Sexperts only a text away from curious teens

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Adolescent health experts in the United States think they have made a great leap forward in sex education. Since the vast majority of teenagers have cellphones, and since an awful lot of them appear to be sexually active, programmes have been set up in several states to receive and answer questions about sex by text message. The beauty of the scheme is that kids can ask the rudest and the most serious questions about sex without bothering their parents.

The move follows Web-based approaches, including the use of social networking sites. While some of the text programmes are automated, one in North Carolina actually employs nine people on shifts to answer questions ranging from “Why don’t girls like short guys?” to questions about anal intercourse. The Birds and Bees Text Line staffers undertake to answer within 24 hours and may refer the young person to a local service. They have a… click here to read whole article and make comments



What’s wrong with early marriage anyway?

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A cheerful little statistic on marriage from New Zealand: the number of marriages among residents rose last year by 400 -- from 21,500 in 2007 to 21,900 -- and these were all first marriages, which make up around one third of Kiwi marriages overall. We don’t know the ages of the happy couples, but a recent article in the Washington Post -- Say Yes. What Are You Waiting For? -- was an unexpected plug for earlier marriages.

Sociologist Mark Regnerus politely prods one of the sacred cows of population experts, most of whom fall into the zero population growth camp. Regnerus doesn’t go into the anti-natalist roots of the campaign against early marriage, although they certainly bear investigation; rather, he argues on biological, emotional and economic grounds for the benefits of early marriage.

Biologically, it works for women. The longer they delay marriage and family formation the more their “market value” declines; meanwhile,… click here to read whole article and make comments



Out, out, brief candle…

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Do you want to live forever? Readers Digest polled people in 17 countries on that ambiguous question in January-February and found that most respondents are not interested in an endless succession of years in which they are badgered incessantly about global warming, economic recession, swine flu and all the rest of the ills flesh is heir to.

Of course, it all depends on what you mean by immortality. Maybe the Filipinos over 45 -- who all clicked the Yes box -- were thinking of heaven. Maybe their Chinese counterparts -- all of whom clicked No -- were thinking of endless years of suffocating CP paternalism. But who can guess why 74 per cent of younger Brazilians want to live forever, unless it’s their sheer naivety. More than 50 per cent of younger people in seven countries (including the US) do not.

Apart from Brazilians and Filipinos, those keenest… click here to read whole article and make comments


MONDAY, 4 MAY 2009

Gen Y boosts the prima donna effect in the office

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Are today’s young people entering the workforce with an unrealistic idea of their worth and the rewards it should bring? As we know, there has always been the odd prima donna around the office -- the type of person who feels entitled to preferential treatment, who also tends to take the credit for good outcomes and blame others when things go wrong -- but research from the University of New Hampshire in the US finds that Gen Y has more than its fair share.

“Managers have reported a lot of problems associated with this – primarily that these employees have unrealistic expectations and a strong resistance toward accepting negative feedback. Basically entitlement involves having an inflated view of oneself, and managers are finding that younger employees are often very resistant to anything that doesn’t involve praise and rewards,” says Paul Harvey, a professor of management.

The same… click here to read whole article and make comments



All things dull and godless

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Richard DawkinsBritish school children are the target of a new campaign by British atheist and media darling Richard Dawkins to turn people away from Christian faith. With the support of another atheist academic, A C Grayling, Dawkins is trying to drum up a following for something called the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies.

Their aim is to get students to lobby their schools and local authorities that control the schools over what is taught in religious education classes -- for example, that homosexuality (do they mean homosexual activity?) is a sin or the Biblical account of creation. The AHS wants to have a group in each school holdings talks and educational events to persuade students not to believe in God.

They claim to have active groups at 25 British universities, and this summer are organising an atheist summer camp for children who will… click here to read whole article and make comments



Video game addiction among kids is real, a study suggests

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When does a 12-year-old’s fascination with video games become an addiction? Perhaps it never does, but only looks like that to over-anxious parents. Psychologist Douglas Gentile was inclined to take that view before conducting research on the subject. It turned out he was wrong.

