Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sue Scheff: CyberTipLine - Learn To Protect Your Children Online and Off

Just about everyone is aware of the dangers that can lurk online, but does everyone know there is help if you determine there has been a crime committed online or your child is being harassed?

Broward County Sheriff's department has an Internet Safety page on their website which can help you learn more about online safety.  Within this page you will learn about the CyberTipline which is available to everyone.

What is the CyberTipline?

The Congressionally-mandated CyberTipline is a means for reporting crimes against children including:
  • Possession, manufacture, and distribution of child pornography
  • Online enticement of children for sexual acts
  • Child prostitution
  • Sex Tourism Involving Children
  • Extrafamilial Child Sexual Molestation
  • Unsolicited Obscene Material Sent to a Child
  • Misleading Domain Names
  • Misleading Words or Digital Images on the Internet
Part of the campaign to help keep your teens and kids safe virtually is THINK! Before You Post.

Did you know:

Webcam sessions and photos can be easily captured, and users can continue to circulate those images online. In some cases people believed they were interacting with trusted friends but later found their images were distributed to others or posted on web sites.

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

Must watch video.

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sue Scheff: Teen Driver Source - A Must for all PARENTS of Teenage Drivers

Summer is officially here and more teenagers will be getting their drivers permit or license.  In Broward County, the age for a driving permit is 15 years oldSTANDUP is an organization that is working towards raising the teen driving age.  H.R. 1895: Safe Teen and Novice Uniform Protection Act is currently being reviewed by lawmakers.

With this in the hands of the justice system, the results could take a very long time.  In the meantime, parents need to take to the streets and insure their teen's driving safety.

Teen Drivers Source is a valuable website with a vast amount of information about teenage driving.  They offer support for the teens as well as the parents.  They have also included a section for educators.  When driving safety is reinforced at home and school, you have better chances of having a safer teen driver, however remember, parenting is key.

Under their FAQ's there is a very common question that is asked and that is:

Q: How can I convince my teen to lower the music and not use a cell phone for talking or texting while driving?

A: When you sit down to talk to your teen about setting house rules, bring up the three-second sequence. Explain to your teen that within a one-second window a driver scans for hazards then has 2 seconds to detect it and decide how to respond in order to avoid or lessen the severity of a crash. Tell your teen that crash risk is four times higher when a driver uses a cell phone, whether or not it's hands-free. Such distractions can cause drivers to take their eyes off the road long enough to have difficulty responding to hazards and staying in their lane.

They also answer many other common questions such as:
Q: My teen is often up late studying for a test. How can I let her drive when she barely had two hours of sleep?

Take the time to educate yourself and your new teen driver.  Learning to drive starts before you get behind the wheel.

Visit www.teendriverssource.org for much more information.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sue Scheff: Teen Financial Literacy - Learn Today, Have a Brighter Tomorrow

Teaching our teens about finances, budgeting and saving is more critical today than years prior.  With the troubling economy, the loss of jobs as well as some families losing their homes, teens need to learn early how to manage their money.

The St. Johns River Chapter of Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants and SJCPLS are teaming up to offer full day workshops to teens age 15-20 between June 26th through August 7th at various branch libraries. Subjects covered will be budgeting, saving, personal investing, using credit wisely, avoiding identity theft and more.

The St. Johns County Public Library System began offering this successful program two years ago, and the program has served as a model for other Florida libraries. Class sizes are limited, so call each branch to register. Lunch will be provided at each location by the Friends of the Library.
All classes are 10:00 am to 4:00 pm (same class repeated at each location)
  • Saturday, June 26 – Southeast Branch Library, 827-6900
  • Saturday, July 10 – Ponte Vedra Beach Branch Library, 827-6950
  • Saturday, July 17 – Anastasia Island Branch Library, 209-3730
  • Saturday, July 24 – Main Library, St. Augustine, 827-6940
  • Saturday, July 31 – Bartram Trail Branch Library, 827-6960
  • Saturday, August 7 – Hastings Branch Library, 827-6970
For more information, visit www.sjcpls.org or contact Library Administration at 827-6925.

