To make you feel better…

2084462_Green-Shoots-Emerging-Growth-700Here are some of the most exciting news about huge wins for sustainability, justice and a better world all around.

Fossil fuel divestment is taking off like wildfire around the world. This global divestment deluge is set to heavily disrupt the fossil fuel business model. And Norway, a major oil power, is totally dumping fossil fuel investment! Read HERE

Like Apple computers? Prepare to drive one. Apple will give Tesla a run for its money when they soon unveil their own electric car. Every year, several new fully electric vehicles sweep onto the market. Tipping point alert! Still driving your antique petrol car? Read HERE

Teenagers are taking over the climate campaign in the most incredible way. Child-led legal challenges to secure their future, all over USA. Amazing youth, here they come! This will take your breath away. Read HERE

A huge coup for animal rights. France de-registers animals as ‘property’, and makes them legal entities as ‘sentient beings’ – paving the way for a new wave of animal protections. This is deeply transformative! Read HERE

Science vindicates organic growers. Study finds lower pesticides levels in people who eat organic. Read HERE

Most American states (37 of them!) now allow gay marriage. This is the most seriously fundamentalist nation in the Western world (proportionately speaking). So if USA can do it, (along with UK, NZ, and so many more), than so can Australia. Read HERE

Speaking of USA, the nation that gave the world the War on Drugs (best understood as the War on Addicts), is rapidly lifting prohibition of Marihuana. Alaska is the latest state to legalize. If this can happen in ground zero for this inhuman war against sufferers of addiction, then the rest of the world can also come to its senses. Read HERE

The green shoots of a huge shift towards a clean and just world are really starting to show up, everywhere. This is very encouraging!

To all those who are working for this cultural-evolutionary imperative: keep going, keep going, keep going!

Posted in Empowerment/Activism, Uplifting/Inspiring, World News | Leave a comment

There but by the Grace of God…

When I was 11 years old I was ‘Dux’ of my primary school.
I was then offered a scholarship: to attend the prestigious Knox Grammar school, free of charge, till graduation. My parents were elated.

But I had heard stories. I told these stories.
No-one believed me.

And THIS is what happened there. In the news today.
I fought hard. I told my parents I would not go to Knox if they put a gun to my head!
I did not go.
For decades afterwards I heard, over and over, about what I “could have become”, had I agreed to go to this prestigious and venerated school.

I am 53 years old.
I was saved by an 11 year old boy who fought alone for me.
That boy was me.
I am so grateful.
Perhaps I should be so grateful also to my parents, who had the heart to know when to stop pushing, to stop hectoring, even if they could not understand.

….and I’m so angry! for all the boys, who suffered horrors behind these walls. And for the many other boys whose pain and humiliation will never be heard by a Royal Commission, because their sufferings do not rate as legal abuses.

The lesson here is large, and it is global:
LISTEN-TO-YOUR-CHILDREN!
They might seem ‘mad’ to you.
They are not.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Is religion good for society?

religion-420x0-420x270The Pope’s answer for better behavior is to hit our children – with “dignity”. Does the religious practice of child-beating (Proverbs 23:13-14) make better societies? Let’s see.

USA, 1950: only 4% of people were non-religious. Today, 23% are non-religious. A third of American youth are non-religious, so the trend will continue to grow. Crime rates have been steadily dropping in USA – doesn’t look like religion makes people better behaved. In fact, only half of one percent of the American prison population has been atheistic, since the 1990s. So: 99.5% of American convicted criminals are religious. So much for the Pope’s dignified thumpings.

The largest ever study of religion and family life in USA found a higher ethical values and moral standards among the non-religious. Another study has found more racism and intolerance among the religious. Meanwhile, the least religious nations (such as Sweden, Denmark, Japan and New Zealand) have the lowest crime rates in the world.

Some good links to follow up: HERE,  HERE, and HERE.

There are plenty of good places to learn about good parenting. Religious institutions do not often seem to be among them.

 

Posted in Educational | 1 Comment

What do we say to the Pope?

pope_francis_I_newsProgressive Pope? Really? Well…what passes for “progressive” in the Vatican – a global Power not renowned for its savvy on children.

You’ve heard the Pope’s oxymoronic gaffe about hitting your children with dignity. The permanent self-defeat that afflicts those lumbered with Old Testament blues. I doubt Houdini could get out of this one.

