Combs Spouts Off

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Posts Tagged ‘children’

Michelle Malkin on Marijuana

Posted by Richard on May 31, 2017

No, not like that. Like this:

Let’s talk about marijuana.

Specifically, let’s talk about how and why I came to be one of the countless parents across America (and around the world) who have let their chronically ill children try it.

Read the whole thing. It’s excellent.

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Skenazy: worst free-range moments of 2016

Posted by Richard on January 2, 2017

Lenore Skenazy is the author of Free-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry), which started a national movement against helicopter parenting and bubble-wrap child rearing. I wish every parent in America would read that book and regularly visit her website. The smothering, over-protective, “all risk must be eliminated” style of parenting that she forcefully and persuasively rejects is, IMHO, the reason we have college students today who need counseling and “safe spaces” after encountering “Trump 2016” written in chalk on the sidewalk.

Shortly before Christmas, Skenazy posted her top 11 worst free-range moments of the year. Her number one is my favorite (i.e., most headdesk-inducing one):

The police chief of New Albany, Ohio, helpfully revealed the age that kids are old enough to start going outside on their own: 16. “I think that’s the threshold where you see children getting a little bit more freedom.”

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More compelling than “man bites dog”

Posted by Richard on November 9, 2015

You probably think Daniel Boone was a tough kid. After all, he killed him a b’ar when he was just three. Well, he’s nothing compared to this kid:

Toddler bites, kills poisonous snake he found in his backyard

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL –  A mother whose 17-month-old son was playing in their backyard found the boy covered in blood while holding a poisonous snake in his mouth.

Jaine Ferreira, the boy’s mother, … went out to see what he was doing and found him with the snake in his mouth and the animal still struggling to get loose. …

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Why aren’t THESE people in jail?

Posted by Richard on September 17, 2014

Throughout the country, moms who let their children play outside unsupervised, or supervised from more than a few feet away, have been subjected to investigation by social service agencies and often arrested and jailed. It happened just last month in Austin, Texas.  A cursory search turns up other recent cases in Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. To my mind, this is absurd and outrageous, a sad consequence of our society becoming almost pathologically risk-averse. Ultimately, I think it’s harmful to the kids,  and I encourage anyone with young children or intending to have children to look into  the book and blog Free-Range Kids.

The nanny-state nannies — Social Services, Human Services, Child Protective Services, whatever they’re called in your community — argue that kids aren’t as safe playing outside today as they were in the previous century (that’s simply not true). There could be a pedophile living just down the block (that’s always been true). So all those government nannies must be hyper-vigilant when it comes to the kids for whom they’re responsible, right?

Wrong!

John Ferrugia and the investigative team at KMGH-7News have broken several stories over the past few months about serious failings at the Denver Dept. of Human Services (DDHS) to take even the most basic steps to ensure the safety of children they’ve placed into homes. The most recent is perhaps the most shocking and unbelievable:

In October 2010, the department placed Tiercel Duerson’s son in his custody. Duerson had served time for sexually abusing the boy’s sibling in 2005 and completed parole and treatment just two months prior to the placement.

DDHS had removed the boy and his siblings from their mother’s home months before, when he was 12 and was showing signs of mental illness. Regina Garcia admits at the time, she couldn’t control her son, and was neglecting him, as well as the rest of her children.

The boy, age 12, was sent to a mental health treatment facility. After treatment, DDHS didn’t return the boy to his mother, but placed him with Tiercel Duerson, her ex-husband. And convicted child sex offender.

“They decided for him to be with his dad,” Garcia said. “I was saying I didn’t think it was a good idea for them to put him with his dad, knowing he’s a sex offender.”

Garcia said her older daughter, a victim of Duerson’s abuse, echoed her concerns in a meeting with DDHS.

“That he would be better off with Mom, because Dad is a child molestor, is what she said,” said Garcia.

But Garcia said DDHS employees didn’t listen.

“They’re like, ‘Well, he only did it one time, and he preferred little girls,'” she said.

Over the next year, there were numerous warning signs — reports from the boy’s school, his mother, and the boy himself — that all was not well in the Duerson home. Eventually, Duerson became unreachable and the caseworker was unable to see the boy. Yet DDHS left him there and continued telling the judge overseeing the case that everything was hunky-dory. It wasn’t until another county investigated reports of Duerson abusing other children in his home (he went back to jail) that the boy was removed. This is what that year with dad was like for him:

“The father’s predation involved him compelling both of his sons in the home, an older son and a younger son to both perform sex acts with the father and to perform sex acts with each other,” said Jordan Factor, an attorney with Denver law firm Allen & Vellone, who is representing Garcia and her son in a federal lawsuit against DDHS.

