MONDAY, 13 JULY 2009

‘The doctor made you in a dish and put you in someone else’s tummy’

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There can’t be too many parents around these days who fumble the answer to their children’s “Where did I come from?” question. But there are now thousands in the United States -- and elsewhere -- who have to put a lot more thought than the average parent into their replies. Those are the steadily growing numbers who are using surrogate mothers to provide them with babies.

The experts advise them to start early, reports the New York Times. One woman answered her 5-year-old twins’ question, “How is the baby made?” thus: “They come from a sperm and an egg. The doctor made you in a dish.” Another told her three-year-old daughter: “The doctor took a piece of Daddy and took a piece of Mommy and put it inside someone else because my tummy was broken.” Another intends to tell her two sets of twins that it is like using the… click here to read whole article and make comments


FRIDAY, 10 JULY 2009

Where teen pregnancies come from - the Brits still don’t get it

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A programme launched by the British government in 2004 to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies in the UK has had the opposite effect, a study published in the British Medical Journal shows. Young girls who followed the programme were nearly three times as likely to become pregnant, about 1.75 times more likely to have sex and also more likely to expect to be a teenage parent. The only good news is that the government is going to ditch the programme.

A senior government member, Harriet Harman, stressed that the programme was only a pilot scheme and there was no “dishonour” in experimenting with different solutions to the “complex” problem of teenage sex and pregnancy -- even if it did cost £5.9 million to the end of 2007. Everyone wanted to see a fall in the number of teenage pregnancies (Britain has the highest rate… click here to read whole article and make comments



Pope’s letter calls for openness to human life

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Pope Benedict XVI’s new encyclical letter, “On Integral Human Development in Charity and Truth”, discusses a wide spectrum of social realities, among them the need for openness to new human life, which, he says, “is at the centre of true development”, and protection of the family founded on “marriage between a man and a woman, the primary vital cell of society”. Here are some excerpts from Chapter II:

28. One of the most striking aspects of development in the present day is the important question of respect for life, which cannot in any way be detached from questions concerning the development of peoples. It is an aspect which has acquired increasing prominence in recent times, obliging us to broaden our concept of poverty and underdevelopment to include questions connected with the acceptance of life, especially in cases where it is impeded in a variety of… click here to read whole article and make comments



A family-friendly White House?

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American first couple Barack and Michelle Obama are trying to keep some balance between their hugely demanding jobs and family life. They have also promised a family-friendly workplace for their staff. How well are they doing?

Quite well with their own family, according to the New York Times. He gets to dine with them at night, attends schools presentations and joins impromptu plunges in the White House pool with his girls. But not so well with their employees, it seems. Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, has found the White House “brutal on family life”, despite the good intentions of his boss.

To support working parents, the Obamas distributed laptops to aides with families — before those without children — so they could work from home. They invited the children of some advisers to a White House screening of the film “Madagascar” and a Take Your Kids… click here to read whole article and make comments



Drink! Drink! Drink! Students keep bingeing during general decline

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Good news and bad news about young people and binge drinking: in the United States, anyway, reckless drinking is down over all, but not among college students. Among 18- to 20-year-old men who did not attend college, binge drinking declined more than 30 per cent between 1979 and 2006. But among male students it remained at a steady and significant level, while among female students -- and this is the really bad news -- it went up.

Researchers writing in The Journal of the American Academy of Adolescent Psychiatry linked the positive trend to the increase in the drinking age since the 1980s. In 1984 the federal government decided to withhold highway money from any state that did not have a minimum drinking age of 21, and over time all states fell into line.

The new research findings, based on information from the National Survey on Drug Use… click here to read whole article and make comments



Can you talk yourself into feeling loveable?

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One of the most influential ideas of the twentieth century was summed up in the title of Norman Vincent Peale’s book, The Power of Positive Thinking, published in 1952. “It is of practical value to learn to like yourself. Since you must spend so much time with yourself you might as well get some satisfaction out of the relationship,” Peale is quoted as saying. Now some Canadian researchers are saying it doesn’t work -- for the people who need it most.

Professor Joanne Wood and colleagues from the University of Waterloo, Ontario, recruited a bunch of undergraduates and identified them as low or high in self-esteem. Then they were asked to repeat, “I am a loveable person,” every time a doorbell rang. When the researchers checked their mood they found that people already high in self-esteem felt better than people who didn’t repeat the statement, but those low in… click here to read whole article and make comments


MONDAY, 29 JUNE 2009

Disney world ‘too heterosexual’ for children’s good

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Many experts are concerned about the effects on children of their being immersed in electronic media from a tender age. They worry largely about the things they are not doing while watching TV or videos: developing their vocabulary through talking to their parents; listening to or reading books; going to the park for healthy exercise and social activities. But two sociologists have come up with a novel reason for fretting about kids’ exposure to media: the risk of seeing heterosexuality as normal and desirable.

Yes, desirable! for heaven’s sake. Karin Martin and Emily Kazyak, writing in the latest issue of, ahem, Gender and Society, analysed all G-rated movies released, or re-released, between 1990 and 2005 that grossed more than $100 million in the United States. And guess what they found…

The analysis found the films "depict a rich and pervasive heterosexual landscape," despite the assumption that children's… click here to read whole article and make comments


FRIDAY, 26 JUNE 2009

Young people quiz their peers on YouTube use and abuse

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A survey of teenage use of the popular video-sharing website YouTube confirms that it is very easy for minors to give their age as 18 or over when creating an account on the site, and therefore to access objectionable material. Parents need to advise their children against looking for R18 videos and YouTube needs to make its safety features more prominent, a new report suggests.

Anchor, Rockbrook and InterMedia (2009) YouTube:Usage & abusage” is a unique study carried out by five Irish teens from the Anchor Youth Centre in Dublin. Using contacts in schools in Ireland, Switzerland, Latvia, Poland and the Netherlands, the young researchers received completed questionnaires from over 3200 students aged 12 to 17. These were analysed with advice from an expert in the Dublin Institute of Technology, which is a member of the EU Kids Online network. InterMedia Consulting also helped with the project.

The study itself… click here to read whole article and make comments


FRIDAY, 26 JUNE 2009

Child misery lit gives parents a bad rap

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My Sister’s Keeper, a movie that opens in the United States this Friday, brings to the big screen the pessimistic view of parenthood that has made writer Jodi Picoult enormously popular and rich. In this dark narrative a couple with a delinquent teenage son and a daughter who has an acute form of leukemia conceive a third child to serve as her bone-marrow donor.

New York Times reviewer Ginia Bellafante writes in an overview of Picoult's work: 

“Multiple operations on both girls follow over the span of many years, until the donor child, victim of a sort of abuse that is passing itself off as godliness, rebels at 13, devastating her mother by initiating legal proceedings to ensure her own corporeal autonomy.”

Parental inadequacy and misfortune culminate in a shocking end, which seems to be par for the course in Picoult’s sub-genre of misery lit: children… click here to read whole article and make comments



Throwing oil on the blaze of teenage sex

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Morning after pill TV adFrom the country that brought you the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe -- television ads for condoms and abortion. Will the British government never get it? The more “harm reduction” they go in for, the worse the problem gets.

Friday last saw the end of a three-month consultation by the government’s broadcasting standards watchdog, the BCAP, on a proposal to allow abortion clinics to advertise on TV before 9pm. Condom ads, currently confined to one channel, would also be shown in the earlier time slot. Pro-life pregnancy counselling services could also advertise -- if they could afford it -- but would have to make it clear that they do not refer for abortion, “so that delays do not result in medical complications,” as one news report puts it. It would be too bad, wouldn't it, if women had time to think about… 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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