Thursday, October 13, 2016

Bullying Prevention Month: 10 Ways To Be An Upstander

Bullying and cyberbullying is an issue that everyone is concerned about.  From verbal abuse to online harassment, words can be used as lethal weapons.
On the same measure, words can be used to build people up too!
Your words matter, keystrokes count — how will you use them?
One of the most important ways your child can be proactive in helping others that are victims of cruel behavior such as bullying, is to become an upstander.
10 ways to become an upstander by School Climate:
  1. Learn more about mean, cruel, and bullying behavior. Educate yourself and your community with the resources on For example: Why do kids bully? Where does bullying take place most often in your school? What are the effects of bullying? How can we prevent it? Understanding this information will help you if you are bullied, and will help you to stand up to bullies if a friend or classmate is being bullied.
  2. Help others who are being bullied. Be a friend, even if this person is not yet your friend. Go over to them. Let them know how you think they are feeling. Walk with them. Help them to talk to an adult about what just happened. (Just think for a moment about how great this would be if someone did this for you when you were being picked on or hurt!)
  3. Stop untrue or harmful messages from spreading online or in person. If someone sends a message or tells you a rumor that you know is untrue, stand up and let the person know it is wrong. Think about how you would feel if someone spread an untrue rumor about you. Don’t laugh, send the message on to friends, or add to the story. Make it clear that you do not think that kind of behavior is cool or funny.
  4. Get friends involved. Share this site (and other related sites) with friends. Let people know that you are an upstander and encourage them to be one too. Sign the Stand Up Pledge, and make it an everyday commitment for you and your friends.
  5. Make friends outside of your circle. Eat lunch with someone who is alone. Show support for a person who is upset at school, by asking them what is wrong or bringing them to an adult who can help.
  6. Be aware of the bullying and upstander policies at your school and keep it in mind when you witness bullying. What are the school’s bully prevention policies? Are there also policies that “catch” kids “being good”? How can you support school rules and codes of conduct support students and adults doing the right thing? If there isn’t a policy, get involved or ask teachers or front office staff to speak about how you can reduce bullying.
  7. Welcome new students. If someone is new at your school, make an effort to introduce them around and make them comfortable. Imagine how you would feel leaving your friends and coming to a new school.
  8. Refuse to be a “bystander” and be a role model to others instead! If you see friends or classmates laughing along with the bully, tell them that they are contributing to the problem. Let them know that kind of behavior is not okay in your school.
  9. Respect others’ differences and help others to respect differences. It’s cool for people to be different—that’s what makes all of us unique. Join a diversity club at school to help promote tolerance in your school.
  10. Develop an Upstander/ Prevention program or project with a teacher or principal’s support that will help reduce bullying and promote socially responsible behavior in school. Bring together a team of students, parents and teachers who are committed to preventing bullying, and create a community-wide project to raise awareness, share stories and develop helpful supports. Learn more about how to start an Upstander Alliance at and access free support to sustain your team.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Suicide Prevention Month: Warning Signs

A parent’s worst nightmare is surviving a child’s suicide.
It’s not natural to outlive your child, especially to suicide.
September is National Suicide Prevention Month however this topic is one that needs attention 365 days a year.
Kids In The House offers a library of videos by experts to help educate parents on teen suicide prevention.  Today’s generation of online peer pressure in combination with offline only complicates our teen’s stress and anxiety. The world of cyberspace has created a new level of concern for many parents – and they must continue to be in touch with their teen’s emotional lives both offline and online.  It’s why your offline chats are so important – frequently.
American Foundation for Suicide offers the following warning signs for parents of teens and youth:
  1. Take it seriously, even if your friend brushes it off
    1. Suicidal ideation (continual suicidal thoughts) is not typical and reflects a larger problem
  2. An angry friend is better than a dead friend
  3. Ask, listen, tell, if the threat is immediate stay with the person
  4. Bring friend to a trusted adult. If they don’t know what to do or don’t take it seriously find another adult
  5. Be a good listener but remember suicidal ideation reflects a bigger underlying problem such as depression, substance problems, abuse, problem-solving difficulties. You can listen but they need to speak to a professional.
  6. 30% of attempters tell someone before, many don’t tell anyone after.
    1. When some talks to you, that is the moment for intervention
    2. With each suicide attempt, risk of suicide increases
  7. Warning Signs
    1. Change in mood- sadness, anxiety, irritability
    2. change in behavior- isolation
    3. Change in sleep
    4. Change in appetite
    5. Increase in aggression or impulsiveness
    6. Agitation
    7. Feeling hopeless, worthless
    8. Saying things like “No one will miss me” or “You’ll be better off” (feeling like a burden)
    9. Feeling ashamed or humiliated or desperation, as after a break up or test
    10. Collecting means
    11. Talking about wanting to kill themselves
    12. Drop in grades
    13. Risk taking
    14. Giving away prized possessions
Be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier teens.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Teens and Dating