I hear this kind of flight of fancy every day. Smack your kids – but without anger. Hit them with Love. What else? Shoot gently? Kick sweetly? Belt serenely? Head-butt mindfully? The dignity-slap I could not dismiss as just one more vestige of a dying patriarchy. Over a billion people still listen to the Papal smacker. And quite a few of the faithful swallow without filtering. What then happens to children on the receiving end of the obedient?

So, what do we say to the Pope? What can we say to those in his thrall? My good friend Mitch Hall – long-time international peace activist and high-level academic from San Francisco – put together this brief letter, which he will send to the Vatican in Spanish and English. He has summarized the newest and most powerful pieces of research on the subject. Mitch’s letter is so authoritative and simple, I thought it might be of help to any of you tangling with an advocate of punishment. Please know that the research is so abundant and conclusive, and has been for years! Arguing for hitting a child is right up there with climate change denial. Or exorcising epileptics.

Here is Mitch’s letter, complete with academic references in case someone asks. Mitch would be happy for his letter to be used freely in the interest of protecting children.

An Evidence-Based Critique of Pope Francis’s Position on Smacking Children

by Mitch Hall, Ph.D.

With an estimated 1.2 billion Catholics in the world, the presiding Pope Francis has a potentially huge audience and significant influence through his public pronouncements. His recently reported approval of the punitive smacking of children, provided “one does not violate their dignity,” (BBC, 2015) gives evidence of his ignorance of the harm done by hitting children, as social science research has found. Informed by this research, to date, 44 nations have outlawed all physical punishment of children (The Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children, Newsletter 29, December 2014). Pope Francis and the Catholic Church are sadly behind the times. Let’s consider a small sampling of the scientific findings about how smacking affects human development.

A literature review and meta-analysis of hundreds of published studies, spanning a century, shows physical punishment is correlated with a greater likelihood that children will be defiant, aggressive, delinquent, and antisocial in the future, and more at risk for mental health problems, serious injury, and physical abuse (Gershoff, 2008).

A study conducted in China, India, Italy, Kenya, the Philippines, and Thailand found that children subjected to maternal physical punishment showed more anxiety and aggression than kids not physically punished (Lansford, et al., 2005).

Children spanked frequently, at least once a month for three years, have less gray matter in areas of the prefrontal cortex, and this reduction is associated with increased risk of depression, addiction, and other disorders (Tomoda et al., 2009).

In a worldwide sample of 48 societies, frequent physical punishment of boys in late childhood is the formative experience most highly correlated with social violence. Low physical punishment rates are correlated with low rates of social violence (Barry, 2007).

Physically punished kids are more likely to perpetuate the cycle of violence with siblings and peers than those raised nonviolently (Smith, 2012) and are at higher risk for delinquency and criminal behavior (Gershoff, 2013).

Much more research could be cited. The Pope’s presumption that children can be punitively smacked without violating their dignity is a vague, unsupportable, deplorable, shallow rationalization. What “dignity” may mean in his vocabulary is uncertain. I believe that the word needs to be defined in the context of respecting the right of all human beings to be treated ethically and not to be harmed. When adults smack children, they intentionally inflict pain, fear, and humiliation with the presumed goal of “correcting” wrong behavior and gaining obedience to their will. Adults inevitably rationalize that their hitting is for the children’s own good. However, the evidence points robustly in the other direction and shows that the consequences are neither for the children’s own good nor the greater good. Smacking children is an abuse of the adult’s power advantage and a violation of human dignity in any ethically meaningful sense of the term.

References

  • Barry III, H. (2007). Corporal Punishment and Other Formative Experiences Associated with Violent Crimes. The Journal of Psychohistory, 35(1), 71-82.
  • BBC World News. (2015). Pope backs smacking of children ‘if dignity maintained’. February 6, 2015.<http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-31163219>
  • Gershoff, E.T. (2008). Report on Physical Punishment in the United States: What Research Tells Us About Its Effects on Children. Columbus, OH: Center for Effective Discipline.
  • Gershoff, E.T. (2013). Spanking & Child Development: We Know Enough Now to Stop Hitting Our Children. Child Development Perspectives, 7(3), 133–137, September 2013.
  • Lansford, J.E. et al (2005). Physical Discipline and Children’s Adjustment: Cultural Normativeness as a Moderator. Child Development, 2005 Nov–Dec, 76(6), 1234– 1246.
  • Smith, B.L. (2012). The Case against Spanking. Monitor on Psychology, 43(4), 60, April 2012.
  • Tomoda, A. et al (2009). Reduced Prefrontal Cortical Gray Matter Volume in Young Adults Exposed to Harsh Corporal Punishment. NeuroImage, 47(2), August 2009, T66–T71.

