Monday, November 30, 2009

Sue Scheff: Holiday safety for you and your teens on Cyber Monday


Ross Ellis, founder of Love Our Children USA and STOMP Out Bullying is a dedicated and devoted crusader to help protect children in our country.

Recently she wrote a fantastic and timely article to help protect you and your teens during this holiday season. Cyber Monday is a very busy time online. Here are some great tips by Ross Ellis – and as a Parent Advocate, I believe everyone needs to take the time to learn more about keeping you and your family safe in cyberspace!

Cyber Monday is 6 days away, for those online shoppers who want a great deal on their holiday gifts.

61% of consumers are shopping online and that includes teens shopping online as well.
Here’s what you can do to ensure online safety:

• Talk to your teens about online safety and how to avoid these online Cyber Monday scams
• Be sure you know what sites your teens are shopping on
• Make sure the web site is legitimate before inputting your credit card info
• Make sure the site provides full contact info. It should list the company’s street address, phone number and e-mail address. You can find this in the “Contact Us” or “About Us” pages. Check out their return policy or privacy policy, for a mailing address.

Check out the privacy policy. Look for a link at the bottom of the home page that says “Privacy Policy” or for a link on the “About Us” or FAQ pages. Read the policy to find out whether the company shares customer info with third parties and whether you can opt out. Look for a trust e-seal, which means the privacy policy is solid.

• See what BBB.org says. Look for the BBB Online Reliability Program seal on a site’s home page. (Clicking on the seal should take you directly to BBB.org). Or go to www.bbb.org/us/Find-Business- Reviews and search by the company name or URL. Look for a rating of “satisfactory” or a grade of at least C-. Some smaller sites aren’t listed, and plenty of excellent sites aren’t yet accredited.

• If the site looks sketchy, contact www.ripoffreport.com and http://www.complaintsboard.com/.
If you have a bad experience you can file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org/us. You can also report your bad experience to the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, at http://www.onguardonline.gov/or if you are the victim of an internet crime contact Internet Crime Complaint Center, backed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, at http://www.ic3.gov/

According to Consumer Reports, cybercriminals have bilked $8 billion from consumers in the past two years. As shoppers open their wallets and their Internet browsers for Cyber Monday deals there’s an increase in scams. Especially the 12 scams of Christmas.
Don’t click links in e-mails, which can easily redirect you to false or misleading websites. If you create a new account to buy something use a unique password with letters and symbols, rather than using the same password for all of your log-ins.
Be sure your security software is updated!

Discuss Cyber Monday safety rules with your teen and have fun shopping safely!

Want to know more? Visit http://www.loveourchildrenusa.org/If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe to my page by going here and clicking the Subscribe Button at the top of the page.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sue Scheff: Priceless Family Gifts


Did you take part in Black Friday? Many people set their alarm clocks for those 4:00am sales. Everyone is looking for a bargain.

In a year that has been less than financially friendly to many families, these early morning sales can help them make a difference in giving their child that special gift they asked for.

During this time of year, it is also time to think about so many gifts that won't cost you money, however will be priceless in their value.

Here are some ideas:

Your time. It is that simple, your children crave your attention and would love to have more time with you. Can you make a promise to take more time out of your schedule and give it to your child? Learn about "Family Time Out" all year round.

Volunteer with your family. There is nothing more fulfilling than giving back to those with less. Contact your local Goodwill, Red Cross or Salvation Army. Find out where the homeless shelters or soup kitchens are in your area - take a day to donate your time to others as a family. Learn more about Volunteering in your community.

Clean out your closets! What does this mean? Do you have old toys, yet in good condition, or games that maybe you only used once or twice? Do you have clothes you no longer wear however are still like new? Donate! Everyone take the time to give up what they don't use and find a place to donate to needy families. Bikes are always a hot and needed item.

Does your grocery store offer buy one get one free? In Florida, Publix offers this almost everyday on many items. Give that item to a local food bank. Again, it is all about giving to those with less and doing this together will teach your children to be less materialistic and more about the true meaning of the holidays - to give.

Spirituality. Maybe you are not religious, maybe you were at one time or maybe you are. Whatever category you fall into, maybe it is time to find visit a new church or synagogue. Trying new experiences can be enlightening and you never know who you may meet or what you might learn.

Picture Time! Yes, of course you can take photo's but to have more fun, drag out those boxes from your childhood, home movies from years (decades) ago as well as your child's photo's from birth to today! Your kids, even teens love this - and there is nothing like laughing and memories to bring in a new year and celebrate the love of family.

Remember the holidays are about giving and as parents we need to set the example for our children.


Reminder: Holiday Safety Tips
Holiday Gift Ideas for Teens
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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sue Scheff: Giving Back to your Community


Pay it forward and feel good!

Did you miss part one? Click here.

Part 2:

6. Tell us how VolunteerSpot can help others.We do all the busy work behind coordinating volunteers and save more time for meaningful work. Our simple online tool eliminates the need for clipboard sign up sheets, reply-all email, Excel spreadsheets and phone tag. For example, it takes more than 200 parent volunteers to put on a school carnival http://www.volunteerspot.com/ebooks/Carnivals/ That’s a lot of coordination! we make it easy for each class’s parents to sign up to staff a booth or concessions stand saving carnival organizers a week of work! This video gives a quick tour of our sign up tool: http://www.volunteerspot.com/video/

7. The holiday season is around the corner, do you find it gets busier or do you feel that many people are simply too busy to volunteer?I believe that the holidays bring out the best in everyone. There is an influx of new volunteers at community kitchens and charities that gather toys, food and clothing for families in need. To promote local seasonal service, we’ve launched a Giving Tree Giveaway sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation. Plan a holiday service activity on VolunteerSpot and Arbor Day Foundation will plant a tree in a fire-damaged national forest in your honor. Learn more at www.VolunteerSpot.com/GivingTree

8. What are the benefits of volunteering? How can we create more awareness about the benefits of volunteering?Volunteering feels GREAT, and studies show helping others actually improves your mood and helps you live longer! Volunteering is also a wonderful way to strengthen your resume, build new professional skills and network within your community. For families, volunteering together builds meaningful communication opportunities and perspective. Kids who volunteer with their families are more likely to volunteer as adults, and that’s good for all our communities!

9. Are there age limits? Do you recommend teens get involved?People of all ages and backgrounds can volunteer – from preschoolers participating in food drives to grandparents rocking babies in the hospital. Service provides an ideal opportunity for teens to explore new interests and passions. If a teen is interested in green causes, consider volunteering at a recycling center, or an Earth Day festival. Curious about a career as a vet? Volunteer at the animal shelter or wildlife preserve. Love children? Join a mentoring program or coach at an after-school sports league in a low-income neighborhood. Teens also bring very useful technical skills to understaffed nonprofits – like helping them find outreach groups on MySpace, Facebook, Ning and Twitter. Shooting YouTube Videos and updating websites – all of these are super helpful skill that most volunteer groups need lots more of.

10. Please share with us anything more you would like people to know about VolunteerSpot?VolunteerSpot is really really easy to use and saves so much time! If you know someone faced with coordinating a group of people for your booster club, league, neighborhood association, congregation or nonprofit, please let them know about us! VolunteerSpot, DOING GOOD just got easier! http://www.volunteerspot.com/

Follow VolunteerSpot on Twitter @VolunteerSpot

Visit VolunteerSpot Blog for updates!
Reminder: Holiday Safety Tips
Article for Holiday Jobs and Volunteering for Teens.
Part 1 - click here.

