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Children are paying the price of adult wars and unrest. Here's how we can help them.

Children are paying the price of adult wars and unrest. Here's how we can help them.

Children pay the price of adult conflicts around the world—and the cost is way too high.  

A new report from UNICEF—the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund—paints a tragic picture of our world, where war, conflict, and poverty define daily life for millions of children.

The numbers for 2018 alone are staggering—30 million children have been forced from their homes by violence and insecurity. Those who remain in war zones face horrific and ongoing violations, including being recruited to fight, being used as human shields, being raped or forced into marriage, and experiencing severe acute malnutrition.


Those numbers are hard to wrap our minds around, but 30 million children is more than the populations of America’s 10 largest cities—New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas, and San Jose—combined. And that’s just the children who have fled violence, not the ones still living in it.

“It is devastating,” Caryl Stern, CEO and President of UNICEF USA told Upworthy. “It’s been a year of conflict, and the children, because they are the most vulnerable, suffer the most.”

In some countries, more than half of children are in need of humanitarian services.

Parts of the Middle East and Africa in particular are dire places for children, though kids in Eastern Ukraine and Myanmar are also under duress due to conflict.

Stern shared with us some of the specifics:

  • Violence and bloodshed remain a daily occurrence in Afghanistan. Some 5,000 children were killed or maimed within the first three quarters of 2018—equal to all of 2017. Children there make up 89 percent of civilian casualties from explosive remnants of war.
  • In Cameroon, 93 villages have allegedly been partially or totally burned due to increasing conflict in the areas, with many children experiencing extreme levels of violence.
  • The Central African Republic has seen a dramatic resurgence in fighting, and two out of three children are in need of humanitarian assistance.
  • In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, children are being forced into fighting and suffering sexual abuse by armed groups and militias. In addition, an estimated 4.2 million children are at risk of severe acute malnutrition (SAM), meaning they’ll die without intervention.
  • In Iraq, children and families returning to their homes after heavy violence continue to be exposed to the danger of unexploded devices. Thousands of families remain displaced and now face the additional threats of freezing winter temperatures and flash floods.
  • In the Lake Chad basin, at least 1,041 schools are closed or non-functional due to violence, fear of attacks, or unrest, affecting nearly 445,000 children.
  • A recent surge in violence in the border region between Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger has left 1,478 schools closed.
  • In Myanmar, the UN continues to receive reports of ongoing violations of the rights of Rohingya remaining in northern Rakhine State, which include allegations of killings, disappearances, and arbitrary arrests, in addition to barriers to health and education for children.
  • In northeast Nigeria, armed groups, including Boko Haram factions, continue to target girls, who are raped, forced to become wives of fighters, or used as ‘human bombs’. In February, the group abducted 110 girls and one boy from a technical college in Dapchi. While most of the children have since been released, five girls died and one is still being held captive as a slave.
  • In Palestine, over 50 children were killed and hundreds more injured this year, many whilst demonstrating against deteriorating living conditions in Gaza. Children in Palestine and Israel have been exposed to fear, trauma and injuries.
  • In South Sudan, more than 150 women and girls in Bentiu reported suffering horrific sexual assault. Relentless conflict and insecurity throughout the annual lean season pushed 6.1 million people into extreme hunger. Even with the advent of the rainy season, more than 43 per cent of the population remain food insecure.
  • In Syria, between January and September, the UN verified the killing of 870 children – the highest number ever in the first nine months of any year since the start of the conflict in 2011. Attacks continued throughout the year, including the killing of 30 children in the eastern village of Al Shafa in November.
  • In eastern Ukraine, more than four years of conflict destroyed and damaged hundreds of schools and forced 700,000 children to learn in fragile environments, amidst volatile fighting and the dangers posed by unexploded weapons of war.
  • In Yemen, the UN has verified 1,427 children killed or maimed in attacks, including an ‘unconscionable’ attack on a school bus in Sa’ada. Every 10 minutes in Yemen, a child dies due to preventable diseases, and 400,000 children suffer from severe acute malnutrition.

