Friday, December 31, 2010

Opt-Out of Your Unwanted Emails

It is time to unsubscribe and clean up your digital mailbox aka inbox.

Yes, all the hype and the stress as well as the pressure to get the right gifts - and get them on sale, is over.
Many signed up for generated newletters, store-ads for sales, and more.  If your email isn't full already, it will be over-flowing with after holiday sales.

Whether you are were at a cashier and they asked you for your email, or when you ordered online, your email is now out there.  There is also that high possibility it was passed on without your permission to other marketers (that small print can be tricky).  With that, your inbox and most likely your junkmail will be starting to pile up with tons of that mail you used to see in your old fashioned mailbox.

We will still see the postmaster delivering some flyers, but that doesn't put your computer at risk.  This is not saying all junk mail is bad or dangerous, but who want so to chance opening a link that may not be legit?
Keep your systems safe - keep your teens safe, as many of them have probably signed up for their favorite stores online sales.  Maybe pick 2 or 3 you definitely shop, but after that, take the time to unsubscribe.

Remember, unsubscribing doesn't mean you can't go directly to the website to see the sales or even sign up again if you really want to.  But it is time to clean out your emails and get rid of those annoying pop-ups - once and for all!

Unsubscribe today.

How to unsubscribe from most email advertisers:
  • Open the email (as long as you are familiar with the vendor).
  • Usually you scroll to the bottom and in small print you will see an active hyperlink labled - unsubscribe.
  • Click on it and follow it until it states your email is now unsubscribed. 
  • They may ask you to type your email in a box, be sure you type the email address you are receiving these ads on.
In some instances you will recieve a confirmation of you leaving that specific email, always click you are sure.  Again, remember, you can sign up again at anytime.

Keep in mind, less is more, and the less you have these emails coming into your computer system, the more likely you are to deter viruses into your system.  Safety first - get your ads later.  Talk to your teens about cleaning out their computers too - it will keep you all on a safer path digitally.

Read more.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Tornado Warning: A Memoir of Teen Dating Violence and Its Effect On A Woman's Life

Coming Soon! Pre-order today.

Tornado Warning
By Elin Stebbins Waldal

Parents, teens, and survivors are lucky that Elin Stebbins Waldal has the courage to share her own harrowing experience with teen dating violence. At 17 she unwittingly fell in love with an abusive man. Tornado Warning is the true, honest portrait of how he whittled her down--with words, hands, and weapons--from a confident teen to the shadow of a woman.

But Stebbins Waldal offers more. Interwoven with her real-life journal, she reflects on how this relationship has affected her since, and how she is working to protect her teenagers from succumbing to a similar experience. Provocative and healing, Tornado Warning is a must-read for parents, women, and anyone who has suffered at the hands of a loved one.

About the author:

Elin Stebbins Waldal is a writer, speaker, and founder of girls kNOw more, an organization whose mission is to help build confidence in middle-school-age girls. Elin is the Love Is Not Abuse Coalition State Action Leader for California, which advocates for legislation that will require teen dating abuse curriculum in all middle schools, high schools, and colleges. She is a frequent guest on the radio show. She is also a regular presenter for Laura's House, an Orange County resource for victims of domestic violence. She was recognized with an Honorable Mention Award in the World of Difference Category by The San Diego County Office of Education for speaking and educating high school students. Additionally, she is a California-state-certified domestic violence advocate. She has contributed to The Courage Network, Safe World for Women, and The Women on the Verge on-line periodicals and also serves as a San Diego Examiner reporter on the subject of teen dating violence. Elin lives in Southern California with her husband, three children, and their family dog.

Pre-order  - click here.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Youth360 is part of PACT360: Community Education on Drug Prevention

Youth360 (wreckED) is a community-based program designed to educate youth about substance abuse through an engaging presentation meant to challenge their behavior toward alcohol and other drugs. The program provides the opportunity for teens to fully reflect upon the choices and consequences associated with alcohol and drug abuse and to continually keep themselves and their friends in check.
Q:What are the program assets available to me for the Youth360 program?
A:There are three components to the program that you can use interchangeably:
  • wreckED DVD – a ten-minute video depicting all aspects of today’s drug and alcohol scene, as well as real-life teens talking about their own addiction and recovery
  • wreckED card game – an interactive card game designed to start teens talking about the issues presented in the video, simulating real life choices, behaviors, and consequences
  • wreckED group discussion– the facilitator continues the conversation with the teens to underscore the importance of taking personal responsibility of their own actions
Q:I want Youth360 to come to my community. What can I do?
A:There are two easy ways you can get involved:
  • Become a Facilitator - co-deliver presentations to audiences within your community, help organize the program by arranging logistics, respond to community requests for presentations, and schedule presenters
  • Become a Champion - contact key players, introduce them to the presentation, and lead the process to help make your community healthier and safer
Q:I want to have access to all the materials I need to implement, champion or present this program. What can I do?
A:You can get access to the materials by:
Registering and Downloading all materials to bring this program to your community
Q:I’m a teen who wants to learn more about the effects and consequences of alcohol and substance abuse. Where can I get more information?
A:You can find all the information you need here:
  • Whether you want to check yourself or someone you know, go to Here you can interact with other teens, answer scenarios about what you’ve seen or heard and educate yourself further on the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
Learn more at

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Social Santa: Sign up today!

Internet safety has become a top concern for parents with kids online today.  Between cyberbullying, stalkers, and Internet predators, parents need to be on top of their game when it comes to allowing their kids to surf online.

As the holidays are here, more kids will find social networking sites and meet vitual friends, or are they digital strangers?  Start your holidays off right by signing them up for an exciting social networking experience with lots of interesting topics, games and peers that make safety their number one priority.

Yoursphere is here and it is FREE.

It's your sphere and make it your own!

