Deja Vu

Photo of couple – 11 years before they met

As children, Aimee Maiden and Nick Wheeler, spent the day building sand castles just a few yards apart but they never spoke

 A photograph taken in 1994 shows Aimee Maiden and Nick Wheeler, circled, at Mousehole beach, Cornwall Photo: Mark Noall/SWNS


A photograph taken in 1994 shows Aimee Maiden and Nick Wheeler, circled, at Mousehole beach, Cornwall Photo: Mark Noall/SWNS

A couple looking at old family photos ahead of their wedding were shocked to find a picture of themselves playing together on a beach – as children.

Teacher Aimee Maiden, 25, and her soldier husband Nick Wheeler, 26, had no idea their paths had crossed until they saw the grainy 1994 snap – taken 11 years before they met.

Aimee grew up in the tiny seaside village of Mousehole, Cornwall, and was a regular visitor to the beach while Nick lived in KENT but just happened to be on holiday there.

The two kids, Aimee aged five and Nick aged six, spent the day building sand castles just a few yards apart but their two families were strangers and never spoke.

Nick moved to Cornwall a year later but didn’t meet ‘soulmate’ Aimee again till they went to the same sixth form college in Truro and fell in love

Source: Telegraph

Need to get children outdoors?

How to escape those iPad screens

Many parents want children to stop staring at computers and get some exercise. One mother investigates how to motivate them

Water run: children are transfixed by fountains. Photograph: Tony Kyriacou/Rex

We live in a Cornish town with three beaches. There’s a small park two minutes’ walk from home where neighbourhood children congregate, and a bigger park you could reach in 15 minutes on foot. The sun is shining, school is over, the day has plenty of daylight hours left in it, and there are many things the children could be doing to unwind.

“I want the iPad,” says my eldest son, stomping in from secondary school.

“It’s not fair,” complains my daughter. “He’s got the iPad.”

“Can I have your computer?” asks the middle one. Inevitably, despite having beaches and parks and friends at their disposal, what my children want to do after school is pick up a screen – any screen – and stare at it like zombies. They are not even interesting zombies – they could certainly not summon the energy to find a human being and devour their brain. They just want to look at pixels and consume some media.

They are not alone. Today’s children spend an average of four and a half hours a day looking at screens, split between watching television and using the internet. Last year it was reported that a child born today will spend a quarter of its life staring, in a non-work-related way, at a screen. I recently taught a residential creative writing course for teenagers in Devon at a centre with no internet connection, and was struck by the teenager who yawned all morning on the first day, explaining his insomnia with the baffling claim that: “I can’t sleep without Wi-Fi.” When you add in adult fears that our children will be abducted or run over, it becomes far easier to keep them inside where we can see them, and let them be passive, coddled, safe, on a sofa.

However, in the past few years a growing number of people and organisations have begun coming up with plans to counter this trend. A couple of years ago, film-maker David Bond realised that his children, then aged five and three, were fixated on screens and iPads to the point where he was able to say “chocolate” into his three year old son’s ear without getting a response. He realised that something needed to change, and, being a London media type, appointed himself “marketing director for Nature”. He documented his journey as he set about treating nature as a brand to be marketed to young people. The result was a film called Project Wild Thing.

Bond has hit a nerve. “It is great,” he says, “to have formed a rallying cry: children need to be outdoors more.” His film charts the birth of the Wild Network, a group of organisations with the common goal of getting children out into nature. The network has grown exponentially, and now comprises over 1,500 organisations, from huge charities such as the National Trust and RSPB, to smaller mental health organisations, teachers’ groups, and pre-schools.

“It’s something we’ve been campaigning on for the past 100 years,” says Jim Wardill, community team manager at the RSPB. “Environmental education work is a fundamental part of what the RSPB is and does. Over the past 10 years or so, people have realised that kids just aren’t getting out as much. It’s about the connection to nature, the emotional bond you develop with the outside world.”

Source: TheGuardian Read more

Opinion:

One of the key ingredients of a healthy childhood is dirt!

You don’t get dirty on a keyboard.

 

A Note for Every Parent

aPreschool

Learning

Reblogged from: The Adventures of Fanny P.

This is something every parent needs to read. And no, I didn’t write it. It was written by a Pre-School Teacher who shall remain anonymous…

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“I was on a parenting bulletin board recently and read a post by a mother who was worried that her 4 1/2 year old did not know enough. “What should a 4 year old know?” she asked.

