There is something to be said for the conventional wisdom of sending children to bed at a regular hour each evening.
New research, from the University College of London and published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, indicates that youngsters who had regular bedtime or who went to bed later than 9 p.m. had lower scores in reading and math. The impact was measurably higher throughout early childhood in girls.
The researchers, led by Prof. Amanda Sacker from University College of London, said it was possible that inconsistent bedtimes were a reflection of chaotic family settings, rather than disrupted sleep, that appeared to have a greater impact on cognitive performance in children.
"The take-home message is really that routines do seem to be important for children," Sacker told the BBC. "Establishing a good bedtime routine early in childhood is probably best, but it's never too late."
The researchers gathered data on children at the ages of three, five and seven to find out how well they were doing with their learning and whether their cognitive skills were related to sleeping habits. Erratic bedtimes were most common at the age of three, when one in five of the children went to bed at varying times. By the age of seven, more than half of the children had a regular bedtime of between 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
A startling new reports from the United Nations indicates that an estimated 10.5 million, some as young as five-years-old, as working domestics, cooking and cleaning inside private homes across the globe. And according to the U.N. International Labor Organization, many of them are girls who also face abuse and potential futures as sex slaves.
The report, "Ending Child Labor in Domestic Work," was published June 12, the U.N.'s annual World Day Against Child Labor.
The ILO highlighted domestic work because, in many countries, children who work inside homes have even fewer protections as those found in factories. To prevent potential abuses, the ILO is asking governments to ratify UN conventions on minimum age requirements.
“The situation of many child domestic workers not only constitutes a serious violation of child rights, but remains an obstacle to the achievement of many national and international development objectives,” said Constance Thomas, an ILO director. “There are millions of minors, mostly young girls, who are victims of this form of hidden exploitation which often includes sexual abuse, poor treatment and discrimination."
Major retailers will recall a popular baby recliner after the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced this morning that the recliner was linked to five fatalities.
The commission said there have been 92 reports of infants "hanging or falling out over the side" of the Nap Nanny. The recall applies to Nap Nanny Generations One and Two and also the Chill model of infant recliners. Each of the recliners are manufactured by Pennsylvania-based Baby Matters.
The commission said this morning that Baby Matters was "unable or unwilling to participate in the recall," after being slapped with a complaint earlier this month. The same product was originally recalled in 2010 after reports of one death.
The commission said retailers such as Amazon.com, BabiesRUs and Diapers.com had already agreed to the recall.
But the owner and founder of Nap Nanny, Leslie Gudel wrote on her company's website that, "We do not believe the complaint has merit and stand behind the safety of our product when used as instructed."
The U.S. birth rate fell to a record low in 2011, driven in large part by the economic downturn.
According to a Pew Research Center report, the nation's birth rate fell 8 percent from 2007 to 2010. It dropped 6 percent for U.S.-born women and 14 percent for foreign-born women since 2007. Last year's rate was the lowest since records started being kept in 1920.
A drop in new arrivals to the U.S. also affected the birth rate, with immigration from Mexico reaching a net zero in 2010.
The birth rate is defined as the number of births per 1,000 women, aged 15-44.
A new study points to an increasing number of serious injuries from child abuse in Idaho. The analysis, featured in the journal Pediatrics, said injuries—including head trauma—rose nearly 5 percent from 1997 to 2009. A previous study indicated that there had been a drop in serious abuse.
An Idaho physician, who also serves as board member for Shaken Baby Prevention of Idaho, said the organization had seen a 10- to 15-percent increase in serious child abuse cases in 2012.
The Idaho Children's Trust Fund says babies' heads are relatively large and heavy, making up about 25 percent of their total body weight, while neck muscles are weak. When a baby is shaken, the brain rotates within the skull, injuring or destroying brain tissue, according to ICTF.
When shaking occurs, blood vessels feeding the brain can be torn, leading to bleeding around the brain. Blood pools within the skull, sometimes creating more pressure within the skull and possibly causing additional brain damage.
One out of four babies who are shaken die from their injuries, according to Shaken Baby Prevention of Idaho.
