forty hours a week; when he wasn't on the job, he had classes. Weeknights were devoted to all the schoolwork that he couldn't finish during the day, and weekend nights were spent drinking with friends and going to dance parties. "Trite as it sounds," he told me, it seemed important to "maybe appreciate my own youth." Since, in essence, this life was impossible, Alex began taking Adderall to make it possible.
Adderall, a stimulant composed of mixed amphetamine salts, is commonly prescribed for children and adults who have been given a diagnosis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. But in recent years Adderall and Ritalin, another stimulant, have been adopted as cognitive enhancers: drugs that high-functioning, overcommitted people take to become higher-functioning and more overcommitted. (Such use is "off label," meaning that it does not have the approval of either the drug's manufacturer or the Food and Drug Administration.) College campuses have become laboratories for experimentation with neuroenhancement, and Alex was an ingenious experimenter. His brother had received a diagnosis of A.D.H.D., and in his freshman year Alex obtained an Adderall prescription for himself by describing to a doctor symptoms that he knew were typical of the disorder. During his college years, Alex took fifteen milligrams of Adderall most evenings, usually after dinner, guaranteeing that he would maintain intense focus while losing "any ability to sleep for approximately eight to ten hours." In his sophomore year, he persuaded the doctor to add a thirty-milligram "extended release" capsule to his daily regimen.
The Audit Commission did not spare the rod when it looked over the nutrition and exercise programs of primary schools and found things amiss.
Nearly a quarter of primary school children are obese - 120 percent heavier than the median weight for peers - compared with one-sixth in 1997, government statistics show.
Found wanting were better coordination and promotion from education, health and sports authorities to tackle obesity among primary school children.
According to the audit report released yesterday, students at nearly 100 primary schools were only managing 45 to 65 minutes of physical education a week, instead of the stipulated 70 minutes.
Compiled though 426 questionnaires and six school visits, the report revealed nearly one-third of 423 primary schools did not have physical activity policies compared with 42 which had undocumented polices and 28 percent with documented policies.
Concerns about the safety of popular crib designs have led to 21 recalls of 4.2 million cribs over the past two years because of hazardous defects. Products involved in the recalls have been linked to at least five infant deaths and 16 cases in which babies were trapped by parts of a crib, said the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Drop-side cribs, popular because sliding down one side of the crib makes it easier for a parent to pick up a baby, have proved to be particularly problematic.
"There are enough concerns raised about drop-side cribs that we're moving forward and we're going to phase them out," Mr. Storch said in an interview. While Mr. Storch said he doesn't necessarily believe newer drop-side cribs are dangerous, he's concerned about the amount of time consumers are keeping their cribs, especially in this economy. "It adds in an element of risk that we don't want to take, particularly over time," he said. "It seems that the strongest cribs are ones where the four sides attach to each other and have less complicated hardware."
The group of anxious parents crowded around District Attorney George Skumanick Jr. as he sat behind a table in a courtroom here and presented them with an ultimatum.
Photos of their semi-nude or scantily clad teenage daughters were stacked before him. Mr. Skumanick said the images had been discovered on cellphones confiscated at the local high school. They could either enlist their kids in an education program or have the teens face felony charges of child pornography. "We could have just arrested them but we didn't," said Mr. Skumanick in an interview.
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The tactics of District Attorney George Skumanick Jr., left, in the county courthouse, prompted the family of 15-year-old Marissa Miller to sue him.
Mustafah Abdulaziz for the Wall Street Journal
The tactics of District Attorney George Skumanick Jr., left, in the county courthouse, prompted the family of 15-year-old Marissa Miller to sue him.
The tactics of District Attorney George Skumanick Jr., left, in the county courthouse, prompted the family of 15-year-old Marissa Miller to sue him.
The tactics of District Attorney George Skumanick Jr., left, in the county courthouse, prompted the family of 15-year-old Marissa Miller to sue him.
The practice of teens taking naked photos of themselves and sending them to friends via cellphones, called "sexting," has alarmed parents, school officials and prosecutors nationwide, who fear the photos could end up on the Internet or in the hands of sexual predators. In a handful of cases, authorities have resorted to what one parent here called "the nuclear weapon of sex charges" -- child pornography.
But some legal experts say that here in Wyoming County, Pa., Mr. Skumanick has expanded the definition of sexting to such an extent he could be setting a dangerous precedent. He has threatened to charge kids who appeared in photos, but who didn't send them, as well as at least one girl who was photographed wearing a bathing suit. One of the accused is 11 years old.
Just in from the department of not-so-surprising news: a study has found that young teenagers tend to be fatter when there are fast-food restaurants within one block of their schools.
The report found an increased obesity rate of at least 5.2 percent among teenagers at schools where fast-food outlets were a tenth of a mile -- roughly one city block -- or less away.
To remedy that, Eric N. Gioia, a city councilman from Queens, wants to stop fast-food restaurants from opening so close to the city's schools.
