Posts Tagged ‘media’

Kids Films You Might Regret Sharing with Your Children

December 11, 2013





Courtesy of Betsy Bozdech:

  • Bambi
    Why you should watch out: Bambi’s mother’s death takes place offscreen, but it’s still the first thing most viewers remember, even decades later. Bambi’s subsequent frantic search for her is almost as upsetting. Read the full review.


  • 2
    Why you should watch out: Dumbo’s mother doesn’t die, but she’s cruelly separated from him after she’s provoked into a scary rampage. The follow-up scene in which she cradles him with her trunk through the bars of her cage window is gut-wrenching. Read the full review.


  • 3
    Finding Nemo
    Why you should watch out: Some parents we know just skip the first scene of this movie altogether until their kids are old enough to handle Nemo’s mom’s untimely demise at the jaws of a menacing predator fish. Read the full review.


  • 4
    The Land Before Time
    Why you should watch out: Young dinosaur Littlefoot’s mother is killed by an aggressive T-rex in this otherwise generally upbeat prehistoric adventure. Read the full review.


  • 5
    The Lion King
    Why you should watch out: Not only does Simba’s dad get trampled to death by a herd of stampeding wildebeests, but Simba unfairly blames himself for the tragedy. Read the full review.


  • 6
    Why you should watch out: This story about a family dealing with divorce and remarriage takes a tragic turn when the kids’ mom is diagnosed with fatal cancer. Read the full review.


  • 7
    We Bought a Zoo
    Why you should watch out: Here, the mom passed away six months before the movie begins, but the impact on her family is very much in evidence. Sometimes watching characters deal with grief can be even more painful than the death itself. Read the full review.


  • 8
    Why you should watch out: While Ellie isn’t a parent (which is another emotional aspect of the movie), her death at the end of an extremely poignant montage early in the film has a powerful impact. Read the full review.


  • 9
    Bridge to Terabithia
    Why you should watch out: Anyone who’s read the book that this touching drama is based on knows what’s in store for fearless, imaginative Leslie — misfit Jess’ only friend — but those expecting a fantasy adventure à la Harry Potter should be warned: Tragedy ahead! Read the full review.


  • 10
    Grave of the Fireflies
    Why you should watch out: Beautifully animated but unrelentingly sad, this heartbreaking WWII-set anime tale centers on two children — brother and sister — who sicken and die. Read the full review.


  • 11
    My Girl
    Why you should watch out: The unexpected death of preteen Vada’s best friend (by bee sting, no less) hits many kids very hard, especially since much of the rest of the movie has a sweetly nostalgic feel. Read the full review.


  • 12
    The Odd Life of Timothy Green
    Why you should watch out: Technically Timothy doesn’t die, but he disappears forever, causing pain for those who loved him, which can be just as hard for kids to deal with. Read the full review.


  • 13
    Why you should watch out: No, E.T. isn’t exactly a child, and no, he doesn’t really die — but for a few moments, it seems as if he has, and those few moments can be enough to send young fans of the spunky little alien into a tailspin. Also, plenty of kids who love the little alien are still afraid that he might be living with their stuffed animals in the closet… Read the full review.


  • 14
    Charlotte’s Web
    Why you should watch out: When Wilbur’s dear friend and constant champion weaves her last web after doing so much for others, many kids are caught unprepared. Read the full review.


  • 15
    Marley & Me
    Why you should watch out: Many families decided to watch this based-on-a-true-story tale because of ads featuring silly dog antics… and were left distraught by Marley’s sad death. Read the full review.


Childhood Eating Disorders on the Rise

November 8, 2011

I was hoping that since there hasn’t been a great deal of coverage about childhood eating disorders recently, that the numbers suffering this serious disease had dwindled.

It turns out that I was mistaken:

Doctors at the Westmead Children’s Hospital in NSW have told the ABC that child admissions for eating disorders, particularly anorexia, have tripled in the past decade.

Children as young as eight are being admitted, some of whose lives are at risk.

Like other articles on childhood anorexia, fingers are pointed to the media when it comes to metering out the blame:

The head of the hospital’s adolescent medicine department, Susan Towns, suspects the media is to blame.

“Media portrayal can affect the development of body image in young people and this can happen at a stage and an age where children and adolescents aren’t able to conceptualise things in a complex and abstract way and they can take these messages in a very concrete way,” she said.

Whilst I don’t like blaming the media for everything.  I couldn’t help but reflect on the damning study conducted in Fiji, where they found that within three years of introducing television cases of eating disorders among children rose significantly.

The Harvard Medical School visited Fiji to evaluate the effect of the introduction of television on body satisfaction and disordered eating in adolescent girls.

In 1995, television arrived and within three years the percentage of girls demonstrating body dissatisfaction rose from 12.7 per cent to 29.2 per cent.

Dieting among teenagers who watched TV increased dramatically to two in every three girls and the rate of self-induced vomiting leapt from zero to 11.3 per cent.


Proposal to Adopt Shooting as Part of the Curriculum

October 4, 2011

“Where did you learn to shoot like that?”

“I learnt it at school.”

