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The Secrets We Don’t Tell, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 25th August, 2017

The Secrets We Don’t Tell

Cyber Bullying

The word Sarahah is an Arabic word and it means “honesty”. This new word is also an App that has gone viral because of its purpose, which is to send “honest” but anonymous messages to whomever you like. But guess what it is not the first app to exist and do so; there was the Secret in 2014 and then the Whisper in 2012.

Whisper still exists and on their website they have stated the following: “if would you like to prevent your child from having access to the Whisper app, you can do so by placing restrictions on their device.”

After the break out story of Edward Snowden there have been several attempts to have secret chats, for example the Telegram offers self-destruct option for your chats and end-to-end encryption where only messages are read by the its intended recipient.

Sarahah was designed so that employees could freely give feedback but when the teens caught on it became viral. The ironical part is that it was created in Saudi Arabia by a developer called ZainAlabdin Tawfiq and he did it because he thought it was the best way to share “constructive feedback”.

These secret apps are weapons of cyber bullying. In a recent survey titled “Eleventh National Poll on Children’s Healthy” by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in the US parents recognize cyber bullying as serious health and threat issue to their children to up to 30% of the cases.

According to the research done by the University of Birmingham, children and young people under-25 that become victims of cyber bullying are more than twice as likely to enact self-harm and attempt suicide than non-victims.

Just when we thought the Blue Whale Challenge is under control, India has been reporting a few cases across Mumbai, Delhi and Indore. This is an Internet game where after playing it for 50 days the player has to commit suicide. To show his progress, the player is asked to share photos at every level where there is also a sign of self-harm as that is part of the game.

However there are claims too that there is no conclusive evidence that this game really did result into suicides in Russia. According to a watchdog site SNOPES; they claim “The reasons teenagers commit suicide are well researched. According to data from the General Prosecutor’s Office, in Russia 62% of suicides among adolescents are associated with family conflicts and general distress, conflicts with teachers, classmates, friends, and also with the fear of violence by adults and callousness of others. From a report on the topic from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the increase in the number of suicides “occurs in times of economic crisis and sharp social change.” For example, in Russia there was an increase the number of suicides from 1987 to 1994, when the USSR collapsed. As soon as the company adapted to its new socio-economic conditions, the number of suicides stabilized.”

This actually also opens up a very serious problem that is probably being ignored over the hype of these “secret chat apps”. Why are teens and children gravitating to these to share their feelings and have conversations?

Fear should run down your spine because girls from 6 years of age are body and image conscious and dieting according to the Journal of Adolescent Health UK.

Also according to Young Minds UK one in 10 children and young people aged 5 – 16 suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder –around three children in every class.

These are not related to Western or developed countries, because of the Internet accessibility worldwide even 3rd world countries are showing serious signs of children mental disorders and suicides. According to the World Health Organization “the burden of depression and other mental health conditions is on the rise globally. A World Health Assembly resolution passed in May 2013 has called for a comprehensive, coordinated response to mental disorders at country level.”

The main agenda should be to focus on the well being of children. They need secure and a healthy environment for their upbringing. However it is not that possible to have the parents or their extended families carry these responsibilities. The Government needs to step up the mental health policies and childcare. Even if the United States has that set up then why is there such a significant rise of suicides in children and mental disorders with the young ones? It is also about sharing culture and maintaining grassroots parenting. This is a vicious generation cycle, which will probably take another generation to fix. The danger is that technology is moving faster than we can control it or us.

 

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Posted by on August 25, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Doping Business Ain’t So Dope, with Asian Weekly 12th August 2016

Doping Business Ain’t So Dope

Doping

The Rio Olympics have been full of controversy from the very beginning, with everything from Zika Virus to Brazil’s political problems and then the doping scandals hitting the International Olympic Committee.

When Lance Armstrong’s case hit headlines and subsequently testimonies from his friends and confidantes corroborating the situation, the world was shocked. When the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency found that Russia had cheated in their doping tests that apparently started in 2011, ran through the 2012 London Olympics and then into the 2014 Winter Sochi Olympics, where the term “state-sponsored-doping” was coined.

Almost 24 hours to the Rio Olympics Russia they still didn’t know how many of their athletes would be banned, considering that Russia had the second largest number of athletes compared to USA in the London Olympics.

Let’s come to Kenya and our dirty doping. When the Rio Team Athletics Olympics Manager Michael Rotich was sent back to Kenya after the start of the games and arrested and questioned for instigating athletes for doping warning tests and paying him, he denied it all. Kenyan athletes have been the envy of global competitors, colleagues, officials and fans, that how are they able to run some of the longest distances and win so easily, marathon, after steeplechase, after 800m races.

