Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Child Militants in Pakistan Conned into Suicide

Boys of all ages are subject to exploitation at madrassahs, say child rights groups
26 May 2008 (IRIN) - Authorities are investigating allegations that militants running some madrassas (Islamic schools) in Swat Valley, north-western Pakistan, are recruiting and training children as soldiers. According to local newspaper reports, the police are questioning six men accused of such offences.

The Swat Valley area, some 160km northeast from Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) capital Peshawar, has seen intense fighting between militants and government forces since November 2007.

However, an agreement was finalised on 21 May between representatives of the militants and government officials in NWFP, under which it is hoped peace will return to the area.

Shaukat Salim, the district coordinator of the Child Rights Committee (CRC) of the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), an Islamabad-based non-governmental organisation (NGO), told IRIN that child militancy had been on the rise in the area.

Child militants caught

Salim said that about 25 to 30 madrassa students, aged between seven and 15, had been used by leaders of extremist outfits in Swat to carry out attacks. These children have been detained by security forces and are being held at Swat District Jail.

According to Salim, six others students from a madrassa in the Kabal tehsil (sub-district) have been apprehended by the police for their alleged involvement in an attempted suicide attack.

Salim also cited the story of Abid, 12, who he said had been forced to wear a suicide bomb jacket with which he was to blow up the district courts. He was also caught and is among those being held at Swat jail, Salim said.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Corporal punishment key reason for school dropouts

For the complete story go to:


18 May 2008 (IRIN) - Quite often, Bilal Javed, 10, stands opposite the school he once attended and peers past the gates. An able pupil, who excelled at mathematics during his five years in school, Bilal misses lessons. But he has not been to school for four months and says he is "too scared" to venture through the entrance again.

Bilal's father, Asad Javed, 33, explained: "My son was good at his work and we were eager he gain an education. But one day he was beaten so badly by his science teacher, who hit him with a shoe, that he came home badly bruised and in great pain”.

“I had to give him a painkilling tablet so he could sleep," said Asad, who works as a cleaner.

The boy was punished for talking in class. He has, since then, refused to return and his parents say they are helpless.

"We want him to be educated, but we don't want him to be beaten up," said Bilal’s father, who himself went to school for only three years.

According to the Islamabad-based Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), a local non-governmental organisation (NGO) advocating the rights of children, 35,000 high school pupils in Pakistan drop out of the education system each year due to corporal punishment.

Such beatings at schools are also responsible for one of the highest dropout rates in the world, which stands at 50 percent during the first five years of education, according to SPARC.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Recovery advice from an old apostate to a new apostate

The following advice was posted on a Mormon recovery site. (go to http://www.secularearth.com and look in Support/Apostate Alley for a comprehensive list of Mormon recovery sites.)

1. Identify and question all the rules you've ever been taught about what's good and bad. Understand how you make those judgments and insist on solid reasons for making them in the future.

2. Identify and question your core beliefs about yourself and how they affect your behavior. If you have any or all of these, work on losing them:

a. Nothing really bad can happen to me, because I'm a good person and/or there's this benevolent force that watches over me.

b. I deserve to be punished when I'm bad.

c. If something goes wrong, it's probably at least partially my fault.

3. Develop the habit of questioning others' behavior and motivation before your own.

4. Don't assume that there's a universal set of rules that everyone is or knows they should be playing by. In fact one to four of every hundred people, depending on which expert you choose to believe, actually lack the conscience that you just naturally operate by. They ignore "the rules" and either try to hurt others or just don't care if they do. Joseph Smith was one of them, and I suspect every single one of his successors has been as well.

5. Watch out for the way of thinking where you believe what people say based on words and feelings, and insist on proof that something is right or true instead of proof that it is wrong or untrue.

6. Learn about and practice critical thinking. It's a discipline with a specific set of skills that you've been conditioned to avoid.

