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Life's too fast for kids
Herald Sun (Aust) October 15, 2008
ONE in five Australian children has an anxiety disorder, thanks to modern conveniences such as mobile phones and shopping centres. Fast-paced living -- too little sleep, too many gadgets, too much sugar, too many demands and too little family support -- is making children overly anxious, an international expert in childhood disorders told an Australian psychiatry conference yesterday. Children as young as three had disorders leading them to be overanxious, fear separation from their parents, have poor attention, or have learning problems, Prof Paula Barrett told the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists in Port Douglas.

"It is the speed of life that is doing this to our children -- everything from loud noises to mobile phones to shopping centres," Prof Barrett said. "In most families both parents are in the workforce and the child doesn't have the ability to grow up and be nurtured enough from within the family," she told the Herald Sun. "Children are becoming very sensitive to change -- whether it's a new teacher at school or a new house. They are just not coping.,21985,24498619-662,00.html


Ghostly ghouls begone
The Dominion Post 15 October 2008
Ghosts and ghouls are getting the boot at a growing number of anti-Halloween celebrations - including some supported with public money. The festival of all things dark and monstrous has grown in popularity in New Zealand in the past 20 years, but so have religious reactions against it. Hundreds of church-driven events aimed at keeping children off the "trick or treat" track will take place on October 31.

But more liberal church leaders say the anti-Halloween brigade is taking things too seriously, and alternative events should not get ratepayer support. Organisers of church events say Halloween is unsafe for children, encourages them to ask for treats they have not earned and uses horrific images, while alternatives are fun and open to all. Kevin Gwynn, an elder at Whitby Lakeside Baptist Church, said his church's "Party by the Lake", which receives $2500 from Porirua City Council, attracted thousands of people every year. "While we do have a philosophical objection to Halloween, that's just an excuse to have the event." ..But Auckland Anglican archdeacon Glynn Cardy said he thought Halloween was just a bit of fun. "I don't believe in the whole goodies and baddies and goblins universe. They're probably taking it a bit literally."

Brothel shares kindy building
The Dominion Post 14 October 2008
The owners of a Wellington brothel are running another sex parlour in an apartment building they share with a childcare centre. The childcare centre, Early Years, is on the first floor of the apartment building in inner-city Leeds St and caters for up to 60 children under six. The sex parlour is on the fourth floor. Owners Li Dan and her husband, Jason Shao, live in the apartment building and also run The Lovely Lilly brothel in Mt Victoria. Neighbours of The Lovely Lilly have taken Wellington City Council to the High Court over its decision to grant it resource consent.

The childcare centre's owner, Kidicorp, became aware of the brothel when told by The Dominion Post last week. Kidicorp licensee Fiona Hughes said yesterday she had spoken to the council to see whether the brothel had a right to operate in the building. "Most businesses seem to have issues with the type of people that might be attracted. We just don't believe we have any legal avenues [to stop them]." Ms Hughes said staff at the centre had been told and parents would be notified, but finding out about the brothel through the media was not ideal.


Family break-ups may lead to poverty cycle
The Age (Aust) October 14, 2008
FAMILY breakdown is contributing to child poverty and 13% of children are living in households without a parent in employment, a Federal Government report says. The proportion of children living in jobless households is "relatively high", according to the Australian Institute of Family Studies report.

...In Australia, about half of all single parents are employed, compared to an OECD average of 70.6%. The report says this highlights the role that family breakdown plays in putting children at risk of poverty. The high rate of jobless families was concerning because it could lead to a continuing cycle of joblessness in a family, said the institute's director, Alan Hayes.


Nats outline truancy crackdown
$47m for literacy and numeracy 'crusade'
The Dominion Post 13 October 2008
National Party leader John Key has unveiled plans to crack down on school truancy by prosecuting the parents of errant pupils. In a statement outlining National's education policy, Mr Key said the crackdown on truancy would also coincide with a call for every primary and intermediate school to report to parents in plain English about how their child was performing compared to national standards and other children their age. "The party will also get tough on truancy by prosecuting parents of persistent truants. It will also give schools extra resources to crack down on truants and disruptive pupils," he said.

National's previously announced education policies for the crux of the "crusade". They include:
* setting national standards in literacy and numeracy which every every primary and intermediate school would have to be regularly assessed against;
* getting tough on truancy by prosecuting parents of persistent truants and giving schools extra enforcement resources;
* giving schools additional assistance for dealing with disruptive pupils;
* improving special education services by increasing funding for students with the highest special education needs, expanding special education schools, and encouraging satellite special education schools.

United Future has "got rid of" anti-gay MPs 12th October 2008
United Future has got rid of its anti-gay MPs and is now comfortable with once-contentions legislation, such as Civil Unions, remaining in place, according to its party leader. The small political party entered Parliament in 2002, and encompassed a number of right-wing Christian MPs, including Paul Adams, Bernie Ogilvie and Gordon Copeland who had previously found homes in non-performing religious-based parties.

In an interview with which touched on United Future's reputation for being anti-gay, party leader Peter Dunne, who himself didn't vote for Civil Unions,  said: "I know that some [glbt people] may have an understandably jaundiced view of us because of past events, and I'd simply make the point that the people who were associated with some of those more extreme guises are now long since gone. We’ve moved on from that phase – we've got rid of them."



Motherhood 'makes women brainier and can protect them from degenerative diseases'
Daily Mail (UK) 12th October 2008
Becoming a mother 'remodels' the female brain giving lifelong improvement in mental agility and protection against degenerative diseases, scientists have found. The new research raises doubts about the popular belief that having a child harms mental skills. Although there may be a mental decline during pregnancy, this is countered by improving abilities when the baby is born which equip women for the bigger challenge of life with a child.

Crig Kinsley, professor of neuroscience at the University of Richmond, Virginia, told the Sunday Times: 'Pregnant woman do under-go a phase of so-called baby brain, when they experience an apparant loss of function. 'However, this is because their brains are being remodelled for motherhood to cope with the new demands they will experience. 'The changes that kick in then could last for the rest of their lives, bolstering cognitive abilities and protecting them against degenerative diseases.'

Women often report problems with memory and reasoning after they become pregnant. A 2002 study by Angela Oatridge of Hammersmtih Hospital, London, found brain scans of pregnant women showed a four per cent decline in size. And last year two Australian researchers reported pregnant women consistently do worse on memory and verbal skills tests. But the new American research claims this temporary decline is just part of how the  brain remodels itself.

Early puberty causes school sex education 'national crisis'
Sunday Star Times 12 October 2008
A top research scientist is calling for high-level action from schools and health authorities to help children cope with the early onset of puberty. "It's an emerging national crisis," says Liggins Institute director Professor Peter Gluckman. "How many people in this country are competent to talk to an eight or nine-old boy or girl about what's happening to their body? Most parents aren't, because they didn't go through puberty at that age, and teachers I meet, no matter how willing they are, admit they aren't prepared to deal with it."

Gluckman, an expert in the implications of evolutionary biology for health, is calling on educators and health authorities to talk to psychologists and other experts to develop a comprehensive life skills programme for young people. "The most important machine people will ever drive is their own body and what we don't do in this country is to teach people to drive their own body.

UK School bans pupils from eating Marmite... because it 'contains too much salt'
Daily Mail (UK) 9 Oct 2008
It was a decision that left a bad taste in the mouth - a school has banned its pupils from eating Marmite because it contains too much salt. Youngsters have been tucking into Marmite on toast at the village school's breakfast club since the start of term. But parents were left puzzled when their children were stopped from eating the popular spread. Parents of children at Pontrhydfendigaid primary school in Cardiganshire, West Wales, hit out at the 'nanny state', saying saying generations of her family had grown up with Marmite.

One mother said: 'It's ridiculous. We have it at home all the time - not everyone likes it but my kids love it. 'The dinner ladies said they were no longer able to serve the children with Marmite on their toast, because of its salt content. 'But it seems strange they can serve the toast with jam and marmalade which are full of sugar. It is the nanny state going too far.' A school spokesman said they had begun serving Marmite, a British favourite since 1902, in the breakfast club but it was now off the morning menu after the salt content was highlighted. He said the food served at school breakfast clubs are based on Welsh Assembly Government guidelines - and Marmite is not included.


Maternity services 'on low priority'
NZ Herald Oct 10, 2008
Maternity services have been given low priority in New Zealand's health system, a review has found. Professor Peter Stone, an Auckland University expert in maternal fetal medicine, was one of four people appointed to review Wellington's maternity services following the death of a baby in June at the Kenepuru Hospital maternity unit. Their review, commissioned by the Health Ministry, found the region's maternity services were as safe as those elsewhere in New Zealand, but problems existed in Wellington, such as a shortage of midwives and obstetricians.

Their report, issued yesterday, also commented on maternity services nationally. "Maternity services in New Zealand have been accorded a relatively low priority and there is no national strategy for maternity services. A strategic plan is due for release shortly." The ministry released a draft Maternity Action Plan yesterday and called for public submissions. The draft plan acknowledges that "some women have difficulties accessing maternity services, particularly in rural and provincial areas".

Knives stabbed into Family First leader's lawn
NZ Herald Oct 08, 2008
Family First director Bob McCoskrie says he won't be intimidated after about 1000 plastic knives were stabbed into his lawn and a threatening note was attached to his door. Mr McCoskrie said he was grateful he and his family were away on the weekend when the incident happened at his South Auckland home. Neighbours said they had seen four women dressed in black on his lawn, but thought they were putting candles out."

Detective Senior Sergeant Dave Pizzini of Counties Manukau CIB said the incident was being treated seriously given the intimidating nature of the note. Mr McCoskrie would not divulge what the note said, but said the contents were "worrying". "It was just designed to intimidate me," he told The Dominion Post. "It's quite sad that some pathetic people would stoop to this level." He said his house would have been easy to find since the introduction of the Electoral Finance Act, which required the home address of the person authorising electioneering material to be made public.

Despite the act, Mr McCoskrie said he would not be intimidated and would continue to push the organisation's policies. "We will not be silenced. Whenever we speak up on issues, we are going to make enemies. "I'm the first to admit that we don't always get it right, but we cannot afford to walk away from the opportunity we have to speak up from a family perspective on these crucial issues."

Apology follows weird prank


Church opposes baby sex selection
The Dominion Post 06 October 2008
Presbyterians have called for the Government to reject a proposal to allow parents to select the sex of their children. A recommendation from a committee of Protestant bioethical experts calling for a ban on sex selection for non-medical reasons was voted in virtually unopposed at the Presbyterians' biannual general assembly. The Bioethics Council, a ministerial advisory committee, recommended in June that the ban on using pre-implantation genetic diagnosis to select a baby's sex purely for social reasons be lifted.

However, the joint Presbyterian, Methodist and Anglican Inte-church Bioethics Council declared the idea "undesirable" on social and cultural grounds. Chairwoman Audrey Jarvis, a retired ethicist and molecular biologist, said the practice offered no benefit to the child and served only the needs of the parents. "The situation should not be that the value of a child depends on its gender."

UN attacks Supernanny as it accuses Britain of 'demonising' its children
Daily Mail (UK) 4th October 2008
Reality TV shows such as Supernanny infringe children's dignity, claim United Nations advisers. Such programmes invade their privacy and portray children 'in a terrible light'.  It is one of a string of complaints set down by the Committee on the Rights of the Child. Members expressed concern about high levels of poverty, teenage imprisonment, public attitude to children and Britain's failure to tell youngsters about their UN-guaranteed rights. The committee has previously urged the Government to incorporate its 1991 child convention into law, in the same way as the European Convention on  Human Rights was made part of British law under the Human Rights Act of 1998. However critics say the charter interferes with parents' rights.

...The committee's concerns and the need for Britain to adhere closely to the UN child conventions' rules have been promoted heavily in recent years by figures like Cherie Blair and the English Children's Commissioner Sir Al Aynsley-Green

Kids hit by shift work
The Dominion Post 03 October 2008
Children of shift workers are spending up to 50 hours a week in care as their parents juggle work and home life, Families Commission research shows. Other children are bounced from carer to carer with some families forced to draft in grandparents to cover periods when preschool care is unavailable.

....Many said they found it stressful trying to coordinate their work commitments with looking after children, and family time was often at a premium. "[Parents] talked about the impact the work environment had on their parenting," the report says. "They talked about missing important times with their children, such as meals and bedtime, and not being able to commit their children to activities like weekend sport."

Deputy Chief Families Commissioner Sharron Cole said the commission would begin encouraging early childhood education services to offer care that was accessible to children of parents who worked outside normal hours. (!!!!) 
Family First Comment: So on one hand the Families Commission report acknowledges that kids are missing out on quantity time with their parents and unable to do mealtimes and weekend sport, and then the Commission suggests more services so parents can continue to work outside normal hours. Go figure!!!

Call to curb violent schoolkids
The Dominion Post 01 October 2008
Urgent action is needed to stem pupil violence, which has led to a reduction in classroom activities and a decline in teachers' health, a new survey says. Unions representing both primary and secondary school teachers tried yesterday to tackle concerns about "gangsta-style" behaviour in classrooms, which has included pupils bringing weapons, attacking teachers, taking drugs, wrecking furniture and abusing other children. Primary teachers have been given new guidelines for dealing with disruptive pupils, as a survey released by the Post Primary Teachers Association shows 12 per cent of boys and 5 per cent of girls in Wellington high schools exhibit "severely disruptive behaviour".

More than 50 per cent of teachers who responded to the PPTA's Hutt Valley and Wellington branch survey of 28 high schools said bad behaviour meant they limited classroom activities. The behaviour included physical attacks on other pupils, damage to property, verbal or physical abuse of other pupils or teachers, inappropriate language, shouting and sexual comments.

Other complaints from teachers included:
* 41 per cent said the behaviour made them anxious or wary.
* 28 per cent said their general health had suffered.
* 32 per cent said it undermined their confidence.
* 9 per cent said they were frightened of pupils.

Concerned Teachers seek police help


Married parents twice as likely to stay together as couples in live-in relationships
Telegraph (UK) 23 Sep 2008
Parents in live-in relationships are twice as likely to split up as married couples, according to research into the "concerning" number of children born outside wedlock. An in-depth study claims almost half of babies are now born outside marriage in Britain. It goes on to warn that live-in relationships tend to be much shorter than marriages, and therefore many of these babies will end up being raised by just one parent.

The report, based on an analysis of 10,000 households over 18 years, says there are "long-term negative consequences" for those who grow up with either just a mother or a father. Children in one-parent families do worse at school, are less likely to get good jobs and suffer more health problems, it claims. The research contradicts repeated claims by Labour ministers that there is no ideal household for children to grow up in.

John Ermisch, a Professor of Economics at the University of Essex who analysed the data, said: "The rise in births outside marriage is a real cause for concern. It is primarily attributable to the increase in people's tendency to cohabit in their first partnership and to have children within these unions. The instability of these unions means, however, than more British children will spend significant parts of their childhood in families with only one parent - and this appears to have long-term negative consequences."

He said only 35 per cent of cohabiting couples stay together until their children turn 16, compared with 70 per cent of married couples. "Having a child in a cohabiting union is often not indicative of a long-term partnership."

Is it all over for Dannevirke's controversial brothel?
Manawatu Standard 30 September 2008
Promiscuous Girlz brothel owner Teresa McGregor was uncharacteristically tight-lipped when asked about the future of her Dannevirke bordello yesterday. A conspicuous For Sale sign was erected outside the High Street premises last week, prompting rumours it could be the end of business for the controversial brothel - just three weeks after the grand opening. Yesterday, the previously outspoken Wairoa madam refused to discuss the reasons behind the sudden attempted sale of the old Public Trust building. "I'm just going to say no comment," she replied to a request for an interview.

Dannevirke community board chairperson Ray Teahan said he, like most of the community, was "pleased" the building was up for sale. "Everyone is happy that it is not a success. We knew it wouldn't work because the town is too small to support that sort of thing - everyone knows everyone." There had been suggestions the brothel might relocate to another area of town, which would be a much more desirable option, he said. "It doesn't need to be on the main street."

Capital's beaches open to nudists
The Dominion Post 30 September 2008
This summer could become a real eye-opener with nudists legally allowed to strut their stuff on Wellington beaches, including the golden sands of Oriental Bay. Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean said the council had "quietly got rid of" an old bylaw that required beach-goers over the age of eight to wear swimming togs or clothes.

"There is a bit of topless sunbathing on Oriental Bay Beach but generally people tend to keep their swimming kit on when on busy beaches. "So the old bylaw was of no use and was not enforced by council staff. We don't have apparel enforcement officers." The move means the council has no bylaws on its books that expressly prohibit nudity - not just on beaches but anywhere in the city.

Children allowed to drink at home more likely to develop alcohol problems, study suggests
Telegraph (UK) 28 Sep 2008
A study in the United States found a link between the age at which young people have their first drink and alcohol dependence in later life. Children under the age of 15 were at greater risk of developing a taste for alcohol after being exposed to drink than older teenagers, the study found. The results challenge the belief that giving youngsters small amounts of wine at home will enable them to grow up with a more mature attitude to drink. Social factors such as poverty and abuse may explain why many young people turn to drink early and develop a dependency in later life.

But the study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA) suggested that exposure to alcohol itself, whatever the reason, could lay the foundations for a drink problem. Scientists suggested that giving children alcohol during early adolescence, when the brain is more malleable as it is developing fast, could act as a "trigger" for those with a predisposition to addiction. "We can see for the first time the association between an early age of first drink and an increased risk of alcohol use disorders that persists into adulthood," said Dr Deborah Dawson, a researcher at the NIAAA. The study examined the age at which 22,000 young people first tasted alcohol.


Poll reveals backlash over smacking law 
NZ Herald Sep 29, 2008
The anti-smacking law is still enormously unpopular, a Herald election survey has found. It reveals that more than 500 out of 600 people polled don't agree that smacking children is a criminal offence. Sixteen months after the bill passed in a political compromise supported by Labour and National, the in-depth poll also found strong resistance and scepticism about the watered-down version of the law. The issue will be tested in a referendum next year, forced by 310,000 people who signed a petition organised by Kiwi Party leader Larry Baldock.

The Herald asked people from Cape Reinga to Fiordland the question to be put in the referendum: "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?" Of those polled, 503 (86 per cent) answered "no", 52 said "yes", 28 were equivocal and 17 did not answer the question

...More importantly, voters see the anti-smacking law as just part of a broader breakdown of discipline at home, at school and in the community which leaves youngsters vulnerable to the violent "gangsta" culture.

Protecting marriage to protect children
Los Angeles Times 19 Sep 08 By David Blankenhorn
I'm a liberal Democrat. And I do not favor same-sex marriage. Do those positions sound contradictory? To me, they fit together. Many seem to believe that marriage is simply a private love relationship between two people. They accept this view, in part, because Americans have increasingly emphasized and come to value the intimate, emotional side of marriage, and in part because almost all opinion leaders today, from journalists to judges, strongly embrace this position. That's certainly the idea that underpinned the California Supreme Court's legalization of same-sex marriage.

But I spent a year studying the history and anthropology of marriage, and I've come to a different conclusion. Marriage as a human institution is constantly evolving, and many of its features vary across groups and cultures. But there is one constant. In all societies, marriage shapes the rights and obligations of parenthood. Among us humans, the scholars report, marriage is not primarily a license to have sex. Nor is it primarily a license to receive benefits or social recognition. It is primarily a license to have children.

In this sense, marriage is a gift that society bestows on its next generation. Marriage (and only marriage) unites the three core dimensions of parenthood -- biological, social and legal -- into one pro-child form: the married couple. Marriage says to a child: The man and the woman whose sexual union made you will also be there to love and raise you. Marriage says to society as a whole: For every child born, there is a recognized mother and a father, accountable to the child and to each other.,0,775182,print.story


Employers 'should help' with staff sex changes
The Dominion Post 27 September 2008
Employers with transgender staff should assist them as they change sex, proposed Labour Department guidelines say. Such assistance would include helping them to decide which toilets to use and ensuring the person's new name was used. The draft plan says employers should meet an employee intending to change sex and establish a "written action plan" to ensure their workplace transition was smooth. Employees needed to feel welcome and should be encouraged to use facilities applicable to their new identity.

"While a unisex toilet is a positive way to ensure facilities are inclusive, you should not be excluded from using the appropriate single-sex toilet." The fact sheet also says employers should not refer to a transgender's previous name when supplying a reference.

Putting family before work
NZ Herald Sep 26, 2008
Many people put family first and take on only jobs that will fit in with their responsibilities at home, Families Commission research has found. And some at-home parents say they would take up a job if it allowed them the flexibility their family needed. The research, Give and Take - Families' Perceptions and Experiences of Flexible work in New Zealand, used focus groups, case studies and a survey of 1000 people to get a family perspective on the issue.

It was carried out around the time Parliament passed the Employment Relations (Flexible Working Arrangements) Amendment Act 2007, which gives employees the right to request flexible working arrangements if they are responsible for the care of someone. Families Commission Chief Commissioner Jan Pryor said the study showed the benefits for families were clear. "They told us that having some give and take in their working life reduced their stress levels and improved the quality of time with their family.

More than three-quarters of those surveyed had access to or used flexible work arrangements, including being able to move their lunch break to meet their family commitments or take time off during school holidays. Four out of 10 were also able to work from home.


Sexually Active Teenage Girls "Twice As Likely" To Suffer From Depression September 23, 2008
Research which appeared recently in the Journal of Health Economics has found that young girls who are sexually active often experience feelings of guilt, low self-esteem, regret and shame, and are far more likely to suffer from depression than those who remain chaste. The study, by Joseph J. Sabia and Daniel I. Rees, of 14,000 adolescents aged between 14 and 17, used data from the U.S. government funded National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health. The study found that sexually active teen girls have more than double the rate of depression of those who are not sexually active - 19 percent compared to 9.2 percent.

The conclusion the study reached was that "sexually active female adolescents are at increased risk of exhibiting the symptoms of depression relative to their counterparts who are not sexually active." Dr. Trevor Stammers, a lecturer on sexual ethics and chairman of the Christian Medical Fellowship in the UK, said the new study confirmed that most girls "retrospectively showed regret about early intercourse."


Study: Traditional men earn most
Washington Post September 22, 2008
Men with egalitarian attitudes about the role of women in society earn significantly less on average than men who hold more traditional views about women's place in the world, according to a study being reported today. It is the first time social scientists have produced evidence that large numbers of men might be victims of gender-related income disparities. The study raises the provocative possibility that a substantial part of the widely discussed gap in income between men and women who do the same work is really a gap between men with a traditional outlook and everyone else.

The differences found in the study were substantial. Men with traditional attitudes about gender roles earned $11,930 more a year than men with egalitarian views and $14,404 more than women with traditional attitudes. The comparisons were based on men and women working in the same kinds of jobs with the same levels of education and putting in the same number of hours per week.

Parliament's 'Rainbow Room' to recognise gay contribution
The Dominion Post 23 September 2008
Somewhere over the Rainbow at Parliament there's now a select committee room dedicated to gay, lesbian and transgender New Zealanders. The newly-named 'Rainbow Room' will recognise gay, lesbian and transgender New Zealanders and their contribution to society and Parliament. Speaker Margaret Wilson said the designation of the Rainbow Room had been supported by members of all parties represented in Parliament. She said the work of select committees was arguably the most influential and intensive work conducted by MPs.

"It is appropriate that it is with select committee rooms we recognise all members of our society and the paths they have taken to full citizenship with equal rights," Ms Wilson said. She said the journey to full citizenship was recognised for other New Zealanders with Matangireia (the former Maori Affairs Committee Room); Maui Tikitiki-a-Taranga (the Maori Affairs Committee Room); the Pacific Room; the Suffrage Room and the recently dedicated Asia Room.


By day a teacher ... by night a prostitute
NZ Herald September 21, 2008
An Auckland primary school teacher is moonlighting as a prostitute, throwing her school bosses into a quandary over her future. The woman, a mother of two children in her 30s, is new to teaching and moonlights as a prostitute to boost her income. The Herald on Sunday understands her principal was alerted to the situation by a student's parent.

It is understood the principal is now in a dilemma - prostitution is legal, but he is worried about the reaction of other parents and students if they find out about the teacher - and has referred the matter to the school's board of trustees.

Feedback on beach nudity 'too hot to handle'
The Dominion Post 22 September 2008
Kapiti Coast District Council's e-mail system crashed because it could not handle all the complaints it fielded over its suggestion of allowing nude sunbathing on its beaches. Councillor Tony Jack said he believed it had been the hottest issue the council had to face for some time. It had generated about five times the discussion sparked earlier this year when a community board member wore a Ku Klux Klan costume to a council meeting.

...The hundreds of e-mails the council received on the topic had crashed its e-mail system. Council chief executive Pat Dougherty said there was a lot of concern in the community and he wanted to stress that the council was not promoting nudity in its draft beach bylaw. Any offensive or lewd behaviour would be dealt with by police. In an effort to allay public concern it has taken out an advertisement in a local newspaper explaining its position. Mr Dougherty said the bylaw had not been passed. Submissions on it close on October 24.


U.K Government Funded Project Teaches Children as Young as Five About the "pleasures of gay sex" September 16, 2008
From the earliest primary grades, school children in Britain should be taught about homosexual relations, a government funded education research project has said. No Outsiders, a 28-month, tax-funded research project funded by the government's Economic and Social Research Council, is already functioning in 14 primary schools in Britain, using books, puppet shows and plays to teach children as young as five about the "pleasures of gay sex."

At a seminar this week at Exeter University, the project's members and supporters said they will go beyond what is taught to the children in schools, and "interrogate" the "desexualisation of children's bodies", "the negation of pleasure and desire in educational contexts" and "the tendency to shy away from discussion of (sexual) bodily activity." The ultimate goal, they wrote, is to create "primary classrooms where queer sexualities are affirmed and celebrated."

MP's survey shows concerns - and opposition to anti-smacking law
The Southland Times 18 September 2008
A survey by Invercargill MP Eric Roy shows a majority of Invercargill residents want to bring back smacking and ban cellphone use in cars. The survey was sent to 21,500 homes in Invercargill and asked questions on issues from health to a passenger train service. Almost 12,000 responses had come back and random sampling had been used to come up with statistics, Mr Roy said.

A total of 83 percent of people responding to the survey wanted to repeal the "anti-smacking" legislation removing a legal defence for parents to hit their children. About 93 percent thought cellphone use in cars should be banned and 57 percent supported a passenger train service out of Invercargill.

Schools urged to give parents a bigger role
NZ Herald Sep 17, 2008
Principals are being told to get parents more involved in their children's education in a new study on how schools cater for students at risk of failing. The Education Review Office report, to be issued today, recommends principals and senior staff involve parents and families in reinforcing schoolwork. It said parents wanted to be involved, and being so was particularly important for "at risk" students. New Zealand students did well by international standards but a big gap existed between the academic achievement of those at the top and those at the bottom end.

Schools are required to find out which students are failing and who is at risk of it, and find ways to help them. Chief review officer Dr Graham Stoop said the report showed schools did well at knowing who needed help - about 75 per cent were able to identify students at risk of failing. But more schools needed to measure how good their programmes were. Almost half in the study had yet to evaluate how much their programmes helped low achievers. Dr Stoop said the report pushed for parent involvement as part of schools' strategies because it had been shown that strong links with homes could improve children's results. "It has a significant effect on students' presence at school, their engagement at school and also their achievement at school - it's a key to it," said Dr Stoop.

Beach nudity 'too much for kids'
The Dominion Post 16 September 2008
Kapiti Coast District Council has come under fire for considering allowing nudity on its beaches. The council regulatory management committee's unanimous endorsement of a staff recommendation to allow nudity along the 45-kilometre coastline - unless nudists' behaviour is deemed offensive or lewd - has brought strong criticism from a family-oriented lobby group and some residents.
...Family First has attacked the proposal, which has yet to go out for community consultation. "The protection of families and the welfare of children has been cast aside in favour of so-called freedom of expression," national director Bob McCoskrie said. Families stayed clear of nude beaches for a good reason, he said. "They do not want their children being confronted by naked men and women. The rights of nudists to `hang loose' should not be at the expense of families feeling embarrassed or offended. It is completely inappropriate for children to be confronted with naked adults walking past or sunbathing."
Mayor Jenny Rowan stressed the proposal did not mean the council endorsed nudity on its beaches without any reservations. "It is clear from our legal advice that bylaws against nakedness are vulnerable in that they breach the Bill of Rights Act and recent case law says merely being naked does not make a person liable of causing an offence," Ms Rowan said. "Lewd and offensive behaviour is a matter that is more appropriate for the police and they have the powers to act against it."

TV Coverage
TVNZ News at 6
TV3 News at 6
If you are a resident or visitor to the Kapiti Coast, please make a submission regarding this bylaw. A simple email (will take 5 minutes or so to complete). We need your voice.
Read the full Beach Bylaw 2008   CLICK HERE

Playcentres hit out at 'vetting' bill
The Southland Times 15 September 2008
The Southland Playcentre Association has hit out at the surprise introduction of a clause requiring police checks for volunteers working with children at early childhood education centres and schools. The Education Amendment Bill proposes police vetting of all people who have unsupervised access to children during the opening hours of early childhood education centres and schools. The bill, introduced into Parliament last week, would require a police check to be done on any adult in an unsupervised situation with children at an early childhood education centre or school.

Southland Playcentre chairwoman Annette Bailiss-Trent said for playcentres in the region this would initially require police checks for each of the 381 regular caregivers attending, adding a compliance burden to already overloaded parent volunteers. "What this proposal will do is create a culture of mistrust, create a giant and costly compliance burden for every single parent-led early childhood centre in the country — plus take thousands of volunteers away from early childhood services, playgroups and schools." Mrs Bailiss-Trent said she understood from figures from the New Zealand Educational Institute that of 35,000 non-teacher police vets requested between 2004 and 2006, only seven people were identified as "sensitive" or with "red stamps".

The sins of the mothers
Sydney Morning Herald 15 September 2008
When Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Britney Spears ran amok, the public blamed their mothers. Their fathers - Lohan's had served time in jail and had addiction problems - escaped rebuke entirely. Now an Australian study provides some evidence that bad mothering has a worse effect on children than bad fathering. It shows that mothers who exhibit "toxic" behaviours - from being cold and indifferent to being abusive, manipulative or over-controlling - are far more likely to warp their children's outlook on life than fathers with similar behaviour.

Wayne Warburton, a research fellow at Macquarie University's Children and Families Research Centre, said: "Mothers have a really powerful effect on the way their kids view the world and themselves, probably because kids spend more time with their mothers, especially in the crucial early years."


Kapiti Coast beaches going nude?
The Dominion Post 15 September 2008
The Kapiti Coast may soon become one of the world's longest nude beaches. Nude fishing and swimming is set to get the nod for the entire Kapiti coastline as long as it is not deemed "lewd". Kapiti Coast District Council's regulatory management committee last week endorsed a staff recommendation to allow nudity along the 45km coastline from Paekakariki to Otaki in its 2008 Draft Beach Bylaw. In the case of offensive or lewd behaviour, the council would turn to the police. Steve Porteous said he was all for nudity on local beaches. "People have forgotten we are all naked underneath and they are scared of that," he said.

Kapiti Mayor Jenny Rowan and 10 councillors unanimously supported the stance to be included in the draft bylaw. A staff report on the issue said naked sunbathing or swimming on a beach was not considered offensive behaviour in modern society. "In this age of greater freedom of expression and perhaps greater tolerance to nakedness, bylaws restricting the rights of law-abiding naturists are vulnerable on the basis that they breach ... the Bill of Rights Act," the report said.

Smacking seen as bigger threat than P
By Ian Wishart TGIF Edition 12 Sep 08
Grief over yesterday’s shooting of a police intelligence officer is turning to fury at the Government and police bosses, amid claims that police have been soft on P in the past. National MP Judith Collins has told TGIF Edition the police appear to have had the wrong priorities, and now an officer has paid for that with his life. “This government has turned a blind eye to the use of P until recently,” said Collins today. “Everytime I, as a South Auckland MP,  have approached the Police hierarchy about P, I’ve been fed the line that alcohol causes more damage. In the meantime, gangs of thugs have become part of international organised crime. “If we look at this government’s funding of advertisements, New Zealanders would think that smacking was more serious than P and the violence and destruction that goes with it.  The Clark government is living in the past, obsessed with the politics of the 70s and incapable of cracking down on the gangs.”

...Echoing National MP Judith Collins’ concerns, Family First lobbyist Bob McCoskrie says the Government has concentrated too much on social engineering, and not enough on tackling methamphetamine.
“We’ve been told by police that substance abuse is involved in more than half of all cases of child abuse, and about 80% of crime. It’s a disgrace that kids are living in P houses. Where’s the outcry from the Greens? Where’s the outcry from Every Child Counts?” asks McCoskrie. He told TGIF Edition the Greens have blood on their hands for consistently opposing crackdowns on the drug industry and other crimes. “In 2003, the Greens opposed the reclassification of P as a Class A drug. They also opposed raising the drinking age, and you’ll find they also opposed increasing the penalty for possession of child pornography to five years’ jail. They’re a party willing to turn a blind eye to marijuana, P and child porn. In my view, the Government’s relationship with the Greens has been a stumbling block in fighting crime.”

McCoskrie says the overall result is a country where smacking is seen as a more serious social issue by Labour and the Greens than methamphetamine abuse, “and where the police are tip-toeing around the rights of prisoners and criminals, while the rights of families to protection from the harmful effects of drugs and crime come second.” Green Party drugs spokeswoman Metiria Turei told TGIF Edition she had “no regrets” over the Greens’ stance on P, claiming the fight against the drug should not criminalise users but instead focus on the dealers and manufacturers.


Churches call for moral stand 
The Press 12 September 2008
Churches are challenging New Zealand politicians to take a stand in this year's election on moral issues such as abortion, adoption by same-sex couples and gambling.
Catholic bishops and the Salvation Army have issued pre-election guides and this week a number of church leaders have supported a call for politicians to "front up to the issue of reducing persistent levels of poverty" in New Zealand. The bishops have highlighted issues such as abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, euthanasia and same-sex adoptions, all of which the Catholic Church opposes. "When parents are forced to work long hours at the expense of time spent with each other and with their children, we see children and young people who are left without the comfort and security of traditional family interaction," their statement said.

...The Salvation Army's election guide, A New Journey, calls for tighter control of liquor and poker-machine licences, and says tougher jail sentences do not work.

...This week, church leaders from several Christian denominations gave their support to an open letter issued by the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS). The council calls for policies to eliminate poverty, support families and protect children, provide for the elderly and enable access to affordable housing.


Parliament passes babies in prison law
NZPA 12 September 2008
Women in prison will be able to keep their babies with them for two years under a law change passed by Parliament yesterday. Under current law the limit is six months. The change will be introduced through an Order in Council when the three women's prisons have constructed new facilities for inmate mothers. Babies will be able to stay in jail with their mothers until they are two years old. The bill was drafted by Green Party MP Sue Bradford and Parliament's law and order select committee gave it the green light in November last year.

Under its provisions, women who have been remanded in custody or who have a high security classification will be entitled to apply to keep their babies with them. At present only low security sentenced women have that option. The committee said the change would bring New Zealand into line with most comparable western jurisdictions.

Third policy on Families office
NZ Herald September 12, 2008
National leader John Key now says it is "likely" his party will fold the Office of the Children's Commissioner into the Families Commission - the third change of tune he has had over the commission in a week. In questions after his speech to the Every Child Counts conference yesterday, Mr Key said that while formal policy was yet to be released, "the commissions are likely to be merged together".

A week ago, in a speech to the Family First group, Mr Key indicated National would ditch the commission, but later appeared to back down, saying it would be "rebalanced". Yesterday, that changed again, to a "likely" merger with the Office of the Children's Commissioner - a repeat of National's 2005 policy. He said some of its research and advocacy work was important and would be retained, but other work was "quite low value" and the money would be given to organisations directly working with families.

Key gets booed on boot camps
NZ Herald September 12, 2008
John Key got his first taste of what lies ahead on the campaign trail yesterday when he received a resounding "booing" over his plans for boot camps. Mr Key was speaking to an initially polite audience at the Every Child Counts annual conference, until he mentioned his policy for "Army-style correction" camps for "wayward youth who are going off the rails". He was interrupted by a chorus of booing and jeering, which reignited when he tried to claim "they actually do work". It continued until the Mc, Pio Terei, intervened and asked the audience to listen to his explanation.

The ECC is an umbrella lobby group, generally viewed as sympathetic to Labour, and made up of about 380 organisations involved with children, including Plunket, Unicef, Barnardos and Save the Children. Mr Key stuck to his guns and defended his policy with vigour. "Let's say we don't do that. What's option b? We've got an issue with about 1000 young New Zealanders, if we do nothing about them they're going to go into those, in my opinion, those youth gangs that we see and they're eventually going to go on to a life of crime.


Pool ban on nude children
NZ Herald September 12, 2008
A school has been told to stop letting its 5-year-old pupils get changed in front of adults by the side of a public swimming pool. St Bernadette's School in Christchurch said it chose not to use the busy changing rooms at the Jellie Park aquatic centre so that the teachers and parents could keep a better eye on the children. But another park user complained and the centre has asked the school to stick to the changing rooms in future. School principal Maureen Moore told the Herald the same practice had been followed for two weeks before the incident without any problem. It was purely for safety, and the school did not set out to offend anyone. "If we can't do it, we don't do it. We'll work something [else] out."

Bob McCoskrie, of lobby group Family First, said it was a sad reality of high-profile cases of child pornography and paedophilia that parents now needed to "err on the side of modesty". While his 7-year-old son and many other children would think nothing of being naked in public, "the adults are probably a little more nervous". Bruce Pilbrow, chief executive of New Zealand's largest parenting organisation, Parents Inc, said he had encountered a similar situation with his own children, in the 12-13 age bracket, when going swimming - which left him "mortified". He did not view it as an issue of political correctness - rather schools needing to do their duty to keep the kids safe.

Anti-smack bill reform possible, says Key
NZ Herald September 09, 2008
The National Party will consider changing the anti-smacking laws if New Zealanders demand changes in a referendum, leader John Key says. The law was hot on the agenda at the NZ Forum on the Family in South Auckland yesterday, with Mr Key saying a strong referendum result should give a National government the confidence to change the legislation. Family First NZ hosted the event which gathered around 70 "pro-family groups" to listen to party leaders present their family-based policies.

Much of the discussion focused on the anti-smacking law which motivated former United Future member Larry Baldock to successfully petition for a referendum on the legislation. Mr Key said he supported New Zealanders' right to a referendum. He criticised Labour's preference for a stand-alone ballot, rather than holding it with the upcoming election. He said if National gained power it would consider reforming the anti-smacking law. "If I can see compelling evidence that the legislation is not working, I will change it," he said. "To this day I haven't seen this evidence."

Act leader Rodney Hide said: "You don't need a referendum to convince me that this legislation is wrong. "We are the only party that voted against that bill. The idea that Helen Clark and a bunch of goody-good politicians, most of whom have never had children, would put myself and my mother in the same category as someone who beats their child with metal piping is a disgrace." Mr Hide said he had changed his mind in favour of binding referendums on conscience issues because he believed Helen Clark should not be the moral conscience of New Zealand.

United Future leader Peter Dunne said he would not change the existing law because of his belief in the worth of the child.

The other key concerns raised were whether civil unions would be abolished and whether abortion law would remain the same under a new government. Mr Key, Mr Hide and Mr Dunne all said there would be no changes made to civil unions. Mr Dunne said United Future would review abortion law.

Nats to give cash from family body to churches
Dominion Post 09 September 2008
A National government will axe the Families Commission and give the savings to community groups, including churches, leader John Key has told a Family First forum. The commission was set up by the Labour Government as part of its supply and confidence agreement with UnitedFuture – a potential coalition partner for National after the election. But Mr Key earned loud applause yesterday for telling the forum in Auckland that he did not support keeping the commission. "I don't think that's working very well. There's a huge amount of bureaucracy, and a ton of money being spent on it. What would you rather do? Pick up that money and give it to NGOs [non-government organisations] or more bureaucrats telling you what constitutes a family in New Zealand? I want to give it to those NGOs," Mr Key said.

The National leader was questioned on the removal of section 59 of the Crimes Act, which took away the defence of reasonable force for parents who hit their children. National supported the legislation but has been under pressure from lobby groups such as Family First to repeal it. One man asked Mr Key whether he would restore his right to "discipline my child lovingly". Mr Key said that he sought a compromise on section 59 because it was clear that Labour was going to force the bill through anyway. He repeated his previous pledge that if he saw evidence the legislation was not working he would repeal it. "To this point I haven't seen such evidence." But he added that if an upcoming referendum – which calls for parental correction through a smack to be lawful – gave a strong mandate for change then a future government would need to listen to the result. Mr Key was also asked whether he supported a law change on abortion. He said it was a conscience issue, but he did not support any change to the existing law.

Anti-obesity jab that will stop you feeling hungry
Evening Standard UK 8 September 2008
An injection that cures obesity could be available within five years, leading scientists claimed today. Researchers at University College London are developing drugs to control a patient's hormone levels and effectively stop them feeling hungry. The team made their breakthrough after they studied gastric band surgery and found the procedure altered levels of ghrelin - the so called "hunger hormone" - along with several other hormones related to glucose regulation. Now they hope to recreate the effect in a drug.

"Body weight is controlled by hormones in our gut, which affect how hungry we feel and are also linked to the brain's pleasure centre," said Dr Rachel Batterham, a Medical Research Council clinician scientist at University College London. She revealed the work at the British Association Festival of Science in Liverpool today.

"Weight control surgery affects these hormone levels, so we are now hoping to recreate those hormonal changes in treatments," she added. The team are developing injections and nasal sprays that could change a patient's hormonal balance, making him feel less hungry. Human trials of the injections have already begun.

Parents in dark over secret abortions
Nelson Mail 8 September 2008
Girls as young as 13 are aborting pregnancies in Nelson and don't need parental consent. Figures obtained under the Official Information Act reveal that 14-year-old girls are getting abortions in Nelson at a rate of about four each year. Over the past five years the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board has performed 271 abortions in the Nelson region on girls aged between 14 and 17. The 2005-2006 financial year, in which two 13-year-olds and nine 14-year-olds received abortions, was the most prolific period for Nelson teen terminations from the five supplied years.

Health board-employed clinicians have refused to comment on the teenage abortions and the board was unable to provide details of how often parents knew their children were having the terminations. Teenagers can have abortions without their parents' knowledge or consent but school principals are saying their counsellors who often advise pregnant girls on their options are hamstrung by their own code of ethics.

The issue was highlighted this week by a Nelson mother who is calling for a review of abortion laws after her 15-year-old daughter was booked in for an abortion without her mother's knowledge. The student -- whom the Nelson Mail has agreed not to identify -- had the operation on Wednesday but her mother said she only found out about the planned procedure when it came up during an argument on Monday. But a school counsellor had known about it and, although unable to tell the mother due to privacy concerns, did not do enough to encourage the girl to inform her parents, the mother said. Her daughter had told her it was common for students to get abortions without their parents' knowledge, and they were often helped by school counsellors. "Our rights as parents are being taken off us," said the woman.

A spokesman for Justice Minister Annette King confirmed that a child of any age could get an abortion without parental consent, and that legislation had not changed since 1978. The spokesman was not aware of any moves to change the law.

Pocket money a lesson in thrift
NZ Herald September 09, 2008
Just over half of parents give their children regular pocket money, and half want them to save some of it. The going average rate is $11 a month for young children and $25 for teenagers. The Kids and Pocket Money survey by AMP Financial Services (NZ) has found 90 per cent of parents gave their children money, and 56 per cent gave them a regular allowance. Of those who give them a regular income, one in two expected the children to save some of it.

Retirement Commissioner Diana Crossan said the parents who were paying pocket money were on the right track. "One of the best ways to teach kids valuable lessons about money is to give them hands-on experience of managing real money of their own. And the best way to do this is by teaching them to manage their pocket money." Ms Crossan welcomed the fact that so many parents expected their children to save some of it. There were lots of ways of making saving fun for children of all ages, such as encouraging youngsters to save for things they wanted, she said.

The Colmar Brunton online survey of 500 parents found not everyone had the same ideas about children and money. Wellington parents were more likely to be relaxed about where the money went. More than half said their kids could spend it on whatever they wanted. And Auckland children were less likely than the national average to spend money on cellphones - a result that may surprise parents further down the country. The amount handed out by parents grew as children got older. The average rises from around $11 a month for 5- to 7-year-olds to around $25 a month for 14- to 16-year-olds.

Teachers can use force on kids - cop
The Dominion Post 06 September 2008
Teachers should not be afraid to "man-handle" violent children if they pose immediate risks, even if it means leaving bruising, the top youth aid cop says. Serious sexual offenders as young as 12, who would be labelled paedophiles if they were adults, are preying on young victims, Inspector Chris Graveson says. Many have themselves been victims of sexual abuse, and youth violence has become significantly worse in the past five years. But many teachers are too cautious about using force in classrooms to protect children, despite being entitled to under the Crimes Act, he says. Though forcible restraint might leave bruising on a child - and women bruise more easily than men - it can be necessary if the child poses immediate danger.

"If force is going to have to be used then that's an actual risk of what can happen. "You hear people saying, 'you can't touch children. You can't do this, you can't do that'. [But] if a child's being attacked, you're duty-bound to intervene." The children's commissioner's office rejected Mr Graveson's comments. It was never appropriate to use enough force to cause bruising, office general manager Gordon McFadyen said. "This office would be very surprised if it was official police policy to encourage teachers to use a level of force that would leave bruises on primary school children." Mr Graveson made the comments to primary school teachers in Wellington yesterday during an Educational Institute seminar on disruptive pupils.


Electoral law has 'chilling effect' on political debate
NZ Herald September 03, 2008
The head of the Electoral Commission has described the new electoral law as having had a "chilling effect" on people's willingness to speak out over election issues. In an outspoken speech, Dr Helena Catt has outlined the difficulties the commission is having with the new Electoral Finance Act, describing it as containing significant "obscure" sections and uncertainty which had stifled political activity.

"It is clear that having uncertainty remaining within the regulated period has had a chilling effect on the extent and type of participation in political and campaign activity."

Allergic reactions high after HPV jab
TVNZ Sep 2, 2008
Young women in Australia who got a vaccine to prevent cervical cancer were five to 20 times more likely to have a rare but severe allergic reaction than girls who got other vaccines in comparable school-based vaccination programs, researchers said. They said the severe allergic reactions to the human papillomavirus or HPV vaccine were unusual and manageable and that the vaccine remained safe.
The team of Australian researchers led by Dr Julia Brotherton of The Children's Hospital at Westmead studied 114,000 young women vaccinated with Merck & Co's Gardasil vaccine as part of a 2007 vaccination program in New South Wales. Of these, 12 had suspected cases of anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that can cause difficulty breathing, nausea and rashes, they reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Mums stay home or 'baby's brain suffers'
Herald Sun (Aust) September 03, 2008
MOTHERS should be paid to stay at home with their child for the first two years or their baby's brain won't develop properly, the New South Wales Commissioner for Children and Young People said. The state's most senior adviser on children's policy, Gillian Calvert, said the one-on-one interactions between a mother and child during these years were vital to healthy brain development and the learning of social and communication skills.

"We have evidence that maternal employment during an infant's first year of life can have a detrimental effect on their cognitive development," she said. Children's author Mem Fox caused a tirade earlier this week when she chastised mothers who put their babies in childcare. Ms Calvert said yesterday there was plenty of scientific evidence that the one-on-one full time care of a parent was necessary in early years. "The science is compelling," she told The Daily Telegraph  yesterday.,21985,24286012-662,00.html


Bill caught in triangle
Herald Sun (Australia) September 03, 2008
LOVE triangles could get legal recognition as part of a push to give de facto partners access to the Family Court. The aim of the Rudd Government's Bill is to give de facto couples -- heterosexual and same-sex -- greater rights in property disputes. But critics fear it could leave innocent spouses facing financial ruin if a partner's lover makes a property claim.

The Bill asserts that a de facto relationship can exist even if one of the persons is legally married to someone else or in another de facto relationship. The Federal Opposition said the Bill would give a green light to polygamy. "There'll be no Big Love under our watch," Liberal senator Mitch Fifield said, referring to the US TV series on SBS about a man and his three wives. Another critic, Victorian Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella, said the Bill had serious flaws. "Not only is the Labor Party legalising polygamy, but it's changing the law so that the third person in an extramarital relationship can effectively claim the assets of a marriage or of the long-term de facto relationship," she said.,21985,24285129-662,00.html

When 8% is really 416%
The Dominion Post 03 September 2008
Families are borrowing money at interest rates of up to 8 per cent a week to make ends meet between paydays. Budgeting services have criticised the rates and say greater restrictions need to be placed on the amount of interest lenders are allowed to charge. But the Government has ruled out capping interest rates, saying overseas experience suggests it will do nothing to protect consumers. Super Loans, formerly known as XtraCash, is charging interest of 8 per cent a week on money lent from its three Wellington stores.

Law student Andrew Shann took out a $300 loan - signing a 14-week contract and offering up his guitar as security - as part of his research paper on consumer law. A copy of the contract shows the $300 loan accrued 8 per cent interest every week for the 14 weeks of the loan period - pushing the total amount owed to $636. The annual interest rate equals 416 per cent. Mr Shann said the interest rate was "outrageous".

...Queensland's government introduced legislation in July capping the amount of interest lenders can charge at 48 per cent, something Ms Fox and Mr Shann said New Zealand should adopt. Newtown budget and advocacy service adviser Jeff Drane said restrictive interest rate caps could drive lenders underground.

Stressed mothers may raise fat children
Reuters | Wednesday, 03 September 2008 
Millions of poor children may be getting fat before age 10 because their mothers are stressed out and the youngsters seek escape in unhealthy comfort food, researchers have said. The stress is rooted in poverty and can be brought on by money woes, work loads, insufficient health insurance and other factors, said Craig Gundersen of the University of Illinois, who led the study. "People will eat in response to feeling stress," he said in a telephone interview, and in this case children may be eating more in response to stress-related trouble at home.

The findings show there is a need for a firm social safety net for poor families with protections such as food stamps; better financial education to help people better manage money; and adequate health insurance coverage, he said. Gundersen and colleagues at Iowa State University and Michigan State University looked at data on 841 children in families living below the poverty line who were part of a government nutrition survey conducted from 1999 to 2002.

"We found that the cumulative stress experienced by the child's mother is an important determinant of child overweight," the research team reported in a study published in the September issue of Pediatrics. Children in stressed homes where there was plentiful food were more likely to be overweight or obese than those living in stressed situations where food was scarce, they added, because while both were reacting to stress, the former group had food available in which to find refuge.

More pay to teach 'gangsta' students
The Dominion Post 03 September 2008   
Teachers want more pay for staff who work in problem schools, and also want colleges to be secretly classified by the number of violent, disruptive or anti-social pupils on their rolls. They warn that "damaged" or high-risk pupils are displaying "gangsta-style" behaviour at school, abusing substances, bullying classmates, intimidating people or committing violence. This has made recruiting teachers difficult at many of the poorest, low-decile schools and comes as the children's commissioner investigates school violence.

A discussion paper, to be presented at the Post Primary Teachers Association national conference this month, says high-risk pupils often have severe behavioural problems, poor literacy and numeracy skills, and high truancy rates.

Blaming the Media for Gardasil Hype
New York Times Blog August 29, 2008
Merck’s teen girl vaccine Gardasil has been under fire of late, with everyone from The New England Journal of Medicine to The New York Times questioning whether there is sufficient evidence to justify the widespread use of vaccines against cervical cancer. “I think the company did a very effective job of glossing over these questions in its marketing campaign and convincing the public that this vaccine would indeed prevent cervical cancer,'’ said Dr. Timothy Johnson, ABC’s medical editor, last week.

Now, a pro-business media watchdog group has a new take on the issue. The hype about Gardasil isn’t the result of over-the-top marketing by Merck, it claims, but is instead the result of heavy promotion by the American news media. Merck’s ads weren’t alone in promoting Gardasil to the public. The news media framed its reporting around cervical cancer. Network doctors told parents not to be “talked out” of getting their children vaccinated, and some reports even urged mandatory vaccinations.

The report was compiled by the Business Media Institute, a unit of the conservative watchdog group Media Research Center. And notably, it was e-mailed to me by a Merck representative. Whether you agree with their conclusions or not, the report offers an interesting view of the media’s sometimes unquestioning role in raising the profile of the vaccines. The report cites several examples, including:
ABC’s Charles Gibson told viewers “this breakthrough couldn’t come soon enough,” on the June 8, 2006 “World News Tonight.”
NBC’s Brian Williams called Gardasil a “triumph in science and medicine” on June 8, 2006. He referred to Gardasil as “the first vaccine to prevent cancer” on Dec. 28, 2006, and urged parents to get their children vaccinated in many “Today” appearances.
NBC’s “Today” show co-host Meredith Vieira declared that it “could save your teenager’s life some day” on Sept. 15, 2006. She also told viewers Gardasil was one of the three vaccines kids “need.” Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC’s chief medical editor, downplayed criticism of the expense of Gardasil, calling the $360 cost “the best investment you can make.”
For “The Early Show” on CBS, Dr. Emily Senay said Jan. 1, 2007, that the “top medical breakthrough [of 2006] has to be the cancer vaccine for cervical cancer, Gardasil.”
The report also says The New York Times “glowingly profiled Gardasil” in an August 2006 story about the history of the vaccine.
Since then, the media tide has certainly turned against Gardasil, due in large part because there is simply more available information about its use.

Poor babies breastfed less
Herald Sun (Aust) September 01, 2008
BABIES from poor families are less likely to be breastfed, giving them more chance of becoming sick and having to go to hospital, new Melbourne research suggests. A study by La Trobe University researchers has found only a third of low-income mothers breastfeed their babies, compared with two-thirds of more wealthy mothers. Dr Lisa Amir, from La Trobe's Mother and Child Research department, said formula-fed babies were sicker and more likely go to hospital, fuelling health inequities in Australian children.

Dr Amir said richer mothers were more likely to adopt healthier behaviour such as exercising, eating healthy foods and quitting smoking.  In the decade leading up to 2005 the number of breastfeeding mothers from poor families dropped to 37.1 per cent.,21985,24272895-662,00.html


Sons learn life skills from their dads
AAP 01 September 2008
A new Father's Day poll shows nearly 75 per cent of Australian dads learned their most valuable and important life skills from their own fathers. Top among those skills was how to drive a car, how to ride a bike, changing a tyre, changing a light bulb, building a fire and knotting a tie. According to parenting expert and author Michael Grose, the findings of the Braun Series 7 Father's Day Poll in Australia reinforced the importance of the father and son relationship in a child's development.

"We know from previous scientific research that boys who have active and involved fathers are more likely to do better academically, socially and emotionally," he said in a statement. "Given that many dads of today credit their father as being their most important teacher of life skills underscores just how important male role models can be for young boys." The survey was conducted online by Galaxy Research this month among 410 fathers, ahead of Father's Day next Sunday.


Debate rages over drug
NZ Herald August 31, 2008
A controversal anti-cancer vaccine to be given to 300,000 teenage girls starts this week amid criticism the project is a public experiment. The national human papillomavirus (HPV) immunisation programme will from tomorrow offer free vaccines of Gardasil to protect against the two major strains of the virus that cause cervical cancer. The Government has pledged $177 million to the five-year programme to give girls aged 12 to 18 three injections to combat HPV, which causes 70 per cent of cervical cancer. The disease kills about 65 women annually as another 180 are diagnosed.

Critics, including the researcher who helped develop Gardasil, have raised concerns about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, while wondering if it will encourage more young girls to be sexually active. ...Auckland Women's Health Council spokeswoman, Lynda Williams, was concerned that adequate information was not available for parents, children and doctors. Trials of Gardasil centred on 16- to 24-year-olds, as opposed to the younger age group targeted in New Zealand, said Williams. Diane Harper, a researcher who helped develop the vaccine at New Hampshire's Dartmouth Medical School, said giving the vaccine to girls as young as 11 was "a great big public health experiment".

Williams said there were too many unanswered questions for parents to be confident of the drug's effectiveness. "This is a political decision," she said. "So many decisions on women's health issues have been made in the lead-up to an election and been rushed. If you're going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a vaccine, there have to be more of these questions answered."

Family First director Bob McCoskrie said more questions needed answers. "It seems we rushed in very quickly and committed a huge amount of money," he said. "We can't find the money for Herceptin, which you could argue may have as many question marks over the effectiveness of it, but we can pour this money into Gardasil." Increasing promiscuity among young girls was another possible problem, but it was more important for parents to not be pressured into having their children vaccinated, said McCoskrie. "We all want a cure to it but we've also got to be realistic about what works best."

On the Virtues of Making Your Children Do the Dishes
Wall Street Journal
Quiz for the day: How much time each day, on average, does a 6- to 12-year-old child spend on household chores? If you guessed more than a half-hour, you're wrong. Children are spending a mere 24 minutes a day doing cleaning, laundry and other housework -- a 12% decline since 1997 and a 25% drop from 1981 levels, says Sandra Hofferth, director of the Maryland Population Research Center at the University of Maryland, based on a forthcoming study of 1,343 children. In the glacial realm of sociological change, that amounts to a free fall.

It also reflects "important behavioral and values shifts that will affect lives for years to come," Dr. Hofferth says. One consequence is never more obvious than at this time of year, when hundreds of thousands of college freshmen move into their dorms and promptly begin destroying their laundry. Other studies suggest the shift may have longer-term implications for marriage and community life. Of course, children aren't doing housework partly because they're spending more time on such worthy pursuits as reading, studying and youth groups, Dr. Hofferth's data show. Parents are doing less housework themselves, hiring help or just making peace with dust bunnies.

Nevertheless, research into the role of housework in human relationships suggests we may be losing something of value here. While most parents today focus mostly on teaching kids self-reliance -- keeping themselves clean, fed and botulism-free -- the benefits of learning housework run deeper. For example: Pitching in at home has become a crucial marriage-preservation skill for young men. Studies show parents still assign more housework to girls than boys. Yet these same young women hope as adults to find men who will help out; 90% of 60 women ages 18 to 32 studied by Kathleen Gerson, a New York University sociology professor, said they hoped to share housework and child care with spouses "in a committed, mutually supportive and egalitarian way." After controlling for other factors, U.S. marriages tend to be more stable when men participate more in domestic tasks, says a study of 506 U.S. couples published in 2006 in the American Journal of Sociology.

Housework has unique value in instilling a habit of serving others. Analyzing data on more than 3,000 adults, Alice Rossi, a professor emerita of sociology at University of Massachusetts Amherst, found doing household chores as a child was a major, independent predictor of whether a person chose to do volunteer or other community work as an adult. Thus for parents who value service, housework is an important teaching tool.

Paedophiles to be offered form of chemical castration
UK Telegraph 26 Aug 2008
The initiative has been backed by the Government after research showed that the use of drugs can reduce the risk of further offending. Similar schemes have already been set up in Sweden, Denmark, Canada and eight states in the United States and reported to have proved successful. The programme involves jailed sex offenders volunteering to take medication to reduce their testosterone levels to those of pre-pubescent boys. The result if similar to the effects of castration.

Professor Don Grubin, a criminal psychiatrist, from Newcastle University's Institute of Neuroscience, has been appointed by the Department of Health to coordinate the treatment nationally. He is running an advisory to identify those who would benefit from anti-libidinal medication, which includes Prozac and cancer drugs. Prof Grubin said the treatment would only be available at the end of an offender's jail sentence and not as an alternative to prison. He said: "These are not individuals who are going to be released because of this treatment. They are offenders who have served their time. "This isn't part of the punishment, but aims to reduce the likelihood that they will need to be punished again. The question is, do you want them out there with treatment, or without it?"

Evidence from Scandinavia suggests rates of reoffending have been cut to five per cent from more than 40 per cent.

Mums 'accept natural birth risks'
BBC News 25 August 08
First-time mothers-to-be will accept greater risks than clinicians for a natural birth, research suggests. A Sydney, Australia study also found the women prepared to accept higher pain levels, reports the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Researchers asked 102 pregnant women and 341 midwives, obstetricians and other doctors what complications would make them choose a Caesarean section. The journal editor said doctors were "biased", having seen things go wrong. 

...But the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital study suggested that women, given an informed choice, were less likely than the professionals treating them to take a more cautious approach. A total of 102 women, 84 midwives, 166 obstetricians, 12 urogynaecologists and 79 colorectal surgeons were interviewed to find out whether different complications would prompt them to choose a Caesarean. Researchers asked them about mild complications such as a prolonged birth and superficial tears to severe problems such as anal and urinary incontinence, vaginal prolapse and severe tearing. In all categories, the pregnant women were far more likely to be prepared to put up with complications in order to have a natural birth than their midwives or doctors.

Study author Catherine Turner said: "Our study found that pregnant women were more likely to aim for a vaginal delivery, and they accept a higher threshold of risks from vaginal delivery when compared with clinicians." Professor Philip Steer, the journal's editor in chief, said: "This indicates that experiencing labour and attempting a normal birth are two very important priorities in women's decision-making.

Fathers getting a piece of the parenthood action
NZ Herald August 27, 2008
The Christchurch-based Father and Child Trust has obtained charity funding to include a 54-page magazine for new dads in 15,000 Bounty packs distributed in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch over the next six months. "It's the first time there's ever been anything for fathers," said the trust's Auckland co-ordinator, Brendon Smith, a father of two. The Wellington-based Families Commission has also taken up support for fathers as one of its priorities for the next three years, starting with two "fathering conversations" facilitated by Richard Aston of mentoring agency Big Buddy in Wellington and Auckland.

Political correctness destroying New Zealand, says ex-All Black coach 
NZ Herald August 27, 2008
Sir Brian, who coached the All Blacks to their 1987 Rugby World Cup victory, urged fathers to let their children take risks - but to lay down rules and impose "consequences" if rules are broken. He was speaking at a breakfast hosted by educators Parents Inc yesterday. The group's founder, Ian Grant, told more than 1000 fathers at the event that society was turning fathers into "male mothers" obsessed with safety instead of adventure. "Our society is trying to turn fathers into male mothers. You ain't," he told them.

Sir Brian, who captained the All Blacks from 1966 to 1970, laid the blame on political correctness. "We are living in a PC world which is destroying us, where you actually can't put the hard word on people when they have digressed and committed bad blunders," he said. ...."Yes, I smacked my children, but I've never hit them. Yes, I smacked other people's children, but I never hit them. But we are not allowed to do that any more in this PC world."


Gardasil: Pap smears still essential, say specialists
Sydney Morning Herald August 26, 2008
AUSTRALIA'S cervical cancer rate could start to rise again if a new generation of young women vaccinated against the disease is not encouraged to continue having Pap smears, says a group of specialist doctors who are calling on the Federal Government to clarify the screening program's future. The pathologists - who include the inventor of the cervical cancer vaccine, Professor Ian Frazer - met two weeks ago to develop a new policy on preventing the disease. The move comes amid concern that immunisation could give women a false sense of security and undermine Pap smear screening, credited with halving cervical cancer cases and deaths since its introduction in 1994.

It would take five to 10 years before the success of immunisation could be evaluated, when the first cohorts of vaccinated girls became sexually active, said Gabriele Medley, who chaired the meeting for the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia. The vaccine acts against cancer-causing strains of the sexually-transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV), which most young women contract and then clear spontaneously. The virus only causes disease if it persists.

..Annabelle Farnsworth, director of cancer pathology at Douglass Hanly Moir Pathology, said immunisation, offered to 12-year-olds in a school-based program and to women aged 18 to 26, only offered protection against virus strains most likely to lead to cancer. But other strains could also cause the disease. "What if the other ones become more prevalent?" said Adjunct Professor Farnsworth. Government analysis had shown expected cancer risk was three times higher in vaccinated women who did not have Pap tests than among unimmunised women who had regular two-yearly smears, she said.

Working mums prefer to stay home with kids (Aust)
Herald Sun August 26, 2008
MORE than two-thirds of working mums in would rather be at home with their children. But for most it is not an option because they need a job just to make ends meet, exclusive polling for The Daily Telegraph reveals. The Galaxy online survey of 1000 adults shows that financial pressures are forcing most mums back to work when they would prefer to stay home. While some mums return to work for a more comfortable lifestyle, nice holidays or private education for the children, they are in the minority.

Only 7 per cent of mums return to work because they feel their career is important and a similar proportion want time out from the family. Grandparents have become the new childcare as the soaring cost of looking after the children increasingly becomes prohibitive.,21985,24240895-662,00.html

A lot of shouting but lots of love in average family (UK)
The Guardian (UK) August 22 2008 
Members of the average British household spend 34 minutes a day shouting at each other, a poll of couples with children showed last night. It found that just over half the families argue at least once a day. The shouting persists for an hour or more in 35% of homes, rising to 50% in households with more than one child. The YouGov poll of 1,000 parents and 500 teenagers also found 23% of mothers and 19% of fathers confessed to loving the family pet as much as their own offspring. Parents said the phrase they used most often to their children was: "Why? Because I said so." This was the favourite retort of 19% of parents, followed by "money doesn't grow on trees" (14%) and "you should have thought of that before" (11%).

The poll was commissioned by Channel 4 to inform a documentary series on the family, starting next month. It found that, despite the everyday frictions, families retained strong ties of love and affection. Among teenagers 98% said they loved their parents and 69% said their families were the most important people in their lives. Nine out of 10 families sit down to dinner as a unit and 80% of parents say "I love you" to at least one member of the household daily.

Groups set to put Electoral Finance Act to test
Sunday Star Times 28 August 2008
Lobby group the Sensible Sentencing Trust is planning to defy the Electoral Finance Act in the lead-up to the general election. The group has decided on its course of action after receiving conflicting legal advice over whether material it intends to distribute during the election campaign contravenes the act. Its decision highlights a common problem facing similar groups pre-election and one which has forced Family First to abandon a pamphlet drop to all households outlining the voting record of MPs on what it identifies as "important family-based legislation" such as civil unions, anti-smacking and prostitution law reform.

The groups say the act which limits advertising spending by non-political parties soliciting votes for or against a party unless they register as a third party is anti-democratic and stifling public debate....McCoskrie said he had reached the conclusion that having an opinion "was almost illegal in New Zealand". "We are are an organisation advocating for certain issues and we have as much of a right to be heard as anyone else. That is what an election is about. We shouldn't be afraid of the debate of ideas."


Researchers Question Wide Use of HPV Vaccines
New York Times 21 August 2008
Two vaccines against cervical cancer are being widely used without sufficient evidence about whether they are worth their high cost or even whether they will effectively stop women from getting the disease, two articles in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine conclude.  Both vaccines target the human papillomavirus, a common sexually transmitted virus that usually causes no symptoms and is cleared by the immune system, but which can in very rare cases become chronic and cause cervical cancer.

The two vaccines, Gardasil by Merck Sharp & Dohme and Cervarix by GlaxoSmithKline, target two strains of the virus that together cause an estimated 70 percent of cervical cancers. Gardasil also prevents infection with two other strains that cause some proportion of genital warts. Both vaccines have become quick best sellers since they were licensed two years ago in the United States and Europe, given to tens of millions of girls and women. “Despite great expectations and promising results of clinical trials, we still lack sufficient evidence of an effective vaccine against cervical cancer,” Dr. Charlotte J. Haug, editor of The Journal of the Norwegian Medical Association, wrote in an editorial in Thursday’s issue of The New England Journal. “With so many essential questions still unanswered, there is good reason to be cautious.”

In her article, Dr. Haug points out the vaccines have been studied for a relatively short period — both were licensed in 2006 and have been studied in clinical trails for at most six and a half years. Researchers have not yet demonstrated how long the immunity will last, or whether eliminating some strains of cancer-causing virus will decrease the body’s natural immunity to other strains. More to the point, because cervical cancer develops only after years of chronic infection with HPV, Dr. Haug said there was not yet absolute proof that protection against these two strains of the virus would ultimately reduce rates of cervical cancer — although in theory it should do so.

Dr. Richard Haupt, medical director of Merck, called these concerns “very theoretical,” noting that continuing research and monitoring suggested that immunity would be longlasting and that the vaccine would not lead to problems with other strains.


Drug Makers’ Push Leads to Cancer Vaccines’ Rise
New York Times 20 Aug 2008
In two years, cervical cancer has gone from obscure killer confined mostly to poor nations to the West’s disease of the moment. Tens of millions of girls and young women have been vaccinated against the disease in the United States and Europe in the two years since two vaccines were given government approval in many countries and, often, recommended for universal use among females ages 11 to 26.

..But some experts worry about the consequences of the rapid rollout of the new vaccines without more medical evidence about how best to deploy them. They say that because of the aggressive marketing, even parents of girls who are far from being sexually active may feel pressured into giving them a vaccine that is not yet needed and whose long-term impact is still unclear. Legislative efforts to require girls to have the vaccine only add to the pressure.

Taxpayers fund vanilla condoms
The Dominion Post 21 August 2008
Flavoured  condoms will be subsidised by taxpayers to encourage safe sex and reduce the risk of disease and unplanned pregnancies. The flavours - including strawberry, vanilla, chocolate and banana - became available this month after government drug-funding agency Pharmac reviewed its range of subsidised condoms and identified a need for wider choice. It already spends about $1million a year subsidising more than nine million condoms, and the range will now be extended to include large, extra large, ribbed and super-sensitive varieties.

Pharmac defends funding of flavoured condoms
NZ Herald August 21, 2008
Taxpayer funding of a wider range of condoms, including flavoured and ribbed varieties, saves money, increases choice and promotes better sexual health practices, says Pharmac. ...The condom move has been announced just weeks after Pharmac turned down funding for 12-month courses of the breast cancer drug Herceptin. But Pharmac says offering variety is a win-win option in the battle against New Zealand's high rates of unplanned pregnancies, terminations and sexually transmitted diseases.

...Conservative lobby group Family First has labelled the subsidised flavoured condoms as "morally bankrupt and an insult to people with breast cancer, high blood pressure and heart disease". It called for the Government to reverse this spending decision. National director Bob McCoskrie said it was "tragic and a national disgrace". "At a time when Pharmac can't find funding for sufferers of breast cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure and other serious problems, that they can find funding to subsidise flavoured condoms," he said. "This is simply about funding sexual behaviour that shouldn't be at the cost of the taxpayer or other more life-threatening medication. Is Pharmac going to consider subsidising sex toys next?" He cited a number of people missing out on funding for drugs. "Yet Pharmac can find funding for strawberry flavoured condoms."

PHARMAC defends funding of flavoured condoms TV3 News (includes video)

Privacy broken to save lives
The Dominion Post 20 August 2008
Police are flouting privacy laws to save the lives of domestic violence victims. Officers battling to curb domestic violence in a region described by one murderer as "the most evil valley in New Zealand" are sharing files relating to offenders and victims with agencies that are not party to official agreements allowing information-sharing. The decision to bend the rules has the support of agencies receiving the potentially life-saving information - and even the privacy commissioner accepts privacy laws should not stop information sharing where safety is at stake.

...Investigations by commissioners into child murders, such as those of Masterton half-sisters Saliel Aplin and Olympia Jetson in 2001, blamed a lack of information-sharing for the deaths and continuing cycle of violence.


Boobs on bikes tasteless but harmless, says judge
NZ Herald August 20, 2008
...Judge Mathers said it was not offensive per se for women to be topless and there was nothing to stop people riding vehicles down Queen St. "It may well be that the parade is tasteless but equally it may be that in a more mature society the vast majority might consider it harmless." Judge Mathers said it was not a court of morals and it was her job to stick to the law. The case boiled down to a new council bylaw and a council decision to turn down a permit for the parade on the grounds it was "offensive". Judge Mathers said she took into account the attitude of the police in not opposing the parade, the lack of any public disorder and the fact 80,000 to 100,000 had voted with their feet and watched the parade. "[That] leads me to the view that the bylaw is uncertain and or unreasonable in the way it refers to offensive," she said. The judge also questioned the lawfulness of the bylaw and whether it restricted rights under the Bill of Rights Act.

...Family First National director Bob McCoskrie, who was in court for the decision, said the Bill of Rights had just stomped all over the will and right of families. "This is a free-for-all now. Any grubby parade can now happen on the street."

Capital Next for boobs on bikes
Dominion Post Aug 20, 2008
A judge's  refusal to stop today's Auckland Boobs on Bikes parade will probably lead to more topless parades with a Wellington version already planned, porn king Steve Crow says... Mr Crow confirmed plans for a topless bike parade through Wellington on November 7 in the lead-up to the capital's first Erotica Lifestyles Expo. Wellington City Council had not yet been asked for consent, but the parade would go ahead regardless and would feature a topless Prime Minister Helen Clark look-alike, Mr Crow said. "The ruling supports this, it is a legal event."

