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When you consider that 73% of teenagers have access to a smartphone, you can begin to appreciate the importance of parental supervision to steer kids away from dangers that lurk on the world wide web.

Your children likely don’t appreciate all of the potential dangers online with cyberbullying, sexting, and talking to strangers being among the chief concerns. So if you’re either giving your children their own smartphone or allowing them to use your own device unsupervised, it makes sense to implement a smartphone monitoring strategy for their safety and your peace of mind. What follows is a look at four things your strategy should include.

1. Discussion: The first step is to engage your children in a discussion about digital safety. While they may already know a bit about cyberbullying, sexting, and dialoguing with people they don’t know online, they likely don’t fully understand the potential consequences. Remember that your children’s brains are still growing and developing, and so their ability to properly weigh the consequences of their actions and to control their impulses will be compromised until they have fully matured. As a result, it’s important that you talk to them about the dangers.

2. Privacy & Trust: You can expect some pushback from your children as they challenge what they will probably see as an invasion of their privacy. You need to explain that

monitoring is not a sign that you don’t trust them — it’s an indication that you don’t trust the rest of the world. If push comes to shove, you need to put your foot down and to explain that their smartphone is a privilege rather than a right.

3. Create Smartphone Contract: Before giving your children a smartphone, be sure to create a smartphone contract that covers, screen-free time, expectations for school performance, and restricted apps. Discuss the contract, including the consequences for violating it, and have your children sign it if they agree to honor it.

4. Monitor: After you’ve had the discussion on digital safety, talked about privacy and trust, and created a smartphone contract, you will still need a concrete way to monitor use. Fortunately, there are apps for that.  It would be a good idea, in the interests of fairness, to let them know that you’re using an app to monitor how long they use their smartphone, what sites they visit, what instant messaging conversations they engage in, and more.

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It’s definitely important to talk to your children about monitoring if you’re granting them a smartphone. For more tips on how to talk to them about this issue, please take a look at the following infographic on Smartphone Monitoring.

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Social media – whether it’s a boon or a bane is a debatable issue. But the real issue of concern here is that the users of social media are getting younger and younger every day. And these young users are ignorant of the dangers that may be lurking somewhere in their uninhibited use of social media. So, how do we warn and protect our young ones of the potential dangers that they might encounter when using social media? There is no simple solution to that. Children always find the loopholes in the strict instructions and discipline enforced on them.

Surprisingly, the solutions are sometimes provided by the problems themselves. Realizing the fact that more and more children under the age of thirteen are being exposed to unfiltered, adult content on social media sites, several companies have tried to create social media networks that are safe for kids and are sites where kids can exchange information without any danger to their personal safety.  

Designed Just For the Kids

The inquisitive, rebellious generation of kids in the present world cannot be restrained from sharing pictures, funny videos and from playing online games. Unfortunately, with these activities comes the danger of identity theft, cyber bullying and several other safety issues.

So, let’s look at the advantages of the social media networks that are created specifically for the present generation of kids:

A Balanced Approach

Social networks for kids have been designed with the specific needs of children in mind. They are a mixture of entertainment, creative expression, education and engagement with children of similar age group without the danger of exposure.

Similar Features

Social networks for kids are equipped with all the features of the regular social networking sites that children love, such as chatting, sharing photos, creating profiles, posting comments and so on. However, unlike the regular social networking sites, the kid friendly social networking sites are monitored and include the presence of parental control to ensure the safety of their children.

Teaching Tool

Social networking sites can be a powerful teaching tool for kids. Children can learn the etiquettes and the rules that they need to follow when they are using social networking sites. They can learn about safe sharing of information and the responsibility of creating online profiles. This prepares them for the future when they move on to the real social networking sites that are open to everyone.  

