Iceland knows how to stop teen substance abuse but the rest of the world isn’t listening, by Emma Young

In Iceland, teenage smoking, drinking and drug use have been radically cut in the past 20 years. Emma Young finds out how they did it, and why other countries won’t follow suit.

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It’s a little before three on a sunny Friday afternoon and Laugardalur Park, near central Reykjavik, looks practically deserted. There’s an occasional adult with a pushchair, but the park’s surrounded by apartment blocks and houses, and school’s out – so where are all the kids?

Walking with me are Gudberg Jónsson, a local psychologist, and Harvey Milkman, an American psychology professor who teaches for part of the year at Reykjavik University. Twenty years ago, says Gudberg, Icelandic teens were among the heaviest-drinking youths in Europe. “You couldn’t walk the streets in downtown Reykjavik on a Friday night because it felt unsafe,” adds Milkman. “There were hordes of teenagers getting in-your-face drunk.”

We approach a large building. “And here we have the indoor skating,” says Gudberg.

A couple of minutes ago, we passed two halls dedicated to badminton and ping pong. Here in the park, there’s also an athletics track, a geothermally heated swimming pool and – at last – some visible kids, excitedly playing football on an artificial pitch.

Young people aren’t hanging out in the park right now, Gudberg explains, because they’re in after-school classes in these facilities, or in clubs for music, dance or art. Or they might be on outings with their parents.

Today, Iceland tops the European table for the cleanest-living teens. The percentage of 15- and 16-year-olds who had been drunk in the previous month plummeted from 42 per cent in 1998 to 5 per cent in 2016. The percentage who have ever used cannabis is down from 17 per cent to 7 per cent. Those smoking cigarettes every day fell from 23 per cent to just 3 per cent.

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The way the country has achieved this turnaround has been both radical and evidence-based, but it has relied a lot on what might be termed enforced common sense. “This is the most remarkably intense and profound study of stress in the lives of teenagers that I have ever seen,” says Milkman. “I’m just so impressed by how well it is working.”

If it was adopted in other countries, Milkman argues, the Icelandic model could benefit the general psychological and physical wellbeing of millions of  kids, not to mention the coffers of healthcare agencies and broader society. It’s a big if.

“I was in the eye of the storm of the drug revolution,” Milkman explains over tea in his apartment in Reykjavik. In the early 1970s, when he was doing an internship at the Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital in New York City, “LSD was already in, and a lot of people were smoking marijuana. And there was a lot of interest in why people took certain drugs.”

Milkman’s doctoral dissertation concluded that people would choose either heroin or amphetamines depending on how they liked to deal with stress. Heroin users wanted to numb themselves; amphetamine users wanted to actively confront it. After this work was published, he was among a group of researchers drafted by the US National Institute on Drug Abuse to answer questions such as: why do people start using drugs? Why do they continue? When do they reach a threshold to abuse? When do they stop? And when do they relapse?

“Any college kid could say: why do they start? Well, there’s availability, they’re risk-takers, alienation, maybe some depression,” he says. “But why do they continue? So I got to the question about the threshold for abuse and the lights went on – that’s when I had my version of the ‘aha’ experience: they could be on the threshold for abuse before they even took the drug, because it was their style of coping that they were abusing.”

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

https://mosaicscience.com/story/iceland-prevent-teen-substance-abuse?utm_source=Parent+Co.+Daily&utm_campaign=79720c9e11-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_01_18&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_3f341b94dd-79720c9e11-132097649

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“The Ruby Sceptre”, a new fantasy novel for children. By Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

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“When a simple game of Hide and Seek ends unexpectedly with being kidnapped by a dragon-like creature, Xuen, princess of her village, is thrown into an adventure she never saw coming.
Carried off to the northern land of Shardonia, Xuen learns that the ruthless and power-hungry King Xolleran intends her to be nothing more than snack food for his pet, the Halaveel Monster.
A fortunate escape brings her into contact with Sus, a boy who always carries a mysterious ruby sceptre. Together they seek to unite those who have suffered under Xolleran and to bring about the end of his evil reign.”

