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TOPIC: children

Society

Parenthood And The Pressure Of Always Having To Be Doing Better

As a father myself, I'm now better able to understand the pressures my own dad faced. It's helped me face my own internal demands to constantly be more productive and do better.

-Essay-

When I was a child — I must have been around eight or so — whenever we headed with my mom and grandma to my aunt's country house in Don Torcuato, outside of Buenos Aires, there was the joy of summer plans. Spending the day outdoors, playing soccer in the field, being in the swimming pool and eating delicious food.

But when I focus on the moment, something like a painful thorn appears in the background: from the back window of the car I see my dad standing on the sidewalk waving us goodbye. Sometimes he would stay at home. “I have to work” was the line he used.

Maybe one of my older siblings would also stay behind with him, but I'm sure there were no children left around because we were all enthusiastic about going to my aunt’s. For a long time in his life, for my old man, those summer days must have been the closest he came to being alone, in silence (which he liked so much) and in calm, considering that he was the father of seven. But I can only see this and say it out loud today.

Over the years, the scene repeated itself: the destination changed — it could be a birthday or a family reunion. The thorn was no longer invisible but began to be uncomfortable as, being older, my interpretation of the events changed. When words were absent, I started to guess what might be happening — and we know how random guessing can be.

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Lionel To Lorenzo: Infecting My Son With The Beautiful Suffering Of Soccer Passion

This is the Argentine author's fourth world cup abroad, but his first as the father of two young boys.

I love soccer. But that’s not the only reason why the World Cup fascinates me. There are so many stories that can be told through this spectacular, emotional, exaggerated sport event, which — like life and parenthood — is intense and full of contradictions.

This is the fourth World Cup that I’m watching away from my home country, Argentina. Every experience has been different but, at times, Qatar 2022 feels a lot like Japan-South Korea 2002, the first one I experienced from abroad, when I was 20 years old and living in Spain.

Now, two decades later, living in Greece as the father of two children, some of those memories are reemerging vividly.

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Parental Rights v. Children Rights? Why Courts Keep Getting It Wrong

Justice works around adults. Keen to uphold parental custody rights, family courts have effectively allowed violence against children by giving abusive parents access. So it is time the legal system stopped ignoring children.

-OpEd-

BOGOTA — Recently a sound recording from Bogotá of a 10-year-old girl crying and pleading not to be made to live with her father went viral online. The father had faced two sets of charges relating to domestic violence and sexual abuse of the girl, who had earlier described to court doctors his inappropriate physical contact.

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A Madrid Court's Method To Help Children Testifying In Sex Abuse Cases

Madrid courtrooms have designed private "waiting rooms" for children. In these spaces, a mix of talk and play with a psychologist allows the children to calmly testify before judges.

MADRID — The hallways of the Plaza Castilla court complex in northern Madrid are cold. With their grey tones, signs written in black and wooden doors that usher you into courtrooms or offices, they are barely palatable to any citizen having to pass through. But on the third floor, there is a colorful little oasis in this dour, judicial setting.

The sign outside calls it the Safe Childhood Space (Espacio infancia segura). Inside, children try out certain dynamics meant to distract them from the gruesome tales they may soon have to relate if they have to testify against relatives or describe episodes of sexual abuse. The initiative began in October 2021 and seeks to ease younger children's passage through the judicial process.

Setting up the space was complicated "because it wasn't a nursery. It meant introducing a service that had little to do with judicial authority," says Carmen Martín García-Matos, head of judicial infrastructures at the regional government's Justice, Interior and Victims department.

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Society
Mara Resio

Three-Parent Families Emerging From Legal Limbo In Argentina

Multi-parent families or triple parenting are not yet enshrined in the law in Argentina, a continental pioneer of innovative social rights, but so far and in spite of legal challenges, court rulings have recognized the reality of children with "three parents."

BUENOS AIRES — A woman writes to her children before dying, unwilling to keep a painful secret any longer. On reading her letter, the children realize that the father who had raised them, wasn't their biological father.

Before such situations, Argentina's judiciary usually determines a state of "triple filiation," meaning that a person can have two mothers and a father or two fathers and a mother.

