Archive for June, 2010

Norton online family protects families worldwide

This week Norton/Symantec announced that its award-winning online family safety service, Norton Online Family, will now be offered for free worldwide in 25 languages.

Previously available in English only, the new version of Norton Online Family is the first globally available free solution to give parents the comprehensive tools they need to not just block inappropriate websites, but truly connect with their children’s online lives and foster ongoing dialogue about safe Internet behaviors. According to the Norton Online Family Report, a global study that was released today, 62 percent of kids worldwide have had a negative online experience, underscoring the need for a service like Norton Online Family that helps create positive online experiences for their kids.

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Violence By Texting. Are your teens safe?

“Textual Harassment” is a newer aspect of dating violence and it’s growing out of control.

Constant texts asking “Where r u?” Who r u with? Why aren’t u answering me? …are just a ping away on cell phones. And those pings can amount to hundreds per day.

A17-year-old New York girl was trying to break up with her boyfriend. Yet the texts she received were not only menacing but in one text he threatened to kill her.

A 22-year-old Virginia woman received 20 to 30 unrelentless texts a day wanting her back. Not taking no for an answer he texted and called 758 times.

For those digital pros, “Textual Harassment” is a big part of domestic violence and it’s gotten out of hand.

The victim will feel compelled to respond to the messages. Textual Harassers are obsessive and can text more than 100 times a day.

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Gov Paterson pushes anti-bully hotline for schools one day after news reports a kid who was bullied

Bullying is a problem that affects millions of students of all races and classes. 1 out of 4 kids is bullied and 42% of kids have been bullied while online. Child and teen Bullying and Cyberbullying are at an all-time high. Some kids are so tormented that suicide has become an alternative for them. It has everyone worried. Not just the kids on its receiving end, but the parents, teachers and others who may not understand how extreme bullying can get.

New York does not have anti-bullying legislation – but maybe they will as a last hurrah for Governor David Paterson.

A day after the Daily News wrote about a teen being routinely harassed at his school, Governor Paterson announced he had submitted a bill to assist kids in trouble. Perhaps he wasn’t aware of all of the other kids in New York who have been harassed at school since he’s been in office … but we’re glad he’s finally taking notice.

The legislation which is way overdue, would require every school to post the state’s school violence hotline so that students could have quick access to services.

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Mayor Bloomberg encourages NY fathers to be more active in their kids’ lives

Kudos to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as he told news sources about his plans to hire a fatherhood-services coordinator as part of an initiative to encourage dads to be more active in their children’s lives.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, City agencies plan to offer parenting classes at homeless shelters and at public hospitals as well as publishing a guide to city services available to fathers.

This comes as great news to all of the child advocates in New York City.

Mayor Bloomberg told news sources that “Strong families make a strong New York. But too many children in this city are growing up without their fathers.” The administration reports that 32 percent of all children under 17 in New York City grow up in a fatherless household.

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A View From a Bully’s Parent

We asked mom Maggie Vink to give us her view as a bully’s parent in hopes that it will spur other parents to get help for their kids who are bullies.

       The inner Mama Bear. I think all parents have that desire to stand up 
and protect their kids when they’re being hurt or wronged in any way. But while it is a parent’s job to advocate for and protect our children, if we’re not honest about our kid’s behavior we’re missing a great opportunity for education. 

       I adopted my son just before he started fourth grade. Soon after starting school, he came home with stories about this kid or that kid being mean to him. My inner Mama Bear was riled but — being a newbie parent — I wasn’t sure exactly what to do about it. Should I call the school? Call the other parents? While I hesitated on the best way to support my son, I did talk to him about how to handle the situation — I suggested ignoring it, playing with different kids, or telling an adult. What I didn’t do, was pause and question whether the story my son was telling me was the whole truth.

      One day I had the opportunity to go to my son’s school and watch the kids playing on the playground. Just sitting back and watching your child interact with a group is something all parents should do from time to time. What I saw surprised me… and not in a good way. My son was continuously being unfair or downright mean to other kids. He was literally pushing and shoving kids in order to be first in line. When playing basketball, he’d hog the ball and never pass it to teammates even when there was no way for him to get a shot. He would boot others out of the pitching position in kickball and then wouldn’t give up the position long after it should have been someone else’s turn. While he never called any other kids names or said mean things, he was clearly ignoring the needs and wants of other kids in order to get his own way. What’s more, he was joyfully playing and seemed completely oblivious to the fact that he was hurting the others’ feelings.

      While I believed his behavior to be unintentional and I knew he didn’t have any desire to hurt others, my son was being selfish. He was being unkind. He was being a bully.

      My son spent his first ten years in complete inconsistency, bouncing from home to home in the foster care system. While he was blessed to have several good foster homes, each had a different set of rules, each had different levels of involvement in his life, and he switched schools with each move he made. What’s more, when he was very young and still with his birth family, my son had had literally no exposure to other children and no opportunity to develop social skills.

