Welcome to the Nexus of Ethics, Psychology, Morality, Philosophy and Health Care

Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, technology, health care, and philosophy
Showing posts with label Children. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Children. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

As guns rise to leading cause of death among US children, research funding to help prevent and protect victims lags

Deidre McPhillips
Originally posted 7 Feb 24

More children die from guns than anything else in the United States, but relatively little funding is available to study how to prevent these tragedies.

From 2008 to 2017, about $12 million in federal research awards were granted to study pediatric firearm mortality each year – about $600 per life lost, according to a study published in Health Affairs. Motor vehicle crashes, the leading cause of death among children at the time, received about $26,000 of research funding per death, while funding to study pediatric cancer, the third leading cause of death, topped $195,000 per death.

By 2020, firearm deaths in the US had reached record levels and guns had surpassed car crashes to become the leading cause of death among children. More than 4,300 children and teens died from guns in 2020, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – a 27% jump from 2017, and a number that has only continued to rise. But federal dollars haven’t followed proportionately.

Congress has earmarked about $25 million for firearm injury prevention research each year since 2020, split evenly between the CDC and the National Institutes of Health. Even if all of those dollars were spent on studies focused on pediatric deaths from firearm injury, it’d still be less than $6,000 per death.

The article highlights the critical need for increased research funding to prevent firearm-related deaths among children and teens in the U.S. Despite guns becoming the leading cause of death in this demographic, research funding remains insufficient. This lack of investment hinders the development of life-saving solutions and policies to address gun violence effectively. To protect our youth and combat this pressing issue, substantial and sustained funding for research on gun violence prevention is imperative.

Or, we could have more sensible gun laws to protect children and adolescents.

Friday, June 9, 2023

Undervaluing the Positive Impact of Kindness Starts Early

Echelbarger, M., & Epley, N. (2023, April 4).


Prosociality can create social connections that increase well-being among both givers and recipients, yet concerns about how another person might respond can make people reluctant to act prosocially. Existing research suggests these concerns may be miscalibrated such that people underestimate the positive impact their prosociality will have on recipients. Understanding when miscalibrated expectations emerge in development is critical for understanding when misplaced cognitive barriers might discourage social engagement, and for understanding when interventions to build relationships could begin. Two experiments asking children (aged 8-17, Experiment 1; aged 4-7, Experiment 2) and adults to perform the same random act of kindness for another person document that both groups significantly underestimate how “big” the act of kindness will seem to recipients, and how positive their act will make recipients feel. Participants significantly undervalued the positive impact of prosociality across ages. Miscalibrated psychological barriers to social connection may emerge early in life.

Public Significance Statement:

Prosociality tends to increase well-being among those performing the prosocial action as well as among those receiving the action.And yet, people may be somewhat reluctant to act prosocially out of concerns about how another person might respond.In two experiments involving children (4-7 years old), adolescents (8-17 years old), and adults, we find that people’s concerns tend to be systematically miscalibrated such that they underestimate how positively others will respond to their prosocial act. The degree of miscalibration is not moderated by age. This suggests that miscalibrated social cognition could make people overly reluctant to behave prosocially, that miscalibrated expectations emerge early in development, and that overcoming these social cognitive barriers could potentially increase well-being across the lifespan.

General Discussion

Positive social connections are critical for happiness and health among children, adolescents, and adults alike, and yet reaching out to connect with others can sometimes be hindered by concerns about how a recipient might respond. A growing body of recent research indicates that people consistently underestimate how positively prosocial actions will make a recipient feel, meaning that social cognition may create a misplaced barrier to social connection(Epley et al., 2022). Two experiments using a novel kindness procedure indicated that miscalibrated expectations arise early in development. In our experiments, children as young as 4-7years along with adults underestimated how much their recipient would value their prosocial act and feel positive afterwards. Psychological barriers to prosocial behavior appear to emerge early and persist into adulthood.