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Most of the answers left me not only saddened but pretty soundly annoyed.

One mom posted a laundry list of all of the things her son knew. Counting to 100, planets, how to write his first and last name, and on and on. Others chimed in with how much more their children already knew, some who were only three. A few posted URL’s to lists of what each age should know. The fewest yet said that each child develops at his own pace and not to worry.
It bothered me greatly to see these mothers responding to a worried mom by adding to her concern, with lists of all the things their children could do that hers couldn’t.

We are such a competitive culture that even our pre-schoolers have become trophies and bragging rights. Childhood shouldn’t be a race.

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So here, I offer my list of what a 4 year old should know.

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She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.

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He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn’t feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up.

Acting goofy

Acting goofy

She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats 6 legs.

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He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he could care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he’ll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud.

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She should know that the world is magical and that so is she. She should know that she’s wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvellous. She should know that it’s just as worthy to spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses as it is to practice phonics. Scratch that– way more worthy.

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But more important, here’s what parents need to know.

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That every child learns to walk, talk, read and do algebra at his own pace and that it will have no bearing on how well he walks, talks, reads or does algebra.
That the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high ACT scores is reading to children. Not flash cards, not workbooks, not fancy preschools, not blinking toys or computers, but mom or dad taking the time every day or night (or both!) to sit and read them wonderful books.

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That being the smartest or most accomplished kid in class has never had any bearing on being the happiest. We are so caught up in trying to give our children “advantages” that we’re giving them lives as multi-tasked and stressful as ours. One of the biggest advantages we can give our children is a simple, carefree childhood.

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That our children deserve to be surrounded by books, nature, art supplies and the freedom to explore them. Most of us could get rid of 90% of our children’s toys and they wouldn’t be missed, but some things are important– building toys like lego and blocks, creative toys like all types of art materials (good stuff), musical instruments (real ones and multicultural ones), dress up clothes and books, books, books. (Incidentally, much of this can be picked up quite cheaply at thrift shops.) They need to have the freedom to explore with these things too– to play with scoops of dried beans in the high chair (supervised, of course), to knead bread and make messes, to use paint and play dough and glitter at the kitchen table while we make supper even though it gets everywhere, to have a spot in the yard where it’s absolutely fine to dig up all the grass and make a mud pit.

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That our children need more of us. We have become so good at saying that we need to take care of ourselves that some of us have used it as an excuse to have the rest of the world take care of our kids. Yes, we all need undisturbed baths, time with friends, sanity breaks and an occasional life outside of parenthood. But we live in a time when parenting magazines recommend trying to commit to 10 minutes a day with each child and scheduling one Saturday a month as family day. That’s not okay! Our children don’t need Nintendos, computers, after school activities, ballet lessons, play groups and soccer practice nearly as much as they need US. They need fathers who sit and listen to their days, mothers who join in and make crafts with them, parents who take the time to read them stories and act like idiots with them. They need us to take walks with them and not mind the .1 MPH pace of a toddler on a spring night. They deserve to help us make supper even though it takes twice as long and makes it twice as much work. They deserve to know that they’re a priority for us and that we truly love to be with them.”

Mollycoddling

mollycoddleWe have to stop mollycoddling our kids.

headgear

We have to rip off the headbands and helmets, knees pads and scrap the soft shit from under the swings and slides!

boytree

We have to let kids run wild, unfettered, run risks, bleed and fall out of trees!

Why parents should leave their kids alone

What if the best thing we could do for our children is just to leave them alone? Jay Griffiths on why modern parenting is making our children miserable

‘In Europe and America alike, many kids today are effectively under house arrest.’ Photograph: Joel Redman/Gallery Stock

I felt as if I were an unwilling accomplice to torture. Echoes of the victim’s screams rang off the varnished walls. The door, tight shut though it was, could not block the cries of panic. A baby, alone and imprisoned in a cot.

The baby’s mother was visibly disturbed, too, pale and tearful. She was a victim herself, preyed on by exponents of controlled crying, or Ferberisation – that pitiless system, cruel to them both.