I have long said that there is rampant extremism in our educational system.  Educational thinking lacks balance and is certainly devoid of common sense.  Too often good intentions become crazy ideas because they are taken too far.

To read that the New South Wales Education Department would even consider for a brief moment a proposal to bring target shooting into schools just made me shake my head in disbelief.  Of all the stupid, irresponsible, insane ideas (and there’s too many of them to count), this one surely takes the cake:

High school students could be allowed to shoot guns during school hours under a plan by the NSW Education Department.

An internal department submission has revealed an advanced plan to allow target shooting into extra-curricular programs at the state’s 650 high schools, The Daily Telegraph reported on Tuesday.

It comes after the department consulted the NSW Shooters and Fishers Party and shooters associations about how to roll out target shooting into schools.

Deputy director-general schools Gregory Prior said the department was yet to make a decision about the issue.

Readers in the US might not flinch at such a program, but we in Australia do not have the right to bear arms in our constitution.  As a matter of fact, being in possession of a firearm is illegal.  Why on earth would we want to encourage in any way, shape or form the use of guns?

Sure it would engage disillusioned students.  It would be an absolute hit, I have no doubt about that.  But what kind of message would you be sendin?  Ask the kind folks of Columbine whether they think this initiative has merit.

Why can’t they think of responsible and productive ways to engage students?  Why does educational thinking continue to lean towards the radical instead of the sensible?

The Educational Implications of the London Riots

August 10, 2011

I couldn’t help but be struck by this excerpt from an article about the London Riots:

“… what I am saying is that for all of those who live and work in the poorer areas of London this disaster has been totally unsurprising. The fact of the matter is that we have manufactured within our society a sub-culture of sociopaths who care nothing for anyone or anything but themselves and are wholly unable to empathise with the suffering of others. The people most responsible for creating this social plague are the very same politicians, journalists and social commentators who are now asking “How did this happen?”

I believe that to a lesser extent the Educational system has bought into the plague too.  So consumed by its bottom line, so obsessed with the meaningless private vs public school debate and so content to take creative children and force them to conform with a robotic set of rules and regulations, that children get lost in the crowd.

I had a discussion with someone recently about the role of schools.  He felt that schools were nothing more than institutions with the responsibility of imparting knowledge.  According to him, as long as the school could point to the lessons that were taught and the curriculum that was followed, their job was done.

I believe schools have a far greater responsibility.  They must do a lot more than concentrate on prime numbers and single-celled organisms.  They must try to ensure that every child has a sense of self and an understanding of how they can use their unique skills and qualities to contribute to society.

It sounds fanciful and “airy fairy” but children today are more obsessed than ever before by wealth, gadgets, appearance and all things materialistic.  They spend so much time trying to outlook and outdo others simply because they are not happy with who they are and what they have.  The question has to be asked, besides close family members, who helps them to understand and appreciate who they are and what they can achieve?

The media is charged with unsettling them and making them fearful.  The advertising industry is charged with making them feel that without products and gadgets they cannot be happy. Where are our kids receiving the positive message they desperately need to hear?

Children often say, “Why should I be good to them if they aren’t to me.”  Those participating in the riots seem to be making that statement.  Whilst it is absolutely no excuse to do what they have done, one has to wonder who does look after the best interests of our children.  Shouldn’t the school system who has our kids throughout their crucial developmental years do more to help them find acceptance in who they are?  Shouldn’t the school system encourage them better to be themselves rather than conform?

There is no excuse for people who riot and willfully and violently break laws, but when reflecting on incidents lessons must be learnt.  Children that are supported and nurtured don’t riot.  Children who are in touch with their unique qualities and have been encouraged and accepted by others don’t riot.

We can go on preparing our students for calculus tests and chemistry assignments, but in a time of need and doubt, our students probably wont turn to calculus or tests tubes for salvation.



Sparing Young Children the Affliction of Body Image

July 31, 2011

A mother not associated with my school told me of her concerns regarding her 3-year old child.  The 3-year old is much shorter than others in her age bracket and the comments about her childs’ height have started to make the child self-conscious.  The mother is worried that the stigma of being much shorter than her peers may deeply erode the child’s self-confidence.  Doctor’s have recommended starting the child on growth hormones to alleviate some of the height discrepancy.  The mother is extremely dedicated and loving, and refuses to take that option as she doesn’t see it in the best interests of her child.

This example highlights a problem that keeps getting bigger and more difficult to deal with.  Why are young children more self-conscious about their body now than ever before?  What are we doing about it?

It seems as if the problem is getting worse and we are becoming less able to respond to it.

Pre-teens have never been so obsessed with their looks and so insecure about their imperfections. I read an article that points to a recent study in the UK where almost 600 children below the age of 13 have been treated in hospital for eating disorders in the past three years.

Many point to the advertising industry.  They blame magazine covers and their gaunt models for creating an unrealistic perception of the average body size and type.

But isn’t advertising just a mirror of our own hopes and dreams?  If they put more meat on Barbie’s unhealthily skinny body, wouldn’t sales be adversely affected?

What bothers me is that parents face an uphill battle with empowering their children to be content with their own looks.  No matter how much time and energy they put into trying to make their children feel secure and attractive, peers and others in society tend to tear them down.

