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Eliminate the Differences!!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Kids' Menus-Vaguely Insulting?

Kids menu from a popular Mexican food chain, Chevy's.
Since the menu first arose in Song Dynasty China over a millennium in the past, they have evolved greatly. Today's menus are colorful, contain photographs and are presented in just about every restaurant.
A lot goes into the engineering of menus, and many of them are carefully engineered with intricate marketing tools to draw more consumers to the restaurants.
Today, the majority of restaurants provide a kids' menu option typically for children under a certain age.
The age is most commonly 10 or 12. The most common traits of a kids menu include colorful pictures, very simple crossword puzzles and games, and offer very few choices, usually less than ten. Some kids menus offer as few as two entree choices! Menu items on the typical kids' menu are often written in very large print, and in very simple words. Kids' menus share at least one or more universal fried and fattening choices, hamburger, french fries, chicken strips, mac n' cheese, grilled cheese sandwich, and hot dogs- even at a Mexican or Chinese restaurant where such foods do not belong. What about these foods says "kids cuisine"? Frequently offering such foods limits a kid's chance to expand their horizon and try new things. Offering other options may help break a picky eating habit, or introduce new foods.
 What exactly is a kid-friendly food? How are such things defined?
Such foods are unhealthy, and kids should enjoy the culture of the restaurant.  Another popular trait of the kids' menu is that the entree choices are often labeled , "kiddie", "pee-wee", or "kids", "kid-sized", (ex: pee-wee pizza).  Such titles are highly insulting and belittling and kids will not want to order off a menu that insults them. About 80% of kids 3 to 8 order from a kids menu and 54% of kids 8-12 do so as well. Kids like to have their own menu and order on their own, but this  does not require a kids menu. Kids like to feel like adults, and want to order off the menu that everyone else orders from. In a way, kids are often pressured to order from such menus. Some restaurant hosts or waiters will force a child to order from a kids menu even against the child's will. Parents often pressure their kids as well. As many as 90% of parents with young children will simply not visit a restaurant simply because it does not offer a kids' menu.
 Kids' menus simply make things inconvenient for kids and parents alike. Some children prefer to order from the adult menu, yet are presented with portions large enough to feed an entire family. Since many kids prefer to order from the adult menu, kids menus are a waste of paper. Some adults prefer smaller portions and and are simply not given the option. Some kids feel insulted when their dining experience is somewhat segregated because of their age. Kids menus create segregation and isolation, especially when the menus include games and puzzles. For one, children are being treated separately because of their age, and a kid who is occupied by a puzzle or game presented by the kids' menu misses out on family interaction and the point of a family meal goes out the window.
About 90% of full-service restaurants offer a kids' menu and about 75% of limited service restaurants offer a kids' menu as well.
Many fast food restaurants offer intricate, high quality toys in colorful meal packages. Within the toys offered at fast food restaurants, different toys are offered to different age groups. And a common kids' menu trait at a fast food restaurant is to have three separate kids' menus most often, "Under 3", "kids' menu", and the "big kid or junior menu." Why have kids' menus become such an essential component for the majority of restaurants? Marketing comes into huge consideration, as many of these menus are designed to be inviting and attractive to kids. Many restaurants try tons of fancy marketing tools to compensate for lack in food quality and lack in quality of service. Some resort to such just to conform and appeal to the average consumers.
If a restaurant has great food, great service, and a great location, they will not need to resort to such things to attract families. Its energy and quality will speak for itself. Everyone should be treated equally in their dining experiences.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Zero Tolerance Policies Need Revision!

Zero tolerance policies in schools first became popular in the 1980's, when they were first being used for military purposes. Zero tolerance policies are those which make violence, drugs, weapons, and sexual harassment strictly prohibited in schools. Punishment would be very severe, immediate, and with no chance for redemption or self-correction, even for the smallest infraction, ranging from long after school detentions to expulsion and mandatory attendance to rehab facilities. Schools who create and enforce these policies often have good intentions, and have the student's best interests in mind, yet the policies are often poorly planned, and lack much needed common sense. Many school zero tolerance policies make no room for exceptions, and refuse to evaluate many harmless situations.

