Female Circumcision

The following are images from thedailybeast.com which were taken during a female circumcision ceremony. They are images that powerfully attest to an ugly and awful form of religious child abuse that is still being practiced today. Photos speak more powerfully than words can here. (Via www.thebeattitude.com)

Midwives wait for their next circumcision victim of the 248 girls that were mutilated in Bandung, Indonesia, on April 23, 2006.  

Midwives wait for their next circumcision victim. One of the 248 girls that were mutilated in Bandung, Indonesia, on April 23, 2006.

A terrified Muslim girl resists as she is prepared to be mutilated.  

A terrified Muslim girl resists as she is prepared to be mutilated.

A young Muslim girl is comforted as she sits with her mother following her mutilation ceremony.  

A young Muslim girl is comforted as she sits with her mother following her mutilation ceremony.

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Patriotism for all

 

American Flag (also a jigsaw puzzle )
Image by uhuru1701 via Flickr

A Patriotic Activity for Every Student

It is a sad day in America when every child cannot join in a unified expression of patriotism, cannot stand with pride and declare, “I, too, am an American.”
In school districts across the nation, thousands of patriotic students are not only deprived of the opportunity to express and develop their patriotism, but are actively discouraged in their patriotism.

The standard options of remaining silent or waiting outside the classroom do not solve the blatant discrimination and hurtful exclusion in the current practice.

To correct this injustice, we are asking that a patriotic alternative be afforded to every child who, for reasons of conscience, must otherwise abstain from daily participation in the Pledge of Allegiance. It is through group participation with our community that we feel our bonds to our country. Patriotism is not something that can be taught only at home.

- We are not asking that “under God” be removed from the Pledge.
- We are not asking that the Pledge be removed from the school.
- We are asking that a patriotic exercise be afforded to every child.

For several solutions to this vexing issue, go here:

http://members.cox.net/patriotismforall/solutions.html

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Nate Phelps & Fred Phelps: Religion as Child Abuse, Mental Abuse

LOS ANGELES - JANUARY 27:  Jael Phelps a membe...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Austin’s Atheism Blog

By Austin Cline, About.com Guide to Atheism since 1998

Saturday November 15, 2008

Liberal and moderate believers object very strongly to any suggestion that traditional religious dogmas might in any way qualify as emotional or psychological abuse when they are taught to young children. If there is any truth to such an idea, it would most easily be found among those believers who take traditional religious dogmas most seriously — believers who don’t try to minimize the dogmas or “reinterpret” them in the light of modern, humanistic ethics.

Nate Phelps was recently interviewed about his history and break with his father, Fred Phelps, and the notorious Westboro Baptist Church. Nate rejected the extreme fundamentalism of his father and so didn’t try to impress it upon his own children. However, it appears that what he did try to teach his children was the straightforward, unadorned truth of Christian dogma with no attempts to soften the message. The results weren’t what he expected.

“Every Sunday, I was listening closely and trying desperately to find something in the preaching or in the words that would convince me that this was right. Even while I was doing that, I was always skeptical…but I never voiced it. I was very good at playing the apologist for the Christian faith. In fact, I had quite a reputation for writing and talking in defense of Christianity.”

The turning point was one Christmas, when Nate decided to teach his children about God. In the end, his son Tyler began crying in the backseat of the car, saying that he didn’t want to go to hell.

“He wanted to believe because he didn’t want to go to hell,” Nate said. “I was just stunned because I didn’t know what I had said or how I had left him with that fear. I thought I was doing a good job of presenting it without the fear.

“Thinking about it after the fact, I realized you can’t do that. With a young mind it doesn’t matter. You can try as much as you want to talk about how good God is, but the bottom line is there’s this intolerably frightening punishment if you don’t accept it. And how does a young mind deal with that?”

Ubyssey: The Ubyssey

So Nate Phelps didn’t go out of his way to teach his children to fear and, in fact, may have managed to avoid raising the issue entirely. That’s a long, long way from how his father and his father’s church teaches things. Specifically emphasizing any need to fear, though, clearly isn’t necessary because as Nate came to realize, teaching people that they will suffer immeasurably for all eternity if they don’t believe the correct things can only lead to fear.

[...]

