Parents held responsible for ‘unsubstantiated’ neglect

“Free-range” parents have been found “responsible” for “unsubstantiated” child neglect because they let their kids — ages 10 and 6 — walk home from a park near their Maryland home, reports the Washington Post.

Montgomery County Child Protective Services investigated Danielle and Alexander Meitiv’s parenting for two months before reaching that Orwellian verdict.

An “unsubstantiated” finding is made when Montgomery County Child Protective Services has “some information supporting a conclusion of child neglect, or when seemingly credible reports are at odds with each other, or when there is insufficient information for a more definitive conclusion,” an official told the Post. 

CPS will “keep a file open” on the family for at least five years. If the parents are caught again giving their kids a bit of independence . . . Who knows?

Big Nanny bans sledding

Kids sledding

Cities are banning sledding for fear of lawsuits, reports Slate.  Dubuque, Iowa won’t allow sledding in 48 out of the city’s 50 parks, and sledding bans have passed in New Jersey, Nebraska, Indiana, and Illinois.

Sledding is too risky — for the taxpayers.

The city council in Boone, Iowa, had to shell out $12 million in 2011 to a sledder who collided with a concrete cube at the bottom of a hill. Omaha, Nebraska, had to pay a family $2.4 million.

“Open spaces such as parks are among the safest places for kids to sled,” notes Slate.

Sledding bans won Reason’s Nanny of the Month award for January. “Sure flattening monkey bars, shortening slides, and rubberizing pavement may not actually make kids safer (and it may leave them less prepared for the real, bubblewrap-free world), but the march to make kid’s lives duller continues.”

Big Nanny explains how to roast marshmallows

How Does Your Marshmallow Roast? asks the U.S. Forest Service. The advisory tells parents to keep children 10 feet from the fire and “use a roasting stick of at least 30 inches in length.”

That would prevent the marshmallow from getting overcooked — or cooked at all.

Yet the illustrative photo shows two girls holding short sticks and standing very near the fire.

Madelyn Morrissey (left) and Katie Roth roast marshmallows near the George Washington/Jefferson National Forest. (Courtesy Adrian Roth)

Madelyn Morrissey (left) and Katie Roth roast marshmallows near the George Washington/Jefferson National Forest. (Courtesy Adrian Roth)

After providing the traditional recipe for s’mores,  the feds urge readers to “grill thin slices of pineapple and substitute chocolate for the sweet, warm fruit.” (Perhaps the writer means: Grill pineapple, throw it away and stick with the chocolate.)

Don’t use too much marshmallow, the advisory goes on, and try “slices of angel food cake instead of graham crackers” to cut more calories.

What’s the point of low-calorie s’mores?

Or the kiddies might enjoy not roasting marshmallows.

 Grab a small bag of chocolate or peanut butter chips – or a combination of the two. Take a banana and slice one side open, exposing the fruit but leaving the peel intact. Slice the banana, add a few chocolate chips then top with tiny marshmallows. Or substitute the chips for blueberries from the local farmer’s market. (Again: Throw away the blueberries and stick with chocolate chips.) Place the banana in aluminum foil and wrap tightly. Place the foil-wrapped fruit next to but not on the flames. Wait five to 10 minutes or enough time for the chips and marshmallows to melt. Open and enjoy with a spoon.

Another way to limit the amount of marshmallows used is to substitute them with marshmallow crème, a spreadable version of marshmallows that helps you more easily regulate portion. (“Substitute with”? No.) For healthier treats, use large strawberries, apple slices, banana chucks, pineapple or other fruit. Put a piece of fruit on a roasting stick, dip quickly in the crème and roast over indirect heat until a delicious golden brown. You’re still having campfire fun, but the focus is on a healthier evening snack.

The Blaze mocks the nearly 700-word article on how to do — or not do — something Americans have successfully done for close to 100 years.

A commenter nails it: “S’more-ons.”

Fat or fit?

This nine-year-old — 4-foot-1 and 66 pounds — is overweight, according to a “Fitnessgram” sent home by her Staten Island school. “I was like, ‘Oh, my God! Why did I get this?’” Gwendolyn Williams said.

Photo: New York Post, Stephen Yang.

Photo: New York Post, Stephen Yang.

 Nearly a third of the world’s population is overweight or obese, according to a new report. The rate for children is up by 47 percent from 1980 to 2013.  About 23 percent of children in developed countries were found to be overweight or obese. Even in poor countries, there are more overweight kids.

Teacher suspended for chicken-nugget lunch

A pre-k teacher has been suspended for giving a girl a school lunch in addition to her brown-bag lunch sent from home, reports the Carolina Journal. Apparently, a scapegoat was needed for the infamous chicken-nugget incident. The assistant superintendent’s letter to parents said the teacher violated district policy, though it didn’t state which policy or why the teacher had to be removed from the classroom.

A consultant for the state health department told West Hoke Elementary to supplement homemade lunches if they didn’t include milk, two servings of fruit or vegetables, a serving of grain or bread, and a serving of meat or meat alternative.

A teacher offered a 4-year-old girl a cafeteria tray with chicken nuggets, a sweet potato, bread, and milk to replace the turkey and cheese sandwich, potato chips, banana, and apple juice her mother had packed for her.

