Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sue Scheff: Penguin Parenting - Is parenting black and white?


As we enter into 2010 parenting has taken on a whole new look, but has it really?

Years ago our parents worried about us and what our future will be. Today: That is still the same.

Years ago our parents told us we needed to finish high school and get an education. Today: That is still the same.

Years ago our parents told us someday we would understand why they wouldn't allow something. Today: That is true, as we parent our own kids and think back about how we have come full circle.

Years ago our parents said we should respect authority, always. Today: That is still the same.

Years ago our parents told us that we need to learn responsibility. Today: That is still the same.

Is parenting really black and white? If only it were that easy, however it is the same as it was years ago except:

  • You are reading this article online instead of picking up the paper off your front step.
  • You are conversing with your kids either via text or email.
  • You are learning about technology and how to not only keep your kids safe in general, you need to worry about what is lurking in cyberspace.
Yes, going into 2010 in the parenting world may be the same in a lot of ways, however today you have many more resources and access to become an educated parent - so those exceptions will help you learn more about what your kids are doing - both online and off!

Must read: Parenting 2010: Getting Ahead of Your Kids Virtually. (5 part series)

Also on Examiner.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Sue Scheff: Drunk Driving Prevention


New Year's Eve is this week! During the holiday season the increase in drunk driving is a major concern. What many don't think about is buzzed driving harms the same way drunk driving does.

Here are some tips to prevent drunk driving during New Year's Eve from eHow.com:

Step 1: Plan ahead. Discuss with your friends a plan for all of you to return home safely. You can pick a designated driver, arrange for someone who has not been drinking to pick you up or plan to use public transportation or a cab. Arrange to pick up the car the following day.
Step 2: Drive home a friend who has had too much to drink. That way you will know that your friend did not accept a ride from a stranger, drive herself or otherwise risk her life and the lives of others.
Step 3: Invite the person who has had too much to drink to sleep over. He won't have to return for his car the next day, and everyone remains safe.
Step 4: Take the keys. Be calm and firm, but be certain to take the keys away from anyone who drinks too much and intends to drive. You can be proactive and take the keys early in the evening. If the person is sober, you can easily give back her keys.
Step 5: If you don't know the person well, enlist help in getting the keys. Ask a bartender for help. Many bars have plans in place to deal with drivers who drink too much, especially on New Year's Eve. Do not hesitate to ask a friend, a host or a family member for assistance.

Tips & Warnings

Remember the saying, "Friends don't let friends drink and drive." (or buzzed!)

Don't take a chance that lack of action on your part might make it possible for an accident to occur.


Do not rely on someone's physical appearance to determine her state of intoxication.


In some communities, you may be legally liable if an accident occurs as the result of someone drinking too much alcohol that was provided by you.


Take the pledge to eliminate drunk driving. Visit MADD.

Remember, Buzzed Driving is drunk driving! Watch video.

Have a safe and healthy New Year!


Also on Examiner.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sue Scheff: SEXTING - What Parents Need to Know


Parenting resolutions are ones that you can't afford to ignore or neglect after a few weeks. One of 2009's hot and trendy topics is "sexting." What is sexting? It is the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photos electronically, primarily between cell phones.

We don't need more reminders of what sexting can cause emotionally to students. In Florida we had the sad story of cyber tragedy that ended in the suicide of 13 year-old Hope Witsell.

Here are some tips and what parents need to know and use now and in 2010. (Source: Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy):

Set time of day limits on cell phone usage: While many parents have a hard time regulating the number of texts per month and have surrendered to "unlimited texting", you can control the hours that your teen texts. We suggest determining a time when cell phones come of the pocket or out of the bedroom and are placed in a central location on a charger along with your cell phone. Kids who are permitted to keep their cell phones in their room overnight on average get less sleep and are often times texting in the middle of the night. Make the right choice in allowing your teen to obtain uninterrupted sleep by limiting the hours that they have phone access and set rules on when texting is appropriate.

Take laptops out of your child's bedroom: While computers and the Internet provide wonderful educational opportunities and help teens study, they also can provide 24 hour access to social networking sites, instant messaging and email at times when children are not supervised. By removing computers from the teen's bedroom and placing them in a central location, like a family room or kitchen, teens are less likely to have inappropriate contact through the computer and are more likely to notify a parent about an unusual or disturbing message.

Keep computers and laptops in a common area: Studies have shown that teenagers are less likely to engage in risky behavior if they are accessing the Internet in a common room or area where others are likely to be present. This is even true if no one is standing over their shoulder. Just the fact that you can glance at what is on the screen is enough to make kids think twice before going to inappropriate Internet sites or having conversations with individuals who they may not know. Keeping the computer in a common area can only help your child make safe decisions.

Know your child's username and password: While some parents and most all kids groan at the idea of allowing you access to their social networking page, email account or instant messaging, it really is important. The fact that you have access to the information, despite the fact that you may never actually look, protects kids from making bad choices. What's more, in the unlikely event that something should happen to your child, rather than wasting valuable time while law enforcement obtains subpoenas or search warrants, you can quickly access your child's personal Internet conversations and contacts in a matter of seconds. In nearly all cases, once law enforcement is given the access to the on line material, a missing child has been returned or someone who is targeting your child has been apprehended. It's a small piece of information that can have remarkable results if necessary.

Talk to your child about cyberbullying: Today's bullies are no longer the stereotypical "tough kid" in school, but can often times be a physical small child or a straight "A" student. Cyberbullying can happen around the clock due to Internet and cell phone access, which makes your home no longer "safe" from the bully. With 24-hour access to technology, bullying can continue no matter where the victim goes. Talk to your child about bullying and being bullied. If you feel your child is the target of cyberbullying notify law enforcement immediately.

Be sure to read the Five-Part series of Parenting in 2010 and how you can become better in tune with your kids technically ending with T.A.L.K.

Reminder: 2009 Parenting Tips Wrap-up - Continue to keep those lines of communication open.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sue Scheff: Central Florida Animal Food Pantry - 9 year-old boy inspires


Calling all animal lovers, Zach Wilson is a little boy with a huge heart! His love for animals is contagious and what a perfect time of year to spotlight this wonderful story.

On Tuesday, December 22, 2009 Zach Wilson and his goal to feed and take care of pets was featured on NBC Nightly News, Making a Difference and that he is! (Watch video below).

Fourth grader Zach Wilson, along with his mother, Erica, created a food pantry for pets. Many kids his age are anxiously waiting for Santa to visit them, and there is nothing wrong with that (we were all excited little tots once), however to see this expression of generosity is nothing short of inspirational.

Zach has even bigger plans for the future, he wants to build a sanctuary for animals!

With today's economy, many people are having to cut back on expenses. Zach's mission is to help as many of them as possible so the pets don't miss their shots or in need of food. Here is Zach's dream:

We need some place that can help people keep their pets, some place that we can have the pantry, discounted veterinary care, a home for disabled and elderly animals to live out the rest of their days safely with people who love them, and can care for them, some place special.

Can you help build his dream? Learn more about Central Florida Animal Pantry and if you can help, please donate. Donations needed are not only monetary, there may be a skill you have or even office supplies! Check out their list. Central Florida Animal Pantry is a non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization. Your donations are tax deductible.

