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

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 ( ) 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 ( ) 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.
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.


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 "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  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 .

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,  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  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

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 or call locally (754) 422-2861.
Reminder: Holiday Safety Tips

Cards That Give is another charitable organization to help others.

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