Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Child Killing Cop To Face Third Trial

In Detroit, Michigan, Joseph Weekley may face a third trial in March for killing a young girl during a 2010 police raid after two previous trials ended with deadlocked juries.

Seven year old Aiyana Stanley-Jones was essentially murdered as police executed a search warrant for a murder suspect.  Weekley entered the home and immediately fired 1 shot directly at the child who was sleeping on the couch, striking her in the neck and killing her.  The police department then lied and tried to make up a story about the grandmother charging at the officer, but because the raid was being followed by a camera crew for the television show The First 48, in this instance, their deceit was exposed.  The producer said the film footage blatantly contradicted the story that the Detroit police tried to make up.

The fact that they are having to try this case a third time is yet another example of the preferential treatment police receive from the US 'injustice' system whenever they do something wrong.  It's also telling that none of the dozens of officers initially involved and trying to cover up this murder has faced any serious repercussions.

Click here to learn more about child safety incidents.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Making Sure The Baby Is Breathing

Parents have long been known to sneak a peak at their sleeping infant just to make sure he's still breathing. For those especially anxious parents, you can now buy a baby monitor that actually tracks their vital signs.  For just $249, this Sproutling baby monitor will measure your baby's vitals through an ankle monitor attached to the baby, and then send them to your smart phone.  The device will also "learn" the baby's behaviors (such as nap time) with the idea that it will help parents plan.

An interesting gismo, but I fear this is the perfect example of technology increasing anxiety rather than diminishing it.  When considering that false positives are common even among hospital devices, or that common conditions such as the occasional infant sleep apnea could set off an alarm, chances are this device will merely insure a lot more panicked runs to the nursery, only to find out that baby is breathing after all.

Click her to learn more about infant safety

Friday, December 5, 2014

Kids With Guns At School

This week a second grade boy sparked a full scale lockdown in two schools in Middleton, Idaho. His crime; bringing what turned out to be a toy gun to school.  Police discovered the toy gun after 45 minutes of searching the school, and then the boy was suspended.  The lesson?  Talk to your kids about weapon safety, and where toy guns should and should not go.  It might also be a good idea to give your child's backpack a quick look-over as you send them off in to school. 

In Clayton Missouri,  three kindergarten students found a loaded hand-gun on the playground while out at recess at their elementary school.  Thankfully, no injuries were reported.  But this type of scenario is how many gun accidents happen: kids stumble upon a weapon, assume it to be a toy, and then tragically find out otherwise. It appears the kids did the right thing by leaving it alone and telling a teacher.  Both of these examples show us why it is so important to talk to your kids about all types of gun safety.

Click here to teach kids about gun safety

Monday, December 1, 2014

Supreme Court to Decide What T-shirts Your Kids Can Wear

The Supreme Court convenes this week. It will be taking up the case of one of the stupidest over-reactions in all of American history . . . and we've seen some doozies in our time.

Francis Schmidt was suspended from his job as an art animation professor of a New Jersey college for making threats against the school.  So what was his offense?  He took a photo of his 7-year-old-daughter and uploaded it to his Facebook page.  This little girl happened to be wearing a T-shirt that read: "I will take what is mine with fire and blood."  If that phrase sounds familiar, it's probably because it is a well known phrase from the hit show Game of Thrones, and the t-shirt the girl was wearing was simply a piece of fan merchandise.  Never the less, the school interpreted this unrelated and incidental act as a violation of the schools Zero tolerance policy.  Schmidt was banished from campus, told to see a psychiatrist, forced into a promise that he would not wear clothes with "questionable statements."

Cases such as this serve as an example of how much of an illusion most of the rights we think we have are, and also about the collateral damage that results when paranoia over safety is taken too far.

Click here to learn more about Zero Tolerance School Policy

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Police Shoot a 12-year-old Boy Who Held a Fake Weapon

Last weekend in Cleveland, Ohio, police shot and killed a 12-year-old boy who had been pointing a toy gun at people as they passes him on the sidewalk.  Video of the scene does not indicate that anyone seemed afraid.  The 911 call mentioned that the gun was likely not real, and this was somehow not relayed to the responding police officers.  Read more in an article at www.truechildsafety.com/archive6/police-shoot-boy-with-fake-gun.html

Click here for more free information on child gun safety

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Stroller Recall

This week Graco Children's Products issued a recall for about 4.7 million strollers in the US, Canada, and Mexico, due to a folding hinge on the stroller which CTSC says "can pinch a child's finger, causing a laceration or amputation hazard." At least 6 reports of fingertip amputations have surfaced along with 4 partial fingertip amputations.  The recall affects 11 models which were sold at Walmart, Target, Toys R Us, Amazon.com and other retailers.

Click here to learn more about infant & child safety

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Lesson On Train Safety

A tragedy happened Sunday in Spanish Fork, Utah, that cost a five-year-old boy his life.  Authorities say the boy was among 3 young children who were playing around the tracks on a Sunday when the train passed by at about 40 m.p.h.  (USA Today, 11-11-2014, p. 4A) The articles I read did not make it clear whether the boy was on the tracks or just near them.  But either way, reminding our kids how dangerous train tracks can be is a necessary part of teaching them.

Many children (and adults) assume that trains stay "on the tracks.”  But many train car loads -- and freight trains especially -- can hang as far as 10 or 15 feet off the side of the tracks in either direction.  Adding to the danger, some cars on the train may be wider than others.  Also, remind them that trains cannot stop as fast as a car stops.  So make sure your kids know of these dangers and understand that they need to stay well away from the train tracks whenever a train is approaching. 

