Category : Children

(ABC) Kindergartner invites entire class to his adoption hearing in Michigan

If some say friends are the family you choose, then one young boy’s family just got much bigger.

Michael Clark Jr., from East Grand Rapids, Michigan, was so excited about his adoption day that he invited his entire kindergarten class to his adoption hearing.

In a packed courtroom on Thursday, Michael’s classmates filled up the first rows of seats in the Kent County courtroom and even gave sweet testimonies about how much they love their fellow friend.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Education, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family

(WSJ) Erica Komisar–We need to be reminded of the great value faith traditions have for our children

As a therapist, I’m often asked to explain why depression and anxiety are so common among children and adolescents. One of the most important explanations—and perhaps the most neglected—is declining interest in religion. This cultural shift already has proved disastrous for millions of vulnerable young people.

A 2018 study in the American Journal of Epidemiology examined how being raised in a family with religious or spiritual beliefs affects mental health. Harvard researchers had examined religious involvement within a longitudinal data set of approximately 5,000 people, with controls for socio-demographic characteristics and maternal health.

The result? Children or teens who reported attending a religious service at least once per week scored higher on psychological well-being measurements and had lower risks of mental illness. Weekly attendance was associated with higher rates of volunteering, a sense of mission, forgiveness, and lower probabilities of drug use and early sexual initiation. Pity then that the U.S. has seen a 20% decrease in attendance at formal religious services in the past 20 years, according to a Gallup report earlier this year. In 2018 the American Family Survey showed that nearly half of adults under 30 do not identify with any religion.

Nihilism is fertilizer for anxiety and depression, and being “realistic” is overrated. The belief in God—in a protective and guiding figure to rely on when times are tough—is one of the best kinds of support for kids in an increasingly pessimistic world. That’s only one reason, from a purely mental-health perspective, to pass down a faith tradition.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Religion & Culture

(Theos) Sally Phillips: Human Dignity, Different Lives & the Illusions of Choice

The takeover by stealth of Utilitarian thinking means that we are now a people that thinks the idea of society having winners and losers is inevitable. We measure everything from the number of steps we take to the length of our sleep and how many seven year olds can spell the word ‘turnip’.

As a result, we are losing the ability to talk about the things that cannot be measured. And if the world is governed according to the edict “what gets measured gets done”, we may be neglecting some of the most important things about being human. Like love.

You’re probably thinking ‘I’m not a utilitarian’. Even if you’re not utilitarian, think of what you mean by justice. Usually you mean fairness, you get back what you put in. It is unjust not to be paid what you are worth. I’m just thinking of the BBC gender pay gap.

In a way, some forms of Christianity, certainly the ones that I have been involved in, contribute to this too. The Low Anglican tradition that I love deeply teaches a transactional salvation. We are distinguished from animals by virtue of consciousness, self–reflection, moral capacity, the act of repentance. I have literally no idea if that is right or wrong but it does appear to be a kind of cost–benefit, quid pro quo.

If the point of our lives is what we are capable of doing then the implication must be that a human life lacking in the capacity for purposive action will be worthless, pointless. Those who are involved in the lives of people with disabilities disagree. Our insider experience tells us differently.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Christology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Philosophy, Theology

(NYT Op-ed) Ross Douthat–Debating the decline of wedlock, again, in the shadow of the baby bust

Over the last 10 years, however — and again, I acknowledge that this is impressionistic — I think we have reached a third phase in liberal attitudes toward marriage, a new outworking of cultural individualism that may eventually render the nuanced liberalism my colleague describes obsolete.

This new phase is incomplete and contested, and it includes elements — in #MeToo feminism, especially — whose ultimate valence could theoretically be congenial to cultural conservatives. But in general the emerging progressivism seems hostile not only to anything tainted by conservative religion or gender essentialism but to any idea of sexual or reproductive normativity, period, outside a bureaucratically supervised definition of “consent.” And it’s therefore disinclined to regard lifelong monogamy as anything more than one choice among many, one script to play with or abandon, one way of being whose decline should not necessarily be mourned, and whose still-outsize cultural power probably requires further deconstruction to be anything more than a patriarchal holdover, a prison and a trap.