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Midwest Academy - Learn more

Are you a parent with an at risk teen, considering a residential treatment center? Maybe a therapeutic boarding school? Do you have a good kid that is making some not so good choices? Are you at your wit's end? Please read my earlier post on a variety of programs including Midwest Academy. ALERT for parents - especially at your wit's end.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sue Scheff: LYING - Why do Teens Lie?


Part 10 of my sneak peek inside the BIG Book of Parenting Solutions, written by parenting expert, Dr. Michele Borba, brings us to a topic that I hear about frequently - LYING. Why do our kids lie to us? What is the motivation? Where did they learn this habit from? Is there really a difference between a white lie and not a white lie? Let's explore this subject. There is an entire chapter on lying starting on page 173.

Red Flags

Lies, exaggerates, or stretches the truth; can no longer be trusted; deceives out of habit
Pay Attention to This!

An occasional fib is nothing to worry about, but if your child develops a habit of lying, it could be a sign of some deeper problem or, in rarer situations, Conduct Disorder. Seek the help of a mental help professional for these reoccurring symptoms: stealing, lying, fighting, destroying property, truancy, deliberate infraction of rules, bullying and cruelty, or showing no sadness or remorse when confronted with the mistruth. See also Bullying, page 332, and Steals, page 218.

ONE SIMPLE SOLUTION (of many listed in this book)

Use Moral Questions to Stretch Your Child's Honesty Quotient

Asking the right questions when your child bends the truth can be import tool for stretching your child's honesty quotient. Here are a few questions to get you started:

"Did you tell the truth?"
"Was that the right thing to do?"
"Why do you think I'm concerned?"
"If everybody in the family [class] always lied, what would happen?"
"If you don't follow through on your word, what will happen to my trust in you?"
"How would you feel if I lied to you? How do you think I feel to be lied to?"
"Why is lying wrong?"

The change you are aiming for is for your child to finally grasp that lying breaks down trust. It will take time, so use those teachable moments to help your child understand the value of honesty.

Order The BIG BOOK of Parenting Solutions today! Whether it is for yourself or as a gift, you won't be disappointed.

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Cross Creek Academy

Are you a parent with an at risk teen, considering a residential treatment center? Maybe a therapeutic boarding school? Do you have a good kid that is making some not so good choices? Are you at your wit's end? Please read my earlier post on a variety of programs including CrossCreekAcademy. ALERT for parents - especially at your wit's end.

Red River Academy

Are you a parent with an at risk teen, considering a residential treatment center? Maybe a therapeutic boarding school? Do you have a good kid that is making some not so good choices? Are you at your wit's end? Please read my earlier post on a variety of programs including RedRiverAcademy. ALERT for parents - especially at your wit's end.

Horizon Academy Learn More

Are you a parent with an at risk teen, considering a residential treatment center? Maybe a therapeutic boarding school? Do you have a good kid that is making some not so good choices? Are you at your wit's end? Please read my earlier post on a variety of programs including Horizon Academy. ALERT for parents - especially at your wit's end.

Sue Scheff: Helping Your Teen With Homework


Parenting teens can be challenging, and helping the to understand the importance of completing their homework is critical in their high school years. Here are some great tips from OneToughJob.org.

Source: OneToughJob

In general, just when grades are becoming more important, school and homework may not be your teen’s top priority. Teens spend more and more time with friends and may become involved in extracurricular activities. Try to find a balance between respecting their desire to establish their independence and continuing to show an interest in and support their education, even though they may not always want or need it.

Ways to work with your teen

Prioritize and make a schedule. Teens have a lot of things going on in their lives and often a lot of stress, so sit down with your teen and talk about scheduling social events, after school activities, free time and homework. Though teens are capable of choosing when to do their homework, you can ensure they have enough time in their busy schedules to get it done!. This will help your teen learn how to manage his time, show him that homework and school need to be a priority, and keep you involved in your teen’s life.

Find a good place to set up shop. Unlike your elementary school child who liked to do her homework at the kitchen table so you were nearby, your teen may rather retreat to their privacy of her own room. Wherever your teen ends up, make sure it is comfortable for her, well lit and free of distractions such as television and the telephone. Be sure to check in with your teen so you know she is staying on task.

Provide support and encouragement. You may not need to be as involved in your teen’s homework as you were when he was in elementary school; however, you should be there to support your teen in the process. Make yourself available for questions and help by going over the instructions with your teen before he begins, let him share his ideas with your and offer feedback, or offer to review his work when she is finished.

Homework and the Internet. Your teen will most likely have homework assignments that require research of some kind on the Internet, or she may be able to use a website for homework help if she is struggling with something. The Internet can be a wonderful resource; however, there is plenty of inappropriate material on the Internet as well so please see our information on this website regarding Internet Safety.

Study groups. Study groups are often a good strategy for middle or high school students. Your teen may benefit from studying with one or two classmates; however, make sure the group is using the time to study. If you have questions about study groups or how to help your teen form a study group, speak with the school and they may have some recommendations.

Talk to the teacher. If your teen seems to be having trouble with a particular subject or type of assignment, make an appointment to speak with his teacher about it. If your teen is struggling with a particular subject, it may indicate a learning difference. His teacher and the school may be able to make arrangements for extra help in the form of a tutor—the earlier your child gets the help he needs, the better.

Keep the lines of communication open. You should be regularly talking with your teen about her homework and school. Anytime you have questions or concerns you should speak with your teen’s teachers and other school staff if necessary, such as guidance counselors, principals, etc. By doing this you will stay involved in your teen’s life and her education, model good communication, and continue to make a connection between home and school.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sue Scheff: 10 Commons Myths of Suicide


Holiday’s are known as joyful time of the year, however it is also a time we hear more about suicide. Holidays can also bring on sadness and depression to those that are suffering with a loss or simply unhappy in life. It is important we understand warnings signs.

Carolyn Friedman, is working on her Masters and recently wrote an excellent article on “10 Common Myths About Suicide.” She asked me to share it with my readers. Take the time to read and learn more. You never know when you may need this knowledge.

Suicide remains a serious epidemic that transcends socioeconomic, age, racial, religious, mental health, and gender/sexual identity boundaries. While studies do show that some groups stand at a higher risk of suicide than others – usually those already prone to social marginalization – the sad reality is that this mindset holds the potential to strike anyone, anywhere, at any point in life. Due to the mixed messages flailing about regarding the condition, it becomes progressively more difficult to objectively discuss the delineation between fact and fiction. So many misconceptions abound that the suicidal truly needing an intervention in order to survive may very well not receive the help they need to recover.

As with all issues regarding mental health, suicide especially has become the target of wrongful stigmatization. Because so many view it as a taboo or scary subject, the tragic desperation of suicide becomes pushed aside, wrongfully dismissed as histrionics or other self-serving actions. For those not working in the psychological field, explicit education in the complexities and psychological phenomena that lead individuals down the dangerous path towards suicide makes for the absolute best solution to preventing further tragedy. To learn about how it operates is to understand; to understand is to learn how to properly stop someone from succumbing to a cycle of absolute pain. Treatment is never an easy process, but it stands as the only reliable safeguard against suicide available. Individuals making the effort to personally empathize with this sad plight comprise the front lines of prevention – their compassionate efforts are what save lives and guide others to emulate their actions.




