Health and well-being
Last week I overheard someone talking who was upset because a same-sex couple was being allowed to adopt a child. Over the years I have met several lesbian couples who have been foster and adoptive parents. In spite of all the social and economic disparities that they face, they are exceptional in their love and commitment and skill.
Personally, I prefer to consider a person’s ability to be caring and loving and responsible as a foster or adoptive parent rather than their sexual orientation. The research tends to support this as well. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics*, “Extensive data available from more than 30 years of research reveal that children raised by gay and lesbian parents have demonstrated resilience with regard to social, psychological, and sexual health despite economic and legal disparities and social stigma.”
The AAP report* also states that, “Current estimates suggest that almost 2 million children younger than 18 years are being raised by at least 1 gay or lesbian parent in the United States.” That is good news for the over 8,000 children in Washington State needing foster care. Those who choose to love these children as their own are an example of citizenship and compassion that is exemplary regardless of who they chose to love and marry.
If your child was suddenly found alone with no one to care for them, would you be OK with a gay or lesbian couple adopting them?
Check out this report in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. * http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/131/4/e1374.full
Keep checking in! Byron
Here is information worth reviewing about an emergency preparedness …
PUGET SOUND RESIDENTS: PLAN FOR 7-10 DAYS TO SURVIVE A CATASTROPHE
Susan McLaughlin remembers September 4, 2010, like it was yesterday. That’s when the first of four devastating earthquakes hit Christchurch, the New Zealand city where she lived at the time. Susan, who now lives in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle and works downtown, was seven months into her pregnancy when the first earthquake hit and the mother of an infant during the series of significant earthquakes that followed.
Today, Susan thinks about disaster preparedness here in the Puget Sound region, and she’s inspired to encourage others as well. “Having a child and feeling unprepared is an awful place to be,” she remembers. Making a plan, building a kit and helping each other, on the other hand, gives families the tools to survive and offers peace of mind. Susan adds, “Doing simple things – like making a kit for my husband, son and me – makes me feel much more prepared for an earthquake or other disaster now.”
So, what does that mean? JoAnn Jordan, public education coordinator at the Seattle Office of Emergency Management, offers some guidance: “It’s really important to plan for seven to 10 days. Given the magnitude of earthquake that’s likely to occur in the Pacific Northwest, experience has shown it could take from several days to more than a week before essential services are restored, such as running water, electricity and phones.” Jordan’s office publishes a variety of resources to make planning easy in 19 languages.
First and foremost, Jordan recommends building a kit with enough of these items to last for seven to 10 days:
- Storage container: a plastic bin, or even an old suitcase or backpacks, which you’ll store near an exit
- Water: one gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation
- Food: seven to 10 days of non-perishable foods per person and pet
- Cash: small bills are best (ATMs won’t work without electricity)
- Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
- Flashlight and extra batteries (no candles!)
- First aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Filter mask or cotton t-shirt to help filter the air
- Moist towelettes for sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities, if needed
- Manual can opener for food
- Shelter items like tents, tarps and rope
- Garbage bags and plastic ties for sanitation
- Unique family needs: supplies for infants, pets and elderly; prescriptions; important family documents
As Susan puts it, “We can’t stop the next disaster from coming, but we can help our families and neighbors make it through. Plan to be a survivor!”
Local agencies across Puget Sound are teaming up to educate and encourage citizens to prepare for catastrophic events with a regional campaign called “What to do to Make it Through.” The program serves to educate the public that catastrophes can happen at any time and encourage residents to prepare for the right duration—at least 7 to 10 days. To learn the three most important things you can do to survive a catastrophe and start planning, visit: www.makeitthrough.org.
Keep checking in! Byron
On Saturday Vista and Horizon Middle School students from the Whatcom Prevention Coalition Natural High Club spent the morning handing out flyers and reminding people of the importance of prompt and proper disposal of expired prescription medications as well as illegal narcotics.
The event was supported by the Whatcom County Health Department, Whatcom Family and Community Network, Ferndale School District, Haggen and the Ferndale Police Department.
This is a health and safety issue for our children and youth. Please dispose of your expired medications today to reduce the likelihood of them falling into the hands of teenagers or accidently being ingested by a young child.
To find the nearest location to you for dropping off your expired prescriptions and controlled substances visit www.TakeBackYourMeds.org.
Thanks Natural High Club students for taking such good care of our community and your fellow students!
Keep Checking in! Byron
Have you ever thought that you should notify authorities about a child that you suspect is being abused but hesitated to cause trouble for the family if you are wrong? That is a common reaction so it is important for you to learn more in order to help keep children safe in our community.
First, you can learn how to protect your child and other children from abuse by attending a Stewards of Children training (call 360-734-4616 for information) or other certified child abuse prevention training.
