Comments from experts
Warning! Schools can damage your health. Alienation from school can impact behaviour. Traditional school health education is not sufficient to tackle promotion of healthy lifestyles. Changes have to be made to the school environment and ethos. There is a need to reach young people in their home and community setting. — Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health (first published online March, 2008), C. Smith, L. Moore and A Bauman.
Changing Directions, Changing Lives, the first mental health strategy for Canada developed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, was launched May 2012. As much as 70% of young adults reported that symptoms of mental health problems began in childhood. Early intervention through programs in schools for parents of young children would significantly avoid downstream costs. — David Goldbloom, Chair of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, senior medical advisor at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
Suicide: An urgent national problem in many countries
Canada’s public health crisis of suicides needs a funded mental health plan, according to the Canadian Medical Association Journal Editorial of September 06, 2016.
Suicide is the leading cause of death among the 15-35 age group, behind auto accidents. The CMAJ editors say that Canada needs a national suicide prevention strategy with concerted federal funds. Suicide rates declined in 21 developed countries with government-led prevention programs.
It takes a whole community approach.
The good news is that there is evidence that school-based programs can reduce suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts. We need people to join together to tackle this issue and develop “youth sensitive” services based in the community. — Dr. Peter Szatmari, chief of the Child and Youth Mental Health Collaborative at SickKids, CAMH and the University of Toronto.
Something needs to be done.
Solution = A preventative, long-term developmental approach
Where to get help:
- Kids Help Phone – phone 1 800 668 6868 or visit www.kidshelpphone.ca for Live Chat (online chat counseling)
- Canadian Association of Suicide Prevention for warning signs if you are worried about someone’s risk of suicide
- www.mindcheck.ca – Fact sheets, resources, quizzes, worksheets, videos
Mind check was created to help young people identify and understand distress they may be experiencing and to help them develop skills and strategies to manage mental health challenges. Recognizing signs early and finding ways to deal with them increases the chances of better long-term outcomes and mental wellness. Fraser Health in partnership with BC Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
Bullying – a culture of victimhood?
Although bullying is common, between one in four and one in three teenagers will be bullied at some point by some estimates. It is rarely devastating. The roots of adolescent suicide are complex but if there’s one common denominator, it isn’t bullying – it’s mental illness. Most bullying still happens the old-fashioned way, in person. The social panic over bullying has created a growing industry of experts and consultants to fight it.
Anti-bullying programs do more harm than good. Seokjin Jeon, a criminologist at the University of Texas, analyzed data collected from across the United States to assess the effectiveness of different programs. To his shock, he found that they didn’t work. In fact, they often made the problems worse by showing bullies new techniques and better ways to cover their trails.
Helen Guldberg, British child development expert, says that the term “bullying” is now so expansive that it’s become meaningless, e.g. the new Manitoba law which contains reference to “hurt feelings.” She argues that learning to deal with conflict, aggression, embarrassment, negative relationships and rejection is a crucial part of growing up. Increasingly interventionist parents are doing kids no favours. Guldberg says that the adults are creating a “culture of victimhood.”
That’s not to say that adults shouldn’t intervene when they see kids behaving badly. But the anti-bullying industry’s done a lot of harm by playing down the resilience of ordinary children while selling a cruel simplistic cartoon of adolescent suicide. — Margaret Wente, Globe and Mail, October 29, 2013
A fragmented approach with small initiatives to prevent cyberbullying does not represent a comprehensive integrated response to the issue. — BC privacy commissioner Elizabeth Denham and representative for children and youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond.
Girls and Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape by Peggy Orenstein
A thought-provoking if occasionally hand-wringing investigation. (New York Times Review, March 23, 2016)
The author spoke over three years to more than 70 young women between the ages of 15 and 20 about their attitudes and early experiences with the full range of physical intimacy. Orenstein recommends that parents examine the messages they send regarding girls and sexuality. She states that it is very important to be clear and honest in approaching daughters about their own desires and their own pleasures.