Thinking her homemade lunch was unhealthy, the girl didn’t eat it. But she didn’t care for the school lunch, so she ate only the chicken nuggets. Her mother thinks blaming the teacher is ridiculous.

“We are concerned for Ms. Maynor [the teacher] and want her back in the classroom, as she was only following guidelines,” the mother wrote in an email to her state representative, Republican G.L. Pridgen of Robeson County. “It’s the government that needs to be reprimanded and changed.”

State health officials say the girl’s homemade lunch was just fine: Cheese can substitute for milk, it’s fruit or vegetable and there are no demerits for the potato chips. In fact, the carb-heavy school lunch doesn’t sound all that healthy, even if there was enough sweet potato to count as two servings of veg. And what about lactose-intolerant kids?

State snatches home-made lunch, subs ‘nuggets’

A four-year-old’s home-packed lunch — turkey-and-cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips and apple juice — was rejected by a state lunchbox inspector at a North Carolina elementary school, reports the Carolina Journal. Instead the preschooler ate three chicken nuggets from the school lunch – and nothing else. Mom was charged $1.25.

“What got me so mad is, number one, don’t tell my kid I’m not packing her lunch box properly,” the girl’s mother told CJ. “I pack her lunchbox according to what she eats. It always consists of a fruit. It never consists of a vegetable. She eats vegetables at home because I have to watch her because she doesn’t really care for vegetables.”

The state requires all lunches served in pre-K programs — including in-home day-care centers — to meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, which call for one serving of meat, one serving of milk, one serving of grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetables.

As it turns out, the lunch did meet USDA guidelines. “With a turkey sandwich, that covers your protein, your grain, and if it had cheese on it, that’s the dairy,” said Jani Kozlowski, the fiscal and statutory policy manager for the division (of child development). The lunch has to include a fruit or vegetable, but not both, she said. Potato chips don’t de-nutritionize an otherwise health lunch.

So North Carolina hires lunchbox inspectors — at what salary I wonder? — to snatch turkey sandwiches from little girls. (OK, they didn’t take her home-packed lunch away, but she didn’t eat it because she’d been told  it was “not healthy,” according to her mother.)

The school principal says parents aren’t charged for the school lunch. The pre-K program is funded by the state for children from low-income families or those with special needs.

It’s a “non-troversy,” argues The League of Ordinary Gentlemen. The inspector was investigating the school’s compliance with the subsidized lunch program, which requires providing additional food to kids who don’t bring a healthy lunch.

A second mother has complained, saying her daughter was told not to eat her home-packed lunch (salami and cheese on a wheat bun and apple juice).  Instead, she ate chicken nuggets, sweet potato and milk. A letter sent to parents warns they may be charged if they miss a food group and their child receives supplemental food.


Nanny says no: Hot for teacher

Reason‘s “Nanny of the Month” law would make student-teacher sex a felony, even if the student is 18 or older. Adult ed teachers and school volunteers are included in the proposed Michigan law.

The international ‘nanny of the month’

Reason’s first global Nanny of the Month award goes to the European Union, which beat out the Danes, who are taxing foods high in saturated fat, and the Aussies in the Northern Territory, who have banned alcohol sales to problem drinkers.

. . . top dishonors go to the European Union’s control freaks who have cracked down on free-range kids, slapping regulations on everything from baby rattlers (which have brand-new noise restrictions) to blowing up balloons (not to be done by tots under age eight!).

F as in fat

One third of U.S. children are overweight or obese, according to a new report titled F as in Fat 2011.  The childhood pudge percentage has nearly tripled in the past 10 years.

Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia had childhood obesity rates above 20 percent; Illinois was the only non-Southern state above 20 percent (along with the District of Columbia). In 2003, when the last NSCH was conducted, only D.C., Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia were above 20 percent.

Nationwide, the report found that less than one-third of all children ages 6-17 engaged in at least 20 minutes of vigorous physical activity on a day-to-day basis.

Very obese children should be placed with foster families till they slim down, argue Harvard researchers in the Journal of the American Medical Association. 

Bad idea, responds bioethicist Art Caplan. After all, 12 percent of U.S. kids are extremely obese.

Ludicrous,” responds Megan McArdle in The Atlantic.

. . . the foster system is already overstretched without adding obesity to catalogue of child abuse and neglect.  It’s also kind of creepy–the sort of thing that gives paternalism a very, very bad name.

Racist, adds Instapundit. African-American children are more likely to be obese.

Adults are getting fatter too.

And it’s not just Americans. As part of a British campaign against obesity, new health guidlines call for children under the age of five — including infants — to exercise daily for at least three hours.

Racially diverse dolls in day care

Colorado day-care providers would be required to provide dolls representing at least three races, under a proposal being considered by the Department of Human Services.

In other rule changes: Children over age two must not be served whole milk without a note from a doctor, kids over age one can’t drink more than six ounces of juice per day, TV and computer time will be capped at twenty minutes daily, and staffers must wear clothing that covers the lap and shoulders. (What’s so bad about bare shoulders? Search me.)

That’s why they call it the nanny state.

I’m not sure children that young are conscious of race unless adults work hard to make them think it’s important. We’re visiting the grandkids today in Maryland.  Julia, who’s two, is very fond of Elmo on Sesame Street. He’s red.  Grover is blue. Are they different races? Who cares?