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.

© Dave Imms

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

A New Book about an Important Issue: “Stolen Lives”, by Netta England

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There have been over 300,000 children abused in NZ state care. I am one of them. So many suffered hideous abuse. This is our nation’s greatest shame.

My name is Netta Christian (nee England). My book ‘Stolen Lives’ is the record of my journey from a neglected and abused state ward, to a woman who discovered her heritage and went on to create a positive life, regardless of her upbringing.

Netta and her brother Ray as children

Netta and her brother Ray as children

I was raised with my brother Ray as a ward of the state in Papatoetoe, Auckland, New Zealand. I was educated at Papatoetoe Primary School and Otahuhu College, where I passed the school certificate examination.

Ray and I hardly knew our mother. She was a strange woman who made occasional visits, and we did not even know we had a father. From a very early age we lived with foster parents and at school we were treated as different. Growing up, I became increasingly aware that my foster mother disliked me. Though never starved, I suffered neglect, as well as mental, physical and sexual abuse.

I am now widowed and have three grown up children and three grandchildren, and live in a Hamilton retirement village.

Netta as a child with her doll

Netta as a child with her doll

In April 2011, the NZ Herald ran a front-page feature story about my wish to start a support group for those who were abused in state care. In 2013, I helped to set up the NZ branch of CLAN (Care Leavers Australasia Network) www.clan.org.au. This group offers support, justice and healing for all those who lived in institutional care as a child.

I believe that my book ‘Stolen Lives’ will positively impact upon people who have had similar experiences and upbringing in care. It is a captivating and beneficial read for all types of people, holding particular interest for care leavers and political activists.

Netta today

Netta today

Copies of Stolen Lives (NZ$30 plus postage) are available for purchase on my website www.StolenLives.co.nz or contact me at stolenlives00@gmail.com

See also Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/Stolen-Lives-by-Netta-England

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Six things every parent should know about Pokémon Go, by Christian Gallen

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For the first time in history you may hear your kids complain that it’s raining so they can’t go outside and play video games. This is the parents’ guide to the newest social phenomenon that has taken over the world.

1. What is Pokémon Go?

You have probably come across Pokémon before. It’s Japanese for ‘pocket monsters’. You may even be familiar with Pikachu. Pokémon has been around for ages and spans video games, TV shows, a trading card game and now has become super popular because of the smart phone app, Pokémon Go. Chances are your kids are playing it!

2. How does it work?

Pokemon-Go-001-292x300The basic idea of the game is that you travel around the real world and find Pokémon using your device. There are 250 different types of Pokémon out there. If your kid comes home excited about catching Bulbasaur there’s nothing to worry about. It’s not a drug or a disease. It’s a grass type Pokémon with razor leaf attack. You collect them and battle against other users. Your kid doesn’t need hand-eye coordination to catch Pokémon – just a fully-charged smartphone and access to the internet.

This week I saw a group of teenagers running laps around a park with their phones in front of their faces. They were outdoors with their friends, they were exercising and they were playing a video game all at the same time. Weird.

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

http://www.theparentingplace.com/blogs/a-parents-guide-to-pokemon-go/

Early sexualisation and pornography exposure: the detrimental impacts on children, by Melinda Tankard Reist

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The school principal was perplexed.

I had just delivered a keynote on the impact of sexualisation and pornography exposure on children and young people at a conference of school leaders in NSW.

During the break she approached me, opened her phone and revealed an image created by a group of 5 year old boys, at the Catholic primary school she headed in Sydney. It showed two women, scantily dressed, in provocative poses.

The boys, along with fellow pupils, had been asked to prepare an in-class assignment using the pic collage app to make pictures. This is what the boys stood up and presented to the class.

One was so pleased with the work he inserted his face in between the woman’s bodies at breast height. These little boys didn’t think they’d done anything wrong.

This incident is just yet another outworking of the impact of a pornified world on our children.  Children being hurt. Children hurting others.

Everywhere I go I hear stories. Of children using sexual language. Children touching other children inappropriately. Children playing ‘sex games’ in the school yard. Children requesting sexual favours. Children showing other children porn on their devices. Children distressed by explicit images they came across while googling an innocent term. Children exposed to porn ‘pop ups’ on sites featuring their favourite cartoon characters or while playing online games.

