My wife sent me these photos in succession, after our 2YO refused to take off his "Flag Sweater" (He has a slight flag obsession) before going to bed. After nearly giving up, Ciri suggested a compromise...the second photo is the compromise... :-)
-Robbery arrests for juveniles (10 to 17) increased 43% from 2002 to 2006.
-In 2005, 10 to 24 year olds accounted for nearly half of all homicide-related arrests in the U.S., and 62% of robbery-related arrests.
-In 2006 individuals under the age of 25 accounted for 44.5 % of all arrests.
-28.5 % of all arson arrests in 2006 were children under the age of fifteen.
-In 2006, 1 in 10 murder arrests involved a juvenile perpetrator, and 1 in 4 weapons, robbery, motor vehicle, larceny, theft, and burglary arrests involved a juvenile (age 10 to 17).
-Police and school officials in metropolitan and urban areas such as Boston, Minneapolis and Chicago tie the increase in national crime rates to juvenile offenders.
-Chicago Public Schools report a 50% increase in fatal shootings over the past three years.
-The estimated total number of young adults ages 18 to 29 in prison or jails increased steadily from 2003 to 2005, with Non-Hispanic black males being far more likely than any other males to be incarcerated at any age (10.5% black males, 3.9% Hispanic males, 1.6% Caucasian males).
First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us. They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing and didn't get tested for diabetes. Then after that trauma, our baby cribs were covered with bright colored lead-based paints. We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention, the risks we took hitchhiking. As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags. Riding in the back of a pick up on a warm day was always a special treat. We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle. We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and no one actually died from this. We ate cupcakes, bread and butter and drank soda pop with sugar in it, but we weren't overweight because we were always outside playing! We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back before dark. No one was able to reach us all day. And we were ok. We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem. We did not have Playstations, Nintendo's, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 99 channels on cable, no video tape movies, no surround sound, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet or Internet chat rooms. We had friends and we went outside and found them! We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents. We made up games with sticks and tennis balls and ate worms and although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes, nor did the worms live in us forever. We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them! Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that! The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law! This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever! The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with all of it!
This OpEd appeared in the New York Times on September 2, 2007. It better than most articles you will read on the subject of education and truancy, cuts through all the statistical chaffe. It concludes that we are in the midst of a national truancy crisis. In addition to the obvious tendency to levy blame, it also proposes a responsible way ahead....
Op-Ed Contributors Mistaking Attendance
By HAROLD O. LEVY and KIMBERLY HENRY
Here's a math problem only truant officers will get right: How is it possible for many school districts in America to report both that average daily attendance is better than 90 percent and that almost 30 percent of students miss a month of school annually?
(a) Averages hide underlying data. While a few schools have nearly perfect attendance, most have a serious truancy problem.
(b) Elementary schools are large and have high attendance, while middle and high schools have smaller enrollments and miserable attendance. Large numbers of dropouts in the upper grades hide mass absences because enrollments there are lower.
(c) That 90 percent average daily attendance doesn’t mean the same 10 percent of children are out all the time; it could mean 30 percent are chronically absent, only on different days.
Sadly, the answer is:
(d) All of the above.
Let us explain.
The high average daily attendance statistics reported by school districts camouflage a real truancy problem. In 2005, for example, the average daily attendance rate reported at the five middle schools in the Hernando County School District in Florida was 91.9 percent. But 17.6 percent of the students met the definition of “chronic truancy” (21 or more days of unexcused absence during the school year). Average daily attendance can even obscure a problem at an individual school. In the same school year, 28.7 percent of students at Madison Middle School in Dade County, Fla., were designated chronic truants; however, the average daily attendance rate reported was 88.4 percent. Attendance statistics can be used to paint vastly different pictures.
When calculated properly, the national high school graduation rate is appallingly low. According to the Urban Institute, only 68 percent of students who enter the ninth grade graduate with a high school diploma. Students generally don’t decide one day to drop out; it is a long process that often begins with the occasional unexcused, casual absence.
And America is awash in casual truancy. In New York City, the attendance tracking system routinely catches fully 30 percent of the city’s 1.1 million students in its grip each year. That means that almost a third of all students are out a month or more.
New York is not alone. Defining a “chronic truant” as a student who banks 21 or more days of unexcused absences in one year, Florida reports that 14.8 percent of high school students meet this criterion. In Denver, where chronic truancy is defined at a much lower level (10 such days per year), 23 percent of eighth graders and 35 percent of 12th graders in 2005 were classified as chronic truants. During the 2005-6 school year in the Milwaukee Public Schools, 32 percent of elementary school students, 46 percent of middle school students and 74 percent of high school students were classified as habitual truants (five or more unexcused absences in one semester).