Visit our website to learn more about child safety and how to keep your kids safe around trains.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Mole People of Las Vegas

Here's an interesting story I cam across.  Have you heard about the mole people of Las Vegas? It sounds like a race of sci-fi mutants, the result of some nuclear experiment gone horribly wrong, but it actually refers to an underground community -- literally.

You see, underneath the city of Las Vegas lies an extensive system of storm tunnels designed to keep the city from flooding during monsoons.  Apparently, there's an underground community of people that have made this subterranean structure their home.  They stack furniture on crates to create a living space that withstands most common rainstorms, building their own little apartments in the tunnels beneath the city.

It's believed most of the people living down there are transients and the homeless, or perhaps addicts who have found these tunnels a good place to get high without being bothered by police.  But it's also known that some of the residents in this underground community actually work at the casinos.  For them, it's a way of living rent-free in an areas close to their place of employment -- perhaps the only way they can afford to live.  Furthermore, it's believed there are most likely some children living down there as well, maybe even entire families that have been displaced in the recent financial crisis.

The total population of this community of mole people is estimated to be around 1,500, or about the same number of residents as you might find in a small mid-west town.  They are spread throughout the City of Light's 400 miles of storm tunnels.

Of course, such a lifestyle is not without its risks. Occasiionally a drowned body will wash out one of the many outlets, a victim of torrential rains that proved to be just a little too much.  Yet despite the safety concerns, police don't consider it feasible nor a productive use of their time to go searching 400miles of tunnel by flashlight to root out its occupants. Even if they did so, the community would likely return as soon as they were done.

As someone who grew up watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cartoons.  I must say I find this story rather fascinating.  I remember as a kid wandering the neighborhood with friends and scoping out sewer tunnels, hoping against all odds that each dark passage might be the gateway that opened up into an underground world both mysterious and alluring -- the type of cavern befitting of a comic book hero. Though I'm sure if you ask the mole people, it's probably not as glamorous as it seems.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Free $500.00 For Your Baby

If you had a baby that was born on October 20, 2014, Boya Financial is offering a free $500 mutual fund investment as part of National Save for Retirement Week.  There are no strings attached, but parents and guardians must register and provide proof of birth at Boya.com/borntosave by December 19th.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Do You Treat Special Needs Children Differently?

Few adults would intentionally act cruelly towards a child who is handicapped in some way.  Yet even among caring adults there is a tendency to treat kids who have some sort of disability differently than we otherwise would.  The end result is often the same: Through body language and other subconscious cues, we send the message that these kids aren’t the same as other kids.  Many people simply withdraw or keep their distance from a child with a disability, unsure of what to do or how to interact.

Take the hearing impaired, for example.  Describing the frustration she feels over how people relate to her two deaf sons, one woman says, “You don’t have to know sign language (to interact).  Kindness is a language.  We all understand it.  When you see a child like this, don’t act shocked.  Don’t gasp and walk away.  The message you send to a child is: ‘My god, you are a freak!’  Reach out your hand and smile.”  (Chicken Soup for the Couples Soul, Health Communications, 1999, p. 211)

The same principle applies to children with any type of disability.  Talk to a child with Down syndrome in the same way would to a kids who’s at the top of his or her class.  Find ways to involve children with physical disabilities in the same type of sports and gross motor activities you might play with a child who had no physical restraints.  Relate to children with autism as if they are social butterflies just waiting to come out of their cocoon (with realistic expectations and adequate patience, of course).

Not only does this ensure that every child develops to their fullest potential, but it can prevent many of the hurts these kids endure that we never meant to send.  Because no matter what the circumstance, there’s pretty much one universal thing that kids with special needs can all agree upon: They don’t want sympathy.  They don’t want you to feel sorry for them, and they certainly don’t want you to act bothered or appalled by them.  They just want you to act normal, so that they can feel a little more normal and accepted themselves.

Monday, October 6, 2014

White Babies, Black Babies, & Mix-ups At Sperm Banks

An Ohio woman who had requested the sperm of a white man is not suing the Chicago sperm bank that accidentally sent her the sperm of a black man instead. She apparently learned of the error back in 2012 when she was already five months pregnant with her daughter.

At first I was amused by this story, but then felt saddened. I keep thinking, why does it matter? I was hoping we were beyond the point of valuing children by their skin color.

The timing of the law suit is also striking. Why now? Granted, her daughter is approaching the terrible two's, which causes many a parent to wonder if their child comes with a return policy. Now doubt she has to answer inquisitive questions from curious onlookers. But what is this child going to think as she grows older and learns of the lawsuit? The implicit message is going to be this: "You apparently thought my not being entirely white was such a terrible development that you should be awarded a hefty settlement because of it."

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Are You Raising Doers, or Followers?

The duty of all parents is to raise a self-sufficient being that can function on their own.  It’s been said that a parent’s curse is that the job basically entails you pouring all this love and attention into a little person just so they can ultimately leave you and take that love elsewhere.  Yet especially in recent years, the trend towards coddling and overprotecting children has been growing, with parents becoming especially clingy rather than working to foster independence.

As Barbara Littman states in her book Everyday Ways to Raise Smart, Strong, Confident Girls, “in school and often at home, a big part of growing up is spent going along with what is happening rather than making things happen.”  The result is that children have very little experience in decision making.  When it comes to taking the initiative on their own, many kids don’t know what to do.