You may be thinking it’s an isolated case, there are a few bad apples in any agency, and at least now that caseworker and supervisor have been found out and given the heave-ho, right?

Wrong again!

The DDHS caseworker and supervisor responsible for placing Duerson’s son in his home are still with the department, and still making decisions about child placement. Sources familiar with DHS caseloads say the caseworker currently has a full caseload, and still reports to the same supervisor, along with four other caseworkers.

Moms go to jail for letting their kids play outside, and this caseworker and supervisor don’t even lose their jobs? They should not only be fired, they should face prosecution. For criminal negligence, if not for aiding and abetting. And the people responsible for letting them keep their jobs should be fired. I don’t understand why there aren’t angry parents in front of the DDHS offices with protest signs. Or tar and feathers.

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Children, chicken, and aggression

Posted by Richard on May 1, 2014

Breitbart posted a UPI story about a Cornell University research study that sounds like a parody, but isn’t. Researchers had some kids, age 6-10, eat pieces of chicken with their hands off the bone, and had others eat pieces of cut-up boneless chicken with a fork. They determined that eating the cut-up chicken made kids more docile and eating food they had to hold and bite made them more aggressive.

How did they determine the relative aggressiveness? A commenter on the story explained:

… Look at the study’s actual “aggression measure” : Compliance with instructions to say seated after eating or remain within 9′ f table after eating

That is NOT a measure of aggression or disobedience — that is a measure of being a kid or a compliant slave to meaningless instructions!

Study actually concludes that eating boneless chicken makes your kid less of a kid, less independent, less fun, and a mindless idiot who obeys pointless instructions from authority no matter how silly.

No doubt this absurd bit of “scientific research” was paid for by your tax dollars.

Personally, I think it’s raaacist.

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CO cyberbullying bill criminalizes protected speech

Posted by Richard on March 27, 2014

UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh (of The Volokh Conspiracy) and Mike Kraus of the Independence Institute have called on the Colorado Senate (originally published in the Denver Post) to kill a cyberbullying bill that has passed the Colorado House:

On March 12, the Colorado House passed House Bill 1131, on “cyberbullying of a minor.”

While undoubtedly well-intended, the bill as written is an unconstitutional restriction on protected speech, and should be swiftly dispatched by the Colorado Senate.

The bill would criminalize using social media in a way intended to “cause the minor to suffer serious emotional distress, or makes a credible threat against a minor that the actor knows or reasonably should know will be communicated to or viewed by the minor, commits cyberbullying if the conduct results in serious emotional distress to the minor.”

Now the punishment for making credible threats seems quite sensible. Such threats are constitutionally unprotected, and should indeed be punished. But the ban on intentionally causing “serious emotional distress” to a minor is far broader, and runs afoul of the First Amendment.

Volokh and Kraus suggested several examples of speech that would be criminalized by this bill, but is protected by the First Amendment.

HB14-1131 (PDF) was introduced by Rep. Rhonda Fields, one of the legislature’s leading advocates of gun control. I can understand (but not excuse) her antipathy to guns; in 2005, her son and his fiancee were assassinated to prevent him from testifying against the murderer of his best friend. But Rep. Fields apparently is no more concerned with upholding the First Amendment than she is with the Second.

The examples given by Volokh and Kraus are of well-intentioned speech that would be criminalized. But even ill-intentioned, hateful speech — if it doesn’t involve making a credible threat — is protected by the First Amendment. Posting “everyone hates you,” “you’re disgusting,” and “why don’t you kill yourself” is not in the same category as posting “I’m going to kill you.”

When I was young (many years ago), every kid knew — and deployed whenever appropriate — the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” When I was young, the term “bullying” applied to physical acts of aggression or threats of aggression, not to mere hateful words.

Children today seem to be these fragile hot-house flowers that can’t deal with rejection, criticism, ridicule … all the negative aspects of interacting with others that one should learn to deal with growing up because they’re an inevitable part of life.

I think there’s something seriously wrong with what passes for parenting and educating children today.

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Pueblo school takes kids shooting, making them and society safer

Posted by Richard on March 22, 2014

In a rational world, this story by Katie Pavlich wouldn’t be particularly newsworthy. Unfortunately, in this day and age, it is:

School officials in Pueblo County, Colorado are bucking the anti-gun trend and recently approved a field trip for middle school students to a local shooting range where they learned about gun safety and how to properly handle a firearm. The gun safety and marksman group Project Appleseed, an activity of The Revolutionary War Veterans Association, was brought in to instruct students, all of whom fired at the range with live ammunition. The trip was scheduled shortly after students learned about The Revolutionary War in their classrooms.

