A French and Spanish teacher in Mariemont, Ohio recently filed a lawsuit against the local school district alleging that they assigned her to work around young children in order to force her resignation, over what she claimed to be an extreme phobia of young children.
Maria C. Waltherr-Willard has worked for the district for 35 years, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer, but she was recently reassigned from her high school to a middle school, which has aggravated her condition.
The suit claims that Waltherr-Willard has “pedophobia,” a debilitating state that induces severe anxiety, chest pains, vomiting, high blood pressure and even nightmares when she’s exposed to children.
“It’s a tough phobia,” the University of Cincinnati’s Dr. Caleb Adler told the Enquirer. “You can’t really get away from (children) when you’re outside. When you’re a teacher, it may not be an issue with older students.”
The suit reportedly also claims she had a prior agreement with the school to work exclusively with teens and up. A judge, however, has dismissed three of her primary claims, although three more await a response from the district.
For its part, the district reportedly moved her because the high school level French class was being eliminated and offered online.
A growing trend in across all industry segments, in the wood products market we see more and more robots being used in plants for material handling and even basic construction applications: Custom Cupboards, Navy Island and Ro-Bois-Ticare just a few that come to mind.
Navy Island Robots in fact make it easier for U.S. companies to lower their overhead, including insurance rates, and maximize profits. Their capability to work 24/7 also help wood products companies keep competitive on the price of goods, especially in comparison with lower cost imports.
Which leads me to an interesting segment on 60 Minutes last night about the growing use of robotics in manufacturing and whether robots were taking jobs away from human employees. In fact, during the “March of the Machines” report by 60 Minutes’ Steve Kroft, it was noted that a robot’s “wage earnings” could be roughly estimated at $3 an hour, putting it level with those earned by laborers in many Far East/Asian countries.
Included in the 60 Minutes segment was Kroft’s interviews with MIT professors Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson; while robots may be “revolutionizing” U.S. manufacturing, they are having a negative effect on job creation. In the interview, Brynjolfsson notes, “Technology is always creating jobs. It’s always destroying jobs. But right now the pace is accelerating. So as a consequence, we are not creating jobs at the same pace that we need to.”
You also have to wonder about the impact this may be having on labor’s share of income in the workplace.
The graph illustrates corporate profits compared to labor’s share of income. Labor shares continue to decline, while corporate profits are on an upward trend. McAfee’s Jan. 9 blog, “Labor’s Lost Leverage,” also discusses that very point. Based on figures from the Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED), McAfee has compiled a graph where the divergence between corporate profits and labor’s share of income has never been greater than it is today.
Saying he expects the two lines to continue diverging, McAfee adds, “I am the farthest thing from a Marxist that you’ll ever meet, but I’m also not willing to pretend any more that things will be just fine for American workers once demand comes back and companies get healthy again. Judging by their profits, American companies have never been in better shape. The same cannot be said for workers.”
What do you think?
Watch the “March of the Machines” 60 Minutes segment
HOUSTON (AP) — Former President George H.W. Bush was released from a Houston hospital and went home Monday after spending nearly two months being treated for a bronchitis-related cough and other health issues, a family spokesman said.
Bush, 88, the nation’s oldest living former president, was admitted to Methodist Hospital on Nov. 23. His stay included a week in intensive care last month.
“I am deeply grateful for the wonderful doctors and nurses at Methodist who took such good care of me,” Bush said in a statement released by spokesman Jim McGrath. “Let me add just how touched we were by the many get-well messages we received from our friends and fellow Americans. Your prayers and good wishes helped more than you know, and as I head home my only concern is that I will not be able to thank each of you for your kind words.”
Bush had been in the hospital for about a month before his office disclosed in late December that he was in intensive care because physicians were having difficulty controlling a fever that developed after the cough improved.
His office said on Dec. 29 that he had been moved back to a regular hospital room. Since then, his condition had continued to improve and he has been undergoing physical therapy to rebuild his strength.
“Mr. Bush has improved to the point that he will not need any special medication when he goes home, but he will continue physical therapy,” Amy Mynderse, the doctor in charge of Bush’s care, said in Monday’s statement.
Bush’s office said he was treated for a bacterial infection, along with the bronchitis and cough.
