, Newburyport, MA

December 10, 2013

Editorial: A look at what others are saying

Newburyport Daily News

---- — The following are excerpts from editorials in other newspapers across New England:

A decision to charge several Ohio high school officials with trying to cover up the rape of a 16-year-old girl is a stunning example of how adults sometimes put their own interests above those of young sexual assault victims.

In March, a judge convicted two Steubenville High School football players of raping a drunken girl following a football team party.

Other students and football players recorded the crime and posted photos and video online of the unconscious girl. By the next morning, many students were joking about the victim and the attack.

The community of 18,000 was shocked by the incident, and the attack drew national media attention.

After the conviction, Gov. Mike DeWine established a panel to investigate how school officials responded to the attack.

Professionals who deal with children are required by law in every state to report suspected sex abuse. This isn’t an option, it’s a legal obligation.

Prosecutors now allege school officials were more interested in preserving the reputation of their championship football program than bringing the horrific crime to the attention of police.

The high school’s technology director has been charged with tampering with evidence, obstructing justice, obstructing police business and perjury for allegedly trying to cover up evidence.

Now charges of felony obstructing justice have been filed against Steubenville City Schools Superintendent Mike McVey. An elementary school principal and a strength coach are charged with failing to report possible child abuse, and a volunteer coach has been charged with making false statements to police.

For too many people who should have known better, the welfare of an assault victim took back seat to other priorities.

The Ohio incident also shows how easily a dismissive attitude toward sex crimes can be transferred from one generation to another.

— The Sun Journal of Lewiston (Maine)

Fitness starts early

Whatever happened to the rambunctious child?

There was a time — within the memory of many of today’s parents of younger children and teens — when grown-ups had to shoo kids out of the house to keep them from tearing the house apart. It was a mother’s dread if a Saturday or school vacation was washed out by rain.

A recent analysis of 50 studies on millions of children around the world shows that kids today are 15 percent less fit than their parents were. While pediatricians cite several reasons for the decline in fitness, the drastic change over a 30-year period suggests one huge negative impact of technology on our lives.

But iPads, YouTube, X-Boxes and Facebook can’t take all the blame.

Today, every family, rich or poor, has to worry whenever their children are out of doors, and the LCD screen, which occupies children while adults work both inside and outside the home, protects them from some of the modern world’s more frightening creations.

Similarly, our schools often don’t provide gym classes two or three times per week, offering fewer opportunities to shake children out of sedentary habits and into activity.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends two hours or fewer of screen time per day for children, and it’s up to parents to enforce that discipline and explain the impact of physical activity and sufficient sleep on their bodies and minds.

Likewise, neighborhoods can work together to create safe spaces for both formal and informal community fitness activities. And in schools, even when there’s no gym class, teachers can find ways to work physical activity into their curricula.

Good habits of physical and mental fitness won’t get started by themselves, but they are needed if we want our children to be better off than their parents.

— The Standard-Times of New Bedford