Selecting and Preparing a Good Sitter

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Humorous sitter stories abound in our home: There’s the evening the infant cried for an hour, and we returned mid-date, to find a very pale sitter with a screaming child still in her arms…she never came back. (She never wanted to.) Then there’s the story where the tornado was clearly in the back yard, and the sitter couldn’t get the baby gate open to descend to the basement, so she picks up both boys and carries them over the gate…(not certain which scenario was more dangerous, the tornado or the possible tripping down the flight of stairs!) But the last story had the most repercussions, where the sitter chose to watch a scary movie with the kids, and my then 3 year old couldn’t sleep alone for a year and a half, and still doesn’t like scary movies. (She didn’t come back either, but not because she didn’t want to…) FOR PARENTS, worrying about how to select a good sitter begins even before you become a parent! It’s just another of the endless questions parents must tackle. Here is a solid list of pointers from the American Academy of Pediatrics…plus a few added from me. PARENTS SHOULD: 1. Meet the sitter and check references and training in advance. 2. Be certain the sitter has had first aid training and knows CPR. 3. Be sure the babysitter is at least 13 years old AND mature enough to handle your kids and common emergencies. The age may need to be reconsidered if you have older children. 4. Have the sitter spend time with you before babysitting to meet the children and learn their routines. 5. Show the sitter the house. It’s important they know where fire escapes, basement or inside rooms for tornado warnings. 6. Discuss feeding, allergies, bathing and sleeping arrangements. (With our teenage sitters, when our boys were not infants anymore, we always gave the sitter a “pass” on the bathing situation, especially if we could bathe them prior to our leaving or the next day was an option.) 7. Have emergency supplies available, including flashlight, first aid chart, and first aid supplies and make certain to show the sitter where they are in your house. 8. Tell the sitter where you’re going, and when you plan on returning. Leave your phone numbers and 911 emergency number, and 211 general helpline number BY the phone. 9. Be sure guns, alcohol and other drugs are locked away. 10. Discuss expectations regarding the sitter’s friends visiting; how to handle callers and other visitors. Safe Sitter, Inc. program has excellent tips for sitters, and website to check: Blog written by Carol Cochard Pool, MSW Prevention Educator, Prevent Child Abuse IN

Happy Holidaze**What Messages Do You Send?

Monday, December 19, 2011

We all have hopes and expectations during the holidays, and learning how to manage all those hopes and expectations can be life-affirming! Perhaps we should start with our overall values and goals for the holidays? What “messages” do we really want to send to our children, neighbors, other family members, about the TRUE MEANING of our holiday time? If we invest our time, energy in WHAT’S REALLY IMPORTANT, what does that look like? Is this the year we volunteer for a cause that really needs us? Do we take our kids and donate our time, energy, finances where we help them to see that helping others meets our needs as well? It’s validating to feel good that you really helped in even a small way; being a positive “solution” in a world with many negatives. Who knows where this small act of kindness could lead. Demonstrating kindness has been proven to elevate feelings of self worth and happiness. Volunteering could lead to life-long friendships. It could lead to future employment, and all sorts of other benefits. It could be as simple as baking a casserole or some cookies, or offering to do small chores for a senior in your neighborhood; or offering to babysit for parents while they shop or just enjoy time to themselves; or becoming a Big Brother/Sister for a young person who may not have a stable adult in their lives. Maybe the family “adopts” a family needing presents this year, or considers fostering or adopting one of the hundreds of children needing a more stable home. Maybe you could just write holiday cards to our servicemen and women. The options are great and varied. Ask your kids how they’d like to make a difference in our world. Remind them of what a GREAT GIFT they give to others by giving of themselves…no matter how small. Then ask them, “How good would that feel?” Feeling too overwhelmed during the holidays to attempt these ideas…that’s OK, just remember you can “sign up” your family now, and “donate” in January or whenever. There’s never a time-limit on giving. I hope you are able to fit some of these ideas into your 2012! The point is to send the important “gift” message to our kids, reminding them that our humanity is the best gift we could give! By: Carol Pool, PCAIN Education Specialist

There Are No Festivities in Jail - Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over

Monday, December 5, 2011

As you celebrate the holiday season enjoying traditions, food, family and fun, be reminded that local law enforcement will be out in force this holiday season from December 16, 2011, to January 2, 2012, to arrest anyone caught driving drunk behind the wheel.

The message is simple, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over. Drinking alcohol and driving do not mix. If you plan to consume alcohol, you should also plan not to get behind the wheel of a vehicle or ride a motorcycle.

Unfortunately millions of drivers on America’s highways still think they are invincible, and they choose to jeopardize their safety and the safety of others on our roads.

There will be no spreading holiday cheer behind the bars of a jail cell. Don’t let your 2011 holiday season end in an arrest or worse, death. Remember, whether you’ve had way too many or just one too many, it’s not worth the risk.

In December 2009, there were 753 people killed in crashes that involved drivers or motorcycle riders with blood alcohol concentrations of .08 grams per deciliter or higher.

Prevent Child Abuse Indiana recommends these simple tips for a safe holiday season:
 Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin;
 Before drinking, designate a sober driver and leave your car keys at home;
 If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation;
 Use your community’s sober ride program;
 If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact your local law enforcement;
 If you provide child care for parents who are going to a party, make sure the parents know in advance that you will not release the kids to parents who appear to be impaired. If an impaired parent shows up to take their kids home, do everything you can to dissuade them from getting behind the wheel. Offer to call a cab or drive the family home yourself. Call law enforcement if necessary. Yes, a confrontation may be unpleasant at the time, but it’s not nearly as tragic as what may happen if you don’t intervene.
 And remember, Drive Sober Or Get Pulled Over. If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take that person’s keys and help him or her make other arrangements to get home safely.

For more information, please visit

PCAI Membership

Monday, November 28, 2011

Become a Member of Prevent Child Abuse Indiana and Make a Difference in the Life of a Child!

Membership support is essential in helping Prevent Child Abuse Indiana meet the growing demand and need for child abuse prevention, education, and information. A large membership base makes a persuasive statement when we present proposals to foundations and other funding sources. Lawmakers and governmental agencies also use our membership numbers to measure community interest and support for child abuse prevention. Visit our website ( and become a member today! Individual Membership is only $40 a year and Organizational Memberships range from $175 to $250 a year. Gift memberships are also available.

National Education Week

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

National Education Week celebrates its 90th birthday this year. Many people may not even realize that there is a National Education Week. I think we take for granted that which was not possible for many people 90 years ago…the opportunity to become educated. We send our children off to school without really thinking about it; it has become a natural part of our society, and in many ways that is a remarkable thing. However, what we now take for granted is made possible by many caring and committed professionals…the teachers, the aides, the administrators, the custodial staff, the bus drivers, the school nurses, the cafeteria workers, the secretarial staff, the Home Schooling Associations, the parents…all working together to care for and educate our children. Sometimes they have to do this task under very challenging circumstances. They not only need to provide the lessons or other services, but they are also charged with looking at children as more than just a student for whom they are responsible for eight hours a day. In many cases they become that child’s mentor, role-model, guide, and trusted adult. They are trained to look for signs of abuse, thoughts of suicide, dating violence, bullying, etc. Those who work in schools are there because of their commitment to children…the whole child.

So, this week we honor those who educate in one form or another, and in fact I would like to paraphrase a famous quote: If you can read this blog, thank a teacher!

November is Great American Smokout Month

Monday, October 31, 2011

The American Cancer Society is marking the 36th Great American Smokeout on November 17 by encouraging smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day. By doing so, smokers will be taking an important step towards a healthier life – one that can lead to reducing cancer risk. Quitting smoking is not easy, but it can be done. To have the best chance of quitting successfully, you need to know what you're up against, what your options are, and where to go for help.

Quitting smoking is one of the most important steps you can take to help create a world with less cancer and more birthdays.

The federal government has taken a tougher stance against tobacco over the past couple of years, banning certain products and marketing tactics, and increasing regulation. It’s an important step toward helping people break a habit with devastating health effects.

These recent developments – and the wide range of tools available to help people stop smoking – mean there has never been a better time to quit. Fewer people smoking can mean a world with less cancer and more birthdays.

Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the US, yet an estimated 46.6 million Americans still smoke. However, more than half of these smokers have attempted to quit for at least one day in the past year. If you or someone you know needs help quitting, join thousands of people across the country in making November 17 the day you make a plan to quit for good, during the American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout®.

Quitting is hard, but you can increase your chances of success with help. The American Cancer Society can tell you about the steps you can take to quit smoking and provide the resources and support that can increase your chances of quitting successfully. To learn about the available tools, call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345. You can also find free tips and tools online at The Society also offers applications on online social networks like Facebook to help you quit or join the fight against tobacco.

Every day, the American Cancer Society is working to create a world with less cancer and more birthdays– and by quitting smoking, you can take one of the most important steps toward helping make this world a reality. Depending on the age at which they quit, ex-smokers can add up to 9 or 10 more birthdays to their lives. Younger quitters can add more years of life, but nearly everyone who quits adds to their lifespan – and improves quality of life. Overall, one-third of cancer deaths could be prevented if people avoided tobacco products.

While we have made great progress to fight tobacco, there is still much work to do. Everyone can fight back to save lives, and the Great American Smokeout is a great time to start. If you want to quit smoking or help a loved one quit, the American Cancer Society is in your corner. Together, we can save lives and create a world with less cancer and more birthdays. Join us for the Great American Smokeout, and make November 17 the day you plan to quit for good. For tips on the steps you can take to quit smoking or get involved in the fight against tobacco, visit or call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345.

Happy Halloween!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A few safety tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission can protect children who plan to go trick-or-treating this Halloween.

Treats: Warn children not to eat any treats before an adult has carefully examined them for evidence of tampering.

Flame Resistant Costumes: When purchasing a costume, masks, beards, and wigs, look for the label Flame Resistant. Although this label does not mean these items won't catch fire, it does indicate the items will resist burning and should extinguish quickly once removed from the ignition source. To minimize the risk of contact with candles or other sources of ignition, avoid costumes made with flimsy materials and outfits with big, baggy sleeves or billowing skirts.

Costume Designs: Purchase or make costumes that are light and bright enough to be clearly visible to motorists.
• For greater visibility during dusk and darkness, decorate or trim costumes with reflective tape that will glow in the beam of a car's headlights. Bags or sacks should also be light colored or decorated with reflective tape. Reflective tape is usually available in hardware, bicycle, and sporting goods stores.
• To easily see and be seen, children should also carry flashlights.
• Costumes should be short enough to prevent children from tripping and falling.
• Children should wear well-fitting, sturdy shoes. Mother's high heels are not a good idea for safe walking.
• Hats and scarves should be tied securely to prevent them from slipping over children's eyes.
• Apply a natural mask of cosmetics rather than have a child wear a loose-fitting mask that might restrict breathing or obscure vision. If a mask is used, however, make sure it fits securely and has eyeholes large enough to allow full vision.
• Swords, knives, and similar costume accessories should be of soft and flexible material.
Pedestrian Safety: Young children should always be accompanied by an adult or an older, responsible child. All children should WALK, not run from house to house and use the sidewalk if available, rather than walk in the street. Children should be cautioned against running out from between parked cars, or across lawns and yards where ornaments, furniture, or clotheslines present dangers.
Choosing Safe Houses: Children should go only to homes where the residents are known and have outside lights on as a sign of welcome.
• Children should not enter homes or apartments unless they are accompanied by an adult.
• People expecting trick-or-treaters should remove anything that could be an obstacle from lawns, steps and porches. Candlelit jack-o'-lanterns should be kept away from landings and doorsteps where costumes could brush against the flame. Indoor jack-o'-lanterns should be kept away from curtains, decorations, and other furnishings that could be ignited.

From the Consumer Product Safety Commission

Rally for Childhood Education

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Rally for Childhood Education

Oct. 22 is Make A Difference Day

Monday, October 17, 2011

On the 4th Saturday of October,(Oct. 22), millions of Americans are gathering together to help their neighbors. It was created by USA WEEKEND, and is the most encompassing national day to volunteer in some way…ANY WAY, to help others.

WHO: Anyone. Just go on the website or call the Hot Line to see what’s happening in YOUR area...or plan something on your own. Large or small, it doesn’t matter, just that we all get out to help some way!

You can also enter your project for an award. 10 projects will be selected.

The Make a Difference Day website has all kinds of information and examples of volunteering done in the past. Homeless people, children, patients in hospitals, US Troops, all kinds of charities here in the US and around the world benefit! It’s really exciting when we all do something!

For Help Getting Started GO TO: Make a Difference Day/USA WEEKEND/
Or Make A Difference Day Hot Line, 1-800-416-3824

Blog by: Carol Cochard Pool, M.S.W.

Domestic Violence and Children

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Domestic violence is a devastating social problem that impacts every segment of the population. While system responses are primarily targeted toward adult victims of abuse, increased attention is now being focused on the children who witness domestic violence. Studies estimate that 10 to 20 percent of children are at risk for exposure to domestic violence (Carlson, 2000). These findings translate into approximately 3.3 to 10 million children who witness the abuse of a parent or adult caregiver each year (Carlson, 1984; Straus and Gelles, 1990). Research also indicates children exposed to domestic violence are at an increased risk of being abused or neglected. A majority of studies reveal there are adult and child victims in 30 to 60 percent of families experiencing domestic violence (Appel and Holden, 1998; Edleson, 1999; Jaffe and Wolfe, 1990).

Children who live with domestic violence face increased risks: the risk of exposure to traumatic events, the risk of neglect, the risk of being directly abused, and the risk of losing one or both of their parents. All of these may lead to negative outcomes for children and may affect their well-being, safety, and stability (Carlson, 2000; Edleson, 1999; Rossman, 2001).

Childhood problems associated with exposure to domestic violence fall into three primary categories:
• Behavioral, social, and emotional problems. Higher levels of aggression, anger, hostility, oppositional behavior, and disobedience; fear, anxiety, withdrawal, and depression; poor peer, sibling, and social relationships; and low self-esteem.
• Cognitive and attitudinal problems. Lower cognitive functioning, poor school performance, lack of conflict resolution skills, limited problem solving skills, pro-violence attitudes, and belief in rigid gender stereotypes and male privilege.
• Long-term problems. Higher levels of adult depression and trauma symptoms and increased tolerance for and use of violence in adult relationships.

Children's risk levels and reactions to domestic violence exist on a continuum where some children demonstrate enormous resiliency while others show signs of significant maladaptive adjustment (Carlson, 2000; Edleson, 1999; Hughes, Graham-Bermann & Gruber, 2001).

Protective factors, such as social competence, intelligence, high self-esteem, outgoing temperament, strong sibling and peer relationships, and a supportive relationship with an adult, can help protect children from the adverse affects of exposure to domestic violence.

From: Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2009

Investment in child-focused services must continue

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

In response to a study published in Pediatrics Monday, which revealed an increase in child abuse since the start of the economic recession in the U.S. in 2007, Jim Hmurovich, President of Prevent Child Abuse America, released the following statement:

"During these continuing difficult economic times, it would be easy to forget that investments in innovative programming focused on services such as home visiting and Shaken Baby Syndrome prevention must continue, despite financial constraints. It's also easy during tough times to minimize the importance of such services, which places additional stress on parents, teachers and other members of the community who play a role in child development.

"However, this study demonstrates that continued investment in prevention services is absolutely necessary. Parents, teachers and community members depend on the support of these services and that's why Prevent Child Abuse America helped found the National Movement for America's Children. We're working to create a National Strategy for America's Children, to ensure that policies and programs are put in place and maintained to provide every child in America with an equal opportunity for a healthy childhood and development.

"Spending vs. cutting is a debate we've held in our country many times. Yet, absent from the discussion is the question of how we, as a nation and a society, ensure our economic stability, while also recognizing the critical economic importance of healthy child development."


