Posts Tagged ‘Teenagers’

Middle-Class Children and Alcohol

April 15, 2012

Long thought to be a largely lower socio-economic problem, alcohol abuse seems very much alive and well among middle-class children. This presents a very gloomy picture for what the future has to offer.

More than one in three of those born in professional households had downed a full glass before reaching their teenage years, the statistics show.

The 35 per cent figure among the middle classes is almost twice the level found among 12-year-olds across all economic groups.

Experts said that most children who had drunk alcohol at such a young age were getting it from their own homes.

While some were secretly raiding well-stocked drinks cabinets, many more were being allowed to drink by parents who believed that it would help them to develop more mature attitudes towards alcohol.

The Ipsos Mori poll for charity Drinkaware, which is funded by the alcohol industry to promote sensible drinking, surveyed more than 500 parents from the social groups ABC1 and their children, aged between 10 and 17.

This also reminds us that we are not doing nearly enough to remedy the problem.

Online Bullying Has Yet to Reach It’s Peak

November 10, 2011

A recent study into bullying may have fond that online bullying isn’t as prevalent as regular bullying, but it is still early days.

A new study entitled Teens, Kindness and Cruelty on Social Networks confirms much of what we already know about cyberbullying. Most kids aren’t bullied and most kids don’t bully either online or off.

In fact, the study–conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project for the Family Online Safety Institute and Cable in the Classroom–concluded that “[m]ost American teens who use social media say that in their experience, people their age are mostly kind to one another on social network sites.” Nearly seven in ten (69 percent) of teens said that peers are mostly kind while 20 percent said peers are mostly unkind with 11 percent saying, “it depends.”

Fifteen percent of teens say they have been the “target of online meanness.” When you include in-person encounters, 19 percent say they’ve been “bullied” in the past year.

These numbers track very closely with previous scientific surveys on bullying and cyberbullying. The largest source of bullying (12 percent) was in person, followed by text messaging (9 percent). Eight percent said they had been bullied via email, a social networking site or instant messaging and 7 percent were bullied via voice calls on the phone. Girls are more likely to have experienced what we typically call “cyberbullying,” while boys and girls are roughly equal when it comes to in person bullying.

Online bullying may be less prevalent but it is arguably more damaging. It is generally accepted that since online bullying invades the victim’s home (traditionally a place of comfort and safety), it has a much more powerful effect. Another reason that online bullying is potentially more oppressive is that there can be many more bystanders and participants online. Facebook bullying can be shared between hundreds rather than just handful of kids in the schoolyard.

And let’s not kid ourselves. Bullies don’t discriminate between mediums. A bully doesn’t throw their weight around in person and then become an angel online.  Bullying is bullying, no matter what the medium.  The experts are telling us online bullying is not the major form of bullying that some believe it to be.

That may be true, but it’s early days …

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.


Internet Addiction and our Children

October 26, 2011

We all love our internet connections and mobile phones and would find it extremely difficult to live without them.  However, addictions are still addictions, and there is no doubt that our children have grown a deep addiction to the internet.  So bad is the problem, that children have become more addicted to the internet than to TV:

Just 18% of children would miss TV most, compared to mobile (28%) and Internet (25%), finds Ofcom research

A new research by communications watchdog Ofcom has revealed that more young British teenagers can do without TV but not without mobile and the Internet.

Ofcom research found that just 18% of children aged 12 to 15 would miss TV most, compared to mobile (28%) and the Internet (25%). However, the research suggests that the teenagers are also watching more TV than ever before, with viewing figures increasing by 2 hours since 2007.

In 2010, children aged 4-15 watched an average of 17 hours and 34 minutes of TV per week, compared with 15 hours and 37 minutes in 2007. Nearly one third (31%) of children aged 5-15 who use the Internet are watching TV via an online catch-up service such as the BBC iPlayer or ITV Player, said Ofcom.

Ofcom’s research said that 95% of 12-15 year olds now have Internet access at home through a PC or laptop, up from 89% in 2010 and 77% in 2007.

Social networking is still one of the most popular uses of the Internet amongst 12-15s. Ofcom said that children are visiting social network sites more often on their mobiles. Half (50%) of 12-15s with a smartphone visit them weekly compared with 33% in 2010.

Children aged between 8-11 are more likely to use Internet for gaming, with 51% saying they play games online on a weekly basis, up from 44% in 2010. 8-11s are also spending more time playing on games players/ consoles compared with 2010 (9 hours 48 minutes – an increase of nearly 2 hours), said Ofcom.

In my school days television addiction was a problem.  Now we have another addiction which comes with the same side-effects.  It creates tired students who have been up so late they can’t concentrate.  It has compromised our children’s capacity to have healthy social interaction.  Playing with a friend has now become messaging a friend.  It’s just not the same.

As soon as people go from the moderate to the obsessive, they lose control of themselves.  Children today are certainly showing the signs of a lack of control, to the point where they are smuggling mobiles in their bags so they can reply to Facebook messages as soon as they receive them.

Kids require rules for their internet usage.  Rules that outline when, how and where they can use it.


Laws That Seek To Protect Our KIds Fail Them

October 9, 2011

The same laws that seek to protect children are being severely undermined by a total lack of common sense.

Australia has a sexual offender registry which was designed to assist the government authorities to keep track of the residence and activities of sex offenders.  You don’t have to be Einstein to realise that being on that list is detrimental to that person’s ability to get a job, loan, sense of freedom and quality of life.

The registry is a vital tool in dealing with pedophiles.  That is why I was astounded to read that children caught ‘sexting’ photos of themselves or friends have been put on this very list:

HUNDREDS of teenagers have been charged over producing or distributing child pornography amid growing concern that “sexting” has reached epidemic levels.