The World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) is keeping a check on anti-doping agency on all banned substances in athletics. Kenya has already got Francesca Manunga and Joyce Zakary suspended from the IAAF (International Athletics Federation); other athletes are Rael Kiyara, Mathew Kipkoech Kisorio, Francisca Koki, Benjamin Kipkurui, Simon Kemboi and Pauline Kahenya. Our national pride at stake when last year reports from the German Television Channel ARD and The Sunday Times of London revealed that Kenyan doctors were giving banned drugs to both Kenyan and Foreign athletes. Mostly since then the situation has spiralled on to a racetrack of allegations, checks, suspensions and then the Anti-Doping Bill 2016 so that the Kenyan athletes would be able to compete in the Rio Olympics, which stated:

(6) An athlete or athlete support personnel who commits any of the prohibited activities under section 26, commits an anti-doping rule violation and shall be handled in the manner set out under this Act.

  1. A person who contravenes any provision of this General Penalty.

Act for which no specific penalty is provided shall be liable to a fine of not less than one million shillings or to imprisonment for a term of not less than one year or to both such fine and imprisonment.

The CS Minister for Sports, Culture & Arts, Dr Hassan Wario Arero was one of the witnesses as President Uhuru Kenyatta signed this Act into Law on June as the deadline for WADA had to be met. The CS has said that after the Rio Olympics all related to sports and especially Kenyan athletes will get a rigorous Education programme on banned substances and doping. But are our athletes capable of going thus far? Yes they are and the names listed above have faced their penalties. While developing countries have been accused of underpaying, understaffing, under facilitating their sports set up, we have always had the pride that our athletes are natural-born winners. This is indeed a major setback to our name for a long time to come. More and more Kenyan athletes need to come out and support the game, be clean and if they are having problems they need to speak up. They can’t sit on the sides of the racetrack and watch their future run away. There has to be complete transparency, policies, penalties and rewards too for those who are winning for Kenyan in whichever support. The scandals of not having an air ticket or accommodation should be outdated issues, these must be resolved immediately. We need to support each other in reporting and assisting in the success of our sports. For example Kenyan Rugby 7s proved that if given the right environment and conditions especially financially they can achieve so much. So why wait for corrupt officials or managers or anybody standing in the way of the steeplechase to the success of Kenya?

Rise up and show the world we can be free of doping because we believe and prove our records by just, running.

 

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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More Than Football, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 1st July 2016

More than Football

Uefa Euro 2016 Courtesy of Chip

Uefa Euro 2016 Courtesy of Chip

 

Football is the one sport that no matter which street you walk on, or which city, village, country, wherever you go, you are bound to find kids playing it. This is most inexpensive game to play and the highest paying for professional players. One of the most recent deals was when Manchester United signed Jose Mourinho as the manager for a whopping amount of 10 Million Pounds annual contract of three years.

Currently ongoing is the UEFA EURO 2016 and is the 15th tournament for this European continent with over 20 teams playing across 10 venues for about 6 weeks of football fun, frenzy and fever for the coveted trophy and winning prize of 8 Million Euros. After the receiving global attention on the migrants crisis, Europe can turn to a lighter topic. There has already been a few first celebrations, from the host nation winning their first match against Romania, to Northern Ireland winning their first Euro 2016 match and Sweden already predicted to be the worst team ever for this tournament.

The UEFA EURO 2016 has unfortunately kicked off on a few sad notes. Starting from the pressure for security measures since being hosted in France and then the England and Russia football fans hooliganism. However the overall objective of the trophy, national pride and winning matches has managed to override these issues and sports is prevailing. The focus returns on triumphs and losses and people continue to enjoy or flinch.

This tournament affects fans of all the premier leagues and their stars for the worldwide followers. While we are not loyal to their nations, we are loyal to their craft, we laugh when they score and cry when they fail. The top player in for this tournament is Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and his strongest contender is Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Sweden. Cristiano is net worth over $80 Million and Zlatan Ibrahimovic is double, so very quickly this game is also about big money and big bets. But this tournament is also going to offer breakthrough opportunities for 18 to 21s year olds who will become the future captains or assets for their respective countries in matches all the way to World Cups and so forth.

The biggest favorite to make it to the end is the host France. Many football pundits are pinning their bets on France, Germany and Spain to make it to the finals. The dark horses are Northern Ireland and Belgium. Unlike cricket where anything almost does happen, with football the extra time and penalty shoots too can avert the fate of a team, unless their star players who are highly paid to perform in their respective clubs, shine and score big.

The real winner for this tournament needs to be integration of the different cultures who are attending and leaving behind a positive impression to the rest of the citizens of France including the migrants who are still grasping with a new country, new life and new people. Their support and the bigger picture that we are all one and can achieve good things together will beat any insecurity issues.

France is the world’s destination of love and it is getting an opportunity to show the world that is indeed the heart of the globe.

 

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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