Archive for the ‘Health and safety for kids’ Category


Guidance for parents and young people on cyberbullying, including advice for ending (or preventing) the cycle of aggression. For a more comprehensive look, see A Parents’ Guide to Cyberbullying

For kids and teens

Know that it’s not your fault. What people call “bullying” is sometimes an argument between two people. But if someone is repeatedly cruel to you, that’s bullying and you mustn’t blame yourself. No one deserves to be treated cruelly.

Don’t respond or retaliate. Sometimes a reaction is exactly what aggressors are looking for because they think it gives them power over you, and you don’t want to empower a bully. As for retaliating, getting back at a bully turns you into one – and can turn one mean act into a chain reaction. If you can, remove yourself from the situation. If you can’t, sometimes humor disarms or distracts a person from bullying.

Save the evidence. The only good news about bullying online or on phones is that it can usually be captured, saved, and shown to someone who can help. You can save that evidence in case things escalate. [Visit ConnectSafely.org/cyberbullying for instructions on how to capture screens on phones and computers.]

Tell the person to stop. This is completely up to you – don’t do it if you don’t feel totally comfortable doing it, because you need to make your position completely clear that you will not stand for this treatment any more. You may need to practice beforehand with someone you trust, like a parent or good friend.

Reach out for help – especially if the behavior’s really getting to you. You deserve backup. See if there’s someone who can listen, help you process what’s going on and work through it – a friend, relative or maybe an adult you trust.

Use available tech tools. Most social media apps and services allow you to block the person. Whether the harassment’s in an app, texting, comments or tagged photos, do yourself a favor and block the person. You can also report the problem to the service. That probably won’t end it, but you don’t need the harassment in your face, and you’ll be less tempted to respond. If you’re getting threats of physical harm, you should call your local police (with a parent or guardian’s help) and consider reporting it to school authorities.

Protect your accounts. Don’t share your passwords with anyone – even your closest friends, who may not be close forever – and password-protect your phone so no one can use it to impersonate you. You’ll find advice at passwords.connectsafely.org.

If someone you know is being bullied, take action. Just standing by can empower an aggressor and does nothing to help. The best thing you can do is try to stop the bullying by taking a stand against it. If you can’t stop it, support the person being bullied. If the person’s a friend, you can listen and see how to help. Consider together whether you should report the bullying. If you’re not already friends, even a kind word can help reduce the pain. At the very least, help by not passing along a mean message and not giving positive attention to the person doing the bullying.

Additional advice for parents

Know that you’re lucky if your child asks for help. Most young people don’t tell their parents about bullying online or offline. So if your child’s losing sleep or doesn’t want to go to school or seems agitated when on his or her computer or phone, ask why as calmly and open-heartedly as possible. Feel free to ask if it has anything to do with mean behavior or social issues. But even if it does, don’t assume it’s bullying. You won’t know until you get the full story, starting with your child’s perspective.

Work with your child. There are two reasons why you’ll want to keep your child involved. Bullying and cyberbullying usually involve a loss of dignity or control over a social situation, and involving your child in finding solutions helps him or her regain that. The second reason is about context. Because the bullying is almost always related to school life and our kids understand the situation and context better than parents ever can, their perspective is key to getting to the bottom of the situation and working out a solution. You may need to have private conversations with others, but let your child know if you do, and report back. This is about your child’s life, so your child needs to be part of the solution.

Respond thoughtfully, not fast. What parents don’t always know is that they can make things worse for their kids if they act rashly. A lot of cyberbullying involves somebody getting marginalized (put down and excluded), which the bully thinks increases his or her power or status. If you respond publicly or if your child’s peers find out about even a discreet meeting with school authorities, the marginalization can get worse, which is why any response needs to be well thought out.

More than one perspective needed. Your child’s account of what happened is likely completely sincere, but remember that one person’s truth isn’t necessarily everybody’s. You’ll need to get other perspectives and be open-minded about what they are. Sometimes kids let themselves get pulled into chain reactions, and often what we see online is only one side of or part of the story.

What victims say helps most is to be heard – really listened to – either by a friend or
an adult who cares. That’s why, if your kids come to you for help, it’s so important to respond thoughtfully and involve them. Just by being heard respectfully, a child is often well on the way to healing.