Follow Zach and his mission on Twitter and Facebook!

Check out our 2009 Inspirational Teens and Kids. Watch for a profile of Zach Wilson in 2010!

Watch the video and learn more about this 9 year-old that radiates inspiration.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sue Scheff: Cybercrime TV to Present World Congress on School Cyber Threats


Cybercrime TV is inviting experts to address 600 policy makers at the International School Safety Convention in Denver, Colorado, April 22-23, 2010, as part of a special session on cyber threats faced by schools, students,teachers, and parents.

Washington, DC December 21, 2009 -- Cybercrime TV (http://www.cybercrime.tv/ ) is inviting experts to address 600 policy makers at the International School Safety Convention in Denver, Colorado, April 22-23, 2010, as part of a special session on cyber threats faced by schools, students, teachers, and parents.

The program chair for the session is Andy Purdy, former U.S. Department of Homeland Security cyber head, and founder of Cybercrime TV. High-definition television highlights of the proceedings will be distributed to media outlets worldwide. Cybercrime TV will also produce with participating speakers print materials and interactive presentations.

Purdy expects topics to include cyber security, cyber bullying, sexting, illegal file sharing, online predators, privacy issues, and potential threats to "middle-mile" broadband projects that connect schools to community responders.

Purdy is particularly interested in announcements about new initiatives that can impact legislation and national investment in securing schools.

Purdy's invitation extends to book authors, filmmakers, documentary producers, researchers, lawmakers, community leaders, and technology developers.

Participants can use the website, Cybercrime.TV, to prepare for the convention and build a community of interest around their themes. The site offers registered members a variety of online tools for collaborating on video and multimedia presentations, as well as private workspaces for connecting with convention attendees.

The International School Safety Convention will take up 12 meeting spaces on the Denver campus of Johnson &Wales University College of Business. The 2-day event is being organized by international school safety leader Michael Dorn for the Denver-based groups, School Safety Partners (http://www.schoolsafetypartners.org ) and the Foundation for the Prevention of School Violence.

Attendees will be primarily high-level decision makers responsible for major school safety funding, business leaders interested in public-private partnerships, and members of the school construction community.

Within the convention, the main feature will be the innovative World Congress on School Safety, which will include Purdy's session on school cyber threats. The fast pace of the agenda is designed to optimize group problemsolving.

Speakers will have a brief period of time in the Jared Polis Auditorium to present their views before a review panel and the general assembly, followed by questions and answers. They will then proceed to an adjoining conference room to continue their discussions with members of the media and other attendees.

In addition, speakers may take part in presentations covering all aspects of school safety prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery, scheduled in 2 more conference spaces.

The convention will be immediately followed by a 30-day television distribution window, during which broadcast video will be distributed to journalists, television news producers, and online and mobile news video providers at more than 25,000 news organizations on all continents.

Experts interested in participating in Purdy's school cyber threats session are welcome to register at Cybercrime.TV and provide a brief profile.
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Also on Examiner.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sue Scheff: 2010 Technology Resolution for Parents - T.A.L.K.


Did you miss my earlier parts 1-4 of this series? Go back, it will help you be an educated parent for 2010 in an effort to stay ahead of your kids with today's technology.

The final part of this series is the most important. Whether you are online or offline your lines of communication with your kids, especially teens, needs to stay and remain open. As difficult as this can be in a busy world we live in, make 2010 the year you start taking time-off to be with your kids - both literally and virtually.

Part 5 - T.A.L.K.

T - Time - Take the time to talk to your kids. Learn more about where they surf online, what their social networking sites are saying and who their friends are - literally and virtually.
A - Action - Take action and be a proactive parent in what sites your kids are visiting, who they are talking to, and what they are doing - literally and virtually.
L - Learn - Educate yourself, take the time to learn about safety resources for you and your family online. An educated parent leads to safer kids and teens - both literally and virtually.
K - Keep-up - Don't stop! Keep checking in on them and their social networking sites as well as their Blogs. Keep it clean, keep it positive and keep involved!

At the end of 2010 make it your goal to be ten steps ahead of your kids technically. Talk to other parents, talk to teachers, talk to guidance counselors and most importantly talk to your kids!

Communication is key to parenting. Never allow those channels, both literally and virtually, to be closed. Talk, talk, talk, and more talk…. It is the resolution all parents need to make and keep for 2010.

Review:

Part 1 - Understand why it is critical to sit down with your kids and teens and review social networking sites.
Part 2 - Learn how to Blog effectively.
Part 3 - Learn how to monitor your child's name online.
Part 4 - Review books, resources and services to help you be a better parent with technology.
Part 5 - T.A.L.K. - Keep those lines of communication open! Both online and off!

Order your free cyber safety booklet through the FTC - click here.

Don't forget to subscribe to my articles to be alerted when updated information on parenting and Internet Safety is posted.

Wishing everyone a safe and healthy New Year, both online and in real life! Surf safely!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sue Scheff: Sneakers for Students - Over 300 Smiles


At this time of the year finding stories that warm your heart helps to get you into the spirit.

In Greenville, South Carolina an entire school received the gift of generosity, compassion and a pair of New Balance sneakers to the entire student body! This wonderful donation came from NewSpring Church. About a month ago, church officials contacted Principal Leda Young and today was the magically day that put a smile on over 300 students faces.

Sadly, Alexander Elementary School is in an area of 100% poverty. NewSpring Church, with Pastor Howard Frist, handed out the new sneakers to the children today. Needless to say, this will be a Christmas they will remember for a long time.

According to WYFF4.com: "It's a very emotional day not only for students but for staff. Sometimes children don't understand circumstances they live in. We work with students daily and see the challenges. So we're happy to see students receive the shoes," said Principal Young.

Do you want to learn more about NewSpring Church? Join them on Facebook.

Merry Christmas and a great start to a fantastic New Year....

Also read on Examiner.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sue Scheff: Shopping Online Safety


As we get closer to Christmas, many are online getting last minute bargains with express shipping. There are some warning signs and tips that consumers need to be aware of.

Are you buying from a credible source? Use caution.

When you search on search engines, such as Google, you will see "Sponsored Listings." Remember, these are paid advertisers. With this it becomes a competition of what vendor or potential scam has the deeper pockets to pay to out-bid the others.

As a small business owner, I have used and limited my use of "Sponsored Listings" for several reasons. First and foremost there are major contenders in many businesses that have a large budget just for this type of marketing. It can be literally impossible for a small business to even compete in the high rankings of Sponsored Listings.

Does this mean the businesses with the larger marketing budget are any better than the small business? Are their products or services any better? Or is their marketing superior? That comes down to personal opinion.

If you find a product or service via a Sponsored Listing, take the time to search the name of the company in the Google, Bing, Yahoo search box. Determine if they are a business that has longevity, media, or other articles and websites about them. Are they a member of the Better Business Bureau?

As you surf online this final week prior Christmas, take an extra few minutes to be sure you are buying from a reliable vendor. Remember, there is Internet fact and a lot of Internet fiction or fraud. It is up to you not to get caught in the web.

Reminder: Holiday Safety Tips

This article is not targeted at all Sponsored Listings, it is only a heads-up about how some vendors may use this technique to entice consumers.