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A map of the lands of Shardonia and Angdoodle, where “The Ruby Sceptre” is set

“The Ruby Sceptre”, recently published by Ngaio Publishing, is a fantasy adventure story for children by New Zealand author Kirsteen McLay-Knopp (me). 🙂

A number of people have asked me what age group “The Ruby Sceptre” is suitable for.  Long ago at a writing workshop I was told not to put an age on my characters for children, as this encourages a wider  audience age range.  A 13 year old who is a reluctant reader may be put off if he or she thinks, for example, that the characters are only 10.  So I’ve left the characters ages open.  Another tip I learned from the writing workshops was that kids love food and if you read “The Ruby Sceptre”, you will see that there are a lot of references to food:  Xuen, the main female character, loves marshmallows and Sus, the main male character, loves chocolate-covered bananas.

The main characters, Xuen (a girl, left) and Sus (a boy, right) on a flying carpet created by magic

The main characters, Xuen (a girl, left) and Sus (a boy, right) on a flying carpet created by magic

I love the fantasy genre (as well as many others) and have been privileged throughout my life to have read (and had read to me) some of the best.  I don’t think we can ever have too many books in this genre (or too many books of any sort) and anything that keeps our kids engaged and reading is a plus.   Let’s face it, we all need a bit of magic and escape in life at times too.    My hopes are that “The Ruby Sceptre” will provide joy and magic to many for years to come.

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 “The Ruby Sceptre” is now available on Amazon… please follow the link below:

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=The+Ruby+Sceptre&rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3AThe+Ruby+Sceptre

 

 

“What do you See?”: Unlocking kids’ imaginations through art, by Sharon Reynolds, Redemptive Artist

 

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I was asked to write to you about how art in particular has been useful for my whanau, so let me start by saying that art has been an enormous part of our journey as a family and I’m not sure that all of that can easily be conveyed in just one article but I will try to share with you in this short article the synopsis of my thoughts and experiences thus far.

One of the greatest gifts I believe my mother installed into me was the gift of imagination.  I hear you already cringe and think hmmmm…. how is that a gift, isn’t it just something we have?

It is at this point that I share my opinion that it may have been at one time something we just produced naturally however over time I have seen imagination become so repressed that children are no longer able to tap into their ability to create, as they simply just don’t know how.

I was raised with imagination at the forefront of my childhood and I have taught my own children and grandchildren to imagine which has in turn developed their creative side and abilities to problem solve.  Many a morning my neighbourhood got to see my toddlers, laden with backpacks full of tasty treats and teddy bears, launch into a huddled pack as they peeped from behind trees on the sidewalk venturing forth on dangerous adventures and explorations and a bear hunt or two!

Sadly following procedure and doing things a certain way is often more of what is taught and makes for very rigid thinking and they get locked into a prescriptive way of doing almost everything.   What happens when things don’t go according to plan? Meltdown after meltdown!

The prescribed step by step process is not always what’s needed and often it is said that the journey is far better than the destination.  The process of art making rather than the focus on the final product often brings greater satisfaction and many more benefits that can be seen externally.

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Allow me to give a brief demonstration of exercising/releasing creative imagination.

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Figure 1: “What can you See?”

I picked a limited number of colours as seen in Figure 1: Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, Black. I then choose the word CONNECTIONS and invited a group of children to use fingers, brush, fabric wipes in whatever way they wished, with any movement they choose to freely express  themselves in response to this word.

Most of the class drew pictures of animals, people, houses, landscapes.  It was all very orderly. They basically drew what they knew and saw every day.  I then began to do squiggles, lines, flicked the brush, wiped the colours across the page, moved myself and the paper in different ways and angles.

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As this took place the children began to ask if they could have another piece of paper and I watched as they then took what had been modelled in front of them and with great glee let the freedom of their imagination and creativity flow!

At the end of our time together I held up my artwork (Figure 1.) and asked – “What do you see?”  Some of their answers are below…

  • A galaxy
  • Spiders
  • Under the sea, like a coral reef place
  • Explosions
  • Ribbons
  • Birds flying through a storm

These were just a few of the ideas that came from the children as they engaged with the artwork.  Then I turned it and many new creations began to emerge from what they could see.

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Once we begin to value the gift of imagination I believe we will see the creative ability emerge more and more.  This is just one example of a very quick work with a group of children who were struggling with a number of complex issues in their lives who were able to dive in deeply to the seabed of imagination and surface with a tangible feeling of achievement in making something fantastic!  They all felt their day had brightened and that for me is what being a Redemptive Artist is all about, taking something not so good and seeing it transform into something great.