Prevent Child AbuseAmerica, founded in 1972, works to ensure the healthy development of children nationwide while recognizing that child development is a building block for community development and economic development. We believe that communities across the country are doing innovative things with great results to prevent abuse and neglect from ever occurring, and what we need to do as a nation is commit to bringing this kind of ingenuity to communities everywhere. Based in Chicago, Prevent Child Abuse America has chapters in 47 states and 387 HealthyFamilies America sites in 36 states.

Posted by Prevent Child Abuse America
Labels: Healthy Families America, National Movement for Americas Children, Prevent Child Abuse America, The Journal of Pediatrics

Food Safety & Kids

Monday, September 19, 2011

The first thing I thought about when hearing this topic was, “Never bite something that can bite you back!” Or, if your cream cheese has a molehair coat…throw it out! But food allergens have become a growing concern for our families. The FDA has included these foods of the top 8 major dietary allergens: (milk, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and crustacean shellfish.) These should be marked on product and ingredient labels. BUT minor ingredients may not be so clear.

Common signs of a food allergy reaction can include:

Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as vomiting, colic, diarrhea, or bleeding
Skin reactions, like hives, swelling or eczema
Respiratory distress, such as upper respiratory congestion, throat swelling, or wheezing
OR a life threatening condition like anaphylactic shock.

Please read on for a wonderfully concise and inclusive article from WebMD:

Serving our kids wholesome meals daily is a lot of work. But seeing them grow and thrive is well worth the effort!

Carol Cochard Pool, PCAIN Prevention Education Specialist

Hum, the first thing I thought about when hearing this topic was, “Never bite something that can bite you back!” Or, if your cream cheese has a molehair coat…throw it out! But food allergens have become a growing concern for our families. The FDA has included these foods of the top 8 major dietary allergens: (milk, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and crustacean shellfish.) These should be marked on product and ingredient labels. BUT minor ingredients may not be so clear.

Common signs of a food allergy reaction can include:

Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as vomiting, colic, diarrhea, or bleeding
Skin reactions, like hives, swelling or eczema
Respiratory distress, such as upper respiratory congestion, throat swelling, or wheezing
OR a life threatening condition like anaphylactic shock.

Please read on for a wonderfully concise and inclusive article from WebMD:

Serving our kids wholesome meals daily is a lot of work. But seeing them grow and thrive is well worth the effort!

Carol Cochard Pool, PCAIN Prevention Education Specialist

Before and After School Safety

Monday, August 29, 2011

Beginning of the school year always brings reminders of safety...who is with the children in the morning getting them off to a good start...who is seeing them home to make sure they're safe and fed after school...SO MUCH TO THINK ABOUT! I wanted to make this blog broader than just school bus safety. (There's a wonderful site: which address just the school bus...but addresses kids, parents, teachers and bus drivers.) But I want folks to consider so much more.

• Some older youth or adult needs to be watching out for little ones waiting for the bus or coming home from the school. Staying in groups make everyone be seen and safer around strangers or other folks trying to give them rides. Remind them to never get in a vehicle, unless it's their caregiver.

• Kids need to be reminded about the dangerous blind spots surrounding a bus (by the bus driver).

• They need to be reminded about how important it is to stay on the sidewalk or 10 feet (5 Giant Steps) away from the road.

• To never pick something up that may have fallen, until the bus driver says it's safe to. (Balls that roll into the street, or papers falling out of the backpack.)

• Kids need to be shown turning your head LEFT AND RIGHT at driveways, alleys and other streets, for cars.

• HIGH SCHOOL PARKING LOTS are very dangerous. Talk to your older teens about walking and driving safely where there are so many inexperienced drivers.

• Never pass a bus on the right side. (that is where kids get out of the bus.)
• Never pass when the STOP arm is down.
• ALWAYS STOP when the arm is down, even in 4 lanes with no embankment in the median.

Carol Cochard Pool, MSW, PCAIN Prevention Education Specialist

The Importance of Childhood Immunizations

Monday, August 8, 2011

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: (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Reprinted with permission

August is Children's Eye Health Month

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Your Child's Eye Exam

Your child should have his or her first eye exam done by a pediatrician or family doctor sometime during the first year of the child's life. If you or your child's doctor decides that your child's eyes should be further examined, make an appointment with a qualified pediatric ophthalmologist. Then, with recommendation from your pediatric ophthalmologist, your child's next eye exam will be at the age of 3, and once again before entering kindergarten, or by age 5. From there on, your child should receive a comprehensive eye exam at least every two years. In-school screenings are helpful but do not substitute for an eye exam.

How Do I Prepare My Child for an Eye Exam?

Make time to sit down and explain what will happen during your child's eye exam. Make sure your child knows that he will be asked to look at and identify objects for the eye doctor. These could be pictures, letters, or shapes of light on the wall. Explain also that the eye doctor may put drops in his or her eyes, but that it will not hurt. Eye drops may sting a bit but only for a moment. Be honest with your child and work with your doctor to reassure your child.

What Tests Will Be Done on My Child's Eyes?

In the first year of life the pediatric ophthalmologist, pediatrician, or family doctor will check for nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, amblyopia, eye movement ability, proper eye alignment, how the eye reacts to changes in light and darkness, and any general eye problems. If the eye exam is done by a pediatrician or family doctor and if problems are found during the exam, the child will usually be referred to a pediatric ophthalmologist, who specializes in diagnosing and treating eye conditions in children. Early diagnosis of childhood eye disease is crucial to effective treatment.

For children between the ages of 3 and 5, the eye doctor will conduct a physical exam of the eyes, but also vision screenings using eye chart tests, pictures, letters, or the "tumbling E game", which tests the child's visual acuity, or ability to see form and detail of objects. The "tumbling E game", also called the Random E's Visual Acuity Test is useful in determining the eyesight of children who cannot yet read. The child is asked to identify the direction that the letter "E" opens to by holding out three or four fingers to mimic the letter "E". You can practice this test at home before your appointment.

If your child is a bit older, he or she may be asked to identify pictures such as a plane, a house, a duck, or a hand. Correcting poor visual acuity is very important in a child's sight development.

Amblyopia, or "lazy eye," is a condition in which there is unequal vision between the two eyes despite using a corrective measures such as glasses. It can be caused by unequal errors of refraction, ocular misalignment, or cloudiness in the line of vision due to conditions such as cataracts. Amblyopia is reversible when detected early by patching the better-seeing eye or by blurring its vision using atropine drops. Amblyopia is a leading cause of unilateral vision loss in children and young adults.

Taken from

Family Reunions

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

There are times when I think I am really on target with the importance of families…then someone hands me the request to write a blog on “family reunions.” Hum…not really feeling on target anymore. Do you ever feel this way? The word, “reunion” can stir up a wide range of feelings, good, and bad, confusing, exhilarating and everything in between.

Now my dad, who is now 98, makes going to his family reunion one of his highest priorities. He makes sure he is driven across 3 states to attend his yearly family reunion. I try to put myself in his situation, to attempt to understand why this is such a priority to him. I understand he wants to spend even a short time with his only remaining sibling. I know he enjoys seeing the nearly 100 relatives who attend. I often hear him ask about the members who aren’t in attendance…almost like saying he misses their presence. He gets a big kick out of having the largest group in attendance from his lineage. He is obviously a proud member of this larger clan.

Do reunions make you happier, healthier? Probably…research shows that connecting with others is important in terms of having people feel happier and healthier. Connecting with a large group helps in a variety of ways… perhaps with getting a new job, place to stay, or just needing to know more about whatever! More minds know more. (Well, that’s true in most families!)

Family reunions may be the only place multiple generations meet, besides funerals or weddings. Generally they’re held at pleasant places, which tend to make for happy times (unlike funerals.) Family reunions can also be a place to heal old wounds. They can be a place to learn about one’s heritage, or medical genetic information. Reunions can be a place to share “brag stories” about our families. (I think all reunions should offer a “show and tell” table, where each family can place photos, old and new, or other memorabilia to view.) It can be a place to share e-mail addresses, making communication easier and hence making closer relationships. Closer relationships (or friendships) are the true blessings of families. With more and more families adopting, it can also be a great way for new members to meet and bond.