"With the proliferation of fast-food restaurants directly around schools, it's a clear and present danger to our children's health," said Mr. Gioia, who proposed the ban at a news conference at a school opposite a McDonald's in TriBeCa on Sunday.
"A fast-food restaurant on the corner can have a terrible impact on a child's life," he said. "Obesity, diabetes, hypertension -- it's a step toward a less healthy life."
For the past 20 years, the U.S. has maintained a Minimum Legal Drinking Age of 21 (MLDA21), with little public debate about the wisdom of this policy. Recently, however, more than 100 college and university presidents signed the Amethyst Initiative, a public statement calling for "an informed and dispassionate public debate over the effects of the 21-year-old drinking age."
The response to the Amethyst Initiative was predictable: Advocates of restricted access and zero tolerance decried the statement for not recognizing that the MLDA21 saves lives by preventing traffic deaths among 18- to 20-year-olds. The president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, for example, accused the university heads of "not doing their homework" on the relationship between the drinking age and traffic fatalities.
In fact, the advocates of the MLDA21 are the ones who need a refresher course. In our recently completed research, we show that the MLDA21 has little or no life-saving effect.
Authors of an ambitious survey of hazing in colleges and universities have turned their attention to high schools and discovered that many freshmen arrive on campus with experience -- with 47 percent reporting getting hazed in high school.
As in college, high school hazing pervaded groups from sports teams to the yearbook staff and performing arts, according to professors Elizabeth Allan and Mary Madden of the University of Maine's College of Education and Human Development.
The hazing included activities from silly stunts to drinking games, with 8 percent of the students drinking to the point of getting sick or passing out, they said.
Just like college students, high schoolers are susceptible to getting swept up in group activities and doing things they might not otherwise do, the authors said.
"That group dynamic can lead to the escalation where you have the hazing that's been reported in the news, some horrendous incidents," Madden said.
Among them: a "powder puff" event in which several seniors at a suburban Chicago high school were suspended or charged with roughing up junior girls, and junior varsity football players being sodomized by teammates at their New York high school.
Psychologists used to blame the unpleasant characteristics of adolescence on hormones.
However, new brain imaging scans have revealed a high number of structural changes in teenagers and those in their early 20s.
Jay Giedd, at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland, led the researchers who followed the progress of 400 children, scanning them every two years as they grew up.
They found that adolescence brings waves of so-called 'brain pruning' during which children lose about one per cent of their grey matter every year until their early 20s.
We don't really know what we want. That's the conclusion of a social psychologist who decided to test just how committed parents and others are to single-sanction, zero-tolerance, tough-love punishment regimens of the kind that many schools have adopted to fight drug use by teenagers.
Colgate University psychologist Kevin Carlsmith concluded that people fail to recognize that a zero-tolerance policy that seems simple and effective in theory will violate their sense of justice when they see it in practice. And that's exactly the response I've been getting to my column last week about Josh Anderson, the Fairfax high school junior who killed himself on the eve of a disciplinary hearing that was likely to have ended with his expulsion for being caught on campus with a small amount of marijuana.
I've heard from hundreds of parents whose kids -- like Josh -- have gotten caught up in a punishment system that fails to distinguish between drug users and dealers.
FACEBOOK users may feel socially successful in cyberspace but they are more likely to perform poorly in exams, according to new research into the academic impact of the social networking website.
The majority of students who use Facebook every day are underachieving by as much as an entire grade compared with those who shun the site.
Researchers have discovered how students who spend their time accumulating friends, chatting and "poking" others on the site may devote as little as one hour a week to their academic work.
The findings will confirm the worst fears of parents and teachers. They follow the ban on social networking websites in many offices, imposed to prevent workers from wasting time.
About 83% of British 16 to 24-year-olds are thought to use social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Bebo, to keep in touch with friends and organise their social lives.
"Our study shows people who spend more time on Facebook spend less time studying," said Aryn Karpinski, a researcher in the education department at Ohio State University. "Every generation has its distractions, but I think Facebook is a unique phenomenon."
It seemed like more troubling evidence that kids these days engage in behavior they wouldn't want to write home about. Researchers recently found that one in five teenagers have shared nude or semi-nude photos of themselves by cellphone or online. That statistic has become a fixture in articles about "sexting" and its social and legal implications.
But that number may be inflated, because the same teenagers who have engaged in such behavior could be the ones most likely to say they have done so in an online poll. To find out how many teenagers are sharing personal information over new media, researchers last year asked teenagers personal questions using one of those new media, skewing the sample.
"These kinds of samples select Internet cowboys and cowgirls," says David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, who has used the telephone for his studies of teens and online behavior. "These are more likely to be the kind of people who engage in this kind of activity." He guesses that online poll-takers might be two to four times more likely to send nude photos of themselves than the average teen.