CREATIVITY,   CONNECTIONS,   IMAGINATION

That’s what I see.

These words embody the very essence of what it is that I want to communicate to children when I teach them about the power of their imagination and work alongside them to discover their ability to create.

(Please feel free to explore for yourself and replicate the session I’ve described here.  I’d love to know, “What do you See?”)

SHARON REYNOLDS, BIO:

sharon2Sharon Reynolds and her family live in Christchurch, New Zealand.   She is a mother, grandmother and an artist.  Sharon works in community within a variety of roles as a Redemptive Artist and delivers her gift of creativity to bring hope and healing to those places that need it most.  This has taken her around New Zealand to Papua New Guinea and USA to date sharing her experiences and helping others bring their stories to life in their own unique ways.

The Dunedin Study: The Vital Importance of “Self Control” in creating Positive Life Outcomes, by Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

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Continuing  our series of articles on findings discovered by the “Dunedin Longitudinal Study”…

Among the most important and hopeful findings of The Dunedin Study is that there is something unfixed, something we can teach any child, regardless of their personality type, which will increase their future health, wealth and happiness.  This important something is the quality of self control.

The measure of self control a child possesses has, through the findings of The Dunedin Studyand others, been shown to be a more important factor in predicting individual positive life outcomes than intelligence or IQ.

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Professor Belsky

“Are you in command of yourself or does your self control you?” asks Professor Jay Belsky, Professor of Human Development at the University of California, Davis.  “Lots of people will say, ‘I didn’t choose to explode, it just happened.’  However, we now know that self control measured at age three forecasts whether a person will be married/ in a stable relationship, whether they will have a good or bad job history and even whether they will have good or bad health in adulthood.”

The good new is that, unlike personality  (which is fairly fixed), self control is variable, as it is a quality we learn.  Following from this, self control can be developed in any child.

Self Control is not fixed and can be developed in anyone.

The classic psychological “self control” test is what has become known as “The Marshmallow Test”.  Young children are left alone in a room with a marshmallow on a plate in front of them.  If they manage not to eat the marshmallow before an adult returns, they are given a second marshmallow.  They are told clearly in advance that the reward for controlling their natural impulse to eat the first marshmallow will be to obtain a second one. The children were filmed while alone with the marshmallow.  Children who showed the most self control during these experiments used self distraction to avoid eating the marshmallow.

“Kids who have the ability to distract themselves in this way are those who have had early, clear boundaries put in place,” Professor Belsky says.  “By age three or four they know that if they are told not do do something, the best method of avoiding it is not to hang around it and to find something else to do.”  Children’s methods of avoiding the marshmallow (and controlling their impulses) vary: some sing, crawl under the table, put their heads down or shut or avert their eyes.  When put in pairs, children encouraged (or discouraged) self control in one another. (A video clip of children participating in “The Marshmallow Test”, from YouTube is below).

The results of The Dunedin Studyshow that in almost every measure of success, self control made a huge difference.  Moreover, participants who displayed low levels of self control during childhood presented with a raft of physical problems later on in life. These health issues included such things as obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, gum disease and sexually transmitted diseases.  “Low self-control” children were also more likely to grow up addicted to tobacco, alcohol or drugs. All these represent an expensive cost to the individual, their community and society.

Self Control: a more important factor in predicting individual positive life outcomes than intelligence or IQ.

How, then, can self control be improved and developed in our children?  The best control measure in the The Dunedin Studycame when comparing children who were identified at age three as having an “Undercontrolled” personality (10% of participants) with one another.  Those who had firm, consistent and sensitive parenting with structure and routine developed self control habits which over-rode their “Undercontrolled” personality types.  “Enforced Norms”, such as those created in Early Childhood Education Centres, were also shown to be of benefit in helping children regulate their own behaviour and create their own  boundaries.  Furthermore, it was shown that intervention and work on developing self control at any age (even during adulthood) was beneficial.

As with other areas, however, The Dunedin Studyfindings showed that the greatest benefits were achieved the younger the age at which children learned these skills.

