“It has been noted that the children of good readers follow their parents’ example,” states neurolinguistics specialist Beatriz González Ortuño, as reported in the Mexican newspaper Reforma.
Since children have a great capacity for learning, it is good to encourage their interest in reading even before they can identify vowels. For example, stories can be read to them that will help them to develop their imagination. The newspaper gives the following suggestions for introducing children to reading: “Sit down together. . . . Allow them to turn the pages, to interrupt when they wish, and to ask questions. . . . Ask them to talk to you about the objects and characters that appear in the story. Answer all their questions. . . . Relate the book to the life of the children.”
“Sleep has begun to be considered a waste of time,” reports the Spanish newspaper ABC. “Even the youngest children sleep fewer hours than is necessary for sound psychological and physical development.” According to the Sleep Unit of Dexeus Hospital in Barcelona, lack of sleep in children leads to anxiety, irritability, poor academic achievement, and dejection and may even stunt growth.
Experts blame the use of computers, television, cell phones, and video games just before going to bed for the sleep deficit of many youngsters. These devices not only rob people of sleep time but also prevent the state of relaxation needed in order to fall asleep. “All the kids know that smoking is harmful, but nobody tells them of the need to get enough sleep,” states psychologist Victoria de la Fuente. “If we do not act, they will become potential insomniacs when adults.”
“Watching television soap operas encourages a range of antisocial behaviour in children, including backbiting, gossiping, spreading rumours, splitting up other people’s relationships and verbal bullying,” according to a study described in London’s newspaper The Times.
The study, presented to the British Psychological Society, has found “a significant link” between viewing such indirect aggression on TV and adolescents’ antisocial behavior, says the paper. The worst soaps averaged 14 incidents of backbiting an hour. Lecturer Sarah Coyne of the University of Central Lancashire, England, worries that the “constant and relentless” portrayal of indirect aggression as justified, attractive, or rewarded with a positive outcome gives young people bad role models.
The Struggle With Body Image
“Young people—and girls in particular—are struggling with their body image at an increasingly young age, and that could have serious health consequences,” says Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper. Girls aged 10 to 14 were surveyed as to their eating attitudes, and over 2,200 responded. The Globe reports: “Less than 7 per cent of the girls were overweight, but more than 31 per cent described themselves as ‘too fat’ and 29 per cent said they were currently dieting.” Why do healthy girls want to lose weight?
According to the paper, much of the blame rests with adult role models who themselves constantly diet and who ridicule people who are overweight. “The media also play a big role in influencing teenage behaviour, by constantly creating ultrathin role models,” says the Globe. Dr. Gail McVey, a research scientist at the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children, points out that children, parents, and teachers alike need to realize that “weight gain is normal and necessary for children growing into adolescence.”
White Crocodiles Found
“Forest officials in Bhitarkanika National Park in Orissa have found 15 rare white crocodiles . . . during the annual crocodile census,” says India’s newspaper The Hindu. White crocodiles are extremely rare and “are not found anywhere else in the world.” Because of relentless poaching, the saltwater crocodiles in the area were on the verge of extinction in the 1970’s, but the state government, with the help of United Nations programs, set up a crocodile-rearing project within the park.
An abundance of mangroves, unpolluted waters, a rich food supply, and less human interference have made the breeding program a success. According to The Hindu, there are now some 1,500 crocodiles with normal coloration in the park along with the rare white ones.
Self-Harm Among the Young
“Britain has the highest rates of recorded self-harm in Europe,” reveals The Times of London. Each year, British accident and emergency units treat 150,000 cases in which people have deliberately harmed themselves, such as by cutting themselves. The problem is most common among youths. “Although young women self-harmers outnumber young men by seven to one, rates in men have doubled since the 1980s,” states The Times.
It seems that these individuals harm themselves “as a way of coping with emotional pain or in response to emotional numbness.” According to Andrew McCulloch, of the Mental Health Foundation, the figures “may be evidence of growing problems facing our young people, or of a growing inability to respond to those problems.”