Children


RAFAH, Gaza Strip — It was clear from the bod­ies laid out in the park­ing lot of the ma­ter­ni­ty hos­pi­tal here that it had as­sumed new du­ties: No longer a place that wel­comed new life, it was now a make­shift morgue.

Oth­er bod­ies lay in hall­ways and on the floor of the kitchen at Hi­lal Emi­rati Ma­ter­ni­ty Hos­pi­tal. In the walk-in cool­er, they were stacked three high, wait­ing for rel­a­tives to claim them for burial.

Sat­ur­day was the sec­ond day of heavy bom­bard­ment by Is­raeli forces on this city on Gaza’s bor­der with Egypt af­ter Is­rael’s an­nounce­ment that one of its of­fi­cers had been cap­tured by Pal­es­tin­ian mil­i­tants here dur­ing a clash.

But ear­ly Sun­day morn­ing, the Is­raeli mil­i­tary an­nounced that the of­fi­cer, Sec­ond Lt. Hadar Goldin, 23, was now con­sid­ered to have been killed in bat­tle.

Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times
Medics at a field hospital in Rafah, Gaza Strip. More than 120 Palestinians were killed in Rafah alone on Friday and Saturday.

“It is just an ex­cuse,” said Dr. Ab­dul­lah She­hadeh,

di­rec­tor of the Abu Yousef al-Na­j­jar Hos­pi­tal, the city’s larg­est. “There is no rea­son for them to force the women and chil­dren of Gaza to pay the price for some­thing that hap­pened on the bat­tle­field.”

Af­ter two days of Is­raeli shelling and airstrikes, cen­tral Rafah ap­peared de­serted on Sat­ur­day, with shops closed and res­i­dents hid­ing in their homes. The pres­ence of Is­raeli forces east of the city had caused many to flee west, crowd­ing in with friends and rel­a­tives in neigh­bor­hoods by the Med­i­ter­ra­nean.

More than 120 Pales­tini­ans were killed in Rafah alone on Fri­day and Sat­ur­day — the dead­li­est two days in the city since the war be­gan 25 days ago. Those deaths, and hun­dreds of in­ju­ries, over­whelmed the city’s health care fa­cil­i­ties.

Mak­ing mat­ters worse, Is­raeli shells hit the cen­tral Na­j­jar hos­pi­tal on Fri­day af­ter­noon, Dr. She­hadeh said, lead­ing its em­ploy­ees and pa­tients to evac­u­ate.

To con­tinue re­ceiv­ing pa­tients, his staff mem­bers moved to the small­er Ku­waiti Spe­cial­ized Hos­pi­tal, al­though it was ill equipped to han­dle the large num­ber of peo­ple seek­ing care.

Am­bu­lances screamed in­to the hos­pi­tal’s park­ing lot, where medics un­loaded cases on­to stretch­ers some­times bear­ing the blood of pre­vi­ous pa­tients. Since the hos­pi­tal had on­ly 12 beds, the staff mem­bers had lined up gur­neys out­side to han­dle the over­flow.

The city’s cen­tral hos­pi­tal had al­so housed its on­ly morgue, so its clo­sure cre­ated a new prob­lem as the ca­su­al­ties mount­ed: where to put the bod­ies.

At the Ku­waiti Spe­cial­ized Hos­pi­tal, they were put on the floor of the den­tal ward un­der a poster pro­mot­ing den­tal hy­giene. In a back room lay the bod­ies of Sa­di­ah Abu Taha, 60, and her grand­son Rezeq Abu Taha, 1, who had been killed in an airstrike on their home near­by.

Few peo­ple ap­proached the main en­trance to the pink-and-white ma­ter­ni­ty hos­pi­tal, in­stead head­ing around back, where there was a con­stant flow of bod­ies. Near­ly 60 had been left in the morgue of the cen­tral hos­pi­tal when it closed, so am­bu­lance crews who had man­aged to reach the site brought back as many bod­ies as they could car­ry. Oth­er bod­ies came from new at­tacks or were re­cov­ered from dam­aged build­ings.