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Professor Heckman

Professor James Heckman is Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, a Nobel Memorial Prize winner in economics and an expert in the economics of human development.  Heckman and his team have been using results from The Dunedin Study“ in the USA, advising the presidency to prioritize the teaching of Self Control in schools.  Professor Heckman believes this will result in huge, long term benefits to the US economy, as well as immense savings.

Once again, then, findings from The Dunedin Studyoffer hope and encouragement.  Nature at age three, thirty three or fifty three does not vary greatly.  However Nurture plays and enormous part in determining whether or not a young child has positive life outcomes as an adult.  Role modelling and teaching the vitally important quality of “Self Control”, as well as parenting consistently, with regular routines and boundaries, gives young children, particularly those with Undercontrolled or  Inhibited personality types, the best chance at becoming well-adjusted adults who are able to cope with what life throws their way.  The overall message then: with the right methods and resources at our disposal we can make a difference in the life trajectory of any child… something we can all feel positive about.

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How To Improve Your Child’s Mood With Colors, by Sandi Schwartz

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For thousands of years, color has been thought to have power over our emotions. Artists, interior decorators, fashion designers, and advertising agencies utilize the meaning of different colors to influence human behavior and attract customers. By considering the lessons of these experts, how can we as parents use the science of color to guide our children’s mood? Does the color we paint their rooms really affect how happy they feel or how soundly they sleep?

History of color psychology

Several ancient cultures, including the Egyptians and Chinese, used color for healing purposes as far back as 2,000 years ago. This type of therapy is called chromotherapy, light therapy, or colorology, and is still used today as a holistic or alternative treatment.

It is believed that color therapy uses the visible spectrum of light and color to change a person’s mood and their physical and mental health. Each color is part of a specific frequency and vibration that can affect certain energy, or chakras, in our body.

Practitioners also believe that certain colors entering the body can activate hormones causing chemical reactions that ultimately influence emotion and help the body heal. Red, for example, is used to stimulate the body and mind and to increase circulation. Orange heals the lungs and increases energy levels. Blue treats pain, while indigo cures skin problems. Finally, green relaxes patients who are emotionally unbalanced and yellow invigorates those suffering from depression.

How color impacts mood

Psychologists have found that color can influence how we feel and can even cause physiological changes in our body. Keep in mind, however, that there are different interpretations of color’s impact on emotions depending on culture and circumstance.

Research shows that certain colors can increase blood pressure, metabolism, and adrenaline. Other studies have found that certain colors can improve sleep habits, boost memory, and enhance academic performance. One study discovered that seeing the color red before taking a test can hurt performance. Students who were shown a red number before taking the test scored more than 20 percent lower than those shown a green or black number.

Just as color influences our mood, it can also be used to describe how we feel. A study reported in the journal BMC Medical Research indicated that people with depression or anxiety were more likely to associate their mood with the color gray, while happier people preferred yellow.

Researchers at the University of California determined that young children chose bright colors to represent positive feelings and dark colors for negative feelings. They were even able to identify how specific colors made the children feel: red is for mad, blue is for sad, yellow is for happy, and green is for glad. Color can therefore be a very helpful tool in accessing children’s emotions instead of relying on them to tell us how they feel.

Institutions like the American Red Cross, St. Jude’s Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, and Scholastic incorporate this ability to connect feelings to colors as a way to better understand the emotions of young children. So if our children tell us they feel gray or blue, are seeing red, or feel green with envy, we will know what they are talking about can guide them through their emotions.

What each color means

Over time, studies have shown how different colors impact us in unique ways. Warm colors, such as red, yellow, and orange, stimulate emotions ranging from comfort and warmth to hostility and anger. Typically, warm colors make us feel happy and cozy. Bold shades of warm colors also help stimulate our mind and energize our body.

On the other hand, cool colors, like blue, green, and purple, relax us, but can also make us feel sad, especially if they are too dark. Despite their soothing nature, cool colors are not always welcoming and can leave people feeling removed and distant. Here’s a bit more about the impact and symbolism of colors:

Red

  • Excites and energizes the body, increases heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration
  • Creates alertness and excitement
  • Encourages creativity
  • Increases appetite
  • Can increase athletic ability, causing people to react with greater speed and force
  • Associated with increased aggression, an inability to focus, and headache
  • May be disturbing to anxious individuals

Pink

  • Evokes empathy and femininity
  • Creates a calming atmosphere
  • Can become irritating over time, leading to anxiety

Yellow

  • Associated with positive feelings of happiness and motivation
  • Encourages creativity
  • Soft, subtle yellows promote concentration
  • Bright shades stimulate the memory and increase metabolism
  • Too much can lead to anger and frustration

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

How to improve your child’s mood with colors

The Benefits of Art for Kids, by Jean Van’t Hul

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Everyone says art and creativity are important, but are you wondering what the actual benefits of art are for kids?