The more frankly and fully teachers, parents and doctors talk about sexuality the more sex is normalized and integrated into everyday life, the more likely kids are to delay sexual activity and behave respectfully and ethically when they engage in sex.
There are useful lessons from the Netherlands where parents and teachers there talk to kids about sex including pleasure and consent, how to say no and yes. They even endorse in-home sleepovers versus sneaking around. This is not easy to do.
Are we experiencing an epidemic of kids whose expectations around sex have been warped from being raised on porn and concurrent lack of discussion about safe sex practices, consent and what a healthy relationship – sexual or otherwise –should look like? Do we want youth to feel shame and embarrassment instead of a lifelong ability to make better-informed decisions about their health and their bodies?
So, to really fix things we need bigger solutions.
Teens Deserve a Voice
There is no doubt we need to pay attention to the health of teens, individually and collectively. A new report from the World Health Organization, entitled Health of the Worlds’ Adolescents: A Second Chance in the Second Decade, hopes to encourage that the teen voice be heard.
Teenagers face a host of health challenges that will affect them for the rest of their lives. The WHO report lists the top-10 causes of death in adolescence. The list suggests where the world should be investing its public health and health-promotion dollars:
- Road traffic injuries
- Respiratory infections
- Endocrine, blood and immune disorders
In developed countries adolescent deaths are uncommon. However, teens take risks and make decisions about, for example, smoking, driving and sex that will have a life-long impact on their physical, mental and economic health. Conditions such as obesity and depression will impact teens’ health.
The report states that mental health issues are the main challenge for youth, regardless of where they live. Of the 10 leading causes of illness and disability – depression, road-traffic injuries, anemia, HIV/AIDS, self-harm, back and neck pain, diarrhea, anxiety disorders, asthma and lower respiratory infections – 3 are directly related to mental health. Also, the lack of reproductive rights continues to be an ongoing issue that faces teen girls. There is no simple solution to any of these problems.
To have a good return on any investment, the teenage voice needs to be heard and considered. Health initiatives need to include adolescents.
- Check out Net Smart: How to Thrive Online by Howard Reingold. The author looks at tactics to check the credibility of information online and has a chapter about detecting bullshit. He says that we need to teach these skills to our youth now!
- Joint Consortium for School Health – Examples: Healthy Schools Planner that is a free tool that schools can use to assess the current health environment and build a plan to make improvements; Comprehensive School Health Framework download; Fact Sheets.
- Healthy Schools BC is a partnership with DASH BC (Directorate of Agencies for School Health) and the Ministries of Health and Education. A variety of tools are available to identify and assess needs of a school.
- DASH BC is responsible for the coordination of the Healthy BC Schools Initiative. Examples: Programs and supports, resources and stories.
- Teen Mental Health – Dr Stanley Kutcher is an international expert on teen mental health. Examples: Understanding Mental Health, For Families and Teens, For Educators, For Health Professionals – presentations, fact sheets, frameworks, downloads.
- Yay, You! Moving Out, Moving Up, Moving On by Sandra Boynton. (Short and fun, great for anyone facing a transition.)
- Autobiography in Five Short Chapters from There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery by Portia Nelson (Delightful, insightful story of how to navigate the sidewalk that is life.)
- Why Smart Teens are Sexual Idiots – September 13, 2013 article by Clay Nikiforuk, a Montreal-based writer and researcher. The article was written following the frosh week chant situations. There are valuable insights about being embarrassingly undereducated on leaving high school, about teaching pleasant, healthy, mutual sex in the classroom environment and about changing the language to describe sex.
- Robinson, Ken “Finding Your Element” (Penguin Books, 2013) – In the book he answers the question: How do you find your element? There are practical exercises to help an individual discover strengths and gifts. This is a guide for discovering what matters most. P.S. Robinson’s famous 2006 TED talk is the most watched in TED history.
- Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, Switzler “Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High.” Second Edition (McGraw-Hill, 2012). Stephen Covey in the Forward states that “Crucial Conversations” draws our attention to those defining moments that literally shape our lives, our relationships and our world. The new edition give the tools to prepare for high-stakes situations, transform anger and hurt feelings into powerful dialogue, make it safe to talk about almost anything and be persuasive not abrasive.
- Corbin, Barry “Unleashing the Potential of the Teenage Brain: 10 Powerful Ideas” (Corbin, a Sage Company, 2008). A handbook for educators of middle and high school students that is thought-provoking and grounded in research and best practice. The wealth of instructional strategies with brain-friendly techniques creates the ideal classroom environment. The 10 ideas integrate new and existing strategies.
- Calm, Alert and Learning: Classroom Strategies for Self-Regulation by Stuart Shanker. Recent research tells us that one of the keys to student success is self-regulation – the ability to monitor and modify emotions, to focus or shift attention, to control impulses, to tolerate frustration or delay gratification. But can a child’s ability to self-regulate be improved? Canada’s leading expert on self-regulation, Dr. Stuart Shanker, knows it can and that, as educators, we have an important role to play in helping students’ develop this crucial ability.
- The Teacher’s Guide to Student Mental Health by William Dikel. Twenty percent of children and adolescents have a mental health disorder and in five percent, the disorder is severe. Chances are that every classroom in America will have at least one student who has a mental health disorder, possibly even in the severe range. These students often have symptoms that interfere with their ability to learn. From Ontario, Canada to California, school districts and state Boards of Education are recognizing the importance of comprehensive approaches to student mental health that include teacher education.
- Transitions: A resource for students transitioning from schools to universities by Dr. Stanley Kutcher. Transitions, the first publication of its kind, provides first-year students with information on topics including time management, relationships, sexual activity, mental illness, suicide and addictions. The guide also includes mental health self-help information and contains recommendations where students can go to get help on their campus.
- The Way of Mindful Education: Cultivating Well-being In Teachers And Students by Daniel Rechtschaffen. With attention spans waning and stress on the rise, many teachers are looking for new ways to help students concentrate, learn, and thrive. The Way of Mindful Education is a practical guide for cultivating attention, compassion, and well-being not only in these students, but also in teachers themselves. Packed with lesson plans, exercises, and considerations for specific age groups and students with special needs, this working manual demonstrates the real world application of mindfulness practices in K-12 classrooms.
- Anxiety and Depression in the Classroom: A Teacher’s Guide To Fostering Self-regulation In Young Adults by Nadja Reilly. Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health problems for young students, and can be particularly hard to detect and support. In this book, the first of its kind for teachers, Nadja Reilly lays out with richly detailed examples the signs to look for so educators can direct their students to help and ensure emotional wellness in the classroom. Grounded in recent psychological research and practical self-regulation tools, Reilly opens her study out onto nourishing emotional wellness in all students, communicating with parents, and school-wide mental health advocacy.
- www.healthyschools.sd61.bc.ca has an excellent Resource Menu for educators and parents. Examples included in this area: Mental Health with a Mental Health High School Curriculum Guide (PDF), Sexual Health including a sexual health education in the schools question and answer document, Social/Emotional Health, Nutrition and so on.
- Sexting and teens: Access the world of teens at http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/teens-sexting-education-1.3789913. The full documentary on the website (15 minutes) is the work of Ioanna Roumeliotis, an award winning reporter with the CBC, Oct 5, 2016. Kids face up to the dangers of sexting. Teens have access to a very powerful device but that doesn’t mean they know how to protect themselves (CBC).
- “This Is High School” is a six-part TV series that provides a revealing look at what school’s really like. The series, outlined on cbc.ca, was created from the combined footage of 50 remote controlled cameras placed in a typical secondary school in Kamloops, BC, for several weeks. There are stories about internet bullying, self-image, fitting in, identity, anxiety attacks, anger management, the pressure to excel, the desire to drop out, autism, nerds, popular girls, 8th grade boys who can’t resist testing their boundaries. PHEW.