New ar­rivals were laid out in the park­ing lot or car­ried down a ramp to the kitchen, fea­tur­ing a large walk-in cool­er. Some were kept on the ground, and those not claimed right away were added to the pile in the cool­er.

Word had spread that the dead were at the ma­ter­ni­ty hos­pi­tal, so peo­ple who had lost rel­a­tives came to talk to the medics or look in the cool­er for their loved ones.

One short, sun­burned man point­ed to the body of a woman wear­ing pink sweat­pants and said she was his sis­ter Souad al-Tara­bin.

The medics pulled her out, laid her on a ta­ble and wrapped her in white cloth and plas­tic. Some teenagers helped the man car­ry her body up­stairs and lay it in the back of a yel­low taxi. A man in the front seat cra­dled a small bun­dle con­tain­ing the re­mains of the woman’s 4-year-old son, Anas.

Sit­ting near­by, As­ma Abu Ju­main wait­ed for the body of her moth­er-in-law, who she said had been killed the day be­fore and was in the morgue at the cen­tral hos­pi­tal when it was evac­u­ated.

“She is an old woman,” Ms. Abu Ju­main said. “She did noth­ing wrong.”

The move­ment of bod­ies made record-keep­ing im­pos­si­ble, al­though Arafat Ad­wan, a hos­pi­tal vol­un­teer, tried to jot down names in a small red note­book he kept in his pock­et.

He wor­ried that some bod­ies would re­main there for days, be­cause fam­ilies had been scat­tered and might not know that their rel­a­tives had been killed.

“There are peo­ple in here whose fam­ilies have no idea what hap­pened to them,” he said.

Oth­ers knew they had lost rel­a­tives but could not find them.

Mo­ham­med al-Ban­na said an airstrike the morn­ing be­fore had killed nine of his in-laws, in­clud­ing his wife’s fa­ther and four of her broth­ers.

“The ag­gres­sion here is cre­at­ing a new gen­er­a­tion of youth who want re­venge for all the crimes,” he said.

He had looked at the cen­tral hos­pi­tal the day be­fore, to no avail. Then, on Sat­ur­day, he re­ceived a mes­sage sent to lo­cal cell­phones telling those who had lost rel­a­tives to re­trieve them from the ma­ter­ni­ty hos­pi­tal. He had come right away, but had not found them.

“I’ll keep wait­ing for their bod­ies to come in so we can

take them home and bury them,” he said.

Mr. Ban­na added that he had been too wor­ried to tell his wife what had hap­pened to her fam­ily and want­ed to break the news to her grad­u­ally. Ear­lier that day, she had told him that she was start­ing to wor­ry be­cause her fa­ther’s cell­phone had been switched off all day.

“I told her maybe he has no elec­tricity and his phone is dead,” Mr. Ban­na said.

 

 

This section of Graphic Humor in political-economic, national or international issues, are very ingenious in describing what happened, is happening or will happen. It also extends to various other local issues or passing around the world. There are also other non-political humor that ranges from reflective or just to get us a smile when we see them. Anyone with basic education and to stay informed of important news happening in our local and global world may understand and enjoy them. Farewell!. (CTsT)

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A photo of a desperate young Palestinian boy, badly wounded and screaming for his father as he clutches at the shirt of a paramedic in a hospital, has captured the tragic and bloody tension of the Gazan conflict.

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Shirtless and with cuts to his face, torso, arms and legs, the child clings to the hospital worker who is attempting to lay him flat on a girdle.

The Electronic Intifada, a pro-Palestinian publication, reports the photo, taken at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City last Thursday, was captioned with the boy’s desperate cry: ‘I want my father, bring me my father’, according to Fairfax.

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The Palestinian paper claims the young boy was one of four siblings brought to the hospital wounded, two of them just three years old.

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It comes as grinning Israeli tank commanders were pictured flashing the victory signs as they blast their way through Gaza in the bloodiest day of the offensive so far – as one resident of the troubled region said: ‘The gate of hell has opened.’

