Posts tagged ‘parental tools’

Halloween Safety Tips

Late last week I posted on Halloween safety myths about poison candy and sex offenders, but now that all-hallows’-eve is approaching, it might also be good to go over some basic Halloween safety tips that will help you and your children have a fun time this Saturday night.

Set Clear Rules

As parents it’s important to set clear rules and expectations for your children on Halloween night.

  • Set a clear curfew
  • Agree on a trick-or-treating route so you will know where your children are
  • Know what parties and places your children will be

Tricks

Halloween seems to be the one time of year that good kids think it’s okay to do bad things. Talk to your children about the consequences of vandalism, graffiti, theft, or destruction of property. Smashing pumpkins, stealing candy from smaller children, egging houses/cars, and other destructive acts may seem harmless to inexperienced kids, but they could have far-reaching consequences, emotionally for the victims and legally for the perpetrators. Keep your children out of trouble by clearly letting them know about the consequences of their actions.

Costumes

It’s fun to dress up on Halloween, but some costumes can present safety hazards if they are overly cumbersome, awkward, or restrict a child’s vision. These costumes can present a tripping hazard or prevent children from seeing well enough to avoid dangerous objects in the dark. No child wants to sprain an ankle on Halloween and go home early without collecting all the candy booty they can. As well, make sure that any props (fake knives, swords, sticks, etc.) the children carry are soft or pliable enough to not cause injury if they are fallen upon.

Image courtesy of the US Comsumer Product Safety Commision

Safety

Because so many children and families will be out in the dark on Halloween night, basic safety tips are even more important.

  • Make sure younger children are always accompanied by an adult or teenaged sibling with a flashlight
  • Look both ways before you cross the street
  • Wear reflective clothing or carry a glow stick to alert drivers to your presence

Overall, it’s simply important to make sure that you and your children exercise good judgment and follow basic safe guidelines, so you can all have a good time.

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October 27, 2009 at 7:51 pm Leave a comment

Net Cetera: Chatting With Kids About Being Online

As parents, it can often be hard to keep up with your children’s internet usage, let alone the latest websites, online interactive tools, or technologies. Now OnGuard Online has created a great resource for parents that gives an overview of specific technologies and ways to talk to your kids about their online activities, titled, Net Cetera: Chatting With Kids About Being Online. The guide is available for free online download, or you can order a free physical copy of the guide as well as reprint it, give it away, or reuse the material in any way that is most useful to you.

Download a free copy here.

Order a free copy here.

(Thanks to iKeepSafe for the tip)

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October 20, 2009 at 5:00 am Leave a comment

Children’s Exposure to Violence: A Comprehensive National Survey

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention just released their study, Children’s Exposure to Violence: A Comprehensive National Survey. The study included over 4,500 juveniles age 17 and younger and covered topics from bullying, to child maltreatment, to sexual victimization. Here are some interesting findings:

  • Children 7-10 years old are the most likely to experience physical assault/bullying from siblings and peers
  • Nearly 1 in 10 surveyed had been sexually victimized, and nearly 20% of all girls are sexually victimized by the time they are 17
  • 1 in 5 children suffer maltreatment (physical abuse, neglect, emotional abuse, and more) by the time they are 17
    Children 10-13 are at the highest risk for kidnapping than any other age group
  • Overall, adolescents age 14-17 are at the highest risk for witnessing or being the victim of physical abuse and sexual victimization of all types

Any violence against children is too much violence against children. Talk to your kids about what they can do to protect themselves from physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. Foster a relationship with your children that is open and honest, where they can feel safe talking to you about these issues. Overall, as adults and parents, we need to be the examples for our children. If we are physically, verbally, and emotionally abusive to them or others—or let abuse we see go unreported—they will learn from us.

Let’s all work together to stop violence against children. Here’s one organization that is trying to help: www.darkness2light.org. They have great resources for parents for raising awareness and combating child sexual abuse.

Read the entire results of the study here: http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/227744.pdf

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October 12, 2009 at 5:00 am Leave a comment

Teens Sued over Obscene Facebook Page

Four Chicago teens are facing a defamation lawsuit over a fake Facebook page they created for a teammate. The four teens created the fake Facebook profile page using their victim’s real name and cell phone number. Once the profile was up, they proceeded to post sexually explicit and racist comments on it, appearing to come from their victim, who they also portrayed as gay. By the time the profile was deleted, the four teens had amassed 580 friends on the fake profile. The mother of the victim, who lobbied Facebook to delete the profile, is now suing the four teens for defamation and emotional stress.

