Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Are kids/girls growing up too soon?

From the time they are preschoolers, kids today are subjected to an incessant stream of media messages telling them to grow up as quickly as possible. The inevitable byproduct of all this is the early sexualization of little girls. Robbed of their childhood, girls today are more likely than ever to fall victim to unhealthy lifestyles and dangerous behaviors. Take this quiz and find out how much you know about growing up too soon. True or False?

1. As helpless consumers, parents really have no way to stop the bad media influences on their children.
2. If I restrict my child's playthings and clothing to tomboy stuff, she might never know how to act like a woman.
3. Little girls dancing or dressing like sexy teens really isn't harmful.
4. Playing "dress up" with Mommy's clothes and makeup is a safe way to let little girls think about the future without sexualizing them.
5. Pageants, dance troupes and other activities that teach little girls to care about their looks, body shape and movements can only be positive experiences.
6. It's not possible for little girls to be too sexy, because they just aren't. Besides, it's safe to let them dress in cute, sexy clothes because it will keep pedophiles away.
7. It's a good idea to set a minimum age for grown-up things.
8. Being an appropriate role model is possible, even if you're not a teen celebrity.

1. FALSE. You don't have to be Ralph Nader to have an influence. Before tots start clamoring for sexy outfits and makeup kits, parents can control their kids' TV and computer usage. Record TV shows and cut out the commercials. Complain to manufacturers or advertisers of sleazy dolls, CDs, cartoons and other influences aimed at too-young kids.
2. FALSE. If your little girl is more comfortable in overalls and playing NASCAR, it's no indication that she won't be putting on mascara and going to the prom someday. Tomboys have been shown to have had more prenatal testosterone than other girls, but many climb trees as a phase on the way to a perfectly normal womanhood. If they get there without seeing themselves strictly as a sex object, then they'll be ahead of the game.
3. FALSE. A February 2007 report from the American Psychological Association, which studied every form of media, concluded that the early sexualization of girls has a negative effect on self-image, can lead to eating disorders and disrupts healthy sexual development.
4. TRUE. "Dress up" has always been a way for kids to use their imagination to pretend to be Mommy or Daddy on a rainy day. Teetering around in a pair of high heels and smearing lipstick and blush on their face is always a harmless way of seeing what it's like to be a grown-up. It's when these items are scaled down for use by 5-year-olds that this idea becomes confusing.
5. FALSE. Unfortunately, beauty pageants for kids, while raising their self-esteem if they win, can deal crushing blows to the losers, who learn to obsess about looks, makeup, weight and fake smiles when they should be out getting dirty and kicking around a soccer ball. Girls, who are taught to value strong, healthy bodies through team sports, where looks don't win them points, usually have less susceptibility to early sexualization.
6. FALSE. Pedophiles don't think like other people. And while many like little girls to look innocent, others are encouraged by thoughts that a child who is dressed in a sexy ensemble is "asking for it."
7. TRUE. Do it as soon as possible, and stick to it. Maybe by the time they get to middle school, piercings will be passé and they will realize that they really don't want their underwear showing.
8. TRUE. Moms can be role models -- they are the ones little girls will look up to from the earliest age. The child should see Mom wearing a variety of clothes -- jeans, suits and cocktail gowns, but not the Catholic schoolgirl miniskirt, complete with thong. Act your age, and you'll have a better chance that your daughter will act hers.

If you answered six of these eight questions correctly, you know something about how to protect children from growing up too fast.

Write to Dr. Joyce Brothers via King Features, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019.

Mexican mega-mushroom a savory stunner

A mushroom weighing more than 20 kilograms has been picked in a forest in Mexico's southernmost state of Chiapas, university officials say.
The white mushroom, macrocybe titans,
measured a towering 70 cm tall, was found near Tapachula, near the Guatemalan border, according to the Southern Border University Center.
There is no word as to what the researchers plan to do with the specimen.

Not once but twice this man was blessed with miracles

He survived against all the odds; now Peng Shulin has astounded doctors by learning to walk again. When his body was cut in two by a truck in 1995, it was little short of a medical miracle that he lived.
It took a team of more than 20 doctors to save his life.

Skin was grafted from his head to seal his torso – but the legless Mr Peng was left only 78cm (2ft 6in) tall. Bedridden for years, doctors in China had little hope that he would ever be able to live anything like a normal life again. But recently, he began exercising his arms, building up the strength to carry out everyday chores such as washing his face and brushing his teeth.

Doctors at the China Rehabilitation Research Center in Beijing found out about Mr Peng's plight late last year and devised a plan to get him up walking again. They came up with an ingenious way to allow him to walk on his own, creating a sophisticated egg cup-like casing to hold his body with two bionic legs attached to it. He has been taking his first steps around the center with the aid of his specially adapted legs and a resized walking frame.

Chihuahua puppy born with love-heart pattern in fur

A puppy has been born in Japan with a large, clear, love-heart-shaped pattern in his coat.
The Chihuahua was born in May as one of a litter to a breeder.

Shop owner Emiko Sakurada said it was the first time a puppy with the marks had been born out of a thousand she had bred.
She had no plans to sell the puppy, which has been named "Heart-kun".

Indecisive bride picks 24 bridesmaids for big day

When it came to selecting her bridesmaids, Michelle O'Reilly had 24 people to choose from. So she asked all of them, aged from 1-year-old to 38, to join her when she walked down the aisle to tie the knot with her partner Kevin Doherty. There proved to be a lot of logistical problems involved in buying and fitting 24 bridesmaids' dresses, transporting them to the church and deciding which order the bridesmaids should follow the bride down the aisle. But the new Mrs. O'Reilly-Doherty said it was all worth it to make her big day on Saturday bigger than most.