What teens need to know before they start dating.

One day, your little one is skipping down the sidewalk with her hair in pigtails and a firm grip on a teddy bear. The next, it seems like, she’s bouncing down the stairs on her way to greet her first date. Watching kids grow and mature, especially during the teenage years, can be a bittersweet experience. It can also be the harbinger of the most difficult period of your parenting career. Preparing your child for the world of adult interactions, romantic entanglements and independence isn’t always easy, especially when you’d much rather they stayed small forever. Just as you can’t keep a child from growing into an adult, neither can you stem the tide of romantic attraction and the desire to date. All you can do is hope that you’ve instilled the values that you set out to, and that you’ve adequately prepared your teenager for the complicated and sometimes painful world of dating.
The Friendship Code
There are certain rules that come along with both dating and mature friendships, and they largely go unspoken until one of them is broken. One of the most pervasive and important rules for your teen to know before he starts dating is that the “friendship code” shouldn’t be broken. This code entails everything from dating a friend’s ex to trying to date a friend’s current girlfriend, and everything in between. While you’re trying to instill an inherent respect for the opposite gender, be sure that you also discuss the ways that dating and friendship can become messy, and how certain decisions can have far-reaching implications when it comes to both friendships and romantic relationships.
The Warning Signs of an Abusive Relationship
No parent wants to think about their child being the victim of dating violence, but the sobering statistics show that this is one conversation that parents simply must have with their teens before dating becomes an issue. A study published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundations shows that as many as one in three seventh grade students have experienced “psychological dating violence,” and that up to one in six have been the victim of physical dating violence. A different study, headed up by the Liz Claiborne corporation, also shows that less than 25% of teenagers have discussed the subject with their parents. Both teen boys and teen girls need to know that dating violence or emotional abuse is never acceptable and should be aware of the warning signs of an abusive relationship. Once a pattern of accepting abuse is established, it can be a difficult and painful cycle to break. Make sure that your teen starts off on the right foot by ensuring that he’s educated and aware of the issues surrounding teen dating violence and abuse.
The Importance of Boundaries and Respect
Parenting comes with its fair share of awkward conversations and embarrassing situations, but it’s far better to weather that momentary discomfort to educate your teen about boundaries and the importance of respecting them than to send them off into the world of dating with no clear understanding of them. Teens need to know that “no” means no, and that pressuring their significant other into anything they’d rather not do is completely unacceptable behavior. They need to know that anyone who subjects them to such pressure is not a good friend or someone that truly cares about their feelings, and that there’s nothing wrong with breaking off a relationship if their boundaries aren’t being respected.
Popularity is Not a Sound Reason for Dating
At no other time in life is the prospect of popularity or gaining entrance into the “cool crowd” more valued or desperately sought than during the teenage years. Teens may date someone that they have little in common with or little regard for simply to maintain or achieve a position of power in their social circle. Conversely, teens often choose not to date people that they are compatible with and attracted to due to a perceived social stigma attached to dating outside of their circle. Before dating even becomes an issue in your child’s life, be sure that she knows just how irrelevant popularity will be to her in five years, and how much she could potentially miss out on if she’s dating someone solely because they’re popular and capable of affecting her social standing.
Your Expectations and Their Responsibilities
While you may think that your expectations and your teen’s dating responsibilities go without saying, it’s important to realize that your teen only knows what you tell him. Don’t assume that your teenager knows what you expect of him as he starts dating, or what his responsibilities are to both you and his significant other. Communicate the rules and what you expect clearly and concisely, so that there’s no confusion or pleas of ignorance later.