“We’ve never been allowed to bring actual real firearms into a school. Until this week. This is a very big deal. We had them touching fire arms, holding them and learning about how to handle them safely,” Appleseed Instructor Elizabeth Blackwood told KRDO.

Here is the money quote from student Jonah Statezny, who went on the trip: “I think everyone should learn how to use a gun but learn how to use it properly, and the precautions you’re supposed to take and how serious a gun really is.”

Jonah is pretty wise for a middle school student.

I certainly hope this sort of field trip will become more common in the future, because it will make both our youth and our society in general safer. A study published in 1995 by the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (PDF) tracked 4000 kids in urban Denver, Pittsburgh, and Rochester, NY, over seven years. Vin Suprynowicz summarized the key findings related to whether and how the kids were introduced to firearms:

— Children who get guns from their parents don’t commit gun crimes (0 percent) while children who get guns illegally are quite likely to do so (21 percent).

— Children who get guns from parents are less likely to commit any kind of street crime (14 percent) than children who have no gun in the house (24 percent) — and are dramatically less likely to do so than children who acquire an illegal gun (74 percent.)

— Children who get guns from parents are less likely to use banned drugs (13 percent) than children who get illegal guns (41 percent.)

— Most strikingly, the study found: “Boys who own legal firearms have much lower rates of delinquency and drug use (than boys who own illegal guns) and are even slightly less delinquent than non-owners of guns.”

This wouldn’t have surprised anyone before the rise of the modern welfare state. It used to be common knowledge that the best way to get kids to act “responsibly” was precisely to give them some “responsibility.” Why would we assume a child taught by his parents to use a gun responsibly wouldn’t also be more responsible in his other behaviors?

“Want to dramatically reduce the chance that your child will commit a gun-related crime or — heaven forbid — go on a shooting spree?” asked the national Libertarian Party in a May 21 news release detailing these study results. “Buy your youngster a gun.”

“Politicians are apparently more interested in demonizing guns than they are in facts,” commented LP national director Steve Dasbach, himself an Indiana government schoolteacher. But “The evidence is in: The simplest way to reduce firearm-related violence among children is to buy them a gun and teach them how to use it responsibly.”

As Katie Pavlich said, “This is the definition of a well rounded, quality education. Bravo Pueblo County.”

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The value of fairy tales and fantasy

Posted by Richard on January 29, 2011

This post began as an email message to some friends, following up on a marvelous quote I'd shared with them at breakfast. I decided it's worth posting here where others may see it.

"Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed." — attributed to G.K. Chesterton

I heard it on Criminal Minds, a very good crime drama if you like your crime dramas dark and sometimes disturbing. The protagonists are members of the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit, which profiles and tracks down serial killers. Each episode features a quote, delivered as a voice-over, that's more or less apropos to the story. Some of them are cited here:

12 great sci-fi quotes from (yes, really) Criminal Minds

If you search for that quote (or a significant portion thereof), you'll get lots of hits, many from computer geek or sci-fi/fantasy sites.

The oldest source I found is an excellent 1994 essay by Terry Pratchett, "When the Children Read Fantasy." It's posted here, but reposted in a more readable font and format here. I highly recommend it.

Pratchett attributed the quote to Chesterton, but his version is slightly different:

One of the great popular novelists of the early part of this century was G.K. Chesterton. Writing at a time when fairy tales were under attack for pretty much the same reason as books can now be covertly banned in some schools because they have the word 'witch' in the title, he said: "The objection to fairy stories is that they tell children there are dragons. But children have always known there are dragons. Fairy stories tell children that dragons can be killed."

The Wikiquote page for Chesterton has this (but like all the other versions I found, it doesn't cite a source in Chesterton's writings):

  • Fairy tales are more than true — not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.
    • As quoted in Coraline (2004) by Neil Gaiman, epigraph.
    • Variant: Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.
      • As quoted in Raising Young Children: 52 Brilliant Little Ideas for Parenting Under 5s (2007) by Sabina Dosani and Peter Cross, p. 38

I found the version in bold at some other quote sites, too. They're probably all just cribbing from each other. 🙂

Since Wikiquote's source for the variant (which is close to the Criminal Minds version) is a 2007 book, I suspect that that version may have evolved from Pratchett's version.

Wikiquotes also has this, for which it does cite a Chesterton work:

  • What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.
    • Tremendous Trifles (1909)

Wikiquotes has lots of other interesting Chesterton quotes. Some I disliked, others I liked very much. Here are a couple of the latter:

  • Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable.
    • Illustrated London News (23 October 1909)
  • The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. …
    • Illustrated London News (1924)

As for the dragons quote, the version from Criminal Minds may not be authentic, but I think it's the best version. The wording is direct, simple, and elegant, and there's a nice symmetry/balance to the three short sentences.

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