Think of the great lengths people who do not know their ancestry take in order to know their relatives. It’s just cool to know your history, as well as the history being made right now. You can think of each member being a story, plus taking time to share “your” story…who you are and what makes you interesting. Make time to attend yours, and take your kids. Do the same for your spouse/significant other, and they’ll be more likely to return the favor. Guess there are lots of good reasons to go to one’s family reunion. Go ahead and make it a priority…bet you’ll be glad you did!

Carol Cochard Pool, MSW

Cell Phones and Kids

Monday, July 18, 2011

A cell phone lets you stay in touch with your children at almost all times. In addition to being practical, having a cell phone can help you easily get in touch with your kids in case of an emergency. This extra sense of security and safety that a cell phone provides is probably the key reason that parents should even consider getting their younger children a cell phone. A cell phone can also be an important way to keep in touch with your older teen, especially if they are driving.

Although the increased independence that a cell phone might offer a child can be good, it can also be a negative thing. Consider that with a cell phone, your child will simply have another way to communicate with the outside world that you will have little supervision over. And keep in mind that most of today's cell phones offer almost complete internet access, with web browsing, email, chat, and instant messaging, that is much harder to filter and control as compared to your home computer.

Cell phones may even be a distraction to kids. We all know that they are a distraction for drivers, but one study has also shown that cell phones can be a big distraction for kids crossing the street and could lead to more accidents and injuries.

Cell phones also put your child at risk for getting in trouble for:

■sexting - sending or receiving nude pictures or classmates
■prank calls - which can get your child in trouble if someone starts pranking other people from your child's phone

Whether or not your child is ready for or needs a cell phone is something a parent will have to decide for themselves. Do make sure that your child can handle the responsibility for a cell phone though, before you buy one. Also remember that you can buy a phone that is just a phone; it doesn’t have to have internet access.

Source: “Kids and Cell Phones”

July is National Make A Difference for Children Month

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Some years ago I directed a jobs program for urban teens. Penny was one of our bright stars. Her appearance was a little startling at first. It was the mid-80s, and she embraced every 80s fashion trend short of the Madonna-wear-your-undies-outside-your-clothes thing. She loved bright blue eye shadow and wore tons of black eyeliner. Her hair was black and spiky, full of various mousses and gels. She looked hard and tough, but the truth is she was one of the sweetest kids I knew. She worked hard, helped her coworkers, stepped in to solve conflicts, you name it.

So you can imagine how surprised I was one day when the kids were coming in after school and I overheard Penny outside my office. She was telling her friends about an argument she’d had with a teacher, and that she’d really stood up to him. In the vernacular of the day, she called him “everything but a child of God.”

Oh dear. Our program required kids to maintain good grades. If Penny was getting into it with teachers, her grades would soon reflect that. I knew better than to bring it up in front of her friends, so I waited. Just before quitting time, I took her aside and explained what I’d overheard. “Did this really happen?” I asked. “Oh, yeah,” she nodded.

“Penny, I don’t get it. Why are you being a hell raiser at school and you’re such a joy to be with here?”

She cocked her head to one side and smiled, as though I were a small child. “Oh, Maaaary,” she said. “C’mon. You know me.”

It took me a moment, but then I realized what she meant. I did know her. I knew her family. I’d visited their home many times. I knew about her absent father who never called, and about her mom who worked long hours to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. I knew how on the edge they lived, and that an unexpected car repair or medical bill would bring down the delicate house of cards that was their daily existence. I knew about Penny’s older brother who’d been in trouble with the law. I knew all of this, and Penny knew I knew all of this and that I didn’t judge her for it the way some others did.

Penny could just be who she was when she came to the youth program. She didn’t have to be tough, she didn’t have to put up a front, because we’d created a safe place for her to be. She understood that the guidance we provided wasn’t an attack and therefore didn’t require any defense on her part. At the risk of sounding self-congratulatory, it is clear that what we did at that little program made a difference for Penny and for many other kids.

“You know me.” What human being doesn’t crave the sweetness of being known in a way that allows us to relax our defenses?

July is National Make A Difference for Children Month. This is a month often marked by family gatherings, picnics, reunions and vacations; it is a month when families get to spend more time together. Whether you have kids or not, I urge you to take some time to consider how precious our children are.

As adults, we have enormous power to affect the lives of children in positive ways. This month—and every month—let us dedicate ourselves to creating a world where they can flourish. For July, consider doing these three things:

1. Commit to do one special thing with a child in July—make some kind of positive difference for that child.
2. Support an organization that focuses on children—there are many from which to choose! Support them with what you have to give, whether that is your time, your talents or your treasure.
3. Communicate with your elected leaders to make children a priority in policy and budget issues they address.
It has been said that children are one-third of our population and 100% of our future. That future begins now. Small steps can make a huge difference!

Mary Armstrong-Smith, PCAIN Community Partners Director

Invest in Our Children

Thursday, July 7, 2011

This week, we all found out the fate of Casey Anthony. We were already painfully aware of the fate of her two year old daughter, Caylee. We will probably never know the truth of what happened to this child, but we do know the truth of what happens to so many children like Caylee: They die needlessly, and they usually die in a manner that could have been prevented.

During such high profile cases, we at Prevent Child Abuse Indiana are often asked what we think, or how we feel about the perpetrator, or what we feel could have been done to prevent such a tragedy. Since we weren’t there, we don’t know what could have been done in this particular case. We do know what can be done for the future to help promote the welfare of children though, and it’s very simple…we have to start putting children first…not just in rhetoric, but in reality. We have said before that it’s okay to feel angry, or sad, or confused when these unthinkable things happen to the most vulnerable among us. However if we get stuck in those emotions, we may not be able to respond in such a way that prevents those things from happening again.

When children are not being cared for, or not being provided every opportunity to thrive, then the toll on them, their families, their community, and society as a whole is immense. Polls show that people care what happens to children, and that programs that benefit children should not be cut. People understand that not investing in children in the short run, will be much more expensive in the long run. When we talk about investing in children, we are not necessarily talking about money. There are many ways in which people and communities can invest. They can invest time, interest, and their passion for doing what’s right for children. Scenes that show crowds outside of courthouses during trials are the scenes we want to see outside of playgrounds, parks, Statehouses, schools, daycares. If people can make the time to gather in outrage, they can make the time to gather to champion the rights of children…because the former will usually result in feelings of hopelessness, while the latter will result in a better future for everyone.

Have a Safe 4th of July

Monday, June 27, 2011

With warm weather and family events, the Fourth of July can be a fun time with great memories. But before your family celebrates, make sure everyone knows about fireworks safety.

If not handled properly, fireworks can cause burn and eye injuries in kids and adults. The best way to protect your family is not to use any fireworks at home — period. Attend public fireworks displays, and leave the lighting to the professionals.

Lighting fireworks at home isn't even legal in many areas, so if you still want to use them, be sure to check with your local police department first. If they're legal where you live, keep these safety tips in mind:

1. Kids should never play with fireworks. Things like firecrackers, rockets, and sparklers are just too dangerous. If you give kids sparklers, make sure they keep them outside and away from the face, clothing, and hair. Sparklers can reach 1,800° Fahrenheit (982° Celsius) — hot enough to melt gold.

2. Buy only legal fireworks (legal fireworks have a label with the manufacturer's name and directions; illegal ones are unlabeled), and store them in a cool, dry place. Illegal fireworks usually go by the names M-80, M100, blockbuster, or quarter-pounder. These explosives were banned in 1966, but still account for many fireworks injuries.

3. Never try to make your own fireworks.

4. Always use fireworks outside and have a bucket of water and a hose nearby in case of accidents.

5. Steer clear of others — fireworks have been known to backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction. Never throw or point fireworks at someone, even in jest.

6. Don't hold fireworks in your hand or have any part of your body over them while lighting. Wear some sort of eye protection, and avoid carrying fireworks in your pocket — the friction could set them off.

7. Point fireworks away from homes, and keep away from brush and leaves and flammable substances. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that local fire departments respond to more 50,000 fires caused by fireworks each year.

8. Light one firework at a time (not in glass or metal containers), and never relight a dud.

9. Don't allow kids to pick up pieces of fireworks after an event. Some may still be ignited and can explode at any time.