Today I’m sharing some of the many kids’ art benefits as well as a quote about children’s art that I just love.

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THE BENEFITS OF ART AND ARTFUL LIVING

The Artful Parent Book by Jean Van’t Hul

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(Excerpted from The Artful Parent: Simple Ways to Fill Your Family’s Life with Art & Creativity, © 2013 by Jean Van’t Hul. Reprinted by arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications Inc., Boston, MA.)

Educators tell us that art encourages fine motor skills, neural development, and problem-solving abilities and that it can be used effectively to teach and understand other key subjects such as reading, writing, math, and science. Therapists tell us that art is valuable because it allows children to process their world, to deal with sometimes scary emotions in a safe way, and because it gives them critical sensory input. Artists tell us that art is important for its own sake—as a source of beauty and expression, as well as simply for the process of creating. Kids tell us that art is fun, an activity they enjoy. Parents tell us that art is vital to their families because it keeps everyone engaged and happy and helps with the sometimes difficult transitions of the day. Art is naturally linked to creativity, an attribute that is increasingly being touted as one of the most important factors for the success of individuals, organizations, and cultures.

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The truth is that art is vital, if somewhat intangible, and that if children engage in hands-on art activities, they learn much better in all disciplines. Here are some of the reasons why children thrive when they make art:

Art Promotes Creativity

Creativity is the ability to think outside the proverbial box, to string two unrelated ideas together in a new way. Solutions to major problems and breakthroughs of all kinds are linked to creativity. The ability to be creative is vital to the success of our children and the well-being of our world, now more than ever, as we face incredible challenges such as racial discord, wars, global warming, and mass extinctions. Individuals, organizations, and governments seek innovative solutions every day. According to the International Child Art Foundation, “Research indicates that a child who is exposed to the arts acquires a special ability to think creatively, be original, discover, innovate, and create intellectual property—key attributes for individual success and social prosperity in the twenty-first century.” The world needs more and better thinkers.

Art Encourages Neural Connections

Art is an activity that can employ all the senses—sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste—depending on the activity. Children’s brain synapses fire away as they experiment and create, squishing paint between their fingers, mixing colors and materials, or drawing from imagination or what they see in front of them.

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Art Builds Fine Motor Skills

Gripping a paintbrush, drawing dots and lines, mixing colors, cutting with scissors, controlling a glue stick or squeezing a glue bottle, kneading and rolling play dough, tearing paper—all of these tasks require increasing amounts of dexterity and coordination, yet they are so fun and rewarding that children want to do them over and over. As kids engage in art activities over time, their fine motor skills improve.

Scribbling is a Precursor to Writing

Babies and toddlers begin by scribbling randomly, back and forth. The more they scribble, the more they are able to control the crayon and its movements across the paper. As children learn to control their scribbling, they make a wider variety of shapes, eventually making all the shapes necessary to write the letters of the alphabet—any alphabet.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://artfulparent.com/2016/01/the-benefits-of-art-for-kids.html

Part of her “Forever Years” spent in a Nazi Death Camp: Miracle that saved a girl from Auschwitz gas chamber, by Paul Ewart

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Yvonne Engelmann was just 15 when she was rounded up with her family and sent to Auschwitz concentration camp, one of the network of German Nazi extermination camps operated by the Third Reich in Poland in World War II from 1940-1945.

But it was an unlikely miracle that saw her survive to tell the disturbing tale.

After arriving at the camp, Yvonne was immediately sent to the gas chamber. Thanks to some strange twist of fate, it malfunctioned and she was left naked in the chamber overnight before being freed.

By some miracle, the Nazis kept her alive, and she was sent to sort through the clothes of newly arrived Jews to find any gold or valuables they’d hidden.