Here are some examples in which innocent and bright schoolchildren have dealt with the wrath of their schools' zero tolerance policies:

  • A 14-year old boy, whose father and stepfather were serving in the military was expelled for drawing a stick figure picture of the US military fighting the Taliban.  The drawing was seen as highly inappropriate and destructive to the learning environment.
  • An 11-year old boy died at school due to a severe asthma attack because his school's zero tolerance policy regarding drugs prohibited him from possessing his inhaler on school grounds.
  • A six-year old boy in the Christina School District was expelled for bringing a Cub Scouts dinner knife to school to cut his food. The school associated this small knife with rape and arson. The school later agreed to reduce the punishment for 5 and 6 year olds with such weapons to a mandatory 3-5 day suspension.
  • A 13-year old girl who was a straight-A  honor roll student was expelled and required to attend a 9-week boot camp session after bringing a bottle of cherry 7-up with a few drops of alcohol to school and serving it to 11 people. The people she served it to were also expelled, half of them not knowing that the drink contained alcohol. Those who did not know had their expulsion lifted. The girl's parents were outraged, and the girl felt the punishment was much too harsh.
  • A Kindergarten student was suspended for making a finger gun at school. The school thought he was armed with a dangerous weapon.

While it certainly helps to keep drugs, violence, and weapons out of schools. Administrators must learn common sense when applying these policies. They need to evaluate the situation and look at the context, and decide whether the situation is truly dangerous. Using extreme punishments for harmless situations not only destroys students' lives, but it takes attention away from students who cause real trouble.
Zero tolerance policies need not be abolished, but they require some revision and rethinking. Zero tolerance policies need to be slapped with some common sense. School administrators must put effort into evaluating the context and the severity of situations, and must not jump to quick and ineffective resolutions.
Students must be given a chance to correct their mistakes, if they are even making a mistake in the first place.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pushing to Bring Back Segregation in Transportation: Passengers Beg Airlines for Child-Free Flights

Every day thousands of planes take off from airports across the globe.  Each plane is jam packed with a variety of passengers, who cannot seem to coexist. Each one has their angry way with each other in the thick of stagnant, bacteria ridden air and plane travel becomes quite a nightmare. Other passengers tend to moan groan when they see a child walk on board, due to the stereotypes that have lead many to believe that all children on airlines are bound to cause discomfort and disruption. Some even become so fed up at a child's slightest action, that they will resort to unnecessary physical assault upon the child. Some even file lawsuits and make the most imbecilic arguments against a child.
One woman claimed that she suffered hearing loss on a flight from New York to Australia due to a 3-year old being to loud on the plane and filed a lawsuit against the family. A 42 year old woman harshly grabbed a 3 year old boy for kicking her seat. Many unhappy passengers without children of their own have organized and begged airlines to include a child-free flight option, which would be more expensive. Others have asked for segregated seating, in which children would be seated in a separate area on the plane.
Some will cringe the second a child gets on an airplane. These people argue that any child on a plane will automatically be disruptive and inconsiderate and many have claimed to have endured countless flights where such has taken place. According to one survey, 59% of passengers surveyed supported segregated seating on planes, and as much as 20% supported child free flights and said they would pay extra.
The truth is, even if an airline created child-free flights and child seating, there would be no guarantee of a nuisance free flight. There are disruptive travelers of all kinds, including adults. Having segregated seating would be practically useless because any screaming child would still be present on the plane and perfectly audible.
Scheduling would be a nightmare, as many families enjoy traveling during the holiday season. Having segregation on planes would bring back the segregation era, of having children and adults sit in different places on the plane, a problem previously endured in the past with whites and blacks on busses. Child free flights would increase negative and false stereotypes and discrimination against children. The concept of paying extra is apalling. Is this supposed to mean that child free flights are better? Absolutely not! Chances are having a child on the plane will make no difference.
Not every child will cause disruption on a plane, and it is unfair to make such an assumption. Every child should not have to suffer for the mistakes of some of their peers, and most disruptive children learn from their mistakes on the plane after suffering consequences.

