MonthApril 2015

How to Know If a Child Has Been Sexually Abused

portrayal-89189_1280This month is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Approximately 1.8 million adolescents in the United States have been the victims of sexual assault, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. I know many adults who have been sexually abused when they were children; the consequences are devastating. These precious adults became heavily involved with drugs, alcohol, self-injury, extreme dieting, and sexual activity, as well as suffering from depression, all from a young age. Many of them are in their thirties still struggling to adjust and live a normal life. If you know someone especially a child who may be a victim of sexual abuse, please seek help. The earlier the intervention, the brighter the future is for the child. To better understand if a child you know is being sexually abused we need to know what sexual abuse is. Child sexual abuse includes two types of activity, touching and non-touching.

 

Touching sexual offenses include:

  • Touching a child’s genitals or private parts for sexual pleasure
  • Making a child touch an adult’s sexual organs; and penetrating a child’s vagina or anus.

Non-touching sexual offenses include:

  • Exposing children to pornographic material
  • Deliberately exposing a child to the act of sexual intercourse; and masturbating in front of a child.
  • Photographing a child in sexual poses
  • Encouraging a child to watch and hear sexual acts
  • Inappropriately watching a child undress or use the bathroom

 

Many young victims will show signs of sexual abuse through drastic changes in their behavior. At different stages of development, children act out different forms of behavior by themselves and/or with other children. Parents Protect gives a list of behaviors at each stage of development.

 

Pre-school children (0-5) years commonly:

  • Use childish ‘sexual’ language to talk about body parts
  • Ask how babies are made and where they come from
  • Touch or rub their own genitals
  • Show and look at private parts

School-age children (6-12 years) commonly:

  • Ask questions about menstruation, pregnancy and other sexual behavior
  • Experiment with other children, often during games, kissing, touching, showing and role-playing ex. moms and dads or doctors and nurses

Adolescents:

  • Ask questions about relationships and sexual behavior
  • Use sexual language and talk between themselves about sexual acts
  • Experiment sexually with adolescents of similar age
  • About one-third of adolescents have sexual intercourse before the age of 16.

 

If you know a child who might be sexually abused, contact the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). Help is free, confidential, and available 24/7 or contact your local emergency services at 9-1-1.

You might be that child’s only voice. Save a child now!

 

Resources:

American Humane Association: http://www.americanhumane.org/children/stop-child-abuse/fact-sheets/child-sexual-abuse.html

The U.S. Department of Justice: http://www.nsopw.gov/en/Education/FactsStatistics

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/features/sexualviolence/

Earth Day 2015 Events Kick Butt

recycle-29227_1280I can’t believe it! Spring is in the air and Earth Day is right around the corner. Although, this year is no ordinary year, it marks the 45th anniversary of Earth Day. Not to long ago, many were oblivious to the need for environmental change. Most people were busy opposing the Vietnam War and buying bigger cars. Minds began to awaken when in 1962; Rachel Carson came out with her bestseller “Silent Spring” which raised awareness about the dangerous effects of pesticides in America’s crops. Several years later in 1969, a fire broke out in Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River, which shed light on the detrimental effects of chemical waste disposal. Only then, did fear begin to rise within American citizens. On April 22, 1970, rallies were held in most of America’s major cities. In New York City, Mayor John Lindsay organized an environmental rally that encompassed celebrities like Paul Newman and Ali McGraw. According to Earth Day Network, “Earth Day 1970 capitalized on the emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns front and center.” Unlike many years ago, today there are hundreds of environmental groups that yearn to see a better and cleaner tomorrow. A couple of events that are taking place this weekend is Global Citizen’s event in Washington D.C. and the New York Earth Day Initiative event in New York City.

Global Citizen will be hosting a concert event at the Washington Monument Grounds this Saturday the 18th to commemorate Earth Day. Together with world leaders, Global Citizen “will work to educate and inspire citizens to take immediate action to end extreme poverty and address climate change”. Celebrities such as Usher, No Doubt, and others will raise their voices to encourage and enlighten others to take action.

In New York City, others are taking initiative to raise awareness by sponsoring exhibitions and activities for children. The New York Earth Day Initiative will be hosting several fun activities in Union Square on April 19th from 12 to 7pm. I attached a link below that contains a flyer listing all the events in further detail.

