Hollywood is Playing it Safe

It appears that filmmakers in Hollywood have been listening to concerned doctors and parents as Hollywood is showing safer behaviour, well, at least when it comes to movies aimed at children.

The entertainment industry has improved its portrayals of walking, cycling and boating in movies aimed at children, but half of scenes still show risky behaviour, U.S. researchers found.

Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death among children in Canada and the U.S. Previous studies have found movies marketed to children rarely portrayed safety measures such as wearing seatbelts, so the researchers set out to test if depictions have improved.

Jon Eric Tongren of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and his colleagues reviewed the top-grossing movies rated for general audiences or parental guidance per year from 2003 to 2007.

More Smoking Bans in Canada

Last month a small town in Nova Scotia banned smoking in cars with children passengers. Last year we mentioned that Quebec and Ontario are nearly smoke-free.

It’s great to see how all these places are limiting where one can smoke as second hand smoke, and smoking itself, is harmful. Now New Brunswick is jumping on the no smoking in cars bandwagon with more provinces to follow.

Michael Murphy, [New Brunswick’s] health minister, told CTV Halifax that he’s concerned that the tobacco industry is targeting kids. He also said that New Brunswick residents may want to consider the possibility of a smoking ban in cars with kids.

British Columbia and the Yukon are considering similar legislation. Ontario politicians have also started to debate vehicle smoking bans.

Studies show that the concentration of toxins in a smoke-filled car is 23 times greater than a smoky bar. Yet, one in five children are exposed to smoke in a car on a regular basis.

Small Town Fights Big Smoke

Smoking is clearly bad for your health, and it’s bad for the people who happen to be around a smoker too. A small town in Nova Scotia, Canada has made it illegal to smoke while in a car that is transporting children. Wolfville is a community that is turning out to be one of the more progressive ones in Canada, and all the more power to them in their ongoing adventure to make the world better!

Meg McCallum, a spokeswoman for the cancer agency, said the bylaw is part of a societal shift that began years ago when similar bans were placed on airplanes, followed by workplaces, restaurants and bars across much of Canada.

“It’s all about what’s best for children and youth,” she said from Halifax. “This is part of evolving to a culture where being tobacco-free is the norm.”

The law, expected to come into effect June 1, 2008, would prohibit exposing children under 18 to secondhand smoke in a vehicle.

No More Homework?

If research is to be believed, your kids may start coming home with less homework.  For younger students, a few schools are reducing the number of repetitive exercises given, and replacing them with assignments designed to engage the mind. 

Years of research supports the idea that there is no link between grades and the amount of homework assigned.  In a study covering 50 countries, students with the highest grades (such as Japan and Denmark) did very little homework, compared to children with the lowest grades (such as Greece and Iran), who did lots of homework.  Due to various research reports, some teachers and parents now see no need to assign a lot of afterschool work in the early and middle grades

Harris Cooper, one of the leading researchers on homework in the United States, firmly believes in extra schoolwork.  “Kids at all grade levels are going to benefit from practice,” he states.  “…If it’s practice that gets you to Carnegie Hall, homework’s going to help.”

However, he acknowledges that too much does not mean better grades.  His rule of thumb: children shouldn’t do more than 10 minutes of homework for each grade.  For example, a Grade 2 student should have only 20 minutes of homework; a Grade 7 student, 1 hour and 10 minutes.

At Vernon Barford Junior High in Edmonton, teacher Judy Hoeksema now assigns half the work she did last year.  “We’ve all been under this illusion that lots of homework creates good study habits for the future,” the math teacher of 26 years says.  “Now, we’ve realized it isn’t making much difference.”

As a bonus for scaling back homework, many families are seeing  increased quality time for children and parents , less household stress, and less physical stress on their kids due to less books being carried.

BA Flight Makes Unexpected Delivery

A BA flight from London to Boston made a rather unexpected delivery yesterday as one of its passengers gave birth to a healthy baby mid-flight.

Shortly after take off on Saturday night, one of the BA flight’s female passengers began to experience discomfort and then went into labour. The crew, trained in medical birthing procedures, helped to deliver the baby with the aid of two medical students who were on board.

The flight was diverted to Halifax in Nova Scotia where the woman and baby were taken to a medical centre. The baby was born 6 weeks premature.
Although flight crews are trained to deal with such eventualities, passengers are encouraged to avoid flying after 36 weeks, making this a rare occurrence.

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