Controlled. Crying. The words speak of the odious aim: a bullying system controlling the feelings of a baby. The mother had been told the situation was the reverse, that the baby was trying to force her will on the mother, but all I could see was a one-year-old demented by abandonment. One American mother wrote poignantly on the internet: “Is Ferberisation worth my heartache or am I truly torturing my child? It seems like cruel and unusual punishment.”

The idea is that babies can be “taught” to stop crying by being left to cry alone. A parent will occasionally check on them, but will neither pick up nor stay with the infant. In time, the baby will learn that crying doesn’t bring consolation and will cease the attempt. Parents are encouraged to schedule and limit the time they spend checking on the baby. Does the system work? Of course it does. That is hardly the question. The real issue is why would such a thing be promoted? Why would it ever be accepted? What does it reveal about modernity’s priorities? And how does it suggest answers to the riddle of unhappy children?

Cuddled, snuggled and tended, most infants, throughout most of history, have known the world unlonely. Among the Tojolabal-speaking Maya people of Chiapas in Mexico, children in the first two years of life are always close to their mothers, instantly appeased with toys or milk, to prevent them ever feeling unhappy. For infants under one year of age among the Aché people – forest nomads in Paraguay – most daylight time is spent in tactile contact with their mother or father, and they are never set down on the ground or left alone for more than a few seconds. In India and many other parts of the world, children may share a bed with their mother until they are five.

Many parents’ reasons for using controlled crying can be summed up in one word: work. Parents who want “routines” are keen on controlled crying, says Gina Ford, a famous British advocate of the system, and she comments that babies who have been forced into a routine will later adapt easily to a school routine and, one presumes, be more malleable to a workforce system.

Yet whenever I have spent time in indigenous communities, I have never heard anything like the shrieks of fear and rage of the controlled-crying child. If an infant is satiated with closeness, commented the writer Jean Liedloff, then as an older child he or she will need to return to that maternal contact only in emergencies. Such an infant will grow up to be more self-reliant, not because of the scarcity of early contact (as the controlled-crying advocates argue) but precisely the opposite: from its abundance. By the age of about eight, the Aché children, who as infants were never alone, have learned how to negotiate the trails in the forests and can be fairly independent of their parents. In West Papua, I have seen how infants are held close and grow into children who are fiercely, proudly independent.

When children are older, the desire for freedom seems unquenchable. I recently gave a writing workshop in Kolkata for street children who had been temporarily corralled into a school where they were clearly well looked after and, in the main, happy. They thirsted for the one thing that the school would not allow them: freedom. “They want the freedom they knew on the streets,” a teacher said, “to go anywhere, any time.” In spite of the troubles on the street – poverty, abuse, hunger and violence – the children “keep running away”.

Once out of infancy, Native American children were traditionally free to wander wherever they wanted, through woods or water. “By the time he is five, he is grown up, beaming with health… delirious with liberty,” writes Roger P Buliard in Inuk, describing an Inuit boyhood. By about the age of seven, the boy handles knives and wants a rifle and a trap line, and from then on he “travels with the men, as hardy a traveller as any of them”.

When I spent some days reindeer herding with Sami people, I saw how the children were free not only out on the land, but indoors in the summer huts. They rummaged around for food, finding a strip of cooked reindeer meat or a freshly caught fish or a tub of biscuits, deciding what and when they would eat: a situation that averted that major source of family conflict – meal times.

Autonomy over food from a very young age seems a feature of childhood in many traditional societies. The Alacaluf children of Patagonia fend for themselves early, using a shellfish spear and cooking their own food from the age of about four. Very young Inuit children may use a whip to hunt ptarmigans, lopping off their heads with a flick of the wrist. Travelling through the highlands of West Papua among the Yali people, I often saw village boys going off together, bristling with bows and arrows, to hunt birds, catch frogs and roast them in fires they would build themselves.

Meanwhile, in England, an environmental play project called Wild About Play asked children what they most wanted to do outdoors, and the answer was to collect and eat wild foods, to make fires and cook on them. This is the sign of independence demonstrated by children everywhere, controlling their own food and their own bodies. It seems that modern Euro-American children have two unusual food-related experiences: first, they don’t have early autonomy with respect to food; and second, they do experience eating problems.

As for physical freedom, a few years ago I spent a day with children of the sea Gypsies, the Bajau people who live off Sulawesi in stilt houses set far into the water. The children were swimmers and divers, boaters and paddlers, rinsed with seawater night and day until they seemed half-human, half-otter. I asked what their childhood was like. The answer was immediate: “Children have a happy childhood because there is a lot of freedom.” If happiness is a result of freedom, then surely the unhappiness of modern western children is caused in part by the fact that they are less free than any children in history.