This may seem somewhat surprising given that experience with prosociality would presumably calibrate expectations. However, people can learn from their experience only when they have experience to learn from. Expectations that encourage avoidance may keep people from having the very experiences that would calibrate their expectations(Epley et al., 2022). In addition, people may not recognize the positive impact they have had on another person even after going through an interaction with them. Strangers who have just had a conversation tend to underestimate how much their partner actually liked them (Boothby et al., 2018), another social cognitive bias that has recently been documented in young children over age 5 as well (but not among 4-year-olds; Wolf et al., 2021). These results suggest that even if the givers in our experiments had been able to interact with their recipient while performing their act of kindness, they may still not have been able to recognize how positive recipients felt. Future research should examine how people do, or do not, learn from their experiences in ways that could maintain miscalibrated social expectations, and also examine outcomes across a range of other prosocial acts and among a larger sample of children and adolescents than we studied here.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

The Mystifying Rise of Child Suicide

Andrew Solomon
The New Yorker
Originally posted 4 APR 22

Here are two excerpts:

Every suicide creates a vacuum. Those left behind fill it with stories that aspire to rationalize their ultimately unfathomable plight. People may blame themselves or others, cling to small crumbs of comfort, or engage in pitiless self-laceration; many do all this and more. In a year of interviewing the people closest to Trevor, I saw all of these reactions and experienced some of them myself. I came to feel a love for Trevor, which I hadn’t felt when he was alive. The more I understood the depths of his vulnerability, the more I wished that I had encouraged my son, whose relationship with Trevor was often antagonistic, to befriend him. As I interviewed Trevor’s parents, my relationship with them changed. The need to write objectively without increasing their suffering made it more fraught—but it also became deeper and more loving. As the April 6th anniversary of Trevor’s death approached, I started to share their hope that this article would be a kind of memorial to him.

Angela was right that a larger issue is at stake. The average age of suicides has been falling for a long time while the rate of youth suicide has been rising. Between 1950 and 1988, the proportion of adolescents aged between fifteen and nineteen who killed themselves quadrupled. Between 2007 and 2017, the number of children aged ten to fourteen who did so more than doubled. It is extremely difficult to generalize about youth suicide, because the available data are so much sparser and more fragmentary than for adult mental illness, let alone in the broader field of developmental psychology. What studies there are have such varied parameters—of age range, sample size, and a host of demographic factors—as to make collating the information all but impossible. The blizzard of conflicting statistics points to our collective ignorance about an area in which more and better studies are urgently needed. Still, in 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the United States suicide claimed the lives of more than five hundred children between the ages of ten and fourteen, and of six thousand young adults between fifteen and twenty-four. In the former group, it was the second leading cause of death (behind unintentional injury). This makes it as common a cause of death as car crashes.


Perhaps the most unsettling aspect of child suicide is its unpredictability. A recent study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that about a third of child suicides occur seemingly without warning and without any predictive signs, such as a mental-health diagnosis, though sometimes a retrospective analysis points to signs that were simply missed. Jimmy Potash, the chair of the psychiatry department at Johns Hopkins, told me that a boy who survived a suicide attempt described the suddenness of the impulse: seeing a knife in the kitchen, he thought, I could stab myself with that, and had done so before he had time to think about it. When I spoke to Christine Yu Moutier, who is the chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, she told me that, in children, “the moment of acute suicidal urge is very short-lived. It’s almost like the brain can’t keep up that rigid state of narrowed cognition for long.” This may explain why access to means is so important; children living in homes with guns have suicide rates more than four times higher than those of other children.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Narrative media’s emphasis on distinct moral intuitions alters early adolescents’ judgments

Hahn, L., et al. (2021).
Journal of Media Psychology: 
Theories, Methods, and Applications. 
Advance online publication.