Law change call after court throws out boob challenge
NZPA 20 August 2008
A legal bid by Auckland District Council to keep naked breasts off Queen Street failed yesterday and now conservative lobby group Family First is calling for a law change... Family First New Zealand director Bob McCoskrie today called for the Government to amend the Summary Offences Act and the Crimes Act to make topless parades illegal. "It's time the law started protecting and putting the welfare of children and families first," Mr McCoskrie said. "The current law is far too liberal and vague and needs to be amended."

LISTEN Newstalk ZB - Bob McCoskrie interviewed by Larry Williams CLICK HERE (takes a few minutes to download)
LISTEN National Radio Morning Report - Bob McCoskrie and Steve Crow
WATCH TV3 News -
READ TV3 News - Conservative group calls for change to 'liberal' laws


Schoolgirls dodging cancer vaccine offer August 18, 2008
MORE than 40,000 schoolgirls offered free Gardasil vaccinations at school opted out, figures show, as some parents worry about side-effects and promiscuous sex. Official figures from NSW Health show 23 per cent of the 173,607 girls enrolled in Years 7 to 10 did not participate in school-based vaccinations this year aimed at reducing the incidence of cervical cancer.

....But others last night were expressing a different view, stating the results showed a number of parents were uncertain about the vaccination, including the possibility of side-effects. The Therapeutic Goods Administration website states 1013 adverse reactions had been officially logged as at June 27, 2008, including 202 for headache and 156 for dizziness. Yesterday, a newspaper reported on three cases of pancreatitis possibly linked to vaccination, although the matter has yet to be fully investigated.

Australian Family Association spokeswoman Angela Conway, while not opposed to the vaccination, said those behind the program seemed to assume every young person would have multiple sex partners. The vaccination provides protection to young women exposed to the human papillomavirus, a form of sexually transmitted disease. Strains of the virus are thought to cause about 70 per cent of cervical cancer. CSL has already reported a sales slump in the US as conservative groups link Gardasil with promiscuity. CSL spokeswoman Rachel David said Gardasil was studied for almost 20 years before its release in Australia and its benefits greatly outweighed the risk of adverse effects from immunisation.,21985,24195119-662,00.html

From the editors desk - Kindergarten is doomed
By Peter Jackson - Editor - Northland Age
The philosophy that has served children and parents so well for so long, of providing an effectively free, quality pre-school education in a structured setting on a sessional basis, is making way for a new political one, where the focus is firmly set on allowing, for want of a better word, parents (mothers) to take their place in the workforce.

A small gathering of parents heard the explanation for that from the local kindergarten association in Kaitaia last week. The proposal, to accept three- and four-year-old children for up to six hours per day four days per week, and a little over four hours on the fifth, was offered as an option, but that is hardly accurate. The fact is that government funding of the traditional kindergarten format, comprising five three-hour morning sessions and three two and a half-hour afternoon sessions each week, is now so inadequate that the association has but two choices, to adopt the new format or go broke. Some option.

It was claimed, without supporting evidence, that children will flourish within a �full-day' format, although parenting experience suggests that three hours' education is about all a pre-schooler can absorb in one hit. Six hours per day, for which an hourly rate will be charged (the first 20 hours being free under the government's current policy), is simply not pre-school education. It is day care. Let's at least be honest about that.

The association and its three kindergartens are undoubtedly in a difficult position. They apparently have no choice but to offer a day care service; it must be understood that the motivation is financial, not educational. It is about making ends meet under a government funding regime that is being used shamelessly to push a political agenda, the association's response being about extracting the maximum in government funding by rolling over and offering a service that it hopes (but does not know) will appeal to sufficient parents to make it work. The kids will do as they are told.

Bad childhood experiences tied to early drinking
Reuters / Yahoo News Aug 11 2008
Children who deal with divorce, abuse or certain other hardships may be more likely than their peers to start drinking at a young age, a U.S. study suggests. The study, of nearly 3,600 Americans ages 18 to 39, found that those who'd gone through certain negative experiences as a child were more likely to have started drinking before age 15. The experiences specifically linked to early drinking were physical abuse, sexual abuse, living with a mentally ill family member, substance abuse in the home, and parents' divorce or separation.

The findings, reported in the journal Pediatrics, add to evidence that negative childhood experiences are related to early drinking. What's new is that they point to specific circumstances that may be especially problematic, according to the researchers, led by Dr. Emily F. Rothman of the Boston University School of Public Health.

They found that adults who reported any of those five childhood experiences were more likely not only to drink early, but to drink specifically to cope with their problems. Drinking early, especially as a way to manage stress, could shape a person's drinking patterns for a lifetime, the researchers note -- possibly raising the risk of alcohol dependence in adulthood. Overall, two-thirds of the respondents said they had gone through at least one negative childhood experience. However, only five types of experiences stood out as being linked to early drinking. Childhood abuse was most strongly associated with early drinking, conferring a two- to three-fold higher risk. Similarly, having a family member who was mentally ill or a substance abuser doubled the odds of early drinking. Adults whose parents had divorced or separated when they were children were 70 percent more likely to report early drinking than those whose parents stayed together.;_ylt=Atwn7LO0tKZyR683bbuzO68Q.3QA

Court may decide today over Boobs injunction
NZ Herald August 15, 2008
A court injunction preventing pornographer Steve Crow from holding the Boobs on Bikes parade could be decided today. The Auckland City Council began legal action yesterday to enforce a decision not to grant a permit for the event, in which bare-breasted women parade down Queen St on open-top cars and motorbikes as a promotion for Mr Crow's R-18 Erotica Lifestyles Expo.

...Mr Crow said if the court granted an injunction, the parade would still proceed and he would be prepared to be arrested "because, as I say, I think it is a breach of the Bill of Rights". Councillor Cathy Casey, who initiated the court action, told yesterday's city development committee that the parade had nothing to do with the Bill of Rights and freedom of expression. She said it was a blatant marketing exercise to promote the expo and use Queen St to sell hard core pornography. "If this council can't control what goes on in Queen St, why are we here?" she said. All but one member of the committee supported the action. Councillor Bill Christian said the parade should go ahead for civil liberty reasons. Family First national director Bob McCoskie said the parade was "in-your-face sexualised nudity" and supported enforcing the bylaw to stop it before it happened.


Boobs on Bikes ride faces legal challenge
NZ Herald August 14, 2008
An Auckland City councillor is seeking a court injunction to stop the Boobs on Bikes parade. Pornographer Steve Crow has made it clear he will stage the event on Wednesday despite the council refusing to issue a permit. The event, in which bare-breasted women parading down Queen St on open-top cars and motorbikes, is a promotion for Mr Crow's R-18 Erotica Lifestyles Expo. Councillor Cathy Casey will ask the city development committee at a meeting this morning to take out an injunction on behalf of the council. The council recently passed a bylaw to bar events associated with pornography, but police say they are unable to stop the parade on indecency grounds.

...Family First National director Bob McCoskrie will speak at the council meeting in support of the motion. "The Boobs on Bikes parade is a commercial stunt advertising an R-18 event, with sexualised nudity in a public street that is offensive to many people and completely inappropriate for young people and children to view," Mr McCoskrie said. "The websites which the parade advertises contain explicit sexual material and we would argue that the parade is essentially an advertisement and in breach of advertising standards. "It is a pity that it may take a court injunction to force the police to act against something that has so much public opposition. It is time families were put first." He said it was ironic Mr Crow had a "flagrant disregard" for the council bylaw, as he had stood for mayor last year and could have been responsible for enforcing those bylaws. Mr Crow could not be reached for comment.

Violence linked to abortion rate
NZ Herald August 14, 2008
A groundbreaking study has found that more than one in every six women who have ever been pregnant in Auckland have had an abortion. The abortion rate rises to one in every three among women of Asian ethnicity, and is also above-average for younger women and for women who have suffered domestic violence. The rate is lower for rural women in the Waikato, where only one in nine has had an abortion.

The figures have been published in two new papers stemming from a survey of about 1400 women aged 18 to 64 in Auckland and a similar number in rural Waikato in 2002, which was focused on finding the rates of domestic violence and associated factors. The new papers show, not surprisingly, that domestic violence is associated with higher rates of both intentional abortions and accidental miscarriages, as well as with higher rates of drinking, smoking and unwanted pregnancies. But lead author Janet Fanslow of Auckland University said the surveys also provided the first-ever measures of the prevalence of both abortion and miscarriage in New Zealand. AdvertisementThe overall abortion rate of 14 per cent among all women who have ever been pregnant was much lower than in the United States, where 29 per cent of ever-pregnant women under 45 had had an abortion, according to an official survey in 1995.

Topless parade protest
Central Leader 13 August 2008
Women opposing a topless motorbike parade say they’ll form a human chain across Queen St in protest. City councillor Cathy Casey says she’s gathered a "small group" of women prepared to lie down in the path of the Boobs on Bikes parade. "What stand will the police take if there’s 10 women lying across the road," Dr Casey asks. "Who’s liberty will they uphold then?"

Dr Casey says she hopes police will put a halt to the event before next Wednesday, but is prepared to take action if they don’t. "I find it abhorrent," she says. "It’s not about women with naked breasts on Queen St, it’s about the purpose of it, which is to advertise his R-18 expo." The controversial parade is organised by pornographer Steve Crow to promote the Erotica Expo.

Minister denies support for polygamy
The Press 13 August 2008
Social Development Minister Ruth Dyson says the Government has no plans to recognise multi-partner relationships, despite speech notes in her name suggesting it was moving to recognise "triples". The speech, which was removed from the Government's Beehive website last Friday after inquiries by Investigate magazine, was listed as being delivered by Dyson at Victoria University on May 6. The speech notes say that the Government is moving the focus of its policy delivery from social welfare to social development, including recognising communities within the population that do not meet the definition of a traditional family group. "We must cater for diversity; we know it exists. By this I mean the range of relationships from single, couples, triples, blended, de facto, and so on. That's where we're going with social policy," the speech notes say.

Dyson said yesterday that she did not deliver the speech and had "no idea" what the term "triples" referred to. The speech should never have been posted on the Government's website, she said. Asked what the Government's policy on polygamous relationships was, Dyson said: "The social security legislation is very clear about what a relationship is you're either single or a couple. A couple is in the nature of marriage, which includes civil union and de facto. "It's been the same for years. It's been tested in court. There's no interest in changing it."

Flexibility urged for sole parents
NZ Herald August 12, 2008
Conservative groups are warning the National Party to be "flexible" about making sole parents go back to work, allowing for sick children and school holidays. Family First director Bob McCoskrie, an invited guest at the policy launch, said making parents work part-time made sense, but only if implemented with discretion. "We'd want to make sure that the work requirements are within school hours and not within the school holidays. Otherwise we are going to have a lot of unsupervised kids."

Another guest, Mercy Mission founder Barbara Stone, said she agreed with the work requirement "as long as it's in school time and there is someone at home for the children for the rest of the time". She said it was hard to get jobs for sole parents, who often had low self-esteem.
Family First Comment : That was a short comment considering the reporter spoke to us for almost 10 minutes!!! We also said...
* welfare is an important safety net
* welfare should not reward dysfunction or be a motivation for dysfunctional behaviour
* long-term welfare dependency can be demoralising and is linked with poverty. Work can bring dignity and a level of independence
* the expectation to work should not be at the expense of the important role of parents (especially sole parents) to meet the needs of their children. Part time work (with flexibility) may be a win-win situation
* why are so many women having children outside of marriage?
* why do we have the 2nd highest rate of solo parent homes in the OECD?
* why is our teenage pregnancy rate so high (up to half of current DPB recipients started on welfare as teenagers)

School kids pay high price for P use
Waikato Times 9 August 2008
Waikato principals say a generation of "P babies" coming through the school system has alarming behavioural and learning problems. There has been a 37 per cent increase in disciplinary action against primary school-aged children in the past year including suspensions and stand-downs according to Education Ministry figures. Hamilton's Deanwell School principal, Pat Poland, said schools were seeing higher numbers of misbehaving children, because of the methamphetamine (P) epidemic.

"Some of the five-year-olds coming in are very low functioning," she said. "Their parents have used P and they have low levels of language, they're talking like two-year-olds, (have) a low ability to concentrate, and very poor behaviour." He and other principals had noticed the trend and discussed it. "I think it's going to get worse as we have to manage these children from P families, unless there's adequate support offered from the Government in the form of social workers in every school or a counsellor."

Brothel bylaws may be wiped
The Press 11 August 2008
Bylaws controlling brothels may be dropped by the Christchurch City Council. The controversial bylaws controlling the location of brothels and signs were introduced in 2004 but were partly quashed by the High Court after a legal challenge by Christchurch sex industry kingpin Terry Brown. The council is reviewing all bylaws and may drop the brothels bylaws.

Cr Sue Wells said a retreat from the bylaws would be a disappointment for Christchurch, but it was "extremely difficult" to police prostitution through bylaws. "There will be disappointment in the community. It means that we cannot do some of the things people might reasonably expect us to do," she said. Wells said it would be hard for the council to control brothels because the central register was not accessible and did not show locations.


Kiwi Party wants to rebuild role of marriage
NZ Herald August 11, 2008
The Kiwi Party held its inaugural national conference on Saturday and outlined core policies it will take into the election campaign. The Christian party hopes to gain 5 per cent of the party vote and get MPs into Parliament. It was formed late last year and its leader is former United Future MP Larry Baldock. Another former United Future MP, Gordon Copeland, founded it with Mr Baldock. Mr Copeland resigned from United Future over the law that bans smacking and now sits as an independent. Mr Copeland told the conference the Kiwi Party aimed to rebuild marriage as a culture in New Zealand. It would provide government subsidies for marriage preparation courses and parenting courses through to teenage years.

Other policies outlined included:
* Establish a Royal Commission to address family breakdown.
* Repeal the Prostitution Reform Act.
* Raise the minimum wage from $12 to $15 an hour.
* Introduce income splitting for married couples raising children.
* Make houses more affordable by releasing more land.


If you or any of your friends wish to subscribe, the website is 

Missing girl's parents frustrated
The Southland Times 07 August 2008
An Invercargill couple are questioning their rights as parents after their 14-year-old daughter ran away three months ago. Compounding the concern of John and Christine Savage for the safety of their daughter Janelle is the frustration that despite vaguely knowing her whereabouts, they say a lack of legal teeth means they cannot bring her home. ...Mr Savage said he believed his daughter was staying with a former Invercargill woman in Christchurch, who had "lured" Janelle away. Because she appeared to have gone willingly, there was little police could do. "I'd class it as kidnapping but the police don't class it as that," he said. "Janelle wants to be where she is." The Southland Girls' High pupil had since been excluded from the school for exceeding 21 days absent and could not be tracked by truancy services, he said.

The officer handling the missing person's file for Janelle, Senior Constable Keith Olds, of Christchurch, said police could act but lacked concrete leads as to her whereabouts. Mr Savage said Janelle's latest disappearance was one of several but in the other cases police had contacted him because she had been involved in various offences and he had been able to go to Christchurch to collect her. Mrs Savage said police could do more. "I think its wrong. We've told the police roughly where she is. Why can't they do anything?" However, Senior sergeant Dave Raynes, of Invercargill, said police did have the power to act under the Children and Young Persons Act but were hampered in this case as Janelle had not been located.

Family First NZ director Bob McCoskrie said he also believed police could do more. "The role of parents and the right of parents to know where their children are is being undermined by privacy legislation and the so-called rights of the children." If a child was not from a dysfunctional home where he or she was unsafe or where the family did not care then parents should have rights of access to the child, he said.

Two into one won't go: Cambridge survey shows new doubts over working mothers
The Guardian August 6 2008
Support for gender equality appears to be declining across Britain and America amid concern that women who play a full role in the workforce do so at the expense of family life, research from Cambridge University suggests today. It found both women and men are becoming more likely to believe the family will suffer if a woman works full-time. The conclusion was based on analysis of social attitude surveys over the past three decades by Jacqueline Scott, the university's professor of empirical sociology. She said the "shine of the super-mum" was wearing off.

"While British attitudes are more egalitarian than in the 1980s, there are signs that support for gender equality may have hit a high point some time during the 1990s," said Scott. "When it comes to the clash between work and family life, doubts about whether a woman should be doing both are starting to creep in." The Fawcett Society, which campaigns for equal rights for men and women, said the study showed how "attempts to shoehorn women into workplaces made by men for men have failed".

..Mary MacLeod, chief executive of the Family and Parenting Institute, added: "Many mothers tell us that in the first year of a baby's life they want to stay at home, but often feel they have to return to work too early because of financial constraints. We need to do more to help mothers and fathers by increasing well-paid parental leave and changing how it can be shared between them."

Young sons abusing their mothers (Aust)
Herald Sun (Aust) August 07, 2008
WOMEN are increasingly being threatened and attacked by their young sons - sometimes with weapons. Research into boys who assault their mothers is shedding light on a common but taboo form of family violence. Released yesterday, a report by the Inner South Community Health Service, Child Abuse Research Australia and Monash University in Victioria found sons who abuse their mothers crossed all walks of life and had severe and lasting effects on mothers. Police responded to more than 30,000 reports of family violence between 2006 and 2007, with more than 3500 directly related to attacks by adolescents. Of those, two-thirds were carried out by males.

Police Commissioner Christine Nixon said police had seen a 26 per cent increase in family violence reports involving attacks by adolescents between the 2002-2003 and 2006-2007 financial years. "I knew there was an issue with adolescents . . . but didn't really understand the size of the problem," Ms Nixon said.,21985,24141137-662,00.html


Report veils junior school violence
The Press 06 August 2008
A Ministry of Education report trumpeting a fall in school suspensions has overlooked a 37 per cent surge in primary school disciplinary actions. The ministry's student engagement report last month highlighted a 25 per cent drop in the number of secondary school students suspended since 2000, an eight-year low. However, the primary school figures were buried in a graph with no raw numbers and no commentary. In fact, the number of primary school children stood down and suspended has grown from 4800 in 2000 to 6595 last year. In 2007, 945 primary school students were suspended and 5650 stood down 28 per cent of the total number of students at all levels stood down in that year. Educators say those numbers reflect an ongoing trend for increasingly violent misbehaviour by children as young as five.

Minister of Education Chris Carter released the ministry report heralding a "concerted effort by schools supported by the ministry". Family First national director Bob McCoskrie, who pursued the ministry over the data, said he could not believe the report did not even touch on a nationwide problem. "We need to be asking ourselves some pretty tough questions about why almost 1000 kids are being chucked out of primary schools for behaviour that is just so bad that schools have got to the point where they won't even work with it," McCoskrie said.


Troubled pupils kept on at school - to make government look good!
The Press 05 August 2008
High school students "causing merry hell" are being held in schools by Government measures that principals say are designed to make politicians look better. Rangiora High School principal Peggy Burrows has spoken out on a Ministry of Education policy to cut early-leaving exemptions in half. She was yesterday backed by the presidents of the Canterbury and national principals' associations. "Because it's an election year, the Government is trying to make sure the statistics look really good," Burrows said. A clampdown on troubled students being allowed to leave before they turned 16 was "very difficult". "You're dealing probably with the most disengaged group or, in North Canterbury, with young men who have got really good job opportunities and can earn really good money and they don't see the reason for staying at school," she said.

A ministry policy introduced in May last year aimed for the number of high school early-leaving exemptions to be halved. The latest report from the ministry shows 6.6 per cent of applications were turned down in 2006, rising to 36 per cent last year. About 28 per cent fewer students applied in 2007. The changes meant a net reduction of 50 per cent in the number of exemptions granted. Burrows said there was also pressure to reduce the number of suspensions and stand-downs, which made it impossible to enforce a zero-tolerance policy on drug use. "We get hammered for our high suspension rates," she said.

Parents to receive letters if children are obese
Guardian (UK) August 04 2008
Parents will receive official letters telling them if their children are too fat under a government initiative to tackle childhood obesity. The heaviest children will be described as "very overweight", as ministers believe parents will not accept being told that their child is obese. Health and weight measurements taken at schools in England could be automatically sent to parents from the autumn, under the Department of Health scheme. Ministers want the results to raise parent's awareness of their children's weight and the need to live a healthy lifestyle.

But obesity experts criticised ministers for "tip-toeing" around the issue. Tam Fry, board member of the National Obesity Forum, said it was important to be upfront with parents. Experts in the US had also suggested banning the word obese but had now changed their minds and decided the word was necessary, he said. "I find this particular line from the government tip-toeing through the daffodils," he added. "The Americans have gone back to using the term because it's the kind of shock word that makes parents sit up and take notice. It's a nasty word but by God it should sound alarm bells in parents' minds.


Lack of veggies can lead girls to a life of obesity
Reuters 31 Jul 2008
Many teenage girls are not getting the nutrients they need to ensure healthy development, putting them at risk for weight-related problems and cardiovascular disease. Female adolescence is an important time for setting up adult health, as nutritional needs change because of increased growth and the beginning of menstruation, said Andy Bellatti, who runs the popular nutrition blog Small Bites. But studies have shown that on average, teenage girls are not getting enough fiber, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium or vitamins A, E and B in their diets, and are eating too much saturated fat and sodium, said Bellatti, who is also a graduate student in New York University’s Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health.

...As childhood obesity rises, adolescents are more often turning to unhealthy methods to control their weight. A University of Minnesota study found that nearly 20 percent of girls and women had used diet pills by the time they turned 20. The incidence of use in high schoolers nearly doubled over the five years of the study, from 7.5 percent to 14.2 percent. The study revealed that more than 60 percent of teenage girls had resorted to diet pills, laxatives, vomiting or skipping meals to control their weight, and girls who employ these extreme diet methods are also more likely to be overweight. "A lot of girls believe that the way to lose weight is to cut calories,” Bellatti said. Ironically, a pattern of crash dieting or extreme calorie restriction will eventually affect metabolism and could lead to weight gain in the future.

Why 'cotton wool' children face risk of mental problems 
Evening Standard (UK) 2 August 08
Children do not learn how to cope with life's setbacks because a 'cotton wool' culture stops them experiencing hardships, an education expert claimed yesterday. Sandy MacLean says there is a link between a rise in mental health problems and a culture of entitlement which promotes the belief that success and celebrity do not need effort and hard work. She said youngsters must experience adversity so they develop resilience, but are increasingly protected from life's hard knocks. Miss MacLean, an adviser to teachers and lecturers on mental health problems among students, blamed a tendency to treat young people like infants who cannot handle responsibility. But this only encourages them to behave like infants, she said.

Society has become too focused on the feelings of the individual, meaning young people 'think that they are the centre of the world and blow out of proportion any setbacks or challenges in life', she added. 'Young people are not fragile  -  they can be likened to springs or balls,' she said. 'People can bounce back psychologically after being knocked out of shape, just like in nature.'

Miss MacLean said mental illness is on the increase, with 11 per 08cent of the UK's 16 to 24-year-olds having a major depressive disorder. One in ten children between the ages of five and 16 is said to have a 'clinically recognisable' mental disorder. And there is evidence from the Institute of Psychiatry that the number of teenagers with emotional and behavioural problems doubled between 1974 and 1999.

Miss MacLean told the Times Educational Supplement that part of the problem is a culture of entitlement which vaunts instant success, increases self-obsession and undermines resilience. She also called for a fundamental change in attitudes towards feelings of negativity. 'People are frightened of negative emotions,' she said. 'This encourages them to try to suppress their emotions. Paradoxically, research shows this causes more of the negative sensations they didn't want. 'People think bad feelings don't have a purpose, that feelings such as guilt, shame and frustration are only negative  -  but research shows such sensations can galvanise us to do things differently. We need them to succeed.'


'De facto drinking age' plummeting
The Press 02 August 2008
Want to stop your 12-year-old drinking? Move away from the bottle store. Massey University research, to be published in the Addiction international journal, has found that teenagers who live within a 10-minute drive of a liquor outlet are significantly more likely to drink. More than 1100 Aucklanders aged between 12 and 17 were surveyed on their drinking habits. Almost 520 were drinkers in the past year. Of those, 11 were aged 12, 40 were aged 13 and 76 were aged 14.

University researcher Taisia Huckle said the younger participants were generally supplied with alcohol by their parents or relatives, while the 16 and 17-year-olds had friends buy it for them. The legal age for buying alcohol in New Zealand is 18. The density of bottle stores in a teenager's neighbourhood was strongly related to how often they drank and how much they drank on each occasion, Huckle said. Liquor Licensing Authority statistics show New Zealand had 35 licensed premises per 10,000 people in 2006, compared with 18 per 10,000 people in 1990. The research suggested restrictions on the number of licensed premises as a low-cost and effective way of reducing alcohol-related harm, such as violence, arrests, drink-driving and car crashes, among young drinkers.


Kiwis well protected from child porn websites
The Southland Times 30 July 2008 
New Zealanders were some of the best protected citizens in the world from online child pornography, the Netsafe '08 conference in Queenstown was told yesterday. Internet Service Provider Watchdog managing director Peter Mancer said the global market for child pornography was worth $US3 billion a year, and had increased 500 percent since 2001. However, measures put in place by New Zealand's Internal Affairs Department were increasingly effective in preventing Kiwi web users from accessing illegal material, Mr Mancer said.

It was difficult to stem the flow of exploitative material, because much of it came from impoverished nations where the enforcement of laws, if existent, was negligible, he said. But regulators in western nations could put measures in place to stop illegal sites from being made available to users within their country. This was increasingly successful in New Zealand because of the filtering operation run between the Internal Affairs Department and internet service providers.

Deconstructing the idea that child pornography was purely made by deviants, Mr Mancer said much of the illegal material was generated by organised crime syndicates, which did it solely for financial gain. ....In one study, 19 percent of images analysed were of toddlers and children thought to be under 3 years of age, while 39 percent were of children thought to be aged between 3 and 5.

Boobs event organiser: City won't stop parade
NZ Herald July 30, 2008
Businessman Steve Crow says his Boobs on Bikes parade down Queen St will go ahead, despite a new bylaw aimed at stopping events deemed offensive. The Auckland City Council passed the bylaw last week, only weeks before Mr Crow plans another parade to promote the Erotica Lifestyles Expo. The bylaw is the latest attempt by the council to stop bare-breasted women parading down Queen St aboard tanks, on the back of motorcycles and in open-top cars. Despite political opposition, the event has become hugely popular, watched by tens of thousands of people.

Mayor John Banks yesterday said the council was opposed to the parade because it exploited women. But he acknowledged difficulties with the bylaw, such as defining what was offensive and whether it could stop the parade. The bylaw states the council can turn down a permit for an event if it "reasonably believes there is any other objectively justifiable and reasonable grounds for declining consent, for example that the event will be or is likely to be offensive".

Read our Media Release Topless Public Parades Promoting Porn Industry Are Offensive

Outrage child-porn offender living beside playcentre
NZ Herald July 29, 2008
The decision to grant a child-porn collector home detention next door to a children's playgroup in place of a prison term has infuriated lobby group Family First NZ. Carterton man Jeffrey Elstow Milton, 58, yesterday began a six-month sentence of home detention next to a playcentre run by the Salvation Army. Prosecutor Mark Anderson had told Masterton District Court that Milton deserved no less than 18 months in jail for offending which stretched back five years, resulting in a collection of 1800 child-porn images on his computer. However, Milton is confined to a wheelchair as he suffers from advanced muscular dystrophy and Judge Bruce Davidson said a jail term would be "very harsh". "Your mobility is highly restricted and it could be argued that you are a low risk to young children," he said.

Family First labelled the sentence "offensive, pathetic and spineless. This is like putting a person battling with overeating next door to the local bakery. The rights of the victims, many of them children, to see justice are being trod on," national director Bob McCoskrie said. Also under fire was a decision to sentence a Palmerston North man to eight months' home detention and 150 hours' community work after he admitted possessing 2000 child-porn images and films, including images of adults sexually abusing babies.

"Their decisions are spineless and send the completely wrong message. And they are perpetuating the problem by allowing offenders to be placed where the community, children, and even the offenders themselves, are put further at risk," Mr McCoskrie said. "Each one of these images represents the violation and degradation of our most vulnerable - the ultimate in child abuse from which these children may take a lifetime to recover. Yet the average effect of the punishment for each image is staying home for less than three hours."

Family loses out as Net takes over 
The Dominion Post 29 July 2008
An AUT University report on the impact of the Internet revealed that 22 per cent of the 1430 people surveyed spent less face-to-face time with the family they lived with since connecting to the Internet. Professor Allan Bell, director of AUT's institute of culture, discourse and communication and leader of the study, said that despite this, the study showed the Internet had had an overwhelmingly positive impact on social relationships. Sixty-four per cent of respondents said the Internet had increased their contact with friends, and 60 per cent said it had increased their contact with family – even if it was virtual.

Family First director Bob McCoskrie said the finding was cause for concern. "You can have 300 friends on your Bebo site, but you still need those deeper relationships. There needs to be engaged interaction amongst the family." The Internet had surpassed other people as the main source of information, the report said.

Child-porn collector next to kids
Dominion Post 29 July 2008
A wheelchair-bound man caught with hundreds of images of child sex abuse is to serve home detention next door to a children's playgroup. The Crown strongly opposed the sentence, which began yesterday after Jeffrey Elstow Milton, 58, of Carterton, left Masterton District Court. Though officials at the Salvation Army-run centre in Carterton's High St were asked for their opinion and said they held no concerns as long as there were certain controls in place, the parents of children who attend the twice-weekly playgroup have been kept in the dark over Milton's sex offending. Milton, who has advanced muscular dystrophy, should have no less than an 18-month jail term regardless of his physical problems, crown lawyer Mark Anderson told the court yesterday.

"He is a man who we caught importing and exporting disturbing graphic sexual images of very young boys through the Internet over a two-year period, though he admitted to doing it for five years. He doesn't appreciate the impact of his actions. He is a high risk of reoffending and even if his computer is taken away, there are small children right there in front of him. If parents had known, maybe there would have been a public lynching." The impact of Milton's offending was felt in the courthouse, as people sitting in public gallery, awaiting their own appearances, walked out in disgust as Judge Bruce Davidson detailed the explicit nature of the images.

Man gets home detention for possessing about 2000 images and movies, many of adults having child sex
Manawatu Standard 19 July 2008

Home prisons spring up in suburbs
Waikato Times 26 July 2008
Home jails are popping up in suburbs near you. Since October 1 last year, when legislative changes enabled judges to impose home detention sentences directly from the bench, the number of offenders on home detention has increased dramatically. In 2007-08, 2677 people were on home detention sentences or orders, up from 1672 on home detention orders in 2005-06, a 60 per cent increase.

Doctors' advice to Britons: have fewer children and help save the planet
The Guardian (UK), July 25 2008
British couples should consider having no more than two children to help reduce the environmental impact of the rising global population, doctors have said. An editorial in the British Medical Journal today calls on GPs to encourage the view that bigger families are as environmentally dubious as owning a patio heater or driving a gas-guzzler. Writing in the journal, John Guillebaud, professor of family planning at University College, London and Pip Hayes, a GP based in Exeter, urge doctors to "break a deafening silence" over the use of family planning to curb the rise in population, which has been viewed by many in the community as a taboo subject.

Managing the impact of a soaring human population will be one of the most politically fraught issues governments will have to grapple with in coming decades. Although the rate of population growth has slowed since the 80s, the UN estimates the world's population has increased by about 76 million a year this century, which drives up greenhouse gas emissions and exacerbates the destruction of wildlife habitats. Previous efforts to limit population growth in India in the 70s and in China, with its one child policy, have made any attempt to raise the issue in Britain highly controversial. The authors call on schools and GPs to develop education programmes to explain how a rising population is environmentally unsustainable, and how families who have no more than two children will help ensure the population remains steady or even falls.

Divorce still damaging to children despite being more acceptable
UK Telegraph 09 Jul 2008
A study run over several decades has shown that children whose parents split up are more likely to end up without qualifications, claiming benefits and suffering depression. The National Child Development Study has tracked around 17,000 people born in Britain during one week in 1958 over the course of their lives. As those people approach their 50th birthdays, researchers have compared their lives with those of other sample groups born in earlier and later years. The lengthy study has confirmed that children born in 1958 were much less likely to experience parental divorce than children today.

Family break-up was subject to much greater social stigma at the time, something that was sometimes thought to contribute to the problems experienced by the children of divorced parents. Yet the study's data suggest that greater social acceptance of divorce has not reduced its impact on children. "It might be expected that as divorce has become more commonplace, its effects might have reduced," the researchers write. "Yet a comparison with children born in 1970 shows that this is not the case." Comparing the outcomes of people born in 1958 and those born in 1970 when they reached their early 30s, the researchers found that the children of divorced parents in both groups were equally likely to lack qualifications, be on benefits and suffer from depression.

Vigilance needed still on child abuse (should read Vigilance needed to keep smacking banned!)
Otago Daily Times 26 July 08
The repealing of section 59 of the Crimes Act was not "100% safe" (TRUE) and it was important to stay vigilant, Green Party MP Sue Bradford told those attending the Children's Issues Centre national seminar in Dunedin yesterday. "There is still an ongoing political battle and it is not completely won.(TRUE) " Ms Bradford is one of six speakers at the seminar, which is focused on moving on from the repealing of section 59.

Polls showed the law change was a major election issue for about 5% of voters (TRUE), Ms Bradford said. The "most powerful forces" working against the law change were those involved in the petition for a referendum on the issue (FALSE - IT'S THE HUGE PROPORTION OF NZ'ERS). There was no question the petition had been "amazingly successful" (TRUE) given that it was very difficult to meet the required 10% target, she said. "They have poured a huge amount of time and money into it. (TIME YES MONEY NO MORE THAN CHILDRENS COMMISSIONER / UNICEF / BARNARDOES et al) " More signatures were collected for the petition after the first petition fell short when more than 5000 signatures were declared invalid (FALSE 50,000). A report on the validity of those further signatures was expected at the end of August.

"I feel sure some of the people who signed it then have changed their mind since (FALSE), but that doesn't negate the legality of those signatures." Any potential threat to the law change would depend on the make-up of the next government (TRUE). Her biggest concern would be any attempt to change the law to define an acceptable level and nature of violence, as that would send the message violence against children was acceptable (FALSE), she said. The role of academics and researchers in any future debate would be "incredibly important".

There was no evidence people were being "dragged off to court" for minor offences (FALSE) and she welcomed research presented at the seminar which showed 44% of voters were in favour of the new legislation (FALSE), she said. "While Family First are creating the perception 80% are against it, I feel this is much more in line and that the proportion is about 50-50. (FALSE)"

Family First Comment: Note that there is no reference to the continuing rate of child abuse deaths, the skyrocketing rates of CYF notifications, and the continued horror stories of real child abuse happening where there is drug and alcohol abuse, family breakdown, dysfunction etc.
“The epidemic of child abuse and child violence in this country continues – sadly. My bill was never intended to solve that problem.”
Sue Bradford – National Radio - 21 Dec 07
Read Family First Media Releases
Discredited Anti-Smacking Advocate Back in NZ
Anti-Smacking Conference At Venue Where Research Contradicts

Schoolgirl `worked in brothel'
The Press 25 July 2008
An international student attending a Christchurch high school on a student visa moonlighted as a prostitute in a city brothel, a court has been told. The female brothel operator, 57, whose name is suppressed, denies eight charges related to the exploitation of two under-age sex workers. The counts include facilitating girls aged under 18 to provide commercial sexual services, and receiving payments from under-age girls derived from commercial sex.

..The first was a teenager who was attending high school on a student visa, and who worked at the brothel for more than a year. The accused allegedly received a percentage of the girl's earnings throughout the year. The girl normally saw four clients per shift, but had as many as 14 clients on each shift. She also did outcalls and worked as a stripper. Her student visa prevented her from working legally, Currie said. "The Prostitution Reform Act was designed to protect people like her from exploitation," Currie said. Four of the charges related to a second girl, 16, who police alleged was allowed to work at the brothel by the accused.

More family meals mean less risky teen sex
Reuters 24 July 2008
Parents who do not want their teens to engage in risky sexual behaviour should make family time a priority, a new study suggests. Adolescents who took part in family activities more often had sex less frequently, less unprotected sex, and fewer sex partners, Dr Rebekah Levine Coley of Boston College and her colleagues found. Most research on parenting and teen sexual behaviour has simply looked at whether or not a teen has had sex, not the degree of sexual risk he or she takes, Coley noted in an interview with Reuters Health. But given that two out of three US teens have sex before they turn 19, more specific information would provide a better understanding of the risks involved, Coley and her team point out in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

To investigate, as well as to better define whether parental qualities influence a child's sexual behaviour rather than vice versa, Coley and her team used increasingly stringent statistical techniques to analyze the results of a survey of 4950 US teens, 1058 of whom were siblings. The adolescents were 12 to 16 years old when the study began, and completed the survey every year for 3 years. By comparing parenting quality and sexual behaviour for siblings raised in the same household, Coley noted, it is possible to tease out potential cause-and-effect relationships.

The more times a week that an adolescent reported having dinner with their family, "doing something religious" as a family, or having fun with their family, the less likely he or she was to engage in risky sexual behaviour, the researchers found. However, having a parent who used "negative and psychologically controlling" behaviour increased the likelihood that a teen would be having risky sex. This includes "criticizing the ideas of the adolescents, controlling and directing what they think and how they feel," Coley explained. "Negative and psychologically controlling parenting behaviour may inhibit adolescents' development of self-efficacy and identity, interfere with mature and responsible decision making skills, and affect the development of healthy relationships, in turn leading to an elevated likelihood of engaging in risky behaviour," the researchers suggest. On the other hand, they add, family activities are "centrally important supports for children, providing opportunities for emotional warmth, communication, and transmission of values and beliefs." The findings make it clear, Coley said, that "what parents do with their adolescents really matters."

Home-alone kids put at risk - police
Eastern Courier 25 July 2008
Police warn parents and caregivers against endangering their children’s safety by leaving them home alone before and after school and during the holidays. Howick police youth and community services sergeant Keith Olsen says it is common for children to come home to an empty house or be left alone during the holidays because their parents or caregivers are at work. He says during the school holidays an eight-year-old called 111 because she was home alone and "really scared". "Her father had gone out to do some business," he says. She was taken to the nearest police station and the father received a warning.

It is against the law to leave children under 14 without making reasonable provision for their care and supervision. What is considered ‘reasonable’ also takes into account the circumstances and length of time the children are left alone. By law parents are required to assess all the circumstances and make sure that any child left alone is safe and in no danger otherwise they can be prosecuted or Child, Youth and Family can become involved.

'Babies from the grave' a step closer
The Dominion Post 24 July 2008
Women could soon have "babies from the grave" or give birth after menopause using frozen eggs. The influential Advisory Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technology, set up in 2004 to advise the Government, recommended yesterday that frozen eggs become an established procedure in fertility treatment. New Zealand women have been able to freeze their eggs since 2005, but it has been illegal to use them in fertility treatment programmes such as in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). If adopted, the controversial proposal would enable career women wanting to postpone children and those without a partner to put their fertility "on ice" by freezing their eggs for later use. It could also mean that, if a woman gives permission at the time her eggs are harvested, then later dies, a surrogate could be impregnated with the embryo containing her egg - in effect creating a baby from the grave.

The committee has also paved the way for so-called saviour siblings - whose embryos have been pre-selected to create a child to aid a sick brother or sister - to include other relatives such as cousins and also assist those with non-genetic diseases, such as leukaemia. At present, "saviour siblings" can be created to assist only with genetic diseases, such as Huntington's. Fertility clinics are welcoming the proposals but the Catholic Bioethics Centre said it opposed the discarding of embryos that failed the selection process for "saviour siblings". The Catholic Church was also concerned about life being created outside a "loving context", centre researcher John Kleinsman said.

What's in a name? Ask Sex Fruit
Taranaki Daily News 24 July 2008
Some parents have been branded abusers because of the bizarre names of their children. Family Court Judge Rob Murfitt stated his concerns in a written decision after a custody hearing in New Plymouth revealed a couple had named their child Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii. He was so disturbed at the effect on the nine-year-old that he ordered her temporarily placed under court guardianship so a suitable name could be chosen.  "It makes a fool of the child and sets her up with a social disability and handicap," he said. The girl, who had not had her birth officially registered in NZ, had not revealed her name to her friends.

The judge was stopped talking yesterday by Principal Family Court Judge Peter Boshier. His office did provide some New Zealand-registered names the court knew of. They included: Fish and Chips (twins), Masport and Mower (twins); boys Yeah Detroit, Spiral Cicada, Kaos, Stallion and Hitler; girls Cinderella Beauty Blossom and Twisty Poi; and sex unknown Keenan Got Lucky and Sex Fruit.

Messy families working tired mothers to the bone
Herald Sun (Aust) July 23, 2008
AUSTRALIAN women are being worked to the bone by their messy families, a study has revealed. Almost half the women surveyed spent more than eight hours a week tidying up after others, while 30 per cent said picking up after the husband and kids took them more than 12 hours a week. Only a fifth of the 738 women in an online survey said they devoted three hours or less to picking up after their loved ones. The survey, in Home Beautiful magazine, echoes US findings that suggest getting married means more work for women. According to the University of Michigan, married men create an extra seven hours' housework a week for their wives, while decreasing their own loads by an hour - and that is before children arrive. The findings - from a survey that has run since 1968 - also showed that although married and single women were doing less housework than their 1975 counterparts, and married men were doing more, domestic chores were still women's domain.

The Australian Family Association said it was no surprise Aussie women were being worked to the bone - a fact not acknowledged by the Government. Victorian association president Angela Conway said women were picking up the slack because husbands were working longer hours and teenagers were stressed with homework and part-time jobs. "Our public policy fails to acknowledge the huge workload that goes into running a household and keeping the family happy," said Ms Conway. "Married men are working more than 40 hours a week, time pressures are increasing, our social life is diminishing and we are less connected to our community and family than we have ever been.,21985,24062659-662,00.html


Dirty shoes? Don't use the dishcloth
NZ Herald July 23, 2008
Despite the horrid things a sports shoe can squidge through, 27 per cent of us clean our sneakers with the kitchen sponge. Then that sponge is returned to the sink for use on dishes and benchtops, a survey of more than 1200 New Zealanders has revealed. And that is not the only black mark on our kitchen cleaning score sheet. For 22 per cent of people, washing a pet bowl with the kitchen cloth is common, and 39 per cent are happy to mop up a spill on the kitchen floor with their sponge or cloth before returning it to its home by the sink.

But it seems we can at least recognise unhygienic habits in others - 52 per cent would not accept a second invitation to dine at a friend's house if they saw the same thing there. We are also a lazy lot, with 82 per cent choosing to let a pot soak to avoid washing it when it was their turn to do the dishes. Some give up altogether, with 47 per cent admitting having thrown out a pot because it was too difficult to clean. But while these habits are practised by a large number of Kiwis, not all are willing to put up with them. Six per cent of respondents had broken up with a partner because of their kitchen hygiene habits. The survey also revealed that 34 per cent of people believed ATM keypads were the most unhygienic surface they touched.

Students need sleep to succeed
Reuters 21 July 2008
Teenagers need nine hours of sleep a night and parents can help by getting them back on a school sleep schedule before classes begin, researchers suggest. Early morning classes can be particularly hard on teenagers because "their circadian rhythms change at puberty and they want to go to sleep later and wake up later," Robert Roberts, a professor at the University of Texas School of Public Health, said. "Adolescents need nine hours of sleep a night and about a fourth of them get six hours or less," he said. "Most classes begin very early and for adolescents that's the worst combination."

A sleep study involving more than 3,100 students at four Massachusetts public high schools produced some eye-opening results, according to Roberts' colleague, Professor Michael Smolensk. "The top students, the ones earning mainly A's and B's, went to bed earlier on both weeknights and weekends than those who received C's, D's and F's. The high achievers slept about 25 minutes longer on school nights than did the low achievers," Smolensk wrote in his book, "The Body Clock, Guide to Better Health."

Violence and abuse rampant in schools
The Dominion Post 22 July 2008
Violent, disruptive or misbehaving pupils were suspended, stood down or kicked out of school more than 27,000 times last year, with 14-year-olds the worst culprits. Teachers say the figures reflect growing behavioural problems and violence. Many feel under threat of physical attack. The most common offences were continued disobedience, assaulting other pupils, verbally abusing teachers or drug-related misconduct. Examples included pupils selling drugs to classmates on school grounds, use of weapons in unprovoked attacks on pupils, bullying and assaults on staff. Boys were more than twice as likely to be disciplined as girls, Maori pupils had much higher misconduct rates than non-Maori and 14 year-olds offended the most.

..Most cases were one-off incidents, with offenders stood down for a few days before returning to class. More than 1600 pupils were removed from school for serious misconduct, though most were under the legal school-leaving age of 16 so had to be enrolled at another school or alternative education provider. But overall numbers fell by nearly 2000 compared with a year earlier, suspensions hit an eight-year low and early-leaving exemptions for 15-year-olds halved. Mr Carter hailed the drop as evidence schools were using more resources to deal with badly behaved kids, keeping them engaged at school longer and "reducing the levels of unacceptable student behaviour". ..However, teachers and principals reject suggestions behaviour has improved, saying schools are under pressure to cut suspension rates, even though staff often face violence and abuse.


New daddies get a helping hand
The Press 21 July 2008
New fathers will get a guidebook in a move to make them feel more involved with their new bundle of joy. The Father & Child magazine will be given to new fathers in Christchurch, Wellington and Dunedin hospitals as part of a birth pack for parents. It is full of men's birth stories and information about ways in which children learn from their fathers. Christchurch father Donald Pettit said a lot of focus was placed on the mother and baby when a child was born.

No matter how involved a man was with the birth, he was sometimes sidelined during the early months of the child's life. "This magazine would make dads feel included. It's important to feel this is an important time for fathers, as so much of the focus seems to be the other members of the family."


Pushy parents 'put schoolkids off sport'
The Dominion Post 19 July 2008
Children  are being driven away from the sports field by overbearing parents placing too much pressure on them to perform, a top sport and recreation official says. Lawrie Stewart, a senior adviser for Sport and Recreation New Zealand - the Government body charged with supporting sport and exercise - said many schoolchildren no longer found sport enjoyable. Speaking at the School Trustees Association conference in Christchurch yesterday, Mr Stewart said the pressure on young people to achieve high standards of performance athletically was causing many to ditch sport.

"Yes, competition is healthy but at that young age the result isn't as important as the fun of play. Five-year-olds should be experiencing play and games. Some parents were pressuring young children to hold adult expectations about their performance, Mr Stewart said. "The adult structure and expectations of sport are being driven into a younger and younger age group. They want the best for their kids, but sometimes they let their own views of what sport should be get in the way of what kids' idea of sport is."

Euthanasia petitioner beats death, hugs life
Time of India 11 Jul 2008
CHANDIGARH: Two years back Seema Sood longed for death and had even petitioned the President of India for euthanasia. But hope triumphed over despair and today, walking with difficulty, but walking nonetheless, after a total knee replacement surgery, the Bits Pilani gold medallist is ready to take on life once again. The turnaround has been both spectacular and miraculous for the 37-year-old who lost all movement of her limbs for 15 harrowing years after a crippling attack of rheumatoid arthritis. The disillusionment was so intense that she wanted permission for mercy killing. But that was then.

"I regret the letter to the President," she said, still frail and moving in tiny steps with the help of a walker. "Everything was so dark for me earlier, but I am excited about my mobility now and I am confident I will improve."

Equality laws ‘are now holding women back’ (UK)
Times Online (UK) 14 July 2008
Maternity rights damage chances of promotion
The radical extension of maternity leave and parents’ rights is sabotaging women’s careers, according to the head of the new equalities watchdog. Nicola Brewer said that it was an inconvenient truth that giving women a year off work after the birth of each child - soon to be paid throughout - was making employers think twice before offering a job or promotion.

British fathers have the most unequal rights in Europe, entitled to only two weeks of leave compared with 52 for mothers..Ms Brewer said that calls to the commission’s helpline from women who had lost their jobs after becoming pregnant suggested that they were paying a heavy price for their new rights. She said that her fears deepened earlier this year when the entrepreneur Sir Alan Sugar claimed that many employers binned the CVs of women of childbearing age.

Business leaders have criticised the new maternity laws, saying that they are a headache for employers and that it is difficult to plan the workforce if parents go part-time. But this is the first time that a criticism has come from an organisation that campaigns on behalf of women... Ms Brewer said she feared that plans to extend the right to request flexible working hours until children were 16 could hamper women’s employment prospects further.

Officials at the commission say that they are studying research from Sweden that has found that fathers who take up to two years off work after the birth of a child are 30 per cent less likely to get divorced.

Children's beach days more memorable than latest toys
Telegraph (UK) 10 July 2008
Children are more likely to remember a sunny day at the seaside than playing with the lastest must have gadget, according to a new study. Simple trips with family and friends are most likely to provide lasting memories, according to a survey which asked adults to look back on their younger days. "Time spent with family, building sandcastles and 'playing out' resonate with us more than solitary experiences," said Dr Cliff Arnall, who carried out the study for The Children's Society. "Children today are more likely to remember camping or fishing trips over completing a computer game or being given the latest must have premium priced toy."

The charity has asked 6,429 adults and a host of celebrities, including Debra Stephenson, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Sir Terry Wogan, for their most treasured moments.


Putting babies in childcare 'makes them fatter'
Telegraph (UK) 07 July 2008
Babies who are placed in childcare are fatter than those cared for by only their parents, research suggests. The study of more than 8,000 children found that those in part-time childcare gained an average of 0.4 pounds (175g) more weight by the time they were nine months old than those cared for by their parents. Those who were cared for by other relatives gained 0.35 pounds (162g) more weight. It is thought children placed in childcare before they are three months old are less likely to have been breastfed and more likely to have been weaned onto solid foods at an earlier age.

Previous studies have shown that babies who are breastfed tend to have lower body weights. It is also thought that formula feeding and the early introduction of solid food may predispose children to obesity. The study, published in the JAMA Archives of Paediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, said three quarters of children receive some form of childcare by people other than their parents before they are one year old.

Children labelled hyperactive really 'just naughty'
Telegraph (UK) 03 July 2008
Teachers are misdiagnosing some children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder when they are just naughty, psychiatrists have warned. Only half of children teachers suspected of having ADHD were diagnosed with the condition by a mental health expert, a study found. The results of the study carried out in East London will be presented at the annual meeting of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Children with ADHD cannot concentrate on school work or play and are easily distracted, forgetful or fail to follow instructions. They also unduly noisy, restless and fidget constantly and often talk excessively, butt in to other's conversations and cannot wait in line. Estimates suggest that around 1.7 per cent of the population is affected by ADHD, mostly children and if it cannot be controlled with behavioural therapy then medication such as Ritalin is considered.

In the study, based in Tower Hamlets, 52 children were referred to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services team with ADHD-like symptoms over the course of one year. Of those, it was clear most did not have ADHD and 14 were observed in the classroom by the mental health team. Eventually six were diagnosed with ADHD.

The researchers said that they are unsure why teachers may be over-identifying children with possible ADHD diagnoses. Lead author Dr Benjamin Keene, said: "Naughty children may at some point present symptoms but someone with ADHD has them at all times." They suggest that better educational resources need to be made available to teachers to help them accurately identify those children with ADHD, and that CAMHS teams should develop structured school observation tools or telephone interview schedules, so that identified children can be independently and expertly assessed in a classroom setting.

Anti-bullying measures launched
Christchurch Press 4 July 2008
New Government measures to combat bullying have been welcomed, but education leaders have warned that schools should not bear the full responsibility for reducing violence. The measures, launched by Education Minister Chris Carter yesterday, were prompted by a spate of high-profile bullying incidents. As part of the package, information cards called Step Up, Be Safe, designed by primary and secondary students, will be given to all students from Year 3 to help them recognise bullying and know what to do about it. Resources for schools would be available through the Education Ministry's Supporting Positive Behaviours website and for parents through the Team Up website.

"These new initiatives are about ensuring that our schools are safer places for students," Carter said. "I know that all parents want their children to be safe at school and not subject to bullying or harassment." The way schools deal with bullying will also come under scrutiny from the Education Review Office (ERO). Schools will be asked if their anti-bullying programmes include a focus on racist or homophobic bullying, sexual harassment and bullying of students with special needs. The initiatives have been welcomed, but sector leaders have emphasised the importance of community and family involvement.


Gay Adoption Bill is "off the ballot" - Clark 2nd July 2008
Green MP Metiria Turei's private member's bill aiming to legalise adoption by same-sex couples has been taken out of the parliamentary ballot, Prime Minister Helen Clark advised tonight. Speaking at the Gay Auckland Business Association's AGM, Clark said the 'Adoption (Equity) Amendment Bill' had been removed, adding that adoption by gay couples was "a tough issue to tackle, which we must get to at some point." Turei's bill was submitted to Parliament twelve months ago. Under current law, single people - including gays and lesbians - can adopt, but same-sex or unmarried couples cannot.

...Describing Civil Union legislation as a major move forward for LGBT New Zealanders, Clark recognised that full marriage may be preferable, noting that some countries are moving toward this. She told the crowd, however: "We had a difficult time over Civil Unions, so we're taking a breather on that one." Taking questions later, she offered to "have a word" in Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's ear about supporting gay marriage, when the two leaders meet for lengthy discussions in coming weeks.

...The PM summed up: "I'm in politics for a kinder, fairer, more inclusive society. Legal changes like Homosexual Law Reform and Civil Unions don't trigger an instant change of attitude in all people, but over time, they serve to normalise things. "Mainstream New Zealand will move with the times - but you need that legal framework." (warning - website contains explicit material - NOT recommended)

Safe family project 'in disarray'
The Dominion Post 03 July 2008
A $15 MILLION government family violence project is in disarray, hit by staffing problems, agency patch protection and uncertainty over what it is supposed to be doing, a critical report says. The Government introduced the family safety teams in July 2005, placing them in four family violence hotspots: Hutt Valley, Wairarapa, Auckland and Hamilton. Reported domestic violence has increased 30 per cent in the past year. Police get 70,000 calls a year (about 190 a day) concerning domestic incidents. In the year ending June 2006, 25,356 men and 4135 women were arrested for family violence offences. In that period, 2281 women and 3148 children were put in Women's Refuge safe houses.

A 2006 evaluation of the project has been issued after the National Party requested it under the Official Information Act. The party's justice spokesman, Simon Power, had asked why it took so long to issue. The lack of collaboration revealed was "extremely concerning", as collaboration was the linchpin for the project. "This is an extremely sensitive and important area and we've simply got to do better," he said.

The teams, comprising police and social workers, were supposed to coordinate between domestic violence agencies, including police and Child, Youth and Family, to intervene with at-risk families. Instead, the report by academics and Justice Ministry officials found though the teams made some progress, they faced "mistrust and resistance" in some areas. They were blocked from essential information from CYF, courts, police and women's refuges. And when they identified issues of concern, they could not deal with them as other agencies would not support them. They also struggled to keep staff, were uncertain about their role and found workloads so big they could not deal with the large geographical areas assigned to them.

Scheme to stamp out playground violence
The Dominion Post 03 July 2008
An escalation of physical violence and emotional bullying in schools has sparked a major investigation by the children's commissioner amid increasing concerns about pupil safety. The move follows research showing violence toward New Zealand schoolchildren is high compared with other developed countries and that bullying is one of their biggest fears. Education Minister Chris Carter will today unveil his own anti-bullying package to make schools safer. It is in response to a spate of high-profile attacks on schoolchildren and an increase of alerts from teachers about violent and disruptive pupils.

The package will include resources written by pupils to encourage in-class discussions about bullying and changes to the way the Education Review Office assesses schools' anti-bullying programmes. Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro said physical and emotional violence was a problem in all schools and an issue of public concern. It was consistently highlighted by children as one of their gravest fears and could have devastating emotional effects on young victims.


Kiwis second highest drug users - study
Christchurch Press 02 July 2008
New Zealand ranks second only to the United States in a scientific survey of illegal cocaine and cannabis use in 17 countries. The study uses data from the countries participating in the World Health Organisation's (WHO) World Mental Health Survey Initiative. It found that 16.2 per cent of people in the United States reported using cocaine in their lifetime, the second highest level of cocaine use was in New Zealand, where 4.3 per cent of people reported having used the drug. Cannabis use was highest in the US (42.4 per cent), followed by New Zealand (41.9 per cent).

The research was based on interviews with 85,052 participants in 17 countries. It was published today in the journal of the Public Library of Science.

...Differences in illegal drug use were more marked among young adults: by the age of age 15, drug users in New Zealand (27 per cent) and the USA (20 per cent) had the highest levels of cannabis use, with almost no use in Asia, Middle East, or Africa. Only 7 per cent of teens in the Netherlands had used cannabis by the age of 15. But the majority of young adults in New Zealand (62 per cent) and the USA (54 per cent) had used it by age 21, compared to 35 per cent of those in the Netherlands.

Drug use "does not appear to be simply related to drug policy," the authors said. Countries with stringent policies towards illegal drug use often had higher levels of such drug use than countries with more liberal policies. In the Netherlands – which has more liberal policies than the USA – 1.9 per cent of people reported cocaine use and 19.8 per cent reported cannabis use.

Males were more likely than females and younger adults were more likely than older to have used all the drugs examined.
Higher income was related to drug use of all kinds.
Marital status was found to be related to tobacco, cannabis, and cocaine use, but not alcohol use. People who were never married or those previously married had higher odds of lifetime cocaine and cannabis use than the currently married, but tobacco use was more likely in people who have been previously married and less likely among the never married.

Laws a legal minefield: lawyer
Brisbane Times June 30, 2008
Anti-smacking laws to punish Queensland parents who used "excessive force" to discipline their children could be too hard to prosecute, a lawyer has warned. Moves by the Labor Party to toughen its stance on smacking were made at its state conference earlier this month, with suggestions the practice would eventually be outlawed. But Brisbane lawyer Michael Bosscher, of criminal defence firm Ryan and Bosscher, said changes to the Criminal Code to make smacking illegal would be a legal minefield and would cause more problems than they solved.

He cited the example of New Zealand, where anti-smacking legislation had sparked a public backlash and had prompted calls for a referendum. "It is amazing to think Queensland is considering going down this path when New Zealand is trying to reverse its decision," Mr Bosscher said. "Our laws already provide the option to prosecute parents who abuse their children.

Child sexualisation shrouded in weasel words
The Age (Australia) June 29, 2008
IN A store one Saturday morning early in 2006, I became aware of a bank of television screens tuned to a music video showing a rap singer engaged in simulated sex with several barely clad dancers. The women were bent over while the rap singer rhythmically thrust his genitals at their backsides. There were quite a few children in the store with parents. I looked around to see if anyone was shocked that soft porn should be shown in a "family environment", in public on a Saturday. No one seemed to be taking any notice and I thought maybe it was just me. I considered complaining, but wondered whether I was so out of touch I would be regarded as weird.

So instead, a few day later I asked two of my researchers at the Australia Institute, both young women with progressive social attitudes, to carry out a study of the sexualisation of children. When our report, titled "Corporate Paedophilia", was released in October 2006 it set off a tsunami of public concern, especially from parents and parent groups. Psychologists, criminologists and child development experts soon joined the fray with expert commentary about the damage being done as children are exposed to erotic imagery and behaviours. It quickly became apparent to me that my feelings of dismay in the Harvey Norman store were not weird but common in the community.

Messages of support poured in to the Australia Institute. Mothers rang to say they were shocked when their eight-year-old daughters began doing sexy dances in public and asking for frilly underwear. Others expressed disgust at T-shirts for six-year-olds reading: "And all daddy wanted was a blow-job." Many objected to department store ads showing 10-year-olds pouting at the camera. The report examined the content of three new magazines aimed at five-to-12-year-old girls and found them full of stories about make-up, catwalk models, sexy celebrities, "crushes" and how to look like Paris Hilton.

...Community groups such as Kids Free 2B Kids have uncovered more and more alarming examples. Director Julie Gale found that Dolly magazine, with 50% of its readership under 14, tells girls that anal sex is a "personal choice".

Father's Day cards banned in Scottish schools
Telegraph (UK) 23 June 2008
Thousands of primary pupils were prevented from making Father's Day cards at school for fear of embarrassing classmates who live with single mothers and lesbians. The politically correct policy was quietly adopted at schools "in the interests of sensitivity" over the growing number of lone-parent and same-sex households. It only emerged after a large number of fathers failed to receive their traditional cards and handmade gifts. Family rights campaigners last night condemned the policy as "absurd" and argued that it is marginalising fathers, but local authorities said teachers need to react to "the changing pattern of family life".

An Office for National Statistics report in April found that one in four British children now lives with a lone parent - double the figure 20 years ago. ...The making of Mother's Day cards and crafts, in the run-up to Mothering Sunday, remains generally permitted. But the Father's Day edict follows a series of other politically correct measures introduced in primary schools, including the removal of Christian references from festive greetings cards.'s-Day-cards-banned-in-Scottish-schools.html

Jim Hopkins: Care to take a dictation, Mr Mugabe?
NZ Herald June 27, 2008
PM CONDEMNS ZIMBABWE'S POLL THUGGERY - Clark joins international calls for free and fair elections - Herald headline, June 23.
Dear President Mugabe,
Oh, Robert. Robert, Robert, Robert. Buga me, what are we going to do with you? You're such a goose, Bob. Such a silly old duffer. You really haven't got this dictatorship thing sorted, have you? No!!! You haven't.
...And no need to be a bully when you can be a sneak. See, Blob, we've got this issue here in Outer Roa. Smacking. And its dodgy, Bob. Dodgy. Well, dodgy for the gummint, anyway. Something you'd understand all too well, I imagine. Here's what's happened. Before the last election, our leader told people she wouldn't support any Bill that turned good parents into "criminals" by making a light smack illegal. Then, after the election, they passed one. Yes, I know. That's what politicians do, Bob. You of all people would understand that. The thing is, people didn't like it, Mr Gumbabe. Not at all. So they got this referendum going. Couldn't get the numbers apparently - according to the bureaucrats. Then they did. And, hey presto, just when an anti-vote seems inevitable, along comes the Ministry of Justice and tells the PM there's "not enough time" before the election (date still unknown) to organise things. Sorry, folks. The referendumb's off. Try again next year.
Gosh, it's not something important like rushing legislation through under Urgency to validate illegal election spending. Printing a whole lot of referendum ballot papers is hard work. And we just know we can't do it in time - even though we don't know how much time we've got. Besides, voting for things just confuses people. The Prime Minister said so. In Parliament - you've got one of those, haven't you? Of course you have. And she did. She said in Parliament people would get "confused" if they had to vote for two things instead of one. Their brains would get sore. And that would be awful, Bob. Awful! It wouldn't be fair to the voters who're not ... umm, terribly bright. But you'd know that, wouldn't you? Of course you would. Oddly enough, great dictator, we used to have two votes every election. On liquor. Separate papers and everything. "I vote for Prohibition, a Continuance or State control."...

Regular family meals boost GCSE exam results (UK) 
Telegraph (UK) 26 June 2008
Children perform better at school if parents impose traditional values in the home, Government research suggests. They are more likely to get five good GCSEs when parents insist on sharing family meals every night - and set regular evening curfews, figures show. Irrespective of social class, family "togetherness" was seen as one of the biggest bearings on success in the classroom. It comes as the Government targets parents in an attempt to boost school standards. Last week, Ed Balls, the schools secretary, said mothers and fathers contributed to poor behaviour at England's toughest schools because they refuse to punish their children. He insisted more parents should "play their part", and outlined plans for a new system of on-line reporting so they can be instantly informed if their children step out of line.

Research published by the Department for Children, Schools and Families yesterday showed 16-year-olds were much more likely to stay on at school if they "get on" with parents. "There is a strong relationship between regularity of having a family evening meal and GCSE attainment," it said.

Researchers analysed the findings of two major reports tracking the progress of 19,000 schoolchildren. At the age of 14, pupils were asked how often they sat down for an evening meal with their family. According to the report, 50 per cent of those eating with mothers, fathers and siblings six or seven times a week gained eight or more A* to C grades, compared to 31 per cent of teenagers who never ate with families. At the same time, pupils reported whether or not parents set a curfew on a school night. Sixty per cent of those who said they were not allowed out late during the week were awarded eight good GCSEs, against 36 per cent who said parents "sometimes" set curfews.

Drive to protect kids from sexy television music clips
Herald Sun (Australia) June 27, 2008
SEXY music videos could be banned from Saturday morning TV under a Senate committee proposal to protect children from inappropriate material. A Senate inquiry into sexualisation of children by the media yesterday called for a review of music video classifications and for the introduction of free-to-air TV channels for children. Warning labels could also be placed on teen magazines with sexually explicit content.

But parents' groups accused the committee of being too soft on the advertising industry. The inquiry heard evidence that children were regularly exposed to inappropriate sexual material through TV, magazines and advertising. Witnesses were particularly concerned by sexually suggestive lyrics and choreography in video clips by artists such as 50 Cent and the Pussy Cat Dolls and sexual material in magazines read by pre-teens. In its report, the committee said that preventing the premature sexualisation of children was a significant cultural challenge.,21985,23928866-662,00.html


Nats won't change child-discipline law, says Key
The Press 26 June 2008
National Party leader John Key has ruled out overturning the controversial child-discipline law if he becomes Prime Minister, despite championing a referendum on the issue. In Parliament yesterday, he accused Prime Minister Helen Clark of "ignoring the will of the New Zealand people" and urged a referendum be held on the so-called "anti-smacking" legislation at election time. His call came after Clark announced the Government had accepted official advice that it was too late to hold a referendum this year.

Asked by The Press afterwards if a National government would consider revoking the law as a result of a referendum, Key said: "No. The position as it has essentially always been since we signed a compromise (with Labour) is that if we see good parents being criminalised for lightly smacking their children then we will actively seek to change the law," he said. "But at this point, as the police report pointed out earlier this week, we haven't seen that at all. "The test we have is a pretty simple one. If the law doesn't work then we'll change it."

Girl, 12 sends 300 sex photos
The Dominion Post 26 June 2008
Parents are being reminded to be vigilant over computer use after a 12-year-old girl sent 300 sexually explicit photos of herself in exchange for points on an American Internet gaming site. Customs investigations manager Terry Brown said the New Zealand girl's account was hacked, which resulted in the loss of her game credits. The hacker then offered to restore the girl's credits - if she sent sexually explicit photographs of herself. Mr Brown said the girl's parents were stunned when told about the incident.

Her actions came to light in March after a tipoff from American authorities. United States and Canadian authorities are now investigating information from New Zealand Customs officials. The case follows a warning from Interpol online child abuse investigator Mick Moran that officials are seeing a huge increase in "self-taken child pornography". Mr Brown said online games provided an easy means for children to be groomed by sexual offenders. Lee Chisholm, from Internet safety group NetSafe, said parents needed to be vigilant as soon as their children showed an interest in the Internet.


Smack referendum next year, says Clark
NZ Herald June 26, 2008
Prime Minister Helen Clark says a postal ballot in 2009 is the best course for a potential referendum on the anti-smacking law because having it on election day would cause voter confusion and slow down the vote count. Helen Clark yesterday said the Government had accepted advice for a postal ballot in 2009 from chief electoral officer Rob Peden, who said holding it in the 2008 election "will inevitably lead to voter confusion, congestion in polling places and put at risk the timing of the parliamentary count." The decision has disappointed petition organiser Larry Baldock, who has threatened to re-ignite the issue and organise protest marches if it is not done on election day. "Hiding behind Ministry of Justice advice is cowardly. She should tell the truth and admit that it is her intention to do all she can to avoid this referendum at the election for her own political reasons."

National Party leader John Key said Helen Clark was "arrogantly out of touch" and "running scared" on the issue. "Her government does not like the New Zealand public being able to express their view on democracy. They are about to be stopped from being able to exercise their democratic view through a referendum on the anti-smacking legislation at the election ... Why does the Prime Minister not just admit she finds the voters of New Zealand an annoyance?" He said it was bad use of taxpayers' money to hold a stand-alone referendum when it could be done with an election.

Anti-smacking law fails to reduce serious child abuse
The Timaru Herald 25 June 2008
Police statistics show parents have not been criminalised unnecessarily under the new smacking law, but Family First NZ disagrees. Family First said a police report shows an almost 300 per cent jump in the number of parents being investigated for minor acts of physical discipline since the law was passed. Ten child assault cases involving minor acts of physical discipline have been reported in the Timaru district in the last six months, with at least one of those resulting in prosecution. Nationwide, 69 of the 288 child assault incidents attended by police from September 29, 2007 to April 4, 2008 involved minor acts of physical discipline, according to police statistics. Four of those incidents resulted in prosecution.

Murray Edridge, chief executive of Barnardos New Zealand, said the statistics show police are exercising the discretion available under the law. "As we have said before, the law is working well and parents are not being unduly targeted by police. The police have said there is no substantial change in the volumes of these incidents reported to them. So where is the so-called 'clear evidence of good parents being prosecuted' cited by Family First and other opponents of the law change?"

Bob McCoskrie, national director of Family First, said police were trying to paint a positive spin on the law change by conducting so many reviews. "What this particular review shows is that police resources are being wasted on attending and investigating smacking and minor acts of physical discipline, yet fewer than 5 per cent are serious enough to warrant prosecution. The worst aspect is that the number of actual child assaults are now at almost the same rate as before the law change. In other words, the anti-smacking law has failed to stem the tide of child abuse, but has targeted many good parents and grandparents with the trauma and fear of police investigation and CYF involvement." Family First wants a law that targets actual child abusers, tackles the real causes of child abuse and leaves good parents alone to raise their children.

John Armstrong: Election needn't delay smacking referendum
NZ Herald June 25, 2008
Unless the Prime Minister is planning to go to the country much earlier than everyone expects, her assertion that it is not possible to hold the anticipated citizens-initiated referendum on the anti-smacking law on election day simply does not stack up. Helen Clark claims there is not enough time for the referendum to run alongside the general election "just in terms of sheer organisation". The real reason, of course, is Labour does not want its election campaign sullied by periodic discussion of the smacking law whose "nanny-state" connotations have proved to be so damaging to her and her party. Better to take some flak now for delaying the referendum than see the debate resurrected over the amended section 59 of the Crimes Act which removes the defence of reasonable force for parents who physically discipline their children.

....In case the Prime Minister has forgotten, the 1984 snap election was called by Sir Robert Muldoon just four weeks before polling day. Somehow, electoral officials coped. In fact, the law covering citizens-initiated referendums specifically allows Parliament to shift the date of a referendum to the day of a snap election. That suggests there is sufficient time and it is not a problem.

....In 1999, the-then National Government took only a week to determine Norm Withers' petition for a referendum on violent crime would be held on election day.

Smacking petition runs out of time
NZ Herald June 24, 2008
Prime Minister Helen Clark has virtually ruled out a referendum on smacking at this year's election, saying there will not be time to organise one. Campaigners trying to overturn the anti-smacking law yesterday handed in their second attempt to gather the numbers required to force a referendum. But the Prime Minister indicated that any referendum was likely to be later, rather than sooner. Asked why it could not be held at the same time as the election, which must be held by November 15, she replied: "Just in terms of sheer organisation, I do not think that is possible". Helen Clark said Parliament had spoken on the issue with a near "unanimous mind", and the most dire predictions about the changes had not come true.

Kiwi Party leader Larry Baldock handed over more than 390,000 signatures backing the call for a referendum on the question: "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?" Another attempt this year failed when too many signatures were ruled invalid. The Office of the Clerk of the House will now have two months to check that the petition has been signed by 10 per cent of registered voters, or about 290,000 valid signatures. If it is, the Government will have one month to name a date for a referendum. But it can delay any vote on the issue for up to a year.


New petition seeks to overturn smacking law
NZ Herald June 23, 2008
Family First presented 60,000 new signatures to Parliament today in an attempt to force a referendum on the anti-smacking law. The group's petition failed in April as it needed 280,275 signatures to force a referendum but fell short after about 18,000 were excluded because they were either illegible, the signatory's date of birth could not be confirmed, or involved people signing multiple times. Today's petition comes just over a year since Sue Bradford's controversial legislation was passed.

National director of Family First Bob McCoskrie said the extra "stack' of signatures on the petition opposing the anti-smacking law had confirmed politicians failed to listen to the voice of the people. "If the purpose of the law was not to ban smacking, as promised by the Prime Minister before the last election then the law should explicitly state this," he said. "It should not be left open to potential persecution of parents through complaints by schools, members of public and children, and investigations by police and CYFS." Green MP Sue Bradford called on political parties and the voting public to reject calls to turn back the clock.

Pamper parties for pre-teens
NZ Herald June 22, 2008
Girls as young as 6 are getting facials and fake tans at special pamper parties. At least two New Zealand companies are following worldwide trends by arranging beauty bashes for pre-teens. Tracey Lowe, who runs Enchanted Mobile Hairdressing in Christchurch, offers mini manicures and pedicures, mini facials and mini massages. She started offering the parties _ which start at $30 a girl _ after reading about their popularity overseas. "I haven't even fully advertised them, but I have had a lot of interest from local schools and even mothers at Plunket groups," she said... But she said children didn't need as much makeup as women _ "just a little bit of lip gloss and eye shadow, and they think it's the real deal".