Thus parents should try to find more ways to get children out of the passive-submissive role and more involved in the “making things happen” role.  There are several easy ways to do this:

A)    When a problem presents itself, get in the habit of asking children what they think they should do as opposed to telling them what to do.  You can still guide them towards the correct answer, but this gets them accustomed to talking the lead and coming up with solutions on their own.

B)     Try to involve kids in planning family functions whenever possible.  Give them the job of researching potential vacation spots on weekend getaways.  Or let them pick on meal a week that they might enjoy and them involve them in the process of planning what needs to happened to prepare it – items to be purchased, preparations, and so on.

C)    Make a conscientious effort to follow their lead more often.  Kids are very imaginative and come up with some crazy ideas.  When is the last time you helped them develop one of these plans, even if it’s rather childish or silly?  Do so once, and I guarantee you that you’ll have a child who starts actively imagining all sorts of ways they might be able to change the world.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Fire Challenge Game

I’ve got an idea:  What do you say we poor rubbing alcohol all over you. Then I’ll grab a camera and light you on fire while filming what happens.

No? Does this not sound like a game you want to play? Startlingly, the answer your teen might give to this question is not an emphatic no, but an enthusiastic “Let’s do it!”  It’s called the fire challenge game and it’s the latest trend in dumb things kids are willing to do in their pursuit of internet glory.

Fire challenge videos are popping up all over the internet, featuring young people who light themselves on fire and emerge seemingly no worse for the ware.  But as you might imagine, things don’t always go as planned.  A number of kids have been seriously burned, and the screams of those victims is something you never forget.

Don’t assume that your kid is smart enough to know better.  All teens become temporarily dumb.  Talk with tweens, too, who are in the danger zone for mimicking what teens do.  Make sure kids know that the stunts which don’t go as planned don’t generally get posted on YouTube, and permanent disfiguration is an outcome just as likely as internet glory.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Overnight Lake

Here’s an off topic, but interesting story: A large lake has suddenly appeared overnight in the desert of Tunisia, stumping scientists as to how it got there.  Locals report that one day there was nothing there, the next morning a giant body of water was there. It’s a crazy world!

Check out the mysterious lake.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Road Rage Revgenge

In Gainsville, Florida, a man received a little bit of highway karma, after he was run over by his own pick-up truck after getting out of the truck in a road rage incident.

The 48-year-old was driving drunk and was apparently peeved at something another driver had done.  So he got out of his truck, walked over to the other vehicle, and started banging on the windows.  The frightened old lady drove off, leaving him to watch and curse as she make her escape.  Meanwhile, his pick-up truck, which he had forgot to put into 'park,' (or which I suspect was actually a transformer in disguise that had grown tired of his nonsense), was barreling down on him.  He was struck down and the vehicle rolled over him.

The man will be OK, though police have charged him with DUI.

Visit our website for child car safety information.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Eyeball Eating Bacteria: A Caution For Contact Lense Users

Here's a story that will make your eyes red: a college student in Taiwan was recently blinded after leaving her contact lenses in for about 6 months.  Flesh eating bacterial got under the lens and literally ate her eyeball.

This was a freak occurrence -- we hope none of our readers keep contacts in that long, but it also serves as a lesson in why it's important to store and maintain contact lenses in a sanitary way.

Visit our website to find more on child safety and medical information.

Friday, July 4, 2014

SSRIs, Suicide, & Misinformation

Recently there was a study pushed through by the anti-depressant industry and widely covered by news media. The headlines claimed that there had been an increase of suicides ever since it was mandated that SSRI antidepressants come with a warning label about the risk for increased suicides, especially for teens and children.  This caused many people to rethink their medications, and advocates of  these medications warned that this exodus would increase depression, ultimately leading to more suicides.  Needles to say, people are confused.

This latest study is part of a miss-information campaign, and you have to read the fine print.  Even in the data of the study itself, THERE WAS NO INCREASE IN COMPLETED SUICIDES.  When the study failed to show what they wanted to find, they looked elsewhere and found an increase in "psychotropic drug poisoning," which they are creatively calling an increase in suicide attempts.  Ironically, antidepressants themselves are a type of psychotropic drug.

This study is bogus. Antidepressant drugs still raise suicide risks for teens and children, and the jury is still out on whether they do anything at all in the terms of treating depression.  SSRIs are a poor substitute for cognitive therapy and will not address the root of the problem.  Proceed cautiously if you are considering them for you child.

Read our Family Recovery Information to learn about suicide prevention and what are the dangers in psychotherapy for children.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Three Parent Child

Scientists just announced that they may be technologically ready to start creating babies using 3 people as parents, in about two years.  Assuming the process can get legal approval.  The technique would be used to help certain parents with genetic defects or risk factors than children who are born normal.  The third set of DNA would provided working versions of the gene sequences that are defective in both of the natural parents.

Check our website for family health & medical information.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Crazy Cat Strikes Again

Lux  is a 22 pound house cat in Oregon that has been dubbed by authorities "most aggressive cat in the world."  Some are calling it evil.

After attacking a 7-month old baby, the cat then kept it's family and the family dog barricaded in a room, too scared to open the door, hissing at them when they tried to leave.  They had to call the police to come and rescue them.

Needless to say, following this episode the cats original family gave her up.  Now, after being adopted by a new family, it is once again being sent back to the shelter for it's violent behavior.  As a repeat offender, Lux has likely earned himself a death sentence and will be put to sleep.