Be an educated parent, your teen will have a brighter future.

Related articles:
Finance Freak: Learn Financing Today for a Better Tomorrow
Financial Literacy and Your Teens
Knowing and Understanding Your FICO Score
Read more.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sue Scheff: Summer Depression and Teens - Waves of Depression

The sun is shining, the beach goers are splashing and the kids are smiling.  Why are some people and teens struggling with depression?

Depression can be a transient response to many situations and stresses. In adolescents, depressed mood is common because of the normal maturation process, the stress associated with it, the influence of sex hormones, and independence conflicts with parents.

  • About 20 percent of teens will experience teen depression before they reach adulthood.
  • Somewhere between 10 and 15 percent of teens show symptoms of depression at any given time.
  • About 5 percent of teens are suffering from major depression at any one time.
  • As many as 8.3 percent of teens suffer from depression for at least a year at a time.
  • Most teens with depression will suffer from more than one episode. 20 to 40 percent will have more than one episode within two years, and 70 percent will have more than one episode before adulthood. Episodes of teen depression generally last about 8 months.
  • Dysthymia, a type of mild, long-lasting depression, affects about 2 percent of teens, and about the same percentage of teens develop bipolar disorder in their late teenage years. 15 percent of teens with depression eventually develop bipolar disorder.
  • A small percent of teens also suffer from seasonal depression, usually during the winter months in higher latitudes.
  • 30 percent of teens suffering from depression will also develop one or more problems with substance abuse.
  • Less than 33 percent of teens suffering from depression successfully seek and receive help for their disorder.
Sources: National Institutes of Health and Sue Scheff Teen Depression Website

If you feel your teen is struggling with depression, be sure to reach out and try to get them to talk about it.  Local therapy is always a good place to start.   www.helpyourteens.com

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

Read more.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sue Scheff: Under YOUR Influence - Parents Your Teens Are Listening

Summer is well on its' way and there will be many new young teenagers anxious to get their drivers permit or drivers license.

Who are they going to listen to?  Driving a vehicle is a big step in life and one that should not be taken lightly.  Preparing for your teen to drive starts well before they get behind the wheel.

At the National PTA Conference, Under YOUR Influence promoted their resources to help educate parents to prepare their teens for this major responsibility called driving.

One very good point is made, if you are not your teen's influence, then who will be?  They could be relying on someone that doesn't know the importance of wearing a seat belt.  Are they aware of the Click It or Ticket law?  

You are your teenager's advocate and influence period.  Parents are key to your teen learning to drive safely.  Under Your Influence offers Practice Tips for Driving with Your Teen - Under Your Influence.

Did you know that 46% of teens admit to texting while driving?  It is imperative you instill to your teen that they drive by the rules and they will be able to keep this privilege.  Driving is a privilege and a responsibility.  If they defy the rules, they will lose their privilege.

Learn more by visiting www.underyourinfluence.org.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sue Scheff: Fathers Being Involved (FBI)

At the National PTA Convention last week, there was a strong emphasis on getting fathers involved. Helping them to increase their numbers. Men now make up 12% of the PTA. That number could (and should) grow. And an invitation may be all the incentive they need.

Speakers included the leaders of the Fort Wayne Area Council (FWAC) PTA, galvanized their local units into recruiting dads to join. Julie Klingenberger, President of the FWAC PTA, detailed how constructing and marketing a program called F.B.I. (Fathers Being Involved) helped them to add close to 1,200 dads to their member list -- an impressive 30% increase.

Strong Fathers, Strong Families is part of the new program called F.B.I. Take the time to bring this program into your local schools and community. Visit Florida's PTA website and find out more about how you can get involved.

How do you get fathers to become more engaged with their children's education? All you have to do is ask.

