Arizona takes steps toward creating Safe-2-Tell anti-bullying hotlineBy Margaret Beardsley | September 28, 2016
Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas recognized Riley Wilson (13), left, and Karis Wilson (12) of Phoenix for their work on anti-bullying legislation. Photo courtesy of the Arizona Department of Education.
Thanks to two middle-school-age sisters from Phoenix, there may soon be a new resource for Arizona kids who endure bullying.
This week, 12-year-old Karis Wilson and 13-year-old Riley Wilson were recognized by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas, who gave the seventh- and eighth-graders atMadison Meadows Middle School certificates of appreciation for their work on anti-bullying legislation.
The girls have worked for nearly a year to get a bill called Safe-2-Tell through the Arizona Legislature. While Safe-2-Tell isn’t yet a law, the legislature did pass a bill that Gov. Doug Duceysigned, directing the Arizona Department of Education to study the feasibility of a state anti-bullying program.
Simply put, Safe-2-Tell is a hotline kids could call if they feel they are being bullied. Already in several states, Safe-2-Tell is described as a safe and anonymous way to report any concerns about personal safety or the safety of others. The idea is that early intervention can prevent a problem from becoming bigger.
The Safe-2-Tell hotline was adopted in Colorado after the Columbine High School tragedy, in which 12 students and a teacher were murdered by two high-school students. According to the executive summary study in Colorado, research shows that in 81 percent of violent incidents in U.S. schools, someone besides the attacker knew it was going to happen but failed to report it.
Riley and Karis say their aunt, who served as a state senator in Nevada before her passing, inspired them to work to establish a similar program in Arizona.
“My Aunt was Senator Debbie Smith,” Riley explains. “And she passed this bill in Nevada, and I think it’s important to have it in Arizona, too. Lots of kids are being bullied, and they have nobody to tell.”
Douglas said she was “honored” to recognize the two students for their diligence.
“As we educate our children, there are few things I see as more important than helping them understand their rights, roles and responsibilities as American citizens,” Douglas said of the Wilson sisters. “These two students are shining examples of the high-quality civic engagement that is being taught in our classrooms.”
Karis says getting the legislation where it is today was “a lot of work, but fun too.”
Arizona Department of Education Spokeswoman Alexis Susdorf says the feasibility study will be completed by Thursday, Dec. 15 and submitted to Ducey and the legislative leadership for funding or future legislation.
Similar hotlines in other states typically are staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by trained experts. Colorado also maintains a website: safe2tell.org. Hotline tips are generally passed on to the appropriate agency, whether it’s law enforcement, mental health professionals or school officials.
Riley says her friends think the program is a good idea because, “It will give kids someone to talk to anonymously, and then someone from the office will just come and talk to (the bully), and they will not know who ratted them out.”
Noelle Wilson, the girls’ mother, is proud of her daughters.
“I think the girls have done a great job of sticking to it and working on this program,” she says. “It’s really going to help kids — give them an outlet to report dangerous things that are happening in their school or in their families.”
Riley and Karis say they’ve never been bullied, but both admit to knowing other children who have. When asked if she thinks her bill will be funded, Riley is confident.
“It took a lot of convincing,” she explains. “We had to talk to a lot of senators and representatives. We had to meet with them a lot. It will (be funded); it definitely will.”
Tags: anti-bullying, anti-bullying hotline, Arizona Department of Education, Arizona Legislature, bullying,Columbine High School, Diane Douglas, Gov. Doug Ducey, Madison Meadows Middle School, Safe-2-Tell,safe2tell.org
Mothers can follow these steps to instill a positive body image in their children (especially young girls) and help prevent eating disorders.
By Aviva Braun
In my private practice as a psychotherapist specializing in eating and body-image problems, I have seen teens and young adult women with eating and body-image problems that stem from growing up in homes where certain foods were off-limits. Many of their negative associations come from painful memories that go back as early as grade school. My knowledge of this awards me the opportunity to address this issue with parents of children in this age group early on, in an effort to prevent eating disorders later. From the first time a mother feeds her newborn baby, her attitude toward food and eating can leave an impression. A mother who is anxious while feeding her newborn and doesn't pay attention to hunger cues can set the stage for problems with food later in childhood. By the time preschool comes around, the attitudes and approach mothers have toward food sets the stage for how kids may feel later about food and eating. If a child witnesses her mother expressing disgust at her image in the mirror, the child may begin to mimic that behavior.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), 40 to 60 percent of elementary school girls (ages 6 to 12) are concerned about becoming too fat or gaining wait. It's troubling when girls as young as 6 are worrying about the fat content in their lunch boxes. So where are these children picking up their ideas about food, fat, and body image? Their home environment, other kids at school, and commercials and magazines all influence them. Kids start to perceive what fat means just by hearing about it from other peers and adults or by watching TV. They learn that fat is "bad for you" and will make you gain weight. As a result, they don't want to eat. A majority of my patients have also said that their mothers were very tough on them about how their bodies looked or that their mothers had personal body issues. Generally, later on in life, these young women become binge eaters to rebel against the ideas that were set forth by restrictive mothers. Mothers, then, are the first and most significant female models in their developing daughters' lives. They are faced with the difficult challenge of modeling positive feelings toward food, eating, and body image. Here are steps that mothers can take to help their school-age girls and to prevent early eating and image problems.