Travel is a invaluable resource, which serves many a lifetime and travel is no place for prejudice.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Free Speech 4 Students Rally - MSNBC Coverage

 Free Speech 4 Students Rally - MSNBC Coverage: "This took place in Juneau, Alaska. This student was harassed by the government simply because his age(18) and because he wa..."

The Killers Who Live Long at Large in America's Schools

Kara hated school. She would make any excuse in order to stay home. She would dump chicken noodle soup all over her designer bedspread, and she would break countless thermometers placing them against her pink fluorescent lamp. Her mother asked her why she continued to fake these illnesses. She refused to answer and went reluctantly off to her middle school. The second she walked in the door, she was bombarded with ridicule and abuse. A tall girl, Katie pushed her to the ground and stole her backpack. Other kids egged it on.
For the first two periods, she sat in the bathroom sobbing. When break came around, she sat alone with no food.
Other kids claimed that she was too spoiled, stuck up, skinny, and a honkey. because both of her parents made six figure income, she ate wisely, and she was fair skinned with blond hair and blue eyes. Throughout the rest of the day she was bullied in the hallways and in classes. When she told the teachers they simply laughed and did not believe her. When she came home that day, her mother consoled her and asked her what had happened. This happened daily. She told her, and her mother immediately called the school outraged. The school calmly agreed to sign some paper work and report the issue and that was it. The bullying still continued, and Kara's mother was simply beside herself.
 When she went to pick Kara up from an orchestra rehearsal at her school, she took her and went into the principal's office. She was immediately sat down with the principal, a few of Kara's teachers, and the safety supervisor. When both Kara and her mother brought up the issue, the school officials said, "We cannot discuss this with you.", and pushed them out. Kara's mother demanded something be done. Security led them both out. They went home. Soon the bullying reached Kara's social networking accounts. She was receiving constant cyber-bullying.
Then one day her mom came home after grocery shopping. She had gotten Kara's favorite food in order to cheer her up. She called her name. No answer, then she shouted louder. Still no answer. Then she went up to her room. The door was locked. Kara's mother busted down the door to find her daughter hanging lifeless and blue on her ceiling fan with her old karate belt. Her mother screamed in horror and took her daughter down. She called an ambulance and
gave her CPR in the meantime. When the ambulance arrived it was too late, she was pronounced dead. Kara had been bullied to death.

This is what many children and parents across America deal with daily.

A bully is a person who regularly uses verbal abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse or all three in an attempt to intimidate another person or people and get something they want from them. Bullies often choose people who have something that they envy, or who are different in some way. Bullies also look for vulnerabilities, such as low self esteem, emotional sensitivity, a hard time standing up for his or herself or a physical disadvantage such as a disability or small stature, although at times bullies pick their targets entirely at random. Any type of person can be a bully, male or female, short or tall, black or white, it does not matter. Bullies sometimes prefer to bully in large groups who overpower one or two people. Bullies seek a difference in power from their victims, bullies like to feel in charge and in control. Often times when a victim finally stands up for themselves, or a friend does so, the bully will stop, because the victim is no longer less powerful than them.
Many once thriving children have their self-esteem stripped from them due to bullying from their peers who are insecure themselves. The school is the heart of bullying. A national survey showed that 30 percent of children grades 6 to 10 had bullied or had been bullied or had been bullied at some point in their lives. 13 percent reported bullying others, 11 percent reported being bullied, and 6 percent reported having both bullied someone and having been bullied.  An I-Safe survey conducted in the 2003-2004 school for children grades 4-8 year showed that bullying occurs more often with boys than with girls. The reason. Statistics on cyber bullying are higher. 42 percent of children reported having been bullied online. 35 report having been threatened. 1 in 5 report having it happen more than once. 21 percent of kids have received mean or hurtful messages, 53 percent admit having bullied someone online, and 58 percent admit not telling a parent or teacher about being bullied.