Animals can be unpredictable.  Sometimes they save us, and other times they attack for some unknown reason.  We love them, but we need to remember they are not people.  Visit our website for more information about pets and kids.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Do Concealed Weapons Stop Mass Shootings?

After every mass shooting, and after Newtown especially, there is always a sizable portion of people who believe the key to security lies in ensuring the "good guys" are armed and can fight back.  People want our kindergarten teachers to be packing heat, they think we should place armed guards outside of schools, and they want more citizens carrying concealed weapons when this happens, then we'll be safe, they say.  It's a nice delusion.

Last week's Las Vegas shooting is a perfect illustration of the futility in this approach.  Both police officers killed had guns.  Having guns did not save them.  Next the shooters went to a Wal-Mart, where 1 more man was shot and killed.  What isn't being talked about much in the media is that this person who was killed was a concealed weapon carrier.  He tried to confront the gunman, and when he went for his weapon, he was shot and killed.  This isn't surprising: in studies of simulated shooting, having a concealed weapon just makes you more likely to die.  Since the shooter has a head start, he (or she) nearly always comes out on top.

People are fond of guns because they provide the illusion of control.  When you have a gun, you feel powerful.  You feel safe.  You feel like you can take on anyone.  But of course, feelings are not fact.  Not only were concealed weapons useless in stopping this shooting, but there's a good chance it added to the body count.  Since the shooters in this particular case had a vendetta against the police and government, not private citizens, it's more than likely that had this man fled like everyone else, he would still be alive today.  (Cashiers in the front had no problem escaping, had these two been inclined to kill citizens, there were plenty of easy targets in both locations.)

We just felt it necessary to point this out.  This is precisely the type of senseless shooting that gun advocates love to point to as a reason for why everyone should carry a weapon.  If only victims had a weapon, they say, they could have defended themselves and stopped the massacre.  Yet here we have 3 people with guns, and all 3 people are dead.  Not one of them even came close to thwarting the attack.

Gun advocates love to gloss over messy examples like this.  But this is the common outcome, and it paints a more sobering reality of the "more guns = more safety" myth.

Learn more about gun safety for kids.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Shady Line Between Reality and Fantasy

As the details of the Wisconsin Slenderman case start to emerge, it keeps getting more disturbing.  It turns out one girl was only eleven, not twelve. Statements allegedly made to the police are downright chilling.  One girl is reported to have said that she knows she should have felt something, and that something should have been sympathy, during the attack, but that she didn't really feel anything as the victim screamed bloody murder.

Her sidekick allegedly said, "The good part of me wanted her to live, but the bad part of me wanted her to die."  Both statements exhibit a certain amount of sociopathic behavior.  Furthermore, a rather eccentric interest of one girls father (pictures of skulls around the house, heavy immersion into horror) has added plenty of fodder for the finger pointers and media hounds.  Its also been reported that the ringleader of the pair believed she was communicating telepathically to Slenderman, and stated that if she didn't commit this murder, Slenderman would come and murder her entire family.  The pair thought they were being called upon to be proxy's of Slenderman.

Belief in the Supernatural, and the Shady Line Between Reality and Fantasy
One of my pet peeves is when psychologists talk about how silly children are when they engage in magical thinking . . . say by assuming their own bad thoughts can cause someone else to die.  The same psychologists will go home and pray at night -- believing (with not hint of irony) that mere thoughts will bring about a change in the physical world.  The only difference between kids and adults is the sophistication of the idea.  One we give validity too, the other we dismiss as silly.  It's all magical thinking in one form or another, in that it all professes a faith in things beyond the physical realm.

The Slenderman phenomenon presents a similar situation.  People act shocked and intrigued that two young girls could believe in a comic book character.  Yet most of these same people, if you interviewed them, would profess a belief in one or many of the following: Big Foot, alien visitation, ghosts, spirit people, communication with the dead, shadow people, guardian angles, horoscopes, werewolves, or any of the other proof-less phenomenon out there.  Looked at in that light, it suddenly doesn't seem so extraordinary that these girls might believe that Slenderman was real and was talking to them.  In fact, it's telling that since the story broke, people everywhere have been seeing glimpses of Slendeman -- their brain assigning his form to dark shadows.

Humans are magical thinkers by nature, and beliefs can kill.  Carl Jung once remarked that hostile beliefs have caused more death and destruction in this world than all the plagues and natural disasters combined.  Cases like this should be a sober reminder of the power of belief.  This doesn't just apply to the occasional psychopath -- it's true for all of us.

Beliefs can take hold of our psyche and transform our reality, and sometimes disappear just as quickly, leaving us wondering how we could have acted so foolish.  Lets hope that's the case with these girls, and that they someday get the chance to atone for their mistake.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Slenderman Strikes Again

In Hamilton, Ohio, a 13-year-old girl was arrested for stabbing her mother multiple times in another apparent Slenderman inspired attack.  The mother reports that when she came home from work one night, her daughter was waiting for her in the kitchen wearing a white mask and a hoodie. The girl then went after her, stabbing the woman over and over again.  She survived.

The mother says she doesn't know who it was in her daughters' body that night, but that "it wasn't her."  The girl, who is now in a juvenile detention center, says she has no memory of the event.