Also on Examiner.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teaching Teens About Gratitude


Holiday time is perfect opportunity to teach your kids and teens how to express their gratitude for the gifts they receive.

Taking the time to show how much you appreciate a gift or simply wanting to thank someone for inviting you to a holiday party you attended is a practice both adults and children should do.

Teach your child that although they don't have to write an essay, they need to be descriptive and write with excitement about the generosity someone gave them. Of course, even if you didn't care for the gift, it is not about the material item as it is about appreciation. Someone thought of you and extended a present of thoughtfulness.

Here is a quick template that could help you get your kids started. Of course you can use your own adjectives and words, but this can give you an idea. Holiday can be substituted for Christmas or Hanukkah.

Dear [ Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt, Uncle, Cousin, Friend, etc],

Thank you so much for the ___. It is [beautiful, just my size, useful, helpful, will be handy for __, perfect, exactly what I wanted, just what I needed, etc.]

Our holidays were [fun, quiet, exciting, lots of food, enjoyable, wonderful etc.]

I really appreciated your [kindness, generosity, thoughtfulness, consideration, visit, etc.]

[Love, Sincerely, Much Gratitude, Cordially, Warmly, Yours, etc.]

There, wasn't that easy! So while you are out shopping for those gifts, don't for the thank you cards!

Click here to subscribe to my articles on parenting and Internet safety.

Also on Examiner.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sue Scheff: Learning About Child Abuse and Discusing with your Kids


"I Promise Not To Tell' - A Story of Courage, written by Kara Tamanini, is a children's book that gently approaches a subject that many cringe to even think about.

Kara Tamanini is also a Gainesville Examiner and recently discussed "I Promise Not To Tell" and gave you more information on recognizing and reporting child abuse.

This book is one that should be read with an adult, parent or child provider. The illustrations by Al Margolis, are engaging, colorful and helps the child to relate and understand to Abby's story of reporting her father's inappropriate touching.

I Promise Not To Tell is an excellent and educational tool in helping children learn more about abusive relationships, allowing them to know it is safe to report inappropriate behavior by adult, even if it is a parent. Physical, sexual as well as verbal abuse is not acceptable.

Learn more about Kids Awareness Series and Kara Tamanini visit her website at http://www.kidsawarenessseries.com/  and follow her on Twitter @KidTherapist.

To report child abuse contact your local child protective agency or the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sue Scheff: Art Possibilities - Empowering Adults with Autism


Art Possibilities is a not-for-profit organization founded by Mayra Ron. She is an author, however first and foremost she is the mother of Christian Early. Mayra started this wonderful organization when she became frustrated by the lack of resources for her adult son with autism. She soon realized she was not alone.

Her mission statement:

"To create an art studio to help adults with autism and related disabilities integrate into society. Through art methodology, we will discover each student's strength, and develop that strength while at the same time modifying his or her character, self-esteem, social conduct, and providing vehicles of employment and economic sustenance for these adults. In addition, one hour of physical activity will be provided each day."

A bit about Christian:

Christian's first book as an illustrator is Can You See Me? A View of Our World by an Adult with Autism. It's the story of a shark who encounters him on the beach and through his friendly probing, manages to "see" Christian past his label and wonders why society doesn't. His paintings and cartoons are also featured in his mother's second book, Diary of a Crazy Woman: One Woman's Fight to Help her Son with Autism Find a Place in the World.

Yet it's important to recognize painting for this 25-year-old adult with autism did not come easily. Christian began his painting career at 17 with mere awkward lines.

Learn more about this wonderful organization and Christian at http://www.artpossibilities.net/ .

Watch the introduction video by Mayra Ron.

Also on Examiner.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sue Scheff: Giving Books that Give Back


Cartoonist and author, Tom Wilson, also known as Ziggy, is generously contributing 100% of his royalties to LIVESTRONG in memory of his wife, Susan. She passed away of breast cancer on November 18, 2000.


From today until Susan's birthday, January, 19, 2010 when you order any books from Health Communications, Inc. (HCI) through this affiliate link, http://zigzagging.hcibooks.com/  a percentage will be donated to LIVESTRONG.

Health Communications Inc. offers a wonderful library of self-help books, inspirational books, Memoirs and so much more. HCI is the original home of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series and is now continuing their heartfelt generosity to LIVESTRONG.

I am privileged that HCI is also my publisher and able to add my books to the list that will be giving back.

Check out the slideshow for a few of the titles and explore HCI's website. Be sure to enter HCI through http://zigzagging.hcibooks.com/  to order the books. It is holiday time and books make a perfect gift for everyone! From children to grandparents, you will find the perfect title to fit your holiday list!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sue Scheff: Give the Gift of Virtual 'Presence'


Many people are out shopping those sales or using the Internet to shop for them. Have you stopped to think about who you are? What does your online identity say about you?
Maybe you have been a victim of identity theft? Worse could be character theft! That is irreplaceable without a lot of time, energy and tech savvy. Which brings us to a recent column and a perfect holiday gift to yourself or others (especially those hard to buy for).

Recently Wall Street Journal columnist Elizabeth Bernstein wrote an excellent column on Internet revenge, 'The Dark Side of Webtribution' and I was flattered to be in her article. She shared how it is imperative that people realize the power of the Internet, including social networking.

What people and especially small businesses need to understand is your online presence is priceless - giving someone (or yourself) a gift of their own URL, Blog or website can be cost effective yet valuable beyond words.

*Help jump-start your potential college applicant/application.
*Out of work? Learn to promote your skills online.
*Professional or small business owner? Learn to own and manage your virtual image.
Let's learn how to begin to create this gift of virtual holiday presence. Click here for tips and ideas.
Click here for part 2. Offers great tips and ideas for giving a virtual gift of pressence.

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sue Scheff: Give Holiday Cards that Give Back


Do you send holiday cards? Why not give cards that give back? Cards That Give is a source for charity greeting cards that give you an opportunity to give to organizations that do good all year round! Cards That Give lets you know how much of the overall cost of the cards benefits the charities, and whether that cost is tax deductible.

Are you interested animal welfare? You will find links that support the ASPCA, the Humane Society and other groups. Are you into the arts? Museums, Autism Speaks, Special Olympics, New York Botanical Gardens, American Cancer Society, and so many more! There is a complete list of charities you can choose from that participate in Cards That Give. You can also search by charity type.

Do you have a charity you that you would like to be part of Cards That Give? Review the criteria and see if you can be part of this wonderful and beneficial organization.

Take a look at the gallery of charities and cards. Check out some of the meaningful and heartfelt cards that not only will bring joy to the person receiving it, will benefit a charity.

Reminder: Holiday Safety Tips
Gifts that are priceless
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Also on Examiner.com

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sue Scheff: Trees for Troops - Christmas Spirit Foundation


The Trees for Troops program donates thousands of Christmas trees to military personnel.
Trees for Troops weekend starts December 4th through December 6th.


What: Consumers can buy a tree to send to the troopsWhere: At participating farms and lots. Click here for a list (pdf). (If this link doesn't take you directly to the list, go to Charitable Programs, Trees for Troops page for FAQ and scroll down to see if there is a location near you.