Second, you can learn more about what happens after you call 911 or Child Protective Servces at 1-800-562-5624 about your concerns. The Children’s Administration (Child Protective Services) has announced a new way of helping families when responding to calls from the public about possible child abuse. It is called the Family Assessment Response or FAR. Family Assessment Response is an innovative, alternative way of responding to certain reports of child abuse and neglect. You can hear from parents, caseworkers and others on how the program keeps kids safe in their own home. Follow this link to the FAR video and the FAR Newsletter at http://www.dshs.wa.gov/pdf/ca/FARNewsletterSpring2013.pdf
Keep checking in. Byron
In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing many parents are wondering how to talk to their children about this event and future acts of violence when they occur. I encourage you to read the articles linked below and also offer these thoughts of my own about talking to your kids:
1. If your child or teenager does not bring up the incident on their own, should you? If they see TV or internet coverage of it for more than 10 minutes, I think the answer is yes. That is more than enough time for it to make its imprint on their brain regardless of their age.
2. Is your child/teen a talker and likely to bring up topics like this? Or does your child/teen internalize their thoughts? Either is fine of course. It is just good to keep in mind.
3. Be patient and compassionate with them. They are creating their own process for handling the disturbing information. Give them a chance to sit with being stuck with their thinking and emotions a short time before offering them guidance.
4. Use open ended questions like, “Tell me more about what you heard.” Or, “What do your friends think about it all?” This will help them find their way to deeper questions and insight. One technique you could practice is the technique of Active Listening. Here are a couple of interesting links you can follow to learn more about the technique of active listening. http://www.state.gov/m/a/os/65759.htm and http://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/ActiveListening.htm
5. Let your child/teen direct the conversation. Answer their questions with concrete information and a core since of compassion. Say, “I don’t know.”, If you don’t know.
6. Don’t offer more information or insight than they are asking for. If they are not asking for it they may not be ready for more details. Be OK with the conversation ending and bringing it up again later if appropriate.
7. If your child asks you a question at anytime day or night. Stop what you are doing, repeat their question back to them, and ask them if you understand their question correctly. Give them very basic information like, “Yes…some children were killed.” Give them time to ask the next question or prompt them with an open ended question like, “When did you first hear about it?”
8. Keep your eyes and ears and gut open for recognizing changes in their eating, friendships, academics, general routines and emotions. If they get worse dramatically and suddenly, or get worse steadily over a period of 1-4 weeks seek professional help.
9. If there is a lesson you would like them to learn from the event, save it for a few days after the incident and use the event as a past example. They will be able to comprehend the lesson better with a couple of days to process the complex implications of the event. This goes for the topics of revenge, ‘I told you so’s’, religion, and politics. These are complex topics that are not best introduced when there is the potential of the child/teen being disturbed and confused and possibly traumatized.
10. Give your kids lots of hugs and demonstrate they are safe with you in their everyday activities. Emphasize the basics of safety, like looking both ways before crossing the street or doing a check in call at 11pm on a Friday night. Be steadfast with home rules like curfew or bedtime and be sure to be around for them, or with them, while they get ready for bed.
11. Teens are typically OK to hear or join in on adult conversations which often include more graphic and emotional accountings of the event. Children are not.
One last thought. Practice these techniques by having a conversation with yourself in your head… Then try them out with your adult friends and family. It will be good practice for when you talk to your kids.
Check out these Links:
Children need to have answers to three fundamental questions: Am I safe? Are you, the people who take care of me, safe? How will these events affect my daily life? http://commonhealth.wbur.org/2013/04/talk-children-marathon-bombs
Keep checking in. Byron
I was just telling a colleague that being a dad is the hardest job I have ever done! It is also the most rewarding! Are you an ‘involved’ father? If so maybe you would like to participate in this project that the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, http://www.fatherhood.gov, is putting on:
Sometimes the smallest moments can have the biggest impact on a child’s life. Since 2007, the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC) has been supporting fathers to “take time to be a dad today.” This year, we’d like to invite you to be part of that movement to support responsible fatherhood across the country.
If you have a photo of you and your child(ren) that you’d like to submit to possibly be used as part of the NRFC’s Father’s Day 2013 media campaign including our outreach with social media, send it to us! The NRFC, through the Ad Council, will be collecting submissions from dads of photos that highlight the importance of being an involved father. Submit funny photos, happy times, sincere moments, with children from newborns to teenagers (make sure dad is in there too), for consideration for this year’s campaign. Please forward this message to others in your network.
Note: your submission will not be used in any way without your consent. When submitting your photos, please fill out the attached release form.
Recommended photo specifications include:
Resolution: 300 DPI
Size: 28.5 MB (10″ X 13″)
Please submit your moments by Friday, April 19th to Zach Williams firstname.lastname@example.org
The NRFC Team
Keep checking in! Byron
Many of you are starting to sign up your kids for summer classes and activities. As you do, be sure to ask for a copy of the organization’s Adult-Child Safety Policy. If they do not have one, ask them what their procedure is regarding one adult-one child situations and make sure you are comfortable with their answer.All organizations and clubs dealing with children should have an Adult-Child Safety Policy and have it available for review. (Organizations wanting an example of a simple policy can review one on-line at www.brigidcollins.org.)