1. Suicide is just a ploy for attention. Ignoring the threats means they go away.
One of the most cruel myths regarding suicide involves perceptions that victims are using their emotions as leverage – a tool for manipulation. By acknowledging their comments, family and friends only stoke their desire for attention and validation. Not only is this misconception highly inaccurate, it also results in a higher risk of suicide attempts and fatalities. All suicide threats must go addressed, and all potential victims must not be treated as if self-serving and attention-starved. Ignoring comments and threats that so much as hint towards suicide makes for one of the most dangerous reactions on the part of family and friends. It sends a message of apathy, of not taking the victim’s pain seriously enough to discuss objectively. This only serves to further their sense of desperation; in some ways it actively encourages them to go through with plans to die. At the conclusion of this article, there is a listing of hotlines to call when the urge to commit suicide hits an individual or someone he or she very much loves. Rather than writing off self-destructive threats as merely the last resort of a melodramatic diva to gain an emotional upper hand, please call or encourage a loved one to call one of the numbers. The operators have been trained to handle their feelings in a professional, compassionate manner that will help guide them towards seeking the therapy they need for a fulfilling life.2. All suicidal people suffer from some kind of character weakness or psychosis.

At the core of every suicide, completed or thwarted, there lay a sense of overwhelming. While studies do in fact show a correlation between depression, addiction, and other common mental illnesses and suicide, not every victim suffers from one or a combination of these conditions. Psychotic patients only comprise a fraction of suicides, but not the majority. Truthfully, all persons of any age, mental state, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic bracket hold within them the capacity to kill themselves. It remains only a matter of how far they become pushed to their limits, how desperate the sense of mental, emotional, and/or physical pain eventually swells. Suicide is not a weakness. Victims frequently see it as their only escape route from overwhelming torment – a way to finally end their all-encompassing agony once and for all.

Society labels suicides as inherently psychotic or weak as a means of demonizing their behavior. In some warped way, these myths are perceived as a deterrent for those contemplating killing themselves – after all, who wants to go down perceived not as a hero, but as weak or crazy? Wrongfully classifying genuine suffering as a sign of frailty or psychosis acts as a projection of society onto the victim. The only true weakness here lay in peoples’ inability or unwillingness to address the true gravity of suicide and constant spread of outright lies about the condition. Strength only factors in when an individual is willing to admit that they, too, have a threshold whereby they may become so desperate as to consider suicide a viable option. By acknowledging this one tragic but universal kernel of humanity, they may go on to help preserve the lives of others who may find themselves struggling with the urge to escape pain through death.

3. Those who survive suicide attempts won’t try it again.

Suicide is not a plea for attention. It expresses an extreme desire to slough off overwhelming stress and anxiety, and the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that for every death by suicide, another 12-25 survive their attempts. Many believe that living through a potentially fatal self-injury automatically inspires victims to seize life and never try to hurt themselves again. Reality says otherwise. Survivors run a very high risk of repeating their actions later on in life, and professionals agree that one of the highest indicators of a potential fatality is a record of prior attempts. Those who live through suicidal acts must seek psychological assistance immediately upon recovery. Cognitive therapy has been shown to reduce further suicide attempts by 50% within a year following the initial incident. Instead of perceiving survival as a wake-up call for the fleeting preciousness of life, family and friends of the victim need to think of it as an indicator of future risk and respond accordingly The only responsible reaction encourages therapy as the most viable solution to prevent further incidents.

4. Talking to someone who is suicidal about suicide just makes the urge even worse.

When a friend or family member begins opening up and admitting suicidal thoughts, ignoring their comments or changing the subject actually pushes them further towards going through with these actions. Talking about suicide with a loved one openly and objectively serves as a safeguard until the victim receives professional help. If confronted with a potentially suicidal situation, the best reaction is to call an emergency number (such as 911 in the United States or 999 in some countries in Europe and Asia or a suicide hotline so the individual connects with people trained to handle their situation. Never leave the victim unattended, and be sure to clear the room of any firearms or other potentially deadly devices. By acknowledging their status as suicidal, friends and family may actually stave off fatal behavior. Victims want help, they want someone to intervene and assist them in combating the swarming demons of overwhelming desperation they face daily. Talking to them may not always reduce the urge, but it never actively encourages them to follow through with suicide, either. A proper reaction that proactively guides victims into valuable therapy shows the compassion, love, and care that they need to try and make themselves healthier. Only ignoring or making little effort to understand the issue stimulates the urge to commit suicide.

5. Suicide occurs without warning; there are no ways to prevent it.

Individuals with the following traits run a higher risk of committing suicide: depression or anxiety disorders, substance abuse, prior attempts, victim of sexual or physical abuse, family or friend of a suicide victim, incarceration, gun ownership, and social marginalization. Obviously, potential suicides do not always carry one or more of these traits, nor do they inherently indicate suicidal behavior. However, educating oneself on what sort of factors to look out for and who suffers the biggest risk makes for the best method of prevention possible. Putting forth the effort to understand and look out for the warning signs may mean the difference between life and death.

If a friend of family member begins displaying some early signs of suicidal thoughts or behavior, their loved ones are partially responsible for intervening and preventing attempts. Social withdrawal, a preoccupation with death, the intensification of depressive behavior, apathy, engaging in risky behaviors, attempting to tie up loose ends, and – in extreme cases – writing up a will, saying goodbye to people, and outright discussing wanting to die all stand out as signifiers of a potential suicide. Also look out for a major shift from extreme depression to an overall sense of calm. This indicates that the victim may have found peace and comfort in a decision to kill him- or herself and needs to be dealt with before following through with it. While variables always inevitably creep in, the aforementioned red flags generally point towards disconcerting behavior that must be addressed before it becomes too late.

6. Suicidal people just want to die, and it’s impossible to talk them down.

The decision to commit suicide is not static. If an individual begins opening up about desiring death, it is possible for them to step down from their choice. While the understanding and support from family and friends remains the first line of defense, therapy remains the only viable long-term solution to prevent suicide. Even if a victim gives up on his or her decision to die due to the assistance of a loved one with all the right ideas and preparations, regular sessions with a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist reduces the risk of suicide by half after one year – something that love and compassion from friends and family alone cannot achieve. If an individual suffers from an immediate risk of suicide, then dialing an emergency number will provide access to professionals far better equipped to handle the direness of the situation. Never, under any circumstances, leave them unattended for any period of time until help arrives.

7. An improvement in emotional state means the risk of suicide is lowered.

Frequently, the opposite of this statement is the truism. One of the biggest warning signs that an individual may follow through with plans to commit suicide is a rapid shift between despair and overarching calm, even happiness. Even if the victim currently attends therapy sessions, rarely do moods alter so dramatically from negative to positive. Signs of peace after a severe and prolonged bout of hopelessness or depression may signal the decision to commit suicide as a permanent solution to overwhelming problems. Be sure to keep a sharp eye out for the other indicators mentioned earlier if the victim’s mood rapidly improves without provocation.

8. Unsuccessful suicide attempts means the victim never cared to die in the first place.

Individuals survive suicide attempts for any number of reasons. Happenstance or the timely intervention of a loved one usually accounts for a victim not fully succumbing to death. Depending on the method, victims may even end up critically injured or in a coma. A number of different factors make up the difference between a fatality and a survival, but just because an individual lives through a suicide attempt does not mean they were never serious about dying in the first place. Actually, the fact that they even tried to commit suicide in the first place ought to explicitly tip off friends and family that the victim honestly wants to end his or her life. In fact, suicide survivors run a higher risk of future attempts, so it is integral that they seek professional help immediately in order to prevent further incidents.