7. Remember, skepticism is good. You might find an online skeptics' group and just observe how the members think and talk about things. There are pompous asses everywhere - especially online, where many of them find the attention and respect they don't get in the physical world - but those for whom skepticism is a way of life can teach you a lot.

The stupidity, as you call it, is really insidious. It got me big time, some 20 years after quitting the church. I don't even think it was a church thing, necessarily, but the church didn't help. I got a lot of dumb ideas from it
and from parents who got their dumb ideas from it.

I just quit and never thought much about it until a profoundly awful, nearly ruinous life experience forced me to. The suggestions above are the product of that thinking. You have an advantage in that you're thinking about it now, before someone else comes along and really sticks it to you. That's what happened to me.

I felt stupid, too, until I discovered the vast secret club of people who'd had the same experience. Then I realized I'm just a person who was in a particular place at a particular time, with a particular set of beliefs about love and the world and myself, who happened to meet a person who took advantage of those beliefs.

If you were a convert, you could say the same thing about the church. If not, you were born into a cult started by a con man. It IS a scam. You know this already. For me, just admitting I'd been scammed was a major hurdle.

Smart people get scammed every day, in and out of the church. It can happen to anyone, and anyone who doesn't know that is a prime target. Understanding how it happens and how susceptible you are is a serious advantage in life.

Leaving a religion has costs

If you're like everyone else, you weren't told all of the weirdness at the beginning.

At the beginning, it seemed like a very reasonable, family-oriented church. The weirdness came in tiny bits and pieces, and, before you knew it--there it was!

Or, if you grew up in the church, how could you have known differently?

Don't blame yourself for not seeing past what you were given; 32 years ago, the internet did not exist, and research was difficult (if not impossible). Who would think that a CHURCH was lying to them?

You'll feel better, in time.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Political Consequences of Child Abuse

Alice Miller
The Journal of Psycohohistory

In the lives of all the tyrants I examined, I found without exception paranoid trains of thought bound up with their biographies in early childhood and the repression of the experiences they had been through. Mao had been regularly whipped by his father and later sent 30 million people to their deaths, but he hardly ever admitted the full extent of the rage he must have felt toward his own father, a very severe teacher who had tried through beatings to "make a man" out of his son. Stalin caused millions to suffer and die because even at the height of his power his actions were determined by unconscious infantile fear of powerlessness. Apparently his father, a poor cobbler from Georgia, attempted to drown his frustration with liquor and whipped his son almost every day. His mother displayed psychotic traits, was completely incapable of defending her son and was usually away from home either praying in church or running the priest's household. Stalin idealized his parents right up to the end of his life and was constantly haunted by the fear of dangers that had long since ceased to exist but were still present in his deranged mind. The same might be true of many other tyrants. The groups of people they singled out for persecution and the rationalization mechanisms they employed were different in each case, but the fundamental reason behind it was probably identical. They often drew on ideologies to disguise the truth and their own paranoia. And the masses chimed in enthusiastically because they were unaware of the real motives, including those operative in their own biographies. The infantile revenge fantasies of individuals would be of no account if society did not regularly show such naive alacrity in helping to make them come true.

Theists try to claim that atheist tyrants took more lives that Christian tyrants. Who can count up all the bodies on both sides? This article by Alice Miller probably comes closer to explaining the atrocities committed by communist tyrants, who were coincidentally atheists. Alice Miller is credited with being the first person to correctly identify the relationship between abused children and the abusers they go on to become. The entire article is noteworthy for original thinking and research.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Multinational, comparative legal study on the rights of children

The Law Library of Congress published this study. For details go to:


Ancient civilizations entrusted heads of families with omnipotent authority over their children. The rather common underlying legal assumption was that children lack the capacity to discern correctly between prescribed behavioral standards, a condition that made them legally comparable to property and therefore sellable. Academicians have debated on the boundaries of patria potestas (currently translatable into parental authority). As an example, the Roman 12 Tables assigned this power to the fathers. Strict interpreters sustained that this authority was extreme and a remnant of pre-existing “practices of barbarous origin and primitive character” (Table VI, Law I, II and III. S.P. Scott, The Civil Law, Vol. XII, 64-65 (The Central Trust Company 1932)). A more conciliatory approach interpreted the precepts as having gradually evolved to restrict irresponsible and abusive exercise of such authority.