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At least 65 people have been killed since this yesterday’s dawn strike on Gaza City’s Shijaiyah neighbourhood – including the son, daughter-in-law and two small grandchildren of a senior Hamas leader.

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Hamas says it has captured an Israeli soldier – a scenario that has proven to be fraught with difficulties for the country in the past – but Israel’s U.N. Ambassador has denied the claims.

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The neighbourhood has come under heavy tank fire as Israel widened its ground offensive against Hamas, causing hundreds of residents to flee.

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The dead and wounded – including dozens of women and children – have reportedly been left in streets, with ambulances unable to approach.

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Source: (July 21, 2014)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2699772/This-desperate-little-boy-face-tragedy-Palestinian-toddler-clutches-shirt-hospital-worker-screaming-I-want-father-bring-father.html?ito=social-facebook

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A Pennsylvania first-grader who doesn’t have hands won a trophy and $1,000 in a penmanship competition. 

On Wednesday, Annie Clark, 7, became the first recipient of the Nicholas Maxim Award, a prize from educational publisher Zaner-Bloser Inc. that recognizes disabled students with exceptional handwriting. 


Annie, who writes by wedging a pencil between her two arms, accepted the award from the basketball court at Wilson Christian Academy. She was cheered on by students and faculty as she wore all yellow in honor of the school’s colors. 

“Annie has always been very, very determined, very self-sufficient in dressing herself and feeding herself,” her dad Tom told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “She can ride a bike. She swims. She is just determined that there’s nothing she can’t do.” 

Born to a family of nine children, Annie is a sister to five other siblings adopted from China. Most of Annie’s siblings – including children born biologically to her parents – also have disabilities.

 

* DAHVI SHIRA, Friday April 20, 2012

A four-year-old who can already add, subtract, draw figures, write in sentences and read advanced books has become one of the youngest members of Mensa.

Heidi Hankins sat an IQ test after nursery teachers said they were struggling to find activities to keep her challenged.

The average IQ score for an adult is 100 but the exceptional youngster achieved a staggering 159 points – just one mark shy of scientist Albert Einstein.

She beat number cruncher Carol Vorderman (154 points) and is only slightly behind Big Bang physicist Stephen Hawking (160 points).

Heidi’s father Matthew, from Winchester, Hants, is hoping she can skip a year when she starts school to ensure she does not become bored.

The Southampton University lecturer, 47, said: “We always thought Heidi was bright because she was reading early. I was curious about her IQ and the results were off the scale.

“I got her the complete set of the Oxford Reading Tree books when she was two and she read through the whole set of 30 in about an hour. It’s what you would expect a seven-year-old to do.”

He said Heidi is a head taller than her classmates, and at 115cm (3ft 10in) more physically resembles an average six-year-old.

Dr Hankins added: “We don’t push Heidi at all. She has taken up everything herself and teaches herself.

“In fact, if we try and tell her to sit down and do something she says ‘no’ and goes off to do her own thing.

“In every other way she is like a typical youngster, who likes to play with other children.

“She is not precocious, she is just a little girl who likes her Barbies and Lego but then you will find her sitting down and reading a book.”

John Stevenage, chief executive of British Mensa, congratulated Heidi’s parents for identifying her “great potential”.

“We wish them well and are pleased that they have chosen to join the Mensa network for support,” he said. “We aim to provide a positive environment for younger members to develop.”

LAST week, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled that teachers’ individual performance assessments could be made public. I have no opinion on the ruling as a matter of law, but as a harbinger of education policy in the United States, it is a big mistake.

I am a strong proponent of measuring teachers’ effectiveness, and my foundation works with many schools to help make sure that such evaluations improve the overall quality of teaching. But publicly ranking teachers by name will not help them get better at their jobs or improve student learning. On the contrary, it will make it a lot harder to implement teacher evaluation systems that work.

In most public schools today, teachers are simply rated “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory,” and evaluations consist of having the principal observe a class for a few minutes a couple of times each year. Because we are just beginning to understand what makes a teacher effective, the vast majority of teachers are rated “satisfactory.” Few get specific feedback or training to help them improve.