Reference: Parenting.com

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sue Scheff: Tweens, Teens and Body Odor - Don't Fret The Sweat

From Florida to Memphis, Tennessee the Parent Teachers Association covers our nation through education, parents, teachers, children and our community.

June 10th launched the 114th National PTA Convention. Karin Brown is the President of the Florida PTA and is representing our state. She was honored this morning as the President of the PTA, Chuck Saylor, introduced each representative from all over the country.

Parents Matter is one of the themes at the convention. Don't fret the sweat is part of being a parent and helping your child surf through the journey of adolescents. Body odor is not a topic that is always on a parents "talking points" however when puberty hits, it is an issue that needs to be addressed.

When tweens, teens or even children that are starting younger, parents are encouraged to talk to your kids about finding the right deordorant for them before teasing or even bullying starts due to body odor.

Learn more and get coupons today! Visit Don't fret the sweat for coupons and product information. http://www.dontfretthesweat.com/

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sue Scheff: Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) Holds Their National Conference

On June 10th through June 13th the National PTA (Parents and Teachers Association) will have their annual conference.  There will be many workshops, book signings, lectures and learning experiences for all the attendees.  They will bring back to our local areas the vast amount of resources and informational tools to continue to educate and help the children of today and tomorrow.

Forty years ago this month, the National Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers (NCCPT) and the National Congress of Mothers united to form the National PTA, adapting the same mission they had operated under separately: to improve the education and well being of every child? Today, while many great accomplishments have been made there are still obstacles that we must conquer, both inside and outside of the classroom and across ethnic backgrounds. So at this year’s national convention there will be much to tackle:
  • The nation’s K-12 public education system is in crisis.
  • Our students lag behind compared to children in other countries in math and science – which is not a plus for their futures in a global economy and job market.
  • And our schools also face widespread funding shortages, a childhood obesity epidemic and unbalanced academic standards all across the country.
In this LIVE webcast event from the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, National PTA President Chuck Saylors will be joined by actress, mother and National PTA Advisory Board member Tichina Arnold, National PTA representatives and Ambassadors; Tomeka Hart, Executive director of Memphis Urban League, University of Memphis student representative; as well as Barbara Andrews, director of Education and Interpretation for National Civil Rights Museum. They will be discussing the challenges of educating the 21st century child in today’s classroom, and what needs to be done to close the achievement gap in education.

Want to learn ways in which you can take a more hands on approach in your child’s education? You’re in luck, as during this webcast event you’ll have the opportunity to email your questions and have them potentially answered live during the event. Your readers can sign up to secure spots today by visiting: www.visualwebcaster.com/event.asp?id=69462

For more information visit www.pta.org.  Find your local PTA and join today 

Be a voice, be a part of your community and most of all, be a part of your child's educational future.

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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sue Scheff: 2010 Summer Activities Challenge - Start Today!

Yes, summer is here.  What are your plans?  Many are on tight budgets and have to pass on a family vacation this year.  It doesn't mean you have to pass on summer fun and great activities that enhance learning and bonding with your kids.
Summer Activities Challenge, presented by Education.com, is an opportunity for families to have fun learning together while kids avoid the summer slide academically.

Here's what's new this year with Summer Activities Challenge:
  • A super-cool grand prize! This year the winning family will win a Funjet Vacations family getaway to Cancun with all-inclusive accommodations at the RIU Cancun for four nights. In addition to the Grand Prize and the Weekly Prizes, 100 families who finish the Challenge will continue their summer fun with a set of Schylling Rocket Balloons
  • A prize a week for 12 weeks! Each week during the challenge we'll send a LEGO prize pack (worth at least $50) to a family that has completed at least one activity that week. Participants can win weekly prizes even if they never finish the Challenge.
  • A shorter trip to the finish line! This year participants only need to complete 10 activities to be eligible for the Grand Prize and the Rocket Balloons (last year the bar was set at 20 activities).
  • Even more activities to choose from. We now have thousands of activities on Education.com for participating families to choose from. The activities are sorted by grade level and academic subject. Each activity takes anywhere from ten minutes to several hours to complete and the activities typically require basic materials that families will either have on hand, or can easily and inexpensively acquire.
Education.com is one of the most comprehensive websites full of valuable resources and educational articles regarding your kids today.