Pampered on Location, another party-planning company, also offers "pre-teen princess pamper parties". Aimed at those who want to host "the best girls' birthday party on the block", the website says under-13s can "sit back and relax while our therapists pamper the girls from head to toe". The firm offers mini manicures, mini pedicures, nail gems _ "gorgeous coloured diamantes for fingers and toes" _ mini massages and an airbrush tan on the face, neck and shoulders. Prices range from $20 for one treatment to $45 for all four.

...A child-only hair and beauty salon in London offers clients as young as 6 dolls to play with and DVDs to watch. Budding fashionistas can flick through a copy of Vogue while they are waiting for newly trimmed nails to dry. In the US, children as young as 2 are reported to have been receiving the occasional beauty treatment in Los Angeles and New York.


Parents banned from snapping kids at sport
Herlad Sun (Australia) June 22, 2008
PARENTS are furious after being banned from taking photographs of their children at weekend sporting events. They say the Bill Henson affair has made sports clubs paranoid about allowing them to photograph their children. Henson was cleared after police seized naked photographs of a 13- year-old girl from an art gallery. Netball, basketball, rugby league, AFL, cricket, soccer and baseball clubs have imposed rules to prevent photos of young players being taken without the consent of all parents and coaches. NSW's Macarthur junior baseball league president Maud Goldfinch said parents had to sign a form confirming they would not take photographs without permission.

Ms Goldfinch said that as a parent, she did not agree with the policy, which deprived children of happy sporting memories. "A lot of parents don't agree with what's going on. They're quite upset by not being able to take photos of their children - they see it as an invasion of their privacy. The Bill Henson (saga) brought it to a head. It's made people more aware ... and it brings debate around the topic." Parents also need to give permission before photographs are uploaded to the club's website. One father said he was made to feel like a pedophile while photographing his eight-year-old daughter on the netball court.,21985,23899983-662,00.html

Kids binge drink? Might be your fault
AAP 20 June 2008
The drinking habits of mums and dads, rather than advertising or peers, have the most impact on a child's future alcohol consumption. That is message of a new Australian campaign, which has the lofty goal of making the next generation believe it is uncool to get drunk... DrinkWise chief executive Mike MacAvoy said multiple studies locally and abroad show the way parents drink has a strong link to their children's alcohol habits.

"Studies have found that parental role modelling has a strong influence on adolescent drinking patterns and that adolescents whose parents are heavy drinkers are more likely to start drinking alcohol at an early age," he said. Mr MacAvoy said children form their attitudes well before they have had their first sip of alcohol. "Parents, as well as grandparents, older siblings and other people they are close to are the No 1 influence on their children," he said. "So, the message of our campaign is: 'kids absorb your drinking'."

Dad grounds daughter, but court ungrounds her
World Net Daily June 18, 2008
Parents beware. You may be losing the right to discipline your children. A father in Canada had grounded his daughter from going on a school trip because she disobeyed his orders to stay off the Internet. But a court has now overturned the punishment. According to Agence France-Presse, Justice Suzanne Tessier in Quebec Superior Court ordered the grounding for the 12-year-old girl lifted, prompting the father's lawyer, Kim Beaudoin, to warn, "Parents are going to be walking on egg shells from now on."

The father had ordered the daughter, who was not identified by the report, to remain off the Internet. She didn't, chatting on websites her father had tried to block and then posting "inappropriate" pictures of herself online using a friend's Internet portal. As punishment, the father refused to let her go on a scheduled school trip, so the 12-year-old went to Canada's judicial system to get her way.

Family First Comment: CAN'T HAPPEN IN NZ?? - ALREADY HAS!

READ MORE of "Kids Out of Control" NZ Truth June 12 2008

'Let parents choose babies' sex'
NZ Herald June 19, 2008
Parents should have the right to choose the sex of their unborn babies, the Government will be told today. The Bioethics Council, a ministerial advisory committee, will give it a report which says individuals are in the best position to make decisions about sex selection. The report - titled Who Gets Born? - concludes that the sex of embryos created outside the mother's body under programmes such as IVF (in vitro fertilisation) should be chosen by parents. That would mean mothers and fathers would be able to gender-balance their families - something critics have attacked as "designer babies". The Government is working on guidelines to govern the growing availability and consequences of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis - the testing of embryos created outside the womb. Under current laws, introduced in 2004, sex selection is banned except to treat a genetic disorder or disease. Penalties for breaches are jail terms of up to five years or a fine of up to $200,000.

The Bioethics Council's programme leader, John Pennington, said the report would advise a change. "We are finding ... that individuals are the people who have to have the ultimate responsibility in making decisions on such personal, sensitive things as sex selection."


Rising abortion rate sparks calls for change
NZ Herald June 18, 2008
Last year, 2118 abortions were for women who had two or more previous abortions, a figure which has risen annually for more than 15 years. The abortion rate has continued its steady rise, sparking calls for change from both sides of the contentious issue. The number of abortions rose last year to 18,382, according to figures released yesterday by Statistics New Zealand. This was slightly up on the preceding year and within 200 of the record high in 2003. In 1991 there were 11,613 abortions. New Zealand's general abortion rate of 20.1 per 1000 women aged 15-44 remains comparable to slightly earlier figures from the US (19.4) and Australia (19.3) - but far ahead of other countries like Germany (7.3) and the Netherlands (8.6).

"The abortion rate is too high but women still need access to this service," Auckland Women's Health Council co-ordinator Lynda Williams said. Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said the new figures "continue to paint a terrible picture for teenagers and families". They confirmed the "failure" of the Abortion Supervisory Committee, which was highlighted by the High Court last week.

NZ's Taleban on the march
FROM THE LEFT - CHRIS TROTTER The Dominion Post 13 June 2008
It was exactly 30 years ago, in 1978, that the women of New Zealand finally won the right to a safe, legal abortion. It had taken many years of bitter political struggle to overcome the resistance of those who saw motherhood as a woman's destiny, rather than a woman's choice. To the young, confident woman of 21st-century New Zealand, that slogan, "A woman's right to choose", probably seems as antique as the militant suffragettes' cry of "Votes for Women". Nothing more than a quaint relic of a less enlightened age; something from the past. But the young, confident woman of the 21st century would be wrong. The social forces that mobilised to prevent the decriminalisation of abortion back in the 1970s have not gone away.

...The Ken Orrs of Right to Life New Zealand and the Bob McCoskries of Family First have caught the whiff of a massive right-wing victory in November. They fervently believe that, after nine long years, their hour is at hand. Five months out from the election, they're certainly not saying, "Oh bother, New Zealand is about to elect a socially conservative millionaire prime minister and a right-wing majority to the House of Representatives, there goes all hope of getting any of our cherished religious principles recognised by an MMP parliament." All that stands between them, and the anti-abortionists' long- delayed revenge, are the young, confident women of 21st-century New Zealand – and their brothers – who still believe in a woman's right to choose.
Family First Comment: Chris Trotter obviously feels very threatened by the existence and voice of Family First!! Previous comments by Mr Trotter include
Sunday Star Times 6 January 2008
One only has to recall &the enormous assistance supplied by organisations and individuals such as Family First and John Boscawen, to appreciate how integral National’s extra-parliamentary allies have been to its success. Indeed, a close study of the poll date released over past 12 months shows these groups playing an indispensable role in pumping up the Opposition’s numbers.
&. I don’t know how I could have failed to predict the furore over Sue Bradford’s anti-smacking legislation – but I did.

Virginity pledges help some delay sex: study
Yahoo News June 10 2008
Taking a pledge to remain a virgin until married may help some teens and young adults in delaying the start of sexual activity, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday. A study by the Rand Corporation research institute found that 34 percent of youths who took such pledges as teens had had sexual intercourse within three years compared to 42 percent of similar teens who did not make virginity pledges. The Rand team said they had taken into account differences such as religious beliefs, parenting and friendship characteristics.

There has been conflicting evidence on the effectiveness of such pledges, which were started in the United States in 1993 by the Southern Baptist Convention. Hundreds of churches, schools and colleges around the world now promote them. "Making a pledge to remain a virgin until married may provide extra motivation to adolescents who want to delay becoming sexually active," said Steven Martino, a psychologist at Rand who led the study. The act of pledging may create some social pressure or social support that helps them to follow through with their clearly stated public intention."

...Some researchers had speculated that teens might substitute other sexual activities such as oral sex for intercourse. But the Rand study found that those who pledged were no more likely to engage in sexual behaviors that fall short of full intercourse than other comparable youth -- findings that fit in with a study by the non-profit Alan Guttmacher Institute in New York last month. "Waiting until you are older to have sex is good for teens from a health standpoint," Martino said in a statement. "There are lots of reasons for more kids to wait until they are older." Martino and colleagues surveyed 1,461 adolescent virgins aged 12 to 17 in 2001. About a quarter said they had taken a virginity pledge. The researchers interviewed them again one and three years later.;_ylt=AkwDqKkfSVFTsTVJOE0LfrIXIr0F


Anti-smackers lose their cool
Rodney Times 12 June 2008
Anti-smacking supporters got violent at a gathering of signatures for the Citizens Initiated Referendum campaign last Saturday. Whangaparaoa resident Arna Mountain was gathering signatures for the petition when two women, on separate occasions, started abusing her. She says many people were eager to sign the two petitions, which ask ‘should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?’ and ‘should the government give urgent priority to understanding and addressing the wider causes of family breakdown, family violence and child abuse?’ She says she was shocked by what she sees as violent, anti-democratic behaviour. "These petitions are asking for the democratic right to vote on what has been a contentious issue, but these two women seemed determined to intimidate the public and those collecting the signatures."

She says the first woman took offence to the gathering of the signatures and started yelling. How dare we smack our children, she shouted. Mrs Mountain says she then started telling bystanders to "roll up and sign the petition that allows you to abuse your children and then kill them, yes murder them, come on sign up." Later she was approached by another woman who asked if this was the petition to sign, then grabbed it, tore off the signed part and ripped it into pieces. "The woman then took the clipboard which had other completed forms underneath and took off. I called her to give back the clipboard and the legal document she had torn. She threw it across the entrance-way and yelled about how smacking children was wrong," she says.

Mrs Mountain says that while she is shocked at the intensity of the behaviour, there are obviously a few people who are mistaken about what the petition is about. "There are a few people who are completely unaware of the statistics that show that abuse and parental correction are completely different issues. No one in their right mind wants to abuse children. She says the vast majority of people are still against this law." They received 144 signatures in a two-and-a-half hour period in Whangaparaoa. Petition forms can be downloaded from under ‘referendum’ or from Orewa and Whangaparaoa libraries. The last date for signing is June 15.


Study: Teens Heed Parents Warnings against Drugs and Alcohol But Indulge When Left Unguided June 10, 2008 
A new survey released by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and the MetLife Foundation has found that parental guidance and example has a profound affect on their children's use of alcohol and drugs, especially at such "coming-of-age" events as prom and graduation parties. The survey indicates that when parents engage their children in discussions about alcohol and drug abuse the teens take their parents' message to heart. "Only 16 percent of teens whose parents set a zero tolerance policy reported their individual likelihood of using drugs or alcohol, whereas 45 percent of teens whose parents didn't set such boundaries reported they were likely to drink or use drugs at prom or graduation parties this year," the report states.

The survey also reveals that parents who had abused alcohol and drugs as teenagers were less likely to instruct their children about the negative effects of this behavior and to set a zero tolerance policy for their teens. "Parents who drank or used drugs at their own proms or graduation were likely to be more permissive with their kids than those parents who did not. Among parents who drank or used drugs on these occasions, 66 percent set a 'zero tolerance policy' for their teens. Among parents who did not drink or use drugs, that number jumps up to 87 percent of parents who set hard rules about drinking and drugs for their kids."

Social factor key in abortion
The Age (Australia) June 12, 2008
MORE than 40% of women who sought information about having an abortion during an audit at the Royal Women's Hospital last year already had at least one child. The figure, researchers say, contradicts the belief that only young women who find themselves pregnant for the first time and are not in a stable relationship have an abortion. The audit of more than 3000 women who called the hospital's pregnancy advisory service last year — of which more than 2000 went on to have an abortion at the hospital or elsewhere — suggests that some of the women who choose to terminate a pregnancy are older and married, with social and economic circumstances making it difficult for them to have more children.

"It is often married women in their 30s with several children, and we know that no contraception is infallible," said Maggie Kirkman, research fellow at the Key Centre for Women's Health in Society. Dr Kirkman said it was usually the combination of several factors that led to the decision, including the readiness to be a mother for the first time or taking into account the needs of their children. For instance, it might not be possible for them to take care of two children.

'Living in sin' now standard practice
NZPA 11 June 2008
People shacking up together in "non-marital cohabitation" have become a dominant part of the cultural landscape in New Zealand and some other Western nations, according to a global study published in the United States. The National Marriage Project study, spearheaded by the Rutgers the state university of New Jersey, said New Zealand had made the biggest jump among the 12 nations it surveyed in terms of "cohabitors" as a percentage of all couples, rising from 14.9 percent in 1996 to 23.7 percent in 2006. "There have been sharp percentage increases between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s in the number of couples that are cohabiting," the study reported on the university's website said. These increases included rises ranging from 23 percent in Italy, 26 percent in France, 37 percent in German, 48 percent in Australia, "to a surprising 59.1 percent in New Zealand".

Across the 13 nations, marriages per 1000 unmarried women had decreased over time, with New Zealand slumping the most, by 41 percent from 42.7 in 1991 to 24.8 in 2006. The USA fell by 19.9 percent from 1995 to 2005, down to 40.7 per 1000, but marriages in Australia declined by only 4.3 percent to 32 per 1000 unmarried women over 15. University of Texas-Austin, sociologist Kelly Raley, told USA Today newspaper: "We often think of cohabitation as a phenomenon of young adulthood before people start having kids, but ... as marriage is being delayed to later and later ages, more children are born before marriage, and many of the couples are cohabiting before the birth." She suggested living together was not a marriage alternative, but an option to address issues of economic or relationship uncertainty. Children from such relationships often had emotional problems, or were vulnerable to alcoholism and drug abuse, but Prof Raley said researchers could not say if these negative outcomes were due to the cohabitation or to the economic uncertainty or even the relationship uncertainty.

Domestic abuse: Police to be given new powers
NZ Herald June 11, 2008
Police will be able to issue immediate orders forcing potentially abusive partners to leave their homes for cool-down periods of up to 72 hours under changes to domestic violence laws unveiled yesterday. Justice Minister Annette King announced the step as part of a wider raft of changes to the Domestic Violence Act that followed a major review and consultation last year. A recommendation for such short-term orders was widely supported in that review and Ms King said it provided families with greater immediate protection. "It is a big change and something that will be widely applauded."

The idea was broached in 2006 by Assistant Police Commissioner Roger Carson after similar measures were introduced in Australian states in 2004 and 2005. It was picked up by National Party leader John Key as party policy in November last year. Police are called to about 71,000 domestic violence cases a year. They currently have few tools to deal with potentially dangerous situations beyond advising families to leave the home themselves and seek help from family or Women's Refuge. The new orders would also allow time for victims to apply for longer-term protection orders where necessary.z

It was too easy - mother
The Press 11 June 2008
Christchurch mother Tracey Hill believes it is too easy to have an abortion. The mother of two had an abortion four years ago. "They do it wrong," she said. "I got one doctor to sign it, and he asked, `Do you want counselling?' And I said `no', and that was it." Hill, 34, said the decision on whether to abort often had to be made quickly. "I think it's too quick," she said. "Some teenagers don't find out until 10 weeks, so they have two weeks to make up their mind. "That's a lot of pressure." She said she would like to see more effort put into educating women, particularly young girls, about what was happening once they became pregnant.

Hill said it was ludicrous that women were able to have four or more abortions. "How easy is it? There're women out there who use it like contraception," she said. Hill is now five months pregnant, but she and her husband have decided to have this baby and adopt it out. She said that when she had her abortion she was not told that adoption was an option. "This time around, we're creating a life for someone."

Judge questions legality of abortions
NZ Herald June 10, 2008
A High Court judge has ruled that the abortion law is being used more liberally than Parliament intended. In a review of the workings of the Abortion Supervisory Committee, initiated by Right To Life New Zealand, Justice Forrest Miller said there was a reason to doubt the lawfulness of many abortions. Jusice Miller was delivering his judgment following a hearing at the High Court at Wellington in April. Right to Life had claimed the Abortion Supervisory Committee had failed to properly interpret the Contraception Sterilisation and Abortion Act, so "full regard is given to the rights of unborn children". It sought to find the committee had failed its statutory duty to review the procedure for abortions and enquire into the circumstances in which consultants authorised abortions on mental health grounds. It said the committee had failed to seek proper information on the mental health grounds from consultants. It also sought to find the committee had failed in its duty to ensure adequate counselling facilities were available.

....Right To Life and Family First today welcomed the decision. "It is the most important development in abortion law in New Zealand in the last 30 years," Right to Life spokesman Ken Orr told Radio New Zealand. He said the court acknowledged that "we have abortion on demand in New Zealand". Mr Orr said Parliament needed to give legal recognition to the unborn child - as a human being with human rights. "We would like to see greater protection to the rights of unborn children." He said if the judgment was upheld then there would be a "substantial reduction of abortions in New Zealand". Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said the Abortion Supervisory Committee's "lack of supervision and inaction" had led to abortion on demand. "As a result, approximately 18,000 abortions are performed every year, and since 1991, the number of 11 to 14-year-olds having an abortion has increased by 144 per cent. "The number of abortions for 15 to 19-year-olds has increased by 74 per cent." Mr McCoskrie said each week, almost 80 teenagers had an abortion.

Doctors face sack over abortions

A judge has suggested the Abortion Supervisory Committee could dismiss doctors who are too liberal in permitting women to have abortions. Justice Forrest Miller, of the High Court at Wellington, said that although the committee had this power it had never used it.

A happy marriage helps you sleep
UK Telegraph 09 June 2008
Scientists have discovered that women in happy unions are more likely to have a better night's sleep that their less content counterparts. Evidence presented at Sleep 2008, the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS), in Baltimore, showed that women who were happy in their marriage were less likely to have difficulty falling or staying asleep. They were also less likely to wake too early in the morning. The study, by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, looked at 1,938 married women with an average age of 46 years.

The scientists asked the women about their marital happiness, the quality of their sleep and whether they had any problems nodding off. According to the results, happily married women were less likely than unhappy ones to have problems sleeping.

..."Divorced individuals tend to have more sleep problems than those who are married; however, among the married, we know very little about how differences in marital quality may be linked with sleep," said Dr. Wendy Troxel. "The results show that happily married women have fewer sleep problems than unhappily married women." The researchers believe that doctors should look at the quality of a patient's relationship when they treat their sleep problems.


Parental-leave payrise comes under attack
The Southland Times 09 June 2008
New Zealand's paid parental leave payments will increase on July 1 but southern parents, welfare agencies, and support services believe extra money is not the only thing needed to make the system work.
Labour Minister Trevor Mallard announced last week that the maximum parental leave payment would increase from $391.28 to $407.36 a week from July 1. Also increasing would be the minimum parental leave payment for self-employed people, which would rise from $112.50 to $120 a week. "Paid parental leave assists new parents at a critical time. It's important for new parents to have the time and financial support to care for a new baby, and paid parental leave allows them to do that while protecting their jobs," Mr Mallard said. However, the announcement has come under fire from some parents, support agencies, and welfare groups who say the increase is not enough to meet the needs of most families, and the length of time the payments are made is also not long enough.

..."It is great for those that are able to get it but I think there's a section of the population of mothers that missed out because they are not working enough hours each week to qualify," she said. Included in that group were women who were working part-time, or the likes of teachers who, like her, worked on a casual or relief basis, rather than in permanent full-time positions, she said.


'Pack' girls in school bullying
The Press 07 June 2008
Violent assaults among secondary school students appear to be increasing, and girls are adopting a similar "pack mentality" to boy bullies, says the Children's Commissioner. Cindy Kiro said yesterday that her office was seeing an escalating pattern of bullying, intimidation and peer harassment in schools, much of which went unreported. ....Kiro said it appeared young women were "acting in a way in which we only expected boys to act before, and increasingly with a pack mentality".

She said bullying had become a persistent problem that young people rated as one of their top concerns. As many as 75 per cent of schoolchildren reported incidents of bullying at school, although only about 10% of cases were categorised as serious bullying.

Prostitution law 'leads to sex slavery'
The Dominion Post 06 June 2008
A United States Government report on modern slavery has accused New Zealand of being a destination country for the trafficking of women from Malaysia, Hong Kong and China for sex. The US State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons makes grim reading on a global scale. New Zealand gets off relatively lightly. The report is critical of legalised prostitution and says sentences for those convicted of exploiting minors remain relatively light – including home detention in one case. Among foreign women in New Zealand's commercial sex trade, some may be trafficking victims, though estimates of international trafficking victims are modest, the State Department says.

The report says the Government is doing nothing to reduce demand for the legalised adult commercial sex industry. The US Government opposes legalised prostitution, and the report describes prostitution as "inherently harmful and dehumanising". It calls on the Government to set up an anti-trafficking awareness campaign directed at clients of the sex trade and urges it to continue efforts to identify trafficking victims in the trade and among vulnerable groups such as migrant labourers. A police spokesman said the force was "not aware of any cases involving 'trafficking' in New Zealand". Prime Minister Helen Clark and Immigration Minister Clayton Cosgrove declined to comment. Labour Department acting policy group manager Stephen Dunstan said there was no proof that New Zealand was a destination country for the trafficking of women for sex.

'Children happier under care of grandparents'
Telegraph (UK) 03/06/2008
Children grow up happier if their grandparents are involved in their upbringing, researchers have said. Academics at Oxford University and the Institute of Education, London, found that grandparents can help young children because they often have more time to spend with them than working parents. They are good at solving their problems as well as discussing their future plans. The survey of more than 1,500 children also discovered that grandparents could help keep them calm during crises such as divorce. Researchers found that one grandmother in three regularly looked after a grandchild, while 40 per cent helped out occasionally.

...Prof Ann Buchanan, the director of the Centre for Research into Parenting and Children in the Department of Social Policy and Social Work at Oxford University, said: "What was especially interesting was the link between involved grandparents and adolescent well-being. Closeness was not enough: only grandparents who got stuck in had this positive impact on their grandchildren."

Caregivers say smacking ineffective
NZ Herald June 04, 2008
Parents who smack their children don't necessarily think it is an effective form of discipline, a survey has found. Less than a third of primary caregivers who physically punished a child in the four weeks before responding to the latest New Zealand Health Survey considered it to be an effective punishment. The study found physical punishment was one of the least used forms of discipline in the period, with 10 per cent of children aged from 0 to 14 years having had it in that time.
Maori and Pacific boys and 2 to 4-year-olds were the most likely to be physically punished. About 5 per cent of all primary caregivers surveyed considered physical punishment to be an effective form of discipline. The findings follow last year's law change outlawing the use of parental force against children for purposes of correction.
Ms Bradford said the 17,000 sample size meant the study was more robust and scientific than those commissioned by lobby groups, such as Family First, which she dubbed "highly inaccurate".
Family First Comment: the survey released today by the Ministry of Health reveals just how desparate the government is to give a positive 'spin' on the anti-smacking law. The report on smacking starts by saying " Parental use of physical punishment is associated with negative developmental outcomes such as antisocial behaviour, poor intellectual development, poor parent-child relationships and mental health problems ." Not according to the NZ research we've read. It also highlights its own shortcomings by saying
"It is important to note that this (survey number) will undercount the use of physical punishment in the past four weeks because:
• only the actions of the primary caregiver are counted, excluding the other adults that look after the child • the primary caregiver may have forgotten
• the primary caregiver may fail to define some acts as physical punishment
• there may be social desirability bias or feelings of guilt."
And Sue Bradford calls our research dodgy???????


Value of parents praised
The Press 03 June 2008
Parents are just as good as teachers when it comes to educating toddlers, an early-childhood educator says. Dr Sarah Farquhar, who presented her findings at the New Zealand Playcentre Federation's Diamond Jubilee conference in Auckland at the weekend, said teacher-led early-education services had little added value to a child's development compared with parent-led services. Farquhar said the impact of family was consistently greater on a child's achievements than Early Childhood Education and government policies needed to recognise the value of involving parents in children's early education.

"If we want to make more of an effective difference for our young children, we should be valuing programmes that involve parents learning much more than they are currently being valued," she said. The Government funded and promoted teacher-led services with the free-20-hours scheme and told parents they should leave their children in the care of others, she said. "These are services that don't involve parents and limit the choices for the parents," Farquhar said. "Evidence shows family factors make such a big difference in the lives of children and their development, and we should create a more equal or level playing field in terms of what government policy is promoting and funding."

Fathers praised for going to child's birth 
Telegraph (UK) 02 June 2008
A survey showed yesterday that 94 per cent of fathers-to-be were present in the delivery room. The study, which compared many aspects of 21st-century child care with parental attitudes in the Sixties and Seventies, has detected "a sea change" in family life and the way we bring up our children. Dr Stoppard, who has sold 20 million copies of her parenting books worldwide, says fathers have escaped "a straitjacket" imposed on them by society. She said the survey proved that, while fathers' natural paternal instincts were stifled 40 years ago, "today, dad is free to be the father he always wanted to be".

The survey was conducted by Dorling Kindersley, the family reference book publishers, Practical Parenting magazine, and the website It showed that 94 per cent of fathers chose to be present in the delivery room. In the 1960s, that figure was 27 per cent. Nearly three quarters of mothers (72 per cent) communicate with their unborn baby, compared with 49 per cent in the Seventies, a trend that may be attributed to women now being able to "see" their babies during antenatal scans. The survey also found that attitudes had changed towards other parenting issues, such as smacking – 72 per cent of grandmothers admitting that they smacked their children, while today only four in 10 mothers said that they did the same.


Rampage blamed on game obsession
The Dominion Post 01 June 2008
Like a character from Grand Theft Auto, the game he played compulsively, Tim Reid went on a rampage, stole a police car, and left a policeman unconscious and bleeding on the roadside. Yesterday, his lawyer Chris Nicholls said Reid was remorseful for what happened to Sergeant Kevin Wellington in New Plymouth on December 29 last year, but he was a product of his upbringing. He committed violent offences and compulsively played Grand Theft Auto. Mr Nicholls said a video game that showed violence toward police was a public safety concern, with the game promoting the behaviour.

Tim Henare James Junior Reid, 25, of Mt Victoria, Wellington pleaded guilty to aggravated wounding, escaping custody, reckless driving, dangerous driving, unlawfully taking a motor vehicle and two charges of failing to stop, breach of supervision orders and being an unlicensed driver....Wellington District Court judge Denys Barry jailed Reid for five years and ordered him to complete a minimum non-parole period lasting two thirds of the sentence. He also disqualified him from driving for two years. He said Reid was hardwired for violence and anti-social behaviour and programmed by his recreational pursuits.

...Judge Barry's concerns were backed by Family First national director Bob McCoskrie, who said violent video games were of far greater concern than violent television programmes or films. "Rather than observing the law breaker you take on the role of the lawbreaker ...we think it desensitises certain people."

Spare the rod, say some May 29th 2008
In rich countries at least, parents and teachers are steadily losing the right to discipline children by force. “AS PART of their daily lives, children across Europe and the world continue to be spanked, slapped, hit, smacked, shaken, kicked, pinched, punched, caned, flogged, belted, beaten and battered in the name of discipline, mainly by adults whom they depend on.” But in some places, it happens less than before, and there is a chance to stop it altogether. That is how the Council of Europe, a 47-country body that is supposed to promote civil liberties from Dublin to Vladivostok, explains its campaign to abolish physical punishment—to be launched in Croatia in mid-June with a flurry of debates, puppet shows, television spots, pamphlets in many languages and stirring calls to “raise your hand against smacking”.

..Just over a year ago New Zealand became the first English-speaking country to ban smacking. A lobby group, Family First, is agitating to reverse that change, saying at least half the population supports the right to smack. But few people expect the ban to be overturned. The police were reassured when they won the right to apply the law with discretion, and there have been no silly prosecutions. Some of New Zealand's pro-smackers lost support because their religious rhetoric—talk of loving corrections, followed by prayers—sounded weird.

..But diehard American spankers may take comfort from defying the latest piece of Utopian dottiness from the UN: a campaign to end the corporal punishment of children, all over the world, by 2009. Whatever the merits of a ban on smacking, this wildly unrealistic goal is hardly the top priority for an organisation that has failed to crack down on far worse forms of abuse by its own blue-helmeted soldiers.


Energy drinks linked to risky behavior among teenagers
International Herald Tribune May 27, 2008
Health researchers have identified a surprising new predictor for risky behavior among teenagers and young adults: the energy drink. Super-caffeinated energy drinks, with names like Red Bull, Monster, Full Throttle and Amp, have surged in popularity in the past decade. About a third of 12- to 24-year-olds say they regularly down energy drinks, which account for more than $3 billion in annual sales in the United States.

New research suggests the drinks are associated with a health issue far more worrisome than the jittery effects of caffeine — risk taking. In March, The Journal of American College Health published a report on the link between energy drinks, athletics and risky behavior. The study's author, Kathleen Miller, an addiction researcher at the University of Buffalo, says it suggests that high consumption of energy drinks is associated with "toxic jock" behavior, a constellation of risky and aggressive behaviors including unprotected sex, substance abuse and violence.

The finding doesn't mean the drinks cause bad behavior. But the data suggest that regular consumption of energy drinks may be a red flag for parents that their children are more likely to take risks with their health and safety. "It appears the kids who are heavily into drinking energy drinks are more likely to be the ones who are inclined toward taking risks," Miller said.

Reported assaults on kids nearly double
Rotorua Daily Post 28 February 2008
Reported assaults on children in Rotorua have nearly doubled in the last two years. Police say it's because of greater awareness about family violence. Figures supplied to the Daily Post by Rotorua police show there were 26 arrests in 2006 for assault on a child. That jumped to 45 last year and already this year there have been 29. The figures come as a new survey shows almost half of parents with children under 12 have smacked them in the past year, despite a new anti-smacking law coming into effect in June last year. The survey, commissioned by Family First, has prompted the lobby group to call for the new law to be dumped.

..No one in Rotorua has been arrested for smacking their children but Rotorua Detective Sergeant George Staunton, who leads the Rotorua police Child Abuse Team, says the new law is another tool to emphasise that violence against children is not okay. Mr Staunton said people were only arrested if the smacking was excessive and the police had the power to use their discretion. He said there had been a noticeable rise in Rotorua in the number of people reporting abuse against children. "It goes hand in hand with family violence and how topical it is now to say no to family violence ... It's not tolerated and people are ringing us more." He said no matter how small the complaint was, people should still ring the police. "It might add to something else that we have got. We also talk to Child, Youth and Family. Our only focus is to make sure the children are safe."

Court clears way for 12yo's sex change (Aust)
Evening Standard 26 May 08
A huge ethical row has erupted over a judge's decision to allow a 12- year-old girl to have a sex change that will turn her into a teenage boy. The child's father, who is separated from her mother, is outraged at the prospect but despite his objections the taxpayer-funded sex swap has already got under way. His daughter, who cannot be named because of her age, is already having hormone treatment in Australia in what is one of the first such cases involving a child so young. The girl has also been given permission to apply for a new birth certificate, passport and medical card in a boy's name.

Last night, a relative of the child claimed the girl had been 'vindictively brainwashed' by her mother into making the decision to have the change. A cousin who stayed with the girl's family for two and a half years said yesterday that after a bitter break-up the mother had used the child to 'get back' at the father. 'She's been brainwashed from an early age,' said the cousin, who has to remain anonymous to protect the Victorian girl's identity.

...News of the judge's decision to grant the sex-change treatment has sparked furious debate. Medical ethicist Dr Nicholas Tonti-Filippini described the ruling as 'astounding'. He added: 'I fail to see how it can be in the interests of a young girl to undergo treatment that will change her for the rest of her life.

Prostitution reform has little effect
NZ Herald May 26, 2008
The number of sex workers in New Zealand does not appear to have increased since legislation decriminalising prostitution became law, according to a new report. The Prostitution Law Review Committee was set up to report on the Prostitution Reform Act 2003 three to five years after the act came into force. Its report, just published, was based on work carried out by the Christchurch School of Medicine and Victoria University's Crime and Justice Research Centre. The committee, chaired by former Police Assistant Commissioner Paul Fitzharris, said an accurate count of the number of sex workers was difficult.

However, a comparison between the number of sex workers in Christchurch in 1999, before decriminalisation, and 2006 - after the act was passed - showed the total had stayed about the same. A 2007 estimate in five centres - Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Hawkes Bay and Nelson - found a total of 2332 sex workers, the committee said. Numbers of sex workers should continue to be monitored, it said.
READ Family First Media Release Prostitution Report Ignores Community and Police Concerns


Poll reveals we're still smacking our children
NZ Herald May 26, 2008
Almost half of parents with children under 12 have smacked them in the past year, a survey has found. The Family First lobby group commissioned a market research company to poll New Zealanders on their attitudes to parental discipline since the anti-smacking law came into effect in June last year. It found that 48 per cent of respondents with children under 12 had smacked their child after the law change. The changes to the Crimes Act outlawed the use of parental force against children for purposes of correction. The issue polarised New Zealanders. The law change was led by Green MP Sue Bradford, whose private member's bill removed from the Crimes Act the statutory defence of reasonable force to correct a child. But it was passed only after last-minute changes, approved by a large majority in Parliament, which directed the police not to prosecute inconsequential offences.

Family First's national director, Bob McCoskrie, said he was surprised the polling found so many parents admitting they had flouted the law. He said 51 per cent of mothers had admitted continuing to smack. "For a new law to be ignored by so many people who are willing to risk a police or [Child, Youth and Family] investigation indicates just how out of step with reality this law is."

READ Family First Media Release Smacking Poll – NZ’ers Don’t Want to ‘Move On’

READ Family First Media Release Bradford Gets It Wrong on Smacking - Again
Family First Comment: The Greens misinterpret the research, and then misrepresent it to the public!!


Girls' violence in schools on the rise
NZ Herald May 24, 2008
Reality TV and text messaging are being blamed for a big increase in girls' violence in the school playground. Education Ministry figures show a 41 per cent increase in girls being stood down, suspended or kicked out of school for assaults between 2002 and 2006, The Dominion Post reported today. But the way violence was meted out appeared to be changing.

Secondary Principals' Association president Peter Gall told the paper schools were seeing not only more overt physical violence by girls, but a big increase in cyber-bullying - sending nasty text messages and emails, or putting humiliating images or words on the internet. Reality TV shows based on "shaming and bullying" were also encouraging girls in particular to respond aggressively to threats or playground relationship problems. "They prioritise all the sorts of behaviours we are desperately trying to prevent."

Social anthropologist Donna Swift, who runs a girls' violence intervention programme, said teenage girls often used "covert" violence and aggression, such as calling others "sluts" and "hos" in group text messages sent to hundreds of others. The "Barbie Bitches" syndrome had compounded violence among girls, as they tried balancing desires to be attractive with being tough and mean.


Pedophiles use kids' fashion ads for kicks
Herald Sun (Australia) May 23, 2008
PEDOPHILES have admitted using children's fashion ads to get their kicks, Victoria's Child Safety Commissioner Bernie Geary has warned. Mr Geary has also raised concerns about the premature sexualisation of children in a submission to the Senate inquiry into the sexualisation of children in the media. He said the situation was "a significant concern,", and singled out "sexy" children's clothing. "What benefit or satisfaction adults would obtain from purchasing children's clothing with slogans such as 'Ms Floozy', 'Mr Well-hung', 'Mr Pim', 'Mr A--hole' . . . 'Naughty butt nice', 'Bite this', '$$$ Worth it' and 'I only look innocent', is difficult to comprehend," Mr Geary said. "The fact that adults purchase this sort of clothing for their children illustrates that, unfortunately, not all parents and adults make appropriate choices for children.

In his submission, Mr Geary said that professionals working with offenders had told of clients' "interest in, and use of, sexualised images of children within advertising and marketing". He quoted Royal Children's Hospital Gatehouse Centre co-ordinator Karen Hogan, who said staff working with children and young people who engaged in sexually abusive behaviour had noticed "a marked increase in perpetrators using underwear advertising magazines for stimulation that are delivered to homes". "Males tell us that they are particularly interested in the children's section and that they can use these magazines without detection as it is so commonplace to have this material delivered to their homes," Ms Hogan said. Victoria Police Forensic Interviewing of Sexual Offenders manager Patrick Tidmarsh is also quoted as saying such images encourage pedophiles. "What sexualised/eroticised child images in advertising obviously do is provide validation for those considering further exploitation of children and sex, as part of a pernicious descending spiral," he said.,21985,23742863-662,00.html


Trial paints picture of dysfunctional parents
The Dominion Post 23 May 2008
There were no fancy children's toys in their nursery - just a sofa, heater to keep the room warm and a cot Chris and Cru Kahui shared with simple paper name tags hanging above their heads. It was the twins' sanctuary. Outside their room regular drug and alcohol-fuelled parties raged, funded by the $2000 benefits the twins' parents and extended family were bringing in. Later, their mother, Macsyna King, would confess to using the methamphetamine drug P during this time.

Amid this chaos someone entered the twins' sanctuary in their Mangere home on June 12, 2006, and brutalised them so severely no medical intervention could save them. The twins had been battered almost from the time they were discharged from Middlemore's neo-natal unit. When baby Cru stopped breathing on that night, his mother Macsyna was nowhere to be seen. As his lips turned blue and his eyes rolled backwards, his father Chris turned to his dad Banjo, sister Mona and her partner Stuart for their collective medical knowledge. They declared him "OK". No ambulance was called, no rushing him to the accident and emergency department, no call to a 24-hour helpline for advice.

Instead, Chris sent his father to look for Macsyna, who had stormed out of the house earlier in the day demanding time out.When Banjo reached her sister Emily King's home he was told the two woman had gone out drinking. When Macsyna eventually arrived back at Emily's house, she crashed on the couch and fell into such a deep sleep that when her sister tried to wake her a short time later to tell her one of her babies stopped breathing, Macsyna could not be roused. When told again the following morning, Macsyna offered to drive Emily to work and mind her child for the day. Eventually she went home and ripped into Chris, demanding to know "what the hell happened".

Two hours later they strapped the babies into their car seats and drove to McDonald's for breakfast before going to the doctor. Their GP ordered them to take the babies to hospital immediately but the parents bundled their babies back into their car then went shopping, stopping at a supermarket for baby supplies. They then returned home to fetch the babies' Plunket books, but Chris stormed off down the road to walk off his rage.

Finally, 17 hours after Cru stopped breathing, Macsyna arrived at the hospital. Struggling to carry first one, then the other baby into the emergency department alone, she calmly waited in line to be seen. When she phoned Chris to tell him the twins were critical and would probably die, he told her "whatever" and he continued playing on his PlayStation. The police were called and a lengthy investigation followed.

Early on they decided Macsyna could not have inflicted the injuries because she has an alibi: she was with her sister all night. That left Chris as their prime suspect. But during the trial it was revealed for the first time that Emily received a call in Mangere at 7.54pm on June 12, an hour before Cru stopped breathing and at a time both women were supposed to have been visiting a friend in West Auckland. This, the defence said, was when Macsyna returned to the house while Chris was dropping Mona at hospital. In a fit of rage over his absence she "does something terrible to her twins".


Fathers aren't needed say MPs: Commons decides IVF babies can do without a male role model
Evening Standard 21 May 08   
Fathers were last night effectively declared an irrelevance in modern Britain. The requirement for fertility doctors to consider a child's need for a male role model before giving women IVF treatment was scrapped by MPs. In a free vote, they swept away the rule despite impassioned pleas that the Government plan would "drive another nail into the coffin of the traditional family". Labour rebels said it would send entirely the wrong signal to society as Britain faces a crisis in responsible parenting.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, had warned it would remove the father from the heart of the family. He accused the Government of putting the interests of "consumers" who want to become parents before the welfare of children. But in the Commons, ministers won support for the legislation.

MPs reject need for father in IVF (UK)
BBC News 20 May 2008
MPs have voted to scrap laws forcing clinics to consider the need for a "father and mother" before allowing women to seek IVF treatment. Iain Duncan Smith led the cross-party bid, saying the absence of a father had a "detrimental effect" on a child. His plan was defeated by 292 votes to 217. Currently, IVF clinics have to consider the "welfare" of any child created, including the need for a father. But the government wants the focus instead on "supportive parenting". MPs also opposed a further bid to ensure there is a "father or a male role model" before fertility treatment, by 290 votes to 222. The issue of the role of fathers in IVF comes in the second day of committee stage debate of the controversial Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, aimed at updating laws from 1990.

 ...On Monday, MPs voted down a cross-party attempt to ban hybrid human animal embryos. Roman Catholic cabinet ministers Ruth Kelly, Des Browne and Paul Murphy voted for a ban, while Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Tory leader David Cameron both opposed it. A bid to ban "saviour siblings" - babies selected to provide genetic material for seriously ill relatives -was also voted down.

'Father' to go from birth certificates (Aust)
Sydney Morning Herald May 18, 2008
A CONTROVERSIAL new bill that will remove the word "father" from birth certificates to recognise lesbian couples who have children through IVF will be put before NSW Parliament. Fifty laws across NSW covering the Local Government Act, Industrial Relations Act and the constitution will be amended to include new parental presumption protection for female same-sex couples. The bill equates the position of a lesbian partner of a woman who has a child after becoming pregnant by a fertilisation procedure, other than sexual intercourse, with the position of a married woman's husband. Lesbian parents will see expressions such as "birth mother" replace "mother" and "both parents" to replace "the father and the mother" on birth certificates.

Lesbian parents will also be given protection for their children under workers' compensation, inheritance law and parent-teacher nights at school. Schools will also be forced to recognise both partners in a lesbian couple as "parents". The conservative Australian Family Association is campaigning against the change. Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby spokeswoman Emily Gray said the changes would give children added emotional and financial stability.


Sex in the city makes Mt Vic residents see red
The Dominion Post 21 May 2008
Irate neighbours of a Mt Victoria brothel have called for commercial sex to be kept out of Wellington's residential suburbs. The Lovely Lilly opened in Pirie St about 18 months ago and did business below the radar of residents for months. It gained Wellington City Council approval last year to increase its number of working girls, outraging some local people. Residents say the brothel's busiest time is between 11am and 3pm on weekdays, ruining the family feel of the suburb.

Lilly co-owners Li Dan and Li Zhong Cheng have been served a trespass notice after one neighbour called police as tensions mounted. The issue has erupted as the city council prepares to hear submissions on its commercial sex premises bylaws tomorrow.

Married Kiwis happiest and healthiest
The Press 20 May 2008
Married people are the happiest and healthiest Kiwis, while the unhappiest are divorced, widowed or separated men, a survey of sport and leisure shows. The survey was done by Massey University researchers as part of the International Social Survey Programme. Marketing professor Phil Gendall led the survey, which asked 2250 people older than 18 about sport and leisure activities, and asked them to gauge their health and happiness.

It found people to be generally happy. Most wanted more leisure time, however, and 70 per cent said lack of cash stopped them pursuing preferred activities. The most popular leisure activities were watching television, listening to music, playing sport, getting together with friends, shopping, spending time on the Internet and reading books.

Time Out - A year after the anti-smacking bill
The Aucklander 14 May 2008
CLICK HERE to read article

California lifts gay marriage ban 
BBC News 15 May 2008
California's top court has ruled that a state law banning marriage between same-sex couples is unconstitutional. The state's Supreme Court said the "right to form a family relationship" applied to all Californians regardless of sexuality. The ban was approved by voters in 2000 but challenged by gay rights activists and the city of San Francisco. The state legislature twice passed laws to legalise gay marriage, but Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed them. He said California's court system should rule on the matter.

The seven-judge panel voted 4-3 in favour of the plaintiffs who argued that the 2000 law was discriminatory. "Limiting the designation of marriage to a union 'between a man and a woman' is unconstitutional and must be stricken from the statute," California Chief Justice Ron George said in the written opinion.

Family First Comment: is a coalition of grassroots organizations, churches and voters, formed in order to place a constitutional amendment on the November 2008 ballot. The Supreme Court’s ruling coincides with the submission of 1.1 million signatures to California’s 58 counties. Known as the California Marriage Protection Act, the initiative’s signatures are now undergoing a review for validation. Based on the current projection of valid signatures, it appears the initiative will qualify for the ballot.
What would happen if a court decided H2O no longer has the exclusive right to be water? Watch an insightful video from
California court may not have the last word on marriage

Lana pulls plug on TV for kids
Sunday Star Times 18 May 2008
Lying in the grass and finding cloud pictures has beaten 49 other activities in a new poll as the best thing to do with children. Everything on the top 10 list is free or cheap, doesn't involve PlayStation, and isn't advertised on TV. Nearly 30,000 votes were taken from kids and parents in a March survey through a website and print media.

The survey, carried out by a major soap company, rated activities involving mud at numbers eight and 10. Fourteen people who voted said that every kid under 10 should be allowed to go out in public dressed up as a superhero. The results were released last week alongside an international study of 1500 mothers which found 92% of New Zealand participants felt their children were growing up too fast, compared with a 76% global average. Just over 80% of Kiwi mothers said their children "often" played outdoors, compared to 60% globally, including in Great Britain, France and the United States, Thailand and Turkey. New Zealand had the lowest proportion of mothers concerned about their children getting hurt or being unsafe of all countries surveyed, and less than 1% said they worried about their kids getting dirty.
VISIT the Persil Top 10 List 

Paradise Lost
Sunday Star Times "Sunday" Magazine 18 May 2008
Bob McCoskrie's cellphone plays Don't Worry, Be Happy while you wait for him to pick up. In reality, however, the national director of Auckland-based lobby group Family First is worried about many things. Most obviously, he is worried that the recent changes to the Crimes Act took away parents' right to whack their children. But McCoskrie is also worried about the climbing rates of divorce and abortion, about unmarried or same-sex couples raising children, about childcare subsidies encouraging women to go out to work instead of staying home and nurturing their children.

He's worried about violent and sexually explicit magazines and TV shows, about brothels setting up in his neighbourhood, about "sexualised" T-shirts for children and "inappropriate" advertising stunts, such as a Hell Pizza campaign where a "meat lover's" pizza was promoted via free condoms. He objected to a 2004 episode of The Simpsons in which the little yellow family used the words "ass" and "w**ker", though his complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority was not upheld.

Reading the Family First website, you might be excused for thinking that New Zealand was hurtling down the highway to Hell, morally speaking. But McCoskrie himself is calm, considered, and not at all shrill in conversation, couching his more controversial opinions in genial generalities and nimbly side-stepping opportunities to appear too much of a wowser.

Video games cause violence, most children admit to Ofcom (UK)
UK Telegraph 16 May 2008
Most children believe that playing violent computer games does lead to aggressive behaviour, according to a survey by the broadcasting regulator. Two thirds of those aged between 12 and 15 said that violence in games had more of an impact on behaviour than violence in television or films, the study by Ofcom found. The findings come only weeks after the release of Grand Theft Auto IV, a computer game in which the main character robs and murders his way through the criminal underworld. Although given an 18-certificate, parenting groups have expressed concern that the game, which has smashed all previous entertainment sales records, will fall into the hands of younger children.

Ofcom questioned more than 2,000 parents and their children to find out how the use of technology was changing. It found that children’s bedrooms were increasingly becoming “multi-media centres”, with those aged 12 to 15 having at least six media devices in their rooms, including the internet, MP3 players, digital cameras and mobile phones. Those aged eight to 11 had, on average, four devices in their rooms. But despite concerns over children accessing the web unsupervised, a rising number of parents said they had not installed blocking software to stop their sons and daughters watching unsuitable content.

Why no child is safe from the sinister cult of emo
Daily Mail (UK) 15th May 2008
Hannah was a happy 13-year-old until she became an 'emo' - part of a sinister teenage craze that romanticises death. Three months later she hanged herself. In the unending bleakness of the weeks that have followed, the couple have fought to make sense of what happened. Why on earth did their daughter — a popular, intelligent and attractive girl — do such a thing?

They could find only one clue: Hannah was what is known as an "emo". Some describe it as a cult or a sect, but in reality the term — derived from the word "emotional" — encapsulates a trend that is becoming hugely popular among Britain's schoolchildren. A trans-Atlantic import, its followers dress in black, favouring tight jeans, T-shirts, studded belts and sneakers or skater shoes. Hair is all-important: often dyed black and straightened, it is worn in a long fringe brushed to one side of the face.

Music also plays a critical role. Emos like guitar-based rock with emotional lyrics. American bands such as My Chemical Romance, Good Charlotte and Blink 182 are particular favourites.

No doubt many adults would ask: "So what?" On the surface, it all sounds typically teenage — angst-ridden, over-dramatic and tribal.


Children growing up too fast - experts
NZPA 15 May 2008
Children today are growing up too fast and acting like adults at a very early age, child health experts say. With television and the internet playing an increasing role in their lives, children are often exposed to ideas and issues they cannot comprehend fully. They are coming under influences that were kept away from them in the past , and sometimes their parents are to blame. Parents who want to give the best edge to their kids in a competitive world put a lot of emphasis on excellence, early childhood educator Kimberly Powell said. The effect is to put pressure on children to grow up early in a consumerist society.

"In the process, children are being robbed of their childhoods and innocence," said Dr Powell, a professor at Massey University in Palmerston North. Younger teens did not have the maturity to deal with ideas that were once first encountered by adolescents.

Dr Powell and other child health experts were worried teenagers were becoming sexually active much earlier than they should, and experimenting with drugs. New Zealand teens are showing the world the way, with the third-highest teen pregnancy rate in the developed world. Figures for 2006 showed 28.4 births per 1000 girls aged 15-19, up from a 10-year low of 25.6 in 2001. Factors often blamed for the rise of "teen-adults" included television, the internet, absentee and lenient parents, ugly divorces, terminal illnesses, sexual and social abuse and peer pressure. "It is a world-wide trend and parents are often only taking minimal responsibility for proper care of their children," Dr Powell said. "They easily blame it all on work, financial commitments and contemporary lifestyles." Parents said they were unable to cope with today's teen responsibilities and commitments as they had changed so much from previous generations.

Food firms serve fewer unhealthy ads for kids
NZ Herald May 16, 2008
Food manufacturers have sharply reduced their television advertising of unhealthy foods during the "children's" viewing times, in anticipation of a new voluntary code coming into effect in July. The Television Broadcasters Council yesterday released further details of the anti-obesity code that aims to restrict ads for unhealthy foods and drinks for up to three hours and five minutes a day during what TV stations call the school-age children's programming times. These time slots - on TV2, TV3 and Maori Television - are narrower than the periods during which many children actually watch TV.

...Obesity Action Coalition director Leigh Sturgiss said it would do only half the job because so many children watched TV outside the hours in which the restrictions would apply. "Over 30 per cent of children are still watching TV at 8.30 at night ... Kids' favourite TV shows are The Simpsons, Spongebob Squarepants, Shortland Street and Home and Away. Only Spongebob Squarepants is shown during the recognised children's viewing time."
Family First Comment: You know we have problems when we're more concerned about children and young people watching an ad for a hamburger than watching Shortland Street!

DVD urges 'crisis' mums to see adoption as answer
NZ Herald May 15, 2008
Women in "crisis" pregnancies are being encouraged to consider adopting their babies out, as latest figures show adoptions have hit a 30-year low. The fall in adoptions has been matched by an increase in abortions, which is cited alongside the domestic purposes benefit and the acceptance of single motherhood as reasons for the drop-off. The number of New Zealand babies adopted fell to 60 last year, after peaking at 2617 in 1968. The trend has led to the introduction of an adoption DVD to raise the profile of adoption as an option for unwanted pregnancies.

..Statistics New Zealand figures showed the number of women terminating their pregnancies increased from 5945 in 1980 to 17,934 in 2006. Christchurch GP Dr Hilary Cleland said women with crisis pregnancies were stressed and termination seemed like a quick solution to their situation at the time. "With only 87 [adoptions] happening in 2006, there's going to be a huge surplus of potential adoptive families out there. A lot of them would be great parents." The DVD was launched by the Adoption Option Trust in Christchurch last night.

Happiness is... not having the children
Sydney Morning Herald 9 May 2008
THE belief that children and money will bring people happiness is one of life's abiding illusions, a Sydney conference attended by 2000 seekers of happiness was told yesterday. The scientific evidence shows people are very bad at predicting what will make them happy, said Daniel Gilbert, a professor of psychology at Harvard University and the author of the book Stumbling On Happiness. He said people's happiness goes into steep decline after they have children, and never recovers its old level until the children leave home. As a source of pleasure, playing with one's offspring rates just above doing housework but below talking with friends, eating, or watching TV, research has shown.

Yet people invest so much time and money in their children, and focus on the fleeting moments of joy they bring, rather than on the long periods of boredom and irritation, that most continue to believe children will bring them happiness, Professor Gilbert said.

More Kids Lead to Longer Life - Norwegian Study

American Journal of Epidemiology, 2008, No.167(3); published online November 13, 2007 
Large families may be unpopular for all sorts of reasons today, but a Norwegian study suggests they are good for the parents' health. Researchers used national registers to get data on all Norwegian men and women born between 1935 and 1958, and followed up a large number of them between 1980 and 2003, when they were aged 45 to 68 years. They took account of educational qualifications and marital status as well as number of children when looking at death rates.
They found that life tended to be shortest for childless women -- who had a 50 per cent higher risk of dying by late middle age than those with two children -- and for childless men (35 per cent higher risk). The next highest risk was for those with only one child.

Results for those with children showed that those who began parenthood earlier were also more likely to live longer. A late age at the last birth, however, was linked with reduced life expectancy. Overall, more children meant a longer life. The authors say that the similarity of results for women and men suggests that there are social as well as biological factors at work. And they conclude: "The lack of any high-parity disadvantage suggests that in the 'family friendly' Norwegian environment, the health benefits of having several children may outweigh the costs."

I do becomes I don't think so for Kiwis - marriage and divorce rates in NZ (civil unions being ignored!)
NZ Herald May 10, 2008
New Zealanders are drifting slowly away from formal marriage - and the new option of a "civil union" seems to have made no difference. Statistics New Zealand said this week that the number of civil unions of NZ residents dropped from 374 in the first full year when they were legally possible (2006) to 316 last year - just 1.5 per cent of the number of traditional marriages. "The civil unions legislation has proved to be a white elephant," trumpeted Bob McCoskrie of the conservative lobby group Family First.

But marriage is not faring too well either. A long-term analysis prepared for the Weekend Herald by Statistics NZ shows that by far the biggest trend in personal relationships in the past quarter-century has been a relentless rise in de facto partnerships. The proportion of New Zealanders of 15 and over living with their legally married spouses has dropped from 59.5 per cent in 1981 to just 47.5 per cent in the 2006 Census. The proportion living in de facto relationships has risen from 3.9 per cent to 13.1 per cent.

The 878 people who had had 439 civil unions between them by the time of the 2006 Census represented just three in every 10,000 people, or 0.03 per cent of those aged 15 or over. Marriage remains far more popular than either de facto relationships or civil unions, accounting for 78.4 per cent of all those living in partnerships of any sort.

READ The Facts Behind Cohabitation - Is it as Good as Marriage


Video games don't create killers, new book says
But the research actually says otherwise!
Reuters May 9, 2008
Playing video games does not turn children into deranged, blood-thirsty super-killers, according to a new book by a pair of Harvard researchers. Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl Olson, a husband-and-wife team at Harvard Medical School, detail their views in "Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth About Violent Video Games and What Parents Can Do", which came out last month and promises to reshape the debate on the effects of video games on kids. "What I hope people realize is that there is no data to support the simple-minded concerns that video games cause violence," Kutner told Reuters. The pair reached that conclusion after conducting a two-year study of more than 1,200 middle-school children about their attitudes towards video games.

But the data did show a link between playing mature-rated games and aggressive behavior. The researchers found that 51 percent of boys who played M-rated games -- the industry's equivalent of an R-rated movie, meaning suitable for ages 17 and up -- had been in a fight in the past year, compared to 28 percent of non-M-rated gamers. The pattern was even stronger among girls, with 40 percent of those who played M-rated games having been in a fight in the past year, compared to just 14 percent for non-M players. One of the most surprising things was how popular mature games were among girls. In fact, the "Grand Theft Auto" crime action series was the second-most played game behind "The Sims", a sort of virtual dollhouse.
Family First Comment: So what's the real conclusion of their research???????

Children 'safer with biological parent'
The Australian May 07, 2008
CHILDREN with a step-parent or no biological parent are significantly more at risk than those with a single parent or both biological parents. An Australian study of more than 900 coronial inquiries into child deaths from violence or accident appears to bear out theories of the so-called Cinderella effect. Psychologist and researcher at Melbourne's Deakin University Greg Tooley said that despite sensitivities over the issue, the findings should not be ignored and child-welfare agencies needed to take it into account when assessing at-risk cases.

"It would be very good, I think, if an awareness of this were to lead to better targeted interventions," Dr Tooley told The Australian. It was possible that sensitivities over targeting children with step-parents might be getting in the way of agencies identifying it as a risk factor, he said. "It is certainly difficult to talk about because it is such a hot issue," he said.

Dr Tooley's study found that children with a step-parent were at least 17 times more likely to die from intentional violence or accident. A limited version of the study found that the rate could be as high as 77 times. It found the risk was higher if there were no biological parents, such children being at least 22 times more prone. Most at risk were children under five. Overall, Dr Tooley found that children with a single biological mother were no more at risk than children with both biological parents. But he did find that children of single mothers were three times more at risk of drowning.,25197,23657729-5013404,00.html

Parents unaware of TV turn-off time
NZ Herald May 07, 2008
Fewer than half of Kiwi parents know what time adult programming starts on television. A new survey shows children are learning about the cut-off faster than their parents. A survey by the Broadcasting Standards Authority found 46 per cent of parents and 22 per cent of children knew 8.30pm was the time programmes unsuitable for children started screening on TV. And while 17 per cent fewer parents knew of the "watershed" time than in 2001, 10 per cent more children knew of the time now than seven years ago. Under broadcasting codes, television channels do not show adult-oriented material until after 8.30pm.

The research shows many children are still watching after that time - nearly half of children say they watched television after 8.30pm on a Friday or Saturday. That means they are watching horror films, and shows with sexual content and violence, such as Desperate Housewives and Crime Scene Investigation. BSA chief executive Dominic Sheehan said the drop in awareness came as a surprise. "We didn't realise it had fallen by this much," he said.

...The study found there had been an explosion of media devices in homes since 2001. But television was still the most-used - 99 per cent of children said they watched TV. More than a quarter had a television set in their bedroom, up 9 per cent from 2001. Broadcasting Minister Trevor Mallard said the findings underlined the need for parents to be aware of what their children were seeing. Parents listed violence, bad language, sexual content and nudity as things they did not think their children should see on television.

Californication sex scene too explicit
NZPA 05 May 2008
A complaint that an episode of Californication on TV3 involving a threesome sex scene breached standards of good taste and decency has been upheld by the Broadcasting Standards Authority. Peter Marsh of Auckland complained after he said he had stumbled on the episode while trying to find something for his family to watch. "What met our eyes were two men and one woman on a bed, and the most graphic act of oral sex that left nothing to the imagination."

...Three members of the authority found the scene as close to pornographic as possible without showing genitalia. But one member of the authority said he could not uphold the complaints that the scene breached good taste and decency, because it was an integral part of the overall plot of the series. Because the decision was not unanimous, the authority declined to make any order over the breach. WHAT!!!!!!

Family Life: Parents, unite! Ban birthday party blowouts
Reuters May 5, 2008
It starts with all the best intentions. You buy a birthday cake. You arrange some entertainment - a clown maybe, or one of those inflatable bouncy castles for the front yard. Next thing you know you're surrounded by shrieking children and an obscene pileup of gifts, wondering whether your insurance rider covers bouncy-related injuries. And that creepy guy in the clown makeup - did he come with a background check? Meanwhile your precious birthday girl rips though her presents with the grace and thankfulness of a rabid orangutan and, when the party's over, looks up at you with icing-stained cheeks and announces: "It just wasn't magic enough." Welcome to the deepest inner circle of parenting hell - the kiddie birthday party.

Who knew a simple celebration could generate so much anxiety and overindulgence? Most adults remember when kids' birthdays meant ice cream and a game of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. Today children have come to expect lavish orgies of gifts, gimmicks and goody bags. Petting zoos and costumed characters quickly give way to karate parties, princess parties, disco parties and amusement park weekends. The most privileged kids come to expect over-the-top blowouts complete with catered feasts and stretch limos (exhibit A: "My Super Sweet 16," MTV's grotesque reality show about spoiled teens and the parents who enable them).

The solution, of course, is a party revolt, an uprising against the forces of extravagance. Think of it as a disarmament campaign. We parents can step back from the brink of insanity, but only work if we act together - unilateral disarmament (that is, one well-meaning family taking steps to simplify while others continue to go hog wild) will only serve to make us look cheap and make our children feel unloved. So join this simple three step plan to stop the madness:

Girls may get morning after pill for free
NZ Herald May 06, 2008
Girls may be given free access to the emergency contraceptive pill at their local Auckland pharmacies in a bid to reduce teen pregnancies and abortions. The medicine can already be sold by many pharmacists without a doctor's prescription, including to girls without parental consent. An Auckland District Health Board committee will tomorrow consider a staff proposal to make the pill free through community pharmacies in Auckland city. People given the Levonelle 1 pill by their pharmacist would also be offered a packet of condoms and a pamphlet on sexual health and contraception.

Families First spokesman Bob McCoskrie said the move to widen access to the medicine would exclude parents. "Making it free and even more accessible is going to continue to alienate parents from the role they should be involved in." Brendan Malone, spokesman for the Catholic Church-aligned Family Life International group, said widening access was a "deceptive" response to teen pregnancy and abortions. "It's deceptive in that it seems like a good idea but is not addressing the root causes of the problem and creates other problems. "Emergency contraceptive can act as an [abortion] drug. If conception has occurred the embryo is flushed from the body because the lining of the uterus is made unfriendly for implantation."

LISTEN to Bob McCoskrie interviewed on Newstalk ZB with Larry Williams 5 May 08


Parents call police over violent kids 
Nelson Mail 05 May 2008
Nelson young people are becoming increasingly violent towards their parents, say police concerned that the passing of the anti-smacking bill could be contributing to a new trend in domestic violence. Police say they are receiving at least one or two calls a week from parents who say they are being physically abused or threatened by their children. Senior Sergeant Ross Lienert, the Tasman police district youth services and family violence co-ordinator, said some parents were asking police to step in to help them, because they were worried about disciplining violent children. There had been a suggestion that the removal of section 59 from the Crimes Act which took away the excuse of reasonable force in disciplining children had "depowered parents, so they're calling on us to intervene".

...He also said it was possible that young people were being more violent towards their parents because they thought the anti-smacking bill protected them. "Some parents have said, `We can't touch them, so we're calling on you to deal with it'."

Parents 'abdicating responsibility for their children'
UK Telegraph 04 May 2008
Parents are “abdicating their responsibility” by leaving children in school for up to 10 hours a day, according to a leading head teacher. Some mothers and fathers “dump” pupils at breakfast clubs and pick them up late in the evening because of the demands of work, said Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers. Britain’s so-called “back to work culture” - which has also prompted many parents to place children in nurseries from a young age - risked undermining family life, he said.

Under Government reforms, so-called extended schools open from 8am to 6pm, providing “wraparound” childcare to help mothers return to full-time jobs. Around 10,000 primary and secondary schools in England now offer breakfast clubs and after-school sessions. But Mr Brookes insisted teachers should not be turned into surrogate parents. He said: “Some parents are abdicating responsibility for their children. They dump them early in the morning at school and are late picking them at the end of the day. There is definitely a lack of care.”

...The comments come just 24-hours after the president of the NAHT insisted that parents should be paid to stay at home and look after their children instead of being forced to return to work. Clarissa Williams said the current benefits system “entraps” vulnerable families - leaving schools and nurseries to bring up children.

Australian Bishops Urge Government to Ban Pornography, "One of the Most Evil Uses of the Internet"
 May 2, 2008
"One of the most evil uses of the Internet is the ready availability of pornography," warn the Bishops of Australia in a new pastoral letter on Internet safety which appropriately has a youtube video promoting it. The letter explains that "the relative anonymity of the Internet and its private nature means that there is a real danger of pornographic addiction." The Bishops warn that "All of these images are humiliating and degrading, most often towards women."

The letter points to "a growing body of research about the damage that Internet pornography is doing to marriages and relationships. In 2007, the Sydney Morning Herald spent two months charting this new social phenomenon which it said was "poisoning couples and destroying families". The investigation found that counselors were reporting that an increasing number of clients had begun to cite Internet pornography as a factor in their relationship breakdowns." The bishops point out moreover that while it is damaging to marriages, "addiction to Internet pornography is no less damaging to single people or to those dedicated to living a life of celibacy."

 The letter explains: "The Church commends the intimate giving of spouses to each other. Pornography undermines this. It injures the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world." The bishops urge parents to discuss the dangers of pornography - "its damaging impact on human dignity and on relationships" - with their children, and call for the government to ban such degrading materials. "Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials, and that includes, as far as possible, distribution on the Internet," says the letter.
The full pastoral letter is available online here:

Government to fund $177m vaccination programme
The Press 03 May 2008
Moral campaigners have urged parents to think twice before vaccinating girls against human papillomavirus _ a leading cause of cervical cancer _ after the Government announced funding for a free immunisation scheme yesterday. But those calls were immediately dismissed by doctors, family planning specialists and Prime Minister Helen Clark, who said the vaccine was safe, effective and would save lives. Clark yesterday announced a $177 million programme to immunise girls against the virus, which is transmitted through sexual contact. Beginning in September, GPs will provide the three-injection course free of charge. Clark said the programme _ funded for five years _ would be highly effective against the leading cause of cervical cancer but would not replace the need for women to have regular pap smear tests. "This immunisation programme is expected to save around 30 lives a year," she said. The vaccine will be available to all young women under 18 and will be included in the regular immunisation schedule for 12-year-old girls.

Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said there were far higher priorities for government health spending and questioned the safety of the vaccine. "There is also a moral question," he said. "What is the underlying message that kids are receiving when you are giving the vaccine to a 12-year-old? It's a bit like handing them a condom and saying, `Just in case'." But those comments were immediately rebuffed by health professionals, who rushed to assure parents that the vaccine was safe.

...McCroskie said the money committed by the Government could have been better used to extend treatment for breast cancer or broaden prostate cancer screening programmes. He said in the United Kingdom, which already has an HPV immunisation scheme, one in four families were not allowing their children to receive the vaccine. "We wouldn't be presumptuous enough to say don't do it," he said. "But we just encourage parents to do some research into the effectiveness of the vaccine, the safety of the vaccine and the underlying moral message that's being given to kids," he said. Concerns were also raised by the Green Party about the long-term effects of the vaccine.

Also Free vaccination to halve cervical cancer deaths

Mothers 'want children with good manners'
UK Telegraph 02 May 2008
Mothers are returning to the values of their grandparents to teach their children old-fashioned manners, a poll suggests. They are keen to instil the importance of saying please and thank you, telling the truth, table manners and giving up seats for the elderly, it says. Three quarters of women polled felt it was appropriate to start teaching children how to be on their best behaviour before the age of three.

..The poll, published today, questioned 1,084 women on their attitudes to motherhood for the first Modern British Women and Values report for M&S Money, the personal finance section of Marks & Spencer. It found that mothers encouraged their children to say 'I'd like' not 'I want', to share with friends and siblings and to queue properly rather than push in. The survey also revealed that it is increasingly the mother who takes the role of the disciplinarian – a reversal of the traditional role. Almost half of those questioned felt that mothers play the leading role in enforcing household rules. Donna Dawson, a behavioural psychologist, said: "What the research has shown, and what I'm seeing, is that mothers today want to return to an earlier era, like the 1950s, when manners and respect for authority was considered an important issue."


Censor stymies Grand Theft Auto plot
NZ Herald April 28, 2008
A video game in which players can buy cocaine, visit strip clubs, shoot police and set people on fire has been censored for New Zealand - but thousands are still expected to queue up when the game goes on sale at midnight tomorrow. The censorship of Grand Theft Auto IV has forced the country's largest online retailer of games to cancel $50,000 worth of advance orders. Gameplanet Store's website was inundated with orders from Australia this month for the violent gangster epic after it was revealed a censored version would be sold there to conform to the Australian Office of Film and Literature Classification's M15+ game rating. But game publisher Take 2 Interactive soon confirmed New Zealand would receive the same toned-down version of the game even though Grand Theft Auto IV will debut here with a R18 rating.

Lobby group Family First said yesterday the game should be banned. "Players could re-enact having sex with a prostitute, beating her bloody, taking her money and running her over with a car and shooting at police officers," said spokesman Bob McCoskrie. "It is completely naive to believe that teenagers and young children won't have access to and be able to play the game. It is also completely unrealistic to believe that young people will not be influenced in their attitudes and behaviours by constant exposure to this type of material."

...In November last year Superintendent Bill Harrison, national manager of police youth services, said youth violence rates in the Western world had jumped in the past two or three years. He blamed violent video games, in particular the Grand Theft Auto series, as a possible spur for the statistics.

READ review of the game from Plugged-In (Focus on the Family)

Dunne touts tax relief for parents
Sunday Star Times 27 April 2008
The election-year tax-cut debate has taken a new twist, with a government discussion paper proposing slashing thousands of dollars from the tax bills of families with stay-at-home mums and dads. Revenue Minister Peter Dunne is due to release proposals for income- splitting today that would see parents able to pool their joint income and be taxed on half each, putting them in lower tax brackets. The Labour-led government does not support the proposals, but agreed to the discussion paper as part of United Future's support agreement after the 2005 election. The paper is to be open to public comment. Already National and Labour are both promising tax cuts, with Labour's due to be unveiled in next month's budget. Depending on how tight an election outcome is, Dunne may be able to seek backing for his proposals as the price of any coalition deal with his party, United Future.

Income splitting would benefit not only couples with a stay-at-home parent, but any couple with children in which one partner earned markedly less than the other. Dunne said he was confident feedback from New Zealand families would put the issue on the political agenda. "It's a recognition that the mum or dad who is at home is making a very, very significant contribution," he said.
READ the Discussion Document


Virtual overload disrupts sleep
NZ Herald April 27, 2008
More Kiwi children are being treated for sleep disorders after overloading on technology before bedtime. Specialists say computers, gaming consoles and texting disturb sleep patterns and cause learning, concentration and growth problems. Dr Alex Bartle, director of the Sleep Well Clinic, which has branches in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, said there was no question technology kept children awake. Computer games and social networking sites such as Bebo and Facebook were worse than TV for over-stimulating young minds because they were more "interactive".

They should be switched off at least an hour before bedtime. "To fall asleep, you need to have a certain amount of calmness in the brain," said Bartle. "To be agitated or excited doesn't help those brainwaves settle."

Abstinence Education: Assessing the Evidence
Heritage Foundation - Christine Kim and Robert E. RectorApril 22 2008
...Early sexual activity is associated with an increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), reduced psychological and emotional well-being, lower academic achievement, teen pregnancy, and out-of-wedlock childbearing.

Abstinence education "teaches abstinence from sexual activity outside marriage as the expected standard for all school age children" and stresses the social, psychological, and health benefits of absti­nence. Abstinence programs also provide youths with valuable life and decision-making skills that lay the foundation for personal responsibility and developing healthy relationships and marriages later in life. These programs emphasize preparing young people for future-oriented goals.

The Evidence. Studies have shown that absti­nent teens report, on average, better psychological well-being and higher academic achievement than those who are sexually active. Delaying the initia­tion of or reducing early sexual activity among teens can decrease their overall exposure to risks of unwed childbearing, STDs, and psycho-emotional harm. Authentic abstinence programs are therefore crucial to efforts aimed at reducing unwed child­bearing and improving youth well-being.

The Current Environment. Today's young peo­ple face strong peer pressure to engage in risky behavior and must navigate media and popular cul­ture that endorse and even glamorize permissive­ness and casual sex. Alarmingly, the government implicitly supports these messages by spending over $1 billion each year to promote contraception and safe-sex education—at least 12 times what it spends on abstinence education. Although 80 percent of parents want schools to teach youths to abstain from sexual activity until they are in a committed adult romantic relationship nearing marriage—the core message of abstinence education—these parental values are rarely com­municated in the classroom.

Conclusion. Teen sexual activity is costly, not just for teens, but also for society. Teens who engage in sexual activity risk a host of negative outcomes including STD infection, emotional and psycholog­ical harm, and out-of-wedlock childbearing.