Note: If there are no locations near you, you can make a donation on-line or by mail.


Why: Consumers have been asking how they can help with the Trees for Troops program


If you are in Broward County, those who purchase Christmas Trees at Calvary Chapel Sawgrass Church in Davie (1775 S. Flamingo Road) will be able to donate trees to the cause. For more information visit http://www.treesfortroops.org/ or call locally (754) 422-2861.
Reminder: Holiday Safety Tips


Cards That Give is another charitable organization to help others.


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Monday, November 30, 2009

Sue Scheff: Kid Critic Holiday Gift Guide 2009


Lane, the Kid Critic reviews movies, books, entertainment, food and more that’s Kid-Friendly and Family-Friendly. Everything is written and reviewed by a kid, from a kid’s point of view.

Any and all locations are in Massachusetts and beyond. Kid Critic began in January 2009. Reviews are written as time permits in-between homework & other activities.

Kid Critic Guide - Holiday 2009 Gifts

Picking 10 of his best reviews, Lane offers special offers including a free bonus gift (surprise!) along with a copy of the conveniently and hard bound guide. (15 pages) by Lane Sutton
$40.00 value at $6.99! Learn more - click here.
Don't forget to follow Lane on Twitter @KidCriticUSA

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sue Scheff: FTC Releases Guide to Help Parents Talk to Their Kids About the Web


Many know that one of my favorite organizations is ReputationDefender. I believe they are a force in helping you and your family maintain a level of safety online - cyberspace has become an area of concern for many parents, however ReputationDefender is diligently keeping up with the time and even 10 steps ahead of most of us! Here is a recent article from their educational Blog.


FTC Releases Guide to Help Parents Talk to Their Kids About the Web
The Federal Trade Commission recently released a new guide to help parents talk to their kids about the internet. Released through the FTC program, OnGuard Online, the guide is titled Net Cetera: Chatting With Kids About Being Online.

Here is a description of the guide from the FTC:

“Kids and parents have many ways of socializing and communicating online, but they come with certain risks. This guide encourages parents to reduce the risks by talking to kids about how they communicate – online and off – and helping kids engage in conduct they can be proud of. Net Cetera covers what parents need to know, where to go for more information, and issues to raise with kids about living their lives online."

Netcetera was produced in conjunction with a variety of governmental and non-profit agencies, including one of our favorite organizations, the Internet Keep Safe Coalition. ReputationDefender and iKeepSafe have worked together on multiple occasions to advance children’s safety issues online, and we will continue to do so in the future.

Finding solutions to safety and privacy problems on the web isn’t something that can or should be done alone. It is refreshing to see so many groups working toward the common goal of helping parents connect with and protect their kids online.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sue Scheff: Holiday Safety Tips


As we are now approaching the holidays, many people will be in malls or shopping plazas. It is time to review some tips to insure you and your family’s safety.

Be sure to go over these with teenagers and caregivers.

•When parking your vehicle to go shopping, remember where you parked it! Write it down if you have to. This can save you time and frustration after a long day of shopping.

•Always park in a well lit and well traveled area.

•Have your keys in your hand when approaching your vehicle.

•Before entering your vehicle, scan the interior of your car to be sure no one is hiding inside. Check to see if you are being followed. Always be alert.

•When storing items purchased at stores, place them out of sight in a locked trunk.

•Do not leave your purse, wallet, or cellular telephone in view; always LOCK VEHICLE, while driving or leaving your vehicle parked, even when in your own driveway.

•Don’t resist if someone tries to take any of your belongings. Don’t chase someone who robs you, they may have a weapon. Instead, call 911. If your cell phone is stolen with your belongings look around for an emergency phone or find someone immediately to call 911.

•If you go to an ATM for cash, check for people around and make sure it is well lit and in a safe location. Also be sure you complete your transaction and retrieve your ATM card.

•Carry only the credit cards you need and avoid carrying large amounts of cash.

For more information visit Road and Travel Magazine.
Click here to learn more about this author.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sue Scheff: Zig-zagging into LIVESTRONG to Help Others


With the recent news of the controversy of breast cancer early detection, there isn't a better time for you to learn more about how breast cancer effects so many lives.

Tom Wilson II, cartoonist of Ziggy, lost his wife, Susan, on November 18th, 2000 to her battle with breast cancer. Last spring he bravely released his memoir of this painful and spiritual journey through Zig-Zagging: Loving Madly, Loving Badly...How Ziggy Saved My Life (Health Communications, Inc 2009).
Tom Wilson recently announced he is donating 100% of his personal royalties of his book from November 18th (Susan's death) until January 19th (Susan's birthday) to LIVESTRONG.
From Tom Wilson:

Dear LIVESTRONG Friends,
My wife, Susan Shephard Wilson, died in my arms on November 18, 2000. She was forty-four years old. From the moment she was diagnosed with Stage 3b invasive breast cancer, Susan, who had always been my strength, began to teach me what it truly means to LIVESTRONG.
"From the first day we discovered this arch villain called cancer had struck at the very heart of our life together, I witnessed the one constant in my life, my beautiful, sweet, gentle "Tweety Bird" become a hawk so fierce that General Patton himself would have saluted her. Susan went into battle with more strength and courage than any fictional superhero could possibly muster…"Zig-Zagging: Loving Madly, Losing Badly…How Ziggy Saved My Life, came from the journaling I did in an effort to make sense for myself of the seven years my family battled the consuming, insidious disease that is cancer.
The decision to publish the raw, emotional, and painful story of our personal war against cancer and my personal struggle against the crippling grief, was in the hope that telling it might bring comfort to someone else struggling along a similar path of cancer diagnosis.When I recently had the opportunity to meet with the staff at the LIVESTRONG Headquarters in Austin, Texas, I saw an extraordinary chance to allow this terrible tragedy in my family's life to do something truly positive for fellow survivors and co-survivors.
ZIGGY's MILLION DOLLAR LIVESTRONG CHALLENGE is OUR opportunity to come together to make a real difference! Through this campaign starting November 18, the anniversary of Susan's death, to January 19, her birthday, I am donating 100% of my personal royalties to LIVESTRONG, and coupled with the HCI affiliate program, that averages out to roughly $4.50 from every purchase of Zig-Zagging to the LIVESTRONG organization when ordered from this link.
My HOPE is that together we will raise a MILLION dollars (or more!)for LIVESTRONG over the next two months!
With love,
Tom Wilson…and Ziggy

I have read this wonderful book. If you haven't, isn't now the time to do so? It is not only a gift to yourself, it is a way to give to a wonderful charity. Holidays are almost here, I am confident there is someone on your gift list that will benefit with a gift from Ziggy. After all, who doesn't love Ziggy?


Read an excerpt from Zig-Zagging - click here.


Order Zig-Zagging today!


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Also on Examiner.com

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sue Scheff: Volunteering Just Got Easier!


It is always better to give than it is to receive. We hear that a lot and for good reason. It is true!

This is such an important topic, there will be two parts to this article. VolunteerSpot is a fantastic organization designed to help you give back to your community. There are no more excuses! During this holiday season, take the time to learn more about your neighborhood and what their needs are.

The founder of VolunteerSpot, Karen Bantuveris, recently took time to answer questions about her mission and hopefully will give you inspiration to take steps to help others this holiday season and all year round!