Shirley Phelps-Roper, Nate’s sister, commented on the above article:

At the end of the day, rebel Nate who is a man of the flesh according to the Bible, cannot get it into his head the the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The child crying over a fear of hell is exactly what is intended by the plain language of the scriptures. You can love that and live that and own that and be one with that, as they say, or you can foolishly fight against that. WHO thinks they can beat God? YIKES! He never one time mentions HIS duty to teach HIS children every day in every way with every thing that does and says what the Lord their God requires of them. God is a consuming fire. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, WE PERSUADE MEN! Just look at the way you two brutes got together and tried to put a fluffy spin on rebellion AND the consenquences thereof.
It sounds an awful lot to me like Shirley Phelps-Roper is arguing that psychological and emotional abuse of children is the point of the Bible. Given how atrocious many of the stories and teachings in that book are, I find it hard to argue against her — but rather than treat this as license to engage in abuse, I treat that as a reason to reject the Bible and seek guidance or inspiration in more moral sources.

I think other Christians at least unconsciously agree and this is one reason why they aren’t flocking to churches like Phelp’s. Unfortunately, they can’t completely let go of ancient superstitions so they continue to cling to the Bible by reinterpreting in ways that more closely match morals, ethics, and standards what would have been foreign and abhorrent to the original authors. In effect, they want the authority of the Bible behind ethics that have little or nothing to do with the Bible.

Read entire article here Nate Phelps & Fred Phelps: Religion as Child Abuse, Mental Abuse.

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Troye Sivan will melt your heart

Troye’s efforts to aid homeless children are commendable. Listening to him sing this song he composed in their honor while watching the video scenes is heartwrenching. It doesn’t have to be like this.

If Troye’s song has inspired you to action and you want to aid homeless children around the world there could be nothing better that to actively support ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Senator Barbara Boxer and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are urging the United States Senate to ratify this important international treaty that has been ratified by 177 nations. Here in the United States over 300 religious organizations and Non Governmental Organizations support ratification.

http://childrightscampaign.org/crcindex.php (go here for ways to help)

Article 27 of the UN CRC

1. States Parties recognize the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.

2. The parent(s) or others responsible for the child have the primary responsibility to secure, within their abilities and financial capacities, the conditions of living necessary for the child’s development.

3. States Parties, in accordance with national conditions and within their means, shall take appropriate measures to assist parents and others responsible for the child to implement this right and shall in case of need provide material assistance and support programmes, particularly with regard to nutrition, clothing and housing.

4. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to secure the recovery of maintenance for the child from the parents or other persons having financial responsibility for the child, both within the State Party and from abroad. In particular, where the person having financial responsibility for the child lives in a State different from that of the child, States Parties shall promote the accession to international agreements or the conclusion of such agreements, as well as the making of other appropriate arrangements.

More background and information about the UN CRC:

http://www.unicef.org/crc/

http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/hrj/iss19/rutkow.shtml#fnB158 url, UN CRC ratification arguments
http://www.crin.org/
http://www.derechosinfancia.org.mx/Red/red_ing1.htm

Troye Sivan Resources:

group3mgt@sbcglobal.net Troye Sivan’s talent management agency, Group Three Management

Troye’s official web page http://www.troyesivan.com/about.html

There are many videos of Troye Sivan on YouTube. He also has a MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/troyesivan

Troye will appear in a major movie to be released in a few days.

Troye Sivan boy singing sensation.

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Findlaw introduction to cases and codes

United States Supreme Court during Protest
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Cases & Codes > Introductory Materials

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The Avalon Project at the Yale Law School Features primary source materials in law, history, economics, politics, diplomacy and government.
US Historical Documents From the University of Oklahoma Law Center. A chronology of US historical documents from pre-colonial to the present.