The combination of forces that have produced this ideological shift is somewhat murky — it follows a general turn leftward on social issues after the early 2000s, a further weakening of traditional religion, the cultural ripples from Obergefell v. Hodges, the increasing political polarization of the sexes and, of course, the so-called Great Awokening.

But it does not feel like a coincidence that the new phase tracks with the recent decline in childbearing. If the new liberal hostility to marriage-as-normative-institution is not one of the ideological causes of our latest post-familial ratchet, it is at least a post facto ideological excuse, in which the frequent prestige-media pitches for polyamory or open marriages or escaping gender norms entirely are there to reassure people who might otherwise desire a little more normativity (and a few more children) in their lives, that it’s all cool because they’re in the vanguard of a revolution.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Philosophy, Politics in General, Theology

(NBC) College Football Player Saves Young Girl’s Life With Bone Marrow Donation

Posted in Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Sports

Two Church of England Bishops Respond to an open letter on abortion

Further to the letter ‘Abortion Pledges,’ (Times – 28/11/19) we are grateful to the signatories for raising concerns in connection with this important and emotive subject.

The Church of England’s stated position combines principled opposition with a recognition that there can be strictly limited conditions under which abortion may be morally preferable to any available alternative. This is based on our view that the foetus is a human life with the potential to develop relationships, think, pray, choose and love. Those facing unwanted pregnancies realise the gravity of the decision they face: all abortions are tragedies, since they entail judging one individual’s welfare against that of another (even if one is, as yet, unborn). Every possible support, especially by church members, needs to be given to those who are pregnant in difficult circumstances and care, support and compassion must be shown to all, whether or not they continue with their pregnancy.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Theology

(BBC) Burford school agrees to provide alternative to Christian assembly

A couple who threatened to take a school to the High Court over its religious assemblies have won their fight for alternative activities for their children.

Lee and Lizianne Harris withdrew their two children from assemblies at Burford Primary School in Oxfordshire over fears they were being “indoctrinated”.

The legal bid said the school breached their right to freedom of belief.

Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust said the case had diverted valuable funds.

The couple, who are non-religious, enrolled their children at the town’s only state school in 2015, before the trust took over.

But the children were unhappy watching Bible stories, including the crucifixion, during the Wednesday assemblies.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), Education, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Faiths

(CT) Kay Warren: Moms of Kids with Mental Illness Need Christ and Community

With all the advocacy and educational work that you do on mental health issues, why was doing a retreat for moms a priority?

After Matthew died, I talked to hundreds of parents who have kids with mental illness. And it slowly began to dawn on me that not only did parents not have enough support, they didn’t have good community.

There are a lot of reasons for that. There’s stigma and discrimination against people living with mental illness. In the Christian community, there’s a standard that we feel like we have to measure up to—you know, perfect marriages, perfect families, always “things are good, things are good.” And when your life isn’t good, you end up hiding how difficult your life really is.

When there is serious mental illness, there can be extreme chaos, violence, or threats of violence. There is extreme dysfunction. There can be homelessness, substance abuse, and a sense of helplessness. And so parents don’t have a place where they can really say, “This is what my life is like.” And I just kept thinking, what can I do, what can I do? How can I help make a place for others, particularly moms, where they can be real, where they can tell their story, where they can find community?

