Chicago Parent Staff


MySpace Profile searching

I appreciated your piece about Internet safety as I have been banging this gong for at least two years. Finding a child’s profile on MySpace, however, is not always so easy. Many kids use their IM e-mail address, which may be different from the one used on their home computer and most kids are savvy enough (thank goodness) not to use their real name. Parents may have to "think outside the box" a little to find their profiles. One suggestion is to think about their kid’s friends, too. When users communicate with others on MySpace, their profiles are often displayed somewhere on that page. Try searching for their friends if all else fails.

Toni Hargis
Lincoln Park

Let the kids play

The Illinois House of Representatives has a bill in process, HB1335, which mandates 10 minutes of daily recess for all Illinois schools.

I have two boys, ages 10 and 12. As a Chicago Public School parent, I see that teachers are capable of balancing their school year academic requirements creatively. More work in the winter, less in the fall and spring, little or none in June. Even more so now that the main testing is done in March. But as children, a January day is the same as a May day, as far as sitting in a classroom with all of your friends. They need time to socialize and possibly kick a ball in the winter as much as they do in the spring. What kind of message are we delivering to our children that they have to rush all winter and then be bored for two months, coloring and watching educational videos in class to while away the hours until summer vacation?

Children need to have an integration of social interaction and physical activity in order to achieve optimal academic performance. Schools should be committed to the physical, social and academic well being of students. You cannot address the academic potential of a child without also balancing the physical and social needs of that child.

I don’t know a child that wouldn’t have a happier educational experience if he or she were to know that every day they were going to have a chance to play with their schoolmates. Many kids do not enjoy school. Many live in such unsafe neighborhoods or busy streets with busy families that they do not have a chance for free play time with their peers. Let’s bring this important institution back to children’s lives. Children need a reason to want to go to school.

Steve Lux
Coalition for Children’s Health, Chicago

People with disabilities have much to offer society

I am a young woman with Down Syndrome. I am so sad to hear about all the babies with Down Syndrome being aborted. I am so grateful that I was not aborted because I have a full and wonderful life!

I do not "suffer" from Down Syndrome. I believe in the sacred dignity of all people and most people I know with disabilities have full and productive lives.

I learned about what Hitler did during the Holocaust. He killed many people he did not think had the right to live. He learned how to kill by killing people with disabilities first. My heart broke when I learned about this at the Holocaust museum.

It seems to me we are doing the same thing to children with disabilities today in our country. I think this is like genocide—the systematic killing of a whole people or nation.

I wonder why we think Hitler was so horrible when we are doing the same thing he did?

My heart breaks again when I think that I might be the last generation of people with Down Syndrome. The world will never again benefit from our gifts.

I will hold hope for people with disabilities and for all the people who think we don’t have the right to live.

Bridget Brown

Can talking to kids stop teen pregnancy?

A recent report to Congress on abstinence-only education found that abstinence-only programs completely failed to change young people’s behavior. Students receiving abstinence-only education were no more likely to abstain from sex than students who had not participated in any lessons. Clearly, funding programs that just tell kids "don’t have sex until you’re older" is a waste of time and taxpayer money. It also gives parents a false sense of security.

Since 47 percent of all high school students report they have had sexual intercourse, figuring out how to reduce teen pregnancy is a critical concern. Despite hitting the lowest level in 30 years, 31 percent of teenage girls get pregnant at least once before they reach age 20.

Many research reports show that positive communication between parents and their children can help young people establish individual values and make healthy decisions.

When parents talk to their kids about sex, communicate their values and share information about contraception, their kids are likely to wait longer to have sex, have fewer sex partners and avoid risky behaviors. So, what are parents waiting for? What are they afraid of?

Well, it turns out, many parents are frightened to bring up the subject or don’t know what to say if they do.

At the Robert Crown Center of Health Education, we don’t blame parents. Most of us never had a good conversation about sex with our own parents. That’s why we offer a free class called "Straight Talk About Sex" to help parents develop the skills and confidence to discuss their values and important information with their children.

Parents tell us that the class is a godsend and makes them feel more ready to seize the initiative. What are you waiting for?

Kathleen Burke, CEO
Robert Crown Center for Health Education, Hinsdale

Missed opportunity

In Amber Beutel’s article, "Keep Your Child’s Mind Active This Summer" (May 2007), she neglected to mention a great opportunity for all children: the free summer reading programs at local public libraries. These summer reading programs give children the chance to choose which books to read, unlike school assignments which may prescribe a particular genre. Many programs offer incentives to motivate young readers to read a lot during their summer vacations. For example, at the Wilmette Library, there are three summer reading clubs, one for every age group. (There’s even one for adults.) Also scheduled are Summer Storytimes, Stories in the Park, Book Buddies and a Literary Magazine. I encourage all your readers to check out their local library to keep the kids involved with books all summer long.

Alice Joseph


Kids Eat Chicago

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