Sunday, July 24, 2016

ADHD Teens: 4 Tips to Help Them With Their Grades

Every parent wants their child to do well in school and succeed in life. It’s challenging to watch your teen’s grades slip, despite the time, attention and effort you put into helping them improve. This can be even more difficult for parents of children with ADHD. If your teen has ADHD and you’re looking for ways to help them improve their grades, we’ve gathered some tips below.
Unique tools
Kids with ADHD simply do not learn successfully under conventional methods. So it’s wise to try unconventional study methods.
Create a word puzzle to help your child with a specific subject which they are struggling in. Rather than simply reading a book and quizzing them on the information, this is a fun way to study that doesn’t feel like school work.
Have your teen review the information they studied for a few minutes just before they go to bed can also help them remember the information and process it while they sleep.
Break it up
According to, cramming for an exam simply doesn’t work. It can put added pressure and anxiety on your teen, which hinders them from understanding and remembering information. Experts suggest breaking up study time into increments for better success. For example, if your child has an exam in a week, ask them to study for 25 minutes each day leading up to it, rather than for hours the night before.
Don’t put the phone away
This one sounds counterproductive, but it actually isn’t. If your child is one of the millions of kids today with a smartphone, don’t ask him or her to put it down just yet. The apps and resources in smartphones can actually be helpful to your child.
For kids with ADHD, planning ahead is crucial. At the start of the school year or even a particular week, have your child note key due dates in the calendar of their phone. Also, have them set up reminders with the alert feature so they never miss something important. This article offers more insight — though geared toward college students, middle and high school students alike can benefit from the tips.
When studying, however, ask your child to put their phone in airplane mode or simply take the phone until they are finished to avoid distractions.
Physical activity
Physical activity is helpful in reducing stress, clearing the mind and getting blood flowing. But for kids with ADHD — and kids in general who may be dealing with the pressures that come with being a pre-teen or teenager — physical activity is even more important. Some experts even say that movement is medicine when it comes to ADHD, helping to increase attention and improve mood.
Even if your child is not interested in sports, make it a point to incorporate a brisk walk, bike ride or even a game of catch into family time. This can help with bonding and also bring forth the aforementioned benefits.
Above all, keep the lines of communication open with your child, assess what’s working on a regular basis and adjust your strategy as needed. It can be tough to help children with special needs help themselves. But with preparation and creativity, it will be easier for the two of you to achieve success together.
Contributor:  Joyce Wilson taught for decades. Now happily retired, she spends her days sharing her teaching knowledge with today’s teachers and hanging out with her grandchildren. She and a fellow retired teacher created to share creative ideas and practical resources for the classroom.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Summer Months Bring Higher Death Rate for Teen Drivers