School is out, free time is building and many kids are at home looking for things to do.  Get them involved in constuctive fun and learning about new people and cultures - join Yoursphere today.  Meet friends, chat and play with new friends.

Yoursphere prides themselves on carefully verifying all new members and their parents.  They have added new games, contests and even have sphere designs for your child's unique interests.  Is there a particular sport your child loves?  Find others with the same passion.  Check out all the great choices - click here.  There is something for everyone!

With Yoursphere your child can even earn cool prizes while having fun.

Finally - a space 'in space' that you can feel good about your children surfing in!

Learn more about Yoursphere.  Sign your child up today to begin their Holiday Season with friends and fun!
Hey parents, don't forget to bookmark Yoursphere for Parents!  It will keep you up-to-date with today's ever changing digital world!  Click here.

Watch the video of the dedicated founder, Mary Kay Hoal, of Yoursphere, and learn more about online safety.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer children!

Read more.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Teen Driving: Is Your Teen Ready?

Many teens will count the days until they take their first step into adulthood -- driving!  However it is a parent's responsibility to determine if their teen is mature enough to take on this major responsibility.

Each state has their own laws on the age your teen can start driving.  In Florida, at age 15, teens can apply for a learner’s license. The teen must have completed a Traffic Law and Substance Abuse Course; pass the written, vision and hearing tests; and have a signed parent consent form.

With a learner’s license, teens may only drive with a licensed driver age 21 or older supervising and sitting in the front seat. For the first three months, teens may only practice during daylight hours; then, teens may practice no later than 10 p.m. Teens are required to practice driving for at least 50 hours, including 10 hours at night, with a parent or a legal guardian, before they’re allowed an intermediate permit.

DMV Practice Questions - Take this sample test to determine if you’re ready to take the state driving test.

When teens turn 16, have had a learner’s license for at least 1 year without any traffic violations and have completed 50 hours of practice driving, 10 of which must be at night, they can apply for the intermediate license. They also must pass a behind-the-wheel driving test, complete a vision test and provide proof of practice driving time. Legal guardians must accompany their teens to the DMV to sign the application form, or their signature must be notarized on the form.

At the intermediate stage, driving privileges are based on age. For a 16-year old, driving is allowed between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. For a 17-year old, driving is allowed between 5 a.m. and 1 a.m. Outside of these time frames, teen drivers must be accompanied by a licensed driver at least 21 years old in the front passenger seat, or must be traveling to or from work.

At age 18, teens are eligible for a full unrestricted license. The state does not place night or passenger limits on those with unrestricted licenses.

All first time drivers in Florida must take a Traffic Law and Substance Abuse course and a written exam to receive a learner’s license. The tests below are approved by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and are offered online through AAA:
Source:  AAA
Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens.

Read more.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Teen Drinking: Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving

It the holidays. Parties, celebrating and simply having fun.  All of this is fantastic, but you have to remember that being safe is a priorityDrunk or impaired driving killed nearly 12,000 people in 2008.  That's one person every 45 minutes. That makes it everyone's problem.

Buzzed driving is drunk driving. Getting behind the wheel after even just one too many drinks can lead to disaster.

Show your support to end buzzed driving by pledging to make good decisions by not driving under the influence of alcohol.

Take the time to share the pledge with others and with your help, we can end buzzed driving.

Underage drinking is a major concern, not only for parents of these teens, but for the risk it puts drivers at.  Parents need to set an example to their teens as well as talk to them about the dangers of drinking and driving.  Even if it is only one or two drinks - driving is a major responsibility and not one to be taken lightly.
This is not about not having fun and celebrating the holidays with friends and family, this is about having a designated driver.

Send a Holiday Buzzed eCard to your friends today!  Help spread the word to stay safe this holiday season.
Zingo Fort Lauderdale, a fully insured designated driving service available in nearly two dozen markets nationwide, recently began offering services for residents and visitors alike across Broward County.
Are you outside of Broward County, visit Drinking and Driving Prevention.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens!

Read more.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

2011 Internet Safety Awards Contest Is Now Open For Submissions

Online Safety is a priority for all ages!  From identity theft, to Internet predators, most everyone is using technology to connect with others.  Social Networking is fun, it can be entertaining and a great way to meet new friends, new cultures and new ideas.  With the good comes some of the not so good.  Unfortunately there will always be nuts who prey on vulnerable children or even desperate adults.

Internet Safety should be your number concern, especially during the holiday season when kids have more free time online and parents are cyber shopping.

ISA – Internet Safety Awards is on!

Welcome to the 2011 The Internet Safety Awards presented by Infragard Honolulu Member Alliance, Hawaii State Department of Education, FBI, Department of Justice, Oceanic Time Warner, KGMB9, CyberW0rx.8o8 / Aikea808,True Digital, Torch Entertainment, Maintec Inc., Microsoft, along with other generous sponsors. Yes, before you know it, we’ll be handing out lots of prizes and fabulous awards for the 4th Annual Internet Safety Awards. Start looking here for updates on when submissions will be do and all of the updated information about the ISA. Also, very important.. Put down in your calendar Friday,April 1, 2011 because that’s when the 2011 Internet Safety Awards Gala will take place! Already signed for the show are Hawaii’s funniest man, Frank Delima, and KCCN’s Lina Girl. More celebs on the way!