9. Telling the suicidal to cheer up will help.

Much like clinical depression – a mental illness which comprises almost 90% of suicide cases each year – victims do not turn around simply by being told to cheer up and remain positive. A considerable amount of overwhelming mental, emotional, and/or physical pain factors into suicidal thoughts and actions, and while support and compassion can certainly help bring a victim back down from the brink it is unfortunately not enough to solve all of the underlining issues. Only professional therapy through a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist can really dissect a patients’ problems and help nurture the mindsets and skills necessary for practicing healthy coping mechanisms in the long run. It is not a matter of merely cheering up. It is a matter of confronting the torment that leads them to perceive death as the only viable option to escape the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune.

10. Suicidal thoughts need to be kept secret so as not to embarrass or upset anyone.

Because suicide comes yoked with so many misunderstandings labeling the victims as weak, psychotic, or desperate for attention, it has sadly become a shameful, demonized subject too taboo to discuss objectively. Those feeling the tug of wanting to die are led to believe that they must simply choke back and fight the urge. They fear broaching such a hefty, weighty subject with loved ones because of how society unfairly paints their plight, believing that honesty may result in ostracizing of further marginalization. Truthfully, any time suicidal thoughts crop up they must be expressed to someone trustworthy – a family member, a friend, a hotline number, or a therapist. No matter what, there is always somebody out there willing to offer an ear and advice on finding a professional who will help quell the suffering in the long term. While friends and family will never react positively to news of suicidal thoughts, they would much rather address the issue as it arises instead of bury a loved one. Never be ashamed to the point of suppressing suicidal feelings. Openness and honesty between the victim and trusted peers means the difference between life and death.

Only by making an effort to truly understand the realities behind suicide can humanity honestly hope to prevent it. The previous ten myths only sadly skim the surface of an overarching social issue. Far too many frown more upon the persons feeling suicidal rather than the act itself, further pushing them towards a desperate act. Fortunately, concerned friends, family, and mental health professionals with the right intentions and ideas towards approaching the subject have a number of extremely valuable resources at their disposal.

If a loved one appears to be in immediate danger, dial 911, 999, or other emergency number and do not leave their side until professional help arrives. Remove any and all weaponry, toxins, and other hazards from the vicinity. Those considering suicide in the United States may call 1-800-SUICIDE for Hopeline and 1-800-273-TALK for Suicide Prevention Lifeline. SPL also offers a deaf hotline at 1-800-779-4TTY. Individual states and cities may also provide phone numbers to dial in the event of suicidal thoughts and behaviors as well. Befrienders Worldwide lists hotlines from a large number of nations for those needing help outside the US. Remember that while these phone numbers play an integral roll in pulling victims back from their suicidal inclinations, they are intended only as a stepping stone towards a long-term solution rather than the solution in and of itself. Only professional therapy addresses the core issues that lead to suicide, and anyone considering it as an option to escape the overwhelming pain must find a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist to get the help they need in order to live a healthy life away from their demons.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Magnolia Christian School LEARN MORE - Lisa Irvine

Are you a parent with an at risk teen, considering a residential treatment center? Maybe a therapeutic boarding school? Do you have a good kid that is making some not so good choices? Are you at your wit's end? Please read my earlier post on Magnolia Christian School.

Sue Scheff: Defiant Teens


Part 7 of my sneak peek into Dr. Michele Borba's world! Actually into her BIG BOOK of Parenting Solutions, we will explore a characteristic in teens and children I hear from parents a lot - DEFIANCE!
Labels, labels and more labels. Today we will talk about a common label "ODD" also known as Oppositional Defiant Disorder.

Red Flags

Constantly resists your simplest requests, questions authority, pushes every limit; is blatantly disrespectful, noncompliant.

Turn to pages 76-85 and be prepared to learn all you ever wanted to know about defiant behavior. This includes signs and symptoms, how to change and why to change, and most important early intervention as well as detailed steps to help you be an educated parent. Michele Borba offers great advice and resources to help you help your child.


Could Your Child Have Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)?

Although all children will display a defiant streak and try pushing the limits every now and then, when such behaviors persist for at least every day for six months and are intense, they may be signs of a condition called Oppositional Defiant Disorder. The American Psychiatric Association estimates that about 16 percent of American kids have this condition. These kids relentlessly push the boundaries set for them by authority figures, and consistently use bad language, talk back, and refuse to comply. If you have concerns about your child, seek the advice of a trained mental health evaluator. If your child repeatedly displays any of these behaviors and you feel your parenting is not effective, see help ASAP.

Is physically aggressive with people and animals
Destroys property
Has problems with the law or flagrantly violates rules
Runs away
Starts fires

Next sneak peek: Sibling Rivalry! (you don't want to miss this one!)

For those that don't have time to read, this is the perfect book for you since it is not the type of book you sit down to read. As parenting questions come up, you can go straight to the index and find the page number. Immediately you will see the pages divided by boxes, quick tips and advice and easy to read and understand resources. Did I mention she also gives you proven research and statistics?

Order The BIG BOOK of Parenting Solutions today! Whether it is for yourself or as a gift, you won't be disappointed.Click here for more articles on parenting. Don't forget to subscribe to my latest articles, and you won't miss the sneak peeks inside this valuable book as well as other great tips, resources and stories.


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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sue Scheff: VolunteerSpot - Tis the Season!


It is always better to give than it is to receive. We hear that a lot and for good reason. It is true!


This is such an important topic, there will be two parts to this article. VolunteerSpot is a fantastic organization designed to help you give back to your community. There are no more excuses! During this holiday season, take the time to learn more about your neighborhood and what their needs are.

The founder of VolunteerSpot, Karen Bantuveris, recently took time to answer questions about her mission and hopefully will give you inspiration to take steps to help others this holiday season and all year round!

Part 1:

1. Why and when did you start VolunteerSpot?
I'm a working mom and when my daughter entered school I knew I wanted to be active in the classroom and with her Scout troop, etc. I wanted to quickly and easily schedule my volunteer commitments with the rest of my business calendar, but my inbox kept filling up with back and forth emails over how many cupcakes to bring to the class party or whose turn it is to help at recess or other really clutter some communication - I knew several parents that just said ‘take me off the list' because of this. It's not that parents didn't want to help, it's that there wasn't a good way to ask them - so that's when I got the idea for VolunteerSpot. We launched our ‘Early Edition' in the Spring of 2009. What started as a tool to help my PTA in Austin, TX has grown to helping more than 100,000 volunteers participate in their communities across the country.
2. VolunteerSpot offers many resources. What do you feel people benefit most from your organization?
We save volunteer leaders time and frustration and get more people volunteering. Typically we hear that it's always the same people volunteering at school, little league, library, etc. With VolunteerSpot, we make it easy for more parents to volunteer - because it's so easy to find a spot on the schedule that fits in their busy lives. Open an email, click to the schedule, click a shift and you've found a volunteer job. Plus parents also love our automated reminders so they never forget what they signed up to help with.
3. How many different states have participated in VolunteerSpot and how can people join?
We're currently serving volunteers in more than 40 states (and several countries)!
Anyone can launch a VolunteerSpot sign up - it's really easy to get started with our simple planning wizard. It's been truly remarkable seeing all the wonderful ways folks find to use VolunteerSpot. In addition to helping parents and teachers coordinate volunteers at school and sports, we see congregations and nonprofits using us for their good work like after school mentoring programs, literacy outreach, community arts festivals, handicapped riding programs, building teams and community kitchens.
4. Do you charge any fees? Do you have sponsors?
VolunteerSpot is free for teachers and grassroots volunteer leaders. We ask that workplace volunteer teams, leagues and nonprofits with budget contribute to keep us free for groups that can't afford us. Sponsors are important to our business and we'll be adding new features soon to help them support the good work of our volunteers.
5. What motivates you and what inspired you to start this wonderful organization?
Professionally, I'm a business process expert. When I saw good people drop out of volunteering, and leaders burn out over frustrating communication obstacles, I just knew that there had to be a better way! By simplifying the volunteer experience, our tool has increased volunteer participation by more than 20%, reduced leader burnout and increased donations to the organization that use us!