Library of Congress
Enactment of a Law
Historical Documents
About Early Congressional Documents
About The Constitution
About The Declaration of Independence
About The Federalist Papers
How Our Laws Are Made Revised and Updated by Charles W. Johnson, Parliamentarian, United States House of Representatives.
The Annual Budget Process
National Archives and Records Administration
The Charters of Freedom Features the Magna Carta, the Declarati on of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
The Federal Judicial Center
Creating the Federal Judicial System, 2d ed. (PDF) Explains the provisions of the 1789 Judiciary Act and the compromises it embodies; reviews the evolution of the federal judicial system during the 19th century; and analyzes the conditions and debates that led to the passage of the Evarts Act (1891), which established the three-tiered system that characterizes federal court structure today.
Origins of the Elements of Federal Court Governance Brief description of the history and evolution of the major elements–agencies, offices, organizations, positions, and entities–of federal court governance.
The Federal Judiciary Homepage Provides general information regarding the federal judiciary; includes links to what’s new, frequently asked questions, court links, newsroom, and Judiciary Now newsletter.
Understanding the Federal Courts (PDF) Provides an overview of the organization, operation, and administration of the entire federal court system.
U.S. Department of State International Information Programs
About the U.S. Government
Elections
State and Local Government
Three Branches of Government
U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
United States Sentencing Commission Features guidelines, reports to Congress, and criminal sentencing related publications.
United States Supreme Court
A Brief Overview of the Supreme Court (PDF) Covers the constitutional origin, jurisdiction, rulemaking power, and the term of the United States Supreme Court.
The Court and Constitutional Interpretation (PDF)
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The Court as an Institution (PDF)

Making of America Digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction.

Go to source>>

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Nate Phelps and Religious Abuse

 

I hope to post several blogs inspired by the American Atheists Conference, but for right now, I’m going to write about the experience that was the most meaningful to me.  I mentioned before going that I was anxious to hear Nate Phelpsspeak, and I have to say that his speech was much more than I expected.  For one thing, I learned afterwards that this was the first time he’s spoken publicly about his experiences.  For another, in speaking with his wife, I learned that they had driven forty-one hours from British Columbia to Atlanta so that he could speak.  

 

Nate Phelps

Nate Phelps

 

 

Nate’s speech, which lasted for around forty minutes, was sometimes painful to listen to.  He spoke of horrible, despicable acts of abuse, both physical and mental, and of the tyrannical, sociopathic dictator of a father who literally made the lives of his wife and thirteen children a living hell.  He read his speech, rather nervously, and it was obvious that he is still living with the mental scars of his upbringing.  At one point, he showed us the kind of  handle Fred used to beat his children — a four or five foot long piece of wood not unlike an axe-handle.  He explained how his father learned the most effective ways of causing excruciating pain;  for instance, he would hit his children in one particular spot enough that a bruise would raise up and blood would accumulate over the course of ten or fifteen minutes, and then he would hit them again in the same spot, causing the skin to break, and inflicting terrible pain.  When he was particularly irate, he would hit them behind the knee, or on the small of the back, where the pain would be the most searing and brutal.

Like everyone else in the room, I listened with a mix of shock, rage, and pity.  We all felt sympathy for him, and also pride and admiration at the physical bravery and mental courage he’s shown since deciding to leave the family.  But I felt an additional emotion, and after the speech was over, I was lucky enough to be able to tell him personally what it had meant to me.  In listening to Nate, I discovered something about myself that was deeply disturbing, but has instilled in me a new sense of determination to end the power of parents to indoctrinate their children into religion.

As I’ve said before, I don’t like talking much about my own life, but I must do so now to make my point clearly.  I have nothing on Nate Phelps.  I was mainly raised by my mother, who loved me and doted over me and never once, in my entire childhood, did anything with the intention of causing me pain.  Though I was probably over-sheltered, anyone looking at my upbringing would probably say that it was about as good as anyone could expect.

However, I was indoctrinated into religion.  We were in church every Sunday morning, and most Sunday nights, as well as Wednesdays at various points of my life.  In many ways, church was my most frequent social activity, and though my indoctrination was not mean-spirited, it was thorough.  By the time I was in high school, I was a full fledged born again Christian, and I thought quite poorly of everyone who was not (and many who were, but didn’t live up to my standards).  I went to Vacation Bible School, and summer camps not unlike that in Jesus Camp.  We went to healing services, prayer services, Bible studies, exorcisms, Christian Values seminars, Christian Finance seminars, evangelism crusades, and Christian music concerts.  My mother and my grandmother, despite being warm, compassionate, loving people, brainwashed and indoctrinated me into not only the Christian faith, but also the Christian mindset — nonrational, repressive, patriarchal, divisive, and exclusionary.