10. Soak all fireworks in a bucket of water before throwing them in the trash can.

11. Think about your pet. Animals have sensitive ears and can be extremely frightened or stressed on the Fourth of July. Keep pets indoors to reduce the risk that they'll run loose or get injured.

If a child is injured by fireworks, immediately go to a doctor or hospital. If an eye injury occurs, don't allow your child to touch or rub it, as this may cause even more damage. Also, don't flush the eye out with water or attempt to put any ointment on it. Instead, cut out the bottom of a paper cup, place it around the eye, and immediately seek medical attention — your child's eyesight may depend on it. If it's a burn, remove clothing from the burned area and run cool, not cold, water over the burn (do not use ice). Call your doctor immediately.

Fireworks are meant to be enjoyed, but you'll enjoy them much more knowing your family is safe. Take extra precautions this Fourth of July and your holiday will be a blast!

Taken from:

13 Quick Ways to Avoid Allergies Around the House

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Allergy victims seem to be “popping up” everywhere! Here are 13 ways to make your home a nicer place for these folks suffering from allergies. (Taken from My Allergy Guide, From the makers of Zyrtec.)

1. Get daily pollen counts.
2. Spray allergen-reducing sprays inside any space; car, home, office.
3. Get a (HEPA) filter for air filter and vacuums.
4. Minimize dust mite matter. Wash sheets/blankets in hot water every week.
5. Keep pets off upholstered furniture/beds. Wash your pets regularly.
6. Wash your kid’s stuffed animals weekly in hot water.
7. Shower or bathe before going to bed.
8. Avoid or limit your time in spaces that are irritating. Know your limits!
9. On high pollen count days, keep windows/doors closed.
10. Take a break and plan a trip to a “lower level pollen count” place!
11. Stay off the grass. Exercise on asphalt, the beach or gym.
12. Don’t dry your clothes outside.
13. Watch what you wear. Use a mask when mowing or raking, long sleeves/pants help too.

Happy Father's Day

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

As we prepare to celebrate Father’s Day this weekend, I want to talk about how the dads of today, grow and influence the dads of tomorrow.

Where does a man primarily learn his fathering skills? He learns them from his own dad. For better or worse, when a man becomes a dad, he will draw on his own experiences with his father in order to father his child. The tagline at Dads Inc. is “building generations of involved dads and thriving kids” for that reason – the way we father leaves a legacy for generations to come. That legacy can be either positive or negative. It is up to us – today’s dads, particularly those of us with sons – to mold the future generations of our family.

With his little eyes watching every move you make, it’s easy to think you’re going to mess up no matter how hard you try. And you will. We all do because there is no such thing as a perfect parent. Just get over that fear. What’s more important is how you handle those mess-ups. Did you admit your mistake and apologize or just ignore it and move on? Remember – his little eyes are watching. That is an essential lesson for a dad to teach his son.

Additionally, I see four other lessons that are essential for dads to take the lead in positively guiding his son to understanding.


Chivalry? Respect? Partnership? Your son is going to take your lead on treating women this way. Whether it is your wife, your ex-wife, your mom or a total stranger, the way you interact and engage with women is the standard for how your son will treat them. If you call his mom a “bitch” – to him women can be “bitches”. But if you call his mom your friend and partner, women will be his equal and he will respect them. And really, it’s not just women, but how to treat people in general. The Golden Rule is golden for a reason.


How’s that old nursery rhyme go? Girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice. Boys are made of snips and snails and puppy dog tails. So we think our sons should be a little rough and tumble, rambunctious and manly. This is all well and good, as long as “manly” means know how to control and deal with your emotions and being able to openly show affection. Dads, if you’re having violent or loud outbursts when you get mad, you are not setting the right example of how to control and properly deal with emotions. You need to show them that it is ok to cry, but it’s not ok to cuss and hit things or people. And if you’re not hugging and kissing those boys and telling them you love them every day, not only are you missing one of the most precious parts of fatherhood, you’re also instilling in them the belief that showing affection is not something men do.


I’m not necessarily only talking about church or religion here, though those are certainly two aspects of spiritual growth. I’m talking about teaching him to appreciate ideas and concepts larger than ourselves, about nature and our impact on it, about being in awe of the Universe and all the wonders it holds. If you don’t talk about it with him or teaching him its importance, you’re stunting his growth, spiritually and intellectually. Out of wonder comes knowledge – knowledge of one’s self and one’s world.


No question you should be involved in his schooling. From being active in the PTA to helping him with his homework, you need to be as active and engaged in his formal education as his mom is. But what about his time out of school? How does he come to appreciate the arts? How does he learn to learn to play a musical instrument? How does he learn to take the sound bite he hears on a political ad as only part of a larger, more complicated story? You teach him how to read, how to play, how to investigate. You teach him to learn to think on his own. You teach him it’s ok to ask questions, even to authority figures, even if that’s you. In short, you teach him to be his own man.

If you follow these rules will you raise the perfect son? Nope. But you are going to raise a fine young man. And so will he.

Happy Father’s Day!

Contributed by:

Christopher D. Maples

Dad & Director Since 2006

3833 N. Meridian Street

Indianapolis, IN 46208

(o) 317.635.DADS

Poison Awareness

Monday, June 6, 2011

More than 90 percent of the time, poisonings happen in people’s homes. The majority of these poisonings occur in the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. That is why it is important to follow simple steps to prevent a poisoning from happening at home.

Teach your family to never touch or put anything in their mouths unless they know what it is. Below are additional tips on how to keep poisonous items safe in your home. Remember, if you suspect that you or someone you know has been poisoned, immediately call the toll-free Poison Help line (1-800-222-1222), which connects you to your local poison center.

■Keep medicines in their original containers, properly labeled, and store them appropriately.
■Have a working carbon monoxide detector in your home. The best places for a CO detector are near bedrooms and close to furnaces.
■Keep products in their original containers. Do not use food containers (such as cups or bottles) to store household cleaners and other chemicals or products.
■Some art products are mixtures of chemicals. They can be dangerous if not used correctly. Make sure children use art products safely by reading and following directions.
■Do not eat or drink while using art products.
■Wash skin after contact with art products. Clean equipment. Wipe tables, desks, and counters.
■Keep art products in their original containers.
■Wash hands and counters before preparing all food.
■Store food at the proper temperatures. Refrigerated foods should not be left out at temperatures above 40 degrees F (5 degrees C).
■Use clean utensils for cooking and serving.
■Know what poisonous snakes live in your area and wear proper attire (boots, etc.) when hiking outdoors.
■Check the label on any insect repellent. Be aware that most contain DEET, which can be poisonous in large quantities.
■Be sure that everyone in your family can identify poisonous mushrooms and plants. Remember when it comes to poison ivy, "leaves of three, let it be."
If you or someone you know may have been poisoned, call the toll-free line right away at 1-800-222-1222, which connects you to your local poison center. If the person is not breathing, call 911. Do not wait for signs of a poisoning before calling the Poison Help line. When you call, you will speak with a poison expert at your poison center.


Self-Esteem in Teens

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

As you are standing and perhaps arguing with your teen, you may be wondering how this person “who knows everything” could possibly have low self-esteem. Well, how high the decibel level at which they are shouting all the answers, may be in direct proportion to how low their self-esteem is. As everyone knows, adolescence is a time of great change. Youth are maturing physically and emotionally, and their brains are not even yet fully developed. Peers take over from parents in terms of whose opinion matters more (although don’t underestimate the role YOU still play in your teen’s life). Youth often struggle with body image (yes…even boys), their looks, how they fit in, their future, and many begin to face decisions that would best be put off until they were adults (sexuality, drinking, etc). They are inundated with images from the TV, internet, magazines, and now their phones. These images are often unrealistic portrayals of their more celebrated peers.

So what can we do to help our children develop a positive self-esteem? Start early. Young children need to be reassured about what their strengths are, and that it’s also okay to be human and to have weaknesses and to make mistakes. It’s the positive manner in which we deal with our weaknesses and mistakes that can build self-esteem. Talk with your children when you see unrealistic images through the media. Ask them their opinion, and how they view those images. Check in with your children about how things are going at school or with their friends. Pay attention if they mention that they are being teased or put down, or if they start to put themselves down. Ask where those feelings are coming from. Don’t assume that all of these behaviors and remarks are just a part of “growing up”. If you feel that your child will better listen or take advice from another trusted adult or peer, then certainly try that route. If areas do not improve, or if you are starting to notice signs of depression, you may want to consult a professional.