Part 2 continues with how VolunteerSpot can help you! Click here.
Follow VolunteerSpot on Twitter @VolunteerSpot and get updates on their Blog.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sue Scheff: Ungrateful Teens and Children


As part of my continuing series of Dr. Michele Borba’s insights and sneak peeks inside her Big Book of Parenting Solutions, we will review signs and symptoms of an ungrateful child.


•Bad manners: needs constant reminders to say thank you or show his appreciation

•Envy: wants what others have, envies others’ possessions

•Lack of appreciation: takes for granted your daily kind and thoughtful gestures

•Huge sense of entitlement: feels he deserves to have luxuries or privileges•Dissatisfaction: always seems to want “more,” better,” or “new”

•Materialism: values only material things, brand names, or the “latest”

•Self-centeredness: is unwilling to reciprocate with gifts or kind acts to others

•Ungraciousness: acts disappointed with presents, blurts out “I didn’t want this”

•Thoughtlessness: doesn’t consider other person’s feelings or the thought or effort that went into her gesture


THE SOLUTION:

Step 1. Early Prevention

•Model gratitude. Kids learn by seeing others display appreciation in everyday, unplanned moments. How often do your kids see you convey your appreciation with hugs, words, or small notes to others? (Much more on page 226 in Big Book of Parenting Solutions).
•Set limits. Having too much “stuff” squelches appreciation. (Read more on page 226 in Big Book of Parenting Solutions).

Michele Borba offers three more beneficial steps with much detail in her Big Book of Parenting Solutions. These are some sneak peeks and hopefully you will see the value in owning a book of this magnitude in your parenting library.

Next sneak peek: The Seven Deadly Parenting Styles - don’t miss this!

For those that don’t have time to read, this is the perfect book for you since it is not the type of book you just sit down to read. As parenting questions come up, you can go straight to the index and find the page number. Immediately you will see the pages divided by boxes, quick tips and advice and easy to read and understand resources. Did I mention she also gives you proven research and statistics?

Previous sneak peek, Gratitude Recipes: Big Book of Parenting Solutions.
Click here for more articles on parenting.
Don’t forget to subscribe to my latest articles, and you won’t miss the sneak peeks inside this valuable book as well as other great tips, resources and stories.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Sue Scheff: Obsessive Complusive Disorder


Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a topic we are hearing more about. As a parent, we need to be aware of the signs to determine if your child may have tendencies and if so, to address them early. Recently, Connect with Kids posted an informational article with great parenting tips and resources about OCD.

Source: Connect with Kids

Research is beginning to indicate that Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a function of abnormal brain activity, not a result of a bad home life or learned childhood attitudes or behaviors. It has also shown that for every 100 people, two or three suffer from this disorder. Consider the following statistics developed by experts at the Child Development Institute:

About 2.3 percent of the U.S. population ages 18 to 54 – approximately 3.3 million Americans – have OCD in a given year.
OCD affects men and women equally.
OCD typically begins during adolescence or early childhood; at least one-third of the cases of adult OCD began in childhood.
OCD costs the U.S. $8.4 billion in 1990 in social and economic losses, nearly 6 percent of the total mental health bill of $148 billion.

Tips for Parents

OCD can be a big enough struggle by itself for parents and children, but there are a number of additional psychiatric conditions that may accompany the disorder, thus adding to the burden. Experts at the Obsessive-Compulsive Foundation encourage parents to be aware of the possibility of the following conditions that may affect children suffering from OCD:

Additional anxiety disorders (such as panic disorder or social phobia)
Depression or dysthymia
Disruptive behavior disorders (such as oppositional defiant disorder or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder)
Learning disorders
Tic disorders or Tourette's syndrome
Trichotillomania (hair pulling)
Body dysmorphic disorder (imagined ugliness)

Sometimes comorbid disorders can be treated with the same medication prescribed to treat the OCD. Depression, additional anxiety disorders, and trichotillomania may improve when a child takes anti-OCD medication.

It is important to be aware of the symptoms of OCD, and if they are present in your child, to provide him/her with an atmosphere of support and comfort. Dr. John M. Grohol, of Psych Central, has developed the following list of OCD warning signs:

Obsessions:

Contamination – excessive concern over germs, disease, illness, contagion, etc.
Harm to self or others – irrational fears such as causing a car crash, stabbing himself or herself or another person with a knife or other sharp object, etc.
Symmetry – need to have possessions/surroundings arranged symmetrically and/or to move in symmetrical ways.
Doubting – becoming convinced that he or she hasn't done something he or she is supposed to do.
Numbers – fixation on a particular number or series of numbers; performing tasks a certain number of times regardless of sense or convenience.
Religiosity – preoccupation with religious concerns such as the afterlife, death or morality.
Hoarding – stockpiling of useless or meaningless objects such as old newspapers or food.
Sexual themes – obsessive thinking about sex; disturbing writing or doodling of a sexual nature.

Compulsions:

Washing and cleaning – washing hands until they are red and chapped; brushing teeth until gums bleed.
Checking – returning to check that the door is locked more than once.
Symmetry – need to have socks at same height on each leg; cuffs of exactly equal width.
Counting – counting of steps while walking; insistence on performing a task a specific number of times.
Repeating/redoing – performing a mindless task repeatedly until it "feels right;" redoing a task that has already been acceptably completed, such as erasing letters on a page until the paper wears through.
Hoarding – hiding food under the bed; refusing to throw away soda cans or gum wrappers, for instance.
Praying – excessive, time-consuming repetition of protective prayers or chants.

If you believe your child is suffering from OCD, remember to avoid making him/her feel as if he/she is to blame. OCD is nobody's fault. A medical specialist will be able to evaluate your child to determine if he/she has OCD and to decide what treatments are needed. OCD treatments generally include medications and/or behavioral therapy.

References: Connect with Kids, Child Development Institute, Obsessive Compulsive Foundation, Psych Central, OCD Online

Also on Examiner.com

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sue Scheff: Movie Etiquette - Teen Behavior in the Theater


Do you know what your teen does at the movies? Movie Etiquette - talk to your teens.

As a frequent movie goer, I must say if parents could see how their teens are acting in public, they would be more than humiliated. I am not saying my teens were perfect, I am almost afraid to ask them at this point (they are young adults now). I will take it a step further and say I don’t remember my generation having this much lack of respect for others, especially those in authority.

Then I was thinking, I am sure their parents don’t know and maybe if they did, they would speak with their kids about this behavior. With this, I am going to share with you some less than appropriate behaviour I have witnessed, and hoping that parents reading this will sit down and talk with their teens about what happens when they go to the theatre.

At $10.00 and up now for an average movie ticket price, I am confident that most of us would like to enjoy the movie – and the parents paying for their teens to attend, I am even more confident they wouldn’t appreciate or approve their teens acting like this:

Teens travel in groups, which is not a bad thing until: They bounce from seat to seat, constantly are laughing and talking (while the movie is in session), and let’s not forget the constant texting. The glowing phones can be annoying. When the cell phone rings, they actually answer it and continue a conversation! As a side note, laughing during a comedy is normal – laughing and chatting with your friends out loud when the movie is running and others are trying to listen, is downright rude.