- Education is critical but daunting. www.Cybertip.ca was flooded with calls about the sexting issue so www.NeedHelpNow.ca was created to deal with the overload. Its purpose is to help teens stop the spread of sexual images or videos. Guidance is offered on the steps that can be taken to get through the problem.
“So all I really want is for some 16 year-old kid who’s down and out to put on a song that I helped make and feel inspired to keep going and be happy.”
– The Strumbellas frontman Simon Ward
Some line samples from “Spirits,” the first single on HOPE, the band’s new release:
I got spirits in my head and they won’t go.
And I think oh I’m lost and can’t be found.
But something inside has changed.
I just want to be alive while I’m here.
I don’t want to see another night lost inside a lonely life.
Dearly beloved: The death of our icons reminds us we better live now.
In those lonely years when it is easy to feel alienated music can get you on your feet again and back out into the callous, cliquey high school hallways, where we could enact the life lessons we had extracted from our music collection. “At the end of the day what really matters is the people we have around us, and the gestures that eke out some hope from tragedy and grief: someone to cry with over coffee or to hug us as we head out the door. And some music to put on when all seems lost”. Marsha Lederman, Globe & Mail.
Kids involved in music do better at learning
In 2013 Dr. Gottfried Schlaug, a recognized expert on music, neuroimaging and brain plasticity at Harvard Medical School, summarized the new research that suggested potential new roles for musical training. “Listening to and making music is not only an auditory experience, but it is a multisensory and motor experience. Making music over a long period of time can change the brain function and brain structure,” according to Dr Schlaug. The research found that music engages areas of the brain involved with paying attention, making predictions and updating existing knowledge – all critical aspects of learning. There is a positive relationship between music and learning. Geoff Johnson, retired superintendent of schools in the Times Colonist, June 28, 2016
- Alcohol abuse
- Disordered eating
These are the signals given by youth when they feel overwhelmed.
Safeguard not only vulnerable youth, but also all youth.
Be proactive by adopting a system-wide approach that involves everyone in the navigation of complex issues.
Teen Zombie Syndrome
- More risk-taking.
- Less self-control (emotional volatility).
- Drop in school performance.
- Drop in school attendance.
- Neuron growth in the brain hampered – leads to decrease in memory (UBC 2010 study).
- Rise in incidence of depression.
- Weight gain.
- Skin problems.
- 7.6% of teens get the recommended 9 – 10 hours of sleep.
- 23.5% have 8 hours of sleep.
- 38.7% are seriously sleep deprived at 6 or fewer hours per night.
- Less than 8 hours is the average sleep on a school night.
A good resource: Depression Hurts Symptom Checklist – The checklist helps a person learn about depression symptoms, rates the symptoms impact on life and provides a basis for discussion with a doctor.
How Much Shut-Eye?
The latest sleep research recommendations from a panel of experts give parents fresh ammunition for when kids blame them for strict bedtimes. Guidelines for daily/nightly sleep duration:
- 4 – 12 mths = 12 – 16 hrs including naps
- 1 -2 yrs = 11 – 14 hrs including naps for 1 to 2 year olds
- 3 – 5 yrs = 10 – 13hrs including naps
- 6 – 12 yrs = 9 – 12hrs
- 13 – 18 yrs = 8 – 10hrs
Adequate sleep is linked with improved attention, behavior, learning, mental and physical health at every age.
Insufficient sleep increases risks for obesity, diabetes, accidents and in teens, self-harm including suicidal thoughts and attempts. American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Growing Up Digital
Read this three part series on the ways new technology is impacting kids and teens: Growing up digital: How the Internet affects teen identity.
- Part one: How digital culture is changing the way kids play
- Part two: How digital screens are changing the way we read
- Part three: How the Internet affects teen identity
Part three highlights:
- Experts say the fact that many teens view their online and real-time identities as identical can be a recipe for disaster.
- Then there is ‘digiphrenia’ which is the experience of trying to exist in more than one incarnation of yourself at the same time. There’s your Twitter profile, your Facebook profile, your email inbox.