This 13-year-old has a history of mental health problems, and it is suspected this might be a copycat incident: a troubled girl, inspired by all the media attention these other girls were receiving, decided to follow suite.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Slenderman Stabbing: What Motivated Two 12-Year-Old Girls To Attempt A Horror Killing

Two 12-year-old girls were arrested for allegedly luring a third girl, also 12, into the woods and then stabbing her 19 times.  All three girls were friends, and the attack does not appear to be maliciously motivated.

Rather, this incident seems to be inspired  by Slender Man, an internet comic book character that stars in horror genre.  Authorities alleged that the girls were trying to impress Slender Man with their abilities.

Thankfully, the girl who was stabbed survived.  She was able to crawl away to a nearby road, where she was discovered by a biker.  She is listed in stable condition at the hospital.

It is a disturbing incident in more ways than one.  Not only for the creepiness of 2 teenage girls aspiring to murder their friend to fulfill a horror fantasy, but the fact that the victim was stabbed so many times.  Unlike firearm assaults, stabbings are up-close and personal, and to stab someone repeatedly, thrusting the knife in again after the victim cries out, requires at least a temporary absence of empathy. Usually its rage that shuts down empathy, but it can also be abandoned out of group affiliation or various beliefs.  This is why bullying is such a problem.  Even otherwise nice kids can do horrifically cruel things when either armed with why the victim deserves it, or cloaked in group affiliations that promote an "us versus them" mentality.

Sensational Life Versus Reality
By 12, all three of these girls can distinguish between real consequences and make believe.  That isn't the problem as some pundits have suggested.  If what has been said can be believed, it's the strong identification with this character that is at issue. A character that is somewhat odd, but also clever, witty, and especially powerful -- exerting his will over others -- can be an alluring archetype for youths this age.

Another problem is even for kids perfectly capable of distinguishing between real and fantasy, fantasy can seem so much more appealing than reality.  Especially in today's sensationalized society, many kids run into problems when they compare their own relatively dull lives to the drama they are exposed to through reality TV or other types of media.  They feel that there is something missing, or that their life should be something more.  They get the idea that every persons reality should resemble a TV script.  It is this confusion about what a normal life should entail that causes problems.

Most adolescents will not try to murder someone in an attempt to fit their life into an exciting script.  All teens do, however, bring the necessary conflict into their lives (both internal and external) by confusing media normal for their own normal, it's something every parent should be aware of.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Facebook, the Family Spy

It's well known that Facebook collects and monetizes all sorts of data on it's uses.  Facebook may be a service, but you the user are actually it's product.  Facebook may know more about you than your friends and family do.  It's goal seems to be to get to know you better than you know yourself.

To this end, many people may not realize that Facebook also follows them elsewhere.  In fact, Facebook follows their users' activity on about half of the top 25 sites on the web, incorporating this information into your overall profile.

Perhaps more creepy is this; it was recently revealed that Facebook is spying on you through smart phones and webcams, listening in so as to decipher what music you like to listen to or what movies and TV shows are playing in the background.  So if you're home alone one night and get the sense that someone is watching, it's probably not a peeping Tom outside your window, but the one you invited into your home through your computer.

Check out our website for information about teaching kids internet safety.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Learning From Those Who Annoy You

Lord knows, other people can be difficult to deal with at times.  Our attitude in return doesn't make the situation any more manageable.  So here's a useful trick for dealing with others that can change your frame of mine: Try to approach every person you meet as if they have something to teach you.  Imagine that they and they alone possess enlightenment in some particular area, and that this knowledge could benefit your life.

Not only will this give us more tolerance and compassion for those around us, but it helps us stay humble.  Approaching the world as if we are the only enlightened one and everyone we meet is a moron probably is not accurate, and it certainly isn't helpful.  Especially when someone disagrees or views things differently from you, it helps to remember this rule.  Approach the situation as if you're a student and they are one of life's many teachers, and you'll find that compassion towards others flows more easily, making it much harder to upset yourself.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Mountain Bikers Beware: Spike Strips Ahead

As if mountain biking weren't hard enough as it is, it just got a little bit harder.  Police in Colorado are looking for the person who thought it would be a good idea to place spike strips at various points on a mountain bike trail running through a public park.

At least one biker was injured from the home-make spike strips, which were created from barbed wire, wood and nails, and then intentionally concealed along the bike path so that they would not be seen until it was too late.

For the sake of those who are actually keeping in shape and getting out for some exorcise in the fresh mountain air, lets hope this practice does not catch on.

For child safety while enjoying the outdoors, or while camping, visit our website.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Cat Saves Boy From Dog

On May 13th, 4-year-old Jeremy was riding his bike on the driveway in front of his own home when the neighbor's dog attacked him, biting him in the leg and dragging him down the drive.  Tara, the families cat, runs in and attacks the dog, causing the dog to release the boy. Jeremy needed a few stitches, but is otherwise fine, and very grateful to his family pet.

In watching this video, it should serve as a wake-up call to parents about the danger of dog attacks, and I was stuck most by the fact that this was a relatively small dog, yet you can see the power he has and the damage that occurs in just a few seconds.  Imagine how much more damage an 80 or 90 pound Rottweiler could do.

Jeremy's father posted the surveillance video on YouTube, and it went viral.  Camera's are everywhere today, and this time we got an unusual glimpse of a hero cat. If you haven't yet seen the video, you can view it on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAt5nwlrLoM

Visit our site and learn about dog safety for kids.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Criminalizing Kindergartners In The Name Of Bullying Prevention

Here is one more example in the long and frustrating history of bad ways to deal with bullying:

A town in southern California is trying to pass a new ordinance that would slap children as young as five with criminal penalties for bullying.  Parents would also be held partially responsible, and the punishment would escalate with each repeated offense.