Learn more:
  • The deadline for this year’s entries will be February 11, 2011.
  • They will then be distributed to the judges for judging.
  • Once completed, the judges tally sheet will be sent to me for final tabulation and the finalists determined.
  • The judges will have about 2 weeks to score the entries.
  • Announcement of the winners will be at the awards gala to be held on April 1, 2011 at Farrington High School Auditorium.
  • Certificates of Participation will be presented to all team members.
  • Top five finalists will have a plaque.
  • Prizes will be awarded to the school of the winning teams.
In the past, these prizes were monetary awards and products/services to be used for the school.  All students who entered as a team member are invited to attend the Gala and ONLY these students are eligible for the random prize giveaways.  These range from backpacks, laptop bags, t-shirts, to XBoxes and iPods.  Last year, I donated 4 iPod nanos, an iPad, and a netbook for the random drawing.  My MicroSoft “partner” have been donating at 4 XBoxes at each of our three past contests.
In addition, there will be entertainment by local musicians and teen dance revue.  We also have celebrity award presenters and opening keynote speakers from city, state and Federal government leaders and educators.
Last year, Howard Schmidt (a personal friend) made a short video thanking our students for their part in cybersecurity.
Unfortunately, our contest is non-profit and everything is pretty much donations  and “aloha“, so I can not offer you a  trip to Hawaii, but if you can attend, we do have contacts in the hotel industry that may be able to get us a very good rate.

Contributed by Chris Duque

Thursday, December 2, 2010

10 year-old Santa in Central Florida: Feeding Abandoned Pets

Zach Wilson of Longwood, Florida is finally 10 years-old.  However he is not your typical 10 year-old, he is a boy that has a dream and is making it happen.

Last year we reported on this 9 year old Santa - this year at 10 years-old, Zach has stepped up his mission and is having his First Annunal Holiday Party to benefit his food pantry for animals.
With many families struggling in today's economy, many pets are being abandoned on a daily basis.  People can't afford to feed and vaccinate their pets. Zach makes it his mission to help as many needy pets and animals as possible.

The Animal Pantry of Central Florida offers several services such as:
  • Pet food distribution to economically challenged, disabled, & elderly
  • Spay and neuter programs
  • Information and referrals about low cost veterinary care
  • Help on finding pet-friendly housing
  • We will continue to add services as funding/donations permit
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!

Read more.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Holiday Community Service: Inspirational Teen, Jason O'Neill Gives to Needy Children

Many readers have written me about my Inspiring Teen articles – it is all about good news and how the next generation is making a difference in today’s world.  Jason O’Neill has had a busy year with his first book releasing and his expanding business of Pencil Bugs, but that doesn’t stop him from putting the needs of others first.  Especially children!  Read his note below and please help by donating a Teddy Bear!
Happy Holidays!!!!

Time is running out.  December 4th is the deadline to donate to give teddy bears to kids at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, CA this Christmas.

Last year, with the help of people around the world, I raised $5,130 which enabled me to buy 1800 teddy bears for the kids.
I was hoping to top that amount this year but we have a long way to go in a short amount of time.  If you are able to donate, every dollar counts.  100% of the money raised goes toward buying the bears.  I use my own money for shipping, PayPal transaction fees, and any other miscellaneous expenses.

With any amount donated, your name will be added to my website fundraiser page.  Thank you to those who helped last year and who have already donated this year.  Everything is appreciated.

Thank you,
Jason O’Neill
15-year-old Entrepreneur, Speaker, and Author

Learn more click here.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Avoiding Fraud Both Online and Off

With more consumers at this time of the year, Black Friday and Cyber-Monday approaching, it is a perfect time to remind your adult teens as well as yourself about the high risks of fraud and scams that exist.

Warning Signs:
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
  • People, sales reps, online pressure: Anyone or anything that pressures you to act "right away," stop and think.  Do your due diligence - it could save you money and grief at the end.
  • Guarantees of success.  In life there are two main guarantees: Death and taxes.  After that - use caution.
  • Requires an upfront investment, even if it is for a free nothing.  Run, and don't look back.  A perfect example is when an adult will approach a vulunerable teen and tell them they have the look of a model - but they need a portfolio.  Unless they are providing you the necessary means to get one (which could be nearly $1000.00 or more), don't believe it.  If an honest modeling agency wants you - they will pay to get your portfolio completed.
  • Buyers want to overpay you for an item and have you send them the difference.
  • Doesn't have the look or the feel of a real business.
  • Something just doesn't seem or feel right.  Your gut is telling you to run.
Play it Safe:
  • Never click on a link inside an email to visit a website.  Type the address into your brower instead.
  • It's easy for a business to look legitimate online.  If you have doubts, verify the company with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Only 2% of reported identity theft occurs through the mail. Report online fraud to the Federal Trade Commission at
  • Retain your receipts, statements, and packing slips.  Review them for accuracy.
  • Shred confidential documents instead of simply discarding them in the trash.
The FTC, the nation's consumer protection agency, works hard to prevent fraud and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid it.  To file a complaint or get free information on consumer issues, visit or call toll-free 1-877-FTC-HELP.

Safety matters!

Read more.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Teen Holiday Shopping Tips for Safety

Most teens love hanging out at the mall, and many mother's enjoy their shopping whether it is holiday time or not.  However when it comes to this time of the year, you need to take extra precautions and talk to your teens about using these shopping safety tips.

Holiday Shopping Tips:
  • Map your trip before you leave home. Take note of the contents of your wallet/purse and only carry the credit cards that are necessary for your purchases that day. (Write down your credit card numbers and leave this information in a safe place at home. Having your credit card information will make reporting easier.)
  • If you are shopping with young children (your younger sibling or someone else), invite a friend to join you, go with a family member or hire a babysitter. An extra set of hands and eyes can be extremely helpful, especially in crowded stores.
  • Wear shoes and clothes that allow you to move quickly and easily.
  • Carry a small amount of cash ($10) and, if money is demanded, throw it at the criminal and run.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings.  Remember where you came in and where you parked.  Write down the parking number, since after hours of shopping it is easy to forget where you parked.
  • Always park near overhead lights.  Be cautious of people around you.
Take the time to talk remind your teens of shopping safely!