Social Networks For Kids

A few of the social networks that are appropriate for kids are Togetherville, Imbee, Scuttlepad, everloop, kidswirl and What’s What. All these sites have exciting features and benefits for the kids as well as the parents. Children can create profiles on these networks, make friends, play games and win prizes for the games. On a number of these sites, kids can write blogs and can even look up advice on style and career.

Your kids will love these networks as much as Facebook, and as parents, you can rest easy knowing that your children are protected.

 

Savvy Parents Safe Kids would like to thank Jackie Edwards for writing this article for us. Please remember: Parents should always research any sites or apps for their kids even if the website or app says steps are in place to protect kids. We know that no place, on or offline, can guarantee to be 100% in alignment with YOUR family safety values.

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Your Kids and Camp. Is Everyone Ready?

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Your Kids and Camp. Is Everyone Ready?

As summer rolls closer… here are questions to consider before you sign up for that camp, before you hire that nanny, before you take that vacation.

  • What is the camp’s policy on training and screening volunteers and staff?
  • Are the counselors and staff trained in CPR?
  • Does the camp have a nurse or doctor on staff for emergencies?
  • What is the reporting system for employees if something happens (abuse, suspicion or injury)
  • What is their policy on how children are picked up and dropped off each day (ensuring the correct person is picking them up)?
  • Do they have a policy on prohibiting alone (or closed door) one on one time between adult and child?
  • Who will be caring for your child? Take time to meet the counselors and staff who will be watching your child.
  • Ask to tour the facility.
  • Check camp references.
  • If transportation is provided, make sure the vehicle is properly outfitted with safety belts and up to date car seats.
  • Check to see if there have been any complaints or write ups about the facility, from parents or the state agencies.
  • How can your child contact you if they need to?

Want to know about Red Flags to watch out for? How about YOUR child’s readiness? Download the full safety Camp Safety Sheet Summer Camp Safety

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Swearing as Sex-Ed

swear wordGuest Post by Anya Manes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you ever noticed how many of our swear words have to do with sex and private parts?

Most of us use swear words rarely, reserving them for moments when we really need to get someone’s attention. Since it’s so far outside our norms to be talking about sex, private parts, or excretion, those words really stand out, and maybe that’s how we got here.

“In its older, more literal sense, “profanity” refers to a lack of respect for things that are held to be sacred, which implies anything inspiring deserving of reverence.” That’s a quote from Wikipedia. Sex and private parts are sacred and deserve reverence. That’s why they’re the subject of swear words. Let that contradiction sink in for a moment.

Explaining to your child about swear words is often a sex-ed conversation.

So what do you say if your child asks what “the F word” means?

As with all questions, take a moment to calm yourself before answering. Stall a bit by acknowledging your child’s question (“I wondered about that too when I was your age…”) and dig for context. Why is he/she asking that question? What does he/she think it means? Decide if the circumstances are right for this conversation, and if they are, try to answer truthfully and briefly.

Beyond defining the word, this is a great opportunity to talk about anger and nuance. If that’s too much for your young child, you can skip it, but your pre-teen or adolescent is hungry for these discussions.

Some people use swear words casually, and then they lose their power to express strong feelings, but for most of us, saying “Fuck You!” is a very strong statement of anger and frustration. Often we do this for shock value, to get people’s attention that something is really wrong. It truly does decrease our stress level and help us manage pain. As with all angry outbursts, it stems from a feeling of powerlessness and a need to reassert control. If you can help that person feel heard and powerful, you can turn that anger, and maybe towards good.

Then there’s nuance. When not used in anger, “Fuck” means to have sex, but in a selfish, disconnected way. It’s the opposite of making love or having a spiritual connection – it’s all about one person’s pleasure. On top of that, it’s usually used in a degrading way, as a way to take control of someone else’s body, as if they don’t have a right to their body and feelings.

After you’ve given your one minute answer, connect it back to your child’s context and ask your child a question. “Have you ever felt powerless and angry?” or “Has anyone ever treated you like your body or feelings didn’t matter?” See if you can get a discussion going based on your child’s experiences.

