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Thursday, February 28th, 2013
As the clock ticks and the likelihood of sequestration increases, you may have heard lots of opinions expressed. One reality is that it will – directly and indirectly – impact kids. Here’s why.
RESEARCH WILL BE CUT
Immediate cuts will be made to research budgets. I’ve seen funding already be pulled or killed for projects in anticipation of sequestration. When research funds are taken away, the knowledge base is reduced – which derails our efforts to use research to help kids. Keep in mind that there is typically no source to replace these funds – when they go away, research is compromised or ended.
EDUCATION WILL BE CUT
There are a range of educational services that will take a hit. Cutting our support of education is not a good thing.
PARENTS WILL LOSE JOBS
People will lose jobs – which means that some parents will lose jobs. This will directly impact their kids’ lives.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Keep a few things in mind. Sequestration was set up to force politicians to come to a compromise about budget issues. The idea is that they would never let a policy put in place that arbitrarily takes a hatchet to many fundamental services. Yes, we have a budget crisis. Yes, it needs to be solved. But in a thoughtful, bipartisan way. Not in a cavalier, non-conceptual manner that has no rhyme or reason. You can look at sequestration through a variety of lenses – but one bottom line is that it will affect kids. The clock is ticking, and something needs to be done.
Sticky Notes on Office Clock via Shutterstock
Monday, February 18th, 2013
Parents Magazine is hosting a Facebook Town Hall with Vice President Biden on Tuesday, February 19, at 3:30 PM (eastern time). You have an opportunity to post questions that may be asked of the Vice President on Parents’ Facebook page.
Gun violence and safety is a complex topic – certainly one of four public health issues raised by the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy – and this is a unique opportunity to get the Vice President’s thoughts on the matter.
I encourage you to be a part of this.
Town Hall via Shutterstock.com
Categories: Behavior, Health, Must Read, Parenting, Questions, Red-Hot Parenting, Stories | Tags: Gun Safety, Gun Violence, Health, Joe Biden, Kids Health, Newtown, Sandy Hook Elementary, Town Hall, Vice President Biden
Monday, February 18th, 2013
When a toddler cries, parents can get worn down and even ornery. People in a restaurant may be annoyed. Passengers on a plane may be especially ruffled.
I get all of that – it’s human nature. But human nature has hit (pun intended) a new low with the report that a man has been accused of slapping a toddler in the face during a flight because he was crying. The toddler was sitting on his mom’s lap. And for good measure, the man is also reported to have made a racial slur as well. And now the child is “scared to death.”
If the accusation is proven to be true (like you, I’m just reading the news reports on it and I wasn’t on the plane), it’s almost easy to dismiss this as the act of a child-hater gone wild. Maybe it’s just one guy who did an unbelievable and reprehensible (you can fill in your own words here – I’m almost at a loss to describe the actions) thing. But there is, I think, a deeper message.
In our culture, we’ve become too tolerant of directing anger at toddlers (and of course, babies and children and teens). It’s become too acceptable to complain and b**** about a toddler who won’t stop crying, or who is too clingy, or too demanding. People who don’t currently have a toddler do that. And some parents do as well. I get that parents need to vent – and sometimes it’s very helpful to do that. I understand that parents might find a bit of solace writing in exaggerated tones online as a form of release. I don’t have a problem with “Go the F**k to Sleep.” But I worry that this trend is going too far. Are we breeding and encouraging a parenting culture that hates parenting? Are we too accepting of some of the inevitable negative feelings that we have about kids and going overboard in being “honest” about everything we dislike about kids? I’d like our parenting culture to model acceptance and understanding and tolerance of our how our babies and toddlers and kids and teens act. And then I’d hope our broader culture would follow suit.
Let’s face some facts. Kids are dependents. They cry and scream and get upset because they are supposed to do this. It’s a signal to adults that they need comforting, guidance, and soothing – not angry looks and nasty tones. Yes, it’s frustrating – but we are, after all, the adults.