All staff and volunteers interacting with children should be trained through a certified class on protecting children from sexual abuse. All parents should get this training as well.
You can sign up for one of these classes being held on April 18 from 5:30-7:30 at the Brigid Collins Garden Street Family Center. Cost is $10 for materials.
RSVP at: 360-734-4616, or, email@example.com.
Keep Checking in! Byron
President Barack Obama on Tuesday unveiled a $100 million initiative to unlock the “enormous mystery” of the human brain in hopes of boosting the understanding and treatment of brain disorders. The initiative, dubbed Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies, or BRAIN, “aims to help researchers find new ways to treat, cure, and even prevent brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury,” the White House said in a release issued in advance of the event. (CNN, April 2, 2013)
This is hopeful news for the more than thirty percent of our general population impacted by trauma from multiple ACE’s (Adverse Childhood Experiences) http://www.cdc.gov/ace/index.htm a condition that significant increases an individual’s risk for cardio problems, pulmonary problems, diabetes, depression and more.
While they are still exploring how it works, we do know that an individual can shift the brain functions damaged by multiple adverse childhood experiences to other parts of the brain.
The challenge is to support and strengthen the development of new combinations of brain functions to replace the damaged ones. For adults, we currently do this through treatments like mindfulness http://www.oprah.com/oprahradio/Jon-Kabat-Zinn-on-Oprahs-Soul-Series-Webcast ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nwwKbM_vJc ; http://drdansiegel.com/home/ and emotion regulations http://www.dbtselfhelp.com/html/emotion_regulation1.html that create an environment for the brain to rework itself.
For children, treatments like Parent-Child Interaction Therapy http://pcit.ucdavis.edu/about-us/ and other evidence based family treatment programs are effective at quickly strengthening underutilize brain functions to replace the areas damaged by trauma. With a reasonable amount of practice you can master these skills and allow your brain to continuously re-arrange its patterned responses in a more efficient way.
Follow the links above to take a look at what the experts say about brain research, adverse childhood experiences, and adult and child treatments.
Keep checking in! Byron
Guest blog by Kathryn Jarrett Lyons, LMHC, CDP
Marc Fischer’s article, The Master: A charismatic teacher enthralled his students. Was he abusing them? (New Yorker, April 1,2013) ?, brought to our attention another example, like Penn State, of the ways that children and young people are not only abused, but how the organizations responsible for their well-being can continue to put children at risk.
There are simple and effective Adult-Child safety policies that organizations can adopt to significantly reduce the likelihood of this kind of abuse from happening in the first place. Initial and annual background checks on all employees should occur. Additionally, all adults, including parents and staff, should be oriented to the organization’s practice expectations related to adult-child interactions:
• Incidents of any adult or youth being alone with a child must be avoided, if at all possible. If circumstance of a child and adult being together alone cannot be avoided:
1. another staff is made aware that this is occurring.
2. the door is left ajar or the activity takes place in a public setting.
3. if possible, an adult is assigned to do periodic or random drop-ins during the time an adult is alone with a child.
4. the time an adult begins meeting alone with a child and ends that meeting is determined by a third party to be appropriate for the activity.
5. the third party knows the scope of the activities and the length of time that is expected for the adult and child interaction.
• Children being served or participating in activities should be informed in a developmentally appropriate manner of these practices and told to tell a trusted adult if they see that the procedures are not being followed.
• Adults who see or hear about anomalies should immediately report their concerns to their supervisor. They should also make a report to local law enforcement via 911 and Child Protective Services, in accordance with mandatory reporting guidelines.
Additionally, there is very low cost, 2.5 hour evidence-based child sexual abuse prevention training called Stewards of Children Darkness to Light available through Brigid Collins (360.734.4616) which can help adults better recognize and respond to children when they suspect sexual abuse has occurred and prevent its occurrence in the first place.
Kathryn Jarrett Lyons, LMHC, CDP
Brigid Collins Family Support Center
Whatcom County Children’s Advocacy Center
Keep Checking in! Byron
How many ACE’s (Adverse Childhood Experiences) do you have? How many ACE’s does your child have?
Research shows that a third of our population have more than three ACE’s, enough to have permanently injured their brain functioning and put them at higher risk for adult health issues from diabetes, to heart attack, to suicide.
Knowing your ACE score is also shown to have a positive effect on your life and experiences.
The ACE Study is ongoing collaborative research between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA, and Kaiser Permanente in San Diego, CA. The Co-principal Investigators of The Study are Robert F. Anda, MD, MS, with the CDC; and Vincent J. Felitti, MD, with Kaiser Permanente. Over 17,000 Kaiser patients participating in routine health screening volunteered to participate in The Study. Data resulting from their participation continues to be analyzed; it reveals staggering proof of the health, social, and economic risks that result from childhood trauma.
Find your ACE Score: http://acestudy.org
Keep checkin’ in. Byron