I was struck by the obvious happiness of the Bajau children: spending the whole long afternoon with about 100 of them, not one was crying, cross, unhappy or frustrated. I can’t imagine spending an afternoon with 100 European or American children and not once hearing a child cry.

In Europe, one country seems to have honoured the relationship between freedom and childhood happiness in a way that the sea Gypsy children would have understood: Norway. A land of lakes and fjords, a country that has enshrined in law an ancient right to canoe, row, sail and swim, to walk across all land (except private gardens and tilled fields) in a freedom known as Allemannsretten, “every man’s right”, the right to roam.

In 1960, the American psychiatrist Herbert Hendin was studying suicide statistics in Scandinavia. Denmark (with Japan) had the world’s highest suicide rate. Sweden’s rate was almost as high, but what of Norway? Right at the bottom. Hendin was intrigued, particularly since the received wisdom was that Denmark, Sweden and Norway shared a similar culture. What could possibly account for such a dramatic difference? After years of research, he concluded that reasons were established in childhood. In Denmark and Sweden, children were brought up with regimentation, while in Norway they were free to roam. In Denmark and Sweden, children were pressured to achieve career goals until many felt they were failures, while in Norway they were left alone more, not so much instructed but rather simply allowed to watch and participate in their own time. Instead of a sense of failure, Norwegian children grew up with a sense of self-reliance.

Danish children, the study showed, were over-protected, kept dependent on their mothers and not free to roam. For Swedish children, a common experience was that, in infancy, just when they needed closeness, what they got was separation and a sense of abandonment while, in later childhood, just when they needed freedom, what they got was far too much control. Norwegian children played outdoors for hours unsupervised by adults, and a child’s freedom was “not likely to be restricted”. They had more closeness than Swedish children at an early age, but then more freedom than both Danish and Swedish children at a later age, suggesting that closeness followed by freedom is likely to produce the happiest children.

Unfortunately, in the decades since Hendin’s work, as Norway became more centralised and urbanised, childhood altered. Norwegian children now spend more time indoors in sedentary activities, such as watching television or DVDs and playing computer games, than they do outdoors. The suicide rate is now far higher.

In Europe and America alike, many kids today are effectively under house arrest, with 80% of them in the UK complaining that they have “nowhere to go”. It’s about four o’clock in the afternoon, you’ve got a couple of quid in your pocket but not a lot more. You’ve knocked off for the day and you’d like to be with your mates. The cheap cafes will be closed in an hour, you can’t afford restaurants and you are not allowed in “public” houses. You tell everyone who will listen that you don’t want to cause trouble – you’d just like somewhere that is dry, well lit and safe, where you can hang out and chat. So you go to bus shelters and car parks and the brightly lit areas outside corner shops. And then you are driven off as if you were vermin. The UK seems to be leading the way in how not to treat children.

A plan to erect a netball hoop on a village green in Oxfordshire was blocked “because residents didn’t want to attract children”. In west Somerset, an eight-year-old girl was stopped from cycling down her street because a neighbour complained that the wheels squeaked. In one survey, two-thirds of children said they liked playing outside every day, mainly to be with friends, but 80% of them have been told off for playing outdoors, 50% have been shouted at for playing outside and 25% of 11- to 16-year-olds have been threatened with violence by adults for… for what? For playing outdoors, making a noise, being a nuisance.

Saddest of all, it works. One in three of the children said that being told off for playing outside does stop them doing it. If there is one word that sums up the treatment of children today, it is enclosure. Today’s children are enclosed in school and home, enclosed in cars to shuttle between them, enclosed by fear, by surveillance and poverty and rigid schedules.

In 2011, Unicef asked children what they needed to be happy, and the top three things were time (particularly with families), friendships and, tellingly, “outdoors”. Studies show that when children are allowed unstructured play in nature, their sense of freedom, independence and inner strength all thrive, and children surrounded by nature are not only less stressed but also bounce back from stressful events more readily.

But there has been a steady reduction in open spaces for children to play. In Britain, children have one-ninth of the roaming room they had in earlier generations. There has also been a reduction in available time, with less than 10% of children spending time playing in woodlands, countryside or heaths, compared with 40% a generation ago. Younger children may be enclosed on the grounds that adults are frightened for them, and older children because adults are frightened of them.