Note to parents: Talk to your teens about this.

I am in South Florida; we are air-conditioned very well down here. Do parents know how their teens leave the house? I will share my experiences with my teen daughter. She walked out respectfully, however I soon discovered she had her alternative (less than appropriate) clothes to change into in her back pack. Parents, check that back pack!

Girls will come in with the skimpiest tops and short shorts! Their only way to keep warm is the hair on their shoulders that is constantly being fussed with – during the movie!

Note to parents: Talk to your teens about this.

Should we get into the teens that only come to the movies to “make-out.” You may think I am being a prude, and didn’t we all do this once? Many did, but usually they were at drive-ins (which are rare here or maybe even extinct in many places) when we didn’t have dozens of eyes on us. Parents, please talk to your teens about this. If they need to display this sign of affection, maybe you can allow them in your family room, since honestly – most of the public does not enjoy watching it. I would think the ones that do, you should be even more worried about.

Note to parents: Talk to your teens about this.

I am sure there may be some parents that think I am being ridiculous, however I believe there are more of us that would appreciate old fashioned common courtesy in the theatre. Today’s generation of kids seem to have lost that respect for authority, however it doesn’t mean that our teens have to follow that trend. Be a parent, be an example, show them you care.

Note to parents: Talk to your teens – period.

Note to movie goers: You don’t have to tolerate this behavior, find the manager, they will swiftly intervene and many cases these kids are removed from the theater if they don’t stop. From experience, many will stop, however you also have missed part of your movie.

Note to readers: I am not saying all teens are like this, but to be on the safe side, talk to your teen.
Also on Examiner.com

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sue Scheff: The High Price of Bullying - Florida teens tried as adults


After one of the most horrific acts of violence by teens in South Florida, which left 15-year old Michael Brewer with burns over two thirds of his body, 3 of the 5 teenagers accused of this despicable crime will be tried as adults.


This is a strong and solid message by Broward Circuit Judge Lee Seidman. What type of child or teen does this unconscionable act to another person? It is very disturbing to believe this type of violence exists and that bullying can reach a level of nearly killing another person.
Should minors be charged as adults? In some instances, such as this one, many believe that to be true. This crime was so heinous that adults have a hard time comprehending how anyone could do this to another person.

As a parent we need to take the time to talk with our children about this incident. Open up your lines of communication, talk about bullying, discuss consequences and answer their questions and concerns honestly.

Neighbors 4 Neighbors has created the Michael Brewer Fund to help the Brewer family with the high hospital costs. Additional fund raising is taking place throughout South Florida. Visit and join their Facebook Michael Brewer Foundation.

For more information on this story: Miami Herald, CBS4, ABC News
Learn more about bullying at Love Our Children USA, STOMP OUT Bullying, National Youth Violence Prevention Center.

Be an educated parent, have a safer teen.

Click here for more about this author. Also read on the Examiner.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sue Scheff: Parenting in the Digital Age


I created my organization, Parents Universal Resource Experts in 2001. Many parents contact us for assistance when they are at their wit’s end with their teenager. Parenting has so many more challenges since 2001, with the ever expanding technology that seems almost impossbile to keep up with.


Now bullying has escalated to cyberbullying. Texting has created sexting. For parents, teachers and most adults, we are struggling to keep up. Today I speak a lot about protecting your teens online – what they post today, can haunt them tomorrow. More and more colleges are using Search Engines to research their candidates, do you know what Google is saying about your potential college applicant?

ReputationDefender is the original online reputation management services, and since 2006 they have been helping people learn about their virtual presence. I personally have retained them, and find them to be priceless. Their service to protect your children is also priceless – take a moment to read their recent Blog post. They are always 10 steps ahead of us! As a parent, we need to be there too!


Parenting in the Digital Age

By Rob Frappier

It’s 2009. That means that there are children using the internet everyday who were born after the Y2K scare. Am I the only one that finds that fact somewhat mind boggling?
In the last decade, the internet has grown exponentially. With the creation of social networking websites like MySpace and Facebook, the internet has become more than a place to seek out information, but to connect with friends. For kids, the development of social networking expanded the school day from 7 hours to 24 hours, replacing the phone as the place where students shared gossip after the last bell rang.

Along with the increased internet usage, came a new problem, cyberbullying. Kids and teens, many no doubt struggling with their own emotional development and maturation issues, used the internet as a tool to reach out and anonymously torment their peers. In the most simplistic cases, cyberbullying leads to depression and anxiety. In severe cases, where abuse is especially virulent and prolonged, it has led teens to commit suicide. Apart from cyberbullying, there’s the danger of your child meeting a cyberpredator online, or, posting inappropriate and reputation damaging information about themselves or your family.

The list goes on and on.

When you have a child, you’re expected to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders for them. In the digital age, that means carrying the weight of the World Wide Web as well. As scary as it can be to think about the dangers lurking online (in addition to the countless everyday worries), it doesn’t do any good to ignore these issues. If your kids have more experience using the internet than you do, that doesn’t automatically mean that they understand the proper way to use it. As in any other aspect of life, your kids need you to help guide them, and with the internet that means setting expectations and abiding by them.

There are a number of ways you can help protect your kids from getting into trouble online. Here at ReputationDefender, we offer MyChild. With MyChild, you can see where and in what context your child’s name appears on the web. Through personalized monthly reports, parents can keep an eye on how their kids are using the web and help head off any potential problems before they spin out of control. Later in the week, I will be offering some practical advice for parents on securing their children’s safety online and protecting their family’s reputation.
Being a parent isn’t easy under the best circumstances. That’s why, from our earliest days as a company, we have been committed to making the internet a safer and better place for kids. We show this in our products, and in our work with other leaders in the field, such as the Internet Keep Safe Coalition.

Check back to the ReputationDefender Blog later in the week for more help and advice on raising your children in the digital age.

Follow ReputationDefender on Twitter @RepDef

(I believe in ReputationDefender. I do not receive any referral fees and have never been paid by them. I am simply a satisfied client and Parent Advocate that wants to share information to help other parents.)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sue Scheff: Cyberstalking and Internet Defamation Documentary - Don't Miss It!


For everyone and anyone that is reading this, you use the Internet. I recently watch the most compelling and disturbing documentary. I almost feel like Oprah when I say – you have to watch this! I have never been so moved to anger, rage, and other emotions that we are now confronted with because of monsters that lurk online.

My recent book, Google Bomb, is the tip of the iceberg after watching this film. The victims, and now crusaders, in this film contacted me after hearing about my book and my own experiences.

Many people that have read my book say they have nightmares if they read it before going to bed. I never really understood that. Until I watched this documentary and lived it through other’s lives. My story is horrible, what I endured, however since I was so enmeshed in surviving on a daily basis, I didn’t realize how traumatic it was.

I know many of you have limited time. Watch this 50 minute film in segments if you have to, but watch it.

The title is “Stalkers” however I would prefer to use a phrase that was recently introduced to me – “criminals with a keyboard.”

This film shares two stories with you. One with Graham Brown-Martin (pictured above) and his lovely wife, Wren as well as their toddler daughter and the other with a man, Chay, who in one weak moment had a one night stand that takes obsession to a new level. If there was ever a “Fatal Attraction” through the Internet, we have found it. However, unlike the Hollywood movie, Chay literally only had a one night stand, no strings attached. He never heard again from her until months later, and it would be the worse next years of his life.

