Parshas Eikev (5773)
Falling TV set injuries in U.S. rising at 'alarming rate'
The Associated Press - Posted: Jul 22, 2013
Falling televisions sent nearly 200,000 U.S. children to the emergency room over 20 years and the injury rate has climbed substantially for these sometimes deadly accidents, a study found. Doctors and safety experts say better awareness is needed about the dangers — especially the risks of putting heavier, older model TV sets on top of dressers and other furniture young children may try to climb on. Most injuries are in kids under 5; head and neck injuries including concussions are the most common. The study was published online Monday in the journal Pediatrics. In 2011, 12,300 children nationwide got ER treatment for TV-related injuries, compared with 5,455 in 1990. The injury rate nearly doubled, from 0.85 injuries per 10,000 children aged 17 and younger in 1990 to 1.66 per 10,000 in 2011, the study found. The researchers examined national ER data on non-fatal television-related injuries to kids from 1990-2011. In many cases, the set had been placed on a dresser and the child used open drawers as stairs to climb up and reach the TV, toppling it. Over those two decades, 215 children died from these injuries, U.S. government data show, and news reports indicate that since January 2012, at least six young children have been killed nationwide by falling TVs.
See, I always knew that TV was bad for our kids’ health!
All kidding aside, letting our children watch too much television (or spend long hours on the internet) is a really bad idea for many reasons:
• Obesity. It is generally observed that children who watch more than two hours of TV in a day are more likely to be overweight. While describing the relationship between television watching and childhood obesity, Drs. R.M. Viner and T.J. Cole from the University College London assessed data from 8,158 participants of the 1970 Birth Cohort. Height, weight, and frequency of television watching were assessed at ages 5, 10, and 30 years. The researchers found that each additional hour of weekend TV watching by five-year-old children over the suggested two hours, increased the risk of obesity in 30 year olds by 7%.
• Irregular sleep. If a child watches more than 2 hours of TV in a day, especially at night, he or she is more likely to suffer from irregular sleep patterns, troubles in going to sleep accompanied by unexplainable dreams and nightmares.
• Behavioral problems. Emotional, social and attention problems are more likely to be seen in children who watch a lot of TV.
• Apart from this, excessive TV viewing is also linked to violence, impaired academic performance and less time for play. - www.healthmeup.com
And I’m not even talking about all the shmutz (smut) and other inappropriate and immoral stuff that our kids are seeing all the time on TV and the internet.
I mean, think about it …. What responsible parent would invite some random stranger into his house for two hours each night to show his kids all kinds of violent, obscene and pornographic images? Yet that is exactly what we are doing when we let our young children have unrestricted access to TV and the internet!!
Which is why it is so nice and refreshing to see at least one country taking steps to protect children from viewing all these images that can have a damaging effect on them:
LONDON, July 22 (UPI) -- Internet providers in Britain must automatically block pornography unless their customers specifically request otherwise, Prime Minister David Cameron said. All new Internet customers will see pornography blocked as a default and must request to have the block lifted if they wish, the BBC reported Monday. Existing customers will be contacted by their Internet providers in order to decide if they want the "family-friendly" filters installed. Cameron said the effort is meant to halt what he calls the corrosion of childhood. "I want to talk about the Internet, the impact it is having on the innocence of our children, how online pornography is corroding childhood," he said. "And how, in the darkest corners of the Internet, there are things going on that are a direct danger to our children, and that must be stamped out." – www.upi.com
The truth is that this very difficult time in history – when all that is immoral and obscene and antithetical to our Torah-based value system is coming straight into our homes and into our kids’ minds and hearts through the media and the internet and is extremely hard to control and restrict – has been alluded to in the Torah over 3300 years ago, in a verse in this week’s Torah portion, Parshas Eikev.
The weekly portion starts off with Moses telling the Jewish people, “V’haya eikev tishme’un’, which many Bible commentators interpret on a mystical level to mean that it shall be in the ‘eikev’ (a Hebrew word meaning “heel” or “footsteps”) that the Jewish people will eventually come to heed G-d’s commandments. This, of course, is a veiled reference to the period immediately prior to the coming of the Messiah. This pre-Messianic period is traditionally known as the Ikvesa D'meshica - the ‘eikev’ of the Messiah – i.e. the end of our exile, as represented by the heel, and a time when we believe the Messiah is just around the corner and his footsteps can be heard.
The great Torah scholar and thinker, Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner ZT”L (1906–1980), in a letter to a student (that has since been published in Hebrew together with many other letters in a wonderful work titled Pachad Yitzchak: Igros U’Michtavim), explained the significance of what it means to live at this juncture in history, the Ikvesa D’Meshicha:
The Mystics teach us that the Jewish people’s history can be compared to the human body. The earliest generations correspond to the head, the highest and most elevated part of the body, while subsequent generations that are spiritually lower in stature correspond to the lower parts of the body. The final and lowest generation (that’s us!) just prior to the coming of the Messiah, corresponds to the heel of the human body.
There is a major difference, however, between the heel and the other parts of the body. Whereas all the higher parts of the human body do not have to touch the ground, the heel must have contact with the chol. [The Hebrew word chol has two usages: here it means ‘sand’ or ‘ground’ but it can also mean ‘profane’ or ‘sinful’.]
What this means for us, explained Rabbi Hutner, is that while earlier generations of Jews could easily build walls around their communities (or be forcibly made to live behind ghetto walls by their non-Jewish enemies), thus effectively shutting out all the profane and immoral images, messages and influences that could possibly have a detrimental effect on them and their children, our generation, the Ikvesa D’Meshicha, will inevitably have contact with all that is chol and profane out there, no matter how hard we try to block it out.
Pornographic and violent images and lots of other inappropriate material on the internet wirelessly infiltrate the most protected and filtered of homes, even those of the so-called “ultra-Orthodox” living in sheltered communities in Jerusalem.
In these difficult times, wrote Rabbi Hutner, the best thing we can do to fight this onslaught of chol coming into our homes and lives (in addition, of course, to restricting access to all these inappropriate sites) is to transform ourselves and our children from being “takers”, i.e. those who sit back passively like half-dead couch potatoes and take in whatever is being dished out to them on TV and the internet, into being “givers” who turn off the TV and internet (when not needed) and actively engage the world around them, reaching out to others and sharing with them all that is beautiful in the world in which we live.
When we are in an active giving mode, we don’t allow ourselves to waste too much time surfing the web, passively taking in all the negative stuff that’s there for our viewing.
May G-d bless us with the ability to protect ourselves and our children from the chol, and may we all merit to see the coming of the Messiah, speedily and in our day, Amen.