I think we can all agree that this type of behavior is unacceptable and that the boys who did this should be punished in some way. However, who will actually pay the price for their behavior? Their parents. If these four boys are found guilty, their parents will be paying damages.

This example shows that it is not just the kids involved who are affected by cyberbulling—whole families can suffer as a result. This lawsuit highlights the importance of talking to your children about ethical online behavior. Many teens think that they can get away with anything under the cloak of anonymity that the internet provides, but they are wrong. In fact, there are many ways that your identity can be tracked down over the internet, and that’s just what happened to these boys.

As technology progresses, and people begin to carry their internet identity around with them through cyberspace, the illusion of anonymity will breaking down further and further. It is important to start educating your children while they are young about appropriate online behavior (for example, check out Woogi World, a social media environment built to teach elementary school age kids about ethical and safe online behavior). Remember, if your son or daughter is being the bully, you could be the one to pay.

Sources:

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October 7, 2009 at 4:36 pm 3 comments

Preventing Child Abuse Through Education

The Future of Children, a collaboration between Princeton and the Brookings Institute, publishes a semi-annual journal focused on studies and issues regarding children and youth: challenges, concerns, trends, etc. This Fall’s issue dedicates its entire issue to preventing child abuse. The eight articles published this month cover issues like the effect of community efforts in preventing child abuse, preventing abuse through parent training, drug treatment, child protective services, and more.

To get a good understanding of current research regarding child abuse and prevention, you can download and read the entire journal for free here: http://www.futureofchildren.org/futureofchildren/publications/journals/journal_details/index.xml?journalid=71

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October 2, 2009 at 12:32 pm Leave a comment

Fight Crime: Keep Kids in School

I’m not sure this is really earth-shattering news, but high-school dropouts are far more likely to commit and be involved in crimes than those who graduate. But a study commissioned by California lawmakers, found that high-school dropouts cost the state as much as $1.1 billion in law enforcement costs every year. The study found that by cutting the dropout rate in half, the state would save more than a half a billion dollars annually (source).

“Dropout Prevention Is Crime Prevention”

Los Angeles County Sheriff, Lee Baca, who recently testified in front of the US senate on behalf of school-based crime prevention efforts, said of the study, “Dropout prevention is crime prevention. Schools need better tools for identifying potential dropouts so they can target interventions at the kids who need them most.”

Law Enforcement Officials are hoping that the results of the study will encourage the Governor to sign a bill requiring schools to accurately report dropout rates and identify signs that a student is at high-rick for dropping out. These statistics may help future policy makers implement programs to target at-risk youth for intervention before they decide to stop going to school.

Identifying At-Risk Youth

As I expressed earlier, I’m not sure anyone doubts that high-school dropouts are more likely to be involved in criminal behavior. And I say this because I think most people who went to high school have observed the statistics first hand. The kids who were always skipping class, involved in drugs, and had problems with the police were the ones we rarely saw at graduation ceremonies. And although I agree that schools need more money to fund programs that help at-risk youth graduate, I’m not sure we need a study to tell us which students are at risk.

Giving Schools Resources to Prevent Crime

Although public schools receive a lot of flack for not educating our children properly, but—in general—teachers, councilors, administrators, and other students don’t have a hard time identifying who is at a high-risk for dropping out. What they lack are resources.

To fight future crime, we as citizens need to support measures in our cities and communities that give schools the resources they need, not only to educate our children, but to help at-risk students stay in school, get an education, and stay off the streets. Crime prevention is more than locking our doors and leaving the porch light on, it is supporting local programs to help children avoid a life of crime before it starts.

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September 25, 2009 at 5:00 am 1 comment

Cops vs. Skateboarders: Issues in Property and Safety

Officer Rivieri, the officer featured in the video, was sued by the parents of the boy he attacked, but the case was recently thrown out of court in favor of Rivieri. But he may face department disciplinary action.