It was not until the 20th Century that the legal status of children was subjected to serious reviews and corrections. The idea that children have rights finally emerged and were embodied in Family Codes and Code of Minors. They were enacted to recognize children as “developing beings whosemoral status gradually changes” thus demanding a realistic understanding of their interests within the families and the larger social context (Introduction to Philosophical Views of Children: A Brief History in the Moral and Political Status of Children (David Archard & Colin Macleod eds., 2005)).

Children hold our hopes for a better future. Their status has been a subject of concern for lawmakers, scholars, judges, lawyers, and common citizens. National laws and regulations as well as international treaties have been dedicated to children with increased interest during the last century.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Camp Quest is unique

Camp Quest is the first residential summer camp in the history of the United States for the children of Atheists, Freethinkers, Humanists, Brights, or whatever other terms might be applied to those who hold to a naturalistic, not supernatural world view.

The purpose of Camp Quest is to provide children of freethinking parents a residential summer camp dedicated to improving the human condition through rational inquiry, critical and creative thinking, scientific method, self-respect, ethics, competency, democracy, free speech, and the separation of religion and government guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States.

Camp Quest was first held in 1996 and until 2002 was operated by the Free Inquiry Group, Inc. (FIG) of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. The idea for the project originated with Edwin Kagin and he and his wife Helen served as Camp Directors for the first ten years of the original Camp Quest, retiring at the end of the 2005 camp session.

Go here for complete information and the location of all the camp grounds in the USA.


Have we made much progress since 1880?

Jacob Middleton examines how the Victorians’ obsession with death extended to
terrifying their children in order to prepare them for the grave…

By Jacob Middleton
May 2007

In 1880, the philosopher Alex­ander Bain complained about the way in which Victorian society discip­lined its children. While he saw many meth­ods as ineffect­ual, he reserved his great­est hostil­ity to what he dubbed “spiritual, ghostly, or super­natural terrors”. 1 Bain was a rationalist, heavily influenced by the utilitarian philo­sophers of the early 19th century, and his hostil­ity towards what he regarded as super­stition is therefore hardly surprising. What disturbed him most, however, was not the nature of this means of disciplin­ing children, but its ubiquity; in a society that wished to regard itself as rational and modern, most children were frightened into quiescence by the threat of supernatural terrors.

The period in which Bain was writing was one in which corporal punishment of children at school and home was habitual and the treatment to which many children was subjected was considered, even then, to be cruel and demeaning. Moreover, super­natural retrib­ution had long been considered an accept­able means of disciplining children. In The History of the Fairchild Family, probably the most successful children’s book in Victorian Britain, death is painfully visited upon those who disobey parental authority. A child might find itself burnt to death for the sin of vanity, while
illicitly consuming preserved fruit would “merely” result in a near-fatal fever. 2 Such punishments were regarded as natural consequences of disobedience, a divine retribution.

You can read the rest of this fascinating article at:


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Scots humanists ask for equality in education

HSS Launches Education Campaign in The Herald

Families who don’t believe in God failed by education, Humanists say
By Andrew Denholm, Education Correspondent, The Herald, 23.04.08

Families who don't believe in God are being failed by Scotland's education system, it was claimed yesterday. The Humanist Society of Scotland (HSS) warned that both lessons and events such as assemblies in non-denominational schools were largely directed at those who had a Christian faith.

This Saturday, the society will launch an education campaign, founded on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which calls for the humanist view to be more widely recognised.

The (Humanist Society of Scotland) HSS will publish new curriculum material for religious and moral education lessons as well as advice to schools and parents about balancing Christian assemblies and visits from ministers with secular alternatives.