Children are very fragile when it comes to their self-worth, especially teens, so be careful about any teasing, no matter how innocently you intend it. Also, check in with your own self-worth. Children can pick up on these things, and it may impact how they grow to view themselves.

So, the next time you are in a heated discussion with your teen, remember that he or she is probably (and painfully) aware that they do not know all of the answers, but at least want to feel worthy enough to be asked the questions.

The Great Outdoors

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

If you lived in Indiana this year, you must be wondering, “What is SHE THINKING?” There’s been NOTHING great about the OUTDOORS, lately. Well, what my 40-some years of experience in this great state have proven is: THE GOOD STUFF’S COMING! Soon all the wet, cold weather will be behind us, and we will look forward to warm, sunny days of summer! (I know…we skipped spring, but alas…) Who knows, we may be grilling out, playing a ball game, or walking with our pets tonight! There is so much we can do in the Great Outdoors in Indiana!

First you might check out the back-to-nature state parks! They often have various ways to stay over, either in a cabin, hotel or campsite. You might be able to rent bikes or horses to ride. Or just traipse along a trail that could lead you to beautiful waterfalls at Clifty Falls, or soaring cliffs at Turkey Run!

If you feel like you’ve done everything you can in your own “backyard”, and then take a road trip! Discover a new place you’ve never been. I suggest New Harmony, where folks were hoping to create a utopia of a town. Santa Claus is wonderful fun in the summertime, filled with roller coasters and a fantastic water park! Up north, the dunes of Lake Michigan are like being on any beach, and so much fun! Ft. Wayne and Indianapolis both have fantastic zoos! The county and state fairs will be coming soon too.

Make it a priority to do something new and different with your family this summer. The opportunities are yours to make memories that will last a lifetime.

By Carol Cochard Pool, MSW, Prevention Educator, Prevent Child Abuse IN


Monday, May 16, 2011

Renowned Therapist Virginia Satir has a wonderful quote: (worthy of cutting and pasting, and posting on your refrigerator door for all to see!)…”Feelings of worth can flourish only in a atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible - the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family!”

So, to recap: appreciating each person in our family, whether or not they are like we are; realizing that mistakes are a part of learning and growing; Talking about ANYTHING is OK; and though rules must be set, remembering they need to be flexible…ARE ALL IMPORTANT GOALS FOR FAMILIES.

Becoming (and staying) a healthy, happy family may take time! There are several tips to consider, especially if these concepts are new to a family. Take time to consider what it might look like to be a healthy individual…one might look at his\her: 1. physical needs, like taking care of the physical body by exercising, getting regular medical checks, and practicing good hygiene. 2. Mental/emotional needs, like talking to a trusted individual or seeing a therapist when times are tough. 3. Spiritual health, might be taking care of our inner self on a very deep level, may or may not mean “religion” but ways we nurture our spirit, like walks, appreciating nature, or other meditation. 4. Having occupation, work or school to keep our mind/hands fulfilled. 5. Always being open to self-awareness, as we all have room for improvement. These suggestions might be a great starting point, to look at self wellness, then moving toward family wellness.

Other tips professionals offered on this topic:

1. Do set rules/boundaries/consequences with children, which are developmentally appropriate and flexible, and either reward for appropriate behaviors (BEST CHOICE), or enforce consequences when rules are broken. Even when consequences are enforced, it can be done in a respectful, matter-of-fact manner. There is no need for yelling, name calling or swearing. Consequences might include: taking away a favorite toy, game, time with friend, etc. Or it could be a time-out, remembering 1 minute per age.

2. Talk together as a family (The exception to this tip, might be that parents don’t have to share their “gory details,” about their private lives.)

3. Eat together! Research plays this one over and over. Loads of benefits!

4. Play together!

5. Keep family rituals.

6. Make your home a PEACEFUL place. Remember there are very few times when strong, emotional reactions are necessary. If you find your day is filled with yelling, swearing, etc…maybe it’s time to visit a mental health professional or a support group.

Mostly remember that we all need improvement; no one is perfect. Don’t forget that calling for assistance is a strength! In Indiana, folks can call The 211 number, for general social service calls, or 1-800-CHILDREN.

By: Carol Cochard Pool, MSW; Educator, PCAIN

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Protection from sun exposure is important all year round, not just during the summer or at the beach. Ultraviolet (UV) rays can reach you on cloudy and hazy days, as well as bright and sunny days. UV rays also reflect off of surfaces like water, cement, sand, and snow.

The hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. daylight savings time (9 a.m. to 3 p.m. standard time) are the most hazardous for UV exposure in the continental United States. UV rays are the greatest during the late spring and early summer in North America.

The centers for Disease Control recommends easy options for sun protection1—

■Seek shade, especially during midday hours.
■Wear clothing to protect exposed skin.
■Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears, and neck.
■Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays as possible.
■Use sunscreen with sun protective factor (SPF) 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVB protection.

You can reduce your risk of skin damage and skin cancer by seeking shade under an umbrella, tree, or other shelter before you need relief from the sun. Your best bet to protect your skin is to use sunscreen or wear protective clothing when you're outside—even when you're in the shade.

Loose-fitting long-sleeved shirts and long pants made from tightly woven fabric offer the best protection from the sun's UV rays. A wet T-shirt offers much less UV protection than a dry one. Darker colors may offer more protection than lighter colors.

If wearing this type of clothing isn't practical, at least try to wear a T-shirt or a beach cover-up. Keep in mind that a typical T-shirt has an SPF rating lower than 15, so use other types of protection as well.

For the most protection, wear a hat with a brim all the way around that shades your face, ears, and the back of your neck. A tightly woven fabric, such as canvas, works best to protect your skin from UV rays. Avoid straw hats with holes that let sunlight through. A darker hat may offer more UV protection.

If you wear a baseball cap, you should also protect your ears and the back of your neck by wearing clothing that covers those areas, using sunscreen with at least SPF 15, or by staying in the shade.

Sunglasses protect your eyes from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts. They also protect the tender skin around your eyes from sun exposure.

Sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays offer the best protection. Most sunglasses sold in the United States, regardless of cost, meet this standard. Wrap-around sunglasses work best because they block UV rays from sneaking in from the side.

SunscreenThe sun's UV rays can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes. Put on sunscreen before you go outside, even on slightly cloudy or cool days. Don't forget to put a thick layer on all parts of exposed skin. Get help for hard-to-reach places like your back.

How sunscreen works. Most sun protection products work by absorbing, reflecting, or scattering sunlight. They contain chemicals that interact with the skin to protect it from UV rays. All products do not have the same ingredients; if your skin reacts badly to one product, try another one or call a doctor.

Sunscreens are assigned a sun protection factor (SPF) number that rates their effectiveness in blocking UV rays. Higher numbers indicate more protection. You should use a sunscreen with at least SPF 15.

Reapplication. Sunscreen wears off. Put it on again if you stay out in the sun for more than two hours, and after you swim or do things that make you sweat.

Expiration date. Check the sunscreen's expiration date. Sunscreen without an expiration date has a shelf life of no more than three years, but its shelf life is shorter if it has been exposed to high temperatures.

. Some make-up and lip balms contain some of the same chemicals used in sunscreens. If they do not have at least SPF 15, don't use them by themselves.

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Today, May 3rd, is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. In fact, May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. Families and communities need to insure that the emotional health needs of children are being met, and need to insure that their own emotional health needs are being cared for.

Often when we speak of mental health, people imagine extreme situations of mental illness or some type of detachment from reality. Although these types of situations occur, emotional issues are usually much less extreme, and positive mental health is something we should be practicing every day. Emotional issues can occur due to a sudden life change, like a death or some other type of loss, or they can be from some type of chemical imbalance. They can be short term, or in other situations they may linger. The bottom line is that mental health, just like physical health, is a huge spectrum on which many people may fall.