       I immediately began working on social skills with my son. We talked about being a good friend and I’d make sure he treated me fairly when we were playing board games or kicking a soccer ball around in the backyard. I also watched all of my son’s soccer practices and would later discuss situations with him — trying to show him how other kids felt when he rudely stepped in front of them in order to be the first in a drill.

       My son was still having a difficult time seeing how his behavior could hurt others, yet he was acutely aware of how they could make him feel. It wasn’t long before his behavior on the school playground started to annoy and frustrate other kids. One group of boys in particular started making a daily habit of following my son around and quietly taunting him. They’d tease him, call him names, and encourage the other kids to exclude my son from play. My son had gone from being the bully to being bullied.

       My son’s school had a zero tolerance policy on bullying. While I believe the system to be good in theory, it’s unfortunately flawed. When the other boys would taunt and tease my son, my quick-to-anger child would fight back loudly and without concern of being caught. Subsequently, my son would get in trouble and the boys who repeatedly teased him would get off with no consequences at all.

       I could have just let the inner Mama Bear in me out. I could have fought with the school, denying that my maligned child deserved any consequences and arguing that the other kids were the real ones who needed punishment. I could have seen my son as completely innocent in the situation. But that would have done my son no good whatsoever.

       It was my job to talk to the school, accept the appropriate consequences my son was given, and to try to make sure that all kids involved were given consequences . And it was also my job to recognize that my son had a played a significant role in his playground woes and to help him overcome it.

       Bullying isn’t always clear cut. It’s not necessarily that “bad kids” are bullies and “good, innocent kids” are bullied. Sometimes it’s just low self esteem, poor social skills, or previous hurts that lead a child to act like a bully.

       Instead of letting my inner Mama Bear take over, I took a proactive stance. I enrolled my son in a bullying/social skills class at his therapy clinic, friendship skills became a frequent topic with his therapist, I invited other kids over to our house for one-on-one playtime that I could observe, I worked closely with my son’s teacher, I watched my son’s sports practices and games, and how to “think like a friend” became an ongoing lesson in our house. I also worked with my son on developing empathy and taught him how to read body language. 

       My son doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. When he started to understand how his behavior made other kids feel is when his behavior started to improve. My son has been with me for several years now — he’s lived with me longer than he ever lived with any one foster home. His social behavior has improved by leaps and bounds, but it continues to be a work in progress. He still likes to be first in line for everything and has to fight down that urge. He still wants to be quarterback or pitcher or goalie and has to actively remember to give other kids a turn. And he has to work hard to control his angry reactions when other kids aren’t very nice to him. But he’s more generous now, he pays attention to other’s feelings, and he’s more fair when playing. He now has a large group of great kids he can truly call friends — had his social skills not improved, I sincerely doubt that he would have these friends.

       It’s extremely hard as a parent to admit that your child can be a bully. But how can we help our kids if we aren’t honest about their behavior? My son isn’t a bad kid by any stretch of the imagination. But if I had simply fought to protect him when the other kids were teasing and excluding him, I would have missed the root of the problem. I would have missed the opportunity to teach my son how to be a better friend. And my son would have missed out on the opportunity to have real, non-combative friendships like he enjoys today.

What to do if your child is a bully

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Are supermarket carts safe for your kids?

Last week a New York City mom was checking out her local supermarket and looked down to see her toddler’s leg stuck in the narrowest bar of the shopping cart. Her daughter’s leg was completely stuck.

While the toddler cried the mom tried to remain calm by slowly slipping her leg back out, but it wouldn’t move. The checkout lady, manager and security all came to their rescue to no avail. Someone cried “get the Crisco oil”, another yelled “don’t touch it” and someone yelled “call 911.”

The poor mom was panic stricken and screamed for someone to get a cutter which is used to cut large metal bike locks.

Someone came to the rescues with the metal cutters but the frantic mom couldn’t help but think “Do it and don’t miss” and prayed her daughter’s leg or ankle would not be broken.

Soon the little girl was free with only a few scratches and bruises.

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Teen Pregnancy and How to Prevent It

We have all heard the expression “kids don’t come with instructions” and it’s so true — they don’t.

And when teens become parents they are not emotionally mature enough to handle parenthood.

How is a parent to know if their teens are sexually active? If they are … are they taking precautions?

Parents can learn The Real Truth about Teens and Sex by Sabrina Weil, President of Weill Media and former Editor-in-Chief of Seventeen Magazine.

The results are revealed for the first time in The Real Truth about Teens and Sex. This book is a great tool for parents to learn about their teens sexual activity and how to keep them from becoming teen parents.

Although teen pregnancy has been on the decline over the past decade, more and more teens are having sex.

According to facts at www.stayteen.org three out of ten teenage girls in the United States get pregnant at least one before age 20 — that amounts to 745,000 teen pregnancies each year.

The United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the industrialized world — twice as high as in England or Canada and eight times as high as in the Netherlands or Japan.

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