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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.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Work-An Essential Part of Human Survival

Across the globe, having a decent is a hard sought-after essential to this rough global economy. Every day, hard earned money puts food on the table, puts a roof over countless heads, and makes way for countless privileges.
Those without decent paying jobs often go without, and are dependent on others to handle many of their affairs. A decent job has always been a necessity and will continue to be for centuries to come.
Children across the globe are unfairly treated concerning workforce matters by both government and employers alike. In third-world countries, children are treated much like slaves, being forced to work long and tedious jobs( i.e. factory jobs, cotton picking, etc.) for very little or no pay, and are clearly taken advantage of. Many of these children end up disabled, or dead, as employers often starve their child employees, and do not train the children how to operate dangerous machinery safely. When it comes to these jobs, children are given little choice, and are simply miserable. In more developed countries, children are given little or no chance to work, and are forced to depend entirely on their parents for their basic needs.
They must wait until they reach a certain minimum age in order to be allowed to work in a decent job. Once they do, minimal jobs are available, and employers may discriminate against young employees as they wish, often refusing to hire them, or keeping them in entry level positions even after months of employment. The US Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits children under 14 from being employed. Many states set higher minimum work ages which override the federal age limit. Exceptions to this statement include employment by parents, household chores, paper routes, entertainment business, non-hazardous agricultural work, and working in a small family owned business.
Once a child reaches 14, they have very limited options. Meat packaging areas, loading trucks, operation of an oven, serving alcohol as a waiter, and many more tasks are off limits. The ADEA(Age Discrimination in Employment Act) prohibits employment discrimination for workers over age 40, yet has set no protections for younger employees. Employers may discriminate as they wish, and since many do so by choice, children are left jobless.
The first intent of the child labor standards was to get children out of dirty, hazardous factories, where the children were treated as slaves and given poor job training. This practice, ended in the early 20th century left many children dead, uneducated, or permanently disabled, as the children were often forced to work very long hours for very little pay, and were forced to work during illness and injury.
This practice was popular among poor families, whose parents sent their children to work in the factory to support the family, handing them over to employers who took advantage of them. The standards were right in preventing outright child slavery, yet they far overshoot, and thus made a decent income nearly impossible for a child to attain.
Without a job, children are left to depend almost entirely on their parents for resources, and it leaves the child quite vulnerable. Many children long for independence, and wish that they could adequately support themselves or their families. Parents often struggle to make financial ends meet for their children, knowing that the government will not allow their children to support themselves.
Children should be offered the same employment opportunities as adults, and should not face employment discrimination- period. Yes, they should not be taken advantage of and treated like slaves, but they should be allowed to work decent jobs in a safer environment. They should not have to rely so heavily on their parents or other relatives for support, and relatives who struggle should not have to worry so much about their children.
Children should at least be given a chance at work, and should not be presumed as incompetent or incapable workers until proven otherwise.

Employers should not be allowed to judge their employees by their birth date, and instead by their work ethic and job performance.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Second Amendment to the US Constitution: "The right to keep and bear arms"

The right to keep and bear arms, was imposed as part of the constitution origionally for military purposes.
Later on, guns became more popular as a self-defense tool, for hunting, and for the occasional laugh every now and then. Many mock guns have been invented for entertainment, such as cap guns, and water pistols.
All states have set minimum gun owning and purchasing ages. Federal law requires states to set their minimum gun ages at 18, though state law often overrides federal law in this case, as many have set theirs at 21, New Hampshire and Alaska as low as 16, and Missouri as high as 23.
Minimum age often differs between owning a long gun or a handgun which shoots more readily and quickly. How is it that the same young adults that can vote, die for this country, and get married cannot own a gun in all but 15 states?
The minimum age for owning a handgun is often higher than that for owning a long gun. Why? A gun is a gun, period.
Many states have also set the age for gun purchasing higher than that of simple possession, and differ their ages when buying from a licensed dealer or from a private dealer. Exceptions are often made for circumstances such as hunting, where children must pass a hunter's safety course, and must hunt with adult supervision. Many restrictions apply, and children under 10 are not permitted to hunt.

Minimum conceal/carry age by state:

                                                                   Blue(35 States)-21
Green(11 States)-18
Yellow(2 States)-16
Purple(1 State)-23
Red(2 States)-Conceal/carry is prohibited regardless of age.