Bob McKay, education officer with the HSS, said: "The convention affirms the right of all children to an education that respects both their own cultural values and those of others.

"In Scotland, all parents have the right to raise their children in the religion of their choice, and send them to school in the expectation that their faith will be respected - which is as it should be.

"But no provision of any kind is made for the one in three Scots who have no religious belief. At present, all they can do is ask that their children be withdrawn or excluded from religious activities, which is quite simply inadequate and unfair."

Full article is here:

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Excerpt of Quaker Speech

From a speech entitled, "Should Quakers Receive The Good Samaritan Into Their Membership?" given in 1954 by Arthur Morgan. What he had to say about hereditary religion still applies today.

It is my personal feeling that Christianity at its best has greater value than any of the other great religions, but that most religions, large and small, have values that we might acquire with profit. It is my opinion, too, that the life outlook and teaching of Jesus were very different from the religion which now bears his name. If it should be true that Christians do have the one true faith whereby men may be saved, then perhaps they should keep their present attitudes, though the heavens fall. But what if they are mistaken? Suppose we consider that possibility.

A small proportion of people acquire their major life convictions through a process of intense objective inquiry and reflection. Most of us, on the other hand, get our underlying convictions chiefly by social inheritance or by the accident of circumstance. Most followers of Islam are born of Moslem parents. The same is true of Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Shintoists and others. Each believes he or she has the one true faith and that others are misled by error. This is a very significant fact, of which we seldom get the full implication.

It is the general policy in each religious faith to endeavor to teach children the essentials of the faith and to surround them with such a climate of indoctrination that they will have no inclination and almost no capacity to question it or to depart from it. This is such an old, deep rooted tradition in nearly all religions that we accept it as natural, and we do not realize how it may perpetuate error and maintain barriers between peoples. This purpose of indoctrination commonly is furthered by the influences of parents and of the religious community, and in many cases by the prevailing social atmosphere. Where such influences are fairly cumulative, a natural result is that a very strong sense of inner assurance is developed concerning whatever faith is involved. It often is immune to any contrary influence.

Continues at the paragraph starting --- The result is illustrated


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Indian Baby Dropping Ritual Video

This practice is just wrong on so many levels. The Indian authorities must put a stop to this.

Media urged to play role for promoting child rights awareness

This article appears in the Pakistan Associated Press web site:


Apr 30 (APP): Media must play an active role in promoting awareness among people regarding child rights protection and human rights.

This was observed by the participants in a media consultation on Consequences of Corporal Punishment arranged by Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) held here on Wednesday.

The consultation was arranged to discuss the hazards, and alternatives to corporal punishment. The event began with a Song on Juvenile Justice produced by SPARC.

National Manager Promotion, SPARC, Ms. Fazila Gulrez briefed the participants about reasons and consequences of Corporal punishment.

Elaborating the causes, she said that the basic reason of these punishments are lack of education and awareness about the impact such punishments create on the mental growth of child.

As a result of punishment and physical abuses, children lose their interest in study and some times they adopt rebellious attitude which is a serious threat to their future.

In public schools, it has been observed that teachers use to behave harshly to make child more disciplined ignoring the consequences of such attitude and there is need to train the teachers for treating children keeping in view the individual differences and psychological needs, she added.

Fazila Gulrez said that domestic violence can include physical, verbal, sexual or emotional abuse. Children who witness regular acts of violence have greater emotional and behavioral problems than other children. Even very young children can be profoundly frightened and affected.

A child growing up in an abusive household learns to solve their problems using violence, rather than through more peaceful means as some of the long-term effects may include copying their parental role models and behaving in similarly destructive ways in their adult relationships,
she said.

Children may learn that it is acceptable to behave in a degrading way to other people, as they have seen this occur in the violent episodes they witnessed. Appropriate support and counselling will help children grow up learning not to abuse others, she added.

(Please go to the Pakistan AP web site for the complete article)