A federal court may have changed the public discourse about the safety of vaccines in February, when it dismissed the theory that they cause autism. But vaccine damage is still the reigning paradigm for a rump caucus of thousands of parents who turn to physicians with a remarkable set of beliefs and practices in hope of finding recourse for their children's ills.
To sift through the 15,000-page record of the Autism Omnibus hearings and the decisions by the three special masters who considered the evidence is to peek into a medical universe where autism is considered a disease of environmental toxicity, rather than an inherited disorder, and where doctors expose children to hundreds of tests simply to justify the decision to "detoxify" them. In some cases, the judges found, doctors simply ignored data that didn't fit the diagnosis.
The court came down hard on the alternative medical practitioners who tailor their treatments to fit theories of vaccine damage. Among the doctors criticized was Jeff Bradstreet, a former Christian preacher in Melbourne, Fla., who has treated 4,000 children with neurological disorders. Among the children was Colten Snyder, whose case was one of those considered by the court.
The girls were suspended last week for the alleged sexual harassment of fellow pupils at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy School For Girls in Henley-on-Clip, near Johannesburg.
According to the Afrikaans on Sunday newspaper, one 15-year-old "preyed" on a schoolmate and coerced others into lying to officials investigating the alleged incidents.
Six other pupils have been excluded from the $46 million (£32 million) girls-only boarding school after being alleged to have touched each other intimately, or "intimidating others into partaking of inappropriate behaviours".
A letter sent to one of the suspended girls' parents is said to have read: "You have been found guilty of physical contact of a sexual nature with another pupil on campus, harassment, bullying other girls on campus and of being dishonest by not telling investigators the whole truth".
The girl claims the accusations are false and has blamed other girls.
Schools with cafeterias can reduce food wastage and save about 2.14 million disposable lunch boxes heading for landfills every year, Greeners Action project officer Yip Chui-man said yesterday.
Roughly 380,000 primary school students take lunch everyday, according to Yip, who said over one-third of 13,000 disposable lunch boxes went straight into the garbage, a February to March survey of 212 primary schools showed.
The survey suggested most primary schools want more funding to introduce canteens in a bid to cut down on waste.
With a mere 5 percent drop in the amount of disposable lunch boxes being junked, compared to seven years ago, Yip is calling on the Education Bureau and the Environmental Protection Department to set up regulations to control lunch-time garbage.
A resounding 95 percent of primary schools want public money to outfit them with a cafeteria.
Clever children are saving themselves from being branded swots at school by dumbing down and deliberately falling behind, a study has shown.
Schoolchildren regarded as boffins may be attacked and shunned by their peers, according to Becky Francis, professor of education at Roehampton University, who carried out a study of academically gifted 12- and 13-year-olds in nine state secondary schools.
The study, to be published in the Sociological Review next year, shows how difficult it is for children, particularly boys, to be clever and popular. Boys risk being assaulted in some schools for being high-achievers. To conform and escape alienation, clever boys told researchers they may "try to fall behind" or "dumb down".
One boy told researchers: "It is harder to be popular and intelligent. If the subject comes naturally ... then I think it makes it easier. But if the subject doesn't come naturally, they work hard and other people see that and then you get the name-calling." This may in part explain boys' perceived underachievement, Francis said.
Savana Redding still remembers the clothes she had on -- black stretch pants with butterfly patches and a pink T-shirt -- the day school officials here forced her to strip six years ago. She was 13 and in eighth grade.
An assistant principal, enforcing the school's antidrug policies, suspected her of having brought prescription-strength ibuprofen pills to school. One of the pills is as strong as two Advils.
The search by two female school employees was methodical and humiliating, Ms. Redding said. After she had stripped to her underwear, "they asked me to pull out my bra and move it from side to side," she said. "They made me open my legs and pull out my underwear."
Ms. Redding, an honors student, had no pills. But she had a furious mother and a lawyer, and now her case has reached the Supreme Court, which will hear arguments on April 21.
Douglas M. Newman:
It's irresponsible that Erick Ekholm doesn't mention well publicized research citing teen pregnancy being tied to racy TV in his article ('07 U.S. Births Break Baby Boom Record, Mar. 18, 2009).Lindsay Tanner:
In the widely published Nov. 3, 2008 Associate Press news release by Lindsy Tanner, Rand Corp. published a study in the November 2008 issue of Pediatrics, linking TV viewing habits and teen pregnancy.
Paraphrasing the AP's press release and Anita Chandra, lead author of Rand's study, "teens who watched the raciest shows were twice as likely to become pregnant as those who didn't. Previous research found that watching lots of sex on TV can influence teens to have sex at earlier ages. Shows highlighting only the positive aspects of sexual behavior without the risks can lead teens to have unprotected sex."
Perhaps 2007 birth rates just might have been influenced by racy television shows teens are viewing - with parental consent and produced by adults in the name of corporate profits I might add.