Read more.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Morning Squeeze Video Contest: Get Involved

Many experts agree, a good start in the morning includes breakfast.  Especially for children and teens breakfast is a priority.

Today’s hectic schedules leave Americans with more to do in less time, which creates a balancing act for many families, particularly in the morning. 

According to a new survey, most parents identify with the role of personal assistant or traffic cop in the morning.In fact, more than one-third of those surveyed avoid morning disagreements by letting their children tune out to a TV, computer, cell phone or video game.   However, it is clear that parents want this pattern to change.  Two out of five respondents would go as far as to give up TV for an entire month or stay an hour later at work once a week in exchange for a year of peaceful mornings.

There’s no doubt American families continue to feel the morning squeeze.  While 75 percent of respondents agree mornings are an important part of the day to spend quality time with their children, few realize that it is really about making your interactions more meaningful – not spending more time.

The Morning Squeeze Video Contest:

To inspire families to make the most of their mornings, Florida orange juice has teamed up with celebrity mom and entertainment journalist Nancy O’Dell, who offers a glimpse into the situations her family faces through a series of behind-the-scenes videos on the Florida Orange Juice Facebook page. To show the importance of making daily connections with your family, Nancy is working with Florida orange juice to launch The Morning Squeeze video contest, which encourages parents to submit a video of their own morning challenges for a chance to win a family getaway to Florida.

I understand how challenging it can be to find family time when faced with such hectic schedules,” said Nancy O’Dell.  “That’s why I am partnering with 100 percent Florida orange juice to show parents across the country how a meaningful interaction, no matter how brief, can make a huge impact on everyone’s day.”

To challenge your family to a more meaningful morning and learn more about The Morning Squeeze video contest, visit or the Florida Orange Juice Facebook page.
Get involved as a family.  Chances are very good your teenager is familiar with video taping.  This is a great opportunity to create a project that everyone can take part in.

Learn more about the details of this contest here.

Read more.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Food for Fines: Is your Library Participating?

Do you have overdue library books?  Are those fines mounting and your finances dwindling?  Starting Monday, November 8th thru December, 22nd, you can pay them off with food!

That's right, it's time once again for Food for Fines at St. Johns County Public Libraries System (SJCPLS). From November 8th until December 22nd, bring in your non-perishable, non-expired food items and wipe out $1.00 in fines for each item! Get rid of your fines while  benefiting those in need in our community!

As the holidays approach many people are having lean times, some are without jobs and/or losing their homes.  Food banks need to be replenished and our community needs to come together to help each other.

SJCPLS is also collecting Boxtops to benefit our local school.  You may have seen these on cereal boxes, paper towels, soups and other products, but did you know that each Boxtop earns 10 cents for schools! All branches of the St. Johns County Public Library System will now be collecting Boxtops for Education for schools in their communities. Please help support the education for the kids of St. Johns County by saving Boxtops from these products and simply dropping them off at your SJCPLS branch library.

Community service and family go together.  Get your kids and especially your teens involved in giving back this holiday season.  There are many ways they can help others including volunteering and donating to organizations that assist the homeless or others that are in need.

Giving is what the holidays are about.  Be the example for your children, get involved today.

Read more.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Support our Troops: Donate Your Halloween Candy

As many are on candy overload this morning, there is a positive direction you can take from this sugar uptake - Krantz Dental Care will pay $2 for each pound of candy brought in ($1 goes to the Feed a Needy Neighbor (FANN) program and $1 goes to the child).

The candy will then be donated to our troops serving overseas.  As the holiday season is officially taking off, start it off by giving back!  Encourage your children and teens to get involved and donate a portion, if not all of their candy to a good cause.

So, bring in your candy and receive GREAT PRIZES:
  • $1 for every pound of candy
  • Free Kids meal from The Red Elephant Pizza and Grill
  • Free entree from Aw Shucks
  • Free exam and x-rays from Krantz Dental Care
Krantz Dental Care will also donate $1 for every pound of candy to the Feed a Needy Neighbor - FANN - program.

Children can also bring in notes with personal messages to the U.S. troops that we will include in the shipment.

Make a difference in your community today!
For more information and dropoff info, contact Krantz Dental Care:
12058 San Jose Blvd
Suite 102
Jacksonville, FL 32223
(904) 880-3131

Ending Halloween on a positive note, and teaching your kids and teens about being a part of their community.

Read more.

Friday, October 29, 2010

TextZapper: Because safety matters

Many people understand that driving distractions are the number one cause for teen auto accidents.  No matter how many time we talk to our teens about driving and texting, we still hear about horrific accidents - and some that are ending lives.

Oprah promotes The No Phone Zone and received many signatures from celebrities and all walks of life to take the pledge not to text and drive, including talking and driving.  The cell phones should simply be turned off or placed in the glove box where they won't distract the driver - of any age!

However teens being teens, never believe that these accidents can happen to them.  The joy of believing that bad things just happen to other people come with being youthful and immature (respectfully).

Some facts about distracted driving and teens:

• Currently 30 states have anti-texting laws.
• The #1 cause of teen deaths is car accidents.
• Over 5000 teens ages 16-20 die due to fatal injuries caused by car accidents each year.
• 16-19 year olds have the highest risk of being in an accident.
• Approximately 400,000 drivers ages 16-20 will be seriously injured in accidents, annually.
• 16-19 year olds are 4 times more likely than other drivers to be involved in a car crash.
• Teens are 10% of the US population, but account for 14% of all fatal car accidents.
• 60% of 16-18 year old drivers will be in a police-reported collision.
• Teen drivers ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than older drivers to crash.
• There is an 89.2% chance of having a crash within the first 3 years of driving.
• There is a 52.5% chance of your teen having 2 crashes within the first 3 years of driving.
• Over 50% of all teen deaths from car accidents occur between 3pm and midnight, and 54% occur on weekends.