There are 25 such multi-parent families, found in and around Buenos Aires, as well as several provinces including Santa Fe, Tucumán and Córdoba. Each one is quite different.

The first two cases were from 2015, just before a reform to the Civil and Commercial Code went into effect. The adults in question did not take legal action to be recognized as multi-parent families, but the civil courts of the capital and the Buenos Aires province took decisions to resolve their situations.

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Society
Oana Sandu

Bystander Victims: Facing The Trauma Of Children Who Witness Domestic Violence

Children who live amid domestic abuse are at serious risk of long-term physical and mental health problems. It's imperative we start to look deeply at these long-term effects because violence is passed down from generation to generation. A close-up investigation from Romania.

BRASOV — “This morning, she was laughing when she told me that her tummy hurts, that her head hurts, that she feels sick." Irina, a 34-year-old mother, tells me as I sit down on the living room couch in her apartment on the outskirts of Brasov in central Romania.

She tells me about her daughter, who is in her bedroom reading an Isadora Moon book, about a half-fairy, half-vampire girl. I can feel the girl's presence through the tiny plasticine figurines around the house: dandelions, bunnies, flowers modeled in as much detail as only an eight-year-old can.

On Irina's arm, I can see a black tree tattoo, with a winding stem and vigorous, almost frightening, roots. Behind it, there is a sunset in strong shades of red and green. It's the tree of life, a tattoo Irina got this year to remind her that life has been hard for her in recent years, but she is still standing.

She's a woman who has experienced domestic violence and, six years ago, managed to get out of her abusive relationship with Maria's father. (The names of the children and mothers in the article are pseudonyms and I have used them to protect their identities.)

I came to visit them because Irina is currently looking for answers to a question that interests me too. I’m a reporter who has been documenting the impact of domestic violence for the last eight years. Irina wonders to what extent the violent incidents her daughter witnessed as a child affect and will affect her emotional and physical health.

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Society
Ignacio Pereyra*

Papá, Papá, On Repeat: Are We Men Ready For Fatherhood To Change Our Lives?

How many men are willing to change their lives when they become fathers? For Argentine journalist Ignacio Pereyra, becoming his son's main caregiver showed just how difficult caring for a child can be.

There is a moment on Saturday or Sunday, after having spent ten hours with my kids, that I get a little exasperated, I lose my patience. I find it hard to identify the emotion, I definitely feel some guilt too. I know that time alone with them improves our relationship... but I get bored! Yes, I feel bored. I want some time in the car for them to talk to each other while I can talk about the stupid things we adults talk about.

This is what a friend tells me. He tends to spend several weekends alone with his two children and prefers to make plans with other people instead of being alone with them. As I listened to him, I immediately remembered my long days with Lorenzo, my son, now three-and-a-half years old. I thought especially of the first two-and-a-half years of his life, when he hardly went to daycare (thanks, COVID!) and we’d spend the whole day together.

It also reminded me of a question I often ask myself in moments of boredom — which I had virtually ignored in my life before becoming a father: how willing are we men to let fatherhood change our lives?

It is clear that the routines and habits of a couple change completely when they have children, although we also know that this rarely happens equally.

With the arrival of a child, men continue to work as much or more than before, while women face a different reality: either they double their working day — maintaining a paid job but adding household and care tasks — or they are forced to abandon all or part of their paid work to devote themselves to caregiving.

In other words, "the arrival of a child tends to strengthen the role of economic provider in men (...), while women reinforce their role as caregivers," says an extensive Equimundo report on Latin America and the Caribbean, highlighting a trend that repeats itself in most Western countries.

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Society
Apophia Agiresaasi*

Beyond COVID: Why Ugandan Kids Can’t Go Back To School

Severe weather and a lack of upkeep during pandemic shutdowns wreaked havoc on school facilities. Officials and parents are scrambling to rebuild.

SHEEMA, UGANDA — After nearly two years of repeated shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, Benon Atwijuka was excited to return to his job as headmaster of Kyeihara Integrated Primary School in southwestern Uganda. But when he arrived, he realized that he had to do more than help his students catch up on the learning they had lost.