Bush and his wife, Barbara, live in Houston during the winter and spend their summers in Kennebunkport, Maine. On Jan. 6, they celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary. They are the longest-married presidential couple.
“The problem now is he’s no longer going to be pampered by all these nurses and health care providers in the hospital; now his caregiver is Barbara Bush,” Bush’s son, Jeb, the former governor of Florida, joked Monday at an education forum in Nashville, Tenn.
“Now I’m going to have to call my mother and apologize,” he quickly added.
White House press secretary Jay Carney posted a message on Twitter stating: “Great news re POTUS 41,” a reference to Bush as the nation’s 41st president. “From 44 down, we all are relieved he’s out of the hospital and wish him & his family well.”
Bush had served two terms as Ronald Reagan’s vice president when he was elected in 1988 to be the nation’s 41st president. Four years later, after a term highlighted by the success of the 1991 Gulf War in Kuwait, he lost to Democrat Bill Clinton amid voter concerns about the economy.
Bush has a long record of service, beginning with his enlistment in the Navy in World War II. At one point, he was the nation’s youngest naval aviator. He was shot down in the Pacific and rescued by an American submarine. He’s also been a congressman from Texas, U.S. ambassador to China and CIA director.
He suffers from a form of Parkinson’s disease that has forced him in recent years to use a motorized scooter or wheelchair to get around.
Head Start’s sad and costly secret — what Washington doesn’t want you to know
‘Twas the Friday before Christmas, and while most Americans were enjoying time with family and friends, the bureaucrats at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) were stirring quietly about, preparing to release its long-overdue evaluation of the Head Start program.
Head Start is an $8 billion per year federal preschool program, designed to improve the kindergarten readiness of low-income children. Since its inception in1965, taxpayers have spent more than $180 billion on the program.
But HHS’ latest Head Start Impact Study found taxpayers aren’t getting a good return on this “investment.” According to the congressionally-mandated report, Head Start has little to no impact on cognitive, social-emotional, health, or parenting practices of its participants. In fact, on a few measures, access to the program actually produced negative effects.
The HHS’ scientifically-rigorous study tracked 5,000 children who were randomly assigned to either a group receiving Head Start services or a group that did not participate in Head Start. It followed their progression from ages three or four through the end of third grade. The third-grade evaluation is a continuation to HHS’ first-grade study, which followed children through the end of first grade.
The first-grade evaluation found that any benefits the children may have accrued while in the Head Start program had dissipated by the time they reached first grade.
The study also revealed that Head Start failed to improve the literacy, math and language skills of the four year-old cohort and had a negative impact on the teacher-assessed math ability of the three-year-old cohort.
Based on this track record, HHS and Head Start devotees should not have been surprised to learn that the results of the third-grade evaluation were even worse. If the impacts of Head Start had all but disappeared by first grade, how could they suddenly reappear by the end of third grade?
Not only were the third-grade evaluation results poor, so was the department’s handling of the study. HHS sat on the results for four years. All that time, taxpayers were kept in the dark while their tax dollars continued to fund a completely ineffective program.
HHS had finished collecting all the data in 2008. Despite persistent prodding by members of Congress, the Department did not make the report (coyly dated October 2012) public until the Friday before Christmas. The timing couldn’t have been better if your goal is to get minimal attention.
A new study by a U.S. children’s hospital has found 30 per cent of teenage girls met a stranger from the internet in person without confirming their identity, with abused or neglected adolescents posing the highest risk.
The report published in the journal Pediatrics was produced by the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, who studied 251 girls between the ages of 14 and 17 — about half of whom were considered by researchers to be at-risk because of abuse or neglect.
“These meetings may have been benign, but for an adolescent girl to do it is dangerous,” said Dr. Jennie Noll, a psychologist at the hospital and the study’s lead author.
Noll said victimized girls were at greater risk during offline meetings with strangers because they were more likely to portray themselves as sexually provocative on the internet.
“If someone is looking for a vulnerable teen to start an online sexual discourse, they will more likely target someone who presents herself provocatively,” Noll said. “Maltreatment poses a unique risk for online behavior that may set the stage for harm.”
