Monday, August 11, 2008

Stepdads 'make better fathers'

The secrecy about race that prevails in so many American publications can be DAMNED annoying. It is absolutely notorious that black inner city U.S. males are overwhelmingly "absent" fathers -- vastly more so than whites. Yet this study says absolutely nothing about the race of those surveyed. For those used to the primness of the American intelligentsia, however, the following sentence gives a large clue: "The Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study is following a cohort of nearly 5,000 children born in large U.S. cities between 1998 and 2000 (roughly three-quarters of whom were born to unmarried parents)." Most of the participants (if not all) would have been black. Given the known black/white differences, therefore, there is NO reason to generalize these finding to whites. Race matters and racial differences cannot be made to go away by closing your eyes to them

STEPFATHERS make better parents than biological dads, a controversial study has found. In a finding that is certain to spark rigorous debate, stepfathers were found to be "more engaged, more co-operative and shared more responsibility than their biological counterparts did". The US study contradicts a popular view among social workers and family experts that biological fathers invest more in their own flesh and blood.

Sydney psychologist Grant Brecht said that, while the results of the study certainly apply to "some stepfathers", it was wrong to generalise. "There is no reason why stepfathers cannot make incredibly good parents and they may be more attentive," Mr Brecht said. "But I think you have to look at it case by case."

The findings were drawn from 2098 interviews with urban mothers from the Fragile Families And Child Wellbeing study. The children, born from 1998 to 2000, were aged five at the time of the last interviews.

Mothers reported that stepfathers shared their parenting views and talked to them more about their parental wants than natural fathers did, said the study's author, Lawrence Berger of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "(Stepfathers) have to work harder to fit in and to have a useful productive role," psychologist Rebekah Levine Coley said.


Australia: Kids defy food fanatics

Children are defying a junk-food ban in school canteens by smuggling in fattening snacks and selling them to classmates. Frustrated teachers reveal they are powerless to stop many children who bring unhealthy treats from home in their bags. ``I've even seen them selling chocolates to their classmates at school. It's almost like they're dealing drugs,'' said a teacher from a prominent Perth southern suburbs public school.

Education Minister Mark McGowan conceded he could not halt the junk-food flood, even though the Government stopped it from being sold in canteens last year. ``What students bring to school in their lunchboxes is not covered by the canteen policy,'' he said. ``And we can't police what foods children bring to school. If teachers notice a particular child selling junk food on the side, I encourage them to alert the school principal. ``We as a Government can only do so much. It is important parents keep a close eye on their child or children to make sure they are doing the right thing.''

Obesity was a serious issue, which was why the Carpenter Government required all public school canteens or food services to have healthy menus, Mr McGowan said. A healthy canteen menu, combined with the required two hours of exercise a week for Years One to 10, were great initiatives. ``But parents also need to come on board in the fight against obesity. This is not the sole responsibility of the Government,'' he said.

Rob Fry, president of peak parent group the WA Council of State School Organisations, said parents should realise they were ``killing their kids'' with bad food. They should pack healthy lunches, or pre-pay for canteen meals, so children had no cash for junk.

WA State School Teachers Union general secretary David Kelly said teachers could contact parents if they were concerned about certain students. But parents and schools had to work together to address obesity. The southern suburbs teacher said: ``When they banned junk food from canteens it came back into school with a vengeance. They just started bringing their own from home, like chips and chocolates. ``I'd love to be able to confiscate it. But we're not allowed to take food off kids because they can just say `mum gave me this for lunch'.''

Another southern suburbs teacher said: ``Most teachers I know are all for the ban. But there's no use having a ban if you can't stop them from bringing it to school. ``Some kids are selling it to their mates, which would be funny if our kids weren't so fat. ``But you can't really say anything to your students these days. They swear at us in the classroom and get away with it, so this would be hard to stop.''

Another teacher said healthy canteen food had great potential to help children who weren't getting good food at home and it was a pity the situation had deteriorated to this. Canteens have a ``traffic light'' system banning ``red'' items such as soft drinks, confectionery, deep-fried foods, chips, chocolate coated ice-creams and cakes. [All of which are completely harmless -- or we would all be dead]


1 comment:

John A said...

``And we can't police what foods children bring to school.``

This year. Unlike [parts of] Scotland.