1-18-19 Social media’s effects on girls
Teenagers who spend hours a day on social media are at an increased risk of suffering from poor sleep and symptoms of depression, a new study has found, with girls appearing to be particularly badly affected. The study, based on interviews with almost 11,000 British 14-year-olds, found that, compared with girls who use social media for one to three hours a day, girls who spend at least five hours daily on Instagram, Snapchat, and the like showed a 50 percent increase in depressive symptoms. Among boys, the heaviest social media users showed a 35 percent increase in depressive symptoms. Lead author Yvonne Kelly, from University College London, calls the gender disparity an “alarming difference.” The study also found that girls tend to spend more time on social media, reports CNN.com: Two-fifths are on it for at least three hours a day, compared with only one-fifth of boys. Teens who used social media the most tended to report having more problems sleeping, and in turn, the children with the worst sleep were more likely to suffer symptoms of depression. Time spent online was also linked to an increased likelihood of being the victim of cyberbullying; girls were more likely to have experienced such bullying.
1-13-19 When kids think a shooter is coming
When kids think a shooter is coming. Lockdowns have become an ordinary feature of the American school day, said journalists Steven Rich and John Woodrow Cox. Even when there’s no violence, children suffer the psychic consequences. Locked behind their green classroom door, MaKenzie Woody and 25 other first-graders huddled in the darkness. She sat on the vinyl tile floor against a far wall, beneath a taped-up list of phrases the kids were encouraged to say to each other: “I like you,” “You’re a rainbow,” “Are you OK?” In that moment, though, the 6-year-old didn’t say anything at all, because she believed that a man with a gun was stalking the hallways of her school in the nation’s capital, and MaKenzie feared what he might do to her. Three times between September and November, bursts of gunfire near MaKenzie’s public charter elementary school led DC Prep to seal off its Washington campus and sequester its students. During the last one, on Nov. 16, a silver sedan parked just around the corner at 10:42 a.m., then the men inside stepped out and fired more than 40 rounds. As MaKenzie’s class hid upstairs, teachers frantically rushed three dozen preschoolers off the playground and back into the building. The children of DC Prep hid for 20 minutes, until police officers arrived at the crime scene around the corner and began to take note of where the 40-plus bullet casings had scattered. What did not arrive was the caravan of TV trucks and reporters that so often descend on schools when such scenes play out in whiter, wealthier neighborhoods. In the hours that followed, students began to unravel. Among the things they said: “Who’s going to shoot me?” “I want to shoot people.” “I want to shoot myself.” “The lockdowns,” as MaKenzie calls them, have changed her, because the little girl with long braids and chocolate-brown eyes remembers what it was like before them, when she always felt safe at her school, and she knows what it’s been like afterward, when that feeling disappeared. In April, the country will mark the 20th anniversary of the massacre at Columbine High, and that day will arrive in the aftermath of the worst year of school shootings in modern American history. Last spring, The Washington Post launched a database that tracked incidents of gun violence on campuses dating back to 1999, and the carnage in 2018 shattered every record. Most shootings at schools: 25. Most people shot: 94. Most people killed: 33. Most students exposed to gunfire on their campuses: 25,332.
1-4-19 Pope Francis: US sex abuse scandal undermines Church's credibility
Pope Francis has said the credibility of the Catholic Church in the US has been severely damaged by the ongoing child sexual abuse scandal there. Efforts to cover up the crimes had caused even greater harm, he said in a letter delivered to US bishops attending a retreat in Chicago. He urged the bishops to end internal bickering and show unity as they tried to tackle the crisis. The Pope's comments on child abuse have grown stronger over time. In an extensive letter released by the Vatican, the Pope says the "hurt caused" has generated "division and dispersion" within the ranks of US bishops. "God's faithful people and the Church's mission continue to suffer greatly as a result of abuses of power and conscience and sexual abuse, and the poor way that they were handled," he wrote, adding bishops had "concentrated more on pointing fingers than on seeking paths of reconciliation". "Combating the culture of abuse, the loss of credibility, the resulting bewilderment and confusion, and the discrediting of our mission urgently demands of us a renewed and decisive approach to resolving conflicts," the Pope wrote. Attempts to restore the institution's credibility must be based on rebuilding trust, he added. Next month, US bishops will join their counterparts from across the world for an extraordinary meeting at the Vatican to find ways of tackling the crisis. A report last year by a grand jury in Pennsylvania identified more than 1,000 victims abused by hundreds of priests over seven decades in that state alone. In July of last year, the pontiff accepted the resignation of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, one of the US Church's most prominent figures, following allegations he had sexually abused a teenager. In October, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington DC, stepped down over his handling of abuse cases. Pope Francis called for "decisive action" when he was elected in 2013, but critics say he has not done enough to hold to account bishops who allegedly covered up abuse. In late December, he urged priests who had offended to surrender to the law, in preparation for "divine justice". (Webmaster's comment: Divine Justice has not worked for over 1,500 years. Why should we expect it to work now? It's just words!)