Sign up today!

Want a sneak peek at the thousands of activities your family can choose from? Click here.

Get moving, get motivated, get learning and most of all enjoy your family this summer! 

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Friday, June 4, 2010

Sue Scheff: We've Got Issues - Children and Parents in the Age of Medication

What a fascinating new book by Judith Warner.  Here are some highlights:
  • Extraordinary stories from parents that reveal, in a very visceral way, the lived reality of having children who struggle with bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, autism, Asperger’s, ADHD, and other disorders.
  • Why there is such a widespread perception that many of the treatments and services related to children’s mental health—whether medication, therapy, special education, or school accommodations—are basically a sham, a way for some parents to help their kids get a leg up on everyone else.  Warner also explores a much larger and darker reality behind this perception: Only parents with considerable means (and the time and the savvy that usually accompany such means) are able to navigate our school systems to get the services and accommodation to which kids with issues are entitled.  The startling truth is that for most kids in America, mental health care is nonexistent.
  • Since the early 1990s the number of children receiving diagnoses of mental health disorders has tripled.  This vast increase has fed enormous skepticism, prompted talk of “epidemics,” and serves as a mainstay of the so-called naysayer position—namely that there were virtually no kids with mental health issues in the past, but somehow, suddenly, they’ve sprung up from nowhere.  Warner looks at key factors driving this widespread perception, including increased visibility and profound changes in how parents, teachers, and doctors look at and label kids who have problems.
  • A look at what the author considers the true epidemic in this country when it comes to children’s mental health: the lack of quality care.  Says Warner, “At a time when we have treatments that actually work, when there’s more research than ever before, more knowledge, better understanding, more support in the schools, and more public awareness of the dangers of untreated mental illness, the actual caretaking that kids with mental health needs receive, is for the most part, really poor.”
  • A look at what Warner calls “the new face of mental health stigma in our time”—a web of belief that combines doubts that mental health problems are real and aspersions cast on parents of children with problems with a tendency to conflate children’s disorders with bad behavior. The net result is that children are viewed symbolically—as canaries in the coal mine, showing the frontline symptoms of the toxicity of our pathological age—instead of as real people.  This so-called “naysayer” position, says Warner, “is voiced as concern, as a desire to save children, and as a wish to give childhood back to kids, but what it really is, most of the time, is prejudice.  And it’s a poison.”
  • Why people have a hard time acknowledging that children’s disorders are common, impairing, at least in part genetic, and very real.  Warner also looks at what the latest scientific research has to say about the interplay between genes and environment in causing the kinds of disorders we’re seeing in kids. And she shows how this complex and nuanced way of thinking opens up avenues for understanding that are very different from those dictated by the more black-and-white terms in which children’s mental health issues are typically painted in the public debate.
  • A look at the irresponsible marketing practices of Big Pharma; its control of published research; and its co-opting of government regulators and institutions, including the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health.  Warner also looks at the damage done to the psychiatric profession by individual psychiatrists who have enriched themselves by becoming what amounts to shadow employees of the drug companies.  “For many people, the revelation of psychiatry’s extensive ties to the pharmaceutical industry are just proof of the inner corruption of the whole psychiatric enterprise in the age of biological psychiatry.”
  • A debunking of the commonly held belief—fostered by a dizzying array of damning numbers that have made headlines over the past ten years—that kids are being given meds virtually like candy, by parents and doctors.   Warner shows that the total number of kids taking antidepressants and psychotropic drugs is far smaller than most people think.  Even after decades of rapid increase, the percentage of American kids taking medications—5 percent—is still just a fraction of the number of kids with diagnosable “issues.”
  • The romanticization of mental illness.  Warner reflects on the harm done when depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, autism, and other disorders are treated as quirks of personality to be cultivated and preserved, even celebrated as expressions of individuality and a highly refined sensitibility.  She also explores the widespread, unthinking trivialization of mental health disorders in our public discourse and shows how it can lead parents to minimize their children’s problems and not seek help for them.
  • A look at the seductive belief that our toxic world is either producing symptoms in children or classifying children as abnormal when they don’t conform.  Warner argues that the pathologies of our out-of-whack society just can’t provide a sufficient explanation for why some children develop disorders like autism, ADHD, Asperger’s, bipolar disorder, and so on, while the overwhelming majority does not.
  • How the bottom line—cost control measures decided upon by health insurance companies—is driving the mental health care of kids today.  Says Warner, “There should be gatekeepers within our health care system shepherding parents toward getting the best treatments.  There should be protocols for what these best treatments consist of.  There should be safeguards against profiteering and quackery.  There should be affordable access.  There should be guidance, and protections in place to make parents feel that they can trust whatever care their children receive is safe, necessary, and of proven efficacy.  None of this is happening.”
WE’VE GOT ISSUES concludes with a look at how we, as a society, can bring an essential and much-needed humanity to the treatment of kids with special needs.  The way to start, according to Warner, is by advocating for better care.  Among other things, she argues for health care reform that will allow annual or semiannual extended visits with pediatricians to talk about children’s lives and screen for mental health issues; the passage of long-stalled legislation to address the appalling shortage of doctors who specialize in child and adolescent psychiatry; better incentives to get more child psychiatrists and psychologists to participate in health insurance; and a legislative mandate that requires insurers to provide mental health services.  Warner also looks at the ways in which medical schools and academic research institutions, to greatly varying degrees, have started taking steps to reduce the influence of the drug companies, or at least avoid the appearance of conflict of interest.  She reflects on various efforts to change the way drug research is conducted and funded.  And she advocates for putting a stop to, or at least tightly regulating, the pharmaceutical industry’s direct-to-consumer advertising.        