Model a Positive Body Image. Women may have internalized cultural values, such as the importance of thinness, and have difficulty trusting their own needs, desires, and wants. It is key that mothers be aware when they feel bad about their own bodies and when they are modeling a negative body image. Be careful not to use words such as "fat" and "diet" around the home. Young kids, especially girls, are impressionable and susceptible, so teach them to be comfortable with their developing bodies. Convey this with phrases such as, "Honey, that dress really flatters your body" and "You are my beautiful child, inside and out." Although mothers who struggle with their own negative body image may find this difficult, it's key to remain cognizant of the language and phrases said in front of daughters. It's essential that every mother find the strength within to avoid making bad comments about her own body.
Discuss "Sometimes" vs. "Always" Foods. When it comes to discussing food choices, avoid categorizing foods as "good" vs. "bad" (which can make kids feel as though they've been good or bad) or "healthy" vs. "unhealthy." Instead, talk about "sometimes" foods and "always" foods; this can help your kids understand that some foods are better eaten in smaller quantities and less often. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, proteins, and dairy products can all be explained as "always" foods that are useful and necessary for growth and development. Sweets and fried foods can be seen as "sometimes" foods that taste good but are not healthy or necessary to help us grow. When kids do desire "sometimes" foods, they should eat just a small portion and stop when satisfied. Because feeling full and satisfied may have a different meaning for every child, be attuned to your child's unique nature of fullness. Let your child be the one to say when she is finished eating; don't make the decision for her.
Practice "Self-Attuned Eating." The "self-attuned eating" model, a process of learning to pay attention to and trust feelings of hunger and fullness, can help with making certain food choices. In my own practice, I rely on this model; while it may not work for everyone, I believe it is the best way to prevent eating disorders if it's taught and practiced with children early on in their lives. This model teaches that feeling satisfied is important, so no food is off-limits and it's okay to eat all types, whether carrots or candy. This helps them feel safe, comfortable, and open around all foods and promotes a healthy, normalizing attitude toward eating.
Talk About Empty vs. Full Stomachs. Discuss how food affects the digestive system and the body by sharing how to eat only when hungry and how to stop when full. Talk to your kids about how their bodies feel at the present moment. Try asking if their stomach feels empty and "growly" or if their stomach feels full and "heavy." Re-enforce this on a regular basis to help kids feel connected to their bodies. In Preventing Childhood Eating Problems, psychotherapists Jane Hirschmann and Lela Zaphiropoulos stress that allowing children to decide when, what, and how much to eat helps strengthen their self-confidence, self-esteem, and sense of dignity. This also helps kids avoid the kinds of eating difficulties that have plagued many adults for life.
Involve Children in the Lunch-Making Process. Get creative by having your kids prepare their own lunches. Allow them to choose what they like and also teach the basic food groups. Offer enough options so that kids can choose chocolate milk one day and regular milk another day. Include them when grocery shopping so they are further involved in picking the foods they would like to have in the house. Talk about how their bodies need certain nutrients and vitamins to grow strong; this makes them feel that they have some control over what is eaten. As they consume a variety of foods, explain the purpose each one serves and the positive effects. For example, "We eat carrots because they have vitamins and help with our eyesight." Although getting vital nutrients is crucial to development, enjoying the eating experience can have a long-lasting effect on the mind and body.
Copyright © 2013 Meredith Corporation.
Aviva Braun is a licensed clinical social worker who offers both individual and group therapy to adolescent and adult women who have eating and body image problems. She has presented on the topic of eating disorders and healthy body image to schools, college counseling centers, and parent associations. Visit her site at avivabraunlcsw.com.
All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.
1- Why Aren't There Any More Dinosaurs?
Tell your kid About 65 million years ago an enormous asteroid collided with the earth and changed everything on the planet. The dinosaurs couldn't adapt and eventually died out, making way for new animals, ones that were better suited to this other climate.
What you should know "Dinosaurs are vivid proof that the world was once very different, which gets a child's imagination running wild," notes Matthew T. Carrano, Ph.D., curator of Dinosauria at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. "Dinosaurs can often hook kids into broader scientific concepts," he says, so take this opportunity to talk about, say, the environment or evolution. For example, explain that dinosaurs' fossils show that they were the ancestors of today's chickens, pigeons -- even ostriches.
2- Why Are There So Many Languages in The World?
Tell your kid Thousands of years ago, people in different communities all over the globe invented their own words to describe their lives, and that's why today people from the same area tend to speak the same language and other people may not. Languages also evolve over time: Our own has changed so much that if you heard someone speaking English as it was spoken 500 years ago, you'd have trouble understanding what he was saying.
What you should know Hearing someone speaking a foreign language can strike young children as odd -- even unsettling. "But the earlier we help kids understand what they can learn from other cultures, the more likely they'll seek out new kinds of people," notes Jillian Cavanaugh, Ph.D., associate professor of anthropology and archaeology at Brooklyn College, in New York. Remind your kid that people from other cultures might think the way we talk is unusual, too, and point out that some words she uses often come from other languages, like ballet (French) or pasta (Italian).