- What about dependency on the Internet? Teens would no more be out and about without a phone then they’d go without underwear.
- Parents must be good digital role models. Treat devices at sleepovers the same as alcohol: Lock them up or put them out of sight. Parents can feel overwhelmed by technology challenges but, at the same time, “this is the age in which we are parenting.” Steiner-Adair
A digital bogeyman – the stuff of nightmares – has gained traction on the internet.
The Slenderman is an online faceless monster linked to real life crimes. “The fact that he is crowd-sourced really shows that the facelessness is what is so appealing because we can project our worst fear and we can also project what we need and what we want the most of that person” states Irene Taylor Brodsky, whose HBO documentary “Beware the Slenderman” explores the everywhere presence of the tall faceless internet ghoul.
Brodsky recommends that parents limit kid’s access to, and monitor use of, laptops, iPads and other devices. Her documentary looks at the psychology and social factors that led two 12 year-old girls to stab their friend.
Not only is the rise of the Slenderman myth online shown but also the neurological development of children, the pervasiveness of internet access, adolescent insecurity and mental illness.
A large-scale study has been tracking teens in Ontario for the last 20 years.
One-third of students in the recent survey were found to have moderate to severe symptoms of psychological distress. The higher up the grades the worse the situation. “We are creating generations of kids who think life has to be stress-free. We have not been teaching them how to solve the problems causing the stress.” Stan Kutcher, psychiatrist specialist in adolescent mental health, Dalhousie University
“Many stress-inducing factors are beyond the control of any mental-health strategy. However, early intervention and school-based education have worked before.” Dr Robert Mann, senior scientist and co-lead of the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (OSDUHS) www.camh.ca
“Teens are the ‘canaries down the mine’ – they are the sentinels of what is wrong with families, communities and, through social media, society at large. Today’s disturbed teens are tomorrow’s statistics. How many more studies do we need before we put more resources into teen mental health? “ Marshall Korenblum, chief psychiatrist, Hincks-Dellcrest Centre for Children and Families, Toronto
Where in the World is Absence?
What are the unintended consequences of a wired world? In The End of Absence, author Michael Harris (Governor General Award winner) addresses the unintended consequences of a wired world and our relationship with the Internet as we turn on 24/7. Harris suggests that we have to be more thoughtful as we prepare for the future.
Some highlights from his far-ranging research and personal experience:
- Techno-brain burnout (ping, ping, ping – Oh my, the importance of all those pings!).
- By 2012 we were asking Google to help us find things more than a trillion times each year; we were sending one another 144 billion emails – every day.
- In 2013 we “liked“ 4.5 billion items on Facebook every day.
- Nielsen research shows that the average teenager now manages upward of four thousand text messages every month.
- The tablet glows and we do not.
- Studies show today’s youth are scoring 40% lower on empathy than earlier counterparts and have increased levels of narcissism.
- What’s important is that we become responsible for the media diets of our children in a way that past generations never were – we need to engineer moments of absence for them.
In The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost In A World Of Constant Connection, Michael Harris does not recommend deleting the Internet from our lives. Rather he asserts it is our responsibility to insert moments of absence back into our lives.
Connected but Alone
What don’t we use computers for?
Sherry Turkle, the director of MIT’s Initiative on Technology and Self, describes in her book Alone Together a population more at ease with technologies than with one another. She has spent 15 years exploring our lives on the digital terrain and she interviewed hundreds of children and adults.
Go to www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle to watch Sherry Turkle’s March 2012 TED talk … Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less from Each Other.
We Need To Talk
Constant connection doesn’t mean real communication. Turkle’s new book praises the virtue of slow, meandering, face-to-face interaction. In Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, relationships are described as starting to slip into what researchers call an “absent presence.”
The author spent five years interviewing families, students, academics and employees and what became clear to her is that our love affair with screen time is getting us into serious interpersonal trouble. We need to put technology in its place.