When families had installed internet filtering software, researchers found there wasn’t a difference in at-risk girls behaviours, which generally included seeking adult content, acting provocatively on social networking sites and receiving sexual advances online.
Noll said that “high quality parenting” and monitoring of the girls while they were online helped to reduce to risk.
The study is part of a larger body of work by Noll focusing on high-risk internet behaviour.
Noll said she heard “chilling” stories during a pilot study on the subject.
“One patient told a story about a guy who started texting her a lot, and he seemed ‘really nice.’ So she agreed to meet him at the mall, she got in his car, they drove somewhere and he raped her.”
Nigeria has a rape culture too
Protests against sexual violence in India mark a significant shift in attitudes, but why is there silence when it happens in Lagos?
Since I heard about the gang rape of a 23-year-old woman in Delhi, India has been on my mind. The woman was on her way home from the cinema with a male friend when they were attacked on a bus. Her injures were so severe the doctors had to remove parts of her intestine to stop the infection and try to save her life. Though she battled to stay alive, she died on 28 December. This incident has provoked a series of angry protests in Delhi and across India as men and women from various backgrounds, castes and religions hit the streets to demand safer living space for women. The fact that it is the first time in the history of India when people were out on the streets on the issue of gender signals an important paradigm shift on national discourse of sex, sexuality and rights of women.
The first time I read the story, I quickly shrugged it off to shield my consciousness from imagining what the victim went through. Yet, the savagery of the act, the use of a rusty metal rod to brutalise her insides, still haunts me. A lot has been written about this incident and anything worth saying has been said. However, I’m writing this in the Nigerian context and violation for the female body in mind. What would have happened if this incident happened in, say, Lagos or Abuja? Let me tell you what would happen. Nothing.
There are numerous cases of rape and gang rape in Nigeria (the infamous Absu gang rape being the most widely reported to date thanks to the proliferation of social media), yet many go unreported. The few that get reported to the authorities are either not pursued by the police or the victim is advised to keep silent lest she disgraces her family. Nigeria is still very much a patriarchal society; a society where rules and norms are dictated and governed by men. Women are assigned roles, spaces and our bodies determined by men: the father, the spouse, the male relatives. Any woman who wishes to go against the grain is punished severely. This punishment can take different forms but the most devastating, most intimate and most violent against the female person is rape.
Rape in its simplest form is not just an urgent, unexpected sexual desire that needs to be satisfied. Instead, it is the violent expression of power against another. Rape is primarily about power and its abuse. Within the Nigerian context, it is the punishment for wishing to be independent, for daring to threaten the status quo, the societal power dynamics. It is not about modesty neither is it about what the victim wore or her behaviour because as we all know, modestly dressed women are raped all the time. How does one explain the rape of a minor? When a woman is raped, the perpetrator is simply saying the victim’s body is his to take with or without her consent and when a society as a whole fails to protect the victim and punish the perpetrator, that society is consenting that indeed the woman’s body is up for taking with or without her consent.
However, we (Nigerians) as a society do not need to wait for a woman to be violently assaulted sexually to be complicit in the act of rape. Everyday, we make decisions consciously or unconsciously that perpetrate the culture of rape, that is, a culture where rape and sexual violence are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, societal practices and even the media normalises, excuses or tolerates rape.
To take it further, I will include in my definition a society that blames the woman for her partner’s infidelity and deviance. With the above definition in mind, it is obvious that we do indeed have a rape culture in Nigeria. When we think it is okay for a husband to forcefully have sex with his wife, we are obliquely perpetrating a rape culture by telling the woman that she is nothing but a pleasure object for her husband. We are saying she has no right to consensual sex, her body is his to use when and how he pleases. Conversely, when he cheats and we blame the wife, we are inadvertently telling her she made her husband vulnerable by denying him sex, thus creating room for him to be tempted. By absolving the man from blame, we are telling the woman that not only must she be an object of pleasure for her husband at all time, she must also satisfy his needs.
When we look the other way when the “oga” (boss) sexually violates the maid/nanny/distant cousin from the village, we are an accomplice in the act of rape. When we blame the rape victims, we are complicit in an act of rape. When we refuse to punish the victims, blame the devil, watch Nollywood movies where a rape victim is killed/dishonored/disowned by her husband, family or society at large, we are permitting and encouraging a rape culture.