1 in 5 parents refuse daughters' cervical cancer jab (UK)
The Guardian April 25 2008
A trial of the new cervical cancer vaccine programme for schoolgirls across the country has encountered opposition from parents, with 20% refusing to give permission for their daughters to have the jab. A third of those who gave a reason for refusal said they were worried about the long-term safety, on which there is no data. But some may have concerns that allowing vaccination may promote promiscuity, because the cancer-causing virus which the vaccination targets is passed on in sexual intercourse. Two schools declined to take part for religious reasons.

The findings from the pilot study, involving 2,817 girls aged 12 and 13 in year 8 at 36 secondary schools in Greater Manchester, are published by the British Medical Journal today. In an accompanying editorial, Professor Jo Waller and Dr Jane Wardle from the department of epidemiology and public health at University College London say 12- and 13-year-old girls whose parents refuse consent may be competent to decide for themselves.

The ᆪ100m vaccination programme, which targets strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV) responsible for most cases of cervical cancer, is due to begin in schools across the UK in September for 12- and 13-year-olds, followed by a catch-up programme for girls up to 18.

Blended families pose problems for teens, Study Says
Reuters / ScienceDaily Apr. 22, 2008
Struggling with low grades and behavior problems? If you are a teen living within a blended family you can blame it on your half- or stepsiblings. A new study by researchers at Florida State University shows that teenagers in families with different biological parents have lower grades and more behavior problems in school than other adolescents, and these traits may not improve over time.

"These findings imply that family formation patterns that bring together children who have different sets of biological parents may not be in the best interests of the children involved," said Kathryn Harker Tillman, a professor of sociology at the university. "Yet one-half of all American stepfamilies include children from previous relationships of both partners, and the majority of parents in stepfamilies go on to have additional children together," she added in a statement.

Tillman, who studied data on more than 11,000 teens, found that adolescents who lived with both half- and step-siblings do better than those who live with only one or the other. She believes it could be because the parents in these families to have a child together, which reflects a stable relationship or one in which child rearing is especially important. Boys living with half- or stepsiblings had the most difficulty adjusting, according to the research published in the journal Social Science Research.Problems may arise because teens feel they have to compete for parental attention, combined with the stress of living with nontraditional siblings, according to the study.


Parents angry at violent school bully game
Sydney Morning Herald 19 April 2008
Australian parenting and education experts have savaged the release of a controversial new video game based on schoolyard bullying, which features animated blood and violence, sexual themes, crude language, and alcohol and tobacco use. Bully: Scholarship Edition, packaged in Britain as Canis Canem Edit, Latin for "dog eat dog" pits schoolchildren at a fictitious boarding school against one another in a violent struggle for control of the campus. Its maker, Rockstar Games, which produced the Grand Theft Auto series in which players steal cars and interact with prostitutes, describes its latest character as "Jimmy Hopkins, a teenager who's been expelled from every school he's ever attended".

"As a mischievous schoolboy, you'll stand up to bullies, get picked on by teachers, play pranks, win or lose the girl, and ultimately learn to navigate the obstacles of the worst school around, Bullworth Academy," Rockstar's website declares. "If Jimmy can survive the school year and outsmart his rivals, he could rule the school."

...Parenting Australia chief executive Jane King described the game as "disturbing" and said it should never have been released. "It's scary, it's outrageous, it's gross," she said. "I do think the classification system needs to be reviewed. I would be very concerned if my 13-year-old son played a game like that. I think the message of solving violence with violence is extremely disturbing." Ms King encouraged parents not to buy the game.

Doctor's four-point scheme to halve child-abuse deaths
NZ Herald April 16, 2008
A leading child-abuse doctor says child deaths could be halved by a four-point plan including medical assessments of all infants reported to Child, Youth and Family. The clinical director of the child-abuse centre at Auckland's Starship hospital, Dr Patrick Kelly, says Child, Youth and Family (CYF) social workers should not be left alone to assess whether young children are at risk. He told a child-abuse conference in Manukau yesterday that all children under 2 who were notified to CYF should be assessed by a multi-disciplinary team including health professionals. The proposal could be hugely expensive because CYF received 75,326 notifications of possible abuse or neglect

....Police statistics reported by former CYF chief social worker Mike Doolan show that 35 children died from maltreatment in the first five years of this decade, an average of seven a year. Dr Kelly said most children who died were under 3 and 80 per cent were not known to CYF beforehand. But when he analysed 48 children admitted to his unit with head injuries in the 12 months before the deaths of twins Chris and Cru Kahui in June 2006, including eight children who died, he found that all 48 had seen another health professional such as a midwife, Plunket nurse or family doctor before their admission to Starship. "We need a paradigm shift. Infant abuse and neglect is not just a matter for the Ministry of Social Development. It's a health issue," he said.
READ Family First Media Release ' Anti-Smacking Law tragic Failure as Child Abuse Death rate Continues'
Family First Comment
: At last some common sense and realism. Rather than attaching a social worker 'cop' to every family as the Children's Commissioner wants, Dr Kelly is highlighting that community agencies already know the children at risk and the families that need intervention. They simply need to work together and communicate with each other. Simple and effective.
See our 5-point Action plan to tackle child abuse

Family meals a recipe for fit kids
Herald Sun (Aust) April 18, 2008
YOUNG kids who don't eat regular family meals and do watch lots of TV are more likely to be overweight, a new study has found. And if they gain weight by grade 3 in primary school, they are likely to never lose it, the US study of 8500 children shows. Family meals and TV-watching in kinder, prep and grade 1 are a better indicator of obesity than the amount of exercise the child does and their use of local parks, the findings show. Australian experts say the results are the same here, with obesity levels rising. A recent report found that a quarter of families no longer eat together regularly.

The US study, published in the latest Journal of the American Dietetic Association, found children are particularly sensitive to weight gain between the ages of five and seven which is likely to plague them for life. Every hour of TV watched and every meal not eaten together as a family raises the chance of obesity.

...."Being overweight among this age group tracks notably into adulthood," lead author Sara Gable says. "Preparing meals at home provides an opportunity for parents and children to consider food preferences and plan menus, allows for conversation about the day, and creates a setting for adults to model healthful attitudes towards food and eating.",21985,23557821-662,00.html

Study reveals shocking content on BET, MTV
Baptist Press Apr 14, 2008
Children who watched certain daytime shows on cable's MTV and BET were exposed to adult content -- including that of a sexual, violent, profane or obscene nature -- once every 38 seconds, according to a study by the Parents Television Council. "We thought we'd seen it all, but even we were taken aback by what we found in the music video programs on MTV and BET that are targeted directly at impressionable children," said Tim Winter, president of the pro-family watchdog group.

Delman Coates, an African American pastor and founder of the Enough is Enough Campaign to push for change and accountability from networks like MTV and BET, asked the Parents Television Council to conduct the study in order to increase awareness of the destructive images on television that are negatively impacting society. "It's these images of black men as gangsters and thugs and criminals [and] black women as being hypersexualized -- which are actually long-standing stereotypes of black people that have endured since slavery -- that I felt really needed to be challenged," Coates said at a news conference releasing the study. "And that's really what it is, a kind of coarsening of American popular culture."

"BET and MTV are assaulting children with content that is full of sexually charged images, explicit language, portrayals of violence, drug use, drug sales and other illegal activity,"
Family First Comment : This material can be viewed free-to-air in NZ on C4 , and also on Sky TV e.g. Juice TV etc. Broadcasting standards in NZ are failing our children.


Gay pride bans mum and dad in classroom (Australia)
Daily Telegraph (Australia) April 17, 2008 
Teachers are being urged to stop using terms such as husband and wife when addressing students or families under a major anti-homophobia push in schools. The terms boyfriend, girlfriend and spouse are also on the banned list - to be replaced by the generic "partner" - in changes sought by the gay lobby aimed at reducing discrimination in classrooms. Schools are coming under pressure to provide lessons for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students and stack their libraries with books and videos covering their issues. Among the demands are the outlawing of homophobic comments by teachers or students in the playground and a requirement for teachers to receive "diversity training".

Education Director-General Michael Coutts-Trotter emerged as a leader of the school anti-homophobia campaign, opening a Government-backed conference on sexual diversity - That's So Gay. The Federation of Parents and Citizens' Associations also weighed into the debate calling for "appropriate literacy materials promoting diversity in families". The radical shake-up means that families with two mums or two dads are set to be accepted as a normal part of school communities.,22049,23551033-5001021,00.html
Family First Comment : part of a disturbing international trend
California - Mom and Dad" as well as "husband and wife" have been banned from California schools
Scotland - Use of ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ Too “Homophobic”, Scottish Nurses Told

New Zealand - Human Rights Commission (supported by the teachers' union PPTA!!) says schools should let children change gender, allow kids to choose which uniform they wish to wear (boys or girls), and decide which changing room they want to change in!!! READ MORE
UK - Government advisory group says don't say mum and dad... teachers told not to assume pupils have heterosexual parents. At the same time, schools should encourage gay role models among staff, parents and governors. Homosexual staff should be able to discuss their private lives after the consultation with the head teacher. READ MORE

Male postnatal depression affects child behaviour, study shows April 16 2008 
Postnatal depression in fathers can have long-term psychological effects on their children, a new study reveals. The babies of depressed men are twice as likely to suffer from behavioural problems in later years as those whose fathers are not depressed, the Children of the 90s survey by the University of Bristol found. The results reflected the father's role in socialising their children and raised questions about the age at which children become sensitive to their parents' moods, researchers said. Psychiatrists warned that the findings could be a portent of future social problems as paternal postnatal depression becomes more widespread.

Postnatal depression is said to affect about one mother in 10 but is less well recognised, and more controversial, in new fathers. Different research has found that 3-10% of men are affected. "Conduct problems at this age are strongly predictive of later serious conduct problems, increased criminality and significantly increased societal costs," Paul Ramchandani, an Oxford University psychiatrist, wrote in the paper, which was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry this month.

Eldest children are punished more, says study
UK Telegraph 16 April 2008
First-born children bear the brunt of family discipline as their parents strive to exert their authority, according to new research. Mothers and fathers mete out harsher punishments on their eldest children to keep them in line. First borns are also more likely to suffer financial penalties - such as having pocket money stopped - academics claim. However when younger children come along they are increasingly allowed to "get away with murder" in the home because parents grow tired of so-called tough love.

The report, published today, says second, third or fourth born children run a greater chance of going off the rails when they grow up. According to academics, they are more likely to drop out of school, drink, take drugs or become teenage parents. The findings – in a study published in the Economic Journal – will raise fresh questions about the way some parents raise their children.


'Best friend' mums - it will end badly
Reuters 15 April 2008
There's perfectionist mothers, unpredictable mothers, "me first" mothers and "complete" mothers but family experts say the fastest growing group of mothers is the "best-friend mother" - and it can only end badly. Clinical psychologist Stephan Poulter, who works with family relationships, has come up with five categories that he finds fit most mothers. He finds the group that is on the rise is mothers who want to be best friends with their children.

But he said going partying with your children, wearing the same clothes as them, trying to keep up with their youth with breast implants and surgery, erodes all boundaries - and leaves the children without a mother who can guide them.

Girls may get mass anti-cancer jabs
NZ Herald April 14, 2008
The Government is said to be on the point of announcing a programme of mass-vaccination of 11-year-old girls against a sexually-transmitted virus linked to cervical cancers. "It is expected, in the very near future, that a universal programme for 11-year-old girls will be announced," says vaccine expert Dr Nikki Turner in a report for Auckland University's Immunisation Advisory Centre, of which she is director. "The 11-year-old event is likely to be delivered by general practice and public health services within schools." Dr Turner is close to the Ministry of Health - her centre is contracted to it and she sits on the ministry's pandemic influenza committee - but she is not a ministry employee. "We're just waiting to hear [about the vaccine]," she told the Herald.

Each year, cervical cancer is diagnosed in about 180 women and kills around 60... The ministry is negotiating with GlaxoSmithKline and CSL, which each supply a vaccine that targets strains of HPV associated with 70 per cent of cervical cancers.

...It has previously recommended vaccinating girls from the age of 11 or 13, with a catch-up for older girls up to 15, but the starting age was to be based on "acceptability" and a survey of parental attitudes was planned. The vaccine is expected to confer the greatest protection if it is given before girls become sexually active as there is a high risk of HPV infection in the first years after starting to have sex. Dr Turner said parental concerns had been expressed that giving the vaccine to adolescents might promote promiscuity or earlier sexual activity but there was no evidence for this. "There is some evidence that education interventions can improve the level of acceptability in undecided parents. A UK study ... reported that 81 per cent of parents would probably, or definitely, have their child vaccinated."


Insomnia is the curse of Generation X-Box
Evening Standard (UK) 13 April 08 
Computer games and fast food have been blamed by doctors for a startling rise in the number of children being treated in hospital for sleep disorders. The problem is especially pronounced among young boys, with thousands now being treated every year. Experts say parents are at fault for failing to enforce strict bedtimes and allowing children to play computer games and watch TV in their rooms late at night. Eating too much sugary food is also blamed for preventing children from dropping off to sleep.

Newly released NHS figures show that the number of under-11s referred to hospital specialists for insomnia, sleep-walking and sleep-related breathing problems has rocketed by 26 per cent over the past five years. But the true numbers affected could be much higher because the figures reflect only those seeking medical help. Studies have linked poor sleep to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). And lack of sleep harms children's ability to learn at school.

...Professor Jim Horne of the Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University, said that children aged five to eight are particularly vulnerable to sleep problems as a result of 'electronic distractions' because having a rigid bedtime routine is so important to them. He said computers and mobile phones in bedrooms could be contributing to the growing number of sleep problems. Prof Horne added: "Staying up late should be a special treat. Children who persistently go to bed late get into hyperactive states and learning becomes a problem at school the next day.


Father's smacking case is dismissed
NZ Herald April 11, 2008
One of the first people charged under Green MP Sue Bradford's anti-smacking legislation has had charges against him dropped. Initially the 30-year-old Glen Innes man was accused of hitting his 5-year-old daughter with an open hand on the back of the head and swinging a pair of jeans at his 6-year-old daughter, hitting her on the side of the head just before Christmas. He denied the allegations and when the matter came to trial before Judge Anna Johns in Auckland District Court yesterday, the police offered no evidence and the case was dismissed.

Outside the court, the man's lawyer, Tony Bouchier, said his client had only exercised reasonable discipline on the children. He had pushed one of the girls to get her to hurry for school and threw the jeans at the other to get her attention. Mr Bouchier, who is critical of the "domestic violence industry", said he supported the referendum to have the anti-smacking legislation repealed. "When the whole issue was being discussed in Parliament and in public, they said that minor matters would not end up in court, it would only be the serious ones. I am not condemning the police for protecting children, but the public were given assurances that the police would consider this law carefully, and in this case they have not."

...Mr Bouchier said that it was not the mother of the children who complained, but her sister. He said there seemed to be some animosity between the father of the children and the sister who had interfered. This type of discipline is probably meted out to children every day in New Zealand."

Genetics and bad parenting link to criminal behaviour
NZ Herald April 11, 2008
Whether a criminal teenager turns into a violent adult or grows out of crime may be related to how low his ears are set or the types of food he was given as a child. New Zealand research shows antisocial behaviour in young adults can be written into their genetic code, and made worse by bad parenting. Indicators that an antisocial child may turn into a life-long violent criminal can be picked up in kindergarten, says research summarised in this week's New Scientist magazine.

Of the 535 males and 502 females born in New Zealand in 1972 and 1973 who were signed up at birth to Otago University's Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, those who dabbled in crime as a teenager can be divided into two clear groups, said Terrie Moffitt from the Institute of Psychiatry in London. The more common type took up petty crime in adolescence, keen to impress "badass" friends, she said. But the more problematic type had biological predispositions to behaviour problems, the signs of which could be picked up as young as 3 years of age. These children - more often boys - tended to have a low IQ, poor language skills, and were often diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Minor physical anomalies such as low-seated ears or furrowed tongues - possibly a sign of poor neural development or damage - could also be signs. Combined with bad parenting, poverty or abuse, these children were at greater risk of turning to a life-long criminal career, she said.

Billboards on tapu topic accused of showing cultural insensitivity
NZ Herald April 10, 2008
Large billboards that leave little to the imagination have drawn complaints, particularly from Auckland's Pacific community, which claims they are culturally insensitive. The billboards offer "longer lasting sex" to men with erectile dysfunction. They provide an 0800 number for people to get more information about "nasal delivery technology" from doctors at an Australian company, Advanced Medical Institute. Tongan mother 'Eseta Funganitao, who has complained about the billboards, was shocked to see them when travelling with her young children in her car from Mangere.

Mrs Funganitao's 12-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son had seen the "ugly ad". "It's not okay, especially when they are brought up in a Christian family," she said. In her culture it was not allowed to discuss the subject of sex in front of a brother and sister together, and they would normally be separated for such purposes. "Sex is tapu, sacred, not to be discussed publicly."

UPDATE: Sex billboard ruled to be offensive
A billboard offering "longer lasting sex" to advertise a remedy for male sexual dysfunction has been ruled offensive and in breach of advertising standards.
The board said it was of concern that before the billboard was released the Therapeutic Advertising Prevetting Services had identified it as being the likely subject of complaints, but this advice seemed to have been ignored.


Common food additives 'to be banned by 2009' to cut hyperactivity in children by 75% (UK)
Daily Mail (UK) 9th April 2008
A ban on certain additives in food could be in place as early as next year after research showed it could cut hyperactivity in children by a third and reduce anti-social behaviour. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) wants six artificial colourings to be removed from products after an official study branded them as damaging to children's brains as the lead in petrol.

..A website set up by the Food Commission lists more than 1000 items containing the colourings, ranging from Pepsi Max, Galaxy Minstrels, Cadbury's Creme Eggs and Haribo sweets. Their removal could lead to the total demise of some products such as mushy peas and Turkish delight, which the FSA has warned "might be lost to the market temporarily or even permanently". In a ᆪ750,000 study published in September, Southampton University concluded the E-numbers were significantly damaging children's intelligence. The six colourings, including tartrazine (E102) and sunset yellow (E110), were found to be causing temper tantrums in normal children. Professor Jim Stevenson, who lead the research, said he believed they posed a threat to children's psychological health.

..Leaded petrol was finally phased out in 2000, almost 20 years after researchers warned it was stunting the development of children's brains.

Teens Who Have TV In Their Bedroom Are Less Likely To Engage In Healthy Habits, Study Shows
ScienceDaily Apr. 7, 2008
University of Minnesota School of Public Health researchers have found that older adolescents who have a bedroom television are less likely to engage in healthy activities such as exercising, eating fruits or vegetables, and enjoying family meals. They also consumed larger quantities of sweetened beverages and fast food, were categorized as heavy TV watchers, and read or studied less than teens without TVs in their bedrooms.

"The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents remove television sets from their children's bedrooms. Despite this recommendation, almost two-thirds of our sample had a bedroom TV, which appears to be a factor for less than optimal behavior," said Daheia Barr-Anderson, Ph.D., M.S.P.H., first author of the study.

Too little childhood sleep leads to problems
Reuters 09 April 2008
Getting too little sleep doubles a young child's risk of being overweight and raises the chances of later anxiety and depression. Several studies published in the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine add heft to the notion that getting enough sleep has wide-ranging health benefits. Previous studies have shown that older children and adults who get too little sleep are more likely to weigh too much. Researchers led by Dr. Elsie Taveras of Harvard Medical School demonstrated that this is also the case in very young kids. In a study involving 915 children in Massachusetts, they found that those who slept less than 12 hours a day in the first two years of life were twice as likely to be overweight at age 3 than children who slept longer.

...Television tended to make matters worse, with children who watched two or more hours daily by age 2 more likely to be overweight at age 3, the researchers said. Taveras said getting enough sleep is becoming harder with televisions, computers and video games in kids' bedrooms.The researchers said previous studies in adults and older children have shown that restricting sleep changes certain hormone levels, possibly stimulating hunger and weight gain.

Another team of researchers led by Alice Gregory of the University of London examined the long-term emotional fallout from too little sleep in childhood. They gathered sleep data on 2,076 Dutch children ages 4 to 16, and then questioned them as adults years later about various emotional and behavioral symptoms. The children who slept less than others reported more anxiety, depression and aggressive behavior as adults, the researchers said. Researchers led by Valerie Sung of Royal Children's Hospital in Parkville, Australia found that children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder commonly had sleep problems.


Boys and their toys? It's biological, not social
Telegraph (UK) 07 April 2008
Boys prefer playing with cars to dolls because of basic biological differences rather than social pressures, scientists say. Researchers observed young male monkeys spent more time playing with vehicles than with cuddly toys. They believe this suggests that in most cases boys have an innate predisposition for masculine toys, which is then reinforced by what they learn from their parents, friends and wider society.

Dr Kim Wallen, a psychologist at Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta, Georgia, studied a group of captive, mainly juvenile male and female rhesus monkeys. The animals were offered two categories of toys - ones with wheels such as wagons and other vehicles, and various dolls and cuddly toys including such as a Winnie the Pooh. In a series of videoed experiments one of each type of toy was placed 30ft apart to see which monkeys would be attracted to which category. In most cases the monkeys formed a group around one of the toys and eventually one of them would snatch it and run away.

...Their conclusion contradicts those of the dominant psychological theory that the preference of boys for vehicles and toy soldiers and that of girls for dolls is down to social rather than innate influences. Dr Wallen, whose study is published in the journal Hormones and Behavior, and highlighted on, said: "A five-year-old boy whose compatriots discover has a collection of Barbies is likely to take a lot of flak."


Locked up for smacking my son ... How a slap brought police and social services in to tear a family apart (UK)
Evening Standard UK 06 April 2008 
There was nothing ominous about the knock at the door, but when I pulled it open I was confronted by four police officers and our street was thick with panda cars. This is not a scene you see too often in our home village of Great Malvern, not even if there has been a rare burglary in the respectable part of Worcestershire where we live happily among other decent, law-abiding families. But the police were not coming to our aid. Instead they were coming to arrest me and my husband Folke for child abuse. Looking me straight in the eye the officer said: "We are about to arrest you for cruelty and neglect to Guy Pope." Guy is our 11-year-old son. And my crime? Smacking him once after he had ignored my warnings to stop his temper tantrum and repeated swearing.

...Nearly a year later I've lost my job at a private school - and my unblemished career with it - and my family is still subject to the whims of the social services because, I believe, we had the temerity to fight our corner.
Family First Comment: Note that the UK still allows 'reasonable chastisement'.


Pregnant US man hails 'miracle' 
BBC News 4 April 2008 
A US man who is six months pregnant, 10 years after undergoing a sex change operation, has said he considers his unborn child a "miracle". Thomas Beatie, 34, said it was his right to have a child. The medical procedures he underwent a decade ago did not affect his reproductive system. His wife says she inseminated him using sperm from an anonymous donor. Their doctor says it is a normal pregnancy.

Mr Beatie told chat show host Oprah Winfrey he had always wanted a child. "It's not a male or female desire to have a child," he said. "It's a human desire. I have a very stable male identity."
READ a great commentary on this "Woman becomes pregnant - alert the presses!


Working for the man
Herald Sun (Aust) April 07, 2008
MARRIED women spend seven hours more doing housework than single women, according to a US study. Men are doing more housework than they did 30 years ago and women are doing less, but it seems marriage is the real culprit when it comes to the burden of household chores. The research shows that the number of hours women spend cooking, cleaning, shopping and doing laundry has dropped about 35 per cent, from an average of 26 hours a week in 1976 to 17 hours in 2005. But men's average housework levels have risen about 54 per cent from six to 13 hours a week over the past three decades.

The study, by the University of Michigan's Institute of Social Research, based on questionnaires and diaries, found married men and women did more household chores than those who stayed single. "Marriage is no longer a man's path to less housework," said study leader Prof Frank Stafford. When these couples had children, the narrowing gap between the partners' output did an abrupt U-turn back to a more traditional mould. Married women with three or more kids slaved over hot stoves and washing machines for an average 28 hours a week while married men with three kids logged only about 10 hours of housework a week. Housework included core tasks such as cooking and cleaning but excluded gardening, home repairs or washing the car.,21985,23495229-662,00.html


Rap music glamorises drug use - study
Reuters 03 April 2008
Rap music has increasingly glamorised the use of illegal drugs, portraying marijuana, crack and cocaine as symbols of wealth and status, according to a new study by the journal Addiction Research & Theory. The report found that rap artists had moved away from the lyrics of the early days of the genre when they often warned against the dangers of substance abuse. "This study showed that in fact much early rap music either did not talk about drugs at all, or when it did had anti-drug messages," said Denise Herd, of the University of California at Berkeley, who headed the research team. "So intrinsically rap music is not necessarily associated with these themes," she added.

After sampling 341 lyrics from rap music's most popular hits between 1979 and 1997, the researchers found references to drugs had increased six-fold over that period. Of the 38 most popular songs between 1979 and 1984, only four contained drug references. But by the late 1980s the incidence had increased to 19 per cent, and after 1993 nearly 70 per cent of rap songs mentioned drug use. Lyrics describing drug use have not only became more frequent but the context changed from concern about the devastation of drugs to a more positive portrayal.


Poverty hits school children
The Press 04 April 2008
More Christchurch children are arriving at school poorly clothed and hungry as parents struggle to cope with rising living costs. The children come from Christchurch's poorer suburbs, but the poverty also reaches around the South Island and to Stewart Island. Nationwide, almost 20,000 children a week need feeding during their school day because of empty cupboards at home. KidsCan, a charity which provides raincoats, food and shoes to low-decile schools, has opened its first South Island office to cope with rising demand. General manager Julie Helson said rising interest rates, petrol prices and food costs were all playing a role.

..KidsCan, the charity of choice for Dancing With The Stars contestant Miriama Smith, has seen the number of schools using its programmes grow from 40 to 85 in three years, with a further 80 on a waiting list. In Christchurch, nine schools are signed up and nine are waiting for help. Two or three schools throughout the South Island approach the charity each week.


'Kiro must go for tagging stance' 03 April 2008
The Sensible Sentencing Trust has accused Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro of attempting to legitimise graffiti and tagging and called for her resignation. Dr Kiro made the comments in a submission to the Law and Order Select Committee hearing submissions on the Summary Offences (Tagging and Graffiti Vandalism) amendment Bill. "For some people, graffiti and tagging are seen as a legitimate art form," she said.

Justice watchdog the Sensible Sentencing Trust says the Commissioner's comments endorse vandalism and she should resign. Trust spokesman Garth McVicar said he was absolutely staggered that someone with a responsibility for the protection and well-being of young people could make such an inflammatory statement. "Dr Kiro has given every wannabe tagger and vandal permissions to commit crime, providing they say that it was an expression of their history or a legitimate art form," he said. "Her comments are hugely provocative at a time when a decent hard-working citizen is facing a murder charge because of his frustration over this issue."
READ WHAT SHE SAID to the Select Committee
"For some people, graffiti and tagging are seen as legitimate art forms. There is history and social commentary behind these art forms. I am aware there is strong public opinions regarding the issue of graffiti and tagging and its impact on both public and private spaces. Interestingly, these public spaces are often environments that children and young people are alienated from. I believe that children and young people need to be included in decisions relating to the use of public spaces. Moving forward I believe solutions need to appropriately balance the rights of property owners and the rights of children and young people..."


Children ignoring online safety rules
Reuters 03 April 2008
Millions of children who use social networking sites are exposing themselves to unnecessary risk by leaving personal details open for all to see, communications watchdog Ofcom said. It published research showing that 40 per cent of children leave their privacy settings on "open", despite warnings about the danger of putting personal details such as phone numbers and email addresses online. The research found that many young children have by-passed age restrictions to publish their profile on sites like Bebo, MySpace and Facebook.

It said a half of all children, and a quarter of those aged 8-11, are registered with a social networking site. Ofcom director of market research James Thickett said parents should check the online profile their children are using... He said children not protecting their private information are exposing themselves to the risk of bullying or even to unwelcome approaches from strangers. But he said that social networks do offer real benefits, provided the right precautions are taken.

Boys missing out in 'feminised' schools - headmaster
Dominion Post 2 April 2008
Bubble-wrapped boys are missing out on crucial rough and tumble in a "feminised" school system that doesn't allow them to let off steam, a headmaster says. Ross Scrymgeour, head of private Hereworth School, Havelock North, says the banning of physical games like bullrush and murder-ball illustrates a "softly softly" approach to education that does not suit boys. His boys-only school's "play rough" philosophy made pupils more attentive in class and taught them about physical boundaries. "Boys need to be exposed to this sort of thing," Mr Scrymgeour said.

"I'm not talking about brawls, or fights, but physicality. Even the meekest and mildest, when put in a group of their own ability, will get something out of that. "It's a natural part of their behaviour, going back to hunter-gatherer times." Girls consistently outperform boys at secondary school. Some commentators blame the National Certificate of Educational Achievement's heavy reliance on internal assessment, which they say suits girls better. Mr Scrymgeour said the feminising of New Zealand schools was breeding boys who could not express themselves or cope when things did not go their way.


Groups clash over family violence stats
NZ Herald April 02, 2008
Police and family groups are at odds as to why family violence statistics have risen. The figures show an increase of more than 6000 violent offences last year. Most of these were family violence reports which were up 31.5 per cent on the 2006 total. Assistant Police Commissioner Grant Nicholls said the increase showed more women were reporting violence. "This is not surprising when we take into account that there has been a huge focus on family violence with publicity and media campaigns designed to reduce tolerance to domestic violence."

...But Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said the Government and the police needed to stop pretending the anti-violence message was working. "The argument that the domestic violence awareness campaign has contributed to the increase in reported violent crime is simply masking the increasing level of violent crime that has existed years before this latest campaign. It is time that the real causes of violent crime were tackled - including gang involvement, family breakdown and dysfunction, drug and alcohol abuse, and the lack of sufficient police resourcing."

To prove our point.. Alcohol blamed for rising violent crime Christchurch Press

Seniors struggle as costs hit hard
Rotorua Daily Post 1 April 2008
As the cost of living continues to soar superannuitants are among the hardest hit in Rotorua. They have received a 3 per cent increase in national superannuation but that's not enough to cover the growing costs of fuel, rents and interest rates, food and electricity... After tax, a superannuitant living alone will get an $8.81 a week increase to $277.06 a week.

Age Concern New Zealand chief executive Ann Martin said she fears they would see some real hardship cases this winter with rising petrol, electricity and rental prices causing problems. "It's vital that older people can afford to keep their houses warm enough to stay healthy. "A senior living alone will receive $14,800 a year, could you live on $14,800 a year?" Mrs Martin said.

According to Statistics New Zealand data, in the year to February 2008 food prices rose 5.2 per cent across the board. Fresh milk prices went up 20.9 per cent, cheddar cheese went up 59.9 per cent and butter 91.2 per cent. The only downward trend came from fruit and vegetables that saw a 2.5 per cent decrease. Rotorua Salvation Army spokesman Rob Gardiner said they had seen a marked increase in the number of food parcel handouts compared with last year.


Playful mums - it's all that testosterone
NZ Herald April 01, 2008
Behavioural differences between mothers of daughters and mothers of sons may be related to testosterone levels rather than sex stereotyping, Auckland University researchers have discovered. The differences between mothers studied in their first interactions with their newborn babies were thought to be a result of stereotyping and conformity to social norms. But Valerie Grant, a medical and health sciences researcher at Auckland University, and her team have found the behavioural differences may be because of varying maternal testosterone levels.

Evolutionary and developmental psychologists have shown that mothers of boys differ from mothers of girls even before their babies are born. Women pregnant with boys are more likely to be anxious or angry during pregnancy, while women carrying girls are more likely to stay calm.

Mums let mums be boys Dominion Post


Education Minister says call me
Radio NZ News 31 Mar 2008
The Education Minister says he will personally deal with complaints from parents if schools try to force them to pay voluntary school fees. Chris Carter told an education forum in Auckland on Saturday that he recently told off the principal at a Whangarei school, who he says made boys sit in the hall until their parents had paid a school fee. He says he gave the principal a strong message reminding him that parents should be responsible for their children, but that children cannot be responsible for their parents.

Mr Carter says no school has a legal right to insist that parents pay voluntary fees. He says he feels very strongly about the issue and if parents have evidence that schools are crossing the line they should email him and he will deal with them.

Heavy response ignores underlying funding issues PPTA 31 Mar 08
Thirty-six percent of schools funding comes from sources outside of Government operations grants and these were generally from local sources such as parents. Curriculum fees were needed to cover costs schools faced in providing materials for elective classes such as technology and home economics, he said. “It is quite clear that schools have to try and maximise every bit of income they have, otherwise they can’t make ends meet”.

Californication complaint dismissal infuriates lobby
NZ Herald March 31, 2008
A lobby group has called the Broadcasting Standards Authority "morally bankrupt" after it failed to uphold complaints about TV3 drama Californication. Family First New Zealand laid one of five complaints with the authority which alleged the first episode broadcast in November breached standards of good taste and decency. Complaints related to a dream sequence where a nun performed oral sex on lead character Hank Moody, constant foul language, teenage drug use and explicit sex scenes.

National director Bob McCoskrie argued that broadcasters are consistently pushing the boundaries of what is normal and acceptable, glorifying and normalising drug and alcohol abuse, pornography, offensive language, violence and degrading treatment of women. But in a decision released today the BSA said its decision not to uphold the complaint was based on factors such as the programme being preceded by a verbal and written warning, the Adults Only rating, a 9.30pm broadcast time, audience expectations as a result of prior publicity and the title which indicated it was likely to contain "challenging content."
READ the full BSA decision


Computer games to get cigarette-style health warnings (UK)
Times OnLine 27 March 08
Video games will be forced to carry cigarette-style health warnings under proposals to protect children from unsuitable digital material. The report, commissioned by the Prime Minister in response to a growing moral panic about video games, will conclude that they can harm the development of children’s beliefs and value systems and desensitise them to violence. It will also recommend that retailers who sell video games to anyone under the age rating on the box should face a hefty fine or up to five years in prison, The Times has learnt.

The report, written by Tanya Byron, the clinical psychologist and television parenting guru, is also expected to address the dangers of children’s use of the internet. “Parents are afraid to let their children out,” she said. “So they keep them at home, but allow them to take risks online.” She will call for a massive campaign to educate parents, teachers and childcarers about how to ensure that children get maximum benefit from the digital world without being exposed to its dangers.

Decline of marriage is destroying our pupils, say teachers (UK)
Daily Mail (UK) 19th March 2008
The decline of marriage is leading to widespread underachievement and indiscipline in schools, teachers warned yesterday. Children with "chaotic" home lives turn up at school too troubled to learn, wrecking their prospects of success in exams, they said. Growing numbers are being brought up in splintered families by mothers with children by different fathers, leading to behaviour and mental health problems including eating disorders and suicidal thoughts, a teachers' conference heard. They are more likely to lead "dysfunctional" lives themselves, creating a "toxic circle" that no amount of investment or initiatives directed at schools can reverse.

Members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers demanded a proper recognition of the impact of family breakdown on education and called on ministers to do more to promote marriage. They said research from around the world showed that lack of stability at home can hamper children's learning.


Rocketing costs force crowding in homes
NZ Herald March 27, 2008
Overcrowding is on the rise again in Auckland as sky-high housing costs force families to double up or live in garages to make ends meet. An analysis by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet has found that the region's population grew 12.4 per cent in the five years up to the 2006 Census, but the number of homes grew by only 11.2 per cent. The result was a shortfall of 4202 homes compared with the number that would have been needed to keep the average 2001 ratio of 2.6 people in each home.

Manukau City alone accounted for more than half the total shortfall, bringing an abrupt end to a long-term trend towards reduced overcrowding. Social agencies said rent increases, which averaged 7.1 per cent across the country in the past year in a Massey University survey published on Tuesday, were driving families to stay with relatives or live in garages.

Skipping Cereal and Eggs, and Packing on Pounds
New York Times 25 March 2008
Researchers have found evidence that Mom was right: breakfast may really be the most important meal of all. A new study reports that the more often adolescents eat breakfast, the less likely they are to be overweight. The researchers examined the eating and exercise habits of 1,007 boys and 1,215 girls, with an average age of 15 at the start of the five-year study — a racially and economically diverse sample from public schools in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

The authors found a direct relationship between eating breakfast and body mass index; the more often an adolescent had breakfast, the lower the B.M.I. And whether they looked at the data at a given point or analyzed changes over time, that relationship persisted. Why eating breakfast should lead to fewer unwanted pounds is unclear, but the study found that breakfast eaters consumed greater amounts of carbohydrates and fiber, got fewer calories from fat and exercised more. Consumption of fiber-rich foods may improve glucose and insulin levels, making people feel satisfied and less likely to eat more later in the day.

The study appears in the March issue of Pediatrics.

Mark A. Pereira, a co-author of the study and an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota, said that eating a healthy breakfast would “promote healthy eating throughout the day and might help to prevent situations where you’re grabbing fast food or vending machine food.” Dr. Pereira added that parents could begin to set a good example by sitting down to breakfast themselves. “The whole family structure is involved here,” he said.

Children With Healthier Diets Do Better In School, Study Suggests
ScienceDaily Mar. 22, 2008
A new study in the Journal of School Health (April 2008) reveals that children with healthy diets perform better in school than children with unhealthy diets. Led by Paul J. Veugelers, MSc, PhD of the University of Alberta, researchers surveyed around 5000 Canadian fifth grade students and their parents as part of the Children's Lifestyle and School-Performance Study.

Information regarding dietary intake, height, and weight were recorded and the Diet Quality Index-International (DQI-I) was used to summarize overall diet quality. ...Less healthful dietary components included saturated fat and salt, while healthy foods were classified by fruits, vegetables, grains, dietary fiber, protein, calcium and moderate fat intake... Students with an increased fruit and vegetable intake and less caloric intake from fat were significantly less likely to fail the literacy assessment. .

"We demonstrated that above and beyond socioeconomic factors, diet quality is important to academic performance," the authors conclude. "These findings support the broader implementation and investment in effective school nutrition programs that have the potential to improve student's diet quality, academic performance, and, over the long term, their health."

Scotland's Sex Trade Fight Looks To Success Of Swedish Model
Daily Record (Scotland) Mar 13 2008
Groundbreaking laws that have almost wiped out prostitution in Sweden could be introduced in Scotland. The Swedes stopped punishing the prostitutes - and instead criminalised the men who buy sex. Before the legislation came in nine years ago, 2500 women worked Stockholm's streets. Now there are 100. And the number of punters has dropped by 80 per cent. A delegation of experts from Sweden this week visited Glasgow in the first step of a campaign to make paying for sex illegal in Scotland.

In Sweden, 1650 men have been convicted for buying sex. They faced up to six months in jail but all were fined Stockholm Detective Inspector Jonas Trolle, who is part of the delegation, says indoor prostitution is every bit as harmful to the women. He said: "You need at least five customers a day for it to be profitable. "One case I was involved in, the woman took 17 customers one evening and she was not able to walk from the flat afterwards. Is this a question of free will, when you can't even walk?" Trolle is part of a unit dedicated to tackling the sex trade and admits that the attitude of the police was one of the biggest stumbling blocks. Cops, like the rest of society, had a tacit acceptance of the sex industry and some sympathised with the punters. A retraining programme exposed both the plight of the women and the connection between the sex trade and organised crime.

Govt pushes for breastfeeding, meal breaks at work
Herald on Sunday 23 March 2008
The Government is to legislate to give women the right to breastfeed their babies at work – and will also provide for minimum meal and rest breaks for all workers. Labour Minister Trevor Mallard and his Cabinet colleague Maryan Street announced the moves at the centenary commemorations of the 1908 Blackball miners' strike over meal breaks. The ministers also announced plans to allow shift workers to transfer their public holidays. Mr Mallard said the proposed changes to legislation would be introduced this year.

...Under the changes to be made to the Employment Relations Act:
* Employers would be required to provide, where reasonable and practical, facilities and breaks for employees who wished to breastfeed. A code of employment practice would guide employers on how to uphold the obligations.

Ms Street said there was currently no explicit legal protection ensuring women had the right to breastfeed their babies at work. Evidence suggested access to breastfeeding breaks and facilities in the workplace was mixed, and the extent to which discrimination on the grounds of breastfeeding was understood to be prohibited was mixed, she said. The law would be changed to explicitly prevent discrimination on the basis of breastfeeding, she said.

Naked news hits Kiwi TV
Herald on Sunday March 23, 2008
Current affairs buffs seeking the naked truth will soon be able to tune into New Zealand's first nude news broadcast. Scheduled to air on independent channel Alt TV in mid-May, Naked News Flash will consist of nightly wrap-ups of the day's events. It will screen at 10pm and be sponsored by a condom company. The concept is the brainchild of actor and director Oliver Driver, who joined Alt as a shareholder and creative director last year. He wants male and female presenters who care about the news and says application forms can be downloaded from the Alt website. "It will be real news," he says, "just with presenters who are naked."

Alt, chiefly a music channel, is no stranger to controversy. Last year it was fined $5000 and ordered off air for five hours by the Broadcasting Standards Authority after a drunk moderator let offensive text messages go to air during a live broadcast. ...Bob McCoskrie of Family First NZ felt naked news was another case of "pushing the envelope" in regards to good taste and decency on television. "Most people would be horrified [by this show]," he said.
TV3 News
Sunday News


Abortion could harm your mental health
MercatorNet Carolyn Moynihan 19 March 2008
After 40 years and 6.6 million abortions British psychiatrists say there could be harmful psychological effects.

It is being hailed in Britain as a major breakthrough in professional attitudes to abortion. Last weekend the Royal College of Psychiatrists issued a statement acknowledging that induced abortion may harm a woman's mental health and advising professionals to assess and counsel women accordingly. The cautious one-page document, noting that the evidence for the association is inconclusive, may seem "anodyne" says one psychiatrist, who prefers not be named, but in reality it is "a huge step. It's a shift from being pro-choice to being neutral."

"Balanced and reasonable" is the verdict of the author of well-regarded New Zealand research on abortion showing its link with mental disorders. "The statement acknowledges the risks to mental health, but it also acknowledges the uncertainty. I think it's really exemplary in its objectivity," said David Fergusson in a telephone interview with MercatorNet. Professor Fergusson is director of the Christchurch Health and Development Study, which has followed the progress of 1265 children born in the city in 1977. Data from interviews with women in the study published two years ago showed a 50 per cent higher risk, overall, of problems including depression, anxiety, suicidal behaviours and substance abuse among those who had had an abortion.


Outrage at Miss Bimbo website
Times On Line (UK)  March 25 2008
A website that encourages girls as young as 9 to embrace plastic surgery and extreme dieting in the search for the perfect figure was condemned as lethal by parents’ groups and healthcare experts yesterday. The Miss Bimbo internet game has attracted prepubescent girls who are told to buy their virtual characters breast enlargement surgery and to keep them “waif thin” with diet pills. Healthcare professionals, a parents’ group and an organisation representing people suffering anorexia and bulimia criticised the website for sending a dangerous message to impressionable children.

In the month since it opened the site, which is aimed at girls aged from 9 to 16, has attracted 200,000 members. Players keep a constant watch on the weight, wardrobe, wealth and happiness of their character to create “the coolest, richest and most famous bimbo in the world”. Competing against other children they earn “bimbo dollars” to buy plastic surgery, diet pills, facelifts, lingerie and fashionable nightclub outfits.

Dee Dawson, the medical director of Rhodes Farm Clinic, which treats girls aged from 8 to 18 who suffer eating disorders, said: “This is as lethal as pro-anorexia websites. A lot of children will get caught up with the extremely damaging and appalling messages.” ...Its introduction came as research showed that children as young as 6 were developing acute eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. Yesterday it emerged that increasing numbers of teenagers were undergoing breast enlargement surgery.

NZ among worst countries for crime
NZPA 20 March 2008
An international crime survey shows New Zealand compares very poorly with similar countries, National MP Simon Power says. The International Crime Victims Survey compared rates of crime, perception of crime and attitudes towards the criminal justice system in 30 countries in 2004 and 2005. Mr Power, National's justice spokesman, said it revealed New Zealand was the third highest for conventional crime rates.

It was the highest for thefts from cars, second highest for burglary, fifth highest for assaults, 10th highest for robbery and 11th highest for theft of personal property and for sexual assaults against women. "Being the third worst for the prevalence of all the most common crime is bad enough, but being the fifth worst for assaults and threats and 11th for sexual assaults on women is very concerning," he said.


Mums quicker, smarter than childless women
AAP 20 March 2008
Scientists have brought new meaning to the term "super mum" with fresh research suggesting pregnancy sparks changes in the brain that make women quicker and smarter for decades after giving birth. US researchers have told an international mental health conference they have proof that women with children are more visually aware and responsive compared with those without offspring. Lab tests on rats have shown that there is a "reservoir of hormones" released in pregnancy and giving birth that create permanent changes in the brain.

"The flow of estrogen promotes neuron growth and enhances the plasticity of the brain," said Professor Craig Kinsley, a neuroscientist at the University of Richmond. "As a result mothers in our animal models have better vision, co-ordination and memory, stronger survival instincts and go about their tasks more efficiently than non-mothers." He said these benefits of nature are directed at protecting the offspring until they mature and are old enough to reproduce. Observational studies suggest the same findings in human females and, says Prof Kinsley, the newest research indicates the benefits are lasting.


Stressed parents 'make kids ill'  
 BBC News 19 March 2008
Parents with stressful lives may be making their children as well as themselves vulnerable to illness, research suggests. A University of Rochester study, reported by New Scientist, found sickness levels were higher in children of anxious or depressed parents. It also found links between stress and immune system activity in the children. A UK scientist said children were "highly resilient", and urged parents not to worry about the findings. It has long been known that stress can cause immune system changes that make a person more prone to infections and other illnesses. However, the new study, first published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, is the first to provide evidence that the problem can be transmitted from parent to child.

The researchers, led by Dr Mary Caserta, followed the parents of 169 children over a three-year period, with the parents recording instances of childhood illness, before undergoing six-monthly psychiatric evaluations. The total number of illnesses was significantly higher in the children of parents with higher levels of "emotional stress". In addition, immune cells in the blood of the children was measured, and those with more stressed parents had raised levels.

The researchers conceded that allowing parents to measure the illness in their children could skew the results, as over-anxious parents were more likely to record higher levels. However, they said that the findings still strongly suggested a connection between parental stress and children's health.


Forced DNA tests in new bill
NZ Herald March 20, 2008
A new bill would allow courts to order compulsory DNA testing of children for paternity checks, regardless of consent. United Future MP Judy Turner's private member's bill provides for the Family Court to order cheek swabs for DNA testing of children whose paternity is in dispute. The measures in the Family Proceedings (Paternity Orders and Parentage Tests) Amendment Bill also include warrants allowing the possibly forcible taking of the child to get the sample if a parent resists the order. At present, courts can only recommend parentage tests and parental consent is required for children under the age of 16. The Law Commission recommended court orders for DNA samples in its 2005 report on Legal Parenthood, saying parents should not be able to unreasonably thwart such requests.

* International research indicates the wrong biological father is listed on about 10 per cent of children's birth certificates - up to 5000 children in New Zealand every year.
* Under Judy Turner's bill the Family Court would be able to order swabs to test children.
* In cases of lack of compliance, courts could issue a warrant to allow for enforcement, using reasonable force if necessary.
* Penalties for resisting would be up to 3 months' jail or a $2500 fine.
READ Family First Media Release NZ Parents Warned About Miss Bimbo Website


Budget services stretched
Manawatu Standard 19 March 2008
A Manawatu budget advice service is in such high demand it is having to turn some clients away as higher food prices, fuel costs and mortgage interest rates bite family wallets. "We've had piles of people. We've had to turn some of them away to another budget service," Manawatu Home Budgeting Service manager Lynley Boyd said. "There are more new clients wanting assistance." Some clients had been referred on to the church-based budgethelp@crossroads service, she said. "They're all noticing that food prices are going up. More and more people are getting their cars repossessed." Some decided they couldn't afford vehicle registration, she said.

...Lobby group Family First yesterday called for a tax break or tax relief and an assessment of "the true impact of cost rises on families". "The demand for foodbanks is increasing, food and petrol prices are skyrocketing and mortgage rates are all adding to an increased burden of financial pressure," Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said. "This is putting horrendous pressure on many families who are also dealing with beginning-of-year expenses, such as school fees, uniforms, stationery and sports fees," he said. "When families are under financial pressure, this places pressure on relationships and the health and wellbeing of children. "It's also a feeding ground for loan sharks to exploit desperate families," he said.


Royal college warns abortions can lead to mental illness
Times Online (UK) 16 March 2008 
Women may be at risk of mental health breakdowns if they have abortions, a medical royal college has warned. The Royal College of Psychiatrists says women should not be allowed to have an abortion until they are counselled on the possible risk to their mental health. This overturns the consensus that has stood for decades that the risk to mental health of continuing with an unwanted pregnancy outweighs the risks of living with the possible regrets of having an abortion.

...The Royal College of Psychiatrists recommends updating abortion information leaflets to include details of the risks of depression. “Consent cannot be informed without the provision of adequate and appropriate information,” it says. Several studies, including research published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry in 2006, concluded that abortion in young women might be associated with risks of mental health problems.

Abstinence must be part of the message
Journal Sentinel Online March 15, 2008
Recent news about teen sexual activity and its aftermath has not been good. The teen birthrate in the United States rose in 2006 for the first time since 1991. In Wisconsin, following steady decline from 1993 to 2003, increasing numbers of high school youth report they have had sexual intercourse. And last week, a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that about one in four teenage girls is infected with a sexually transmitted disease.

....Results from a 2007 national survey of youth commissioned by the National Campaign suggest a need for abstinence-only education. First, a majority (60%) of sexually experienced youth wish they had waited longer. Contraceptive use does nothing to assuage the sense of regret that so many sexually experienced youth go through. Second, a sizable minority (44%) of youths believes the mixed message ("don't have sex, but if you do . . . ") encourages teens to have sex. Shall we listen to these youths or not? Unlike the mandated education the Journal Sentinel advocates, abstinence-only education is a voluntary choice made by youth and their parents.


A One-Eyed Invader in the Bedroom
New York Times 4 March 2008
Here’s one simple way to keep your children healthy: Ban the bedroom TV. By some estimates, half of American children have a television in their bedroom; one study of third graders put the number at 70 percent. And a growing body of research shows strong associations between TV in the bedroom and numerous health and educational problems. Children with bedroom TVs score lower on school tests and are more likely to have sleep problems. Having a television in the bedroom is strongly associated with being overweight and a higher risk for smoking.

One of the most obvious consequences is that the child will simply end up watching far more television — and many parents won’t even know. In a study of 80 children in Buffalo, ages 4 to 7, the presence of a television in the bedroom increased average viewing time by nearly nine hours a week, to 30 hours from 21. And parents of those children were more likely to underestimate their child’s viewing time. “If it’s in the bedroom, the parents don’t even really know what the kids are watching,” said Leonard H. Epstein, professor of pediatrics and social and preventive medicine at the School of Medicine and Biomedical Science at the State University of New York at Buffalo. “Oftentimes, parents who have a TV in the kids’ bedrooms have TVs in their bedrooms.”


Government sets out to tackle suicide
NZ Herald March 17, 2008
The Government will today start a strategy to tackle suicide. As many as 500 people take their own lives each year and suicide is the second most common cause of death among New Zealand youth, with up to 10 deaths a week. The Suicide Prevention Action Plan is aimed at reducing those numbers. The launch - in Wellington this afternoon - will detail four initiatives, addressing student wellbeing, mental health education, the national depression campaign and the Lowdown, a website looking at youth depression.

With about one in seven young Kiwis aged 16-24 experiencing serious depression, the interactive website encourages youngsters to deal with depression appropriately....There has been a 19 per cent decrease in suicide deaths since the 1990s, but Associate Health Minister Jim Anderton said there was still a long way to go.


Pregnant mums who quit have calmer kids
The Dominion Post 14 March 2008
Babies born to women who quit smoking in pregnancy are better behaved than the children of heavy smokers and non-smokers, a new study has found. The British study, which involved 19,000 babies born between 2000 and 2002, found that at nine months, babies whose mothers had stopped smoking while pregnant scored higher for positive moods, the ability to cope with change and had more regular sleeping and feeding patterns. Writing in the British Medical Journal yesterday, researchers from the University of York said the difference was "striking", even taking other factors into account, such as birth weight, household income and mother's level of education.

They suggested not only were these babies exposed to fewer toxins in the womb, but mothers who were able to stop smoking for the sake of their unborn child passed on positive characteristics such as self-restraint and the ability to change behaviour according to changing circumstances. Heavy smoking (more than 10 cigarettes a day) by mothers was associated with difficult moods in babies - an indicator of antisocial behaviour in later life. A survey by the Auckland Tobacco Control Research Centre at Auckland University suggests Kiwi midwives and doctors are not doing enough to warn women about smoking during pregnancy.


MPs vote for ban on party pills from April 08
NZ Herald March 14, 2008
Party pills containing the chemical BZP will be banned from next month under a law change passed in Parliament last night. Under the new law, manufacturers and retailers have until April 1 to stop making and selling the benzylpiperazine-based pills. Consumers will have six months to consume any pills they have for personal use. The act classifies pills containing BZP as a class C drug - the same level of classification as cannabis.

Homework for primary pupils 'should be scrapped'
Times Online 11 Mar 2008
Giving homework to primary children is a source of family conflict that breeds resentment of school and should be scrapped for the benefit of pupils, according to a teaching union, backed by education experts. It is counter-productive and the pressure to complete assignments makes pupils unhappy, said Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers. “Everyone just accepts that homework has got to be done,” she said. “It puts a huge amount of stress, particularly on disadvantaged children from disadvantaged homes.”

For these poorer children, who do not have books, computers and well-educated parents to help, homework can lead them to resent school. “Middle-class children can go home and get help with their homework. Disadvantaged children can’t and then they get in trouble,” Dr Bousted added. “It sets up a cycle of resistance to school because they don’t have access to the cultural and emotional and learning support which middle-class children can get.”

Dr Bousted’s comments add to a mounting body of evidence suggesting that homework does not work. Research from the Institute of Education has found that homework can cause such friction between parents and children – especially in middle-class families, where concerns about a child’s future can lead to a climate of pressure to succeed – that any potential educational benefits are lost. The study, by Dr Susan Hallam, also found that homework only boosts achievement when done in moderate amounts. There is an optimal level beyond which doing more brings no benefit at all.

Eat, drink and be poor
The Dominion Post 13 March 2008
 Struggling to afford the staples? It might be time to turn to a box of chocolates for comfort. Food prices rose 5.2 per cent in the year to February, figures out yesterday show. Grocery foods were the worst, according to Statistics New Zealand. The cost of dairy products has soared, with butter costing almost twice as much as it did last year. In the past month alone, milk has gone up by 4 per cent and bread by 3.4 per cent. Boxed chocolates fell by more than 14 per cent in the month. Yet at $6.99 for a 250-gram box, the price is still slightly higher than the same time last year.

But there is no excuse for not eating your fruit and veges. Their food group was the only one with an overall price decrease in the year to February, dropping by 2.5 per cent. Avocados were the biggest contributors (down 55.7 per cent), followed by oranges (down 17.8 per cent) and apples (down 7.6 per cent). Overall, meat, poultry and fish prices rose 3.9 per cent in the past year. Poultry climbed 10.4 per cent, but lamb prices dropped 2.8 per cent. Prices for restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food rose 4.2 per cent and non-alcoholic beverages by 4.8 per cent. The Federation of Family Budgeting Services' chief executive, Raewyn Fox, said food price rises were having a big impact on families.

Getting kids to eat veggies - the sneaky way
AAP 13 March 2008 
Any parent will tell you there's nothing new about sneaking vegetables into your kids' food. Whether it's grating carrots into the bolognaise sauce or secreting zucchini into your meatballs, most parents will plead guilty to committing an act of culinary subterfuge at some stage. That's the premise of a new cookbook for children, Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get You Kids to Eat Good Food, by Jessica Seinfeld (who also happens to be the wife of actor Jerry Seinfeld).

...Deceptively Delicious advocates the "trojan horse" approach to food, with recipes like chocolate pudding with avocado and chocolate chip cooks with chickpeas - but not everyone thinks hiding veggies in chocolate pudding is a good idea. Sydney-based child psychologist Kimberley O'Brien says it's common for kids to develop strong aversions to vegetables. "It's pretty common for children between the ages of six and ten to be really resistant to eating their vegetables," she says. "They can build up to a fear or phobia which can lead to major tantrums, with kids basically turning upside down on their chairs to avoid eating broccoli."

But tricking them by hiding vegies in other foods can backfire, she warns. "If the food tastes fine and the kids don't notice the taste of the vegetables being hidden inside, then it's a good idea," O'Brien says. But "the risk is they will notice the taste, and then they'll feel deceived and maybe distrustful about future meals."


Delay for depressed mums puts kids at risk
The Press 12 March 2008
Women diagnosed with post-natal depression are waiting up to four months for treatment - delays that experts say put babies' safety and long-term welfare at risk. An estimated one in five New Zealand mothers suffers from post-natal depression. Experts say forcing desperate mothers to wait four months for help is alarming, and the Government and district health boards need urgently to address the problem.

Debbie Wilson, a psychiatrist at the Canterbury District Health Board's mother and baby unit, said women were waiting up to four months for an appointment with outpatient services for their post-natal depression. Previously, women waited an average of two months, which was also unacceptably long, she said. "It's terribly concerning. It's really bad. We're really worried about it."

Kiro under fire for costly overseas trips
Dominion Post 6 March 08
Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro has been criticised for failing to deliver two important reports while her office spent more than $150,000 on travel. Opposition MPs quizzed Dr Kiro yesterday on why she attended eight overseas conferences in the 2006-07 financial year, while her office faced a 50 per cent turnover of staff and struggled to complete work. Seven of the commission's 14 fulltime staff left during the 2006-07 year.

Figures show the commissioner's office spent $153,096 on travel and accommodation in the 12-month period, including $23,107 on a trip to conferences in Greece, Sweden and the United States. During the select committee hearing, National Party MP Judith Collins asked why Dr Kiro had travelled so extensively when her office had not been able to complete its annual report card on child poverty and a United Nations compliance review. But Dr Kiro told the committee the two reports "were among many projects". The report card had not been delivered because her office did not want to replicate Social Development Ministry and Paediatric Society reports.
Family First Comment : There are a number of concerns here
1. Could it be that the real reason the reports on child poverty and UN compliance have not been completed is because they are critical of the government? Family First has always been concerned that the Children's and Families Commission are not independent enough from the government to be a critically needed voice for these groups
2. Dr Kiro admits her work is duplicating other government work - which begs the question - what's the point of the position?
3. A 50% turnover in staff suggests that all is not well at the Office of the Children's Commissioner.
4. Perhaps this explains why Dr Kiro has not spoken up on the issues we believe she should be - for example the recent teenage prostitution report, recent cases of infanticide, underage sex and child abuse which have been dealt with lightly or not at all by the courts - yet had plenty of time to highlight the 'rights' of taggers!!  


Lack of family meals to blame for bad-mannered children, say headteachers (UK)
Evening Standard UK 09 March 08 
The demise of the family meal has produced a generation of children with bad manners, headteachers warned today. Growing numbers of parents struggle to teach children basic social skills and need help to "rediscover what being a parent means", the Association of School and College Leaders said. The union's general secretary, John Dunford, said that for too many children, school was the only part of their lives where they experienced clear moral boundaries. Speaking at the union's annual conference in Brighton, Dr Dunford said the demise of the family meal had severe knock-on effects for children's social skills.

"For some children schools have had to take the place of the institutions that used to set the boundaries of acceptable behaviour - that was fundamentally the family and the church," he said. "In relation to the family, one of the most important factors has been the loss of the family meal, which has reduced family conversation so that schools have more to do in teaching children to communicate. In terms of good manners and appropriate behaviour, primary schools have to teach children how to use a knife and fork and sit at a table." He said schools "can't and shouldn't replace the role of parents".

See also: Teachers are surrogate parents now (UK Telegraph)
The demise of the traditional family is breeding a generation of children who are increasingly relying on teachers to become surrogate parents, a prominent education leader warned yesterday.


Parents urged to go beyond 'big talk' about sex
Reuters Mon Mar 3, 2008
Parents should consider having repeated discussions with their children about many aspects of sex instead of one "big talk" on impersonal topics linked to sexuality such as puberty, researchers said on Monday. "Parents who take a checklist approach to broadening their sexual discussion with their children are unlikely to have as great an influence ... as parents who introduce new sexual topics and then develop them through repeated discussions," said their report published in the journal Pediatrics. The study, entitled "Beyond the 'Big Talk,'" used written surveys given to 312 children in Southern California aged 11 to 15 to assess how frequent and candid their conversations were with their parents about sex.

The more parents talked with their children, the closer their relationships, wrote researchers Steven Martino and colleagues at the Rand Corporation. The relationships also benefited when the discussions moved beyond "safe" or impersonal subjects such as puberty, reproduction and sexually transmitted diseases to more private topics such as masturbation and how sex feels. The surveys looked at children's attitudes toward their parents over a one-year period and asked about how many of 22 sexual topics were discussed. Mothers tended to discuss twice as many sexual topics with their children -- 12 -- as fathers did, the study said. The report cited earlier studies that showed children who were communicated with were more likely to delay intercourse and, if they chose to have sex, to use contraception and have fewer partners.
READ the full research

Teen's plea on morning-after pill
Herald Sun (Aust) March 07, 2008
A teen mum who was given the morning-after pill three times at 14, before being referred for an abortion at 15, says parents should be told of the contraceptive being prescribed. The teen gave birth to a healthy daughter eight weeks ago after her mother found out about her abortion plans and talked her into having her child. Though she tried to hide her pregnancy, she is now calling for health workers to inform parents when giving out the morning-after pill.

"If she had known, I wouldn't have got pregnant," she said. "Parents should know because, while I love my daughter, I am only 16 and I wish I had waited longer to have kids." But health workers say teenagers would be less inclined to seek professional help if they thought their privacy would be invaded, leading to more pregnancies.,21985,23333971-662,00.html


Age of sexual offenders getting younger
The Press 06 March 2008
The Christchurch agency that treats sexual offenders is now dealing with children as young as five. STOP Trust manager Don Mortensen said the age of pre-adolescents they were treating had got lower in the past few years, and they now were seeing some children in their first year of primary school. "We're now working with children down to the age of five and six," he said. "We don't call what they do sexual offending, it's sexually inappropriate, but some is quite disturbing." While it is described as sexually inappropriate behaviour, some of it would be serious enough to warrant charges if the offender was older. "It can be very serious. One boy was abused at school by a girl for a whole year _ at that age girls are bigger. She would strip him at school and assault him."

....Mortensen said there was no one reason why more young children were acting inappropriately, but they knew more at a young age than in the past. "Children are being exposed to explicit adult material. So it's right across the board children are much more sexually aware from a young age."
Family First Comment: We should be hugely concerned but not surprised by this revelation. What we sow, we reap. The Australian Childhood Foundation released research last year which showed problem sexual behaviour in children as young as six, which often appears to be influenced by sex imagery in the media – such as music videos, adult magazines, and internet pornography. This is challenging the previously held view that most child sex abusers were responding to having being abused themselves.

And a study in the US has warned that inescapable media images of sexed-up girls and women posing as adolescents can cause psychological and even physical harm to adolescents and young women. The pressure of what experts call "sexualisation" can lead to depression, eating disorders, and poor academic performance, said the report released by the American Psychological Association, "because their sense of self is still being formed".

A premature interest in a sexy appearance, an obsession about body image as a teenager, and an undermining of the social prohibition against seeing children as sexual objects and sexually attractive, are all huge warning flags that profits are currently more important than protecting the wellbeing of our children. It’s time that changed. Family First will continue to battle retailers like JayJays, Hells Pizza and many other retailers who attempt to cross these community standards, which are there for a very good reason.

Device helps fat kids cut screen time, and weight
Reuters 4 March 2008
A monitoring device that cut TV and computer time in half helped young, overweight children eat less and lose weight, US researchers said. And it worked without creating a lot of conflict between parents and their kids, they said. "It reduces all of those battles. The parents have to make one decision. After they make the decision, the device does the rest," said Leonard Epstein of the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York, whose study appears in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine.

...About half of the children had a TV monitoring device attached to their computers and TV sets that gradually reduced their TV time by 50 per cent. Researchers used the TV Allowance device made by Mindmaster Inc. in the study, but such machines are also made by other companies. The children needed to enter an access code to watch TV or play on the computer. When their allowance of screen time was used up, the TV or computer would not work.


Childhood now ends at 11, parents say (UK)
UK Telegraph 03 March 2008
More than half of parents believe that childhood is now over by the age of 11, according to a survey. The poll shows that children, desperate to keep up with their peers, are forcing parents to authorise freedoms that belie their years, in contrast with the traditional upbringings experienced by their mothers and fathers. Teenagers are increasingly being allowed to drink alcohol, stay out late and sleep over at their boyfriend or girlfriend's house, according to the survey for Random House Children's Books.

But many adults feel that parents are wrong to succumb and that youngsters grow up alarmingly quickly.... The survey of 1,170 parents with children under 18 blames parents for cutting short their sons' and daughters' childhoods by buckling to "pester pressure".


 Materialistic society is 'damaging' children: poll
Yahoo! News 26 February 2008
Children feel under pressure to own the latest designer clothes and computer games and most adults believe the "commercialisation of childhood" is damaging young people's well-being, a poll said Tuesday. A survey by GfK NOP for the Children's Society showed that out of the 1,225 adults questioned, 89 percent felt that children are more materialistic now than in previous generations. Evidence submitted to the inquiry from children themselves suggests that they do feel under pressure to keep up with the latest trends, the society added. The poll is part of a larger inquiry into childhood and includes evidence by professionals and members of the public on issues such as lifestyle, learning, friends and family.

Professor of child psychology Philip Graham -- who is leading the inquirys lifestyle theme -- believes that commercial pressures may have "worrying psychological effects" on children. "One factor that may be leading to rising mental health problems is the increasing degree to which children and young people are preoccupied with possessions; the latest in fashionable clothes and electronic equipment. "Evidence both from the United States and from the UK suggests that those most influenced by commercial pressures also show higher rates of mental health problems," he said.


'Yummy mummy' ideal makes modern mothers feel inadequate : survey
Daily Mail 28 February 2008
Looking after the children, keeping a spick and span house and perhaps juggling a job is enough to fill any mother's busy day. When you add in looking immaculate at all times, serving up home-cooked family feasts and making romantic time for a partner, the schedule looks even more daunting. But then Madonna seems to manage it. So do Victoria Beckham and Angelina Jolie.

Faced with such examples of domestic goddesses, the average mother can feel a little less than perfect. In fact, more than two-thirds believe the likes of Madonna and Co are putting mothers under pressure to live up to an unrealistic ideal, a survey has found. Four in five say they feel pressure to look good and feel sexy for their partner and more than a third say they feel the need to be a successful career woman as well.

Persistence found to be key to treating depressed teens
Reuters Feb 26, 2008
Teenagers whose initial drug treatment fails to combat depression, which happens in four out of 10 cases, can be helped by switching medicine and adding psychotherapy, a U.S. study published on Tuesday said. "The findings should be encouraging for families with a teen who has been struggling with depression for some time," said Dr. David Brent of the University of Pittsburgh who headed the research. "Even if a first attempt at treatment is unsuccessful, persistence will pay off. Being open to trying new evidence-based medications or treatment combinations is likely to result in improvement," he added.

The study, published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association, was conducted from 2000 to 2008. It involved 334 patients aged 12 to 18 with major depression who had not responded to two months of treatment with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor or SSRI, a type of antidepressant... The researchers found that about 55 percent of those who switched to either type of medication and added therapy got better, while 41 percent of those who switched to another medication without therapy also responded.

Teen anger 'caused by brain shape'
UK Telegraph 26 February 2008
Adolescent anger and aggression can be traced to differences in brain structure, scientists say. Variations in the sizes of parts of youths’ brains were found to be linked to different levels of aggression, belligerence and anxiety during discussions with their parents. Researchers filmed 137 adolescents aged 11 to 14 having discussions with their mothers and fathers, involving provocative topics such as “lying” and “talking back to parents”.

They were rated using standard scales used by psychologists for traits including anger, contempt, belligerence, anxiety, or being happy or caring. Each adolescent participant then had his or her brain structure mapped using a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner. Scientists then measured the sizes of different brain regions. They found that a larger than average amygdale – an almond-shaped brain structure known to be involved in emotions and memory – was associated with longer duration of aggression in both boys and girls. Boys with a smaller left anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) than right ACC, exhibited more anxious behaviour and “whined” more. The findings were reported yesterday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Sacha Coburn: Smack on the hand worth time in jail
NZ Herald February 26, 2008
I agree with Bob McCoskrie and Larry Baldock. Eight words which churn my stomach as I write them. When left-leaning, social liberals like me are forced to align with the fundies speaking in tongues and organising petitions, you know our little country at the bottom of the world has gone mad.

I want to smack my daughter. At least twice today I'm likely to threaten it and may even make meaningful preparations to carry it out. Send her to her room. Get the wooden spoon out of the drawer. Enough to be arrested for an attempted smack, I'd have thought. Is it wrong to fantasise about a night in the lock-up?

Report looks at elder abuse factors
NZ Herald February 26, 2008
Isolation, poor health and having family members with mental health or substance abuse issues raise the risk of elder abuse, a Families Commission report says. The study, released today, covers psychological, physical, sexual and financial abuse of the elderly.

This report gathers the views of a wide range of organisations, individuals and experts on how elder abuse and neglect occurs and what can be done to prevent it. It includes interviews with 15 older people who had been abused and 22 who had not.

Less than a month after the Sunday Star Times editor labelled Family First as " religious extremists " and " motley fanatics " and questioned whether " you really want to get in the passenger seat with them ?", they have done a feature article on us entitled..
Family values
Christian lobby group Family First claims it is fighting for a better New Zealand but critics say it's an extremist organisation backed by American fundamentalists.

Comments include:
"(Family First's) clever mining of a seam of public unrest has yielded political gold."
"...Family First is successfully broadening the Christian agenda in New Zealand politics in a way never seen before."
"Despite its claims to eschew party politics, Family First is helping to shape this October's election agenda and promises to be around for the long haul."

Despite not acknowledging the answer to their opening question (that the evidence proves we are not an extremist organisation backed by American fundamentalists!!), who the critics are, and a couple of factual errors and quotes out of context, it is still a reasonably balanced article.

You can read the full article HERE


Online Sex Offenders Target Teens - 25% boys
American Psychological Association 14 Feb 08
Contrary to stereotype, most internet sex offenders are not adults who target young children by posing as another youth, luring children to meetings, and then abducting or forcibly raping them, new research indicates. Rather, most online sex offenders are adults who target teens and seduce their victims into sexual relationships, researchers at the University of New Hampshire say. They take time to develop the trust and confidence of victims, so that these youths see the relationships as romances or sexual adventures.

So it is not the use of social networking sites as such that exposes adolescents to predators, but risky behaviour such as keeping buddy lists that include strangers and talking online to strangers about sex. "Most internet-initiated sex crimes involve adult men who are open about their interest in sex," says lead researcher Janis Wolak. "The offenders use instant messages, email and chat rooms to meet and develop intimate relationships with their victims. In most of the cases, the victims are aware that they are talking online with adults." Teens need more help to appreciate the danger of relationships with adults, she adds.

Among the findings of the study:
* Nearly 75 per cent of victims who met offender face-to-face did so more than once.
* Online sex offenders are seldom violent, and cases involving abduction or stalking are rare.
* Boys who are questioning their sexuality may be more susceptible to this type of crime. Researchers found boys were the victims in nearly one-quarter of criminal cases, and most cases included facts that suggested victims were gay or questioning their sexuality.

Narnia triumphs over Harry Potter (UK)
UK Telegraph 22 February 2008
The Harry Potter series has been comprehensively beaten in a poll of the best children's books of all time by a host of traditional classics. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Winnie the Pooh and the Famous Five all finished above the only Harry Potter book to make the top 50. The results are a surprise because the last four Harry Potter stories were the fastest-selling books in history. The poll was conducted among 4,000 parents - suggesting most believe in the superiority of the books they enjoyed as children over modern stories. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, by CS Lewis, was first published in 1950. The novel, the most famous in the Narnia collection, has been made into several TV series, theatrical performances and films with the recent Disney adaptation in 2005 making almost ᆪ400 million worldwide.

In second place was the picture book The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle which is said to have sold an average of one copy every minute since it was first published in 1960. Enid Blyton's Famous Five series, first written in 1942, came third in the poll, Winnie the Pooh by A A Milne was fourth and The BFG by Roald Dahl was fifth.


