Thursday, August 27, 2009

Visual Advocacy (VA): Research.

- Societal pressure
with the huge influence of media a lot of children and teenagers are pressured to conform to the set standards of beauty, behavior and sexuality. Children who in some way do not match the stereotypes of beauty or popularity, don't fit in and become objects of redicule and abuse for their peers. How can we help the standing-out children adapt to their environment without loosing their individuality?

even though we live in the 21st century, a lot of people still carry on racial concepts and pass them on to their children. Initially children don't care about race, but a lot of influence comes from schools and families and future racists develop in early years. Multiple hate crimes, based on racial intolerance, occur every year in every state and all over the world. What can we do to help children keep their acceptance of race and create a positive influence in schools?
Follow-up:in Kansas City, there is a clear distinction between wealthy and poor neighborhoods that have high crime rates and vandalism. Even though it is a generalization, a lot of people living in those neighborhoods are black, which makes it easy to make assumptions. It is true that crime rate in poor areas is a lot higher than in many others, but it has nothing to do with race. In the current economy many people loose jobs and not being competitive in the job market, end up getting into the crime scene. What can we do to convince people in poorer neighborhoods to get education? 
A lot of teens in neighborhoods like Troost drop out of high school and never attempt to get higher education. Even if they do stay in high school, a lot of the times they don't have a healthy environment that promotes personal growth and education. How can we engage teens in positive activities, so that they are less tempted to fill their time by joining gangs?

many people don't approve of immigrants thinking that all people who come to this country are threatening its culture by keeping their own values. Some think that all immigrants are not willing to accept the customs of the country they will live in. How can we make people more educated about immigration and other cultures and become more accepting of people who come to this country?

Abuse and Bullying
-Domestic abuse
domestic violence happens daily, but a lot of victims are either not aware of hotlines and shelters or are too scared to leave the abuser. How can we promote the existence of those help facilities to make the victims aware and encourage to seek shelter there?
Follow-up: a lot of the time the victims do not think what is done to them is wrong. Lacking education, a lot of women think that their husbands have complete control over their wives. Some even think that "if he beats me, he loves me". Would there be a difference, if people were more educated about the 21st century roles in society and possibly mild feminism?


the statistics say that children who are physically punished at home are more likely to bully their peers. Bullies do not abuse weaker kids on their own, they always have a "support team". How can we make parents stop physically punishing their children and create a positive atmosphere in their home environment?
Follow-up:since bullies don't bully on their own, the "support team" plays a big part in the issue. Children who support the bully are usually insecure and agree to do anything to fit in the "cool crowd". Can we create a system that will make the value system shift to positive from negative, making it "cool" to be accepting? What role models can be used to help?

-Online stalking and forgery
with the highly-developed world wide web where anyone can virtually post anything and find any kind of information, our safety is at risk. Social networks are used by a large percentage of people, but many of them are not aware of the threats. How can we make people aware of the issues they can encounter and make them more cautious and safe while using Internet?
Follow-up:when forgeries do occur, the first thing people try to do is cancel their credit cards and accounts to stop the thief from using them again. Many banks have automated machines that are used anytime you use the banking phone system. It produces more frustration and makes you loose precious time that can be used to find the thief. Can we create an easier, faster system, like a secure website that will speed up the tedious process of application and cancellation of the accounts?

children 13-17 years of age are the most vulnerable category for cyberbullying. With the existence of cell-phones, iPhones and other devices that support wi-fi, there is almost no way to get away from the bullies. Many victims are scared to tell their parents or the authorities because of the fear of loosing access to Internet. Prolonged psychological abuse often leads to suicides and mental disorders. How can we encourage the victims to speak up and make themselves heard while making the potential bullies rethink their decisions?
Foll0w-up:we can't always rely on children to speak up, because a lot of the times they don't. A lot of parents, however do not know about the issue because they are not aware of the dangers that technology presents. Some kids have unlimited 24 hour access to their home computer and do not have their online activity monitored. One of the ways this can be resolved is educating parents about the basic technological things like Facebook (how it works, how you can join) and promote higher control over child activities.

-Pedophiles and child abuse
despite the common belief most pedophiles are not strangers to the children they abuse. A child-molester can be a friendly neighbor with a golden retriever or even their own dad. Like rape, child molestation is one of the most underreported crimes: only 1-10% are ever disclosed. (FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin.) A lot of molested children are under the age of two, so they cannot verbally or physically express what they feel and don't even know it is wrong. There is not enough publicity about it, but child abuse happens every day every hour. How can we make people more aware of the situation and potentially prevent child-molesters from doing more harm?
Follow-up: many children don't know that what is happening to them is wrong  because of no sex education. It doesn't necessarily have to be hard facts at the age of five, but there are a lot of books that explain children what to avoid, like your auntie touching you inappropriately. Children trust their relatives, that sadly are a big threat, and even if they think something is wrong, will never tell. If childhood sex-ed was promoted for a specific reason, like preventing rape, there is a chance that there would be a downfall in abuse statistics or at least more reports of the crime.

this illness is a big health issue in the society that complicates the lives and well-being of people. Juvenile diabetes strikes children and young adults often at an age when there is enough complications in life already, like starting college. Many people are not prepared to deal with this illness and develop insecurities and depression. How do we make this demographic more prepared to deal with this issue and in control of their body?
Follow-up: Kansas City has only one restaurant that is diabetes-friendly. Most restaurants do not have any diabetes accommodations like speciality menus and suggestions. How can we make restaurants more diabetes-friendly and supportive?

even though unhealthy lifestyles and lack of good nutrition is a big factor in the increasing obesity rates, in some cases excessive weight is caused by chronic illnesses and is difficult, if not impossible to get rid of. Overweight people always deal with unwanted attention, feel uncomfortable in movie theaters and planes and often suffer from anxiety and depression caused by insecurities. How can we make people suffering with this problem aware of the healthy choices, but at the same time more comfortable with themselves? Can we make people more tolerant?
Follow up: many avid fast-food eaters do not know how junk food can physically damage you. There are statistics that show what fast foods are the most detrimental to your health. Would knowing physical consequences of junk food eating help people start a better eating habit?

people who come to this country are often completely new to the culture and don't know even the simple things like where to buy groceries or winter clothes. Can we help such people out by producing a help kit that would include basic information about healthcare and common problem as well as some simple legal issues?
Follow-up: many immigrants choose poor-paying jobs because of lack of education. How can we suggest for them to go back to school and start higher education to succeed in the future?

-Cultural integration.
A lot of immigrants who come with their families and especially little kids are afraid that the younger generation will fully absorb the new culture and forget their own. A lot of them are not sensitive about the children's needs to be accepted which leads to child/parent alienation and disputes. How can we encourage children and children from other cultures to be proud of their background and help them maintain it while accommodating to the new environment?

Animal Cruelty
The pounds in Kansas City are overpopulated by different animals. Some animals were just stray, some ran away and others were thrown out by their owners. Since the pounds can't keep all the dogs and keep getting new ones,  some dogs get euthanized.  There are even labels on the cages saying "Will die at 4pm."  Can we make a system that would help people make the right choice and get a pet from the pound, saving its live?

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