Part 1:

1. Why and when did you start VolunteerSpot?

I'm a working mom and when my daughter entered school I knew I wanted to be active in the classroom and with her Scout troop, etc. I wanted to quickly and easily schedule my volunteer commitments with the rest of my business calendar, but my inbox kept filling up with back and forth emails over how many cupcakes to bring to the class party or whose turn it is to help at recess or other really clutter some communication - I knew several parents that just said ‘take me off the list' because of this.

It's not that parents didn't want to help, it's that there wasn't a good way to ask them - so that's when I got the idea for VolunteerSpot.

We launched our ‘Early Edition' in the Spring of 2009. What started as a tool to help my PTA in Austin, TX has grown to helping more than 100,000 volunteers participate in their communities across the country.

2. VolunteerSpot offers many resources. What do you feel people benefit most from your organization?

We save volunteer leaders time and frustration and get more people volunteering. Typically we hear that it's always the same people volunteering at school, little league, library, etc. With VolunteerSpot, we make it easy for more parents to volunteer - because it's so easy to find a spot on the schedule that fits in their busy lives. Open an email, click to the schedule, click a shift and you've found a volunteer job. Plus parents also love our automated reminders so they never forget what they signed up to help with.

3. How many different states have participated in VolunteerSpot and how can people join?

We're currently serving volunteers in more than 40 states (and several countries)! Anyone can launch a VolunteerSpot sign up - it's really easy to get started with our simple planning wizard. It's been truly remarkable seeing all the wonderful ways folks find to use VolunteerSpot. In addition to helping parents and teachers coordinate volunteers at school and sports, we see congregations and nonprofits using us for their good work like after school mentoring programs, literacy outreach, community arts festivals, handicapped riding programs, building teams and community kitchens.

4. Do you charge any fees? Do you have sponsors?

VolunteerSpot is free for teachers and grassroots volunteer leaders. We ask that workplace volunteer teams, leagues and nonprofits with budget contribute to keep us free for groups that can't afford us. Sponsors are important to our business and we'll be adding new features soon to help them support the good work of our volunteers.

5. What motivates you and what inspired you to start this wonderful organization?

Professionally, I'm a business process expert. When I saw good people drop out of volunteering, and leaders burn out over frustrating communication obstacles, I just knew that there had to be a better way! By simplifying the volunteer experience, our tool has increased volunteer participation by more than 20%, reduced leader burnout and increased donations to the organization that use us!
Part 2 continues with how VolunteerSpot can help you! Click here.

Follow VolunteerSpot on Twitter @VolunteerSpot and get updates on their Blog.
Also on Examiner.com


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sue Scheff: Marketing Products for Kids


I have written about Lane Sutton, also known as KidCriticUSA. At 12 years old he created his own little empire of “all things kids.” He enjoys visiting different restaurants, reviewing movies and giving his advice to parents through a kids opinion.

Do you have products for kids (toys, games, books, etc) you would like to have reviewed? Contact Lane today at Lane@KidCriticUSA.com ! Remember, the holidays are around the corner, Lane can help promote your products. Follow him on Twitter at @KidCriticUSA

In September I interviewed Lane Sutton for an Examiner article. Check it out here. Lane has expanded into reviewing summer camps! Soon enough summer will be here, get a jump start. If you own a camp, invite Lane to review it!

For more places to showcase your products, be sure to visit MommyPerks, Kidlutions and BingNote!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teaching your Kids Gratitude


Parenting expert, Dr. Michele Borba, recently released her BIG BOOK of Parenting Solutions, 101 Answers to your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries. Part 3 in this huge book, which is formatted like a cookbook, she writes about "character."

The parenting recipes in this book are priceless! As the holidays approach, it is time to share some of these family recipes - all thoroughly researched and proven delicious for today's parenting. This book makes an excellent holiday gift for any parent raising kids today. There isn't a parenting topic that is missed.

This is not only a HUGE book, it is the manual the hospital should have handed out when your children were born.Part of your child's character should be gratitude. As Thanksgiving is fast approaching, let's review some of Dr. Borba's proven advice on character building with gratitude.

This is a sneak peek of inside the Big Book of Parenting Solutions:

Thank you ABCs. This one is great for younger kids to do at the dinner table. You and your kids say the alphabet together, but for each letter include something you are grateful for: A, Aunt Helen; B, my brother; C, my cat and so on. Take it up one notch by having the person explain why he is grateful. Families with small kids rarely get beyond H, but the point is that you're having fun together, and your kids are also learning to be appreciative. Older kids can reveal one thing they are grateful for that happened to them during the day and why.

Prayers of thanksgiving. Say a prayer of thanks together before meals. Some families take turns so that each night a different member leads the prayer.

Bedtime family blessings. Each child exchanges messages of appreciation for one another, followed by a goodnight hug and kiss.

Gratitude letters. Your child writes a letter to someone who has made a positive difference in his life but whom he has probably not thanked properly in the past (such as his teacher, coach, scoutmaster, or grandparent). Research shows that to maximize the impact, your child should read the letter to the person face to face. If the person lives far away, videotape your child reading the note and send it to the recipient, or have the child read his not over the phone.

Gratitude journals. Younger kids can draw or dictate things they are most grateful for; older kids can write in a diary or in a computer. Just remember to start one for yourself or for your family. Research show that your kids should write something they feel grateful for four times a week and continue for at least three weeks.

Focus on giving, not getting. Involve your child in the process of choosing, making and wrapping gifts. Give your kid the honor of handing out the presents to relatives during the holidays and giving a thank-you gift to the hostess, teacher, or coach. Switching the emphasis from the role of the getter to that of the giver may help your child recognize the effort and thoughtfulness that goes into selecting those gifts.


This is only a fraction of Michele Borba's BIG BOOK of Parenting Solutions, she also states that practicing gratitude 365 days a year is what is important, not just at the holidays. Order this book today, whether for yourself or as a holiday gift and get ready to be blown away at all the valuable information you will read.

For those busy parents that don't have time to read, this is the perfect book for you since it is not the type of book you sit down to read. As parenting questions come up, you can go straight to the index and find the page number. Immediately you will see the pages divided by boxes, quick tips and advice and easy to read and understand resources. Did I mention she also lists proven statistics?


Coming soon, more sneak peeks inside this Big Book of Parenting Solutions. You will soon see you need this book in your kitchen, I mean library!


Part 2 - How do you handle "ungrateful" children? Click here.
Part 3 - Seven Deadly Parenting Styles
Part 4 - Sex Talk with your Children


Click here for more articles on parenting. Don't forget to subscribe to my latest articles, and you won't miss the sneak peeks inside this valuable book as well as other great tips, resources and stories.



Also on Examiner.com

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sue Scheff: Students Being Paid for Good Grades


We have heard about this controversy lately. Like with many situations, there are several sides of the story. Many can remember being rewarded for a good report card, however today it almost seems like we are paying our kids to do well – in reality, shouldn’t they want to be successful so someday they will earn their own money? Let’s not answer that – today’s society is a new generation. I am not speaking about all teens, however the sense of entitlement has reached a level that is disturbing to many parents and teachers.