And that kid who’s swearing all the time? They’re likely venting anger or seeking attention (or both!).  A good place to start is Special Time. Not sure what that is? Listen to Patty Wipfler’s interview for the 2017 Talking To Kids About Sex Interview Series here.

In support of you,

Anya

 

 

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There is a 5 year-old boy in our Savvy-house with a VERY good grasp of ALL the body parts. We have even answered some very basic questions about where babies come from. Last Saturday afternoon though we had an unexpected vocabulary lesson.

Let me set this up for you … Savvy-Mom is putting on makeup in front of her sink. Savvy-Dad is brushing teeth in front of his sink. Lil-Dude is in their shower making a LOT of noise, but not really accomplishing anything so Savvy-Mom attempts to hustle him along.

  • Savvy-Mom:  Be sure to use the green soap and wash your whole body please.
  • Lil-Dude:  Well, the problem is, I can’t do that because my booty hurts.
  • Savvy-Mom:  Your booty hurts? Like out on your bottom, on your cheeks?
  • Lil-Dude:  Well, the problem is, it hurts when I wipe with the toilet paper.
  • Savvy-Mom:  Oh, it hurts inside your cheeks. Where the poop comes out? Do you know what that is called, where the poop comes out?
  • Lil-Dude:  uhhh, no?
  • Savvy-Mom:  It’s called your anus. Where the poop comes out is called your anus.
  • Savvy-Dad:  *chokes on toothpaste foam and gives Savvy-Mom a look.
  • Lil-Dude:  Anus? Okay. My anus hurts.
  • Savvy-Mom:  When you are all done in the shower, Daddy and I will take a look at your anus and we will put some medicine on there, okay?
  • Savvy-Dad:  *continues to choke, continues to send the look.
  • Lil-Dude:  Okay.

Now … Savvy-Mom probably would have been able to put the ointment on his little, red anus and just rush Savvy-Dad out the door to dinner BUT …. after a dollop of medicine made its way to the “affected area” Lil-Dude just HAD to say, “It feels slippery! I’m gonna need to see this!”

So Savvy-Mom did what any loving parent would do. She got that boy a hand-mirror and gave him some private time in the bathroom! And Savvy-Dad stood with her, on the other side of the closed bathroom door, in their bedroom … making weird noises that were either laughter or crying ….

When asked about his anus on Sunday Lil-Dude said it felt fine. When asked his anus on Monday he said it felt fine. When asked about his anus on Tuesday Lil-Dude questioned back, “Are we going to talk about my anus every day?” Whoa kid, I certainly hope not!  By giving his body part a name, and explaining the function, we were able to take the mystery out of it. And that takes the power out of it too! He didn’t need to talk about it and certainly didn’t want to hear his mother talk about it.

Please note that as Savvy-Dad and Savvy-Mom checked his anus (is anyone counting yet to see how many times I’m going to type that word?) they used that opportunity to reinforce that Moms and Dads will do things like applying medicine, to different parts of his body. This time we were applying the medicine to one of his private parts because your anus is private like your penis and testicles. Just like a vulva, like a vagina. There is no such thing as a game where you show your body parts to someone else, or they show their body parts to you. There is no such thing as a game where you touch someone else’s private parts, or they touch yours. Sometimes parents might help with medicine, like we did. And sometimes a doctor might do that too, but Mom or Dad would be there if that happened.

Give your kids the power of knowing ALL of their body parts. Remove the mystery. Be sure that YOU are the one giving them that knowledge – be the expert for them about everything important in their life!  This is an essential part of body-safety because predators will often use “cutesy” names for private parts in an effort to disguise their ulterior motives and actions.

More importantly – be brave enough to have the funny, unexpected, honest conversations with your kiddos.  They LOVE their bodies and all of their body parts.  For a child their body parts, especially THOSE body parts, are super funny, super intriguing, super important and not likely to lose their allure anytime soon!

