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.