Things That Matter

Two Teens Charged With Child Endangerment After They Filmed a Video Of Toddler They Were Babysitting Smoking A Vape Pen

Pennsylvania police have confirmed that they are filing child endangerment charges against two teenagers who filmed a video of a two-year-old boy smoking a vape pen while they were babysitting him. According to police, the authorities were alerted to the video via the local youth violence prevention hotline, Safe2Say Something.

The video shows the toddler inhaling from a vaping device and falling down while he coughs and cries. The laughter of the two girls can be heard in the background of the video. The teenage girls–who are 18 and 17, respectively–allegedly filmed the video of the toddler smoking and then posted the 20-second clip to Snapchat. 

Shortly after being posted and reported, the video went viral on social media, with the public demanding that the police get involved. 

The Indiana Criminal Investigation Unit responded to the outcry with a statement saying that they were “aware of a video” and were “investigating the related incident in which a 2-year-old child was given a vaping device”. They confirmed that the “involved persons and child have been identified and charges are pending.” The authorities also revealed that the toddler did not display any other visible effects from the vape, which apparently contained 3% nicotine and no THC.

According to authorities, the local school district has identified the teenagers in the video as students who attend one of their schools. They provided the students’ names to the police.  “United administration was made aware of the video today, and the matter is being investigated by the authorities,” said United School District of Armagh Superintendent Dr. Barbara Parkins in a statement. “We believe that two of our students were involved in the situation. The names of those students were provided to the authorities.”

Viewers were especially disturbed by the video in light of the troubling cases of illness and death that have recently been associated with vape pens,

As of January 7, 2020, a total of 2,602 e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) cases or deaths have been reported to The Center for Disease Control. According to the CDC, 82% of those cases involved the use of THC-containing vaping pens, most of which were obtained from “informal sources” (i.e. black-market products). 

The media-dubbed epidemic has elicited a strong response from health officials who urge the public to avoid vaping pens and e-cigarettes at all costs. “E-cigarettes are not safe and can cause irreversible lung damage and lung disease,” American Lung Association president Harold Wimmer recently said in a statement addressing the health epidemic. “No one should use e-cigarettes or any other tobacco product.”. 

As for the toddler’s mother, she is horrified that her child was subjected to such dangerous activity without her knowledge. 

“I’m disgusted. I’m very upset.I’m in disbelief they would even laugh or even have something like that in reach of a child’s possession,” the child’s mother told local news station WXPI. “I’m not trusting anybody anymore to babysit my child,” she continued. “I’m done. I don’t even want to put him in daycare. I can’t trust anybody anymore.”

As for the fallout from this incident, the video is sparking a larger debate on social media about the callous way in which many Gen Zers use social media to publicize their problematic activities for clout and retweets. In an internet culture that glorifies problematic “pranks” and public humiliation, this kind of incident feels, for many, like the last straw.

The public’s outcry seems to largely stem from the fact that the teenagers were laughing while they recklessly put a toddler in danger. 

It’s one thing to put a child in harm’s way, it’s another to laugh about it, and it’s an entirely other case when you post and brag about it on social media.

Some Twitter-users pointed out the fact that vape pens have recently become incredibly dangerous. 

The reality is, EVALI is a new phenomenon that we still don’t know all the facts about. 

This Latina mother makes clear that, should anyone do the same thing to her child, she would take the law into her own hands:

We can only imagine the feelings of shock and betrayal this mother is experiencing right now.

This viewers still seemed to be in denial about the entire situation:

As much as we’d love for this video to have been doctored, we have a feeling that it is 100% real. 

This person is primarily disturbed about the girls’ reaction to the toddler coughing and crying

It is likely that these teen girls didn’t know the danger they were putting this child in by letting him smoke an e-cigarette.

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Melania Trump’s Former BFF Calls First Lady’s ‘What About Me?’ Reaction to U.S. Capitol Riots ‘Embarrassing’

Things That Matter

Melania Trump’s Former BFF Calls First Lady’s ‘What About Me?’ Reaction to U.S. Capitol Riots ‘Embarrassing’

Drew Angerer / Staff

Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former friend of Melania Trump and employee of the Trump inauguration celebration, authored a book last fall about her friendship with Melania. The book, which detailed the first lady’s reaction to Trump’s infamous “Access Hollywood” tape and her relationship with the president’s favorite child: Ivanka came hard on the heels of several other damning memoirs concerning the Trumps. Now, the former friend (and adviser to Melania) is at it again.

In response to Melania’s comments on last Wednesday’s U.S. Capitol riots, Winston Wolkoff accused the first lady of being an “enabler” of her husband, Donald Trump.

In a recent interview with CNN, Winston Wolkoff accused Melania of being too little and too late with her response.

Issued five days after the attack on the Capitol, the first lady’s statement was criticized for focusing on issues related to herself rather than the harm done at the Capitol.

“I find it shameful that surrounding these tragic events there has been salacious gossip, unwarranted personal attacks, and false misleading accusations on me – from people who are looking to be relevant and have an agenda,” Melania Trump wrote. “This time is solely about healing our country and its citizens. It should not be used for personal gain… I implore people to stop the violence, never make assumptions based on the color of a person’s skin, or use differing political ideologies as a basis for aggression and viciousness… We must listen to one another, focus on what unites us, and rise above what divides us.”