Douglas M. Newman
Cell: (203) 516-1006
Word count: 148 (after the hyphen in the last sentence, the word count is 166).
Groundbreaking research suggests that pregnancy rates are much higher among teens who watch a lot of TV with sexual dialogue and behavior, compared with those who have tamer viewing tastes.ABC-TV:
"Sex in the City," anyone? That was one of the shows used in the research.
The new study is the first to link those viewing habits with teen pregnancy, said lead author Anita Chandra, a Rand Corp. behavioral scientist. Teens who watched the raciest shows were twice as likely to become pregnant over the next three years as those who watched few such programs.
Previous research by some of the same scientists had already found that watching lots of sex on TV can influence teens to have sex at earlier ages.
Shows that only highlight the positive aspects of sexual behavior without the risks can lead teens to have unprotected sex "before they're ready to make responsible and informed decisions," Miss Chandra said.
The more sexual content in television and magazines that teens are exposed to, the more likely they are to have sexual intercourse at an early age, a new study says.
The University of North Carolina study, published in today's issue of the journal Pediatrics, concludes that white adolescents who view more sexual content than their peers are 2.2 times more likely to have sexual intercourse by the time they are 14 to 16 years old.
"Some, especially those who have fewer alternative sources of sexual norms, such as parents or friends, may use the media as a kind of sexual superpeer that encourages them to be sexually active," the study authors state.
And, as similar past studies have noted, "one of the strongest protective factors against early sexual behavior was clear parental communication about sex."
Veterinary and medical professionals in Wisconsin said Friday that they have been warned about a potentially alarming practice among the state's rural youth: teenage girls ingesting livestock drugs to cheaply and discreetly end their unwanted pregnancies.
So far, the professionals in animal and human health and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction are treating the reports of girls inducing their own abortions with prostaglandins - drugs commonly used by cow breeders to regulate animals' heat cycles - as rumors, because no cases have been officially confirmed by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
But Anna Anderson, the executive director of Care Net Pregnancy Center of Green County in Monroe, maintains that she has identified at least 10 girls ages 14 to 18 in a three-county area who admitted to taking some form of cow abortifacient in the past year.
Anderson said the girls told her they took it because they found it to be a cheap and easy way to end their pregnancies without their parents finding out.
At the American Veterinary Medical Association, Assistant Director Kimberly May said Friday that her organization first heard the rumor about the teenagers in mid-February from the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association. Since then, the American Animal Hospital Association has also posted an advisory about the issue on its Web site.
Injected properly in livestock, prostaglandins shorten a heat cycle so a female animal can be bred again, May said.
Woodson Academy teacher William Pow had just finished writing on the blackboard one January afternoon, he said, when he turned to face his algebra class and saw the textbook "Mathematics in Life" hurtling toward his head.
He ducked, he said, but it caught him in the neck and shoulder. His colleagues at Woodson have not been as lucky. English teacher Randy Brown said he was hit just above the left ear by a book thrown by a student last month. He was treated for a concussion and said he has since suffered from headaches and nausea.
"They think it's a game to hit people in the head," said Brown, who, like Pow, has not returned to school.
They say the 260-student ninth-grade academy, housed at Ronald H. Brown Middle School in Northeast Washington while a new Woodson High is under construction, is overcrowded and dangerous. Brown and Pow count five other teachers or administrators who they said have been attacked this academic year, including one who was pelted by textbooks and another pinned to a desktop and choked. Other teachers, Brown and Pow said, are routinely subjected to verbal threats of violence.
Summit Middle School in Frisco, Colo., is a tobacco-free campus. Students who smoke cigarettes are suspended.
But when a lunchtime crew of sixth-graders last fall started "smoking" Smarties, the tart, chalky candy discs wrapped in cellophane, lunchroom monitors and the school nurse were flummoxed.
The children didn't light the candy. They crushed it into a fine powder in its wrapper, tore off one end, poured the powder into their mouths and blew out fine Smarties dust, mimicking a smoker's exhale.
"It was freaky," says Corinne McGrew, a nurse for Summit School District. "My biggest concern was that they would aspirate the wrapper or a whole Smarties and it would be a choking hazard."
The fad at Summit Middle School died down after a few days and some harsh words from the lunchroom staff. But at other schools and across the Internet, "smoking Smarties," as the activity has been labeled, is gaining popularity. Some children have even taken to snorting it, all to the horror of parents, teachers and the 60-year-old company that manufactures the candy.
A state-by-state look at results of results of steroids tests in high schools:
Tests administered: 600
Positive results: 1
Notes: Florida had a statewide testing program only during the 2007-08 school year.
Garçon! A glass of red.
Teenagers under the age of 18 could soon lose the right to drink wine in France because of a new bill that would tighten restrictions on alcohol sales.