Are you ready to watch?

http://www.digitalsafety.com/cyberstalking

Don’t miss a minute of it! Visit Digital Safety for more information.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sue Scheff: Kids Who Hide Their Illiteracy



Kids Who Hide Their Illiteracy

“You always found a way to get out of it, and you got further and further behind 'cause you weren't understanding what you were reading.”

– Chad, 18 years old

One in 7 American ... 32 million ... can't read according to a new study released by the U.S. Department of Education. And some among those millions are hiding their illiteracy from their family, friends and their teachers.

They can't read, but they're brilliant at keeping it a secret.

Chad, 18, was one of them. He remembers the embarrassment he felt in the 5th grade. "When I had to stand up in front of class or read out loud, for like, English, I couldn't do it," he says.

Chad was reading at a 2nd grade level. Yet, year after year, he was promoted to the next grade. How did he do it?

"[I] kind of, like, disappeared," he explains. "Went into the corner, I always kept my head down when we had to read."

Experts say kids are brilliant at hiding their illiteracy. Some poor readers will memorize stories that have been read to them. Others will be disruptive in class - or even simply ask to leave.

"Things like asking to get water, or asking to go to the bathroom, just things like that, because it's difficult for them," explains reading specialist LaSauna Johnson.

She says tactics like these are common in kids who can't read very well. "It's almost a strength that way, that they've gotten that far," she says. "It's a strength because they've been able to adapt and they've been able to use their strengths to apparently mask their deficiencies. But it's by all means an injustice, because it hasn't been caught by somebody in the educational system."
Experts say the single most effective way to find out if you child is having trouble reading is to have them read out loud. "Read to them, have them read to you, alternate, you know," says Johnson. "As a parent, you read a paragraph, they read a paragraph, and all those are ways to figure out, 'hey, I don't think my child is reading this very well.'"

Chad says the pain and embarrassment of not being able to read is what finally made him get help.

"It put me in like a cocoon, until I started to realize that I had to get out of it. I had to break the little shield that I had made for myself and go out there."

Research has shown that reading aloud to your baby as he or she grows helps him/her get used to the rhythmic sound of your voice and associate it with a peaceful and secure time. In other words, your baby is learning to correlate words, language and reading with pleasure.

The average kindergarten student has seen more than 5,000 hours of television and has spent more time in front of the television than it takes to earn a bachelor's degree. Preschool children whose parents read to them are better prepared to start school and perform significantly better in school than those who have not been exposed to reading. Many studies also link a child's literacy development and school success to parental involvement and the child's home literacy environment.

Between the ages of four and nine, your child will have to master some 100 phonics rules, learn to recognize 3,000 words with just a glance, and develop a comfortable reading speed approaching 100 words a minute. He/she must also learn to combine the words on the page with punctuation marks, creating a voice or image in his/her mind that gives back meaning.

When parents and children read together, an important bond is formed, one that can lead to a love of learning and reading that will last a lifetime. When a family literacy program is incorporated in activities in the home, a child will show improved skills — with up to three times the normal developmental gains — in language, literacy, creativity, social relations and initiative. As parents become more comfortable in their role as their child's first teacher, it's important to foster skills to support education in the home.

Youngsters with functionally illiterate parents are twice as likely as their peers to become functionally illiterate adults. If you feel your reading skills are sub-par, there are still ways to initiate a family literacy program at home:

■Look at books with your child — the pictures in children's books help tell the story. As you and your child practice reading simple words and phrases, you're building your own reading skills as well as your child's.
■Recite nursery rhymes or make up your own. Children need to hear the rhyming sounds in words.
■Sing songs. Most songs are really poems set to music, and they can help build reading skills.
■Tell stories from your family, neighborhood or childhood.
■Ask questions that your child can't answer with just a "yes" or "no," such as "Why do you think that dog is barking" or "What do you see when you look out the window?" Talking with your child is one of the best ways to build language skills.
■Talk about colors and shapes.
■Draw and color pictures and "write" together.
■Remember to make these activities fun!
Tips for Parents

Experts say reading aloud with your child is one of the best ways you can help him/her grow into a successful reader. When you make reading a joyful, fun activity, kids will keep coming back for more.

As you discover adventures between the covers of a book, you discover things about each other as well. And with every turn of the page, your child expands his or her vocabulary, comprehension, reasoning and grammar skills. To maximize the benefit your child gains from reading:

■Create a "Reading Ritual" by reading together every day at the same time in a special place.
■Cuddle with your child while reading together so your child will associate reading with a sense of security. Children learn better when they feel safe.
■Use silly voices and sound effects to peak your child's interest.
■Follow along with your finger as you read to show how text moves from left to right. This will help your child connect to the text you are reading.
■Point out the pictures in the book and talk about what you see.
■Point out different kinds of words around you like shopping lists, store signs and labels.
■Ask open-ended questions about the stories you read together.
■Children like and need to hear favorite stories over and over. It helps them recognize and remember words and gives them confidence about reading.
■Let your child touch and hold the book. Ask him or her to help you turn the pages.
■Don't push your child to read beyond his ability. Choose age-appropriate books and congratulate any progress he or she makes with his or her reading skills.

References
■Facts on Illiteracy in America
■Literacy Statistics for the United States
■National Adult Literacy Database
■National Center for Family Literacy
■Reading Rockets
■Simple Things You Can Do To Help All Children Read Well
■University of Ottawa
■U.S. Department of Education

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sue Scheff: Bullying in Schools


Its seems that bullying is a growing and stinging problem. Years ago we remember being teased or made fun of, but today it seems bullying has become more vicious and malicious. We now know that sticks and stones can break your bones - but words CAN hurt you! The emotional damage can sting a lot longer than a physical injury.


Take the time to be an educated parent. Here is a timely article from Connect with Kids with some great tips and resources.




Bullying in Schools


“It's a big world out there... there's not just one group of kids, there's not just one girl who you need to be friends with. Your life doesn't end if you move away from the group you're having trouble with and make friends somewhere else.”

– Stacey DeWitt, President, Connect with Kids, Inc.

Online bullying has gotten a lot of attention lately, but a new study by the U.S. Justice Department and the C-D-C shows that the old fashioned kind of bullying hasn't gone away. According to the report, more than one in five of our children is physically bullied by other kids.

Alison was bullied in middle school. "I'd be walking down the, walking down the hallway and they'd be like, 'Alison, you can take your mask off, it's not Halloween anymore.' Or, 'Alison, you're so ugly, no guy would ever kiss you'," she remembers.

Two students taunted Michelle in high school. "Her and this boy were calling me a fat a-s-s, and the boy finally said 'man, fat people sure do stink', and so I said well why don't you take a bath?"

How do you help your child?

One answer is help them understand you can move on and find new friends. "It's a big world out there... there's not just one group of kids, there's not just one girl who you need to be friends with," explains Stacey DeWitt, President of Connect with Kids. "Your life doesn't end if you move away from the group you're having trouble with and make friends somewhere else."

But what if a child is trapped on a school bus?

That's where Russell was assaulted. "And umm, he might've punched me like fifteen or twenty times, and I got like, maybe punched him maybe once or twice, but not much," says Russell.

"And he walked off [the bus] with big tears running down his face and I mean, it's heartbreaking," says Elizabeth Kendall, Russell's Mother.