Most importantly and less nuanced in our perpetration of rape culture due to the spread of fundamentalist religions in Nigeria is when we insist that women must remain virgins till marriage. This is because in this scenario of virgin-till-marriage, a woman is seen only through the lens of procreation and pleasure object for her husband. Value is placed on the purity of the woman instead of on the woman herself. The woman is seen as an object to be collected, desired by the menfolk and only through her virginal purity is her worth validated.
It is in this policing of a woman’s body and the hyper-vigilance of the female sexuality, which dictates and subordinates what the woman wants or does not want, that the problem lies. This policing and hyper-vigilance translates to the society telling the woman that there is something inherently wrong with her body. Thus she must be told what to wear (or not wear) to limit the exposure to the men and when she doesn’t conform, and is assaulted or arrested, then she is responsible. In other words, if a woman’s body is visible, it ought to be available for sex or punished for this visibility.
What am I saying after all? The modesty culture we preach is a rape culture because of our insistence on female purity and modesty. Why is it the sole responsibility of the female to remain chaste? Why isn’t the male tasked with chastity? By focusing on the female, we reduce the woman to mere flesh and place control over the female body and sexuality in male hands. When she is sexually violated who do we infer to as “dishonoured”? The victim? Or her family, which means her father or male relatives because as we know in Nigeria, it is the father/brother/other male relatives that are the symbol of a family? Therefore when a family is dishonoured, we basically saying, the father/brother/kins men are dishonoured.
We need to do away with this system that espouses the idea of woman as a possession and develop instead a society that sees the woman as human with rights, consent and abilities. A society where ethical sexuality is promoted and supported. Instead of telling the woman she is at fault for getting raped, we should teach our sons the importance of consent, that no means no and a woman can withdrew this consent at any time. Instead of telling the victim of sexual assault not to speak up so as not the shame her family, we should create a society were victims are helped to overcome the trauma of the assault. Instead of telling the young girl she ‘asked’ for it because of the way she dressed, we should punish severely and publicly shame rapists. We should consciously make the effort as consumers not tolerate music videos and home movies that objectify the female body form in the name of art.
I believe it is the right time for us as a nation to have this all important conversation on rape and sexual harassment endemic in our society. We don/t have to wait for Uju/Jumoke/Zainab to be sexually and fatally violated by the pastor/stepdad/boyfriend to realise that we have rape problem that needs addressing. Of course, rape culture in the Nigerian context goes way deeper than discussed here. However starting this discussion means slowly chipping away one splinter at a time the pillar of female oppression which our society is built upon.
Berlusconi sex trial to proceed despite campaign, court rules
ROME –Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s request that his trial for allegedly paying a minor for sex be suspended in the run-up to next month’s elections was thrown out by judges Monday.
Lawyers representing the former leader argued that he would be too busy running his election campaign to dedicate himself to the trial. But after a four-hour deliberation, judges replied that campaigning was not on a par with parliamentary appearances, which can merit suspension of a trial, and ordered the proceedings to continue.
Berlusconi, 76, is accused of paying Moroccan-born dancer Karima El-Mahroug for sex at his infamous “bunga bunga” parties in Milan when she was 17. Paying for sex with a minor is illegal in Italy. Both deny having had sex.
Mahroug was summoned to court as a witness by the defense before Christmas, but held up the trial when she failed to appear. Her lawyer said she had gone to Mexico on vacation.
Mahroug finally showed up at the courthouse Monday, but in a surprise turnaround, and with no explanation given, Berlusconi’s lawyers decided that they no longer required her testimony and she did not take the stand. The defense had called her to testify that she and Berlusconi had not slept together. Berlusconi’s lawyers said later that they decided not to have Ruby testify because they did not want to distract attention from the electoral campaign.]
Prosecutors said they would refer to statements already given to investigators by Mahroug in their case.
Defense lawyers asked judges Monday to hear as a witness actor George Clooney. Mahroug told investigators that she had seen Clooney at one of Berlusconi’s parties, an assertion he denies.
Judges hearing the case will decide whether to accept the request to summon Clooney at the next hearing, scheduled for next Monday.