Skipping school has been going on since biblical times. Talmudic sages originally placed the obligation to educate children on the families, particularly on fathers to educate their sons. This system did not work well because many children were orphaned, neglected, born into poverty or simply avoided instruction. The Talmud records that Joshua ben Gamla, a high priest in the Sanhedrin in 64 A.D., issued a decree requiring universal schooling for all boys starting at age 6. The age of truancy had begun.
Truancy has no single cure. Students skip school because of illness, to work, to care for younger siblings or infirm grandparents, because they have become disaffected or for more nefarious reasons — drugs and other criminal conduct. Solutions will need to take into account all these motivations. Denver has one of the more aggressive truancy programs, yet in 2004-5, only 4 percent of the most serious elementary school truants received any intervention beyond a phone call or letter. This is particularly alarming given that the most effective strategies are likely to involve prevention and early intervention rather than late targeting of only the most chronic truants. Unfortunately, almost nothing is done for early-stage, casual truants.
The federal No Child Left Behind Act, which requires consistent statewide reporting of truancy, is up for reauthorization. And in 2004 the Department of Education held the first National Truancy Prevention Conference. But the department has neither addressed states’ inconsistent data-gathering nor established a nationwide data collection system. Outside the context of drug abuse prevention, the department doesn’t even have an office that monitors truancy.
Until we stop relying on the myth that average daily attendance is meaningful, we will remain in denial. A clear national definition of a truant needs to be created, and all schools should report accurate statistics based on this definition to their state departments of education. And schools and communities must be held accountable for achieving and maintaining low truancy rates. Congress should require a true census of the truants and then finance the cure.
Harold O. Levy, a former New York City schools chancellor, is managing director at an investment firm. Kimberly Henry is an assistant professor of psychology at Colorado State University.
A recent AP article pointed to a surprising trend among children as they consume too little milk, sunshine and exercise. Parents' safety concerns– as well as TV and video games – contribute to the trend by keeping kids sedentary and indoors. The article calls it "an anti-bone trifecta," and the result is an ominous occurrence of something we haven't seen much of since the 19th Century: Rickets.
Here, in brief, is the solution:
The Associated Press
updated 4:49 p.m. ET, Mon., Nov. 26, 2007
Building strong bones takes a combination of calcium, vitamin D and exercise starting in childhood. Here are guidelines on how much youngsters need:
-Young children should consume about 800 milligrams of calcium a day. But between ages 9 and 18, when bone growth speeds up, that requirement almost doubles to 1,300 mg. That's about three cups of fat-free or low-fat milk plus additional calcium-rich foods, such as broccoli, cheese, yogurt, or calcium-fortified orange juice.
-Children and adolescents need at least 200 international units of vitamin D. Milk and orange juice often is fortified with the vitamin; a few other foods contain it. Sunlight is a major source. About 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure weekly is enough for many children, although skin pigmentation alters sun absorption so black children need more. The goal is to get just enough sun for vitamin D production while avoiding too much of its skin-damaging rays. Babies who are breast-fed only and older children at risk for vitamin D deficiency should receive supplements.
-Children of all ages need about an hour of physical activity most days, and 10 to 15 minutes at a time can add up. Weight-bearing exercises strengthen bone, anything from team sports like soccer to simply jumping rope or running around. The goal is for the arms or legs to bear all the body's weight.
-The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children be screened for calcium-deficit diets and too little exercise, to identify those whose lifestyles put them at risk for osteoporosis later in life.
One of the best tributes to mothers that I've encountered...
It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store.
Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?"
Obviously not. No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible.
Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?" I'm a satellite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney Channel?" I'm a car to order, "Pick me up right around 5:30, please."
I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude -- but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.
She's going ... she's going ... she's gone!
One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well.
It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this."
It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe . I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: "To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees."
In the days ahead I would read -- no, devour -- the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals-- we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.
A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it." And the workman replied, "Because God sees."
I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become."
The exceptional painting above, entitled "Mom-Baby" is by artist and web designer, Larissa Meek. Visit her website for a snapshot of her fascinating life!
Janusz Korczak was a Jew born in 1879 in a poor Warsaw neighborhood. He went on to become a physician and one of Poland's most famous writers — not only of parenting guides, but of children's books, too.
A new book, edited by Sandra Joseph, compiles the writings of Janusz Korczak, a famous Polish writer and pediatrician and a hero of the Holocaust.
Excerpt: 'Loving Every Child'
by Janusz Korczak and Edited by Sandra Joseph
No Book Is a Substitute
I want everyone to understand that no book and no doctor is a substitute for one's own sensitive contemplation and careful observations. Books with their ready-made formulas have dulled our vision and slackened the mind. Living by other people's experiences, research, and opinions, we have lost our self-confidence and we fail to observe things for ourselves.
