Tags: Body & Mind, Children, health, Nature, psychology, Society
Ontario’s Healthy Kids Panel recently proposed a strategy to help kids get onto a path to health.
The problem is that the path doesn’t lead them into nature. Though the report quotes parents’ comments and research showing kids spend dramatically less time outside than ever, it doesn’t encourage time in nature.
That said, many of the report’s recommendations should be implemented and supported locally, provincially and nationally to reduce the risks of obesity.
Encouraging parents and children to be more critical about dietary choices and requiring more information and labelling from restaurants and food producers is long overdue.
Ontario isn’t the only province working to reduce obesity rates and support parents raising healthy children, particularly in the early years. Alberta released relevant reports in 2011 and Quebec has had a ban on advertising junk food to children since 1980.
No one can argue against public awareness and education around the benefits of healthy eating and active living. But a provincial, patchwork approach to addressing these issues isn’t enough. We need a national strategy to get our kids eating healthy foods and being active in nature.
‘Make good things more accessible’
Although it seems logical that much of the time spent being active will take place outside, the Ontario report acknowledges that “many communities are not designed to encourage kids to move or be physically active…and have few safe green spaces.”
One parent in a focus group explains that the parks in his community are either gated or locked up once school is closed. So, even when there is green space, it’s not always accessible.
Last year, the David Suzuki Foundation conducted a survey with young Canadians and found that 70 percent spend an hour or less a day outdoors. The 2012 Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card says they spend almost eight hours a day in front of screens.
So it’s not that kids don’t have time to be outside. It’s just not part of their lifestyle.
Much has been reported about a recommendation by the Ontario panel to ban junk food advertising that targets children under 12. This has worked in Quebec and is being discussed in Alberta.
But the approach has invited criticism from those who argue that people should have the right to choose.
We need a national strategy to get our kids eating healthy foods and being active in nature.
It’s always tempting to focus on making bad things less accessible, but perhaps policymakers should be more creative and focus on ways to make good things more accessible.
Being in nature is good for all of us. People who get outside regularly are less stressed, have more resilient immune systems and are generally happier.
And it’s good for our kids. Studies show spending time in nature or green spaces helps reduce the symptoms of ADHD.
Even in built playgrounds, kids spend twice as much time playing, use their imaginations more, and engage in more aerobic and strengthening activities when the space incorporates natural elements like logs, flowers, and small streams, according to research from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
Bring Nature Back Into Our Lives
Despite all the obvious health benefits of spending time outside, provincial and federal governments are failing to integrate a daily dose of nature into their policies.
It’s also something we as a society are failing to make a priority in the lives of our children. This inexpensive and effective way to make our lives healthier and happier should be an obvious solution.
We need to make sure our neighbourhoods have green spaces where people can explore their connections with nature.
We need to make sure our neighbourhoods have green spaces where people can explore their connections with nature.
We need to ask teachers and school board representatives to take students outside so that nature becomes a classroom.
And we need to stop making the outdoors seem like a scary place for children by helping parents understand that the benefits of playing outside outweigh the risks.
It will take public education and awareness-building as well as changes to the way we build cities and live in our communities to bring nature back into our lives.
Connecting kids to nature every day needs to be a priority policy objective in any strategy for healthy children and could easily have been integrated into the recommendations from the Ontario Healthy Kids Panel.
Taking our kids by the hand and spending time outside with them will have the added benefit of making us healthier and happier adults.
By David Suzuki with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Communications Specialist Leanne Clare
Tags: CCP, Children, China, human rights, persecution of dissidents, Society
Pregnant woman induced labor to avoid forced abortion
LOS ANGELES—Qiao Shunqin, a former elementary school teacher from Kaifeng, Henan Province, still recalls the cruel pressure she faced more than two decades ago. She was nine months pregnant and determined to save her baby the night before she was scheduled to have a forced abortion.
Her son now lives in the United States; he is 24 years old and 6 feet tall. He came here to study and later joined the U.S. military. His mother says he treats his parents with respect, perhaps because he knows his life did not come easily.
Qiao had a child from her first marriage, but when she divorced, the court gave her ex-husband custody of the child. Her second husband also had a child, but his ex-wife had been given custody.
According to the one-child policy at that time, because the couple did not have custody of their respective children, neither was considered to have exhausted their one-child allowance, so Qiao applied for a birth license. Only after it was approved by several different officials and offices, including her school principal, and the district Family Planning Office, did she prepare for a pregnancy.
In June 1988, after she had been married for two years and was over eight months pregnant, the school principal told Qiao that the new director of the district Family Planning Office, Sui Yajie, did not think she should be permitted to have a second child. She was therefore asked to have an abortion.
The family planning office, the school principal, and her boss took turns to visit and pressure her. For her to go against the family planning office would reflect negatively on the performance reviews from her boss and her school principal. “I just wept silently,” she said.
Ms. Qiao requested to have the abortion in Zhengzhou, where her parents and in-laws lived. On July 5, 1988, she went to the obstetrics department of the People’s Hospital of Henan Province under duress. The family planning director and school principal asked the doctor to abort the fetus immediately.
The doctor saw that Qiao was almost ready to give birth, and at age 38, was a mature woman with heart disease. To avoid complications, he insisted on first conducting a complete examination. By the time he finished, the out-patient division had closed for the day, and the abortion was rescheduled for 8 a.m. the next day.
Qiao returned to her in-laws’ home, arriving after 9 p.m. She knew the baby, kicking and moving inside her, would be killed the next morning. Nine years earlier she had been forced to have an abortion when she was seven months pregnant. That time, a toxic solution was injected into her uterus, and four hours later, she lost a baby girl. The horrific experience was still fresh in her mind.
She was determined to keep her child this time. She held her stomach as if holding the child in her hands, and began repeatedly hitting her back against the wall, but did not feel any change after about one hour, aside from perspiration and back pain.
She decided to change her approach, and placed newspaper on the concrete floor with blankets on top. Then she held her stomach, and began jumping down from the bed onto the floor. Every time she jumped, she held her breath and then climbed back up again. It grew more and more difficult, but she persisted. She prayed the child would be born soon, while worrying that too much movement would hurt the child. Her husband and mother-in-law looked on in horror, but did not dare stop her.
At about midnight, Qiao’s water broke–the baby was coming.
To avoid any issues, Qiao used a fake name, age, and work unit when registering at the hospital. Five hours later at 6 a.m., her son was born.
After the birth, the director of the family planning office blamed her for not telling them sooner, “If you had informed us, we could have given the baby a toxic injection and killed him, and you would not have to lose your job for violating the one-child policy.”