The government of President Nicolas Sarkozy has drafted the bill, which would raise France's minimum drinking age for wine and beer to 18 from 16. The government says it would reduce a dangerous addiction among youths. A vote on the bill is expected to take place Wednesday at the National Assembly, where it is likely to pass, as Mr. Sarkozy's center-right coalition has a majority of the votes. A final vote in the Senate could take place in April.
France has had a liberal approach to alcohol thus far. Unlike most other countries, France has two drinking ages: Young people can drink or purchase wine and beer from the age of 16 and hard liquor from 18. Bartenders and shopkeepers don't usually check the identification cards of their customers, however young.
The powerful lobby of French winemakers says it won't try to derail the law, but thinks the government is making a big mistake. A stricter law, winemakers say, could reverse the age-old French custom of parents teaching children how to taste and appreciate wine at the family meal.
The risk of the new law, they say, is a habit of binge drinking imported from the U.S., where the drinking age is 21, and the U.K., where studies show one in four adult men and one in three adult women are heavy drinkers.
A simple tool lets you opt out of advertising programs that track your Web clicks
Hundreds of thousands of Web sites show ads provided by Google, such as those little text ads that offer you everything from diets to dog training. Now Google has announced plans to track your clicks across all these sites, and then serve up ads personalized to your tastes. Visit a bunch of electronics-related sites, say, and the next site you view may show you an ad for the latest must-have gadget, even if you're now reading about ways to reduce stress through yogic meditations.
As Big Brother as it sounds, this is actually something that many advertising companies already do. But don't worry: There's a way to stop Google--and all the others--from prying.
First, Google has offered up several ways to change and reduce the info it stores about you. Using its new Ads Preferences Manager, you can delete any of the interests that Google believes you have, such as Entertainment or Travel. You can even add interests, if you happen to like personalized advertising.
Debra Gwartney was trying to escape a failed marriage when she moved from Tucson, Ariz., to Eugene, Ore., in the early '90s with her four daughters in tow. What the newly single mother didn't foresee was that, as she fled from her past to a different city and job, her relationship with her girls would be forever transformed, too. Enraged by the divorce and the move, her two oldest daughters, Amanda and Stephanie, soon ran away, seeking adventure on the streets and shelter in abandoned buildings with other teenagers like them.
In "Live Through This: A Mother's Memoir of Runaway Daughters and Reclaimed Love," Gwartney relives the private desperation and shame of being a mother whose teenage daughters disappear for days at a time, only dropping in occasionally when no one else is home to stock up on supplies, leaving empty beer cans, fetid clothes, empty cigarette boxes and puddles of brilliant Manic Panic hair dye behind. As the girls' absences stretch to weeks and months, Gwartney recalls her frantic searches for them, first in Eugene and then in San Francisco. Along the way, she delves into her own culpability in the family dynamic that drove them away.
A former correspondent for the Oregonian and Newsweek, Gwartney wrote about her relationship with her eldest daughter, Amanda, in Salon back in 1998. Debra, Amanda and Stephanie also appeared together on "This American Life" in March 2002, in an episode tellingly titled "Didn't Ask to Be Born."
Principal Ed Holmes [9K PDF] via a kind reader's email:
When Madison Schools receive any information that jeopardizes or threatens the safety of our schools, we immediately report the incident to Madison Police and consult with them to determine what the best course of action should be.Related: Police calls near Madison high schools 1996-2006 and recent Madison police calls (the event referenced in the letter above is not present on the police call map as of this morning (3/13/2009)).
The Madison School District has well-defined protocols that are implemented anytime a threat is made against schools. The decisions regarding a response to safety situations are always made in close consultation with the Madison Police Department and other law enforcement agencies.
The safest place for students is in school where we provide structure and supervision. Therefore any decision to remove students from that environment has to be weighed carefully with a potential for placing them in a less structured environment that potentially raises other safety concerns.
These procedures were followed today at West High in response to a written bomb threat.
After consulting with District Administration, the building was searched at 6:00 a.m. using trained Madison Metropolitan School district engineers, architects and custodial supervisors. This procedure has been used in other schools under similar circumstances. Our goal is to maintain a safe educational environment for all students and staff. We have an excellent relationship with our students and encourage them to talk with us about possible issues. We ask you, as families, to help keep our lines of communication open by encouraging your students to talk about their concerns.
West High continues to be a safe place. We pledge that we will continue to focus our time, attention, and resources to keep it so.
Ed Holmes, Principal
Madison West High School [Map]
Obesity used to be a privilege reserved for wealthy people in wealthy countries. Now, however, this and other lifestyle diseases also afflict better-off people in poorer countries and poorer people in richer ones, particularly the United States. In 2007, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation--the biggest US philanthropy devoted solely to health care and health, with roughly $8 billion in assets--announced that it would award $500 million in grants to reverse the soaring incidence of US childhood obesity over the past 40 years. These grants support programs designed to raise levels of physical activity and improve nutrition for kids; to identify other levers for reversing the childhood obesity epidemic; and to determine, advocate, and implement the requisite policy and environmental changes. The foundation also focuses on issues such as improving the quality of the US health care system; increasing access to stable, affordable health care; strengthening the public-health system; and addressing the health needs of vulnerable populations.
Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, who holds both an MD and an MBA, has been president and CEO of the foundation since late 2002. Matt Miller, a senior adviser to McKinsey, and Lynn Taliento, a principal in the Washington, DC, office, interviewed her at the foundation's headquarters,...
The children of older fathers scored lower than the offspring of younger fathers on I.Q. tests and a range of other cognitive measures at 8 months old, 4 years old and 7 years old, according to a study released Monday that added to a growing body of evidence suggesting risks to postponing fatherhood.
The study is the first to show that the children of older fathers do not perform as well on cognitive tests at young ages. Although the differences in scores were slight and usually off by just a few points on average, the study's authors called the findings "unexpectedly startling."
"The older the dads were, the slightly worse the children were doing," said Dr. John J. McGrath, the paper's senior author and a professor of psychiatry at the Queensland Brain Institute in Brisbane, Australia. "The findings fit in a straight line, suggesting there may be some steady beat of mutations happening in the dad's sperm."
Earlier studies have found a higher incidence of schizophrenia and autism among the offspring of men who were in their mid-to-late 40s or older when they had children. A study published in 2005 reported that 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds with older fathers scored lower on nonverbal I.Q. tests, as did the offspring of teenage fathers.
Chris and Vickie Cox's health insurance never covered the full cost of treating their children's bone-marrow disorder. They relied on donations from their church, neighbors and family to plug the holes in their coverage, which ran as high as $40,000 a year.
That safety net is now unraveling. The slumping economy is pulling down fragile networks of support that in better times could keep families with insurance but big bills from falling into a financial hole.
The three Cox children have a rare disease called Shwachman Diamond Syndrome, which curtails the production of bacteria-fighting blood cells and digestive enzymes needed to absorb nutrients properly. It can lead to life-threatening infection, bone-marrow failure or a deadly form of leukemia.
After Samuel, 7, Grace, 12, and Jake, 15, were diagnosed with the genetic disease earlier this decade, landing a job with good health benefits became the biggest priority for Mr. Cox. He gave up plans to run his own home respiratory-care business to work as a salaried medical-equipment salesman. In 2006, the family moved to North Carolina from Kansas City to be closer to specialists at Duke University.
The American Red Cross Badger Chapter taught cardio cerebral resuscitation, or CCR, to Madison Memorial freshmen Friday.
The students learned the life-saving benefits of the new technique used to treat people who stop breathing. It provides oxygenated blood to the brain quickly when someone collapses, saving valuable time.
"It's all about getting not only the youth involved but our community involved, and if we can get every freshman in the city of Madison and the surrounding area to learn this new technique by the time they're seniors, then we'll have every student in the entire high school trained knowing this new technique," said Tom Mooney, CEO of the Badger Chapter of the American Red Cross.
WKOW-TV via a kind reader's email:
Parents of students at a Madison middle school worry about safety after a child was beat up in one the school's bathroom.Toki Middle School Restorative Justice Plan [82K PDF]:
The incident happened last week Thursday.
According to a letter sent home to parents Monday, a group of students followed a male student into the boy's bathroom where another student assaulted him.
The group blocked entrance to the bathroom.
Surveillance cameras show the beating along with a group of witnesses cheering on the violence.
Toki [Map] Principal Nicole Schaefer says the school sent the letter to alert parents that the proper actions were taken and assure them the school is safe.
Schaefer would not tell 27 News if any students were suspended or if the victim is back in school.
Judicious discipline is a three pillared process set on a solid educational foundation. The first pillar is prevention through education and positive behavior supports; the second pillar is equity through fair and consistent consequences, and the third pillar is restoration through empathy, forgiveness and conflict resolution. The educational foundation that these pillars stand on is curriculum, instruction and assessment practices that are engaging, rigorous, culturally responsive, and individualized. In summary, kids who are engaged in learning are less likely to engage in misconduct.40 students ( 2008/2009 student population is 538) open enrolled out of Toki Middle school for the 2009/2010 term according to this Madison School District document. Much more on Toki here.
The backbone of our discipline policy is that all staff and students must be treated with dignity and respect, including those who harm others. We want everyone to know that misconduct is never acceptable, but always fixable. We will be warm but strict, and follow through with clear, fair and consistent consequences, but also encourage students to repair the harm they caused, earn forgiveness, and restore their reputations.
