Monday, August 24, 2009

Unfortunately, bullying has been a part of children’s lives probably since the beginning of time. However, what was once thought of as “just a part of childhood” is now seen as a very serious, and sometimes deadly, form of abuse. Adults, as well as peers, need to stand up to bullying, and intervene immediately when it is believed that bullying is occurring. More importantly, let’s find ways to prevent bullying from ever happening in the first place.

Here are just a few tips to prevent, and respond, to bullying (including cyberbullying:

1. Understand that it is not a “rite of passage” for children to be bullied. It can have very long-term, even deadly, consequences.

2. Pay attention to what is going on both at school and at home. If a child starts fearing going to school or to an activity, ask questions.

3. Have clear discipline policies at school or in sports activities, and make it understood that bullying will not be tolerated, and that there will be consequences, including for Cyberbullying.

4. Have in-services for teachers and parents about what to look for in terms of bullying, and how to prevent it.

5. Encourage youth to talk to an adult if they are being bullied, or if they know that bullying is occurring to a friend or classmate.

6. Supervise children when they are on-line, and tell them to never pass along harmful information about others.

7. Tell children to never give out personal information on-line.

8. Start teaching empathy at an early age (even from birth!) so that children will grow understanding how hurtful it is to harm or tease others.

9. Teach interpersonal skills (again, from an early age). Many children who bully lack the skills to make or keep friendships.

10. Create opportunities for children to “do good”, especially children you know or suspect may be engaging in bullying behaviors.

Tips for Teachers

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

School is back in session, and although they may never admit it, it’s an exciting time for many children. School is also an opportunity for teachers to reconnect with students, and provide not just a learning experience, but also a safe environment. Below, we have listed some “tips for teachers” with regard to some issues that may arise during the school year. The list is certainly not all inclusive, so references can be found on the bottom so that you may get further information if needed.


1. Remember, every person in Indiana is considered a mandated reporter. The law reads that ANYONE who had reason to believe that a child is a victim of child abuse or neglect, must make a report. Anonymous reports are accepted. Those who work with children will in all likelihood be held to an even higher standard.

2. Even if you have reported to a “designated” reporter (the school nurse, Social Worker, Principal, etc), it does NOT relieve you from your responsibility. You still remain responsible for the report…either by making the report yourself, or by insuring the report was made.

3. Look for potential signs, such as unexplained bruising, especially on more “fleshy” areas of the body, such as thighs, arms, face. Not all signs are visible, however, so you should also watch for behavioral signs as well, such as increased absenteeism, not being able (on a consistent basis) to stay awake in class, withdrawn behavior, changes in play, exaggerated startle responses, overly aggressive or sexualized behaviors. Remember that behavior changes in and of themselves do not necessarily mean a child is being maltreated, but the behaviors should be explored in case there are other issues, such as being bullied, physical problems, or learning issues.

4. Parents need to know that their children are safe at school as well. Every year children are injured in playground incidents. Schools need to insure that equipment is safe, and that children are properly supervised. They also need to insure that “hidden locations” are reduced so that there is less likelihood that a child could be abused or harmed in one of these locations. Trees and shrubbery should be trimmed. Playground equipment should not include toys where children are hidden from view at any time. Clear out concrete walls or other impediments to supervision. Look for gaps in fences or other protective barriers. Insure that anyone who is monitoring during recess is well trained in supervision, how to intervene in physical fights, and how to recognize and address bullying.

We hope everyone has a wonderful year, and remember teachers, to also practice self-care and stress management!

References: Committee for Children www.cfchildren.org
Department of Child Services
Prevent Child Abuse Indiana www.pcain.org

The Importance of Childhood Immunizations

Monday, August 10, 2009

Disease Prevention--Protect Those Around You

Disease prevention is the key to public health. It is always better to prevent a disease than to treat it. Vaccines prevent disease in the people who receive them and protect those who come into contact with unvaccinated individuals. Vaccines help prevent infectious diseases and save lives. Vaccines are responsible for the control of many infectious diseases that were once common in this country, including polio, measles, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), rubella (German measles), mumps, tetanus, and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib).

Parents are constantly concerned about the health and safety of their children and take many steps to protect them. These steps range from child-proof door latches to child safety seats. In the same way, vaccines work to protect infants, children, and adults from illnesses and death caused by infectious diseases. While the U.S. currently has record, or near record, low cases of vaccine-preventable diseases, the viruses and bacteria that cause them still exist. Even diseases that have been eliminated in this country, such as polio, are only a plane ride away. Polio, and other infectious diseases, can be passed on to people who are not protected by vaccines.

Vaccine-preventable diseases have a costly impact, resulting in doctor's visits, hospitalizations, and premature deaths. Sick children can also cause parents to lose time from work.