Then a really good friend—you!—said early this year, “Have you ever thought about doing a retreat for moms?” And my response was “Uh, no, but I will.” It became crystal clear to me that that was exactly what I was supposed to do.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Mental Illness, Pastoral Care, Psychology

(WSJ) Russell Moore on an important new law that prevents discrimination against Catholics and evangelical Protestants in adoption services

It’s no secret what happens when faith-based providers get pushed out. A year after Boston stopped working with them, the percentage of youth in foster care who left the Massachusetts system because they aged out rose more than 50%. With fewer available homes to place children in, aging out is one of the worst outcomes as it increases a child’s likelihood of homelessness and unemployment. The rate still has not returned to pre-2006 levels. In 2011 Illinois passed a law discontinuing its partnerships with faith-based agencies—then lost more than 1,500 foster homes between 2012 and 2017. All this when the world desperately needs more providers.

And it made this week’s news even more encouraging. On Thursday, the White House announced a new rule that will help faith-based organizations remain a vital part of the child-welfare system. The Obama-era provisions redefined federal nondiscrimination policies in a way that excluded faith-based groups. The new rule brings regulations at the Department of Health and Human Services back in line with all other federal nondiscrimination law and Supreme Court precedent.

This is not a narrowing rule that excludes gay people and others from serving children. Instead, the regulation merely ensures that no one is kept from serving, while ending an attempt to stop religious organizations from doing so consistent with their convictions. It’s a welcome statement that the child-welfare system is about the welfare of children—not proxy culture wars.

Communities of faith have a lot to offer to children in foster care. Barna research shows that practicing Christians may be more than twice as likely to adopt compared with the general population—with Catholics three times as likely and evangelicals five times as likely.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(NPR) Why Millions Of Kids Can’t Read And What Better Teaching Can Do About It

The most important thing was for the child to understand the meaning of the story, not the exact words on the page. So, if a kid came to the word “horse” and said “house,” the teacher would say, that’s wrong. But, Harper recalls, “if the kid said ‘pony,’ it’d be right because pony and horse mean the same thing.”

Harper was shocked. First of all, pony and horse don’t mean the same thing. And what does a kid do when there aren’t any pictures?

This advice to a beginning reader is based on an influential theory about reading that basically says people use things like context and visual clues to read words. The theory assumes learning to read is a natural process and that with enough exposure to text, kids will figure out how words work.

Yet scientists from around the world have done thousands of studies on how people learn to read and have concluded that theory is wrong.

One big takeaway from all that research is that reading is not natural; we are not wired to read from birth. People become skilled readers by learning that written text is a code for speech sounds. The primary task for a beginning reader is to crack the code. Even skilled readers rely on decoding.

Read it all from earlier this year.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Education

(NYT) Reading Scores on National Exam Decline in Half the States

This year, eighth-grade reading scores in 31 states dropped two to seven points — which the federal government deemed significant — compared with their performances in 2017. Indiana, New Hampshire and Virginia had the largest declines. Fourth-grade reading scores dropped in 17 states, with New Jersey’s six-point drop the largest. Only one state, Mississippi, improved, the data showed.

James F. Lane, the superintendent of public instruction in Virginia, said that while grade-level proficiency was a goal, the school system “must also recognize that Virginia’s schools are enrolling increasing numbers of students whose learning is impacted by poverty and trauma.” He said the school system needed to recruit and retain high-quality teachers and equip them to meet the needs of a “changing student population.”

Average math scores fared considerably better, particularly among fourth graders. Nine states had significant increases in fourth-grade math, compared with 2017. Again, Mississippi led the pack. The eighth-grade score in three states improved, while those in six states declined.

American students have made large gains in math and small gains in reading since 1990. But those improvements began to level out around 2009. There is no consensus on why that happened.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Books, Children, Education

Bishop Alan Smith says society must not accept child gambling ‘crisis’ following report

Responding to the 2019 Young People and Gambling report which was published on Wednesday, Bishop Alan said:

“This new evidence from the Gambling Commission provides welcome and much-needed insight into the world of gambling that children are living in

“There continue to be 55,000 children classed as “problem gamblers” and a further 87,000 at risk. While this remains a national scandal, the Commission uses detached phrases such as: “The 2019 results do not represent a significant increase over time.”