When a student engages in misconduct, we must care for two interests:
Therefore, when a student engages in misconduct, he or she has two options:
- The student who misbehaves - We teach the student how to repair the harm, earn forgiveness, and restore his or her reputation
- All other students - We protect their health, safety, property, and opportunity to learn in an environment free from distractions
- Fix the harm (ex: Apology, Mediation, Repair or Replace, Community service, Extended learning)
- Accept a consequence (ex: Lunch detention, After school detention, In school suspension, Out of school suspension, Suspension alternatives)
The consequences for misconduct will vary, depending on how the behavior harms the health, safety, property and learning opportunities of other students. Although choosing to "fix the harm" may reduce or replace consequences for less harmful misconduct, behaviors that significantly or severely harm others will result in mandatory suspension days, up to a recommendation for expulsion.
The "hot lunch" line snakes out the door of the multipurpose room at Franklin Elementary School. Kids dressed in snow boots and parkas file past a table where a staff member is handing out plastic-wrapped containers of hot dogs and fries, canned peaches and a cookie. Forget trays or plates. The kids clutch the packages in both hands and, after a student helper plunks a carton of milk on top, hug the whole load to their chests, trying not to drop mittens and hats. They scurry into the gym and squeeze into a spot at one of the crowded lunch tables, where the "cold lunch" kids are chowing down with a 10-minute head start. Twelve minutes left before the bell rings. Better eat fast.This issue has come up a number of times over the years.
Is the Madison Metropolitan School District's school lunch program unhealthy for kids?
It depends who you ask. On one side is a well-trained food service department that manages to feed 19,000 kids under a bevy of guidelines on a slim budget. On the other is a growing number of parents and community advocates armed with research about the shortcomings of mass-produced food and race-to-the-finish mealtimes.
"We're perpetuating a fast-food mentality," said Pat Mulvey, a personal chef and the parent of a second-grader and a kindergartner at Franklin. "We can do better."
Mulvey has joined a small group of parents at south side Franklin and affiliated Randall Elementary calling for changes to the school lunch program. Among their concerns: a lack of fresh fruits and vegetables, high fat and salt content in items perceived as "processed" or "junk food," little nutritional information on the Web site, too much plastic, too much waste and too little time to eat.
This isn't the first time parents in the district have raised concerns about school lunch. For the past decade, parents, educators and healthy food advocates in the Madison area have asked the School Board, principals and the district's food service to serve more fresh foods and make lunch longer than 25 minutes.
There is the usual and predictable outrage in the British papers and on the radio today about the latest figures for teenage pregnancy--which has become a bit more common at the last count, and which, despite the government's best and lavish efforts, remains much more prevalent in Britain than in most of continental Europe (though less so than in America). The idea of wildly libidinous adolescents feeds usefully into a general tabloid narrative of rampant teenage delinquency, parental fecklessness and a country that is going to the dogs.
So here's an inconvenient fact for the moral declinists: teenage pregnancy and births to teenage mothers were very much more common fifty years ago, before the invention of the pill and the legalisation of abortion, than they are today. Teenagers are rutting no more now than they ever have. What has changed is that teen pregnancies used frequently to result in shotgun marriages, and so the eventual infants were less of a burden on the state than those born to unwed mothers are today. In other words, the deterioration is fiscal rather than moral.
From the hallway, Abby Brown's sixth-grade classroom in a little school here about an hour northeast of Minneapolis has the look of the usual one, with an American flag up front and children's colorful artwork decorating the walls.
But inside, an experiment is going on that makes it among the more unorthodox public school classrooms in the country, and pupils are being studied as much as they are studying. Unlike children almost everywhere, those in Ms. Brown's class do not have to sit and be still. Quite the contrary, they may stand and fidget all class long if they want.
And they do.
On one recent morning, while 11-year-old Nick Raboin had his eye on his math problems, Ms. Brown was noticing that he preferred to shift his weight from one foot to the other as he figured out his fractions. She also knew that his classmate Roxy Cotter liked to stand more than sit. And Brett Leick is inclined to lean on a high stool and swing his right foot under a desk that is near chest level. Helps with concentration, he and Ms. Brown say.
A local kung fu school hopes to cash in on the financial crisis, with more people expected to attend courses to tone up their bodies and get rid of negative emotions.
The Hong Kong Shaolin Wushu Culture Centre in Tai O, Lantau Island, has seen a rise in visitor numbers over the past few months, its low season, and has already received bookings for the summer holidays.
Lee Kok-keung, director of the Hong Kong Culture Association, which established the centre in 2006, said the increased interest could have something to do with the economic downturn.
"When the economy is good, people are so busy trading stocks and making money," he said. "But when the economy is going down, people tend to pay more attention to their health.
"Practising kung fu is not only good for the body, but also an ideal way to cheer you up."
Is there a difference between a stupid teen trick - passing around a girl's naked picture she'd earlier provided her now-ex-boyfriend - and child molestation?
Without a doubt.
Is there a difference even between that stupid teen behavior and being a teenager who threatens to use naked pictures obtained under a ruse as ammo for extorting sex?