The dodging of face time is creating a deep empathy gap: As we keep a firmer grip over our exchanges and our time, we reveal less of ourselves and attend less to one another.
Turkle recommends creating “sacred spaces” – declaring kitchens, dining tables, and cars screen-free zones. Weekly tech sabbaticals, device-free summer camps and retreats for “tech detoxing” are suggested. There is a need to change consumption practices.
“Technology makes us forget what we know about life,” says Turkle. “We’re at a moment in the culture where we are reminding ourselves of where we are.”
Digital Obesity: Failing at Health
A first-of-its kind study compares physical activity levels of children around the world. Active Healthy Kids Canada compared children and youth in 15 countries. Most developed countries received high grades for physical activity infrastructure and programs, but trailed at the back of the pack for overall physical activity levels and sedentary behavior.
One of the key statements is that kids are not playing with their free time. Their free time is being used primarily with screen time as opposed to active time. Canada has programs and infrastructure for physical activity and parents are paying for their children to participate. More than 90% of children over the age of 5 are not meeting a target of an hour a day of moderate to vigorous exercise.
This is the 21st Century. Get with it.
#goodluckwiththat. LOL teens will say.
Media use has been linked with violence, cyberbullying, school woes, obesity, aggression, lack of sleep… Are parents clueless about the impact of media? This is the question asked by Dr Victor Strasbuger, lead author of the new American Academy of Pediatrics policy. (Ref: Media and Children www.aap.org)
The policy is aimed at all kids and expands the Academy’s longstanding recommendations on banning televisions from bedrooms and limiting entertainment screen time to no more than two hours daily.
The policy statement cites a 2010 report that found that North American children aged 8 – 18 spend an average of more than 7 hours daily using some kind of entertainment media. Young people now spend more time on media than they do in school. Media is the leading activity for children and teenagers other than sleeping.
While there needs to be continuing concern about the harmful effects of the 24/7 domination of media culture, the policy statement recognizes the positive and pro-social effects of media.
What is a healthy social media diet?
Even though kids see themselves as experts and will scoff at advice, parents, educators and doctors should promote a healthy media diet that will lead to more limits and more government research on the effects of media.
This is the 21st century and we need to get with it. Time for a fundamental cultural shift toward full support for promotion of a healthy school community.
Does a super abundance of digital distractions require that we engineer a healthy media diet? Nielsen ratings reported that the average teenager sends and receives 4,000 test messages every month.
Dr. Douglas Gentile (Iowa State University), a leading authority on the effects of media on the brains of the young, states that there are consequences to a digital glut.
- Babies who watch television, in particular, end up more likely to show attention deficit problems when they reach school age.
- The more we read online, the shallower our reading becomes.
- Deprivation of absence from media lessens the likelihood of daydreaming and solitude. These are vital parts of life that lead to original thinking.
Anthony Storr in “Solitudes” chronicles that true creativity can only prosper if we break the constant connectivity and are given the gift of aloneness. Solitude and empty spaces provide the capacity for reaching creative potential. The stakes are high if this is not done.
We need to give help to our teens so they can actually see how they use the Internet.
Hunger Games: Food for Thought
Obesity rates soaring worldwide!
According to the most comprehensive global assessment ever conducted on obesity titled Global Burden of Disease Study 2013, the last 30 years has seen obesity rising everywhere in the world. Some of the most dramatic increases are being seen in children and adolescents.
“I think we can be doing better. Governments are quick to proclaim that they’re working on issues, but then if you dig in, not a whole lot is going on beyond declarations,” stated Dr. Mark Tremblay, Director of Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute.
Dr. Tremblay talks about how to tackle obesity: investing in a wide variety of public education campaigns, legislation, restrictions on promotion of unhealthy foods to children, along with other measures.
Obesity rates are gaining ground in developing countries. Contributing to the problem, just as in developed countries, is the:
- Prevalence of unhealthy food
- Marketing of high-fat and high-sugar foods to children
- Lack of physical activity
Worldwide, 37% of adult males and 38% of adult females are overweight or obese. Among boys, 17% were overweight or obese in 1980 compared with 24% today. In 1980, 16% of girls were overweight or obese, compared with nearly 23% today.
