Monthly Archives: April 2010

Doctor Google

Perhaps I’ve reading into things, but this article on the BBC web site alarmed me just a little bit.

Some UK researchers looked up child health related topics on the Internet and then vetted their findings. If the story were that not everything you see on the Internet should be believed, I would buy that. However, I question whether the point of the piece is to tell people that the only credible source of medical information comes from the government, with statements like, “Government-run sites were the only completely reliable source, they found” and “In total, 11% of the 500 results gave inaccurate information, and 39% gave the right answer.”

I can see why doctors might be concerned that people are relying solely on Google for medical diagnosis, and rightfully so. But while they have a point that not all information found online can be considered credible, I am hoping this is not a push towards censorship. 

When I search for information on a problem, I want to see the alternative viewpoints. I like to see the CAM techniques for solving a problem, as well as the allopathic options. It’s useful for me to know that a doctor would recommend antibiotics for a UTI, but also that some would have you cure it with cranberry.

In addition, several of the topics they looked up are controversial. Even within the mainstream medical community, there is no one single answer or diagnosis.  For example, we don’t know what causes autism. That’s a fact right now. There is no medical conclusion as to why it happens. So how can they say the government has the only credible advice on that topic?

This brings me back to something I touched on in a previous piece. Isn’t it a cornerstone of science that we are always testing new theories, trying to find the answers for why something is the way it is? Then why is it that the medical community and the government insists that theirs is the one and only correct viewpoint? Why aren’t we welcoming additional theories into the fold and investigating those to in order to see if they have merit? Much easier to dismiss something out of hand I suppose.

There was one takeaway from the piece that I did appreciate, and it was also highlighted on the web site. “Healthcare professionals should continue to strive to be the main source of information for patients but we should be aware that most will continue to use the internet to gather information.”

While I’m not sure that I’d agree that healthcare professionals should be the ONLY source of information for patients, and I highly advocate being an informed consumer, I do believe that medical staff need to know that many of their patients do and will continue look things up online. Doctors need to be aware of what’s out there and be willing to look at information a patient brings to their attention. Combining knowledge to tackle the problem seems to be a smart solution.

No surprise that spanking leads to agression

Another study on corporal punishment has been issued that shows that physical discipline is not the ideal when considering the overall well  being of the child and can lead to long term consequences, including aggressive behavior and bullying.

I’m very happy to see the story getting lots of mainstream press. There were some excellent quotes and statements in this version such as that physical discipline, whether wielded by a parent or another authority figure, “fails to teach correct behavior in the long run.” and  “…consider discipline as an opportunity for education — to teach your child impulse control, understanding of cause and effect, and effective ways to manage difficult situations”.

It makes sense to me that kids will model their parent’s aggressive behavior. They imitate everything else!  In my opinion, what physical discipline often shows kids is that the biggest, strongest, or most coercive person or entity gets their way. When you don’t know what else to do to control the situation, hit! So when they’re frustrated or upset, it should be no surprise when kids use similar coping techniques to those they’ve seen their parents use.

I was very disappointed to see the reader comments that followed that same story, and others across the web. Many, many people stepped in to defend hitting their kids, or their parents for hitting them.

Quite a few jumped into the discussions using the rationale that it must not be that bad because they turned out OK. I guess that definition is relative! Some flat out said the study was wrong, or that it couldn’t possibly be  accurate because -insert example here- was spanked and turned out to be a productive member of society.

Whether or not the kid will go on to get an engineering degree or lead the country is not the point of the study or the article!! The children in this study (and others) showed aggressive and bullying behavior with a direct correlation to how often they were spanked.

Several others chimed in to point out that there is a difference between types of spanking said of course that they only do the “appropriate”  kind. You know, not beatings — just a good old fashioned whooping or a slap when their kid just won’t comply. 🙁

It makes me sad to know that there are so many kids out there getting hit on a regular basis, but also to know that they are not learning more  appropriate coping strategies and may not even know what they did wrong, let alone how to correct it. Fear is not an effective parenting technique, at least not in the long term. Logical consequences make a whole lot more sense.

This being said, I recognize that every parent has different strategies for raising their kid, and similar to how I don’t want others to make decisions for me on things like mandatory medical treatment, it’s not my job to make discipline related decisions for others. Unlike the issue of corporal punishment in schools, something I also wrote about recently, this issue is not one for government or the masses to determine.

That doesn’t mean I condone it, not at all. Maybe all this information in the press will show some that there is an alternative? As mentioned in that previous post, children reflect the treatment they receive.