In the past three years, more than 450 child pornography charges have been laid against youths between the ages of 10 and 17, including 113 charges of “making child exploitation material”.

More than 160 charges were laid in 2010 alone – 26 more than in 2008.

Parents and communities continue to grapple with the issue of “sexting”, where sexual images are exchanged via SMS.

Teens who engage in sexting not only risk child pornography charges, but can also be listed alongside serial pedophiles and rapists on sexual offender lists.

Police confirmed that some juvenile offenders appear on Queensland’s sex offender registry.

Child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg said “a lack of parental supervision” was a key factor.

“They’re ignorant of the law and no one’s ever sat them down and said ‘When you take a picture of yourself and send it, that’s child pornography’,” he said.

Dr Carr-Gregg said a conviction would have a “catastrophic” effect on a teenager’s future.

“If a young person is put on the sex offenders registry, they have to notify police every time they change their hair colour and wouldn’t easily get visas to places overseas, and it’s going to make employment difficult,” he said.

Don’t get me wrong, I am totally against the practice of “sexting”.  I don’t like it one bit.  But these kids are not sex offenders.  One of the reasons children shouldn’t be ‘sexting’ in the first place is to make sure those images don’t get in the hands of a real sex offender.

The application of this law does 2 very serious things.

1.  It paints children wrongly as sex offenders.  This may have dire consequences down the track; and

2. Having ‘phony’ sex offenders on a sex offender registry completely undermines the registry in the first place.  This is a very serious list, dedicated to sick and evil people.  It shouldn’t be undermined by including silly kids who made poor choices.

It is time the Government stepped in and amended the law so common sense can be restored.

Facebook is a Haven for Bullies

May 27, 2011

When you put the responsibility of having a Facebook page in the hands of young children, you will find that most will use it in the right way.  Unfortunately, it’s those that don’t who spoil it for the rest of them.

MELBOURNE schools and police are battling to remove a Facebook page that allows teenagers to post vile gossip about their peers.

Teachers feel powerless to stop the site, which has resurfaced in various forms over the past month and left students at schools in Ivanhoe and Heidelberg needing counselling.

Parents have been shocked by postings on the page, which include allegations of sex between teachers and students, girls who trade sex for drugs and boys who have been caught wearing their mothers’ clothing.

Most parents were unaware their children had been vilified until notified by their school.

The ”Ivanhoe Goss” page is filled with comments sent by members to the group’s creator, who reposts them anonymously. One page seen by The Age had more than 2300 members.

Schools including Ivanhoe Grammar School, Ivanhoe Girls Grammar School and Marcellin College are implicated in the gossip, but it is believed students from other parts of Melbourne are also members.

And similar Facebook pages have been set up for students in Essendon, Dandenong, Glenferrie and Caulfield.

Ivanhoe Grammar principal Rod Fraser said public and private schools in the region had banded together when the site was discovered on April 13 to raise the alarm with parents and students. The site is believed to have been created as a public page on April 10, but was re-created as a private page about a week later after schools warned students about being involved in cyber-bullying.

Mr Fraser said police and Facebook had been contacted about the page and were investigating those responsible. Three students and their families had been given support after gossip was posted about them on the page, and the school had developed a website to provide information on cyber safety.

”This great thing that we have, technology, can also be insidious,” he said.

Ivanhoe Girls Grammar School principal Heather Schnagl said ”less than five” students had been disciplined for being involved on the site. But no student had been suspended or expelled.

Two students had been counselled after being bullied.

”We deeply regret the poor judgment shown by any student who visits or posts a comment on a site like that one,” Dr Schnagl said.

”One of the biggest challenges … is many parents don’t understand the digital landscape today and … they trust their children rather than maintaining the role of the parent.

”We want to empower our parents to work with us to help students … They are shocked when they are shown what their daughter has posted.”

And some want to alter the age requirement  and allow kids less than 13 to get a Facebook page?

Cyberbullying Even More Prevalent Among Girls

May 18, 2011

A recent survey found that girls are especially affected by cyberbullying:

Tweens and teens are both flocking to social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook to stay connected with each other. While used correctly this can be a positive thing the sites are also being used as weapons to facilitate cyberbullying.

Norton Canada recently completed a study called The Norton Cyberbullying Survey asking Canadian parents about their children’s online experiences. A quarter of the parents said that their child had been involved in a cyberbullying incident. Of those children 66 percent of the parents said their child was a victim and 16 percent admitted that their child was the bully.
More shocking is that 32 percent of parents are unsure of their children’s online behaviours but 44 percent fear that their child’s online behaviour could involve coming in contact with an online predator.

While on the schoolyard the victims of bullies often are male when it comes to the cyberspace playground girls are the ones being bullied. Parents revealed that 86 percent of those bullied were their daughters compared to a rate of 55 percent when it came to their sons.

Computers are not the only tools being used as a weapon for cyberbullying. Cyberbullies turn to cell phones with middle schoolers using this tool more often.

Even though it’s not legal for children under the age of 13 to access social networking sites 43 percent of parents are comfortable when their children aged 8-12 have an account as long as the parents can supervise them. While almost half of parents claim they have an open dialogue with their children about their online behaviour 32 percent feel that they can’t control all the environments where their children have access to social networking. This access includes what their children are doing in school.

One wonders how parents can be comfortable with their underage children on Facebook considering these damning statistics.  Firstly, aiding your children in breaking a law is not a good example to set, and secondly, supervising your child’s internet and social media use is easier said than done.  Why does an 8-year old need a Facebook page anyway?

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