Thursday, August 22nd, 2013
A recent essay on TIME magazine’s website argues that schools are becoming “hostile environments for young boys.” In the aftermath of school violence in places including Newtown, Connecticut, many schools have adopted zero tolerance policies related to firearms, but those rules are sometimes interpreted very strictly, with boys as young as seven being suspended for pretending to “shoot” bad guys with pencils, or for throwing imaginary hand grenades. As a result, writer Christina Hoff Sommers worries that schools are no longer letting boys engage in the action-oriented, good-guys-versus-bad-guys play that she says comes naturally to them.
Here’s more from her essay on TIME.com:
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Across the country, schools are policing and punishing the distinctive, assertive sociability of boys. Many much-loved games have vanished from school playgrounds. At some schools, tug of war has been replaced with “tug of peace.” Since the 1990s, elimination games like dodgeball, red rover and tag have been under a cloud—too damaging to self-esteem and too violent, say certain experts. Young boys, with few exceptions, love action narratives. These usually involve heroes, bad guys, rescues and shoot-ups. As boys’ play proceeds, plots become more elaborate and the boys more transfixed. When researchers ask boys why they do it, the standard reply is, “Because it’s fun.”
According to at least one study, such play rarely escalates into real aggression—only about 1% of the time. But when two researchers, Mary Ellin Logue and Hattie Harvey, surveyed classroom practices of 98 teachers of 4-year-olds, they found that this style of play was the least tolerated. Nearly half of teachers stopped or redirected boys’ dramatic play daily or several times a week—whereas less than a third reported stopping or redirecting girls’ dramatic play weekly.
Play is a critical basis for learning. And boys’ heroic play is no exception. Logue and Harvey found that “bad guy” play improved children’s conversation and imaginative writing. Such play, say the authors, also builds moral imagination, social competence and imparts critical lessons about personal limits and self-restraint. Logue and Harvey worry that the growing intolerance for boys’ action-narrative-play choices may be undermining their early language development and weakening their attachment to school.
boys, Christina Hoff Sommers, gun violence, school, schools, social behavior, Time magazine, violence | Categories:
Education, Parenting News, Parents News Now, Trends
Wednesday, May 15th, 2013
In a move that is drawing a variety of opinions from people on every side of the debate over gun violence, the American Academy of Pediatrics appealed to Congress this month to pass legislation that includes an assault weapon ban, mandatory background checks and waiting periods before all firearm purchases, a ban on high-capacity magazines, handgun regulations and requirements for safe firearm storage under federal law. NBC News has more:
“I think we can be honest brokers,” says Dr. Lolita McDavid, medical director for child advocacy and protection at University Hospitals, part of Case Western Reserve University’s school of medicine in Cleveland.
“We have to have a collectively louder voice,” Dr. Danielle Laraque, who chairs the pediatrics department at Maimonides Infants and Children’s Hospital in Brooklyn, told a meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Washington, D.C., earlier this month. “What we need is a call to action, to really look at how we can change public policy that is not often affected by data.”
They don’t always get a friendly reception. Just two weeks before the doctors arrived, Congress had scuttled what gun-control advocates had considered a modest bill to expand background checks for gun sales.
Congress had already dropped a wider measure pushed by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden after the December shootings of 20 schoolchildren and six adults in Newtown, Conn.
Image: Gun trigger, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
As many as one in five American children who are considered to be at risk of committing suicide have access to guns–the most effective method of killing yourself–in their homes, says a new study that was presented to the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting this week in Washington, DC. NBC News has more:
They said their findings show it’s extremely important to screen children for suicide risk, and to educate parents about how to keep guns out of their hands if they are. And early treatment is also vital.
The researchers, who presented their findings at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting in Washington, D.C., say they don’t want their results to get mixed up in the current debate over firearms regulation. They just want to keep kids safe.
“A lot of kids, surprisingly, don’t have a history of mental illness but they attempt suicide,” says Dr. Stephen Teach, an emergency room doctor at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
Suicide is the No. 3 cause of death for children and youths aged 10 to 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 4,600 kids and young adults kill themselves each year, and 45 percent of them use guns. Another 40 percent suffocate or strangle themselves and 8 percent poison themselves.
“Guns are the most lethal method that is commonly used in suicide attempts,” says Dr. Matt Miller, an injury control expert at the Harvard School of Public Health. People who try to commit suicide using pills or by cutting themselves complete the suicide just 3 percent of the time, he said.
Teach and colleagues made their discovery while trying to come up with an easy, short questionnaire for emergency room doctors to use while seeing children for a range of troubles. Their study included 524 patients ages 10 to 21 being seen at three pediatric emergency rooms.
“When we were asking kids these questions, we also asked kids questions about firearms and bullets. To our surprise, one-fifth reported firearms in the home,” Teach said in an interview. “That’s a pretty volatile mix. Nearly half of all completed suicides involve firearms, which is pretty scary.”
Image: Depressed child, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, February 26th, 2013
A 4-year-old Houston boy has died after he picked up a handgun and shot himself, NBC News is reporting, adding that the gun belonged to the boy’s father and was stolen. More from NBC:
Marquiez Deshon Pratt, 21, was asleep on the couch when his son, Jaiden, picked up the gun and shot himself in the stomach, according to a report from the Houston Police Department.
The weapon, a .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol, was stolen during a burglary in 2011, according to the police report.
Jaiden was spending the weekend with his father when the incident occurred. The boy’s mother dropped him off every Friday and was scheduled to pick him up Sunday at noon, according to the Houston Chronicle.
After the shooting, the elder Pratt ran out of his second-floor apartment with his son in his arms, yelling to his neighbors for help, according to the Houston Chronicle.
When officers arrived, Pratt handed his son over to them and ran back to his apartment.
While some officers pursued Pratt, others performed CPR on the young victim, but the boy was pronounced dead at the scene.
Image: Handgun, via Shutterstock
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Friday, February 22nd, 2013
The Facebook Town Hall interview with Vice President Joe Biden conducted earlier this week by Parents.com executive editor Michael Kress has made headlines on a wide range of outlets, with analysts and reporters commenting in particular on a comment Biden made urging a mother to “buy a shotgun” instead of a weapon with a high-capacity magazine.
Wednesday night, the moment was featured as the “Moment of Zen” on the Comedy Central program “The Daily Show” (video below). Here are links to some other news reactions to the Town Hall:
Gawker.com: Joe Biden’s Advice for Defending Your Home: ‘Buy a Shotgun, Buy a Shotgun’
Politico.com: Biden Gets Testy
NBC Nightly News: Biden: ‘Get a Double-Barreled Shotgun’
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