Friday, September 11, 2015

Child Mortality Rate Halved (But It's Still Not Enough)

A child is given an injection as part of a malaria vaccine trial at a clinic in the Kenya coastal town of Kilifi, November 23, 2010.    REUTERS/Joseph Okanga
Photo: Reuters, Joseph Okanga

Since 1990, the mortality rate of children under the age of five has been cut by 53%. This is a great achievement, but not enough. Around 16,000 children under five still die each day. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), have of deaths for children under five occur within the first four weeks of live, underscoring the importance of neonatal health to address health risks such as asphyxia and sepsis, as well as maternal health during and after pregnancy to address breastfeeding and early immunizations.

The Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), which expire this year, aimed to cut the death rate by two-thirds. Though this goal was not met, I think that we can learn lessons from halving the rate. Though perhaps overly ambitious in scope, the MDGs gave the research, academic, and policies communities a goal. Using lessons from the past 25 years of the MDGS, we need to develop a new set of goals so that we can address the unnecessary and tragic deaths of our young children.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Resources to Learn About Refugees

Though World Refugee Day (June 20th) is long past, refugees are still very much in the news today, as hundreds of thousands flee violence in their home countries and move towards Europe. For those interested in learning more about refugees through online photos, articles, and interactive features, educational blogger Larry Ferlazzo has compiled an impressive list of resources to learn more about this topic.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Walking Through Gaza and Israel

Today, the New York Times published several "walks" through places and spaces in Gaza and Israel.  Though they can be viewed separately, taken together, they tell a complicated story of how individual lives on both sides of the wall are affected by war and, more often, the potential for war.

Monday, July 6, 2015

An Empty Refugee Camp

Azraq Refugee Camp, Photo: Alisa Reznick/Al Jazeera
You probably imagine a refugee camp as being overcrowded with people. Yet there is a refugee camps that is almost empty due to the harsh living conditions refugees face there.

Azraq refugee camp opened its gates over one year ago to meet the soaring numbers of refugees fleeing Syria. Yet, despite the offer of a shelter for every resident, the camp stands mostly empty. This is because of the living conditions in the camp. Located on a barren piece of land in the northern Jordanian desert, the camp houses 18,500 refugees, with 10,000 under the age of 18. But the residents describe the living conditions as harsh, with scorching summer heat, dust storms, and fierce winds. Schools services and education programs are available for children, but high temperatures keep children at home. The camp has no electricity, and so refugees cannot use fans or refrigerators inside their shelters. Furthermore, the prices for food have increased, and with a $29 per month food voucher, families cannot afford basic food items.

 For more on Azraq, see this photo essay from AlJazeera.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

A Job and a Bicycle: One Experience of Child Labor in Beirut

In this video, UNICEF highlights one of its partner organizations, Himaya in Lebanon, through the story of Ahmad. Amad is a 15-year-old Syrian refugee living in Lebanon, who narrates his struggles living and working in Beirut.

The video shows the challenges of child labor. A child cannot just transition from working and supporting his family to attending school. The child may not have attended school before. Plus the impact on the family economy must be considered, as these children are often supporting their families financially. Himaya rightly notes that child labor must be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

Waiting in Turkey's "Baking Camp"

UNHCR just released a news report on the conditions at Suruç camp, the largest refugee camp in Turkey. Built by UNICEF and Turkey's Emergency and Disaster Management Presidency (AFAD) in the middle of 2014, Suruç now houses 25,000 mostly Kurdish refugees from Kobane, Syria.

The article describes the overwhelming heat inside the camp, where "the sun offers relentless heat and pitiless light which bounces off soil bleached almost white." Understandably, families tend to stay inside their tents to escape the heat of the day.

Suruç Refugee Camp, Photo: Associated Press
What are the implications for children's mobility in these contexts? What are their lives like when the environment does not allow for freedom of movement? How do families cope with earning livelihoods in these contexts?

Monday, June 8, 2015

Politics Prevail Over Children's Rights Again

Reuters reported that Leila Zerrougui included Israel's army and Hamas in the annual "blacklist" of states and armed groups that violate children’s rights during conflicts. But Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moom overrode Zerrougui's recommendation, and left them off this list in the final published report.