Labour's smacking laws could be 'unworkable' (UK!) 
UK Telegraph 20 February 2008
Senior judges want parents who are taken to court for smacking their children to be treated leniently. A mother or father who does not intend to hurt their child should get only light sentences, new advice for the courts is expected to say. The recommendations could make Labour's laws on smacking effectively unworkable. The rules are to be published today by the Sentencing Guidelines Council, the body headed by Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips.

It has suggested that parents who do not mean to harm their children should never be jailed. Documents prepared by Lord Phillips and colleagues said that if a parent who smacked a child had not meant to cause, or did not foresee, an injury they would not have intended to commit a crime. The Children Act of 2004 removed the defence of "reasonable chastisement" from parents who injured their children. Injuries as slight as a bruise can now result in an assault charge. However, in consultation papers the council said the courts should continue to give great weight to the "reasonable chastisement" doctrine. It said if there was no intention to cause injury, that should be "substantial mitigation".


Teens, parents may not see weight problem
Reuters 21 February 2008 
Many parents of children classified as overweight or even extremely overweight do not perceive their child as being excessively heavy, with some wrongly believing that their child is "about the right weight," new research suggests. In addition, if the parent fails to perceive a weight issue, odds are the child will also fail to see a problem. These findings are "important" and "troublesome," the researchers say in their report in the medical journal Diabetes Care, because recognition that a child is overweight is a critical first step to making diet and lifestyle changes to promote weight loss.

Dr. Asheley Cockrell Skinner of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and colleagues interviewed 104 adolescents with type 2 diabetes and their parents about perceptions of the adolescents' weight, diet and exercise habits. To gauge weight perceptions, the teens and their parents were asked if they thought the adolescents were "very overweight, slightly overweight, about right, slightly thin, or very thin?" While 87 percent of children were overweight by accepted standards, "only 41 percent of parents and 35 percent of adolescents considered the adolescent to be 'very overweight'," the team reports.

Teens addicted after one smoke
NZ Herald February 21, 2008
Smoking just one cigarette will leave one in four New Zealand children with symptoms of addiction, a ground-breaking research report has found. And teenage girls are at greatest risk, according to the New Zealand-based survey of almost 100,000 14- and 15-year-olds. Of respondents who smoked at least one cigarette, 50 per cent went on to become smokers. After smoking 10 cigarettes, more than 80 per cent of children became regular smokers. After 100 cigarettes, 95 per cent went on to become regular smokers. Tobacco cravings were reported by 46 per cent of those smoking less than one cigarette each month, while each subsequent cigarette meant a further slide towards addiction.

The study also identified that symptoms of tobacco addiction occurred earlier in girls than boys. Christchurch cigarette researcher and public health specialist Dr Murray Laugesen, who with Auckland University's Professor Robert Scragg and American researchers Dr Robert J Wellman and Professor Joseph Difranza was responsible for the report, said teenage girls' increased danger of addiction was related to estrogen, the hormone responsible for sexual maturity in females.

* 38 per cent of New Zealand 14- 15-year-old smokers smoke daily.
* Signs of addiction are present in 25 per cent of young smokers after the first cigarette.
* Each subsequent cigarette decreases ability of smoker to quit. 
* Even irregular tobacco use is linked to addiction. 
* Addiction symptoms appear earlier in girls, than boys.
* Interviewed almost 100,000 New Zealand smokers, aged 14 and 15, from 350 high schools, between 2002 and 2004.  Collected data on demographics, tobacco use and addiction indicators. Compared amount of tobacco use, with symptoms of addiction.

Parents will get powers to check up on paedophiles as government finally says yes to Sarah's Law (UK)
Daily Mail 17th February 2008
Parents are to be given new powers to check with police whether people given regular unsupervised access to their children have convictions for paedophile crimes, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said today. ...It will allow single mothers to ask police whether potential boyfriends have child sex convictions before they start a relationship. And family members or neighbours who regularly look after children could also be checked.

The announcement has been hailed as a victory for the long-running campaign for a "Sarah's law" allowing parents to obtain details of convicted paedophiles living in their neighbourhoods. The campaign was named after eight-year-old Sarah Payne, murdered in 2000 by Roy Whiting, who had previously spent time in prison for indecent assault of a girl. Police and probation services will have discretion on what information is revealed in each case and disclosure will be carefully controlled. But it is understood that if children are thought to be at risk, parents and carers will be told.

Parents would back ban on food ads aimed at kids
NZ Herald February 18, 2008
Parents want TV ads that promote unhealthy food and drink to children banned, according to a survey commissioned by a heavyweight health group. The poll, on behalf of the Chronic Disease Prevention Peak Group, found that 82 per cent of 401 parents and grandparents agreed or strongly agreed that advertising unhealthy products "using ads appealing to children" should be stopped. But there is less support for a blanket ban on all television advertising of food and drink products to children. Only 49 per cent wanted a ban on all products, healthy or not, during children's viewing hours.

Diabetes New Zealand, the National Heart Foundation, Cancer Society, Stroke Foundation and Te Hotu Manawa Maori are all members of the group. Peak spokesman Professor Norman Sharpe said that a third of those aged 5 to 14 were overweight or obese and advertisers were experts at targeting children.

Children's commissioner condemns support of jailed mum
Sunday Star Times 17 February 2008
A pro-smacking lobby group has been lambasted by the children's commissioner for supporting its "poster girl" mother jailed last week over an assault on her son, who was hogtied, kicked and beaten. Cindy Kiro told the Sunday Star-Times that Family First should be held to account for using mid-Canterbury woman Barbara Bishop's case as a prime example of parents being justified to use force to discipline children. "Which good parent could ever think that was appropriate discipline? This is vindication that some people have no idea where to draw the line and that this sort of behaviour is untenable," Kiro said.

......Family First national director Bob McCroskie denied holding Bishop up as the group's poster girl. "The children's commissioner has misrepresented us."

Family First Comment: The Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro seems to be attempting to discredit Family First, and her comments are factually inaccurate.

Family First has never commented on this case (although we are aware of the history of the family), and based on the facts reported, completely understand and support the verdict. We are pretty certain that Dr Kiro has a case of 'mistaken identity' - but it does reveal her paranoia over our existence.

It is also highly ironic that the Children's Commissioner wants us to be held to account, yet was...
- silent during the Trevor Mallard incident during the "It's Never OK" Violence Campaign funded by the government. 
- silent when the prostitution report from South Auckland was released earlier this year highlighting the number of young teenagers prostituting themselves
- silent when Police refused to prosecute a 21 year old who got a 13 year old pregnant (after starting the relationship when she was 11)
- silent over the recent cancelling of a sentence for a woman who pleaded guilty to infanticide
- silent over the ultimate child abuse of abortion
....yet is more interested in the rights of children to be able to purchase spray cans of paint for the purposes of tagging.

The bottom line is that childrens' interests are best served in the context of their own family. Government support for children must be through their families, not apart from families. Any office or structure which even appears to separate children from their families will be destructive in the long run - no matter how well intentioned. Laws are already in place which protect children in seriously dysfunctional families.
READ MORE "Parents deserve the right to raise their children."

NB: this is our "poster girl" mother....
She currently lives in South Auckland - at her place.

First-born children given 3,000 hours more quality parent time
Evening Standard (UK) 17 Feb 08
They may not realise that they are doing it, but parents spend an extra 3,000 hours of quality time with their first-born child than with subsequent children. First-born children perform better at school and even earn more money later in life as a result of the added attention, a study claims. The findings are likely to surprise families who believe they are treating all their children equally, regardless of age. The study found that parents do appear to spend approximately equal amounts of time with all their children on any particular day. However, when the total number of hours spent with each child between their fourth and 14th birthdays is totted up, the younger siblings lose out by around 3,000 hours, or 125 days.

Joseph Price, economics professor at Utah's Brigham Young University, conducted the analysis, which appears in the new issue of the Journal of Human Resources. He studied data from the American Time Use Survey, a federal government study involving 21,000 people, and compared hours spent by families on their children. Professor Price believes the difference is because the amount of time parents spend with children on a daily basis declines as families get older. First-born children get more attention simply because they pass through childhood when there is more overall family time to be shared.

Children Who Have An Active Father Figure Have Fewer Psychological And Behavioral Problems
ScienceDaily Feb 15 2008
Active father figures have a key role to play in reducing behaviour problems in boys and psychological problems in young women, according to a review published in the February issue of Acta Paediatrica. Swedish researchers also found that regular positive contact reduces criminal behaviour among children in low-income families and enhances cognitive skills like intelligence, reasoning and language development. Children who lived with both a mother and father figure also had less behavioural problems than those who just lived with their mother.

The researchers are urging healthcare professionals to increase fathers' involvement in their children's healthcare and calling on policy makers to ensure that fathers have the chance to play an active role in their upbringing. The review looked at 24 papers published between 1987 and 2007, covering 22,300 individual sets of data from 16 studies. 18 of the 24 papers also covered the social economic status of the families studied.


Study links alcohol sales and violence
The Age (Australia) February 15, 2008
EVERY new bottle shop opened in a rural area will lead to 32 assaults, and each new pub in the city will spark 17 domestic violence cases, alcohol researchers have claimed. Experts say a new study has for the first time confirmed a direct link between density of liquor outlets and alcohol-related violence. They say it will give local communities stricken by alcohol abuse clear evidence of social harm when objecting to a new liquor licence. Dr Tanya Chikritzhs of the National Drug Research Institute said the findings were the "tip of the iceberg".

"What we've presented is only the assaults that are reported to the police. Only around one in 10 domestic violence incidents actually get reported, so this is a much bigger problem that we thought," Dr Chikritzhs said. "We're seeing more and more deregulation of the industry, everyone wants a liquor licence, even hairdressers and video stores. It shouldn't just be about open slather and profits for a minority when the majority wear the cost." The study correlated assault figures with the number of "average-size" bottle shops and pubs to calculate additional annual assaults caused by a new outlet.

Parents' drinking influences teenagers
Reuters Feb 12, 2008
When it comes to alcohol, many teenagers may take a cue from their parents, new research suggests. In a study of more than 4,700 teenagers, researchers found that parents' drinking habits appeared to influence their children in both direct and indirect ways. In the first case, teenagers seemed to simply follow the example of a parent who drank excessively, the study found. In the second case, many teens seemed to view parents' drinking as a sign of lax parenting, and this, in turn, affected their likelihood of drinking.

...Latendresse and his colleagues report the findings in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. The study included 4,731 Finnish teenagers and their parents; all were part of an ongoing health study of twins born between 1983 and 1987. Parents were asked about their past and present drinking habits, as well as any alcohol problems. Their children were asked about any drinking at the ages of 14 and 17, and about their views of their home life. That included whether they thought their parents were "warm and caring," "indifferent" or "unjust." They also described their parents' tendency to monitor or punish them.

Overall, the researchers found, parents' drinking levels correlated with those of their teenagers. But it was more than a matter of the teenagers simply copying their parents. Instead, the link was partially explained by the teens' perceptions of their parents as monitors and disciplinarians. Parents who drank heavily tended to be lax in monitoring their children's comings and goings, but tended to punish them more often. Those tendencies seemed to influence their teenagers' odds of drinking and getting drunk, particularly at the age of 14, the researchers found.


Domestic violence victims to benefit as Govt boosts social services
NZ Herald February 13, 2008
Domestic violence victims will soon have state-funded advocates in some courts as part of a package of new social spending. Social service agencies were surprised at the size of the package announced by Prime Minister Helen Clark, which starts at $37.5 million in the next financial year and climbs to an extra $192.8 million a year by 2011-12. The extra money will fully fund all "essential services" provided by about 700 non-government agencies, including parenting programmes, budgeting, support for at-risk youth, women's refuges, family violence programmes, victim services and refugee and migrant services.

In a related measure, the Government will put an extra $6 million a year into specialist Family Violence Courts in selected centres, including independent victim advocates. The package relieves a financial crisis for the women's refuges, which said last year that they needed an extra $15 million a year on top of their current state funding of $5.5 million.

....But Te Whanau o Waipareira chief executive John Tamihere, who resigned from the Labour cabinet in 2004, said he would be watching the allocation of the new money closely to guard against favouritism. "I guarantee Barnardos is a major beneficiary, given the support that its chief executive gave over the anti-smacking legislation," he said. "If this is gerrymandering, you'll hear about it."
READ Family First Media Release "Goverment responds to Family First cal for NGO funding"


Half of mums 'abused' by kids - study
AAP 12 February 2008
Half of mothers experience some form of manipulation or bullying at the hands of their children, even if it is as simple as the silent treatment, a survey shows. A study of more than 1000 NSW women has found high rates of abuse inflicted by children, particularly teenage boys, but the mothers commonly excused it as typical behaviour.Researchers from the University of Western Sydney found that 51 per cent of those questioned had been on the receiving end of some kind of abuse.

"There are many types of violence that mothers experience from their children in the home, but people shouldn't assume violence has to be physical," said Professor Lesley Wilkes, who oversaw the project. "While bullying, hitting and threats of self-harm from their children are what mothers are most fearful about, the most common forms of child-to-mother violence reported are swearing and name-calling, demeaning parenting skills, damaging property, the `silent treatment' and aggressively making demands."

..."A blurred power dynamic between parent and child results in mothers experiencing frequent intimidation, lack of respect and bullying, which is not acceptable or typical teenage behaviour," Ms Edenborough said. The younger the child starts this behaviour, the longer it continues and the greater the amount of violence occurs, the study found.

Sallies slam Govt policies
The Press 12 February 2008
The Government is spending billions of dollars more on social policies to little or no effect, a damning new report says. The Salvation Army has slammed the Government's performance on a range of social service indicators, just as Prime Minister Helen Clark prepares to unveil Labour's programme at the opening of Parliament today. In its first state-of-the-nation report, the Salvation Army found that despite increasing core social spending by $16 billion to $39b a year over the past 10 years, there had been little increase in social progress. "In fact the gap between the rich and poor appears to be widening."

The report -- What does it profit us? -- found fault with a host of areas of Government policy in areas Labour prides itself on achievements. More children were in the care of Child, Youth and Family, and the incidence of child neglect and abuse was rising. Youth offending was on the increase, along with teen pregnancy, abortion, and accident rates. There was continuing educational inequality, rising serious and violent crime, and a burgeoning prison population. Kiwis were drinking more, and gambling more, losing $2 billion a year -- an average of $656 per person, the Salvation Army said. Against this, wage growth remained "very modest", 250,000 people remained on welfare benefits, household debt was up and houses were fast becoming unaffordable.

The Salvation Army's social policy and parliamentary unit director, Major Campbell Roberts, said the Government was placing too much emphasis on economics and not enough on the way people were living their lives. "More children appear to be at risk of harm, more are engaged in petty crime, there is more violent crime and more people in jails," Roberts said. "While more New Zealanders are working than ever before and many have benefited from the recent housing market boom, incomes have risen only modestly, we are chronically indebted, and home ownership rates have dropped. If we are to make real social progress then we need as a country to reflect on the relative priority we give to economic issues versus social concerns.

MAIN FINDINGS CYF referrals up 24% since 2005. Youth Court cases up 28% since 2001. 8300 women aged 15-19 pregnant compared to 7000 in 2001. Serious crime up 28% since 2002. Prison population up 36% since 2002. Prison running costs up from $431m to $862m. Wage growth 5.1% since 2002.


7 y/o boy wants to return to school as a girl (US) (Colorado) 7 Feb 2008 
The issue of being transgender usually pops up with students in high school. However, a 2nd grade biological boy wants to dress as a girl and be addressed with a girl's name. "As a public school system, our calling is to educate all kids no matter where they come from, what their background is, beliefs, values, it doesn't matter," said Whei Wong, Douglas County Schools spokesperson. Wong says the staff at one of Douglas County's schools is preparing to accommodate the student and answer questions other students might have. In order to protect the child as much as possible, 9NEWS has chosen not to reveal his school or other names that might identify the child.

"I see this as being a very difficult situation to explain to my daughter to explain why someone would not want to be the gender they were born with," said Dave M. His daughter will be in the same class as the student.

Pearson (executive director of a national organization called TransYouth Family Advocates) says children as young as 5 years old are realizing their true gender identity and her group wants to help parents who may be resisting the acceptance of this. "Parents are likely to think this it's a phase, but how long do phases last?" said Pearson. "With these kids, it's something that's very consistent."
World Net Daily


Starting school at 4 'no help to children'
UK Telegraph 08 February 2008
Children in England start school lessons earlier and sit more tests but still perform no better than in other countries, researchers say today. They find school "stressful" as they are subjected to academic lessons in English and maths at the age of four. In countries such as Sweden and Finland, where children do not start school until seven, pupils often outperform English children by the age of 11. English primaries are also bigger than in most other countries - with an average of 224 pupils against 128 in Scotland - and make pupils sit exams more often, at a younger age and in more subjects.

In a damaging conclusion, it is claimed more parents educate their children at home or in alternative Steiner schools because they believe schools are "too constrained by the imperatives of performativity". The findings - made as part of a two-year review of primary education by Cambridge University - will fuel fears that the target-driven nature of modern schooling is damaging childhood.


Adult children living at home 'strain families' (UK)
UK Telegraph 07 February 2008
A growing generation of “boomerang” children who stay at home into adulthood is straining family life to breaking point, researchers have warned. Some are students who return to the nest after university, saddled with debt, but others are simply unable to leave their domestic comforts behind and remain through their 20s and 30s. Family homes are being turned into battlegrounds as a result, with physical and verbal aggression rife as parents and children clash over drugs, alcohol and money, the charity Parentline Plus said.

... The number of children who suffer what has been described as “failure to launch” syndrome has increased dramatically. One recent study found that the proportion of young adults who return home after initially fleeing the nest has almost doubled since the late 1950s from 25 per cent to 46 per cent. Another claimed that 27 per cent of first time home leavers return home at least once, and that one in ten newly independent young adults move out and in again up to four times before they leave permanently.

The problem has become so severe that Parentline is drawing up a self-help guide for affected families. In its report published yesterday, entitled Will They Ever Fly The Nest?, the charity calls for more support for parents seeking to assert their influence and authority, particularly where drugs and violence are concerned. It also wants the Government to provide them with information about issues like housing benefits, grants and training opportunities.


Parents think Government does not value them
NZ Herald February 08, 2008
Two-thirds of parents feel the Government does not place much importance on their role in society. A Research New Zealand poll of 500 people for the Families Commission has found that only 33 per cent of parents feel that the Government sees their role as "important" or "very important". The finding has sparked an $800,000 Families Commission campaign to make parents feel more valued and to give them useful information.Slogans such as "Parenting is the best job you'll ever do", and "Parenting is a complex task offering several different roles", will appear soon on supermarket trolleys, bus shelters and other media. The advertisements will refer people to the Families Commission's website, which has been revamped to include parenting advice and links to agencies such as Plunket, Parents Centre and Barnardos.

The commission's chairman, Dr Rajen Prasad, said the Research NZ poll showed that parents felt, "We value our role as parents hugely, and we think our friends and family do, but we don't think society does."...... Bob McCoskrie of the Family First lobby group said parents felt undermined by Government measures such as the removal of reasonable discipline as a defence against assault charges.
Dominion Post

Study finds U.S. music awash in booze and drugs
Reuters Feb 4, 2008
U.S. popular music is awash with lyrics about drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Medical researchers have reviewed the words of the 279 top songs of 2005 to estimate just how common they are. Their report on Monday showed a third of the songs had explicit references to substance abuse. And two-thirds of these references placed drugs, alcohol and tobacco in a positive light by associating them with sex, partying and humor, according to the team led by Dr. Brian Primack of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

They calculated that with Americans aged 15 to 18 listening to 2.4 hours of music daily, they hear 84 musical references to substance use a day and more than 30,000 a year. Certain genres contained more references than others -- for example, rap and country music far more so than pop. The study did not quantify references to sex, violence or expletives. Primack noted that music and popular culture in general long have been infused with substance use references.

...The study, published in the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, did not draw conclusions about the music's effect on young listeners. But the researchers said there is evidence that exposure to certain media messages can increase substance use among adolescents.

Multiple wives will mean multiple benefits (UK)
Telegraph (UK) 04 February 2008
Husbands with multiple wives have been given the go-ahead to claim extra welfare benefits following a year-long Government review, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal. Even though bigamy is a crime in Britain, the decision by ministers means that polygamous marriages can now be recognised formally by the state, so long as the weddings took place in countries where the arrangement is legal.

The outcome will chiefly benefit Muslim men with more than one wife, as is permitted under Islamic law. Ministers estimate that up to a thousand polygamous partnerships exist in Britain, although they admit there is no exact record. The decision has been condemned by the Tories, who accused the Government of offering preferential treatment to a particular group, and of setting a precedent that would lead to demands for further changes in British law.

....Islamic law permits men to have up to four wives at any one time - known as a harem - provided the husband spends equal amounts of time and money on each of them.;jsessionid=Z5ME0NNATBJPPQFIQMFCFGGAVCBQYIV0?xml=/news/2008/02/03/nbenefit103.xml
Family First Comment: How long before the NZ government also crosses this line??? The argument against the introduction of civil unions legislation (apart for it simply being a cover for smae sex 'marriage') was that it opens the floodgates to other alternatives to marriage such as polygamy and polyamory. Marriage between a woman and a man should be given special status and encouraged by the state - not weakened and compromised as is now happening.

Primary principals seek more real men
NZ Herald February 05, 2008
Many primary school principals believe male primary teachers should be heterosexual, rugby-playing "real men" if they want to be good role models, new research has found. One respondent in the study - being published in international journal Gender and Education - referred to the "limp" handshakes of two male teachers who appeared ineffectual and wussy when interviewing for jobs. In that case, strong females were hired instead. The findings come amid repeated calls to raise the proportion of male primary school teachers, which fell from 42 per cent in 1956 to just 18 per cent in 2005.

....The survey was sent to 250 randomly selected primary principals nationally, of which 169 responded. While the initial survey was sent out in 2005, the paper is being published this year. The majority replied that more male role models were needed - a view shared by 94 per cent of the male principals who responded and 87 per cent of the female principals. The main reason was to meet the needs of single-parent children. Seven per cent specifically mentioned the need for a "father figure". Sports leadership was the second most cited reason why more male role models were needed in schools. Just 29 per cent added the proviso that a male role model also needed to be a good teacher.


Outrage as Dr Death helps healthy NZ woman die
Sunday Star Times 03 February 2008
A New Zealand woman who was not terminally ill killed herself with lethal drugs she smuggled home from Mexico after seeking advice from Australian euthanasia campaigner Dr Philip Nitschke, known as Dr Death. Details of the Wellington woman's death believed to be the first such death of a physically fit person in New Zealand have surfaced as Nitschke, head of pressure group Exit International, arrived in New Zealand to hold suicide seminars in Auckland, Wellington, Nelson and Christchurch. The revelations have prompted harsh criticism of Nitschke, who encourages euthanasia supporters to travel to Mexico to buy the drug phenobarbitone, commonly called Nembutal and used by vets to destroy animals.

"We are appalled at this woman's death it's a great tragedy. It's outrageous [Nitschke] is teaching people about this and getting away with it," said Right to Life New Zealand spokesman Ken Orr. The case was worse because the woman was not suffering a fatal illness, he said. "It's sad to see vulnerable people being enticed by his programme to commit suicide."

Nitschke was yesterday unrepentant over his role in the death, saying it was "arrogant and paternalistic" to review someone else's decision about when to die. "You're not in her shoes. She obviously made an assessment and decided her life was not worth living any more. You can't simply look at the medical records." However, he admitted most people found euthanasia more palatable for severely ill patients. "I don't doubt if we had prevented her to have access to do what she did, she would have gone and done it in a far more common way."


Don't say mum and dad... teachers told not to assume pupils have heterosexual parents (UK)
Daily Mail (UK) 30th January 2008
Teachers should not assume that their pupils have a "mum and dad" under guidance aimed at tackling anti-gay bullying in schools. It says primary pupils as young as four should be familiarised with the idea of same-sex couples to help combat homophobic attitudes. Teachers should attempt to avoid assumptions that pupils will have a conventional family background, it urges.

It goes on to suggest the word "parents" may be more appropriate than "mum and dad", particularly in letters and emails to the child's home. When discussing marriage with secondary pupils, teachers should also educate pupils about civil partnerships and gay adoption rights. The guidance - produced for the Government by gay rights group Stonewall - will be formally launched today by Schools Secretary Ed Balls. It states that children who call classmates "gay" should be treated the same as racists as part of a "zero tolerance" crackdown on the use of the word as an insult.

Teachers should avoid telling boys to "be a man" or accuse them of behaving like a "bunch of women". This sort of rebuke "leads to bullying of those who do not conform to fixed ideas about gender", the guidance states. At the same time, schools should encourage gay role models among staff, parents and governors. Homosexual staff should be able to discuss their private lives after the consultation with the head teacher.


Social workers target poor parents at budget supermarkets, urging them to put their toddlers in nurseries
Daily Mail (UK) 1st February 2008
Parents who shop in budget supermarkets and appear poorly dressed have been approached in the street and urged to put their toddlers in childcare. Social workers trawled shopping centres to fill places in a controversial Government scheme which grants free nursery places to disadvantaged two-year-olds. Ministers hope the scheme will persuade more mothers back to work. They also claim it will give poor children a better start in life, closing the social class gap in education. But critics voiced outrage yesterday at "offensive" tactics used in up to 32 local authority areas to entice parents to take part.

An official report on the initiative revealed that outreach workersrepeatedly knocked on doors to target families who take "a lot of persuading" on the benefits of nursery education. They also stopped parents in the street after assessing their appearance or shopping habits for signs they fit the criteria for the scheme because they are on benefits or low wages. Some parents who were waylaid as they emerged from shops or post offices were asked sensitive questions about their household income. Many took offence, forcing the workers to operate in pairs for safety.

The report also reveals the scheme was jeopardised by the refusal of many parents to take up the free nursery places. They told social workers they believed two-year-olds were too young for institutional care and preferred to bring up their children at home.

Too busy to eat, the working mothers with 'stressorexia'
Daily Mail (UK) 2nd February 2008
Modern women pride themselves on being able to juggle a career and a family while still looking good. But the drive to have it all has started to take its toll, according to experts. They say that a new type of eating disorder is emerging among maturer women - "stressorexia". The condition affects those in their late 20s to 40s who are unwilling or unable to reduce their workload. As they become drained, anxious and stressed-out, they stop eating properly, and can experience dramatic weight loss.

Experts claim that "stressorexia" is different from the more common anorexia. Most sufferers of anorexia are younger and have emotional problems, choosing not to eat as a way of keeping control over their bodies. Many have negative feelings about themselves, such as low selfworth, extreme fear of rejection and a distorted self-image.

But "stressorexia" is occurring in older, motivated and intelligent women with high expectations. It is believed that the disorder may often start with a skipped lunch due to work deadlines but can quickly worsen. But these women, who live in a world where the lines between the sexes' traditional roles have been blurred, then begin to feel that food is the only thing they can control. Dr Adrian Lord, consultant psychiatrist at the Cygnet Hospital in Harrow, a private psychiatric clinic, said: "Stressorexia is not a scientific diagnosis that a doctor would make but anecdotally its symptoms are very prevalent among women.


Survival of early babies 'doubles' (UK)
UK Telegraph 01 Feb 2008 
The abortion debate is reignited today as figures show that survival rates of babies born very prematurely have doubled in the past 20 years. By the late 1990s 71 per cent of babies born between 22 and 25 weeks' gestation survived. A study at one of Britain's top neonatal units found that one third of babies born between 22 and 25 weeks' gestation survived in the early 1980s but this had risen to 71 per cent by the late 1990s. The biggest improvements were among the 24 and 25-week babies.

Campaigners have already called for the 24-week abortion limit to be lowered, but experts have previously argued there has been little improvement in the chances of babies born very early. The findings are set to spark a further row over abortion as MPs are tabling amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill to either liberalise terminations or restrict them. The 24-week limit was set in 1990.;jsessionid=W0HPA45FC3BQPQFIQMFSFGGAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2008/02/01/nabort101.xml

Parent coaching no help, for you or kids
Mercury (Aust) February 01, 2008
PARENT training programs don't reduce reduce behavioural problems in toddlers, an Australian study shows, suggesting they may be a waste of time and money. On average, behavioural problems afflict every seventh child aged four to 17, previously studies have shown. Aggressive or extremely defiant youngsters are said to have externalised problems, while those of kids who withdraw, or suffer anxiety and depression, are described as internalised.

...One approach is to deal with the problems as they emerge through counselling, drug treatment, or psychiatry. But this is expensive, and not always effective. Another tack is to try to nip the problems in the bud by discouraging the kind of parenting that can lead to troubled behaviour, such as unduly harsh discipline and unrealistic expectations.

For the study, published in the British Medical Journal, researchers enrolled 300 mothers and their eight-month old tots in the Melbourne area into the training program. Unlike earlier studies, this one looked not just at high risk families, but a representative sampling of parents and children from poor, middle income and wealthier families. The scientists, led by Harriet Hiscock at the Centre for Community Child Health in Parkville, Australia, compared behaviour of the test group over an 18-month period with another set of mothers and kids who did not receive any special counselling. The results showed very little difference between the two groups. Mothers in the program were somewhat less abusive and acquired more realistic expectations of how quickly their children would progress. But there was no significant difference is the level of behaviour problems in the children, or in the mental health of the mothers.,22884,23142969-5005940,00.html

Assault charge against father seen as test case
The Press 30 January 2008
Christchurch professional musician Jimmy Mason has been charged with assaulting his two children in what Family First says will be a test case for the anti-smacking law. When he spoke to The Press this month the 49-year-old Christchurch man admitted to flicking his three-year-old son's ear to reprimand him for riding dangerously near a busy street next to the Bridge of Remembrance on December 19. Mason, who complained about the way the incident was handled by the police, said he flicked son Seth after a biking accident involving his two-year-old son, Zach, who had injured his eye. Mason was given a warning by police after the incident, which he wanted removed from his record.....

Family First national director Bob McCoskrie was astounded to be told Mason had been charged. "That's amazing," he said. "That's going to be a test case. I think everybody has been waiting for a case like this to go before a judge so we can get a new interpretation of the law. It's an uncertain law, which is the worst part of it. Some say it totally bans smacking and some say it doesn't." McCoskrie said his organisation could be interested in helping Mason, although it had not yet been asked to do so. "From the initial report it didn't seem that serious, but it would depend on the facts."


Referendum looms on smacking law
Sunday Star Times 27 January 2008
The rancorous smacking debate is set to be reopened this year, with an election day referendum looking increasingly likely. Anti-smacking campaigners are closing in on the number of signatures they need to force the referendum. Family First director Bob McCoskrie said activists have gained 273,000 of the 300,000 signatures needed to trigger a Citizens Initiated Referendum. Activists, including Christians, libertarians and Act supporters, were working hard to get the remaining 30,000 signatures by the March 1 deadline.

"We are totally confident we will get there. We are going to make it the issue of 2008," he said. Also heavily involved in collecting signatures is new group Unity for Liberty, led by Craig Hill, who says he has a Christian background. "It's going great guns," he said. While any referendum would be indicative only, not binding, it would have the potential to be a powerful rallying point for anti-Labour forces in election year because of Labour's role in backing the legislation. It could also put renewed pressure on National to reconsider its position on smacking.

Read Sunday Star Times Editorial - Beware Extremists with loaded questions
The Right has found a heavy club to beat the government with: a referendum on smacking at the next election. This is a brilliant ploy by the religious extremists of Family First. It will gather not only libertarians, Act voters and other motley fanatics of that kind, but many decent and ordinary people. It is as though the Brethren had found a cause that appealed to the mainstream. The political and social effects are likely to be large and wholly malign.

Embryos at risk of disease can pass clinic tests, parents warned
Sydney Morning Herald January 22, 2008
THE genetic testing of embryos at risk of developing deadly diseases is not foolproof, and all parents should be extensively counselled on the risks, experts say. The warning yesterday came after a couple declared that they were suing a Melbourne fertility clinic because pre-implantation genetic testing had failed to pick up that their son was carrying an inherited cancer gene. They are suing for damages to cover hospital and medical expenses for their son's entire life and for the cost of rearing a child without the gene.

Embryos, grown in laboratories, are usually tested when they are three days old and made up of about eight cells, but some clinics wait until the embryo is five days old and has more than 100 cells, giving the test greater accuracy. Cells can be checked for up to 100 diseases such as Huntington's, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, Down syndrome and fragile X syndrome, sparing couples the trauma of a termination if the embryo is later found to be carrying a deadly gene.

But a fertility specialist at IVF Australia, Michael Chapman, said yesterday the technology was not foolproof and any patient wanting it needed to have two hour-long sessions of counselling with a genetic counsellor to make sure they understood the risks. "It's all about the counselling. People need to understand that even with our best endeavours, there is a possibility it may not be accurate."

Anti-smacking worries push foster parents out
NZ Herald January 21, 2008
A South Auckland foster care group says a quarter of its foster parents have quit because of the "anti-smacking" law passed last year. South Auckland Caregivers Association chairwoman Allysa Carberry said the repeal of section 59 of the Crimes Act, which allowed caregivers to use reasonable force to "correct" children, had made a chronic shortage worse. "A quarter of our members have left because of section 59. I could rattle off about 10 in South Auckland. I know of many, many caregivers who have been longstanding caregivers but won't do caregiving any more. It's too dangerous. These kids are really hard. They just don't care who they hurt, and you need really special people to take them on. If you have a kid that is yelling and screaming at you, what are you supposed to do?"

Child, Youth and Family Services has faced mounting problems finding foster parents in recent years, as the number of children in care has grown by 18 per cent in the past five years to 5049, while the number of single-income families with one parent available at home for caregiving has shrunk.

We can work it out
AAP 14 January 2008
Couples who try to sort out their relationship difficulties on their own are only half as likely to make improvements than those who enter therapy, Australian research has found. An extensive review of Australian and international relationship therapy research has concluded that couples who worked on their relationship together with a therapist have a 65 per cent chance of achieving a mutually satisfactory improvement in their relationship.

"If they don't receive help their chance of a good outcome is only 35 per cent," said Dr Matthew Bambling, a psychologist and relationship therapist at Queensland University of Technology. And success rates weren't much better if only one person underwent therapy, according to the review published in the journal Couple Therapy in Australia.

MySpace makes site safer for kids 19 January 2008
MySpace agreed Monday to make the nation's largest social-networking site safer for children by checking ages more carefully, granting parents greater control and building higher walls between its adult and younger users. MySpace remains at the front of Internet-based social networks, and as networking became popular in recent years -- MySpace now has 110 million registered users -- problems emerged: Minors received sexual solicitations and links to pornography, were bullied, and sexual predators used sites in abductions.

On Monday, MySpace agreed to create an e-mail registry for parents, who will be able to submit their child's e-mail addresses, then restrict access to MySpace. MySpace also agreed to search for better ways to verify ages and make other changes in an agreement with nearly all the nation's attorneys general. Monday's deal is not a complete solution -- for example, the goal of accurately verifying the ages of online users remains elusive -- but experts suggested it was a good first step. "Is this a good start? Yes," said Paula Selis, senior counsel in the consumer protection division of the Washington State Attorney General's Office. She worked on the agreement. "I foresee this becoming a template for the industry." The other social-networking behemoth, Facebook, was not named as part of Monday's agreement, but was supportive.


Take fee complaints to schools parents told
The Dominion Post 19 January 2008
The Government is advising angry parents who are charged too much in voluntary school fees to complain to principals and school boards. But principals say the Government should admit that schools are underfunded and that the free education system is only subsidised. Education Minister Chris Carter said schools could raise funds for "extras", such as sports trips or camps, but were adequately covered for core activities such as delivering the curriculum.

"If any parent has concerns about the level of donation they are asked to make, I would advise them to approach a member of the board of trustees or the principal." Asked what an appropriate parental donation was, a spokesman said it was up to schools to set fees. Rates would depend on school projects and "what parents think is a fair contribution". Mr Carter's comments have sparked fears that more parents will refuse to pay fees this year, undermining schools' financial viability. Though state school funding rose to $5.6 billion last year, schools raised more than $500 million from community sources to stay afloat.

Schools 'should let' children change gender
The Press 18 January 2008
A ground-breaking inquiry by the Human Rights Commission is calling for law changes to recognise the rights of transgender people, including allowing children to change gender at school. Its report, released today, recommends the Human Rights Act be amended, adding "gender" to the grounds of discrimination to reinforce that transgenders are protected by law. It also wants simpler procedures for changing sex on passports, birth certificates and other legal documents so they match a transgender's identity. The 18-month inquiry, believed to be a world first of its type, found that four out of five transgender people had experienced discrimination - at school, work, in the street, and in daily interactions with shops, government agencies and health professionals.

Discrimination against transgender (or "trans") children at school came in for particular attention. Some schools refused to acknowledge a change to a birth name, ignored bullying or got into conflicts with trans children about what they wore to school. "There is a need for schools to think about how to be flexible with the rules to make sure that kids do participate," said Human Rights Commissioner Joy Liddicoat, who led the inquiry. "Can you imagine your child going off to school in the morning and hiding behind a bush to change their clothes and then bracing themselves for a conflict with their teacher just about what they are wearing?" she said. One person told the inquiry she legally changed her name when she was 16. However, her high school refused to issue school reports under that name and required her to use the male toilets and changing rooms, where she was harassed. The report says transgender children should be able to play sport and use appropriate changing rooms and toilets without fear, humiliation or embarrassment.

Kindy sex lesson anger
Mercury (Tasmania - Australia) January 18, 2008
A PARENT has complained her five-year-old daughter was taught sex education at a school in Hobart and revealed she was assaulted by two boys in her class just after the visit from Family Planning. The claims have prompted calls for the course only to be taught with parental consent. The parent, who did not want to be named, said her kindergarten child had come home and "said the word vagina".

"I was shocked," she said. "They were taught what a penis and a vagina was, which I don't think they should in kinder. "I told the principal if I had known anything like that was going to happen, I would have kept my kids at home all week." The parent said her child told her about the alleged assault when she put her to bed that night. "That's when she told me that two boys in her class had put their hands down her pants, and she said she bashed them," the mother said.,22884,23070861-921,00.html

'Loser' T-shirts removed from display
Sydney Morning Herald January 17, 2008
Fashion retailer Jays Jays will remove its Miss B**ch and Mr Well-hung T-Shirts from window displays after a New Zealand lobby group complained they were being marketed to children. The Family First New Zealand lobby group claimed the shirts - which carry slogans including Miss B**ch, Miss Wasted, Miss Floozy, Mr Well-hung, Mr A**hole and Mr Pimp - sexualised teenagers and young children. "We should not be subjecting them to adult concepts, experiences or identity before they are mature enough to cope with them," said Family First director Bob McCoskrie.

Just Group managing director Jason Murray acknowledged the Little Losers range had caused concern in some sections of the community, saying it "has been interpreted as contrary to the Jay Jays brand essence of youthful fun, energy, value and realism". He said Jays Jays would immediately take all Little Losers shirts out of window displays in all Australian and New Zealand stores and would not restock any shirts that carry alcohol-related messages or sexual innuendos.

Dominion Post
Christchurch Press
Waikato Times

Parents urged to boycott sexy-slogan T-shirts
The Press 17 January 2008
A family group has called on parents to boycott shops that stock a line of T-shirts, carrying sexually suggestive slogans, for children as young as 10. Family First New Zealand is also calling for a national debate on the "sexualisation" of children and teenagers. Retailer Jay Jays is selling the Little Losers line of T-shirts, emblazoned with slogans such as Miss Bitch, Mr Well-Hung and Miss Floozy. They are made by Florida company David and Goliath, and the line also includes Miss Wasted, Mr Pimp and Mr Drunk.

Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said the T-shirts sent a terrible message to impressionable adolescents. "It is time the business community, which includes retailers, advertisers and the media, demonstrated social leadership in this area," he said. "The sexualisation of our teenagers and young children is a serious issue, and these shirts are just one example of many where profits are being put before the safety and well-being of our children and families," he said. "We need to let children be children. We should not be subjecting them to adult concepts, experiences or identity before they are mature enough to cope with them." Jay Jays stood by its decision to sell the Little Losers range.

Father warned for disciplining boy, 3
The Press 14 January 2008
A Christchurch father is fuming after he received a police warning for hitting a child after he flicked his son's ear in public as a reprimand. Professional musician Jimmy Mason flicked the ear of his son, Seth, at the Bridge of Remembrance just before Christmas after the three-year-old disobeyed his instructions while riding his new bike. The toddler took off down a ramp and was followed by his brother, Zach, two, who was also on a new bike. Seth made the tight corner but Zach did not, and injured his eye. "Seth just wanted to go on riding. He didn't realise the seriousness of it with the youngest one slipping in and out of consciousness," Mason said. "So I turned to Seth and flicked him on the ear and told him to shut up while we fixed up the young one," Mason said.

A nearby teacher took umbrage, an off-duty policewoman rang the incident in and in minutes later Mason was surrounded by six police officers. "They were going to arrest me and were trying to ascertain whether it was safe for the kids to go home with me," he said. "It was pretty bizarre to tell you the truth."

I said to the cops that I need to impress upon him (Seth) what he did was wrong and I need to impress it on him straight away and asked them how they suggested I do it. "They didn't know and I said to them, 'Well, you've just told me what I did was wrong so you must know what is right'." In the end, Mason was not charged but he was told that a warning would go on his record for hitting his child. "It needs to be on record that I disciplined him for something he deserved, not that I'm a child beater.

Families use a day out to display happiness
UK Telegraph 13 January 2008
Family days out were once thought of as a way for parents to keep their children occupied for a few hours. But according to researchers, modern British families are increasingly opting for "highly visible" public activities to demonstrate to the outside world that they are a happy, united group. Whether it be eating out together at a restaurant, a walk in the park or visiting a museum, studies show that the decline of the traditional nuclear family has created a need for new-look families to put themselves on display.

Families made up of step-children, adopted children, new partners and same-sex couples, and which may include close friends such as godparents, increasingly feel the need to make clear to themselves and others that they are a cohesive unit. Conventional families have the same instinct, say researchers. Instead of staying at home watching television in different rooms, parents are keen to show that they are spending quality time with their children. Relatives from different parts of the country who make the effort to meet up want to celebrate their bond in public.;jsessionid=FSJAI5DNIY0ZFQFIQMFCFGGAVCBQYIV0?xml=/news/2008/01/13/ndayout113.xml


Eating with family keeps girls healthy
Sydney Morning Herald January 9, 2008
MEALS at the family dinner table could be the key to preventing a generation of teenage girls from developing eating disorders. New research shows girls who regularly have family meals are much less likely to adopt extreme weight control behaviours such as vomiting, binge eating and using laxatives or diet pills. A study surveying more than 2500 American high school students found that girls who ate five or more family meals a week had a much healthier relationship with food in later life. The research, published in international journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, polled students aged 13 to 17 in 1999 who were followed up five years later. Regular family meals were found to have a protective effect regardless of the girls' age, weight, socio-economic status, dieting habits or relationship with her family.

Experts say doctors should encourage families to have dinner at the table instead of on the couch in front of the television to protect against serious eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. Belinda Dalton, director of eating disorders clinic The Oak House, said eating with family helped "normalise" young people's relationship with food. "When adolescents are feeling that they're not coping they turn to something that they can control and food is something available and accessible for them to control. Clearly, if they're sitting with their family on a regular basis then their family can be more in control of their eating," Ms Dalton said. "It's about families and young people feeling connected within their family and that builds self-esteem and sense of worth and that works very actively against someone developing an eating disorder."

Sex offenders agree to 'chemical castrations'
UK Telegraph 06 January 2008
Two convicted sex offenders are set to undergo a "chemical castration" using drugs that curb their sex drive. The pair are the first to be treated under a controversial new programme aimed at preventing sex attackers and paedophiles from re-offending. They will be given daily tablets or monthly injections that reduce male testosterone to levels found in prepubescent boys.

However the measures, which were introduced by John Reid, the former home secretary, have been criticised for being voluntary. Prison doctors and probation officers cannot be certain that sex offenders will continue with their treatment and experts say the sexual craving returns if the treatment is stopped. The programme is not a replacement for jail terms but can be taken as part of a programme in prison or after release. It will focus on those who have the most serious conditions of "hyperarousal" and intrusive sexual fantasies, including prisoners prone to sexual sadism, necrophilia, voyeurism and exhibitionism.;jsessionid=M4C2XOBSOZRLPQFIQMFSFFOAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2008/01/06/ncastrate106.xml


Twice as many teens on benefit
The Dominion Post 07 January 2008
The number of teenagers on the sickness benefit has more than doubled since 2000, and poor mental health, particularly depression, is cited as a factor. Government figures show there were 2196 young people aged from 16 to 19 on a sickness benefit last year, up from 1077 in 2000. The number of teenagers on the invalid benefit had also increased from 1934 to 2779 during the same period.

Social Development and Employment Minister Ruth Dyson was not concerned about the figures, saying the overall increase was "hardly a change at all". National welfare spokeswoman Judith Collins, who issued the figures, urged the Government to do more to help. "We are talking about kids. There is no way this many should be claiming a sickness benefit. It is very alarming and I find it quite shocking."

Family First backs anti-anti-smacking petition
NZPA 03 January 2008
Family First NZ says it is not surprised a petition against the recent "anti-smacking" legislation has reached 250,000 signatures. National director Bob McCoskrie said the majority of New Zealanders believed the bill was "ideologically flawed" and it had failed to protect infants such as Nia Glassie.

The petition is being run by former United Future MP Larry Baldock, who hopes it will gain the 300,000 signatures required to hold a referendum before the next election. Mr McCoskrie said MPs from the Green Party and United Future had in the past claimed petitions with less than 50,000 signatures were indications of the public's wide support. "Family First looks forward to both the Greens and United Future leading the process to scrap the anti-smacking law, to leave good parents alone, and to target the real causes of child abuse and actual child abusers," Mr McCoskrie said.

Family violence list
NZ Herald January 03, 2008
Family First is praising Wellington police for keeping a weekly list of the 10 worst family violence offenders and sharing private information on them with anti-violence agencies and Child, Youth and Family. But the Council of Civil Liberties says police could be breaching the presumption of innocence and perverting the course of justice, Radio New Zealand reports.

Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said the police actions made sense. "At last we are taking proactive action towards at-risk families rather than placing good families under unnecessary suspicion and investigation which the anti-smacking law has done."

Police praised for at-risk scheme
Christchurch Press


Children who miss sleep 'at risk of obesity'
Telegraph (UK) 01 January 2008
Children who do not get enough sleep are at greater risk of becoming obese, according to new research. Scientists found that seven-year-olds who got fewer than nine hours per night were more than three times more likely to be overweight or obese than those who slept for longer. The researchers believe that sleep restriction leads to hormonal changes in the stomach and in fat cells that trigger increased appetite.

Professor Ed Mitchell, of the University of Auckland in New Zealand, said: "Sleep is important for health and well-being throughout life. Our results show a strong effect of short sleep duration on risk of obesity even when levels of daytime activity are adjusted for. This effect was independent of physical activity or television watching. Attention to sleep in childhood may be an important strategy to reduce the obesity epidemic. Prof Mitchell and colleagues, whose research was published in the American journal Sleep,


Despite all the hype, babies still suffered in 2007
NZ Herald January 02, 2008
Officially New Zealand designated 2007 as the year to say no to violence against children. In practice, it was more of the same, sad story. The controversial anti-smacking bill passed nearly unanimously and the Government launched a multi-million-dollar, nationwide campaign against domestic violence. Yet the tragic stories of violence towards children continued


Plan to throw book at truants' parents
The Dominion Post 01 January 2008
Parents who do not ensure their children attend school could be forced to take courses in parenting skills as part of a crackdown on truancy. In the run-up to the new school year Education Ministry officials are preparing advice for the Government on ways to punish parents who ignore their legal responsibilities under the Education Act. Moves being considered include more prosecutions, stiffer fines and giving judges powers to make erring people sit parenting skills courses to address problems such as anger management, drug and alcohol abuse, and budgeting.

The plans follow The Dominion Post's revelation that the Government's new electronic enrolment system has uncovered thousands of children who are not even enrolled. Education officials are battling a truancy tidal wave, with as many as 30,000 children cutting class each week.

Boys 'can learn healthy lessons from toy guns'
The Scotsman 29 Dec 07
The advice may go against the instinct of almost every parent, but new guidance says young boys should be encouraged to play with toy guns. According to recommendations from the UK government, playing with pretend weapons at an early age may encourage an enthusiasm for learning. In the new guidelines, nursery staff are told to resist their "natural instinct" to stop boys playing with weapons. But some teachers have criticised the advice for nurseries in England and Wales, warning that toy guns "symbolise aggression" and adding that the advice amounted to gender stereotyping.

The guidance – Confident, Capable and Creative: Supporting Boys' Achievements – was issued by the Department for Children, Schools and Families. It says: "Sometimes, practitioners find the chosen play of boys more difficult to understand and value than that of girls. They may choose activities in which adults involve themselves least, or play that involves more action and a greater use of the available space, especially outdoors. Images and ideas gleaned from the media are common starting points in boys' play and may involve characters with special powers or weapons. Adults can find this type of play particularly challenging and have a natural instinct to stop it. This is not necessary, as long as practitioners help the boys to understand and respect the rights of other children and to take responsibility for the resources and environment. Creating situations so that boys' interests in these forms of play can be fostered through healthy and safe risk-taking will enhance every aspect of their learning and development."

Boys fall behind girls in educational development at an early age, a pattern that continues throughout their later years at school. The guidelines aim to help boys improve by "creating the right conditions for boys' learning" before they start formal primary education. Making use of boys' interests can help them to become more engaged in their education, the document suggested. But the National Union of Teachers in England yesterday criticised the advice on toy guns. Steve Sinnott, the NUT general secretary, said: "The real problem with weapons is that they symbolise aggression. "We do need to ensure, whether the playing is rumbustious or not, that there is a respect for your peers, however young they are. "The reason why teachers often intervene when kids have toy guns is that the boy is usually being very aggressive."


Smacking law political issue of 2007
TVOne News Dec 27, 2007
The smacking debate was politically the biggest issue of the year, with politicians pitted against parents who say they are sick of being told by the government how to run their lives. The anti-smacking legislation was introduced by Greens MP Sue Bradford and she says what followed was a lesson in just how brutal politics can be.  For months, New Zealand screens were bombarded with news of the Anti-Smacking Bill, with some supporting the bill and seeing it as a means to help stop the rampant child abuse in New Zealand and many others seeing it as a means of the government controlling how parents bring up their children. Those who were against the bill were more louder and showed their discontent by protesting up and down the country, but the protests were in vain as by May, MP Sue Bradford's anti-smacking law became a reality in parliament by 113 votes to seven.

...."The law appears to be working perfectly and in line with what we intended... there were gross exaggerations and ridiculous lies about what would happen as a consequence of my bill going through. Those fears, those lies have not come to fruition," says Bradford. But her opponents disagree. "I think the politicians were suckered into an ideology that it felt good. It seemed like the solution to our child abuse problems but our experience is that it's had no effect on child abuse rates and we've had five child abuse deaths since the passing of the bill... In fact while the bill was being passed Nia Glassie was being hung on a washing line," says Bob McCroskie from Family First NZ. The debate continues to goes on and many are saying it could heat up once again as a petition is already doing the rounds, which could mean the issue comes up in a referendum when voters go to the polls next year.

Schools told to encourage boys to play netball and dance to 'balance gender'
Daily Mail (UK) 27 Dec 07
Schools have been told to encourage boys to play netball and take dancing lessons in a bid to promote "gender equality". The move which sees boys moving on to the traditionally female netball court is part of a Government drive to ensure that school children are more 'gender balanced'. Every local authority in the country had to publish a "gender equality scheme" earlier this year to meet new anti-discrimination legislation. As a result hundreds of schools have adopted schemes that suggest boys should take up traditionally female pursuits - and vice versa. Schools most also ensure that more girls study traditionally masculine subjects such as science.

In preparing their guidelines for schools, a string of councils around the country, including Plymouth Leicester, Nottingham and Buckinghamshire posed the question: "Do you encourage girls to participate in rugby, cricket, football and basketball and boys in netball, rounders, badminton and dance?" Schools are encouraged to develop "open-minded attitudes" and promote positive role models for boys and girls. They are also asked: "Does your school challenge gender stereotyping?"

The plan is a response to updated sex discrimination legislation that says it is unlawful for schools to provide classes for only one sex where this would amount to less favourable treatment of the other sex. It has been taken by some cautious schools to mean that not offering netball lessons to boys is discriminatory. However, some head teachers fear that council guidelines suggesting sports lessons be expanded to offer the same options to boys and girls could be a step too far. Last night Mick Brookes, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "It doesn't make sense to promote things to boys that they don't want to do, simply so you can tick a box on a form.";jsessionid=5HNPDKK4W0B2DQFIQMFSFFWAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2007/12/27/netball127.xml&site=5&page=0

"Shoddy Research" in Study Claiming all Types of "Sex Ed" Delayed Teen Intercourse
Made no distinction between abstinence education and usual "comprehensive" sex ed December 19, 2007
A new American study has implied that any or all types of "sex education" significantly delays the start of sexual activity in teens. But what some news media is downplaying is that the research made no distinction between abstinence education and more mainstream "comprehensive" sex education based on contraception. In the study, students were understood to have received sex education if they had either or both types of instruction. The study, published in the January issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health, says that male teens who received "sex education" in school were 71 per cent less likely to have sexual intercourse before age 15. Similarly educated female teens were 59 per cent less likely. The researchers found that sex education reduced by 91 per cent the risk that African-American females in school would have sex before age 15. The data used was from an older survey, the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth, and included a sample of 2019 never-married males and females aged 15-19 years.

MSNBC news began the media coverage with the headline, "Sex education found to increase abstinence in early teens". The MSNBC report, however, made no mention of the fact that the study had not separated abstinence education with the type of education that has been criticised as actually encouraging young people to engage in sex before marriage. Wendy Wright at Concerned Women for America called the study, and the media's reaction to it, "another example of shoddy research and misleading summaries".

'Jail men who pay for sex' - UK
UK Telegraph 20 Dec 2007
Men who use prostitutes could soon face a fine or even jail under new plans to make it illegal to pay for sex. Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman, who is also women’s minister, confirmed the Government is studying the law in Sweden, where prostitution was recently made illegal. At present it is not an offence to pay a prostitute, although women can be prosecuted for running a brothel or offering themselves for sale on the streets. There are also some limits on kerb crawling, however this is usually dealt with using anti-social behaviour orders.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today Programme, Mrs Harman said she supported criminalising men who use prostitutes as a means of tackling the rising problem of sex trafficking. She went on: "I think we do need to have a debate and unless you tackle the demand side of human trafficking which is fuelling this trade, we will not be able to protect women from it. "That is what they’ve done in Sweden. My own personal view is that’s what we need to do as a next step. "Do we think it’s right in the 21st century that women should be in a sex trade or do we think it’s exploitation and should be banned?;jsessionid=Y0ZITI5RG5VI3QFIQMFSFFWAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2007/12/20/nsex220.xml


New smacking laws make little impact
NZ Herald December 20, 2007
Police have issued nine warnings to parents who have smacked their kids after attending 15 cases of reported smacking in three months. The results are taken from a review, three months since the amendment to section 59 of the Crimes Act - also known as the anti-smacking bill. The review was undertaken to see what effect the law change would have on the police workload. From June 23 to September 28 there was no increase in the number of smacking events police attended.

Deputy Commissioner, Rob Pope said claims that the repeal of section 59 would lead to the prosecution of parents and the removal of children from their homes have been proven wrong. "While this is only a three month snapshot I am confident that police are taking the same common sense approach to these events as we always have, with officers using their discretion to ensure the appropriate action is taken," Mr Pope said. Police attended 111 child assault events, three of which involved smacking and 12 involved "minor acts of physical discipline" during the three month period, Mr Pope said. The 15 cases were determined not to be in the public interest to prosecute and warnings were given out in nine cases.

The review report can be seen here:

Read Family First Media Release - Family First Rubbishes Police Review on Smacking Law

Younger Generation More Likely to Find Porn Acceptable
Family News in Focus 18 Dec 07
Surprisingly, many of their parents agree with them. College students — male and female — tend to find pornography acceptable. That's according to a study by Brigham Young University, to be published in the January issue of the Journal of Adolescent Research. The study, which included more than 800 students at six colleges, found 86 percent of men had viewed porn in the last year. Surprisingly, nearly half of the women said that was OK by them.

Professor Jason Carroll, who authored the study, said the numbers speak volumes. “This might be an indication of the way porn is portrayed in the popular media," he said, "the way that they see it in the sitcoms, the shows, the way it’s talked about, where it’s so normative and mainstream.” The study also found 37 percent of the fathers surveyed and 20 percent of the mothers agreed with their kids’ acceptance of porn.

BYU study: College women more accepting of pornography than their fathers
Study: Young adults now find porn more acceptable


Violent video games creating uncontrollable kids Sunday 16, 2007
New studies suggest that violent computer games and movies are creating a generation of children unable to control their violent behaviour. Anthropologist Dr Stephen Juan joins TODAY to explain the influence violent media may be having on our kids. "Researchers at Columbia University have shown through recent studies that watching violent programs can cause the parts of your brain that suppress aggressive behaviours to become less active," explains Dr Juan.

Columbia scientists show that a brain network responsible for suppressing behaviours like inappropriate or unwarranted aggression became less active after study subjects watched several short clips from popular movies depicting acts of violence. These changes could render people less able to control their own aggressive behaviour.

"When a child sees violence they get a survival reaction the fight or flight response," he explains. "When a baby or young child sees a violent image Cortical pumps into the brain helping them deal with the stress, but it also kills brain cells. This can be quite damaging in babies considering their brains are in the process of developing. A similar action happens in adults but it is less severe," he says. "This is more shocking considering American children spend an average of three to four hours a day watching TV and Australians would not be far behind. More than 60 percent of television programs contain violence with approximately 40 percent with heavy violence," he explains.

Electoral Finance legislation: What it all means
NZ Herald December 19, 2007
Any group or person wishing to campaign for or against a particular candidate or political party, or policies held by a party, will fall under the third-parties regime. The following rules apply:
From January 1 next year, anyone spending more than $12,000 must register with the Electoral Commission and abide by certain rules including appointing a financial agent to authorise all advertising and keep track of donations and spending, filing a return at the end of the election as well as an audit if they spend more than $30,000.
The upper spending limit is $120,000 overall and up to $4000 on any one candidate.
Groups or people with similar goals cannot collude on campaigns in the hopes of pooling their spending limits.
Anyone directly campaigning for a party or candidate must have written authorisation from that party or candidate. The third party spending is included in the election spending caps of the party/candidate as well.
All advertising published, including DVDs, on the internet or in the media, pamphlets, banners and billboards, must have the name and contact address of the person authorising it.
The last date to register is three weeks before the election. Anyone who decides to begin a campaign after this point will be restricted to spending less than $12,000.

No restrictions on openly made donations but identities of donors of more than $10,000 to a party, $1000 to a candidate or $5000 to a third party must be disclosed in returns.
Donations include money, and the market value of any free or cut-price goods and services they get.
Anonymous donations can be made directly to a party of up to $1000 at any time.
"Transmitters" of funds - such as trusts which take donations to pass on to a party - must reveal donors of more than $1000.
Anonymous donations of more than $1000 must be made as "protected disclosure donations" - they go to the Electoral Commission to pass on to the party or candidate. The commission takes the donor's details but must not disclose it to anyone. The donor must not reveal that they have made the donation.
The maximum amount one donor can give to a party this way is $36,000. Parties can collect a total of $240,000 in any three-year electoral cycle. Third parties can get up to $1800 from any one donor and take up to $12,000 overall.
Overseas entities and people can give only up to $1000 unless they are New Zealand citizens.
The new rules affect only donations to third parties for use in election campaigning. Donations given for general purposes are not covered.

From January 1 next year, parties can spend only up to $2.4 million on electioneering - a total of $1 million for each party and $20,000 for each electoral district they stand candidates in.
The cap does not include taxpayer-funded spending by MPs as part of their normal work as MPs. There is some debate about what exactly this covers.
The expenses include the market value of donated goods or services provided to the party, such as advertising space.
The limits do not include the cost of travel, polling, volunteer workers, or replacing damaged advertisements.
If a party starts an advertising project - such as issuing a DVD - before January 1 but continues to publish or distribute it after that date a proportionate part of the costs must be included as election expenses.
After the election, parties' financial agents must provide returns of election expenses and donations, as well as have election expenses audited.

Financial agents can be liable for fines of up to $100,000 or up to two years in jail for a corrupt practice under the act, or a $40,000 fine for an "illegal practice".
Any other people face fines of $40,000 for corrupt practice or $10,000 for an illegal practice.

Binge drinking behind sexual health 'epidemic'
UK Telegraph 17 December 2007
Binge drinking among women is causing an epidemic of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, doctors have warned. Research has found that almost nine in ten women who attended a sexual health clinic admitted binge drinking - an average of two and a half bottles of wine in one sitting. Three quarters said they had unprotected sex because they were drunk. Women who were diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection drank 40 per cent more than those who did not, showing a much stronger link between risky behaviour and alcohol consumption than previous thought.

...The first detailed UK study carried out in sexual behaviour and alcohol questioned 520 people who attended one genito-urinary clinic in a city in the south of England. A third of women in study (92 women), who attended the clinic reported a pregnancy and 41 of them had undergone a termination. Half said of those who were pregnant said it was unwanted and more than a quarter of those said they had been drinking before having unprotected sex.

...Linda Tucker, one of the main authors of the study and a consultant nurse in sexual health and HIV, said: "The link between sexual risk and drinking too much is not the most original idea in he world but we now have clear scientific evidence of the relation ship. The Government needs to reflect this link both in their sexual health and alcohol strategy - which at present seems not to link alcohol and sexual risk behaviour.;jsessionid=MH3LEQ0MQBFQNQFIQMFSFFWAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2007/12/17/nbinge117.xml


Family advocate wants rethink
NZ Herald December 17, 2007
A proposal that would allow claims of psychological abuse to be treated in the same way as violence claims in family breakdowns could be used as a weapon against parents, a family advocate says. The proposal was contained in a Ministry of Justice discussion paper released last week. It suggests broadening the Care of Children Act to recognise psychological abuse as another form of violence. Any law change would mean parents would be banned from seeing their children while such claims were being investigated - a process that can take months.

Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said psychological abuse was subjective and difficult to define, opening up the possibility it could be misused. "It could be used as a weapon to penalise [a parent]," Mr McCoskrie said. "What's concerning is these situations are always no-win situations for both parties. The family is already under so much pressure and in response we throw another factor in the mix to sort out who's wrong.

He likened such moves as being the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, which could be avoided by strengthening families before they got to the point where intervention was needed. "It's bottom-of-the-cliff type stuff." Family First wanted to see more parenting courses and to get the "fundamental" things right before having to try to define psychological abuse. "At the end of the day we have to act responsibly as adults. It's the children who are victims in this."

New rules could instantly bar parents from kids
Sunday Star Times December 16 2007

Three out of four parents physically discipline their children
The Press 14 December 2007
Three out of four young parents physically discipline their children -- and one in eight have seriously assaulted them -- a Christchurch study reveals. The study, completed before smacking was outlawed, asked 155 parents under 25 how they acted towards their children in the previous 12 months, taking into account punishments such as smacking and assaults such as burning and choking. Researchers concluded the use of child physical punishment was likely to be common among young parents and up to 12 per cent engaged in "harsh or abusive treatment".

Lead researcher Canterbury University Associate Professor Lianne Woodward said social and family background had a big influence on the parents' use of physical punishment. "We found that young parents are less likely to smack or use more severe physical punishment methods if they are caring for fewer children, have low levels of financial and relationship stress, and have had positive parenting role models on which to base their own," she said.

Family First's national director Bob McCoskrie said the study was consistent with earlier findings. "This study doesn't establish that smacking should be banned. It simply shows there are at-risk groups -- already identified by Unicef and CYF reporters -- that need resourcing, support and training. "The fact that there's 12% admitting they've physically assaulted a child shows we need to do more proactive work. It's not the smacking, it's the way some parents smack. This study highlights that exact point."


5000 children 'slip through the cracks'
The Dominion Post 11 December 2007
The Education Ministry has uncovered a lost tribe of 5000 children it admits have "slipped through the cracks" and are not enrolled at any school. Officials concede the non-enrolment figures - detected by the Government's new computerised enrolment tracking system - are much worse than anyone had thought. The situation is likely to be shown to be worse once data from primary schools is added to the mix of intermediate and secondary pupils. The Government is vowing to crack down on truancy in the wake of the revelations, with the ministry preparing to prosecute parents who have not enrolled their children.

...Schools can prosecute parents whose children do not attend, though prosecutions are rare and the maximum fine for the first offence is only $150. About 30,000 pupils are estimated to cut class each week.

Gambling hits poor hardest
NZ Herald December 11, 2007
One in every six New Zealanders knows someone in their household or wider family who has got into financial trouble through gambling. A nationwide "baseline" survey of 2000 people, conducted just before the start last March of a $3.9 million advertising campaign aimed at raising awareness of problem gambling, has also found that 9 per cent of New Zealanders admit to spending "more time and money gambling than I meant to" at least once in the previous year. Professor Max Abbott, of the Auckland University of Technology, who has led previous gambling surveys, said there had been no previous measures of the gambling fallout on society through questions such as whether someone in "your wider family or household" had had to "go without something they needed, or not paid some bills" because too much was spent on gambling. The result - 16 per cent said yes - was "higher than I would have thought", he said.

The survey confirms that the fallout is especially hard on low-income groups. Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of people in the poorest income areas said yes, compared with only 16 per cent of those in middle-income areas and 9 per cent in the richest areas. More than a third (38 per cent) of Maori knew someone in their household or wider family who had got into financial trouble by gambling, compared with 28 per cent of Pacific people, 13 of Asians and 12 of Europeans and others.
READ Family First's Submission to Select Committee on the Gambling Amendment Bill

Australian Medical Expert Advocates Baby Tax to Offset "Greenhouse Gas" Emissions
Calls Parents of Large Families "Polluters" and Hints that Australia should Adopt One Child Policy December 11, 2007
The Medical Journal of Australia has published a widely-publicized article by a medical professor advocating draconian taxation for parents who have more than two children, in order to offset the carbon emissions the child is likely to generate and contribute to "global warming." The article is the latest of an increasing number of public statements from global warming advocates calling for world de-population as one crucial solution to the program. The peer-reviewed article, written by Professor Barry Walters of the King Edward Memorial Hospital in Perth, advocates requiring the parents to pay an upfront tax of $4,390 USD for each child born after their second child, and up to $700 annually thereafter.

The article argues that "Every newborn baby in Australia represents a potent source of greenhouse gas emissions for an average of 80 years, not simply by breathing but by the profligate consumption of resources typical of our society. Far from showering financial booty on new mothers and rewarding greenhouse-unfriendly behaviour, a 'baby levy' in the form of a carbon tax should apply, in line with the 'polluter pays' principle," Walters continues. Walters also implies that the infamous "one child policy" used in China, which has resulted in numerous coerced late-term abortions and post-partem infanticides, should also apply to Australia:  "I believe we deserve no more population concessions than those in India and China," he writes.

...Although it is Walter's profession to treat the illnesses of human beings, he ranks them second in importance to "the environment". He approvingly quotes David Attenborough, who said that "instead of controlling the environment for the benefit of the population, we should control the population to ensure the survival of the environment."


Too much TV, study finds
Sydney Morning Herald 12 Dec 07
CHILDREN aged 10 to 12 years spent two hours and five minutes a day doing moderate physical activity, half the amount they did when they were aged five to six. They watched "excessive" amounts of television, averaging three hours a day, a longitudinal study by Deakin University has found. Forty per cent of 800 families surveyed in 2001, 2004 and 2006 had two televisions at home, and 32 per cent of boys and 25 per cent of girls aged 10 to 12 had a set in their bedroom, said the director of the Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, Professor David Crawford, yesterday. "Television viewing has been linked to increased risk of overweight and obesity," Professor Crawford said.

He presented the findings of the study, CLAN: Children Living In Active Neighbourhoods?, at a conference in Sydney called Tackling Childhood Obesity In Australia. The recommendation for children's viewing is no more than two hours a day, he said. In terms of barriers to physical inactivity, the study found that 21 per cent of secondary students preferred TV or electronic games, 19 per cent thought they looked funny when being active and 18 per cent said they did not have anyone to be active with. For primary school students, their parents said 29 per cent enjoyed doing things other than physical activity, 13 per cent thought their child was not the sporty type and 11 per cent thought most of the child's friends did not play sport.


Wealthy dads not paying for kids
The Dominion Post 10 December 2007
Hundreds of "delinquent dads" earning six-figure salaries are shirking their child support obligations, refusing to stump up cash to provide for their children. Information obtained by The Dominion Post under the Official Information Act shows there are 326 parents earning more than $100,000 who are behind in their child support payments. Meanwhile, thousands more on lower incomes are in arrears, with the Inland Revenue Department chasing almost $1.2 billion in unpaid child support.

The department refused to disclose the salaries of the top10 highest-earning defaulters, citing the secrecy provision of the Tax Administration Act, but it said that income liable for child support assessment was generally capped at $104,312. There are currently 1248 parents assessed at or beyond this upper limit, meaning a quarter of those high earners are electing not to pay.
The Numbers
$1.18 billion in child support is currently in arrears.
$464 million is assessment debt; the remainder is penalties.
133,732 parents with a child support liability.
25 per cent of parents have failed to keep up with their obligations.
IRD wrote off $9.19 million in child support in the past year.
83.68 per cent of liable parents are male; 16.14 per cent are female and 0.18 per cent gender is unknown.
In 2007, a total of $357 million was collected; in 2005, $318 million was collected.
If parents keep to their repayment arrangements, Inland Revenue writes off the same percentage of their penalties as they have repaid of their assessment debt. So if a person repays 20 per cent of their debt within six months, then 20 per cent of the incremental penalties will be written off.


Content may offend
The Press 08 December 2007
The boom in rudeness and crudeness on TV and in advertising has meant a field day for both the prurient and the prudish. PHILIP MATTHEWS investigates whether it's really anything to get worked up about. ...It's inarguable that society has got more permissive, that we can see and hear things that would have been unimaginable two or three decades ago. Whether it's having any negative effect is harder to discern. Especially if you put aside the issue of criminality -- the cop-hating videogames and rap tunes that Family First's national director, Bob McCroskie, believes have contributed to a growing culture of disrespect for the police -- and focus on explicit sex, satire and black humour.

The big one this year has been TV3's Californication. News that the series opened with a scene in which Duchovny appeared to receive oral gratification from a nun got McCroskie's moral-watchdog group organising a boycott. Targeting advertisers is a trick that the Moral Majority in the United States perfected in the 1980s. It's relatively new here, although Catholic leaders attempted it last year when the same network played South Park's infamous "Bloody Mary" episode -- the one in which a statue of the Virgin appeared to squirt menstrual blood into the face of the Pope.

That time, no advertisers bit. This time, McCroskie claims success. He says that 12 out of 18 or 19 targeted companies took their ads out of Californication. This didn't hit TV3 in the pocket, because it was able to move those ads elsewhere and bring others into the show. "It hasn't gone to air lacking ads," says TV3 company secretary and legal counsel Clare Bradley.


Boy gives teacher black eye, blood nose
The Dominion Post 08 December 2007
Teachers are calling for Government action after three attacks by pupils at a Cambridge school. On Thursday a 12-year-old boy at Cambridge Middle School punched his 48-year-old female teacher in the face, causing her head to smash into a door. The teacher, who had earlier been subjected to verbal abuse and obscenities, suffered a swollen cheek, bleeding nose and black eye. Two days earlier, two female teachers at the school were assaulted as they tried to protect a teenage girl being attacked by another girl in the playground. Both alleged attackers have been suspended and police are investigating the incidents. Principal Ross Tyson said the decile 8 school was "going through hell". "It is shocking that we should be subjected to unprovoked violent assaults like that."

A report commissioned by the New Zealand Educational Institute reveals that one in seven primary and intermediate teachers were physically assaulted by pupils last year. Mr Tyson said "scary" assaults came from both sexes at schools across the decile range. Over the past 18 months, Wellington pupils have been kicked out of schools for a range of assaults, including flicking acid at a teacher, and knocking a teacher unconscious with one blow. Mr Tyson said the Government needed to help schools struggling to cope with children from dysfunctional families.

One in three young adults hit by drink
The Press 07 December 2007
New Zealand's binge-drinking culture is now so deeply ingrained that one in three young adults has an alcohol problem. Experts say a generation that has grown up with alco-pops, a lower drinking age and heavy marketing of hard liquor is now suffering the effects and urge health professionals to take action. The comments follow the release of a disturbing study from Otago University's Christchurch School of Medicine. A survey of more than 1000 25-year-olds found one in three admitted to an alcohol problem and one in 20 was alcohol-dependent or had an addiction where liquor ruled their lives and they needed it to function. Those with the most disturbing alcohol problems were the least likely to acknowledge they had a problem.