Has the problem gone too far to remedy?  Is blaming the advertisers and media really worth the trouble?  How much power do parents have in helping their children overcome societies unhealthy and unrealistic obsession with body image and beauty?

The Use of Video in Education

March 31, 2011

Attached is a wonderful clip of presentation given by Salman Khan.  Salman started making YouTube tutorial clips for his cousins interstate.  Not only did his cousins benefit from the online video tutorials but so did thousands of others across the globe.  He talks about how he quit his high paying job to develop online lessons that were easy to follow, interactive and humorous.  Soon his Khan Academy programs became a hit with teachers, changing the way maths is taught in class and helping to make homework more enjoyable.

Whilst I am not a convert to the style of teaching he is advocating, I find his approach quite fascinating.

What do you think?

Drunken Teachers Beat-Up

November 21, 2010

The Sunday Telegraph should be reprimanded for an appalling article which claims that teachers in Catholic schools drink alcohol in the staff room on a Friday evening.  The article doesn’t ring true, seems designed for shock value rather than true journalism and fails to give proper evidence to back up its claims.  Read the article here:

Example 1:  The Sunday Telegraph understands many of the 200-odd Catholic schools in NSW to have refrigerators stocked with alcohol in staff rooms and to publicise cheap alcohol.

Yeah?  How many of these schools?  Prove it!

Example 2:  Drug & Alcohol Research & Training Australia’s Paul Dillon said he had grave concerns about the example being set for students by the behaviour.

What behaviour?  You have yet to prove such a culture of drinking exists.  You have yet to name 1 of the 200 schools.

Example 3: “Certainly I have confronted schools and principals about the practice and the worst thing I’ve seen is actual prices of alcohol pinned on fridges,” Mr Dillon said. “Young people go into the staff room, they see the fridges.”

Students do not have access to staff room fridges.  Heck, they shouldn’t have access to the staff room!  How many schools have you visited with alcohol prices?  Does it really matter anyway?

Example 4:   “There is also the issue that [teachers] are doing this on a Friday night. They are then getting behind the wheel and driving home.

“When I’ve raised this, the teachers have become very, very defensive. They say things like, ‘It is our right to do this’.”

If they went straight to the pub it would be none of your business, and since you have yet to establish that this is a clear problem, I still ascertain, it is none of your business.

So what do we have here?  Figures to prove its a problem?  Nope.  Pictures or video footage of beer-loaded fridges and booze-ups? Nope.  Can we name and shame a school that has transgressed in this way?  Sorry, we don’t have that information.  How about a quote from a student who witnessed this behaviour or saw evidence of alcohol in the staff room?  No, we don’t have that either.

There is no story here.  If I was affiliated with a Catholic school I would be ropable.  What an abominable piece of gutter journalism!

Shame on you Sunday Telegraph!

What Are We Doing to Our Kids?

November 19, 2010

It’s unbelievable how political correctness has infiltrated our schools. The intentions may be noble, but the results are sure to be disastrous. Yesterday, I wrote of the incredibly stupid hugging ban at a Gold Coast primary school. Today, I was informed of another shocking school rule at Mt Martha’s Osbourne Primary School in Victoria.

The primary school principal of Osbourne has banned students from being in groups of more than three while at school in a radical plan to combat anti-social behaviour.

Principal Liz Klein said the ban was a short-term measure to tackle anti-social behaviour around the schoolyard.

But Ms Klein denied the school, with more than 600 students, had a bullying problem.

“This is not about bullying, it’s about silly, annoying behaviour at the hands of a select few,” Ms Klein said.

But that’s not all!  Two months ago a Queensland school principal was under pressure to perform a policy backflip after he banned students from doing cartwheels and hand stands in the playground.

This is just wrong!  School is tough enough as it is.  We should be investing more time and energy into making school a far more friendly and inviting place.  Draconian rules like these are so counter-productive.

What’s next?  Outlawing monkey bars?  Bunsen burners?  Sharp pencils?  Scissors?  Smiling?

Get a grip!  If you want to make schools safe, let go of political correctness and instead change your culture!

Body Image and Our Youth

November 17, 2010

Young Australians are struggling with stress and school related challenges, but body image is by far their biggest concern.

The survey found stress levels had spiked this year. When asked to rank their personal concerns from a list of 15 issues, 27.3 per cent nominated “coping with stress”, putting it in the top three, compared with 18.7 per cent last year.

Anne Hampshire, from Mission Australia, said that body image issues created stress for both genders.

“What came through in the responses was that young people are worried both about their personal body image and about how the media continues to promote a level of physical perfection that is neither healthy nor achievable,” Ms Hampshire said.

Carmen Acosta, also from Mission Australia, says the results show there needs to be more emphasis on education and programs to tackle poor body image.

“The work needs to continue past adolescence and the information and the support to young people should be also included or extended to post-school environments such as tertiary institutions,” she said.

From my experience in the classroom, body image is a huge area of concern among upper-primary school aged kids as well.  The issue is a strong area of interest of mine, and an inspiration for my unpublished novel (which deals extensively with body image).

It is essential that we improve the way we deal with this very real concern.

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