New to the market is TextZapper.

TextZapper provides a quick and easy solution to stop texting and emailing while driving, now protecting us all in a way never before possible.

Unfortunately TextZapper is currently only available on SmartPhones and hopefully will be expanded to others or possibly others have a similar product (please share in comments below).  There is a small monthly fee of $4.99 for TextZapper.  One benefit is parents can have peace of mind that the distraction of texting while driving is eliminated.

Learn more at

Whether you employ TextZapper or another type of service, never stop talking to your teens about the dangers of texting and driving.  It can be deadly.

Don't forget about distracted bicycling!  Too many teens are texting and pedaling, which is extremely dangerous too.  Read more.

Although Florida has a texting and driving bill that passed the Senate Committee, currently there is not legislation in place. For the Florida law update, click here.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens.

Read more.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Teen Smoking - Quitline Available 24/7

Smoking cigarettes or smoking pot, which do you prefer your teenager puff?

Many times you will have to hear the old saying, pick and choose your issues wisely.  In reality we don't want our teens smoking at all, well hopefully parents feel that way.

Both of these smoking habits can be addictive to your teen.  They believe they can't live without, it calms them down, it makes them feel cool or whatever other reason they can give to condone it.  At the end of the day, smoking is not good for you and this has been proven over and over again.
Smoking pot is not legal, so skipping over that, let's discuss smoking cigarettes.
Florida is proactive in helping people quit smoking.

Each year, thousands of Floridians quit using tobacco. Many more try, but fail. The Florida Quitline was established to help those with a desire to free themselves from cigarettes, smokeless and all other forms of tobacco to successfully reach their goal, and offers all of its services free of charge in both English and Spanish. Here’s how it works:

1. With a single, toll-free call to 1-877-U-CAN-NOW, you can schedule an appointment with one of the Quitline’s trained counselors.

2. At an approximate time of your choosing, one of these skilled professionals will call you back to work with you one on one. Together, you’ll develop a plan to finally rid yourself of tobacco for good.

3. Our tobacco specialists will be there for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week to support you, offer tips and provide any information you may need.

If you’re ready to Be Free, call 1–877–U–CAN–NOW today and join other Floridians in living a happier, healthier life. If you know others who need help, click the link below to send them an email message encouraging them to call the Quitline today.

Pass it on to anyone you know that smokes, you never know when you will save a life.

Visit Florida Quitline for more information.

Be an educated parent, you will have healthier teens.

Read more.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Stop on Red. Kids Ahead. School Bus Safety Week

It is National School Bus Safety Week and here in North Florida it is a reminder to all drivers, especially the young teen drivers, that stop on red, kids ahead is part of following the school bus stop laws in Florida.
Here are some great reminders for drivers as school buses approach:
  • Leave adequate space between your vehicle and the bus.
  • Stop if you are moving in the same direction as a stopped bus.
  • Remain stopped until the bus withdraws its Stop sign.
  • Be on the lookout for kids around school bus loading and unloading areas.
  • Slow down and be especially alert in the residential neighborhoods and school zones.
  • Obey all traffic signs and signals.
  • Pay attention.
  • Reduce any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings, e.g. put down your phone and don't talk or text while driving.
  • Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs.
  • Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully.
  • Do your part to make every school crossing a safe place for children to walk.
  • Pay attention to speed limits, school crossing guards and unpredictable children, since these situations may require you to reduce your speed or stop.
  • When children (walking, bicycling or skating) or school crossing guards are present in a crosswalk, drivers must yield or stop at the marked stop line and without stopping in the crosswalk. It is the driver’s responsibility to avoid colliding with pedestrians.
St. Johns County is proactive in promoting school bus safety and encouraging all drivers to take part in learning more about keeping kids safe and educating new teen drivers about the responsibility of operating an automobile.

For more information about School Bus Safety, visit
Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Teen Lingo: What is their Culture Really Saying?

Let's face it -- whether it is their texting lingo or their speech, many parents are not in tune with what today's teens are really saying.  When it comes to parenting, it should be a priority to learn about today's teen culture and especially their lingo.

Have you overheard their conversations or listened to them talk with their friends? Have there been times you wondered what exactly they meant, and just assumed it was teen talk, when in fact it could have a reference to drug use? Seriously, doesn't recipe or trail mix have to do with culinary arts? No, not always.
Get started by being informed and being an educated parent.

You may not know what pharming is, but your teenagers do. Your first step in helping protect your teens is to speak the same language. Knowing the vocabulary surrounding prescription drug abuse can help you take a proactive approach in communicating with your teen and safeguarding their health and safety.

Some examples of teen lingo:

Big boys, cotton, kicker: Various slang for prescription pain relievers.
Chill pills, french fries, tranqs: Various slang for prescription sedatives and tranquilizers.
Pharming (pronounced "farming"): From the word pharmaceutical. It means kids getting high by raiding their parents' medicine cabinets for prescription drugs.

Pharm parties: Parties where teens bring prescription drugs from home, mix them together into a big bowl (see 'trail mix'), and grab a handful. Not surprisingly, pharm parties are usually arranged while parents are out.

Pilz (pronounced pills): A popular term used to describe prescription medications. Can also include over-the-counter medications.
Be an educated parent; you will have safer and healthier teens.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Going Green Halloween with Teens

Whether your family has been green for years or whether you’re green at being green, Green Halloween is the right place for healthy and Earth-friendly Halloween tips.

So what is Green Halloween?

Green Halloween is a non-profit, grassroots community initiative to create healthier and more Earth-friendly holidays, starting with Halloween. It began in the Seattle area in 2007 with backers such as Whole Foods Market and was such a huge success that in 2008, the initiative expanded nation-wide. In cities across the country, volunteer coordinators are turning their city’s Halloween holiday healthy and eco-friendly, but many are also raising money for their own, local nonprofit beneficiaries via the initiative.