“Tens of thousands of families could be living in a nightmare with their child’s level of gambling activity. When the average spend on gambling by children is £17 per week it is evidence of potential serious family finance problems….

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Gambling, Religion & Culture

(NYT) At a School for Suicide Bombers’ Children, Dancing, Drawing and Deradicalization

Ais likes to dance. She knows the words to “I’m a Little Teapot.” Her dimples are disarming.

Her parents didn’t want their daughter to dance. They didn’t want her to sing. They wanted her to die with them for their cause.

Last year, when she was 7, Ais squeezed onto a motorcycle with her mother and brother. They carried a packet that Ais refers to as coconut rice wrapped in banana leaves. Her father and other brother climbed onto a different bike with another parcel. They sped toward a police station in the Indonesian city of Surabaya, a place of mixed faith.

The parcels were bombs, and they were set off at the gate to the police station. Catapulted off the motorcycle by the force of the explosion, Ais rose from the pavement like a ghost, her pale head-to-toe garment fluttering in the chaos. Every other member of her family died. No bystanders were killed. The Islamic State, halfway across the world, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Ais, who is being identified by her nickname (pronounced ah-iss) to protect her privacy, is now part of a deradicalization program for children run by the Indonesian Ministry of Social Affairs. In a leafy compound in the capital, Jakarta, she bops to Taylor Swift, reads the Quran and plays games of trust.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Education, Indonesia, Terrorism

(WSJ) The New Parental Obsession: Checking Kids’ Grades Online

Teachers report mixed feelings about online grade books. Sean Riley, a high-school teacher in Seattle, said students and parents can become so focused on the metrics that they lose sight of the bigger picture. “It starts to turn learning into a series of tasks to be completed instead of a process of exercises to learn more,” he said.

Obsessive grade-checking is also symptomatic of the desire, peculiar to a generation that has grown up with everything just a swipe away, to receive instant gratification. Mr. Riley said this can lead to anxiety and disappointment in some students.

The upside is when students use the information to advocate for themselves.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

(ESPN) A Long but valuable read–the incredible story of Deandre Hopkins and his Mom

3 years ago, the NFL launched an initiative granting players permission to wear custom cleats to promote their charitable causes. That fall, Hopkins wore pink and blue shoes that had “End Abuse” written on the outside in all caps. Next to the heel, an artist painted four tiny icons of women, one of whom was rendered in a different color from the others, a symbol of the one in four women who have experienced intimate partner violence.

The year Hopkins was drafted, Greenlee started a nonprofit called SMOOOTH (Speaking Mentally, Outwardly Opening Opportunities Toward Healing) in order to assist survivors of domestic violence. Her son has quietly worked with her to advance the cause, meeting with the women she has mentored, raising money for her organization and others, and speaking to high school students about his past. While it’s difficult to recount the harrowing sounds he used to hear behind closed doors as a boy, the process of dredging them up can also be palliative, he says. “It’s helped me learn a lot, about life, about how to treat a woman,” he says. “It’s helped me become a man.”

Like her son, who she’s quick to point out is also a survivor, Greenlee harbors painful childhood memories — recollections of being “that 15-year-old girl that took that abuse, that lay on the floor, that didn’t think she was ever going to be anything,” she says. When she visits shelters, she meets women who haven’t shed those feelings of inadequacy. Her foundation has helped dozens of survivors transition to their new lives, giving them vouchers, counseling and even makeovers. “I want to tell [them] … you don’t have to stay there,” says Greenlee, who agreed in May to let a film company produce a movie about her life. “I’ll help you get out of this, just listen to me. Just follow my lead. I’m telling you: There is light after darkness.”

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Marriage & Family, Sexuality, Sports, Violence

(CJ) Are Cities Going to the Dogs?