 

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A safety podcast!

Karissa Lightsmith of Lighthouse Montessori invited us to join her for a podcast last week and Jill was delighted to participate! It was a fun chat, summarizing Jill’s favorite safety high-points.

Listen here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/55562/365787-episode-6-safety-savvy-with-our-children

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Safety is about authenticity.

That’s what I told a group of 5th-12th graders at summer camp last week.  “Safety is about authenticity.”  I was presenting information entitled “Safety … For Millennials.” But I opened with authenticity. Be authentic about who you are, where you want to go, who you want to be with and what you want to do. Trust your instincts. Follow your gut. Be authentic.

Surprisingly, they were engaged. And after a brief discussion on how I was probably shorter than most of the campers in the room, we made great progress! What can I say? I’m five-foot-nothing on a good day so I wore my tallest wedges to meet this group of kids. AAAANNNNND they totally called me out for wearing ridiculous footwear in a cabin setting!

I wanted them to learn the myths and facts of safety regarding kidnapping, trafficking, stranger danger, crime rates, and predators. Which they were already fairly knowledgeable about.

We talked (briefly) about general body safety. I had to work hard to overcome my preschool teacher past and tell them that their body is amazing and private. Instead we went with trust your own instincts to protect your body. When you get a weird feeling in the pit of your stomach … that is your brain telling you something is dangerous, or at least not right.

Instead of stranger danger we talked about “tricky people.” And learned about the red flags of someone who does not have good intentions towards you. We talked through different scenarios and things that an adult (or another kid) might do that would be a warning sign to you that they aren’t making safe choices.

This group of smarty-pant campers was surprised when I called them “digital natives.” To be fair, this was a group of students from the Snoqualmie Tribe. So they were like, “natives or natives?” And I was like, “You guys are KILLING me here! Digital natives!” So after dissecting the ins and outs of growing up in our technological world we worked through safety tips for using computers, tablets, smart phones and apps. Navigating the internet is a lifelong skill all students need. Doing it safely requires a bit of forethought and some solid decision making.

Being home alone is all fun and games until something goes SIDEWAYS! So we brainstormed through different potential problems that could arise. My final answer to them was, “We’ve covered a million scenarios … I’m not trying to tell you exactly what to do if the house is on fire, you get injured or a friend tries to come over. But I am going to tell you that staying home alone is your first foot in the door towards gaining more responsibility and more freedom. Think about it before hand. Know the rules. Follow the rules. If you get this right your parents will be impressed and more open to other things you would like to do.”

Sleepovers are fun. And horrible. And so likely to end in tears, or trouble, or grounding, or flashing lights! Good grief! Okay, but kids want to go to them anyway. So we discussed the questions to ask yourself beforehand and then how to get out of it if you are uncomfortable at any point during the night.

Our last topic of the day seemed to catch them off guard a bit. Protecting younger kids: they are annoying and you don’t really want to deal with them …. but those younger kids need your protection. So I buttered them up with compliments about their wisdom, knowledge and street smarts. (yup, I was totally laughing on the inside, but I said all of those things anyway!) I reminded them that you don’t have to be an adult to be a hero. Guard younger children, and know when to ask for help from a safe adult.

Guess what? As an adult, teacher and parent I already have three strikes against me. As far as teenagers are concerned.   And I told the kids that I know that and I get it. Sometimes your parents or teachers feel like the bad guy. They feel like the enemy. But when it comes to safety you’re going to need help from an adult. So if you won’t talk to one, you probably have at least one crazy friend who will. If something is going on, please tell that crazy friend.

So, this all makes it sound like I crushed it and the safety presentation was a huge success. That’s because I haven’t told you about our closing question and answer session yet. After I share all of my contact info with them and say …. “So, what questions do you have about any of that?”  nothing happened.  All the kids just sat there looking at me and each other. Until finally there was a brave boy in the back who raised his hand and asked a question:

“How old ARE you?!?”

