Westfield State Students Demonstrate the Importance of Kindness and Compassion

Cranes for Compassion

Westfield State students create a visual tribute that expresses beauty and addresses violence.

Most professors assign a final paper or exam to end the semester, but Andriana Foiles, adjunct professor of Ethnic and Gender Studies at Westfield State University, had her students conduct a campus-wide presentation on the importance of kindness.

Called Cranes for Compassion, Foiles’s Intro to Women’s Studies students spent weeks collecting stories of random acts of kindness and documented the stories on papers that were folded into paper cranes. The more than 700 stories folded into cranes were on display against a clothesline of statistics on violence.

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Hindsight Parenting: Pretend Play vs. Violence

Let’s Pretend: A Discussion on Violence

Let’s go back to Fisher Price amusement parks with Weebles that don’t fall down, to plastic farms where a cow moos when you open the barn door and to kick ball out in the middle of the road using the cracks in the street as bases.

“Ok daddy. Let’s go in my tent and you get to kill me.” These were the words uttered by my VERY sheltered three-year-old daughter just last night. I was shocked. Daddy was shocked. He immediately responded, “I will play with you Ila, but I won’t ever play ‘killing’. That just isn’t a nice thing to play.” To distract her, he pretended to see a dragon in the clouds and they went chasing off in that direction determined to introduce themselves. While that seem to be the end of it for Ila, it wasn’t for me. How on Earth did she come up with THAT one?

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Parenting Possibilities: To Take Away or Not Take Away

You Better Run

“You better run, better run, out run my gun.”

These are sample lyrics to Foster the People’s freakishly popular song, “Pumped up Kicks,” that my children were happily listening to the other day. When I realized that the song my 5 and 9 year old boys were dancing to with joy was essentially about gun violence, a blanket of horror came over me.

Let me back up a bit…

For Chanukah, my partner and I agreed to give our boys their own mini MP3 players. It was a big decision for us as we were aware that the MP3 players would be the first electronic device they owned. We made the purchase in preparations for an upcoming long plane flight. The MP3 players seemed like a great, fun option for them to have on the plane.

Once their gifts were open, immediate excitement and requests to load songs on their players followed. We were happy to pick out songs with them and relished in how thrilled they were about the gifts. The song “Pumped up Kicks” was one of the first choices for both of them. My partner and I had heard the song before but the lyrics were always murky to us.

After listening to the song again, I thought I was hearing words referring to guns and cigarettes but it seemed so improbable. I decided to do some research. First I looked up their video on You Tube. The video was a montage of the handsome young men playing the song live and having a blast. Nothing about guns there, so it seemed.

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The FTC Criticize Marketers of Violet Music, Movies and Video Games

FTC Renews Call to Entertainment Industry to Curb Marketing of Violent Entertainment to Children

Marketers of violent music, movies, and video games can do more to restrict the promotion of these products to children, according to the seventh in a series of Federal Trade Commission reports on marketing violent entertainment to children.

“The Commission has been reviewing and reporting on the movie, music, and video game industries’ advertising and marketing practices relating to violent entertainment for 10 years now,” noted FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz in a separate statement accompanying the report. “Despite considerable improvements, the self-regulatory systems are far from perfect.” He also emphasized that “in the future, it will be particularly important to address the challenges presented by emerging technologies – such as mobile gaming – that are quickly changing the ways that children access entertainment.”

The FTC’s report states that the music industry still has not adopted objective marketing standards limiting ad placement for explicit-content music. As a result, the industry still advertises music labeled with a Parental Advisory Label (PAL) on television shows viewed by a substantial number of children. Music retailers routinely sell labeled music to unaccompanied teens.

The report also finds that movie studios intentionally market PG-13 movies to children under 13, and the movie industry does not have explicit standards in place to restrict this practice. The growing practice of releasing unrated DVDs undermines the rating system, and confuses parents.

Both the video game and movie industries can do more to limit ad placement on Web sites that disproportionately attract children and teens, according to the report.

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