The ultimate goal is restored self-respect and greater resilience in your child. This, not getting someone punished, is the best focus for resolving the problem and helping your child heal. What your child needs most is to regain a sense of dignity. Sometimes that means standing up to the bully, sometimes not. Together, you and your child can figure out how to get there.

One positive outcome we don’t often think about (or hear in the news) is resilience. We know the human race will never completely eradicate meanness or cruelty, and we also know that bullying is not, as heard in past generations, “normal” or a rite of passage. We need to keep working to eradicate it. But when it does happen and we overcome it – our resilience grows. It’s not something that can be “downloaded” or taught. We grow it through exposure to challenges and figuring out how to deal with them. So sometimes it’s important to give them space to do that and let them know we have their back.

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Kids Smoking Cigarettes

Every day, hundreds of kids smoke a cigarette for the first time. A third of those kids will become regular daily smokers. When it comes to adults who smoke, 68 percent began smoking regularly at 18 or even younger. A lot of adolescents develop an addiction to nicotine and find it very hard to quit their smoking habits.

What are the Signs that a Child is Smoking?

There are a few different ways to be able to tell if your child is smoking. If your child uses an extreme amount of perfume or cologne, he or she is attempting to cover up a scent that could be smoke. If your child is constantly chewing gum or breath mints, they could be trying to mask the scent of smoke on their breath. Sometimes if they haven’t attempted to hide the smell of cigarette smoke, you can smell it on them when you lean in to give them a hug or a kiss on the cheek. If your child is moody, it can mean a nicotine addiction is beginning to set in.

What can You do with a Child who Smokes?

If you find out that your child is smoking, the first thing to remember is to react calmly. A lot of kids smoke for different reasons including peer pressure or even depression. Remove the cigarettes from the child’s possession. Discuss with your child why he or she began smoking. Kids respond a lot better to a discussion than to a lecture. Set up rules about smoking and discuss what will happen if you find them smoking again. Find out how they got the cigarettes in the house and whether or not they have someone supplying them with the cigarettes.


Many governments have restrictions on smoking tobacco in public places because of the dangers of secondhand smoke. As of right now, Bhutan is the only country in the world to ban harvesting, cultivating, or selling tobacco products. Many more countries hope to have cigarette bans in the coming years.

What are the Effects of Kids Smoking Cigarettes?

Smoking cigarettes can have effects on both adults as well as kids. People who smoke are more susceptible to infections like pneumonia and bronchitis. Smokers have an increased risk of developing heart disease, many different types of cancer, and stroke. Smoking can cause problems with fertility in both males and females. Teens who smoke are more susceptible to problems with their skin and bad breath. Smoking can also hinder athletic performance.

What are Some Ways to Keep a Kid Smoke Free?

One of the biggest ways to keep a child smoke free is to teach them when they’re young about the dangers of smoking. Children are curious and are eager to please. Peer pressure and bullying can lead a child to begin smoking as early as middle school. Set an example for your child. If a kid’s parent smokes, then the child won’t see anything wrong with smoking. Teach your child about the importance of turning down cigarettes and other things that can harm them, even if it’s hard.

What are Other Dangers of Smoking?

One of the biggest dangers of smoking can be secondhand smoke. Sometimes an adult can smoke for a long period of time and never have a problem, but the second-hand smoke can give their child or spouse lung cancer. Secondhand smoke can give a young child asthma and can cause problems with a pregnancy. Smoking isn’t just dangerous to your own body, it’s dangerous to those around you. Teach your child to remember the dangerous effects smoking can have on the people that they love.

Kids who smoke cigarettes aren’t bad kids. They’re more likely to just be caught up in what’s perceived as cool or hot. If you have a child who smokes, sit them down and just talk with them. Smoking is a dangerous habit and can lead to fatal diseases. Set ground rules and don’t let them push the envelope. They will thank you for it later in their lives.

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It was love at first huff
It grew addictive with each puff
Constricted blood cells lose patience
Charcoal lined cavities bathe in frustration
Tears fill up the visceral space
COPD is a ratchet grace
Nasal cannula follows daily
Emphysema destroys homes
Two too ten liters guard your grill
While paying for an expensive thrill
Leave those cigarettes alone
Young and old the grave is home
Should you continue to smoke daily
Each disease you can bank
The oxygen that you breathe
May soon come from a tank
Haisi Robinson

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Four million children are wearing the wrong-size shoes, according to new research. Why?