Many districts and states are trying to move toward better personnel systems for evaluation and improvement. Unfortunately, some education advocates in New York, Los Angeles and other cities are claiming that a good personnel system can be based on ranking teachers according to their “value-added rating” — a measurement of their impact on students’ test scores — and publicizing the names and rankings online and in the media. But shaming poorly performing teachers doesn’t fix the problem because it doesn’t give them specific feedback.

Value-added ratings are one important piece of a complete personnel system. But student test scores alone aren’t a sensitive enough measure to gauge effective teaching, nor are they diagnostic enough to identify areas of improvement. Teaching is multifaceted, complex work. A reliable evaluation system must incorporate other measures of effectiveness, like students’ feedback about their teachers and classroom observations by highly trained peer evaluators and principals.

Putting sophisticated personnel systems in place is going to take a serious commitment. Those who believe we can do it on the cheap — by doing things like making individual teachers’ performance reports public — are underestimating the level of resources needed to spur real improvement.

At Microsoft, we created a rigorous personnel system, but we would never have thought about using employee evaluations to embarrass people, much less publish them in a newspaper. A good personnel system encourages employees and managers to work together to set clear, achievable goals. Annual reviews are a diagnostic tool to help employees reflect on their performance, get honest feedback and create a plan for improvement. Many other businesses and public sector employers embrace this approach, and that’s where the focus should be in education: school leaders and teachers working together to get better.

Fortunately, there are a few places where teachers and school leaders are collaborating on the hard work of building robust personnel systems. My wife, Melinda, and I recently visited one of those communities, in Tampa, Fla. Teachers in Hillsborough County Public Schools receive in-depth feedback from their principal and from a peer evaluator, both of whom have been trained to analyze classroom teaching.

We were blown away by how much energy people were putting into the new system — and by the results they were already seeing in the classroom. Teachers told us that they appreciated getting feedback from a peer who understood the challenges of their job and from their principal, who had a vision of success for the entire school. Principals said the new system was encouraging them to spend more time in classrooms, which was making the culture in Tampa’s schools more collaborative. For their part, the students we spoke to said they’d seen a difference, too, and liked the fact that peer observers asked for their input as part of the evaluation process.

Developing a systematic way to help teachers get better is the most powerful idea in education today. The surest way to weaken it is to twist it into a capricious exercise in public shaming. Let’s focus on creating a personnel system that truly helps teachers improve.

 

Bill Gates is co-chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. NYT: Published: February 22, 2012

It has often been said throughout time that a picture is worth a thousand words. Any picture may be worth a thousand words, but only a few rare photos tell more than a thousand words. They tell a powerful story, a story poignant enough to change the world and galvanize each of us. Over and over again…

Warning: Be prepared for images of violence and death (in one  case, the photograph of a dead child) if you scroll down.

10. Kosovo Refugees (Carol Guzy)

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Carol Guzy, the first woman to receive a Pulitzer Prize for spot news photography, received her most recent Pulitzer in 2000 for her touching photographs of Kosovo refugees.

The above picture portrays Agim Shala, a two-year-old boy, who is passed through a fence made with barbed wire to his family. Thousands of Kosovo refugees were reunited and camped in Kukes, Albania.

9. War Underfoot (Carolyn Cole)

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Los Angeles Times photographer Carolyn Cole took this terrifying photo during her assignment in Liberia. It shows the devastating effects of the Liberian Civil War.

Bullet casings cover entirely a street in Monrovia. The Liberian capital was the worst affected region, because it was the scene of heavy fighting between government soldiers and rebel forces.

8. Thailand Massacre (Neil Ulevich)

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Neal Ulevich won the 1977 Pulitzer Prize for a “series of photographs of disorder and brutality in the streets of Bangkok, Thailand”  (Pulitzer.com).

The Thammasat University Massacre took place on October 6, 1976. It was a very violent attack on students who were demonstrating against Field Marshall Thanom Kittikachorn.