That was the question from the group.  That was the only question they had for me after I poured out my heart and soul to them for 60 minutes.

Kids these days …… they’re …. awesome!

Even more awesome was the hand-made dream catcher I was gifted.  Many, many thanks to the Snoqualmie Tribe.  We are honored that you invited us to speak with your campers and so dang proud that people in the community are investing in our children and their safety!

dreamcatcher

 

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By Jill Goetz

Preschool and Early Educator Child Safety Specialist

The story has played out in the nightly news, in Glamour magazine and through online articles; Lucas Michael Chansler was sentenced to 105 years in prison after pleading guilty to nine counts of producing child pornography.  The FBI is currently searching for HUNDREDS of victims based on files and information found on his personal computer.  Two confirmed victims were located in the greater Seattle area, prompting local lifestyle show New Day Northwest to invite an FBI representative and yours truly, from Savvy Parents Safe Kids to discuss the impact social media is having on our children.  We were able to share an incredible amount of information regarding this case and why it is so newsworthy for all families, not just those in our neighborhoods.

The FBI released a long list of online names and email addresses Chansler used when posing as a 15 year old boy to befriend girls. Parents can’t help but wonder, “Why do so many teens fall for this ploy?”  The answer is remarkably simple:  teens and tweens today are digital natives.  They’ve grown up surrounded by laptops and smartphones, both at home and at school.  Where previous generations utilized written correspondence and talked on the telephone, teens today text and use online apps as their primary form of communication with each other.  Skye, FaceTime and webcams are normalized for them.  Chansler was a master manipulator who recognized the trend, and the vulnerability of teens, and used it to his advantage.

Please remember that the developing brain in adolescents doesn’t always sense or identify threats.  These victims did not see the danger in doing something as commonplace as chatting online with another teenager.  But they weren’t spending time with another teenager – they were being engaged by a cunning, predatory adult.  That’s why Chansler and other perpetrators are able to use ploys like this so successfully.

The victim who finally contacted the FBI and brought Chansler to justice repeatedly gave him compromising photos of herself.  Why?  Because he threatened to ruin her reputation and embarrass and shame her. She complied because she was afraid of her parents’ reaction and didn’t want to face their disappointment.

PARENTS – approach your kids and start talking about this now, before online relationships go beyond appropriate.  Everyone likes to think “not my kid.”  But the teens identified already in this case were good kids, average teens.  They were just like your kid.  Really.  Just like your kid.

Do you know how to talk to your child in a way that will make them feel safe sharing their experience?

Do not be surprised to find out your teen already knows all about the topic or has already experienced something similar online.  Kids don’t see these relationships as dangerous and will go to great lengths to hide them from you, along with being coerced by the perpetrator to maintain secrecy.  So you can’t wait for your teen to come to you.  They won’t.  Period.  They don’t want you to know that they messed up and they don’t want you to know how bad it is.  You have to be vigilant and earnestly monitor their online actions.  Sleuth around like it is your job.  Because it is!  Ultimately you want to find the way that your teen was talk openly with you.  It’s probably going to be something that does not involve making eye contact with you, because that can be intimidating.  So something like taking a walk – side by side, or talking across the table at game night, or even riding in the car where mom is in the front seat and they feel “safe” in the back seat.  These are all great times to start having short, daily, non-judgmental conversations about safety before there ever is a problem to begin with.  You don’t have a teenager at your house?  You’re kids aren’t even potty trained?  You’re still in luck!  Start having these conversations with your preschooler because it is so much easier to have difficult conversations later on, if this type of open communication is perceived as the norm in your family-culture.

My three year old uses my iPhone like a BOSS …

That’s because kids are accessing social media at increasingly younger ages. They handle smartphones, tablets, laptops and PC’s like itty-bitty professionals.  It’s like the Geek Squad lives at your house.  So, here are the tips you need to help children stay safe, and better monitor their online usage.