Take every opportunity to maintain your emotional health, just as you would (should) your physical health. Get plenty of sleep, enjoy food, but be sure to primarily eat meals that are well-balanced…this advice is especially true for children, as it will help them in maintaining a healthy weight, as well as assisting in healthy brain development.

Although it’s impossible to be positive all the time, maintaining a general positive outlook aids in stress management, and also is a wonderful trait to model for children. It is also beneficial for interpersonal relationships.

Keep children’s self-esteem at its peak. Children need to be loved and praised, and let them know often what their strengths are. Even when a child is in need of discipline, it can be done in such a way that it is teaching the child, not just punishing. That also aids the child in learning how to deal with adverse situations in a more appropriate manner.

Sometimes there are mental health issues that are more prolonged or serious. Professional guidance should be sought in those situations. There are wonderful therapies out there even for very young children. Mental health issues do not have the stigma they once held, and there are many resources available to assist both children and adults. It takes a great deal of strength to ask for help, and in the long run it will be beneficial to everyone in a family or community. For more information, please go to

April is Alcohol Awareness Month AND Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Alcohol and other drugs are often linked to child abuse and neglect. Statistics demonstrate that clearly every year. Many children who grow up with drugs or alcohol in the home have an increased risk of early experimentation due to its being so readily available.

People need to remember what the true priority is in their lives…their CHILDREN. Their children can be their incentive to taking control over their lives.

Other helpful steps might be:

Keeping all drugs, legal or not, locked away from children. Keep alcohol locked away as well. Making or selling drugs is illegal, and can lead to your being away from your family for a long time. Even the controversial, “marijuana should be legalized,” can be a “gateway” drug to other more addicting drugs…especially for young people.

Admitting you might have a problem is the first step. There are many places that want to help folks with addiction problems. Please call 1-800-CHILDREN or 211 for more information. Help exists; seek it out.

Kids and Humor: Beyond Booger Jokes

Monday, April 18, 2011

Charlie is my great-nephew. He’s four years old and is one of the funniest kids I know. He often spends weekends with my sister Pat, his grandmother. Recently Pat told me, “After Charlie's bath I told him to hurry and get his pajamas on before he got cold, and he bowed down, rubbed his hands together and said in a deep voice, ‘Whatever you say, Pat!’"

Charlie cracks me up. He exhibits a charming combination of both adult and child-like humor abilities, moving at lightning speed between poop jokes and eyebrow-raising sarcasm.

For years we’ve heard about the benefits of humor for adults. The physical benefits include increased dopamine and endorphins, better relaxation response, reduced pain and lower stress. Humor has cognitive benefits as well, assisting with creativity and problem-solving. Appropriate use of humor can elevate your mood, lift depression, increase self-esteem and help you be more resilient in the face of adversity.

The same benefits apply to kids. Humor is a powerful tool for success in life. The old idea that a sense of humor is something people are born with (or not born with) just isn’t true. In fact, kids develop a sense of humor from their interactions with the adults around them, and it begins in those early days when parents try to coax a smile from a newborn!

Louis R. Franzini, PhD, is the author of “Kids Who Laugh: How to Develop Your Child’s Sense of Humor.” Franzini says, “Why should you make a conscious effort to develop this quality in your child? Because a well-developed sense of humor is a genuine asset to any child and helps ensure a strong, positive self-image. A child who enjoys and remembers a joke or riddle and passes it on to others feels an enormous personal accomplishment and establishes friendships at the same time.”

So how can parents and caregivers help kids develop a sense of humor? It’s not like they have “Kids’ Night” at the local comedy club! First, it helps to remember that humor is, at its core, a creative act. It’s not all about jokes. In fact, jokes are just one tool to use in developing humor.

Here are a few suggestions for helping kids develop humor skills:

Game night: Have a family game night once a week. Playing board games like Monopoly or Candyland helps kids learn to strategize and work together. You can make it even more fun by changing the rules or by playing in teams. Kids take their social cues from the adults around them, so use this as an opportunity to model being able to have fun even if you lose the game.

What Happens Next: Play a portion of a funny movie or video. Stop it at some point and ask everyone what they think will happen next (make sure it’s one that no one has seen yet!). Kids can use their imaginations to create amazing—and sometimes hilarious--outcomes!

Backwards Meal: Just for kicks, serve a meal in backwards order. Start with dessert, then the main course, then salad or soup. Involve the kids in the menu planning.

Harmful versus Helpful Humor: Talk with your children about how some kinds of humor can hurt people. Jokes or comments that attack a person’s appearance, ethnic background, religion or other personal attributes can make people laugh at someone else’s expense. While much humor has a target, it’s best to stick with targets that don’t cause individuals harm. Jokes about football teams or cafeteria food are a safer bet than jokes about someone’s weight or age.

Greeting Cards: Look at some funny greeting cards with your kids and try to come up with your own funny lines for the cards. (Just remember, if you’re on a roll and falling down laughing in the aisles, they might ask you to leave Walgreen’s. J)

License Plate Game: Many license plates in Indiana have two or three letters along with the numbers. Ask your kids to come up with a funny phrase to match the letters. For instance, BDC might stand for “Baby Driving Car” or TNW could be “Truck Needs Washed.”

Dr. Franzini shares some online resources for humor in his book. Here are a few that might be helpful to you:

■Halife: This site includes jokes, riddles, and other fun activities for kids, as well as humor for adults that is nonetheless appropriate for family consumption.
■Humor Matters: Part of a larger site “dedicated to the power and practice of positive therapeutic humor,” this site presents a slew of kid-safe riddles.
■PBS Kids: Created by the Public Broadcasting Service, PBS Kids provides a joke site, games, silly stories, and many more fun—and funny—activities for kids.

By Mary Armstrong-Smith, Community Partners Director

The Lesson of the Pinwheel

Friday, April 8, 2011

As many of you know, the pinwheel has become the new symbol for child abuse prevention…the vision for childhood in a sense. We use pinwheels during many of our events in April, as well as throughout the rest of the year. We always have a “kick-off” at the beginning of April to launch our celebration of Child Abuse Prevention Month. As a part of this event, we plant hundreds of pinwheels at a designated (and populated) area. This year we planted in front of the Indiana State Museum. Not only do people see them as they’re walking and driving by, it’s also a great spot for all of the “goings on” around the Final Four! As the pinwheels turn and glimmer in the sunlight, people slow down as they drive, and stop and look as they walk.

The Kick-Off was a great success, and the decision was made to keep the pinwheels planted so that people could enjoy them, and so that our symbol for prevention could be sustained. Then came Sunday night. Spring in Indiana can be unyielding at times, and the weather on Sunday was even beyond the typical spring storms we usually have to endure. The wind and the rains were dangerous and torrential, and it appeared as though anything in this storm’s path would be laid victim to it. Monday still held rain for us, but as the week progressed, things started looking up. On Tuesday, a colleague of mine and I were talking about having to go and pick-up the pinwheels, but also joked that in reality, they were probably somewhere on the East Coast by now. Then an eye witness came upon the scene and reported that not only were the pinwheels still in Indiana, they were still planted in the ground! Well this I had to see. I went to the lawn of the State Museum on Wednesday, and there they were…still glimmering and turning in the wind…almost all 1,000 of them. I have to be honest and say I got a little choked-up that they were all still standing, and then I personified and thanked them for their tremendous effort. It’s as if they knew they had a cause to represent, and they refused to be blown down. Some of them had their “backs” to the wind, while others were broken and shredded, but they were still standing. It sort of reminded me of the work we all do to insure the rights of children. We certainly have to face some very heavy “storms”… storms that try to knock us down or blow us away, but we need to be reminded of the lesson of these little pinwheels, and just keep turning with the wind, and keep standing up to it.