But under state law, all of them could become convicted felons who land on the state's registry of sex offenders, leaving little distance between them. They would, most likely, be vilified and haunted by the label for decades, if not life, and increasingly told by communities where they can and cannot live.
Dangerous, devious sex offenders who are a risk to public safety deserve it.
Teens with unbelievably cavalier attitudes about sexual limits, to the point of stupidity, do not.
Parents, educators, communities and - we can only hope - kids have had their eyes opened by recent, revolting revelations.
The earlier case, as described in criminal charges, involved since-expelled New Berlin Eisenhower student Anthony Stancl, 18, who, pretending to be a girl on Facebook, got at least 31 boys to send him pictures of themselves naked. Threatening to circulate the pictures to schoolmates, he coerced at least seven of them into sex acts.
Julie Zingeser texts at home, at school, in the car while her mother is driving. She texts during homework, after pompon practice and as she walks the family dog. She takes her cellphone with her to bed.
Every so often, the hum of a new message rouses the Rockville teen from sleep. "I would die without it," Julie, 15, says of her text life.
This does not surprise her mother, Pam, who on one recent afternoon scans the phone bill for the eye-popping number that puts an exclamation point on how growing up has changed in the digital age. In one busy month, Pam finds, her youngest daughter sent and received 6,473 text messages.
For Pam Zingeser, the big issue is not cost -- it's $30 a month for the family's unlimited texting plan -- but the effects of so much messaging. Pam wonders: What will this generation learn and what will they lose in the relentless stream of sentence fragments, abbreviations and emoticons? "Life's issues are not always settled in sound bites," Pam says.
THE wireless network at Mayhem Manor spreads from the router in the workroom to the living area of the one-storey hillside dwelling, but not as far as the bedrooms. And that's important.
Your correspondent has often been tempted to upgrade his WiFi router with the latest 802.11n technology--as much for the increased range as for the four-fold boost in speed. Being eight time-zones behind many of his colleagues, he often checks e-mail in the middle of the night. His trusty little Hewlett-Packard palmtop computer, with its Cisco wireless card, would slip easily under the pillow.
But he's resisted boosting Mayhem Manor's wireless signal for several reasons. First, while it would quicken transfers between computers in the house, the internet connection would be no faster. Its speed is governed by the pathetic dribble of a broadband connection that's 15,000 feet from the nearest telephone exchange in the village below.
The other reason for not upgrading is that he would prefer his tweenage daughter to do all her web surfing, e-mailing, online gaming and social networking not from the privacy of a bedroom, but from a common area of the house where an adult is invariably present.
The Madison Police Department is posting police call data on crimereports.com. Check out these links:
Austin students from poor families tend to be less physically fit than students from wealthier families, an American-Statesman analysis of school district data shows. And Hispanic students tend to be less physically fit than students of other races.
A 2007 state law required all school districts to give students standardized fitness evaluations measuring height-weight proportionality, cardiovascular capacity, strength and flexibility. The first evaluations were given to students in the 2007-08 school year.
Austin's trend mirrors statewide results and national studies that show higher rates of physical inactivity and obesity among Hispanic and poor adults and children put them at higher risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, joint and bone disease, and other health problems.
Regardless of fitness trends among various demographic groups in Austin, "what's really striking is the absolute level of poor fitness across the board in general," said Dr. Aliya Hussaini , a health program grant officer at the Dell Family Foundation, which has invested $85 million in childhood health issues in Texas, including support for health and fitness programs at 97 Travis County public elementary schools.
I had a working mom, so I assumed my wife would be one, too. Clarissa Acuña, the woman I married, also planned on having a career of her own.
But we were both wrong. Clarissa hasn't worked since the summer of 1991, shortly before she had delivered our third child.
At the time, it no longer made sense financially for her to work. After paying taxes on her wages and child care for three children, we wouldn't have come out ahead.
[Cheapskate] Getty Images
But over the years, that fateful decision has locked us into two different roles. I work and earn. She takes care of the kids.
Having a stay-at-home wife has given me enormous career flexibility. Unlike some of my colleagues, I've never missed days because of a sick child. I've been able to work late when needed, travel whenever I wanted for stories, and move around the country for better jobs.
That's the upside. There are also big downsides. There's good reason to believe that Clarissa, who is bilingual and has a marketing degree, would have been successful in a multitude of careers. She never got the chance.
And as the kids grew older, living on one salary was a squeeze financially. I come from a long line of cheapskates. But I've been made cheaper because it was tough supporting three kids -- particularly putting the eldest two through college -- on one salary.
Periodically, I bring up the subject of Clarissa rejoining the work force. It's not so much the extra money, though I do worry about our household being completely dependent on one wage earner in a contracting economy. Mostly, I just think she's ready for something new, and she's very talented.
Police and school officials are urging parents to check for naked photos on their children's cell phones after a 14-year-old girl learned that her nude photo ended up in the hands of hundreds of area high school students.