Archive for Safety

Paying our dues to be part of the village

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A story in the news this week horrified parents. It brings a few thoughts come to mind:
• How this happened
• What caused it to be uncovered
• And, as members of the ‘village’ what we can do to prevent it

Background
An 11-year-old girl is abducted on her way to school 18 years ago, as her step-father looked on unable to deter the kidnappers. During that period, she gives birth to two daughters fathered by her captor. She is released due to the follow through of alert security guards at the University of California at Berkeley when her captor displayed suspicious behavior while visiting the campus to distribute religious material.

Today
With new school supplies, clothes, sneakers and backpacks, families across the country are excited about the start of a new school year. At the same time, we have to question the safety of our children; specifically as it relates to walking to school. Communities trying to combat childhood obesity encourage families to allow their children to walk to school, but this story could cause major setbacks in this endeavor.

If a safe, community focused approach is taken, we can keep our kids safe, and allow them the freedom and enjoyment of walking to school. Visit International Walk to School in the USA to learn how.

Keeping all of our children safe
There is a belief that a society is judged by something called the “burning building theory.” Here’s how it works. If your child was in a burning building, no doubt you would rush in to save him. But, a society is judged by the willingness of its community members to rush in to save someone else’s child. That is where the concept of the village comes in.

If the village has any chance of working, we need to recognize we’re all in this together. A candle provides a good example of how this works. When used to light another candle, the first candle doesn’t lose its light; in fact, it intensifies. So if each one of us can take care of our own family, and do just a little bit more, we can move the village concept from a wonderful idea to reality.

Experted from Because Kids Don’t Come With Manuals® by Tina Nocera

If the security guards were not observant, or did not follow through on their suspicions, Jaycee Dugard would still be a captive.

Although most situations aren’t quite this serious, there are times where we question whether or not we should say something. Here is a recent question posed by a Parental Wisdom® member that illustrates that point.

I was looking out my window this morning, and noticed a father walking quite a distance ahead of his little girl who appeared to be about 2 years old. It was easy for a car to turn into a driveway and since the little girl was so small the car wouldn’t see her and she could have been hit, or the little girl could have run into the street. My concern is, should I have said something to him? We are all cautious of correcting other parents’ behavior, but what if something could have happened to that little girl and I didn’t point it out to the father? In light of a recent tragic crash involving a mom who apparently was driving intoxicated, I am taking the concept of accident avoidance more seriously. Your advice?

To see answers from our expert advisors, click here

What do you think? Comment below.

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Remove the locks – they are not working: robbers still rob

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Researchers found that crimes committed by sex offenders have not been reduced as a result of Megan’s Law questioning the $5.1 million cost since 2007.

That’s like saying locks don’t deter burglars, so we shouldn’t spend the money on installing locks on doors.

The intention of the law is to alert parents to sex offenders living in their communities, not to stop the behavior of sex offenders.

The wrong questions are being asked. Where is the $5.1 million being spent, and if the issue is awareness, can it be done differently or more cost effectively? Fortunately, State Sen. Bill Baroni said the study “completely misses the point.”

Deborah Jacobs, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, called such laws, “political Band-Aids that don’t stay on.” She suggests instead that we help the victims.

No, Ms. Jacobs – let parents protect their children from offenders so they don’t become victims.

As to the proper use of $5.1 million – use the power of what all moms know, Word of Mouse to create awareness, and reduce your budget.

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The Promise of a New School Year

Each new school brings brand new sneakers, book bags and promise. Children start the school year with an A+; they have to keep it. Parents can help in a number of ways.

1. Plan ahead to reduce family stress
Whether it is the weekly meal menu, healthy lunch boxes, or having the school wardrobe ready, it’s always better to plan ahead. Include your children in the planning whenever possible. Rushing through the start of a day can easily spiral out of control.

2. Everything in it’s place
Keys, school papers, book bags, sports equipment, and musical instruments should all have a specific place in the house. Though parents can create the organization, kids need to maintain it. To help kids learn organization, consider purchasing Get Organized Without Losing It written for late elementary through middle grade. It has lots of kid-friendly humor and is written by Parental Wisdom advisor Janet Fox.