These chilling words brought deep fear to Qiao. “For several years after that, I had dreams that someone was chasing me and trying to kill me and my child. We ran and ran for our lives. In my dreams, I held my child tightly for fear he would be taken away,” she said.
Qiao was fired from her job, even though she was rated an excellent teacher and in the prime of life. Her husband’s salary was stopped for more than a year, and he was demoted from government official to factory worker. They therefore had to rely on assistance from their families.
For over 20 years, Qiao traveled to different appeals offices to try and get her job back. However, she did not receive a response and was repeatedly humiliated. An official from an office in Henan Province even told her to “just go jump off a building and drop dead!”
From childhood, Qiao had grown up in a Communist Party-controlled environment and had truly believed in the Party. She said, “Because of the one-child policy, I turned from an activist promoting the Party to a vehement opponent of the Party.”
Since being reunited with her son in the United States, Qiao has publicized statements severing all ties with the Chinese Communist Party, including the Communist Youth League and the Young Pioneers.
Translation by Li Zhen. Research by Jane Lin. Edited by Nicholas Zifcak and Cassie Ryan.
Read the original Chinese article.
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Tags: Body & Mind, Children, environmental issues, Science, Society
According to a study from a trio of educators in Maharashtra, India, noise-induced hearing loss is occurring at even younger ages than previously thought, and the primary causes are urban noises and the propensity for listening to media with the volume higher than the human ear can tolerate.
The study, published in the International Journal of Head and Neck Surgery in December, focused on 150 students from the Bharti Vidyapeeth Dental College.
The results showed that 75 percent of the students had been exposed to extreme noise pollution on a routine basis. Of those 75 percent of the students, 16 suffered noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).
The findings are disturbing because the research gives further credence to what many of us in the hearing-health industry already know, which is that more and more people are facing hearing damage at younger and younger ages.
What the Indian researchers showed, however, is that NIHL is occurring because of non-industrial noise.
Some students in the study said they were exposed to loud noises at home, at school, and everywhere in between.
“So far risk of exposure to high noise level was considered to be limited to industrial environment only. However, with rapid urbanization and modernization, the cities are becoming crowded as well as noisy.
“Exposure to noise from these sources have put the population not exposed to industrial noise also at risk of NIHL, especially the younger population.
“If corrective measures are not taken this may lead to high percentage of younger urban population with permanent hearing loss,” says the study authored by Sunil Suresh Saler, Parul Sunil Saler, and Wilson Desai.
Some students in the study said they were exposed to loud noises at home, at school, and everywhere in between. Several of them told the researchers that they turned their iPods or video-game consoles up to the maximum volume level while wearing headphones.
Previous international studies have shown that use of portable stereos can lead to an increase in hearing damage.
Australia’s National Acoustic Laboratories discovered that one quarter of its survey respondents were in danger of hearing loss because of their use of iPods and other similar devices.
When we are young, we are more likely to take risks, and those risks can lead to health complications, as many people in their 30s and 40s are finding out when it comes to their ears.
Take Early Precautions
Hearing loss is a growing problem in the 21st century. Part of the issue has to do with technology we’ve adopted into our lives, but the more important threat is the increasing amount of noise we face because of situations that are often out of our control.
Construction noise, traffic disturbances, and loud urban atmospheres put stress on the ears of millions of people on a daily basis. Exposure to such noise is a health risk that is increasingly unavoidable and global.
“People generally lack knowledge of the ill effects which noise pollution creates. To avoid NIHL, attention must be given toward the noise around us,” the study from India said.
“Wear adequate hearing protection like foam ear muffs, ear plugs. There will be a definite hearing impairment due to noise pollution, which can be either permanent or temporary, if early precautions are not taken.”
The good news is that awareness helps. Once you recognize a health risk, you can always take steps to prevent or limit the damage.
That goes for anything from a toothache to blurry vision to a sudden ringing in your ears. All of those conditions can be treated, as long as you initiate the steps to address them.
MJ DeSousa, an audiologist and Director of Professional Practice at Connect Hearing, leads a team of hearing professionals across Canada. For more information about hearing loss please visit www.connecthearing.ca
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Tags: Body & Mind, Children, health, IT and Media, psychology, Society
The noise the first student is referring to is the background noise of television, radio and music, plus a multitude of social media and online curiosities. And the silence the second student refers to is a world devoid of such background noise.
Drawing on six years (2007-12) of observations from 580 undergraduate students, it can be reasonably argued that their need for noise and their struggle with silence is a learned behavior.
The desire for media-generated background noise is acquired more from parents and grandparents than from my students’ new-found relationship with social media.
To that extent, Larry D. Rosen’s excellent advice on how teachers can address student social media anxiety – such as by introducing one-minute technology breaks–shouldn’t be confused with issues surrounding the same students’ need for background noise.
With obvious exceptions, mum and dad also inherited this need for background noise: “My grandparents have the television on practically all the time in the background”, observes one student.
It is not surprising then when another writes, “the television was switched on by my parents earlier in the morning for the news and left on … even when no-one was watching”.
For all but one of the 580 students, television and radio was in the home prior to their birth. For most students, the family home also had at least one computer before they were born. Indeed, this year we had our first student that can’t remember her family’s first mobile phone.
Beginning at infancy, the constant media soundscape has provided the background noise either side of bassinet, kindergarten, school and university. It is little wonder many of my students feel agitated and ill-at-ease when there is not at least one portal providing background noise.
Such background noise speaks to Bill McKibben’s observations of the Third Parent.
More often than not, a student’s third parent (whether that be analogue or digital media) speaks to them more often than their biological parents. As one participant noted, “the noise of the TV and the communication on Facebook helps me feel more in touch with people”.
By and large my students report they can’t function in silence. As one explained, “I actually began doing this assignment in the library and had to return to my room minutes later to get my iPod as I found the library was so quiet that I couldn’t concentrate properly!”
It’s not just the silence of a library that students report as disturbing. Having gone home to the farm, one student observed how she found it hard to walk down to the dam without an iPod.
When the students were provided with the tools to reflect on their media consumption they began to recognize the nature of background noise. Having filled in their spreadsheets, they were asked to spend one hour walking, sitting and/or reading in a quiet place. This is the moment in the assignment when students tend to discover their relationship with silence:
“The lack of noise made me uncomfortable, it actually seemed foreboding”, observed one student. Another said “perhaps, because media consistently surrounds us today, we have a fear of peace and quiet”.
Could it be that it’s the background noise and not the discrete content of each media portal that creates the perception of well-being my students write about?