Above all, Warner insists, it’s time not only to rethink our commonly held beliefs about “labeling” and “drugging” children but also to become more aware of what the lived reality of having children, or being a child, with special needs is.  Says Warner, “Those parents you see, going from doctor to doctor and trying pill after pill?  They’re scared.  They need help.  And so do their kids.”

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Sue Scheff: The Lottery Film - Failures of the Public School System

The Lottery documentary will have one screening in Florida.  This follows our public school system and gives you an education of what is wrong and where improvements need to be made.  As they follow four separate students, it is an eye opening experiences.

On June 8th it is Public Education Day and a perfect day to screen this film.

Tuesday, June 8th, at 7:30pm at Muvico Hialeah 14, 780 West 49th St, Hialeah and Muvico Centro Ybor 15, Historic Ybor City, Tampa there will be a screening of The Lottery on Public Education Day.

About The Lottery film:

In a country where 58% of African American 4th graders are functionally illiterate, The Lottery uncovers the failures of the traditional public school system and reveals that hundreds of thousands of parents attempt to flee the system every year. The Lottery follows four of these families from Harlem and the Bronx who have entered their children in a charter school lottery. Out of thousands of hopefuls, only a small minority will win the chance of a better future.

The Lottery uncovers a ferocious debate surrounding the education reform movement. Interviews with politicians and educators explain not only the crisis in public education, but also why it is fixable. A call to action to avert a catastrophe in the education of American children, The Lottery makes the case that any child can succeed.

It is time people take an interest in education today. Children are our future. Education is key to having a bright future. It is time to get involved!

The Lottery follows four children through the highs and lows of a life-changing lottery, where the prize is a spot at one of New York City's best charter schools. Interviews with politicians and educators reveal a ferocious debate surrounding the future of public education.  Watch trailer.

The Lottery can be pre-ordered, click here.

Watch the trailer of The Lottery here.

Related articles:
Florida Charter Schools
Questionable Schools in Florida
School Climate
Parents, Teachers and Schools Unite