What does going green mean to you?  Here are ideas that Green Halloween provide:

Green = the 3 G’s
  1. Good for People – Including the people who make, grow or sell the products we consume or use. Also good for us and our families. Healthy treats and treasures fall under this category.
  2. Good for Planet – Includes making choices that have the least impact on the Earth during the lifespan (beginning to end) of that choice or product.
  3. Good for the Community – Including making choices and supporting businesses whose business practices and products support the well being of communities such as via monetary contributions to worthy causes.
Teenagers, especially, might enjoy their suggestions for turning Halloween into a way to help people and the planet through initiatives such as Reverse Trick-or-Treating or other Trick-or-Treating for good programs. This way they can still enjoy traditions such as dressing up and going door-to-door, while also making real and positive differences in the world.

Have you and your community considered a costume swap?  The costume swap (watch video) can be a great way to get your community to go green!  Green Halloween reported if half the kids in the U.S. who celebrate Halloween swapped costumes, rather than buying new ones, the nation's annual landfill waste would be reduced by 6,250 tons. That's about the weight of 2,500 mid-size cars.  Now that is good for everyone!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Protection Connection

Teen safety. Teen awareness.  Teen protection - both online and off.

Net Cetera and Heads Up is offered FREE to you!

Since it is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month it is time to turn our focus to online protection.  Exactly what are you using?  Do you have spyware?  Do you have an anti-virus software installed?  What about firewalls?

If you are driving a car, it is important to always wear your seatbelt.  It is for your protection - period.  No questions asked.

If you are surfing online, you need to take steps to protect yourself, your information and your computers.  Privacy is limited online, so it is imperative you use your privacy settings on all social networks and other areas you travel to online.

As you know, the Internet offers students a wealth of opportunities to communicate, socialize and explore the world.  But these benefits come with risks.  Problems like cyberbullying, sexting and over-sharing (exposing private information) on social networking sites affect students, schools and communities across the country.
OnGuard Online, Stop - Think - Click is a program designed and provided by The Federal Trade Commision (FTC) to help keep our teens and children safe in space.  The are offering free booklets and a toolkit to help you become a better informed parent, teacher and person when it comes to online safety.

The toolkit materials are free and in the public domain.  They encourage teachers, parents and others who care for kids to use this resource during a classroom presentation, community gathering or PTA meeting, and to spread the word by using the information in a newsletter or on your website, ordering free copies of Net Cetera and Heads Up for your neighborhood school from, or sharing the toolkit with colleagues and community leaders.

During NCSAM, and all year round, learn as much as you can about cybersafety and cybersecurity.
In Broward County, they offer an Internet Safety page for kids.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens.

Read more.

Monday, October 4, 2010

2010 Family Dinners Report findings: Shocking results of teens and drug use

Last week a revealing report was released about teens and substance abuse.

Compared to teens who have frequent family dinners (five to seven per week), those who have infrequent family dinners (fewer than three per week) are more than twice as likely to say that they expect to try drugs in the future, according to The Importance of Family Dinners VI, a new report from The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA*) at Columbia University.

The CASA family dinners report reveals that nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of teens think that eating dinner frequently with their parents is very or fairly important. Compared to teens who have frequent family dinners, those who have infrequent family dinners are:
  • Twice as likely to have used tobacco;
  • Almost twice as likely to have used alcohol; and
  • One and half times likelier to have used marijuana.
The report found that compared to teens who talk to their parents about what’s going on in their lives at dinner, teens who don’t are twice as likely to have used tobacco and one and a half times likelier to have used marijuana.

The report also reveals that teens who have fewer than three family dinners per week are twice as likely to be able to get marijuana or prescription drugs (to get high) in an hour or less. Teens who are having five or more family dinners per week are more likely to say that they do not have any access to marijuana and prescription drugs (to get high).

This year the trend survey found that 60 percent of teens report having dinner with their families at least five times a week, a proportion that has remained consistent over the past decade.

Family Dinners and Having Friends Who Use Substances

Teens who have frequent family dinners are less likely to report having friends who use substances.
Compared to teens who have five to seven family dinners per week, those who have fewer than three family dinners per week are:
  • More than one and a half times likelier to have friends who drink regularly and use marijuana;
  • One and half times likelier to have friends who abuse prescription drugs (to get high); and
  • One and a quarter times more likely to have friends who use illegal drugs like acid, ecstasy, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin.
Broward County Office of Prevention Programs offers a vast variety of resources to help parents and teens.  From health and wellness to teen substance abuse, visit for more information.

For the complete press release from CASA, click here.

As Recovery Month Awareness is nearly over, please continue all year round in educating teens and others about the dangers of addiction.

So, what is for dinner tonight?

Read more.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Confessions of a Former Bully

By Trudy Ludwig

Gr 3-6–In a fictional scrapbook, a self-confessed former bully recounts both her own actions as a perpetrator and the steps she took to rectify her behavior. Under the guise of giving an insider's look, Katie provides information about why bullies do what they do and some possible steps that targets and bystanders can take to stand up to them. Meant to offer advice, the insights occasionally feel too adult to be truly accessible to kids, but the language and casual writing style are age appropriate.

Despite the moments when Katie's transformation seems too pat and convenient to be believable, the advice is sound and there are specific examples that will be helpful, even if older readers may feel as though they've heard it all before. Jotted notes, doodles, and related quotes are peppered throughout, adding to the scrapbook format. The illustrations are a mix of collage and drawings; they are fun but not particularly noteworthy. Further reading for children and adults, as well as the websites listed at the end of the book, are useful resources.

Order today on Amazon.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Children's Movement of Florida

The Children’s Movement of Florida was formed to take action and improve Florida’s sorry report card for caring for our youth.