Back to Nate Phelps.  As I was listening to his speech, there were several moments when tears welled up in my eyes, my heart raced, and I felt as if I was having trouble breathing.  At first I thought I was feeling sympathy for Nate, but I quickly realized that wasn’t the case.  I wasn’t moved to tears at hearing about how Fred beat his children, or about how he made them run 20 miles a day after selling candy in strip clubs for seven hours.  I was moved to tears when he spoke of the mental anguish he felt while his child brain tried to work through the cognitive dissonance, and the outright absurdity of the beliefs that his father had brainwashed him into accepting.

I was not feeling sympathy.  I was reliving my own childhood.

That realization hit me like a ton of bricks, and brought a whole new set of emotions.  Even after more than a decade of being an outspoken atheist activist, living hundreds of miles from home, and leaving my Christian life behind, I am still moved to tears when I remember how hard it was for me to break free from religion.  My chest still constricts when I recall the cold sweats that came unbidden when I pondered the “reality” of hell as a true believer.  I feel rage when I remember sitting on the toilet after masturbating, feeling intense guilt at having succumbed to weakness — again — and even more guilt for enjoying it, and even more guilt for not being good enough to remove myself from my own sexual desires.  I remember the first girl who wanted to date me in high school.  Mary.  (I can’t recall her last name.)  I was terrified of her, and even more terrified of holding hands with her or kissing her, because I had been taught in church and in Bible Camp that even such seemingly innocuous activities could lead to the fires of hell, since they were gateways into premarital sex.  I held hands with Mary once, and then told her I couldn’t go out with her.

My mother didn’t intend to cause me mental distress.  She had no idea that after hearing one particularly charismatic (and fundamentalist) preacher, I would — for nearly three weeks — keep myself awake at night for fear that as I drifted off to sleep, my thoughts would stray to something sexual (and therefore wrong) and I would be possessed by a demon.  She had no idea that I would marry the first girl I dated seriously so that I wouldn’t feel guilty about having sex anymore.  How could she possibly have known that even though her own views were substantially more moderate than many of our preachers, my vulnerable brain would soak in and accept the most draconian views with which I was presented?

The answer is that she couldn’t know.  She is innocent of the charge Intent to Cause Mental Harm.  Nevertheless, I was mentally harmed, and decades later, when I listened to someone who I should have almost nothing in common with, I felt the same emotions he was feeling, because I had experienced them, too.  Make no mistake — Nate Phelps has been abused in far more ways than me.  He was the victim of intentional, mean-spirited, sociopathic physical, mental, and emotional abuse.  He was the victim of intentional brainwashing, fear-mongering, and vicious repression.  His father is a horrible, horrible man who should be locked up.

Yet, as I sat there, I realized that I, too, was abused.  My abuse was unintentional, but does that make the tears I shed yesterday any less real?  Even as I type these words, I feel a pang of guilt.  Even though I am emotionally distant from my mother, and have been so since leaving religion, it galls me at a very deep level to admit to myself, much less to thousands of readers, that my mother subjected me to brainwashing and emotional abuse.  I want desperately to clear her of the charges, for she meant well.  She never wanted anything but the best for me, but because she, too, was brainwashed, she unintentionally heaped on me the same baggage she has carried her whole life, and still carries to this day.

On one level, I can’t empathize with Nate Phelps.  I have no frame of reference from which to try to imagine what he went through.  On another level, I know precisely what he experienced because I went through it, too.  Nate’s wife told me that he had been feeling as if he didn’t have anything meaningful to say to a bunch of atheists, but he couldn’t have been more wrong.  He is a product of one of the worst kinds of religious abuse, but his story casts glaring light on the dirty fact that even the most well-intentioned religious indoctrination is still religious indoctrination — and therefore,still abuse.

I am now more firmly convinced than ever that any pretense of religious moderation is a lie.  Religious indoctrination is child abuse.  Religious indoctrination that includes lies about human sexuality is sexual abuse.  Abuse committed by those who did not intend to abuse is still abuse.  Those who would dismiss Nate Phelps as the product of a mentally ill extremist would be partially correct.  Most theists love their children and try not to cause them harm.  However, the stark clarity of Nate’s religious abuse cannot be so easily dismissed.  If we are honest, I believe that most of us who grew up in a religiously indoctrinating environment would have to admit that we suffered.  Perhaps not everyone was as sensitive as me, but does the sensitivity of the victim change the nature of the crime?   Do we punish rapists based on how much mental trauma was suffered by the victim, or by the nature of the crime itself?  We can no longer look at religious indoctrination and turn a blind eye.  It is abuse, and if we are not standing firmly against it, we are silently condoning it.