Educators, child welfare groups, childcare workers, mental health bodies medicos and parents are reeling. All are struggling to deal with the proliferation of hyper-sexualised imagery and its impacts on the most vulnerable – children whose sexuality is still under construction, children for whom pornography becomes a template for sexual activity, a ‘how to’ manual for future use.

Porn before first kiss

Pornography exposure – for young men at least – is at saturation point. Research has shown some worrying trends related to earlier onset exposure.

According to some sources, the average first age of exposure to pornography is 11 years, with 100% of 15-year-old males and 80% of 15-year-old females reporting that they have been exposed to violent, degrading online pornography.

MTR BI2Children are seeing violent depictions of sex, torture, rape and incest porn. Boys are having their sexual arousal conditioned by depictions of extreme cruelty, seeing women being assaulted in every orifice by groups of men.  And all this before their first sexual experience – even their first kiss.

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

http://www.childhoodtrauma.org.au/2016/july/melinda-tankard-reist

Why and how to talk to children about pornography, by Anne McCormack

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The internet and social media are now a normal part of established culture for young people growing up. For parents, this can bring a whole new level of concern as even with safety filters on devices, having access to the internet and the social media world makes it more likely that young people may come across and gain access to content that is sexually explicit.

Internet access and social media has changed the landscape for parents in many ways. When it comes to teaching young people about what is healthy and safe in relationships, as well as the issue of supporting young people’s individual sexual development, these aspects of parenting now point to the need for discussion around the issue of pornography.

Young people can accidently encounter sexually explicit material online or they can actively seek it out. And while secondary schools have an obligation to teach on the topic of relationships and sexuality, according to Mairead McNally of Loreto Secondary School, Balbriggan, there is no part of the curriculum that addresses pornography. It is useful for parents to think ahead about how to talk with young people about pornography.

Here are some reasons why young people could benefit from such talk:

 1. Social media as a sexualised environment

The social media world and the internet in general can become a sexualised environment quite quickly for some young people. For example, the young person may follow a celebrity online who posts sexually explicit selfies or content of themselves. This selfie culture can contribute to normalising the uploading of material that is sexually provocative or explicit, and it can inadvertently give young people the message that they must present themselves in a certain “sexual” way in order to be deemed of worth. The trend towards the sexualisation of the self can tend to glamorise the area of pornography.

2. Interest in sex

Wanting information about sex is normal and if young people are not getting the message at home that they can ask questions and talk openly about sex, they may feel more inclined to access such information and pornography in order to find out for themselves what sex is about. Pornography is not real and yet young people viewing it can often think it is.

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

http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/health-family/parenting/why-and-how-to-talk-to-children-about-pornography-1.2692131

6 Ways We (Accidentally) Teach Our Kids Rape Culture, by Joanna Schroeder

A cute 5 year old female child dressed in pink plaid shirt with blue jeans staring out into the rodeo arena dreaming of riding horses one day. The image has a vintage / western coloring theme with left side copy space.

No parent (that I’ve ever met) would ever dream of teaching their child that rape is okay. But every day, in many different ways, well-meaning parents contribute to rape culture, and our kids suffer for it.

As moms and dads, we probably don’t talk directly about rape to kids, at least not until they’re older. But we’re still sending messages about sex and consent all the time. Because of that, we need to make sure we’re not teaching them some very dangerous lessons, even if just by accident.

Here are six (very common) ways we get it wrong, and how we can do better …

1. Telling our kids that “boys will be boys.”

As a mom of very active boys, I know most people don’t mean any harm when they say “boys will be boys,” but too often that phrase is used to excuse bad behavior, like hitting other kids or being destructive.

The truth is, boys are perfectly capable of respecting other people’s bodies,possessions, and space. But every time they hear us excuse their bad behavior as part of boy life, they learn that they are not only above the rules, but also that boys cannot control their impulses.

This message will stick with them as they grow older and sexual desire starts to kick in. As parents, we cannot be shocked that boys feel entitled to sexually harass others (whether it’s standard rape, like in Steubenville, or as part of the all-too-common tradition of sexual “hazing”) when we’ve been telling them their whole lives that they are above the rules, by virtue of being boys.