There are many problems with such a law, one being that it defines bullying in terms of the feelings of the other person, thus criminalizing someone not for their own actions, but for the feelings of someone else.  Another problem is that true bullying is often difficult to define, with many players in overlapping roles that are often difficult to untangle.  But more importantly, such laws create collateral damage that harms children without doing anything to address the root of the problem.

It's ironic that in their attempt to stop children from using a power advantage to intimidate or control another person (bullying), their solution is to pass a law giving officials more power to use as a means of intimidation to control the behavior of children. (State sponsored bullying.)

Twenty percent of kids are regular bullies, and many kids play the part of both bully and victim.  Furthermore, nearly every child will engage in the behavior at some time.  That's a lot of kids we'll be damaging if we aim to "help" the problem through seek and destroy missions that rely on punishment rather than compassion.

Bullying has many causes that run deep in the psychology of our culture.  (See our information on causes of bullying)  Passing new laws is a feel good way of sweeping the problem under the rug and ignoring the true issues. (See bullying laws and legislation)  One thing is for certain: bullying will never be solved by relying on the same power-over mentality that creates it in the first place.

Read bullying information and resources, an online educational book for parents and teachers.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Drones & The Threat They Pose To Commercial Aircraft

The close call that took place in March between a drone and a commercial passenger jet has airlines advocating for tighter controls on consumer drones, sighting the threat the unmanned craft pose to commercial airlines.

Although drones aren't supposed to be flown anywhere near airports, there is nothing to physically enforce such a rule.  In fact, if someone really wanted to bring down a plane, a cheap way to do so would be to simply fly a small drone into each of it's engines.  As drones proliferate, it will be interesting to see how this issue plays out.

Visit our site to learn about child safety.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Earthquakes in Oklahoma

In a rare announcement for the Midwest, the US Geological Service recently issued a warning to residents in Oklahoma saying that a damaging earthquake on the scale of 5.0 or higher could be imminent.  Earthquakes in the area have jumped about 50% since October.  In fact, this year Oklahoma has seen almost as many earthquakes as California has, with tremors of a comparable intensity.

The backdrop to the story is fracking.  Though the oil and gas industry is loath to admit it, it’s well know that fracking – which involves pumping water and chemicals at high pressures deep underground in order to break apart rock deep under the earth – can create earthquakes.  These earthquakes are usually small; typically no more than a 3 or 4 on the Richter scale.  The problem is, nobody knows what effect this might have on larger fault lines, including normally inactive ones in the Midwest.

Alarmed by what they are seeing and frustrated with the industry’s callousness to these concerns, the USGS is breaking it’s silence.  We’ll just have to wait and see if these fears come to fruition.

Learn more about child safety.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A New Safety Hazard : Pot Candy

In  an earlier post we talked about the man who shot his wife to death after hallucinating after using marijuana candy. As the number of commercial food products containing marijuana explodes (everything from brownies, cookies, to individually wrapped candies) we are also facing the ever-increasing threat of accidental ingestion by children.

I can already hear somebody saying, "but I don't use marijuana, so this does not impact my kids."  It most certainly does.  Many parents don't own gun, yet every year their children are killed by them while playing at a friends house.  This is the same situation.  If the parents of any of your child's playmates use these products, they can easily wind up being brought to school, shared with friends, etc. Some of the more notorious cases involving pot poisoning of children have occurred during parties or when a group of friends sneak an after school snack.

Nor is this solely restricted to Colorado and Washington.  These products will inevitably make their way across state borders, affecting everyone.

Safety advocates are working on regulation to try and regulate the marijuana food and candy industry in order to reduce these accidental injections, which might helps some.  (It doesn't do anything for homemade items.)  In the meantime, it is something parents should keep a watchful eye for.

For more information on child poisoning visit our website.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Wake Up Baby!

Here's a creepy story if you haven’t heard it yet; a family in Cincinnati, Ohio was started from their sleep one night to the sound of a stranger screaming in a sinister voice "Wake up baby, wake up!"  The voice was coming from their 10 month old infant daughter's room.  Heather and Adam Shreck rushed to the nursery, only to find the room completely empty, other than their baby.

It turns out that a hacker was able to infiltrate the family’s internet connected baby monitor.  In fact, the parents were started to see the camera for the system follow them around the room and move erratically.  Yikes!

Read more about family internet safety.

Monday, April 21, 2014

In The US, It's Good-by To Democracy

A new study conducted jointly by  Princeton and Northwestern universities concludes that the United States is no longer a democracy.  The studies authors say the country fits the definition of an oligarchy instead -- a state where a small group of people have control over a country.  They bases this assessment on the fact of a small number of  business elites now have over-wielding influence on government functions.  The most recent extension of the Citizens United decision, which allows corporations to spend an unlimited amount of funds on campaigns, worsens this trend.

So even though we have the appearance of free elections, the outcome is heavily influenced by large spenders.  Since running a campaign has become and an expensive ordeal, dependency on these large sponsors has become a necessity for any politician to get elected, giving corporations enormous power.

What's more, even after individual candidates are elected to office, elected officials tend to bow to corporate lobbyist interests.  We've especially seen this in the regulatory agencies such as the EPA, FDA, or financial watchdogs . . .  The corporations being "regulated" often write the regulatory laws and dictate what goes on.