  1. COPPA is the Child Online Privacy Protection Act.  It has guidelines for social media websites and following the mandatory age for use.  Families need to adhere to those guidelines, no matter the argument given by your child.  And there will be many.
  2. We already know that home computers need to be in a public location, with parental controls, online monitoring software and that you need to know all of your teen’s passcodes for everything from You Tube, to online games and instant messaging.
  3. We want parents to understand that the internet is not a thing.  The internet is a place.  LET THAT SINK IN.  If you wouldn’t send your child to a mall full of pornographic stores, then they shouldn’t be unsupervised on the internet.
  4. When it comes to smartphones for tweens or teens our answer is simple … not before 8th grade.  Just don’t do it people!  A basic cell phone can provide the connectivity guardians are looking for.
  5. Parents should always have access to their teen’s phone and passcodes.  That’s easily done by designating that their phone charges in mom and dad’s room each night.
  6. If your teen already has a smartphone be sure to disable location services and enable privacy settings in each app.
  7. From our website, Savvy Parents Safe Kids, get the free download of Qustudio.  It will monitor everything on your teen’s Android phone or computer and let you know whether those apps and sites are appropriate or not.

No family is crime proof. We can however reduce risk. Talk to your kids, watch videos with them that show how easy it is for them to be tricked. Never give up, keep talking, keep snooping, use all the safety tools that are available to you.

www.SavvyParentsSafeKids.com

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*Author note: Before anyone gets their panties in a wad over this “article” I want to be super clear.. This is just an opinion. It just happens to be MY opinion. This is NOT a statement of how I think of your parenting. I don’t hate you. I just hate sleepovers. There is no guilt or judgment of those who love and adore sleepovers for their kids. This is merely a profanity laced opinion piece. I AM NOT JUDGING YOU. So pull your panties out of your crack. Relax and don’t take my rant personally. Because, really, it’s me. Not you.

I am not a “fan” of sleepovers (and by “not a fan” I mean I hate them. With capitol H). I. Hate. Them.

What parents want to believe happens at slumber parties…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Really Happens at Slumber Parties

 I have said this about a bazillion times over the past 7 years when I teach my parenting workshops on child safety. When the subjects of sleepovers come up, I can almost feel the tension in the room. People either love them or hate them. So when I am upfront about my dislike of sleepovers, the folks who love sleepovers often begin to staunchly defend this childhood tradition and pretty much think I am crazy. Or no fun. Or both.

Perhaps I am crazy, no fun or both. I could care less.

There was this blog a while back that mentioned a “seminar that advises against sleepovers”. Although I was not specifically mentioned, I knew it was probably my seminar she was talking about. She was shocked. Then I was lumped in with all the other folks who are “sucking the fun out of childhood” She obviously did not agree with me. That’s cool to disagree but labeling someone as “Sucking the fun out of childhood” because of  safety concerns. Not cool. The blogger of course had fond memories of her shenanigans at sleepovers and hoped that her kids have the same experience. I hope they do too. Her kids also looked to be under 9 years old. Sleepovers can be cute when they are 9. They can be a nightmare once they hit middle school.

Coincidentally, not even a week after that blog was posted, a parent from a workshop shared that her sister in law happened upon two 14 year old cousins making out at the big cousin’s sleepover party at a recent family reunion. Let’s take a minute for that to sink in. Shall we? The cousins were making out.

Making. Out. (That means tongue folks).

Horror abounded of course. Yet, another parent who was also standing there listening to this whole story being told, chimed in with her own cringe worthy stories about “kissing cousins”. Apparently this is a thing.

Yuck.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I have not tried to embrace sleepovers. I have both hosted and attended sleepovers (as a host parent and as a child attendee). I have experienced them to the fullest. The good. The bad. The ugly. A pathetic lack of sleep and a candy hangover in the morning was the least of my worries. It was the fact that some of those sleepovers ended so badly they included (but were not limited to) general kid shenanigans and/or eventually leading to police involvement. 