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The infamous German inscription that reads ‘Work Makes Free’ at the main gate of the Auschwitz I extermination camp on November 15, 2014 in Oswiecim, Poland. Photo / AP

Her “job” saw her stationed in between the crematorium (which burnt 24-hours daily) and the gas chambers. She ended up being the sole survivor from her entire family, and made a new life for herself in Australia.

“I was 14 and a half when war broke out,” Yvonne tells news.com.au.

“I wasn’t allowed to go to school, I couldn’t walk on the street, I had to wear the yellow Star of David and couldn’t mix with any non-Jewish people. Friends I’d grown up with now totally ignored me, solely because I was born a Jew.

“My father was taken to the police station many times and we never knew if he would come back. One day he returned and his front teeth had been knocked out. We lived in fear constantly – we had no idea what would happen to us in the next hour, let alone in the next day.”

Born in Czechoslovakia to shopkeeper parents, Yvonne was an only child.

“I had the most wonderful childhood that anyone could wish for, but unfortunately it was short-lived.”

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Yvonne Engelman says as a survivor of Auschwitz it is important to perpetuate the memory of those lost and volunteers her time to teach and “tell the world what really happened”. (Photo Source: Sydney Jewish Museum)

In the limbo of uncertainty, things went from bad to worse. Her parents’ shop was taken away and the family was forcibly removed from their home to a cramped Jewish ghetto.

At the approach of her 15th birthday, she and her family were taken from the ghetto – along with hundreds of others – to the railway station where they were piled into dozens of cattle wagons.

“Men, women, children, screaming babies – the journey was too horrific to even describe,” she recalls.

“There was no ventilation, it was hot, an overflowing tin bucket was the only toilet … we were stripped of our humanity.”

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A wedding photo of holocaust survivors Yvonne (nee Engel) and John Engelman, 1949, Australia

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11721357

See also related post:

https://theforeveryears.wordpress.com/2015/04/15/born-in-auschwitz-how-one-woman-delivered-3000-babies-during-the-holocaust/

Press release: UN to examine New Zealand’s approach to child rights

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Minister of Social Development Anne Tolley leads a New Zealand delegation to Geneva this week to report on the nation’s children and whether their rights are being upheld.

UNICEF New Zealand Executive Director Vivien Maidaborn is also in Geneva as part of the delegation and said the child rights’ agency welcomed Minister Tolley’s attendance.

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“We support the Minister’s leadership and direct involvement in closing the gap between the Convention on the Rights of the Child and New Zealand’s patchy progress to achieve these rights, especially for Māori children.”

“Previous reviews by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) have been extremely critical of successive governments’ progress for children.”

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Ms Maidaborn went on to say this was the fifth such review from the UNCRC but only the first time a minister had led the delegation.

Non-government agencies such as UNICEF NZ, Action for Children and Youth Aotearoa are also in Geneva for the review, alongside Judge Andrew Becroft, the Children’s Commissioner.

Ms Maidaborn said that alternative reports, written by community agencies and independent advisors, ensure the UNCRC committee can ask the right questions about government’s activities.

“It’s vital that non-government agencies are in the room to monitor what government tells the UNCRC. The transparency of the process couldn’t be more vital, both for New Zealanders back home and the international community at large.”

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Save the Children, UNICEF NZ and ACYA recently supported young New Zealanders to make their views on child rights known. This resulted in a report published this week entitled Our Voices, Our Rights which will also inform questions UNCRC ask the New Zealand government in the exam.

The UNCROC Monitoring Group have felt that in the past only minimal effort has been made by government to consult with children. These consultations were often adult-led, based around specific policy purposes and didn’t include versions that were child friendly.

UNICEF New Zealand Child Rights Advocate Dr Prudence Stone said 1198 children from all around the country participated in the initiative and some of the findings were alarming.

“Thirty-eight per cent of children who participated didn’t know what their rights were. Only four children knew it was actually their right to know, and that government was responsible for ensuring they had this knowledge.”

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(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://www.cid.org.nz/news/un-to-examine-new-zealands-approach-to-child-rights/

The Dunedin Study: TV Use/ Screen time and other “habits”: Effects on Kids in later years, by Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

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Continuing  our series of articles on findings discovered by the “Dunedin Longitudinal Study”

Every generation identifies “bad habits” in their children which they believe should be “discouraged” because of the negative effects they may cause later in life.  The Dunedin Longitudinal Study, which closely follows 1000 or so participants born in 1972-1973 in Dunedin New Zealand, has identified a number of these “habits” and then gone on to observe how far these do in fact effect people’s lives once they are adults.  The following is a summary of some of the study’s findings.