 

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Hyperreligiosity as a psychological term for religious addiction and toxic faith

Image of the human head with the brain. The ar...
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Book description

When we mention hyperreligiosity, we mean the same thing as when others say “toxic faith.” Hyperreligiosity is a more established psychiatrically-used term for toxic faith. There is a timely nature of this work, as religious extremism is in the news every night. The author’s hope is that the ideas in this book will become assimilated so that people drawn to acting out in religious extremism have other perspectives to consider.

This book is essentially a book on toxic faith and is instrumental for understanding why people join destructive cults. This book bridges the gap between psychological understanding and the spiritual drive. Each one done separately is usually disregarded by the audience drawn more to the other. That is, people writing on a secular psychological level do not always take into account historically important spiritual goals. But the most dangerous situation is when people with a religious drive are not instructed on the dangers of what can happen to people who are very religious and have some imbalances. This book describes how these imbalances manifest and how they can be overcome.

Earlier psychologists used to explain psychological concepts to their patients. Psychology seems sometimes in danger of becoming a lost science in the minds of many. I think it’s time that people started understanding again more academic psychological concepts. It seems like there was more of a mainstream knowledge of psychological concepts in the past then there is today.

Hyperreligiosity is at the root of the need to join all destructive cults. This book examines the root causes why a person feels that a small group can have the answer to the greatest questions on earth.

One often sees reports in the news about people who have done various criminal acts because they believe they were guided by God to do so. The tone of this work is at once both psychological and spiritual. The author himself had hyperreligious tendencies but went on to live a normal life, graduating from a secular university and starting and maintaining a software company for over fifteen years. He uses basic psychological language to construct an analysis of the problem that takes into account the positive aspects of religion.

1. Description

The book is called “Hyperreligiosity — Identifying and Overcoming Patterns of Religious Dysfunction.” There is currently no book in print on hyperreligiosity. In fact, at the time of researching the book, it was even spelled four ways almost about equally on a Google search. This book takes a Western psychological approach yet maintains respect for spiritual values to describe how religious thinking can become distorted in people who have certain types of emotional and mental problems. The book also describes ways to overcome this. This book will become important because people are often sold quick religious ideas that promise them everything and often leave them without many things that are needed for a healthy psychological view of the world. This book helps people overcome destructive magical thinking while maintaining a spiritual tone. The audience is the same audience who buy many of books in spirituality and psychology.

2. Table of Contents

This book is written in the style of writing known as the “literary fragment.” It is in the same style of early religious texts as well many important author’s works such as Pascal’s Pensees and Novalis’s philosophical writing. There is a preface and then numbered sections.

3. Market

The audience for the book are those who are interested in religion, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, educators, and those who may know the hyperreligious such as parents or spouses, or the hyperreligious themselves. The author had problem himself with hyperreligiosity himself, but founded his own software company, beaome a successful rare book dealer, and developed theories in brainstorming and art. The book has well-written insights for psychologists and clergy on how the hyperreligious thinks and what kind of thinking may be liberating for them. It is written not from a perspective of an psychoanalytic theorist who must work from an aetheistic perspective, but from a recovered hyperreligious person himself. It describes what it is like living with hyperreligiosity and how he personally understands how to overcome it. He describes why hyperreligiosity is not a form of spirituality but instead a mental illness. There is a desire for a translation into Arabic for the Moslem community.

4. Competing Titles

There are currently no books with Hyperreligiosity in the title, however there are a few books written from a lay person’s or clergy’s perspective on religious addiction and what is called “toxic faith.” The problem with these books is that hyperreligious individuals may not be seen as religiously addicted nor were ever religiously abused. They may consider themselves more sophisticated than someone who gets “addicted” to a particular group or person, and perhaps they feel on a personal “mission from God.” I will show that each of these books comes from a different perspective and the Hyperrelgiosity book appeals more to the higher educated or person drawn to acceptance of interfaith beliefs, such as is common with many people today. The Hyperreligiosity book deals more with core psychological principles rather than only Evangelical or Catholic Christianity, although it is not offensive to those of those faiths.

via Hyperreligiosity as a psychological term for religious addiction and toxic faith.

