Home » * OPINIONS & COLUMNS » Archive by category "Nitty Gritty"

Why Kids Need Risk, Fear, and Excitement in Play

“Be careful!” “Not so high!” “Stop that!” Concerned parents can often be heard urging safety when children are at play.

Recent research suggests that this may be overprotective and that kids need more opportunities for risky play outdoors.

Risky play is thrilling and exciting play where children test their boundaries and flirt with uncertainty. They climb trees, build forts, roam the neighborhood with friends, or play capture the flag. Research shows such play is associated with increased physical activity, social skills, risk management skills, resilience, and self-confidence. Read more

Why Make-Believe Play Is an Important Part of Child Development

Visit any preschool classroom during free play and you will likely see a child pretending to be someone else.

Make-believe play is a ubiquitous part of early childhood. And beyond being fun for kids, pretending and other kinds of imaginative play are also believed by some to be critical to healthy child development.

Research has found a relationship between pretend play and a child’s developing creativity, understanding of others, and social competence with peers.

As a psychologist who studies imaginary play and Read more

Kindergartners Get Little Time to Play: Why Does It Matter?

Being a kindergartner today is very different from being a kindergartner 20 years ago. In fact, it is more like first grade.

Researchers have demonstrated that 5-year-olds are spending more time engaged in teacher-led academic learning activities than play-based learning opportunities that facilitate child-initiated investigations and foster social development among peers. Read more

How Childhood Trauma can Affect Mental and Physical Health into Adulthood

Stressed Woman

For millions of children in the U.S., poverty, neglect or abuse is a reality of everyday life, though these struggles are often hidden from view.

Adult survivors often feel ashamed about and stigmatized for their childhood adversity. This makes it difficult to recognize that these events occur.

While it’s easier to turn away than to face these issues, we can no longer afford to do so. Stress, Read more

Caught in the Crossfire: Children and Gun Violence

As Child’s World America reflects upon the events that took place at Sandy Hook four years ago, it is vital to recognize that childhood gun violence continues to occur throughout the nation. Dr. Marano exposes the varied experiences children and youths face in Camden, New Jersey, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. —Cyndi Maurer, PhD (editor)


 

On a Saturday morning in August, a white carriage drawn by two white horses makes its way through the streets of Camden, its top-hatted driver bearing a solemn expression. Inside the carriage is the body of 8-year-old Gabrielle Hill-Carter, struck in the head by a stray bullet as she played across from her home several days before.

Gabby, as she was known, was but one of the recent child victims of gun violence in our area. In the poor neighborhoods of Camden and Philadelphia, adults have a great deal of experience planning funerals for children who were shot while playing outside their own homes. Often, as in Gabby’s case, the families need help from friends, neighbors, and strangers to pay for the burials. Read more

The Sesame Street Approach: Not Universally Educational

With a history that includes “trying to bridge the education gap” and an approach to learning that engages the child while encouraging parental participation, Sesame Street is often perceived as the quintessential preschool television show in the United States. Dr. Jensen examines the initial reaction to Sesame Street that occurred in Denmark, a country that has held children and children’s television in high regard. —Cyndi Maurer, PhD (editor)


 

Last year I was a visiting lecturer at a couple of American universities where I participated in discussions regarding children’s media. In my guest lectures, I posed a question that often took students aback: “Can you think of a reason that Sesame Street might be considered inappropriate for children?” To my U.S. students, Sesame Street represented the epitome of an appropriate program for children: produced by a nonprofit organization; broadcast on PBS; loved by children, adults, and educators; and, on top of it all, devoted to promoting diversity and teaching children things that are highly valued in the school system. Read more

The Viral Lives of Children

The representation of everyday children in our media-driven society often ignores how parents shape their child’s digital presence long before the child is able to have a say. Issues of privacy and protection, hotly debated in other arenas, are overlooked as parents post images and videos on social media. Katie Elson Anderson focuses on the issues of protection and privacy as everyday children’s lives go viral. —Cyndi Maurer, PhD (editor)


YouTube is full of adorable babies, sassy toddlers, precocious preschoolers, and talented and entertaining elementary school students. When a video goes viral, besides being viewed on the internet, it can be widely shared by other media outlets, including the nightly news or a late night comedy show. In some cases, adults are encouraged to share videos in which they do mean things to their children, such as tell them they ate all of their Halloween candy (Jimmy Kimmel Live, 2015). The child’s reactions and emotions become entertainment for a broad audience, violating the child’s right to privacy, which encompasses the right to cry about a hurtful event without being put on display.

Read more

Child Breadwinners in the Shadows and the Courts

Photo Scale with gun and judgle gavel

In Camden, New Jersey, young children and youths face community violence, struggling schools, family problems, and poverty on a daily basis. They navigate a city widely considered to be among the most dangerous in the United States. The unemployment rate in Camden is approximately 40 percent, and about 90 percent of the city’s school children are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. Many families experience difficulty meeting fundamental needs, such as acquiring sufficient food. Here, Dr. Marano reflects on the relationship between incarcerated youths, food insecurity, and the juvenile justice system. —Cyndi Maurer, PhD (editor)


 

The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread. —Anatole France

Anatole France was known for his ironic commentary on French social conditions at the end of the 19th century. His words continue to resonate because, for some, there is difficulty in securing shelter, food, and other things that cost money.  Having enough money for food, clothing, and shelter may seem basic to many of us but would seem like luxury to others. Read more

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