Another US federal law prohibits those of gun owning age to place a gun in reach of any person under 14 years of age. Those who do are often charged with a felony, and offending parents are often charged with child neglect and abuse and face hefty fines and a long prison sentence.
The US government and states individually make a large assumptions that children will automatically be dangerous and use the gun improperly. Another assumption made is that children are mentally unfit, and insane persons, as US law prohibits insane, mentally incompetent, or those with a criminal record from purchasing guns regardless of age. This puts all children in the realm of "insane", in which many children are not. It also assumes parents who trust their children and decide to leave their gun within their reach of them knowing that the children will do no harm with it as "irresponsible" and "unfit parents". Many who are against children possessing guns look at the statistics, and make the assumption that child gun injuries are caused by the child not knowing the dangers of a gun. 

Each year 35,000 people die from gun injuries in the United States, about 105,000 are injured, 85 percent of the injuries ocurred in the 10-34 age group, the most common age being 19, and 56 percent of the injuries occurred during home gun use. 34 percent of home injuries were by those 17 and under.

What these statistics do not say, is how these younger injuries occurred. Not every gun injury of a child is due to recklessness and incapability of the child. Many other situations could have occurred which would have resulted in injury or death by a gun. The deaths that did occur by child incapability would have been avoided if the child was taught firearm safety in the first place.
Many also assume that all children, when given a gun will harm others indefinitely, after hearing of school shootings. The children involved in such shootings often suffer from severe mental illness, in which many children do not.
Children should at least be given a chance when it comes to guns. In many instances, in order for an adult to purchase a firearm, a background check is done, and a license must be given. If this same procedure was done for children, responsible children would be fairly treated, and the irresponsible kept out of danger.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gambling-Unseen Benefits for All

Gambling has gotten a bad wrap over the years. Many associate this activity with addiction, greed, drug abuse and low self worth. Many gamblers feel they have to keep things secret for fear of ridicule and hatred. Many feel they have a problem even when they simply gamble for fun once in a blue moon.
About 1 percent of American adults are pathological gamblers, and about 3 percent are considered problem gamblers. A pathological gambler is someone who is out right addicted. Many of such people have attempted suicide, are swimming in an ocean of debt, and have depression and low self worth. A problem gambler is one who is developing an addiction and may eventually become pathological. About 33 percent of eighth graders said that they had gambled at least once.
15 percent of college students gamble regularly. About 8 percent of American children who gamble regularly become pathological gamblers. In the United States, the minimum gambling age is 18 in some states and 21 in others. Many states are in the process of raising their ages. Alabama's is set at 19, and the age varies similarly throughout the provinces of Canada. In Europe, the most common age is 18, though some casinos will set their age at 21 by choice. Many youth gamble online, though many become disappointed when they win a large jackpot and the prize money becomes void. Others enjoy informal sports betting, and some sneak a play at the lottery when nobody is supervising the machines.
Disgust and outrage erupted in 2006 when Larry Klatt, a professional poker player tried to host a poker camp for kids 10-18 in British Columbia, Canada. Klatt designed the camp to teach kids the math and analytical skills required in poker, as well as the risks of gambling and how to gamble responsibly. The camp would end in a poker tournament. Parents and government officials were simply disgusted and appalled that one would even think to put kids and gambling together. Many said it was "reprehensible". Klatt and his organizers later decided to shut the camp down, because they knew that the B.C government would eventually shut it down anyway.
Also in 2006, The Oregon state government ordered a review for toy slot machines. The machines caused concern amongst parents because toddlers found joy in playing with them, and the parents thought the children would become life long gamblers because of these toys. The slot machines operated by placing fake money inside and using the lever. The toy slot machines still remain on the market today and have not caused any increase in gambling addiction cases.
Despite the negative stereotypes, gambling does have some benefits that can be enjoyed by children as well and adults if proper precautions are taken.

