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growing concern

4/15/14 3:30pm

Addicted to the Small Screen



Can an iPad, NOOK, or Kindle become tools for addiction in children? According to Mary Bousted, the general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) in the United Kingdom, the answer is yes.

“It is like having a TV in the bedroom but it is easier [to deceive parents] because it is smaller,” Bousted said. “Parents will say to their children ‘turn your tablet off now and go to bed’ but two hours later they’re still under the duvet playing their computer games.”

According to Bousted, children are increasingly spending their nights staring into the small screen of their digital tablets playing games or participating in other social media. As a result, they are arriving at school the next day irritable and too tired to learn. “Rather than sleeping they can be playing the games for anything between four and five hours,” she said. “My view is the only thing you as a parent can do is take it off them.”

Addiction to tablets is causing students to withdraw from real social interaction and creating poor performance at school. Tablets are small and easier to hide from unknowing parents, allowing children to waste 4-5 hours a night online when they should be resting for the day ahead. 

Aside from the lack of sleep, teachers of preschool-aged children are also growing concerned about an alarming risk in diminished motor skills thanks to constant use of tablets and smartphones. While young kids are able to swipe a screen, they possess little-to-no manual dexterity to play with building blocks.

“I have spoken to a number of nursery teachers who have concerns over the increasing numbers of young pupils who can swipe a screen but have little or no manipulative skills to play with building blocks or the like,” said Colin Kinney, a teacher from Northern Ireland.

But while there is cause for concern, Bousted believes the key to proper development is to limit a child’s use of the devices. "I don't think anybody in the debate is going to say 'let's go back to the 20th century,' it's about how they are managed and how they are used and particularly about how they are used in schools.”

The ATL is set to debate a resolution at its annual conference in Manchester next week highlighting teachers' concerns about tablet addiction among pupils.

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By Desiree Bowie

recovering celebs

4/15/14 1:00pm

Dave Navarro Speaks Out on “Compassion” and Addiction



Former Jane’s Addiction guitarist and current television personality Dave Navarro spoke eloquently on the perils of drug addiction and the struggles inherent to recovery as part of a roundtable discussion aired on the Huffington Post’s live-streaming network, HuffPost Live.

Navarro, whose battles with cocaine and heroin addiction have been detailed in the media and his 2005 autobiography, Don’t Try This At Home, supported statements by Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin in his State of the State Address on January 8, 2014 about the overwhelming level of heroin addiction gripping his constituents. “[We are] finally hearing some compassion from the political world about this disease,” said Navarro. “That’s what it really is, whether people want to face that or not… the important element here is making treatment available, and making [people aware of it. It’s] ‘if you do drugs and get caught with drugs, you’re going to jail,’ as opposed to ‘We have an opportunity to enhance your life.’”

The guitarist has deeply personal reasons for speaking about the need for treatment solutions instead of arrests. “The reason we’re talking about taking the focus off the criminalization of addiction is that the threat of a consequence is never going to be a deterrent for an addict. We already know going into this that we could die, and that we’re going to lose our relationships, and we could go to jail, and yet, we still do it.”

Navarro admitted to committing crimes in pursuit of funds for drugs - “plenty of theft and burglary,” he said – and suffered debilitating health problems as a result of his addiction. But like so many addicts, life-altering situations like those were not enough for him to seek help for his issues. What is needed, he said, are solutions that come with the support of communities and government.

“I can’t tell you how many drug addicts that I’ve worked with and hung out with that have been in the throes of their addiction and said, ‘I don’t know what to do.’ They were helpless," Navarro said. "If our communities made treatments available, the answer [for addicts] would be available from the onset.”

Watch the entire segment on HuffPost Live:

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By Paul Gaita

hope renewed

4/15/14 10:30am

Former Addict Goes From Homelessness To Magna Cum Laude



After her drug addiction left her homeless and contemplating suicide, Daney Hill is now telling her story of getting clean and graduating magna cum laude from college.

The Southern California native explained to NPR that her broken home life led to drug use as a teenager and quickly escalated to crack, hallucinogens, and huffing household products, among other substances. She became pregnant and had a daughter at age 17, but the child went to live with her father when she was three years old.

“My judgment began to deteriorate. I found myself in places I didn't want to be and doing things I didn't want to do,” said Hill. “I would get in cars with strangers and drive to another state just on the promise of getting high. It is only by the grace of God that I think I was able to survive.”