Either way, it’s clear that students (and doubtless many others) have become accustomed to the background noise that’s become such a feature of modern life.
So what about you: are you scared of silence?
This article was originally published on The Conversation.
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Tags: Body & Mind, Children, environmental issues, health, sustainable development
Last week a joint research project announced results showing 29 percent of tested toys contained toxic elements.
The research was conducted by ecological organizations in six Eastern European and Asian countries, including Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The test subjects were selected at random from toys available in those countries. Most of the toys originated from China.
A total of 569 toys were tested for six heavy metals: antimony, mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium and chrome. Researchers found toxic metals in 164 toys, or 29 percent.
The results showed that lead was the most common toxin, discovered in 18 percent of the tested toys. Thirteen percent of toys contained antimony, while eight percent contained arsenic and three percent contained mercury.
Nearly 80 percent of the selected toys originated from China. The other 20 percent of toys that contained toxic elements were found to be manufactured in Germany, Italy, Greece and the Czech Republic.
“The results let us make the conclusion that only 71 percent of toys are clean,” ecologist Olga Tsygulyova, who took part in the research, told The Epoch Times.
Tsygulyova says that toxic toys are harmful not only when children place them in their mouths or swallow them, but also when children touch them, as the surfaces of toys may contain toxic particles.
Parents should be attentive while choosing toys, and avoid buying products with very bright colors or strong odors, advises Tsygulyova.
Tsygulyova also points out that unsafe toys are harmful not only to children’s health, but also to the environment when they are thrown out as waste. In this case toys can cause environmental damage by releasing toxic metals that gradually penetrate into soil and groundwater. This problem is especially serious in countries without developed waste sorting and recycling systems, such as Ukraine.
Ecologists advise parents to check if toys have quality marks before purchasing. Marks to look for include the ISO 9000 quality assurance system, the ISO 14000 environmental management system, or the “CE” marking for products made in the EU. Other quality assurance marks may vary from country to country.
Parents may also ask retailers to show accompanying documents for toys, such as quality certificates. Under the law in many countries, consumers have the right to request information about products.
Retailers are also required to give certain quality guarantees. Oleksiy Shumilo, director of Ukrainian ecological organization EcoRight-Kharkiv, says that consumers contribute to the manufacture of poor products when they buy toys at unregulated places.
“For example, when we come out of a metro station and see somebody selling toys and we don’t have time to go to a shop… If we buy in such places, without checking, then we are being irresponsible to our children,” he said.
However, according to Zoryana Mischuk, director of Ukrainian ecological organization MAMA-86, low quality toys were found even in specialized stores.
“You can find unsafe toys in large trading networks as well. Be careful,” warned Mishchuk.
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Tags: Children, Culture, Society, today's thoughts
Actually, thought about this today. That it’s important …
Have often thought about that it’s important to give children a good foundation, a history lesson and a cultural background to stand upon that tells them about different enlightened persons who have come to earth through the ages, to guide people on how to be a good person. A good human being is the message that they have had. A person with high morals and who is thinking of others first, a person that is compassionate, merciful and good.
So play some beautiful traditional Christmas music for the kids at Christmas, talk about the birth and life of Jesus and hold a nice, harmonious and somewhat solemn atmosphere in the home for them to remember later in life
Tags: Body & Mind, Children, psychology, technology
Physical therapy moves to the cloud under the Fifth Element project
The ambitious Fifth Element project aims to support the more than 60 million people who suffer from autism by using none other than the Microsoft Kinect, originally designed for video games on the Xbox 360.
The Fifth Element project is being led by Italian Ingenium, a four-man team with a passion for technology. Their project is already being used in rehabilitation centers, and is poised to spread across the globe in the next several months.
Kinect is a player-recognition system. Resembling a large webcam, the Kinect is placed on top of a television set and detects a player’s movements, which can then be used as commands for a video game. Yet, thanks to Web-based remote assistance services, even those who cannot physically access a rehabilitation center can learn and undergo therapy using Kinect.
“It’s a simple idea, and we can immediately see its potential impact on people,” said Matteo Valoriani, a 26-year-old student at Politecnico di Milano (Polytechnic University of Milan), and a creator of the Fifth Element project.
Matteo came up with the idea in December 2011 during a friendly chat with a friend who works in physical therapy. The friend told him how difficult it was for rehabilitation centers to meet with autistic children in need.
Specialized technology for similar purposes is very expensive. Yet, with Fifth Element, all that’s needed is a television, an Xbox 360, and a Kinect. The program itself is also simple, creating an interactive platform with standard images, voice, and text.
Each game and activity is developed with a specific therapy in mind.
Every game can be directly customized by the therapist to use different features and different levels of difficulty. The therapist can also change settings for the game remotely while interacting with the child over the Internet and from anywhere in the world.
After a session is completed, it can be saved so that parents can reuse it with their child on their own time.
“We are working to allow the child to see the therapist on screen real time, and they can interact on the screen thanks to the Kinect,” said Valoriani.
The Fifth Element project won the July Health Awareness Award during the Microsoft Imagine Cup 2012, out of 350 students from more than 200 countries. Willing the first prize at the competition in Australia helped the team get global attention for the new concept.
Connecting with the Kinect
The Fifth Element also gives autistic children the opportunity to connect with other autistic children—children who are often isolated from others. Controlling the game is also simple, since it’s based on actual movements. “It doesn’t seem like you are having control of an object,” Valoriani said. “It seems like you are the object.”
The game creates virtual characters that children can recognize as their digital avatars, and they can use the avatars to develop relationships with other children. “In some cases, it happens that the child teaches another child how to play,” said Valoriani, who is noticeably pleased with the results.
While the system is built to allow interaction regardless of distance, it can also be used by two children in the same room, or at a rehabilitation center under the supervision of the therapist.
Parents also have a level of control. They can update the statistics on the child’s progress, which the therapist can use as notes for the next treatment. The data is saved for other doctors who may do therapy for the child.
At the center of Benedetta d’Intino of Milan and the association Astrolabio, doctors have welcomed the experiments and have helped refine the system through feedback. Much of this refinement is used to improve interactive activities and to quickly develop new games.
The system’s custom platform, Azure, gets better every week, and its uses are already being considered for uses in other fields—including in education.
Valoriani says the name, Fifth Element, is based on the ancient theory of the five elements that constitute the world.
“We happen to live in a world where we have more technology than we need,” said Valoriani. “In the past, research was done until there was a realization that a project could move no further due to technological boundaries. Today it is totally different—we have the technology, but we don’t know how to use it.”