April Events in Indiana for National Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention Awareness Month

Friday, April 1, 2011

Mar 28 - PCA Vigo County - Blue Ribbon/Kick-Off; 11:30 a.m. Mayoral Proclamation and Noon -1p.m.“Beyond the Playground: Nuts & Bolts of Cyber-Bullying at the Vigo Public Library; Pinwheel Garden

Mar 29 - PCAIN BTC Conference 10:30am-8pm @ Radisson Hotel Indpls Airport

Mar 31 – PCA Scott County Proclamation Signing at Judge Duvall’s Court room at 8:15 am

Apr 1 - April PCA Month Kickoff – 10a.m. White River State Park Pumphouse Amphitheater, Indianapolis

Apr 1 – PCA Tippecanoe County - Proclamation @ County Courthouse Fountain 12 Noon

Apr 2 – PCA Lake County - In conjunction with Community Partners Child Abuse Prevention Walkathon "Keeping Kids Safe in our Communities" at Gleason Park in Gary IN (across from IUN) - 9 a.m. – noon

Apr 2 – PCA LaPorte County (Dunebrook) – Radio Day

Apr 3 – PCA Tippecanoe County – Blue Sunday

Apr 5 – PCA Delaware County – Presentation on Prevention of Drug & Alcohol Abuse by Milton Creagh @ Muncie Central

Apr 6 - PCA Delaware County – Candlelight Vigil & Proclamation by Mayor 7pm at City Hall in Muncie

Apr 6 - PCA Grant Co 9am Education Session & Kids Count Luncheon (Marion)

Apr 6 – PCA Dearborn/Ohio Counties – Appreciation Luncheon 11-1pm at the DCS Conference Room, Mary Street in Greendale (no cost)

Apr 7 - Family Fun Day at the Children’s Museum 3-8 pm (Indpls)

Apr 7 – PCA Knox County The Stop, Look & Prevent Child Abuse Event 4pm at Fortnightly Club in Vincennes

Apr 9 – PCA Delaware County/Meridian Services – “We Have A Voice Walk” (register at or day of event at 8:30am; walk begins at 9am at Ball State University’s Worthen Arena

Apr 9 – PCA LaPorte County (Dunebrook) Barnes & Noble Bookfair

Apr 12 – PCA Howard County Annual Meeting featuring Dr. Harvey Karp 8am-Noon at Oakbrook Church in Kokomo

Apr 13 – PCA Elkhart County – Children’s Services on Hope 4 pm at CAPS office

Apr 13 – PCA Clark/Floyd Counties – March Across the Ohio River Walk at 9:30am; Rally at 10am

Apr 13 – PCA Clinton County – Blue Jean day with proceeds going to Quinton’s House

Apr 14 - PCA Delaware County 8:30am Appreciation Breakfast for DCS/ Child Advocacy Center Team

Apr 16 – PCA Hendricks County –2nd Annual Family Fun day at Hummel Park in Plainfield 1-4pm

Apr 16 – PCA Hamilton County – Child Care Answers Conference

Apr 19 – PCA Vigo County - Parent University (9 speakers/3 breakouts sessions speaking on topics related to parenting infants/toddlers/pre-school/school-age/teens) 6-8:30pm at Sarah Scott Middle School, 1000 Grant, Terre Haute

Apr 20 - PCA Scott County – 11am-1:30pm Darkness to Light Steward of Children Program (training) RSVP by Apr 12th at 752-2503 or email

Apr 20 – PCA Lake County - in conjunction with Community Partners Fatherhood Conference on Domestic Violence - "What Is a Real Father?" - Avalon Manor, Hobart 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Apr 20 – PCA Johnson County Kenosis Counseling Child Abuse Treatment 11:30-1

Apr 23 - Matt Breman Memorial 5K Walk/Run – Buggs Temple, Indps Pre-registration at 8:30; Walk begins at 9:00 a.m.

Apr 23 – PCA Vigo County – Pancake Breakfast fundraising event at Applebee’s South in Terre Haute - 7:30-9:30am

Apr 27 – PCA LaPorte County (Dunebrook) Child Abuse Advisory Meeting

Apr 28 – PCA Tippecanoe County – Family Fun event at Snapperz Family Fun Center in Lafayette 5-8 pm

Apr 29 – PCA Lake County - in conjunction with IUN and other organizations - Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Forum at Indiana University Northwest – 9am-2:30pm. Speakers will include Jim Hmurovich, Sharon Pierce and Victor Rivas Rivera. A Lake County Prevention Plan will be unveiled at this event.

Apr 29 – PCA Orange County Prevent Child Abuse Vigil 5-7pm at Paoli Town Park

Apr 30 – PCA Jackson County Kids Fest 10am-1pm

Monday, we had the pleasure of speaking with actress Patty Duke about her journey through mental illness. Ms. Duke will be speaking at our annual Breaking the Cycle Conference next Tuesday, but was willing to answer questions prior to that event for individuals who would not be able to attend. Below are highlights of the interview with her.

When asked about what prompted her to finally get help, she responded that she could no longer function the way that she had been. She knew that she had to do it for herself, her family, and for her children. She felt “compelled” to feel good. She went on to say that after she did get help, she had a great deal of “debris” to clean up. She said she has never used her mental illness as an excuse, and she still wanted to be held accountable for any hurt that she may have caused during her manic and depressive stages. She is very clear that mental illness can be dealt with, and that people need to get through the fear and denial that impedes them from seeking help. She feels that taking medication and going through talk therapy actually improved her creativity, and also improved her stability in terms of relationships. She knows she has the support of her husband of 25 years, as well as a network of children, grandchildren, and friends. She stresses that those who are living with mental illness should have the support of loved ones to help them through the initial fear and denial, as well as through the process of getting help.

Ms. Duke also wanted to convey that people living with mental illness are still going to be human. Even after they seek help, they are going to go through all of the normal human emotions that everyone has to face…fear, happiness, anxiety, sadness, joy. She commented that after getting help though, individuals will be able to have and express those emotions in a much more balanced fashion.

Again, we wish to thank Ms. Duke for speaking with us, and for speaking out about this very important issue.

Abuse and Children with Disabilities

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The prevalence of maltreatment involving children with disabilities is at a higher rate than maltreatment of children without special needs. The National Research Council reports the range from 22% to as high as 70 percent. The perpetrators, as in most maltreatment cases, are often people who know the victim. Family members, caregivers, and any ancillary professionals might be the person perpetrating the abuse.

A child whose disability includes communication difficulties can be at particular risk, since that child may not be able to report abuse or neglect. Other children may not report because they do not understand what abuse or neglect is.

Prevent Child Abuse Indiana promotes initiatives that can help prevent these abuses from ever happening in the first place.

Here are some thoughts:

*If you are a parent or caregiver of a child with a disability, seek assistance! There are resources and individuals who can assist you. There are support groups and internet supports available to you. Here in Indiana, you can always call 1-800-CHILDREN, or the 211 social service helpline to access those groups.

*If you are a parent or caregiver, know that YOU DESERVE BREAKS! So you might need to gather a respite group of individuals who can assist you with those well deserved breaks! Taking care of yourself is JUST AS IMPORTANT as caring for someone else!

*If you are a parent or caregiver, besides just regular “fun” breaks, you may need someone to talk to, like a professional, clergy, family member or friend.

*Encourage those who either work with or educate your child to use the “open door” policy. This means being aware that there are very few places that one- on -one time needs to be in a private space. Doors can be open during most sessions. Parents/caregivers can be close by without interfering with therapy or educational activities.

*Children with disabilities can be educated about the risks of abuse, and about ownership of their bodies. Basic sexuality education, like knowing the names of their body parts, and that they can choose to give others’ permission or to deny permission to touch their bodies, might be explained in understandable ways. (This can be difficult, as doctors , nurses and therapists may need to give hurtful touches that no one likes, but might be necessary. They too can still ask permission. Parents and caregivers may be there to support the child.) Still, it is important to seek permission so that children learn ownership of THEIR BODIES!

*Lastly, everyone can learn about the signs of abuse and neglect. Trainings and continuing education for those with disabilities, their families, legal professionals, judges, prosecutors, medical professionals, victim advocacy centers, Guardians ad Litem, public defenders and police officers are a vital part of continuing education. The signs are not different than for other children. People’s attitudes about children with disabilities might want to attribute a change in their behavior on the disability, and deny the possibility of abuse or neglect. Training and an open mind could change this thinking.

In Indiana, it is everyone’s responsibility to watch out for ALL children. Let’s keep Indiana a safe place to raise all of them!