Euthanasia twins ‘had nothing to live for’
The two deaf twins killed by legal euthanasia in Belgium were frightened of losing their independence in an institution and had “nothing to live for”.
The two men, both aged 45, named as Marc and Eddy Verbessem, from the village of Putte, near the city of Mechelen, were both born deaf and asked for a mercy killing after finding that they would also soon go blind.
Dirk Verbessem, 46, explained that his younger brothers had lived together for all their adult lives and could not communicate with the outside world.
“Their great fear was that they would no longer be able to see each other. That was for my brothers unbearable,” he said.
The deaf twin brothers had spent their entire lives together, sharing a flat while both working as cobblers and could only communicate with special sign language understood by each other and their immediate family.
“They lived together, did their own cooking and cleaning. You could eat off the floor. Blindness would have made them completely dependent. They did not want to be in an institution,” said Mr Verbessem.
GENEVA — The chief human rights official at the United Nations, Navi Pillay, called on Monday for an international inquiry into human rights offenses committed by the North Korean government over many decades.
Ms. Pillay, the Geneva-based high commissioner for human rights, pointed to North Korea’s “elaborate network of political prison camps,” believed by human rights organizations to hold 200,000 prisoners. The camps not only punish people for peaceful activities, but also employ “torture and other forms of cruel and inhumane treatment, summary executions, rape, slave labor and forms of collective punishment that may amount to crimes against humanity,” she said.
When Kim Jong-un succeeded his father as the leader of North Korea in December 2011, there was some hope that the change would lead to a relaxation of harsh policies, Ms. Pillay said, but “we see almost no sign of improvement.” Instead, she said, North Korea’s self-imposed isolation had “allowed the government to mistreat its citizens to a degree that should be unthinkable in the 21st century.”
Human rights groups have been lobbying for an international investigation over the past year, and they hope to persuade Japan to sponsor a resolution at the next session of the Human Rights Council in March that would create a commission of inquiry. Both the council and the United Nations General Assembly passed resolutions condemning North Korea in 2012 by consensus, unopposed even by China, the North’s closest ally.
Ms. Pillay expressed concern that international preoccupation with North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons programs had diverted attention from human rights abuses that have “no parallel anywhere in the world.”
It’s been nearly a month of relentlessly grim news in India, as more and more details of December’s brutal sexual assault come to light alongside a daily barrage of new rape cases reported around the nation. On Jan. 12, a 29-year-old woman in the northern state of Punjab reported to police that she was abducted and raped by six men after taking a bus in the city of Gurdaspur. Almost simultaneously, seven men in the state of Haryana were arrested for allegedly confining and raping a woman repeatedly over a seven-month period. Two officials in the state of Chhattisgarh were arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting underage residents at a school for tribal girls. Police in village in Uttar Pradesh told the press that a young man had been arrested after allegedly raping a 14-year-old girl. The list, unfortunately, goes on.
Widespread sexual violence is in no way unique to India, nor is the nation witnessing a dramatic surge in violence against women since a 23-year-old medical student was beaten and raped on a bus in New Delhi on Dec. 16, and died two weeks later. What has changed dramatically in the past four weeks is the amount of space that these crimes, which experts say have been on the rise for years and are still grossly underreported, occupy in the public sphere. Just months ago, India’s English-language dailies would often mark a violent sexual assault in a blurb buried under a few pages of the latest political intrigue. Now the latest violent sexual assault is the latest political intrigue.
Many here argue that is not a bad thing. The extensive media coverage of this month’s protests and the Dec. 16 assault, in which five of the six suspects appeared for the third time in court today in New Delhi, helped kick-start officials’ efforts to improve safety in the capital. It has put the issue of sexual assault “on the political agenda, which has never, ever happened before this,” says Ranjana Kumari, director of the Center for Social Research in New Delhi. “Nobody thought a rape would become such an issue that the Prime Minister would have to make a statement on it.” It helped spur swifter police action on assault cases around the country and initiated changes expected to be made to the nation’s penal code.