Tags: CCP, Children, China, human rights, persecution of dissidents, Society
I first met obstetrics doctor Tang Hongrong in a Bangkok Refugee Center. The second time I saw her was at a gathering to condemn China’s one-child policy. I learned about her story when she started talking about her daughter.
Tang graduated from Hengyang Medical School in Hunan Province and started working at the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the Gangkou Township Hospital in Zhongshan City, Guangdong Province. None of the other four obstetrics doctors working with her at that hospital had a medical degree. They had all bought the doctors’ positions in the hospital. Later, Tang found out that this phenomenon is common in hospitals in Zhongshan.
Out of jealousy, these amateur doctors tried to ostracize Tang and make life difficult for her. They made up rumors accusing her of illegally helping patients deliver their second or third babies, thus sabotaging the one-child policy.
‘Birth Planning Prison’
Between May 1995 and December 1996, Tang was twice taken by the Birth Planning Office and thrown into Birth Planning Prison. She was jailed there for a month the second time. She had never heard of “Birth Planning Prison” before.
Tang said, “The prison is located in the back of the public security bureau’s building. It’s a big yard, separated in the middle. One side is for criminals; the other side is for ‘birth planning offenders’. There are dozens of men and women on this side, including children. A man named Li Zhuoqiu had two daughters with him; one was four or five years old, the other only two years old. They had been jailed for more than half a year. He told me that only when they caught his wife and had her sterilized and his family paid off the fine for having more than one child, can he be released. They also had to pay for all the meals they had in the prison! The fine is as high as tens of thousands yuan. His family was very poor; how could they afford it?
“The youngest prisoner in the birth planning prison was only one year old. Her mom left home to hide while pregnant with her. After giving birth to her, one day when she came home, the birth planning team ambushed her and took her here. I think the little girl was probably the youngest prisoner in the world,” Tang says.
Tang denied the charge of illegally delivering babies and protested strongly. Handcuffs and shackles were put on her wrists and ankles and she was tied up like a ball. The shackles cut her knees and ankles and left scars that are still visible today.
Back then, Tang’s daughter was only 3 years old. Tang’s husband was so worried. He went to see the mayor on “Mayor Open House Day.” The mayor replied to him, “You said your wife was taken and beaten. Is there any proof, such as medical reports, photos?” It was a excuse, but Tang’s husband, an engineer, took the suggestion seriously. He hid a camera in some clothes and gave them to Tang during a prison visit. She took some photos of her wounds and of her fellow prisoners.
When her husband tried to take the camera back during the next visit, prison guards found it. However, they didn’t take the film out of the camera. Therefore, Tang’s husband was able to keep the photos of the birth planning prison. The head of the prison was furious about it. People broke into Tang’s home and searched several times, but couldn’t find the photos. Then, they took Tang’s husband to the prison, beat and tortured him, and detained him for two days. In the end, Tang’s family paid a sum of money to get him out. Her mother passed out because of shock, and her daughter was crying terribly.
The Persecution Continues
After Tang was released, the police often arrested her and took her to the local police station for no reason. Tang also lost her position in the hospital. She got it back after she went to Beijing and appealed to the Ministry of Health.
In 1998, a pregnant woman from Jiangxi Province surnamed Yu asked Tang to help her deliver a baby. The woman was eight months into her pregnancy, and Tang could not say no. “A few years ago, they framed me for delivering babies in private, which I did not. I did it this time, the only time in my life,” Tang said.
For this, the police arrested Tang and she was sentenced to two years in prison. When she was taken to Shaoguan Prison, her daughter was only five years old, and Tang had to send her to the countryside to have the little girl’s grandmother take care of her.
Tang was released in 2000. She wanted to publish the pictures taken in the “birth control prisons” and let people all over the world know how evil birth control was in China. She would not dare to do so in China, so she planned to flee the country to release the pictures.
In July 2010, she managed to get passports and visas and took her 17-year-old daughter to Bangkok. They applied for asylum at the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). In two months their application was denied. They were shocked, because most people wait for at least a year to hear from the UN Refugee Agency.
The two submitted their refugee application again. On April 18, 2012, Tang’s daughter Zhuzhu went out grocery shopping and did not return. Tang looked for her all night and posted search notices all over the area. In the evening of April 22, a police officer told her that her daughter was at the UN Refugee Agency. She went to the Agency and an official told her, “Your daughter is mentally ill and was sent to a mental hospital for compulsory treatment. You are mentally ill too.”
Tang could not understand why her daughter was fine on April 18 and became mentally ill four days later. She demanded that the Agency stop the treatment and return her daughter. Nothing happened.
Tang was grief-stricken and nearly collapsed. She was not even allowed to know the name of the hospital where her daughter was being kept. At the same time, she received the second notice of refusal from the Refugee Agency. Her husband went to Bangkok from China to meet with her. On May 4, the couple picked up their daughter from Ramathibodi Hospital. She looked purple, was severely swollen and was drooling because of the nerve-affecting drugs. After a week’s care at home, she regained consciousness and could talk again.
Zhuzhu said that while she was at the hospital, an official from the Refugee Agency and another woman urged her many times to go back to China. Zhuzhu was afraid of the Chinese regime, and she did not agree.
Now the mother and daughter are stranded in Bangkok. They have no income and are surviving on their meager savings from before. They want to apply for asylum again, hoping to be able to live in a safe place free of fear.
Read the original Chinese article.
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Tags: Children, China, Society
In a country where success largely depends on education, students are doomed to fail because they no longer have a school to attend. A recent forum held in Beijing on rural education prepared by 21st Century Education Research Institute (21CEDU), and presented by its dean Yang Dongping, provided these shocking figures.
The report indicated that an average of 63 rural primary schools, 30 teaching stations, and three junior high schools disappeared per a day between 2000 and 2010.
Mainland China media reported the total number of schools that shut down or reduced over the entire 10-year period: 229,400 or 52.1 percent of rural primary schools closed; 111,000 or 60 percent of teaching stations were reduced; and 10,600 or more than 25 percent of junior high schools disappeared. As a result, more than 31.53 million rural pupils and 16.44 million junior high school students do not have a local school to go to.
The majority of these students must transfer to schools in faraway counties or towns, causing great expense and difficulty. A sample survey conducted by 21CEDU showed the average travel distance for rural pupils to be 6.7 miles, and 21.7 miles for junior high students.
Migrant workers’ children are not faring any better in the city. Not only are these children’s schools shutting down, but also many of the students are not allowed to attend school due to lack of requisite civil registration. The so-called migrant schools that opened in some cities, like Beijing and Guangzhou, were reportedly far from ideal anyway.
