Posts Tagged ‘Legislation’

We Should be Promoting Health Instead of Focusing on Obesity

June 21, 2012

It seems that we have given up on promoting healthy lifestyles and educating our students about nutrition. It’s now all about avoiding obesity:

The American Medical Association on Wednesday put its weight behind requiring yearly instruction aimed at preventing obesity for public schoolchildren and teens.

The nation’s largest physicians group agreed to support legislation that would require classes in causes, consequences and prevention of obesity for first through 12th graders. Doctors will be encouraged to volunteer their time to help with that under the new policy adopted on the final day of the AMA’s annual policymaking meeting.

Anti-Bullying Legislation Criticised for Allowing Bullying

November 6, 2011

You know you’ve messed up completely when the father of the child you’ve named your legislation after publicly denounces it.

The legislation, called “Matt’s Safe School Law,” was named after Matt Epling, an honor-roll student who killed himself at the age of 14 in 2002 after being assaulted by anti-gay bullies at his school.

The draft law, which passed the state Senate with 26 Republican votes against 11 Democratic votes and now advances to the lower house, includes language inserted before the vote that says the bill “does not prohibit a statement of a sincerely held belief or moral conviction” of a student or school worker.

Activists say that the provision gives bullies license to prey on other students — especially those who are gay, lesbian or transgender — and, at least as important, gives bystanders who should be trying to stop bullying an excuse not to intervene.

The real story here is not the amendment which undermines the whole essence of the legislation, but it is the value of the legislation to begin with.  The essence of this legislation is to “push each school district in the state to write their own anti-bullying policy.”  Australian schools have been mandated for some time to have their own anti-bullying policies.  These policies are wonderful at preventing schools from being targets of litigation.  They can simply point to their vague and fickle policy and ward off most lawsuits.  But when it comes to its ability to prevent bullying behaviours it has been completely useless.

Bullying legislation has never and will never have a marked impact on bullies and bullying behaviour.

In the name of Matt Epling and all others who have been subjected to malicious bouts of bullying, stop pretending to do something and actually devise something that actually works!

Law Requiring Schools to Weigh Students Must Be Repealed

October 24, 2011

You have got to be kidding me!  How can so-called intelligent adults pass a law so downright cruel?  Sometimes I think adults take advantage of the resilience of children.  They think they can impose great humiliation on poor, naive children, without any long-term cost.

Well I have news for you – children, like adults, don’t like being made to feel ugly, different or unworthy.  So why on earth would you pass a law that mandates schools to weigh children so that their weight can be compared with others?

A state law requiring schools to measure a child’s height and weight to find out how they stack up against their peers has generated plenty of controversy, but not a lot of local participation.

School officials say the law’s aim to combat childhood obesity is a worthy cause, but its approach is questionable.

The law measures body mass index, which is calculated from height and weight and given as a percentile. It’s generally a snapshot of a person’s overall body fat, but many argue it doesn’t take into account individual body types or other health risks.

Schools are required to take those measurements for students in kindergarten, third, fifth and ninth grades, then report that data to the Ohio Department of Health and mail the results to parents.

State education officials say similar health screenings, such as hearing and vision tests, have been done for many years with the results kept private.

What if the law was to include Ohio politicians?  What if they were forced to step on the scale in front of their peers and were measured for all to see?

Yes, privacy might be assured, but children aren’t stupid.  They know why they are being measured, and the humiliation of the procedure will not be lost on the overweight.

This plan is doomed to failure.

My wish, as idealistic as it sounds, is to make our children comfortable with who they are, regardless of their weight.  Whilst I strongly advocate educating children about healthy eating choices and encouraging active lifestyles, I am even more concerned about the inner wellbeing of the child.  To me, the tragedy is not that there are obese children, but that there are children who feel unworthy, ugly and hopeless because of their weight.

It’s time to get rid of the scales and let our children know that their worth is not the sum total of what they weigh, but rather, who they are and how they treat others.

Protecting Kids From Living Freely

October 10, 2011

I am an over-protective father and proud of it.  I am hesitant when my daughter takes any risks and hate to see her in discomfort.  Yet, at the same time, I realise that cuts and grazes are part of life and growing up.  You can’t shadow your child in the playground to prevent them from tripping and you can’t ban them from low-risk activities on the off-chance that something might occur.

That is why I am so opposed to the persistent interference by Governments and local councils in banning everyday activities.  It is not their place to decide what toy my child should play with.  They may choose to advise me about the risks and encourage me to supervise my child with graet care, but the constant banning is taking things too far.