Philippe Bolopion, a representative of Human Rights Watch said: "Ban's disappointing decision to override the advice of his special representative by removing Israel and Hamas is a blow to UN efforts to better protect children in armed conflict. Facts and consistency dictated that both be included on the list, but political pressure seems to have prevailed." You can read more of the story here.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Prioritizing the Health and Well-Being of Mothers and Children in Emergencies

Princess Sarah Zeid of Jordan relayed the following statistics in a statement at the side event on health and well-being in emergencies during the 68th World Health Assembly:
"Sixty per cent of maternal, 53 per cent of under-five and 45 per cent of new born mortality takes place in humanitarian and fragile settings. Of the more than 80 million people who were in need of humanitarian assistance, in 2014, over 75 per cent of them were women and children."
Medina Maternal Child Health, Somalia, 2013     Photo: AP/Ben Curtis
The side event focused on three aspects: (i) safety and health of health care workers; (ii) reproductive, maternal, neonatal, child, and adolescent health (RMNCAH); and (iii) mental health and psychosocial support in humanitarian emergencies. You can read more about the health and well-being of mothers and children in emergencies here

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Deadliest Place for Children

Nicholas Kristof's latest column in The New York Times highlights Angola, where despite being a relatively rich oil and diamond country, has the highest rate of child mortality in the world. This high mortality rate is due to a complicated mix of poor nutrition and lack of access to health care.

Speaking with villagers in a remote part of northern Angola.
Photo: The New York Times

Saturday, February 28, 2015

"Voluntourism" and Child Welfare

A new report from Better Care Network reviews and shares existing knowledge on
international "voluntourism" as related to the alternative care of children (e.g., orphanages) in developing countries. This is a very interesting "hot" topic, especially for those of you who have worked or are interested in working with children in global contexts. In fact, the Better Care Network website has some really great resources on this topic. (I find this advertisement slightly amusing, as it initially implies one could "win a youth".)

Ontario Child Welfare Resources

The Child Welfare League of Canada has some great information about vulnerable children in Canada. They don't accept individual memberships, but you can sign up for their newsletter to stay updated on child welfare activities.

OACAS recently announced the official launch of the Ontario Child Welfare Research Framework website. The website provides a brief overview of the legal and theoretical contexts for child welfare research in Ontario, as well as key research principles, datasets, methodologies, and ethical guidelines.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

What Really Happened to Baby Johan?

Image result for what really happened to baby johan

One of the most read articles this month is What really happened to baby Johan?, written by Elizabeth Weil in Matter.

It's the story of a father who dropped his three-month-old son, which became a criminal case. The article highlights the complexities and controversies of child welfare.

Neglect Versus "Free-Range" Parenting

NPR has a report on the debate between neglect and "free-range" parenting in the US. Note the chart with the varying ages that a child can be left alone depending on the state: from 6 in Kansas to 12 in Colorado.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Connection Between Large-Scale Violence and Family Violence

Here's an excellent op-ed in The New York Times drawing connections between violence in the home and large-scale violence. As one commenter states, in order to curb violence in society, we have to start with our young children.

Child Sexual Abuse Images Online

Child sexual abuse images online (CSAIO) is a new area of child welfare that social workers should be more involved in developing. Here are two resources for addressing CSAIO:
  • Cybertip is a tipline where you can report online sexual exploitation of children. It's also a good source of information on this topic.
  • There is also a Virtual Global Taskforce that addresses online child abuse and other forms of transnational child sexual exploitation.

The Teenage Brain

Frances Jensen is a neurobiologist who has just published really interesting research on the development of teenagers brains. She found that the brains are developed but not fully insulated in the teenage years, and the last place to be insulated is the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for decision-making. That's why teenagers are generally more impulsive and make bad decisions. They are also more susceptible to addiction and the effects of drugs and alcohol. This article and interview on NPR's Fresh Air does a better job of explaining it all. What do you think about this research? Can you see the links to child welfare?


Manitoba to Spend More Money on Child Welfare

The province of Manitoba says it will spend more money to keep children who are wards of the province within their communities. There is an excellent interview on CBC's As It Happens (click on Part 2 to listen). I would be interested to know if you think this is a good use of money for child welfare in the province.