Watching the World
Child Abuse Common
“A new [U.S.] study of adolescent boys’ health has found that more than 1 in 8 high-school-age boys said they had been physically or sexually abused,” reports The New York Times. The study found that “the physical abuse of boys was far more common than sexual abuse, and that two-thirds of the physical abuse was by a family member and took place in the home.” Asian-American boys claimed the highest incidence of sexual abuse, with 9 percent saying that they had been abused. Among Hispanic boys, 7 percent said that they had been abused sexually, while 3 percent of blacks and whites reported sexual abuse. The questionnaire did not define abuse. It simply asked if the respondent had ever been abused physically or sexually.
The “Ultimate Ancestor”?
Bishops from throughout Asia recently gathered at Vatican City to discuss ways to spread Catholicism to Asian lands. “In most Asian countries, Christianity is a Western religion that came with the colonizing forces,” says Monsignor Oswald Gomis of Sri Lanka. The challenge, therefore, is to “present Jesus in Asian terms,” reports the Associated Press. “The bishops talked about adapting the Roman church to local customs and languages and vice versa.” One example given is the practice of ancestor worship. To appeal to those who practice this ancient custom, Monsignor John Tong Hon of Hong Kong suggested that Catholics gradually introduce the concept of the “Christian” god as the “ultimate ancestor.”
Two surgeons in a Paris hospital have performed the first successful open-heart surgery using a computer-controlled robot, reports the French newspaper Le Figaro. Six operations were performed, including a coronary bypass. The method involves operating through a one-and-a-half-inch [4 cm] incision. Sitting at a console several feet from the patient, the surgeons look inside the patient’s body by means of a camera and use two joysticks to direct the robot’s arm movements. Because the computer reduces the surgeons’ movements by three to five times, the surgery is more precise and less invasive. Another advantage is that the patient experiences less pain during recovery.
Traffic Fatalities Rising
Every year, over 500,000 people are killed on the world’s highways, and worldwide, traffic fatalities are on the increase, reports Fleet Maintenance & Safety Report. What are your chances of being involved in a serious traffic accident? According to the report, “in ‘motorized’ countries, at least 1 in 20 persons is killed or injured in a highway crash every year and 1 in 2 persons is hospitalized at least once in their lifetime for a traffic injury.”
As unlikely as it may seem, the toilet seat in your home may be more sanitary than the cutting board in your kitchen. That is what researchers from the University of Arizona concluded after spending 30 weeks monitoring the bacteria found in 15 homes. The team took samples from 14 sites in each home, including tap handles, sink surfaces, cutting boards, dishcloths, and toilet seats. Their findings? “Researchers found a million times as many bacteria in the fluid wrung from dishcloths as on toilet seats,” says New Scientist magazine. “Even chopping boards hosted three times as many bacteria.” A spokesperson for the study, Pat Rusin, theorized that “toilet seats are simply too dry to support a thriving population of bacteria, which tend to prefer damp environments,” reports the magazine. To improve hygiene, Rusin recommends cleaning dishcloths weekly. “Simply add one cup of bleach to a sinkful of water, throw in the dishcloth and let it soak for 10 minutes before letting it drain,” she says.
Cutting the Risk of Kidney Stones
Researchers tracking the diets of more than 80,000 nurses in the United States between 1986 and 1994 found that some fluids may be more likely than others to help a person avoid kidney stones, reports Science News. Of the 17 beverages studied, tea decreased the risk of kidney stones by 8 percent, while regular or decaffeinated coffee cut the risk by about 9 percent. The moderate intake of wine helped lower a person’s risk of kidney stones by 20 percent or more. “Strangely, an 8-ounce glass of grapefruit juice daily boosted the risk of stones by 44 percent,” the study showed. “No other drink had such a negative impact.” Dr. Gary Curhan, a nephrologist and epidemiologist in Boston, was quoted as saying: “Modifying beverage intake might make a difference,” but only as part of a broad treatment strategy.
Easter’s Meaning in Australia
Australia’s Sun-Herald newspaper conducted a poll in which people were asked at random what Easter meant to them. The published results were in this order: chocolate Easter eggs (54 percent), a long-weekend holiday (39 percent), the Royal Easter Show (21 percent), a religious occasion (20 percent). David Milikan, a minister of the Uniting Church, said that he was not surprised that so few people in Sydney associated Easter with religion. He added: “The churches are dying . . . All the mainline denominations are facing a massive drop in numbers.” Sydney’s Roman Catholic archbishop lamented: “For many, Easter has no religious significance at all; it is just another secular festival.”
Pornography for Women
“Women are slowly closing the gap with men in terms of their interest in sexually explicit on-line material,” reports The New York Times. A number of such sites for women combine “soft-core pictures . . . and shopping.” After the debut of one site specifically designed for heterosexual women, the Times noted that “the site is just another drop in the deep well of sexually explicit content that runs beneath the mainstream on-line world.”
Addicted to Shopping
“More and more people in Germany suffer from compulsive shopping,” reports the newspaper Grafschafter Nachrichten. According to business psychologist Alfred Gebert, compulsive shoppers get a euphoric feeling that vanishes quickly after paying for the goods. They even show physical withdrawal symptoms, says Gebert. “They shiver, sweat, and suffer from stomach cramps.” For this reason, people with high incomes and good credit are more at risk than poor people. Possible causes for the addiction are said to include ‘loneliness, low self-esteem, stress, and problems at the workplace.’ To help fight the compulsion, Gebert recommends cultivating a hobby. Especially important, says Gebert, are social contacts. “Without outside help, the addiction is only recognized when the debt trap snaps shut and the last credit is used up,” he says.
Spying on Children
Some parents in Japan have begun hiring private detectives to spy on their children in order to protect them from bullies at school. According to The Daily Yomiuri, a professor at Osaka City University who has surveyed over 6,000 students said: “Bullied children are generally eager to conceal the fact from their family, fearing that they will be thought less of for their inability to fight back or make it stop.” Some parents who suspect that their children are being harassed have resorted to planting electronic bugs on them in order to listen to their conversations. Others have hired private detectives to follow “the child at a discreet distance, recording evidence against tormentors and sweeping in like guardian angels to rescue a child whose life is taking a dangerous turn.” But child advocates, says the newspaper, “denounce parental spying as a dreadful step that is likely to further estrange the very youngsters who most need to trust and confide in an adult.” Parents, though, claim that it is a way to help their troubled children when communication has broken down.