Logic from the model of intuitive morality and exemplars (MIME) suggests that narrative media emphasizing moral intuitions can increase the salience of those intuitions in audiences. To date, support for this logic has been limited to adults. Across two studies, the present research tested MIME predictions in early adolescents (ages 10–14). The salience of care, fairness, loyalty, and authority intuitions was manipulated in a pilot study with verbal prompts (N = 87) and in the main study with a comic book (N = 107). In both studies, intuition salience was measured after induction. The pilot study demonstrated that exposure to verbal prompts emphasizing care, fairness, and loyalty increased the salience of their respective intuitions. The main study showed that exposure to comic books emphasizing all four separate intuitions increased salience of their respective intuitions in early adolescents. Results are discussed in terms of relevance for the MIME and understanding narrative media’s influence on children’s moral judgments. 


Moral education is often at the forefront of parents’ concern for their children’s well-being. Although there is value in directly teaching children moral principles through instruction about what to do or not do, our results support an indirect approach to socializing children’s morality (Haidt & Bjorklund, 2008). This first step at exploring narrative media’s ability to activate moral intuitions in young audiences should be accompanied by additional work examining how “direct route” lessons, such as those contained in the
Ten Commandments, may complement narrative media’s impact on children’s morality.

Our studies provide evidence supporting the MIME’s predictions about narrative content’s influence on moral intuition salience. Future research should build on these findings to examine whether this elevated intuition salience can influence broader values, judgments, and behaviors in children. Such examinations should be especially important for researchers interested in both the mechanism responsible for media’s influence and the extent of media’s impact on malleable, developing children, who may be socialized
by media content.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Children punish third parties to satisfy both consequentialist and retributive motives

Marshall, J., Yudkin, D.A. & Crockett, M.J. 
Nat Hum Behav (2020). 


Adults punish moral transgressions to satisfy both retributive motives (such as wanting antisocial others to receive their ‘just deserts’) and consequentialist motives (such as teaching transgressors that their behaviour is inappropriate). Here, we investigated whether retributive and consequentialist motives for punishment are present in children approximately between the ages of five and seven. In two preregistered studies (N = 251), children were given the opportunity to punish a transgressor at a cost to themselves. Punishment either exclusively satisfied retributive motives by only inflicting harm on the transgressor, or additionally satisfied consequentialist motives by teaching the transgressor a lesson. We found that children punished when doing so satisfied only retributive motives, and punished considerably more when doing so also satisfied consequentialist motives. Together, these findings provide evidence for the presence of both retributive and consequentialist motives in young children.


Overall, these two preregistered studies provide clear evidence for the presence of both consequentialist and retributive motives in young children, supporting the naive pluralism hypothesis. Our observations cohere with past research showing that children between the ages of five and seven are willing to engage in costly third-party punishment, and reveal the motives behind children’s punitive behaviour. Children reliably engaged in purely retributive punishment: they punished solely to make an antisocial other sad without any possibility of deterring future antisocial behaviour.  Children did not punish in the non-communicative condition out of a preference for locking iPads in boxes, shown by the fact that children punished less in the baseline control condition. Furthermore, non-communicative punishment could not be explained by erroneous beliefs that punishing would teach the transgressor a lesson.  This demonstrates that young children are not pure consequentialists. Rather, our data suggest that young children engaged in costly third-party punishment for purely retributive reasons.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Antipsychotics for Children With ADHD Should Be a Last Resort

Jeannette Y. Wick
Originally published 20 Feb 20

Here is an excerpt:


A freestanding diagnosis of ADHD is not an indication for antipsychotic medications. Although no studies have determined which children who get an ADHD diagnosis are most likely to receive antipsychotic medications, mental health comorbidity is a possible factor.

ADHD often occurs in conjunction with other mental health conditions. Common comorbidities include conduct disorder (depression, or oppositional defiant disorder), and prescribers may use antipsychotic drugs to augment other approaches. The evidence does not support using antipsychotic medication for depression in youths, but some data support a risperidone trial for conduct disorder or oppositional defiant disorder in stimulant-resistant youths with ADHD.

A second concern is aggression. Aggression that stems from poor impulse control is common in youths who have ADHD, and it frequently occurs in children who have comorbidities. This behavior is often associated with a need for assessment, hospitalization, or urgent care and requires careful follow-up and cautious risk assessment. ADHD may not respond to stimulant medications, so prescribers may use antipsychotic drugs off-label in an effort to reduce aggressive outbursts. Research shows that antipsychotic-treated youths with ADHD often have clinical characteristics associated with aggression. However, few youths with ADHD who were treated with antipsychotics received the evidence-indicated trial doses of 2 stimulants before an antipsychotic.