In spite of half of Idaho children under age 6 needing child care, a new survey indicates that the Gem State ranks last in the nation when it comes to oversight of its day care providers. The Idaho Press-Tribune reports that the advocacy group Child Care Aware has continued to rank Idaho "dead last for its regulation of child care centers." The nonprofit said Idaho's threshold requiring licensing—seven children—is too high "and leaves too many unregulated small, in-home day cares putting kids at risk."
The Press-Tribune reports that private or religious schools are exempt from day care licensing for children over 4 years of age or a religious kindergarten. A day care license—usually good for two years—costs $100 for six or fewer children, $250 for 13 to 25 children, and $325 for 26 or more children in attendance at any given time.
The 2009 Idaho Legislature agreed to lowering the day care license requirement to seven or more children. Previously, licenses were only required for those caring for 13 or more children. Anyone caring for four or more children in an in-home day care must also undergo a criminal background check.
Greg Hamblock was spotted pushing a baby stroller packed with supplies through downtown Boise today. But he won't be in town too long. Thursday, July 26, he'll resume his 3,000-mile cross-country trip, which he's hoping to complete by late October.
“I have had many people say they could not do what I am doing, but I think anyone can if the issue is very important to them,” said Hamblock. “I think it’s all about how important the cause is to you.”
Hamblock’s motivation is two children that he met in 2010 while volunteering at a homeless shelter in Louisiana. After becoming a mentor to now 8-year-old Chris and 5-year-old Megan, Hamblock was struck with the urge to help them in some way.
“I decided in January of 2011 that I wanted to put them in private school,” Hamblock told Citydesk. “It was January of this year that I decided I wanted to do this by running.”
Students were nowhere near Boise High School Tuesday morning, yet advocates for appropriate teen relationships chose the school cafeteria as a backdrop to huddle with parents about how best to foster healthy relationships for their sons and daughters.
“We're doing a lot of work in high schools to prevent teen dating abuse and sexual assault by promoting healthy relationships,” said Kelly Miller, executive director of Idaho’s Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence. “What we found in that work is that we really needed to be in the middle-school age group: 10- to 15-year-olds.”
Approximately 50 parents carved time out of their weekday schedules to attend the workshop, where Start Strong Idaho team members and teen interns led the adults through a series of exercises designed to build healthy relationships.
A major focus of the Start Strong workshop was gender equality.
“Four hundred fifty teens told us in a survey that they experienced gender equality most of the time up until the age of 12," said Miller. "But then it takes a big drop down to 50 percent at age 13.”
Miller said 13-year-olds also begin feeling pressure to begin dating. The mixture of pressure to be in a relationship along with a lack of equality in a relationship can create what Miller called "a perfect storm."
A project of the coalition, Start Strong Idaho has focused primarily on middle-schoolers for the past four years, defining strategies for building and maintaining healthy dating relationships. Some of the initiative's more successful outreach programs have included poetry slams, writing competitions and chalk art showcases.
“When people start to think creatively and interconnectedly about their relationships, it is easier to realize that a relationship is not about two people,” said Monica Daggett, 16-year-old incoming Junior at Bishop Kelly High School. “The more kids we are reaching, the healthier things are becoming.”
A crew from ABC News' Nightline program attended Tuesday's workshop and will focus on the coalition's efforts in an upcoming broadcast.
“It is exciting because we are seeing some real changes in Idaho in terms of some of the data and reporting of abusive relationships in high schools,” said Miller. “We hope this work we are doing in middle schools is a part of that.”
Idaho is at the top of the list in a new so-called "Right for Kids" survey, which scores each of the nation's state child welfare systems.
The study, published by the Foundation for Government Accountability, ranked Idaho as No. 1, followed by New Hampshire, North Carolina, Florida and New Jersey.
The rankings were based on how state child welfare systems responded to allegations of abuse, placed children in safe foster-care settings, and worked to reduce the overall incidence of abuse and neglect.
According to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, at any given time, there are approximately 1,300 children in foster care in the Gem State. In 2007, the foster care number was as high as 1,900.
According to survey, the bottom five, representing those states or districts that scored poorest, were the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Oregon, Illinois, South Dakota and Montana.