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Getting Your “Kids” Ready for College: Teaching Your Young Adult How to “Think Safe”

4 May

By Carla M. Thompson author of The Busy Woman’s Pocket Guide to Safety

So, your baby is leaving you; don’t freak out.  You are not losing a child, you are releasing an adult into the world.  I am going to give you some on how to prepare your high school graduate for the real world:

  1.  Parents, the first tip is for you.  You have to remember that your “kids” aren’t “kids” anymore, they are young adults.  Giving them a list of do’s and don’ts isn’t going to work.  You have to influence their thinking by respectfully influencing them.  The tips that I am going to give you are things that you should discuss with your teen.  Notice I said, discuss, not lecture…

  1. 2.  If you haven’t done so already, you must let them know that you respect them as an adult and that you want them to trust you.  You want them to know that they can come to you with anything.  This is a safety issue because, most teens are afraid to go to their parents for help.  So predators capitalize on the fear of exposure and judgment so they can control their victims.  But parents, when they come to you make sure you don’t over react…

3.  Explain the importance of communication.  Let them know that you don’t want to control their lives or ruin their fun but you do want to know where they are going and some information about their friends.  This is important because if you ever had to trace their steps it would be easier and quicker. 

4.  Be sure that your teen has a working cell phone.  Even if you have to get a prepaid phone.  They may need this for an emergency. Help them understand the consequences of sexting and even though you will not be there to monitor their behavior misuse of the cell phone could create a safety issue.  There have been various stories about teens that send inappropriate pictures of themselves and draws the attention of predators.  Remind them that once pictures go online it is very hard to pull them back.

According to the US Department of Justice: 

  • Approximately 1 in 7 (13%) youth Internet users received unwanted sexual solicitations.

5.  Make sure you teen has money for emergencies.  It may be a challenge to explain that it is not pizza, pop, etc. money, but is for a “true” emergency

such as paying for a ride home after a party, medicine, etc.  Help them understand that you will not always be there to take care of them so you trust them to make the right decisions.

6.  If your son/daughter plans to live on campus, once you get the name of their roommate run a background check on them.  It may be difficult to get enough information about them to do this (especially if they are still under the age of 18) but if nothing else run it through the National Sex Offender Registry or do a general search.  See if they have a Facebook page, and look at their friends and their posts.  You might want to do this with any boyfriends or girlfriends as well.  This is important, your teens must understand that everyone they meet at school isn’t necessarily in school for the right reasons.  To ensure their safety they must do their research and proceed with caution when meeting new people. 

More statistics from the US Department of Justice: 

  • Teens 16 to 19 years of age were 3 1/2 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.10
  • Approximately 1 in 5 female high school students report being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.12

7.  Evaluate your son/daughter’s social networking pages to ensure that they are not giving away too much information.  For example, I don’t think it is wise to put your address on your profile, your school, or your schedule.  This type of information could be used for stalking. 

8.  Going to parties is a part of college life and they can have fun but remain safe.  Explain the negative effects of popular party drugs, such as ecstasy.  Share some real stories from teens about their experiences with these types of drugs.

  1. 9.  Empower your teenager to trust their gut instincts.  We are all born with a “sensor for danger”.  Help them understand that even if they think that other people will laugh at them or tease them, reacting to their gut feelings about a situation could save their lives.

10.  Seal the discussion by assuring them that you don’t want them to fearful and you want them to enjoy their new freedom but that you just want them to use sound judgment!

These are just example of things that you should discuss with your teen.  You can’t give them as safety tip for every situation but if you can change the way they think then they can apply the logic to any situation they face. 

Good Luck!

Additional Resources for Parents: 

Stop it Now:  http://gethelp.stopitnow.org/results/start

For more information purchase The Busy Woman’s Pocket Guide to Safety, www.thebusywomanspocketguide.com for $4.95. Or download it for $.99 on Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, or Google E-books or PCs.

Source: US Department of Justice:  http://www.nsopw.gov/Core/teens.aspx#teens

Holiday Party Safety Tips

30 Dec

By Carla M. Thompson

1.  Before heading those parties fill up your gas tank before it gets dark.

2. Don’t post your holiday plans on any social networks because then everyone will know when you’re not home.

3.  Program the ICE (in case of emergency) contact, the phone number of a roadside assistance company and a taxi cab company into your cell phone.

4.  If you are going to a holiday party venue without a parking lot then use valet! It is worth the extra money.

5.  When you get to the holiday party watch your drink. If you walk away from it for any reason just get another one!

These tips and others can be found in The Busy Woman’s Pocket Guide to Safety:  www.thebusywomanspocketguide.com

Safety Tips for Networking Sites

17 Mar

By Carla M. Thompson

I love networking sites, because I get to connect with people that I normally would not speak to on a regular basis, such as, former class mates, former co-workers, friends from out of state, etc.  I am sure that a lot of people feel the same way, but you have to remember that everyone may not have the same intentions that you do.  These sites can be used for other purposes, like stalking, soliciting, robberies, identity theft, etc.  You have to remember that even if you went to high school with them and they seemed nice then, they may not be nice now.  That guy that wants to take you out on a date may seem nice but he is still a stranger.  Here are some things to remember as you network:

  1.  I would advise against posting your home address on the profile.  The city is fine, depending on your comfort level, but never the exact address.  I would also caution against posting current or former places of employment on these networking sites.  If you do then be prepared for the possibility of someone asking about you there.  I also caution against college students posting the school they attend, because if you live on campus then they will know where you live. 
  2. If you need to post an address because you want to be sent information then purchase a PO box at your local post office.
  3. Never let people know when you will be out of town.  I see this all the time, “I will be in Florida, at a resort next week.”  If people know you live alone then you just gave a criminal an invitation to rob you.  Tell them about your trip when you return.
  4. If you are planning to meet someone for the first time from one of these sites then meet in a public place.  The person that you meet may not be the person that you thought you got to know over the internet.  In other words, maybe he posted a picture of a man that looked like Denzel Washington and he really looks like Shrek.  If you want to leave then you can do it comfortably because you are in a public place.  I discuss this in my book, The Busy Woman’s Pocket Guide to Safety.
  5. Never give out financial information through these sites, such as credit card numbers, banking info, etc.  Why would anyone ask you to do this unless they are up to no good?  I run an online business and I use PayPal, it protects me and my customers.
  6. If you do chose to send your financial information to make a purchase then at least check out the business with the Better Business Bureau.
  7. If you have children or other people using your computer, make sure you have a password for your site that isn’t saved on the computer.  It may be a pain to log in each time but you don’t want anyone to use your identity to get into the site.
  8. Remember anything that you post is public information!  So if you don’t want anyone to know then don’t type it!  This includes pictures, or any other personal information.
  9. I caution against using internet networking sites at work or on company owned equipment for obvious reasons.
  10. Don’t talk about expensive items that you have acquired, such as plasma tv(s), jewelry, furs, etc, or post pictures of them.  This is a calling card for a home invasion.

For more information purchase, The Busy Woman’s Pocket Guide to Safety at www.thebusywomanspocketguide.com

The Busy Woman’s Pocket Guide to Safety Coming Soon

14 Dec

This book is designed to teach women how to think safe. You will have the opportunity to purchase it in January 2010.

Coming January 2010