The info is here.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Connecting the dots on the origins of social knowledge

Arber Tasimi
in press, Perspectives on Psychological Science


Understanding what infants know about social life is a growing enterprise. Indeed, one of the most exciting developments within psychological science over the past decade is the view that infants may come equipped with knowledge about “good” and “bad,” and about “us” and “them.” At the heart of this view is a seminal set of studies indicating that infants prefer helpers to hinderers and similar to dissimilar others. What a growing number of researchers now believe is that these preferences may be based on innate (i.e., unlearned) social knowledge. Here I consider how decades of research in developmental psychology can lead to a different way to make sense of this popular body of work. As I make connections between old observations and new theorizing––and between classic findings and contemporary research––I consider how the same preferences that are thought to emanate from innate social knowledge may, instead, reflect social knowledge that infants can rapidly build as they pursue relationships with their caregivers.  I offer this perspective with hopes that it will inspire future work that supports or questions the ideas sketched out here and, by doing so, will broaden an understanding of the origins of social knowledge.

The paper is here.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

What a Pediatrician Saw Inside a Border Patrol Warehouse

Jeremy Raff
The Atlantic
Originally posted July 3, 2019

Here are two excerpts:

As agents brought in the children she requested, Sevier said, the smell of sweat and soiled clothing filled the room. They had not been allowed to bathe or change since crossing the Rio Grande and turning themselves over to officials. Sevier found that about two-thirds of the kids she examined had symptoms of respiratory infection. The guards wore surgical masks, but the detainees breathed the air unfiltered. As the children filed in, Sevier said she found evidence of sleep deprivation, dehydration, and malnutrition too.


During the exam, she noticed that the toddler behaved differently from the kids his age she sees every day. In an exam room at her clinic decorated with a Lion King mural, I watched her do a routine checkup on a slightly younger boy. This toddler pulled back when Sevier touched him, but was easily soothed by his mother. The reaction was normal—“a small oscillation between worried and okay,” Sevier explained. A little shyness is typical, she said, but toddlers “shouldn't be fearful of a stranger.” When they are afraid—when the memory of their last shots is fresh in their mind, for instance—they resist Sevier by crying, clinging to their caregiver, or squirming beneath her stethoscope.

At Ursula, however, the children Sevier examined—like the panting 2-year-old—were “totally fearful, but then entirely subdued,” she told me. She could read the fear in their faces, but they were perfectly submissive to her authority. “I can only explain it by trauma, because that is such an unusual behavior,” she said. Sevier had brought along Mickey Mouse toys to break the ice, and the kids seem to enjoy playing with them. Yet none resisted, she said, when she took them away at the end of the exam. “At some point,” Sevier mused, “you’re broken and you stop fighting.”

The info is here.

Friday, July 20, 2018

How to Look Away

Megan Garber
The Atlantic
Originally published June 20, 2018

Here is an excerpt:

It is a dynamic—the democratic alchemy that converts seeing things into changing them—that the president and his surrogates have been objecting to, as they have defended their policy. They have been, this week (with notable absences), busily appearing on cable-news shows and giving disembodied quotes to news outlets, insisting that things aren’t as bad as they seem: that the images and the audio and the evidence are wrong not merely ontologically, but also emotionally. Don’t be duped, they are telling Americans. Your horror is incorrect. The tragedy is false. Your outrage about it, therefore, is false. Because, actually, the truth is so much more complicated than your easy emotions will allow you to believe. Actually, as Fox News host Laura Ingraham insists, the holding pens that seem to house horrors are “essentially summer camps.” And actually, as Fox & Friends’ Steve Doocy instructs, the pens are not cages so much as “walls” that have merely been “built … out of chain-link fences.” And actually, Kirstjen Nielsen wants you to remember, “We provide food, medical, education, all needs that the child requests.” And actually, too—do not be fooled by your own empathy, Tom Cotton warns—think of the child-smuggling. And of MS-13. And of sexual assault. And of soccer fields. There are so many reasons to look away, so many other situations more deserving of your outrage and your horror.

