Better Believe It......Because They Actually Happen(ed) Collection 26

Students expelled after Facebook group calls for 'execution' of Jews, black people

About 15 students wrote messages championing ‘white power’, posted pictures of guns and encouraged recruitment so they can ‘complete their mission’

The alt-right movement – known for white supremacist views and its overtly racist ideology – has gained traction during the divisive US presidential race. Photograph: Erik S Lesser/EPA

By Sam Levin

A Nazi-themed Facebook group that called for the “execution” of Jews and African Americans has led to the expulsion of five Boulder, Colorado, high school students in an unusual case of “alt-right” hate speech spreading to teens in a liberal city.

About 15 students participated in a “4th Reich’s Official Group Chat” on Facebook, according to a Boulder police report, which said members discussed “killing all Jews and [N-words]” and encouraged each other to “recruit more members so they can complete their ‘mission’.”

Members wrote messages championing “WHITE POWER!”, posted pictures of guns, called a firearm a “[N-word] BLASTER”, used derogatory terms for gay people, joked about “rape memes”, declared that they “must lynch the [N-words]”, and mocked Mexicans, copies of the group’s chats showed.

The controversy culminated in expulsions at Boulder Preparatory high school but comes at a time when the alt-right movement – known for white supremacist views and its overtly racist ideology – has gained traction during the divisive US presidential race.

Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has accused GOP nominee Donald Trump of “taking hate mainstream”, and the Republican candidate’s campaign has galvanized far-right groups associated with the Ku Klux Klan and fringe online communities that celebrate “white identity”.

Some have argued that Trump’s charged rhetoric – with frequent speeches demeaning and stereotyping Mexicans, African Americans, Muslims and other minorities – has fueled a racist backlash and created a platform for alt-right groups and white working-class people in rural America who feel disenfranchised and ignored in mainstream politics.

The Colorado case, however, suggests that the hateful and violent speech has also made its way into wealthier white urban communities, in this case in an ultra-liberal city known for its “hippy culture” and tolerance.

“It was a shock to the community,” said Scott Levin, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. “It isn’t as if there is any identifiable group [in Boulder] that is advocating this. There’s a lot of hateful rhetoric going on in this country right now, and that has just empowered some teenagers.”

Full story at The Guardian (October 2016)

Poor Parenting Hinders Development of China's Rural Children, Study Shows

Survey of rural kids flags learning problems that could hold back China's push to economy focusing on services, technology

By Chen Na And Shi Rui

(Beijing) — Children in rural areas of China suffer from slow cognitive development due to a lack of proper parenting and nutrition, casting a shadow over the future of the country's economy, a Stanford University study shows.

Scott Rozelle, co-director of the Stanford University Rural Education Action Program (REAP), told Caixin that more than half of the toddlers 24 to 30 months old and about 40% of the infants 6 to 18 months old scored below average in IQ tests. The average IQ score for these age groups should range between 90 to 109.

By monitoring the development of 2,500 children across Shaanxi, Hebei and Yunnan provinces in 2015, the REAP study found that the poor development of rural children was mostly due to poor parenting.

Only about 5% of parents in rural areas read books to their children, and 70% of families surveyed possessed only one book, or no books at all, the study showed.

"Chinese families love their children but don't know much about parenting," Rozelle said. "They think reading a book or singing to their babies is silly because they think 'They're just babies.' "

The study also showed that malnutrition also contributed to poor development.

Full story at Caixin Online (October 2016)

Let 6-year-olds walk to school alone, European officials advise parents

Children walk home alone after a day at school in Pontevedra, Spain, in September as part of the country's “Road to School” program. (Miguel Riopa/AFP/Getty Images)

By Rick Noack

LONDON — The idea of 6-year-old children walking to school alone would horrify a lot of parents. In Spain, however, parents are actively being encouraged to let their kids walk off without them.

Since 2010, a program now implemented in seven communities has tested how much space parents should allow their children. According to researchers there, the answer is: a lot. Allowing even first-graders to walk to school alone builds their self-confidence, the researchers argue. About a fourth of all students ages 6 to 12 regularly walk to school without being accompanied by parents, according to statistics seen by news agency AFP.

In the United States, such practices would likely be much more controversial. Cases of “free range” parents who allowed their children to play outside without observing them have repeatedly made headlines in recent years. American children spend about 90 percent of their time indoors in their parents' home, according to a recent study by the University of California.