Their mission statement:

The Children’s Movement of Florida believes that the well-being and education of our children in Florida must be the highest priority of government, business, non-profit institutions and families. The economic future of our state and the stability of the communities we live in depend on achieving this goal. The major objective of the citizen-led, non-partisan Children’s Movement of Florida is to inform the political, business and civic leaders, and the parents and people of this state, about this issue – and encourage them to make the well-being and education of our children our highest priority, including in the way we invest our public resources.

Why now or should we say, what took so long?

Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel recently wrote:

The statistics about how we treat our children in this state should make you sick.
We have one of the highest child-abuse rates in the country. We have more uninsured children than 48 other states. Our graduation rates lag.

Yes, he is right and it is time to get involved, and get our politicians to “be” involved.  More needs to be done, we don’t need a repeat of last year with the near death of two of our Florida students, Michael Brewer and Josie Ratley.

The Children’s Movement of Florida is spearheading the newest political movement making waves in the United States, calling themselves, endearingly “The Milk Party.” With events across the state of Florida, this movement comes at a time that hopefully people and politicians are listening. Currently, the group is in the middle of a 17 stop tour across the state of Florida during the month of September, called “The Children’s Express.” Click here to see if they will be in a city near you.

The latest events of James Jones, the father that defended his 13 year-old daughter who suffers with cerebral palsy, was maliciously taunted, teased and bullied on the school bus, has shed more light on this growing problem of bullying.

Learn more by visiting and find out how you can help today.

Watch video.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Be your daughter's champion: A one minute compliment is a lifetime of change

The clock is ticking, the alarm is ringing, and the sun is starting to come up.  It is Monday morning and time for school and for most parents, time to go to work.

Many rush around, especially on a Monday morning after a long and fun weekend, and go through the motions of getting their clothes on, doing their hair, brushing your teeth and don't forget to eat breakfast!  In between you are making sure you have a lunch or lunch money, packing the backpack or briefcase and trying to get out the door on time.

Let's stop, roll back the clock and take at least one minute to say something positive to each otherJust one minute can make a lifetime of change to your daughter.  Build their self-esteem and let them know they are loved no matter how busy you are, there is always time for her.

The Dove Movement for Self-Esteem invites all women to join us in creating a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety.

Coming in October is The Dove Self-Esteem Weekend and it is a perfect time for you to be a champion for your daughter or a special young girl in your life.
  • Everyone has the opportunity to make a difference in a young girl’s self-esteem
    • Dove is uniting women across the country – individuals, partners and grassroots organizations
    • Providing the next generation of women with the tools to build a positive relationship with beauty and reach their full potential
Dove Movement for Self-Esteem is getting into full swing.  With the help of the Boys and Girls Club, Girls Inc. and Girls Scouts, Dove is marching out a campaign to help teen girls have a brighter future and step into their own skin by believing in themselves.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Encourage a youth leader today

Do you know a teen where you live that are making a difference in the lives of others?  A youth that is reaching out in their community, giving their time, donating items or simply being part of an organization targeted at helping others?  Paying it forward is part of building a community.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards is the largest youth recognition program in the country based exclusively on volunteer community service. And what better way to recognize our young heroes and inspire others to follow their lead than honoring them with these prestigious awards?

If you know someone from grades 5-12 who has demonstrated outstanding volunteerism over the past year, then encourage them to complete an online application at State and national honorees will receive a cash prize, a trip to Washington, D.C., and an engraved medallion to thank them for the great work they have done. 

This is a great opportunity to reach out and recognize those that are exceptional youths and create a positive and inspiring environment.

If you are a junior or senior in high school, acquiring your community services can make a major difference on your college applications.  What most teens realize is that giving back is actually helping them to build their self-esteem and will give you a warm feeling.

Do you know a special youth today?  Nominate them and they may be rewarded!

Watch video for more information.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Perils of Parenting: Do you stay unplugged long enough to LISTEN to your teens?

Dateline featured one of the most compelling wake-up segments for parents this week.  Perils of Parenting has been the coffee table and water cooler topic since it aired this week.  Even Twitter has been Tweeting all week about it!

What if you could spy on your kids as they go through a typical day, dealing with some typical problems — like bullying, and drinking & driving? A group of parents did just that — with the help of Dateline's hidden cameras. What they learned about their children could teach us all a little something about our own. Kate Snow reports. - Watch full episode here.

Look who's talking is a perfect example of parents being a poor example to their kids.  Are you a BBM parent?  What is one?  Black-Berry-Messenger Parent.  Watch the video below as the little boy, probably no older than 7, talks about BBM people.

In this short clip below, it is shocking how aware these young kids are to realize how much virtual time their parents are spending in comparison to their parenting time.

Perils of Parenting featured Parenting Expert and Author, Dr. Michele Borba who concludes that parents need to unplug!  We hear about our kids and their Internet and social networking addictions or even obsessions, but have parents looked at who they are mimicking?

Take the time to watch this segment and more important, take the time to be with your kids 100%!
Would your teen get in the car with a drunk driver?  The answers will shock you.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens and kids.

Watch video and read more.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tourette's Uncovered - Learn More

Jaylen Arnold is your typical 9 year-old Lakeland, Florida boy with an exception.  He has Tourette's Syndrome.  Tourette Syndrome is a combination of involuntary movements and involuntary noises, which we call "tics". They tend to start in childhood and often become less severe into adulthood.  With this disability, Jaylen has had his share of bullying, however has turned it around into a fight against bullying.

Bullying No Way is Jaylen's motto!  He has spent time, energy and support talking to schools, parents and anyone that will listen about the dangers and hurtfulness of bullying.  The long lasting emotional scars and the fact that children don't have to take it anymore.