Recently I read an article by Connect with Kids about “A Little Incentive” that offers tips that can help you make a decision that is best for your family. Take the time to read this. Be an educated parent and weigh both sides of the issue.

Tips for Parents

Is it a good idea to give cash in exchange for good grades? That is something each family must discuss and decide. Evaluate your teen's grades. If the grades are good, continue with the plan you are using. If the grades could use some improvement, take the opportunity to discuss the importance of good grades. Explain how good grades will help them children into the college of their choice.

If this does not work, consider a reward system. Ask them what they would like to receive for grades. If money seems to be the best motivator, but you are not comfortable handing over cash for them to "blow," you do have some options that will motivate and educate.
One option is to take the opportunity to teach your teen the value of a dollar. Family Education Network suggests the following tips:

Once a dollar amount is established, sit down with your teen and establish a money management program or financial plan.

Begin by designating 35 percent of their "grade money" as free spending money. This would be theirs to do spend as they wish. At least half, in this example 65 percent, must be saved.

Your teen can open their own savings account, or if you are stock and mutual fund savvy, try to get them investing early and on a regular basis.

Have your teen give a percentage, 10 percent for example, to charity. If you are uncomfortable with rewarding good grades, consider other options for helping them achieve academic success. One of the most important things you can do to help your teen succeed in school is to become involved. Consider the following ideas suggested by the American Federation of Teachers:

Know your child's school family. The teacher is the primary player in your child's school environment, but there are others (such as counselors and librarians) who make a valuable contribution. Attending parent-teacher conferences, open-school nights and other events are the best way to get acquainted with these important people.

Expect success at school. Children work best when they know what you expect of them. Discuss these expectations with your children -- expectations for good grades, attendance and study habits. Encourage them to take courses that will challenge them, but not overwhelm them. For example, high school students usually can choose from several English courses and several mathematics courses. Discuss these and other course options with your children. Make sure they are choosing courses that will interest and challenge them.

View unsatisfactory grades as an opportunity. All parents want their children to receive good marks and advance to the next grade, but do not expect a teacher to give your children a grade or honor that they have not deserved. Make it clear to your child that grades are not ''given'' - they are earned. If your child receives an unsatisfactory report card, use this as an opportunity to restate your own commitment to high standards. Discuss with your child (and the teacher) what he or she will need to do differently to improve the grade and advance to the next level.

Help your child keep pace. Absences, family problems and other distractions make it difficult for a student to keep up with lessons and assignments during the school day. Ask a teacher if your school district offers after-school tutoring, summer programs or other activities that can prevent your child from falling behind.

Monitor your teen's part-time job. For many teenagers, holding a part-time job is an important rite of passage into adulthood. It teaches students about the working world and how to manage money. But a part-time job can cut into study time and add to the stress of teen years. Grades can fall, and attendance can suffer
Also on Examiner.com

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sue Scheff: Holiday Teen Jobs and Volunteering


Many parents will encourage their teenager to get a job over the holiday season. Whether it is for extra spending more or keeping busy in a constructive way, this can be a great opportunity to learn responsibility. There are different options to consider. There is paying jobs and there is volunteering. Both can be fulfilling and teach your teen about accountability.
Here are some ideas to consider and encourage your teen to become involved.
Christmas tree stands: Shortly we will see fresh Christmas trees in many areas for sale. Even in South Florida, we have fresh tree centers on many street corners. Many will hire teens to help customers and if your teenager has a truck or vehicle that can transport trees (as well as a drivers license), this is a great way to make extra money with tips.
Wrapping Gifts: In many malls you will see tables with people wrapping gifts for busy shoppers. This is a great job for teens also. Check with your local mall for about these tables and who is sponsoring them. Sometimes it is volunteer work, however a great way to put a smile on people’s faces, and feel good about yourself.
Feed the Homeless: This is a job that the entire family can participate in. Take the time to get involved with a local church or contact the Salvation Army or Good Will to find out where you can help. There is nothing more rewarding than giving to others.
Toys for Tots: Find your local organization and be part of putting a smile of many unfortunate children. Whether you can pick up toys at different locations or help with sorting, get involved. Again, the rewards are priceless.
Retail Work: If your teen is of age in your state, in Florida usually 15 or 16 years old is the legal age to be employed, you may want to consider working in a retail store for holiday help. There are many benefits to learning how to work with the public. It is not an easy job; however you will learn tolerance and will also make you a better shopper being able to relate to customers. Not to mention the extra spending money you can make.
The list could go on and I believe that encouraging your teen to be involved in some way whether it is volunteering or having a paying job, can help them learn accountability as well as build their self confidence.
Also read on Examiner.com

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sue Scheff: How do we recognize a Panic Attack?


Kara Tamanini is an excellent therapist and specialist with adolescents with ADD/ADHD/ODD and many other diagnoses. She has written children's books that are easy to understand and help your child to believe they are special too. Kara recently wrote an article on panic attacks. During these stressful times, whether your family is struggling with finances, job loss or other hurdles life can bring, learn more about recognizing a panic attack.



How to Recognize a Panic Attack

Anxiety is really on a continuum if you think about. All of us, kids, adolescents and adults have some level of anxiety on any given day. We move from relatively little anxiety to moderate to severe anxiety and we move up and down on this continuum. NOBODY has no anxiety every day, everyone experience some degree of anxiety on any given day. Anxiety is really a good and a bad thing, however high levels of anxiety on a continuing basis interfere with our ability to function in our daily lives. We never are truly able to eliminate anxiety completely, however the goal of psychological treatment is to reduce or manage the anxiety that we have. With that said, how do we know that we are having a panic attack or in other words a sudden and intense fear or anxiety that is absolutely overwhelming to us. Panic attacks happen to children and adults alike and panic attacks do not discriminate based on a person’s age.

In order to recognize whether you are experiencing a panic attack, you must first know the symptoms of a panic attack:

1.) you feel like your heart is racing and you have heart palpitations

2.) sweating

3.) trembling or shaking all over your body

4.) Shortness of breath

5.) fear of dying

6.) fear of losing control

7.) nausea or abdominal pain or distress

8.) chills or hot flushes

9.) chest pain or discomfort

10.) feeling of choking

11.) feeling dizzy, unsteady, faint, or lightheaded

12.) derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached or not part of oneself)

13.) paresthesias (numbness or tingling sensations)

To qualify for a diagnosis of Panic Disorder, at least four of the preceding 13 symptoms are needed. Experiencing these symptoms does not always mean that you are having a panic attack, they may signal a physical problem. Many symptoms of a physical ailment mimic those identified for a panic attack and a physical basis for the symptoms needs to first be ruled out. Individuals should first receive a physical examination to rule out that their is no physical basis for these symptoms. If there is not a physical reason for the preceding symptoms than panic disorder is likely the culprit and psychological intervention is needed. Most individuals that experience panic attacks are treated with Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and psychological intervention is usually needed in order to treat panic attacks. Medications are also often needed in order to treat panic attacks.
Learn more at www.KidsAwarenessSeries.com and follow Kara on Twitter at @KidTherapist

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sue Scheff: Bullying and Girls


A Way Through founders, Jane Balvanz and Blair Wagner are dedicated to helping parents understand today’s girls and the peer pressure, friendships, relationships and so much more they face today.


