Watching the World

“All-day television, the demise of the family meal and even the forward-facing design of [strollers]” are inhibiting child-parent communication. One result is that children starting school “resort to tantrums” when they cannot express themselves.​—THE INDEPENDENT, BRITAIN.

In Spain 23 percent of children are born out of wedlock. In France the figure is 43 percent; Denmark, 45 percent; and Sweden, 55 percent.​—INSTITUTO DE POLÍTICA FAMILIAR, SPAIN.

A third of Britons sleep less than five hours nightly, making them prone to “poor concentration, memory lapses, [and] mood swings.” Lack of sleep may also increase the “risk of obesity, diabetes, depression, divorce and bad car crashes.”​—THE INDEPENDENT, BRITAIN.

Violence “Just to Pass the Time”

“Beatings and humiliation perpetrated by minors and recorded on video with their mobile phones is increasing,” says the Spanish newspaper El País. Some victims never recover after the severe beatings they receive. Why do youths commit these crimes? “They do not do it to steal or because of racism or because they belong to a gang. They do it​—and this is the appalling novelty—​just to pass the time,” explains the magazine XL. “Sometimes they are drunk and sometimes not,” says Vicente Garrido, a psychologist who specializes in criminology. “Yet, the common factor is a lack of remorse.”

Little Interest in Tropical Diseases

Most tropical diseases are neglected by medical research. Why? “The sad situation is that . . . the pharmaceutical industry isn’t looking for [new treatments],” says Michael Ferguson, a molecular biologist at the University of Dundee, Scotland. There is no financial incentive for drug companies to do so, since they stand no chance of recovering their investment. These companies prefer to produce high-earning drugs for such conditions as Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, and impotence. In the meantime, says the magazine New Scientist, an estimated “1 million people worldwide die each year from malaria, while safe and effective treatments remain as elusive as ever.”

Young “Consumers”

According to La Sapienza University, in Rome, Italy, children as young as three years of age can distinguish different brands on the market, and by the age of eight, they become “consumers.” TV commercials play a big part in their lives, turning them into little “dictators,” who demand that their parents buy certain products, says La Repubblica. “The danger is,” states the newspaper, that children “end up living in and believing in an unreal world, where whatever is offered (and bought) is a must.”

“Pregnant” Mannequin

Pregnancy-care personnel have traditionally trained with live patients. But now, says an Associated Press report, a “robot birth simulator,” named Noelle, is “gaining popularity.” The “pregnant” mannequin, complete with realistic pulse and cervix dilation, can be programmed to simulate a number of complications and to have relatively quick births or protracted labor. The “baby” that Noelle delivers might be a healthy pink color or a deadly blue to indicate oxygen deficiency. Why use a mannequin for training? “It’s better to make a mistake on a $20,000 robot than a live patient,” explains the report.