In the Amazon, I’ve seen five-year-olds wielding machetes with deftness and precision. In Igloolik, in the Arctic, I’ve seen an eight-year-old take a knife and carve up a frozen caribou without accident. In West Papua, I’ve known youngsters of 12 or 13 with such physical capability and confidence that, when asked to be messengers, they completed a mountain run in six hours – a journey that had taken me and the guides a day and a half.

This is not only a matter of physical competence: the freedom that Inuit children traditionally experienced made them into “self-reliant, caring and self-controlled individuals”, in the words of one Inuit person I met in Nunavut in Canada. It gave them courage and patience.

Children need wild, unlimited hours, but this time is in short supply for many, who are diarised into wall-to-wall activities, scheduled from the moment they wake until the minute they sleep, every hour accounted for by parents whose actions are prompted by the fear their child may fall behind in the rat race that begins in the nursery. Loving their child, not wanting them to be lifelong losers, parents push them to achieve through effective time-use. Society instils a fear of the future that can be appeased only by sacrificing present play and idleness, and children feel the effects in stress and depression.

In many traditional cultures, however, children are held to be the best judges of their own needs, including how they spend their time. In West Papua, one man told me that as children, “We would go hunting and fishing and just come home when we heard the crickets.” In the children’s tipi where part-Cherokee man James Hightower spent so many hours of his childhood, games might be played until four in the morning. “The Indian is not like civilised children,” he recalls, “having a certain time to eat and sleep.” (In his mouth, the term “civilised” is not a compliment.)

“When we’re working, we just don’t have time to be bothering the kids,” Margrethe Vars, a Sami reindeer herder, told me. She broke off to drag on her cigarette, so her words, imitating European parents, literally came out smoking: “Have you washed your hands? Now you must eat.” She pulled a face: to her, children’s freedom was not only a right but a relief all round. As the summer stretched out in one long day, the Sami children would be up all “night”, and no one minded because every parent shared the view that children were in charge of their own time. So the early hours – bright with midsummer sun – would see the children revving up quad bikes, watching the reindeer, tickling each other or falling asleep.

“Here we sleep when we are tired, eat when we are hungry,” Vars said. “But for other societies, children are very organised. Timing is everything: when to eat and sleep, making appointments to visit friends…” She winced at the thought of the micromanagement. The Sami way produced powerfully positive results, not only in the reduction of petty conflict, but also in something intangible and vital. Their children would grow up more self-reliant, less obedient to outside pressure.

For the Wintu people of California, so deep is their traditional respect for the autonomy of the will that it suffuses the language itself. In English, if you “take a baby” somewhere, there is a sense of implicit coercion. The Wintu language cannot say that: it must phrase it as, “I went with the baby.” “I watched the child” would be, “I watched with the child”. The Wintu couldn’t coerce someone even if they wanted to: language won’t let them. When a Wintu child asks, “Can I…?” they are not asking for permission from an individual parent, but for clarification about whether wider laws allow it, so a child does not feel at the mercy of the will of a single adult with rules that can seem capricious and arbitrary.

Take a step back for a moment. Letting children have their own way? Doing just what they like? Wouldn’t that be a total disaster? Yes, if parents perform only the first half of the trick. In the cultural lexicon of modernity, self-will is often banally understood as brattish, selfish behaviour. Will does not mean selfishness, however, and autonomy over oneself is not a synonym for nastiness towards others – quite the reverse. Ngarinyin children in Australia traditionally grew up uncommanded and uncoerced, but from a young age they learned socialisation. That is the second half of the trick. Children are socialised into awareness and respect for the will and autonomy of others, so that, when necessary as they grow, they will learn to hold their own will in check in order to maintain good relations. For a community to function well, an individual may on occasion need to rein in his or her own will but, crucially, not be compelled to do so by someone else.

Among Inuit and Sami people, there is an explicit need for children to learn self-regulation. Adults keep a reticent and tactful distance. A child “is learning on his own” is a common Sami expression. Sami children are trained to control anger, sensitivity, aggression and shame. Inuit people stress that children must learn self-control – with careful emphasis. The child should not be controlled by another, with their will overruled, but needs to learn to steer herself or himself.

