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Friday, September 9th, 2011
This week the Chicago City Council adopted an ordinance banning the sale of crib bumper pads after learning they may have played a role in the deaths of a least a dozen babies, The Chicago Tribune reports.
Many families think of bumper pads as an essential way to keep babies cozy in the crib, but “babies can lack the motor skills and strength to turn their heads if they roll against something that blocks their breathing,” The Tribune said.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission already recommends that parents keep anything soft—such as pillows, quilts, and “pillow-like bumper pads,”—out of a baby’s bed to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. But Nancy Maruyama, of SIDS of Illinois, pointed out that parents see bumper pads in stores, and think “if (stores) sell it, it must be safe,” she told the Tribune.
The state of Maryland is considering a similar ban, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission has said it is studying the safety of bumper pads.
Chicago Aldermen were motivated by stories in The Chicago Tribune in March. The paper reported that federal regulators investigated at least a dozen cases where crib bumpers appeared to play a role in a baby’s death, but investigators ultimately said it wasn’t clear the pads were to blame. So reporters took a closer look at records about the deaths. From the Tribune:
[I]n reviewing the agency’s own records, the Tribune found that in many of those cases, babies who died had their faces pressed into bumper pads.
The Tribune also found at least 17 additional cases in which the safety agency did not investigate a child’s death even though the agency had reports on file suggesting bumper pads played roles in the fatalities.
The Chicago bumper pad ban will take effect in about seven months.
(image via: http://kidsindanger.blogspot.com)
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Thursday, September 8th, 2011
Hiring a babysitter or nanny could get a lot more complicated for California parents.
A bill now in California’s State Senate, nicknamed “The Babysitter’s Bill,” would require people who employ domestic workers to pay them minimum wage and overtime, and provide workers’ comp, MSNBC.com reports.
Parents would also be required to give sitters mandatory breaks: a 10-minute break every four hours, and a 30-minute meal break after five hours. “Failure to abide with the provisions of the measure could land the employer in court since [the bill] provides for legal action to be taken against employers by domestic workers,” MSNBC explains.
The law would apply only to caregivers older than 18 who are not family members. It’s designed to protect domestic workers, who are currently ineligible for worker’s comp if they work less than full-time.
The bill has ignited fury on the Internet. Bloggers have pointed out that parents would have to hire two sitters to cover breaks. On The Stir, Julie Ryan Evans wrote:
So pretty much forget ever going on a date night again, and as for us working moms — we’re totally screwed. Minimum wage, I get, and most people I know pay much more than $7.25 an hour for a sitter. But the rest of it is asinine and just another burden on women who work outside the home to support their families.
I’ve been a babysitter and hired babysitters, and I know a lot about the job. It’s difficult no doubt, and I cherish my good sitters. But babysitting isn’t like an office job. The kids nap, they sleep at night, you can sit down and watch a movie with them from time to time, and even eat when they eat.
Readers, what’s your take on “The Babysitter’s Bill?”
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Thursday, September 1st, 2011
A tough new law cracking down on school bullies takes effect today in New Jersey.
Called the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, the law was sparked by the suicide of Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi last year, The New York Times reports. Clementi jumped off a bridge after his college roommate secretly used a webcam to film him in bed with another man and stream it over the Internet.
Parents and educators welcome the effort to stop bullies, and supporters of the new law say it has to be tough to cope with kids who can now be especially mean and damaging on online sites like Facebook.
But some school administrators say the new rules are too strict to enforce properly. “I think this has gone well overboard,” Richard G. Bozza, executive director of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, told The Times. “Now we have to police the community 24 hours a day. Where are the people and the resources to do this?”
Under the new law, school districts will be monitored and graded by the State Education Department on their efforts to deal with bullies, and each school must appoint a team to deal with bullying complaints. From the Times:
The law … orders principals to begin an investigation within one school day of a bullying episode, and superintendents to provide reports to [the State Education Department] twice a year detailing all episodes. Statewide, there were 2,846 such reports in 2008-9, the most recent year for which a total was available.
What do you think? Is this new law the right way to deal with bullies?
(image via: http://www.accessmovement.org)
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Wednesday, August 31st, 2011
Last week an Illinois appeals court dismissed a case brought by two children against their mom for “bad mothering,” the Chicago Tribune reports.
Steven Miner II, 23, and his sister Kathryn, 20, of Barrington Hills, Illinois, filed the suit against Kimberly Garrity two years ago, asking for more than $50,000 for “emotional distress.”
What qualified as “bad mothering?” From the Tribune:
The alleged offenses include failing to take her daughter to a car show, telling her then-7-year-old son to buckle his seat belt or she would contact police, “haggling” over the amount to spend on party dresses and calling her daughter at midnight to ask that she return home from celebrating homecoming.
The story continues:
Among the exhibits filed in the case is a birthday card Garrity sent her son, who in his lawsuit sought damages because the card was “inappropriate” and failed to include cash or a check. He also alleged she failed to send a card for years or, while he was in college, care packages.
The siblings were represented by three attorneys including their father, Steven A. Miner. According to the Tribune, Garrity divorced Miner in 1995 after ten years of marriage.
The father asserted that this case was “no different from a patient suing a physician ‘for bad doctoring.’” In court papers, he wrote, “Everyone makes mistakes, but … there must be accountability for actions. Parenting is no different.”
The mother’s attorney said the children’s suit was “orchestrated by their father.” From the Tribune:
In court papers, Garrity’s attorney Shelley Smith said the “litany of childish complaints and ingratitude” in the lawsuit is nothing more than an attempt by Garrity’s ex-husband to “seek the ultimate revenge” of having her children accuse her of “being an inadequate mother.”
In dismissing the case, the court said mother’s conduct was not “extreme or outrageous.” A victory for the kids, it said, “could potentially open the floodgates to subject family child rearing to … excessive judicial scrutiny and interference.”
(image via: http://www.econ.ucsb.edu)
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Wednesday, August 24th, 2011
Jessica Beagley of Anchorage Alaska was convicted Tuesday of misdemeanor child abuse charges after she squirted hot sauce into the mouth of her 7-year-old adopted son as a punishment for misbehaving and lying in school. According to The Huffington Post, prosecutors also charged that she made the boy stand in a cold shower as a punishment, and that both actions were taken as a ploy to get onto a segment of the “Dr. Phil” television show called “Mommy Confessions.” The show aired in November 2010. From The Huffington Post:
Beagley…submitted audition videos in which she yelled at the boy, but producers said they needed to see her actually punishing her son, the prosecutor said.
That’s when Beagley got the video camera ready, made sure there was enough hot sauce on the shelf in the bathroom and recruited her 10-year-old daughter to shoot the video, Franklin said. Days later, she was headed to Los Angeles to tape the show that first aired on Nov. 17, 2010.
The boy and his twin brother were both adopted from Russia by Beagley and her husband in 2008. Defense attorneys argued that she had reached out to the “Dr. Phil” show for help, and that she is not a child abuser.
The maximum sentence will be one year in jail, a $10,000 fine and up to 10 years of probation. Beagley will be sentenced Monday, August 29.
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