F. M. T. Kittikachorn was a dictator who was planning to come back to Thailand. The return of the military dictator from exile provoked very violent protests. Protestors and students were beaten, mutilated, shot, hung and burnt to death.

7. After the Storm (Patrick Farrell)

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Miami Herald photographer Patrick Farrell captured the harrowing images of the victims of Haiti in 2008. Farrell documented the Haitian tragedy with impressive black-and-white stills. The subject of “After the Storm” is a boy who is trying to save a stroller after the tropical storm Hanna struck Haiti.

More photos of Patrick Farrell: A People in Despair: Haiti’s year without mercy

6. The Power of One (Oded Balilty)

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In 2006, Israeli authorities ordered the evacuation of illegal outposts, such as Amona. Oded Balilty, an Israeli photographer for the Associated Press, was present when the evacuation degenerated into violent and unprecedented clashes between settlers and police officers. The picture shows a brave woman rebelling against authorities.

Like many pictures on this list, “The Power of One” has been another subject of major controversy. Ynet Nili is the 16-year-old Jewish settler from the above picture. According to Ynet, “a picture like this one is a mark of disgrace for the state of Israel and is nothing to be proud of. The picture looks like it represents a work of art, but that isn’t what went on there. What happened in Amona was totally different.” Nili claims the police beat her up very harshly. “You see me in the photograph, one against many, but that is only an illusion – behind the many stands one man – (Prime Minister Ehud) Olmert, but behind me stand the Lord and the people of Israel.”

5. World Trade Center 9/11 (Steve Ludlum)

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The power of Steve Ludlum’s photos are astounding, and the written description only tends to dilute the impact. The consequences of the second aircraft crashing into New York’s WTC were devastating: fireballs erupted and smoke billowed from the skyscrapers anticipating the towers’ collapse and monstrous dust clouds.

4. After the Tsunami (Arko Datta)


One of the most representative and striking photos of the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami was taken by Reuters photographer Arko Datta  in Tamil Nadu. He won the World Press Photo competition of 2004. Kathy Ryan, jury member and picture editor of  The New York Times Magazine, characterized Datta’s image as a “graphic, historical and starkly emotional picture.”

“After the Tsunami” illustrates an Indian woman lying on the sand with her arms outstretched, mourning a dead family member. Her relative was killed by one of the deadliest natural disasters that we have ever seen: the Indian Ocean tsunami.

3. Bhopal Gas Tragedy 1984 (Pablo Bartholomew)

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Pablo Bartholomew is an acclaimed Indian photojournalist who captured the Bhopal Gas Tragedy into his lens. Twenty-six years have passed since India’s worst industrial catastrophe injured 558,125 people and killed as many as 15,000. Because safety standards and maintenance procedures had been ignored at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, a leak of methyl isocyanate  gas and other chemicals triggered a  massive environmental and human disaster. Photographer Pablo Bartholomew rushed to document the catastrophe. He came across a man who was burying a child. This scene was photographed by both Pablo Bartholomew and Raghu Rai, another renowned Indian photojournalist. “This expression was so moving and so powerful to tell the whole story of the tragedy”, said Raghu Rai.

2. Operation Lion Heart (Deanne Fitzmaurice)

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Pulitzer Prize award winning photojournalist Deanne Fitzmaurice won the highly respected award in 2005 for the photographic essay “Operation Lion Heart.”

“Operation Lion Heart” is the story of a 9-year-old Iraqi boy who was severely injured by an explosion during one of the most violent conflicts of modern history – the Iraq War. The boy was brought to a hospital in Oakland, CA where he had to undergo dozens of life-and-death surgeries. His courage and unwillingness to die gave him the nickname: Saleh Khalaf, “Lion Heart”.

Deanne Fitzmaurice’s shocking photographs ran in the San Francisco Chronicle in a five-part series written by Meredith May.

1. Tragedy of Omayra Sanchez (Frank Fourier)


Frank Fournier captured the tragic image of Omayra Sanchez trapped in mud and collapsed buildings. The eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano in Colombia 1985 triggered a massive mudslide. It devastated towns and killed 25,000 people.