Why are Childhood Vaccines So Important?
* It's true that newborn babies are immune to many diseases because they have antibodies they got from their mothers. However, the duration of this immunity may last only a month to about a year. Further, young children do not have maternal immunity against some vaccine-preventable diseases, such as whooping cough.
* If a child is not vaccinated and is exposed to a disease germ, the child's body may not be strong enough to fight the disease. Before vaccines, many children died from diseases that vaccines now prevent, such as whooping cough, measles, and polio. Those same germs exist today, but babies are now protected by vaccines, so we do not see these diseases as often.
* Immunizing individual children also helps to protect the health of our community, especially those people who are not immunized. People who are not immunized include those who are too young to be vaccinated (e.g., children less than a year old cannot receive the measles vaccine but can be infected by the measles virus), those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons (e.g., children with leukemia), and those who cannot make an adequate response to vaccination. Also protected, therefore, are people who received a vaccine, but who have not developed immunity. In addition, people who are sick will be less likely to be exposed to disease germs that can be passed around by unvaccinated children. Immunization also slows down or stops disease outbreaks.

Why Immunize?For Parents
Why immunize our children? Sometimes we are confused by the messages in the media. First we are assured that, thanks to vaccines, some diseases are almost gone from the U.S. But we are also warned to immunize our children, ourselves as adults, and the elderly.

Diseases are becoming rare due to vaccinations. It's true, some diseases (like polio and diphtheria) are becoming very rare in the U.S. Of course, they are becoming rare largely because we have been vaccinating against them. But it is still reasonable to ask whether it's really worthwhile to keep vaccinating.

It's much like bailing out a boat with a slow leak. When we started bailing, the boat was filled with water. But we have been bailing fast and hard, and now it is almost dry. We could say, "Good. The boat is dry now, so we can throw away the bucket and relax." But the leak hasn't stopped. Before long we'd notice a little water seeping in, and soon it might be back up to the same level as when we started.

Keep immunizing until disease is eliminated. Unless we can "stop the leak" (eliminate the disease), it is important to keep immunizing. Even if there are only a few cases of disease today, if we take away the protection given by vaccination, more and more people will be infected and will spread disease to others. Soon we will undo the progress we have made over the years.

Japan reduced pertussis vaccinations, and an epidemic occurred.
In 1974, Japan had a successful pertussis (whooping cough) vaccination program, with nearly 80% of Japanese children vaccinated. That year only 393 cases of pertussis were reported in the entire country, and there were no deaths from pertussis. But then rumors began to spread that pertussis vaccination was no longer needed and that the vaccine was not safe, and by 1976 only 10% of infants were getting vaccinated. In 1979 Japan suffered a major pertussis epidemic, with more than 13,000 cases of whooping cough and 41 deaths. In 1981 the government began vaccinating with acellular pertussis vaccine, and the number of pertussis cases dropped again.
What if we stopped vaccinating?

So what would happen if we stopped vaccinating here? Diseases that are almost unknown would stage a comeback. Before long we would see epidemics of diseases that are nearly under control today. More children would get sick and more would die.

We vaccinate to protect our future. We don't vaccinate just to protect our children. We also vaccinate to protect our grandchildren and their grandchildren. With one disease, smallpox, we "stopped the leak" in the boat by eradicating the disease. Our children don't have to get smallpox shots any more because the disease no longer exists. If we keep vaccinating now, parents in the future may be able to trust that diseases like polio and meningitis won't infect, cripple, or kill children. Vaccinations are one of the best ways to put an end to the serious effects of certain diseases.

Source: www.cdc.gov (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Reprinted with permission

Back to School on a Budget

Monday, August 3, 2009

It's hard to imagine that summer vacation is coming to an end...the days are still long and warm, sleeping-in continues to be the fashion and you may still have another road trip in store. There’s no denying that the economy is having an effect on plans for back-to-school spending.

Here are a few ideas designed to help you get the biggest bang with fewer back-to-school bucks.

1. Make a plan -- Develop a shopping list and a strategy. What would you like to purchase this year? What do you need to purchase this year? How do the two lists overlap? Is any trimming necessary?

2. Set a budget -- Make certain it’s a realistic budget that can include all of the items on your list. Try not to overspend before school starts. There are plenty of unexpected expenses that are likely to crop up in the early months of the new school year.

3. Where to Shop -- Discount stores, office supply superstores, online stores, and other retail outlets offer a variety of ways to stretch your school-bound spending. Keep an eye out for sales flyers for all of your area stores, especially the larger chain stores. Match the flyers and the prices to your shopping list and budget. Don’t let the flyers create a new—and even bigger—shopping list for you.

4. If you can affort to -- Stock up on items that the kids will need throughout the year. Are your kids old enough to use notebook paper? Be sure to buy a few extra packages so that you will have some on hand when they run out. The last thing you want to do is to have to make a late night run to the store so that your son or daughter can do his homework.

More Back to School Tips coming soon!