Tag Archives: kid safety

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

Bullying – When Kids Go Too Far

16 Oct

By Carla M. Thompson

Most adults have endured bullying at one point or another and somehow got through it.  For example I was teased in elementary school about being petite.  This was a minor case of bullying it was mainly teasing.  But I was truly bullied in high school, it got so bad that I had to change schools.  My mother and a school administrator were very supportive of me and helped me get through the year.  If it hadn’t been for them I probably would have dropped out. 

Most people don’t realize how serious bullying is and how it can affect a young person.  As a person who experienced extreme bullying in high school I am glad that it is finally being addressed as an issue.  When I was being bullied there wasn’t a lot of support for victims.  Some of my close family members even made jokes about it.  I literally went to school everyday in fear.  There was a group of girls that were harassing me and trying to look for opportunities to physically hurt me.  I had never done anything to these girls so there was no other reason for them to single me out.  When you are a teenager and people hate you for no reason it is very painful.  If you are an adult who has never been through this or you were the bully then it is difficult for you to understand, but you need to try for the sake of your children (if you have any).

Bullying in most cases isn’t about hatred for a particular person it more about controlling others.  If you can get a person to dread or fear you then you can control them.   A bully will use various reasons for picking that person but it boils down to the ability to change that person’s perception of themselves and the world around them.  The key to fixing this is to make sure the victim of the bullying never loses their self-worth.  Most parents try to stop the bully, which is a good idea but you also have mentally equip your child as well.  Because there are adult bullies they may run across in the future.

But before you can address the issue you have recognize there is an issue.  Here are some tips:

1.  Changes in your child’s demeanor/behavior, such as not making eye contact when you speak to them, wanting to be alone, or even being overly sensitive.  Most of the time children do not want to admit they are being bullied because they are embarrassed about it.  So you will have to look for signs of depression.

2.  Start asking your children about their day at school.  If they don’t want to talk about it or get angry because you asked don’t take it personally, start investigating by asking teachers and counselors about potential issues.

3.  The most important tip is not to brush off anything that your child does tell you.  If it’s important to them then make sure they know that it is important to you.  The worst thing you can do is make jokes about it, because then your child will put you in the same category as the bully.  You don’t want to become your child’s enemy.

4.  Create an atmosphere of support around your child.  Use religious leaders, family, and friends to show your child that everyone is on their side.  I would also work with school administrators but remember their job is to be objective so your child’s main support system should be at home.

These are just a few things to keep in mind, but here are some expert opinions on how to address bullying:  http://www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov/adults/best-practices.aspx

Good Luck!