Union Square Earth Day Activity Flyer: http://earthdayny.org/2015-events

For other FREE Earth Day events in the New York area, go to http://www.nycgovparks.org/events/earth_and_arbor_days

*Save the environment by sending this flyer to parents/friends by emailing this link or send a push notification through Parentglue’s Parent Relationship Manager app.

#globalcitizenearthday     #EarthDay2015       #recycle      #savetheenvironment

Other resources:

http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/earth-day

http://earthdayny.org/home

5 Ways for Parents to Empower Their Children From Child Predators

trust-649465_1280The Center for Missing and Exploited Children discovered that most child abductions occur between the hours of 2pm to 7pm, when most children are home alone. Simply reciting the statement, “Don’t talk to strangers!” without informative information is a recipe for disaster. Children cannot reason on their own, they must be taught ‘why’ they should not engage with strangers. According to Jean Piaget, an education philosopher, children between the ages of 7 to 11 are at the development stage of thinking logically about concrete events, but have difficulty understanding abstract ideas. Of the 466,969 children abducted last year, the center found that most of the children taken are between these ages and some only beginning to approach the age of abstract thinking. This is why keeping children safe is our top priority at Parentglue. Our goal is to have all parents discuss the following with their school-age children.

1. Talk often. Children need to be reminded often not to talk to strangers. As a parent, discuss logically ‘why’ children should not talk to everyone and ‘why’ not everyone can be trusted. Just like everyone else, children must also learn that a person must earn their trust.

Activity: Sit down with your child. On a piece of paper, have your child write the answers to the following questions:

“What does the word ‘TRUST’ mean?(have the child look up the word in a dictionary.)

“What makes a person trustworthy?”

“What does it mean to trust a person?”

Add some concrete examples of your own.

2. Go with your gut feeling. Along with talking about strangers, parents need to keep the lines of communication open. Children need to feel safe in their home environment to be able to discuss people or things that may have upset them or made them feel uneasy.  As parents, you need to make a point, that if your child feels uncomfortable around a camp counselor, babysitter, etc., that their feelings are valid and there may be a reason why they feel that way.

Activity: For camp counselors, leaders of after school programs, and other programs your child is involved in, ask their supervisor if they have had a background check run on them. After your child has spent time with the new person, always speak to your child about how they feel about the person. Remember to validate what your child is saying.

3. Make a list. Make a list and discuss with your child who they can trust when being picked up from school and other events. According to the center, the vast majority of children were taken by acquaintances and people they know.  So while your child may be familiar with someone, they must understand the difference between simply knowing someone and knowing who you have given permission to pick them up.

Activity: Write down all the people with whom your child comes in contact. Go through the list, one by one, and have your child ask the question, “Can I trust this person?” Show pictures of the people for visual memory.

4. Code Word. When a child is being picked up from school, sometimes it will be someone other than the parent picking them up. Create a code word with your child that only they and the person picking them up will know.

Activity: On a day when someone else is picking up your child, practice the code word with them so you are sure they will remember it. For example, “Mommy made chili tonight!” When your child hears the phrase “Mommy made chili tonight!”, they know it is safe to go home with that person. Just like passwords on a computer that can be hacked, I suggest changing the code word each time for extra caution. Make it fun for your child, as if they are part of a secret operation.

5. Map out a Route. Just a few decades ago, children were able to wander the streets alone and parents were unafraid of anything terrible happening to them. Sadly, today that is not the case anymore. Safety is a factor, but at the same time children should not be sheltered their whole lives. The suggested age when a child is capable of walking home alone from school is 10. Only you, as their parent, are best equipped to determine at what age this is appropriate for your child.

Activity: When your child is ready to walk home alone from school, practice walking home with your child several times. Map out the route that they must follow every time, and explain why they must avoid short cuts home. Also, when walking home, have your child practice looking for people that they can talk to if they were to get lost walking home such as: moms or dads with children and store clerks. In addition, explain that there is no reason an adult needs to ask a child for help. If an adult asks for your child’s help, insist that they go find help immediately.

 

Some of us might think it would not happen to my child, but I would say it is better to be safe than sorry. Besides talking to your child about whom to trust, a game plan is an excellent way to increase the safety of your children.