Brooklyn’s Prospect Park is dog heaven. On sunny Saturday mornings, the park’s open green space, Long Meadow, fills with hundreds of canines frolicking during off-leash hours. The dogs’ owners hover nearby like watchful parents who, when playtime ends, head over to the nearby farmers’ market or go out for brunch. Later in the day, they might make time for doggie yoga or the pet bakery before coming home to their pet-friendly apartment buildings, many featuring dog baths and groomers.

Roughly 600,000 dogs live in New York City, along with half a million cats. About half of U.S. households own a pet, which adds up to at least 77 million dogs and 54 million cats. Generationally, millennials are the most enthusiastic pet owners, with some 70 percent boasting of having at least one pet.

What you’re less likely to see, especially in America’s largest cities, are children. Pets are now more common than kids in many U.S. cities. San Francisco, for example, is home to nearly 150,000 dogs but just 115,000 children under age 18. Farther north, Seattle has more households with cats than with kids. Nationwide, pets outnumber children in apartment buildings. In New York neighborhoods like Long Island City and Williamsburg, wealthy singles have the highest number of pooches per capita.

In a recent Atlantic essay, Derek Thompson wrote about how “America’s urban rebirth is missing a key element: births.” Manhattan’s infant population is projected to halve in 30 years. High-density cities are losing families with children over age six, while growing their populations of college-educated residents without children. Indeed, the share of children under 20 living in big cities has been falling for 40 years.

Young professionals’ four-legged friends have replaced those babies.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance & Investing, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Young Adults

(Economist) Is The best way to eradicate poverty in America to focus on children?

Elderly residents of Inez, the tiny seat of Martin County, Kentucky, deep in the heart of Appalachia, can still vividly remember the day the president came to town. Fifty-five years ago, while stooping on a porch, Lyndon Johnson spoke at length to Tom Fletcher (pictured), a white labourer with no job, little education and eight children. “I have called for a national war on poverty,” Johnson announced immediately afterwards. “Our objective: total victory.” That declaration transformed Fletcher and Martin County into the unwitting faces of the nation’s battle, often to the chagrin of local residents who resented the frequent pilgrimages of journalists and photographers. The story never changed much: Fletcher continued to draw disability cheques for decades and never became self-sufficient before his death in 2004. His family continued to struggle with addiction and incarceration.

Today Martin County remains deeply poor—30% of residents live below the official poverty line (an income of less than $25,750 a year for a family of four). Infrastructure is shoddy. The roads up the stunning forested mountains that once thundered with the extraction of coal now lie quiet, cracked to the point of corrugation. Problems with pollution because of leaky pipes mean that some parts of the county are without running water for days. “Our water comes out orange, blue and with dirt chunks in it,” says BarbiAnn Maynard, a resident agitating for repairs. She and her family have not drunk the water from their taps since 2000; it is suitable only for flushing toilets. Some residents gather drinking water from local springs or collect rainwater in inflatable paddling pools.

The ongoing poverty is not for lack of intervention. The federal government has spent trillions of dollars over the past 55 years. Programmes have helped many. But they also remain fixated on the problems of the past, largely the elderly and the working poor, leaving behind non-working adults and children. As a result, America does a worse job than its peers of helping the needy of today. By the official poverty measure, there were 40m poor Americans in 2017, or 12% of the population. This threshold is extremely low: for a family of four, it amounts to $17.64 per person per day. About 18.5m people have only half that amount and are mired in deep poverty. Children are the likeliest age group to experience poverty—there are nearly 13m of them today, or 17.5% of all American children.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Poverty

(CBS) A California High school senior throws birthday parties for children in homeless shelters

Seventeen-year-old Tanvi Barman spends most of her free time throwing birthday parties. But not for people she knows — for homeless children who otherwise couldn’t afford them.

The high school senior travels to different homeless shelters around the Bay Area and throws personalized parties for children there. Barman has been working on her organization since she was in eighth grade. She calls it “No Birthday Left Behind.”