“During the long absence, animals roamed and grazed in the school compound and damaged buildings,” he says.

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Society
Sukanya Shantha

India Faces Eternally Complex Child-Care Question: What To Do With Kids Of Women Prisoners

While growing up inside a prison leads to a range of difficulties for children, those separated from their mothers and left on the outside also face different traumas. In this in-depth reportage for India's The Wire, journalist Sukanya Shantha talks to mothers who had to give birth in jail and those who went without seeing their children for years to keep them protected.

MUMBAI — Raginibai was at the construction site when a large police search team came looking for her. Her husband was found brutally murdered, and his body — wrapped in a jute bag — had been buried several feet under the construction debris close by. The police suspected that Raginibai, along with a man they claimed was her “lover,” was involved in the murder. Raginibai denied this charge vehemently.

But at that moment, neither her husband’s death nor the police’s suspicion could unsettle her. The well-being of her five-year-old son, who shadowed her everywhere at the construction site in Taloja, on the outskirts of Mumbai, was all that she worried about.

Raginibai, a landless migrant labourer and a Dalit woman from Kalahandi — one of the most backward districts in the eastern Indian state of Odisha — feared that the police would take her child away and she would never be able to see him again. In desperation, she requested that the police hand her child over to a person she claimed was her sister. This was a claim that the police was legally bound to — yet never bothered to — independently ascertain.

Raginibai was arrested on November 15, 2019. She was pregnant at the time. She gave birth to a girl, her third child, inside an overcrowded Kalyan district jail, over 50 km away from Mumbai city.

Her eldest, a 12-year-old daughter, was away at Raginibai’s mother’s house in Odisha at the time of the arrest. With no parental support or financial backing, her daughter had to drop out of school and is now being forced into child labor in a paddy field, many kilometers outside her village.

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Society
Alice De Souza, Clarissa Levy, Mariama Correia, Diana Cariboni

Probe Finds Brazil's Religious Homeschooling Groups Encourage Corporal Punishment

As Brazil prepares to legalize homeschooling — a campaign promise that President Bolsonaro hopes to fulfill before October's elections — a disturbing investigation by openDemocracy and Agência Pública finds that Brazil's religious homeschooling groups, supported by ultraconservative U.S. associations, are giving parents instructions on how to spank their children while dodging the law.

Training dished out by Brazil’s homeschooling industry is encouraging parents to spank their children “calmly and patiently” as a teaching tool, a disturbing investigation by openDemocracy and Agência Pública has found.

Books, websites and videos seen by our journalists give parents tips on how to spank children and dodge the law — by avoiding major injuries, visible marks and public humiliation. They also say parents who do not punish their children with “the rod” do not love God or their children.

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Society
Sara Reardon KHN

End Of Roe v. Wade Is Major Blow For Prenatal Genetic Screening

For families learning their child will be born with a debilitating condition, new legal issues create additional trauma.

Ann was 15 weeks pregnant with her fourth child when the results of her prenatal genetic test came back last August. The test suggested that her daughter, whom she and her husband planned to name Juliet, was missing one of her two X chromosomes — a condition called Turner syndrome that can cause dwarfism, heart defects, and infertility, among other complications.

Many people decide to terminate their pregnancies after this diagnosis, a genetic counselor told Ann and her husband. But the counselor had more bad news: In two days, the family would no longer have that option in their home state of Texas. A law, in effect as of Sept. 1, 2021, allows anyone to sue those who assist any person in getting an abortion in Texas after six weeks’ gestation — and the state provides a $10,000 bounty to plaintiffs if they win. The genetic counselor told Ann she could no longer discuss termination with her for this reason.

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OneShot

Napalm Girl, 50 Years Ago: This Happened, June 8

It's been exactly 50 years since the photograph was taken that many say is the most powerful image of innocent war victims ever. "Napalm Girl," which was captured at the height of the Vietnam War in 1972, is also the story of that girl at the center of the image.

Taken exactly 50 years ago, “Napalm Girl” has become a timeless symbol of the horrors of war as Vietnamese civilians flee their village after it had been hit by airstrikes.

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