The Game Plan

  • Make sure you have up-to-date pictures of your child from every angle. Be sure the images are easily recognizable.
  • Get your child fingerprinted. Many local police departments offer the service free of charge, so your child can be entered into a database.
  • Have a list of emergency contact numbers easily accessible. The first number on your list should be 911, and the second should be for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children: (800) The Lost, (800) 843-5678. The first few hours after abduction are most critical.

If you are a concerned parent that would like to find out other ways of increasing safety at your child’s school, please check out Parentglue’s Frontdesk and Parent Relationship Manager tools. We provide parents with updated information about their child’s safety in school, as well as other important information.

 

For more information about Parentglue’s Frontdesk and Parent Relationship Manager, click here.

 

 

Resources:

http://www.monkeysee.com/play/5436-what-age-group-and-gender-are-most-at-risk-for-being-abducted

http://www.wusa9.com/story/local/2012/05/25/3947631/

http://www.missingkids.com/KeyFacts

http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ncic/ncic-missing-person-and-unidentified-person-statistics-for-2014

http://drphil.com/articles/article/623

http://www.bhg.com/health-family/parenting-skills/responsible-kids/how-to-keep-your-child-safe-from-abduction/

How to Rescue a School District on the Brink of Being Taken Over by State

pencils-447481_1280 (1)Why is ‘change’ a thing to be feared? Is it that people think matters will only grow worse with change? Or perhaps, do people believe that change in the end will conjure insignificant results? Tiffany Anderson, superintendent of Jennings School District in St. Louis, met with some opposition to her ideas for change, but in the end many parents have become grateful for it.

In 2010, the Jennings School District was at risk of being taken over by the state. In April 2012, Tiffany Anderson became superintendent of about 3,000 students, more than 90 percent of whom were eligible to receive free or reduced-priced lunches. They needed change and Dr. Anderson was willing to think outside the box. According to Education Week, Dr. Anderson began with setting up a food pantry of “fresh vegetables, canned foods, multigrain bread, and pasta” to meet the needs of local families.

Several other initiatives were spearheaded by Dr. Anderson to encourage parental engagement in their child’s education according to the Huffington Post.  As a way of removing the barriers she encountered when trying to get parents involved, Dr. Anderson installed washers and dryers in every one of her district’s schools as a way “for parents to do a load of laundry for free in exchange for an hour of volunteer work at the school”.  Dr. Anderson believes that poverty is not an excuse for an underperforming school; instead she takes stumbling blocks and turns them into opportunities. In addition, she understands the importance of investing in her students’ futures and that is why her priorities have included encouraging students to take action and become leaders in their communities. With this in mind, she began a “student advisory council that allows student input on district policies; instituted meetings with the local police to discuss crime and collaborative efforts; and made a commitment that at least 30 percent of the district’s employees will be alumni and residents”. Dr. Anderson uses everything opportunity as a learning experience, including the Ferguson incident. When students wanted to hold protests, Dr. Anderson arranged for local police to meet with students to “address their concerns about policing within the community”.

This is just the tip of the iceberg highlighting only a few of the successful changes Dr. Anderson has instituted over the past three years.  Above all, she understands the importance of relationships. “No significant learning can really occur without a strong relationship—in a classroom, in a district, in a school”.  Before Dr. Anderson embarked on making changes within the school and community, she met with parents, police, local officials, and the teachers’ union to define what revisions needed to be made.

She has also successfully tackled the district’s finances, going from a deficit in her first year in office to creating a surplus of $500,000 last year.  With finances straightened out, Dr. Anderson is now setting her focus on obtaining full accreditation for her entire district.  As a matter of fact, she has “hired teachers who had mastered their content areas; accelerated the curriculum; and created a specialized college-preparatory academy, where a select group of 150 students attend classes six days a week, 11 months a year, and will graduate with a high school diploma and associate degree at the same time.”

Dr. Anderson once stated, “I think our only barriers are our mindsets”.  How often do we limit ourselves from the possibilities that we think are beyond our reach, but are in actuality only an arm’s length away? One of my favorite and most inspirational quotes is by Steve Jobs.  “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that do.”  If we aspire to do great things, with hard work and ambition, communities will flourish and lives will be changed.

Thank you Dr. Anderson for breaking down the barriers and never giving up!

 

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