There is work to be done.
5 Healthy Eating Tips
- Put utensils down.
- Take time to eat.
- Keep counters clean.
- Eat breakfast every morning.
- Never eat out of a package.
EDD – Exercise Deficit Disorder
The majority of American kids and adolescents have this so-called disorder.
Why cut gym classes from curriculum when childhood obesity rates have climbed every year since 1999?
Is exercise the miracle drug? Should we treat exercise as medicine?
Physical activity includes all movement – mowing the grass, raking leaves, washing the car.
40% of Teen Boys Watch Porn: Study
MediaSmarts, a non-profit digital literacy organization, surveyed 5,436 young Canadian students across the country. They ranged in age from grades 4 to 11. Questions about sexuality were limited to students in grades 7 through 11.
The evidence showed a concerning pattern of teenaged boys seeking out pornography regularly. Accounts of “sexting” were also commonplace.
40% of the boys admitted to looking for porn online. There were a significant number whose viewing of porn was a frequent behavior. A third of boys were daily users. Boys are still developing their sexuality and their ideas of what is normal in sex and what is appropriate in relationships. What impact is heavy exposure to pornography having in these areas?
(Ref: MediaSmarts – other contents include online bullying, digital literacy skills, life online, teacher perspectives, games, resources, lesson plans)
A British survey published by Psychologies Magazine in 2010 found that 81% of 14-to-16-year-olds (regardless of gender) had looked at porn online at home, while 63% called it up on their phones; a third of them had seen sexual images online when they were 10 or younger.
“Pornography is instantly available and has permeated the culture to the point where its dominant messages about women, men, sex and power have permeated areas that we don’t think of as porn: advertising, film and television, “ says Michael Messner, a sociology and gender studies professor at the University of Southern California.
SO WHAT TO DO ABOUT OUR BOYZ GONE WILD?
In a ‘raunch culture’ where most boys see online porn before they’re out of grade school, will they end up as disrespectful pigs? A new wave of educators seeks ways to build better men.
The Wiseguyz Program curriculum includes sessions on sexual diversity, fatherhood, emotional stress, sexual consent and conflict resolution, among many others.
“Boorish behavior goes in and out of style: We’re in on a bad swing right now … a more raunchy swing of the cycle” says Windsor’s Prof. Eleanor Maticka-Tyndale who holds the Canada Research Chair in social justice and sexual health.
There is work to be done.
Can a work/life balance be achieved?
A particular project or a family situation, for example, can take a colossal investment of time.
An intense focus impacts on our life’s balance. All dimensions of our well-being suffer. At other times, more can be devoted to the dimensions of wellness.
It really is a matter of discovering life’s rhythms so that each dimension can be looked after.
So, from time to time, refocus and rebalance.
Work/Life Balance is Worse
Linda Duxbury has researched work/life balance for many years. She is working on a third major survey soon to be released. Studies in the field suggest that despite everything with respect to balance the situation is worse. Results show that men are more messed up and that family issues, elder care and technology that allows us to work 24/7 are having an impact. Are employers looking at the data? Or are they writing it off as a way of doing business?
There is an inordinate amount of long-term disability relating to depression. We have been doing more with less for so long. We can no longer do it. Work/life is not balanced. It depends on what puts it out of balance – can’t find support in the organization, child-care challenges? What about the attitude that people chose to work so why should they be supported? Yet Scandinavians believe that it takes a community to raise a child. There is a different sense of community, not a them versus us attitude.
Achieving a balance will take 5 – 10 years of dramatic change. Change will happen because it has to. There is an aging population, an under-supply of youth and lower fertility levels in many cultures. It is time to take the situation seriously according to Dr. Duxbury.
Value school health and follow this formula for success
Zombies photo by Mark Lobo Photography, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0