Some of the benefits include:

  • Economic Benefit: Many people decide to vacation during time off from work and school. With a new demographic, casino cities such as Las Vegas could enjoy more tourists and more money spent, stimulating the economy, and taking one step closer to ending America's economic recession!
  • Good health: With a nice recreational activity to do every once in a while, children would be able to distract their mind from stress.
  • Proficiency in math and analytical skills: If children gambled even occasionally, they will sharpen their math and analytical skills, having to calculate probabilities, and weigh out the fairness of winnings. This would lead to better performance in such areas concerning school.
  • Career Opportunities: Some children may aspire to become professional gamblers, and starting young and being educated properly could lead to a decent paying living later on rather than addiction. Also, having such skills could lead to careers where such math and analytical skills are required.
  • Socialization: If kids were allowed to gamble they would encounter new social opportunities to meet other children and adults.

Gambling addiction is rarer than it is made out to be. Many factors cause such problems, and gambling in a safe environment and knowing when to quit is not detrimental. Kids are neither more or less susceptible to a gambling addiction than adults. Children will often gamble in secrecy, since the activity is frowned upon in their status, and thus they are never educated properly about the activity.
In fact, little evidence supports that gambling is actually harmful to children.
If such an activity was not taboo for children, gambling addiction rates would decrease, meaning children would have access to proper education, and the laws are useless in the first place, seeing that children gamble online, and have figured out ways to play at lottery machines- meaning that they bypass the restrictions anyway. Death rates of children left in  cars by gambling parents would decrease, because children would then be allowed into the casino with their parent, rather than left in a hot or freezing car to die too young. Since 1998 99 percent of monthly deaths caused by children left in cars resulted from the parent forgetting or leaving the child intentionally in the car for some reason.
These rates would sure decrease if children were allowed into the casinos with the parent, and maybe even allowed to gamble with them!
Luckily, some casinos have a children's area which includes restaurants and stores for children to wait while their parents gamble.



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.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Credit Cards-Should They Be An Adult Privilege?

Credit cards offer a quick and convenient way to spend your money without having to carry around lots of cash. Credit and debit cards make online transactions much easier, and credit cards are often a part many identity verification processes.
The United States is a credit card nation.
In these modern days, money is dealt with in plastic rather than the old-fashioned paper method. Those without credit cards are at a disadvantage, as credit cards are so heavily relied upon. In many instances, if you do not have a credit card, you are in big trouble. Credit card companies are notorious for many unhappy customers, yet all could be avoided if the card is used wisely.
Credit cards are a great asset if used responsibly. Since they have existed, credit cards have been enjoyed as an adult privilege. Most credit card companies set their ages at 18, since applying for a credit card requires entering into a contract-something minors cannot legally do. Many also feel the moral obligation to restrict minors from their services. Some credit card companies take things further, making those under 21 required to obtain parental permission before obtaining their credit card. Many online businesses require you to pay with a credit or debit card.
 It is possible to live without a credit or debit card, yet it may be difficult at times. Carrying around tons of cash can be a drag, and is a huge safety issue.
A few banks have decided to offer prepaid debit cards to children, yet many of the times, the parent is the account holder, or the parent monitors usage. Parents can also choose to make their children authorized users of their accounts, meaning that the child would have some access to their parent's credit card. About 25 percent of banks and credit card companies have an age limit set as to who can become an authorized user of a parent's account. The most common being 16 or 18.
Authorized account use comes with some restrictions as well, meaning that the child would miss the full benefits of having their own credit card.
Very few banks allow children to have their own solo debit card. Usually banks only offer debit cards to adolescents and college students, leaving younger children without the privilege.  If children had ready access to credit cards, then they could learn financial responsibility early on, and have a more convenient way of spending money. Then children would not have to resort to illegally using their parents' credit card, or resort to online services which enable them to do so.
Many credit and debit systems have a limit on how much you can spend, and provide bank statements, allowing for more financial discipline. The child would always know how much is in their bank account and spend more wisely than they would with cash. Cash can often turn out to be a disorganized way of spending. It is often hard to keep track of how much is spent when spending with cash.
 Many parents have been longing for a way to help their children along in financial responsibility, and many youth have longed for financial independence. Many working teens could use a credit card and have an easy way to spend their hard earnings.
Allowing a child to own a credit or debit card would certainly help more than it would hurt as long as it is used responsibly. Allowing a child to have a credit card would give them newfound independence with their money and would encourage financial responsibility. Children would gain new concepts of money and would better learn its value. Credit card companies should not have the right to discriminate against who uses their card. In fact, allowing children to use credit cards would give credit card companies a whole new group of users.
Everyone should have a choice as to which financial methods they use. No person should be denied any of them.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Parental Authority-Do Children Really Need as Much Control as Many Parents Claim?