Will is a child’s motive force: it impels a child from within, whereas obedience compels a child from without. Those who would overrule a child’s will take “obedience” as their watchword, as they fear disobedience and disorder and believe that if a child is not controlled, there will be chaos. But these are false opposites. The true opposite of obedience is not disobedience but independence. The true opposite of order is not disorder but freedom. The true opposite of control is not chaos but self-control.

• This is an edited extract from Kith: The Riddle Of The Childscape, by Jay Griffiths

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11% of all school-aged children in America who have been classified as mentally ill

“The Psycho-Therapeutic School System:

 Pathologizing Childhood”

By John W. Whitehead

“There’s a tremendous push where if the kid’s behavior is thought to be quote-unquote abnormal — if they’re not sitting quietly at their desk — that’s pathological, instead of just childhood.”—Dr. Jerome Groopman, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control, a staggering 6.4 million American children between the ages of 4 and 17 have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), whose key symptoms are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity—characteristics that most would consider typically childish behavior. High school boys, an age group particularly prone to childish antics and drifting attention spans, are particularly prone to being labeled as ADHD, with one out of every five high school boys diagnosed with the disorder.
Presently, we’re at an all-time high of eleven percent of all school-aged children in America who have been classified as mentally ill. Why? Because they “suffer” from several of the following symptoms: they are distracted, fidget, lose things, daydream, talk nonstop, touch everything in sight, have trouble sitting still during dinner, are constantly in motion, are impatient, interrupt conversations, show their emotions without restraint, act without regard for consequences, and have difficulty waiting their turn.
The list reads like a description of me as a child. In fact, it sounds like just about every child I’ve ever known, none of whom are mentally ill. Unfortunately, society today is far less tolerant of childish behavior—hence, the growing popularity of the ADHD label, which has become the “go-to diagnosis” for children that don’t fit the psycho-therapeutic public school mold of quiet, docile and conformist.
Mind you, there is no clinical test for ADHD. Rather, this so-called mental illness falls into the “I’ll know it if I see it” category, where doctors are left to make highly subjective determinations based on their own observation, as well as interviews and questionnaires with a child’s teachers and parents. Particular emphasis is reportedly given to what school officials have to say about the child’s behavior. Yet while being branded mentally ill at a young age can lead to all manner of complications later in life, the larger problem is the routine drugging that goes hand in hand with these diagnoses. Of those currently diagnosed with ADHD, a 16 percent increase since 2007, and a 41 percent increase over the past decade, two-thirds are being treated with mind-altering, psychotropic drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall.
Diagnoses of ADHD have been increasing at an alarming rate of 5.5 percent each year. Yet those numbers are bound to skyrocket once the American Psychiatric Association releases its more expansive definition of ADHD. Combined with the public schools’ growing intolerance (aka, zero tolerance) for childish behavior, the psychiatric community’s pathologizing of childhood, and the Obama administration’s new mental health initiative aimed at identifying and treating mental illness in young people, the outlook is decidedly grim for any young person in this country who dares to act like a child.
As part of his administration’s sweeping response to the Newtown school shootings, President Obama is calling on Congress to fund a number of programs aimed at detecting and responding to mental illness among young people. A multipronged effort, Obama’s proposal includes $50 million to train 5,000 mental health professionals to work with young people in communities and schools; $55 million for Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education), which would empower school districts, teachers and other adults to detect and respond to mental illness in 750,000 young people; and $25 million for state efforts to identify and treat adolescents and young adults.
One of the key components of Obama’s plan, mental health first-aid training for adults and students, is starting to gain traction across the country. Incredibly, after taking a mere 12-hour course comprised of PowerPoint presentations, videos, discussions, role playing and other interactive activities, for instance, a participant can be certified “to identify, understand and respond to the signs of mental illness, substance use and eating disorders.”
While commendable in its stated goals, there’s a whiff of something not quite right about a program whose supporting data claims that “26.2 percent of people in the U.S. — roughly one in four — have a mental health disorder in any given year.” This is especially so at a time when government agencies seem to be increasingly inclined to view outspoken critics of government policies as mentally ill and in need of psychiatric help and possible civil commitment. But I digress. That’s a whole other topic.