Addiction experts say the results are disturbing but not surprising, given the country's binge-drinking culture, lowered drinking age and the prevalence of "hard liquor"... The study, which has just been published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, found those who sought help did so at the urging of family or friends.

Another Study Shows Connection between Abortion and Substance Abuse December 4, 2007
An Australian research team has found a close connection between previous abortion and drug and alcohol abuse. The work is added to a growing body of scientific research showing the long-term negative psychological effects of abortion on women. Young women who have abortions are more likely to drink heavily and abuse hard drugs, the study found. The study of 1,122 young women, born at the Mater hospital in the early 1980's, showed that about one third had an abortion. This one third was three times more likely to have abused methamphetamine, heroin or sniffed glue. They were twice as likely to be binge drinkers or alcoholics, and 1.5 times more likely to suffer depression. 

Researcher Kaeleen Dingle, from the University of Queensland, commented, "This is a very interesting but also very controversial finding and it still remains to be seen what exactly the connection is." "It might be that women who have abortions are also more likely to live a riskier and more abusive lifestyle but there's also some evidence to suggest the procedure itself could put women on that path."


CYFS too quick to take kids, says study
NZ Herald December 06, 2007
The Government's top social workers say a "culture of blame" over child abuse is driving social workers into taking children from their families to avoid any risk of being blamed if things go wrong. Child, Youth and Family Services (CYFS) chief social worker, Dr Marie Connolly, and her predecessor Mike Doolan say "sensationalist" media coverage of high-profile child deaths is making social workers less willing to trust the families of the children referred to them. The number of children and young people in CYFS care has risen by half this decade, from 3533 in 1999-2000 to 5191 at the end of last year, despite an actual decline in child deaths from 1.07 a year for every 100,000 children in the 1990s to 0.79 a year in the first five years of this decade.

In a new book on child homicide, Dr Connolly and Mr Doolan call for a move away from the "culture of blame" to what they call a "public health model of welfare" which targets the whole range of factors that lead people to harm children. In a foreword, the director of the Australian Centre for Child Protection, Dorothy Scott, calls for specific moves to:
* Cut problem drinking by raising alcohol prices, restricting advertising and tightening parents' control of their children's drinking.
* Make sure health services reach all new mothers and catch post-natal depression.
* Work proactively with vulnerable men in custody disputes.


American College of Pediatricians: "It's Okay for Parents to Spank"; Suggests Guidelines December 3, 2007
The American College of Pediatricians (ACP), a national medical association of licensed physicians and healthcare professionals who specialize in the care of infants, children, and adolescents, has issued a position statement on the use of spanking by parents, just as the Massachusetts legislature takes up a bill to ban that form of parental discipline. Despite scientific evidence suggesting that reasonable corporal punishment by parents is beneficial to children, the United Nations has pushed nations to ban parents from using spanking as a form of discipline.  That interference with parental rights is one of the issues that has caused much consternation over the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

ACP carefully reviewed the available research on corporal punishment and concludes, in its position statement on the subject, that disciplinary spanking by parents can be effective when properly used. "It is clear that parents should not solely rely upon disciplinary spanking to accomplish control of their child's behavior," says the just-released position statement. "Evidence suggests that it can be a useful and necessary part of a successful disciplinary plan." Den Trumbull, MD, FCP, principal author of the statement explained, "When a child defies a parent's instruction, spanking is one of a few options parents can consider to correct the misbehavior."  Trumbull added: "Spanking is most appropriate with children 2 to 6 years old, and when milder types of correction have failed."
See the guidelines HERE
In addition to its policy statement, ACP has published an extensive review of the scientific literature on the subject of corporal punishment and its use in discipline which is available HERE:

Medsafe says Gardasil safe despite adverse reports
NZ Herald December 04, 2007
Health officials in New Zealand are standing by the safety of the cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil after reports almost 500 in Australia have had adverse reactions since it became widely distributed there this year. Sydney's Daily Telegraph reported yesterday that 496 have had adverse reactions to the vaccine, including seizures and numbness. Of those, 468 listed the vaccine as the sole suspected cause. It was, however, not clear how many of those adverse reactions were serious. The report also mentioned links between the vaccine and seven deaths in the US.

Medicines regulator Medsafe said in a statement that it remained confident of the vaccine's safety and efficacy. "Gardasil has been deemed safe for use in more than 70 countries, including Australia, the United States, the 27 countries of the European Union, Mexico, Taiwan, Brazil and Canada." The vaccine is not yet publicly available in New Zealand, but Prime Minister Helen Clark signalled last month that public funding for it may be fast-tracked following the British Government's decision to go ahead with it.

Website to tackle youth depression
The Press 03 December 2007
Youth depression is the target of a new website launched by the Ministry of Health. The interactive website,, has been created to help young New Zealanders understand and recover from depression. ...The website is part of the Ministry of Health's national depression initiative (NDI), which aims to reduce the impact of depression on the lives of New Zealanders. The initiative was launched in October last year, and has included television commercials featuring John Kirwan talking about his personal experience of depression, and encouraging people to seek help.

To date, over 25,000 calls have been made to the Depression Helpline. Research shows that young people are less likely to respond to these commercials by seeking help than adults. They tend not to visit GPs and are less likely to use helplines, preferring to get support from other sources such as their friends, family, the Internet, magazines and school counsellors. The site was developed and designed in consultation with youth, and includes online support services.


Ritalin use doubles after divorce, study finds
Reuters June 5 2007
Children from broken marriages are twice as likely to be prescribed attention-deficit drugs as children whose parents stay together, a Canadian researcher said on Monday, and she said the reasons should be investigated. More than 6 percent of 633 children from divorced families were prescribed Ritalin, compared with 3.3 percent of children whose parents stayed together, University of Alberta professor Lisa Strohschein reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. The study of more than 4,700 children started in 1994, while all the families were intact, Strohschein said. They followed the children's progress to see what happened to their families and to see what drugs were prescribed.

"It shows clearly that divorce is a risk factor for kids to be prescribed Ritalin," Strohschein said. Other studies have shown that children of single parents are more likely to get prescribed drugs such as Ritalin. But is the problem caused by being born to a never-married mother, or some other factor? "So the question was, 'is it possible that divorce acts a stressful life event that creates adjustment problems for children, which might increase acting out behavior, leading to a prescription for Ritalin?'" Strohschein said in a statement. "On the other hand, there is also the very public perception that divorce is always bad for kids and so when children of divorce come to the attention of the health-care system -- possibly because parents anticipate their child must be going through adjustment problems -- doctors may be more likely to diagnose a problem and prescribe Ritalin."

Treats threaten kids
Herald Sun (Australia) December 03, 2007 
Overfeeding is a major threat to children's health, especially through sweet treats used as behaviour bribes, a new study has found. Up to half of all parents rely on popular treats such as Tiny Teddies, juice boxes or lolly snakes to get kids to sit still or behave in the supermarket, Queensland University of Technology research shows. "This is undermining a child's ability to self-regulate, and how to eat when they are hungry and not to eat when they are not," nutrition professor Lynne Daniels said. She called for an end to the overfeeding of children and the offering of food for emotional reasons.

...Children's food preferences were set by the time they were five, giving parents a narrow window to set good habits, Prof Daniels said. Feeding babies even titbits of cake and soft drink can give them a taste for sweet and salty foods over nutritious fruit and vegetables. Up to half of mothers are encouraging bad habits by using food as bribes, rewards or as a way to alleviate boredom, the QUT survey of 361 mothers of babies aged one to three has found.

Prof Daniels found that many parents:
OFFER food as rewards.
GIVE up too quickly when offering healthy food.
OFFER food to alleviate boredom or when their child was upset or needed to be kept occupied.
CONTINUE to offer food once the child has signalled he or she is not hungry.
Prof Daniels said children needed to be offered new foods about 10 times or more before they became familiar enough to accept and like it.,21985,22858462-662,00.html


Planet feels heat of divorce
Times On Line 2 December 07
Unhappy couples used to stick together for the sake of the kids. Now they can make the best of a bad marriage in the name of being environmentally friendly. Scientists have quantified for the first time the extent to which divorce damages the environment. The researchers found that the combined use of electricity across the two new households created rose 53% while water use was up by 42%. Across America – one of 12 countries studied – divorced households used 73 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2005 that could have been saved if the families had not split up. That is equivalent to about a fifth of Britain’s consumption.

Broken couples also increase demand for housebuilding and infrastructure such as new roads. “The global trend of soaring divorce rates has created more households with fewer people, has taken up more space and has gobbled up more energy and water,” said Jianguo Liu of Michigan University, who carried out the latest research. The study, to be published tomorrow in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that the average number of rooms per household was between 33% and 95% higher for divorced couples than for married ones. Liu also calculated that America now has an extra 38.5m rooms in houses and apartments built to meet the demand for more accommodation generated by divorce over the past three decades.


Parents urged to chill out
The Age (Australia) December 3 2007
Swimming lessons or music classes? Gymnastics or maths coaching? In this age of hyper- parenting, the "enrichment opportunities" for children are endless as adults fill their pre- schoolers' days with activities to give them a leg-up in life. But advocates of old- fashioned, unstructured play say overscheduling children's activities limits their time to bond with parents and puts too much focus on outcomes. Now, Australian researchers have entered the debate, using a longitudinal study to explore the links between children's activities and their mental health and language skills.

And the good news is that Australian parents don't need to worry too much. Pre-schoolers in Australia aren't being "scheduled" at high levels, and the difference in vocabulary between children who undertake organised activities and those who don't is small. But Michael Bittman, from the University of New England's School of Behavioural, Cognitive and Social Sciences, did find that long hours watching television and in child care had a detrimental effect on children's mental health.

Food researcher wants GST lifted from fruit and vegetables
NZ Herald December 02, 2007
A university researcher says GST should be removed from fruit and vegetables to allow healthy eating targets to be more easily met. Massey University's Emma Dresler-Hawke said a study showed the cost of eating at least five servings of fruit and vegetables per day bought at various supermarkets ranged from $1.13 to $2.12 per person, depending on the supermarket and the season. This meant an average family of two adults and two children could spend $59.36 a week on fruit and vegetables during winter, something some lower income families could struggle to meet.

"Some studies have found that higher fruit and vegetable consumption was associated with higher diet costs," Dr Dresler-Hawke said. "Low income groups generally have a more restricted food budget so fruit and vegetables may be overlooked in favour of more energy-dense foods." Dr Dresler-Hawke recommended lifting GST on fruit and vegetables and providing free fruit to all school children.

Parents threatened by violent children
Bay of Plenty Times 28 November 2007
Frightened parents are taking out protection orders against their children after being threatened with knifes or assaulted as a new type of family violence escalates in the Bay. Others are feeling suicidal and depressed trying to cope with children as young as seven who are physically violent towards them. Local social agencies say sibling violence and kids being violent towards their parents are both issues "escalating" in the Bay. Agencies say the problem is widespread, with doctors, lawyers, police officers, teachers and business people all seeking help for their abusive children, who range in age from primary school age to young adults.

In the past two weeks, seven incidents of this type of violence have been referred to family support organisation Toughlove, by Tauranga Moana Abuse Prevention Strategy (TMAPS). Examples include a 15-year-old holding a knife up to his mum and dad, then hitting them because he couldn't get his own way. In another case, a 14-year-old screamed at his parents and tipped over furniture when he wasn't given money to top up his cellphone. Tauranga police say they attend such incidents on a semi-regular basis and have prosecuted abusive children through both the Tauranga District and Youth Courts for it.


Nearly 11pc of Pacific children extremely fat
The Press 28 November 2007
Compulsory child health checks cannot start fast enough after research showing one in 10 Pacific Island children is extremely obese, health experts say. A nationwide survey of 3000 five to 14-year-olds, conducted by Otago University Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences researcher Dr Ailsa Goulding found that nearly 11 per cent of Pacific children were extremely obese. This compared with 5.1 per cent of Maori and 0.8 per cent of European children.

This meant that of the 576,900 children aged between five and 14 in New Zealand, about 15,000 were extremely obese, Goulding said. Six thousand of those would be Pacific Islanders, 6000 Maori and 3000 New Zealand European or other. Goulding said extremely obese children often grew into morbidly obese adults. With that came accompanying health problems that included increased risk of type2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.


Video violence beyond a game: top cop
NZ Herald November 28, 2007
Violent Xbox video games are being fingered by a top police officer as a possible cause of rising violence among young people. Superintendent Bill Harrison, national manager of police youth services, says youth violence rates have jumped in the past two or three years throughout the Western world, coinciding with the rise of new products such as the Xbox. Ministry of Justice figures given to a youth offending conference in Wellington yesterday showed sharp increases in the number of young people aged 14 to 20 caught by police for violent behaviour in 2005 and 2006. The rate of all young people caught by police for all offences fell 17 per cent in the decade to last year, but the rate of young people caught for violence rose 25 per cent.

Mr Harrison told the conference the increased violence statistics partly reflected a shift in police resources to family violence, which was picking up more young people for violence against partners and other family members such as brothers and sisters.

...He said the Government's interdepartmental youth justice leadership group was commissioning research on the increase in youth violence and he wanted it to look at the effect of electronic games. Research had shown young people could generally distinguish "cartoon" violence from "real" violence, but the interactivity involved in today's games seemed to pose a much bigger risk than previous generations of young people had faced.

Six of the best laps
The Dominion Post 24 November 2007
A Porirua primary school is running rings around political correctness by making naughty pupils do physical education as punishment. But Rangikura School is under fire for eschewing new age time-outs, stand-downs and restorative justice sessions - in favour of old-fashioned jogging around the sports field to burn off excess energy. Parent Andrew Scott said his son Jacob, 8, was made to run around the field as punishment for being caught playing tackle rugby. He was concerned such a penalty risked discouraging children from being active. "I have no problem with them being punished, but maybe using physical exercise is not the right sort of punishment." It could have the wrong effect on kid's motivation to do sport, he said. Jacob's mum Alison thought the school should dish out punishments no one enjoyed - such as picking up rubbish.

The family's concern is shared by government agency Sport and Recreation, which is tasked with encouraging Kiwis to get fit. A Sparc spokesman said physical activity should not be used to punish: "The aim of Active Schools [a Sparc initiative] is that children will choose and enjoy physical activity." Using exercise to punish children could deter them from enjoying it, he said.


Minor has baby: no charges laid
NZ Herald November 25, 2007
Police chose not to lay charges against a 21-year-old who fathered a child with a 13-year-old girl - even though he confessed to police he had been having sex with a minor. The pregnancy was highlighted last week by Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro, who used the case to illustrate "the wall of silence" protecting people who committed child abuse. The girl had started having sex from the age of 11 and Kiro claimed that no one in her family would come forward and shed any light on who was responsible. However, the Herald on Sunday understands the father turned himself in to police but was given only a verbal warning by officers.

Rape Crisis is demanding answers about why police never charged the man with having sex with a minor. It says the police's failure to do so sends extremely worrying mixed messages to teenagers. A conviction for having sex with someone under the age of 12 carries a maximum prison term of 14 years. Having sex with someone under the age of 16 carries a 10-year maximum prison term. Sources involved with the girl's family told the Herald on Sunday the man had been involved in a sexual relationship with the girl since she was 11. When Child Youth and Family (CYF) became aware the girl was pregnant at 12, she was removed from the mother's care and placed with a family member. Four months ago the girl gave birth. She was 13. It is understood the 21-year-old is still involved in a relationship with the girl and has supervised visits with his son. During the day the baby is cared for by a family member, allowing the girl to remain at school.

New bill gives caregivers flexi-hour rights
Sunday Star Times 25 November 2007
More than two million New Zealanders have won new rights to request changes to their working hours as long as they are using the time to take care of someone close to them. And a last-minute change means the rights are far broader than first planned. A private member's bill introduced by Green MP Sue Kedgley originally covered just those caring for children under five or disabled children up to 18, but now includes anyone caring for children, teenagers, elderly parents, grandchildren, whanau, or even friends in need.

Under the bill, which was passed last week, employers must consider requests from all workers who have "the care of any person" for changes in their hours, days or place of work. The new law, an amendment to the Employment Relations Act, takes effect on July 1, 2008. "This is a very wide right," said Kedgley. Similar legislation in Britain was initially greeted with alarm by employers, but was now seen as workable. Economist Dr Paul Callister, an expert on families and work, said the law change "is signalling a cultural change". "It's pretty lighthanded legislation, but I think it will give some more negotiating power to employees," he said.

Midwives turn away pregnant teens
The Daily Post (Rotorua) 22 November 2007
Rotorua's pregnant teens are being denied care by midwives who say they are "hard work" and don't listen to medical advice. That's shocked and angered a Rotorua woman battling to find a midwife for her 14-year-old pregnant daughter who has hearing difficulties and is nearly halfway through her pregnancy. Midwives say teens eat badly, drink and smoke and often ignore their advice. They're also prone to complications and midwives don't want the responsibility.

The mother rang Rotorua's 22 midwives on behalf of her daughter, who does not want to be identified, soon after discovering she was pregnant. Midwives were either fully booked, were attending an overseas conference near the baby's due date or did not take on teenagers because they were "hard work".

...The Lakes district, including Rotorua and Taupo, has the second highest rate of teen pregnancies in the country, an average 180 girls under 20 giving birth each year. The 14-year-old's mother said the lack of midwifery support for teens was "disgusting" and it appeared they just didn't care.

New Zealand College of Midwives regional spokeswoman Karen van der Leden said the Rotorua midwife's comments were a "generalisation" and women of all ages were affected by a workforce shortage and health sector funding woes. Rotovegas Youth Health clinical leader Dr Tania Pinfold said comprehensive antenatal care was important for young mothers and their babies and youth health services were working closely with the Lakes District Health Board to improve access to services, including antenatal care.


Smacking case 'bad law'
The Dominion Post 23 November 2007
Opponents of the so-called "anti-smacking" legislation have labelled one of the country's first prosecutions a massive overreaction resulting from bad law. A Masterton father was sentenced this week to nine months' supervision for grabbing his eight-year-old son by the shoulder, holding the boy on his knee and spanking him three times with an open hand. He pleaded guilty to assault. The conviction is one of the first under a new law which removes the "reasonable force" defence for parents disciplining children.

....Family First New Zealand national director Bob McCoskrie said he had learned of cases in which children about to be disciplined told parents, "You can't touch me or I'll tell the police." "We are creating a paranoid parenting environment," he said.

Police Shrug Off Criticism of Smacking Case
NZ Herald 23 November 2007

Stem cells without embryos: skin cells transformed
Reuters 20 Nov 2007 
Two separate teams of researchers announced on Tuesday they had transformed ordinary skin cells into batches of cells that look and act like embryonic stem cells -- but without using cloning technology and without making embryos. Their breakthroughs could make possible the long-sought goal of tailor-made medicine, but without the political, scientific and ethical roadblock of using human embryos. Both teams call the new cells induced pluripotent stem cells and say they look and act like embryonic stem cells -- the master cells that give rise to every cell and tissue in the body.

"We can now envisage a time when a simple approach can be used to produce stem cells that are able to form any tissue from a small sample taken from any of us," Ian Wilmut of the Scottish Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, said in a statement. "This will have enormous implications for research and perhaps one day for therapy," added Wilmut, who helped clone the first mammal, Dolly the sheep, in 1997. James Thomson of the University of Wisconsin in Madison and colleagues reported their finding in the journal Science while Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University in Japan and colleagues reported theirs in the journal Cell.

First boot camp for internet-addicted teenagers (Sth Korea)
UK Telegraph 19 November 2007
The world’s first ever boot camp for teenagers addicted to the internet may be the shape of things to come, according to experts. The Jump Up Internet Rescue School in Mokcheon, South Korea, is similar to programmes around the world for troubled youths, providing a mix of military style, physical exercise and rehabilitation. Inmates are pushed over assault courses and learn to ride horses, as well as being given therapy workshops on more creative pursuits such as pottery and drumming. But the aim is not to wean them off drugs, alcohol or crime, but on their obsessive use of computers in a country with almost universal Internet access.

Concern over compulsive internet use is growing in South Korea, where 90 per cent of homes have high-speed broadband connections and some online gameplayers have died from exhaustion after playing for days on end. The Korean government has set up 140 internet addiction counselling centres, treatment programs in nearly 100 hospitals, and now the rescue camp. Psychiatrists estimate that up to 30 per cent of South Koreans under 18 are at risk of internet addiction. They spend at least two hours a day online, usually playing games or chatting, though some being treated at the camp say they were on the internet for as much as 17 hours a day. A minority suffer withdrawal symptoms, including anger, when prevented from going on the internet.;jsessionid=TKJZGVK1Z5P1VQFIQMFSFFWAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2007/11/19/wcamp119.xml

Hands off our lives say voters
The Dominion Post 19 November 2007
Voters fear Government is exerting too much control over their lives - and they believe it has got worse in the past two years. The finding in the latest Fairfax Media-Nielsen poll suggests the backlash over the so-called anti-smacking bill has left its mark, but could also be a response to the campaign against Labour's bid to overhaul electoral finance laws with a regime criticised as draconian and a limit on free speech. Two thousand people protested in Auckland at the weekend against the Electoral Finance Bill, due to be reported back to Parliament today after being watered down by a select committee.

In a poll of 1082 voters, people were asked whether the Government had more control over people's daily lives than they would like and 57 per cent answered yes. A further 37 per cent of voters rejected the proposition and 6 per cent did not know. When asked whether the level of control had increased, decreased or stayed the same over the last two years, 61 per cent said it had increased, which points to the smacking debate as a major factor.

Civil unions, Labour's push to decriminalise prostitution and even sensitivity over the recent police raids may be other factors. Labour has come under concerted attack from National and conservative Christian groups for running a "nanny state" agenda.


Mothers can't manage two hours peace (UK)
UK Telegraph 18 November 2007
...According to a poll of 1,600 mothers carried out for The Sunday Telegraph. The survey reveals that many are driven by guilt and fear. A large number are also confused by the contrasting demands of allowing their children greater freedom and keeping them safe. Almost half of those surveyed felt guilty about the amount of time their children spent watching television, with 41 per cent believing more time should be spent playing outdoors. Yet, there was also a crippling level of anxiety about road safety, perhaps helping to explain why youngsters spent more time indoors than ever before: mothers cited traffic as the number-one threat to their child.

The fears surrounding childhood were far-reaching: along with drugs and violent crime, mothers were anxious about the impact of more global issues - climate change and terrorism were rated as a greater threat to children than the risk posed by paedophiles or abduction. Added to this was yet another source of guilt: 43 per cent of mothers, both working and non-working, believed that they were not spending enough time with their children. Instead, many children were involved in a whirlwind of "structured" activity. One in 10 was signed up to an out-of-school activity every day of the week, while two-thirds of over-fives took part in two or more classes weekly.

Even amid their concern about not spending enough time with their children, more than a third of mothers were worried that they should be providing yet more clubs to keep their children stimulated. The survey, of members of the internet site Mumsnet, revealed that food was another emotive issue, with 26 per cent of mothers worried that their children did not have a healthy enough diet. Perhaps that isn't surprising: almost twice as many children are obese now, compared with a decade ago. With one in seven under-10s and one quarter of Britons aged between 11 and 25 officially obese, many mothers are aware that the statistics get more depressing every year.;jsessionid=GCY0NMOCKOEOZQFIQMFSFFWAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2007/11/18/nmums118.xml


Police ads in show draw church ire
The Press 19 November 2007
A family group has blasted a decision by the police to carry on advertising during TV3's controversial programme, Californication. Family First, which campaigns for family values, said it had asked the police to withdraw road-safety advertisements running during the programme."If they want to send the message that drug use and bad language and objectionable acts are OK, then that's the way to do it," national director Bob McCoskrie said. "It's ironic that the police, who deal with sexual crime, offensive language and drug crimes promoted and normalised by this programme, have no problem with an advert playing while it is on." The police made moral judgments "all the time", and should do the same regarding the programme. Californication first aired two weeks ago and included a scene of a nun giving oral sex to former X-Files star David Duchovny.

Family First is calling on companies which advertised during the first two episodes to pull their commercials while the programme is on. So far, eight companies have agreed to do so, including Cadbury and Burger King. "The placement of adverts implies support," McCoskrie said. "We are calling on companies to be proactive and consider what the programmes they are advertising with are representative of." On Friday, Subway and Castrol both also agreed to withdraw their advertisements.


Parents 'allowed to smack children' - Sweden!!!
The Local Sweden's News in English 15th November 2007
Swedish parents are allowed to smack their children, as long as they do not hit them too hard, a court in southern Sweden has ruled. Ystad District Court was ruling in the case of a couple accused of assaulting their daughter. The pair were accused after the girl, 5, told a nurse at a medical check-up that she had been hit. ...The father admitted smacking the girl on the bottom, saying that the physical chastisement was part of her upbringing. A unanimous court ruled that the father's smack did not constitute assault - it was not hard enough to be assault, nor was it done with indifference to the pain it would cause.
Smacking is prohibited in Sweden since 1979. From 1980 to 2000 it seems that the number of children who were smacked declined. Since then the numbers have been on the increase. According to an investigation made by the University of Karlstad and the Children's home Charity, 1,1 percent of the parents who were interviewed in 2000 admitted that they had smacked their child. In 2006 the number was 2.3 percent.

Study Shows Teens in US Support Abstinence
Virginia Department of Health Media Release February 2006
Teens in Virginia and throughout the nation are receptive to messages about abstaining from sex, according to recent analysis. Teens participating in the abstinence education programs across the country funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are increasingly supportive of abstinence and less supportive of teen sex, according to a 2005 HHS report.

Data collected in an on-going evaluation of abstinence programs funded by the Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) Virginia Abstinence Education Initiative mirror the national findings. Students participating in the evaluation say they strongly agree that having sex as a teenager would make it harder for them to study and stay in school in the future. “We are encouraged by the trend in support for abstinence among teens and hope that this change in attitude is reflected in behavioral change,” said Gale Grant, director of the VDH Virginia Abstinence Education Initiative. “Delaying sexual activity by as few as 18 months greatly reduces a teen’s risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease or having an unintended pregnancy.”

According to a 2004 survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than half of the nation’s high school students are sexually active even though they are bombarded with many different messages about sexuality and relationships. The VDH Virginia Abstinence Education Initiative works to create a positive environment for abstinence education by involving parents, teens, educators, health professionals, faith community workers and youth services providers. The initiative supports individuals and communities in promoting the abstinence message by providing resources such as brochures, posters and parent toolkits.


Swedish Prostitution Ban An Apparent Enormous Success November 15, 2007
Sweden appears to have nearly wiped out prostitution. How? In 1999 Sweden passed legislation that criminalized the buying of sex, and decriminalized the selling of sex. The groundbreaking principle behind this legislation is clearly stated in the government's literature on the law: "In Sweden prostitution is regarded as an aspect of male violence against women and children. It is officially acknowledged as a form of exploitation of women and children and constitutes a significant social problem... gender equality will remain unattainable so long as men buy, sell and exploit women and children by prostituting them."

This law is the only one of its kind in the world, and it seems to be incredibly successful according to Swedish officials. The law, which has criminalized the purchase and brokering of sexual services, provides for up to six years in prison for pimps, up to 10 years for traffickers of prostitutes. The john could face up to six months in prison if caught in the act. In a report in Spiegel, Jonas Trolle, an inspector with the Stockholm police unit dedicated to combating prostitution said, "The goal is to criminalize the demand side of the equation, the johns, rather than putting emotionally and physically imperiled women behind bars."

The results of this strategy are impressive. "We have significantly less prostitution than our neighboring countries, even if we take into account the fact that some of it happens underground," says Trolle. "We only have between 105 and 130 women - both on the Internet and on the street - active (in prostitution) in Stockholm today. In Oslo, it's 5,000." Another relevant aspect of the ban is the reduction of the number of foreign women now being trafficked into Sweden for sex. The Swedish government estimates that in the last few years only 200 to 400 women and girls have been annually trafficked into Sweden for prostitution, while in neighboring Finland the number is 15,000 to 17,000.

Abuse risk seen worse as families change
Yahoo News Nov 17 2007
Six-year-old Oscar Jimenez Jr. was beaten to death in California, then buried under fertilizer and cement. Two-year-old Devon Shackleford was drowned in an Arizona swimming pool. Jayden Cangro, also 2, died after being thrown across a room in Utah. In each case, as in many others every year, the alleged or convicted perpetrator had been the boyfriend of the child's mother — men thrust into father-like roles which they tragically failed to embrace. Every case is different, every family is different. Some single mothers bring men into their lives who lovingly help raise children when the biological father is gone for good.

Nonetheless, many scholars and front-line caseworkers interviewed by The Associated Press see the abusive-boyfriend syndrome as part of a broader trend that deeply worries them. They note an ever-increasing share of America's children grow up in homes without both biological parents, and say the risk of child abuse is markedly higher in the nontraditional family structures. "This is the dark underbelly of cohabitation," said Brad Wilcox, a sociology professor at the University of Virginia. "Cohabitation has become quite common, and most people think, 'What's the harm?' The harm is we're increasing a pattern of relationships that's not good for children."

...there are many other studies that, taken together, reinforce the concerns. Among the findings:
_Children living in households with unrelated adults are nearly 50 times as likely to die of inflicted injuries as children living with two biological parents, according to a study of Missouri abuse reports published in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2005.
_Children living in stepfamilies or with single parents are at higher risk of physical or sexual assault than children living with two biological or adoptive parents, according to several studies co-authored by David Finkelhor, director of the University of New Hampshire's Crimes Against Children Research Center.
_Girls whose parents divorce are at significantly higher risk of sexual assault, whether they live with their mother or their father, according to research by Robin Wilson, a family law professor at Washington and Lee University.


Protest against Electoral Finance Bill
Herald on Sunday November 18, 2007
Thousands of demonstrators marched down Queen St yesterday to protest against the Electoral Finance Bill, warning the public their right to free speech will be revoked should the law be passed. Protest organiser John Boscawen led the march from the Town Hall, alongside Garth McVicar of the Sensible Sentencing Trust, and Bob McCoskrie of Family First, despite news of Boscawen's father's death two days earlier. Boscawen says the legislation is about people's right to freedom of speech.

More marches are planned next week in Wellington and Christchurch. The bill is set to come into effect from January 1 next year.


TV nannies exploit toddlers, says NSPCC
UK Telegraph 14 November 2007
Television nannies are teaching "outdated and potentially harmful" techniques, and should be banned from featuring children under five on their shows, the NSPCC has said. Programmes such as Bringing Up Baby exploit babies and toddlers and damage the confidence of new parents who slavishly follow the techniques espoused by unqualified and often childless nannies, the charity claimed. The warning comes as Channel 4 investigates Claire Verity, the controversial "baby guru" on Bringing Up Baby, over claims that she lied on her CV about her childcare qualifications. Miss Verity faced accusations of child cruelty over the tough techniques she used to discipline children, including recommending that infants be left to sleep in a separate room from their mother, and discouraging parents from making eye contact with their offspring.

Eileen Hayes, a parenting adviser for the NSPCC, said that child care experts were "deeply concerned" that vulnerable new parents might be putting their children at risk by adopting these "old-fashioned, completely discredited" techniques. She said that children under three, and probably under five, should be banned from appearing on reality television programmes until rigorous checks were in place to ensure that they are not put at harm.

Miss Hayes, who was speaking at a debate called I'm a Little Kid, Get Me Out Of Here, said the charity had received numerous complaints from parents who claim their lives had been destroyed by appearing on parenting programmes. Kerry Hillhouse, a Scottish mother of three who participated in Supernanny, said producers had edited out all of the positive aspects of her family life, making her look like "the worst mother in Britain".;jsessionid=HMZJ1JC1YV4GHQFIQMFSFFWAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2007/11/13/nminder213.xml


Anti-smacking law predictions proved wrong
NZ Herald November 15, 2007
Green MP Sue Bradford's "anti-smacking" legislation has not led to a big rise in child abuse notifications to protection agencies. Opponents of Ms Bradford's bill, which was passed into law in May this year, claimed it might lead to a big rise in abuse notifications to Child Youth and Family (CYF) as people reported parents who smacked their children. The bill changes the Crimes Act, removing the defence of reasonable force for parents who physically punish their children.

But Ministry of Social Development chief executive Peter Hughes yesterday told MPs on Parliament's social services committee that there had been little noticeable impact in that regard. "We are certainly not seeing any huge increase in numbers of notifications that we can relate back to the passage of the bill." However, Mr Hughes said though there had not been a rise in abuse notifications there had been recent rises in family violence notifications as public awareness grew in that area.

A lobby group opposing the law last month said a school reported a Wellington mother to CYF for smacking her child on the hand. And on another occasion, the same mother was visited by police after a neighbour reported a smacking in the family's yard. She was not charged.The lobby group, Family First, would not reveal the identity of the family.... But Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said the family's experience was a warning to other parents.
Family First Comment: Wait until the evidence is revealed of families being traumatised by investigations by CYF, Police and schools. WATCH THIS SPACE!


Hope for creche rules
The Nelson Mail 13 November 2007
Education minister Chris Carter hopes to introduce changes to early childhood care regulations - which have seen some creches close - early next year, but is not yet ready to release details. The managing director of fitness centre chain Cityfitness said the move by the minister was encouraging, but was reserving judgment until details were available. Mr Carter said early childhood education regulations were being reviewed and expected new regulations would be implemented next year that would "rectify any anomalies".

Under ministry rules, all creches that provide education or care to three or more children aged under six need a licence. They must employ a registered early childcare teacher, develop education plans and programmes, and provide suitable sleeping quarters for babies. An early childhood education service can be fined $200 for every day it operates without a licence. So far the ministry has not prosecuted any service caught in the crackdown.

National Council of Women president Christine Low said parents should have the right to choose whether their children were placed in a child-minding facility or an educational facility. "Gym creches, Sunday schools, what next: your local teenage babysitter needs an early childhood education qualification before parents can have a much-needed night off?" Forcing regulations on child-minding services "may be taking the red ink a bit far", she said.

Advertisers pull out of 'pornographic' TV show
NZ Herald November 13, 2007
The Ministry of Economic Development is the latest in a series of advertisers to withdraw from controversial new TV3 show Californication. The series premiered last week amid calls from Family First for a boycott on all companies who advertised during the show. The ministry's Buy NZ Made campaign featured during the screening. The American series starring former X-Files actor David Duchovny has been described by various groups as reprehensible, highly offensive and pornographic. Episode one featured explicit sex scenes, nudity, teenage drug use and bad language.

Ministry of Economic Development chief executive Geoff Dangerfield said the ministry had not been informed of the nature of the programme, or its AO rating, prior to screening. "Our media booking schedule, prepared on 16 October, showed a booking with TV3 for a comedy programme at this time. The ministry has taken steps to ensure that it will not advertise in future during this programme and we have reinforced with our media buying agency our requirement to avoid advertising on programmes of this nature," he said.

Burger King, CRC, Finish Dishwashing Liquid, Cadbury, Flight Centre and Ferrit have all withdrawn advertising from the show's 9.30pm timeslot. Bob McCoskrie, national director of Family First NZ, said if companies were concerned about declining moral standards they should not be associated with the show. "Television programmers are simply using shock tactics to increase their ratings but families are sick and tired of this offensive type of programming," he said.

ISPs agree to block child porn websites
The Dominion Post 12 November 2007
The Internal Affairs Department has begun working alongside Internet service providers to block access to websites dedicated to child pornography. Censorship manager Steve O'Brien says the department has drawn up a list of more than 7000 websites that host illegal material. Two Internet service providers agreed to block access to the sites in a trial which has been running for several months but which is still at "the very early stages". Mr O'Brien says the idea is based on very successful approaches to combating child porn in Norway and Sweden.

If the trial is expanded, people who try to access sites identified by Internal Affairs as hosting child porn may see a webpage telling them the site has been blocked and inviting them to contact the department if they have any queries. At the moment, they will find the sites will simply not load, he says. During September and last month, the two ISPs that are part of the trial processed six million website requests from customers, of which 3351 were blocked.

...Mr O'Brien says the scheme does not require legislation, relying instead on the goodwill of ISPs. "Once we're satisfied with the technical mechanisms, we'll invite a number of ISPs to increase the size of the trial and take it from there."

Don't have sex before marriage, pupils told
UK Telegraph 12 Nov 2007
Family campaigners are urging every secondary school pupil in Britain not to have sex before marriage. The Family Education Trust is to send a leaflet to all secondary schools advising children to abstain from sex outside wedlock.It believe that teenagers who have sex before marriage will enter wedded life with "skeletons in the cupboard" and a greater propensity to have extra-marital affairs. "If your husband or wife has had other sexual partners in the past it is much more difficult to be confident they will not do so again," the leaflet says.

The campaign follows a move by schools to hire nurses to hand out morning-after pills and teach children how to use condoms in an attempt to reduce Britain's teenage pregnancy rate, the highest in western Europe. Norman Wells, the director of the Family Education Trust, said: "Divorcing sex from marriage has not only led to high teenage conception rates and the sexual health crisis in the UK, but it is also has a major part to play in family breakdown. "The trust rejects the fatalistic and defeatist view that it is unrealistic to expect young people to save sex for marriage and that any teaching or encouragement to that end simply 'doesn't work'.";jsessionid=ODWJXWK00NZGJQFIQMFSFFWAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2007/11/12/nschools412.xml

Drugs for ADHD 'not the answer'  
BBC News 12 Nov 2007 
Treating children who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) with drugs is not effective in the long-term, research has shown. A study obtained by the BBC's Panorama programme says drugs such as Ritalin and Concerta work no better than therapy after three years of treatment. The findings by an influential US study also suggested long-term use of the drugs could stunt children's growth. It said that the benefits of drugs had previously been exaggerated.

The Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with ADHD has been monitoring the treatment of 600 children across the US since the 1990s. In 1999, the American study concluded that after one year medication worked better than behavioural therapy for ADHD. This finding influenced medical practice on both sides of the Atlantic, and prescription rates in the UK have since tripled.

But now after longer-term analysis, the report's co-author, Professor William Pelham of the University of Buffalo, said: "I think that we exaggerated the beneficial impact of medication in the first study. "We had thought that children medicated longer would have better outcomes. That didn't happen to be the case. "There's no indication that medication's better than nothing in the long run." Prof Pelham said there were "no beneficial effects" of medication and the impact was seemingly negative instead. "The children had a substantial decrease in their rate of growth so they weren't growing as much as other kids both in terms of their height and in terms of their weight," he said.

Danger drugs designed for schizophrenics used to calm children
UK Telegraph
Thousands of children with behavioural problems are being prescribed anti-psychotic drugs with dangerous side effects, doctors warn.

Brain Development Found to be slower in children with ADHD

Cost not only child-care issue - it's quality, says book
Sydney Morning Herald November 12, 2007
INCREASING payments to parents to cover the expense of child care will only drive up costs and do nothing to improve the quality of care children receive, a new book says. While boosting the child-care rebate will give parents immediate relief from climbing fees, the book by a team of academics says it will not help the other big problem - accessibility.

...The authors argue that Australia's child-care system has been developed as a prop for the labour market rather than with children's development and educational needs in mind. Because of this, the authors argue, Australia lags much of the developed world in providing universal, high-quality care for children who are not yet old enough to attend school. They also criticise the dominance of private child-care providers, such as ABC Learning. "Australian governments should implement a national, universal and integrated early childhood education and care system, particularly for children in the two years prior to starting school, and up to three years for children from disadvantaged backgrounds," they say.

'Social devils' haunt Bay kids, say principals
Bay of Plenty Times 11 November 2007
Witnessing a violent row. Two broken families becoming one. Fathers who don't keep in contact. Parents who binge on drugs and alcohol. Parents financially stressed. These are just some of the "social devils" children as young as five are experiencing in the Western Bay - prompting primary principals to call for full-time counsellors in their schools to help deal with the problem. Principals this week told the Bay of Plenty Times they had a need for more counsellors in schools to address serious social issues in the homes of some students. These students, they say, are coming to school with "baggage" on their young shoulders. Others are turning up hungry and with little sleep. Full-time services such as counselling are traditionally available only in secondary schools.

 ....Mr Johnson and five other Tauranga school chiefs the Bay Times spoke to have backed a national report issued and commissioned by the New Zealand Foundation for Character Education on student behaviour. The report suggests deteriorating classroom conduct reflects the rising number of dysfunctional homes. It said the family unit was not as strong, cohesive and functioning as it once was and the focus on raising children had weakened.

....The principal of Otumoetai College, Dave Randell, agreed with part of the foundation report that said changes in the values systems of the community had come at a social cost. "Schools are reflective of our society." Mr Randell said the decline of the church and the family at the centre of the community had changed a lot. For some young people, school was their only secure environment, he said.


Abuse claims against principal kept from police
Manawatu Standard 9 November 2007
The Ministry of Education has admitted it knew about allegations of sex crimes at Hato Paora College but did not instruct the school to contact police. College principal Tihirau Shepherd, 46, was arrested and charged on Wednesday with four sex offences from June and July this year and two others dating back to March 1990. The Cheltenham school's Board of Trustees stood him down as principal when the allegations arose, but did not inform police, choosing rather to hold an internal inquiry. Its investigation cleared Shepherd of any wrong-doing in August. Police only became aware of the complaints when the Manawatu Standard brought them to light.

....(National Spokesman for Education Katherine) Rich said it was stunning that in the same year one school reported a parent to CYF for smacking their child's hand, while another tried to handle allegations of sexual abuse internally.


Two Lesbians to be named as “Mothers” on Birth Certificates - Father Banned November 6, 2007
The opening of UK’s new Parliament saw the introduction of the Labour government’s new Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill that has been heavily criticised by pro-life advocates as a new “attack on the dignity of human life”. The bill was lauded by homosexual activists in Britain as a “major step forward” in allowing two women to both be registered formally as a child’s “mother” on birth certificates.  
The bill, formerly titled the Human Tissues and Embryos Bill, which is likely to pass with Parliament’s heavy Labour majority, will enshrine as a legal reality the homosexual movement’s political notion of two “parents” of the same-sex. It will allow two lesbians to both be called the “mother” of a child conceived artificially by donated ova or sperm. The stipulation that both be called parents of the child applies even if the two women are not in a registered civil partnership. Both women’s names will appear on the child’s birth certificate. The proposed legislation will ban the appearance in such situations of any man’s name on a birth certificate, even the child’s biological father or “sperm donor”.
Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris, known as Parliament’s most radical campaigner for abortion, euthanasia and the homosexual movement, called the change a “logical and just consequence of the civil partnership provisions overwhelmingly supported in both houses of Parliament.” Norman Wells, of the Family Education Trust, however, warned that the government was going further down the path of a “dangerous social experiment.” He told the Daily Telegraph that the bill posed “serious consequences for individual children and for society as a whole when we start tampering with the natural order and deny children something as fundamental as having a parent of each sex.” “Men and women are not interchangeable and fathers are not an optional extra.”

Children aged 7 hooked on cannabis
NZ Herald November 08, 2007
Addiction agencies are seeing primary school children smoking cannabis, despite a slight drop in adult use of the drug. Rotorua counselling agency Te Utuhina Manaakitanga Trust said yesterday that children as young as 7 were getting help for cannabis addiction. Clinical co-ordinator June Bythell said the agency was still seeing a steady increase in clients seeking help with cannabis and alcohol. "We have a major problem with cannabis in our area. People are trying to make changes but it is a huge struggle for them," she said. Other agencies in Auckland and Hamilton said they were also seeing more children starting to smoke cannabis in primary school.

Figures released this week showed that cannabis use by 15- to 45-year-olds had dropped for the first time in many years - from 20.4 per cent in 2003 to 17.9 per cent last year. But New Zealand still has one of the highest rates of cannabis use in the developed world, second only to Canada in the last World Drug Report. Dr Grant Christie, a child psychiatrist with the Auckland Community Alcohol and Drugs Service, said his agency commonly saw young people who had started smoking cannabis as early as 11. He said the drug was usually given to children by their parents, a sibling or sometimes an older friend of the family. "They are very dysfunctional families, they are not your typical everyday families. There is usually CYFS involvement, there are usually multiple agencies involved," he said.
Rotorua Daily Post

Flexible hours bill set to pass
The Dominion Post 8 November 2007
Landmark legislation giving workers the right to ask for changes to their working hours is expected to pass by Christmas, as studies show we are turning into a nation of wage slaves. But there are fears it could pit workmate against workmate, with employers warning that workers with children or dependant adults will legally be entitled to go to the top of the queue for flexible working hours requests. They say the Flexible Working Arrangements Bill creates winners and losers in the workplace - and the losers will be singles or workers who might want more flexibility in their working hours for reasons other than caring for dependants.

The bill gives workers the right to ask for changes to their working hours to care for small childrenor dependant relatives and creates a statutory requirement for employers to consider the request. Employers may reject the request on grounds including the burden of additional costs, problems meeting customer demand and the possibility of undermining a collective contract with staff - but they will have to defend their position to a labour inspector if the employee challenges the decision. Workers may then take their case to mediation or to the Employment Relations Authority. The maximum penalty faced by employers will be $2000. 

Breast feeding is best for a brainy baby - study
Evening Standard (UK) 6 Nov 2007
Breast-feeding really does make babies brainier, a major study suggests. British researchers have found that mother's milk in the first few months of life can boost children's IQ by seven points. This applies in nine cases out of ten, where the youngster inherits a common but newly-identified "brain boosting" gene. The finding adds to the mounting evidence that breast-fed babies are happier, healthier and brighter than those raised on formula milk. It also helps resolve a long-running dispute about the benefits of breast milk on intelligence - and the role of nature and nurture in IQ.

..The link between breast milk and intelligence was first discovered in 1929 and is often used as an incentive to encourage mothers to feed naturally. However, a major study by the Medical Research Council last year suggested that the link was a myth. It found that past research had failed to take into account the mother's background. Not only were those who breastfeed usually brighter, they were more highly educated, older, better off and provided a more stimulating home environment, it found. Now two studies suggest that breast milk helps babies whatever their family background.

In one, carried out on 1,037 children in New Zealand, IQ was tested at ages seven, nine, 11 and 13.  DNA samples were gathered from the participants when they reached 18. The other study looked at 2,232 British twins, whose IQ was measured at five. Both sets of research found that the IQs of breastfed children were seven points higher, even after their social background was taken into account - so long as they had inherited a particular gene from their parents. The gene, FADS2, is involved in the way the body processes fatty acids in the diet.

The findings appear in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Professor Terrie Moffitt, based at the Institute of Psychiatry in London.

Mums who drink 'have naughty children'
UK Telegraph 06 November 2007
Women who drink alcohol while pregnant may cause bad behaviour in their children, researchers suggest today. Conduct problems increased with every day that expectant mothers had a drink, a team in America found. The study comes as women are already confused about having alcohol while pregnant after conflicting advice was issued by the Department of Health and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) within months of each other. Scientists disagree about whether the behavioural problems of children whose mothers drank in pregnancy were caused by the alcohol itself or by other factors. They may be poorly educated or take drugs, or the problems may be genetically inherited.

The study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry journal, was conducted by Dr Brian D'Onofrio, of Indiana University. It found that where mothers drank during one pregnancy but not in a subsequent one, the child exposed to the alcohol in the womb displayed worse behaviour, suggesting that the problems were probably caused by the drinking rather than genetics or bad parenting. The team questioned 4,912 mothers and assessed their children each year between the ages of four and 11.;jsessionid=S2QBUNYDPVY5HQFIQMFSFFWAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2007/11/06/npregnant106.xml

Girls fasting, vomiting to shed puppy fat
Herald Sun (Aust) November 06, 2007
GIRLS as young as 12 are resorting to dangerous tactics like fasting and vomiting to try to shed their puppy fat, new research has revealed. A study of 8000 children and teenagers has found almost one in five girls - 17 per cent - aged 12 and 13 have used at least one radical weight control technique. Fasting was most common, practised by 12 per cent of these girls, followed by vomiting, excessive exercising and chewing but not swallowing food. But even more concerning, says dietician and health educator Dr Jenny O'Dea, was the sharp rise in girls adopting these habits at 14 and 15, when their bodies were naturally "rounding out". She said the results, to be presented at an eating disorders conference in Adelaide tomorrow, were proof girls should be taught about puberty and body image from the age of nine, while still at primary school.

...Smoking to control weight also increased sharply at this point, and doubled to 13 per cent among girls 16 and over. Fasting was the only significant issue among boys, affecting 5 per cent across all age groups.,21985,22712880-662,00.html

Boycott Californication says family first
NZPA 6 November 2007
Californication, a new show on TV3, is causing outrage before it has even been screened. Family First tonight called for families to boycott companies advertising during the first episode of what it described as the drug, sex and vomit-laden Californication on Thursday night. And New Zealand's Catholic Church has branded the show as evil.  "Television programmers are simply using shock tactics to increase their ratings but families are sick and tired of this offensive type of programming," said Bob McCoskrie, national director of Family First NZ. "If companies are concerned about declining standards in our communities, they should not be associated with this show."

Episodes of Californication include explicit sex scenes - one involving violence and rape, and another involving a nun performing a sex act in front of statue of Christ on the cross - nudity, teenage drug use and constant foul language, the inclusion of a child who is exposed to the worst effects of her father's sexual antics, and an episode depicting two characters smoking marijuana and having sex before one vomits. Mr McCoskrie said it was time New Zealand linked some of the increase in sexual offences, the degrading treatment of women, drug use, and disrespect and abusive language in communities with such programmes, "attempting to be passed as so-called entertainment". "The Broadcasting Standards Authority and the Censorship Board have failed dismally to protect our communities and children from this type of offensive and pornographic material," Mr McCoskrie said.

Cancer vaccine won't promote promiscuity, say Catholics
NZ Herald November 06, 2007
New Zealand's Catholic Church hierarchy has rejected a claim that vaccinating 12-year-old girls against a sexually transmitted infection to prevent cervical cancer would "promote promiscuity". John Kleinsman, a spokesman for the Catholic Bioethics Centre, said last night he could see "no necessary link" between giving the so-called cervical vaccine to girls and promiscuity. The Government is seeking advice from health officials regarding Britain's decision to give the vaccine to all 12-year-old girls. Dr Nikki Turner, director of the Immunisation Advisory Centre at Auckland University, said vaccinating girls with Gardasil could not be linked to promiscuity, since almost all those who were sexually active had been exposed to human papilloma virus (HPV).

Mr Kleinsman said as long as parents were given a choice whether or not to have their girls vaccinated, he had no objection to its being used in 12-year-olds. Previously he has said: "We recognise the severity of cervical cancer and the devastating effects it has on women." On Sunday, Bob McCoskrie, of the conservative lobby group Family First, questioned Gardasil's safety and effectiveness and said giving the vaccine to girls aged 12 "promotes promiscuity". "We are accepting by default that kids are going to be sexually active at a time that is not suitable or safe for them. This vaccine is like giving a 12-year-old a condom and saying 'just in case'," Mr McCoskrie said.


About-face likely on cancer drug for teens
NZ Herald November 05, 2007
Labour looks likely to change its mind and approve cervical cancer vaccination for 12- and 13-year-old girls. Prime Minister Helen Clark said she was seeking urgent advice on the vaccine after the British Government decided last month to go ahead with it. But the lobby group Family First says such a move ignores the moral issue, and that a vaccine would promote promiscuity. Helen Clark told the Labour Party conference at the weekend that she was instructing the Ministry of Health to report urgently to the Government on the British decisions "because where we can prevent deadly cancers, we should". Trials of the vaccine against the human papilloma virus showed it could prevent 70 per cent of cervical cancers.

She also said that no vaccine would be compulsory. Outgoing Health Minister Pete Hodgson said in May that the vaccine, Gardasil, would not get Government funding but the decision would be would be reviewed in a year or two. Helen Clark has decided to move faster. Bob McCoskrie of Family First said yesterday that a vaccine was "a medical response to a moral issue". "We are accepting by default that kids are going to be sexually active at a time that is not suitable or safe for them." He said the vaccine would be like giving a 12-year-old a condom and saying, "Just in case".

Labour U-Turn Over Cervical Cancer Drug Dominion Post


Flavoured condoms may be added to Pharmac list
NZPA 5 November 2007
Pharmac plans to add flavoured condoms to the range of contraceptives that it subsidises. The Government drug-funding agency has started consulting with stakeholders on its proposal to add a wider range of condoms on its pharmaceutical schedule – including narrow (49mm nominal width), wide (55mm and 60mm nominal widths) and flavoured condoms. "We recognised there might be a need for a wider range," Pharmac manager of funding and procurement Steffan Crausaz said. "So we went out to suppliers and asked them for some proposals for expanding the range of condoms on a subsidised basis in exchange for price reductions.

Pharmac already fully subsidises half a dozen brands of condom and partly subsidises another. It is seeking feedback from medical and patient groups and suppliers on its proposal to widen the range of subsidised condoms. It spends $860,000 a year subsidising condoms and $8.7 million on contraception overall.

NZ needs family friendly policies to boost population
NZPA 3 November 2007
New Zealand needs family friendly policies to halt a falling birth rate, two experts say. The founding director of Waikato University's Population Studies Centre, Professor Ian Pool, and his wife, medical demographer Dr Janet Sceats, say New Zealand's fertility rates "may join those of Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, which are well below replacement". Women were increasingly postponing having children until they were established in their careers and could afford to buy into the country's inflated housing market. The median age of mothers giving birth has risen from 23 in the late 1970s to 30 today, the Weekend Herald reports.

In a study on the history of the New Zealand family, they say the country "has failed its families" by abandoning historical pro-family policies such as universal family benefits and cheap housing loans, and allowing house prices and other changes to put "undue pressure" on families. NZ's current fertility rate, at exactly two live births for every woman, is only a fraction below the replacement level of 2.1 which allows for replacing the woman and her partner and babies who die soon after birth. But Dr Pool and Dr Sceats said this relatively high rate in rich-world terms reflected a temporarily large number of women aged 30 to 34, which is now the main childbearing age. Once this bulge passes, they predict the fertility rate will drop to around Australia's 1.8.

Cyber harassment of teens rife
The Age (Australia) November 5, 2007
More than a third of teenage girls in Australia have been sexually harassed via the internet, and more than a quarter admit cyber-bullying other girls, according to a new survey released yesterday. Psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg told a national conference on bullying in Melbourne that more than 90 per cent of parents were not taking seriously enough their responsibility to protect their children online. "Most parents haven't got a clue," he said. "This is part of the digital divide. Parents have fallen for the two-card trick that what goes on online is private and that children have a right to be online." Victoria Police cyber-safety specialist Susie McLean said that cyber-bullying affected more young people every day than drug abuse. "There's no school in Australia not dealing with cyber-bullying," Senior Constable McLean said. "It's the number one safety problem confronting young people."

The cyber survey, run in Girlfriend magazine, showed that more than two-thirds of teenagers had tried to hide their internet use from their families, and that nearly half felt their relationships suffered because of excessive internet use. ...The 26 per cent of girls who admitted cyber-bullying — via mobile phone, email, internet chatrooms and social networking sites such as MySpace — was a significant underestimation because most girls would not admit doing it, he said. The survey found that more than a third of girls had been sent sexually inappropriate material via the internet, 70 per cent had accessed pornography sites by accident and 21 per cent on purpose, while 41 per cent had been asked to post naked pictures of themselves. He said sexual harassment — usually messages such as "you're a slut" — was a particularly odious form of bullying.


Pregnancy stresses new dads
Herald Sun Australia November 05, 2007
FIRST-time expectant fathers are almost four times more stressed than other men. While many new mums struggle emotionally after their baby is born, dads-to-be are more likely to feel anxious during their partner's pregnancy. The prospect of fatherhood and the changes it may bring causes much more concern to blokes than the real thing, according to a new Australian study. It says men worry about having to become more responsible financially and being unprepared for the practicalities of caring for an infant. They grieve for their carefree, independent lifestyle and may resent having to share their partner's affection with a third person.

And those who adopt the traditional role of protector often feel lost during pregnancy when their partners are under the care of midwives and obstetricians in a world where fathers have little influence or control. But most of these worries evaporate after the birth. In the largest study of its kind, doctors from New South Wales and South Australia surveyed more than 300 men whose partners were almost halfway through their first pregnancy. The study, recently published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, found 18.6 per cent of dads showed high levels of psychological distress.,21985,22701748-662,00.html


At least 4000 in crowded homes
The Nelson Mail 1 November 2007
More than 4000 people in the Nelson region are living in crowded conditions - a phenomenon some support agencies say is because of high rental costs and house prices. Statistics released from the Ministry of Social Development show that in 2006, 2103 people in Nelson and 1959 people in the Tasman district were living in houses defined as crowded under the Canadian Occupancy Standard. The problem had lessened during the past 20 years, but some agencies say solutions were unlikely to be found as housing affordability in the region worsened. Major Jill Knight of Nelson's Salvation Army said the figures were not a surprise, and high rents and the fact that extended or blended families were living together contributed to crowded conditions. It was quite common to find beds set up in the lounge and children sleeping in their parents' bedroom, with a number sharing another bedroom, she said. "It's all part of the whole syndrome of affordable housing."

The figures showed people with Pacific Island, Asian and Maori backgrounds were over-represented, while people aged 15-24 were most likely to be living in crowded situations. A household is defined as crowded when one or more extra bedrooms are needed to accommodate its members. Nationally, 389,600 people, or 10 percent of the population, were considered to be living in crowded conditions.

More Kiwis say no to cannabis
The Dominion Post 2 November 2007
New Zealanders have made a U-turn on relaxing cannabis laws, with only one in five people now supporting liberalisation. Research issued yesterday by the Drug Foundation shows that just 19 per cent want cannabis laws liberalised, down from 60 per cent in 2000. A parliamentary select committee is considering the drug's legal status. At present, its use is banned under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975. The UMR Research study shows 46 per cent of the population want no change to cannabis laws, and 34 per cent want laws to be made tougher. Wellington scored highest, with 55 per cent of people polled wanting existing laws to remain.

Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell said that as statistics indicated more than half of New Zealanders had tried cannabis, and one in eight regularly used the drug, it was time to re-examine the issue. "Politicians are happy to spend a lot of time on party pills and P because they know they have the public onside. They don't want to talk about cannabis, because it's not seen as a vote-winning issue." He said there were numerous issues relating to cannabis use that needed serious consideration,including the effects on health of smoking the drug, links with mental illness, high use by school pupils, medicinal use and driving under the influence of cannabis.


Eroded values 'reflected in classroom behaviour'
NZPA 1 November 2007
A new report on student behaviour suggests deteriorating classroom conduct reflects the rising number of dysfunctional homes. The report, commissioned by the New Zealand Foundation for Character Education, said the family unit was not as strong, cohesive and functioning as it once was and the focus on raising children had weakened. Foundation chairman Rod Galloway said too many teachers were, on a daily basis, dealing with students who were disruptive to learning processes and had no regard for the rights of others.

While living standards seemed to be improving, there was now evidence that significant changes in the values systems of the community had come at a social cost and affected children. "Nowhere is this more dramatic than in the change to family life," Mr Galloway said. "The number of New Zealand parents who share an evening meal and spend time talking to their children is among the lowest in developed countries." Declining marriage rates and increasing divorce rates now meant half of all New Zealand families were a blended unit.

Spending time with children 'more important than the mortgage'
NZ Herald November 01, 2007
A controversial new report says parents should forget about buying a house if necessary so they can afford time with their children. The report, from the conservative Maxim Institute, says fathers, and mothers, can improve their children's behaviour, learning and happiness - but only if they put in the hours in active involvement. The institute's policy and research manager, Alex Penk, says the New Zealand economy has been geared around families working some of the longest hours in the developed world, and needs to be regeared to let parents spend time with their children.

"For some families, placing fathering as a priority means a change in expectations of lifestyle such as renting rather than owning a home," he said. "But for other families it's even harder than that. The tax rates are such that low-income families subsidise childcare for the middle classes and the price of goods has adjusted upwards as families have higher incomes due to working longer hours and having two incomes."

...The report, written by father of two Daniel Lees, 31, found that 21 out of 24 studies internationally found that fathers' active involvement with their children made a measurable difference to their children's behaviour, psychological wellbeing, self-esteem, school attitudes and achievement and overall life satisfaction.

Family First Media Release - Father Report is Reality Check for Government Policy


Generation Y dads put family first
NZ Herald November 01, 2007
Young Generation Y fathers are cutting back on working hours, apparently to spend more time with their children and in leisure pursuits. New figures from last year's Census, released yesterday, show that fewer men in their 20s, 30s and 40s are now working more than 50 hours a week. Older men and women are still working longer hours than they did a decade ago. Altogether, almost a quarter of all employees (23 per cent) still work more than 50 hours a week - higher than in any of 17 other developed countries except Japan in a 2004 survey.

But Business New Zealand's employment relations policy manager, Paul Mackay, said the drop among younger men pointed to Generation Y workers saying, "I'll do what I need to do but I'm not going to do any more than I have to". "They are more inclined to look at work-life balance and an 'I'm not your slave' kind of syndrome," he said. "You might have a Generation X/Generation Y effect, with the Baby Boomers flowing through to their 60s still saying, 'I work for the company', to Generation Y saying, 'I work for me'."

Sexual Messages Harming NZ Children - Studies
Epoch Times 29 October 2007 
Toys, clothes, music and celebrities promoting sexual messages are harming New Zealand children, says the National Council of Women of New Zealand (NCWNZ). Studies in New Zealand and overseas have indicated that the increasing sexualisation of children is harming both their mental and physical development. The evidence suggests that children who are exposed to sexual images suffer depression, eating disorders and lower self-esteem later in life. With Christmas fast approaching the council are advising parents to buy age-appropriate items for their children and ignore the pressure from media and advertising campaigns.

In Australia, lobbying by psychologists and child advocacy groups has prompted an inquiry by the Australian government into the increasing amount of sexually provocative advertising to children. "Media and advertising agencies are turning kids, particularly young girls, into commodities, and the effect is devastating," Victorian Democrat Senator Lyn Allison said. A report by the American Psychological Association points to the dangers when sexualisation leads to girls viewing themselves as objects. "Studies on the cognitive and physical aspects associated with self-objectivisation may function to keep girls 'in their place' as objects of sexual attraction and beauty - limiting their free thinking and movement in the world." "Girls' preoccupation with appearance ties up cognitive resources and will leave less time and mental energy for other pursuits."
Family First Comment - a little ironic that the National Council of Women supported the law decriminalising prostitution! What message has that given teenage girls?

'Bullying is exaggerated and children are being mollycoddled' says top childhood expert
Daily Mail (UK) 28th October 2007
A generation of children is missing out on social skills because minor playground spats are being branded "bullying", an expert claimed today(MON). Tim Gill declared that youngsters must learn to cope with teasing and name-calling to help them handle awkward situations as adults. According to the former Government adviser, the extent of bullying is being exaggerated by over-protective parents and teachers who apply the label to childhood squabbles and pranks previously assumed to be part of growing up. The claims in a book being published today are certain to fuel concerns over the escalation of a bullying "industry".

Police officers warned this year that a target-chasing culture is forcing them to make "easy" arrests - including for incidents of bullying at school. In one example, a child in Kent was arrested for throwing a slice of cucumber from a tuna sandwich at another youngster. Latest Government guidance to schools urges heads to record all instances of bullying, broken down by type, and report the findings to their local council. In his book, Mr Gill warns against mollycoddling children by describing everyday teasing and bickering as bullying. He claims it is part of a wider trend for children to be "bubble-wrapped" and denied opportunities to develop skills they can draw on in later life.

....Mr Gill's book, No Fear: Growing Up in a Risk-averse Society, goes on to warn that children now the risk of being branded anti-social for playing football in the street, playing hopscotch or climbing trees. "This is being labelled as anti-social behaviour and police or neighbourhood wardens are clamping down," he said.

Children need to be teased, UK expert says
Herald Sun Australia 29 October 2007,21985,22666432-662,00.html

Bullying Fear can harm children
UK Telegraph 29 October 2007;jsessionid=UFTUK04DIB3LDQFIQMFSFFWAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2007/10/29/nchild129.xml

School dobs mum to CYF for hand smack
Sunday Star Times 28 October 2007
A Wellington mother says her family has been left traumatised by new anti-smacking laws, after her son's school reported her to Child, Youth and Family for smacking him on the hand. "I don't want to feel like a child abuser, and I don't want to be labelled as a child abuser because I smacked my son," she said. "It's brought a lot of trauma to our family unit and unnecessary stress." The woman, who did not wish to be named because she says she fears losing her children, says another smacking several months later resulted in a visit from police.

...The mother then contacted Family First, a lobby group that vociferously opposed smacking law changes passed in June. The organisation put her in touch with the Sunday Star-Times. The mother said she had not previously been involved in Family First and had had some sympathy with Sue Bradford's anti-smacking bill, "not thinking that it would affect us on a personal level". Family First spokesman Bob McCroskrie said parents now feared the law, and Child, Youth and Family.

Victorian group pushes for baggy-pant ban (Aust)
Sunday Herald Sun October 28, 2007
VICTORIAN anti-crime groups have called for a ban on low-slung pants that expose young people's underwear. Getting caught with your pants down could become a costly exercise, with calls to outlaw the low-riding trousers and slap violators with a fine. The baggy, droopy-jeaned look that shows off boxer shorts and underpants has been linked to crime. Several US states and towns have prohibited people wearing pants that dip below the waist in public, in a bid to curb crime rates. And critics say Victoria should take a similar hard-lined approach.

Australian Family Association president Angela Conway said pants-down bans and legal action against offenders were a good idea. "If that is what it takes to get these people dressing and acting with more decency and respect, they (the bans) should be encouraged," she said. "This sort of dress is that it's a sign of a disregard for social cohesion and safety." But youth psychologist Michael Carr-Greg said the penalties would be below the belt. "This is about demonising young people and suggesting kids who dress in baggy pants are more likely to engage in criminal behaviour.,21985,22660202-662,00.html


Government u-turn as ministers tell parents they CAN smack their children
Daily Mail 25 October 2007
Ministers ruled out a complete ban on smacking today after a Government review found the majority of parents opposed such a move. Children's Minister Kevin Brennan said the law would stay as it is after officials reviewed the way new rules were working. Despite calls from many organisations for a ban, Mr Brennan said the evidence was that fewer parents now use smacking to discipline their children.

In a statement to MPs, he said: "Whilst many parents say they will not smack, a majority of parents say that smacking should not be banned outright. "The Government will retain the law in its current form, in the absence of evidence it is not working satisfactorily."

You can smack the kids but don't leave a mark: UK Reuters

Christian foster parents condemn 'gay laws' (UK)
UK Telegraph 24 October 2007
A Christian couple who have taken in 28 children have been forced to give up being foster parents after they refused to promote homosexuality. Vincent Matherick, 65, and his 61-year-old wife Pauline were told by social services that they had to comply with legislation requiring them to treat homosexuality as equal to heterosexuality. They said that officials had advised them that if children in their care expressed an interest in homosexuality, they would be expected to take them to gay support group meetings. The couple said that while they would neither condemn nor condone homosexuality, they could not actively promote it because of their religious beliefs. The couple, who faced being removed from the carers' register, decided to stop fostering early. As a result, their 11-year-old foster son is being moved to a children's unit.

In February this year a social worker told the couple that the council was obliged to implement the Government's sexual orientation regulations. The rules, enacted this year, make it illegal for the suppliers of goods or services to discriminate on the grounds of sexuality. David Davies, the Tory MP for Monmouth, said: "It's absolutely horrendous that Christian men and women doing their bit for the community are being discriminated against because of their beliefs. I'm quite certain that social services would never dare to ask a member of any other established religion to agree to such a stance on homosexuality." Valerie Riches, the founder president of Family and Youth Concern, said: "This is rather typical of the distorted view of equality that this Government seems to have."

Updated - Christian Couple no Longer Required to Promote Homosexuality in Fostering Children

Maori girls suffer 'horrific' rate of abuse
NZ Herald October 25, 2007
A new international survey has found one in four New Zealand girls is sexually abused before the age of 15, the highest rate of any country examined. The results show, for the first time, that Maori girls suffer roughly twice as much sexual abuse as European girls - 30.5 per cent of Maori compared with 17 per cent of Europeans in Auckland, and 35.1 per cent of Maori compared with 20.7 per cent of Europeans in the northern Waikato. The survey, based on a World Health Organisation study that asked the same question in 10 developing countries and Japan, prompted sexual abuse counsellors yesterday to alert parents to the signs their children may be suffering unwanted sexual contact.

Nearly 3000 women were questioned about unwanted sexual contact before they were 15. The 2855 randomly selected women aged 18 to 64 in Auckland and northern Waikato were asked: "Before the age of 15, do you remember if anyone in your family ever touched you sexually, or made you do something sexual that you didn't want to do?" After answering the question about their family, they were asked: "How about someone at school? How about a friend or neighbour? Has anyone else done this to you?" Overall, the survey found that 23.5 per cent of women in Auckland and 28.2 per cent in the Waikato had experienced such abuse. The median age when the abuse started was 9 and the median age of perpetrators was 30. Half the women said the abuse happened once or twice, a quarter said a few times and a quarter many times.

For 83 per cent of women, there was only one perpetrator. For 14 per cent there were two, and for 3 per cent more than two. Uncles were the most common male perpetrators (24 per cent), followed by brothers/stepbrothers (14), fathers (13), cousins (11), stepfathers and grandfathers ( 9), other family members (5), family friends and acquaintances (14) and strangers (1). More than half (54 per cent) of those who suffered childhood sexual abuse later suffered sexual or physical violence from a partner, compared with 31 per cent of other women.

Parents of obese children to get warning letters (UK)
Telegraph UK 22 October 2007
Parents of overweight children are to be sent official warning letters as part of new plans to tackle obesity, it has emerged. Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary, believes it is in the best interests of the parents if they are told that their children are dangerously overweight. The controversial proposals follow a national weighing programme, which was introduced in schools two years ago in a bid to tackle the growing problem of obesity among children. ....The growing scale of the crisis was revealed in a Government report last week which predicted up to half of adults and 26 per cent of children would be obese by 2050.;jsessionid=N3P3BSMMQJONBQFIQMFSFFWAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2007/10/22/nfat122.xml

Daily Mail 22 Oct 2007
The notifications will be part of a tough new stance to tackle rising levels of obesity, following a national initiative to weigh all children in schools. Ministers including Health Secretary Alan Johnson are preparing to face accusations of stigmatising fat children over the plan but believe it is in the children's best interest if a problem is formally brought to the attention of their parents.


Rap videos lead young girls to alcohol and sex
Reuters 18 October 2007
Watching rap music videos that are overly sexy and violent can lead to alcohol abuse and promiscuity among young black girls, according to a study into sexual stereotypes in rap music footage. The research was based on a survey of 522 African-American girls aged 14 to 18 who were asked how often they watched rap videos, questioned about their sex lives and asked to provide a urine sample for a marijuana screening.

US researchers found young black girls who spent more time watching rap music videos were more likely to binge drink, have sex with multiple partners, test positive for marijuana and have a negative body image. "In rap music videos, the glamorized depictions of alcohol use are often portrayed in conjunction with sexual imagery and portrayals of drug use are often depicted as normal," wrote the researchers in a report appearing in the Journal of Women's Health. The study comes amid a growing debate about lyrics in rap music, with activist Rev. Al Sharpton demanding the end of terms degrading to women such as "bitch" and "ho."


Teens need support during family breakups
Reuters 20 October 2007
Family breakups take a toll on adolescents, who have high rates of psychological and social problems, including substance abuse, behavioral disorders, anxiety and depression, according to a report in the journal Pediatrics. In addition, the psychological and social distress shown by separated and divorcing parents can play a significant role in their adolescent children's respond to the family breakup, study findings suggest.

"What is the most deleterious for the children is the atmosphere in which the separation occurs and the deterioration of the family relational processes and not the separation in itself," Dr Christelle Roustit, of the Research Group on the Social Determinants of Health and Healthcare, and Universite Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, told Reuters Health.

...Overall, substance abuse, including alcohol, was approximately two-times higher in these adolescents compared with adolescents who were not going through a family breakup. Although seen in both groups, the rate of substance abuse was considerably higher among the 16-year olds. Oppositional attitudes and behaviors, such as fighting, damaging property and theft were increased in both age groups. While Roustit noted that paternal support helped mediate the association between family breakup and psychological distress, it did not affect oppositional behavior. Levels of depression and anxiety also were higher than normal in both age groups. In particular, the risk of suicide attempts was three- to four-times higher among 13 year olds, compared with 16 year olds, Roustit said. These behaviors, however, were modified by parental support.

