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Nova Scotia child access changes intended to make it easier for grandparents

HALIFAX - The government of Nova Scotia government introduced amendments Monday it says will make it easier for grandparents to seek legal access to their grandchildren when parents separate or divorce. Currently, grandparents seeking access have to ask the court's permission for standing before they can proceed to a hearing. Justice Minister Lena Diab said the amendments to the Maintenance and Custody Act would remove this step, so courts would proceed directly to considering requests from grandparents for contact.

Malaysian parents jailed in Sweden for beating children

A Malaysian couple were jailed Friday by a Stockholm court for beating their children in a case that has shocked Sweden and raised questions about how it informs foreign parents about its smacking ban. Azizul Awalludin, 38, and his wife Shalwati Norshal, 46, were sentenced to 10 and 14 months respectively for hitting their four children -- aged seven to 14 -- with a bamboo stick, a clothes hanger and their hands. "I have spoken to my client (Awalludin) and he is of course very disappointed -- he denied the charges," defence lawyer Jonas Tamm told AFP.

Malaysian parents jailed for child abuse in Sweden

A Malaysian couple were jailed Friday by a Stockholm court for assaulting their four children while on a work assignment to Sweden where corporal punishment is illegal. Azizul Awalludin, 38, and his wife Shalwati Norshal, 46, were sentenced to 10 and 14 months respectively for beating their children -- aged seven to 14 -- over a three-year period with a bamboo stick, a clothes hanger and their hands. "I have spoken to my client (Awalludin) and he is of course very disappointed -- he denied the charges," defence lawyer Jonas Tamm told AFP.

Australian PM admits smacking his kids

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott admitted Thursday he smacked his children when they were young and warned against bans that could take political correctness "to extremes". Abbott was commenting after the issue was raised in the first report submitted to parliament by the newly established National Children's Commissioner. It highlights the United Nations' concern "that corporal punishment in the home and in some schools and alternative care settings remains lawful in Australia".

Parenting classes take France by storm

Classes teaching how to be better moms and dads, which have long flourished in English-speaking countries, have begun taking France by storm. French parents today want a new kind of authority that does not crush children but does not allow them to run wild either, said Beatrice Sabate, a clinical psychologist who adapted a method devised in California called "positive discipline" for France. "There are rules, but the child helps to define them," said Sabate.

Poverty, parenting linked to child brain development

By Andrew M. Seaman NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Children who grow up in poor families may have smaller brains than their more well-off peers, says a new study. But good parenting may help overcome that disadvantage. Researchers found that kids who grew up poor tended to have smaller hippocampus and amygdala volumes. Those areas of the brain are partly responsible for regulating memory and emotions.

Non-regular bedtimes tied to kids' behavior problems

By Genevra Pittman NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Kids without a regular bedtime tend to have more behavior problems at home and at school, a new study suggests. Researchers found that when children started going to sleep at a more consistent time, their behavior improved as well. "If you are constantly changing the amounts of sleep you get or the different times you go to bed, it's likely to mess up your body clock," said Yvonne Kelly, who led the study.

Nova Scotia says planned changes would open up parental leave to more workers

HALIFAX - The Nova Scotia government says it wants to make pregnancy and parental leave more accessible to workers in the province. However, the necessary changes aren't expected to be made any time soon. Premier Darrell Dexter says the government wants to amend the Labour Standards Code to allow an employee with six months on the job to qualify for pregnancy or parental leave. As it stands, workers must be in a job for a year before they are eligible.

What's it cost to raise a child? Less than you think, Fraser study suggests

OTTAWA - A prominent think tank raised eyebrows on Thursday by releasing data suggesting the financial toll of parenthood has never been lighter. Research from the right-of-centre Fraser Institute found that the cost of raising a child in Canada totalled no more than $4,500 a year per offspring, less than half of more common estimates of $10,000 or more.

Mennonite parents want kids back, willing to abide by discipline rules: lawyer

WINNIPEG - Manitoba social workers want parents of an orthodox Mennonite community to promise they will only spank kids on their behinds and not use objects, such as belts, as punishment. They also want assurances that children will not be injured or left with marks on their bodies. The parenting rules and discipline guidelines are spelled out in a recent letter from the government's Child and Family Services Department to members of the tiny community, where Mounties made arrests over several weeks this summer.
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