After 3 days of struggling, Omayra died due to hypothermia and gangrene. Her tragic death accentuated the failure of officials to respond quickly and save the victims of Colombia’s worst ever natural disaster. Frank Fournier took this photo shortly before Omayra died. Her agonizing death was followed live on TV by hundreds of millions of people around the world and started a major controversy. May her soul rest in peace…

 

* Source:  http://www.toptenz.net/

For all the talk of his sustained adolescence, no performer made a more compelling entrance into manhood than Michael Jackson did with the release of his 1979 album, “Off the Wall” just a couple of weeks before his 21st birthday.

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It was all the more stunning because we had watched his childhood and adolescence. He wasn’t an apparition rising out of obscurity, like Elvis Presley. To become who he was in “Off the Wall,” he had to annul — if not destroy — the performer he had been in the Jackson 5.

And yet the change was organic as well as deliberate. Michael Jackson grew into his body, and out of that new body emerged a wholly new idea of what pop music, and the movement it generates, might be. It can be hard to remember now, 30 years later, just how ubiquitous the hits from that album, especially “Rock With You,” really were.

In soul, in rock ’n’ roll, and in pop, there is a long tradition of men singing in high voices, the height of the voice suggesting the pitch of the singer’s fervor. Michael Jackson made the sweetness of that high voice guttural and demanding. He showed that it was rooted in his feet and hips and hands. He re-sexualized it in a way that you could never really mistake — then — as androgynous.


Very few artists — certainly very few child stars — have ever redefined themselves as thoroughly or as successfully as Michael Jackson did. His second act was better than any number of first acts put together. The uncanny thing wasn’t just his physical transformation, his hypnotic new ability to move. It was the certainty of “Off the Wall” and its sequel “Thriller” that this was the music we wanted to hear. He knew, too, that this was a music we wanted to visualize, to see formalized and set loose in dance. In a sense, he was loosing his transformation upon the rest of us, expecting us to be caught up in the excitement the music caused in him. And we were.
Michael Jackson came to be synonymous with transformation — ultimately, with an eerie stasis that comes from seeking transformation all the time. The alchemy of change worked longer and better for him — through the ’80s and into the early ’90s — than it has for almost any other artist. And yet somehow all the changes always take us back to the album in which Michael Jackson grew up.


By VERLYN KLINKENBORG , NYT, Editorial, June 27, 2009

Michael became hooked on headphones in his early teens. He walked the streets of Brooklyn day after day with his favorite music blasting directly into his ears. By his early 20s, the sensory hair cells in his inner ears had been permanently damaged and Michael had lost much of his upper-range hearing.