Business elite also dictate what the government spends money on.  Washington has become a place where politicians will pass a prison bill, or a military spending bill, not because it's needed, but because politicians need support from the beneficiary of that bill come the next election period.

The above is just something interesting we thought everyone should know about.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Marijuana Induced Hallucinations Leads To Murder

A Colorado man using legal marijuana was arrested for killing his wife while she was on the phone with police.  The woman had called 15 minutes earlier to say that she believed her husband was hallucinating after eating marijuana candy.  She was shot in the head just before police arrived.

The police in this case are receiving flack for not prioritizing this call and responding sooner, since had they arrived just a little bit sooner this incident could have been prevented.  But it's also a case that illustrates that "soft" drugs like marijuana aren't as harmless as people think they are. 

He was on other medications at the time, and it is possible that the THC interacted poorly, but many people also hallucinate from, weed alone. The week before this incident, a college student ate more of a marijuana cookie than was recommended, began behaving erratically, and ended up jumping from a motel room balcony to his death.  Though not an advocated for prohibition (it never works and usually creates more problems than it solves) we also want to remind people that ALL drugs (even pot) create numerous family and social problems, and should never be considered as a safe "high."

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Nine-Month-Old Baby Accuesed of Attempted Murder

In Pakistan local officials recently came under scrutiny for charging a nine month old baby with attempted murder.  It seems to stem from an incident where his family was accused of throwing stones at police and gas company workers who had come to collect money.

Reporters said that the "defendant" seemed "agitated and confused" and cried at his first hearing, but that at his second hearing seemed more subdued and did not cry despite all the cameras and attention.  (We couldn't make this stuff up if we tried.)

The judge did end up throwing out the case against the baby, siting Pakistani law which doesn't allow children under seven to be charged with crimes, and stern action was taken against the investigating officer.  The rest of his family, however, remains in legal trouble.

Visit our website for helpful child safety information.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Diminishing School Violence

Buckminster Fuller once said something to the effect of 'we won't be able to operate this planet much longer in the divisive way we've been doing it.  It has to be everybody or nobody.'  Nowhere is this principle quite as evident as when it comes to mass violence.  As we endure yet another school incident (this time a mass stabbing), we should all take time to consider these words.  In these attacks, we see first hand just how much damage one marginalized individual can do.

Although each mass attacker emerges from their own unique circumstances, it inevitably comes out that they all share one trait: they are individuals who felt isolated, bullied, stigmatized, or alienated from society.

Instead of the usual debate on hoe to best fortify our schools, which is an exorcise in illusionary control, perhaps we should look at those we alienate and isolate people to begin with.  Because it's not just a few disillusioned souls out there.  For every mass attacker there are 10's of thousands of young people who feel so marginalized they've considered such a thing.  When these events occur, you are seeing the tip of the iceberg . . . just one person who boils over and snaps hails from a much larger pot that’s boiling.

This pot is boiling because our cultural psychology teaches divisiveness, exclusion, and the marginalization of those seen as odd or different.  Teens incorporate this same mentality into school culture.  It's time we start looking at ways to turn down the heat.  It won't cure all mass violence, but it will keep the pot from boiling over so often.

Check out this link to discover the causes of bullying.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Through The Eyes Of Others

"Sometimes I think that if we could see the world through they eyes of another person for just one moment, and look out from inside his skull and have a chance to contrast his experience with our own, surely at that moment we would go mad."
- Psychotherapist Sheldon Kopp, in Even A Stone Can Be A Teacher

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Building Self Confidence In Children

"Children cannot build confidence by accomplishing only easy tasks.  They already know that anyone can accomplish these tasks.  It is when children accept the risk of struggle, and they find they can accomplish that which they didn't think was possible, that they begin to build self-confidence.  It is from actual achievement that one develops a strong self-concept." - Dr. Sylvia Rimm in Why Bright Kids Get Poor Grades. (New York: Three Rivers Press)

Visit our child development and life issues area for information on helping your family.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Four-Year-Old in Carjacked Car

Wednesday morning during the Denver rush-hour, a mother got a surprise when she stopped for coffee at her local Longmont corner store.  While she was inside, a carjacker jumped into her red SUV and took off; with her 4-year-old-son still strapped in the back seat.

The suspect then led police on an hour long chase. The carjacker was driving at high speeds, passing traffic recklessly, sometimes in the wrong lane facing oncoming traffic. Happily for the little boy, the thief ditched the red SUV with little Allan Chavarria-Rodriguez safe inside. The man then carjacked two additional vehicles and led the police across the city and ending near the town of Parker before crashing the last vehicle and fleeing on foot. He was caught and arrested.

This was a very scary morning for a little boy still in his pajamas on his way to day care.  Likely, since he is so young, the experience will do no lasting damage to him.  But there is an important lesson here.  Do not leave your kids alone in the car for any reason.  It is just not safe.

Visit our website to learn safety tips for keeping your child safe.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Drug Related Car Crashes

A new study found that whereas alcohol related driving deaths have kept steady over recent years (with alcohol causing around 40% of all motor vehicle deaths), fatal accidents involving drug use have been on the rise.  The number of fatal crashes related to marijuana use tripled in the last decade, and road deaths involving drug users in general rose from 16% to 28%.

Driving impaired is driving impaired, whether that impairment is caused by alcohol, drugs, marijuana, or prescription pills.  It's a message that teens especially need, (even more so after recent legalization of the drug in some States), since there is a popular myth that smoking pot will make one a better driver.