Bullying has become a hot topic that needs to be addressed and needs to stop. Blair Wagner writes an interesting and educational article about bullying and the myths many believe.

Are You Believing the WRONG THINGS About Female Bullying?

It’s a common thought in parenting circles to think that girls shouldn’t treat each other this way. Says whom?

Try this on… Girls should all get along perfectly, have exquisite emotional and social skills, and treat everyone with the utmost respect. Can you hear violins playing sweetly in the background?

Yeah? Well, here’s the deal. It doesn’t work that way. And, it’s not supposed to work that way. Girls (like everyone else) are on this earth to maneuver through the contrast of our world (which is often sticky, and sometimes painful) to find what feeds their passion and to create joy in their lives. In order to do that and to become clear about what they DO WANT, girls need to experience what they DON’T WANT.

When we help girls recognize that some friends will feel good to be with and others won’t, girls can begin to make choices based on their inner guidance system (emotions). For myself, I’ve found the key to be a healthy combination of two things:

Lack of resistance (let others’ ugly behaviors roll off like water on a duck)
Conscious focus on what I want in my relationships

When I’m in that nonresistant, positive-focus zone, I find that beautiful people and experiences show up around every corner. Our work as girl guides is to help girls get into that zone.

Wrong Thing #2: Relational Aggression is Getting Worse and the World Is a Mess
With a little effort, we can find evidence to support any viewpoint on any topic. There are certainly visible signs of problems in our world, and we see statistics on how emotional bullying is affecting girls in increasing numbers. This is real. And yet, we get more of what we pay attention to.

There is so much well-being in this world; it far outweighs the lack of well being. When we look at relational aggression as an overwhelming, unsolvable problem, we add to the problem. We can’t solve relational aggression (or any problem for that matter) from a place of fear and overwhelm. Faith, curiosity, and optimism go much further.

Wrong Thing #3: Emotional Bullying Starts in Middle School

Yes, we see a peak of emotional bullying in the middle school years. But, as any kindergarten (and even pre-school) teacher will tell you, it starts very, very young among girls. Relational Aggression from a five-year old (“I won’t be your friend if you…”) may not be as sophisticated as from a thirteen-year old (“let’s start an I-Hate-Miranda web site”), but the pattern can and does begin in the pre-school years.

Savvy parents start very young guiding their daughters to connect with their personal power and to find and cultivate friendships that feel good.

Wise educators see relational aggression as an issue that needs to be addressed as young as kindergarten. Schools that implement common language and strategies within their school community (and consistently teach these to the youngest of their students) will find they have less relational aggression among their female students as they head into their teens.
© 2009 A Way Through, LLC

Female friendship experts Jane Balvanz and Blair Wagner publish A Way Through, LLC’s Guiding Girls ezine. If you’re ready to guide girls in grades K – 8 through painful friendships, get your FREE mini audio workshop and ongoing tips now at http://www.awaythrough.com/
Follow AWayThrough on Twitter @AWayThrough

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sue Scheff: Conversations with Moms - Continues Praise for Google Bomb Book


Conversations with Moms interviews our foreword author, Michael Fertik, CEO and Founder of ReputationDefender.

The response has been overwhelming to Google Bomb book and I am thrilled that the reviews just get better and better. Be sure to order your copy today.

Source: Conversations with Moms

By: Maria Melo

When I wrote about my review of the Google Bomb book, I was not surprised about all the emails and comments I received concerning online reputation. I felt like I had learned a lot from reading this book and was a little less naive about the potential threats online.

Soon after my review, I was contacted and asked if I wanted to speak with Michael Fertik, CEO of Reputation Defender. Of course I was intrigued and open to finding out more ways of how we can protect ourselves online.

I think my biggest concern online is keeping my children safe. I hear more and more about cyber-bullying and the damaging effects it has on the children being targeted. Kids can be cruel and the internet has become a weapon in spreading that cruelty. I like the way Michael described it best.

“In the past, kids passed notes in class to spread rumors and viciousness. Now they use the internet. The behavior has not changed, just the medium.”

Follow ReputationDefender on Twitter @RepDef
Follow Conversations with Moms on Twitter @ConversationsWM

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sue Scheff: Hannah's Socks - Holidays Are About Giving


In Toledo, Ohio, on Thanksgiving Day in 2004, four-year-old Hannah Turner helped her mom, Doris, serve food at a local homeless shelter. She saw a man with holes in his shoes and no socks, and she asked her mom if she could offer the man her own socks. The next day, Hannah’s mom took her to buy more socks and distribute them to local shelters. That year, they collected and donated more than 100 pairs of socks in the area.
Over the next two years, Hannah distributed nearly 10,000 pairs of socks to shelters with the help of her mother, family and friends. Since then, Hannah’s Socks has collected more than 100,000 pairs of socks for homeless and domestic violence shelters.The annual Hannah’s Socks Holiday Sock Drive has just been launched this year, with The Clorox Company as its sponsor. Their goal is to gather and donate 10,000 pairs of new socks to underprivileged children’s programs, as well as homeless and domestic violence shelters.
Wouldn’t this be a wonderful project for your family to adopt this holiday season? It would be a simple but powerful way to teach your children about giving to those in need. Your efforts can take many forms:
- Donate socks
- Host a drop box/sock drive
- Donate funds
- Volunteer to sort and distribute socks
- Spread the word via Facebook, Twitter and word of mouth!
Visit http://www.hannahssocks.org/ to learn more about how your family can join the Hannah’s Socks Holiday Sock Drive this year!

Twitter: www.twitter.com/hannahssocks (tweet using the hashtag #HannahsSocks)


"P.S. Thanks to Mom Central for sharing this terrific cause with me!" -Susan Heim
Thanks to Susan Heim (Twitter @ParentingAuthor) for sharing this information!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teen Ambassador for Love Our Children USA


Last month Cati Grant was honored with the title of Teen Ambassador for Love Our Children USA. Cati demonstrates dedication and devotion to help stop bullying and cyberbullying. Her website, http://www.caticares.com/, offers tips and resources to help you and your children stay safe in cyberspace as well as learn about the issue of bullying in schools.


Recently Cati and the founder of Love Our Children USA, Ross Ellis, were featured on Fox News New York for a segment on bullying (pictured above). Love Our Children USA has expanded their organization with STOMPOUTBULLYING and continue to educate people and help children all over the country.

I interviewed Cati last month. Since this interview, she has attended Kids Are Heroes Day in Maryland as well as New York City to continue to be a voice against bullying.

Here is her interview from last month:

Q. Tell us about Cati Cares? When did you create it and why?

A. I created Cati Cares in June of 2008 as a birthday gift from my parents. I created it because I wanted to help other people, prevent cyber-bullying, and promote Internet safety to anyone with access to the Internet. I really wanted to start a movement of caring among teens.

Q. What tips do you have for kids that are being cyber bullied online?

A. Try not to encourage the bully and just try to ignore it…. do not respond, keep records of all contact and talk with a trusted adult. I cannot stress enough for anyone who is being bullied to speak with a trusted adult. There is so much more awareness about this issue than when I went through it several years ago, there are a lot more resources available for everyone to use. Don’t suffer in silence!