Still, while it is a relief to many to see this long-simmering problem finally out in the open, there is something unnerving about the near constant flow of details of the Dec. 16 attack and other cases that have emerged since then. “Not all the coverage has been sensitive,” says Shekhar Gupta, editor in chief of the Indian Express newspaper. Kumari agrees that somemedia has gone too far, as in the recent case of a popular show, Crime Patrol, that was reportedly scheduled to air an episode re-creating the Dec. 16 assault on the victim and her male companion that took place on the moving bus in Delhi. (The show has since postponed the episode.)
It is also impossible to say what, if any, impact the media blitz will have on the proceedings of the upcoming trial, which will be held behind closed doors in keeping with normal legal procedure in rape cases in India. “In cases that become extremely high profile, there is always this thing of ‘trial by media,’” says Mangla Verma, a research and advocacy officer at Lawyers Collective, an NGO in New Delhi. For instance, if the victim’s friend, the sole witness of the crime, strays from the version of events in court that he gave to an Indian network earlier this month, the defense could use that inconsistency against him. “Certain complications can creep in,” says Verma.
An equally complicated question is how long this increased attentiveness to violence against women will last. The logical conclusion to that question is not forever. But even seasoned media professionals say something feels different this time. The way that this has caught everybody’s imagination is “unprecedented,” says Gupta. “Middle India is dealing with its first generation of women going out to work. Men in workplaces are struggling to come to terms with this, and now women are getting empowered.” As a result, Gupta says, this is a story that “concerns every family.”
Even after thousands-strong protests disperse and a 24-hour news cycle churns on, it is possible that India as a society has crossed a line in the last month that can’t be backtracked. Police have been shamed, politicians have been chastened. “We cannot be more desensitized than we have been in the past,” Kumari says. “Things have to improve.”
A New Hampshire lawyer known for her work with an anti-gay Christian legal group was found guilty Thursday of several sex charges after she drove a 14-year-old girl to Canada and forced her have sex on camera last spring.The FBI indicted Lisa Biron, 43, on charges of transportation of a minor with intent to commit criminal sexual activity, sexual exploitation of children and possession of child pornography.
U.S. Attorney John Kacavas said the investigation began last September after an 18-year-old man reported he met a woman on Craigslist who showed him videos of a minor child engaged in sexual activity.
Evidence presented at the trial included cellphone videos of the 14-year-old having sex with two men and with Biron at different times and places.
The men included a 20-year-old Niaraga Falls, Ont., man who testified the girl was brought to a Niagara Falls hotel room for him to have sex with in May 2012 while Biron videotaped it.
The Niagara Falls man testified that U.S. police told him he would not be charged with a criminal offence if he testified against Biron.
Biron has worked with the Alliance Defending Freedom, which describes itself on its website as a “legal ministry” dedicated to spreading the gospel “by transforming the legal system and advocating for religious liberty, the sanctity of life and marriage and family.”
Biron was previously arrested in October 2012 for possession of child pornography.
The sentencing hearing for Biron is set for April 22. A U.S. She faces a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison.
— With files from Alison Langley
Survivor meets civil rights commission on military sexual assault with ‘cautious optimism’
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights held a day-long briefing in Washington, D.C. on Friday that examined the progress the military has made in addressing sexual assault within its ranks. All branches of the military were asked to testify about what they are doing to address the problem, and though the briefing highlighted that the military has made major progress toward addressing issues of sexual assault, it also indicated that it still faces numerous challenges.
Vice Admiral Nanette M. DeRenzi testified that the “Navy remains steadfastly committed to being in front of this problem, eradicating sexual assault within our ranks and ensuring that sexual assault cases are prosecuted through a fair, effective and efficient military justice system.”
Jen McClendon, who attended the hearing on Friday, is a survivor of military sexual assault who served in the Navy during the 1990s and later went public with her assault and eventually becoming an advisory board member of the victim advocacy group Protect Our Defenders. She said she was “cautiously optimistic” about what the military had said at the briefing. But, she admitted, the military has been down this road before.
“They’ve been thinking they had a grip on this every five years for the last 25,” she said. “So although some very good answers were given today, I don’t know that they have the same grip that they think they have.”