Parents find lessons not from books, but from inside themselves. Then every book they read can be considered to be of small additional value; and this one, too, will have fulfilled its given task if it has managed to contribute to bringing this idea home.
Know yourself before you attempt to get to know children. Become aware of what you yourself are capable of before you attempt to outline the rights and responsibilities of children. First and foremost you must realize that you, too, are a child, whom you must first get to know, bring up, and educate.
A Child Is Born
As a mother, you say: "My child." When if not during your pregnancy do you have more right to say this? The beating of the tiny heart, no bigger than a peach stone, echoes your own pulse. Your breath provides the child with oxygen. The blood courses through you both and no drop of blood quite knows yet whether it will remain the mother's or become the child's. Every bite of bread becomes material for building the child's legs on which she will run about, for the skin which will cover her, for the eyes with which she will see, for the brain in which thoughts will burst, for the arms which she will stretch out and the smile with which she will call you Mommy.
As a parent, you say: "My child." No, the child belongs jointly to the mother, the father, the grandparents, and the great-grandparents. Somebody's distant "I" which remained dormant in several ancestors, a voice emerging from a decayed, long-forgotten tomb, suddenly speaks again in this child.
A child is a piece of parchment which has been thoroughly covered with minute hieroglyphics, only a very small part of which will you ever be able to decipher.
As a parent, you say: "She ought to…I want her to…" And you look for a pattern for your child to follow and you search for a life which you wish for her to have. You ignore the fact that all around you there is nothing but mediocrity and banality. People wander around, bustle, they fuss over small problems, fleeting aspirations, uninspired goals, unfulfilled hopes, perpetual longing.
Where is happiness? What exactly is it? Do you know the way to it? Are there those who might know? Will you be equal to the task? How can one anticipate the future and offer protection?
The child is like a butterfly hovering above a raging torrent of life. How to imbue her with toughness without encumbering her lightness in flight; how to temper her without wetting her wings? Should one offer one's own example, help, advice, and words? But what if she rejects them all?
Just remember: A child hungry for advice and direction will absorb it, digest it, and assimilate it. Overfed with moral rules the child will suffer from nausea.
As a parent, you say: "Who is the child to become?" A warrior or just a worker, a leader or one of the followers? Or will she simply want to be happy?
As a parent, you say: "She is supposed to be healthy, so why does she keep crying? Why is she so thin, why does she not suckle properly, why does she not sleep, why does she sleep so much, why does she have such a big head, why does she clench her fists, why is her skin so red, what about the spots on her nose, why does she squint, hiccup, sneeze, choke, sound hoarse? Is this normal?"
You look at this small, helpless thing, which does not resemble any of the other equally small and toothless creatures in the street or in the park. Can it be that in three, four months she, too, will become like them?
Just remember: When is the proper time for a child to start walking? When she does. When should her teeth start cutting? When they do. How many hours should a baby sleep? As long as she needs to.
As a parent, you say: "But is the child clever?" If a parent anxiously asks this question right from the start, it will not take long before the parent will be placing demands on the child. Eat up your food, even if you are not hungry and feel nauseated; go to bed, even though you are not tired and will have to wait an hour to fall asleep. Because you have to, and because I want you to be healthy.
Just remember: Mentalities vary, and children can be steady or capricious, compliant or contrary, creative or imitative, witty or earnest, concrete or abstract; the memory can be exceptional or average; some are congenital despots while others have a wide range of interests.
How often do parents feel disappointment when children fail to live up to expectations, and how often to parents feel disappointment at every step of their development? Parents can be their harsh judges, rather than their counselors and consolers.
It is nothing but a mistake, utter foolishness, to imagine that everything which is not outstanding is therefore pointless and worthless. We are all suffering from the immortality syndrome. Anyone who has not managed to have a monument to himself erected in the marketplace would like a side street named after him at the very least, as a perpetual record.
As the parent of a five-week-old infant, I was one of those who readily purchased the February 2007 issue of Consumer Reports Magazine, primarily because of their article, "SAFETY ALERT: 10 infant car seats FAIL our tests." Now, we're told that some of the test crashes were conducted at speeds higher than it had originally claimed. We're also told that after concerned parents called into their hotline, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) went so far as to perform its own tests "and brought the error to the magazine’s attention." NHTSA said Consumer Reports' crash tests were conducted under conditions that would represent being struck "at more than 70 mph" --twice as fast as the magazine contended. Now, Consumer Reports is saying that they will retest the car seats and issue a replacement article soon.
After wading through the dozens of news reports on this, I'm left wondering whether we're being told the whole story on what compelled Consumer Reports to retract their article. Was it really the calls from concerned parents? Or could it have been the threats flooding in from the attorneys of the manufacturers and retailers of those car seats that did not perform so well in these (perhaps) overzealous tests?