Barman told CBS News she got the idea when she was volunteering with her family at a homeless shelter. It later hit her that the pleasures in life she takes for granted — like birthday parties — may be unavailable to homeless children.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Poverty, Teens / Youth

(WSJ) Parents Know Better Than Standardized Tests

Thanks to private-school choice—vouchers, tax-credit scholarships and education savings accounts—this year nearly half a million children in 29 U.S. states and the District of Columbia will attend schools their parents selected.

Critics of school choice often argue that low-income families lack the knowledge or ability to choose meaningfully between schools. Worrying that parents will be taken advantage of or make poor decisions, they oppose choice programs or favor onerous testing requirements to prove they are effective.

New studies on school choice in Colombia and Barbados, however, suggest families know something that tests can’t detect. These two countries, with per capita incomes a quarter and a third of America’s, respectively, can teach us a lot about how the most economically disadvantaged families choose schools.

Stanford’s Eric Bettinger and his research team found that students who won a lottery for a voucher in Colombia were 17% more likely to complete high school on time than students who lost the lottery. The study, released in July, used a method of random assignment to compare apples to apples. So it isn’t because of selection bias that lottery winners earned 8% more than lottery losers by the time they turned 33. It’s because their parents were allowed to choose schools that were better fits for their children.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Education, Marriage & Family

A Heartbreaking and Important Washington Post Article on the Suicide of Kelly Catlin

Kelly’s father wants you to know all of it: She took classes at the University of Minnesota in 11th grade, notched a perfect score on the SAT, had enrolled last fall in the computational mathematics program at Stanford’s graduate school. This was a young woman who had become convinced, like so many of her high-achieving peers, that pedaling to the peak of one mountain only meant a better view of the other, taller ones in the distance.

“The very characteristics that made you successful will be self-destructive,” Mark says he has realized, though he prefers to keep himself busy than think too deeply about it, and indeed as much as his daughter was an outlier in life, she was part of a trend in death.

… [he] kept absorbing his daughter’s final words.

“I cry,” Kelly wrote, “because I only ever truly desired Love. Kindness. Understanding. Warmth. Touch. And these things shall be denied, for eternity.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Sports, Suicide

(ESPN) [Must-Not-Miss story]–Whatever happened to Villanova basketball star Shelly Pennefather? ‘So I made this deal with God.’

Twenty-five years old and not far removed from her All-America days at Villanova, [Shelly] Pennefather was in her prime. She had legions of friends and a contract offer for $200,000 to play basketball in Japan that would have made her one of the richest players in women’s basketball.

And children — she was so good with children. She had talked about having lots of them with John Heisler, a friend she’d known most of her life. Heisler nearly proposed to her twice, but something inside stopped him, and he never bought a ring.

“When she walked into the room,” Heisler said, “the whole room came alive.

“She had a cheerfulness and a confidence that everything was going to be OK. That there was nothing to fear.”

That Saturday morning in 1991, Pennefather drove her Mazda 323 to the Monastery of the Poor Clares in Alexandria, Virginia. She loved to drive. Fifteen cloistered nuns waited for her in two lines, their smiles radiant.

She turned to her family.

“I love you all,” she said.

The door closed, and Shelly Pennefather was gone

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sports

(C of E) The Importance of Collective Worship in Schools

From there:

Following reports of a judicial review granted by the High Court, the Church of England’s Chief Education Officer, Nigel Genders writes:
“We live at a time when children feel besieged by social media, weighed down by pressure and report poor mental health. Collective worship offers ten minutes in a day for children to pause and explore the big existential questions such as ‘Who am I?’ ‘Why am I here?’ and ‘How then should I live?”
“Offering this in the context of authentic Christian worship is not ‘religious indoctrination’ but a simple chance for children of all faiths and none to develop spiritually and gain perspective in an otherwise crowded day.

