The first thing I read this morning was a great Guardian article on how women’s rights seem to be regressing during the pandemic. This will come as no surprise to most women, who may have been affected disproportionately by any number of things, including home-schooling, choice of which businesses are prioritised for help, ways that earnings are calculated, maternity care conditions, or expectations that they will be the ones to take up caring roles.
Women are not the only group to have been negatively affected during the pandemic. The Equality Act (2010) lists several protected characteristics, including age, disability, ethnicity… if you look down the list virtually every protected characteristic has been disadvantaged at this time. Whoever is doing Equality Impact Assessment on government policies is doing a shoddy job.
Totnes, the Devon town that I grew up in, is in the papers. The last few times it has hit the news it has been for refusing to allow chain cafes to join the High Street, or for painting a pedestrian crossing in rainbow colours for Pride. Sadly this time the news is not about the fantastic local cafes, or even the weird Elizabethan market on Tuesdays, but the high proportion of people who are anti-vaxx and think covid is a conspiracy theory.
It’s hard to know exactly how we’re going to come out of lockdown, despite the rumours and the guesses. It’s certainly a complex challenge to negotiate, but in the midst of this dilemma a group of several experts from education, child development, psychology, and child psychiatry are trying to make sure that children’s wellbeing is put front and centre.
The group’s initiative is called Play First, and they want to make sure that children’s need to play is prioritised as much as their need to catch up academically, as they return to school. They’ve written a letter to MP Gavin Williamson with some practical advice on how to achieve this safely (like children taking turns to play in small groups) along with a clear summary of the evidence that their views are based on.
If mental health is a spectrum, how do we give advice that doesn’t inadvertently harm people at the pointy end of it? Good advice can tip into something harmful if worries around it get out of control.
Last Saturday’s front page Guardian was grim. “Revealed: just 1.5% of rape cases lead to summons.”
This refers to the number of reported rapes that result in a summons. The stat is worse than it was when, ten years ago, I was first involved in a piece of research which tried to better understand the huge attrition rate in rape cases.
At that time the stats were bad, only 6% of reported rapes went on
to a successful prosecution. Today, those stats are even worse.
Anorexia nervosa is a condition with serious emotional and physical consequences. Emotional consequences include deep distress, isolation, and loss of pleasure in things that once were loved. Physical consequences can be long-term and severe, and in the worst case anorexia can be fatal. There are some treatments that help, but not everyone, and the problem remains in need of innovative interventions for the people experiencing the disorder and their families.
A new study just published in Nature Genetics brings hope of some new ways of approaching the disorder. Researchers have found eight genetic variations which are associated with greater risk of anorexia.
I’m lucky enough to be in Lausanne at the World Conference of Science Journalists this week, on a panel about interviewing people who have experienced bullying, harassment, and sexual assault. It’s a responsible issue to be talking about and there’s lots of information to share.
This blog pulls together some resources for journalists who are
interviewing people who have experienced something traumatic, and in particular
sexual assault. Links are embedded throughout. I hope it’s useful.