Parents have been exercising authority over their offspring since  the human race has existed. As civilizations developed, parental authority became a prized aspect of the parent-child relationship. As children become adults, the status of the parent and the status of the child fizzles out, and the relationship becomes equal and often times very distant.
It came to be supported by governments, churches and schools, and children were eventually thought of as possessions shared by both parents that could be controlled as the parent pleased until they became adults and were then respected as human beings. Until the 1980's where the first parents were prosecuted for child abuse by the ASPCA, parents had unlimited claims over the child and could control them as they pleased.
 Children had even less rights than animals! Since then, the use of punishment has declined, yet parental authority is still very welcome in this society. The US government is reluctant to give children more power and more control over their lives, for fear that they will not handle is wisely, and that eventually society may crumble under their lack of wisdom or sophistication. A common belief is shared among Americans that children require a rigorous parental structure in order to be safe and develop properly.  The US government supports parental authority, and gives parents the right to make all decisions for their children, and punishes parents with an extreme lack of control over their children. Parents who are more lenient tend to be viewed as indulgent, and irresponsible. Children of more lenient parents are seen as spoiled.
There are three styles of parenting that are widely accepted throughout the US, Authoritarian, Permissive, and Democratic.
Authoritarian parents value obedience for the sake of obedience, and feel the need to have unrestrained control over their children. They set strict rules and strict consequences if the rules are not followed. To them, a child's main responsibility aside from getting an education is to follow their orders. They are low in warmth, and often do not explain their reasoning to their children. Permissive parents do not set rules, instead they give lectures and talks about the things their children do, and rarely resort to punishment. Democratic parents set rules, yet are supportive and warm when dealing with their children, listen to their children's arguments and opinions and change the rules when their children make sense.
Through toddler hood and elementary school, most children tend to respect parental authority and feel that parents can control every aspect of their lives. When middle school comes around, children tend to back off and demand more of their own choices. Many will resort to defying and battling their parents regularly until the parent either gives in, or the child results to sneaking and lying about their actions.
Parents of defiant children often push the issue entirely on the child, and never evaluate their style of parenting, resulting in a tainted relationship. Children eventually are unable to put up with the constant control and demand, and they eventually stand up for themselves after they have had enough. Parents often see this as unwanted rebellion, and disobedience. They keep attempting to set stricter and stricter boundaries, in which the child will not put up with. In reality, the child is realizing that parents should not have the right to control every aspect of their lives and seek to make their own choices. This conflict tears many parents and children apart, creating a tainted parent-child relationship for life in some instances.
Parental authority is a form of power over children that often times goes too far. Many times, parents stretch their control over into domains in which they should have no say. Parents often allow for little negotiation, putting the relationship in a position of inequity. Personal issues such as choice of clothing, choice of music, friends, television, and lifestyle habits such as food choice, bedtimes, would typically be considered off limits in adult-parent relationships and in other intimate relationships most often involving adults, such as marriage. Children are human beings, and it is not necessarily a horrible occurrence if they oppose their parent's will. If you ask most parents, they will say that they would never intrude their adult child or spouse's life in such a way, yet the life of a young child or adolescent is by all means acceptable to bend to their will.
What makes controlling the lives of children acceptable? Is life only for the sake of obedience. You would not like to be ordered around like a slave would you? Parental authority is what makes many college students happy to leave their parents. Too much control and authority by the parent can lead to sheltering and resentment, leaving the child uneducated and resenting of them for life. Punishment is practically useless, since many truly undesired actions are paired with natural consequences that are punishment enough and there is no need for artificial ones such as groundings or spankings.
Many punishments are issued as a violation of status or societal role as children, to submit to an adult's authority, (e.g punishment for talking back which would not be applicable with an adult).
The typical parent child relationship of modern times, resembles the typical husband wife relationship of the past. The wife submitted to the husband, was punished for failure to do so, and many activities required a husband's permission.
The parent child relationship is truly a loving partnership, like marriage without sex, or friendship. Parents should serve as mentors to their children and not as governors. Parents should back off in most instances, except for those in which are potentially life-threatening, or have the potential to cause permanent damage to one's self. Children should be allowed to discover some things for themselves.