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Are you a critical thinker?

Quality thought is vital. So why don’t schools foster it?

By Linda Elder

From the March 12, 2009 edition of Christian Science Monitor

Dillon Beach, Calif. – How can we hope to thoughtfully address the economic issues, conflicts, world poverty, and many other pressing concerns that trouble our planet, if we don’t take the way we think seriously?

We can’t. To effectively deal with these issues, we must cultivate the spirit of critical thinking throughout human societies.

Right now we are not even teaching the skills and dispositions of the critical mind in our schools. We are not cultivating the intellect.

Everyone thinks; but we don’t always think well. In fact, much of our thinking, left to itself, is sloppy, distorted, partial, uninformed, or prejudiced. Yet the quality of our life and all of the decisions we make depend precisely on the quality of our thought. At present, the act of thinking is virtually ignored.

Critical thinking is self-guided, self-disciplined thinking that aims to take the reasoning we all do naturally to a higher level. It is the art of analyzing and evaluating with the goal of improving thought. When making a decision, it is the difference between weighing information to come to a logical conclusion and making snap judgments without understanding the information.

Consider some of the great thinkers: H.L. Mencken, Tom Paine, Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln, Bertrand Russell, and Jane Austen. They became some of the greatest thinkers by not accepting information at face value, but by thinking deeply for themselves, asking questions, and refining their thinking over time. It wasn’t easy. Of his own thinking, Charles Darwin said: “I have as much difficulty as ever in expressing myself clearly and concisely; and this difficulty has caused me a very great loss of time, but it has had the compensating advantage of forcing me to think long and intently about every sentence, and thus I have been led to see errors in reasoning and in my own observations or those of others.”

His diligence paid off. Darwin’s critical thinking pushed the boundaries of science and society. And isn’t the purpose of education to give students the tools to thoughtfully contribute (on a small or large scale) to society? Right now we are not doing that. With few exceptions, we are not teaching them how to fully and deeply comprehend what they read or write with clarity, precision, and purpose. We are not teaching students to integrate ideas within and among subjects. We are not teaching them to entertain (in good faith) viewpoints with which with they disagree.

We are failing them at the most fundamental level.

Some believe that critical thinking was once cultivated in schooling. But it is fair to ask if it has ever really been fostered in a meaningful way in mainstream schooling (and the standardized testing movement is only making it worse). Teachers, like students, live in a nonintellectual culture, one that, for the most part, neither values fair-minded critical thinking nor encourages it.

If we want to effectively deal with the tremendous problems we now face, we must begin teaching students to discipline their own thinking. Teachers must move beyond rote and merely active engagement, and work toward transforming how students reason through complex issues, to look beyond easy answers.

We must teach students that the only way to learn a subject or discipline is to learn to think within the logic of it, to focus on its purposes, questions, information, to think within its concepts and assumptions.

It is true that some students learn some critical thinking implicitly along the way. But, as is evident in the dismal state of affairs, our collective thinking simply isn’t good enough.

There is some good news. Many global organizations such as the Peace Corps, UNICEF, and Amnesty International are promoting critical thinking within a particular area of importance. As part of their reaccreditations, the University of Louisville and Eastern Kentucky University are both making concerted efforts to bring critical thinking across the curriculum. But much work is still needed. William Graham Sumner, the Yale academic and essayist may have put it best when, in 1906, he said:

“The critical habit of thought, if usual in society, will pervade all its mores, because it is a way of taking up the problems of life. Men educated in it cannot be stampeded by stump orators…. They can wait for evidence and weigh evidence, uninfluenced by the emphasis or confidence with which assertions are made on one side or the other. They can resist appeals to their dearest prejudices and all kinds of cajolery. Education in the critical faculty is the only education of which it can be truly said that it makes good citizens.”