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The Children’s Hearing Institute reports that hearing loss among children and young adults is rising in the United States, and that one-third of the damage is caused by noise.
According to the American Academy of Audiology, about one child in eight has noise-induced hearing loss. That means some five million children have an entirely preventable disability that will stay with them for life.
The academy has begun a “turn it to the left” (the volume dial, that is) awareness campaign in hopes of protecting current and future generations of youngsters from unwittingly damaging their hearing. Often, the problem is not detected until children develop persistent ringing in the ears or begin to have learning or behavior problems in school because of trouble understanding speech.
Although newborns are now routinely screened for hearing loss, there is no federal mandate for screening the hearing of school-age children. What testing is done often fails to check hearing at high enough pitches, a federal research team pointed out in the journal Pediatrics.
Surrounded by Noise
We live in a noisy world. Young and old alike are beset by sounds over which we may have little or no control: power mowers, leaf blowers, snow blowers, car and house alarms, sirens, motorcycles, Jet Skis, loudspeakers, even movie previews.
We attend rock concerts, weddings, parties and sports events at which the music is so loud you can hardly hear the person sitting next to you. At home, televisions, stereos and computer games are often turned up so loud that listeners cannot hear a doorbell or a telephone.
Many “modern” restaurants have opted for noise enhancement instead of abatement. And try having a conversation in a school cafeteria at lunchtime.
Any time you need to shout to be heard by someone near you, your hearing is most likely to be in a decibel danger zone.
As if environmental noise were not enough, now we besiege children with noisy toys and personal listening devices that can permanently damage their hearing. Toys that meet the safety standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials can produce sound up to 138 decibels, as loud as a jet taking off. Yet workplace rules require hearing protection for those exposed to noise above 85 decibels.
A series of studies conducted in 2002 among 116 infants by researchers at Johns Hopkins indicated that even moderate background noise can interfere with how they learn language. The effect on babies’ hearing in a noisy house is similar to what an older person with age-related hearing loss may encounter at a crowded cocktail party.
A landmark study in 1975 found that children in classrooms on the noisy side of a school had lower reading scores than those whose classes were on the quiet side.
Noise-induced hearing loss can come about in two ways: from a brief exposure to a very loud noise or from consistent exposure to moderate-level noise. Thus, there is much concern about the lasting effects of MP3 players that are turned up loud enough to block out surrounding sound, like street noise. An MP3 player at maximum volume produces about 105 decibels — 100 times as intense as 85 decibels, where hearing damage begins. (For every 10 decibels, sound intensity increases tenfold.)
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health says 110 decibels can produce hearing damage after just 1 minute, 29 seconds of exposure. The League for the Hard of Hearing cautions that “noise levels above 85 decibels will harm hearing over time” and that levels above 140 decibels — the pain threshold — can damage hearing after just one exposure.
New bone-conduction headphones that hook over the ears and pass sound through the skull to the inner ear may not solve the problem. While they allow listeners to hear an oncoming car or a person speaking, users may turn up the volume to overcome ambient noise, damaging the 15,000 tiny hair cells in the inner ear that transfer sound energy to the brain.
Once damaged, hair cells can neither be repaired nor replaced. The damage makes it difficult to hear high-pitched sounds, including certain speech sounds and the voices of women and children. Tinnitus, a continuous ringing, roaring or clicking in the ears, can also result.
Protecting Young Ears
Before buying noisemaking toys, parents would do well to listen to how loud they are. If the item comes with a volume control, monitor its use to make sure it is kept near the lowest level. Consider returning gifts that make loud noises, or disable the noise-making function. Or restrict the use of noisy toys to outside play areas.
Children who play computer games and stereo equipment should be warned to keep the volume down. Time spent in video arcades, where the noise level can exceed 110 decibels, should be strictly limited. Most iPods have a control that allows parents to set a maximum volume.
Avoid taking children to loud action movies. If you do go and the sound seems deafening, ask the management to turn down the volume or insist on your money back. Children who play in bands and teenagers who use power tools, gardening equipment or guns should be made to wear hearing protection, available at pharmacies and hardware and sporting goods stores.
The League for the Hard of Hearing urges parents to encourage participation in quiet activities, like reading, watching family-oriented films, doing puzzles, making things with construction toys, playing educational computer games, drawing and painting, and visiting libraries and museums.

By JANE E. BRODY (NYT), December 9, 2008

Parents of newborn children sometimes notice an unusual phenomenon. Normal babies rarely close their eyes, except of course when sleeping.

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Considering the world of visual stimuli to which infants are suddenly exposed, and the range of primitive reflexes they typically display — forcibly sucking on objects put in their mouths, grasping things put in their hands, and throwing out their arms when startled — frequent blinking may seem natural for an infant. But studies show that they blink spontaneously at a rate far below that of adults.
One study, published in The Annals of Neurology, measured spontaneous blinking in 269 children and 179 adults. They found that infants blink on average less than twice a minute, a rate that steadily increases up to the age of 14 or 15. Adults, on average, blink about 10 to 15 times a minute.
One theory is that infants, whose ability to see is incomplete, work hard to soak in visual information.


Blinking serves primarily to coat the eyes with tears and remove any dirt or debris from the surface of the cornea. So another theory is that infants, perhaps because their eyes are better protected by smaller openings or because they sleep so much, may require less eye lubrication.

By ANAHAD O’CONNOR (NYT), December 9, 2008