It is a neat rhetorical trick: the logic of not in my backyard, invoked not merely despite the fact that it is happening in our backyard, but because of it. With seed and sod that we ourselves have planted.

Yes, yes, there are tiny hands, reaching out for people who are not there … but those are not the point, these arguments insist and assure. To focus on those images—instead of seeing the system, a term that Nielsen and even Trump, a man not typically inclined to think in networked terms, have been invoking this week—is to miss the larger point.

The article is here.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The developmental origins of moral concern: An examination of moral boundary decision making throughout childhood

Neldner K, Crimston D, Wilks M, Redshaw J, Nielsen M (2018)
PLoS ONE 13(5): e0197819. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0197819

Prominent theorists have made the argument that modern humans express moral concern for a greater number of entities than at any other time in our past. Moreover, adults show stable patterns in the degrees of concern they afford certain entities over others, yet it remains unknown when and how these patterns of moral decision-making manifest in development.  Children aged 4 to 10 years (N = 151) placed 24 pictures of human, animal, and environmental entities on a stratified circle representing three levels of moral concern. Although younger and older children expressed similar overall levels of moral concern, older children demonstrated a more graded understanding of concern by including more entities within the outer reaches of their moral circles (i.e., they were less likely to view moral inclusion as a simple in vs. out binary decision). With age children extended greater concern to humans than other forms of life, and more concern to vulnerable groups, such as the sick and disabled.  Notably, children’s level of concern for human entities predicted their prosocial
behavior. The current research provides novel insights into the development of our moral reasoning and its structure within childhood.

The paper is here.

Friday, May 25, 2018

The $3-Million Research Breakdown

Jodi Cohen
Originally published April 26, 2018

Here is an excerpt:

In December, the university quietly paid a severe penalty for Pavuluri’s misconduct and its own lax oversight, after the National Institute of Mental Health demanded weeks earlier that the public institution — which has struggled with declining state funding — repay all $3.1 million it had received for Pavuluri’s study.

In issuing the rare rebuke, federal officials concluded that Pavuluri’s “serious and continuing noncompliance” with rules to protect human subjects violated the terms of the grant. NIMH said she had “increased risk to the study subjects” and made any outcomes scientifically meaningless, according to documents obtained by ProPublica Illinois.

Pavuluri’s research is also under investigation by two offices in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: the inspector general’s office, which examines waste, fraud and abuse in government programs, according to subpoenas obtained by ProPublica Illinois, and the Office of Research Integrity, according to university officials.

The article is here.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Who Am I? The Role of Moral Beliefs in Children’s and Adults’ Understanding of Identity

Larisa Heiphetz, Nina Strohminger, Susan A. Gelman, and Liane L. Young
Forthcoming: Journal of Experimental and Social Psychology


Adults report that moral characteristics—particularly widely shared moral beliefs—are central to identity. This perception appears driven by the view that changes to widely shared moral beliefs would alter friendships and that this change in social relationships would, in turn, alter an individual’s personal identity. Because reasoning about identity changes substantially during adolescence, the current work tested pre- and post-adolescents to reveal the role that such changes could play in moral cognition. Experiment 1 showed that 8- to 10-year-olds, like adults, judged that people would change more after changes to their widely shared moral beliefs (e.g., whether hitting is wrong) than after changes to controversial moral beliefs (e.g., whether telling prosocial lies is wrong). Following up on this basic effect, a second experiment examined whether participants regard all changes to widely shared moral beliefs as equally impactful. Adults, but not children, reported that individuals would change more if their good moral beliefs (e.g., it is not okay to hit) transformed into bad moral beliefs (e.g., it is okay to hit) than if the opposite change occurred. This difference in adults was mediated by perceptions of how much changes to each type of belief would alter friendships. We discuss implications for moral judgment and social cognitive development.

