Monthly Archives: November 2009

Exploiting Kids When Finances Are Tight

When times get tough, some folks dig in and just get more creative and try harder.  For some parents, when the economy got tough, they got their children to try harder, and I’m not happy about this at all.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the children’s segment of the modeling industry has seen a 50% increase in applicants in the past three years, as parents try to have the kids’ “looks” subsidize the family income.  Also contributing to the growing number of mini-models are the reality TV shows featuring children (Toddlers and Tiaras and Little Miss Perfect come to mind).

I think this is a despicable development.  Parents there to exploit their children for their own income and ego?  The family income should not be put on the back (or should I say “face”) of children whose ages are still in single digits!
The impact on children is horrendous on many levels:

1. They have to deal with rejection at a very early age.  Children take these situations quite personally, and don’t understand the frivolity of choices based upon product, the taste of producers and so on. 
2. Kids think they are the most important part of the family – exaggerated value makes for a narcissism that will likely haunt that child throughout life, especially when it disappears as they get older and less cute or desired by Hollywood.
3. The child who is the performer becomes the “golden child,” and other children in the family are terribly hurt as their value to the parents (i.e., love) seems to disappear.
4. Kids learn that money and looks are the focal point of life.
5. Small children don’t understand the ramifications of the four items above and can’t really make the choice for themselves as to whether or not to participate (and such participation would change their lives and might not be in their best interests).

Exploiting children for ANY reason is wrong.  And that’s that. 

Social Network Privacy Not So Private

Facebook and MySpace and other social networking sites have become a means of not only communicating with so-called “friends,” but they also allow for showing off and “going wild” in ways that often come back to bite…even when you think your site is private.

According to the Arizona Daily Star, Ashley Payne, a teacher in an Arizona school said that she was forced to resign after photos and a comment posted on her Facebook page were forwarded to the superintendent of schools in her county.  And she said she had the highest level of privacy controls on her site.  The photos in question showed her in pubs and beer gardens while on summer vacation.  In a comment on her Facebook page, she announced that she was headed to play a game called “Crazy Bitch Bingo.”

According to the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, the bottom line is that “the state code addresses on and off-campus behavior, including inappropriate relationships with students and anything that violates the mores of the community.”

I’m good with that, because teachers have a profound influence on young minds, and being role models seems an obvious obligation.  Not enough teachers think about the consequences of their conduct, not just in terms of their own employment, but in terms of the well-being of the children for whom they are responsible.  Posting extremely inappropriate sexual content and nudity on the web as well as posting photos of teachers yucking it up with booze is a breach of professional conduct.

For teachers, this is obvious.  However, each and every one of you must understand that anybody with knowledge can hack into your private site and edit as well as download and reproduce material elsewhere.  Don’t write or post pictures you would not want to see on the front page of The New York Times, unless, of course, you’re into being infamous.  The word “friend” is simply a term for someone with access to your site.  Don’t imagine that they necessarily have the honor of a real-life friend.  Anything you write or post might be used against you.

Now that this is all said, how about your just inviting real friends over for dinner and meaningful conversation?

Quote of the Week

Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.
               – Edward Sandford Martin
                  Journalist, essayist, writer

Giving Thanks at Thanksgiving

Doing the Right Thing For Our Veterans

I bet there were long lines to get the newest issuance of a video game series called “Call of Duty:  Modern Warfare 2.”  Ordinarily, I would ignore this “news,” because I think spending more than 30 minutes a day playing any video game is a monumental waste of time, and the fast lane to psycho-social problems.

That said, I hope everyone buys one of these games as soon as possible.  If you care, the reviews for this latest title in the series are glowing, and in particular praise the “realism.”

But from “realism,” we get to reality.  Activision Blizzard, the company behind the game, is using the proceeds from the sale of Modern Warfare 2 to fund organizations that provide veterans with job training and placement. 

There are more than a half million unemployed veterans living in the United States.  For soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines making the transition back into civilian life, funding job training and placement are important and earned considerations.

Call of Duty Endowment (or CODE), Activision Blizzard’s non-profit benefit corporation’s first grant is $125,000 to the Paralyzed Veterans of America, to help build a new vocational services center in Boston.  CODE’s directors say they hope to raise millions more for such projects.