 

 

Posted in Empowerment/Activism | 2 Comments

One kid deals political corruption a HUGE blow

money_congressI want this kid to come to Australia! In fact, why can’t he travel to all ‘democracies’? He’s brilliant!! Get this: he is a 16 year-old computer whiz, in USA. He programmed a plug-in that allows any American with a computer to instantly see where any politician gets their money. I love this! A 16 year-old boy in his pyjamas exposes the entire spin system and puts you in charge of seeing all the bribery and corruption that runs political parties.

I love this quote from the programmer: “Whether Democrat or Republican, we should all want a political system that is independent of the influence of big money and not dependent on endless cycles of fundraising from special interests. The United States of America was founded to serve individuals, not big interests or big industries.”

We all know that he who pays the piper calls the tune. Now Americans can easily find out who the puppet master is, at the click of one button. Don’t look now, senator, but your fly is undone. We know who you really serve and why you say what you say.

If we are finally to restrain and regulate corporations so our planet can heal and regenerate and so we can have justice and equity, first we need transparency. No prizes for guessing why the Australian government does everything in its power to defend fossil fuels and kill renewables. Political ‘donations’ (read: legal bribery) suffocate progress and raze our children’s future. Until political donations are forever banned, at least the bullshit has to be exposed, and placed at voters’ fingertips.

I would love to see this app in Australia, and the rest of the world in fact. Read all about it here: CLICK.

Meanwhile, you can trace how Australia pollies are bribed and bought at this site:  democracy4sale.org

Once you find the names of the entities that donate the money, you might find yourself saying: ‘well, who are these people, and what is their agenda?’.   It’s easy to find out.  Search in this excellent website: source watch.org

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Controlled crying helps nurses, not parents.

baby-cry-1Despite all that is known today about what babies need, somewhere between 2 thirds to 3 quarters of all infant sleep interventions sold to parents are still about behavioural extinction. In other words, gradually refuse to attend to your crying baby for longer and longer periods until the crying is extinguished. The persistence of this discredited, outmoded and risky practice ignores the fact that parents DO NOT LIKE IT. According to the research, around 70% of parents say they would not apply this method, they sense the stress it brings to their child.

Researchers are characteristically understated and restrained. Almost all (not all) parents I have spoken with find ‘controlled crying’ (I include all the euphemisms for this practice) deeply disturbing, painful. Many feel heartbroken if they stick to the injunction to refuse attention to their crying child. It gets more passionate than this, actually. Most parents I have heard from who have tried this technique, absolutely HATE it. A door separates the helpless infant from the equally despairing parent, sobs on both sides.

So, babies don’t like it. Parents don’t like it. Child-development and brain experts don’t like it. Contact works. Rejection doesn’t. Who does this method really serve?

Posted in Educational | 3 Comments

Je suis L’ENFANT

imagesAnother act of brutality, a series of them, and the world comes together to protest.

To defy.  To unify.

People stand shoulder to shoulder in Paris, in shock, in bewilderment, in silence. We try to make sense of it. We box people: ‘Terrorists’, ‘Islamists’, ‘Cartoonists’, ‘Capitalists’. Blood begs an answer. We are so tired. Grasp for categories – does it help?

I think the time has come for us to change the mouldy old rhetoric, the old name-tags; and to speak of new things that are now known so very, very, very well. Media peddles its wares by staying superficial. Debates rage about ‘ideology’. As if an ideology can lead a person to kill, like a program inserted in the head. We know better than that.

We know the propensity for violence is not inborn. Nor can it be switched-on by reading a scripture. Rage, emptiness, loss of self, gullibility, lack of empathy…these necessary conditions for acts of violence are all embedded in human neurology. Violence tells the story of our childhood. No human was born to kill; our spirit was killed first. Unless there is healing, we act out as was first acted upon us. Is anyone listening? Child-development science has been shouting this from rooftops the world over, for decades!

Every war was first a war against children. Every act of terror was first the terrorising of a child. Every mocking and offensive cartoon was first an emotion of shame and violation.

