A Parents View On The Sugar Tax

Back in March 2016 the then chancellor, George Osborne, announced the introduction of the sugar tax. This was the UK governments attempt at tackling the rising obesity among children in the UK. It comes into force in April this year.

I recently posted a piece related to this when the makers of Irn-Bru announced they were reducing the sugar in their product so you might want to check out Why I Won’t Stop My Kids Drinking Sugary Drinks before reading this post.

As I said in the above post I believe that people should be able to manage their own diets, therefore their intake of sugar, and that maybe the issue is a lack of education on proper nutrition and sugar. Penalising those that do regulate their intake with higher prices because of the few that are idiots about hardly seems fair.

But the sugar tax itself confuses me. Why are they introducing it? To tackle rising obesity amongst children they say. How? So I’m thinking that the tax will increase the price thus people will buy less and thus consume less suagary drinks. But apparently the expected revenue it will bring in, £520 million each year, is to be spent in primary school sport. Drink with over 5g of sugar per 100ml will have an 18 pence per litre tax and 8g of sugar per 100ml will incur a 25 pence per litre charge.

What exactly does this fix? Improving sports in primary schools is a great idea and I fully support this, but that doesn’t stop kids from drinking sugar filled pop or eating sugar filled foods? Could the money not also be spent in significantly improving food and nutrition education across all school ages? Furthermore, there’s no point educating the children if the parents don’t know as it clear we’ve got a generation of parents with a lack of knowledge. If we’re going to educate the kids we must educate the parents too.

Simply increasing sporting activity isn’t going to solve child obesity. If anyone thinks that then they are deluded. Forcing a child to take part in sports if they really are the sporting kind could be torture for them – why would they enjoy that? Balance must be taught across activity and diet. Brutal honesty with the kids, shocking photos, and tough words might just hit home. 

Sadly I don’t see this doing any good for child obesity in the UK. I do truly hope I am completely wrong and in 3 or 4 years we look back and say massive improvements have been made. I just can’t see it myself.

What do you think? I’d really love to know the thoughts of fellow parents on this one.

Thanks for reading.

Why Are Teenagers Committing Suicide Over On-Line Bullying

Today logged on to Twitter for my morning peruse on the view of the world through the eyes of those that tweet about it. It was the usual mix of news,sport, satire and happy clapper celebrities with their shameless self promotion. Then I came across this from Jeremy Vine:

Initially I didn’t know who Dolly was but clicking on the hashtag soon brought me this this BBC news story – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-42631208#_=_. It made me shudder. I shed a tear and it brutally brough home to me how vulnerable my own 14 and 13 year old daughters actually are.

I re-tweeted Mr Vine’s tweet adding my own thoughts:

I got a bit of a surprise when Mr Vine re-tweeted my re-tweet of his original tweet (you may want to read that twice!). My phone started lighting up like Christmas tree with notifications. People who follow him liking and further re-tweeting my re-tweet. It was then I realised this subject really has struck a nerve.

When I was at school I suffered some low level bullying. Nothing that ever went too far (unless you count the “boxing match” I was persuaded to get into where I got walloped in front of an amused crowd) but sometimes enough to mean I was grateful to reach to sanctuary of home in the afternoon after school. 

Teenagers today, or rather those using social media (which is most of them), no longer have that sanctuary. They are still connected to all those people they left behind at school or on the school bus. They don’t have that escape. They could turn their phones off, but then they have to use the computer for homework, the temptation to check in on social media is there. Or emails, yes they are still a thing to teenagers!

When our eldest was born I was 23 and it was 2003. Social media wasn’t really on my radar although I think I was aware of MSN Messenger which essentially was an early form of social media. My research tells me that there was a a social media platform called Hi5, launched that year, but some 15 years later I’ve never heard of it! I had been working in IT for 3 years when she was born and the internet for me was for email and a source of information when asking Jeeves was still acceptable. I did use Friends Reunited, and of course looking back this was an early form of social media. It wasn’t until 2007 did I join Facebook. Going back further still though I didn’t experience the Internet at all until I was 16 and started work and it was a while later before I got it at home.

My point being is that I, nor my wife, didn’t go through our teenage years with social media and all the negativity it can bring. There is no doubt that social media is a good thing and has positive sides (where else would I get my daily dose of cat videos?) such as keeping up with family and friends for example. But everything has a dark side; social media platforms are like cities and all cities have really nice areas and really shitty ones, they have really nice friendly people and those that you’d just rather not share oxygen with.

Our teenage girls weren’t allowed the platforms they are on until they reached the age requirement of 13. That’s a start as far too many parent’s allow their kids to sign up using a false date of birth and I know of 9/10 years old on Facebook and Instagram – that’s wrong, totally wrong. They also know they are only allowed to use it on the proviso we as parent’s have access to their accounts and police it – how many parents do that? I recently saw a post on Facebook (oh the irony) from a friend who was saying happy birthday to his teenage son (he was 13 – the age requirement for Facebook) and he stated he didn’t know which one of his sons Facebook accounts was in use – the one that says he is 18 or the one that says he is 23! Shocking!

But of course social media has long arms. You might not realise that YouTube is essentially a form of social media with comments and messaging. My girls watch vlogs, and I take not of what they’re watching and check on that. Just last week we had a YouTube celebrity post a video of him discovering the body of a suicide victim in Japan – he actually posted that on YouTube. Kids are watching this shit you know! That channel is banned in our house now but realistically can we police everything they could see?