Hill’s addiction left her homeless for years and living with others in a riverbed under a freeway overpass. She sold drugs to cover the cost of her addiction and was even reduced to fighting a rat for remnants of a corn dog she picked up from the trash. After begging to die on her 34th birthday, she was arrested the next day by police and felt it was the sign to change her life.

“I had already had many run-ins with the law and for a moment, I weighed whether I could outrun the police this time. But my body was just too tired. I knew I was again going to prison,” she said. “But strangely, this didn’t bother me. I felt a great weight lifted off my shoulders. Somehow deep in my heart, I knew I was ready to never live this way again."

Hill was eventually paroled into a residential treatment center and went back to school while in treatment at the age of 35. She graduated from college two years later before transferring to a university, where she graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. She now works with women who serve their prison sentences in residential treatment facilities along with their children.

“I went after my recovery like I did my drugs and found I was able to accomplish anything I wanted. My path to recovery led me to a job where my experience could help others, and that is why I feel my life hasn't been wasted,” said Hill. “I hope I can continue counseling those who share my story. I hope I can continue to build my fragile relationship with my daughter. And sometimes, I just hope.”

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By McCarton Ackerman

pulling back

4/15/14 8:30am

Shorter Prison Sentences For Must Drug Offenses Could Begin In November



A federal agency has passed a recommendation for shorter prison sentences in the majority of federal drug offenses. The U.S. Sentencing Commission, which advises federal judges on sentencing, will see their amendment go into effect on Nov. 1, unless it's opposed by Congress.

The recommendation was unanimously approved by the commission and calls for sentencing of low-level offenders to be reduced by two levels, or an average of 11 months in each case. Under the new laws, someone caught with a kilogram of heroin would serve 51 to 63 months rather than 63 to 78 months. However, the amendment won’t reduce penalties for drug traffickers with the greatest quantities of drugs, or for those offenses combined with violence or possession of a firearm.

"Quantity, while still an important proxy for seriousness, no longer needs to be quite as central to the calculation," said Sentencing Commission Chair Judge Patti Saris. The commission made their recommendation based on data which examined a 2007 law that lowered penalties for crack cocaine offenders, finding that those who served shorter sentences were no more likely to return to prison than those with longer sentences.

Attorney General Eric Holder said lowering sentences based on drug quantities would "rein in federal prison spending while focusing limited resources on the most serious threats to public safety." But despite the broad range of support, some Republicans in Congress who oppose the recommendation believe lenient sentences would actually increase crime rates. Scott Burns, executive director of the National District Attorneys Association and former drug czar under President George W. Bush, felt that reducing sentences would weaken the leverage of prosecutors.

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By McCarton Ackerman


4/15/14 7:00am

Morning Roundup: April 15, 2014



By Shawn Dwyer


4/14/14 7:30pm

China To Drug Test 170 Million Children



In the most extensive campaign of its kind in history, China is starting the incredible task of “blanket” drug testing of as many as 170 million children. No country has ever attempted such a massive campaign, particularly on its own children. The reasons for the campaign surprisingly are not motivated by student abuse of illegal drugs.

Much more sinister, it began with young victims being drugged by their kindergarten teachers. According to Chinese news reports, hundreds of kindergarten pupils in three different provinces were secretly given moroxydine hydrochloride, an anti-viral drug produced in the 1950s in the United States to combat the flu. The drug is no longer used in Western countries or considered medically viable. Even more frightening are the complete lack of published reports in English about the drug and zero records of clinical trials ever being done.

In the Chinese educational system, schools are only paid for days pupils attend. The kindergartens involved hoped to maximize attendance by secretly administering moroxydine hydrochloride to their students in hopes they would attend more classes. The heads of the kindergartens have been arrested and all the connected staff members replaced.

Parents discovered what was going on at the Feng Yun kindergarten when a child told his mother that he would “never get sick again” because he had been “taking medicine.” Once the news was picked up by local papers, parents across the country reacted furiously. Amid street protests, more than 500 parents in Xi’an reported that their children suffered headaches as a result of the medication.

In an article on Xinhuanet, state media called it a "crisis of confidence in kindergarten managers." China's preschools have been characterized by "a long history of avoidable problems," such as food safety and physical abuse. Countless parents had been previously upset with private kindergartens "which are poorly funded, poorly managed and frequently in a bad state of repair."

Since the spread of the scandal and the resulting outrage, according to the Global Times, China's education and health ministries are requiring local branches to check all kindergartens and primary schools for illegally administered drugs. Such a check means the decision to drug test every child in the country. The result literally will be the largest drug testing campaign in the history of the world.

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By John Lavitt


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