Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Risky business

At what point do you untie the apron strings and let a child make their own life-changing decisions?

When the life of a child is at stake, it is in all of us to react, to do whatever we can to protect that child.
But what if the child is 16 years old and involved in behaviour that is risking their life? How do parents keep their teenagers safe, when they are at a time in their life where “free will” is a powerful driving force?
Furthermore, what should the community do when we see other parents not protecting their child? Should we interfere or should we turn a blind eye?
I find myself asking this question almost every day.
It makes me angry when I see parents smoking in their car with children in the back seat. I get frustrated when I see parents taking their babies out into the sun without any protective clothing or hat on their head. And I shake my head in disbelief when I see unrestrained children in a car travelling at high speeds along the highway.

But then there’s the case of Queensland schoolgirl Jessica Watson.
At 16 years of age, she wants to break the record for the youngest person to sail solo around the world.
Yet on her test run to Sydney on September 9 her yacht collided with a 63,000 tonne cargo vessel.
It turns out she was asleep, and battling fatigue. It was only day two of her voyage.
The Maritime Safety Queensland report listed serious deficiencies in Jessica’s performance.
The report found she did not turn on a warning device that would have alerted her of a potential collision, she had not developed a fatigue management plan, and could not produce a clear, plotted plan (it was scribbled on paper with childish doodles on the side).
Surely this brush with death is enough for her parents to cancel the voyage, but they claim it proves she can handle such situations and come out of it alive.
At 16, you are not allowed to vote, drink alcohol or drive a car on an open licence, but Jessica has been given the green light to head out into the wide blue ocean by herself.
What if the unthinkable happened? I’m sure her parents would regret their choice to let her go, but would authorities feel any guilt for allowing a child to undertake clearly risky behaviour?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Too many toys

Back in the day, kids played with sticks and rocks… but look how times have changed

In the current climate of frugality due to unemployment and high costs of living, I was amazed this week to read what Queensland’s richest man gave his daughter for her 15th birthday.
Was it an iPod? Designer sunglasses? DVDs or a new mobile phone? Diamond earrings perhaps? No, not even close.
Mining billionaire Clive Palmer bought his daughter Emily a $5.3 million super-yacht.
“Thank you Dad, but I don’t know my starboard from my bilge pump,” she might have said, although it’s more likely she said: “Hectic Dad, that is totally phat, fo shizzle! My rents are the bomb.”
Palmer was slammed by child psychologists who said it was a dangerous gift for a teenager.
“It breeds irresponsibility and an expectation that Daddy can always fix things,” author Dr John Irvine said.
“I don’t think it is teaching anything about the value of money or return for effort or hard savings.
“It’s an ego thing – Dad showing off – instead of teaching them to earn what they yearn.”
Psychologist Renee Mill said it’s common for the rich and famous to spoil their children but they get used to it their whole lives.
“If they lose that money, then nine times out of 10 those kids, as adults, have tremendous difficulty getting on their feet and looking after themselves,” she said.
“The main role for a parent is to teach your child and I would be asking, what can they learn from this gift?”
Personally I think the public’s reaction to Palmer’s gift giving is a classic example of tall poppy syndrome.
After all, he is boosting the economy by spending his money! Apparently the yacht was worth $8 million so he’s certainly taught his daughter how to buy a bargain.
Palmer can do whatever he likes with his money, but it does raise the question of how much is too much?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Homebirthing update

Midwives who provide homebirths have been given a reprieve that will allow them to practise legally until 2012.

Under a new national registration scheme for doctors and nurses, homebirth midwives would not have been able to gain registration because they do not have indemnity insurance.

State and territory health Ministers today agreed to a two-year exemption from holding indemnity insurance for midwives attending homebirths.

But Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon says the Government will not be providing indemnity insurance for homebirths.

"Of course there might be potential in the future when proper data is gathered for there to be more changes, but they won't be part of this maternity services budget package," Ms Roxon said.

"We have however ensured that women can make the choice if they're properly informed to still have a midwife attend to a home birth."

Sunday, September 6, 2009

What’s so wrong with breastfeeding?

Feeding an infant is the most natural thing in the world to a mother, but shockingly sexist views still exist, particularly in the 18-24 age group

It's time to get on the soapbox. Something in the news this week makes me feel compelled to speak out.
A Newspoll survey has asked the Australian public what they think of women who breastfeed their babies in public.
Never mind the fact this is a completely legal and natural thing to do, let’s just ask people these questions to stir up debate.
Lo and behold, 36 per cent of respondents said breastfeeding was unacceptable in a cafe or at work, despite 65 per cent of people saying breastfed babies had a better chance of surviving beyond a year old.
So, breastfeeding mothers, it is back to toilets, carpark or closet for you, or better still, just stay at home for good.
Not surprisingly, it was young adults aged 18 to 24 who were the least supportive of public breastfeeding. They are uncomfortable because they are ignorant and have only one thing on their minds: sex.
It seems it is OK to ogle at topless tourists at the Lagoon, but not acceptable for a woman to feed a hungry, and often screaming, infant.