A modest proposal for a digital world…

Each day, at any given moment across American High Schools, students sneak a text on their cellular devices. They hide their phones in pockets, under their thighs, inside their bras, and along the tops of their book bags. I am a teacher, and, as entertaining as I like to think I am in my classroom, I cannot compete with the allure of these devices. I have spent hours pondering the possible ways to thwart the sneaky methods of in-class texting, and I have finally hit pay dirt!  I have the foolproof solution to the problem of cell phones; I just need medical backing and an educational referendum.

My plan will allow teachers of cellphone-aged children to ensure that cell phones are “up” at a glance. By “up”, I mean that cell phones, under my simple plan, will find a natural resting spot on the tops of the heads of students. Indeed, a teacher will be able to look out to her attentive pupils and see them sitting upright, eager to learn, their cell phones resting comfortably atop their craniums.

Now, my eventual plan does require the reshaping of the human skull, and it must begin with the current newborns. We must mold the very skulls of infants, when they are most pliable. Doctors can easily create this “mold” using any available rectangular block. Actually, a small book would be best, since no one reads them anymore- it would be a great way to use up these antiquated dust collectors. Using the book, the doctor, who would certainly be adequately trained, would only need to press for a matter of minutes, and the indention would be set. Parents would then take the book with them, upon leaving the hospital with their new babes, and continue “book press therapy” throughout the child’s first year, to ensure that the bones set correctly. Parents will undoubtedly pack these books away with other sentimental baby items- first cups, bibs, and locks of hair.

Once a child hits the age of 7,  which I render the age at which most children will have their first cell phones, his or her skull indention would be mature enough to house a phone. It will be imperative that students sit still while resting their cell phones on their indented heads, so as not to wiggle and have the cell phones fall to the floor. Obviously, this would be distracting and costly to families. The necessity of stillness in elementary schools, so not to “tip” the cell phones,  will do away with the need for classes that require movement, which will, in turn, save money in district budgets.

For the kids who are too old for the infantile head reshaping, schools will need to provide each student with my patent-pending “Cell Phone Cap”, which shall be worn by all students, every day. This cap will be fashioned after a painter’s cap and made from the cheapest burlap, so as not to infringe on local budgets or anger governors who try their best to adequately pay teachers. The caps will have a Velcro belt system at the top, so students may easily secure their cell phones. These caps can be made in China for under $2.00 each, which will only be necessary until the book-pressed infants matriculate into the schools; upon which time manufacturing of the hats may cease.

Any educator will agree that this cell phone plan is truly the only solution to the digital disease inflicting our schools. It will ensure that students pay attention to their teachers, rather than their devices.  They will sit still, face forward, and be completely engaged. I’ve already spoken to a doctor who is excited about it, especially considering there is little to no pain involved. I have a more detailed proposal ready to present at the next area board meeting.  I hope that my caps will be in every school before the 2016 class graduates.

-HC

Corded window blinds kill. Please read and share.

October is “Window Covering Safety Month”. Most people would never know this, because they have no personal connection to the dangers of corded blinds. I didn’t either, until I learned what happened to a high school friend’s son.  In January of 2010, during naptime, Andrea’s son Daniel, who was three years old, strangled in the cords of the window blinds in his bedroom. Reading her story, following her heartache, and seeing photos of this beautiful boy who lost his life has moved me to share her story whenever I can, in hopes of preventing this tragedy for other families.

On  April 16, 2015, journalist Rick Schmitt wrote an in-depth article for fairwarning.org titled “Years of Talking, Kids Still Dying”. He wrote, “According to data compiled by the CPSC, at least 332 children, most of them under the age of two, have been fatally strangled by window cords over the last 30 years.  Another 165 have been injured, including some who suffered permanent brain damage or quadriplegia requiring lifelong care and therapy, according to the nonprofit group Parents for Window Blind Safety.”

To say the stories of these devastated families are heartbreaking doesn’t even scratch the proverbial surface. These families, like most of us, had no idea that a silent killer lurked in the rooms of their innocent babies.  They didn’t realize that these cords can kill in less than one minute. In one article I read, a mom left her 5 and 3 year old children playing in the playroom just long enough to make a bag of microwave popcorn. When she returned, her three year old was dead: strangled with blind cords.

The more I’ve read, the more enraged I become at the big-time window blind companies who are turning a blind eye to the research they are fully aware of. Schmitt’s article discusses the fact that these companies make a fortune selling corded blinds. He writes, “Corded blinds account for an estimated 75% of the industry’s roughly $2 billion in annual U.S. sales.”

Schmitt’s article really pinpoints the issue with the companies who manufacture the blinds when he cites an attorney:

 “They are not going cordless because they want to protect their profit margins,” said James Onder, a St. Louis lawyer who has filed, and settled, more than 50 lawsuits against the industry in 23 states related to children killed or injured by window blinds. “The industry has made a conscious decision that it is cheaper to pay off a lawsuit than it is to save human lives” by eliminating corded blinds, he said. – See more at: http://www.fairwarning.org/2015/04/as-window-blind-cords-strangle-toddlers-reforms-are-left-dangling/#sthash.L0D5hjm0.dpuf

A few years ago, I became a follower of the Facebook page titled “Parents for Window Blind Safety”, a non-profit organization who not only educates consumers, but they also fight for safer industry standards and support families who have lost children to corded blinds. They advocate companies, (Ikea most recently) who have opted to ban sales of corded blinds in their stores. This group raises awareness, supports education, and works to support the removal of corded blinds from store shelves. Parents Magazine, Consumer Reports, Fox News, CNN, The Today Show, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, USA TODAY and many other newspapers have advocated this organization, and helped to spread the important message of the dangers of corded blinds.

While I don’t have young children now, I have many friends who do. Hopefully one day, I will have grandchildren. We must all work together to ensure the future safety of our children. I have shared the danger of these corded blinds with friends, and will continue to share. I remember another chilling thought that I heard from someone, perhaps it was my friend Andrea, Daniel’s mom; the danger may be at a friend’s house, a friend whose family is unaware of the dangers.  The only way to ensure that these corded blinds do not take the lives of any more children is to raise awareness.

My heart truly grieves for the 332 children who have been strangled by corded blinds. None of these families knew the dangers. I certainly didn’t. I am horrified to recall that we had these cords in our kids’ bedrooms when they were little- in fact their cribs were near the windows.  This tragedy could occur in any house that hangs corded blinds. And, as every case indicates, it happens fast and silently.

Please spread the word. Take down corded blinds, and ensure that any house your child visits does the same. Be a life saver.

-HC