Toddlers allowed to run wild risk being violent adults, parents told
Daily Mail 20th October 2007
Curbing aggression in children in their pre-school years is the key to ensuring they do not grow into violent adults, parents are being warned. Toddlers do not learn aggression from other children, TV, video games or adults, says a leading child psychiatrist. Instead, most are naturally physically belligerent, claims Professor Richard Tremblay, from the University of Montreal.

He says children reach their peak of aggressive behaviour between 18 and 42 months. If parents fail to intervene at this stage, it could make the difference between a child growing up normally or turning into a violent adult. There is even evidence that uncontrolled aggression in the first few years is linked to criminal and drug-taking behaviour as adults, said Professor Tremblay. Professor Tremblay - who is due to present his research at the Royal Society in London today, warned: "Learning how not to be violent - which mostly takes place during the pre- school years - is dependent on both genetic and environmental factors."

Studies have found a link between mothers who smoke during pregnancy, and children who never learn to curb their natural aggression, he said. Other risk factors for aggression in children include having parents with low incomes and troubled family relationships, and mothers who had families at an early age or who had a history of anti-social behaviour during their own school years. Professor Tremblay said: "Identifying the factors which stop children becoming wellsocialised adults should help us design preventative measures which are employed at the right time in a child's development.
Family First Comment: But didn't Bradford, Clark and Kiro tell us that it was smacking, smacking and smacking that led to violent kids??? Perhaps a 'reasonable' smack is just what is needed! Yet more proof that the ban on smacking was ideologically driven rather than based on solid evidence and research.

Many Parents Believe That Watching Videos and DVDs May Help Bring Out the Budding Genius in Their Babies
Washington Post October 9, 2007
The titles lure aspirational parents eager to do what's best for their infants: Baby Einstein, Baby Galileo, Baby Shakespeare and even Brainy Baby with its original motto, "a little genius in the making." But do these enormously popular and profitable videos and DVDs devised for viewers too young even to sit up provide educational enrichment, as supporters contend? Or are they a skillful marketing scheme for products that may actually impede cognitive development, as critics say?

Those questions have been reignited by a highly publicized study by veteran child development researchers at the University of Washington. The Seattle team surveyed more than 1,000 families in February 2006 and found that infants between 8 and 16 months who regularly watched Baby Einstein and Brainy Baby videos knew substantially fewer words -- six to eight out of 90 -- than infants who did not watch them, according to parental reports. The deficit, which increased with each hour of video viewing, was not seen among babies who watched other programming, such as "Sesame Street" or "SpongeBob SquarePants" or adult shows such as "Oprah."

The study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, is the first to examine the impact of videos that have been heavily promoted as educational, according to lead author Frederick J. Zimmerman, a University of Washington associate professor of public health and pediatrics. Zimmerman called the negative effect "large and significant" but said the study stopped short of establishing a causal connection. "Parents should not panic," Zimmerman said. Fifteen minutes of video viewing, he said, is unlikely to matter. But some babies in their study watched as much as four hours per day -- a circumstance facilitated by the automatic replay feature on Baby Einstein DVDs.

Joining Trend, Bulgaria Won’t Allow Prostitution
New York Times 6 Oct 2007
The Bulgarian government, which had been planning to legalize prostitution, abruptly reversed itself on Friday, part of a broad trend in Europe to impose bans as a way to combat sexual trafficking. “We should be very definite in saying that selling flesh is a crime,” Rumen Petkov, the interior minister, said at a forum on human trafficking on Friday, also attended by the president, the minister of justice and the United States ambassador to Bulgaria. Bulgaria is only the latest European country to shift its approach to prostitution. Finland last year made it illegal to buy sex from women brought in by traffickers, and Norway is on the verge of imposing an outright ban on purchasing sex. Even in Amsterdam, the city government has proposed shutting down more than a quarter of the famed storefront brothels in the red-light district. And in the Czech Republic and the three Baltic republics, attempts at legalization similar to the Bulgarian one have been turned back.

Opponents of legal prostitution argue that illegal operations flourish in environments where paying for sex is permitted, and that human trafficking follows the demand. The goal of prohibiting sex-for-money is to reduce the demand, and thus curtail trafficking if not stamp it out entirely... The fight against legal prostitution has been led by an unusual coalition, including the Bush administration, feminist groups and the Swedish government. Proponents of measures like the Swedish model, which punishes customers rather than the prostitutes, say it has succeeded in Europe precisely because it singles out those who pay for sex without criminalizing those who provide it. The prostitutes, mostly women, are the real victims of the transactions, the proponents say.

The Family Meal Is What Counts, TV On or Off
New York Times 16 October 2007
Television viewing has long been linked with poor eating habits. So when University of Minnesota researchers embarked on a study of family meals, they fully expected that having the TV on at dinner would take a toll on children’s diets. But to their surprise, it didn’t make much difference. Families who watched TV at dinner ate just about as healthfully as families who dined without it. The biggest factor wasn’t whether the TV was on or off, but whether the family was eating the meal together.

“Obviously, we want people eating family meals, and we want them to turn the TV off,” said Shira Feldman, public health specialist at the university’s School of Public Health and lead author of the research. “But just the act of eating together is on some level very beneficial, even if the TV is on.”

The research, published this month in The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, is the latest testament to the power of the family meal. While many parents worry about what their kids are eating — vegetables versus junk — a voluminous body of research suggests that the best strategy for improving a child’s diet is simply putting food on the table and sitting down together to eat it.

Parents blamed for yobs with no manners
Telegraph (UK) 16 October 2007
Parents are creating a generation of yobs by failing to teach children good manners at a young age, researchers warn today. Infants are "naturally" aggressive and must be taught to control their emotions, it is claimed. Academics say busy families who do not spend enough time curbing bad tempered three- and four-year-olds risk fuelling serious behavioural problems in later life, including drug abuse and violent crime.

The findings — in a study by Richard Tremblay, professor of paediatrics at Montreal University — will be presented at a conference in London today. They follow the publication of a Government-backed report that found toddlers left in a nursery for more than three hours a week were more likely to develop anti-social behaviour.

Speaking before the conference at the Royal Society, Prof Tremblay said: "Physical aggression in children is a major public problem. It is not only an indicator of aggression in adulthood but it also leads to other serious behavioural problems such as alcohol and drug abuse, violent crimes and continues the cycle of abusive parenting. "Identifying the factors which stop children becoming well socialised adults should help us design preventative measures. These should put an appropriate emphasis on the behaviour of the parents." In today's research, scientists claim young children do not learn to be badly behaved. Instead, infants are naturally more physically aggressive and must be taught how to control their behaviour.;jsessionid=Z0CM1OTZM0W35QFIQMFSFFWAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2007/10/16/nyobs116.xml


'Mom' and 'Dad' banished by California
Schwarzenegger signs law outlawing terms perceived as negative to 'gays' 13 October 2007 
"Mom and Dad" as well as "husband and wife" have been banned from California schools under a bill signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who with his signature also ordered public schools to allow boys to use girls restrooms and locker rooms, and vice versa, if they choose.

"We are shocked and appalled that the governor has blatantly attacked traditional family values in California," said Karen England, executive director of Capitol Resource Institute. "With this decision, Gov. Schwarzenegger has told parents that their values are irrelevant. Many parents will have no choice but to pull their children out of the public schools that have now become sexualized indoctrination centers."

"Arnold Schwarzenegger has delivered young children into the hands of those who will introduce them to alternative sexual lifestyles," said Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families, which worked to defeat the plans. "This means children as young as five years old will be mentally molested in school classrooms.

News with Views 15 Oct 2007

Parents confused by 'how to' TV
Telegraph (UK) 14 October 2007
Parents are suffering a crisis of confidence that means they are no longer sure of the right way to bring up children, warns Britain's top doctor. Dr Hamish Meldrum, the chairman of the British Medical Association, claims that some young mothers lack family support and are abandoning their own basic common sense to rely instead on advice from "sensationalist" television shows such as Bringing Up Baby. "There is a lack of knowledge and family support that people used to have about how to lead your life, and in some ways these shows try to fill the void, but they do so in a rather superficial and sensationalist way," said Dr Meldrum, who is a GP.

"It's a bit like Big Brother, always choosing people with personality problems, then putting them in a very artificial environment which in many ways exacerbates some of their problems. "However much programme-makers justify it by saying, 'We've got psychologists on board, we will take people out of the environment if need be,' come on, they are doing this for TV, not to make people better individuals.";jsessionid=T00YWYFP311QBQFIQMFSFFWAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2007/10/14/nparent114.xml


Abortion Best Predictor of Breast Cancer - UK Study
Family Edge MercatorNet 12 October 2007
The breast cancer epidemic that has emerged over the past three decades is likely to get worse because of increases in induced abortion and a decline in childbearing, according to research published in the latest Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. The risk from abortion is greatest before the first full-term pregnancy (nulliparous abortion).

Patrick Carroll, director of research at the Pension and Population Research Institute in London, used data for eight European countries with comprehensive records on cancer and abortion in order to predict future rates of breast cancer. He used a method which takes into account seven reproductive risk factors in all and which has proved quite accurate for predicting cancers observed between 1998 and 2004.

It shows that countries with higher abortion rates can expect substantial increases in breast cancer over the next 25 years -- over 50 per cent for England and Wales. Countries such as Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic where abortion rates are low can expect increases under 10 per cent. In Sweden, the effect of a high abortion rate is partly offset by fewer nulliparous abortions, more births and a high rate of breastfeeding, resulting in a likely 31 per cent increase in breast cancer.
READ the full research

Help for depressed mums a click away
The Press 12 October 2007
A new national service for women suffering from post-natal depression will soon be filling what one expert describes as a void in resources. The online service, found at, will start next month. It will offer information on post- natal depression in women – and men – along with information on treatments, medications, related illnesses and disorders, referral agencies and links.

"There are other sites in New Zealand but this will definitely cover things in a lot more detail," said Debbie Wilson, a psychiatrist at Princess Margaret Hospital's mother and baby unit. Wilson said the site was financed by a trust and organised by experts who identified a need for supplementary information.

'4D ultrasounds' may test abortion laws
ABC News (Australia) October 10 2007
Ultrasounds that produce video-quality moving images of the foetus have changed the debate about late-term abortion, an Australian ethics expert says. Senior law lecturer Dr Kristin Savell from the University of Sydney says so-called 4D ultrasound technology has "democratised foetal imagery" by giving the public direct visual access to realistic images.

The deputy director of the Centre for Health Governance, Law and Ethics says these images have prompted a change in the language of the abortion debate with a greater focus on the "personhood" of the foetus. "The 4D images have been used by opponents of abortion to reinforce the complexity of the sentient foetus and attention has persistently been drawn to the behavioural capacities of the foetus from around 18 weeks," she wrote in the Journal of Law and Medicine.

Mass vaccine campaign intimidating say parents
NZ Herald October 12, 2007
Parents who had their children vaccinated in the meningococcal B campaign - and others who did not - told researchers they were unable to get enough reliable information on it. The Government spent more than $200 million on New Zealand's largest mass-vaccination campaign. More than one million children and teenagers were injected between July 2004 and last December. The programme for those aged five to 19 has now virtually ceased, but the vaccine continues to be offered for infants.

A study published in today's New Zealand Medical Journal found that parents had a "largely unfulfilled desire for reliable, valid and balanced information about the MeNZB vaccine". ..."Parents wanted accurate, balanced and referenced information from the Ministry of Health officials and health professionals, however, most reported dissatisfaction and mistrust with 'official' information received. Parents who consented to vaccinate, and those who declined, frequently described the ministry ... media publicity as 'scare-mongering', 'controlling people through fear', 'fear-driven', 'not balanced' and 'one-sided'."

Parents of school children were concerned about the graphic nature of information provided to children at school, mostly without consent. One consenting parent says in the study: "They came home from school having seen the promo, they actually sent a video around the schools, they showed it to children as part of the health programme unbeknownst to parents and they all came home within two days of each other, saying, 'Oh I've got to have this injection or we're going to get this horrible disease'. So, really, faced with the fear of the children, I felt like I didn't have a choice."

Picky Eaters? They Get It From You
New York Times 10 October 2007
..For parents who worry that their children will never eat anything but chocolate milk, Gummi vitamins and the occasional grape, a new study offers some relief. Researchers examined the eating habits of 5,390 pairs of twins between 8 and 11 years old and found children’s aversions to trying new foods are mostly inherited. The message to parents: It’s not your cooking, it’s your genes.

The study, led by Dr. Lucy Cooke of the department of epidemiology and public health at University College London, was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in August. Dr. Cooke and others in the field believe it is the first to use a standard scale to investigate the contribution of genetics and environment to childhood neophobia. According to the report, 78 percent is genetic and the other 22 percent environmental. “People have really dismissed this as an idea because they have been looking at the social associations between parents and their children,” Dr. Cooke said. “I came from a position of not wanting to blame parents.”

....Even though food neophobia appears to be genetic, doctors say parents of picky eaters can’t just surrender and boil another pot of pasta. “We have to understand that biology is not destiny,” said Patricia Pliner, a social psychology professor at the University of Toronto. “This doesn’t necessarily mean there is nothing we can do about the environment.”


Bad Marriage Can be Bad for the Heart, Study Says
Christian 09 October 2007 
Stress in a marriage can contribute to health problems, a new study found, while happy marriages can literally be good for the heart. Researchers studied over 9,000 British civil servants, most of whom were married, and found that those with the worst close relationships were 34 percent more likely to have heart attacks or other heart trouble than those in good relationships. Relationships include partners, close relatives and friends. The latest Archives of Internal Medicine study focused more on the quality of marriage along with other important relationships.

Participants in the study were asked in the 1980s about their relationships in questionnaires. Questions included to what extent the other person gives you worries, problems and stress and also whether talking with that person made them feel worse. Researchers at University College London followed the participants for 12 years.The study started off with 8,499 individuals who did not have heart problems and by the end of the study, 589 reported a heart condition. Those who reported arguments, criticism and other types of conflicts were more likely to have registered heart problems.

"What we add here is that, 'OK, being married is in general good, but be careful about the kind of person you have married.' The quality of the relationship matters," said lead author Roberto De Vogli, according to The Associated Press. Participants who had the highest negative scores on the questionnaire had the highest risks of heart problems, including obesity, high blood pressure and smoking.

Boredom leads to school bullying, says report
UK Telegraph 07 October 2007
One in four primary school children has been the victim of bullying in the playground, according to new research which blames "boring breaktimes" for the problem. Bullying is parents' main concern, the report found, with more than half of mothers worrying what will happen to their child out of lesson time. One in 10 parents fears dangers from beyond the school gates.

The report, commissioned by the Royal Bank of Scotland, comes as the year-long Good Childhood Inquiry prepares to release research showing that bullying is endemic in British schools, affecting children's educational performance and making them feel emotionally, if not physically, ill. The report by the RBS claims much of the bullying in Britain's playgrounds is caused by children simply not being stimulated enough.

It says one in six children experiences "break-time boredom", and underlines the concerns of a national school grounds charity, Learning through Landscapes, that children often engage in nasty behaviour because they have nothing better to do. The charity says infants spend about 24 per cent of their school life inside the grounds, and claims those which have transformed their playgrounds have seen bullying fall by up to 64 per cent, and vandalism by 28 per cent. Suggested improvements to playgrounds include "friendship benches" where lonely children can get help from a playground "buddy". Children are taught how to act as listening buddies, spot unhappy children and know what to do if there is a fight. In one school, the charity encouraged the headteacher to cordon off a section for football and send "games masters" to work in the other zone.;jsessionid=SN0BGBJ510ITLQFIQMFSFFWAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2007/10/08/nbully108.xml


Misbehaving teens need better discipline, cop says
The Press 8 October 2007
Police are powerless to make youths accountable for their actions, says a retiring officer. Senior Constable Graeme Barsanti, of Havelock, will end 39 years in the police on October 19. He said more respect and discipline were needed. Barsanti told of seeing two boys, 14 and 11, on skateboards who nearly hit a woman on the main street of Havelock. He told them to take more care and to be more respectful of older people. "Their words to me are unprintable and because of their age I could do nothing," Barsanti said. Two days later, the boys yelled foul language across the road to him and members of the public heard, he said. "When I approached them and their parents, they used the same foul language to their parents and said, `You can't do anything to me'," Barsanti said.

"To me, the parents have a right to deal with their kids and I should have a right to hold them responsible for their actions." Although he could take young offenders' names and refer them to Youth Aid for a family group conference, bureaucracy had gone wrong, he said. "There was nothing I could do and the parents were scared to discipline their children because they could be done for assault," he said.

Teens face zero limit in alcohol crackdown
Sunday Star Times 7 October 2007
Adults who supply young people with alcohol will be targeted by a government crackdown on teen drinkers. The measures would also slash to zero the blood alcohol limit for drivers under 20. However, still smarting from accusations it intruded on parents' rights in the smacking debate, the government is leaving intact parents' existing rights under the law to supply their children with alcohol. Research suggests 60 per cent of underage drinkers are supplied by their parents.

The moves come a year after parliament narrowly threw out a private members bill raising the drinking age from 18 back to 20. The government scuppered the bill by promising to get tougher on underage drinkers.

The Sunday Star-Times understands the Labour-led government is proposing: * The creation of a new offence for an adult to supply alcohol to anyone under 18 who goes on to consume alcohol in a public place. The clause will exempt parents or guardians.
Family First Comment: As with child abuse, the government totally misses the point.
Despite overwhelming evidence that parents are supplying the alcohol (60%) to underage drinkers, the government doesn't target them. Despite the overwhelming evidence that +95% of parents don't abuse their children when they correct them with a smack, the government DOES target them!!
And nothing changes.

Married couples are healthier and live longer - and so do their children
Daily Mail (UK) 5th October 2007
Married couples live longer and enjoy better health, according to the Office for National Statistics. ONS figures found that widowed men and single mothers suffered the worst health, with the greatest number of acute and chronic conditions. The mortality rate for single men aged between 30 and 59 two and half times higher than those who are married. Wives with children are also the healthiest of their gender, a sharp contrast to single mothers who have a greater chance of developing a long-term ilness.

The ONS analysis also indicates marriage can lead to better care for couples when they are older in comparison to their single or co-habiting peers. Well-being is less likely for those who are not married as the figures imply bad relationships and separations are linked to poor health. In particular, single, divorced and widowed older women have higher mortality rates than those who are married.

The relationship between parents can also affect the health of their offspring. In addition, children whose parents live together but are not married are more likely to get poorer results at school, abandon education earlier and develop a serious illness.


Kids' age-old lament
Herald Sun (Aust) October 06, 2007
CHILDREN as young as nine are members of the Me Generation pushing to choose their own fashion, food and films. But parents and experts say that they are not mature enough to make such decisions and should wait at least two more years. Teens think they should make their own decisions about curfews, cigarettes and school up to three years earlier than their parents, according to research. Clothing, TV, food and movies are the most contentious issues.

The RMIT survey shows teens think they should decide what TV shows they want to watch at 11 1/2, but their parents want to control the remote until they are 14 1/2. And they want to choose their own clothes from nine -- while their parents say not until 11 1/2. Teens at 15 1/2 also want to choose what time they come home at night, but parents want to set curfews until their kids are past 17. Experts surveyed by the Herald Sun are siding with parents, suggesting teens should wait until 18 to drink and set curfews and 16 to choose movies.

Parenting Research Centre director Warren Cann said parents and their teens clashed more often over what videos to watch rather than whether to get a mohawk. "Teens often want to do things two years before their parents -- they are always pushing for more autonomy and independence," he said. "But there are no set rules -- what's appropriate for one 13-year-old might not be right for another." founder Michael Grose said parents should make decisions based on a young person's capabilities.,21985,22537700-662,00.html

Two hours' TV a day 'harms children'
UK Telegraph 02 October 2007
Health experts were most concerned about five-year-olds exposure to TV. Children aged five who watch television programmes for two hours a day are more likely to suffer behavioural problems and poor social skills, research suggests. The findings provide fresh evidence of the harm that too much exposure to television can have on the development of young children. However, children who were weaned off high levels of television-viewing were at little risk of having their development affected.

Researchers analysed 2,707 children aged two and five based on information from their parents. They found that 16 per cent watched two or more hours daily only when they were two, 15 per cent only when they were five, and 20 per cent maintained their two-hour viewing habit over the three years. Health experts were most concerned about the children starting to watch television for prolonged periods when they were aged five.

...The study, carried out at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, also found that 41 per cent of the children involved had a television in his or her bedroom which, among the five-year-olds, led to behavioural problems and lack of sleep. Earlier this year a psychologist told MPs that letting young children watch just an hour and a half of television a day could put them at risk of health problems, including attention-deficit disorder, autism and obesity.


Curb on sex, violence in airline movies snubbed
The Dominion Post 2 October 2007
A family lobby group's plan to curb films with sex and violence on aircraft looks unlikely to take off. Family First is calling for new laws requiring airlines to protect children from being exposed to R-rated films – and wants separate "family-friendly" areas on flights. The calls come after the United States introduced legislation demanding airlines create seating sections prompted by parents' complaints.

Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said at least four families had contacted him since July expressing their concerns. "There are movies showing graphic images which parents don't want their kids to see but they can't do a thing," McCoskrie said. Air New Zealand's July entertainment guide showed the airline planned to screen films including Blood Diamond (rated R16 for its war scenes) and Once Were Warriors (rated R16 for violence). The national carrier has in-flight personal screens on its Tasman, Pacific and long-haul flights. Air New Zealand group general manager Ed Sims said the airline had not received a single complaint about its programming.

Live-in couples may end up single forever
Sydney Morning Herald 1 October 2007
Men and women who start to live together too early in their relationship risk wasting years and ending up single, an Australian family researcher says. Ruth Weston, the principal research fellow at the Australian Institute of Family Studies, said many young people thought moving in together was "a fun thing to do". They believed they would take "each day as it comes", Ms Weston said. But often they lingered for years in an unsuitable relationship. When they eventually split, it might take them a long time to find a new partner, and for the woman, the chance of having children might be lost.

"In the old days people might go 'steady' but there was still opportunity to meet others," she said. "Now once you are living with someone you are cheating if you see someone else. When you cohabit it adds a sense of commitment to a relationship that might be going nowhere."

Ms Weston and Lixia Qu have published a new analysis of 2006 census data that shows 35 per cent of women aged 30 to 34 are single - neither married nor living with a partner. For men the proportion is 41 per cent. Among women aged 35-39, it is 31 per cent and for men 35 per cent. "This is a lot of people in their mid- and late 30s without a partner," Ms Weston said, "although some would have once had a partner." Marriage rates have been falling for decades while the cohabitation rate has risen for all age groups, the analysis, published in Family Relationships Quarterly, shows.

But while the divorce rate appears to have reached a plateau since the last census, or even fallen, living together has become more unstable, Ms Weston said. More people were breaking up before they married. The fragility of live-in relationships had contributed to a 15-year decline in partnering rates - the proportion of men and women in their 30s who had neither a spouse nor live-in partner, she said. The drop in partnering rates was precipitous between 1996 and 2001 and had since slowed down but not reversed.

Anti-social behaviour plan could target three-year-olds
The Press 29 September 2007
Plans to screen and treat children as young as three are part of new Government plans to cut anti-social behaviour. The six-year multi-agency plan has been developed by the ministries of education, health and social development and is designed to increase the number of children getting help for severe anti-social behaviour and conduct disorder. It is estimated that up to 5 per cent of primary and intermediate pupils have problems with conduct or display severe anti-social behaviour.

..The plan proposes developing systematic screening for three to seven-year-olds within the education sector. Treatment plans would include parenting classes and education for teachers on how to deal with disruptive children, as well as a "behaviour change programme" for the child.

...Family First director Bob McCoskrie said the Government needed to back up its words with actions. `There are plenty of organisations out there who are working with these people and know them and what they are looking for." He said he had similar concerns about the plan to those he had had about Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro's plan to screen all families for signs of abuse. "We need to be targeting that percentage of high-risk families we know about rather than trying to criminalise all families."

Free Speech Coalition Launched
Press Release: Free Speech Coalition 28 September 2007
The Free Speech Coalition, a group dedicated to stopping the draconian Electoral Finance Bill has publicly launched itself today. We agree with the Human Rights Commission and the New Zealand Law Society that this bill threatens the human rights of all New Zealanders and is so flawed that it should be stopped, not amended. A replacement Bill should be introduced after there has been public consultation and debate on the key issues - something totally absent from the current Bill.

A copy of the e-mail sent out to potential supporters is attached below. Most of the information on what we hope to achieve is in the e-mail and on our website at

If you send an email like this to a friend after January 1, 2008, you'll be breaking the law. Under the Government's Electoral Finance Bill currently before Parliament, you'll be fined up to $10,000, and even be risking a jail term if you do it deliberately. Why? Simply because the email dares to discuss how we run our society. Yes, this Bill is that sinister.

Read: Family First's Submission in Opposition of the Electoral Finance Bill

Doctors get right NOT to tell parents about under-13s' sex activities (UK)
Daily Mail UK 27th September 2007
Parents taking their children to the doctor could be asked to let them be seen alone under official guidelines issued today. They also allow doctors to offer advice to under-age girls about sex. For the first time doctors have been ordered to "respect the rights" of children to make decisions for themselves and refuse treatment if they wish. Official guidance from the General Medical Council says doctors should treat children confidentially and inform them of their right to a private consultation. It applies to all 240,000 doctors - not just GPs - and is aimed at improving medical care for children and teenagers.

The GMC guidelines also cover advice on sex, abortion and contraception for under-16s, as well as child protection. They say doctors can legally offer advice to under-age girls about sex as long as five key tests are met - one of which is that they cannot be persuaded to tell their parents.


Website used by teens to get drugs
The Nelson Mail 28 September 2007
Nelson teenagers are using the social networking Internet site Bebo to find drug dealers and offer sexual favours in exchange for alcohol and drugs, police say. The Nelson CIB and Youth Aid say the popular site is cropping up again and again in cases involving sex, drugs and bullying. Nelson Youth Aid officer Constable Kathy Pomfrett said that while most teenagers used Bebo safely and like a chatroom, a growing number were using it to trade in sexual favours.

Bebo is a website where users can build their own home page, upload photographs and communicate with other members. The information can be easily viewed by the public if privacy conditions are not applied. Miss Pomfrett said teenage girls in Nelson were putting nude photos of themselves on the site and offering a range of sexual favours in return for alcohol and drugs ranging from cannabis to methamphetamine. In doing so, they were putting too much personal information in a shared public space and placing themselves at risk, she said.
Teenage Girls Posting Dangerous Photos On Line -


Bill to Restrict In-Flight Movies 
New York Times September 26, 2007
Under federal legislation introduced yesterday, airlines that show adult-themed movies on overhead screens would be required to create seating sections to shield children from graphic content. The legislation was prompted by complaints from parents and others who said airlines were increasingly showing movies and television reruns with sexual content and violence to in-flight audiences that include children, said a spokesman for Representative Heath Shuler, Democrat of North Carolina, one of two authors of bill, the Family Friendly Flights Act.

Andrew Whalen, the spokesman, said circumstances made it difficult for parents to do their own policing. “When you have a captive audience and a giant screen, how are you going to tell your 5-year-old not to look?” Mr. Whalen said. Children’s advocacy groups and flight attendants assert that young people are subjected to movies rated R and PG-13 despite efforts by airlines to edit the films. Recent images have depicted a man shooting his wife in the face, from the movie “Fracture.”

Mr. Shuler cited a constituent who was angered to have to try to shield her children from scenes in “Last Kiss,” in which a married architect is tempted by a beautiful student. The constituent also complained that “The Last King of Scotland,” about the brutal Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, was playing on some flights. Federal broadcast laws do not apply to in-flight entertainment, and airlines are not required to adhere to motion picture ratings. Mr. Whalen said legislation would not apply to individual screens in headrests.
Family First comment: We'd like to hear about your experience of travelling with children and inappropriate movies being shown on the flight. Email

'Bedtime stories lessen' as mums earn more
UK Telegraph 26 September 2007
High-earning mothers are less likely to read to their children as work takes priority over family time, a recent study shows. Just two thirds of women with salaries of more than ᆪ30,000 read to their sons or daughters compared with 84 per cent of those making less than ᆪ10,000. Experts said that children were increasingly missing out as working mothers are forced to juggle full-time jobs while retaining responsibility for the home. Children are more likely to be placed in full-time child care or allowed to watch television and play computer games, despite fears that a lack of one-to-one attention harms development, they said. Some spend twice as much time watching television or playing outside as they do immersed in a book, says research by Pearson, the publisher, and the Booktrust, a reading charity.

A survey of more than 1,800 parents found that the average five- to 11-year-old spends seven hours and 46 minutes in front of the television every week and just over six hours playing computer games. They spend more than 14 hours playing outside or indoors with toys, but just three hours and 51 minutes reading. The report found that income also had a direct effect on the amount of time parents spend reading with children.;jsessionid=YZETWHHEGFXO1QFIQMFSFFWAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2007/09/26/nreading126.xml


Saleswoman's porn compaint upheld
NZPA 26 September 2007
A car saleswoman who complained about pornography in her workplace has been awarded nearly $20,000 after the Employment Relations Authority found her employer failed to provide her with a safe working environment. Tracy Williams had been employed by Dunedin City Ford for three years when she walked into her manager's office and found another salesperson looking at pornography on a computer. Ms Williams was shocked and upset by this, the authority heard, and complained to her manager, who said he would deal with it.

However, Ms Williams said she saw no evidence of him doing anything about it, and she reported the incident to the dealer principal. She eventually received an apology, and told the authority she felt the matter was finished. But just three days later, Ms Williams saw the same colleague with a hard copy picture of a naked woman she said looked like her.

...Mr Crichton said he was "absolutely persuaded" Ms Williams' had not been provided with a safe and secure workplace as a result of the employer's failure to deal with the second pornographic incident, "coming so quickly on the heels of the first".

Teachers protest at school violence
NZ Herald September 25, 2007
It is a daily struggle for teacher Judy Firkins to manage her 5- and 6-year-old children at Jean Batten School in Mangere. She has been punched, been struck by objects thrown at her and had to restrain children attacking other pupils in her decile 1 classroom. "How much more stress do we have to cope with and how resilient does a teacher have to be before we get practical help with these students?" she said in a passionate address to the New Zealand Educational Institute annual meeting in Wellington yesterday.

Union members at the meeting backed the institute's report, which endorsed a wider community and Government response to a problem that had its roots outside the classroom. "We have to change the way people behave, we have to change the way people think, stop these kids from thinking it's okay to behave like that," said the institute's national vice-president, Frances Nelson. She said the institute would now seek feedback from community groups and the Government on how to address the problem.

Teachers want rules over aggressive pupils
The Dominion Post Sep 25 07
Primary and intermediate schoolteachers say they need rules telling them how far they can go when restraining aggressive pupils, to avoid leaving themselves open to accusations of assault.
Bruises testify to classroom perils. The New Zealand Educational Institute voted unanimously at its annual meeting yesterday to lobby the Government for guidelines setting out teachers' rights when physical restraint is needed.

BB gun incident leads to expulsion
The Marlborough Express  21 September 2007
A Marlborough Boys' College student has been expelled after he fired shots at other students with a BB gun. Another two students who used the gun have been suspended. The Marlborough Express understands the incident started when a year 13 student at the college fired a BB gun at another student's car before school on Tuesday last week. In Auckland, a teenager recently underwent surgery to remove a BB gun slug from his face, after he was attacked and robbed in a Remuera park by two teenagers. Police have said they have no plans to tighten gun controls despite the incidents, and Police Arms Controller Joe Green said he was satisfied with current gun laws.

Lobby group Family First said it was too easy for under-age teenagers to purchase BB and other look-alike guns. The group said they have evidence of a 17 year old purchasing a BB gun from a street market without being asked for ID, and despite being under the legal purchase age of 18. "With an increasing prevalence of teenagers walking around with weapons, gang warfare and physical and violent intimidation and bullying, it is worrying that a teenager can have such easy access to a weapon," said Bob McCoskrie, national director of Family First. Mr McCoskrie said Family First was calling for an immediate ban on the sale of look-alike guns which could be mistaken for a real gun, and a restriction on the sale of BB and pellet-type guns.

See our Media Release - Guns Being Sold to Teens Over the Counter

Victims to be allowed to punish bullies
Telegraph (UK) 20 September 2007
Victims of school bullies will be able to mete out their own justice under new Government guidelines published tomorrow. They will be encouraged to have a say on sanctions for perpetrators – which may include litter-picking, removing graffiti or detentions. Ministers say it will ensure pupils see punishments as "fair" and give victims greater confidence. The move forms part of a comprehensive crackdown on bullying amid fears that pupil intimidation is on the increase.

Guidance being published by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, will also outline a series of measures to punish "cyber bullies" who use email, mobile phones and social networking websites to victimise others. These include confiscating mobile phones, lessons teaching children about the risks of new technology and blocks on access to any "harmful" websites from school computers. It would potentially restrict access to websites such as YouTube, which have been used to post humiliating films of teachers and images of fellow pupils being attacked. The Government said it represented a shift in focus from campaigning against bullying to more hardline sanctions to stamp it out in schools.;jsessionid=NLMQIJPPVQVXTQFIQMFSFFWAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2007/09/20/nbullies120.xml


Solo parenting: quality counts
NZ Herald September 21, 2007
Coming from a single-parent home does not necessarily disadvantage a child later in life, latest findings from a long-term New Zealand study have revealed. The paper, from Otago University's Christchurch Health and Development Study and published in the US journal The Archives of General Psychiatry, says the major influences on how a child develops are not related to single parenthood but to how a family functions. Some international research has linked children from single-parent households to poorer economic wellbeing, education outcomes and a higher risk of criminal behaviour and mental health problems. Most of this research has tended to focus on childhood, and relatively little has been reported on the longer-term consequences of being reared in a single-parent family.

Professor David Fergusson, who leads the long-running study, said the first part of the findings appeared to match conventional wisdom. "Those who'd been in single-parent families turned out to have more problems as adults than those that did not, particularly those who had been in single-parent families a long time." But when the family context was taken into account, the differences disappeared.

READ Family First Response - Research on Single Parent Families Needs Careful Analysis


Childless women 'hostile to working mums'
Telegraph (UK) 19 Sep 2007
Women who do not have children are considerably less sympathetic than men to mothers trying to juggle home and career, researchers have discovered. More than half of working mothers said childless women were less understanding of the demands facing them, says a survey of 1,500 mothers. Those surveyed said that with maternity leave lasting up to 12 months and the right to ask for flexible working, women without children perceived them as enemies to be left behind on the corporate ladder. The report paints a picture of women undermining and undercutting each other, vying for advancement and sometimes filled with resentment. Fifty five per cent of women with children under five now go out to work, compared with 25 per cent in 1975.

The Working Mothers' Report found that 52 per cent thought it easier to blame a faulty alarm clock or heavy traffic than to admit that child-care problems had made them late. The overwhelming majority — 94 per cent — said juggling home and office life had a deleterious, harmful to body and mind, effect on their career. However, only 31 per cent said the dual demands of work and family had an impact on a father's career.

Ben Black, the founder of the child-care providers The Family Care Company, which commissioned the report, said the research found that colleagues also failed to understand the pressures of juggling home and family life. "Many of the women that mothers work alongside will go on to have children and you would have expected them to be more understanding," said Mr Black, who founded the company following the birth of his two-year-old twins. "However, there can be a lot of competition and jealousy in the workplace, and some women might see it as an advantage in their career that they do not have children and a demanding home life.";jsessionid=D2HUA4WDJJBZBQFIQMFSFFWAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2007/09/19/nmums119.xml

Legalised prostitution: what sex workers say (SA)
Daily News South Africa September 17 2007 
Durban sex workers have urged the authorities not to legalise prostitution in the lead up to the 2010 World Cup Soccer tournament in South Africa. Making their feelings known to The Daily News this week, a group of women earning their living through sex work claimed that National Police commissioner Jackie Selebi "has got it all wrong". The sex workers were responding to Selebi's idea of legalising the sex trade during the world soccer event, a suggestion that has angered many.

'You will still be raped, abused and violated' "Those advocating legalisation think prostitutes' lives will improve," said Sindy a former Durban prostitute. "It won't happen, because of the nature of the work. You will still be raped, abused and violated. The emphasis should be on encouraging women away from this profession by giving them better options." She said that legalisation would not mean protection from the law, or improved working conditions.

Parenting program would help 30,000 children
Herald Sun (Australia) September 19, 2007
ABOUT 30,000 young children will be freed from emotional and behavioural problems each year if a trial program to teach parenting skills is rolled out nationally, a study has found. The Federal Government and Labor will today be presented with the results of a four-year "positive parenting trial" that involved 1500 Brisbane families and finished last year. The program aimed to teach parents with children aged between four and seven the skills to deal with their problem behaviour. Many families who took part in the trial reported it significantly improved children's behaviour and reduced parents' stress levels. The researchers and a doctors group backing the scheme want the next Federal Government to pay for all parents to take part.

The Every Family study revealed almost one-quarter of parents believe their pre-school aged children suffer emotional problems, and almost one-third had conduct problems. Almost one-quarter had problems interacting with other children. Doctors group the Australian General Practice Network said such emotional and behavioural problems were linked with low self-esteem, academic difficulties, mental health issues and increased risk of committing crimes. Before taking part in the program, more than half of all parents said they suffered high levels of stress, and almost one quarter said they were depressed. But the pilot program found a 32 per cent reduction in significant mental health problems in children, and a 22 per cent drop in parents emotional distress.,21985,22443957-29277,00.html

Cooling-off period urged for abortions 
The Australian September 15, 2007
WOMEN seeking abortions should undergo a compulsory cooling-off period before proceeding, according to 74 per cent of respondents to a new survey. And more than half thought doctors should show the stage of fetal development to patients using models, pictures or ultrasound before a decision is made. The findings come from privately funded studies conducted from 2004 to 2006 by the Sexton Marketing Group and published in a new book, Common Ground, subtitled "Seeking an Australian consensus on abortion and sex education".

The book, edited by the president of the Catholic Campion College in Sydney, John Fleming, and bioethicist Nicholas Tonti-Filippini, argues that the debate over abortion, embryonic stem cell research and the abortion drug RU486 does not reflect the feelings in the community. "Their attitudes to abortion are far more complex and nuanced," Dr Fleming said. "Really, the need is for a change in social policy, not to make abortion more or less difficult." He said Australians were both pro-choice and anti-abortion. One survey, conducted across a sample of 1200 people, found that although 83 per cent supported a woman's right to choose an abortion, 88per cent agreed it would be good to reduce the current rate.

So although tighter abortion laws were comprehensively rejected, participants were concerned to learn there were up to 90,000 abortions a year. Sixty-two per cent said women should have to go through a counselling service, to ensure they were aware of the alternatives to abortion, but there was consensus that counselling should be non-directive. Of those who wanted a cooling-off period before an abortion could be performed, 59 per cent said it should be at least seven days.,25197,22421050-23289,00.html


Daddy exam quizzes men on potties and parenting
Reuters 14 September 2007
Fathering Japan, a Tokyo non-profit organisation has come up with a 'daddy exam' to raise awareness about fatherhood in a country where men tend to work long hours and leave their wives in charge of childcare and household chores.

Who played the father in the movie Kramer versus Kramer? That's one of the 50 questions Japanese men could face in a "daddy exam", meant to raise awareness about fatherhood in a country where men tend to work long hours and leave their wives in charge of childcare and household chores. Even men who remember Dustin Hoffman struggling as a father in the movie may have a hard time answering questions ranging from potty training and baby food to politics, such as the percentage of gross domestic product used for parenting support.

Tatsuya Ando, director of Fathering Japan, a Tokyo non-profit organisation that came up with the test and will offer it to eager dads from next March, said the exam was a catchy way to get fathers into parenting. "There just isn't enough information about parenting for fathers. Through the exam, we want men to realise that they don't know anything about child-rearing," he said.

Mothers struggle with under four hours' sleep
UK Telegraph 13 September 2007
Mothers today manage only three and a half hours' sleep a night - half the quantity their parents had - because they cannot settle their baby to sleep, according to research. Half of adult women say sleep deprivation has put their relationship under strain, with one in 10 almost splitting from their partner as a result of the problems it causes.

The survey of 3,000 mothers, for Mother & Baby magazine, says that as a result of lack of sleep, mothers who return to work when their children are very young are "shattered". Today's grandmothers say they managed six hours' sleep a night after having a baby and had plenty of advice on getting an infant to bed. This included leaving it to cry for longer (45 per cent), giving it a dummy (40 per cent), establishing a better regime (26 per cent) and giving up breastfeeding (33 per cent). By contrast modern mothers are "on their knees", managing only three-and-a-half hours' sleep during the first four months following birth, then just five hours a night when the baby is 18 months old. This is despite their trying all sorts of gadgets, from musical cot mobiles (69 per cent) to rocking cradles (39 per cent).

One in 10 goes so far as to download "womb" or "dolphin" music from the internet. Parents are also investing in high-tech sleeping toys and other devices, from "two-way baby alarms" (74 per cent) and "breathing sensors" (19 per cent) to "video monitors of their baby in the cot" (12 per cent). These are meant to put parents' minds at rest, but some parents can never switch off.


Parents' plight as Plunket limps on
Rotorua Daily Post 13 September 2007
Rotorua mums are in danger of losing much-needed Plunket support services due to a critical shortage of volunteers. The crisis comes at a time when the need for support services to help parents develop good parenting skills is being highlighted following the death of abused Rotorua toddler Nia Glassie. Every year Plunket provides services to 1200 Rotorua families. It receives half of the funding it needs to run its services from the Government which covers nurses and their services. The organisation relies on volunteers for the rest, including support groups, liaising with Plunket nurses and fundraising.

In Rotorua the organisation is down to 10 volunteers but needs at least 20 and and unless it can find more, says some support services will have to be axed. "The situation has become quite critical," Rotorua Plunket president Tracy Blackledge said. Government funding covered Plunket nurses' wages but it had to raise money to help cover wages of other staff such as its community support co-ordinator, parenting co-ordinator and appeals co-ordinator, plus money for support groups and the purchase of child car seats. Last year Rotorua Plunket raised about $30,000 to help cover these costs.

Take children from addicts, inquiry urges
The Age (Australia) September 14, 2007
CHILDREN of drug addicts should be put up for adoption and their parents forced to show why the child would be better off remaining at home, a controversial parliamentary inquiry report recommends. Accusing drug experts and treatment programs of being an industry with an interest in keeping people on drugs, the report calls for a dramatic change in approach. Inquiry chairwoman Liberal MP Bronwyn Bishop said the rhetoric of the "drug industry" was "focused on the user to the detriment of children and other family members" and treatment was underpinned by an attitude "that it's all amoral and & that you don't make a judgement on things being right or wrong".

Among its 31 recommendations, the report calls for children under five — whose parents' drug use is the subject of a child protection notification — to be put up for adoption unless a parent or child protection worker can show the child would be better off remaining with the family.
It also recommends:
ᅠA review of needle exchange programs and their impact on the communities in which they're based;
ᅠQuarantines of child welfare payments to ensure they're spent on food and other essentials;
ᅠGovernment subsidies for the controversial treatment Naltrexone which causes the body to reject heroin;
ᅠAnd cuts in government funding for treatment programs that support legalisation of illicit drugs, use language trivialising drug use (such as "recreational drugs"), or don't aim to get their clients "drug-free".

That's what little girls are made of, we're told
The Australian September 08, 2007
BROOKE is a 24-year-old model and she doesn't look like one. I mean, she is a particularly attractive young woman but she is not all knees and elbows. She's got hips and a lovely round bottom. She even has boobs. "And that," she says, "is why I can't get work. When I was a teenager, I had work. When I became a woman, work started to dry up and when I asked why, they said, 'Well, we can't use a model with a figure.' "In other words, they didn't want a woman to advertise - get this - women's clothes. They wanted little girls."

...There can be little doubt, however, that some parents feel overwhelmed by the marketing directed at children: the way young girls are portrayed in the mainstream media; the idea that women are always up for sex, and that sex is recreation and has nothing to do with a commitment to another person.,25197,22379934-7583,00.html

Preschool nerves put health at risk
Sydney Morning Herald September 11, 2007
PRESCHOOLERS are getting anxious about school up to six months before they start, putting themselves at risk of heart attacks, strokes and depression in later life, researchers say. A study by psychologists at the University of Bath, in England, found some preschoolers showed high levels of cortisol, a hormone which is released under stress, prompting concerns they were damaging their body's ability to regulate anxiety for the rest of their lives. Cortisol is normally quickly absorbed but when stress is chronic it remains in the system - and functions not essential to survival, such as digestion, learning and rational thinking, are shut down.

If a child is stressed for a long period, the part of brain responsible for shutting down cortisol production, the hippocampus, is permanently damaged, leaving the child prone to anxiety-related disorders such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, depression and circulatory problems.

One of the researchers, Dr Julie Turner-Cobb, said it was a mystery why children would worry about an event occurring so far in the future and the 105 preschoolers in the study may have been picking up on their parents' anxieties. But children remained stressed after the first day of school because large class sizes meant they did not feel "loved" by their teacher, said an associate professor in the school of International, Cultural and Community Studies at Edith Cowan University, Dr Margaret Sims.

Pregnant women to get healthy food grant
Telegraph (UK) 09 September 2007
Pregnant women are to receive a grant from the Government in a bid to encourage them to eat better and improve the health prospects of their unborn child. The "Health in Pregnancy Grant" will be announced by Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary, in a speech later this week in which he will also outline plans to reduce health inequalities between the richest and the poorest in England and Wales. Women in their 29th week of pregnancy will be given a one-off payment of as much as ᆪ200 along with professional health advice on maintaining a balanced diet. The scheme will be in operation by 2009.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "It is something that would be put in place in conjunction with health professionals who already visit pregnant women with healthy diet advice." But how they spend the money will not be monitored, prompting concern from health charities that it could be spent on unhealthy products such as cigarettes and alcohol.


Child home-screening plan `insult'
The Dominion Post 10 September 2007
A proposal by Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro to have mandatory screening of every baby's home life is the ultimate insult, Family First NZ says.
The estimated $5-million-a-year scheme would make it compulsory for every newborn's caregiver to nominate an authorised provider to assess their family's progress through home visits. Those who refused to take part would be referred to welfare authorities. The suggestion has outraged Bob McCoskrie, the national director of Christian-based lobby group Family First. "To threaten to refer the overwhelming majority of well-functioning parents and families - who will quite rightly resist this intrusion - to social welfare agencies is the ultimate insult."

Briefing papers are being written for presentation to the Government's task force for action on family violence, which began a $14 million campaign last week to fight domestic violence. The proposal is in response to shocking child abuse statistics. Regular Unicef report cards, updated this year, consider New Zealand the most dangerous place for children, in terms of health and safety, out of 24 developed countries. The Paediatric Society estimates 15 to 20 children are killed through child abuse each year.

Mr McCoskrie said the children's commissioner should concentrate on the problems that lead to child abuse, such as gang violence, methamphetamine use, violence in schools and the breakdown in families. "But she wants to treat all parents as potential child abusers rather than affording them the respect, support and encouragement they deserve - while failing to target the real abusers." National Party leader John Key said mandatory investigation of all children should be a last resort.

Fathers 'no longer needed for IVF'
Telegraph (UK) 09 September 2007
An alliance of churchmen and MPs led by the Bishop of Rochester has united against Government plans to change the law so that IVF can be granted more easily to single parents and lesbians. The Government's draft Bill on Human Tissues and Embryos says that clinics should no longer take into account "the child's need for a father" before agreeing to attempts to conceive via artificial means. Bishops and MPs have, however, spoken out against the proposal, which was part of the draft Bill published in May, and is to be included in the Queen's Speech in November.

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph today, the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, says: "In the past, the Government has itself declared that it is best for a child to have both a father and a mother. Why is it changing its stance now, at the precise moment when we are seeing all too starkly the consequences of fatherless families?" He adds: "We recognise the courage of single mothers but finding oneself a single parent is very far from setting out policy which deliberately brings children into the world who will never have a father to turn to.";jsessionid=3WT2SJOC0RHVXQFIQMFSFFWAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2007/09/09/nivf109.xml


Pre-school policies 'lack impact'  
 BBC News 28 August 2007
A  string of government policies aimed at boosting pre-school children's educational achievement in England has had no impact, research suggests. Children's vocabulary, ability to count and name shapes when they start school are no better than they were six years ago, a study of 35,000 children claims. The Durham University research covered such policies as the expansion of free part-time nursery places. Ministers say high quality childcare can boost children's school performance. 

Early years education has been a government priority - with ᆪ21bn invested since 1997 - and the research covered initiatives such as free nursery places for three and four-year-olds and the roll-out of Sure Start children's centres. It also covers the introduction of the Every Child Matters policy which aims to provide more support for the welfare of children. The government has invested over ᆪ21bn on early years and childcare services since 1997

Researchers at Durham University's Curriculum, Evaluation and Management (CEM) Centre used a series of tests to evaluate children's vocabulary skills and their ability to do simple maths like suggesting which object is taller than the other. They looked at how about 6,000 four and five-year-olds in 124 primary schools performed in the tests (known as Pips - performance indicators in primary school) in each of the six years of the study.

Taking in factors like the number of children with English as a second language and those on free school meals, it found that there was no change in the children's performance in the tests over the period 2001 to 2006.

Hell Pizza splits with advertiser
NZPA 7 September 2007
The relationship between Hell Pizza and its advertising agency has turned to hell and campaigners against the company's outrageous advertising are rejoicing. The company has split from its advertising agency Cinderella, The New Zealand Herald reported. Cinderella's owner Matt Blomfield has notified Hell Pizza master franchise owner Tasman Pacific Foods (TPF) that he has no confidence in new conservative marketing and wants to sell 10 franchises he owns personally.

Lobby group Family First, which has been boycotting the company because of what it says is its offensive advertising, said it welcomed Hell Pizza back into the kitchen where it belonged, and out of the bedroom where it didn't. The list of transgressions of taste and family values Hell Pizza stands accused of include a condom letterbox campaign for its "Lust" pizza, references to Hitler on a billboard and objectionable content in its Hell-o magazine. The condom campaign was the most complained about ad in Advertising Standards Authority history and aroused nearly 10 times more complaints than any other last year.

Pizza adverts all gone to Hell
The Business Herald September 07, 2007
The relationship between Hell Pizza's new owners and Hell's long-time ad agency, Cinderella Marketing, has hit rock bottom. Cinderella co-owner Matt Blomfield owns 10 Hell franchises, but has asked Hell to buy him out after falling out over advertising for the brand....

Cinderella's exit followed tensions over its controversial ad campaigns for Hell and Tasman's moves to tone it down. This week Cinderella's Blomfield said he had notified Tasman he wasn't confident in the new, more conservative marketing approach and offered to sell the 10 Hell franchises he owns personally...

Emails from Hell co-owner Mark Backhaus and his wife Linda to Blomfield show that the brewing problems had turned into a horror show. Backhaus said in a July email that he was ashamed of the Hell brand and his family had boycotted its pizzas. And in an email sent on July 18, Linda Backhaus wrote to Blomfield: "I am shocked and appalled at the disgusting magazine you have produced, as are many other decent, hard-working family members. We, too, have bought this pizza before, but will support the boycott by Family First.

"The store's decor, their menu names and aspects of the pizza restaurant are deplorable. There is no need for a restaurant to publish a magazine, let alone one of this calibre. Our dollars count and we don't want you to think that your 'little joke' of a magazine will bring in pizza dollars. Instead, it will backfire!"

Family First had complained the magazine featured tongue in cheek articles on bestiality, a "world exclusive" interview with the stingray that killed Steve Irwin and "provocative pictures" of Nicky Watson.

'Fear of prejudice' let gay carers abuse boys
UK Telegraph 06 September 2007
A council's political correctness allowed a pair of homosexual foster parents to sexually abuse children in their care, a report has concluded. Managers and social workers were reluctant to investigate Craig Faunch and Ian Wathey for fear of being accused of prejudice. Instead, they were viewed as "trophy carers" who, by virtue of their sexuality, had a "badge" which made their actions less questionable.

A mother of eight-year-old twins raised concerns about them with social services after finding a photograph of one of the boys using the lavatory. But the authorities took no action, accepting that the two men had been "naive and silly". In reality, they had been using the boys for sexual gratification within months of being approved as carers by the Labour-run Wakefield Metropolitan District Council. Faunch, 42, and Wathey, 33, were jailed last year for a string of offences against four boys, aged between eight and 14, at their home in Pontefract, West Yorks. The victims were among 18 children placed with the pair, Yorkshire's first homosexual foster parents, between August 2003 and January 2005.

...The panel, led by Brian Parrott, the former head of Surrey social services, found: "The fear of being discriminatory led them to fail to discriminate between the appropriate and the abusive. "These anxieties about discrimination have deep roots, we argue - in social work training, professional identity and organisational cultures, and the remedies for these go beyond the remit of any single council or inquiry report.";jsessionid=LCYQIZKPHKFPZQFIQMFSFFWAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2007/09/06/nfoster106.xml

Abuse of Sanity: The truth about how a council allowed a paedophile gay couple to adopt
The Daily Mail 8 Sep 07


Scary movies cause kids' nightmares - Survey
Herald Sun (Australia) September 06, 2007
SCARY movies and TV programs are responsible for almost one third of fearful night-time thoughts experienced by young people. Results from a large survey of Australian children has revealed what triggers common bedtime fears and found that film and television is largely responsible. The study, presented at an international sleep conference in Cairns yesterday, showed that 29 per cent of 511 children aged eight to 16 took fright directly because of the media. About 15 per cent linked their fears to a traumatic event, like a grandparent's death or bullying at school, and 18 per cent appeared to be mimicking fears felt by a parent or sibling.

The Monash University researchers also found that for about 35 per cent of children, parents were inadvertently fuelling their fears by reinforcing them when their child got upset. Lead researcher Jocelynne Gordon said night-time fears were very normal, with two-thirds of the sample reporting scary thoughts after bedtime, including about half of 16-year-olds. A fear of intruders was most common, followed by a fear of noises and then bad dreams, according to previous findings. Affected children often resisted going to bed and had restless sleep.,21985,22370380-662,00.html


Too much medicine' for kids
Herald Sun (Australia) September 07, 2007
ONE-THIRD of parents don't know how to manage fever in their children and often give excessive doses of medicine. A survey of 400 parents found 32 per cent gave their children incorrect amounts of ibuprofen and 4 per cent gave high levels of paracetamol. The finding that almost 25per cent gave their children ibuprofen every four hours, instead of the recommended six- to eight-hourly intervals, was disturbing, said Queensland University of Technology senior research fellow Anne Walsh, who conducted the study. "About 60 per cent of the parents were university-educated, so I think if we did a larger version of this study, it would be more widespread," Ms Walsh said.

"If you give children too much paracetamol, they can develop liver damage. And if they take too much ibuprofen, it can cause gastro and stomach upsets, and can bring on asthma." The survey found parents were confused about the advice they received from doctors.,21985,22377569-662,00.html


Food additives make children behave badly
Times OnLine (UK) 6 September 2007
Britain’s food watchdog is warning all parents today of a clear link between additives and hyperactive behaviour in children. Research for the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and published in The Lancet has established the “deleterious effects” of taking a mixture of artifical extras that are added to drinks, sweets and processed foods. It has led the FSA to issue the advice to parents who believe their children to be hyperactive that they should cut out foods containing the E numbers analysed in the study.

Scientists from the University of Southampton, who carried out research on three-year-old and eight-year-old children, believe that their findings could have a “substantial” impact on the regulation of food additives in Britain. But the FSA has been accused of missing an opportunity to protect children and all consumers by failing to impose a deadline on manufacturers to remove additives such as Sunshine Yellow and Tartrazine from their products.

In the biggest study of its kind the researchers recorded the responses of 153 three-year-olds and 144 eight to nine-year-olds to different drinks. None suffered from a hyperactivity disorder. The children drank a mix of additives that reflected the average daily additive intake of a British child. The mixture was not a product currently on sale. After consuming the drinks – a cocktail of controversial E numbers and the preservative sodium benzoate – the children were found to become boisterous and lose concentration. They were unable to play with one toy or complete one task, and they engaged in unusually impulsive behaviour. The older group were unable to complete a 15-minute computer exercise.

Third of couples face being infertile
UK Telegraph 05 September 2007  
Women are leaving it too late to get pregnant and almost three quarters fear their way of life has ruined their chance of having a baby. Obesity, smoking and the rise of sexually transmitted diseases are reducing women's fertility, experts say. Despite the scale of the problem, particularly among the professional classes, IVF treatment on the NHS is still a "postcode lottery". Half of England's health authorities do not fund a single IVF attempt, more than two years after the Government said the treatment should be offered to all who need it.

The National Fertility Survey found 35 per cent of couples have problems conceiving. They are spending on average almost ᆪ5,000 trying for a baby. Twenty-three per cent of those receive free IVF treatment on the NHS. Most women do not start trying to conceive until they are 30, the survey found, and 60 per cent wish they had started sooner.

Prof Bill Ledger, a fertility expert from Sheffield University, said lower fertility was caused by a combination of factors. Although delayed child bearing is the most important, increasing levels of obesity, sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and a long-term decline in men's sperm count are also to blame. He said: "The most common age for having a first child is now 30-35. "Yet human biology says that the best age for a woman to have children is 20 to 35.";jsessionid=YMVV2KDTKHX53QFIQMFSFFWAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2007/09/05/nfertility105.xml


Heads can 'prosecute' parents of errant pupils
UK Telegraph 05 September 2007
From this week, they can apply for a civil order requiring mothers and fathers of wayward pupils to take parenting classes, with fines if children continue to step out of line. This is an escalation of the Government's hardline policy on unruly behaviour and problem parents. There could also be a criminal record and ᆪ1,000 fine for parents of children found roaming the streets after being excluded from school.

In a further move, the parents of suspended pupils will be hauled before head teachers for a "reintegration interview" before their child is allowed back into class. Head teachers gave a mixed reaction to the move last night, with one warning that it may lead to a breakdown in relations with parents.;jsessionid=YMVV2KDTKHX53QFIQMFSFFWAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2007/09/05/npupils105.xml


Children taken from parents and adopted ‘to meet ministry targets’
Times On Line (UK) 24 August 07
Record numbers of young children are being taken from their parents and adopted - sometimes unjustly - to meet government targets, it is claimed today. Each year some 1,300 babies under a month old are placed in care before adoption, compared with 500 when the Government came to power, BBC Radio 4’s Face the Facts claims today. The programme is told that there are now more than 100 cases of possible miscarriages of justice in which children have been forcibly or unjustly adopted. It says that the number of parents in England who have lost their children, despite insufficient evidence that they were causing them harm, has reached record levels.

One reason, according to social workers, is that they are under pressure to meet government adoption targets – in line with ministers’ policy for more children in care to be adopted. At the same time, it is claimed, parents are not always given a proper chance to challenge adoptions because of the short time limit for appeals and the secrecy of the family courts. Lawyers say that hearings in private fuel parents’ sense of injustice and can in some cases breed bad practice, preventing them from properly defending themselves.

An example
- Threat to take New-Born over Emotional Abuse

Real life boring for TV children
NZ Herald September 05, 2007
Children who watch too much television could be overstimulating their brains, think real life is boring in comparison, and be missing out on activities such as reading and sport which promote and encourage concentration. A ground-breaking new study from Otago University has found that children who watch too much television are more likely to have difficulty paying attention when they are teenagers. The study is the first in the world to look at the possible long-term link between television viewing in childhood and attention problems in adolescence. Researchers found children who watched more than two hours of television a day (and particularly those who watched more than three hours) had above-average symptoms of attention problems in adolescence.

Symptoms included short attention span, poor concentration and being easily distracted. The findings could not be explained by early-life attention difficulties, socio-economic factors or intelligence. The findings, published in the latest issue of the US journal Pediatrics, come out of the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study at the University of Otago.

The study followed more than 1000 children born in Dunedin between April 1972 and March 1973. The amount of time they spent watching television was recorded every two years between the ages of 5 and 11. Attention problems were reported by the children themselves, and their parents and teachers. Previous studies by the unit have linked children's excessive television viewing to obesity, a range of health problems in young adulthood, as well as lower educational achievement.

Maori child abuse blamed on alcohol, drugs
NZ Herald August 31, 2007
More than 40 per cent of people believe alcohol and drugs are the main reason for the rate of Maori child abuse being twice the national average. The latest Herald-DigiPoll found that 43.4 per cent of people blame alcohol and drugs for the high rate, but less than 20 per cent view unemployment and poverty as the main reason. Children's advocates agree with the findings, saying alcohol and drugs are a primary ingredient in the "toxic cocktail" that has produced the poor rates of child abuse among Maori. But Maori leaders and social workers say the problem is complex, and a loss of family, land and tribal connections play a bigger role than perceived by the poll respondents.

Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro said the poll had correctly identified alcohol and drugs as a major factor in child abuse. "It's not an excuse for why people behave that way, but it increases the risk that they will respond in unreasonable ways." She said alcohol and drugs, coupled with undiagnosed or untreated mental illness, and stress brought on by unemployment or poverty created "the toxic cocktail that actually contributes to child abuse".
Family First Comment - This is what we've been saying from the beginning, and right through the Smacking debate!!

Call for 13 months paid parental leave
Tuesday August 28, 2007
The Families Commission is calling for paid parental leave payments to be increased, and for the leave to be longer and easier to get. The Government started funding paid parental leave in 2002 and parents are able to take 14 weeks paid leave, one to two weeks unpaid paternity leave and 38 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave. Family Commission Chief Commissioner Rajen Prasad said current provisions were moving in the right direction. "However we recommend that by 2015 parents are provided with a total of 13 months paid leave, including a month's paid leave for fathers," he said.

The commission made several recommendations in a report released today. These are estimated to cost $95 million today and $300m-$450m by 2015. Dr Prasad said extending parental leave would benefit families, children, employers and workplaces - it would show parenting was valued and bring New Zealand's provisions into line with other developed countries. "Further extending the support given to parents through parental leave is an investment in the economy and in families."

Daughter's divorce of mum overturned
Sunday Star Times 2 September 2007
A highly controlling mother whose daughter effectively divorced her through the court system has won back guardianship through a High Court appeal, in which the judge criticised the Family Court for interfering. The appeal decision found the mother, a central city professional who lives in one of Auckland's most exclusive suburbs and has sent her children to top schools, was inappropriately trying to control her daughter's activities. She was not, however, putting her daughter in any physical or psychological danger and the High Court found there was "no need" for the Family Court order to be made.

The case, revealed by the Sunday Star-Times last November, was the result of new law which places greater weight on the wishes of the child and removes age and maturity as factors in court decisions. The law and the court's reading of it was widely criticised by family advocates upset by the court's decision, which was seen as setting a precedent for similar "divorces".

Growing demand for food parcels
The Press | Wednesday, 15 August 2007
More people are relying on food parcels as the cost of eating starts to bite, charity workers say. Nelson Salvation Army community ministries manager Jill Knight said the 9.6 per cent rise in milk prices last month affected the most critical area of food products that were vital for a healthy diet. "And it's getting less and less affordable." Clients on ordinary and low incomes were finding it increasingly challenging to stretch their food budgets, with mothers often missing meals to feed their children and single people finding the struggle even harder, Knight said. Most people had not eaten a meal for two or three days before they sought help, she said. Increasing numbers of people were being forced to seek food assistances from agencies and she predicted the situation would get worse. "They are ordinary decent hard-working people down on their uppers," said Knight.

Christchurch City Missioner Michael Gorman said demand for the City Mission food bank had "certainly increased". "Beneficiaries are struggling enormously. Above that we have the working poor and they're also struggling. Now we've started to notice working people on lowish incomes coming in. We never used to see them." Gorman said the climbing prices were affecting staple foods like milk and vegetables and he thought the Government should drop GST on those healthy food items. The latest food price index shows prices increased by 1.2 per cent last month, with milk rising by nearly 10%.

Agreement on affordable homes proves elusive
NZ Herald August 24, 2007
New Zealand has an affordable housing issue which will have long-term negative social consequences for the country, a parliamentary committee heard yesterday, but opinions are divided over how to resolve it. The committee announced in March it would hold an inquiry into housing affordability... Chairing yesterday's meeting, independent MP Gordon Copeland said housing affordability would be a big issue for next year's general election. "We really as a society are going to have to face up to how we will solve this." Mr Copeland said there had been strong submissions with many saying the social consequences of the current situation continuing were unacceptable.

Among those making submissions was former National Party leader Don Brash, as chairman of the Centre for Resource Management Studies, alongside its director Owen McShane...Dr Brash told the committee, which included several National Party MPs, it was beyond doubt that tight restrictions on the availability of residential land had a major impact on making housing less affordable. "We all pay a very high price for these policies. Housing is pushed out of the reach of would-be home buyers, with all of the social disadvantages of declining home ownership."

Family First national director Bob McCroskie told the committee tax breaks were needed for first time home buyers. Communities and families benefited when people had a financial interest in owning their own home, he said.

Must try harder, schools told over sex education
NZ Herald August 24, 2007
Most schools are failing to meet students' needs in sex education lessons, casting doubt on classroom efforts to cut the number of teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. The Education Review Office assessed the quality of sexuality education programmes in Years 7 to 13 in 100 primary and secondary schools and found many were adopting a "one size fits all" approach. Of special concern were the 20 per cent of schools that had "substantial weaknesses" in their teaching of sexuality education, the ERO found. Two areas of particular weakness were discovered across schools: a lack of assessment of student learning and a failure to meet the needs of diverse groups of students.

The ERO has made a series of recommendations on how to improve sexuality education in schools, which its report described as "not effectively meeting students' learning needs" at most schools. Sexuality education in schools became a requirement in 2001, but some students have been exempted since then, mostly on the grounds of religious and cultural beliefs. The Family Planning Association said yesterday it had been concerned since 2001 that there was no consistency in delivering the curriculum.

Why women are better at shopping than men 
UK Telegraph 22 August 2007
Men who hate supermarket shopping now have the ultimate excuse to leave it to their mothers, wives or girlfriends. Today, a scientific study says that over many thousands of years evolution has designed women to excel when it comes to hunting down the most fulfilling food.

According to the study by a team in California, women are just as good as men at navigating, but they only call on their mental maps when there is food to be found — and the more calories in a food, the more accurate they are at locating it. The team at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Yale University, was following up years of earlier research which shows that men excel at spatial problems, such as map reading. This probably has its origins in the African savannah, when men were hunting down highly mobile prey. But in these ancient hunter-gatherer societies, women collected plants and this begged a key question, said the team: Shouldn’t women more accurately remember the location of plant foods than men?;jsessionid=JZTYTS010S2XFQFIQMFSFFWAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/earth/2007/08/22/eashopping122.xml

High blood pressure in kids undiagnosed
The Australian August 23, 2007
MANY children and adolescents have high blood pressure that is going undetected, a study has shown. Doctors on Tuesday described an epidemic of high blood pressure, going hand in hand with the obesity epidemic. They blamed poor diets, salty foods and lack of exercise for the changes. "We have probably seen a doubling of high blood pressure in the young over the past 20 years," said Bryan Williams of the University of Leicester. Professor Williams said lifestyle changes were building up serious health problems that could undermine recent advances in the control of disease.

The new study, from the US, estimates that as many as one in 20 American teenagers may suffer from high blood pressure. The long-term effects can include heart attack, heart failure, stroke and kidney disease in later life. Blood pressure is seldom measured in children, and judging what is a risky level has always been contentious. In the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Matthew Hansen of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and colleagues attempted to discover how much undiagnosed high blood pressure there was by looking at the health check records of more than 14,000 children, aged three to 18, living in northern Ohio.,25197,22289790-23289,00.html

Free DVD for every new parent
Yahoo!Xtra news 20 August 2007
Every new parent in Australia over the next two years will receive a free five-hour interactive DVD of parenting tips. The federal government has contributed $2.7 million for the distribution of The Raising Children DVD, launched by Prime Minister John Howard, free of charge as part of parenting kits. The DVD is a comprehensive guide to parenting children from birth to five years of age.

It covers all the basics about child health, development and care, as well as information about family management and available resources. It features celebrities such as rugby retiree Phil Kearns, actor Russell Crowe, rugby league player Hazem El Masri and TV presenter Johanna Griggs, as well as everyday parents. Everything on the DVD was reviewed by at least two childhood experts before being included.

 Poll: Family ties key to youth happiness
Yahoo! News Aug 19 2007
So you're between the ages of 13 and 24. What makes you happy? A worried, weary parent might imagine the answer to sound something like this: Sex, drugs, a little rock 'n' roll. Maybe some cash, or at least the car keys. Turns out the real answer is quite different. Spending time with family was the top answer to that open-ended question, according to an extensive survey — more than 100 questions asked of 1,280 people ages 13-24 — conducted by The Associated Press and MTV on the nature of happiness among America's young people. Next was spending time with friends, followed by time with a significant other. And even better for parents: Nearly three-quarters of young people say their relationship with their parents makes them happy.

Other results are more disconcerting. .. A lot of young people feel stress, particularly those from the middle class, and females more than males. You might think money would be clearly tied to a general sense of happiness. But almost no one said "money" when asked what makes them happy, though people with the highest family incomes are generally happier with life. However, having highly educated parents is a stronger predictor of happiness than income. And sex? Yes, we were getting to that. Being sexually active actually leads to less happiness among 13-17 year olds, according to the survey. If you're 18 to 24, sex might lead to more happiness in the moment, but not in general.

From the body to the soul: Close to half say religion and spirituality are very important. And more than half say they believe there is a higher power that has an influence over things that make them happy. Beyond religion, simply belonging to an organized religious group makes people happier. And parents, here's some more for you: Most young people in school say it makes them happy. Overwhelmingly, young people think marriage would make them happy and want to be married some day. Most also want to have kids. Finally, when asked to name their heroes, nearly half of respondents mentioned one or both of their parents. The winner, by a nose: Mom.

Friday night meal ousts the Sunday roast
UK Telegraph 20 August 2007
Friday evening is the new Sunday lunch time, according to a survey of households in Britain. The traditional roast dinner on a Sunday is gradually being phased out and replaced by a slap-up family meal on a Friday night. The latest research found that half as many households sit down to Sunday lunch compared to the 1960s. Less than six million people regularly eat the traditional roast dinner compared to 1961 when 12.7 million enjoyed the ritual.

The survey, compiled by the Future Foundation and the Institute for Social and Economic Research, also found that twice as many households eat a big meal together on a Friday night compared to 1961.

Nicola Austin, a director at the Future Foundation, who helped compile the research, said: "Sunday lunch is gradually being phased out as people have changed the way they spend their weekends. "Many now go out with friends and family on Sunday afternoons and often people are at work at the weekends. "Fridays seem to be the most common night of the week when people have time off all together."

Media-proof your kids
Times OnLine 11 Aug 2007
In an extract from her book, education consultant Sue Palmer explains how to make children immune to the marketing men.

In the past, marketing to children was a relatively low-budget affair, mostly concerned with toys and sweets. In the past decade or so, as electronic equipment has swelled, and especially as televisions and computers have moved into children’s bedrooms, it has become a multimillion-pound business. Children are now targeted not only through TV ads, but via internet pop-ups and e-mail as well as through product placements in programmes and on websites. The electronic media allow plenty of opportunities for the two great learning devices: imitation and repetition.

Paedophile speaks out about dangers facing kids
Dominion Post August 18, 2007
A convicted paedophile says he was able to offend prolifically because parents were ignorant of the dangers facing their children. The man who abused 40 children over decades in swimming pools, mall and on public transport, spoke to The Dominion Post to help parents be more vigilant to the risks posed by men like him. He said he was surprised by a lot of the things he got away with and said society's reluctance to discuss sex and sexual offending made it easier to abuse. Police asked the man to speak out, hoping if he explained the way he thought it would help parents be aware.

"People need to realise that there's no stereotype ," said Detective Sergeant Tusha Penny, head of the Lower Hutt child abuse team. "People are calling for the Government to do more, but at the end of the day, it is a parent's responsibility to keep their children safe."

The paedophile said he manipulated his victims into keeping quiet by telling them it was a "naughty game" and making them part of the guilty secret. He thinks he got away with it because parents expected paedophiles to wear trenchcoats, be old, bald and only like girls. He said the single most important way parents could protect their children way by paying them attention. He thought GPS trackers and regular visits to known paedophiles by police would make a difference in keeping children safe.

Tricking taste buds: Kids say anything in McDonald's wrapper is better
Yahoo! News Canada Aug 6 2007 
Anything made by McDonald's tastes better, preschoolers said in a study that powerfully demonstrates how advertising can trick the taste buds of young children. Even carrots, milk and apple juice tasted better to the kids if it was wrapped in the familiar packaging of the Golden Arches. The study had youngsters sample identical McDonald's foods in name-brand or unmarked wrappers. The unmarked foods always lost the taste test. "You see a McDonald's label and kids start salivating," said Diane Levin, a childhood development specialist who campaigns against advertising to kids. She had no role in the research. Levin said it was "the first study I know of that has shown so simply and clearly what's going on with (marketing to) young children."