"The earthquake, you can’t predict, or that disease we don’t have a cure for," says Stern. "But these are man-made emergencies, which is different than some other years . . . In the year 2019 we can do better, we must do better, we should do better."

Here’s how UNICEF is helping—and how you can too.

UNICEF helps the world's children by providing nutrition aid and water where needed, and also by ensuring access to education and creating child-friendly spaces everywhere they serve.

“We do that in the refugee camps, we do that along some of the long walks children are taking these days,” says Stern. “And we do that because we recognize that for future development, children need to be afforded the opportunity to just be a kid. They have to play, they have to sing, they have to dance, they have to have music, they have to be able to let some of what they’re bearing witness to out of them.”

Stern points out that creating child-friendly spaces helps free up parents to deal with the crisis they are facing and make a plan for what’s next. It also helps give UNICEF workers a chance to diagnose severe trauma and direct children to the services they need.

UNICEF is also “the plumber of the UN." They do all the water plans in addition to providing nutrition response and emergency aid. “UNICEF are the people who monitor the children on the ground in countries all over the world,” says Stern, “measuring arms, weighing babies, checking and trying to provide emergency response when it’s severe acute malnutrition.”  

How can those of us who live in secure nations help? The most direct way, of course, is funds. Donations are always welcome at unicefusa.org.

"In addition to dollars, which are truly desperately needed,” Stern says, “I think the American people need to depoliticize the care and feeding of children. We need to understand that children don’t vote. Children don’t make decisions about where they’re going to grow up or which country they’re going to be born, they don’t get to pick where they’re born. Children are the innocent victims of the decisions of adults.”

“There is nothing political about saving the lives of children,” Stern adds.

Stern says that a society should be and is measured by how we treat children, and by that measure, we are failing.

“As long as 15,000 children die each day from causes we already know how to prevent, we’re failing,” she says. “Children are our most precious resource and it’s not okay that 15,000 die every day. And that’s not going to change until we—everybody—take responsibility and stops referencing them as Syria’s children, or Myanmar’s children, or Latin America’s children, or American children. They are children, plain and simple. And we need to protect and ensure their futures.”

Photos from Tay Nakamoto

Facebook is no longer just your mom’s favorite place to share embarassing photos.

The social media platform has grown in popularity for young users and creators who enjoy forming connections with like-minded individuals through groups and events.

Many of these users even take things offline, meeting up in person for activities like book clubs, brunch squads, and Facebook IRL events, like the recent one held in New York City, and sharing how they use Facebook for more than just social networking.

“Got to connect with so many people IRL at an incredible Facebook pop up event this past weekend!” creator @Sistersnacking said of the event. So many cool activities like airbrushing, poster making + vision boarding, a Marketplace photo studio, and more.”

Tay Nakamoto, a designer known for her whimsical, colorful creations, attended the event and brought her stunning designs to the public. On Facebook, she typically shares renter-friendly hacks, backyard DIY projects, and more with her audience of 556K. For the IRL event, she created many of the designs on display, including a photobooth area, using only finds from Facebook Marketplace.

“Decorating out of 100% Facebook Marketplace finds was a new challenge but I had so much fun and got it doneeee. This was all for the Facebook IRL event in NYC and I got to meet such amazing people!!” Nakamoto shared on her page.


Also at the event was Katie Burke, the creator of Facebook Group “Not Wasting My Twenties.” Like many other recent grads at the start of the pandemic, she found herself unemployed and feeling lost. So she started the group as a way to connect with her peers, provide support for one anopther, and document the small, everyday joys of life.

The group hosts career panels, created a sister group for book club, and has meetups in cities around the US.

Another young creator making the most of Facebook is Josh Rincon, whose mission is to teach financial literacy to help break generational poverty. He grew his audience from 0 to over 1 million followers in six months, proving a growing desire for educational content from a younger generation on the platform.

He’s passionate about making finance accessible and engaging for everyone, and uses social media to teach concepts that are entertaining yet educational.

No matter your interests, age, or location, Facebook can be a great place to find your people, share your ideas, and even make new friends IRL.

Pop Culture

What is 'Generation Jones'? The unique qualities of the not-quite-Gen-X-baby-boomers.

