The new British Prime Minister Theresa May announced six members of her cabinet today.

Amid a sweeping crackdown on dissent in Egypt, security forces have forcibly disappeared hundreds of people since the beginning of 2015, according to a new report from Amnesty International.

It's an "unprecedented spike," the group says, with an average of three or four people disappeared every day.

The Republican Party, as it prepares for its convention next week has checked off item No. 1 on its housekeeping list — drafting a party platform. The document reflects the conservative views of its authors, many of whom are party activists. So don't look for any concessions to changing views among the broader public on key social issues.

Many public figures who took to Twitter and Facebook following the murder of five police officers in Dallas have faced public blowback and, in some cases, found their employers less than forgiving about inflammatory and sometimes hateful online comments.

As Venezuela unravels — with shortages of food and medicine, as well as runaway inflation — President Nicolas Maduro is increasingly unpopular. But he's still holding onto power.

"The truth in Venezuela is there is real hunger. We are hungry," says a man who has invited me into his house in the northwestern city of Maracaibo, but doesn't want his name used for fear of reprisals by the government.

The wiry man paces angrily as he speaks. It wasn't always this way, he says, showing how loose his pants are now.

Ask a typical teenage girl about the latest slang and girl crushes and you might get answers like "spilling the tea" and Taylor Swift. But at the Girl Up Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., the answers were "intersectional feminism" — the idea that there's no one-size-fits-all definition of feminism — and U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Pages

College-Bound Kids And The Emotions of Primate Parents

Aug 15, 2013

Now that it's mid-August, thousands of families across the country are preparing for an emotional milestone: sending a child off to college for the first time.

So, this week's post is about the emotions parents of college-bound children feel, and what other primate parents may feel — or not — regarding separation from their children.

Complicated mammals that we are, moms, dads and other family members or caretakers react to this offspring dispersal (that's what we animal-behavior types call it) in a whole variety of ways. And college-going is only one example: it may be a child joining the military or moving to another state for a job.

Whatever the source of the separation, there is no "should feel" or "how to feel" about this kind of change in the family dynamic. But judging from my own experience two years ago, it's wrenching on the heart for some of us. It's a tightrope walk of emotions, balanced between feelings of loss and others of proud excitement as a young one ventures into new, more independent world.

I'm no helicopter parent, nor one who ever feared an "empty nest" syndrome; my own life is full. But two Augusts ago? I found it harder than I'd ever expected when our daughter left for college. And in that, I'm not alone.

Now, as Sarah prepares to leave next week for her junior year at James Madison University, I know the ropes, and the end-of-summer transition is easier. What I've learned is that the old, strong connections continue, just reformatted in fresh ways; my husband and I share our child's campus successes (and occasional setbacks); thrive on the new books, ideas, and passions she brings home on holidays and breaks; and enjoy travel getaways with her.

Because I am an anthropologist who studies the expression of emotion in non-human animals, I can't help but think about my experiences in an evolutionary context. We know that other animals, including close kin such as chimpanzees, gorillas and monkeys, may feel emotions ranging from joy to sorrow. Like other animals, too, they certainly may grieve when a family member or close friend dies.

What about when a young family member — hale and hearty — leaves home?

As a rule, in wild mammalian populations, one sex, sometimes both, transfers from the natal (birth) group at puberty to live and mate in a new group. The outcome of this pattern of dispersal is that groups are "open" to the transfer-in of new individuals and, thus, of new genes.

In chimpanzees, it's the daughters who leave. In many monkeys, like baboons and macaques, it's the sons. In gorillas, it is often both. There's even research to suggest, based on levels of strontium found in teeth, an indicator of local resources, that females in some early species of hominin primates — specifically Australopithecus africanus and Paranthropus robustus — left their families while males stayed home.

That primate kids leave home, then, is an evolutionarily favored pattern. Do the emigrating monkey and ape adolescents miss their families? Do they carry with them memories of home as they explore new territories and seek entrée into new groups? Do the moms (and sometimes other relatives) left behind visibly express sadness? It is such a clean break in non-human primates! No long-distance visiting back and forth, or communication, an evolutionary divergence noted 22 years ago in a Current Anthropology paper by a team of anthropologists led by Lars Rodseth.

Are field scientists looking for parental emotion, perhaps through a combination of observation and hormonal analysis, as Anne Engh and colleagues did regarding bereavement in wild baboons? Not to my knowledge — and if I'm missing something, I hope someone will let me know.

Some of the questions I've asked here, about what emigrating adolescents may miss or remember, for instance, probably aren't answerable. But, just as I know we can suss out grief in other animals by good scientific detective work, I believe we may discover something about primate emotions by contrasting apes' and monkeys' evident actions and affects before and after the kids emigrate.

Maybe there would be nothing to see. Perhaps this is just one of those areas where human emotions part ways completely with those of our closest kin. Every scientist must remain open to the possibility that the answer to her question — in this case whether our close kin feel it when their kids depart — is "No, no way!"

But wouldn't it be intriguing to find out?


Barbara's most recent book is How Animals Grieve. You can up with what she is thinking on Twitter: @bjkingape

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.