It’s a common part of childhood, the trip to the shoe shop and your feet being measured. But according to new research conducted by Clarks, there are still four million children in shoes that don’t fit them.

Parents who squeeze their child’s feet into the wrong-sized shoes could be condemning them to a lifetime of problems. From blisters, pressure sores and ingrowing toe nails in the short-term, to feet deformities like hammer toe and knee and posture problems in the long-term. The list goes on.

People need to take as much care of their children’s feet as they do with their teeth, say podiatry professionals. If that’s the case, why are so many children in shoes that don’t fit?

Neglect, budget constraints, convenience and fashion are all to blame, says Dr Gordon Watt, lecturer in podiatry at Glasgow Caledonian University.

The answer

  • People don’t realise the problems ill-fitting shoes can cause
  • People opt for cheaper shoes
  • Fashion trends often aren’t good for feet

“People think of feet as smelly,” he says. “They often just forget about them, when they should actually take much more of an interest.”

Children’s feet tend to grow rapidly in the first four years of their life, but it can take up to 18 years for the foot’s bones, muscles and ligaments to harden into adult form. So teenage feet need to be looked after as well as those of smaller children.

According to the research, one in 10 parents say their children have continued to wear shoes that are too small for them. Half admit to only buying new shoes when their children complain their feet are hurting.

Podiatry experts say many people neglect their children’s feet because they simply don’t understand the problems an ill-fitting pair of shoes can cause. Only 40% of parents interviewed as part of the research took into account whether the shoes on their offspring’s feet were well fitting and supportive.

False economy

Another issue is money. Two fifths of parents admitted to buying shoes that were too big so their children could grow into them over time, saving money. When it came to actually purchasing footwear, a quarter of parents said they based their decision on the cost.

The rise of cheaper shoes, sold without expert advice and proper fitting in stores and supermarkets, has also had an impact. Not only do they cost less, but they are often more convenient to buy than taking a child to a proper shoe shop for a fitting.

Fashion is often bad for feet

But it’s a false economy in more ways than one, says Bob Hardy, a leading expert on shoe fitting and fellow of the Society of Shoe Fitters.

“Not only are the health of their child’s feet at risk, cheaper shoes often fall apart and people end up going back two or three times for a new pair. They end up paying the same as they would have for well-made, properly-fitted shoes.

“Also, these shoe often don’t come in half sizes or different widths, both of which are important if you want a shoe to fit properly.”

Fashion trends also sway one in ten parents. This is a particular problem among older children and teenagers.

“Often fashionable shoes offer very little support,” says Dr Watt.

Specialist training

“Take the current trend for ballet pumps among girls. They offer no support and are very flat. If you have an active child running around in them it could lead to Achilles [tendon] problems in the future.”

There are checks that parents can do at home to make sure their child’s shoe fits properly, says Mr Hardy.


There should be no more than a 14mm gap between the big toe and end of a shoe in a new pair. Anything less than 8mm and it’s time to visit the shoe shop and get another pair. When it comes to width, the shoe should be supporting the foot, not squeezing it.

It is worth going to a shoe shop because proper shoe fitters will have undergone specialist training, either through their employer or with the Society of Shoe Fitters.

What parents should also remember is there are variations in shoe sizing due to factors like the place they are made, says Mr Hardy. German shoes, for example, are wider than Italian.

Because of this a child’s foot should be measured every time they get new shoes and parents should not rely on the size printed inside the shoe, he says.

Finally, make sure both feet are measured, as one can be larger than the other.


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Milk Allergy

Cows’ milk allergy – affects around 2-5% of (2-5 in every 100) infants and young children who usually start to have symptoms in their first few months. This causes many health problems and is frequently not diagnosed, or takes many months to be diagnosed.

Most children outgrow milk allergy by five years of age so only about 1 in 1000 older children and adults have true milk allergy.

Milk and dairy foods are an important part of our diet, providing many nutrients including proteins, minerals and vitamins essential for growth, bone and dental health. It is therefore important that if you think that you or your baby may be allergic to cows’ milk, you speak to a GP or Health Visitor about it.