But what can we do about it? If social media platforms increase the age requirements people will just keep faking their date of birth. Limit it to 18 and verify age with a debit or credit card? Maybe, but I really can’t see that happening this side of never. I have no solutions to offer other than if parent’s are going to allow their children on social media then you must police it, you must monitor it, you must talk to you children about it and you must ensure they are safe. If you are not prepared to do all of that then don’t let them have it – it’s that simple. And, the moment you sniff that something is wrong take it away. Don’t be afraid to do that at all. 

Statistics of where cyber bullying takes place

I’m focusing on social media but of course cyber-bullying isn’t limited to that. There is text and other instant messaging apps and gaming of course. It’s everywhere and unavoidable unless you cut yourself off completely.

Teenagers, or children, and social media will forever be a talking point and one that will constantly raise issues. What’s your view? Let me know in the comments.

I’ll leave you with this infographic that summerises what we need to get into our kids heads when it comes to social media.

Thanks for reading.

The Professionally Offended Are Out In Force

“What the hell am I reading,” was my initial thought when I first saw a news article about this H&M hoodie. Probably because I looked at that screenshot (it’s being called an add but clearly it’s a product listing to be more accurate) and  thought “nice hoodie”.

The furore that has broken out of this is way over the top and I feel sorry for H&M. Here’s why…

That slogan is only racist if you think in a racist way. I don’t, thus I didn’t see it as racist. Those that are up in arms about this (yes, I call them the ‘professionally offended’) clearly either think in a racist way, or have sadly been a victim of racism. But declaring this listing, product or H&M as racist just because a boy with brown skin is wearing it is utterly ridiculous.

Ask yourselves this: if you had seen this hoodie being worn by a white model would you have thought “ooh they dodged a bullet there not putting a black model in it” or “ooh can you imagine a black kid wearing that – how racist”. No you wouldn’t. That’s the issue for me, it’s only racist when people choose to make it racist. And frankly people who choose to be racist aren’t worth sh*t!

When the designer designed this was he or she thinking in a racist way? Of course not? When the factory in the far east made it (let’s face fact it was made there) did they think it was racist? Of course not. When the people (not sure what they would call themselves) at the photo shoot ask this model to wear it did they think it was racist? Of course not. It probably the young lads mum or dad was there, did they think it was racist? Of course not. When the product manager put it on the on-line store did they think it was racist? Of course not. Why did none of these people flag this up as racist? Because it isn’t and people only make it racist when they decide to do so.

I call my girls monkeys – it’s a term parents up and down the country use all the time for their kids. So why turn it into something sinister? I can only see one reason – attention seeking. It get’s people talking about racism in society – which is a good thing. But it’s get it talked about in the wrong way, totally the wrong way. Dragging a brand such as H&M down over something like this isn’t going to stamp out racism in our society.

But as this blog is called The Yorkshire Dad I thought I would ask my thirteen year old daughter what she thought. So Without any influence I showed her the screenshot above and asked her what she though of it (I did explain this was on the H&M site and she likes H&M clothes by the way). Do you know what she said? Go on, have a guess? No? Okay then I’ll tell you what she said, she said “I like it, it’s really nice”. That was it. She liked it. She wasn’t offended, nor did she think the photo was racist, nor did she make any comment about the boy model being black – nothing. What does that tell you? Well it tells you that by brandishing things like racism we’re positioning the minds of these kids who would otherwise just see this for what it is – a model wearing a hoodie!

Thanks for reading and I’d really like to know your thoughts on this one.

**UPDATE**

I ran a poll on my Instagram story last night asking viewers if they thought this was racist or not and the results are 90% of respondents didn’t think it was racist.

Why I Won’t Stop My Kids Drinking Sugary Drinks

You must have seen the commotion caused as the makers of IRN-BRU announced that they are altering the recipe of their popular drink to reduce the sugar content in there famous drink from 10% sugar to 5% sugar and replace it with artificial sweetners. If not then take a look at Sky News.

Now the title of this post might suggest that my children drink sugary drinks until they are higher than an addict of something far more sinister. Actually that’s not the truth at all.

We generally don’t buy fizzy drinks at home. We might get the odd bottle of Pepsi Max but that’s about it until Christmas or a special occasion. But the thing is this is our choice and that is the point I would like to make,

Choice

As an adult I make choices every day. As a parent those choices also affect my children. We make choices and that is our right to do so. This is whether the nanny-state starts to get on my wick just a bit.

The sugar tax. Oh I hate that terms and I hate that smarmy Jamie Oliver for his link to it even more. We don’t need taxes or laws limiting what we buy – not at all. What we need is people to understand balance. i eat a balanced diet, as do my children. Is there sugar and fat in there – yes absolutely. Is there a good mix of healthier stuff thrown is – oh hell yes. Why not?

We educate our children to eat a balanced diet. We let them have a bag of crisp, but we ask that they limit it to only one in any day. There might be a chocolate biscuit after a meal, but there’s also fruit that is eaten. It’s a balance.

I am actually offended that our Government chooses this route of bullying us to do things rather that educating. Those of us that are balanced and careful and try to do the right thing are being punished because there are idiots out there who dont’ give a flying fart about their, or their children’s, health. Thanks for that, another case of the few spoiling it for the many.

I’m off now to buy a can of IRN-BRU….

Thanks for reading and I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments.