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Northern Ireland mum teaches sons at home over wi-fi concern

By Linda Stewart

A couple from Downpatrick have explained why they are home-schooling their three boys - due to fears about the dangers of wi-fi radiation.

Alisa Keene and her husband Mark Lavery claim that just over a year ago they were left with no choice but to remove James (9), Conn (7) and Dara (6) from their primary school because they were concerned about the health risks of wireless technology.

Alisa said she was concerned about how wireless technology could be impacting her children's development and behaviour at school and has noticed a marked difference since the boys began home-schooling.

However, the Public Health Agency has advised schools and parents that they are not aware of any evidence that proves such a link between health and wi-fi.

A spokesman said: "The PHA is not aware of any current evidence that proves a causal link between wi-fi and health issues and we would advise that schools have no reason to avoid or discontinue the use of wi-fi."

Alisa said she first learned about the alleged health risks of wi-fi radiation after installing a router 10 years ago.

A friend who had researched the issue used a meter to show her how much radiation was present at their home and they hard-wired the house as a result.

"We had never assumed that they would need wi-fi in a school and we were never asked when our children started school did we consent to them being exposed to wi-fi," said Alisa.

"My oldest son had ongoing issues like runny noses and allergies that just wouldn't go away, and behaviour issues at school which didn't happen at home. He had high levels of anxiety within the school environment.

"When the other two joined him in school they were all complaining of headaches that weren't happening at home. They were saying school didn't make them feel good. At first you think this is just children, but they were engaged children who love to learn."

After this, Alisa and Mark discovered that there were routers installed in the school and the primary one pupils were using iPads as part of their study. They researched how the school could reduce radiation and offered to pay to hard-wire the classrooms, but this was refused.

The couple asked for a risk assessment to be carried out, but this was also refused so they withdrew the boys until it could be proved that the school environment was safe.

The couple have now set up a schoolroom in a spare room at their house.

Alisa, who trained as a high school teacher in the USA, has been teaching the boys for the past year.

"When we withdrew them from school, within one week they were all feeling better. My oldest son's allergies completely went away, the headaches disappeared, they all felt better and that has continued," she said.

The mum-of-three said she is frustrated by the business ethics behind the wireless revolution and its use in schools, and is calling for school risk assessments for wi-fi technology under the precautionary principle.

She is campaigning for increased transparency, including pre-market testing, post-market monitoring and revised policies and regulations within Northern Ireland's schools.

The family's campaign is being supported by the National Education Union (NEU), which has been highlighting the steps that schools, education authorities and parents can take to safeguard and protect children.

Speaking ahead of today's NEU conference in the Stormont Hotel, which will be addressed by leading neuroscientist Dr Sarah Starkey on her findings, regional secretary Mark Langhammer said: "The NEU is supporting Dr Sarah Starkey and concerned teachers and parents by calling on schools and education authorities to implement the 'precautionary principle' around the effects of new technology in schools.

"Since children are obliged by law to attend school, a safe environment is important."

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