He told his mom that he was getting beaten on the ride home from school, "and at that point, she looked at her son and said 'you know what, there are just some things, some problems that adults need to hand'," says DeWitt.

If it's violent, if it threatens your child's well-being and self-confidence, DeWitt says parents may have to intervene. "That is my job as a parent, my job as a parent is to protect you physically and to protect you emotionally."

The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) says that bullying – the act of threatening to hurt or frighten someone – may be physical, verbal, emotional or sexual in nature:

■Physical bullying includes punching, poking, strangling, hair pulling, beating, biting and excessive tickling.
■Verbal bullying includes such acts as hurtful name-calling, teasing and gossiping.
■Emotional bullying includes rejecting, terrorizing, extorting, defaming, humiliating, blackmailing, rating/ranking of personal characteristics – such as race, disability, ethnicity or perceived sexual orientation – manipulating friendships, isolating, ostracizing and peer pressure.
■Sexual bullying includes many of the actions listed above as well as exhibitionism, voyeurism, sexual propositioning, sexual harassment and abuse involving actual physical contact and sexual assault.
All of these types of bullying can interfere with students' learning. The U.S. DOE cites these negative consequences that bullying victims often experience:

■Grades may suffer because attention is drawn away from learning.
■Fear may lead to absenteeism, truancy or dropping out.
■Victims may lose or fail to develop self-esteem, experience feelings of isolation and may become withdrawn and depressed.
■As students and later as adults, victims may be hesitant to take social, intellectual, emotional or vocational risks.
■If the problem persists, victims occasionally feel compelled to take drastic measures, such as vengeance in the form of fighting back, weapon-carrying or even suicide.
■Victims are more likely than non-victims to grow up being socially anxious and insecure, displaying more symptoms of depression than those who were not victimized as children.
In addition, bystanders and peers of victims can be negatively affected by acts of bullying:

■They may become afraid to associate with the victim for fear of lowering their own status or of retribution from the bully and becoming victims themselves.
■They may fear reporting bullying incidents because they do not want to be called a "snitch," a "tattler" or an "informer."
■Some experience feelings of guilt or helplessness for not standing up to the bully on behalf of their classmate.
■Many may be drawn into bullying behavior by group pressure.
■They may feel unsafe, unable to take action or a loss of control.
Even the bullies themselves can experience long-term outcomes from harassing others. The National Resource Center for Safe Schools (NRCSS) reports that bullies identified by age 8 are six times more likely than non-bullies to be convicted of a crime by the time they reach age 24 and five times more likely to end up with serious criminal records by age 30.

Tips for Parents

Who is likely to be a victim of bullying? The NCRSS says that passive loners are the most frequent victims, especially if they cry easily or lack social self-defense skills. Many victims are unable to deflect a conflict with humor and don't think quickly on their feet. They are usually anxious, insecure and cautious and suffer from low self-esteem. In addition, they rarely defend themselves or retaliate and tend to lack friends, making them easy to isolate.

If you suspect that your child is being bullied, you can help him or her in the following ways cited by the Committee for Children:

■Encourage your child to report bullying incidents to you. Validate your child's feelings by letting him or her know that it is normal to feel hurt, sad, scared, angry, etc. Help your child be specific in describing bullying incidents – who, what, where and when.
■Ask your child how he or she has tried to stop the bullying. Coach him or her in possible coping methods – avoidance of the bully and making new friends for support.
■Treat the school as your ally. Share your child's concerns and specific information around bullying incidents with appropriate school personnel. Work with school staff to protect your child from possible retaliation. Establish a plan with the school and your child for dealing with future bullying incidents. Volunteer time to help supervise on field trips, on the playground or in the lunchroom. And become an advocate for school-wide bullying prevention programs and policies.
■Encourage your child to continue to talk with you about all bullying incidents. Never ignore your child's report. Remember that you should not advise your child to physically fight back. Bullying lasts longer and becomes more severe when children fight back, and physical injuries often result. Also, you should not confront the bullying child or his or her parents.
Unlike victims, bullies appear to suffer little anxiety and possess strong self-esteem, according to the NCRSS. They often come from homes where physical punishment is used and where children are taught to strike back physically as a way of handling problems. Bullies thus believe that it is all right for stronger children to hit weaker children. They frequently lack parental warmth and involvement and seem to desire power and control.

If you suspect that your child is bullying others, the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) suggests you seek help for him or her as soon as possible. Without intervention, bullying can lead to serious academic, social, emotional and legal difficulties. Talk to your child's pediatrician, teacher, principal, school counselor or family physician. If the bullying continues, the AACAP advises you to arrange a comprehensive evaluation of your child by a child and adolescent psychiatrist or other mental health professional should be arranged.

The Coalition for Children says that you can also help your child by discussing with him or her these key points about bullying:

■Remind your child that bullying is not acceptable in your family or in society.
■Provide your child with alternatives to taking frustration or aggression out on others. You can even role-play different ways to behave in situations where your child would normally bully another.
■Specify concretely the consequences if the aggression or bullying continue.
While bullying, harassment and teasing are unfortunate aspects of childhood, you can help minimize these occurrences by raising non-violent children. The American Academy of Pediatrics cites the following tips for curbing hurtful behavior in your child:

■Give your child consistent love and attention. Every child needs a strong, loving, relationship with a parent or other adult to feel safe and secure and to develop a sense of trust. Without a steady bond to a caring adult, a child is at risk for becoming hostile, difficult and hard to manage.
■Make sure your child is supervised. A child depends on his or her parents and family members for encouragement, protection and support as he or she learns to think for himself or herself. Without proper supervision, your child will not receive the guidance he or she needs. Studies report that unsupervised children often have behavior problems.
■Show your child appropriate behaviors by the way you act. Children often learn by example. The behavior, values and attitudes of parents and siblings have a strong influence on them. Most children sometimes act aggressively and may hit another person. Be firm with your child about the possible dangers of violent behavior. Also remember to praise your child when he or she solves problems constructively without violence.
■Don't hit your child. Hitting or slapping your child as punishment shows him or her that it's OK to hit others to solve problems and can train him or her to punish others in the same way he or she were punished.
■Be consistent about rules and discipline. When you make a rule, stick to it. Your child needs structure with clear expectations for his or her behavior. Setting rules and then not enforcing them is confusing and sets up your child to "see what he or she can get away with."
■Make sure your child does not have access to guns. Guns and children can be a deadly combination. Teach your child about the dangers of firearms or other weapons if you own and use them. If you keep a gun in your home, unload it and lock it up separately from the bullets. Don't carry a gun or a weapon. If you do, this tells your child that using guns solves problems.
■Try to keep your child from seeing violence in the home or community. Violence in the home can be frightening and harmful to children. A child who has seen violence at home does not always become violent, but he or she may be more likely to try to resolve conflicts with violence.
■Try to keep your child from seeing too much violence in the media. Watching a lot of violence on television, in the movies and in video games can lead children to behave aggressively. As a parent, you can control the amount of violence your child sees in the media by limiting television viewing and previewing games, movies, etc., before allowing access to them by your child.
■Help your child stand up against violence. Support your child in standing up against violence. Teach him or her to respond with calm but firm words when others insult, threaten or hit another person. Help your child understand that it takes more courage and leadership to resist violence than to go along with it.

References
■American Academy of Pediatrics
■American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
■Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
■Coalition for Children
■Committee for Children
■Families and Work Institute
■National Resource Center for Safe Schools
■National School Safety Center
■U.S. Department of Education
■U.S. Department of Justice