His warning resonates today. Though there is no quick and easy fix, we can all start by beginning to think about how we think. We can question our purposes, our assumptions, our ideas, and our inferences. We can question whether we are considering the views of others to understand them, or to dismiss them. We can open our minds to the larger world with all of its complexities. If we are to reverse the downward spiral we are presently experiencing, we must begin to actively and deliberately foster fair-minded critical thinking in our schools, our homes, our social institutions, in government, and indeed, in every part of human life.

Linda Elder is the president of the Foundation for Critical Thinking, an education nonprofit organization concerned with fostering fair-minded critical societies. She is an educational psychologist who has co-written four books on critical thinking and 20 thinker’s guides.

http://www.criticalthinking.org/

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2009 National Symposium on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

United States

Join Us for the 2009 National Symposium on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

The Campaign for U.S. Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child is pleased to announce that our National Symposium will be held from June 1-2, 2009 in Washington, DC at the Georgetown University Law Center. This event is being co-sponsored by the Georgetown University Law Center’s Juvenile Justice Clinic.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child: Why It is Time to Ratify
The focus of the 2009 Symposium, The Convention on the Rights of the Child: Why It is Time to Ratify, is to look at the Convention through the lens of its impact on U.S. children. To facilitate a better understanding of the CRC’s applicability, we have organized six interactive panel discussions that will explore the Convention in the context of the following topics:

* Education
* Health
* Needs, Rights, and the Human Family
* Participation
* Special Protection Measures
* Supportive Environments for Children

The Symposium will bring together a multi-disciplinary group of experts representing the fields of child and human development, education, health/medicine, law, psychology, public policy, and social work.

Registration and Accomodations
To register for the Symposium, click here.

All Symposium participants are responsible for obtaining their own accommodations. However, the Campaign has reserved a small block of rooms on Georgetown University’s Main Campus. Transportation between the Main Campus and the Law Center will be provided. Housing reservations will be processed on a first come, first serve basis. Click here to download the Housing Registration Form. Please note, online payment for housing is not available. Your registration form and check or money order must be sent to the address below and be postmarked by April 10, 2009:

The Campaign for U.S. Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) P.O. Box 2581 Kensington, MD 20891-2581

Panelists and Keynotes
Information will be posted on the Web Site once finalized.

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UN Secretary General’s Report on Violence Against Children

Appendix: The 12 Overarching Study Recommendations

  1. Strengthen national and local commitment and action: This refers to establishing a national focal point on violence against children by the end of 2007, to coordinate actions, and especially to ensure that actions to stop violence against children are integrated into national planning processes by 2009.
  2. Prohibit all violence against children: This refers to legal reforms including implementation of laws to stop all forms of violence against children, in all settings, including all corporal punishment, harmful traditional practices, such as early and forced marriages, female genital mutilation and so-called honour crimes, sexual violence, and torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as required by international treaties.
  3. Prioritize prevention: This refers to preventing all forms of violence against children in all settings by addressing underlying causes, as well as more immediate risk and protective factors.
  4. Promote non-violent values and awareness-raising: This refers to transforming attitudes that condone or normalize violence against children including via public information campaigns which promote non-violent values and protect children in all media coverage.
  5. Enhance the capacity of all who work with and for children: This refers to developing the capacity of all those who work with and for children to improve prevention, detection and responses.
  6. Provide recovery and social reintegration services: This refers providing accessible, child-sensitive and universal health and social services, including legal assistance to children and, where appropriate, their families.
  7. Ensure participation of children: This refers to States and their partners actively engaging with children and respecting their views.
  8. Create accessible and child-friendly reporting systems and services: This refers to establishing safe, well publicized, confidential and accessible mechanisms for children, their representatives and others to report violence against children.
  9. Ensure accountability and end impunity: This refers to building community confidence in the justice system by bringing all perpetrators of violence against children to justice.
  10. Address the gender dimension of violence against children: This refers to the integral role of gender biases in violence against children, and that States should promote and protect the rights of women and girls and address all forms of gender-based discrimination as part of a comprehensive violence-prevention strategy.
  11. Develop and implement systematic national data collection and research: This refers to the urgent need to improve data collection and information systems by 2009, in the context of a national research agenda and agreed international indicators, and with particular reference to vulnerable subgroups.
  12. Strengthen international commitment: This refers to States ratifying international treaties and implementing international standards agreed to.

www.rightsofchildren.ca/pdf/S-207.pdf

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