This "microgeneration" had a different upbringing than their fellow boomers.

Generation Jones includes Michelle Obama, George Clooney, Kamala Harris, Keanu Reeves and more.

We hear a lot about the major generation categories—boomers, Gen X, millennials, Gen Z and the up-and-coming Gen Alpha. But there are folks who don't quite fit into those boxes. These in-betweeners, sometimes called "cuspers," are members of microgenerations that straddle two of the biggies.

"Xennial" is the nickname for those who fall on the cusp of Gen X and millennial, but there's also a lesser-known microgeneration that straddles Gen X and baby boomers. The folks born from 1954 to 1965 are known as Generation Jones, and they've been thrust into the spotlight as people try to figure out what generation to consider 59-year-old Vice President Kamala Harris.

Like President Obama before her, Harris is a Gen Jonesernot exactly a classic baby boomer but not quite Gen X. Born in October 1964, Harris falls just a few months shy of official Gen X territory. But what exactly differentiates Gen Jones from the boomers and Gen Xers that flank it?


"Generation Jones" was coined by writer, television producer and social commentator Jonathan Pontell to describe the decade of Americans who grew up in the '60s and '70s. As Pontell wrote of Gen Jonesers in Politico:

"We fill the space between Woodstock and Lollapalooza, between the Paris student riots and the anti-globalisation protests, and between Dylan going electric and Nirvana going unplugged. Jonesers have a unique identity separate from Boomers and GenXers. An avalanche of attitudinal and behavioural data corroborates this distinction."

Pontell describes Jonesers as "practical idealists" who were "forged in the fires of social upheaval while too young to play a part." They are the younger siblings of the boomer civil rights and anti-war activists who grew up witnessing and being moved by the passion of those movements but were met with a fatigued culture by the time they themselves came of age. Sometimes, they're described as the cool older siblings of Gen X. Unlike their older boomer counterparts, most Jonesers were not raised by WWII veteran fathers and were too young to be drafted into Vietnam, leaving them in between on military experience.

Gen Jones gets its name from the competitive "keeping up with the Joneses" spirit that spawned during their populous birth years, but also from the term "jonesin'," meaning an intense craving, that they coined—a drug reference but also a reflection of the yearning to make a difference that their "unrequited idealism" left them with. According to Pontell, their competitiveness and identity as a "generation aching to act" may make Jonesers particularly effective leaders:

"What makes us Jonesers also makes us uniquely positioned to bring about a new era in international affairs. Our practical idealism was created by witnessing the often unrealistic idealism of the 1960s. And we weren’t engaged in that era’s ideological battles; we were children playing with toys while boomers argued over issues. Our non-ideological pragmatism allows us to resolve intra-boomer skirmishes and to bridge that volatile Boomer-GenXer divide. We can lead."

Time will tell whether the United States will end up with another Generation Jones leader, but with President Biden withdrawing his candidacy, it has now become a distinct possibility.

Of note in discussions over Kamala Harris's generational status is the fact that generations aren't just calculated by birth year but by a person's cultural reality. Some have made the argument that Harris is culturally more Gen X than boomer, though there doesn't seem to be any record of her claiming any particular generation as her own. However, a swath of Gen Z has staked their own claim on her as "brat"—a term singer Charli XCX thrust into the political arena with a post on X that read "kamala IS brat." That may be nonsensical to most older folks, but for Gen Z, it's a glowing endorsement from one of the top Gen Z musicians of the moment.

Pop Culture

People are sharing their personal encounters with Robin Williams to honor his birthday

A tribute from Williams' son prompted heartwarming anecdotes from everyday people who met the iconic comedian.

Photo credits: ABC and Eva Rinaldi

Robin Williams' son Zak shared a tribute on social media on what would have been his dad's 73rd birthday.

Few entertainers have enjoyed as much broad appeal and admiration as comedian Robin Williams, but people's love for him is not just for his performances. Williams was a talented comedian and an actor with a surprisingly wide range, but by all accounts he was also a delightful and caring human being.