To get at gaming addiction, Gentile adapted diagnostic criteria for pathological gambling into a series of questions about video game use. The questions became part of a national survey of 1178 youngsters aged 8 to 18. Gamers were deemed “pathological” if they reported at least six of the 11 symptoms.

“Symptoms included spending increasing amounts of time and money on video games to feel the same level of excitement; irritability or restlessness when play is scaled back; escaping problems through play; skipping chores or homework to spend more time at the controller; lying about the length of playing time; and stealing games or money to play… click here to read whole article and make comments



In an obese world, children obsessed with thinness

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A new acronym to add to the growing list of childhood disorders: EOED, which stands for “early onset eating disorder” and generally refers to anorexia among pre-adolescent children. Australian research shows that the condition, commonly linked to teenage girls, is showing up more and more among girls and boys aged 10 to 12, and even younger.

The study, which included a five-year-old with the potentially fatal condition, uncovered 101 cases among children up to age 13, between 2002 and 2005. Researcher Sloane Madden says demand for critical care beds at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Sydney for children with EOED has surged 50 per cent during that time.

"What we are seeing clinically, and what is being reported anecdotally around the world is that kids are presenting in greater numbers at a younger age,'' he said.

It was not just a case of the children… click here to read whole article and make comments



Hillary Clinton clarifies what ‘reproductive health’ includes

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Just like “family planning”, “reproductive health” is an innocent sounding term fraught with (deliberate) ambiguity. The things it includes tend to be in the fine print of NGO and UN documents where “maternal mortality” and “unsafe abortion” are juxtaposed to imply a need to legalise abortion. Those who do not see abortion as a health or family planning measure are left to ask the hard questions about the meaning of draft UN documents and the like. Does “reproductive health/services/rights” include abortion, or doesn’t it?

Now US congressman Chris Smith has cleared up any doubt that it does. Yesterday, as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, he asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

"And so we have total transparency, does the United States' definition of the term 1) "reproductive health" or 2) "reproductive services" or 3) "reproductive rights" include abortion?"

She answered:

click here to read whole article and make comments



The right to name a child

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As if there weren’t enough rules about parenthood in one-child China, the government there is bent on curbing the possibilities for naming a child. A young woman whose grandfather went to some trouble to find her a unique, or at least uncommon given name -- a rare character pronounced “Cheng” -- has been told by officialdom that her name is “troublesome and problematic” and that she will have to change it.

The problem arises because the Public Security Bureau is replacing the handwritten identity card that every Chinese must carry (more rules) with a computer-readable one, complete with colour photo and embedded microchip. The bureau’s computers, however, are programmed to read only 32,252 of the roughly 55,000 Chinese characters. So Ma Cheng and at least some of the 60 million other Chinese with obscure characters in their names cannot get new cards unless they change their names.

One can… click here to read whole article and make comments



Impulsive in kindergarten, prone to gambling later

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The importance of the early years in shaping a child’s personality is borne out by much research. A Canadian longitudinal study has found that the more impulsive a kindergarten child is, the more likely they are to indulge in games of chance by sixth grade (age 11-12).

The results were based on complete data for 163 children who came from intact families (in kindergarten, at least) and were adjusted for influences such as parental gambling. To be exact: a 1-unit increase in kindergarten impulsivity corresponded to a 25 per cent increase in later, self-reported child involvement in gambling. The researchers say:

“It is suggested that developmentally continuous risks associated with early impulsivity place individuals on a risk trajectory toward excessive gambling involvement in adolescence and emerging adulthood.”

In other words, parents who foster habits of self-control from the earliest years can save their children… click here to read whole article and make comments


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Family Edge looks at news and trends affecting the family in the light of human dignity. Our focus is the inspiring, creative, humorous, annoying, ridiculous, and dangerous ideas in the evening news. Send tips and brainwaves to the editor, Tamara Rajakariar, at tamara.rajakariar@

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