2. Forcing kids to hug and kiss others.

Lots of well-meaning, loving parents tell their kids to give a friend or relative a hug without considering whether their kid really wants to. This sends the dangerous message that consent can be over-ridden, or doesn’t matter at all.

Instead, suggest a few different ways to greet or say goodbye to loved ones. I ask my kids, “Do you want to give grandma a hug, or maybe a high five or a wave goodbye?”

Kids need to know, from the beginning of life, that consent matters.

 

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

http://www.babble.com/parenting/ways-we-accidentally-teach-our-kids-rape-culture/

3 Bath Time Habits That Can Prevent Child Sexual Abuse, by Ginger Kadlec

Boy Playing In Bath

It’s never too early to begin practicing behavior that can help protect your young child from sexual abuse… and bath time is a wonderful time to teach those habits!

With over 90% of child sexual abusers being someone a child knows, loves or trusts, it’s essential to begin teaching children ASAP some basic tools about body safety and body boundaries.

Many parents have family members, nannies, baby sitters or even older siblings help bathe younger kids. It is estimated that around 30% of sexual abuse is actually perpetrated by a family member.

To help protect your kids, there are three (3) simple and easy safety habits you can teach right away!

1. Always use a wash cloth or bath mitt when bathing your child.

Sexual predators are savvy and will seek to gain a parent’s trust, especially as a child is younger, in order to gain unfettered, one-on-one access with a child. By always using a wash cloth or bath mitt when bathing your child, you reinforce the necessity of those bath time tools and using them becomes a bath time habit.

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

http://www.beakidshero.com/posts/3-bath-time-habits-that-can-prevent-child-sexual-abuse/

In Loving Memory of Nia Glassie and so many others… a Song and an Article for Child Abuse Prevention Month

As we move into April, international Child Abuse Prevention Month, this article challenges us to dare NOT to turn a blind eye and to protect all our children, everywhere.

The Forever Years

Nia Collage

By Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

In 2008 New Zealanders were outraged as they heard details of the death of three year old Rotorua girl Nia Glassie.  Nia was subject to extensive physical abuse for weeks, possibly even months, before being admitted to hospital and dying of brain injuries on 3 August 2007. The court concluded she had been kicked, beaten, slapped, jumped on, held over a burning fire, had wrestling moves copied from a computer game practiced on her, spat on, placed into a clothes dryer spinning at top heat for up to 30 minutes, folded into a sofa and sat on, shoved into piles of rubbish, dragged through a sandpit half-naked, flung against a wall, dropped from a height onto the floor, and whirled rapidly on an outdoor rotary clothes line until she fell off. (Source: Wikipedia, see link below).

CAP monthAs we move to the end of April as Child Abuse Prevention…

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What’s Killing 4,100 Children Each Day? And what’s being done about it? By Ginger Kadlec with guests Abbey Kochert and Shelbie Moser

 

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By Ginger Kadlec with guests Abbey Kochert and Shelbie Moser — get free updates of new posts here.

As I write this morning, I’ve washed my face and have already consumed two glasses of water, an oatmeal smoothie containing both water and ice, and I’m well in to cup ‘o coffee number two. I’ve ingested all of this without worry that a microscopic Guinea worm or a small leech might now be nesting in my intestines or building a new home in one of my arms or legs. I truly am one of the lucky ones. Millions upon millions of people… and yes, children… on earth, though, fight this battle daily because they don’t have access to one of our basic human needs: clean water.

Thirst Project Shelbs and AbbsThe daughter of a dear friend of mine, Abbey Kochert, and her colleague Shelbie Moser are on a cross-country trek and stopped by our home last week. They have signed-on for an incredibly important task… they are Road Warriors for theThirst Project.

Thirst Project is an international organization whose mission is to “build a socially-conscious generation of young people who END the global water crisis.” Thirst Project captured my attention because of the organization’s genuine interest in saving children and notes, “Small children typically do not have strong enough immune systems to fight diseases like cholera, dysentery, or schistosomiasis.”

Thirst Project Child Deaths

Source: Thirst Project

Abbey shared a fact that literally stopped me in my tracks: “Waterborne diseases kill more children than anything else in the world – 4,100 children will die today due to diarrhea and dysentery alone.”

As guests in a special BeAKidsHero podcastShelbie shared, “That’s like a jumbo jet crashing every hour-and-a-half each day! Yet it doesn’t even get two minutes of CNN’s nightly air time.”

She’s right. Which is exactly why Thirst Project, the largest youth organization working to end the global water crisis, is working diligently to save children born in areas where they simply don’t have access to clean drinking water.

Abbey shares, “Children between the ages of eight and 13 are tasked with walking, on average, three to four miles, every day just to collect contaminated water. Imagine a muddy rain puddle. Now, let’s add some parasites, leeches, mosquito larvae, and animal feces. This only scratches the surface. Children in developing communities fetch this water using jerrycans; a five gallon gas can, which weighs 44 pounds when full; however, children normally carry two at a time. Work, like most, takes these children six to eight hours everyday. Therefore, children are not able to go to school and get an education because work takes precedence.”

Thirst Project Boy with Guinnea worm removed

Source: Thirst Project

I listened to their presentation as they spoke to Mrs. Broge’s Choralaires class at Zionsville Community High School, but literally choked back tears as Abbey shared the story of this little four-year old boy whose photo was snapped by a Thirst Project team visiting the South African country of Swaziland following the gruesome removal of a 3-foot Guinea worm in his body. These horrid parasites are microscopic when first ingested via contaminated drinking water, but then nest in a limb (arm or leg) until they mature. People infected with these monster worms don’t have access to medical care, so the worms are removed by either slicing them off, a bit at a time, or through an incision whereby the worm is stabbed with a hot poker, wrapped around that poker and tugged out of it’s hosts’ body… in this case, the body of the sweet four-year old boy who I can only imagine couldn’t grasp the horror he saw as a long monster, nearly as tall as he is, was stripped from one of his limbs.

Source: Thirst Project

Source: Thirst Project

Thirst Project notes that, “Waterborne diseases kill more children every single year than AIDS, Malaria, and all world violence combined.” They also share a graphic that illustrates the physical impact on both children and adults of drinking contaminated water.

BTW, did you know that the average American uses 150 gallons of fresh water per day? People in countries like Swaziland have access to only 5 gallons of water a day… if they have fresh water access at all.

The Good News

Thirst Project Logo v2…is that Thirst Project is making a measurable difference in the lives of children and families around the world! Just seven years ago, nearly 1.1 billion people around the world had NO access to clean drinking water. Thanks to efforts from organizations like Thirst Project, that number has dropped to 66.3 million. While much has been done, much more is left to do.

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

http://www.beakidshero.com/posts/killing-4100-children-each-day/

“Orange Friday” in Aotearoa/ NZ… raising awareness of domestic violence. By Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

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Orange Friday is a  day to raise awareness and much needed funds to help victims of domestic abuse become safe and stay safe.

Domestic abuse is not an easy subject, especially because our statistics here in Aotearoa/ NZ are shocking.   The NZ Police answer a domestic abuse callout every 5 minutes.   One child is killed every 6 weeks by a family member.   And one in three Kiwi women will experience physical or sexual abuse by a partner in their lifetime.  It’s awful to know that we have such a huge problem with domestic abuse in our beautiful country.

On “Orange Friday” people dress in (you guessed it) ORANGE :).  They donate money to the organisation “Shine”.  Shine was founded in 1990, so have just celebrated their 25th Anniversary.   Shine work in partnership with many organisations,  including the NZ Police,  Child Youth & Family Services and Family Works.  They offer a range of integrated services that support adult and child victims to be safe, as well as supporting men who have used abuse, to change their behaviour.  Shine currently have a serious funding shortfall, meaning only  1 out 4 victims that are referred are able to be helped.  Orange Friday aims to help with this shortfall by raising  funds to ensure  all victims of domestic abuse are able to have the support that they need.

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Kamo lntermediate School Children on “Orange Friday” 2015.

“Orange Friday” is also a good opportunity to raise general awareness of domestic violence, so holding it in schools or offices is great… lots of people wearing orange will attract interest and further help this worthy cause.  So get out there, get orange and “shine a light” on this problem… one which is often hidden behind closed doors until it’s too late.

xxx

For more information about “Orange Friday” and Shine, follow the links below:

http://www.2shine.org.nz/

http://www.orangefriday.org.nz/orange-friday/who-is-shine