So as understanding as I am about the idea of banning kids from some restaurants and banning them from some flights, part of me wants to dismiss all of this. Part of me wants to remind adults that they were toddlers once. Part of me wants to say that, guess what, not all adults in restaurants or on airplanes are especially delightful to be around in public. Maybe it’s time we stop indulging all of the negatives about being around kids and start embracing all the wonderful things about it. So when we find ourselves on a long flight, and there is a baby crying and parents are trying hard to calm and soothe them, maybe it’s time we start practicing empathy rather than anger – and maybe even see if we can help. Let’s save the anger for adults who don’t treat kids right.
Baby Crying via Shutterstock.com
Thursday, January 31st, 2013
An editorial in the New York Times suggests this is so in relation to gun control issues and the devastating losses of young lives that we continue to witness, the most recent being the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre. The crux of the argument is that we need to consider the seemingly endless stream of senseless murders (from Columbine to Virginia Tech to Aurora to Newtown) from the perspective of public health – meaning we need to treat this like an epidemic and rectify all the gaps in knowledge that currently exist about guns and violence. I couldn’t agree more.
This month, I used the public health framework to discuss our knowledge base on the four central issues we have all been discussing in relation to Sandy Hook:
Violent Video Games
The conclusion each time was that we really are pretty ignorant about how these factors come together to lead an individual to murder innocent youth. What we need now is to start asking pointed questions in research designed to help us arrive at meaningful next steps that would reduce the likelihood of these heinous acts taking innocent lives – based on reputable data and not just rhetoric or philosophy. That’s what public health research does – plain and simple, it identifies factors that can be modified to prevent the probability of death, and conducts scientific tests to generate an empirical foundation for making decisions that impact the problem. Studies showed that seatbelts save lives – we require use of seatbelts. Studies showed that teens who text when driving are at increased risk for getting killed – we ban texting. We don’t know right now the relative mix of influence posed by mental health issues, access to guns, and exposure to violent video games – and we need the studies to sort that out rather than pitting one factor against the other in a philosophical game of chess that does nothing to improve school safety. Public health is agnostic – just get answers and act on them. If we don’t take that principle seriously, then yes, ignorance is killing our kids.
Epidemiology and Public Health via Shutterstock.com
Categories: Behavior, Health, Intervention, Parenting, Questions, Red-Hot Parenting, Stories | Tags: Aurora, Columbine, Gun Control, Health, Kids Health, Mental Health, Newtown, public health, Sandy Hook Elementary, School Safety, Violent Video Games, Virginia Tech
Wednesday, January 9th, 2013
In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy, this is a question we all have. But, in reality, it is a very difficult one to answer. So, to that end, here are some questions to ponder as we all think about how we can improve school safety. Or put another way – here are some questions for parents to consider about their child’s school.
What is your school’s policy concerning entry? Are multiple doors open during the day? Can anyone walk into the school unattended? Is there a locked door and a buzz-in procedure? Depending on your answers to these questions, should your child’s school reconsider their existing policies?
Do you know how prepared your school is in case someone enters? What procedures are in place? Are these common knowledge? Has the school shared their system with parents?
Does your school currently utilize armed guards? How do you feel about this? If your school doesn’t do this (and most don’t) – would you feel better if they did? Is your school having an active dialogue about this topic?
We all have an adaptive tendency to get back to our daily lives after a tragedy. Sandy Hook Elementary has resumed classes in a different school building. But although we move ahead, it’s really important that we keep the conversation going about school safety – and that parents make sure they have a voice and partner with their child’s school to have thoughtful discussions about the lessons learned. The most sobering one is that even in the case of a school with extreme precautions and a very well trained (and heroic) faculty and staff, schools are always going to be a vulnerable place. That said, we all know now that we need to do everything we can to make them as safe as possible.
For other recent thoughts on the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting, see the following links:
Mental Health as a Public Health Issue
Gun Control as a Public Health Issue
School Security Cameras via Shutterstock.com
Categories: Behavior, Health, Must Read, Parenting, Questions, Red-Hot Parenting, Stories | Tags: buzz-in entry, Health, Kids Health, Newtown shooting, Sandy Hook Elementary, School Safety