Williams would have been 73 years old on July 21, 2024. His son Zak shared a touching tribute to his father on social media, which prompted everyday people to share their personal anecdotes of their encounters with him.


"Dad, on what would be your 73rd birthday, I remember you for all the hope and joy you brought to the world," Zak Williams wrote. "There's not a week that goes by without someone sharing with me how you helped them through a dark time or a rough patch. I'm so grateful to be your son. Love you forever."

As the stories poured in, it became clearer and clearer how much the world lost with Robin Williams' passing in 2014. Here are some highlights:

"I passed your dad carrying you one day on a sidewalk in SF - you looked to be around 2. You were both talking to each other in made-up language and you were really holding your own. Your dad caught me watching and as you passed me by, he tipped his head towards you and beamed the most incredible loving smile - he thought you were something else." – malloryvk

"Jumanji was filmed in my hometown (Keene, NH) when my mom was working at a local restaurant - Robin Williams stopped in and my mother was his waitress. She took his order as she was trained to - 'hello my name is Robin, what can I get for you today?' - he ordered a burger and tipped $100, 'from one Robin to another.'" – emmatshibambi

"Every Christmas, your Dad would visit the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at UCSF. He would visit every child who was able to have a visitor and all of the exhausted and terrified parents. Your dad’s goodness and love were felt by everyone there." – kennandlisa

"Many, many years ago, I worked at Harrods in Knightsbridge. I was working the Caralina Herrera sunglasses counter one day and Robin Williams came up and asked directions to the Sports department. I tried to play it cool as I took in the laughter lines of his face, the twinkle in his eyes, the kindness of his soul. I needed to remember this moment forever. And I do! (And I often wonder if he found the sports department straight away, as I'm pretty sure I told him in my true awkwardness to turn right instead of left at the top of the escalator. Sorry Robin) A forever memory and much love and appreciation for the human that you were. ❤️" – ilovekerry.2

"In the early 2000’s, my mom spotted Mr. Williams by himself sight-seeing in downtown Toronto. She was so excited as she was a huge fan, and approached him. She later told me how he radiated warmth, his blue eyes sparkling, and was even kind enough to sign an autograph. Though my mom is now in Heaven too, I still cherish this memory (and the autograph + pen he used!) 🙌" – foxy_the_squirrel

"I watched your dad since Mork & Mindy & had a casual conversation with him at the Apple Store in NYC but I did not tell him I knew it was him. I wanted him to enjoy his shopping without getting hit by millions of people. He had a thick beard but I saw his BRIGHT CLEAR BLUE EYES. Absolutely unmistakable & one of a kind, not just his eyes but his heart." – InventorBLADES

"I can’t even tell you the impact he had on my life… I went through a horrible violent crime as a teen and spent years hiding it, that decision created great mental anguish and Robin saved my life. I can’t explain the details, but he was an angel on earth and he had a way to speak to hearts with his one of kind spontaneous comedy and I am forever thankful for the gift of him in my journey." – wenbernacky

"I mean this in a very literal sense—no other famous persons passing has ever hit me, but his… it’s almost as if I had personally known him and he had been there to comfort me during hard times. Those types of souls are magic in human form." – iamchief_chris

Some may not know that Robin Williams also advocated for homeless people in Congress, with his signature compassion and even some comedy thrown in. Watch:

And for more of Robin Williams in real life, check out his "Inside the Actor's Studio" interview with James Lipton, which apparently gave one of the audience members a hernia from laughing so hard.

Science

Researchers dumped tons of coffee waste into a forest. This is what it looks like now.

30 dump truck loads and two years later, the forest looks totally different.

One of the biggest problems with coffee production is that it generates an incredible amount of waste. Once coffee beans are separated from cherries, about 45% of the entire biomass is discarded.

So for every pound of roasted coffee we enjoy, an equivalent amount of coffee pulp is discarded into massive landfills across the globe. That means that approximately 10 million tons of coffee pulp is discarded into the environment every year.



When disposed of improperly, the waste can cause serious damage soil and water sources.