Getting back to young people, Dr. Thomas Friedan, director of the CDC, has characterized the nation’s current fixation on ADHD as an over diagnosis and a “misuse [of ADHD medications that] appears to be growing at an alarming rate.” Indeed, not that long ago, the very qualities we now identify as a mental illness and target for drugging were hallmarks of the creative soul. Many of the artists, musicians, poets, politicians and revolutionaries whom we have come to revere in our society were unable to sit still, pay attention, concentrate on their work, and stay within the confines which had been set out for them in the classroom.
Visionaries as varied as Mahatma Gandhi, Richard Feynman, John Lennon, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Thomas Edison, Susan B. Anthony, Albert Einstein, and Winston Churchill would have all been labeled ADHD had they been students in the public schools today. Legendary filmmaker Woody Allen claims to have “paid attention to everything but the teachers” while in school. Despite being put in an accelerated learning program due to his high IQ, he felt constrained, so he often played hooky and failed to complete his assignments. Of his school days, Gandhi said, “They were the most miserable of his life” and “that he had no aptitude for lessons and rarely appreciated his teachers.” In fact, Gandhi opined that it “might have been better if he had never been to school.”
One can only imagine what the world would have been like had these visionaries of Western civilization instead been diagnosed with ADHD and drugged accordingly. Writing for the New York Times, Bronwen Hruska documents what it was like as a parent being pressured by school officials to medicate her child who, at age 8, seemed to have “normal 8-year-old boy energy.”
Will was in third grade, and his school wanted him to settle down in order to focus on math worksheets and geography lessons and social studies. The children were expected to line up quietly and “transition” between classes without goofing around… And so it began. Like the teachers, we didn’t want Will to “fall through the cracks.” But what I’ve found is that once you start looking for a problem, someone’s going to find one, and attention deficit has become the go-to diagnosis… A few weeks later we heard back. Will had been given a diagnosis of inattentive-type A.D.H.D….The doctor prescribed methylphenidate, a generic form of Ritalin. It was not to be taken at home, or on weekends, or vacations. He didn’t need to be medicated for regular life. It struck us as strange, wrong, to dose our son for school. All the literature insisted that Ritalin and drugs like it had been proved “safe.” Later, I learned that the formidable list of possible side effects included difficulty sleeping, dizziness, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, headache, numbness, irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing, fever, hives, seizures, agitation, motor or verbal tics and depression. It can slow a child’s growth or weight gain. Most disturbing, it can cause sudden death, especially in children with heart defects or serious heart problems.
As Hruska relates in painful detail, each time the overall effects of the drugs seemed to stop working, their doctor increased the dosage. Finally, towards the middle of fifth grade, Hruska’s son refused to take anymore pills. From then on, things began to change for the better. Will is now a sophomore in high school, 6 feet 3 inches tall, and is on the honor roll.
The drugs prescribed for Ritalin and Adderall and their generic counterparts are keystones in a multibillion dollar pharmaceutical industry that profits richly from America’s growing ADHD fixation. For example, between 2007 and 2012 alone, sales for ADHD drugs went from $4 billion to $9 billion. If America could free itself of the stranglehold the pharmaceutical industry has on our medical community, our government and our schools, we may find that our so-called “problems” aren’t quite as bad as we’ve been led to believe. As Hruska concludes: “For [Will], it was a matter of growing up, settling down and learning how to get organized. Kids learn to speak, lose baby teeth and hit puberty at a variety of ages. We might remind ourselves that the ability to settle into being a focused student is simply a developmental milestone; there’s no magical age at which this happens.”
Which brings me to the idea of “normal.” The Merriam-Webster definition, which reads in part “of, relating to, or characterized by average intelligence or development,” includes a newly dirty word in educational circles. If normal means “average,” then schools want no part of it. Exceptional and extraordinary, which are actually antonyms of normal, are what many schools expect from a typical student.
If “accelerated” has become the new normal, there’s no choice but to diagnose the kids developing at a normal rate with a disorder. Instead of leveling the playing field for kids who really do suffer from a deficit, we’re ratcheting up the level of competition with performance-enhancing drugs. We’re juicing our kids for school. We’re also ensuring that down the road, when faced with other challenges that high school, college and adult life are sure to bring, our children will use the coping skills we’ve taught them. They’ll reach for a pill.”

 

www.rutherford.org.

My source: Running ‘Cause I Can’t Fly

Comment:

I would have been diagnosed ADHD…

Think about that!