3. Set your children up for success
Studies continually show that children that each a good breakfast with lots of protein can concentrate better in school. Get them up a little earlier to start the day right.

4. Provide a study spot
a. Have school supplies in a place that is quiet and free from distractions.
b. Teach them about budgeting their time so projects are ready, not rushed.
c. Review (not do) their homework so you know what is going on at school.
d. Make sure you dig deep into book bags so you can read all school notes.

5. Don’t wait for a red flag or a bad report card before recognizing a struggling student. Contact the teacher before your child gets too far behind.

6. Encourage safety
a. If your child walks to school, make sure he knows how to obey traffic rules.
b. If she rides a bike, be sure she wears a helmet.
c. If he rides the bus, make sure the school district has installed seat belts.
d. Children can only learn if they feel safe. If your child is being bullied, discuss the situation with school officials and insist school programs that teach tolerance and inclusion such as Operation Respect. They offer free programs to schools.

7. Don’t let over-scheduling take away your precious family time. Limit the number of activities you allow your child to participate in.

8. Have dinner together every night. Use this a way for your family to stay connected and to let your children know they belong. Read more about Family Day, which is September 22nd. Pay attention to which subjects and teachers your child talks about. Often those are the teachers that have the most profound impact on your child. Write the teacher a note to let them know their influence.

9. Create an environment for lifelong learning, and teach your children that lessons can easily extend beyond the classroom. Extracurricular and family activities are good ways to help your child learn new things and gain confidence in his or her abilities.

10. Stay involved in your child’s school and participate especially when opportunities arise to meet your child’s classmates such as book fairs or school trips.

11. Keep in touch with your children’s teachers and let them know of any situation that may affect your child in school such as a family illness, recent move, job loss or divorce.

12. When your children challenge your family rules, as compared to their friends’ houses, such as no TV during the week, explain clearly but firmly that things are done differently in your house.

13. Routines are important to children as it helps them feel secure. Consistency is key when it come to bath time, reading and bedtime.

14. Remember you are preparing our next workforce generation. Be sure to instill the importance of showing up and not let your children stay home from school unless it’s absolutely necessary. In the same respect, make sure they understand that being on time is equally important.

15. Make learning real. Show how school skills are needed for such day-to-day activities as cooking from a recipe, balancing a checkbook and writing thank-you notes.

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Who’s to say when you should mind your own business

While in a PG13 rated movie splattered with gratuitous violence, you witness a parent slapping a toddler knowing full well the toddler is smart enough to know he shouldn’t even be watching the movie.

While parking your car in a Dunkin’ Donuts lot, you see two young children with the window opened just a crack as their mom stands on the long line for coffee.

Selfish parenting, child abuse and neglect is not only about broken bones, bruises and abandonment. With the publicity surrounding the Texas polygamist-sect kids, one has to wonder exactly what does constitute a reason to step in.
The Third Court of Appeals in Austin ruled that the state offered “legally and factually insufficient” grounds for the “extreme” measure of removing all children from the ranch, from babies to teenagers.

The state never provided evidence that the children were in any immediate danger, the only grounds in Texas law for taking children from their parents without court approval, the appeals court said.

Think about the everyday situations you encounter where you aren’t certain if you should say something with the slight chance your response will be met positively; far more likely that you will be told to mind your own business.

The question is when is it our business? If the courts can’t figure it out – how can we?

Your thoughts? Please leave a comment, I’m really interested in what you have to say.

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Beating the Bullies

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

It is estimated that each school day, over 160,000 children stay home because of bullying.
Since many of us have experienced some form of bullying we know that the power of the bully is diminished when there are no followers.

Each day, when your child leaves for school remember to give them a hug to let them know they are loved. In a more subtle way, encourage their own personal power, and as you discuss the kind of a day they had over dinner, listen carefully to what they say and know when to step in when they need you.

