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: www.halife.com/kids/kids.html 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: www.humormatters.com/kidsjoke 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: www.pbskids.org 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 ww.carecouncilin.org 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 Joan.Kelley@fssa.in.gov

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