The research is here.

Monday, October 16, 2017

No Child Left Alone: Moral Judgments about Parents Affect Estimates of Risk to Children

Thomas, A. J., Stanford, P. K., & Sarnecka, B. W. (2016).
Collabra, 2(1), 10.


In recent decades, Americans have adopted a parenting norm in which every child is expected to be under constant direct adult supervision. Parents who violate this norm by allowing their children to be alone, even for short periods of time, often face harsh criticism and even legal action. This is true despite the fact that children are much more likely to be hurt, for example, in car accidents. Why then do bystanders call 911 when they see children playing in parks, but not when they see children riding in cars? Here, we present results from six studies indicating that moral judgments play a role: The less morally acceptable a parent’s reason for leaving a child alone, the more danger people think the child is in. This suggests that people’s estimates of danger to unsupervised children are affected by an intuition that parents who leave their children alone have done something morally wrong.

Here is part of the discussion:

The most important conclusion we draw from this set of experiments is the following: People don’t only think that leaving children alone is dangerous and therefore immoral. They also think it is immoral and therefore dangerous. That is, people overestimate the actual danger to children who are left alone by their parents, in order to better support or justify their moral condemnation of parents who do so.

This brings us back to our opening question: How can we explain the recent hysteria about unsupervised children, often wildly out of proportion to the actual risks posed by the situation? Our findings suggest that once a moralized norm of ‘No child left alone’ was generated, people began to feel morally outraged by parents who violated that norm. The need (or opportunity) to better support or justify this outrage then elevated people’s estimates of the actual dangers faced by children. These elevated risk estimates, in turn, may have led to even stronger moral condemnation of parents and so on, in a self-reinforcing feedback loop.

The article is here.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Concussions and Informed Consent

By Justin Caouette
A Philosopher's Take
Originally published June 10, 2013

Here is an excerpt:

It is often assumed, and for good reason, that children are not in a position to give consent because they cannot properly weigh the costs and benefits that certain actions or procedures would have on their lives, both at the moment of action and in the future. Because of this parents are looked to for consent under the assumption that most parents can properly weigh the costs and benefits. Consider a minor taking a job (in film for example), or when a child needs surgery or an invasive medical procedure. Parents must weigh the risk of the job or procedure and deem if the benefits outweigh the harm. In weighing the risks and rewards of playing organized American football I cannot, in good taste, feel comfortable claiming that children should be afforded the opportunity to play. In fact, I do not think children should be allowed to play. The more I think about it the more apparent this conclusion becomes. In what follows I will offer some of the considerations that have pushed me to believe this.

Injuries : Concussions are serious! Especially for an undeveloped brain. Children’s heads are 90% that of their adult size by the age of 4 yet the muscles in their neck take longer to develop (see here). Because of this, children are not very good protectors of their brain. They cannot brace themselves for the hits they receive which makes it easier for them to get a concussion, an injury that is already prevalent within the sport. Not to mention the unnecessary wear and tear on their joints. This puts them at a higher risk for arthritis later in life.

The article is here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Will America Pass the Test of Morality in 2016?

By Marian Wright Edelman
The Milwaukee Courier
Originally posted January 9, 2016

Here is an excerpt:

We are better than this. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the great German Protestant theologian who died opposing Hitler’s holocaust, believed the test of the morality of society is how it treats its children. We flunk Bonhoeffer’s test every hour and every day in America, as we let the violence of guns and the violence of poverty relentlessly sap countless child lives. A child or teenager is killed by a gun every three and a half hours, nearly 7 a day, 48 a week.

More than 15.5 million children are poor and children are the poorest age group in America – the world’s largest economy, and the younger the children are, the poorer they are. Children of color, already the majority of our youngest children, will be the majority of our children in 2020.