If you had to choose for your teen to drive through an icy winter storm or an 80-degree “not-a-cloud-in-the-sky” day, which would you prefer? If you’re like most, you’ll probably put your trust in the warm summer day as opposed to the blistery winter one.
Now, ask yourself the same question after reading the following statistic:
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the summer months of June, July, and August consistently have higher teenage crash deaths than any other month.
It would take a rare parent to send their teenager off for a drive during a winter storm without a few words of warning (if you were to even let them behind the wheel at all!) But do you allow yourself the same pause for reflection before your son hops in the car after summer practice to go to the beach with friends? Or when your daughter pulls out of the driveway on a warm July night to catch a movie?
Here’s to making summer 2015 the safest one yet. Some tips to help ensure your teen always comes back to you in one piece:
1. Buckle Up. Did you know? Compared to other age groups, teens have thelowest rate of seat belt use and the majority of teens involved in fatal crashes are unbelted. Set an example by always buckling up yourself — whether they’re in the car or not!
2. Limit passengers. I know, I know. Carpooling is all the rage and I’m all for protecting the environment, but make sure your teen knows there is a LIMIT to how many friends he or she may have in the car at any one time. Distracted driving is a real and all too serious thing, and the more friends in the car the more likely a distraction.
3. Speaking of distracted driving . . .think of investing in a nifty little product I happened upon recently called the Drop Stop. Drop Stop has made it their mission not only to catch all your small belongings that INEVITABLY fall in the gap between your seats, but to eliminate distracted driving in doing so. Your teen drops their phone, their jewelry, their credit card etc., while they’re driving. It falls between the gap. They look down, and down, and down, and... crash. With Drop Stop, they won’t have to look down, ever. If anything ever falls, they’ll know right where to find it, and it’ll be there safe and sound once they park.
4. Help your teen maintain their vehicle! Do they tires have enough tread? When was the last time they had an oil change? Does every light work and at what percentage are the breaks? Keep your teen safe by seeing to it these maintenance issues are up-to-date all while teaching your teen very adult responsibilities.
Summer inevitably means more teen drivers on the roads, many who have had minimal experience behind the road. Their lack of experience can lead to dubious decision making which can lead to every parent’s worst nightmare: A car collision.
What are some of your best tips for teen drivers, and parents of teen drivers? Share with me in the comments below, and remember: Drive safe this summer!
Takeaway tips:
• Discuss safe driving with your teen before they get a license.
• Be a role model. Don’t text and drive, even with your years of experience.
• Educate your teen. Sign them up for drivers-ed or online classes.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Teen Help Programs for Young Adults

Just because your teen has turned 18 doesn’t necessarily mean they are an adult.
As a matter of fact, I have spoken with many parents and explained that if they are having issues at 14, 15 and 16 — when 18 rolls around, it can seem like an earthquake. The problem is, teens believe they are an adult, yet their actions are still screaming child!
There are excellent young adult programs that can inspire, encourage and educate your son or daughter.
These programs offer structured support, typically education in accordance to what their needs are (whether they need to get their high school diploma or start college courses), life skills, enrichment and wellness programs to help them lead a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Some offer the therapeutic component as well as ongoing medical care if your child needs this.
The biggest hurdle can be convincing your son or daughter to attend.
Most parents are surprised that it can be easier than they thought. Whether they are facing jail time (usually for a minor offense, but since they are now being charged as an adult, they may have up to 30-days in jail) and would prefer to enter a young adult program in lieu of incarceration. Most judges are very agreeable to this, as we well know, the jails are full.
If you are at your wit’s end, your son or daughter may be left with no other options. They are done sofa-surfing with their friends and family. You can offer them this program as an alternative to you assisting them in the next phrase of their life. You are only asking for 90 days. Most kids can digest 90 days. What happens in these 90 days can be transforming as they start feeling good about themselves again.
These young adult programs range in tuition. If you have PPO insurance, it sometimes will cover a portion of it according to your policy. Most programs will help you with this.
We have helped many families from around the country area since 2001 with their struggling young adults.
Please contact us  for more information on young adult programs. The age for these programs are 17-22 years old.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