I recently saw this video of a Baltimore police officer yelling at and physically subduing a 14-year-old skateboarder. The video was posted in February 2008 and has been viewed on YouTube over 3 million times. But other than being popular, this video is not unique. A quick search on YouTube brings up a whole host of videos documenting the clashes between law enforcement and skateboarders, and these clashes have been taking place for as long as skateboarders have been on the streets. Sometimes it seems that skateboarders and cops are destined to be locked in an eternal battle over property, safety, and miscommunication.

As a parent, you want to make sure that your children are safe, but you also want to give them the freedom to pursue what they enjoy in life. There are a few main issues involved in skater/law enforcement clashes that might help us to better steer our skateboarding children away from confrontations with police.

Property Concerns

Most of the time, when police confront skaters it’s over issues involving private or public property. Some private property owners do not want skaters on their property, in front of their store, in their parking lot, etc., because they see skaters as a injury liability, and the same goes for public property. If a skater falls and seriously injures him or herself in or around private or public property, the owner or the city could be liable for that injury. To avoid being sued by a skater’s parents over their child’s high-injury-risk behavior, the city or private property owners deter skaters from practicing on the

A waxed curb

Example of a waxed curb

property through “No Skateboarding” signs and law enforcement patrols. As well, if a skater is caught skating on private property he or she could be charged with trespassing.

In addition to simple trespassing and the risk of potential injury, skaters often participate in defacing or damaging public and private property. Skaters use city features to do tricks. Objects like handrails, benches, stairs, curbs, or other concrete or metal structures can be damaged by skaters who use them to grind on, jump off, and jump onto. As well, most cities view the use of wax on concrete features as defacing public property, akin to graffiti. This damage costs the city money to fix, so it seems logical that they would want to keep skaters from damaging these features.

Public Nuisance

Concerns over property are not the only reason business owners and law enforcement don’t want skaters in certain areas. Because skateboarding is a very physical sport, not only does it pose an injury risk to skaters, but to other citizens as well. Not landing a jump or not having control of one’s board could cause skaters to run into other citizens in the immediate area, causing them injury. Depending on where the skating is happening and at what time, this can be a big concern for business owners who don’t want their customers hassled by skaters and law enforcement who want to keep citizens safe.

Skater fashion

Skater fashion

But beyond safety, many business owners don’t want skaters around simply because they do not have the image the business is trying to convey. In general, skateboarding is not only a sport but a fashion style that may include saggy pants, long hair, ripped clothing, and more. A business owner may be averse to letting these perceived shady characters skate on their property. And although, technically, only the fashion police can arrest you for looking grungy, law enforcement officers also want public places to look nice, so trying to persuade skaters to leave those areas might be viewed as a small-scale public beautification project.

Physical Threats

Although law enforcement has many reasons to enforce property and safety laws, that does not always mean they do so in an appropriate way. As evidenced in the video mentioned above, some officers will use force when they perceive that a citizen is being disrespectful or will not comply with verbal warnings. As well, law enforcement officers face potentially dangerous situations everyday and encounter a lot of criticism from the public and the media. Law enforcement is a high-stress job, and skaters who talk back, make off-color remarks, or don’t respect the law way be seen as a threat even if they pose no immediate physical threat at all.

Avoiding Police Confrontation

As a parent, it’s important to let your child know that law enforcement officers are mainly concerned with safety and property issues when it comes to skateboarders. Here are some thing to avoid:

  • Avoid skating on private or public property that explicitly states “No Skateboarding.”
  • Don’t damage property either by grinding on it or waxing it.
  • Show respect for law enforcement—even if you think they are in the wrong—showing respect will help avoid potentially dangerous confrontations. If the officer really is in the wrong, file a complaint. An officer who receives multiple complaints raises a red flag for that officer’s superior.
Skate park

Skate park

In areas where a skate park is available, help your child make use of it, so they can avoid confrontation with police. If you don’t have a skate park in your area, lobby your city council to build one and point out that creating such a park will reduce crime and concentrate skaters into one area. Overall, just keep in mind that police are not out to “get” your skateboarding son or daughter. They are just trying to keep your city safe and clean. If you let your child know what officers are most concerned about, you may help them to avoid potentially dangerous situations in the future and skate safety.

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September 24, 2009 at 7:55 am 4 comments

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