However, a new study published in the British Ecological Society journal Ecological Solutions and Evidence has found that coffee pulp isn't just a nuisance to be discarded. It can have an incredibly positive impact on regrowing deforested areas of the planet.

via British Ecological Society

In 2018, researchers from ETH-Zurich and the University of Hawaii spread 30 dump trucks worth of coffee pulp over a roughly 100' x 130' area of degraded land in Costa Rica. The experiment took place on a former coffee farm that underwent rapid deforestation in the 1950s.

The coffee pulp was spread three-feet thick over the entire area.

Another plot of land near the coffee pulp dump was left alone to act as a control for the experiment.

"The results were dramatic." Dr. Rebecca Cole, lead author of the study, said. "The area treated with a thick layer of coffee pulp turned into a small forest in only two years while the control plot remained dominated by non-native pasture grasses."

In just two years, the area treated with coffee pulp had an 80% canopy cover, compared to just 20% of the control area. So, the coffee-pulp-treated area grew four times more rapidly. Like a jolt of caffeine, it reinvigorated biological activity in the area.

The canopy was also four times taller than that of the control.

Before and after images of the forest

The forest experienced a radical, positive change

via British Ecological Society

The coffee-treated area also eliminated an invasive species of grass that took over the land and prevented forest succession. Its elimination allowed for other native species to take over and recolonize the area.

"This case study suggests that agricultural by-products can be used to speed up forest recovery on degraded tropical lands. In situations where processing these by-products incurs a cost to agricultural industries, using them for restoration to meet global reforestation objectives can represent a 'win-win' scenario," Dr. Cole said.

If the results are repeatable it's a win-win for coffee drinkers and the environment.

Researchers believe that coffee treatments can be a cost-effective way to reforest degraded land. They may also work to reverse the effects of climate change by supporting the growth of forests across the globe.

The 2016 Paris Agreement made reforestation an important part of the fight against climate change. The agreement incentivizes developing countries to reduce deforestation and forest degradation, promote forest conservation and sustainable management, and enhance forest carbon stocks in developing countries.

"We hope our study is a jumping off point for other researchers and industries to take a look at how they might make their production more efficient by creating links to the global restoration movement," Dr. Cole said.


This article originally appeared on 03.29.21

Family

Former pro athlete explains how to assess a kid's true athletic potential

Nate Daniels breaks down how to tell if your kid has the talent and skill to go pro—and why that's not so important.

@natedaniels_1/TikTok

Having unrealistic expectations can makes parents and kids miss out on what's important—enjoying the game.

Following a 6-year stint as a professional football player, Nate Daniels is now dedicated to helping families navigate the world of children’s sports in positive and uplifting ways. When not mentoring through his Next Level Athletes program, you might find Daniels on TikTok sharing stories from his pro football days along with helpful insights for parents.

Recently Daniels delved into a question that he gets from parents all the time: “Is my child an elite athlete?”

Parents are, of course, usually asking this question with the good intention of setting their kid up for their best possible future. After all, a potential professional future would require a completely different level of commitment, both from the child and the parents, so it would be good to know that as soon as possible. But how to know if that’s necessary?

According to Daniels, the answer might be quite simple.


“First of all, if you have to ask me that question, they're probably not an elite athlete, but stay with me,” he says at the start of his clip.

As he explains, “When you have an elite athlete, it is glaring. They stick out like a sore thumb. A layman could walk in the gym and be like, ‘Man, who is that kid?’ You could walk out on the soccer pitch, the baseball field, the lacrosse field, and everyone knows that kid is different.”

In other words, this kind of gift won’t go unnoticed, both by other parents and the child’s coach. “Like my idol when I was growing up, used to say, Walter Payton, ‘When you're good, you're going around telling everybody how good you are. But when you're great, they're telling you.’” Daniels attests.

But Daniels also affirms that the next part is far more “crucial” for parents to understand: “You do not know what you have until a kid has hit puberty.”


@natedaniels_1 I’m asked by sports parents multiple times a week about their athletes potential let’s talk about it. #youthsports #youthathletes #sportsparents #athlete #athletesoftiktok #sports #athletes #sportstiktok #sportsperformance #parentsoftiktok #athletemotivation #athletemindset @Next Level Athletes ♬ original sound - Nate Daniels

“I've coached and trained youth athletes that were completely dominant at the youth level. And after they hit puberty has disappeared. And the beautiful thing I've also coached, the vice versa,” he explained.

