Tuesday, May 20, 2014

THE FAMILY JOURNAL- YOUR PATH TO FINDING HAPPINESS


Three (3) ways to find an article:
(1) The quickest way is to go to TOPIC SEARCH in the upper right margin and type in your topic. All relevant posts will appear at the top.
(2) Go to the top of the right margin to ARCHIVES where each topic is arranged by date.
(3) Surf through the TABLE OF CONTENTS and click an article of interest- it will appear at the top.  
 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • (A-39) WRITE A PERSONAL MISSION STATMENT WITH YOUR THOUGHTS IN MIND! (click HERE)
  • (A-38) WHEN MIDLIFE CRISIS COLLIDES WITH MALE MENOPAUSE (click HERE)
  • (A-37) ADHD DIAGNOSIS AT AGE 4 (click HERE)
  • (A-36) LET THE HOMEWORK WARS BEGIN! (click HERE)
  • (A-35) DOES YOUR CHILD SUFFER FROM NATURE DEFICIT DISORDER? (click HERE)
  • (A-34) CHILDHOOD TEACHINGS CARRY INTO ADULTHOOD (click HERE)
  • (A-33) "EMERGENCY ESSENTIALS" PROTECTS FAMILIES IF CATASTROPHE STRIKES (click HERE)
  • (A-32) FAMILY "BLACK SHEEP" IS UNIQUE CHAMPION! (click HERE)
  • (A-31)  FAMILIES WITH HANDICAPPED KIDS FACE MANY HURDLES (click HERE)
  • (A-30) NEW CONCEPT MAKES 4-YEAR COLLEGE DEGREE AFFORDABLE & HIGH QUALITY (click HERE)
  • (A-29)MONTESSORI LEARNING MAKES LEARNING FUN (click HERE)
  • (A-28) 51 EXCELLENT FREE WEBSITES TO TEACH YOUNG CHILDREN ACADEMIC SKILLS (click HERE)
  • (A-27) JOB PROMOTION VS BALANCING WORK AND LIFE (click HERE)
  • (A-26) TEENS WORKING AFTER SCHOOL: GOOD OR BAD IDEA? (click HERE)
  • (A-25) MANY GRANDPARENTS PROVIDE THAT SPECIAL BOND...FROM AFAR (click HERE)
  • (A-24) TEACH THE ALPHABET THE OLD FASHIONED WAY (click HERE)
  • (A-23) SHED YOUR NEGATIVE THOUGHTS (click HERE)
  • (A-22) ENCOURAGING SHY CHILDREN TO MAKE FRIENDS (click HERE)
  • (A-21) A NEW TWIST IN SCHOOL VIOLENCE (click HERE)
  • (A-20)  CHILDREN "LOCKED INTO" SEEKING UNDUE ATTENTION (click HERE)  
  • (A-19) OUR CHILDREN ARE GROWING UP TOO FAST! (click HERE)
  • (A-18) POSITIVE HOME ATMOSPHERE CAN BOLSTER CHILD'S SELF- ESTEEM (cLick HERE)
  • (A-17) TERRIBLE TWO'S CAN BE TERRIBLE, IN DEED! (click HERE)
  • (A-16) VOLUNTEER AT YOUR CHILD'S SCHOOL (click HERE)
  • (A-15) BABY STEPS APPROACH BEST TO QUIT BAD HABITS (click HERE)
  • (A-14) SOME "FRIENDSHIPS" SHOULD BE TERMINATED (click HERE)
  • (A-8) FREELANCE WRITING CAN BE GOOD AT-HOME BUSINESS (click HERE)
  • (A-7) CHILDREN FEEL THE RECESSION, TOO (click HERE)
  • (A-6) PRETTY POISONS SHOULD CONCERN PARENTS (click HERE)
  • (A-5) TOO MUCH TV HARMS CHILDREN (click HERE)
  • (A-4) PARENTS SHOULD WORRY ABOUT MERCURY TOXIN (click HERE)
  • (A-3) SHOULD HIGH SCHOOLS HAVE LATER STARTING TIMES? (click HERE)
