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

Don’t fall into Cambodia’s orphanage trap, Australians told, by Lindsay Murdoch

1451208080232-1Phnom Penh: Tara Winkler, a former NSW Young Australian of the Year, says it is “highly unethical to expose vulnerable children to serious risks in order to engage donors and raise funds”.

Ms Winkler says potential abusers are not being vetted among a high volume of visitors to Cambodia’s 600 orphanages and children’s residential care centres who are allowed to physically interact with children in intimate ways, such as playing games and hugging.

“Even though the majority of people who want to visit centres are good people who only want to help, if they are allowed in to provide love and affection, then the same access is provided to potential predators and sex tourists,” she said.

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Children at a Phnom Penh orphanage. Photo: Lindsay Murdoch

Fairfax Media has reported that strangers can walk uninvited off the street into a Phnom Penh orphanage, where they are greeted in bedrooms with children trained to engage visitors and encourage them to donate money.

A record 47,900 children are living in orphanages and residential care centres in Cambodia, despite research showing that the institutions scar their emotional and personal development through seemingly endless broken relationships, and that they should be living with their families in their own communities.

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

http://www.smh.com.au/world/dont-fall-into-cambodias-orphanage-trap-australians-told-20151222-glt8ae.html

Even Science Agrees, You Literally Can’t Spoil A Baby, by Wendy Wisner

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“Don’t you ever put that baby down?”

“Aren’t you going to spoil him?”

“Start teaching him to self-soothe now, before it’s too late.”

Yup, these were things actually said to me when my babies were newborns. Nope, not even when they were a few months old. When they were itty-bitty babies fresh out of the womb, I had strangers, family members — and yes, even doctors — question whether I was going to spoil my babies by holding them all the time.

Looking back, I know how absurd these statements were. My boys are 4 and 9 now, and whiz by me so fast I have to beg them to sit down and cuddle in my lap like they did all those years ago. At the time, though, I didn’t know for sure that my babies would be totally independent eventually, so the critique definitely got under my skin.

The thing is, holding my babies almost 24 hours a day like I did in those months was not exactly a choice. It was a necessity. If I put my babies down, they wailed their little heads off.

Maybe I could have let them do that, and maybe they would have learned to soothe themselves somehow, but every instinct in my body told me that if my baby was crying, he needed to be picked up. And I went with those instincts, despite the fact that I sometimes received dirty looks and judgment.

Turns out, my instincts were absolutely correct. Babies do need to be held whenever they fuss — and not just because they’re sweet and cuddly and their hair smells like heaven. It turns out there’s a ton of research out there to back up the claim that you literally cannot spoil a baby. In fact, holding babies is actually vital for their health and development.

Just a few weeks ago, a study came out in Pediatrics that looked at the effects of skin-to-skin contact on premature infants. It took the long view, looking not just at the immediate effects of holding preemies against your skin in their early weeks, but also how it affected these babies 20 years down the road.

The preemies who experienced skin-to-skin had higher IQs, significantly larger areas of gray matter in the brain, and even earned higher wages at their jobs than those who did not experience skin-to-skin care. The skin-to-skin cohort also showed less propensity toward hyperactivity and aggression in school and were less likely to experience school absences.

Of course, this study looked specifically at premature babies, who are especially vulnerable and in need of TLC. But studies on full-terms babies have similar findings.This 2012 study from the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group’s Trials Register showed that full-term babies who experienced skin-to-skin care in their early days had better cardio-respiratory stability, higher breastfeeding rates, and decreased crying.

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

http://www.scarymommy.com/even-science-agrees-you-literally-cant-spoil-baby/

“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

 

 

Want to make your children better travelers? Start with yourself. By Lalita Iyer

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It’s a maxim universally marketed that having children kills the traveller in you. It is something often quoted in the “Why not to have kids” bibles and generally nodded to and sighed upon. ‘Herculean task’, ‘nightmare’, ‘horror story’ are commonly used words by people to describe traveling with kids. And then there are pre-boarding facilities and goody bags from airlines, overload of activity timetables at resorts – all aiming to subtly announce that a holiday with children is going to require supreme engineering.

When I threw open the question of how do we make our children better travelers on my blog’s forum, I received the usual formulaic responses, since no one realized it was a trick question: Plan well, involve the child, tell them about where they are going to travel, show them pictures, videos, show them the place on the map, plan their meals (or pack whatever you can),  get them excited about what they will do on the plane , make a list of activities, take their favorite toys, carry board games, carry their favorite food, favorite puzzle, favorite soft toy,  favorite movie.. and so on.