This was something that many other parents had also witnessed, as indicated by the comments.

“This is so true. My son was a beast as a youth. Everybody knew his name. Then puberty hit and he disappeared. Still not sure what happened. 🤷🏾♀️,” one viewer wrote.

"I can’t tell you how many middle school kids and even freshmen level out in 10th grade and then everyone else catches up and most of the time surpasses!” shared another.

Daniels’ final message to parents is this: “If you have a youth athlete that is experiencing success, just let them enjoy that success. Let them continue to work hard. Be patient to see how it will play out.”

“I'm not saying this to burst your bubble or to temper your being proud. I'm proud. I want you to be proud of your kids, but these expectations that you're projecting just aren't realistic most times.”

And to youth athletes currently struggling, Daniels says: “Keep your head down and keep working. Do not let anything discourage you. You never know what the future holds. But in order to fulfill that potential, you have to keep putting in the work.”

Sports can have so many benefits for kids, regardless of whether or not they go pro. But so many of those benefits might be overshadowed by performance pressures put on by well-meaning parents. Take it from a pro himself—slow down. Enjoy the game and let the future unfold.

Pop Culture

Man's epic rant about streaming services is so relatable people are applauding

"Everything was faster and easier and worked better 20 years ago and we ruined it. We were all scammed."

Representative Photo credit: Canva

Man's epic rant about streaming platforms has people applauding.

Something happened nearly two decades ago. There was a shift where video rental stores were shutting down because Netflix (who used to deliver literal DVDs) and Redbox were causing a significant decline in customers. Then Netflix became a streaming service, making it even easier for you to get access to the movies you would normally rent for a flat fee and reducing the stress of losing or damaging a DVD.

This jump into streaming created the demand for more streaming services at a time when cable rates were skyrocketing. It made practical financial sense to move over to a couple of streaming services and let go of cable. That is until the streaming services became obnoxiously plentiful.

Anthony Robustiano recently went on an epic rant about his frustration with streaming services after he tried to find a movie to watch. He explains that in order to even know which streaming platform to watch the movie on he first had to Google the movie. That's when the rant turns up a notch.


"To then finally finding the movie on a streaming service that you own and you get excited and you go to the movie and then Prime Video is like, 'well we're going to need an additional $3.99 from you.' Why? I'm already paying you a monthly fee what are you talking about? And they're like 'well you can rent it or buy it for seven grand.'"

You know someone's a peak frustration when they're making up ridiculous numbers to express how expensive something is. But Rubstiano wasn't alone in his irritation with the high price of multiple streaming platforms. Commenters joined in and agreed that maybe cable was actually superior to streaming services after all.



"Also? The entire appeal of Netflix was ‘no ads.’ As a single person I relented and subscribed to Netflix sometime after COVID screwed the world, when tired of having to put up with ads while watching ‘free’ movies on cable or YouTube or a few other free show sources online. Now, they want me to choose between paying a lot more, which I cannot do, or…. Putting up with ADS. Good-bye, Netflix," one person writes.

"THIS!!!! It’s awful. There’s nothing to watch. Mostly because I can’t find it and get overwhelmed," another says.

"Everything was faster and easier and worked better 20 years ago and we ruined it. We were all scammed," someone complains.

"ALL WE EVER WANTED WAS CAFETERIA STYLE CABLE. Let us pick what we're paying $70/mo for. GOSH," another person shouts.

The consensus seems to be that since the streaming services now all come with ads and additional fees, bringing back Blockbuster or cable would be preferable. Although some people shared that they kept their old DVD/Blu Ray players so they could physically own a copy of what they purchased, pointing out that when a streaming platform loses rights to a movie or show, you no longer have access even though you may have purchased it.

In a perfect world, a cable company could strike a deal with the streaming services giving you access to all of the platforms for one price along with basic cable. Until then, stores still sell DVD players.