 Please visit http://www.keepyourchildsafe.org to learn more on teen driving.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Children Paralyzed From Polio-Like Illness

Here's a disturbing story out of California: a report just published in the February 23rd issue of The Journal of the American Academy of Neurology described a new infection that is leading to paralysis and polio-like symptoms in children.

Up to 20 people, mostly children, were described to have come down with a respiratory virus that looks a lot like polio.  Five kids experienced that rapid onset of paralysis to at least one limb.  Others suffered impaired motor function, with some kids experiencing paralysis in all four limbs. The scary part is that 6 months to 2 years out, the limb function in these limbs has not returned, which leaves doctors fearing the damage might be permanent.

The suspected culprit in Enterovirus_68 -- until recently an otherwise benign cold virus.  Scientists have not yet mapped the genome of the virus to try and determine where the genetic mutation took palace.Since the study's publication, health experts say that the number infected now stands at 25 and counting, though they do not expect an epidemic. The cases occurred among vaccinated children and do not seem to be clustered around any one area.  This suggests that there might be some sort of genetic vulnerability in affected children that is causing this mutated virus to affect their nervous system.

We will keep you posted if there are new developments on this unusual virus.  Visit us at http://www.keepyourchildsafe.org/child-health-medical-issues.html and learn about child medical issues.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Things That Happen When You Combine Kids & Superglue

1. Your child might glue their arm to their leg and their leg to their forehead.

2. They could put it in their eyes like eyedroops and glue their eyelids shut.

3. They may affix themselvews to the household pet.

4. They might try to taste it and place it on their tongue or lips, and end up gluing their mouth shut in the process. (You may have dreamed of such a moment a time or two before, but not like this.)

5. They may decide to share the fun with their sister and end up glued together in awkward ways.

All of these things have actually happened before, and as amusing as they may sound, the aftermath is not so much fun to deal with.  So let this be a friendly reminder to keep track of this menacing substance.

Visit http://www.keepyourchildsafe.org/child-safety-info.html for other child safety tips.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Death By Grape Soda

The parents of a five year old girl who died after drinking too much grape soda have been arrested on charges of child abuse resulting in death.  It appears they made the kindergartner drink about two liters of grape soda and water over a two hour period as part of a punishment. This caused brain swelling, and the child died in a hospital shortly thereafter.

Aside from being an example of how bizarre and excessive punishments can end in disaster, this case sheds light on a little known medical hazard; water intoxication.  While we all need liquids to survive, consuming too much H2O in a short period of time floods the system and acts like a poison. Cells can't function properly, organs shut down, then the brain is flooded and swells. (This is actually the primary cause of death when it comes to Ecstasy.  The drug can cause an acute thirst, and people literally drink themselves to death.)

It's a tragic story, but one we hope you will share with as many people as possible.  Like most abusive parents, I suspect this couple loved their child and was simply ignorant of the danger and inappropriateness of their discipline technique.  Let's spread the word in hopes that others don't make the same mistake.

Visit http://www.keepyourchildsafe.org/child-abuse.html to find more information about child abuse.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Better Parents, Better Kids

"We can't really give to our children what we don't have ourselves.  In that sense, my greatest gift to my daughter is that I continue to work on myself.  Children learn more through imitation than through any other form of instruction."
- Marianne Williamson in A Return To Love

Visit http://www.keeppyourchildsafe.org to find materials that help you learn parenting and safety tips.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Little Hero Is Laid To Rest

Eight year old Tyler Doohan courageously rescued his little brothers and sisters and other family when their grandpa's mobile home cought fire in upstate New York. Sadly, he himslef perished in the fire after being credidted with saving six others.  We hope you'll take the time to honor him by reading about his story, and then perhaps by going over some of our fire safety materials with your own kids.

- People

Fire safety resources for parents:
- Family fire safety  
- Print & read our book: The Day My House Catched Fires   

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Annorexic Doll

Apparently, there is a new doll on the market dubbed the anorexic doll.  When offered food, it turns it's head to the side and refuses to eat, just what our children needed.    

Here is just one of many links talking about the doll.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Shame & Defensiveness

"For those of us who have not worked through the effects of shame as children, the embarrassments of everyday life loom catastrophically large.  Defensive pride temps us to conceal our errors, to deny that we are even capable of the same mistakes that everyone else makes." - Psychologist Sheldon Kopp, in Even A Stone Can Be A Teacher

Monday, January 13, 2014

Kids in Blenders

Here's a relatively common scenario that has played out in numerous kitchens across the country: You're doing something with the blender, perhaps pureeing food or making some ice cream shakes.  A curious child with long hair hops onto a stool to look over and see what's going on.  A scream or a yelp later, and suddenly your fruit smoothie has an extra ingredient and your daughter is bent over sideways above the blender.

The consequences of such mishaps usually aren't catastrophic, but it can take a good chunk of their hair out and leave your child with a temporary bald spot.  It also leaves you fishing out their tangled lock from the inner blade of the blender, which I hear is tons of fun.  So whenever you bust out the blender, warn kids of the danger, and have girls tie their hair back.  It's better safe than sorry.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Dying Regrets

The top 5 deathbed regrets, according to Bronnie Ware, a palliative care nurse and author of 'The Top Five Regrets of the Dying' are these:

1. Had the courage to live a life true to myself.
2. Hadn't worked so hard.
3. Been brave enough to express my feelings.
4. Stayed in touch with my friends.
5. Let myself be happier