Why travel at all, I wondered? Why bother if you are going to simulate the same kind of life in a different address? When you do the aforementioned, you are raising the opposite of a real traveler. I do realize that holidays need to be planned (especially when kids start formal schooling as there are at best three windows to choose from). But that should be limited to bookings. In my experience, Air BnBs and homestays work better than hotels and if you choose locations you have friends living in – nothing like it.

In my limited experience of seven years and 13 trips with a child, I have come to realize this: The problem, very often, is not the child. It’s the adults. Because you pass on to your child how you have been programmed to travel and if you are the kind who bursts a capillary because you forgot to pack your iPod speakers, chances are, you are already raising a high maintenance child who may prove the cliché right. But this is not a post that tells you what to pack in their bag or how to pacify an irate kid on a plane. Instead I will tell you this:

Don’t behave like you are moving there. You are just travelling.  Stop being so manicured about your travels. Your child will follow suit. On my first travel date with fellow parents, I noticed that they came armed with a suitcases full of toys, dolls, books and games for a three night stay in Matheran. “Why do you need so much?”, I asked.  “Oh, you never know. It’s better to be prepared,” they said. But isn’t that what travel is about? Not knowing?

Don’t oversell the destination and what you will do there. Don’t sell the journey either. Parents have a tendency to do this. This disallows the child any room to have his own her own experiences, and they are forced to look at the entire trip through a readymade lens, which will never allow the real traveller in them to come out.

Allow the place to happen to your child.  Don’t tell them what to expect. This usually means giving at least four to five days in one location to give enough time to experience it, rather than location hopping. Improvise. If things always went as they were planned, it’s not travel. It’s stasis. I think this works better for adults too.

Travel is not about being constantly entertained and your child needs to know that.  And if you in that trap,  you are teaching them that this is how life is – a series of fun-filled, action packed time capsules on loop, where there is no time for recovery, stillness or nothingness – you are in a dangerous place. It’s a slippery slope from there.

Give gadgets a break. Try clouds instead. Or birdsong. Technology is an easy weapon used by most parents – I see it in airports, holiday destinations – each child with a gadget, adults with theirs, swiping away. It’s time to  talk to each other and not our gadgets.

 

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

Want to make your children better travelers? Start with yourself

“Children need art and stories and poems and music as much as they need love and food and fresh air and play. “

Wise words from an incredible author… children’s souls are nourished by the arts: music, visual art and literature.

Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award

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Wise words from Philip Pullman, who received the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2005:

Children need art and stories and poems and music as much as they need love and food and fresh air and play. If you don’t give a child food, the damage quickly becomes visible. If you don’t let a child have fresh air and play, the damage is also visible, but not so quickly. If you don’t give a child love, the damage might not be seen for some years, but it’s permanent.

But if you don’t give a child art and stories and poems and music, the damage is not so easy to see. It’s there, though. Their bodies are healthy enough; they can run and jump and swim and eat hungrily and make lots of noise, as children have always done, but something is missing.

It’s true that some people grow up never encountering…

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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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Beautiful Bead Work: for Christmas or all year round! “Beads for Wildlife”: a success story for the women and children of the Melako Community, Northern Kenya

Beautiful bead work… Christmas decorations and many other things which allow the women and children of the Melako Community, in Northern Kenya, to be independent.

The Forever Years

Beads feature image FY By Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

Bead work is an integral part of the life and culture of the women of the Melako community in Northern Kenya.  The women relax and bond with one another whilst doing their bead work and the beads represent who they are.  Beads tell a woman’s marital status, age and number of children. Now these women have turned their bead work into their livelihood.

As business partners of the Melako, Werribee Open Range Zoo in Melbourne, Australia, sell the intricate bead work made by the women of families who have had no other source of income in times of drought.  The beads can also be purchased online (see the link below) and among them are some charming Christmas decorations.  About 500 families benefit from this relationship. It’s not about “aid”. The women will not accept aid, they want to be considered professional business partners.

beads-for-wildlife Zebras, beads, ladyThe parched land in…

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Why self-control matters. 8 simple ways to help preschoolers develop self-control: (Strategies developed in response to “The Dunedin Study” findings), by Nicola Nation

stocksnap_197p3yu196Preschoolers with good self-control have a better chance of growing up to become healthy, wealthy and crime-free. Here are 8 simple ways teachers can improve children’s self-control – and make classrooms more harmonious.