One school was shut down in August 2011 because local authorities refused to extend the lease. New Hope Primary School in Haidian District of Dongsheng Township faced demolition a few days before the scheduled opening, leaving 800 students without a school. Many parents wandered outside of the school in a daze looking at the ruins. One parent even laid down on the street and shouted, “We have done so much for Beijing!”
In other school closures, many people have known since mid-June that nearly 30 migrant schools in Daxing, Chaoyang, and Haidian were scheduled to be shut down, affecting 30,000 students. Principal Ms. Yang of Tuanhe Experimental School of Xihongmen Town said, “A decade-old school was shut down just like that.”
The education department claimed that these students could be sent to the six schools commissioned by the government, but parents have to pay a high tuition. In addition, these schools are mostly located in remote areas. A blogger commented on Jems.me that the government intends to control population flow by sending the migrant children back to rural areas. This massive shutting down of migrant schools in Beijing has caused tremendous concern for the migrant children, who are forced to drop out of school, wander alone on Beijing streets, or take on child labor.
To add insult to injury, Chinese authorities are preparing to aid 1,000 Hope Primary Schools in Africa over the next 10 years. This China-Africa Hope Project has received more than 33 million yuan (US$5.29 million) of funding. China Youth Development Foundation and World Eminence Chinese Business Association launched the project by visiting Tanzania on March 6, 2011, followed by Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi, six countries and pilot stations.
A Mainland netizen ridiculed the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for aiding Africa and not caring about Chinese children, saying, “Perhaps only immigrants to Africa will get to enjoy the CCP’s love!”
Read the original Chinese article.
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Tags: Body & Mind, Children, environmental issues, Food, health, Science, sustainable development
Studies suggest Bisphenol A presents problems, but regulators are not convinced
Every day in the industrialized world, we ingest small amounts of Bisphenol A, better known as BPA. One of the most widely used synthetic chemicals in industry, BPA can be found in everything from water bottles to food can liners, from children’s toys to register receipts.
After years of careful evaluation, regulators insist it is safe.
Manufacturers have been using the chemical for over 40 years, but recent research has raised concerns. Animal studies suggest that BPA exposure is linked to reproductive disorders, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other problems.
Human studies point to more complex issues. Last year, researchers at Harvard found that gestational BPA exposure was linked to behavioral problems, and other studies suggest that BPA increases the risk of obesity.
However, there is a contentious debate over what the research actually means. The chemical industry maintains their confidence that BPA presents no dangers, but many prefer to play it safe. China, Canada, the European Union, and 11 states have all banned the use of BPA in children’s products.
Public demand has forced change.
Earlier this year, Campbell’s Soup announced that it will phase out the controversial chemical from their packaging, and this summer, the American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) request for an industry-wide BPA ban in baby bottles and sippy cups was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The companies made it clear that their decisions were meant merely to calm consumer fears, and that their decisions were not because their products present any hazards. According to a press release from the ACC, “The consensus of government agencies across the world is that BPA is safe for use in food-contact materials, including those intended for infants and toddlers.”
Consumer advocates and environmental groups are pushing for even greater BPA restriction, but the FDA said that unless they see solid evidence of toxicity, they will not give in to public pressure.
“And a lot of times, the EPA and FDA don’t have much of a choice. In fact, the legislation defines what the criteria are.”
—Dr. R. Thomas Zoeller, professor, University of Massachusetts
“We make public health decisions based on a careful review of well performed studies, not based on claims or beliefs,” said Dr. Dennis Keefe, director of the FDA’s Office of Food Additive Safety, in March 2012.
Regulators promised to keep an eye out for conclusive evidence, but a leading endocrinologist said that standard toxicity evaluations will always miss the big picture.
Dr. R. Thomas Zoeller is a professor at the University of Massachusetts and a representative for the Endocrine Society—the world’s oldest, largest, and most active organization devoted to clinical hormonal research. Zoeller said that because the regulatory community looks at toxicity in a very narrow way, they are unable to see the problems with BPA.
“Their strategy works great for general toxins like ethanol—it has a linear dose response, and when you do high dose testing, you can easily extrapolate to what’s going to happen at the low dose.” said Zoeller. “But with endocrine disrupters it doesn’t work like that.”
As the name suggests, an endocrine-disrupting chemical causes problems in the body’s hormonal system. Because endocrine sensitivities and genetics vary so widely, a hormone-disrupting chemical like BPA can present a wide range of symptoms and severity.
According to Zoeller, a big part of the controversy over whether BPA is harmful is that independent scientists study it from the context of the dynamic hormonal system, while the FDA approach is strictly black or white—either it is toxic, or it is not.
“I think it’s abundantly clear: The regulatory approach is very static,” said Zoeller. “They have a very bright line around a box, and the toxicity has to reveal itself as being very stereotypical. If it’s not—if it varies from that—then it falls outside the definition of toxicity.”
According to Zoeller and others, the only way to effectively evaluate BPA and other endocrine disrupters is in “a context within the endocrine system that it affects.”
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) agrees. When the FDA declined a petition to ban BPA earlier this year, the NRDC said that federal regulators were “out-of-step with scientific and medical research” and called for a major overhaul in how the government protects people against dangerous chemicals.
Zoeller said that regulators are not solely to blame. According to him, the laws that define a “valid toxin” for the purpose of regulation are too narrow in scope to begin with.
“Those laws really put the industry (the chemical manufacturer) in the driver’s seat,” said Zoeller. “And a lot of times, the EPA and FDA don’t have much of a choice. In fact, the legislation defines what the criteria are.”
Tags: Body & Mind, Children, psychology, Science, Society
When was the last time you said, “Let’s roast some marshmallows”? Since I’m not sweet 16, it was a lot of moons ago for me. Now a report from Stanford University shows marshmallows are good for more than enjoying around a fire.
It seems how you handle a marshmallow can reveal how you handle other things later in life. In fact, it may even decide if you end up in jail.
Walter Mischel, professor of psychology at Stanford University, carried out a number of interesting experiments on marshmallows. He tested 653 young children 4 years of age who all loved marshmallows.
The 4-year-olds were placed one at a time in a single room containing only a desk and chair. The children were each given a marshmallow and told they could either eat the marshmallow right away, or if they waited for 15 minutes without eating it, they would be given a second marshmallow.