I had sleepovers as a kid and my relationship with them has always been complicated.

Truly, I LOVED the IDEA of the sleepover, but often was left not wanting to return to a particular house because I began to realize that people don’t even remotely try to hide their crazy when someone else’s kid is at their house. I slept in houses that I felt were “dirty” (There is a word for it now. We call it hoarding), there were homes where I was scared of the dad (turns out he was beating the $h!t out of the mom and kids) or there was just REALLY LOUD arguing going on.  All. Night. Long.

I began to realize that sleepovers nearly ALWAYS put me in some sort of predicament that I needed better skills at getting out of. Most of the time I failed.

Now before you think that my parents were not on top of things by not vetting these homes out before I went over, you need to remember this was the 1970’s and it was a classic example of don’t ask / don’t tell. The families looked “normal” on the outside and my parents were not trained to ask about such personal stuff and I just did not think about telling. Boom. Train wreck sleepovers in the making.

Middle school sleepovers were just a hot mess of mean girls.  However, a particular highlight at one house, was the hot “older” guy (he was probably 25 years old) with a bitchin’ Camaro who lived next door to my friends’ single mom and let us talk to him in his yard until the wee hours of the morning. WTF? 

By high school I liked sleepovers a LOT more and for all the wrong reasons. There was little sleep and lots of fun. “Fun” should be specifically translated to mean boys, parties, drinking, etc.. This, coming from a kid who was pretty much a goody two shoes. Even being the goody two shoes, I managed to get my kicks and it was always during a “sleepover”. It did not matter if the parents were strict or lax in their rules. We found a way. They always find a way.

If my own experiences were not enough to put the final decision nail in the sleepover coffin for my kids, it only took me about 3 months of teaching child safety to really hate them. Wanna know why? Parents share stuff with me. Terrifying stuff.

Here is the top ten list of the most commonly reported issues that crop up during sleepovers. These have been shared with me, by parents within the last 6 months. Typically kids between ages 11 and 14. In no particular order of horror. Here they are:

 

Making out. (Same sex, opposite sex, kissing cousins)

Porn. Lots and lots of it.

Chatting on chat roulette sites with naked people.

Mean girls/bullying. Lots and lots of it.

Sending naked pictures of themselves and sexting that would make you blush (boys and girls)

Sneaking out

Stealing cars

Drinking and Smoking pot

Molestation

Vandalism (This seemed to be exclusive to boys)

I get it. There are lots of places where kids can seek danger. Sleepovers are not the only cesspools of trouble out there. I am not saying all sleepovers are full of inter-family make out sessions and car thefts but I think that all parents need to be open minded to the fact that sleepovers DO present special and unique opportunities for debauchery and rule breaking. Sleepovers are a magical mix where there are extended periods of time where the kids are together, hopped upon caffeine and sugar (Plotting and planning) combined with being totally unsupervised. Be real. Parents will not be hovering over the kids  between 12 AM and 5 AM.  In fact, even during the awake hours the parents are probably upstairs having a cocktail and trying to drown out the awful music and incessant noise coming from the kids.  Kids are tricky and determined and will find a way to get to the fun, even at “respectable homes” where “responsible parents” take away the electronics, or whose kids are straight “A” students. Danger looks like fun, sounds like fun and IS FUN. Kids like fun. Heck, remember how much goody two shoes me liked fun?  “Fun” crosses all demographic and socioeconomic lines.  So I think the less you stop thinking “My kid won’t like that kind of fun” and embrace the “My kid is gonna probably really like that kind of fun” you won’t be shocked when you get wind of the sleepover bullshit that transpired 3 weeks ago at little Johnny’s house or YOUR house. For the love of sweet baby Jeezuz, Stuff even went down at MY house! 