Cows’ milk and dairy foods are essential in babies and young children. Any child with a potential food allergy must be seen by an Allergy Specialist for an accurate diagnosis and to ensure the child’s diet remains adequate and the allergy is managed appropriately. See our factsheet Does my child have a Cows’ Milk Allergyfor more information.


Cows’ milk-free diet

If a child or adult needs to avoid cows’ milk, remember that it may be present in many foods, such as:

  • Milk
  • Milk Powder
  • Milk drinks
  • All types of cheese
  • Butter
  • Margarine
  • Yogurt
  • Cream
  • Ice cream

Food labels that list any of the ingredients below also contain some cows’ milk or products in them.

  • Casein
  • Caseinates
  • Hydrolysed casein
  • Skimmed milk
  • Skimmed milk powder
  • Milk solids
  • Non-fat milk
  • Whey
  • Whey syrup sweetener
  • Milk sugar solids
  • Lactose

The following are examples of processed foods which may contain milk:

  • Breakfast cereals
  • Soups
  • Baby foods
  • Processed meats, e.g. sausages
  • Pasta and pizzas
  • Instant mashed potato
  • Sauces and gravies
  • Baked goods, e.g. rolls
  • Pancakes, batters
  • Ready made meals
  • Puddings and custards
  • Cakes, biscuits, crackers
  • Chocolate/confectionery
  • Crisps

Note: This list includes just some of the foods to be avoided in a milk free diet. Before any changes are made to you or your child’s diet, seek advice from a dietitian.

Cows’ milk is an important source of calcium. If my baby must avoid cows’ milk, will he get enough calcium?

Soya baby milks are fortified with calcium, and one pint will provide about 60% of the daily requirement for calcium for babies under one year.The balance of the calcium must be obtained from milk free foods at weaning. Occasionally, calcium supplements may be necessary if a baby is not taking a sufficient amount of soya baby milk and calcium rich solids. If you are concerned about your baby’s calcium intake, ask your dietitian or doctor for advice.

We prefer a vegetarian diet. Can we give our baby a soy formula instead of a formula based on cows milk?

Yes, although soya formula is mainly given to babies with cows’ milk intolerance, it is free from animal products. So, parents who prefer to give their babies a vegetarian diet can use it.

A small number of children will react to soya formula and thus will need to be prescribed a non-milk, non-soya formula for feeding. If you suspect this, please contact your general practitioner or specialist.

If you or your child is milk allergic then specialist advice is required because although some children do “outgrow” their allergy not all will. If one has had a serious reaction, then potentially another could occur. If in doubt contact your specialist or GP. Pure lactose does not contain any milk protein and therefore will not produce any allergic reaction.

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Lactose Intolerance

This is a relatively common condition, up to one in ten Eurasian people will suffer symptoms suggestive of lactose intolerance, although it is present in the majority of some African and Asian populations. This is not an allergic condition, but an inability to digest lactose (milk sugar) because the body produces low levels oflactase, the enzyme responsible for digesting lactose. It can affect both children and adults, and the common symptoms are diarrhoea, bloating, discomfort. Lactose intolerance may occur temporarily following a bout of gastroenteritis, with diarrhoea being the main symptom. Lactose is present in cow’s milk, goat’s milk and sheep’s milk in similar quantities As with all intolerances the only solution is avoidance of the offending food until one can once again tolerate it, which may be weeks, months or longer.

For some people there is a dose related response, that is one may be able to tolerate milk in tea, but a glass of milk would cause symptoms. There is a test available for the diagnosis of lactose intolerance, called a lactose challenge, and for small babies and children is especially advisable.  If there is no need to exclude foods from a diet then life is a great deal simpler. Your general practitioner (GP) can refer you to a gastroenterologist, who would give an accurate diagnosis.

In adults an exclusion diet would probably be adequate, and this can be easily attempted at home. If your diet is already restricted or you have a family history of osteoporosis (brittle bones) a dietitian should be consulted. Your GP can refer you to a state registered dietitian on the National Health Service. If there is no history of gastroenteritis causing your symptoms, then it may be necessary for milk to be permanently excluded from the diet, provided it is a well balanced diet this should not have any significant effects on your health. A list of other foods high in calcium has been provided.

If, having excluded dairy products from your diet for 3-4 weeks, with no improvement in your symptoms, it is likely there is some other cause of your symptoms, so you can then reintroduce dairy products and observe your condition. If you are contemplating a permanent exclusion diet, you should be referred to a dietitian for advice.