Cesarian Birth     No lasting effects.     Zero psychological significance.

article-2418967-1BC82B46000005DC-621_634x401Being left handed     No lasting effects… unless forced to write with right hand, which can cause frustration and therefore delay learning.

Bed wetting  No lasting effects.  Zero psychological significance, although other issues may be linked to this if it continues much after age 8 years.  Otherwise is a passing phase.

Age of Toilet Training   Not relevant to future psychological well-being, although other issues may be linked if toilet training has not occured by 5-6 years.

downloadThumb Sucking     A security/ self-nurturing response.  No other particular reason identified.  Usually a passing phase, few “thumb suckers” continue to do this into adulthood.  Has debatable impact on teeth… “if you don’t stop sucking your thumb, we’ll have to get braces on your teeth.”  Orthadontal need tends to be based on genetic predisposition to a particular jaw shape or “bucked teeth” going into adolescence, rather than being related to “thumb sucking”.

download (1)Amount of Sleep during Childhood     The Dunedin Study measured the amount of sleep per night  in participants when they were aged between 5 and 11 years old.  It was discovered that there was a direct correlation between the hours of sleep a child had at these ages and their body weight as an adult.  Those who had the least sleep as children tended to become the most over weight adults.  The reason for this is that sleep influences hormones which effect how hungry you become and when you feel full.  Toddlers who slept less also tended to have problems with cognitive functioning during adolescence and anxiety issues during their 20s.

13TV Watching/ Screen Time    The Dunedin Study also measured how many hours of TV children watched.  This also translates into general “screen time”.   This was the generation who began having personal computers and computer games in their home during the 1980s, when such brands as ZX81 and Commodore 64 became available and games such as “Pac Man” and “Space Invaders” were the rage.  Even those who did not have computers at home frequently had access to them via schools or to games in the “Video Arcades” which were popular in the 80s.  As well as this, the invention of VHS meant that hours spent JS44834649watching television increased dramatically… programmes could be taped and re-watched and the age of video rental shops had begun.  The results are dramatic.  The study showed that those who had more screen time were three times more likely to leave school early, regardless of their IQ or their family’s income.  This may also be because excessive screen time has been linked to self control, a majorly important component in predicting future life trajectory, (which we will examine in greater detail in a later article) and which is the case regardless of intelligence.c89c6ce15b18ce07443424fd290cb8f5

Conclusions drawn from this for those of us wishing to guide our children towards a more positive life trajectory?  1) Don’t be pushy about toilet training, most kids are toilet trained before they start school (boys tend to take a little longer than girls).  2)  Don’t make a big deal of bed wetting or thumb sucking.  3) Don’t force a child who is left handed to use their right hand.  4) Ensure your child has adequate sleep and investigate any obvious sleep issues early 5) Limit screen time… discussing and creating a “contract” with your child about this can be good and also encourages a degree of self-regulation.

“…the thing which is special about The Dunedin Study is that we have measured multiple aspects of human health and development, so we get a complete picture of people’s lives.” —-Professor Richie Poulton, study director.

The comprehensive nature of The Dunedin Longitudinal Study as well as the high rate of retention of participants (only 35% of participants still live in Dunedin, but 95% remain in the study and return regularly to participate), gives weight to the findings listed above, as well as strategies for reducing negative outcomes and increasing the chances of a positive life trajectory, through early intervention, for the children of today.

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The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)… and Aotearoa/ New Zealand

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“A 2003 UNICEF report said New Zealand had the third-worst rate of abuse and neglect of children in the OECD group of developed countries and Helen Clark, the prime minister at the time the law was passed, called the country’s child abuse record “a stain on our international reputation”. (Original story here)

What successive New Zealand Governments, including that of Helen Clark, would claim is that New Zealand has a solid track record of respecting the rights of the child …

However, let’s  look at New Zealand today re child rights.