You may have heard of the well known marshmallow test – the Stanford University experiment that discovered young children who could show restraint in the face of temptation tended to do better in school and, later, in life.

Now a pioneering long-term study has confirmed that self-control is a key to future success.

The study, which has followed the lives of every child born in the New Zealand city of Dunedin in 1972-73, found that children with more self-discipline are more likely to be healthier and wealthier as adults, and less likely to be involved in crime.

“Our 40-year study of 1,000 children revealed that childhood self-control strongly predicts adult success, in people of high or low intelligence, in rich or poor.”

The good news is that even small improvements in self-control can make a big difference to adult outcomes. And the best time to make those improvements? When children are at preschool.

Poor self control can lead to unhappy outcomes

Poor self control can lead to unhappy outcomes

Professor Terrie Moffitt, part of an international team of researchers who analysed the findings of the Dunedin study, says children who had low self-control when tested at the age of three were more likely as adults to have:

  • health problems
  • addictions
  • financial problems
  • trouble managing their money
  • a criminal record.

Signs to watch for:

Problems for children with poor self-control started to show when they were teens. Many started smoking early, had an unplanned baby and left school with no qualifications.

However, Professor Moffitt says children whose self-control improved over time tended to have better lives as adults than initially predicted.

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

http://blog.geteduca.com/home/why-self-control-is-all-that-matters-teaching-children-self-control

Raising Girls who are Includers instead of Mean Girls, by Lisa McCrohan

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I remember walking into the cafeteria of my new school and it was like someone punched me in the stomach.  I was in sixth grade.  My family had just moved from Virginia to Ohio.  At first, I attended the local Catholic school.  Within the first two months, I was begging my parents to go to the public school because the girls were so mean.  And when I look back, wow, they were cruel.  My maiden name is Ackerman.  They’d call me “Lisa Acneman” as sixth grade brought with it oily skin and some breakouts.  When my parents discerned that I would change schools, I felt relieved.  I won’t even tell you about the last day at school there when all the girls knew I was leaving.

Off to public school I went.  But soon I was to find out that it didn’t matter whether I went to parochial or public school.

Instantly a group of girls took me in.  They invited me to sit at their lunch table.  Little did I know that they had kicked another girl off the table so I could sit with them.  I was so grateful to have friends.  I was a bit naïve.  Maybe that’s because I grew up in a home where we were all out for each other and my assumption going “out into the world” was that everyone was like that, too.

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Then one day, I walked into the cafeteria.  I nearly dropped my brown paper lunch bag.  I looked at the table where I had been sitting for the last week.  My first week at school.  I counted the number of girls at the table – eight.  Eight was the maximum number of people who could sit at one table.  The two girls who were the “leaders” looked at me, whispered to the other girls at the table, and everyone turned around to laugh at me.

My heart sank.  I actually went up to the table and feebly asked, “Is there space for me here?”   Hoping maybe I was wrong, that it wasn’t as it seemed.  I couldn’t feel my feet beneath me.  I felt dizzy.  I swear my heart was going to jump out of my chest.

I can’t remember what they said, but I must have gotten the picture because I turned and I quickly looked around for a place to sit.  It was a small cafeteria and soon someone would notice me.  I didn’t want anyone to look at me.  My ears were ringing, my hands were clammy, my heart was beating so fast.  I felt the eight girls’ snickering whispers like daggers in my back.  There was no “physical fight” or blow up so the teachers on lunch duty were none the wiser.  I saw a table with no one at it.  So I sat down.  I wanted to cry.  But I didn’t.

saving-the-bully-within-1This is where I sat for two months.  Alone.  By myself.

Once, a male teacher came up to me after whispering to another teacher, with a sympathetic, pleading look on his face and asked me something I can’t remember now.  But I didn’t see him as a resource.

I know that eventually I sat somewhere with some group.  For the next two years that we lived in Ohio, I had some good experiences. I still have a friend from there who is one of my best friends.  But the two girls continued to be bullies.  Yes, that’s what I can call it now as I understand as a psychotherapist and adult what was really going on.  They were the kind of “friend” who would invite you over and you’d feel like “Oh good! We are friends again!”  Only to have them talk about you or put you down.

We have all had experiences like this where other girls have been mean to us.  Just the other day, another mom friend of mine told me that she waved to two moms talking and they looked at her and laughed.  It happens in childhood. It can happen between adult women.

As a psychotherapist, I intimately know that when someone hurts others it’s because they are hurting.  I have counseled both the bully and the one being bullied.

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

Raising Girls who are Includers instead of Mean Girls, by Lisa McCrohan