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It is recommended that older people have a calcium intake of 1500 mg per day. The daily recommended calcium intake according to age, as recommended by the National Osteoporosis Society, is as follows:

Age Daily Calcium Intake
Children 800mg
Teenagers 1000mg
Pregnant and Nursing Mothers 1200mg
Males 20 – 60 yrs 1000mg
Females 20 – 45 yrs 1000mg
Females over 45 yrs 1500mg
Males over 60 yrs 1500mg

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Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium

The following are foods that have a high calcium content:

Food Calcium content per 100g of Food
Soya milk 13 mg (often has calcium added)
Chick peas (raw) 160 mg
Soya beans (raw) 240 mg
Tofu 510 mg
Red kidney beans 100 mg
Curley kale (boiled) 150 mg (absorbed as well as milk)
Okra (cooked / raw) 160mg / 220mg
Spring greens (cooked / raw) 75mg / 210mg
Watercress 170mg
Parsley 200mg
Apricots (Cooked) 92mg
Currants 53mg
Figs (dried) 250mg
Almonds 240mg
Brazil Nuts 78mg
Hazel Nuts 140mg
Treacle (black) 500mg
Tahini 680mg
Sesame seeds 670mg

Herbs and spices contain useful amounts, but obviously only small quantities are used.

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We have all started our lives with milk – yes our mother’s milk. From then on we have always been guided to drink at least a glass of milk a day, by our elders. But most of us shun the idea of drinking milk only because it seems childish or you are too conscious of gaining weight! There are even people who depend on supplements that provide vitamins and calcium required by our body to function properly that drinking milk provides, because they don’t or won’t drink milk. Here are 10 good reasons to drink milk regularly.1. Avoid osteoporosis, hypertension and colon cancer. These are a few Benefits from drinking milk you won’t get by popping a vitamin or calcium supplement.2. Drinking milk can also protect you from tooth decays and cavity problems. You can convince your child about this by offering him/her a glass of chocolate milk. Don’t worry; there are no records of tooth decay because of drinking milk with a chocolate flavor.

3. Milk does not contribute any fat and so you need not worry about those extra pounds! On the contrary it has been proved that people who drink milk regularly stay slim more than those who don’t. Milk gives you many natural vitamins and minerals keeping you healthy and fit.

4. Milk is a very good antacid! Drinking a glass of milk when you experience heartburn can calm your food pipe from inflammation. Drinking milk regularly will prevent heartburn and other gastric problems.

5. For strong bones, teeth, nails and good hair, drink a lot of milk as it is loaded with calcium that helps your body grow strong and flexible.

6. Milk can be a good appetizer, especially when you are dining late. Drinking milk can also act as a stimulant, early morning or even during noon.

7. Drinking a hot glass of milk before bedtime can soothe your nerves and relax your tense muscles putting you off to sleep immediately. This can be really helpful after a tiresome and strenuous day at office.

8. Keep yourself well hydrated by drinking milk on a few occasion3 instead of water. This can cool you body as well as maintain the water/fluid level in the body. Milk consumption after a heavy workout can replenish the body system with the fluid lost while performing the exercises.

9. Milk can also drastically reduce PMS symptoms (Pre-Menstrual Syndrome) as it is a great stress reliever and also boosts the energy level in us.

10. Milk is full of nutrients that our body requires to operate properly. It contains vitamins (for red blood cells), calcium (for strong bones), carbohydrates (for energy), magnesium (for supple muscles), phosphorus (for utilizing the energy), potassium (for a good nervous system), protein (for growth and healing processes), riboflavin (for a healthy and glowing skin) and zinc (to boost the immune system).

Consuming milk during pregnancy and while nursing a newborn can help in improving the calcium content. Women can reap many benefits from drinking milk, especially during menopause, for strong bones and a healthy body. You can add milk to your diet in the form of milkshakes, cornflakes, andcocktails with chocolates, hazelnut syrups and replacing water with milk in recipes. However, people who are allergic to milk contents like lactose have to depend on supplements or other sources of calcium and vitamin to balance their diet.

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Pros and Cons of Adopting Children 

The effects of adopting children will be different for every couple, as will be the same for the adopted child.  Every adoption will be different for a variety of reasons and circumstances.