A video showed how they struggled to delay instant gratification. Some kept looking at the marshmallow or touched it and then sucked their finger. Others made a series of facial expressions, wondering what to do. Still others buried their heads in their hands or peaked out of one eye looking at it, kicked the desk, or tugged on their pigtails.
Mischel reports, “A few of the kids ate the marshmallow right away.” Only 30 percent found a way to resist the temptation and received their second marshmallow.
The initial purpose of the experiment was to determine how a child’s mental processes would allow some to delay instant gratification and to study why some children could wait for a second marshmallow.
But the goal of the study was expanded several years later. Mischel decided to track down many of the 653 children who had participated in the earlier study. The purpose was to find out if there was any correlation between those who quickly ate the marshmallow and those who delayed doing so.
Mischel’s questionnaire included every human trait he could think of, such as the ability to plan ahead, how they got along with their peers, or whether they had a criminal record. He also requested their SAT scores.
So what did he find? He discovered that those who quickly ate the marshmallow were more likely to suffer from behavioral problems both in the home and at school. They had trouble paying attention, struggled in stressful situations, and found it difficult to maintain friendships. And they had an increased chance of having a weight problem, trouble with drugs, and being convicted of a crime.
Those children who could wait for 15 minutes had an SAT score that was, on average, 210 points higher than children who could wait only 30 seconds. They were also more likely to come from high-income families, save for their retirement, and study rather than watch TV.
Mischel’s experiment concluded that all the children wanted the marshmallow, so what determined self-control? He says the key was to avoid thinking about it in the first place. So the successful children avoided staring at the tempting marshmallow, sang songs from “Sesame Street,” or otherwise busied themselves.
Mischel says adults do the same thing to outsmart their shortcomings. For instance, Odysseus knew he couldn’t resist the sirens’ song, so he tied himself to the ship’s mast.
Mischel’s advice for the rest of us is that the best way to avoid the sirens’ song is to avoid it. And what we call willpower has nothing to do with the will.
One U.S. school, KIPP Academy in Philadelphia, reminds its students that self-control is one of the fundamental character strengths. To stress this point, they receive a shirt emblazoned with the slogan “Don’t eat the marshmallows.”
Today, the lack of self-control and the need for instant gratification has caused much of the world’s economic, financial, and social woes. Maybe it’s time for parents to conduct the marshmallow test on their children. And to ensure a better world, it’s time to provide marshmallows to politicians who believe that taxpayers’ money grows on trees.
Tags: Body & Mind, Children, health, Science, Society
Why, in 1974, didn’t authorities learn from this terrible tragedy? A 3-year-old Brooklyn boy, during his first dental checkup, had fluoride paste applied to his teeth. He was then handed a glass of water, but the hygienist failed to inform him to swish the solution around in his mouth, and then spit it out.
Instead, he drank the water, and a few hours later he was dead from fluoride poisoning. Fluoride is an acute toxin with a rating higher than lead.
I was severely criticized by dentists when I issued a warning about fluoride five years ago. Now, a report from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), says that the use of fluoride causes a decrease in children’s IQ.
Anna Choi, at the HSPH, reports in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives a study involving children from two nearby communities. Researchers discovered that children in the low-fluoride area had a 28 percent chance of being normal, bright, or of high intelligence.
In the high-fluoride area, the figure was 8 percent. They also found that in the low-fluoride community, 6 percent of children suffered from mental retardation compared to 15 percent in the high-fluoride community.
The HSPH says that there are now 23 human and 100 animal studies that link the use of fluoridated water to brain damage. These findings show an increase of aluminum and beta amyloid plaque in the brain, both associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
There’s also a decrease in acetylcholine receptors, which help to transmit nerve messages. These changes could have an adverse effect on a child’s neurodevelopment.
The sole argument favoring fluoridation is that it reduces tooth decay. But several studies, involving as many as 480,000 children, found no beneficial evidence between fluoridated and non-fluoridated communities. In fact, one study showed tooth decay was greater in the fluoridated area! Moreover, dental health in Europe has improved since 1970 without fluoridation.
So why the United States and Canada continue to add a toxic element to our drinking water is hard to fathom. After all, 98 percent of Europe is fluoride-free. Sweden, Germany, Norway, Holland, Denmark, and France stopped using fluoridation 30 years ago. These countries are hardly backward nations.
In 1980, a New Zealand dentist, an ardent supporter of fluoride therapy, was sent by the government on a tour to study fluoridation. He returned an outspoken critic of the treatment.
In 1999, Dr. Hardy Limeback, professor of dentistry at the University of Toronto and former supporter of fluoridation, reported that fluoride might be destroying our bones, teeth, and overall health. He claimed that children under 3 should never use fluoride toothpaste or drink fluoridated water, and mothers should never use tap water to prepare baby formula.
Fluoride passes through the placental barrier, so it could cause problems in the developing brain.
Most parents are not aware of dental fluorosis, a discoloring of teeth due to excess fluoride. In 1940, this mottling of teeth occurred in 10 percent of children’s teeth. Today, in some areas, it’s as high as 55 percent. One reason is that children’s toothpaste tastes good so they swallow too much of it.
I’m not alone in thinking there is no convincing evidence that water should contain 1.5 parts per million (ppm) fluoride, when our bodies have no use for it and when the risk is greater than the benefit. Toothpaste has up to 1,500 ppm, and treatment in a dentist’s office has a whopping 10,000 to 20,000 ppm!
I believe it’s dangerous for health authorities to brush aside the Harvard study. So-called experts are not always right. As Carl Sagan, the noted astronomer, remarked when discussing authoritarian judgments: “Arguments from authorities do not count. Too many authorities have been mistaken too often.”
This is just my opinion about fluoridation, and I could be wrong. But it appears that since the 3-year-old boy died, experts continue to ignore the dangers.
And I’ve learned to be prepared for criticism that invariably descends on me about this issue.
Tags: Body & Mind, Children, health, Society
Pushing our kids out the door may be the best way to save the planet.
In a survey conducted for the David Suzuki Foundation, 70 percent of Canadian youth said they spend an hour or less a day in the open air. And when they are out, it’s usually to go from one place to another. In other words, it’s just a consequence of trying to be somewhere else.
Nearly half the young people surveyed said they don’t have enough time to join programs that would involve them in outdoor activities. School, work, and other responsibilities make it difficult to do things like kick around a soccer ball or go for a walk with friends in the nearby woods.
For someone of my generation, this is almost unfathomable. When I was a kid, being outside was the norm. Rain or shine, our parents would tell us to get out of the house. All those hours exploring the great outdoors made me more resilient and confident.
Being outside made me a happy, healthy kid and made me feel connected to the world around me.