Why has bullying continued to go on at these alarming rates in the schools?

It's because most schools expressly refuse to put a stop to it and prevent future bullying. 35 states have some sort of law passed preventing bullying. 15 states allow and do not prohibit bullying. 11 states prohibit bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity, 4 states prevent bullying based on sexual orientation, 4 required that bullying be addressed as well as prevented, and 16 states prohibit bullying but give no specific categories of protection. Others have considered legislation, but it has failed to go into effect.

                                                    Bullying By State
Red(15 states)- Bullying is not prohibited
Navy Blue(11 states)- Bullying is prohibited based on sexual orientation and gender identity
Yellow (16 states)- Bullying is prohibited but there are no guaranteed categories of protection
Aqua(4 states)- Requires that bullying is addressed and teachers and students follow an ethical code
Turquoise(4 states)- Bullying is prohibited based on sexual orientation

Many people, including many school officials commonly share an absurd misconception that bullying is just a normal and harmless part of childhood. Many consider it a "rite of passage" or just "boys being boys". Many parents will ignore it when a child comes to them for help for bullying. Even schools in the 35 states that have laws against bullying tend to ignore it all together, or lie about their actions to prevent bullying. Many parents and students who tell school officials are pushed off and nothing gets done. Some parents even go on famous talk shows to spread awareness and hosts and experts belittle their opinions. Many times schools do not want to get involved in a bullying situation, or do not want to get involved in a lawsuit. They are either too lazy to do so, or do not want to risk their image. Some schools are afraid to intervene, or even state their bullying policies to the victim or their parents because of confidentiality issues. Why should confidentiality override student safety? Why should pure laziness override saving a student's life?
In fact, bullying severely damages self esteem and causes depression and can ultimately lead to suicide. At times the bully can kill its victims by accident, some of which is seen when sororities and fraternities recruit college students when hazing goes too far. Some victims end up permanently disabled, and many who survive bullying have emotional scars that last a lifetime. Those who are bullying already have lowered self esteem.
A survey showed that 60 percent of people who bullied others while in school ended up with at least one violent criminal conviction, some go on to lead lives as adult bullies, and many end up bullying their children. This means that more than half do not grow out of the behavior, and that there are deeper problems besides simple immaturity.
Specific environments serve as breeding grounds for bullies. For instance, a child in a home filled with anger, violence and tension may feel that violence is the only way to get what they want. Bullies may have endured traumatic experiences in which they had no control, so they may seek that control from bullying. Bullies who have neglectful parents bully as a way of getting attention. Many of those who are bullied end up becoming bullies themselves and endangering lives as well.
Bullying is a cruel and unethical practice that schools cannot afford to keep ignoring. If it continues, teen suicide rates will continue to rise, school shootings will occur more often, and overall parents and students will not feel safe inside the walls of a school. Bullying is detrimental to the learning process. A child who is bullied often cannot focus on school work for fear of their next attack. A bully who never learns how to treat others properly will do poorly in school due to a poor attitude.  One of the primary goals of a school administration should be to make the students feel welcome and safe while they are learning there. If not students will not want to go back and may seek home schooling, or even drop out.

The primary purpose of school is to provide an education in which students can use to their advantage to pursue life long goals. School is a place for learning and friendship and is not a place for cruelty and intimidation.

Shouldn't Schools be beyond this?