Personally, we adopted our son when he was five months old.  When they brought him out to see us, he had such a beautiful smile that we melted on the spot.  We told the woman not to bother coming back, as we would definitely be keeping him.

To this day he was always our little man, and has never been treated any different to our daughter, and he is nearly forty now.  We have never regretted our decision to adopt for a moment.


To Tell or not to Tell


Honesty Pays in the long run.

Do you tell the new family member that he/she’s adopted or not? In my opinion, we did the right thing. We told him from day one, that we chose him. We also explained to our natural born daughter that she was our special little girl and he was our special little boy. Even though he could not understand what the word adoption meant, as he grew, we explained in more detail.

Others have decided against telling their child. To me, this was wrong, someone we knew, adopted their child. She overheard another friend talking about her being adopted, when she was a teenager. She rebelled, simply because others knew and she found out through listening to gossip. That is a cruel and senseless way for the child to learn the facts of her birth. It caused so much distrust, and strain on the family.

Too much information (overheard)

Two young boys were arguing in the park, one said he was dopted the other said he was doctored. It came to blows, until an intervention allowed parents to explain they were both right.

The one saying he was dopted meant he was adopted. The other one saying he was doctored had been circumcised. Lifes little problems do have a humerous side.

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Reasons to Adopt

There could be a number of reasons, why couples go through the process of applying for an adopted child. The couple may have tried unsuccessfully for many years to have their own child, without success. Some of these could have medical reasons for not falling pregnant, while others may not have fertile sperm.

For whatever reason, when a couple applies to adopt a child, they have to go through a lengthy process to be successful. Their screened as to their income, medical backgrounds, age, as well as both wanting this. Sometimes couples may apply although one just goes along with it to keep their partner happy. This is not a suitable situation for a healthy adoption. Years ago, it was a lot easier, as it was a disgrace for the parents, whose daughter becomes pregnant out of wedlock. Therefore, the daughter was virtually forced to move away, have the baby, then return home, to avoid a scandal in the household.

These days, so many girls have babies, purely to receive the baby bonus of thousands of dollars to bring that child into the world. The money is supposed to supply them with the essentials, like pram, bassinet, nappies, and clothes for the newborn. Most of the money more often goes for drugs, entertainment or similar, without the child receiving any benefit for the money.


            Overseas children


The older child


There are many ways of Adopting a child

Overseas Adoptions

Many people look to adopt overseas, agreeing to bring a newborn in from a less wealthy country. The long waiting lists and unavailability of adopting in their own country is the reason why.

Adopting the older child

Successful older adoptions depend entirely on many circumstances that the child and the adoptee parents need to be aware. Some children have suffered from abuse of many sorts which will naturally cause lots of mental, and behavioral problems.

There have been many success and failure stories, under these circumstances, although problems are not entirely due to the ages of the adopted child.



The Adopted Child

It is very important for this newborn baby or child to be living in a safe and healthy environment. If for any reason this is not so, the adoption should not, be allowed to continue. We have always given our son the option of finding his natural parents. We gave him all the details that we had regarding his parents, and offered to help him find them if that was what he wanted. In fact, we encouraged him to follow up on this, although he refuses to do it.

This has to be his decision and his alone. We will not try to influence him either way, except to say that it would be good for him to try to contact them, for his own peace of mind. We also explained that, his parents would not have given him up without good reason, especially if they had seen his mischievous little smile.

We tried to adopt another child. And, as the woman explained, we have two beautiful healthy children, why not be satisfied, because there are so many people still trying to adopt their first. We therefore had to withdraw our application for another child.

Have we ever regretted, adopting a child? Never, we would do it all over again, mind you any child has his/her good and bad moments, and we have certainly had some of those with both of our children.

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It’s a tireless task parents have keeping their kids safe. Graphic TV programs, sexually explicit magazines and alcohol all must be kept out of reach.  Unfortunately, parents must add another pop culture challenge to their list: video games. A recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) shows that more than 90 percent of parents don’t monitor ratings on the video games played by their kids. Many are unaware that a ratings system for video games even exists, and children probably know more about the rating system than their parents do. Worse yet, parents may not know that the content of certain games could affect the social and emotional development of their child, and may even be hazardous to children’s health.