There's a sub-article in the same Consumer Reports piece with the headline: "A Seat sold abroad outperforms U.S. models." Here is an excerpt:
"Infant seats sold in England and the 24 other countries of the European Union must meet safety standards that include a 31-mph frontal crash. Many are also tested in a 40-mph frontal crash and a 31-mph side collision. The results are teh basis of widely publicized safety ratings for cars. The ratings include an assessment of how a car seat performs in a specific car. Automakers are required to make those seats available for purchase.
In the U.S., car seats must withstand only a 30-mph frontal crash, even though most passenger vehicles are tested in a 35-mph frontal crash and a 38-mph frontal crash and 38-mph side impact.
Another notable difference between the European and U.S. infant seats we tested is that the European Cosy Tot includes an attachment or "foot" as part of the base that adds stability in frontal crashes.
The U.S. safety standard makes it difficult for companies to incorporate the foot into U.S. car-seat designs because of the way compliance testing is conducted.
...Peter Claeson, secretary of the Standards Working Group for Child Restraints for the International Standards Organization says a common safety standard for car seats would benefit everyone. "If you could agree on what is a good regulation worldwide, it is good for all parties," Claeson says. "It is much easier for consumers to be confident that they have a safe seat."
Here is the note from the President of Consumer Reports, Jim Guest, who signed his name to the report (my emphasis added):
"...the images I saw of our latest tests filled me with dread: Dummies tumbled like Raggedy Anns, seats flew across the lab, plastic bases cracked, and LATCH straps broke.
You will ask why a car seat that rated tops in our 2005 report did so poorly in our current tests.... The answer is that this time, we held the seats to more rigourous standards. Our new measure: We simply applied the same safety parameters for car seats that are applied to vehicles themselves.
You will ask why a seat that failed the current federal standard is even on the market. We have the same question, and we believe that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the manufacturer must recall the Evenflo Discovery infant seat immediately. We judge it Not Acceptable.
You will ask why infant car seats sold in other countries undergo a battery of tough tests including front and side crashes whose results are widely publicized, while seats in the U.S. do not....
You will ask why the LATCH (short for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system, which was designed to make it easier to secure child car seats safely in place, has proved to be so unreliable. We have the same question, and we want to see a system that any of us could use with confidence."
Extremely bold language from the president of one of the most trusted magazines in America. I don't think those words were taken lightly. Maybe the real lesson Consumer Reports learned from this is not to square up against the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That's essentially what they did with their very public disclosure that Europe has a higher, safer standard than we do in the United States--and then they illustrated it graphically by testing American-manufactured infant car seats against the Euro standard! We failed with flying colors.
It's also a disgrace. You would expect the wealthiest and most technologically advanced nation in the world to have a safety standard that is equal to or more stringent than the Europeans'. But that's not the case--our standards are lower than Europe's.
Mostly, though, it's frightening.
There are three kinds of mistakes: mistakes of ignorance, mistakes of ommission, and mistakes of commission. The worst is the latter--mistakes of commission, because you know it's wrong and you not only go along with it, you act in concert with others around you to commit the error intentionally. Then, particularly when you're affecting the safety of the public (in this case infants), you begin to begin to encroach upon the realm of the criminally culpable. Those honest, concerned citizens who have the ability to see it occurring normally won't remain silent. Nor should they.
Therefore, if parents called the NHTSA, as is being widely reported, my guess is that most of them weren't so much complaining about the CR report, or so much worried about their car seat, as they were demanding to know why our regulations aren't as safe as the EU's....
I'll bet the pressure on Consumer Reports from NHTSA and opposing corporate attorneys from retailers and manfucturers was so relentless that the magazine had no choice but to retract their article or lawyer up.
Was this a glaring example of the regulators being in bed with the regulated? That's the question I expected the media to ask. But they haven't.
So, why is the media is only focusing on the retraction and not the underlying reasons behind it? Here's my uninformed speculation: Once Consumer Reports was effectively silenced, the news releases from NHTSA and the manufacturers of the failed car seats were the only talking points they had before the deadline for the evening news cycle. That's the way these things typically unfold.
From my perspective as a consumer and as a parent, the February 2007 edition of Consumer Reports was, by any measure, an excellent investment. If you have an infant or are planning on having one any time soon, I'd recommend you get a copy too. After reading it and the subsequent retraction, we're now putting our order in for the Britax Cosy Tot, which was the top performer in the Consumer Reports test...intuitively, wouldn't you expect that if it worked well at 70+ mph, it should have our confidence at 35-mph too? My instinct tells me that the reverse logic wouldn't necessarily hold true.
As for my confidence in NHTSA and American infant car seat manufacturers...well, at least for now, that's another story.
Many thanks, Consumer Reports (and Good Luck!)--and don't get caught speeding again.