Here is a high school student’s college admissions essay that I had to share:

“If I held the thermometer tightly in my hands, I could raise the temperature just enough so that I could stay home from school without my parents being concerned enough to take me to the doctor. This worked in the past, whenever I felt the need to fake an illness to get a break from being teased at school.

I had resigned myself to the fact that the teasing had to be my fault. Perhaps I should have raised my hand less when I had the right answer. Perhaps I should have laughed at the joke, even if I didn’t think it was funny. It was about fitting in. Although it was fairly constant, the teasing was subtle, too subtle to report without making me sound like a wimp.

One day everything changed. It happened as the 5th grade lined up for library. John was short by 3rd grade standards. He wore very thick glasses, and was not able to stand up straight due to some sort of spine curvature. This made him a prime target for the bullies. The teasing inflicted on John was much worse than anything I had experienced. But on that particular day, some of our classmates started knocking on his front and back to laugh at the sound that resulted from the plastic plates he wore under his shirt. It was more than I could take.

I don’t know where it came from, but I became almost ‘Hulk-like’ with anger. To this day, I honestly can’t say if I stood up for John because of the cruel punishment he was getting, or if I was finally dealing with the fact that neither of us, or anyone else for that matter, deserved to be treated that way. I stood in the middle of the cool kids, only a bit taller than John, and let them have it. My voice was loud and cracking, and my cheeks were flushed, but I somehow found the words that had been buried inside me for the entire year. ‘Do you like being mean? How would you feel if you were in his place?’ I was so afraid it would slip that I was really referring to the way they treated me, but fortunately I didn’t. When I finished, one kid made a joke, but the rest were quiet and looked down. The crowd dispersed as the teacher came around, but she never did understand the minor commotion.

We are now in our senior year in high school, yet John and I have never spoken of that day. Sometimes he will give me a little smile as we pass each other in the hall. Perhaps it’s my imagination but I have to believe he stood just a bit taller from that day on. I know I did.”

Tina Nocera
Parental Wisdom

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What do you want to protect most in the world?


Easy answer – your family.

You take great care twice a year in checking the batteries on the smoke detector. You talk to your children about stop, drop and roll, reinforcing what they learned in fire safety. You’ve done all the right things. But there was one thing you didn’t count on – that your children will not wake up to the shrieking sound of a smoke detector.

More than half of young children, who die in home fires, are asleep. One possible reason, as an experiment shows, smoke detectors just didn’t wake children up. As Rebekkah, age 12, sleeps peacefully; she terrorizes her parents; she didn’t wake up even though the smoke detector had been going off for two minutes.

Experts know that in a fire you’ve got to escape quickly. The deadly smoke and flames spread in an instant. After two minutes, your chances of escape and survival are critically diminished.

What was learned in the experiment is that the same sound that immediately wakes adults, doesn’t disturb children. According to Dr. Sanford Auerbach, Boston Medical Center, “[childrens]
brain waves are different, their sleep patterns are different, their stages of sleep are different.”

Fortunately, there are new voice activated smoke alarms that will soon become available that allow a parents voice to be heard instead. The same experiment conducted with the parent’s voice instead of the shrieking sound had the children up on less than 15 seconds.

Stay tuned as we’ll be watching for further news on the new products.

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Teen Drivers

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There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. Benjamin Disraeli – British politician (1804 – 1881)

I’ve noticed considerable attention and concern over teen drivers recently. While visiting various government websites, they recite accident statistics, which causes us to gloss over and not pay attention to the real message.

Instead of citing statistics, try citing rules. Interestingly, the laws that make the most sense were put in place as a result of the accident statistics related to teen drivers. In the words of the great Mel Brooks, “It’s good to be king.” Parents get to be king. Parents get to cite rules over and above the government rules. And no one has to gloss over with while reading statistics.

Feel free to visit Parental Wisdom – Free Reports and print out Teen Safe Driving Contract. There are two versions; one is a PDF, and the other is an editable version so you can personalize it.

Be sure to talk to your children about this important topic. Clearly this is an area where you don’t want to become a statistic.

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