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Gina Stepp has a master's degree in forensic psychology with an emphasis on trauma and resilience. As family and relationships editor for Vision, she examines the role interpersonal connection plays in ensuring human well-being.

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New Year's Day is Global Family Day

  
  
  
Also known as: One Day of Peace and Sharing
world peace

Contrary to popular misconception, Global Family Day is not so much about appreciation of the family unit as it is about world peace. Why clarify this point?  Because one comment that frequently pops up across the internet when this day is discussed suggests, "We don't need an official day—I appreciate my family all year 'round."

While that is a laudable and important concept, in one way it entirely misses the point of Global Family Day.

The United Nations initially established January 1, 2000, as "One Day in Peace" in response to a number of grassroots organizations across the globe which were calling for an internationally recognized day for the cessation of violence and war. As the day moved to an annual observance its name was influenced by the wording of various national resolutions and eventually "One Day in Peace" morphed into "One Day of Peace and Sharing" and then to the more cumbersome "Gobal Family Day: One Day of Peace and Sharing."  

Whatever one calls the day, however, the underlying intent is the same: To recognize the fact that humanity is one family and that envy, exploitation, fear, discrimination and violence between nations is pointless and self-destructive. In the words of the U.S. organization for Global Family Day, the idea is to encourage "global traditions which can in turn help us overcome the challenges of poverty, hunger and violence which face our global family in century ahead." In other words, the goal is to replace war and poverty with peace and prosperity.

What sorts of global traditions lead to peace and prosperity? To boil it down to basics, the ideal "love your neighbor as yourself" probably says it best. And of course, the teaching of such ideologies does begin within individual families.

But this is precisely the idea that Global Family Day symbolizes on the individual level: much more than the simple tradition of appreciating one's own family, it symbolizes sowing the seeds of deeply held ideologies of the sort that lead to peace rather than violence. One need look no further than the current situation in Gaza to acknowledge that simple appreciation of one's own family can't ensure world peace. Certainly, there are those on both sides of that conflict who are at peace within the comfort zone they call family.

With that in mind, one might ask: if it's possible to achieve a certain level of peace within the individual family unit, why is peace so hard for nations to secure? Assuming that it's what most of the world wants—at least on some level—why is it so elusive?

Very likely it has something to do with the fact that no matter how pointless and self-destructive we recognize them to be, tendencies toward envy, distrust, discrimination, exploitation, greed, retaliation and violence are just too deeply rooted in the human psyche. And the more disconnected from others we imagine ourselves to be, the easier it is to act on these tendencies.

Child Abuse: The Ultimate Evil

  
  
  

This recent news item from Jeanine Benca of the San Jose Mercury News speaks for itself and defies commentary.

Childhood Interrupted

  
  
  
A Special Report on Teen Pregnancy
family relationships

The recent Rand study connecting the viewing of sexual content on television with increased rates of teen pregnancy has created quite a stir. Even though the Rand researchers did not lay blame, and indeed were careful to make appropriate qualifying statements, Monday-morning quarterbacks who haven't taken the time to read the study have in some cases been too quick to accuse them of one-sidedness.

Perhaps any one-sidedness in the story was introduced on the part of those reporting it.

Fortunately there are cooler heads amongst those who deal with this issue on a regular basis. One of these is Bill Albert, chief program officer for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Though I spoke to him on a Monday, there was no post-game quarterbacking involved.

"The recent Rand study that came out about sexual content on TV was a very good study, one of the best that’s been done to date," Albert told me. Acknowledging that he had nevertheless been "fearful of the unintended consequences"—that would follow if people were to focus on TV at the expense of other factors, Albert pointed the way to the reason the Rand study is important for families to read: "TV actually grows in stature as other important influences in a teen’s life—for instance, parents—diminish," he said. "The negative aspects of media influence can be greatly mitigated by on-the-job parents."

How do we make sure we're the on-the-job sort of parent? Albert gave some very sound, practical advice in this portion of the interview. More of our discussion will appear in the Spring issue of the journal Vision.

How Much TV and Web is Too Much for Kids?

  
  
  
According to Reuters? "Lots."

This Reuters story by Will Dunham is titled: "Lots of TV and Web Harms Kids' Health."  Though unlikely to be considered "news" to most parents, it's still worth a read.

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