As a teenager in London, Ontario, my sanctuary was a swamp. I’d return home at the end of a day, often soaking wet and covered in mud, with my collection of insects, salamander eggs and turtles. That piqued my interest in science.
Making tree forts and lying in fields watching the clouds stimulated my imagination and creativity.
Being outside made me a happy, healthy kid and made me feel connected to the world around me. As a father, I also encouraged my kids to enjoy time outdoors, and one of my favourite activities now is exploring nature with my grandchildren.
In just a few generations, life has changed dramatically for children. Now, they can’t seem to find the time to play outdoors. They sit in front of screens for long periods of time.
The gap between the time kids stay inside with electronic devices and the time they spend outside is widening. A U.S. survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found young people are engaged with entertainment media for an average of seven and a half hours a day. Over seven days, that’s longer than the average workweek!
Families Play a Key Role
We can’t blame children for occupying themselves with Facebook rather than playing in the mud. Our society doesn’t put a priority on connecting with nature. In fact, too often we tell them it’s dirty and dangerous.
We need to make sure our neighbourhoods have green spaces where people can explore their connections with nature.
As parents, grandparents, uncles, and aunts we need to start getting out into nature with the young people in our lives.
Families play a key role in getting kids outside. The David Suzuki Foundation survey found that youth were 20 percent more likely to take part in outdoor programming or explore nature on their own if they spent time outside from an early age.
Younger teens reported that getting outside with their families was the best way to connect with nature. Older youth were more likely to explore nature spontaneously, on their own or with friends—likely because parents relax restrictions and allow them to do more of what they want.
And what they want is fun and adventure, at least when it comes to being outside. More than half the youth said they enjoy spending unstructured time in nature. They want to be outside in their neighbourhoods with their friends catching bugs, watching birds, or riding bikes.
This is great news. What we need to do is encourage them—and sometimes just get out of their way.
We need to make sure our neighbourhoods have green spaces where people can explore their connections with nature. We need to ask teachers and school board representatives to take students outside regularly to incorporate the natural world into everything they learn.
And we need to stop making the outdoors scary for children.
If we don’t, we’ll never raise the next generation of environmental stewards to help protect and celebrate the wonders of nature. After all, people are more likely to look after something they have come to know and cherish.
Parents need to remember all the fun times they had outside as kids. They need to trust their children, and kick them out the door like my Mom did. Our survival may depend on it.
With contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Communications Specialist Leanne Clare.
Related Articles: Water: Is the Glass Half Empty or Half Full?
Tags: Body & Mind, CCP, Children, China, Culture, documentary, Falun Gong, film, human rights, labor camps, persecution of dissidents, Society
My daughter was born in Beijing in 1992, the Year of the Monkey. At the time, I almost died from birth complications and the whole family was distressed. Her grandma exclaimed, “What kind of person could this child be, entering this world in such turmoil?”
My daughter learned to say “no” when she was only 1-1/2 years old. That day she had done something naughty. I had put on a stern face and begun to scold her, but surprisingly, she was not scared or upset at all. Looking at me, she just frowned and said very clearly with much effort, “No, mom! No angry!”
It was her first attempt to say “no,” clearly and forcefully. It seemed as if she cared more about my well being than about being reprimanded. Instantly I knew that everything I had gone through, and would go through for her, would be worthwhile.
My daughter began to worry about life when she was just 2-1/2 years old. One day I took her for a walk to a primary school and we sat in the playground.
She looked longingly at a classroom and asked me, “Mom, can I go to school too?” “No, you are too small,” I said.
She was silent for a while, then with a deep sigh, she said, “Mom, when will I EVER be taller?” She emphasized the word “ever” with such force, as if she had been bothered by this problem for a long time.
I was lost for words as I looked into her eyes, pondering silently whether she was actually some sort of a reincarnated philosopher. At last, I answered her in a very non-philosophical way. “Eat more, and then you will gradually grow taller.”
When my daughter was 3-1/2 years old, she actually taught me a lesson. In a serious tone of voice she asked me, “Mom, why are there bad people in the world?”
Astonished, I looked at her and thought, “Yes, why indeed? If there were no bad people, only good people, wouldn’t the world be great?” Hundreds of thoughts and thousands of possibilities flashed across my mind, but in the end I couldn’t answer her question in a way that a three-year-old could comprehend. I could only tell her honestly, “I don’t know.”
She tilted her head and said proudly, “Well, I know!”
Taken by surprise, I said, “Really? Then tell me why there are bad people.”
“They keep on doing bad things, so they turn into bad people!” Gosh, that is it?
One day when my daughter was 4-1/2 years old, my husband and I took her for a car ride. It was probably an auspicious day. We saw many wedding cars along the way, each one more luxurious than the last. My daughter gazed excitedly out of the window.
After a while my husband teased her, “When you get married, do you want to ride in a limousine?”
Sinking back into the seat, she answered instantly in a serious tone, “We will see when the time comes.”
After that she didn’t take a second look. Once more, her reply shocked and amazed me. How did she manage to remain so emotionally unmoved at that age?
My daughter was bright for her age. She was already in the second year of primary school when she was five and a half. When I went to a parent-teacher meeting I saw a big sign near the school gate, which read: “Learning to be. Learning to know. Learning to do. Learning to be healthy and strong.”
After returning home, I asked her, “What does the saying ‘learning to be’ mean?” While I was preparing to give her a lengthy sermon on the subject, she smiled and said with ease, “I know! It is just to be a good person!”
Instantly I forgot the speech I had prepared and just wanted to admire her.
When my daughter was six, one day I overheard her talking to her grandma in the next room. “Grandma, please practice Falun Gong. It’s really good for your health. Believe me!”
It’s true. My daughter knew that I had been extremely weak and in poor health for several years, but after practicing Falun Gong (which is a meditation practice based on truthfulness, compassion and tolerance) I had completely recovered. So she was making a similar plan for her grandma—wanting her to become well too.
Grandma said, “I don’t know how to.”
“Let mom teach you.”
“But my eyesight is bad and I can’t read the books.”
“I can read to you!”
Grandma couldn’t find a reason to refuse her, so she tried to satisfy her by saying,
“Fine, fine, I will learn when I have time.”
My daughter, however, would not give up so easily. She was overcome with emotion when she finally said, “Grandma, I don’t want you to die.”
When my daughter was nearly seven, the local television stations started broadcasting many defamatory and offensive programs against Falun Gong. The lies were so bizarre that I couldn’t believe my ears, and the bombardment was so heavy that I could barely think rationally.