I look at this as a video game company doing the right thing by servicing those glorified on their highly profitable videos:  we glorify fighting men and women; we honor them when they fall; now, one video company exploiting those realities to make a huge profit is honoring them in their need.

Poor Sportsmanship Rightfully Punished

Elizabeth Ann Lambert has been suspended indefinitely from playing college women’s soccer.  And that is a good thing.

During the Mountain West Conference Women’s Soccer semi-final recently between Brigham Young University and the University of New Mexico, BYU scored the only goal during the first half.  BYU’s outstanding player, Kassidy Shumway and the BYU scorer, Carlee Payne paid the price for that.

According to the New York Times and what you can see on YouTube (in case you missed the news reports at the time) was a level of violence that escalated horrendously.

Payne gave a slight “dig” with her elbow to Lambert, who retaliated with a punch between Payne’s shoulder blades.  What followed were tackles, kicks up to waist high, face punches and cleats aimed into the inner thigh, and Lambert’s final violent jerk on Shumway’s pony tail, which sent the six foot girl to the ground.  It was frightening.  I worried that the girl’s neck could have been broken.  While Shumway was on the ground, not moving, one of Lambert’s teammates kicked a ball into Payne’s face.

That’s what I call feminist good sportsmanship:  if you can’t beat ‘em….beat ‘em up!!

What was stunning was Lambert’s coach didn’t pull her out while her behavior was escalating.  Equally stunning was the fact that the referee took no action outside of a yellow card for a “trip” move on Payne.  It’s interesting that these officials did not see the punches, slaps, high tackles and that ferocious pony tail jerk.

The coach revved up her girls and then stood back while one of them went out of control.  That’s a sad state of affairs.  Of course, Lambert gave the usual mea culpa/ “my bad” apology, which was orchestrated in order to stay in the game.  I’m glad it didn’t work.

Call me cynical, but the look on her face and the deliberateness of her violent yank had the aura of entitlement and rage.  I don’t believe she’s sorry she did it.  My guess is that she’s sorry she’s gotten heat over it.

She should never be allowed to play again…never… and that would send a message.  Now, we’ve got to figure out how to deal with the coach and the referee.

Quote of the Week

How wonderful it would be if we could help our children and grandchildren to learn thanksgiving at an early age.  Thanksgiving opens the doors.  It changes a child’s personality.  A child is resentful, negative – or thankful.  Thankful children want to give, they radiate happiness, they draw people.
               – Sir John Templeton
                  American-born British investor and philanthropist

Girl with Turkey Breast

Giving Birth In Front of an Audience

During my college years in the Sixties, “empowerment” and “consciousness-raising” were the main focus of existence, even though these concepts were largely used to insist that you were a victim of something or someone just for being female.

Well, fast forward to now, and one young, married woman in her twenties has decided that giving birth live on the Internet is empowering to women!  The use of that term in this circumstance cracks me up.  I remember, during my loooong labor, my husband saying that he was going to leave to get a cup of coffee.  I threatened him with “if you leave…never come back!!”  I guess that threat was “empowerment,” but giving birth in public or private is one of our least powerful times.  We are completely at the mercy of a baby who is usually saying “Hell, no, I won’t go.”

Nonetheless, this woman has decided that taking something personal and making it public is empowering and educational and spreading joy.  Oh, puleeze!  In our sadly growing exhibitionist, voyeuristic, reality show mentality of a society, this is how people become “important,” known, and “famous.”

The point of “personal” is that something is perfected by its modesty, and sharing is not an issue of public promotion, but an opportunity for a few people to embrace a meaningful moment of experience.  Experiences and moments that are universal (like child-bearing) are not educational.  The childbirth is going to be posted on a mom website, which means that they’ve all been there and done that.

Her husband is marginalized.  She admits that he was “hesitant” at first, but I’m sure he ultimately had no say.  There aren’t too many decent men who want to share the birth of their first child with a camera crew and a blog audience – that makes Daddy less special and less involved.

It’s all just sad to me.  And what happens after the event, when the thrill, the attention and adrenaline of being in the spotlight goes away?  What is she going to do with this kid to keep the flow going?  Think Jon and Kate.  Think “sad” for the children who become the means of their parents’ moment in the light, in ways other than simply enjoying their first smiles and first steps.