Student News From Canada And Beyond, Issue 6


Canadian flag in globe

Poverty tops teen concerns

A report commissioned by the Canadian federal government, in which 1,200 youths aged 7-18 were surveyed, found that addressing poverty topped the list of their concerns.

The definitions of poverty were broad, citing any barriers to eating nutritious food, attending school, sleeping in a bed and having clothes to wear.

“Some of (the children) were recounting their own personal situations of poverty, but they were also looking outside of themselves and saying it’s unacceptable that people are living on the street and that children don’t have enough to eat,” said Alana Kapell, who compiled the report for the non-profit organization Save the Children Canada.

Other big issues were abuse and violence, listed as the No. 1 concern for 13.5 per cent of children surveyed, and drugs, alcohol or smoking, listed as No. 1 by 12.2 per cent of respondents.

(Source: The Canadian Press)

A Sticky Situation

According to Saskatchewan Valley director of education Michael McLeod, a Saskatoon teacher put a strip of masking tape over the laps of four students to teach fidgety kids to stay in their seats.

The students were never confined says McLeod, the tape was just a reminder to stay seated.

School division officials believed the teacher’s actions were inappropriate. The teacher was punished with a disciplinary report, but did not lose her job.

(Sources: CBC Saskatchewan and CBC TV)

Are You Safe at Work?

Canadian labour groups say they’re concerned about the number of young people who are getting hurt or dying on the job.

Cathi Carr, who promotes a safety awareness program in Ontario, says young workers are 50 percent more likely per hour to be injured than an older worker.

Two 16-year-olds from St.Bernard, Quebec, died when the roof of a barn they were working in collapsed. Stephen Mace had to have his hand cut off after it was caught inside an industrial shredder.

She says bosses often don’t tell young workers about such risks and the employees are often too afraid to speak up.

(Sources: CBC News Online and CBC TV)

Doctors Call for Minister of Fitness

Dismayed by Canada’s obese youth, the British Columbia Medical Association (BCMA) is proposing that the federal government restore a full-fledged minister for sports and fitness.

A study by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada 13 years ago showed two-thirds of children had the minimum level of physical activity to remain healthy. Last year, that percentage fell to one-third.

“We’re seeing the kids coming into their early teens 20 to 30 pounds overweight. It’s terrible, and it’s happening right under our eyes,” Dr. Mackie, a BCMA executive said.

A Cabinet minister devoted to sports and fitness could negotiate greater federal funding, and would see the investment returned in lower health care expenses, said Iona Campagnolo, the Lieutenant-Governor-elect of British Columbia.

(Source: National Post)

Anorexia study looks at long-term damage

Whether the brains of girls with acute anorexia nervosa are permanently damaged is the subject of a study underway at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.Dr. Katzman, the chief researcher, and her team are studying 50 recovered anorexics who were diagnosed during their teens.

Some researchers have written that starvation hampers hand-eye co-ordination, as well as the ability to focus, speak and remember. But when patients recover from binge and purge or starvation cycles, and  are nourished again, brain function returns to normal.

Other researchers believe the problems are much longer-term, said Dr. Katzman. She explained that when a person is acutely starved, all the parts of their brain change structurally. Dr. Katzman will focus on trying to map out how the structural change affects a person’s ability to think.

(Source: The Canadian Press) 


Child Labour an ongoing problem

Poor economic conditions and severe poverty often force young kids to work long hours for little or no pay.

Ivory Coast, a West African county, has up to 15,000 children working in the country’s plantations because children are cheap labour in a country where the poverty rate is as high as 40 per cent.

“If they’re not being paid, if they don’t have access to school, if they don’t have the basic rights of a child to grow up, that’s exploitation,” said Carol Jeanson, a co-ordinator for UNICEF.

Ladji, who is only 10, has been selling tissues for at least three years. He makes less than $2 a day. “I have to work, to help my mom,” he says.

(Source: CBC News Online and CBC TV)

AIDS Activist dies at age 12

The former South African president, Nelson Mandela, called Nkosi (En-KOSE-ee) Johnson an, “icon of the struggle of life.”

In his short 12 years of life Nkosi was able to help change people’s attitudes towards HIV/AIDS in South Africa – a country, like most others, where people often look down on those infected with AIDS.

In 1997, Nkosi won a battle against policies keeping HIV-infected children out of public schools. This led to a policy forbidding schools from discriminating against HIV-positive children, and to guidelines for how schools should treat infected students.

About 200 HIV-positive children are born in South Africa every day. Most die before they reach school age.

A foundation named after Nkosi will be established to raise money to help AIDS orphans and infected mothers and their children.

(Sources: CBC News Online, Canadian Press)

Mideast teens plant Seeds of Peace

Seeds of Peace is a non-profit, international organization that promotes understanding and co-existence among teenagers from regions of conflict. Participants are encouraged to learn about each others’ cultures and religions in a neutral surrounding, in hopes they can overcome obstacles they have grown up with.

The program sponsors a Middle East delegation which includes Jewish and Arab teenagers from Israel and the Palestinian territories as well as young people from India, Pakistan, Greece, Turkey, the Balkans, and other regions of conflict.

Dodi Shulman, a participant from Israel says, “Seeds of Peace has taught us that even if we disagree on things, we can still understand each others opinions and point of view. And through those perspectives we can help each other and support each other.”

(Source: CNN)

Teens must pay for bomb threat pranks

Two teenagers, 15 and 16, from Virginia, USA, have been ordered to cover the cost of their prank. They have been convicted of writing a note warning a bomb would go off at their Amherst County High School during the first lunch break.

Officials estimate the school division spent more than US$9,000 in overtime for teachers, who guided officers and police dogs, and administrators, who worked the phones trying to keep parents and other officials abreast of the situation.

“What I’m hoping is that [suspects] realize they can get caught, and if they do, they will be dealt with,” said Gerald Higgenbotham, an investigator with the Amherst County Sheriff’s Office.

Should the youths be unable to pay, the costs will be borne by their parents.

(Source: National Post news services)

Report of abuses at Samoan Camp

Allegations of sexual, physical and mental abuse have led to the removal of 23 teens, including one Canadian, from a rehabilitation centre for troubled youths in Samoa.

Reports made by the teens to the U.S. embassy in the capital of the South Pacific island nation, “were very serious and were coherent, credible and consistent,” said James Derrick, the chargÈ d’affaires at the embassy.

The Samoa Observer reported the rehabilitation centre is owned by Steve Cartisano, who was previously banned from operating teen-reform survival camps in the US after a girl died while participating in one of his programs.

(Source: The Associated Press)

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