Simply put, it’s smart to assess sleepovers like you would any activity your child does and decide if you are comfortable with that particular risk. My kids think I am a jerk sometimes for not letting them go to sleepovers. I am TOTALLY OK being the asshole parent about this. However, I am their hero since I am totally OK with letting them ride bikes in the neighborhood, stay home alone and eat a shit ton of their candy at Halloween. There are other parents who are not comfortable with that risk and that is OK !! Those parents might love sleepovers and that is OK too.

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Millions of children across the country are returning to school.   For parents, children and commuters, sharing the road requires extra caution.  It is important for motorists to compensate for children’s underdeveloped skills.  For example, children have only two thirds of the peripheral vision that adults have.  They have difficulty determining the source of a sound and are still learning to judge distances and speeds.  When a car is coming towards them, they can’t judge how fast it is traveling or how long it will take to cover the distance.    They tend to overestimate their abilities and think they can run across the street before the light changes or a car approaches.  Crossing guards, reduced speed limits, and traffic laws all aim to make getting to and from school safer.  In addition, here are a few back to school tips for motorists.

  1. Be on the lookout for and obey school crossing guards.  You may only see them for a few hours a day, but they have one of the most important jobs in public service.  Years ago, older elementary school children were given an orange safety belt and sent out to the streets to help younger children safely cross the street.  Today, most crossing guards are adults and receive classroom training and certifications in order to perform this important job. The safety patrol members guarding the crosswalk are there to direct the students, not the traffic. It is a driver’s responsibility to stop to allow pedestrians to cross in a crosswalk.

 

 

  1. Obey School Speed Zones.  School zone speed limits are often, but not always, only applicable during posted weekday hours near the beginning and ending of school when children are likely to cross roads. In some jurisdictions, the school zone speed limit is effective at all times when school is in session, plus additional time before and after the school day. Flashing amber lights often indicate when the school zone is effective.  School speed zone laws vary from state to state, but in nearly all cases, fines for violating school speed zones are doubled.
  1. Be Attentive.  Most drivers would never intentionally speed in a school zone or pass a stopped school bus, but if you’ve ever driven to work and don’t recall getting there, you know how easy it is to daydream, get caught up listening to music, or in states that still allow cell phone usage in cars, become distracted while in a phone conversation.

 

  1. Know the Law For Passing a School Bus.  According to the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation, nearly 100,000 school bus drivers reported 88,000 vehicles passed their buses illegally in a single day. Each state has different laws concerning when it is legal/illegal to pass a stopped school bus.  Find out whether you are required to stop for a bus in the same lane, opposing lane or at an intersection in this state summary of driver’s handbooks.  Remember, children walking to or from their bus are usually very comfortable with their surroundings. This makes them more likely to take risks, ignore hazards or fail to look both ways when crossing the street.
  2. Heed the Crosswalks.  Generally, pedestrians have the right-of-way at all intersections; however, regardless of the rules of the road or right-of-way, you as a driver are obligated to exercise great care and extreme caution to avoid striking pedestrians. Don’t block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn. Blocking the crosswalk forces pedestrians to go around your vehicle and puts them in a dangerous situation.

 

Tips for Parents:

 

  1. Comply with local school drop-off and pick-up procedures for the safety of all children accessing the school. At arrival and dismissal times, drivers are often in a hurry and distracted which can lead to unsafe conditions for students and others walking, bicycling and driving in the area.
  2. Avoid loading or unloading children at locations across the street from the school. This forces youngsters to unnecessarily cross busy streets—often mid-block rather than at a crosswalk.
  3. If you park on the side of the road, always have your child exit the car on the side away from traffic.
  4. If your children ride a bike, scooter or skateboard to school remind them that they must walk the bike or scooter or carry the skateboard across the crosswalk. If they roller skate or rollerblade to school, they must remove the skate or blades and walk across the crosswalk, as well.
  5. If your child rides a school bus, be sure check out our School Bus Safety Tips.

How do your driving habits change once school is in session?

Categories : Misc.
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