Protecting Children and Free Speech Online

Yes. The US government should not be sticking their nose in America's business concerning what they watch.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Free Speech of Students: Not a Laughing Matter

   Schools serve as prisons for outspoken students.
The granted right to free speech first came about when the US Constitution was put into effect in 1789. Opinions were mixed, sporting many supporters and many opposers. Blood has been shed, many lives have been lost, many have been censored, ridiculed and punished informally. Free speech in the school at first was considered a laughing matter. People could not begin to imagine the two coinciding. Before the 1960's school was a rare opportunity and a privilege. Students were just grateful to even have an education, and fairness took a back seat. Students were thought of as inferiors(and still are), and the majority followed rules.
Many were not outspoken. Those students who were received harsh punishments not only from teachers and principals, but from peers, friends and parents as well. Even to this day, where school is an opportunity granted to nearly every American child, students are still censored and punished for their thoughts. "Offenses" can be anything from the word crap or gay, to the most degrading racial and homophobic slurs. Students are often attacked if they write, or state any controversial ideas in any way. Students in preschool and elementary school receive the strictest of censorship, and the strictest stifling of creative thought. Censorship in schools stretches across all forms of free speech including T-shirts, visual art, writing, and computer projects. A child in the 1st grade will receive more harassment for their outspokenness than a child in the 5th grade, whereas a college student will most likely be guaranteed the same rights to free speech as their parents.
Dress codes limiting which messages can be displayed on clothing , and limits of lengths of shirts and pants are universal.
In the visual arts department, you may have seen a picture hung up with nipples, breasts, genitalia, or weapons slapped tastelessly with a thick coat of white out. You may have seen stacks of confiscated laptops, and dozens of angry children lined up in the principal's office who do not belong there. School officials often have the misconception that younger children have no business knowing or speaking of thoughts which do not conform to the mentality of the christianized American society. Schools wish to prevent it's students from hearing of anything that may be controversial, and certainly do not want them speaking of it. School officials see outspoken thoughts coming from young children as "age inappropriate", and blame it on the responsibility of the parent. Thoughts which would not be given the time a day had it come from an older student or parent.
Many loving parents who want only the best for their children are wrongly accused of child abuse and their children get blackmailed, and shunned from the school community. Some school officials even go as far as to report the child exercising his or her 1st Amendment rights to CPS(Child Protective Services), or to local authorities to be arrested and prosecuted for hate crimes and repeated disorderly conduct in the classroom. Many students have appeared on the news, being harassed by their school for things as harmless as hanging their country's flag on their bike, or for refusing to partake in the US Pledge of Allegiance.
While it is rare for a child to run into legal trouble due to 1st Amendment rights, there are many   unfair decisions made by school officials, where children have to endure constant day to day harassment. Schools simply spend too much time and energy on a child who does no harm to the well being of other students, yet they simply ignore children who consistently bully others and expressly refuse to stop actual harm.
It seems as if the US government has thrown the 1st Amendment straight out the window when it concerns students. Though free speech theoretically does not exist, students should not be subject to the unharmonious end of that spectrum. When schools stifle the creativity of its students, students are taught from the time they enter that they must conform, and that their opinions are wrong, and should be corrected. They are taught that human tendencies such as sex, body parts, representing your nation, etc. that have existed for ages are morally incorrect, and inappropriate to speak or write about. And thus, children who are creative, after being stifled time and time again have their dreams crushed, and eventually have a desire to be like everybody else.
Controversial ideas should be welcomed and cherished. Schools can in fact use a student's outspokenness to their advantage for activities such as debate teams, writing competitions, etc. The controversial opinions of most students would not cause any physical harm, or emotional damage to anybody. Being offended is a completely different action which is taken by choice, and is not the same as harm and trauma. An example of harm speech would include yelling "fire" incorrectly in a movie theatre, or bullying someone to the point of suicide. Speech that does not harm, yet is offensive to many includes reference to sex, violence, or bodily functions. Speech that does not cause actual harm should be allowed. It is virtually impossible to come up with speech that does not offend at least somebody.
Students should be treated with the same respect that adults get and do not deserve to be censored-period.