It is such a shame that we live in an age where children are being banned from blowing balloons and playing with whistles:

The EU toy safety directive, agreed and implemented by Government, states that balloons must not be blown up by unsupervised children under the age of eight, in case they accidentally swallow them and choke.

Despite having been popular favourites for generations of children, party games including whistles and magnetic fishing games are to be banned because their small parts or chemicals used in making them are decreed to be too risky.

Apparently harmless toys that children have enjoyed for decades are now regarded by EU regulators as posing an unacceptable safety risk.

Whistle blowers, that scroll out into a long coloured paper tongue when sounded – a party favourite at family Christmas meals – are now classed as unsafe for all children under 14.

As well as new rules for balloons and party whistles, the EU legislation will impose restrictions on how noisy toys, including rattles or musical instruments, are allowed to be.

All teddy bears meant for children under the age of three will now have to be fully washable because EU regulators are concerned that dirty cuddly toys could spread disease and infection.

The EU and other Government bodies will continue to come up with irrational and overbearing legislation, but no matter how hard they try they will never be my child’s parent.


Cyber Bullying Takes Bullying to a New Level

April 13, 2011

It would be taking bullying too lightly to say it was important or a priority.  It is much more serious than that.  Bullying is a huge area of concern worldwide and is the issue most in need of consideration and due diligence in our schools.  I am happy to hear that in my home state of Victoria, legislation has been passed making it a crime to bully, with workplace bullies jailed for up to 10 years.

It is reassuring to see that cyber bullying is included in this piece of legislation:

The legislation would also cover cyber bullying. It’s happening in other places too.

With the internet covering every part of our lives, cyber bullying has become more prevalent now than ever before. Access to mobile phones, the Facebook phenomenon and YouTube have made it a real problem. Cyber bullying is now so bad that it’s being looked at by a parliamentary committee. Facebook says its removing 20,000 under age users globally each day, but the problem continues. Cyber bullying is perpetrated not just by young people. Take for example the revelations of a gay hate campaign on Facebook in the Australian Defence Force. //

Cyber bullying can take many forms. It can include being teased or made fun of online, being sent threatening emails,  having rumours spread about you online, having unpleasant comments, pictures or videos about you sent or posted on websites like Facebook or MySpace,  being sent unwanted messages, being deliberately ignored or left out of things on the internet or even having someone use your screen name or password and pretending to be you to hurt someone else.

One of the worst examples recently popped up when Blake Rice, who lost his mother and brother in Queensland’s floods, was bashed by six youths because of all the attention he was getting. After leaving him with a broken collar bone, they set up a Facebook page titled We bashed Blake Rice.

The effect of cyber bullying can not be underestimated.  When a child is bullied in the schoolyard, they may find sanctuary in the comfort and safety of their home and family.  This basic right is not afforded to victims of cyber bullying.  They are bullied from the very place they go to for safety and certainty.  With cyber bullying, there is nowhere to hide.

Another unique aspect of cyber bullying, is that when students are bullied at school there is a clear expectation that the Principal and staff will work together to protect these students.  Who are our children to turn to when they are being bullied online?  Their teachers?  Their parents?

This frustrating aspect is highlighted quite clearly through this heartbreaking letter to the Editor from a mother in the UK.

I WAS so pleased to read the article from a concerned father on Facebook Bullying.

I am the parent of a 13 year old girl attending a West Norfolk High School.

We have experienced the horror of Facebook Bullying, which follows on from a day of hell for my daughter in school.

I have had to complain to the school, visit the school, etc, on many occasions since my daughter started three years ago, only to be told the same thing time and time again – the bullies have been spoken too, the bullies have been dealt with; only to find that same evening it starts again at home in the form of Facebook.

The horrible taunts, the name calling, and then more join in and back up the bully’s comments. My daughter puts a far braver face on it than I ever could, but as a mother I feel her pain – and I am disgusted that the parents of these children are not checking what their delightful children are saying and the manner in which they are saying it.

I log on to my daughter’s Facebook with her permission every day now. On occasions as I have been doing this I have had vile messages sent to me via chat – and they get a nasty shock when they realise they have not actually sent it to my daughter.

I have threatened them with Police, with their parents and for cyber bullying, but most times you just get verbal abuse back.

What is happening to our children and our schools?

I have thought about taking my daughter off Facebook altogether to protect her, but why should she be the one who feels punished; why should she miss out on what the majority of her peers are enjoying responsibly?

Also it helps me as a parent to see just what the poor child is enduring and a least, on an upside, I can be there for her and support her through this the best I can – and I have the names of the bullies.

Perhaps Facebook should have been thought through before its launch – 18 years minimum age for access maybe.

There may just be a chance then that these awful bullying children may have reached maturity, and know right from wrong.


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