3- Why Don't We Want Others to See Our Private Parts?
Tell your kid Because we use them for things we don't do in public, like going to the bathroom -- that's why we call them private parts. It's also why we cover them with a swimsuit at the pool or close the door when we use the potty. We don't show our private parts to anyone except Mommy and Daddy or a trusted adult, like a doctor in her office. If someone tries to touch them or makes you uncomfortable, please tell me.
What you should know "This is a great chance to model a calm, normalized attitude about the body," assures family therapist Hal Runkel, author of ScreamFree Parenting, so remain matter-of-fact. Young kids lack inhibition, he explains, so take this opportunity to set some safe boundaries about what body parts are off-limits to outsiders.
4- Why Is That Man Homeless?
Tell your kid I'm glad you noticed him. There are lots of reasons people become homeless. He may have lost his job or become too sick to take care of himself or his home. In any case, we should treat him with respect. We should also offer help for the homeless when we can, by doing things like donating to a shelter or collecting winter coats.
What you should know "Children have a limited frame of reference and believe everyone lives just like they do," says Brenda Nixon, author of The Birth to Five Book. They need honesty but also reassurance: They may worry that they'll also become homeless. "Kids often show amazing compassion," Nixon adds, so brainstorm together about how your family can lend a hand.
5- Why Do People Get Sick?
Tell your kid Usually, it's because of germs. These tiny critters can find their way into our body through the air we breathe and things we eat, or when we touch our mouth or eyes without washing our hands. Most of the time, germs don't affect us, but sometimes our body can't fight them off -- and that's when we get sick. Occasionally, people also become ill because their body isn't working properly, but you can't catch those kinds of sicknesses. Fortunately, in most cases, resting and taking medicine can help your body heal.
What you should know It's important to draw a distinction between common conditions like the flu and more frightening ones like cancer. "Children want to know that they're going to get better," says Parents advisor Darshak Sanghavi, M.D., author of A Map of the Child: A Pediatrician's Tour of the Body. "Explain that most serious diseases usually don't happen until old age. The illnesses kids catch typically can be easily treated." While you're at it, promote healthy habits such as washing hands frequently to ward off germs.
More Answers to "Why?" Questions6- Why Do Grown-Ups Sometimes Cry When They're Happy?
Tell your kid People may feel something so strongly that they just have to let it out. When kids feel happy they usually jump up and down or yell, but grown-ups have more complicated emotions -- and when we're really happy, we can also be just a little sad at the same time. Sometimes for adults, crying just happens.
What you should know When you cry out of happiness, it's usually because something feels bittersweet, like your kid's first day ofkindergarten (you're so proud -- but she's growing up so fast!). Kids don't have the same range of emotions, so this concept can baffle them, Dr. Sanghavi says. Use this conversation to encourage your kid to express feelings in words. Emphasize that crying is okay -- but it's important to say what's wrong. "Understanding why you have a particular emotional response will also help your child become more sensitive to others' feelings," he adds. So tell your child that if she ever sees you crying, she can ask if it's because you're happy or sad.
7- Why Can't I Stay Up As Late As You Do?
Tell your kid Not only does your body need a break after running around all day, your brain needs one too. It's busy exercising as you think and discover new things. Since you're so active and learning so much more than adults each day, you need extra time to rest. You go to bed a little earlier so your body and mind can work even better in the morning.
What you should know Contrary to popular belief, our body and brain don't "grow" while we sleep. But scientists know that rest is essential to healthy mental development; when kids get less than ten hours a night, they're more irritable and don't learn as well, Dr. Sanghavi notes.
8- Why Do the Kids Next Door Have So Many More Toys Than We Do?
Tell your kid It's up to adults to decide what they do with their money, and our neighbors may choose to spend more on toys than we do. It's easy to feel jealous, but having more stuff won't make our family happier or better than any other.
What you should know This might sound like a loaded question, but look at it as an opportunity to start a conversation about the concept of money: where it comes from and how your family opts to spend, save, or give it away, suggests Sharon Lechter, founder of payyourfamilyfirst.com, an organization dedicated to improving financial literacy. "Explain that everything has a cost, then describe what it is you and your partner do every day to pay the bills," she says. Discuss the difference between want and need, and, with an older child, talk about ways that he can make money of his own, such as by offering to wash a neighbor's car.
9- Why Do I Have to Invite That Girl to My Birthday Party?
Tell your kid Because if you don't, it might hurt her feelings, and in our family we always try to be kind to others. Even if another kid seems different from you or you're not into the same things, it's important to include her. You don't have to become close friends, but imagine how you'd feel if she threw a party and invited everyone in the class but you.
What you should know Kids can start to form groups and exclude others as early as preschool -- but combating this behavior now can have a major impact down the line, says Parents advisor Michele Borba, Ed.D., author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions. "If you can teach your child at an early age to imagine how others feel and consider how she can help them, you'll raise someone who's not only less likely to bully, but more likely to stop a friend from being cruel," she says.
Originally published in the August 2012 issue of Parents magazine.
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