Discovery Health Channel is airing a special on Tourette's Syndrome - "Tourette's Uncovered."  Jaylen Arnold is one of four children that will be featured.  Check your local television listings.
Premieres Monday, September 13, at 9 PM (ET/PT)

In this one-hour special, viewers will meet four children with startlingly different Tourette's diagnoses: Jonah, a boy who cannot suppress his overwhelming need to get up and run away; Colin, a boy who experiences constant headaches as a results of his tics; Marques, who suffers from the rare strain of Tourette's that causes patients to shout obscenities uncontrollably; and Jaylen, a remarkable boy who is taking his experiences in school dealing with Tourette's to a group of kids in an anti-bullying speech. Cameras will follow the lives of parents as they help their children cope with life within a world where you just can't stop "ticking."

Do you want to learn more about Florida's young boy that is making a huge difference?  Visit his website at and don't forget to follow him on Twitter at @JaysChallenge.

Read more and watch trailer.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Teen Self-Esteem: Dove Movement Campaign 2010

As the Dove Movement for Self-Esteem unfolds, there is a powerful question that is being passed around and one that most people have a variety of answers for. Whether you are 18 or 58 or even 78, the answers contain lessons from experience.

What do you wish you had known at 13 years old?

Here are some of the responses from the Dove Movement website as well as from Twitter:

•Play more, worry less!
•My father really was smart but at 13 I knew it all.
•Enjoy being young/don't wish to be older yet.
•That the abuse I was suffering had nothing to do with how bad I was but how bad the perpetrator was.
•That being myself was the best way to be 'cool!'

These are only a few of the fantastic responses the Dove Movement has received. For those in South Florida, one of the issues that is often heard, is about using sun-screen more generously. In your teen years many are more concerned about their tan (self-image) than the damage the sun is doing to your skin. In later years, as the skin starts to wrinkle, it can be a lesson we wish we had known (or listened to our parents).

The Dove Movement for Self-Esteem is being sponsored by the Boys and Girls Club, Girls Inc. and Girls Scouts, Dove is marching out a campaign to help teen girls have a brighter future and step into their own skin by believing in themselves.

Watch video.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Wilderness Programs: Short Term Programs - Short Term Results (And Very Costly!)

You have a teen that is driving you crazy.  You have a teen that is experimenting, if not using drugs on a regular basis.  You have teen that has changed peer groups - and not for the better.  You have a teen that has disengaged from the family.  You have a teen that is defiant, belligerent and can become violent.  You have a teen that doesn't appreciate all they have and all you have sacrificed for them?  You are at your wit's end!

Is it time to have an intervention?  What is best to insure that your teen gets back on a positive road to have that bright future you always wanted for them?

Let's review some choices to get help:

Wilderness Therapeutic Programs Short term program, short term results, usually zero academics, extremely expensive and as many teens state they have great experiences, it is usually never enough to make lasting positive changes.
  • The concept: Remove the kids from their comforts of home.  Get them to reflect on themselves from within. 
  • Thought:  Wouldn't it be wise to find one program that offers a well-rounded program including removing them from their comforts of home, offering them an education as well as encouraging them through enrichment programs?
Boot Camps:  Thankfully many have been closed in the state of Florida.  This in and of itself speaks volumes.  As parents see it as a way to punish their kids for their negative behavior, using punitive and primitive measures may cause more anger and resentment toward the person that placed them there.
  • The concept: Teach your child a lesson, and hope they learn to appreciate and respect you.
  • Thought:  Again, finding a sound program that offers positive enrichment, academics as well as trained staff to help determine where the negative behavior is stemming from.
Jail:  Is this ever a good option?  Not really, and although juvenile records are sealed, according to law enforcement, what happens when your teen applies for a job in their 20's and that record, although it doesn't state the charges, but is pinged by your teen being finger printed?  Did you consider the friends your teen will make in jail?
  • The Concept: Show your teen the consequences of breaking the law.  Hopefully scaring them straight so they turn around their behavior.
  • Thought: Get your teen the right help that instills positive reinforcement, continuing education and work on family conflict with an outside counselor.
Residential Therapy: Finally, a way to address negative behavior in a positive direction. Our teens need consistency in treatment.  Starting and finishing with the same therapist, structure and program that builds your teen back up to making the better choices.  Some parents are being convinced that using a short term program such as Wilderness Programs will prepare them for a residential program, however if you find the right program from the start, it serves the same purpose as a Wilderness Program (of course saving about $10K-20K at the same time).  Choosing a residential therapy program does remove your child from their comforts of their home.  It also gives them an opportunity to reflect and get back to basics.
  • Concept: It took longer than 6-8 weeks to get to the place your teen is at, it will take at least 6-9 months to get your child back.
  • Thought: Take your time and find the best program for you and your family both emotionally and financially.  Consider that short term programs are like band-aids - they do peel off fairly quickly.
With Lindsay Lohan at 24 years old going to jail, it will serve to sober her up, however the rehab is what will help her to remain sober. Sadly, this may all be a moot point since at 24 years old, she is considered an adult and can just go through the motions - after all, she is court appointed.

Don't wait for your teen to be over 18, get them help while you still have the ability and control.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

VolunTeens - Helping Teens with Community Service

As schools have opened in Broward County, many teenagers in high school that will be graduating this year and applying to colleges. They will need to consider their community service and volunteering hours.  Colleges have become more competitive and adding your volunteer services can enhance your college application and possibly be the deciding factor in being accepted into your first choice school. is your source for opportunities for volunteer services in Broward County and Palm Beach County.  Whether you are a teen seeking community service hours or an organization that needs volunteers, visit their website today for more information. is a website that assists teens in finding service opportunities that best fit each individual. Whether it is working with children, animals, or the elderly, volunteering is extremely rewarding.

Be an educated parent, your teens will have a brighter future!

Read more.