Study author Dr. Tom Robinson said the kids' perception of taste was "physically altered by the branding." The Stanford University researcher said it was remarkable how children so young were already so influenced by advertising. The study involved 63 low-income children aged three to five from Head Start centres in San Mateo County, Calif. Robinson believes the results would be similar for children from wealthier families. The research, appearing in August's Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, was funded by Stanford and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The study will likely stir more debate over the movement to restrict ads to kids


Cyber friends linked to bad behaviour
NZ Herald August 17, 2007
Tweens are more likely to act up or be bullies if they have online friends they have never met, a new study says. They are also more likely to be short of sleep, away from school and depressed. The findings are among the first from the Youth Connectedness Project, which tracks more than 2000 children aged 10 to 15 over three years. The Government-financed project led by Victoria University found 72 per cent of respondents used the internet for leisure. Of those, 38 per cent had online friends they had never met. While males and females were equally likely to have online friendships, age did play a role, with 27 per cent of 10- to-11-year-olds having online friends compared with 48 per cent of 14- to-15-year-olds.

Research fellow Dr Jo Kleeb said almost half of those with online friends were classed "high risk" for conflict, such as bullying or fighting with their family. The figure for other internet users was a quarter. She said it was too early to pinpoint why adolescents with online friends were more likely to get into trouble, but it might be because people tended to vent emotional stress on the internet and could over-invest in online friendships. The cyber friends might also encourage aggression.

"Those who have got online friends are less likely to be monitored by their parents." Dr Kleeb said parents should try to strike a balance by keeping an eye on their children's internet activities.

Mums and dads best managers August 16, 2007
PERHAPS business schools should start teaching parenting classes. According to new research, mums and dads perform better in the office. Researchers from Clark University and the Center for Creative Leadership in the US interviewed 347 managers and executives, mostly from large public companies, about their family lives. Then they talked to the participants' colleagues, subordinates and bosses about their work performance.

Those who were committed to family life achieved significantly better reviews. The parents were batter at multitasking, handling stress and negotiating, said Marian Ruderman, one of the study's authors. "In parenting roles you get a chance to do a lot of the same things you do as a manager," Ms Ruderman said. "You get to hone your interpersonal skills. You learn how to develop other people. It's another opportunity to learn from experience.",23636,22253931-5012424,00.html#

Children 'should not be put on low-fat diets'
UK Telegraph 16 August 2007
Children should not be put on low-fat diets despite concerns about obesity, according to experts. Fat can be included as part of a healthy and balanced diet and has an important role in helping youngsters grow, they said. The study comes after women were warned not to eat junk food while pregnant as it can set their child's taste for fatty and sugary food for life, putting them at risk of obesity.

Other studies have said children should not be given low calorie diet food because it could make them over-eat to compensate. The research, published in the Nutrition Journal, found that children's bodies burn a gain a greater proportion of their energy from fat than adults. Experts said the way to make sense of all the latest evidence is to eat a sensible, balanced diet, without restricting any one food group and to take regular exercise.;jsessionid=CH3L2AVXRCW0VQFIQMFSFFWAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2007/08/16/nfat116.xml


Boobs on Bikes gets council permit
NZ Herald August 17, 2007
The Auckland City Council has approved a controversial topless porn parade down Queen St. Last year the council refused to grant a permit for the annual Boobs on Bikes parade but said it was legal anyway. The event is a lead-up to the annual Erotica Expo, organised by pornographer and Auckland mayoral candidate Steve Crow. The police had also said the parade could go ahead because in this day and age it was not indecent. However, this year organisers have been granted a permit.

Children shunted from one home to another - MP
NZPA 14 August 2007
More than 1000 children were moved in and out of foster care at least three times over the past year, the National Party says. Associate welfare spokeswoman Anne Tolley said the situation was very serious. She released official figures showing 1038 children, including 111 babies, were shifted at least three times.

"One six-year-old girl in Taranaki changed homes nine times, and an 11-year-old boy in Christchurch was passed around 11 times," she said. "That's almost a new home every month." Ms Tolley said moving children around was "dreadfully damaging" and the Government was not dealing with the problem.

Outrage at 11 moves in a year in fostercare Christchurch Press
Family First notes: NZ has just over 5,000 children in care.


Schools hit by death of discipline among boys
Evening Standard UK 13 August 2007 
The failure of teenage boys in school has reached crisis point - with tens of thousands going off the rails, a report has warned. A "cotton wool culture" and lack of competitive sport has led to one in five aged 13 or 14 being suspended from school last year, according to the Bow Group think-tank. Boys received 248,950 suspensions lasting at least a day during the 2005/2006 academic year, compared with 94,750 for girls. At the same time 7,280 boys were expelled, compared with 1,860 girls. The result is that, at 14, one in five boys has a reading ability of a pupil half his age and at 16 a quarter of boys - almost 90,000 - do not gain a single GCSE at Grade C or above. The Bow Group says society is sitting on a "qualifications timebomb", with just 144,229 boys progressing to further education each year compared with 167,258 girls.

The gender gap is most pronounced in behaviour, with boys greatly outnumbering girls at special centres for pupils who cannot be educated in schools. But the centres put boys at a greater risk of drifting into crime, says the report. ... But the report adds: "When it comes to poor discipline in the classroom, however, boys vastly outperform girls" They are four times more likely than girls to be expelled from school and two-and-a-half times more likely to be suspended. Boys between the ages of 12 and 14 made up 54 per cent of all expulsions last year - a one per cent increase on 2005.

Toddler's tantrum brings three cops knocking
NZ Herald August 14, 2007
When Karyn Scherer's 2-year-old threw a bedtime tantrum, the last thing the busy working mother expected was three police officers knocking on her door. But that's what happened on Saturday night after a neighbour of the senior Herald journalist called 111. The police who responded said they had to check everything as quickly as possible, given the number of children who suffered harm. Police made no apologies yesterday for responding to an emergency call to the Titirangi property from a neighbour who told them: "I can hear a child screaming ... and I've heard it before."

The call was taken at the Northern Communications Centre and a West Auckland patrol unit was sent. Waitakere Police commander Inspector Mark O'Connor said: "It's always going to be difficult for police to dismiss such cases without going there. "We do have a lot of physical abuse cases we actually investigate and if we ever got the chance to have intervened earlier there are a lot of kids who may have never suffered serious injury." Mr O'Connor said the family's details would not be passed to another agency.

Karyn Scherer: No, I don't abuse my kids, but thanks for checking 
I have written editorials in favour of the anti-smacking law and I have been asked to appear on TV to present my arguments. I have bored my colleagues with my views on the matter, and I must admit I am now wondering if those who argued that the anti-smacking law would come back to bite good parents on the bum might have been right.


Fathers win custody battles too
NZ Herald August 14, 2007
Fathers are now just as likely as mothers to win a custody battle for their children if they start the legal fight, latest figures show. Family Court statistics for 2005, released yesterday, show that most of what are now called "day-to-day care" parenting orders are still awarded to mothers. But most orders also go to whoever applies for them, whether they are mums or dads. Mothers end up getting more orders in their favour only because they are more likely to apply for them.

The figures straddle the introduction of the new Care of Children Act in July 2005, which changed the terminology from custody to day-to-day care. Women lodged 68 per cent of the applications for custody of children in the last six months of the old law, and gained 69 per cent of the custody orders. In the first six months of the new law, the proportion of applications for day-to-day care lodged by women dropped to 64 per cent, while the proportion lodged by men increased from 26 per cent to 30 per cent.

For God and country
Sunday Star Times 12 August 2007
Bob McCoskrie is the likeable, plain-speaking face of Family First, who helped lead the country in three minutes of silence for tortured child Nia Glassie on Wednesday. Less well known is that McCoskrie is a former Radio Rhema broadcaster with a plan to turn pro-family, Christian messages into a force at next year's election. Working with other pro-family groups, McCoskrie says he will launch "Vote for Family", a project to expose the voting records of all 121 sitting MPs on key moral issues such as the prostitution legalisation bill, the civil union bill and the anti-smacking bill.

"We're looking at some of the bills we think have weakened families. It tells a story just on the research we've done already, McCoskrie says. "We'll be releasing it next year. We're keeping the gun loaded." McCoskrie comes from the increasingly energetic Christian right, who have worked hard since the rise of MMP to find their political voice. His website will allow voters to reward or punish candidates based on their voting record on key issues, and he won't say which party is likely to come out on top.

Family First has no plans to run candidates and they have no links with an Australian Christian-based political party called Family First. McCoskrie's organisation "is a voice for family, it's not a voice for Christianity but you're right, people involved in it have a Christian background".

"We want to encourage good open robust debate in New Zealand. Political correctness has stifled that a little bit," he says. "What we're starting to tap into... there are many people out there who may not be regular church attenders who are concerned about the moral breakdown, they're concerned about standards in the media in terms of violence and sexual content, they're concerned about violence in the community, they're concerned about the breakdown of marriages."
Read the Research on Christian Values Political Party



Male teachers 'help boys behave' 
BBC News 30 July 2007
Male teachers can have a positive impact on the behaviour of primary school boys, a survey suggests. The Training and Development Agency for Schools wants to encourage more men to apply to become primary teachers. The YouGov survey of 603 children aged eight to 11 shows 51% of boys believe they are better behaved with a male teacher - and 42% say they work harder. At present, a large majority of teachers in England's primary schools are women with only 16% being men.

Currently one in 12 pupils will have gone through primary school without ever having been taught by a man. The survey suggests male teachers can provide a positive role model for boys at primary school - and that a large majority of boys would like to have both male and female teachers in their schools. There were indications that having male teachers could help boys' overall experience of school - with 44% agreeing that male teachers "help them to enjoy schol more" and 37% of boys saying it made them feel more self-confident. More than a quarter of boys agreed that male teachers "understand them better" and could be "relied upon for good advice".

Study faults 'Einstein' videos for infants
Boston Globe 8 August 07
Parents hoping to raise baby Einsteins by using infant educational videos may instead be dumbing their children down, according to a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics. Researchers found that, among babies aged eight months to 16 months, every hour spent daily watching programmes such as Brainy Baby or Baby Einstein translated into six to eight fewer words in their vocabularies compared with other children their age.

The hundreds of millions of dollars parents have spent on these videos is money down the drain, according to Dr Dmitri Christakis of the University of Washington in Seattle. The videos, which are designed to engage a baby's attention, hop from scene to scene with minimal dialogue and include mesmerising images.

"I would rather babies watch American Idol than these videos," Christakis said, explaining that there was at least a chance the parents would watch with them, giving the babies contact that could benefit them. Children whose parents read to them or told them stories instead of showing them videos had bigger vocabularies. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television for children younger than 24 months.


To love, honour and clean the bathroom
The Press 10 August 2007
Sharing chores is almost as important as a good sex life in making a marriage work, according to a new survey. The UMR Research marriage survey found that 62 per cent of New Zealanders rated sharing household chores as very important, just behind a happy sexual relationship at 67%. Nationwide, 62% of women and 61% of men thought sharing chores was very important. Christchurch households lagged behind this figure, with just 52% rating sharing household chores as very important – a figure not broken down into sexes.

The survey found that faithfulness was the top attribute, with 92% rating it as very important. At the other end, agreeing on politics was only rated as very important by 4% of the 750 respondents to the survey which had a 3.6% margin of error.

Abuse cases rise while killings are down
NZ Herald August 09, 2007
Child abuse cases substantiated by Child, Youth and Family Services (CYFS) have jumped again in the past year, despite evidence that the number of children being killed is now falling. The number of children abused increased by 15.4 per cent to a new record of 10,159 in the financial year to the end of June. Almost half (46 per cent) of the children were Maori, 28 per cent European, 16 per cent Pacific, 3 per cent Asian and 2 per cent from other ethnicities. For the remaining 5 per cent, no ethnicity was given. The increase in substantiated cases was slightly higher than a 13.8 per cent rise in the total number of notifications to CYFS from doctors, teachers, police and members of the public.

Notifications have more than doubled in the past four years to a peak of 75,326, reflecting the media focus on horrific cases such as the death of Rotorua 3-year-old Nia Glassie and a campaign to encourage notifications by health workers and others. But many of these were double-ups where different people rang CYFS about the same children, and some complaints were found to be groundless.

The number of children for which notifications were found to require further action actually dropped for the second year in a row, from 37,549 to 34,437. But the number of children confirmed abused or neglected following further investigation increased from 14,571 to 16,479, including the 10,159 cases of abuse. The number of children and young people in CYFS's care fell slightly from 5077 to 5049 - the first drop for at least five years.

Silent protest against child abuse a success - organisers
NZPA | Wednesday, 8 August 2007
three-minute silence to protest child abuse was observed by people around the country, organisers of the action say. New Zealanders were encouraged to go outside and stand in silence for three minutes at 12.12pm today. Workers stood in groups on central Wellington streets, roads were closed in Tauranga and a group of "prominent New Zealanders" gathered outside Starship Hospital in Auckland. Warriors rugby league players and staff also observed the silence at Mount Smart stadium after their weekly media session, team spokesman Richard Becht said.

The protest was organised by lobby groups Family First NZ, the Sensible Sentencing Trust and For the Sake of Our Children Trust. The three minutes represented the three years of the life of Rotorua toddler Nia Glassie who died last week from injuries allegedly inflicted by members of her extended family. The time signified the 12 children who die from child abuse each year in New Zealand.

....Family First spokesman Bob McCoskrie said organisers deliberately planned the protest to be as simple as possible, so that wherever people were they could take a moment to reflect on how they could make a difference to the child abuse problem. "Let's face it – the three minutes was a symbolic gesture, but it was really designed to change the mindsets of people, from pointing the finger and `Who's to blame?' to `How can I be part of the solution?"'

Call for 3-minute silence attacked
NZ Herald August 08, 2007
A Maori group has attacked today's plan for a silent protest at New Zealand's high level of child abuse. Family First NZ, For the Sake of Our Children Trust, and the Sensible Sentencing Trust, have asked New Zealanders to stop what they are doing at 12.12pm and observe three minutes of silence. They hope people will come out of their offices and step out of their cars to take part and reflect on what they can do to stop child abuse. But Allies of Whanau of Aotearoa (Awa) are calling for people to "make some noise" instead. "Silence on the issue sends out the wrong message," spokesman Te Kanikani Tautoko said. "It's something we need to be discussing as opposed to not saying anything."

Both campaigns follow the death of Rotorua toddler Nia Glassie on Friday. The 3-year-old died in Auckland's Starship hospital after weeks of horrific abuse, allegedly at the hands of her extended family. Family First spokesman Bob McCoskrie said the three minutes represented "the three short years" of Nia's life, and the time mirrored the 12 children who died from child abuse each year in New Zealand.

Warriors join stand against child abuse
NZPA 8 August 2007
Some of New Zealand's top rugby league players will be standing up against child abuse. At 12.12 pm the New Zealand Warriors will stop their press conference and join with what is expected by organisers to be thousands of other New Zealanders across the country in the symbolic stand. Family First NZ, For the Sake of Our Children Trust, and the Sensible Sentencing Trust have asked New Zealanders to take a stand against child abuse in the wake of the death of Rotorua toddler Nia Glassie on Friday.

Preschool peers key to bullying in teen years
NZ Herald August 08, 2007
Children are more likely to grow up to be involved in bullying if they go to a preschool with youngsters who are mainly from low-income families, new research reveals. The report, released today, comes from a project that began in 1993 in which almost 500 children were tracked from age 5. This report covers their progress to age 16 but there are plans for a further report when the participants are aged 20. The "Competent Children, Competent Learners" project found that the quality of teaching at age 5 still influenced children's reading and maths skills 11 years later. The report indicated children whose mothers were highly educated did better academically at age 16.

Children who went to top preschools - where teachers responded to individual children's needs and frequently joined in activities - also outstripped their peers' achievements in their teenage years. These results echoed those in reports released when the participants were aged 12 and 14.

New Zealand Council for Educational Research chief researcher Dr Cathy Wylie said the quality of the participants' early childhood education appeared to have an effect on whether they as teenagers experienced "social difficulties", such as bullying others or being bullied, bowing to negative peer pressure or mixing with children who got into trouble. The report said 16-year-olds with the problems were more likely to have gone to a preschool serving mainly low-income families or families from a wide range of backgrounds.

Big rise in teen violent crime
The Dominion Post 7 August 2007
There has been a sharp increase in teens committing violent crime. For the first time the Justice Ministry has compiled a report solely focusing on youth crime, which reveals a 39 per cent increase in violent crime, but that less than one-third of those aged 14 to 16 are prosecuted for breaking the law.

The study, which will now be completed yearly, comes as NZ First MP Ron Mark has proposed a law change that would lower the age of criminal responsibility from 14 to 12. It collated youth offending figures from 1995 to 2006.

* Violent offences had increased from 2690 in 1995 to 3743 in 2006. (39 per cent)
* Last year the number of youth arrests for violent offences was up 9 per cent from 2005, spurred by a leap in both serious and minor assaults.
* In 2006 one in every seven people arrested was aged 14 to 16.
* Police arrested 30,451 youths last year. However, only 29 per cent were prosecuted.
* Four in 10 cases were referred to the police Youth Aid section, while 23 per cent of the suspects received a formal warning.
* Child, Youth and Family dealt with 6 per cent of cases
* Grievous-serious assaults were up from 1324 to 1512 between 2005 and 2006.
* In 2006, 30,451 of 203,484 arrests were of people aged 14 to 16.


Revealed: how alcopops lure the young
Sydney Morning Herald August 6, 2007
AN ALCOHOL industry insider has admitted companies deliberately target young people by sweetening ready-to-drink alcopops to mask the taste of alcohol and appeal to the "younger palate". A marketing executive behind the vodka-based drink Absolut Cut said yesterday the market was booming for high-strength pre-mixed drinks that "get young people drunk faster". Cheap, sugary drinks packaged in bright colours are the best way to start people drinking at an early age, said Mat Baxter, a partner in the media planning agency Naked Communications.

"It's a more effective and easier way to get drunk faster and that's a conclusion that we've drawn from understanding the category dynamics," he said. "It's one of the few drinks where you don't necessarily know you're drinking alcohol and that's a conscious effort to make those drinks more appealing to young people. [The] drinks are very much about masking the alcohol taste."

Mr Baxter's views first emerged in the advertising journal B&T, in which he remarked on Absolut Cut - a ready-to-drink product, or RTD, with an alcohol content of 5.5 per cent - being taken off the market. He said it was a sign that the market for these drinks - described by some in the industry as the "binge drinker" category - was dominated by stronger, 7 per cent alcohol, drinks with appeal to young people on a budget.

Childcare next poll bonus
The Australian August 04, 2007
THOUSANDS of parents will receive a childcare cash bonus of up to $4200 from the federal Government as they prepare to go to the polling booths. The Howard Government will begin handing out the one-off bonus through Centrelink from next month -- just weeks from the start of the federal election campaign -- as part of its budget measures to help families cope with crippling childcare bills. Under the old regime, parents were forced to wait up to two years for a 30 per cent rebate on childcare through the tax system. The pre-election bonus -- about $800 for each child on average but potentially as high as $4200 a child -- will be a double win for parents as it lands in their bank account about the same time as the 2005-06 rebate is delivered via their tax return....

The figure was based on a child attending a long-daycare centre for 50 hours a week. With most children spending about 22 hours a week in childcare, the average rebate is about $800 a child per annum. The Treasurer also used the budget to offer succour to low-income families by increasing the other childcare assistance measure, the means-tested Child Care Benefit, by 10 per cent. Mr Costello said the two measures, worth an additional $2.1billion to Australian families, were designed to "help mothers who want to take part in the paid workforce to do so".,25197,22186291-11949,00.html

Boy's 111 'parent assault' call unfounded
Eastern Courier 3 August 2007
A boy called 111 after learning about the new child discipline regulations at school. The 11-year-old turned to police fearing he was assaulted by his parents, but it turned out that he was being disciplined. "He was engaging in offensive and obstructive behaviour and his parents intervened with reasonable force," Howick-Otara family violence coordinator sergeant Brett Woodmass says. "The boy said he had learnt about the law at school and I believe he was misinformed," he says.

A few calls to police related to Section 59 of the Crimes Act reveal some residents are confused over the new regulations. Mr Woodmass says there have been calls that police normally would not have. "A father of a child didn't like his sister-in-law smacking his child on the hand," he says. "It was deemed reasonable to minimise the child's actions to prevent potential harm." The police investigate every case and still have the discretion not to prosecute complaints against the parent. "Until a case law develops on the section, it is not known how it will be interpreted and applied by the courts," Mr Woodmass says. "a haven for online sexual predators" July 28, 2006
Social networking sites such as may soon be inaccessible to minors from libraries and schools receiving federal funding. By a vote of 410 to 15, the US House of Representatives passed yesterday H.R. 5319 “Deleting Online Predators Act” (DOPA), which amends the Communications Act of 1934 to require schools and libraries receiving federal money to protect minors from commercial social networking websites. "Social networking sites such as MySpace and chat rooms have allowed sexual predators to sneak into homes and solicit kids," said Rep. Ted Poe, (R-Tex.) co-founder of the Congressional Victim’s Rights Caucus. He added, "This bill requires schools and libraries to establish (important) protections."

Social networking sites like MySpace, which provide users with self-dedicated web-pages replete with personal information, photographs, and varying modes of self-expression (both decent and obscene), have had an incredible acceleration of popularity, and are the targets of the bill. MySpace, the foremost of these sites, boasts over 76 million users, and claims to register an average of 250,000 new users daily, many of whom are youth.

Although MySpace bills itself as “a place for friends” where every new user’s first friend is the creator “Tom”, and can add a limitless quota of other MySpace “friends” to one’s collection, many concerned parents and politicians have discovered that it is a place for sexual predators too. Police authorities have revealed that many sexual crimes against youth have been committed by youth meeting strangers they knew as MySpace “friends.” ... MySpace also acts as a forum for many people, especially youth, to advertise obscene behavior, pornography, and child pornography.

See also:
Two teens face child pornography charges after posting sexually explicit photographs of themselves on

Porn and bullying common on MySpace and Bebo - Guardian Unlimited 1 August 2007
Popular social networking sites such as MySpace and Bebo are putting children at risk of online bullying and inadvertently exposing them to pornography and unsuitable advertising, the consumer affairs magazine Which? has warned. This comes after Computing Which? set up an account pretending to be a 14-year-old and found "numerous examples" of pornography, bullying and unsuitable advertising on the site, which allows users to create their own web pages, chat to friends and share photographs.

How Safe Is MySpace?
Focus on the Family's PluggedIn Magazine July 2007
What is MySpace: good, bad or ugly? Actually, all three. As with so much else in the world, Internet sites such as mix everything up in one pot before it's served. Some parents, then, will choose to ban these congregation sites altogether. And they'd be in good company doing so. "It's a parent's worst nightmare to have a young person on this Web site dispensing all kinds of information," says Blumenthal. Fellow Connecticut public servant Bill McKenna, who is a police sergeant investigating a spate of MySpace-related sexual assaults on seven 12- to 16-year-old girls, adds, "It's a predator's dream come true, this Web site." 

Latest web network no place for children
NZ Herald 22 July 2007
Martin Cocker, the executive director of internet safety awareness group Netsafe, said Bebo appeared to be the social networking website of choice for New Zealand school kids. "I believe that the nearly 2000 schools using Watchdog or SchoolZone filtering [software] have Bebo and MySpace blocked by default," said Cocker. "Many young people are conducting their lives in this space, the ups and the downs, the good and the bad. The communities people create can be very supportive, but they can also be extremely vindictive."
Read more:

Cannabis harm worse than tobacco 
BBC News 31 July 2007 
A single cannabis joint could damage the lungs as much as smoking up to five tobacco cigarettes one after another, scientists in New Zealand have said. The research, published in the journal Thorax, found cannabis damaged the large airways in the lungs causing symptoms such as coughing and wheezing. It also damaged the ability of the lungs to get oxygen to, and remove waste products from tissues. Experts say the study confirms that the drug represents a serious health risk.

This research confirms that cannabis poses a serious health risk to the lungs, and smoking a joint can be more harmful to the lungs than smoking a cigarette. In the study researchers from the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand, Wakefield Hospital and the Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, studied 339 volunteers. They took CT scans of their lungs and tested their lung function through breathing tests to assess their lung damage.


MP's bill to allow breastfeeding anywhere
NZPA 1 August 2007
Legislation to ensure mothers can breastfeed their babies wherever they are has been drafted by Labour MP Steve Chadwick. Ms Chadwick says if her member's bill is passed discrimination against breastfeeding mothers will be a thing of the past. "No longer will some cafe owners, businesses and childcare facilities ask mothers to leave their premises when her child needs to be fed," she said today. "The Human Rights Commission has heard astonishing examples of negative reactions to breastfeeding in places such as swimming pools, food courts and schools."

Ms Chadwick's Infant Feeding Bill has been put in the ballot box for members' bills and has to wait to be drawn before it goes on Parliament's agenda. She said it would end discrimination against breastfeeding mothers by changing the Human Rights Act. 
Family First Comment: Do we really need yet another law on this? Just change the attitudes.

Drive to get children playing outdoors
UK Telegraph 30 July 2007
Only one in five of today's children play outside in the street or local parks every day, according to new research. The poll by Play England found 21pc of children play outside every day. A fear of traffic accidents, paedophiles or bullies, and the growth of home electronic entertainment, has meant a whole generation are growing up without the joys of playing free in their neighbourhood. While their parents may have whiled away the summer holidays playing cowboys and indians or impromptu games of football, today's children are more likely to stay indoors or take part in organised sports sessions - and are more likely to be overweight.

The poll by Play England, which comes at the start of a campaign to encourage children to play outside, found 21 per cent of children play outside every day, whereas 71 per cent of adults had played outside in their youth. A quarter of children said traffic prevented them playing close to their homes, while adults also cited so-called "stranger danger" as a reason for not letting their children play outside. Adrian Voce, the director of lottery-funded Play England, said: "Children are not allowed out the way they used to be." He said growing rates of obesity in childhood were one symptom of fewer children getting enough exercise outside. "If you keep children cooped up in front of the computer for long periods of time, they eat less healthily because food becomes a source of stimulation," said Mr Voce.;jsessionid=S3A2JP5025DYRQFIQMFSFFWAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2007/07/30/nplay130.xml


Sharples horrified at child's alleged abuse
NZPA 29 July 2007
Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples is horrified at another alleged Maori child abuse case, but says it's too simplistic to blame the issue on ethnicity. Rotorua three-year-old Nia Glassie is currently in a coma in Rotorua Hospital after allegedly being hung from a washing line and spun in a clothes dryer. Four people have been jointly charged with assaulting the toddler over three weeks and a fifth person has been charged with assaulting her over four months. Nia's injuries come a little more than a year after the deaths of three-month-old twins Cru and Chris Kahui highlighted the issue of child abuse among Maori into the public spotlight.

Mr Sharples said Nia's case was very saddening. "How do I feel when I hear they're Maori? I feel ashamed. I feel guilty," he told the Sunday Star-Times. "Where does this behaviour come from?" Mr Sharples said the alleged behaviour in this case was "absolutely intolerable". However, he said problems of child abuse stemmed from a dysfunctional culture which happened among poverty-stricken and underachieving communities, a group in which Maori were too highly represented.

...The case has prompted Family First National Director Bob McCroskie to call for a non-political commission of inquiry into child abuse, increased support for parenting groups and community organisations working with at-risk families. He also called for a media shock campaign similar to the one for road safety and greater sentences for child abusers. "Child abuse is greater than any political agenda, will require a huge amount of honesty, and must be owned and solved by New Zealanders."

Rising violence in schools 'due to lax discipline'
NZ Herald July 29, 2007
The removal of corporal punishment in schools has been highlighted as a root cause of the rise in violence against teachers. A New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) survey has found one in seven primary school teachers were hit by their pupils last year. The study also found more than 50 per cent of teachers and more than 25 per cent of school support staff reported "aggressive verbal confrontations" with pupils.

Bob McCoskrie, national director of conservative family lobby group Family First, said a Justice Ministry report late last year showed serious youth violence had increased by 27 per cent since 1996. "All of these young people have entered a system of education and society where discipline and responsibility are being replaced by the politically correct nonsense of childrens' rights," said says Mr McCoskrie. "It is significant that as schools have removed corporal punishment, schools have become more dangerous. School yard bullying by pupils on other pupils and staff is now the new form of 'corporal punishment' in schools. He said behaviour of pupils would will continue to deteriorate for "as long as we tell them that their rights are more important than their responsibilities."

Smoking just one cannabis joint raises danger of mental illness by 40%
Daily Mail 26 July 2007
A single joint of cannabis raises the risk of schizophrenia by more than 40 per cent, a disturbing study warns. The Government-commissioned report has also found that taking the drug regularly more than doubles the risk of serious mental illness. Overall, cannabis could be to blame for one in seven cases of schizophrenia and other life-shattering mental illness, the Lancet reports. The analysis does not look at the age at which schizophrenia is likely to develop. However, previous studies have shown that smoking the drug as a teenager raises the risk of developing schizophrenia in one's twenties or thirties.

The researchers, from four British universities, analysed the results of 35 studies into cannabis use from around the world. This suggested that trying cannabis only once was enough to raise the risk of schizophrenia by 41 per cent. At greatest risk, however, were heavy users, with those who took cannabis over 100 times having more than double the risk of those who never touched the drug. With up to 40 per cent of teenagers and young adults in the UK believed to have tried cannabis, the researchers estimate that the drug could be behind 14 per cent of cases of schizophrenia and other psychotic illnesses.

Satellite device that lets parents track children
Evening Standard (UK) 25 July 07 
Parents are snapping up a satellite tracking system for their children so they can monitor them while at school. Developed to track dementia patients prone to wandering off, the device has seen sales increase since the abduction of Madeleine McCann in May. A child being tracked wears a small black box which sends a signal that can be followed on a computer at home or work and is said to be accurate to within 13ft. Mike Smuts, managing director of Blue Tree Services, which developed the system, said: "We have seen huge demand for this product. A lot of people set out for work first in the morning and the child only goes to school afterwards. People also like to use it when their child goes off on a school trip."

ButPenny Nichols of The Children's Society said: "As a society, we are in a real quandary over how much freedom to give our children. We want them to experience freedom of play but are increasingly frightened to let them out. " Ultimately, parents have a responsibility to protect their children but a tracking system doesn't tackle the root causes of society's fears but rather encourages them." She added: "Children are more at risk in the home than on the street."


Police tell mother: Don't scold daughter 'because of Maddy'
Daily Mail UK 25 July 2007
A mother who scolded her tantrum-throwing daughter in a shop was outraged to be visited at home by police who told her it was inappropriate to reprimand the girl in the light of Madeleine McCann's disappearance. Ruth Ball was at home when police officers knocked at her door and and ticked her off about the way she had chastised four-year-old Leigha. The 24-year-old was told that the method she had used to reprimand Leigha was "inappropriate" in the light of Madeleine's disappearance from her family's holiday apartment in Portugal.

Ms Ball was at a newsagent in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, when Leigha started screaming after being refused sweets. She swept her daughter out of the shop and put her in the car to calm down, standing a couple of feet away with her three-year-old son Jack. A few minutes later she got into the car and drove the family home, thinking no more of it. The following day a policeman visited her at her home in Luton to tell her off. The officer said it was inadvisable to shout at her daughter and shut her in the car after what happened to missing Madeleine.

Fall in infant deaths due to position - study
NZ Herald / Reuters July 25, 2007
A continuing decline in the number of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) cases is likely due to parents placing infants on their backs before bed, according to New Zealand research. Researchers from Auckland University reported there had been an initial drop in the number of cases after parents were urged to avoid placing their infants face down to sleep. The research suggested that the continuing decline was due to a further change from the side to back positioning of infants before bed. There was an initial 50 per cent fall in SIDS rates from the mid-1980s to 1993, at which time almost all infants were no longer placed on their stomachs to sleep.

Dr Edwin Mitchell and colleagues from Auckland University hypothesised that the continued decline was because fewer infants are being placed on their side to sleep. The researchers sent a questionnaire in April-May 2005 to a random sample of 400 mothers who had delivered infants at the National Women's Hospital in Auckland. They were asked which position they put their baby to sleep in the previous night. The findings are published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Hell Pizza feels the heat
Eastern Courier 25 July 2007
Hell Pizza's magazine featuring a scantily-clad Nicky Watson, gags about Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin's death, condom jokes and other sexual related marketing have resulted in numerous complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority. Executive director Hilary Souter says since 2005 a number of people have contacted the authority concerned about Hell Pizza's marketing campaigns. There have been 14 advertisements that have caused concern. One campaign where condoms and instructions on how to use them were put in letterboxes prompted 685 complaints.

Hell Pizza's general manager Colin Mellar says he has had a combination of complaints about the magazine. He says their marketing is not targeted towards any age and has no problem with his children aged five and 12 reading the magazine. "I am comfortable with the content of the magazine and distribution," Mr Mellar says.

Family First national director Bob McCoskrie is concerned the advertising standards authority has set a precedent where social responsibility is forgotten when advertisers push the boundaries. "It's a game to advertisers," he says. "The more we normalise such things as degrading women, bestiality and swear words the more we'll see it in the community. "It is not up to a pizza company to set morals for children, it's up to the parents. "Hell Pizza push it in front of kids before it is appropriate."

Working mums' 'child weight risk' 
BBC News 23 July 2007
The children of wealthier parents, particularly those with working mothers, are more likely to be obese or overweight, a study says. Researchers at the Institute of Child Health in London followed 13,000 children to the age of three. They found for every 10 hours worked the risk of being overweight rose once household income topped ᆪ11,000, the International Journal of Obesity said. Experts said it was a "wake-up call" for the middle classes.

However, the researchers also noted that among the working mothers group - 7,500 in total - the risk was 13% and 19% greater. The researchers said: "Long hours of maternal employment, rather than lack of money, may impede young children's access to healthy foods and physical activity. "For example, parental time constraints could increase a child's consumption of snack foods and / or increase television use." They said working mothers were also less likely to breastfeed for the recommended amount of time.

See also: Middle class fuelling child obesity 
The Telegraph (UK) 23 July 2007

Parents may be prosecuted for insults
Sunday Telegraph (UK) 22 July 2007
...But mothers and fathers who insult each other in front of their children may now find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Australian courts have begun ordering parents to refrain from making offensive remarks, claiming that constant carping between couples can damage young minds. The orders relate not only to expletive-laden abuse, but to any remark that might be used by one parent to turn a child against the other. The type of comments that have attracted judges' opprobrium include many seemingly innocuous ones, such as references to "Your silly mother", or asking "Has your father got a job yet?".;jsessionid=V5XOFZ2GRXMEHQFIQMFSFFWAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2007/07/22/winsult122.xml

See earlier coverage in UK....
Calling a child 'naughty' can traumatise them, say experts 16 Oct 06
Parents should not call their youngsters 'naughty' because it damages their self-confidence, a childcare expert controversially claimed. Annette Mountford, chief executive of the parenting organisation, Family Links, said that children's self-esteem is run down by such branding, even if they are behaving badly.
Parents must not shout at their youngsters and should only call their behaviour naughty, rather than saying they are naughty themselves.

Family First Comment: These cases all highlight the trend to dictate parenting practice, even to the point of using the weight of the law, with little regard to context and the increasingly difficult task of parenting in today’s culture. While parents need to be encouraged to “behave”, how long before a law is introduced to ban parents calling their children "naughty"???

Celibacy teaching dropped by US states
Sunday Telegraph (UK) 21 July 2007
For more than a decade, America's campaigners for sexual abstinence have successfully preached that the best thing for teenagers is to stay celibate - and that the best thing for schools is to teach chastity and never mention condoms. Abstinence-only sex education is thought ineffective by some...

 ... A string of states from Montana to Maine have decided to stop teaching pupils to "Just say no" and a key Senate committee has voted to cut government spending on abstinence-only sex education...Most significantly, opponents of the 700 schemes across America - with names such as Virginity Rules and Great to Wait - have seized on research released in April to argue that teaching teenagers not to have sex makes little difference. Lawmakers in 14 states have this year concluded that the education programmes they once backed with such enthusiasm are ineffective and a waste of public funds.

Advocates of abstinence -dispute that, however, and insist they are in tune with the wishes of American parents. "This is a philosophical divide over sexual values," said Robert Rector, a research fellow at the conservative -Heritage Foundation, who drafted federal legislation on abstinence education in 1996. "The groups who have been hot to abolish these programmes from the start represent values left over from the sexual revolution of the -Sixties. That does not reflect what American parents want." Campaigners against abstinence-only schooling object to the ban on any mention of contraception, claiming that increases unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Their opponents counter that teaching children how to use contraception encourages them to have sex.;jsessionid=YCFCLCFR50YLPQFIQMFSFFWAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2007/07/22/wsex122.xml

Union backed porn teacher
Sunday Star Times 22 July 2007
A teacher convicted of sexually molesting a nine-year-old boy had been supported by his union when he was stood down from an earlier job for looking at child porn. Derek James McCarthy - convicted last week in the Manukau District Court of molesting a child at Weymouth Primary School in Manurewa, South Auckland, in 2005 - was booted out of Mt Carmel Primary School in Meadowbank six years earlier. His actions were investigated by a school committee which recommended to the board he be dismissed. He was immediately stood down.

But his union, the New Zealand Educational Institute, supported him through a series of High Court and Employment Court actions fighting the case. A lawyer connected to the union filed applications arguing that the process the board adopted was unfair and he should be reinstated. Peter Monteith, NZEI national acting secretary, said: "Members are entitled to seek legal assistance from the union if they plead not guilty." The school used its insurance to pay its own lawyer to defend its position. After about two months - when McCarthy, 36, was on full pay - he dropped the case and left the school. The Teachers' Council - the former Teachers' Registration Board - investigated the 1999 incident when it was reported, but no action was taken.

IVF children 'are twice as likely' to suffer poor health
Daily Mail UK 20 July 2007
Children born following IVF treatment are almost twice as likely to suffer ill-health, experts have warned. A study of hundreds of seven-year-olds has revealed that they are admitted to hospital much more frequently than other youngsters of the same age. While many of their illnesses were common to all children, those born through fertility treatment suffered more fits and more conditions connected to the brain and immune system.

The British study also showed that IVF twins tend to require more hospital treatment than youngsters from single births. The figures, published in Human Reproduction, a respected medical journal, will fuel fears over fertility treatments. Previous studies have shown that young men conceived this way are more likely to be infertile. IVF babies are also more likely to suffer from birth defects, including heart problems, and are thought to be at higher risk of autism and cerebral palsy.

Schools battling student thugs
The Dominion Post 21 July 2007
Violence and dangerous behaviour is on the rise in schools with more pupils assaulting teachers and classmates, new Education Ministry figures reveal. The sobering statistics - which shed light on the reasons why many pupils were stood down or suspended in 2005 and 2006 - were released yesterday under the Official Information Act. The figures have sparked calls for more resources to deal with dangerous pupils to make classrooms safer.

The Education Ministry is promising to tackle the problem, worried about what will happen if the troubled children are allowed to carry their behaviour into society. Pupils were suspended, stood down or kicked out of school nearly 30,000 times last year, mostly for disobedience, violence and abuse. Post-Primary Teachers' Association president Robin Duff said the figures supported evidence from teachers that classrooms were becoming more violent. More assistance to manage difficult pupils, smaller classes to help defuse violent situations and effective counselling were needed.

Stand-downs - the removal of a pupil from school for up to five days for misbehaviour - accounted for 22,467 cases last year. Dangerous behaviour jumped by 13 per cent, assaults on pupils by 1 per cent and assaults on teachers by 5 per cent. Arsons rose by 23 per cent, alcohol offences 42 per cent and vandalism 21 per cent. Suspensions - which trigger a more formal process that can lead to a pupil's permanent removal - fell slightly to 5008 cases. Dangerous behaviour rose by 14 per cent, assaults on staff 11 per cent, arson 11 per cent, vandalism 50 per cent and alcohol offences 53 per cent. Drug offences were down across both groups, as were sexual misconduct and weapons offences.

Fewer Mothers Prefer Full-time Work - Study
Pew Research Centre 12 July 2007
More and more working mums say working full-time is not ideal; they'd rather be at home with their kids, according to a survey taken by the Pew Research Center.

The survey also revealed the following information:
* Today, just 16 percent of stay-at-home mothers with minor children say their ideal situation would be to work full-time outside the home, down from the 24 percent who felt that way in 1997.
* Nearly half (48%) of all at-home mums now say that not working at all outside the home is the ideal situation for them, up from the 39 percent who felt that way in 1997.
* Fathers, on the other hand, with more than seven-in-ten (72%), say the ideal situation for them is a full-time job.
* Of the mums who work part-time, fully eight-in-ten say that part-time work is their preferred option.
* Part-time work is also the preferred option of about half (49%) of mothers who work full-time and a third (33%) of mothers who don't work outside the home.
* Only 12 percent of fathers would prefer to work part-time and 16 percent say they would prefer not working outside the home.
* Although nearly 71 percent of American women work outside the home, it appears many of them aren't happy about it. Some of the compromises suggested by experts include job sharing, more time off under the Family Medical Leave Act and flexible part-time arrangements.

Cary Funk, one of the authors of the Pew study, said juggling work and family time is a tough act for most moms to pull off. "What I'm seeing is that people are expressing the difficulties of combining work and childrearing responsibilities," she said.

Divorce Begets Divorce -- but Not Genetically
Indiana University 11 July 2007
The first study to examine genetics as a culprit in the higher-than-usual divorce rate among children of divorced parents found that the parents' divorce itself, not genes or even problems such as parental substance abuse or delinquency, played a key role in the failed unions. Children of divorced parents are roughly twice as likely to see their relationships end in divorce compared to their peers from intact families. Brian D'Onofrio, assistant professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University Bloomington, said that when a host of variables are taken into consideration, such as genetic risks and socioeconomic factors, the actual divorce still accounts for around 66 percent of the increased risk of divorce faced by children of divorced parents.

"This means the transmission is not due to psychological or substance abuse problems that are passed from parents to the offspring," he said. "It's something very unique about the separation of one's parents. The societal implications are very important because divorce is such a painful experience for both adults and children. This further suggests that interventions specifically targeted at the consequences of divorce are important for our society."

Marriage therapy saves money for taxpayers, health insurers July 19, 2007 
A recent study suggests that when couples decide to get help instead of a divorce, those who foot the bill for counseling -- taxpayers and insurers, for example -- receive a benefit as well. Dr. Ben Caldwell is the assistant program director for the Marital and Family Therapy program at Alliant International University in California. He and two colleagues wanted to find out if relationship counseling would ultimately save taxpayers money. Their study revealed that not only government but health insurers as well would get a sizable return on their investment were they to pay for marital therapy.

Caldwell explains that a divorce costs taxpayers an average of $30,000, while a full-course of marital therapy costs about $1,500. "Now therapy doesn't work for everyone, of course, but the most current models of doing couples therapy that we have work quite well," he says. "And what we found was if government paid for the screening and treatment of marriages in trouble, then they would get a return of about $1.85 for every dollar spent."

The direct savings, he explains, comes from families not needing temporary housing assistance, food stamps, and child support enforcement. Taxpayers also save indirectly because higher marriage rates result in lower crime and a lower incidence of child abuse, he says.


Debate on Child Pornography’s Link to Molesting
New York Times 19 July 2007
Experts have often wondered what proportion of men who download explicit sexual images of children also molest them. A new government study of convicted Internet offenders suggests that the number may be startlingly high: 85 percent of the offenders said they had committed acts of sexual abuse against minors, from inappropriate touching to rape. The study, which has not yet been published, is stirring a vehement debate among psychologists, law enforcement officers and prison officials, who cannot agree on how the findings should be presented or interpreted.

The research, carried out by psychologists at the Federal Bureau of Prisons, is the first in-depth survey of such online offenders’ sexual behavior done by prison therapists who were actively performing treatment. Its findings have circulated privately among experts, who say they could have enormous implications for public safety and law enforcement. Traffic in online child pornography has exploded in recent years, and the new study, some experts say, should be made public as soon as possible, to identify men who claim to be “just looking at pictures” but could, in fact, be predators.

Yet others say that the results, while significant, risk tarring some men unfairly. The findings, based on offenders serving prison time who volunteered for the study, do not necessarily apply to the large and diverse group of adults who have at some point downloaded child pornography, and whose behavior is far too variable to be captured by a single survey.

Teens' fear of fat fuels eating disorders
Sydney Morning Herald July 20, 2007
PANIC over childhood obesity has contributed to a dramatic rise in the number of teenage girls starving themselves, vomiting, abusing laxatives and smoking in an effort to shed weight, the author of a national study released today said. The study of 8950 children and adolescents showed an almost doubling of girls aged 12 to 18 engaging in "eating-disordered behaviour" because they believed they were overweight, said Jenny O'Dea, associate professor of nutrition and health education at the University of Sydney. Youth Cultures of Eating showed 18 per cent of girls surveyed in 2006 had starved themselves for at least two days, up from from 9.9 per cent in 2000.

The study, funded by the Australian Research Council, also showed 11 per cent used vomiting for weight loss, up from 3.4 per cent. Eight per cent smoked to suppress appetite, up from 2.4 per cent. The report noted that obesity declined among wealthy teenage girls, from 4.6 per cent in 2000 to 3.9 per cent in 2006. The number of obese children, boys and girls, was "levelling off", Dr O'Dea said, with a rise from 5.1 per cent in 2000 to 6.4 per cent in 2006. She said the heavy focus on childhood obesity and media attention on "skinny celebrities" such as Paris Hilton were to blame for the increase in eating-disordered behaviour.

Cannabis linked to ice (P) use among young adults
Daily Telegraph (Australia) July 18 2007
PREVIOUS drug use, rather than being depressed or coming from an underprivileged background, is driving the growing use of amphetamines by young adults. A Victorian study has found adolescents who use cannabis and other drugs in their teens are at much higher risk of moving on to amphetamines as young adults.

The study, by experts from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of NSW, found 12 per cent of nearly 2000 Victorian 24-year-olds who took part had used amphetamines in the previous year, and between 1and 2 per cent were using amphetamines at least weekly. It is the first study to examine what factors in adolescence predict the later use of ice, speed and other amphetamines, use of which has been rising in Australia and around the world.

The findings further undermine the view, now widely disputed, that cannabis use is relatively benign and does not lead users to harder drugs. The research findings were published in the international journal Addiction.,22049,22093497-5005941,00.html

Harmful side-effects hit kids put on wrong drugs
NZ Herald July 19, 2007
Doctors are unnecessarily prescribing children powerful antipsychotic drugs which can lead to drowsiness, depression, tooth decay and weight gain. The findings were part of a national study investigating the safety and use of a relatively new class of antipsychotic drug on the under-16s. More than 90 per cent of prescriptions for the 420 children involved in the study were for risperidone, which is sold under the trade names Risperdal and Ridal. It has been a government subsidised medicine since 1998, with about 600 children being prescribed the drug.

The study by the Intensive Medicines Monitoring Programme found harmful side-effects in 30 per cent of the children on the drugs classed as "atypical antipsychotics". A third of these were linked to the drugs, say the researchers. Co-author Mira Harrison-Woolrych said this was the first study in the world to paint a comprehensive, real-life picture of how the increasingly-prescribed second-generation antipsychotics are being used in children.

As well as gathering data on adverse reactions, the researchers also investigated the children's diagnoses and the symptoms being targeted by the drugs. They found conduct disorders and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder to be among the most common diagnoses, followed by autism, Asperger's syndrome and other developmental disorders. Child psychiatrist and co-author Dr Juan Garcia-Quiroga said aggression and difficult behaviours were found to be the most common target symptoms.

Tertiary courses in prostitution possible
NZ Herald July 18, 2007
Funding for tertiary courses in prostitution could be considered under changes aimed at boosting quality and relevance in the sector, education officials say. But MPs on Parliament's education and science select committee were told today that although courses in the world's oldest profession might be considered if providers put them forward, they would still have to meet tight criteria to get funding.

The questions on prostitution, posed by New Zealand First MP Brian Donnelly, surfaced as MPs were quizzing Tertiary Education Commission officials on changes to how tertiary education was funded. Under the changes, from next year, institutions will be bulk funded on the basis of agreed three-year plans rather than on the number of students enrolled in specific approved courses. Tertiary Education Minister Michael Cullen has said the changes are aimed at increasing the "quality and relevance" of courses. However they have raised questions regarding the TEC's actual control over individual courses.

National Party education spokeswoman Katherine Rich said she was concerned by the TEC's apparent "agnostic" attitude towards the content of courses under the new system. She questioned whether it might lead to a continuing proliferation of courses such as twilight golf seen under the old system.

Loss of partner doubles housing cost burden
The Age (Australia) July 17, 2007 
PEOPLE who divorce, separate or lose a partner through death are more likely to surrender their homes, with the housing cost burden doubling for this group. Research by RMIT University, based on analysis of more than 3000 couples from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia surveys between 2001 and 2003, found a dramatic increase in the cost burden for those who lose a partner. The proportion of income spent on housing costs jumped from 10.5 per cent of gross income to 22 per cent of gross income over 12 months. It also found that the loss of a partner was more likely to result in the loss of a home.

One year after a loss of a partner, the home ownership rate fell from 69 per cent to 53 per cent, and the rental rate increased from 31 per cent to 47 per cent. In contrast, for those couples who stayed together, the home ownership rate improved from 85 per cent to 86.5 per cent. The research also showed the problem was worse for women, as they were less likely to find another partner than men, and more likely to live longer. Professor Gavin Wood, one of the researchers involved in the study, said about a quarter of couples who were once home owners lost their homes when they divorced, separated or were bereaved of a partner. Of the sample, 60 per cent lost their partners through divorce or separation, while the other 40 per cent lost them through death.

Being reduced to one income to service mortgage costs was more difficult, leaving many unable to sustain the housing cost burden, Professor Wood said. "Divorce and separation now poses a much bigger threat to home ownership aspirations than it did 20 to 30 years ago," he said.

Talking over a problem 'makes teenage girls more unhappy'
Evening Standard UK 17 July 07 
Talking about your troubles is often said to be the first step toward dealing with them. But that advice does not hold good for teenage girls - or so researchers think. They found that girls who spend a lot of their time discussing their adolescent woes with friends are more prone to depression than boys. It is thought they tend to dwell on problems more and are likelier to blame themselves when things go wrong.

Researcher Amanda Rose said youngsters should be encouraged to talk about their concerns - but only in moderation. She said they would do better to take their minds off their worries by learning a sport or pursuing an interest. The psychologist, who spent six months studying the effects of teenage problem-sharing or "corumination", said: "Talking about problems and getting social support is linked with being healthy. "What's intriguing about these findings is that co-rumination likely represents too much of a good thing. "Some kids, especially girls, are taking talking about problems to an extreme. When that happens, the balance tips and talking about problems with friends can become emotionally unhealthy." Dr Rose, of the University of Missouri-Columbia, issued her warning after assessing the health and friendships of more than 800 girls and boys.

When 3 Really Is A Crowd
New York Times Opinion 16 July 2007
Elizabeth Marquardt, a vice president of the Institute for American Values, is the author of the forthcoming “My Daddy’s Name Is Donor.”
In a Newsweek article last March, polygamist Mark Henkel explained the basis of his argument for "polygamist rights": If Heather can have two mommies, she should also be able to have two mommies and a daddy. At the time, even gay activists scoffed at the premise. But as family scholar Elizabeth Marquardt explains in an op-ed today for the New York Times, the courts are redefining parenthood in a way that makes the legal acceptance of that argument all but inevitable.

On April 30, a Pennsylvania Superior Court panel made history by becoming the first court in the United States to rule that a child can have three legal parents. The case involved two lesbians who were the legal co-parents of two children conceived with sperm donated by a friend. The panel held that the sperm donor and both women were all obligated to financially support the child and were all equally entitled to visitation. By ruling that a child can legally have three parents the court not only severed the legal ties between biology and parenthood but provided a basis for the legal recognition of polygamous marriage.

The idea of assigning children three legal parents is not limited to North America. In 2005, expert commissions in Australia and New Zealand proposed that sperm or egg donors be allowed to “opt in” as a child’s third parent. That same year, scientists in Britain received state permission to create an embryo from the DNA of three adults, raising the real possibility that they all could be granted equal legal claims to the child if the embryo developed to term.

"If more children are granted three legal parents, what is our rationale for denying these families the rights and protections of marriage?" asks Marquardt. "America, get ready for the group-marriage debate."

Source: Family Research Council

Couples ordering designer dads
Herald Sun (Australia) July 16, 2007
DESPERATE Australian couples are buying sperm from anonymous "designer donors" through overseas websites. The donor dad's religious beliefs, university major, temperament, ethnic ancestry and even voice recording are available at the click of a mouse. The trend has astonished IVF experts because the commercial trade in sperm is illegal in Australia and donors in Victoria must be registered. Ethicists say the situation makes a mockery of Australian laws.

The sperm bank advertises physical traits - even offering photographs of the donor as an infant. The results of a temperament test, which assess the donor as having one of four temperament types, are also available for a fee. Voice recordings of donors, sketches of his facial features, in-depth medical histories and even high school test results can be bought.... Specimens from the US site cost between $US250 and $US500 and a donor dossier can be bought for an additional fee.,21985,22081205-662,00.html

Warn mums of grog risk
Herald Sun (Australia) July 16, 2007
THE Federal Government is under mounting pressure to introduce mandatory health labels warning pregnant women off alcohol. The Drug Education Network is petitioning the Government to make the change, claiming fetal alcohol spectrum disorder costs Australia $13 million a day. Network spokeswoman Vicki Russell said liquor was putting the unborn at risk and barriers to reform should be overcome.

"One of the major difficulties is the cultural acceptance of alcohol," Ms Russell said. "We already know it's toxic to unborn children." The group wants new laws making it compulsory for alcohol bottles to carry warnings that consumption during pregnancy can cause birth defects.

The network says research in the US has found clear links between birth defects and alcohol, with sufferers more likely to require mental health care or become caught up in the criminal justice system. The National Health and Medical Research Council is reviewing its safe drinking guidelines, with its recommendations due by the end of the year. St Vincent's hospital specialist Dr Yvonne Bonolmo - a leading alcohol researcher - will ask the council to discourage pregnant women from drinking in her submission to the review. Dr Bonolmo said fetal alcohol disorder was a major concern among health professionals.,21985,22079262-24331,00.html

Boys and girls are different - nurture the nature
AAP 6 July 2007
Boys and girls have different brains, and learn in different ways, but that's no reason for parents to switch their kids from co-educational to segregated schools, or vice-versa. The key lies in teaching their teachers about the differences, says American educator Michael Gurian, keynote speaker at a conference this week at Newcastle University in NSW. The parenting and family expert said the old "nature versus nurture" argument was over. "What we really need to do is nurture the nature," said Mr Gurian, founder of the Colorado-based Gurian Institute for training and researching how gender affects learning.

"New brain scanning technology clearly illustrates differences in the ways boys and girls react to stimuli, activity and rest, and debunks talk that these differences are simply the result of nurture. "Studies on spatial awareness show that by four days of age, girl babies hold eye contact with their care-giver for longer than boys, while boys are already responding to movement and activity. "Studies on vocabulary show that for every 20,000 words a girl uses, a boy uses between 7000 and 10,000." Asked if this meant girls were really "smarter" than boys, as some parents suggest, Mr Gurian said: "Girls tend to learn verbal literacy at younger ages than boys, and boys tend to be more spatially and kinesthetically able at younger ages than girls. "Biological and brain differences favour more boys than girls in gross motor abilities at very young ages."

..."Both co-education and single sex education can work wonderfully for their respective populations of learners," he told AAP. "The key ingredient in both is teacher training.

Tories aim to put marriage back in fashion
UK Telegraph 11 July 2007
Official forms in future should require people to declare whether they are married, a Tory policy review recommended yesterday. David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith talk to teenagers at the Kids Company drop-in centre in south London after the report's launch. Restoring the term "marital status' and terms such as husband, wife and spouse, would send a "clear and unambiguous signal' of the importance a Conservative government would attach to marriage, it said. David Cameron welcomed the report and made clear that support for marriage would be a key dividing line between the Tories and Labour at the next election.

He stopped short of immediate tax commitments, saying he would have to work out what he could "sensibly and prudently" put in a manifesto. But he reiterated his promise to remove the "anti-marriage bias" from the tax and benefit system. Mr Cameron said the high rate of family breakdown was linked to the systems.

"Britain is almost the only country in Europe that doesn't recognise marriage in the tax system and the benefits system actively discourages parents from living together. "We have the highest rate of family breakdown in Europe and we have the worst social problems in Europe," he said. Labour said the proposals would discriminate against lone and unmarried parents but the Conservative leader accused Gordon Brown of playing "political games". "If he wants to defend the anti-marriage bias in our tax and benefits system, good luck to him. He's on the side of the past, and on the side of social failure,' Mr Cameron said.
Read Full report -

Porn site teacher earns slap on wrist - defended by Union - no protection for kids!
Herald on Sunday July 08, 2007
An art teacher who posted hard-core pornographic pictures of himself and two women on internet sex sites - with messages for girls "the younger the better" to contact him - has been allowed to continue teaching. A Herald on Sunday investigation has found the Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) tried to keep the case secret and the Teachers Council would not reveal the teacher's name, even though two of the five Disciplinary Tribunal members who heard the case wanted him struck off the register. This means principals, parents and students do not know anything about the man's past, even if he is still teaching in their school.

The tribunal clearly understood how parents would feel about the man continuing to teach, writing in their decision: "We have little doubt that members of the public would be disconcerted to know that a teacher who behaved in the way described in the agreed statement of facts was teaching in a New Zealand school. That, however, does not seem to be the real point here." Peter Lind, chair of the Teachers Council, said the "point" was whether the teacher's behaviour was deemed misconduct, or serious misconduct.
Warning - article contains offensive details

UPDATE: Porno pic teacher no longer teaching - Maharey
NZPA 19 July 2007

Parents are singing pop songs to kids instead of nursery rhymes
Daily Mail (UK) 8th July 2007
All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't get most parents to sing nursery rhymes to their children. Traditional verses such as Humpty Dumpty are in danger of dying out because mothers and fathers are singing pop songs to their children instead, it is claimed. More than a quarter of parents polled for a survey admitted they cannot remember a single rhyme. And while research suggests that singing to children can give them a head start at school, 37 per cent of parents said they rarely gave voice. Of those who did, 38 per cent favour pop songs.

The survey, for the pre-school channel Cartoonito, questioned more than 1,200 parents across Britain, of whom only 12 per cent could recall three or more nursery rhymes in full... Out of nursery rhymes that respondents did know, the most popular were Jack and Jill, Humpty Dumpty, Ring-a-Ring O'Roses, Baa, Baa Black Sheep and Hickory, Dickory Dock. But most parents - 71 per cent - were clueless about the historical meaning of the rhymes. Just 28 per cent of young parents said they sang to their children "all the time".

Dr Janine Spencer, development psychologist at Brunel University, said: "Not only are nursery rhymes an important historical part of our culture, but by singing them to young children you can help speed up the development of their communication, memory, language and reading skills. "It is also an entertaining and fun way to interact with your baby or toddler, and is crucial for recognising and learning phonic sounds."

No happy ending for divorced boomers
The Australian July 09, 2007
AUSTRALIA'S first wave of baby-boomer divorcees are far less happy as they approach retirement and suffer more physical and mental health problems than their married friends. No matter how many years have passed since their split, members of the growing grey army of over-55 divorcees without a new partner are likely to be less satisfied with life than a married person. And to confirm it is divorce that has the negative effect on wellbeing, divorced women who remain single are less happy than widows in the same situation.

Groundbreaking research to be presented later this week by the Australian Institute of Family Studies paints a disturbing picture of the long-term impact of divorce on the emotional health and circumstances of those in their mid-50s and above. The report, Divorce and the Wellbeing of Older Australians, will be unveiled at the Australian social policy conference in Sydney. It has telling implications for government policy on health and welfare in coming decades, co-author Matthew Gray says. Dr Gray, the institute's deputy director, said the consequences of divorce on younger people had been studied before, but little was known about the impact of separation on those who were in or near retirement.

The research followed work published by the same team in February that covered the financial consequences of divorce for older people. The study concluded that "older divorced single Australians are much more likely to experience material hardships than the married never-divorced", with home ownership, asset levels and income all lower for divorced people. The two research papers showed that "there are negative financial consequences of divorce in older age, and divorce has a negative effect more generally on wellbeing later in life," Dr Gray said. "But it is not all negative. If people remarry following divorce, a lot of their financial position can be recovered, and those who have remarried look pretty similar on most measures of wellbeing to their long-term married friends.",20867,22040289-2702,00.html

Calls to give all dads paternity leave
Herald Sun (Australia) July 09, 2007
ALL dads should be paid two weeks paternity leave to improve wellbeing and work productivity, a leading group of policy researchers recommends. The idea was announced in Sydney today at a forum on work-family policy. Eleven policy leading lights from across Australia made a range of suggestions including allowing workers to choose part-time over full-time work, more work-from-home options and restricting long or unsocial hours.

"A growing body of international research shows that giving workers more say over their work-time arrangements improves the wellbeing of workers and their households,' said University of Sydney Work and Family Policy co-convener Dr Elizabeth Hill. "The evidence-based policy principles set out in our document are informed by the latest Australian and international research,' Dr Hill said.,21985,22041010-662,00.html


ᆪ23m to give dads text tips on how to bring up their children
Evening Standard UK 07 July 07
Fathers are to be sent tips by text message and email on bringing up their children. Ministers hope the ᆪ23million scheme will appeal to men because it uses "father-friendly" technology such as phones, electronic organisers and instant messaging. They will be encouraged to seek advice on ensuring children do not become obese and improving grades at school. A further ᆪ10.5million will be spent on telephone helplines offering parenting advice. The newly launched schemes are aimed at fathers and other groups who "may struggle to find the help they need". These include the parents of disabled children, those living in deprived areas and ethnic minority groups. 

The ᆪ23million will be ploughed into a Parent Know How innovation fund over three years. It aims to "engage" with parents using text messaging, email, messaging software such as MSN and Yahoo! Messenger and social networking websites. The scheme will attempt to ape the popularity of the site which has 300,000 members. The grant funding for telephone helplines runs from 2008 to 2011. The Department for Children, Schools and Families cited research which said mothers and fathers wanted input from professional or published sources on parenting issues. Fathers were most likely to want to access it over the Internet.

Middle-class parents raising a generation of 'brats' who can't hold down a job
Evening Standard UK 07 July 07
Middle-class parents are raising a generation of 'spoilt brats' who are so cosseted that they struggle to cope in the workplace, psychologists have warned. A new breed of 'princesses' and 'little kings' cannot hold down jobs because they are so used to leaving household chores to their parents and throwing tantrums to get their own way. Experts believe a rise in childcentred parenting is to blame. Mothers and fathers are said to be lavishing expensive clothes and gadgets on their children both to keep up with the Joneses and ease their guilt at working long hours.

But too much pampering is making many children bossy, demanding and nasty to classmates, experts warn. The children's charity Kidscape yesterday lamented the rise of the 'brat bully' - a new breed of classroom monster who uses mobile phones and e-mail to subtly victimise other children. Meanwhile, Professor Cary Cooper, head of psychology and health at Lancaster University, warned that cosseted home lives can leave children ill-equipped for life in the adult world.

"Some young people have been so pampered they can't stick at a job when things get tough," he said. "They have no experience of knuckling down to household chores and pulling their weight, because their parents did everything for them." He added: "Working couples have very little disposable time for each other, or their children, so when the kids are younger they outsource them to nannies or childminders, and when they're older, they feel guilty and buy them off by indulging them and never asking anything in return.

Women worse off after divorce
Telegraph (UK) 07 July 2007
Divorce leaves women significantly worse off financially than men, a study has found. Despite recent reports of multi-million pound settlements, the study of more than 4,000 people has found that while a man's income increases, on average, by 11 per cent after he parts from his wife, a woman loses around 17 per cent of her income. Sociologists, who tracked the income of divorcees over seven years, concluded that divorced women would be better off finding a new husband than trying to return to work. They also said that mothers of young children fared particularly badly after divorce because they found it difficult to juggle work and raise a family.

The study, which draws on data from the European Community Household Panel, was collated over seven years by Mieke Jansen and two colleagues from the University of Antwerp in Belgium. "We noticed a large gender gap," said Miss Jansen yesterday. "It's difficult for some women because they have to care for the children, find a job as well as deal with the emotional trauma of divorce. "We found that many women don't work at all after their marriage breaks down or have to work only part-time because they can't afford the cost of child care."


Study Calls Lotteries an Unfair Tax on the Poor
Tax Foundation USA July 2007
Focus on the Family Action 5 July 2007
Most Americans don't think of lotteries in terms of tax policy. The lottery conjures up images of smiling Powerball winners displaying $10 million checks for the TV camera or per­haps stories of lottery players suffering financial ruin or gambling addiction. But in between these two extremes is the less glamorous but equally important issue of the lottery's effect on state tax policy.

In fiscal year 2005, total consumer spend­ing on lotteries surpassed $50 billion, and the average American spent $177 playing the lot­tery. Over $15 billion of this revenue was trans­ferred to state coffers. The significant revenue raising potential of state lotteries raises serious tax policy concerns. Although no government agency is willing to call the lottery a tax, it is nonetheless a source of implicit tax revenue.

• Extensive evidence shows lotteries are regressive, meaning the poor shoulder a disproportionate share of the tax burden.
• The lottery is not economically neutral: it distorts consumer spending by applying an unusually high tax rate to a particular product.
• It is a hidden tax, lacking transparency.
• Lottery revenues do not always benefit the programs for which they are earmarked, and voters may feel deceived when they approve lotteries for education only to find that legislators shuffle funds and their states' public education systems do not benefit significantly.

Key to a good marriage? Share housework.
Yahoo News Jul 1 2007
The percentage of Americans who consider children "very important" to a successful marriage has dropped sharply since 1990, and more now cite the sharing of household chores as pivotal, according to a sweeping new survey. The Pew Research Center survey on marriage and parenting found that children had fallen to eighth out of nine on a list of factors that people associate with successful marriages — well behind "sharing household chores," "good housing," "adequate income," a "happy sexual relationship" and "faithfulness." In a 1990 World Values Survey, children ranked third in importance among the same items, with 65 percent saying children were very important to a good marriage. Just 41 percent said so in the new Pew survey.

Chore-sharing was cited as very important by 62 percent of respondents, up from 47 percent in 1990. The survey also found that, by a margin of nearly 3-to-1, Americans say the main purpose of marriage is the "mutual happiness and fulfillment" of adults rather than the "bearing and raising of children."

The survey's findings buttress concerns expressed by numerous scholars and family-policy experts, among them Barbara Dafoe Whitehead of Rutgers University's National Marriage Project. "The popular culture is increasingly oriented to fulfilling the X-rated fantasies and desires of adults," she wrote in a recent report. "Child-rearing values — sacrifice, stability, dependability, maturity — seem stale and musty by comparison."

Social breakdown 'is costing Britain ᆪ102bn every year'
Evening Standard UK 05 July 07
The cost to Britain of social breakdown is running at ᆪ102billion a year, according to the Tories. The party's review group on social policy will put a massive price on the effects crime, poor education and family break-ups have on the economy...It prompted David Cameron to confirm that tax cuts for couples are part of the Tory agenda and will be used to shift the balance of state support in favour of families.

It is understood that the social justice policy commission used Government statistics to cost the overall impact of social breakdown at ᆪ102billion a year. The total is made up of ᆪ24billion for family breakdown, ᆪ18billion for educational under-achievement and ᆪ60billion for crime.

Six months ago Mr Duncan Smith and his taskforce warned that family breakdown and debt are out of control. Mr Cameron has already promised to overhaul the tax and benefit system to recognise marriage and reverse Labour policies which encourage couples to earn more benefit by living apart. The Tory leader said he would "set a simple test for each and every one of our policies - does it help families?"

Teenage girls 'using speed to lose weight'
UK Evening Standard 03 July 07
Teenage girls as young as 15 are using the powerful drug speed in a desperate bid to lose weight. A Drug and Alcohol Action Team (DAAT) said they had evidence that youngsters were taking amphetamines in an attempt to shed the pounds. The drug induces manic behaviour similar to the bingeing and starving seen in eating disorders. Commonly used as a party drug, teenage girls are using the powder because it can lead to dramatic, but short-term, weight loss.

Robin Herne, a drug trainer with DAAT in Suffolk, visits schools to educate students about drugs and the dangers they pose. Mr Herne said: "Amphetamine was initially designed as a diet drug and appetite repressant. "It affects the part of the brain that feels hunger. This means that regardless of how empty the stomach is, the brain does not think it is hungry so people do not take food in. The weight then drops quickly. But he added: "Once the drug wears off the stomach realises it is empty and whatever weight came off piles back on. So it induces periods of not eating and then bingeing. From there it doesn't take a lot to go into an eating disorder pattern.

Money can't buy you happiness, survey finds
Herald Sun (Australia) July 02, 2007
CHILDREN, friends and pets are more likely to make us smile than a big wad of cash, according to a new survey. The ACNielsen survey for Centro Properties Group, which runs the Smile with Centro survey in conjunction with a photographic competition, polled 1471 Australians to find out what made them smile. The saying that "money can't buy happiness"  was confirmed in the survey which revealed 94 per cent of Australians rated factors other than money as things that make them smile most, Centro Properties Group spokeswoman Lisa Charter said.

The survey found that children and babies made 33 per cent of people smile, followed by family and friends (28 per cent), then pets and animals (22 per cent), nature (8 per cent), while money only made 6 per cent of Australians smile, she said. Dr Timothy Sharp from the Happiness Institute said the results indicated people gained more happiness from relationships. "It (smiling) is a natural human expression that elevates the senses and boosts the level of serotonin in the brain," Dr Sharp said. "The findings support my theory that happy people have more and better quality relationships than those who don't smile, because it is an important non-verbal sign we give to others as a way of sharing and eliciting positive emotions," he said.,21985,22002315-662,00.html

I did not smack my child, says minister
NZ Herald July 02, 2007
Cabinet minister David Cunliffe has become embroiled in a controversy over whether he smacked his 2-year son at a mall. A witness at New Lynn mall claims to have seen Mr Cunliffe smack his child on the hand to punish him for having hit another child, according to the lobby group Families First. The group strongly opposed the anti-smacking bill passed by Parliament. Mr Cunliffe's version is quite different: "My 2-year-old was pulling at a little girl," he said in a statement. "I pulled his hand away and calmly told him not to do that."

The national director of Families First, Bob McCoskrie, said last night that while he believed Mr Cunliffe had done the right thing in correcting his son for his behaviour, under the new law the police would have been obliged to investigate had a complaint been laid. The police would then have had the discretion not to prosecute. He said he had highlighted the case to expose what he thinks is a bad law. "He carried out what any half-decent parent would do. So this is a perfect example of where we have created a law where someone like David Cunliffe could be prosecuted or at least someone could make a complaint and you would have to be investigated."

See our Media Release

READ what Hon David Cunliffe said in parliament when supporting the anti-smacking bill

Babies not as innocent as they pretend 
Telegraph UK 01 July 2007
Whether lying about raiding the biscuit tin or denying they broke a toy, all children try to mislead their parents at some time. Yet it now appears that babies learn to deceive from a far younger age than anyone previously suspected. Behavioural experts have found that infants begin to lie from as young as six months. Simple fibs help to train them for more complex deceptions in later life. Until now, psychologists had thought the developing brains were not capable of the difficult art of lying until four years old.

Following studies of more than 50 children and interviews with parents, Dr Vasudevi Reddy, of the University of Portsmouth's psychology department, says she has identified seven categories of deception used between six months and three-years-old. Infants quickly learnt that using tactics such as fake crying and pretend laughing could win them attention. By eight months, more difficult deceptions became apparent, such as concealing forbidden activities or trying to distract parents' attention. By the age of two, toddlers could use far more devious techniques, such as bluffing when threatened with a punishment.;jsessionid=QYRCNZ1VR3HVPQFIQMFSFFWAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/earth/2007/07/01/scibaby101.xml

Welfare penalty for 'bad' parents
The Australian July 02, 2007
ALL parents - black and white - who waste welfare money on alcohol, drugs or gambling, or do not send their children to school, will lose access to up to 40 per cent of their payments. Cabinet will tomorrow discuss a plan to force parents across Australia to account for their children during school hours or face  Centrelink taking control of their family assistance payments. Children identified as at risk will be the first to be targeted, with Centrelink intervening to ensure essentials such as rent, food and medical expenses are paid. It would allow the Government to quarantine 40 pe