The debate over how much leeway younger children should be given isn't unique to the United States, however. Psychologist Haim Ginott coined the term “helicopter parents” in the 1960s, referring to parents who constantly monitored their children. Since then, according to Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung, concerns over allowing 6-year-olds to walk to school alone have been on the rise on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

Surveys show that the share of German 6-year-olds who walk to school alone declined to 17 percent in 2000 from 91 percent in 1970. Figures from the United Kingdom show a similarly dramatic decline.

Full story at The Washington Post (November 2016)

Russian schoolgirl, 12, plunges to death from 17th floor balcony after taking 'extreme selfie

By Fiona Simpson

'Extreme selfie': A 12-year-old girl, known as Oksana B, died after taking a selfie while balancing on the barrier of a 17th floor balcony

A Russian schoolgirl has died after climbing over the railing of a 17th floor balcony to take a selfie.

The 12-year-old, known as Oksana B, is believed to have taken the photo while sitting on the railing – before sending it to her best friend.

Oksana’s friend reportedly called police to alert them to the danger and forwarded the photo to the girl’s mum.

Officers believe Oksana lost her balance and plunged to her death.

Her body was found by a passer-by, the BBC reported.

Oksana’s uncle later wrote on social media: “She was such a friendly girl. She was a good pupil, she had no problems at school.

"She had so much to live for and now she has lost her life to the craze of looking to do extreme selfies for social media.

"There can be no other reason why she climbed over the damned handrail."

Full story at Evening Standard (November 2016)

Muslim girls must take swimming lessons alongside boys, German court rules

By Justin Huggler

Australian muslim swimming instructor Fadila Chafic wears her full-length 'burkini' swimsuit during a swimming lesson with her children Credit: Jason Reed/REUTERS

Muslim girls must take part in swimming lessons alongside boys, Germany’s highest court has ruled, just days after Angela Merkel called for a partial burka ban.

The country’s constitutional court ruled that Muslim schoolgirls must take part in mixed swimming lessons together with boys.

If girls object on religious grounds, they can wear burkinis, the court said.

A woman wears a burkini to the beach Credit: REUTERS

The case was brought by an 11-year-old Muslim girl of Moroccan descent living in Frankfurt, after she was given an “unsatisfactory” grade because she refused to take part in school swimming lessons.

The girl, who cannot be named under child protection laws, argued she was entitled to refuse to take part in the lessons on religious grounds.

Full story at The Telegraph (December 2016)

10 ‘motivators’ suspended after forcing schoolgirls into snake pit

By Loghun Kumaran, Vanessa Ee-Lyn Gomes and Ida Nadirah Ibrahim

A screenshot of the video which went viral, showing terrified students in the mud pit with the snakes.

KUALA KANGSAR, Oct 19 — The Perak Civil Defence Force suspended 10 personnel from taking part in school co-curriculum programmes after they had asked 45 pupils from SK Beluru, Kuala Kangsar, to wade through a muddy pit with snakes in it.

The personnel had conducted a “motivational camp” for the pupils — boys and girls aged between 10 and 12 — at the force’s headquarters in Kuala Kangsar on Saturday.

A video, which had since gone viral, showed young girls screaming and crying after they were asked to step into a pit and later told there were two blood pythons in it.

The three-day camp, held from Friday to Sunday, was jointly organised by the force and the school.

Perak Civil Defence Force director Col. Mohd Noor Hassan Ashari Sulaiman said the department had suspended four coaches and six assistants pending internal investigations.

“The programme has also been suspended. We want to ensure justice is served and the appropriate punishment is meted out to those found guilty, in accordance to our procedures,” he said.

Expressing shock and disappointment over the incident, Mohd Noor said this was the 32nd edition of the programme which started in 2012 involving 1,622 school children over the past four years.

Full story at The Malay Mail Online (October 2016)

Best school ever rewards pupils with massive wads of cash

By Jimmy Nsubuga

That’s a lot of money (Picture: Huanqiu)

A school has handed its students nearly £1 million in cash.

The money was reportedly given to 239 teenagers who had managed to pass a demanding entry exam to Shuren Middle School, in Zhejiang province, China.

Photos on Chinese social media showed the students, who are aged around 15, posing with bundles of money that amounted to eight million yuan (£930,000), according to China’s Huanqiu publication.

The kids seemed happy (Picture: Huanqiu)

There were three separate scholarships awarded depending on scores of 100,000 yuan (£11,579), 50,000 yuan (£5,789) and 40,000 yuan (£4,631).

After paying off the yearly 30,000 yuan (£3,482) tuition fee at the private Shuren Middle School, the students could keep rest of the money.

Full story at Metro UK (November 2016)