New Poll: Teens and Cyberbullying

Most Teens Spend at Least 3 Hours a Day Socializing Online

AT&T and Tyler Clementi Foundation Survey 1,000 Area Teens and Parents: Find Pervasive Cyberbullying and Significant Awareness Gap Between Parents and Teens
As middle and high school students spend more time online than ever before, a survey of New York City-area teenagers and parents finds cyberbullying is a prevalent issue that touches a vast majority of area children. The poll of 1,000 parents and teens in New York City, Long Island, Westchester and northern New Jersey was conducted by AT&T and the Tyler Clementi Foundation.
  • 48% of teens have experienced cyberbullying.
  • 8 in 10 know someone who has been the victim of cyberbullying. Unlike in-person bullying at school or outside the home, cyberbullying is happening right under parents’ noses.
  • A majority of teens (53%) spend at least 3 hours a day online, with most of this socializing (86%) taking place at home.
“This first-hand account of what teens are experiencing online is a powerful wake up call to the pervasiveness of cyberbullying and its potential damaging effects,” said Marissa Shorenstein, New York State President of AT&T.  “The results show that awareness of cyberbullying is high, and more education is needed to help teens make better online choices. By better understanding the extent of the issue, AT&T and the Tyler Clementi Foundation hope to help teens and parents more safely navigate a connected world.”
To help that navigation, AT&T created Digital You last year. It’s a comprehensive program offering tools, tips, apps, guidance and community education events for people of all ages and levels of online experience. It provides education about using the Internet for a positive and safe outcome.
“These stats speak to the staggering problem of cyberbullying,” said Jane Clementi, founder and board member of the Tyler Clementi Foundation. “It’s outrageous and simply unacceptable to allow this to continue.  Aggressive behaviors in the electronic world can cause great pain and destruction to one’s spirit.  We must instill in our youth the knowledge that technology is only as good as the people who use it.  It can be a wonderful and useful tool or a weapon of great harm and destruction, as in the case of many young people today, including my son Tyler.”
In addition to using the poll to raise awareness, AT&T and the Tyler Clementi Foundation will work with the All American High School Film Festival to challenge student filmmakers with creating short films to address the impact of cyberbullying on teens’ lives.  Students from around the country will have the opportunity to shoot, edit and produce a final cut in New York City in time for Cyberbullying Awareness Month in October. The winning film(s) will be shared with middle and high schools throughout New York later this year.
This negative behavior persists even as a vast majority of parents (78%) say they have spoken with their children about online dangers and appropriate behaviors. In fact, the poll finds there is a significant gap between what parents think they know about their children’s experiences online and their actual experiences. 57% of parents say they believe their children would tell them if they’ve been bullied but, in fact, just 33% of teens say they have done so. 43% of teens say they would be “terrified” if their parents looked at their smart phones, while nearly half of parents (47%) admit they never scan their children’s devices.
The poll also found parents can do a better job of talking with their children about online dangers. 1 in 5 parents (21%) say they have spoken to their children about them only in passing and not as part of a sit down conversation.
1 in 3 teens say they prefer to socialize online rather than in-person, even though it may not always occur within a positive community. Of teens surveyed, 41% describe the comments their peers post online as mostly mean. Experiences can differ based on gender, race and where they live.
  • Teens are targeted for a variety of reasons on text and social media, most particularly for being socially awkward (52%), their clothing choices (43%) and their sexual orientation (31%).
  • Girls are more likely than boys to be subject to degrading or insulting comments, 58% to 51%.
  • Nearly 1 in 3 teens have peers who have been cyberbullied for their sexual orientation.
  • Of those teens who said they were cyberbullied for their sexual orientation, Hispanic teens were the most likely to be bullied (42%), followed by African American teens (35%) and white teens (26%).
  • African American teens are twice as likely to confront a bully (61%), compared to white teens (31%) and Hispanic teens (33%).
  • Hispanic parents are the least likely to talk to their children about appropriate online behavior (66%), compared to white parents (80%) and African American parents (89%).
  • Parents in the northern suburbs (87%) reported having more substantive conversations than City parents (74%).
To view the complete poll results, click here.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Sue Scheff Co-Host of The Internet Ruined My Life Aftershow

As I wrote in my previous Blog post, Syfy's latest new series, The Internet Ruined My Life representatives contacted me.

I enlisted the help of Cyberwise to create The Aftershow to help educate viewers after watching the cyber-disasters that ruined lives. Sometimes people weren't even online!

The series is an eye-opener for everyone!

Twitterverse had this to say:

Watch our final show with the Founder of STOMPOutBullying, Ross Ellis and from McAfee/Intel Security, Toni Birdsong.
 My latest Huffington Post, Digital Shaming, You're Only A Click Away.