Unfortunately, parents must add another pop culture challenge to their list: video games.  A recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) shows that more than 90 percent of parents don’t monitor ratings on the video games played by their kids.  Many are unaware that a ratings system for video games even exists, and children probably know more about the rating system than their parents do. Worse yet, parents may not know that the content of certain games could affect the social and emotional development of their child, and may even be hazardous to children’s health.

Violence is the most prevalent health risk for children and adolescents.  Homicide, suicide and accidents are the top causes of death for 15- to 24-year-olds.  Each year, more than 150,000 adolescents are arrested for violent crimes; more than 300,000 are seriously assaulted; and 3,500 are murdered.  Violence done to and by America’s young people is a public health emergency that must be addressed by parents, physicians and policymakers.

More than 3,500 research studies have examined the association between media violence and violent behavior. All but 18 of the studies have shown that the more violence one sees, the more likely one is to be violent. According to the AAP, depictions of violence that are realistic, portrayed without pain and suffering, and experienced in the context of good feelings are more likely to be emulated.

On April 20, 1999, two heavily armed adolescent boys walked into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado and shot 12 of their classmates and a teacher to death. Then they killed themselves. When authorities investigated, they discovered that the boys had played thousands of hours of a “first-person shooter” video game that had been modified to occur in a layout identical to that of their high school, with yearbook pictures electronically pasted onto the game’s imaginary victims. What led these boys to deliberately kill their fellow students is complicated and no single reason has been identified as the cause.

One of the questions parents asked after the Columbine shooting was:  “How could it be that the parents did not know their children were playing such heinous video games?”  The answer is that parents are not familiar with video games because they don’t play them.

Parents don’t know that video games that have a mature rating may contain content that is entirely inappropriate for children under the age of 17. They don’t know that a child playing an M-rated game can actively participate in the simulated murder of police officers, women, minorities and innocent bystanders.  These acts are graphically depicted and include victims being shot, beaten to death, decapitated, burned alive and urinated on.  These games may also present favorable depictions of prostitution, racism, misogyny and drug use.

Parents do know that children learn by observing, imitating what they observe, and acting on the world around them.  According to child psychologist Michael Rich, children develop what psychologists call “behavioral scripts.” They interpret their experiences and respond to others using those scripts.

One can easily see how repeated exposure to violent behavioral scripts can lead to increased feelings of hostility, expectation that others will behave aggressively, desensitization to the pain of others, and an increased likelihood of interacting and responding to others with violence. 

Violent video games are an ideal environment in which to learn violence. Violent video games:

  • place the player in the role of the aggressor and reward him or her for violent behavior.


  • allow the player to rehearse an entire behavioral script from provocation to choosing a violent resolution of conflict.


  • are addictive — kids want to play them for hours to improve their playing skills, and repetition increases learning.


Parents already know they must be aware of the television and movies their children watch. Now they must be aware of the content of the video games their children play at home and in the homes of their friends.

To educate parents and guardians about the content of video games, Mothers Against Violence in America invites parents to join the Campaign for a Game Smart Community and learn about the content and rating system. There are hundreds of video games available; selecting the right game for your child is very important.

                                                   START YOUR OWN DISCUSSION  OR SEND A COMMENT TELL US WHAT YOU THINK?

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    Sensible eating helps manage diabetes  

One of the first  questions for people newly diagnosed with diabetes is ‘what can I eat’.

Information can be very confusing with many news and  healthy living magazines suggesting foods that can help diabetes.

To help make some kind  of sense, we present our guide on which foods can help diabetes.

Picking a sensible diabetic diet

The following  guidelines provide a good basis for a diabetic diet.

Fruit and vegetables

  Vegetables are a very  good choice.

They contain a good quantity of vitamins and minerals and are a  great source of fibre. Some vegetables have more effect on blood sugar than  others so you may need to pick vegetables with a lower GI.


Fruits are also a good  source of fibre and vitamins but people with diabetes will often find that some  fruits are better than others for their blood sugar levels.


  Protein can be very  useful as it is more slowly broken down by the body than carbohydrates.

As a  result, it has less of an effect on blood sugar and can help you to feel fuller  for longer. Good protein sources include oily fish and lean meats, such as  grilled skinless chicken.

Whole grains

  Whole grain foods are  those containing oats, barley, wheat where the full grain is used.

