Tuesday, June 24th, 2014
A New York City policy allowing schools to prohibit unvaccinated kids from attending school when there are reported cases of vaccine-preventable diseases has been upheld by a federal judge, despite the claims by three families that the policy violates their constitutional right to make medical decisions based on religious beliefs. The New York Times reports:
Citing a 109-year-old Supreme Court ruling that gives states broad power in public health matters, Judge William F. Kuntz II of Federal District Court in Brooklyn ruled against three families who claimed that their right to free exercise of religion was violated when their children were kept from school, sometimes for a month at a time, because of the city’s immunization policies.
The Supreme Court, Judge Kuntz wrote in his ruling, has “strongly suggested that religious objectors are not constitutionally exempt from vaccinations.”
The lawyer for the plaintiffs, Patricia Finn, said she plans to appeal the decision, announced this month. On Thursday, Ms. Finn asked the district court to rehear the case.
Amid concerns by public health officials that some diseases are experiencing a resurgence in areas with low vaccination rates, the decision reinforces efforts by the city to balance a strict vaccine mandate with limited exemptions for objectors. Pockets of vaccination refusal persist in the city, despite high levels of vaccination overall.
State law requires children to receive vaccinations before attending school, unless a parent can show religious reservations or a doctor can attest that vaccines will harm the child. Under state law, parents claiming religious exemptions do not have to prove their faith opposes vaccines, but they must provide a written explanation of a “genuine and sincere” religious objection, which school officials can accept or reject.
Some states also let parents claim a philosophical exemption, though New York does not. Some parents refuse to have their children vaccinated because of a belief that vaccines can cause autism, though no link has ever been proved.
Two of the families in the lawsuit who had received religious exemptions challenged the city’s policy on barring their children, saying it amounted to a violation of their First Amendment right to religious freedom and their 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law, among other claims. Their children had been kept from school when other students had chickenpox, their suit said.
The third plaintiff, Dina Check, sued on somewhat different grounds, saying that the city had improperly denied her 7-year-old daughter a religious exemption. She said the city rejected her religious exemption after it had denied her a medical exemption, sowing doubts among administrators about the authenticity of her religious opposition. But Ms. Check said the request for a medical exemption had been mistakenly submitted by a school nurse without her consent.
Image: School lockers, via Shutterstock
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constitutional law, court case, Education, federal court, New York City, religion, school policy, vaccinations, Vaccines | Categories:
Child Health, Education, Must Read, Safety
Thursday, May 22nd, 2014
A major child porn bust in New York resulted in 71 arrests today, and revealed a shocking list of perpetrators, including a New York City policeman, a rabbi, a fire department paramedic, and a scoutmaster. More from CNN:
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The investigation, involving agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as well as New York authorities, began as part of an undercover operation into peer-to-peer networks, authorities told reporters Wednesday. The suspects, who do not appear to know one another, were able to search files using graphic terms and descriptions. Software continuously scanned files and automatically uploaded images to personal computers, laptops and mobile phones.
Special Agent in Charge James Hayes, head of Homeland Security Investigations New York, called the arrests the largest enforcement operation in New York “targeting predators (who) possess, produce or distribute sexually explicit images of children.” The activity, he said, has “reached epidemic proportions.”
“The backgrounds of many of the individuals … is shocking,” Hayes said. “These defendants come from all walks of life … This operation puts the lie to the classic stereotypical profile that child predators are nothing more than unemployed drifters. Many of the defendants are, in fact, well-educated and successful in private and professional lives. They work as registered nurses, paramedics, caretakers for mentally ill adults, computer programers and architects.”
The continuing operation resulted in 71 arrests — including one woman — and the seizure of nearly 600 devices, including desktop and laptop computers, tablets, smartphones and thumb drives with tens of thousands of sexually explicit images and videos of children, Hayes said.
The pornographic images of children were shared at no charge, authorities said. About a third of the suspects remain in custody, and the others were released on bonds ranging from $30,000 to $500,000.
Monday, May 19th, 2014
New York City has been named in a national survey as the most expensive city in the nation in terms of the cost of hiring a babysitter. More from Time.com:
The average hourly babysitting rate for one child in New York is $15.34, based on a survey by UrbanSitter, which compiled data from nearly 7,500 families. That’s about $4.50 per hour more expensive than the cheapest big American city, Denver, whose babysitters charge parents an average of $10.84 per hour.
San Francisco parents pay $14.99 for one kid, Los Angeles parents pay $13.53, Washington, DC parents pay $13.83, and on the lower end, Chicago parents bay $11.91 and San Diego parents pay $11.11.
UrbanSitter also found that parents go through babysitters pretty quickly, with only 6 percent saying they’ve had the same one for over 5 years. Parents also like to go out a lot: more than a fourth of parents say they hire a babysitter once a week or more. And 30 percent of parents say they would not hire a “manny”—a male babysitter.
Image: Babysitter, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, February 26th, 2014
New Yorker Polly McCourt was taken by surprise as her labor progressed so quickly she didn’t have time to make it to the hospital to deliver her baby Monday. She wound up delivering the babe–a girl and her and her husband’s third child–at the crosswalk between East 68th Street and 3rd Avenue, with the help of a number of kind passersby. More from MyFoxNY.com:
The doorman had walked Polly McCourt to the corner to grab a taxi, but the baby wouldn’t wait. Polly got down on the ground in the crosswalk as several passersby stopped to help until police and medics arrived and took care of her.
“She was like, ‘oh, my God, the baby’s coming’,” one witness said. “And then I could see the baby’s head coming out.”
Several women offered their scarves to wrap up the newborn. One woman, believed to be named Isabel, gave Polly her coat to keep her warm.
A Fox 5 News crew just happened to be driving by as this unfolded on East 68th Street and 3rd Avenue on Monday afternoon at about 3:30 p.m.
“A miracle on 3rd Avenue,” a woman who helped in the delivery said.
Polly was seen smiling as she was loaded into the back of an ambulance.
A day later, Polly and her baby girl were doing well at Lenox Hill Hospital.
Image: Busy city crosswalk, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, February 4th, 2014
Mothers in the United Arab Emirates are now required by law to breastfeed their babies for their first two years of life. The Huffington Post reports on the new regulations, which would enable a husband to sue his wife if she fails to breastfeed:
The Emirates’ Federal National Council has passed a clause, part of their new Child Rights Law, requiring new moms to breastfeed their babies for two full years, The National reports. Now, men can sue their wives if they don’t breastfeed.
According to the National, there was a “marathon debate” over the legislation, but it was ultimately decided that it is every child’s right to be breastfed.
Research has found many benefits of breastfeeding for baby, from reducing the risk of obesity to better language and motor development.
However, not all new moms are able to nurse. In those instances, if a woman is prohibited by health reasons, the council will provide a wet nurse to her. It’s unclear exactly how a mother’s ability to breastfeed will be determined though.
Though breastfeeding is not required in the U.S., experts agree it is the healthiest way to feed a newborn. In 2012, Michael Bloomberg, who was mayor of New York City, introduced a controversial statewide provision requiring hospitals to “sign out” formula in the same way it dispenses medication, in a effort to encourage more women to breastfeed.
Download our free breastfed babies care chart to help track your baby’s feeding schedule.
Image: Breastfeeding newborn, via Shutterstock
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