Look around. Wherever in this world there is patriarchy, wherever there is authoritarian parenting and education, wherever there is punishment and shaming of children en masse, there will be violence. No, it is not about Islam. Not about Christianity, Capitalism, not about Rock & Roll. Unless of course, those are used as instruments of patriarchy and punishment.

Do this as an experiment. Look anywhere in the world where the culture is heavily patriarchal and the family dynamic is authoritarian. Tell me if such a culture doesn’t produce more violence than its neighbours. Tell me if the anthropologists and the brain scientists have been wrong all along.

As long as authoritarianism and patriarchy exist, there will be guns, bombs, petrol engines, coal stacks, chain saws. Violence is always given a brand. Islam. Capitalism. Etcetera. At the core, the driver is always the same. War and terrorism, (if we insist on making those distinctions) are not ideologies: they are SYMPTOMS.

Violence demands a response. But by the time the violence has happened, all responses bring an awful cost. That is because by the time the violence has happened, that is a very late indicator that something urgent has been left unattended. Something has been terribly neglected, overlooked, denied.  It has been left to fester, to brew. By the time we send the police, the warplanes…we are too late! We failed to pay attention when we should have. We have allowed children to be shamed, neglected, humiliated, enculturated, ‘socialised’. Then, we left the adults unhealed. In the name of ‘cultural rights’, in the name of ‘non-interference’, we abandon all care. We cloak our indifference and laziness in the banner of ‘tolerance’. Then……BOOM!

We respond to violence…because we have been too detached to PREVENT it at its source.

Wherever there is authoritarianism, wherever there is patriarchy, violence will be generated. And in this globalised age, there is no ‘far away’, there is no ‘over there’, there is no ‘them’. Violence towards children is everyone’s business. Patriarchy three thousand miles away brings a consequence, right here in our street. Our own neglect is instantly exported.

Democracy is not done yet. Neither is peace. These are not acts of Parliament. Democracy is a family dynamic. It is a way of education. Children’s rights must trump cultural rights, or we all suffer. Conservatives are punitive. But liberals are not much help either, when they accept and defend culture for culture’s sake.

I think it is time to be pre-emptive and pro-active. If we care to end violence, we need to insist on ending violence towards children. We need to balance gender dynamics and to democratise family relationships everywhere in this world.  Everywhere.

Can we declare that human rights are universal? What a question! The question presumes all humans aren’t human. So: if you exploit a man in the name of religion, then that aspect of your religion has to go. If you oppress a woman in the name of culture, then that aspect of your culture has to go. If you shame or punish a child in the name of tradition, then that tradition has to go. It has to go. Enough!

Children’s rights must trump religion and override tradition. Human rights must trump culture, no matter what the culture. West, East, Middle East, modern, ancient… for the sake of humanity we have to decide that no culture is exempt.

Posted in World News | 8 Comments

Heart to Heart Parenting seminars go to Canada, 2015

vic1I’m very happy, and honored, to announce that I will be speaking twice at the Vancouver Island Parent Conference on 7th February 2015. I appreciate the invitation to speak and am very much looking forward to working with the community of Victoria, BC. This will be my first time on Canadian soil, and I know I will be learning a lot about the various cultures that inhabit this beautiful area. All are welcome, so; to my North American friends and colleagues: please pass this on.

For more information, enquiries and bookings, CLICK HERE. 

Posted in Events | 4 Comments

Natural birth gets BIG recognition in UK

006-Toronto-Newborn-Baby-PhotographyThe National Health Service in UK has issued new guidelines urging low-risk mothers to give birth NOT in hospital settings. This is a huge recognition of the negative impacts of defensive obstetrics, and the inherent safety and lifetime benefits of midwife-assisted, natural birth.

Read more about this HERE.

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First Asian nation to ban corporal punishment of children!

Filipino-ChildrenCongratulations to the Phillippines! And a very happy Christmas to Phillipino children. As of this week, it is no longer legal for parents or teachers to hit children in the name of ‘discipline’.  So interesting what is happening in the Catholic world. This would have seemed perfectly impossible just one decade ago.

Philippines, the first Asian nation to ban! Every continent has begun the change!  47 nations where children don’t have to fear physical punishment anymore.      Hey, Australia: ready to wake up yet?

Posted in Empowerment/Activism, Uplifting/Inspiring, World News | 4 Comments