While watching one program my daughter asked with wide open eyes, “Mom, why do they say Falun Gong practitioners are bad people?”
My heart ached like it had been “bitten by a thousand snakes.”
I knew she would never think of Falun Gong practitioners as “bad people” since she never saw any of them doing “bad things.” Besides, I had reminded her to be a good person all the time.
I could not handle the confusion in her eyes or her expectations and forthright demands for an immediate answer. I just did not know how to answer her question. I had the bitter thought of telling her to ask the television people, but then a friend answered her well,
“They distort the truth and have a guilty conscience because of their own wrong deeds!”
When my daughter was seven and a half, I was sent to a forced labor camp for practicing Falun Gong. My daughter came to visit me a few months later. The moment she saw me she started talking intently, “Mom, I’ve learned to play the flute. We now have a ‘little tinkle bell’ in our house.”
She kept on chattering about the fun she had with the “little tinkle bell”, though by the end of her twenty-minute visit I still had no idea whether it was a toy, a pet or a person.
At least I was relieved to hear her talking like that. I thought to myself, “Thankfully, a young child doesn’t know the harsh taste of sorrow. It seems that she is happy and untroubled by her mother not being around.”
More than a year later I learned that her grandma had strictly forbidden her to tell others about my detention in a forced labor camp, where only criminals are supposed to be held. No matter how unjust it was, detention is considered shameful and demeans a family’s reputation.
Being young, however, she was unable to restrain herself. She confided her secret to her teacher in an essay. Perhaps, subconsciously, she thought of her homeroom teacher as the mother she was missing.
Grandma scolded her for that, because she wished to avoid any discrimination against her granddaughter. To avoid this, her father had to transfer her to a new school.
By the time of my release from the camp my daughter was eight-and-a-half. I was lucky to be alive at all after narrowly escaping certain death. A few days later, I found a note on the table in my daughter’s handwriting. She had written, “Mom, I advise you to stop practicing Falun Gong. Please take a look at this book.”
Her school teacher had given her a book that described Falun Gong practitioners as murderers and psychopaths. I tried to explain to her that I was a good person, and that the book had been fabricated and was full of lies.
But she interrupted and shouted desperately at me, “I know you are a good person! But the television says Falun Gong practitioners are bad people! I don’t know who to believe!”
Her dark, sorrowful eyes were sad and she looked like someone who had already gone through too much in life.
My heart felt a stabbing pain. I wondered how much this young life had endured during my absence? How much had her young heart been hurt? How did she respond when her teachers and school friends asked where her mother was? What other torment did she suffer during my absence?
It hurt me to watch her trying to choose who to believe among her teacher, the media, those around her, and her own mother.
I had to tell her about many things that I would not normally discuss with such a young child: the Cultural Revolution, Party Chairman Liu Shaoqi, who was killed during the Cultural Revolution, and the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre. Although these happenings were very brutal, there was no other way to confront the lies, and convince her to believe me and love me again.
A few days later, she nodded her head knowingly while telling me what she had discovered. “It seems that whoever is in power stirs up something: Mao Zedong had the Cultural Revolution; Deng Xiaoping had the Tiananmen Square massacre; and Jiang Zemin has the persecution of Falun Gong.”
When my daughter was nearly nine, I faced the danger of being sent back to a forced labor camp. I had no choice but to flee my country, leaving her behind with her father to manage without me. A year later, still having not found me, the police took her father away to an unknown place.
On my daughter’s tenth birthday I phoned her to wish her a happy birthday. She said,
“I am not happy at all!”
Tears welled up in my eyes. I asked her, “Is there any news about your father?”
“It’s all your fault! It’s all your fault!” was her answer.
I was speechless. Coldly she said from the other end of the line, “Do you have anything else to say?”
Tears flooded down my cheeks. I knew she didn’t mean to hurt me so deeply, and that these weren’t really her own words—she must have heard them from others. Still, my heart ached all the same.
It reminded me about a story I had read a long time ago. It was about a female author from the former Soviet Union who had been wrongfully imprisoned. Her teenage daughter wrote to her and asked, “Mother, please tell me, are you guilty or are those who imprisoned you guilty? If it is you, I shall hate you; if it is those who imprisoned you, I shall hate them!”
The mother feared that attacking those in power would put her daughter’s life in danger, so she decided to swallow a bitter pill and tell her that she was guilty. As a result, they both suffered for the rest of their lives.
I did not intend to walk the same path as this author. But living in a foreign country made communication difficult. Also, the telephone in our house back in China was tapped and the letters I wrote to my daughter were confiscated before she received them.
It was very difficult for me to protect an innocent young heart from being poisoned by the constant lies coming from the country’s propaganda machinery.
Recently my daughter turned eleven. In my dreams I often flew back to my home and worried about her losing her innocence and in-born intelligence and thus getting lost. But on many other occasions I thought of sending word to my extraordinary daughter.
This is what I wanted to say: In order not to be enslaved by lies, in order to reunite with you in dignity, in order that your future daughter and your daughter’s daughter would never have to suffer what you have suffered, in order that thousands upon thousands of little girls like you could remain by their mothers’ side, to be loved and pampered, your mother is doing her utmost. This is the darkness before dawn!
Soon you will be able to witness an amazing phenomenon—the truth will overpower all lies and falsehoods; brutality cannot subdue compassion and justice; our days of enjoying happiness and merriment under the sun will once again be here.
This memoir was written just before the author and her daughter were reunited in Australia, in 2004. The daughter is now a university student in Sydney and is doing well.
Jennifer Zeng is the author of “Witnessing History: One Chinese Woman’s Fight for Freedom and Falun Gong.” Before being persecuted in China for her faith, she was a researcher and consultant in the Development Center of the State Council, the state cabinet. Her story is featured in the award-winning documentary, “Free China,” co-produced by New Tang Dynasty Television and World2Be Productions.
Tags: Body & Mind, Children, health, psychology, relationships, Science, Society
School-age children whose mothers nurtured them early in life have brains with a larger hippocampus, a key structure important to learning, memory and response to stress.
The new research, by child psychiatrists and neuroscientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, is the first to show that changes in this critical region of children’s brain anatomy are linked to a mother’s nurturing.
Their research is published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition.
“This study validates something that seems to be intuitive, which is just how important nurturing parents are to creating adaptive human beings,” says lead author Joan L. Luby, MD, professor of child psychiatry. “I think the public health implications suggest that we should pay more attention to parents’ nurturing, and we should do what we can as a society to foster these skills because clearly nurturing has a very, very big impact on later development.”