Addressing Melania’s reaction, Winston Wolkoff noted that “This isn’t the only complicit event that’s occurred throughout these four years. Melania Trump has a voice and she hasn’t used it. She has a platform, she hasn’t used it. As the First Lady of the United States of America … you have the ability to speak loudly, clearly, and for the rest of Americans. She is not just complicit, she is his enabler. And she’s his biggest cheerleader and unfortunately, she’s done nothing but that.”

When asked by CNN if she thought Melania’s statement was directed at her, Winston Wolkoff replied, “Unfortunately, Brianna, if that’s what’s on her mind, then that’s really an embarrassing thing to be thinking about at this moment in time.”

Last fall, Winston Wolkoff published a tell-all book that claimed to reveal what Melania really thinks about the president of the United States.

The new book reveals that that Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former close friend of Melania recorded the first lady speaking about the president and his children. “Wolkoff takes you into Trump Tower and the White House to tell the funny, thrilling, and heartbreaking story of her intimate friendship with one of the most famous women in the world,” says a preview of the book which is being published by Simon & Schuster’s Gallery Books 

The book titled “Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with The First Lady” hit shelves on September 1. It has tons of reveals.

Wolkoff says that she feels “stabbed in the back” by Melania.

“I witnessed the transformation of Melania from gold plate to 24-karat gold,” Wolkoff wrote befoe adding “Watching her now, and seeing that only the gold shell remains, I have to wonder if that’s all she ever was, and I was the sucker who bought the fake watch on the street corner.”

When it came to the Hollywood Access Tape, Melania was apparently glowing.

Wolkoff wrote about how Melania reacted in 2016 to the Access Hollywood tape in which her husband could be heard bragging about “grabbing” women by their vaginas.

“She was radiant, she was smiling,” Wolkoff wrote. “It was as if nothing happened… She knows who she married… She knew what she was getting into, and so did he.”

It’s yet to be revealed when and where the alleged recordings of Melania were done but there’s no doubt Trump likely already has a legal team on it.

After all, recording someone without their consent is illegal in many states. However, in New York and some others, only one person taking part in a conversation needs to legally consent to be recorded.

According to the book’s description, Wolkoff (also the former director of special events at Vogue and a producer of Met Galas) “met Melania Knauss in 2003 and had a front-row seat to the transformation of Donald Trump’s then-girlfriend from a rough-cut gem to a precious diamond. As their friendship deepened over lunches at Manhattan hot spots, black-tie parties, and giggle sessions in the penthouse at Trump Tower” the author “watched the newest Mrs. Trump raise her son, Barron, and manage her highly scrutinized marriage.”

Once friends, Wolkoff and Melania experienced a breaking point in their relationship over her handling of the $107 million inauguration. The spending on the inauguration prompted various questions and a federal investigation. In the book, Wolkoff claims that she became Melania’s scapegoat for the decisions of President Trump and his aides.

In response to Wolkoff’s book, a spokeswoman for Melania said “The book is not only full of mistruths and paranoia, it it is based on some imagined need for revenge… Sadly, this is a deeply insecure woman whose need to be relevant defies logic.”

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The Dominican Republic Finally Outlaws Child Marriage After Years of Campaigning by Girls’ Rights Activists

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The Dominican Republic Finally Outlaws Child Marriage After Years of Campaigning by Girls’ Rights Activists

Image via Getty

Outside of the U.S., some good news has occurred amidst a week that has otherwise been full of mayhem and chaos.

On Wednesday, the Dominican Republic’s Executive Branch approved a law that unilaterally bans child marriage in its country.

In the past, children younger than 18 were allowed to marry with a special exemption from a judge. These exemptions happened often. Now, no woman or man under the age of 18 are allowed to marry under any circumstances in the Dominican Republic.

This move is significant because the Dominican Republic has the highest rates of child marriage in Latin America and the Caribbean. Official government figures show that 36% of Dominican girls and adolescents marry or enter into “unions” before the age of 18. In 12% of these relationships, the female partner was less than 15 years old.

More informal “unions” where a girl simply moves into an older man’s household are also common in the DR. These are very common in higher poverty communities where many girls are considered a financial burden on their families. Unions like these will be harder to penalize because there is no formal documentation of their partnership.

There are multiple factors that play into the Dominican Republic’s high child marriage rate.

One of the main factors is the culture of machismo that informs the way that young men and women approach relationships.

According to research conducted by Plan International, 81% of Dominican girls said they preferred men that were five years older than them. This statistic is in stark contrest to 39% of Dominican men who prefer their partners 18 or younger because they found them more “obedient” and “adaptable”.

Not only that, but there is also a strong cultural expectation for girls and women to become mothers and wives. These cultural beliefs have simply stoked the practice of child marriage.

“Child marriage and early unions are seen as normal in society. It is driven by machismo that sees the role of a woman to be just a mother and wife,” said Rosa Elcarte, UNICEF’s representative in the Dominican Republic, to the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “Ending early unions will require years of work to change cultural norms.”

Feminists and human rights activists consider this law a win after many years campaigning to put an end to this practice.

But on a bittersweet note, many advocates realize that one law doesn’t dismantle the patriarchal structure of their culture that enabled this practice for so long. There is still a lot of work to be done.

“Our girls and adolescents will be protected … and cannot be forced into marriage in their childhood or adolescence, which in the past was often carried out by parents and legally allowed,” said Sonia Hernandez, an associate director of the International Justice Mission, in a statement to NBC News.

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