Q. Who inspires you and what motivates you?

A. I find inspiration from simple everyday things and I am constantly motivated by people who encourage me to keep up the work of Cati Cares.
.
Q. What are your long term goals for Cati Cares?

A. To keep the website up for anyone who might need guidance or help to deal with a bully. I have the domain registered for the next 10 years. I am excited that Cati Cares has given me the opportunity to meet so many wonderful new people. I plan to always be a community advocate.

Q. How do your family, friends and teachers feel about your crusade?

A. They all feel that I am doing a great job and that I am making a difference in the world today.

Q. Do you have other hobbies or activities you enjoy?

A. Yes, I love horses, science and cheerleading. I love walking my dog, Bella. I also enjoy reading and writing.

Q. What do you want to be when you grow up?

A. I want to be a veterinarian specifically for race horses. I love all animals and have been riding horses since I was 5 years old.

Q. I understand you are part of Love our Children USA, it is such an honor. Please tell us about it?

A. It is a great honor to be named the Teen Ambassador by Ross Ellis, she is such a wonderful person. I am excited for the future and happy to have another venue to raise awareness. If we all join together, we can eradicate bullying forever.

Q. You were also invited to participate in Kids Are Heroes Day 2009, another honor. Please tell us more about this special day?

A. Another amazing honor, I am so excited to attend Kids Are Heroes Day in Frederick, Maryland October 24, 2009. I hope to motivate other teens and kids to volunteer in their communities. I am also looking forward to meeting other Heroes. Everyone is invited to come out and meet us. It should be a pretty amazing weekend!

Q. Is there anything more you would like to share with us?

A. I would like to encourage anyone who is being bullied to speak with a trusted adult, they will listen. Middle school and High school will be the toughest years of your life! Be yourself and don’t let anyone else try to make you feel bad for that! I would also like to encourage anyone who is a witness to someone being bullied, speak up! You just might save someone’s life and become a hero. I have some advice for bullies; ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing? Stop before you are branded a bully for life.

You can follow Cati Grant on Twitter and visit her website at www.CatiCares.com .

“Join the movement of TEENS caring. Take the PLEDGE not to cyberbully.” – Cati Grant

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teen Drivers


Having a new teen driver in your home can be extremely stressful, not to mention nerve wrecking! As a parent, we will provide the education they need to become a defensive driver, however there is nothing more priceless than experience. This doesn’t dismiss the classroom, however it is in addition to driving schools.

Parents need to be prepared before they get behind the wheel. Again, I have to recommend Crash Proof Your Kids by Timothy C. Smith. This is one of the most comprehensive books on new drivers I have read so far.

Last week we read about Keeping New Drivers Safe. Here is a recent article with some great parent tips from Connect with Kids.

Source: Connect with Kids

Defensive Driving Schools

“Every new driver needs to go through a defensive driving course – a classroom portion. But that just gives them the head knowledge. What young drivers especially need is experience.”

– Robert Wilson, National Safety Council

Today only 15 percent of new drivers get any kind of formal training before they get behind the wheel. That’s a dramatic change from 30 years ago when driver’s ed was nearly universal. On the other hand, today some young drivers get training that might be called driver’s ed on steroids.

Welcome to defensive driving at the racetrack. This isn’t your parents’ driver’s ed. The program is not only more extreme, it’s more expensive than conventional driving courses. But is it worth it?

“Oh, yeah,” says 17-year-old Erika, “because you think what happens if I flip the car, or what happens if I mess up, everybody’s looking, I’m gonna mess up…it’s scary out there.”

Her father, Dave, agrees. “Absolutely. I mean, I will worry less and I believe she’ll have more respect for the vehicle and what it can do, so yeah, hands down.”

Seventeen-year-old Andrew also has good things to say about the class. “I think it’s gonna help my confidence a lot. You stay relaxed. If something happens you don’t tense up and freak out.”

“Every new driver needs to go through a defensive driving course- a classroom portion,” explains Robert Wilson of the National Safety Council, “but that just gives them the head knowledge. What young drivers especially need is experience. The skid pad, for instance, is a great experience, teaching kids that if they are in a skid, how to handle it.”

Skidding, spinning and wiping out may seem like fun to some kids, but there is reason to be cautious, says Wilson. “The tendency, especially with young boys, might be to take lessons learned on the racetrack and convert that to regular highway driving and that certainly is a caution. I know the instructors at these schools strongly discourage that and explain that to the kids.”

Wilson adds that whatever course your child takes, it needs to be followed by driving lessons from mom or dad. “The parents need to be driving with these teenagers after this school experience, to reinforce the lessons learned, the proper lessons, and that speed is not acceptable under any conditions.”

Driving is a risky business for American teenagers. Despite spending less time driving than all other age groups (except the elderly), teenage drivers have disproportionately high rates of crashes and fatalities. Experts say that the high accident rates for teens are caused by a combination of factors, most notably teenagers’ immaturity and lack of driving experience. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System collected the following data about teenage drivers:

•Crashes are the leading cause of death among 16- to 19-year-olds.
•The majority of teenage passenger deaths occur when another teen is driving.
•Two-thirds of teens killed in motor vehicle crashes are male.
•Among teenage drivers, alcohol is a factor in 23 percent of fatal accidents involving males, 10 percent of fatal accidents involving females.
•More than half of the teenage motor vehicle deaths occur on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
•Of those deaths, 41 percent occur between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Tips for Parents
The risks involved in letting a teenager get behind the wheel of a car are very real, but there are safety measures parents can take to improve the odds for beginning drivers. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety offers these tips:

•Don’t rely solely on driver education. High school driving courses may be the most convenient way to teach driving skills, but they don’t produce safer drivers.
•Supervise practice driving. Take an active role in helping your teen learn how to drive. Supervised practice should be spread over at least six months and continue even after your teen graduates from a learner’s permit to a restricted or full license.
•Remember, you are a role model. New drivers learn by example, so you must practice safe driving. Teens with crashes and violations often have parents with poor driving records.
•Restrict night driving. Most nighttime fatal crashes among young drivers occur between 9 p.m. and midnight, so your teen shouldn’t be driving much later than 9 p.m.
•Restrict passengers. Teenage passengers in a vehicle can distract a new driver and/or lead to greater risk-taking. The best policy is to restrict the number of teenage passengers your teen is allowed to transport.
•Require safety belts. Don’t assume that your teen is using a safety belt when he’s with his friends, just because he uses it when you’re together. Research shows that safety belt use is lower among teens than older people. Insist that your teen use a safety belt at all times.
•Prohibit driving after drinking. Make it clear that it is illegal and highly dangerous for a teen to drive after drinking alcohol or using any other drug. While alcohol isn’t a factor in most crashes of teenagers, even small amounts of alcohol are impairing for teens.
•Choose vehicles for safety, not image. Teens should drive vehicles that reduce their chances of a crash and offer protection in case they do crash. For example, small cars don’t offer the best protection in a crash. Avoid cars with performance images that might encourage speeding. Avoid trucks and sport utility vehicles, particularly the smaller ones, which are more prone to roll over.

References
•Drive Home Safe
•Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
•National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Also read Examiner article on New Teen Driver Resources.