Displaying items by tag: Children
TikTok is facing legal challenges from the former children's commissioner for England over how it uses children's data. The claim is filed on behalf of millions of UK and EU children who have used the video-sharing app. TikTok takes children's phone numbers, videos, exact location and biometric data, without sufficient warning, transparency or the necessary parental consent required by law. The children could each be owed thousands of pounds. TikTok said the case was without merit and would fight it. In 2019, TikTok was fined $5.7m by the Federal Trade Commission for mishandling children's data. Also, South Korea fined them because of how they collected children's data, and they were investigated by the UK's information commissioner's office because Musical.ly, which is incorporated into TikTok, was hosting content published by users aged under 13. 13.44% of British 8- to 12-year-olds use TikTok, despite its policies forbidding under-13s on the platform.
Twelve girls from southern England were in an Instagram chat group whose name refers to suicide. The group was discovered when three of the girls were found seriously unwell in a street and taken by ambulance to hospital for emergency treatment. One of the girls mentioned they had met online and discussed suicide. Police examined digital devices and found the group’s other members. Seven of the girls had self-harmed before being traced by the police. Children's social care services from seven different local authorities are involved in safeguarding members of the group. In November Instagram launched technology to recognise self-harm and suicide images and words in content on its app in the UK and Europe. Sadly, Instagram said it found no suicide or self-harm related content in this group. The police said that peer-to-peer influence increased suicidal tendencies amongst the children involved, to the extent that several escalated to suicidal crises and serious self-harm.
Please pray for an end to sexual violence and abuse to pupils by pupils in the same school or social group. Children are sharing stories online of a rape culture where abnormal behaviour is now normalised. Soma Sara has set up a website, ‘Everyone's Invited’, for children to report sexual abuse and harassment. So far 11,000+ incidents have been reported. Police blamed a ‘high consumption of pornographic material. There's an erosion of understanding as to what normal sexual relationships look like. We are normalising sexual violence and have a real problem here’ said the National Police Chiefs' Council lead on child protection. A police helpline will be set up to ‘investigate allegations which are of a criminal nature’. The trivialisation of sexism and misogyny is a gateway to rape and sexual assault.
UNICEF is underscoring the need for continual aid for children amid a worsening situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. Five months since the conflict began, a picture is emerging of killings and sexual violence against women and children. UNICEF reports schools and health centres looted, vandalised, and occupied by armed groups. In addition, deliberate attacks of violence and looting have left 60% of health care facilities not operational. 57% of boreholes (providing water) in 13 towns are not functional, and a quarter of the region’s schools have sustained damage. Although UNICEF and partners give humanitarian aid to the needy, there are urgent needs for children’s protection. Fighting, media blackout, and government-imposed restrictions leave humanitarian organisations unable to provide adequate aid, and they have had difficulty accurately gauging the need. Basic service outlets must be protected and the safety and security of everyone working in and accessing those services guaranteed.
Handicap International’s involvement in Thai refugee camps gives children the opportunity to be a cared-for child. Being a child in poverty and stress is particularly challenging if you are disabled. Since 1984, Thailand has sheltered people fleeing Myanmar’s violence in camps along the border. Some refugees were born in the camps and have never set foot outside. Most are Karen, a mixed people group without a shared language or religion. Since the 1940s, ongoing conflicts between Karen separatists and the Burmese army have forced many to flee. 400,000 Karen people are homeless. Camp conditions are extremely poor; in the past cholera and malaria have occurred. Children suffer from chronic malnutrition and respiratory infections. There is no electricity, phone signal, healthcare, or education.
Year-end school vacations will be lengthened in several countries to increase the time for social distancing. Many believe this policy will create more stress for parents juggling jobs and family. A national survey of 2,559 parents in June found a positive side for families and marriages in pandemic lockdown. Couples considering divorcing dropped by a third, and another survey revealed 25% of parents were getting on better with their children, with just 4% reporting worsened relationships. The media reported these findings as ‘weird but true’. However while lockdown affirmed marriage commitment, one in five cohabiting parents believed their relationship had worsened. They were more likely to be unhappy, get on each other’s nerves, or quarrel. Also, when schools were closed, many children began to appreciate the privilege of going to school and enjoyed having more time with their parents, improving family closeness during the corona time.
How can we worship and share our lives, when the two ways of being together - in person and online - are often really difficult for families? Making online church work for children means including them. Six-year-old J says, ‘I like talking to everyone on Zoom after the service.’ A mother said, ‘It’s good when someone asks them questions, and listens. They don’t like listening to adult conversations.’ A three-year-old now celebrates the eucharist with the Vicar with his own cup, plate, and bread. Rev’d Mo Baldwin makes Zoom interactive. Children have treasure hunts, breakout-room challenges like artwork, or designing something. The families also record elements of the service. Beth’s 12-year-old daughter coordinates Kids Church Online, including creating worship herself and encouraging other families to make things and send them in. Rev’d Stephen Gardner reads a bedtime story online every night. A mum said, ‘We all cuddle up together to watch.’
A mother is taking a gender clinic to court to prevent it giving sex-change drugs to her autistic daughter. She wants to prevent youngsters making 'catastrophic' decisions that they live to regret. The woman, called 'Mrs A' for legal reasons, fears her 16-year-old daughter will be fast-tracked for transgender medical treatment once she is seen by clinicians at the Gender Identity Development Service in London. She says they will simply 'affirm' the girl's belief - mistaken in her mother's opinion - that she is really a boy. In reality, Mrs A believes her daughter's desire to be male is driven by having Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism. She said, 'This is bigger than just my child. The whole narrative is that if your child is confused about their gender, then transition is the only course of action. There doesn't seem to be any discussion of other possibilities. That's frightening.'
Some children may be feeling excited about the easing of some of the lockdown restrictions. But it is also normal for children and young people to feel anxious about it. During lockdown they have spent long periods of time at home and are living with uncertainty about the coming weeks and months. Moving out of lockdown might be worrying, and some may find it difficult to adjust. Before the pandemic some were already suffering bullying, cyber bullying, school challenges, or relationship challenges. Coming out of lockdown for these more vulnerable children may cause them to fear meeting up with others at school. They may need some time to adjust to the new situation. Also some parents will be struggling to decide whether their child should go back to school at the moment. Pray that they will feel comfortable in deciding what is right for the entire family.
In response to US parents not knowing what to do with their children who had been sent home from closed schools, Verses for Zion (VfZ)was born, a biblically-rooted project connecting Christian children to Israel, as an opportunity to engage them in a multigenerational project with parents and grandparents. Now, as summer is starting and schools that had opened are closing again, it offers parents a way to add meaning and substance to their children's extended vacation. VfZ, the brainchild of an Orthodox Israeli Jew and an evangelical Christian pastor in Texas, aims to give children the opportunity to learn more about God, His Word and His people. One mother said, ‘It entrenches children’s faith and deepens their understanding of God, the Bible and how that relates to us today through Israel.’