There’s no getting around the fact that sexual assault within the military is a problem. Lawrence Korb and Jessica Arons of the Center for American Progress wrote in an op-ed for Politico, “According to the Pentagon’s own data, 52 military women are raped every day, and we estimate that more than 300 women are likely to become pregnant from rape in the military each year.” (The military later disputed this data, saying that the number Korb and Arons used was the overall number of reported sexual assaults, which includes but is not limited to rape — though other estimates indicate that broadly-defined sexual assaults are widely under-reported in the military as well.)
“[When] I was assaulted, I was either accused of being a slut, whore, lesbian, drunk or all of the above,” McClendon said, “then I was thrown out of the military with a personality disorder.” The 2012 documentary “The Invisible War,” documented dozens of cases like McClendon’s (and was nominated for an Oscar this week). CNN broadcast an expose on this problem in August, indicating many victims face a similar problem.
The Office on Civil Rights on Friday asked the military commanders to consider re-evaluating old cases because they had received “thousands if not tens of thousands” of such complaints indicating victims had been dishonorably discharged or less than honorably discharged.
A new analysis of the American Freshman Survey, which has accumulated data for the past 47 years from 9 million young adults, reveals that college students are more likely than ever to call themselves gifted and driven to succeed, even though their test scores and time spent studying are decreasing.
Psychologist Jean Twenge, the lead author of the analysis, is also the author of a study showing that the tendency toward narcissism in students is up 30 percent in the last thirty-odd years.
These data are not unexpected. I have been writing a great deal over the past few years about the toxic psychological impact of media and technology on children, adolescents and young adults, particularly as it regards turning them into faux celebrities—the equivalent of lead actors in their own fictionalized life stories.
On Facebook, young people can fool themselves into thinking they have hundreds or thousands of “friends.” They can delete unflattering comments. They can block anyone who disagrees with them or pokes holes in their inflated self-esteem. They can choose to show the world only flattering, sexy or funny photographs of themselves (dozens of albums full, by the way), “speak” in pithy short posts and publicly connect to movie stars and professional athletes and musicians they “like.”
Using Twitter, young people can pretend they are worth “following,” as though they have real-life fans, when all that is really happening is the mutual fanning of false love and false fame.
Using computer games, our sons and daughters can pretend they are Olympians, Formula 1 drivers, rock stars or sharpshooters. And while they can turn off their Wii and Xbox machines and remember they are really in dens and playrooms on side streets and in triple deckers around America, that is after their hearts have raced and heads have swelled with false pride for “being” something they are not.
On MTV and other networks, young people can see lives just like theirs portrayed on reality TV shows fueled by such incredible self-involvement and self-love that any of the “real-life” characters should really be in psychotherapy to have any chance at anything like a normal life.
These are the psychological drugs of the 21st Century and they are getting our sons and daughters very sick, indeed.
As if to keep up with the unreality of media and technology, in a dizzying paroxysm of self-aggrandizing hype, town sports leagues across the country hand out ribbons and trophies to losing teams, schools inflate grades, energy drinks in giant, colorful cans take over the soft drink market, and psychiatrists hand out Adderall like candy.
All the while, these adolescents, teens and young adults are watching a Congress that can’t control its manic, euphoric, narcissistic spending, a president that can’t see his way through to applauding genuine and extraordinary achievements in business, a society that blames mass killings on guns, not the psychotic people who wield them, and—here no surprise—a stock market that keeps rising and falling like a roller coaster as bubbles inflate and then, inevitably, burst.
That’s really the unavoidable end, by the way. False pride can never be sustained. The bubble of narcissism is always at risk of bursting. That’s why young people are higher on drugs than ever, drunker than ever, smoking more, tattooed more, pierced more and having more and more and more sex, earlier and earlier and earlier, raising babies before they can do it well, because it makes them feel special, for a while. They’re doing anything to distract themselves from the fact that they feel empty inside and unworthy.
Distractions, however, are temporary, and the truth is eternal. Watch for an epidemic of depression and suicidality, not to mention homicidality, as the real self-loathing and hatred of others that lies beneath all this narcissism rises to the surface. I see it happening and, no doubt, many of you do, too.
We had better get a plan together to combat this greatest epidemic as it takes shape. Because it will dwarf the toll of any epidemic we have ever known. And it will be the hardest to defeat. Because, by the time we see the scope and destructiveness of this enemy clearly, we will also realize, as the saying goes, that it is us.
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