The article is here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Religious upbringing associated with less altruism, study finds

By Susie Allen
University of Chicago News
Originally released November 5, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

Consistent with previous studies, in general the children were more likely to share as they got older. But children from households identifying as Christian and Muslim were significantly less likely than children from non-religious households to share their stickers. The negative relation between religiosity and altruism grew stronger with age; children with a longer experience of religion in the household were the least likely to share.

Children from religious households favored stronger punishments for anti-social behavior and judged such behavior more harshly than non-religious children. These results support previous studies of adults, which have found religiousness is linked with punitive attitudes toward interpersonal offenses.

The entire article is here. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Lawsuit: Your Candy Bar Was Made By Child Slaves

By Abby Haglage
The Daily Beast
Originally published September 30, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

In the 15 years since the documentary sparked outrage, there are more child laborers in the cocoa industry than ever before. The companies have not only failed to stop the “worst forms of child labor”; they’ve seemingly made it worse. A report released on July 30, 2015, from the Payson Center for International Development of Tulane University and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor found a 51 percent increase in the number of children working in the cocoa industry in 2013-14, compared to the last report in 2008-09. The number, they found, now totals 1.4 million. Those living in slave-like conditions increased 10 percent from the 2008-09 results, now totaling 1.1 million. The study concludes that while “some progress has been made,” the goal of reducing the number of children in the industry had “not come within reach.”

The California plaintiffs’ false-advertising claims against Nestle, Hershey, and Mars are the latest effort to pressure the chocolate industry to fix a problem it has known about for more than a decade. “Children that are sometimes not even 10 years old carry huge sacks that are so big that they cause them serious physical harm,” the complaint alleges.

The entire article is here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Thousands of Toddlers Are Medicated for A.D.H.D., Report Finds, Raising Worries

By Alan Schwarz
The New York Times
Originally published May 16, 2014

More than 10,000 American toddlers 2 or 3 years old are being medicated for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder outside established pediatric guidelines, according to data presented on Friday by an official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report, which found that toddlers covered by Medicaid are particularly prone to be put on medication such as Ritalin and Adderall, is among the first efforts to gauge the diagnosis of A.D.H.D. in children below age 4. Doctors at the Georgia Mental Health Forum at the Carter Center in Atlanta, where the data was presented, as well as several outside experts strongly criticized the use of medication in so many children that young.

The entire article is here.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

How to get kids to tell the truth? It's not all about carrot or stick

By Dan Jones
Research Digest Blog
Originally published January 15, 2015

All parents have to come to terms with the fact that their little angels will, from time to time, act like little devils. They’ll throw tantrums over trivial issues, or they’ll push, hit, bite or scratch other kids. And at some point they’ll start lying about what they’ve done.

Lying is perfectly normal among children, not a sign of a sociopath in the making. Many kids start telling the odd fib around their second birthday, and by the time they’re 4 or 5 they’re even better at the art of manipulating the truth, and keeping it from us. So how can parents help their kids internalise the lesson that honesty is the best — or at least the socially preferred — policy?

The entire blog post is here.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Brain stimulation for ‘enhancement’ in children: An ethical analysis

By Hannah Maslen, Brian D Earp, Roi Cohen-Kadosh and Julian Savulescu
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
Revised on November 6, 2014


Davis (2014) called for "extreme caution" in the use of non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) to treat neurological disorders in children, due to gaps in scientific knowledge. We are sympathetic to his position. However, we must also address the ethical implications of applying this technology to minors. Compensatory trade-offs associated with NIBS present a challenge to its use in children, insofar as these trade-offs have the effect of limiting the child's future options. The distinction between treatment and enhancement has some normative force here. As the intervention moves away from being a treatment toward being an enhancement—and thus toward a more uncertain weighing of the benefits, risks, and costs—considerations of the child’s best interests (as judged by the parents) diminish, and the need to protect the child's (future) autonomy looms larger. NIBS for enhancement involving trade-offs should therefore be delayed, if possible, until the child reaches a state of maturity and can make an informed, personal decision. NIBS for treatment, by contrast, is permissible insofar as it can be shown to be at least as safe and effective as currently approved treatments, which are (themselves) justified on a best interests standard.

The entire article is here.