Sombre Thinking

This is a quote from: Parenting and Stuff in a post The scary world of 12 years old

“I was a 12 years old once (long ago, I admit). I don’t recall that my world was full of suicidal attempts and of girls cutting issues. How did it become so frightening and so violent for children?”

Likewise, I don’t remember all this crap either.

While about one of nine youths attempt suicide by the time they graduate from high school, new findings reveal that a significant proportion make their first suicide attempt in elementary or middle school. Source: Futurity

The first I heard of this type of thing was when a boy across the road tried to hang himself when he was seven to escape his mother. The second incident was a friend of my sister’s son, aged eight, tried the same a few months later.

Both those incidents were in the late 80s.

But certainly in my childhood mid 50s to mid 70s, we never heard about things like this.

It makes me seriously question today’s society and values.

Today we put too much emphasis on various aspects of life, be it fashion, peer pressure, abuse in all it’s forms, bullying, failure in sports, etc, and in doing this we create victims. Not that they weren’t victims before, but in raising the ‘I-am-a-victim’ issue we create a sense of worthlessness, an awareness that devalues life.

Instead, we need to change the paradigm. “Okay, it happened, let’s move on with life.”

When I was a kid and fell off my bike (many times) I simply wiped the blood off my knee and the tears from my eyes and got back on. Today, kids are mollycoddled, “Oh you poor dear,” hugs, disinfectant and bandages or a trip to hospital, lunch at McDonald’s after, TV lying on the sofa served like a king, pamper, pamper, pamper.

Or in the case of abuse, off to the psychologist, months of therapy and anti-depressant pills making another victim more of a victim with even less self-worth.

We didn’t have McDonald’s or psychologists, or pills,  we had a life.

Childhood is NOT a Disease

The following points are addressed in full in the text below:

1) There are no tests in existence that can prove mental disorders are medical conditions. Psychiatric diagnosis is based solely on opinion.

2) Yes, people get depressed, sad, anxious and  can even act psychotic.  That doesn’t make them mentally “diseased.”

3) The campaign to “STOP THE STIGMA OF MENTAL ILLNESS” is brought to you by…Big Pharma.

4) Why Psychiatric labels are the problem.

5) Psychiatric drugs are big business and the psychiatric pharmaceutical industry is making a killing—$84 Billion per year. 

6)  Psychiatric drug side effects—CCHR has compiled all international drug regulatory warnings & studies about psychiatric drug risks into an easy to search psychiatric drug database

7) Why safe effective medical treatments to mental difficulties are kept buried.

Read the full text here

Psychiatrists/MDs who Debunk Psychiatric Diagnosis

“There are no objective tests in psychiatry-no X-ray, laboratory, or exam finding that says definitively that someone does or does not have a mental disorder.” “there is no definition of a mental disorder.”  “It’s bull—. I mean, you just can’t define it.” — Allen Frances, Psychiatrist and former DSM-IV Task Force Chairman

“In reality, psychiatric diagnosing is a kind of spiritual profiling that can destroy lives and frequently does.” — Peter Breggin, Psychiatrist

“…modern psychiatry has yet to convincingly prove the genetic/biologic cause of any single mental illness…Patients [have] been diagnosed with ‘chemical imbalances’ despite the fact that no test exists to support such a claim, and…there is no real conception of what a correct chemical balance would look like.” — Dr. David Kaiser, Psychiatrist

“There’s no biological imbalance. When people come to me and they say, ‘I have a biochemical imbalance,’ I say, ‘Show me your lab tests.’ There are no lab tests. So what’s the biochemical imbalance?” — Dr. Ron Leifer, Psychiatrist

“Virtually anyone at any given time can meet the criteria for bipolar disorder or ADHD.  Anyone.  And the problem is everyone diagnosed with even one of these ‘illnesses’ triggers the pill dispenser.” — Dr. Stefan Kruszewski, Psychiatrist

“No behavior or misbehavior is a disease or can be a disease.  That’s not what diseases are. Diseases are malfunctions of the human body, of the heart, the liver, the kidney, the brain. Typhoid fever is a disease. Spring fever is not a disease; it is a figure of speech, a metaphoric disease. All mental diseases are metaphoric diseases, misrepresented as real diseases and mistaken for real diseases.” — Thomas Szasz, Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus

Read more: CCHR

Our kids are being destroyed so that Big Pharma can make more money!