“There is much evidence of the value of collective worship to children and young people which is why thousands of community schools also have strong partnerships with local churches and faith groups. What happens in schools must be evidence-based and should not be in response to secular pressure group campaigns.”

(From a letter to The Times, 30/7/19)

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), Education, Liturgy, Music, Worship

(Telegraph) Atheist parents take primary school to court as they say assembly prayers breach children’s human rights

Atheist parents are taking their children’s primary school to the High Court, claiming that biblical re-enactments and praying in assembly are a breach of their human rights.

Lee Harris and his wife Lizanne have won permission to bring a judicial review against Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust (ODST) after arguing that Burford Primary School is acting “unlawfully”.

They allege that since ODST took over the running of the community school in 2015, they noticed “harmful aspects of evangelism spreading into assembly” and other parts of their pupils’ education.

In the first case of its kind, the parents are arguing that this interferes with their children’s right to receive an education “free from religious interference”.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Education, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

(NPR) Isolated And Struggling, Many Seniors Are Turning To Suicide

Across the country, suicide rates have been on the rise, and that rise has struck the nation’s seniors particularly hard. Of the more than 47,000 suicides that took place in 2017, those 65 and up accounted for more than 8,500 of them, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Men who are 65 and older face the highest risk of suicide, while adults 85 and older, regardless of gender, are the second most likely age group to die from suicide.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 47.8 million people over the age of 65 in the U.S. as of 2015. By 2060, that number is projected to reach 98.2 million.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Suicide, Theology

Walter Isaacson–Should the Rich Be Allowed to Buy the Best Genes?

The French Quarter, where we live [in New Orleans], is hopping that weekend. There is a naked bicycle race that is intended (oddly enough) to promote traffic safety. There is one of many parades and second lines to celebrate the life of Mac Rebennack Jr., the funk musician known as Dr. John. There is also the gay-pride parade and related block parties. And coexisting quite happily is the French Market Creole Tomato Festival, featuring truck farmers and cooks showing off the many varieties of succulent non-genetically modified local tomatoes.

From my balcony, I marvel at the diversity of the passing humanity. There are people short and tall, gay and straight and trans, fat and skinny, light and dark, and even a few wearing Gallaudet University T-shirts excitedly using sign language. The supposed promise of CRISPR is that we may someday be able to pick which of these traits we want in our children and in all of our descendants. We could choose for them to be tall and muscular and blond and blue-eyed and not deaf and not … well, pick your preferences.

As I survey the delightful pageant with all of its natural variety, I ponder how this promise of CRISPR might also be its peril, up there with the encoding of unequal opportunities. It took the laws of nature and of nature’s God more than 3.2 billion years to weave together three billion bases of DNA in a complex and occasionally imperfect way to permit all of the wondrous diversity within our species. Are we right to think we can now come along and, within a few decades, edit that genome to eliminate what we see as imperfections? Will we lose our diversity? Will we become less flavorful, like our tomatoes? Will that be good for our species?

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology

(NBC) A 5-Year-Old Girl Receives a Prosthetic Hand Thanks To Cincinnati Student Engineers

Posted in Children, Health & Medicine

(NR) David French–‘The Next Big Religious Freedom Case Just Landed at SCOTUS’

Those are the first words in a tweet thread from Becket attorney Lori Windham, and she’s right. This week Becket filed a cert petition in Sharonell Fulton v. City of Philadelphia. Fulton is appealing from a Third Circuit Court of Appeals opinion holding that Philadelphia did not violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment when it took punitive actions against Catholic Social Services because, in the words of the cert petition, “as a Catholic agency, CSS cannot provide written endorsements for same-sex couples which contradict its religious teachings on marriage.” Philadelphia took this action in spite of the fact that “CSS’s beliefs about marriage haven’t prevented anyone from fostering. ” As Becket explains:

Philadelphia has a diverse array of foster agencies, and not a single same-sex couple approached CSS about becoming a foster parent between its opening in 1917 and the start of this case in 2018. Despite this history, after learning through a newspaper article that CSS wouldn’t perform home studies for same-sex couples if asked, the City stopped allowing foster children to be placed with any family endorsed by CSS. This means that even though no same-sex couples had asked to work with the Catholic Church, the foster families that actually chose to work with the Church cannot welcome new children into their homes at a time when Philadelphia has an admittedly “urgent” need for more foster parents.