  • New Zealand has the highest rate of domestic violence in the developed world
  • Between the years of 2007 – 2010 data showed that 1 in 6 Pakeha children (white European), 1 in 4 Pacific Island children and 1in 3 Māori children were living in poverty (figures show that children in homes below the poverty line increased from 22 per cent in 2007 to 28 per cent in 2010, and had dropped back only slightly to 27 per cent by 2012). By 2015 child poverty rates were back to 2007 – 2010 highs.
  • A 2003 UNICEF report demonstrated that New Zealand has one of the highest rates of child death from maltreatment (physical abuse and neglect) among rich OECD countries. NZ ranked 25th on a league table of 27 countries with 1.2 deaths per 100,000 children
  • Over one in four NZ adults has experienced childhood trauma or abuse, family violence and/or sexual assault.

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  • NZ Police respond to one ‘family violence’ call every seven minutes. Police say that in 60% of domestic violence cases children are also being abused.
  • An international survey found that one in four New Zealand girls is sexually abused before the age of 15, the highest rate of any country examined.
  • Research shows the police only hear about 20% of all family violence incidents and 10% of sexual violence offences.
  • Rates of child abuse in New Zealand have risen by 32% in the last five years, with instances happening to children who are already in the care of the state.
  • New Zealand’s suicide rate for 15-19 year olds is one of the highest in the OECD and double that of neighbouring Australia.
  • New Zealand was called to task by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in June, 2015 for failing to adequately protect children.  The UN report heavily criticised aspects of law and government programmes which failed to address high child mortality rates, unequal access to services for Māori children and a lack of data around child abuse.

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  • In 2013-14 there were 117 children in the custody of Child, Youth and Family (CYF) reported to be abused; 88 were in the care of a CYF caregiver, 25 were formally placed with their parents but still officially in CYF custody, and five were abused while living with an unapproved caregiver or in an unapproved placement.  A 2015 report by the Children’s Commissioner slammed the government’s handling of children in State care. Principal Judge Andrew Becroft said the report was a vital piece of work. He said the Youth Court dealt with the most damaged, dysfunctional and disordered young people in New Zealand, and the overwhelming majority of them had a care and protection background. Judge Becroft said it sounded simplistic, but what the report highlighted was the need to do the care and protection work better. “So that we’re not left, for instance, with, as I understand it, 83 percent of prison inmates under 20 have a care and protection record with Child, Youth and Family.”

New Zealand ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in 1993, the 131st country to do so.

1-CH-Large-However, New Zealand has entered a reservation to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which reads: “Nothing in this Convention shall affect the right of the Government of New Zealand to continue to distinguish as it considers appropriate in its law and practice between persons according to the nature of their authority to be in New Zealand including but not limited to their entitlement to benefits and other protections described in the Convention, and the Government of New Zealand reserves the right to interpret and apply the Convention accordingly.”

Reservations to human rights treaties create technical difficulties that do not arise for treaties on other topics because the intended beneficiaries of obligations in human rights treaties are the people in each state, rather than the other state parties to a treaty. It is therefore more problematic to allow states to enter reservations to a human rights treaty, which allows states to modify the extent of their obligations then it would be for an ordinary treaty that has been entered into between states on a reciprocal basis. In short, when a state enters a reservation to a human rights treaty the reservation acts to diminish the rights of the people/citizens of that state.

slide_8Of particular concern are widely formulated reservations, such as that which NZ has entered to the Rights of the Child, which essentially render ineffective all Covenant rights which would require any change in national law to ensure compliance with Covenant obligations. No real international rights or obligations have thus been accepted. And when there is an absence of provisions to ensure the Covenant rights may be sued on in domestic courts, and, further, a failure to allow individual complaints to be brought to the Committee under the first Optional Protocol all the essential elements of the Covenant guarantees have been removed.

In simple terms, while New Zealand is a signatory party to the UNCRC its ratification of the Convention is little more than window dressing because New Zealand has effectively entered a clause/reservation which negates its responsibility to respect the rights of the child according to international human rights norms.

Committee’s recommendation

“In the spirit of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights in June 1993 which urged States to withdraw reservations to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Committee wishes to encourage the State party to take steps to withdraw its reservations to the Convention. Furthermore, the Committee encourages New Zealand to extend the application of the Convention with respect to the territory of Tokelau.”

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Source:  http://newzealandchildabuse.com/helen-clark-ex-nz-pm-a-nominee-for-un-secretary-general-youd-have-to-be-kidding-right/

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