Foods made  from grains have quite a high concentration of carbohydrate so people with  diabetes will benefit by testing their blood sugar before and after eating  grain based foods to see whether their blood sugar is being raised too high.

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Young children love water and it can be fun for everybody, as well as great exercise. But it’s vital that you or another grown-up always watches your child when in, on or around any water, because drowning can happen quickly and quietly.

Toddler playing in pool with her mother


did you knowQuestion mark symbol

About 7% of child drownings happen in the bath. Stay with your child, even if she’s only splashing in a couple of centimetres of water in an inflatable pool or in the bathtub.


Drowning: what you need to know

Drowning is the number one cause of death for children under five.

Babies and toddlers are top-heavy, which makes them susceptible to drowning. If a baby falls into even shallow water, she cannot always lift herself out. Drowning can occur quickly and quietly, without any warning noises.

In Australia, children under five drown in:

  • swimming pools (16 children drowned in pools in 2009-10)
  • baths (five children drowned in the bath in 2009-10)
  • rivers, creeks and oceans (nine children drowned in a river or in the ocean in 2009-10)
  • dams and lakes (four children drowned in dams in 2009-10).

Children also drown in less obvious locations, such as nappy buckets, water tanks, water features and fish ponds – even pets’ water bowls. Four children drowned in these locations during 2009-10.

For every drowning, approximately three other children are hospitalised from a near-drowning incident, some of which result in severe brain damage.

Prevention and 100% supervision are the keys to keeping your child safe around water.

Water safety basics

It’s important to always stay with your child and watch him whenever he is near water – even when he can swim.

Supervision means constant visual contact with your child and keeping her within arm’s reach at all times. You should be in a position to respond quickly, whether you’re at the beach or the swimming pool, near dams, rivers and lakes, or at home when the bath or spa is full. Hold your child’s hand when you are near waves or paddling in rivers.

Supervision is not an occasional glance while you nap, read or do household chores. It is not watching your kids playing outside while you’re inside. It is always best for an adult, not an older child, to supervise.

You can also teach your child about water safety and how to swim. Many children can learn to swim by the time they are four or five.

First aid is an essential skill for the entire family to learn. Learning CPR and what to do in an emergency could save your child’s life.

Other practical tips for water safety

Around the house

The majority of drowning deaths in Australia result from a child falling or wandering into the water, particularly into a backyard pool. But a young child can drown in as little as 5 cm of water. Here are some tips to improve water safety around your house:

  • Remove any containers with water in them from around the house and make sure your child can’t get to any bodies of water, including the bath, on her own.
  • Use a nappy bucket with a tight-fitting lid and keep the bucket closed, off the floor and out of your child’s reach.
  • Always empty the baby bath as soon as you’re finished with it so older siblings can’t climb in.
  • Drain sinks, tubs, buckets, baths and paddling pools when you’re finished with them.
  • Secure covers to ponds and birdbaths and other water features with wire mesh or empty them until your child is at least five years of age.
  • Keep aquariums and fishbowls out of reach of small children. If you have an inflatable pool that is more than 300 mm in height, pool fencing laws apply. Outdoor spas also have to be fenced.

Outside the house – dams, ponds and tanks 

Children don’t always understand, apply or remember rules, especially when they’re distracted by play. So a securely fenced, safe play area can be an effective barrier between small children and water hazards.

A secure play area  can prevent your child from wandering near dams, creeks or other bodies of water, and gaining access to hazards such as farm machinery, horses and farm vehicles. FarmSafe Australia recommends a ‘safe play’ area, supported by family rules and supervison, as the most effective way to prevent serious injury and death to small children on rural properties.

  • Fence off the area between the house and any bodies of water.
  • Teach your child not to go near the dam, creek or water tank without you.
  • Secure a toddler-proof lid over any water tanks.
  • Fence off, drain or seal ponds while your child or visiting children are less than five years of age.
  • Make sure there are no trellises, ladders, windows or trees that your child could climb to gain access to the water tank.

Beaches, lakes and rivers 

  • Always stay with your child when he is playing in or near the sea, lakes or rivers. Hold your toddler’s hand near waves and when paddling in rivers.
  • Take your child only to patrolled beaches where surf lifesavers are present, and swim only between the flags.
  • Teach your school-age child what to do if she needs help: stay calm, float and raise an arm to signal to a lifeguard or lifesaver.

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