As is the case with multiple modern religious liberty cases, the issue isn’t whether LGBT individuals are excluded from the relevant market, industry, or program but whether the state may use its power to enforce ideological and religious conformity. Just as a ruling for Jack Phillips in Masterpiece Cakeshop meant that customers could still get their cakes, and Christians could still retain their rights of conscience, a ruling for CSS here would mean that LGBT families could still foster, and Catholics would be able to uphold church teaching.

Moreover, the facts of the case demonstrate that Philadelphia’s intolerance doesn’t just harm the Catholic Church, it harms the very people the foster program is designed to help.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Supreme Court

(Guardian) John Marsden on the ‘toxic’ parenting pandemic: ‘I’ve never seen this level of anxiety’

[John] Marsden says that this contemporary crop of teenagers is outperforming generations past in terms of academic achievement, political engagement and so on – but he is fearful about their emotional health, borne out by statistics on the prevalence of mental health issues among the young.

“The scale of the problem is massive. The issue of emotional damage is pandemic,” he tells the Guardian. “The level of anxiety is something I’ve never seen before, and I don’t know how it can be improved.”

Marsden says that much of the anxiety among parents and children springs from concern that the world is a dangerous place, with traditional “safe” authority figures no longer to be trusted. That, coupled with an infantilisation of children as pure, helpless creatures, leads parents to cosset and fret over their offspring, and demand much of the same from educational institutions.

“Part of that is a fear, in particular, of physical injury,” he says. “Of course, all reasonable parents are concerned about physical injury to a child, but if that overrides everything else then what you have instead is a kind of slow death by emotional damage which is so awful to witness.”

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Posted in Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Books, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology

(Sunday [London] Times) Gambling, Africa’s new child plague

British betting companies and football clubs are “luring” hundreds of thousands of African children into an illegal gambling craze that Kenya’s government says is “destroying” their lives.

Using techniques banned in the UK, the companies appeal to youngsters by using cartoon characters and free branded merchandise. At a British company’s betting shops in the Nairobi slums, The Sunday Times witnessed children as young as 14 gambling freely, in breach of Kenyan law.

Tracey Crouch, who resigned as sports minister in protest at the government’s lack of action over gambling, said she was “deeply concerned” at the revelations, adding: “It is reminiscent of the way that tobacco companies are seeking new markets among young people in Africa.”

Top English football clubs, which have millions of fans in Africa, are closely involved in the promotional efforts. Arsenal sent its former star, Sol Campbell, to Nairobi for children’s coaching sessions with SportPesa, a Kenyan betting company that is its African sponsor. Hull City players went to a Nairobi shanty town, where they handed out SportPesa-branded wristbands and football strips to schoolchildren.

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Posted in Africa, Children, Corporations/Corporate Life, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Gambling, Sports

(Local Paper) Clemson’s Dabo Swinney to assistants: Spend time with your own kids, or you’re fired

Rare is it that Dabo Swinney issues threats. The Clemson football coach dances with his players and takes his assistants on annual skiing trips. Fear is not part of his playbook.

But Swinney makes an exception when it comes to safeties coach Mickey Conn, whose oldest son, Brodey, plays on the same football and baseball teams as Swinney’s youngest son, Clay.

“Dabo says, ‘If you don’t go to the games, I’m going to fire you,’” Conn said.

And so Conn goes to the games. He values his employment. He then returns to the Tigers’ facility grateful to work for a boss who emphasizes the importance of family time.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Children, Marriage & Family, Sports