Parenting roundup: Kate Middleton's pregnancy, puppies for rent, and more

Kate Middleton's pregnant, and was it bullying when two Nevada teens beat up a special needs student?

Paul Rogers/Times Newspapers/AP
Kate Middleton's pregnancy prompted Twitter congratulations from world leaders and a paparazzi camp-out outside her hospital.

We don’t blame you if you found that Kate Middleton’s pregnancy eclipsed all the other parenting news this week. It distracted us, too. (I mean, really.  Hospitalization, Australian crank calls, bookies taking bets out on possible royal baby names... it went on and on.)  But this is why we have our Friday parenting news roundup – to share some tidbits that you might have missed during the week.

But first, because we just can’t help it, a review of the news from London.

Heir in making   
The British royals announced on Monday that Ms. Middleton and husband Prince William were expecting a child and that the Duchess had been admitted to King Edward VII Hospital with acute morning sickness. As poor Kate attempted to recuperate (even the most celeb-cynical moms must have a bit of sympathy on this one), the royal-watching world went nuts. The paparazzi camped outside the hospital. World leaders tweeted their congratulations. Bookies took out bets on what names the couple might pick for the future monarch. (At the moment, odds are pretty decent on Frances and John.) 

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And then pundits started analyzing Kate’s womb. You know, is she too thin? Is she having twins?  Will she parent more like Diana or the queen mum?
As the palace confirms that Middleton is not yet 12 weeks pregnant, you can be assured that there will be much more Royal baby talk in the coming months. And that countless other pregnant women will be saying prayers of thanks that nobody is paying this much attention to their bellies.

No school, no job
On the opposite side of the socio-economic spectrum... a new Kids Count policy report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation says that nearly 6.5 million U.S. teens and young adults are neither in school nor working. Youth unemployment is at its highest level since World War II, with the employment rate for teens between 16 and 19 falling 42 percent over the past decade. Of those young people aged 16 to 24 without school or work, 21 percent are young parents.

This is a big deal, the report says. This large group of what it terms “disconnected youth” are more likely to be unemployed later in life and less likely to achieve “higher levels of career attainment.” Researchers quote another study that calculates the total taxpayer burden for out-of-school and out-of-work youths ages16 to 24 at $1.56 trillion.

Time for the policymakers to get working.

Another bullying video?
Just when we were thinking it had been a while since we had written about bullying, out comes yet another video of aggressive teen behavior. This one, showing two brothers aged 13 and 15 beating up a 13-year-old special needs student in Nevada, was viewed approximately 50,000 times on the Internet before it was removed from YouTube.  By Friday, the teens involved were arrested, charged with battery and pleaded guilty. A judge ruled that the boys will stay in custody until Dec. 18, at which point he will decide on a punishment.

So.... open and closed, right? Except – and here’s our rant again – this story is way more complicated than meets the bully-attuned eye.

Most scholars say that “bullying” involves both a power differential and a series of repeated attacks. The power differential is here, but we don’t know whether the victim had been putting up with these sorts of attacks regularly. If this was a unique act of aggression, it wouldn’t make the incident any better, of course. But it would distinguish it from bullying. Violence can be bad enough without that label, right?

Most telling, perhaps, from the video was the reaction of the crowd observing the attack. Nobody tried to help the victim. And that, advocates say, is where anti-bullying – and anti-teen violence – programs need to focus. 

Puppies for sale or rent....
Anxious that your college-aged child will find herself overly stressed during exams without the soothing charms of Fluffy or Rascal? Worry no longer. A slew of universities – and private enterprises based on college campuses – have started sharing or renting out furry friends to ease end-of-semester jitters. This week, the student union at Dalhousie University in Halifax opened its “puppy room,” where students can go and relax in a room full of dogs. (Yes, I realize that for some people – aka my dear husband – this scenario sounds not at all relaxing, but the dog people will get it.)

There was already a dog therapy program down the road at Montreal’s McGill University and are a number on this side of the border as well, according to a scan of the news headlines. Yale and Harvard have them, of course. (Students can check out Monty at the Yale Law Library for 30-minute sessions; Harvard Medical School’s Countway Library has a resident shih tzu named Cooper.) At Bringham Young University, student Jenna Miller got a bit of press this past week for her rent-a-pup business, where for $15, students can have their own dog for an hour.

Good for exams, the news reports said, as well as first dates.

That's it for now – happy Friday.

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