  • (A-2) DEVELOPMENTALLY DELAYED CHILDREN NEED POSITIVE PARENTS (click HERE)
  • (A-1) POWERFUL DADS READ BEDTIME STORIES & KISS "OUCHIES" (click HERE)
  • (Z) DOESPERFECTIONISTIC PARENTING  MORE HARM THAN GOOD (click HERE)
  • (Y) CHILDREN NEED UNCONDITIONAL LOVE (click HERE)
  • (X) GOOD HABITS CAN BECOME AS ADDICTIVE AS
  • BAD ONES (click HERE) 
  • (W) VIOLENCE-PRONE CHILDREN GROWING PROBLEM (click HERE)
  • (V) TOP-QUALITY PRESCHOOL EDUCATIONAL SITES ONLINE FREE OF CHARGE (click HERE)
  • (U) OLDER FIRST TIME FATHERS HAVE AN ADVANTAGE (click HERE)
  • (T) NEGATIVE THOUGHTS- REBEL AGAINST THEM! (click HERE)
  • (S) HAPPY PEOPLE BECOME WHAT THEY THINK ABOUT (click HERE)
  • (R) LEARNING AID PRODUCTS (click HERE)
  • (Q) TEEN SPENDING HABITS (click HERE)
  • (P) ADVICE FOR DISCOURAGED SALESPERSONS (click HERE)
  • (O) LEFT-HANDED CHILDREN HAVE THEIR SHARE OF TALENTS (click HERE)
  • Align Left(N) MEDICAL INPUT HELPS DIAGNOSE LEARNING DIFFICULTIES (click HERE)
  • (M) UNDERACHIEVING STUDENTS FRUSTRATE PARENTS (click HERE)
  • (L) PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN FROM ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS! NEW STUDY LINKS ADHD TO PESTICIDE (click HERE)
  • (K) GRANDPARENTING FROM AFAR (click HERE)
  • (J) IS YOUR CHILD BULLIED? (click HERE)
  • (IX) GREAT CHILD-FRIENDLY WEBSITES! (click HERE)
  • (I) BUSINESS OWNERS WANT TO DESTRESS THEIR LIVES (click HERE)
  • (H) TAKING RISKS NECESSARY FOR GROWTH (click HERE)
  • (I) LATCHKEY KIDS IN SINGLE PARENT HOMES ON RISE (click HERE)
  • (F) NEW! CHILD GROWTH & DEVELOPMENT (click HERE)
  • (E) NEW! 23 TELL-TALE SIGNS OF TEEN INVOLVEMENT IN THE DRUG SCENE (click HERE)
  • (D) NEW! CHILDREN & ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS- LOWER IQ'S LINKED TO PRENATAL POLLUTION! (click HERE)
  • (C) RESEARCH ON LETTER/NUMBER REVERSALS AND WRITING DIFFICULTIES (NOTE: There's no main posting, but scroll down the right margin for excellent videos, etc. under code "C")
  • (B) UNLOCKING THE DOOR TO SUCCESSFUL "LATCHKEY KID" PARENTING (click HERE)
  • (A) STRATEGIES FOR PARENTS TO TEACH KIDS ABOUT MONEY MANAGEMENT (click HERE)
  • I BENEFITS OF LAUGHTER, STRESS REDUCTION & MANAGEMENT (click HERE)
  • II. NATIONAL CHILDREN'S MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS DAY- MAY 7TH (click HERE)
  • III. OVER-MEDICATED CHILDREN (click HERE)
  • IV. ADULTS WITH DYSLEXIA (click HERE)
  • V. SCHOOL HOMEWORK: THE EVERLASTING PARENT/CHILD BATTLEGROUND (click HERE)
  • VI. ALCOHOL ABUSE RESEARCH AND SELF-ASSESSMENT OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH ALCOHOL (click HERE)
  • VII. COLLEGE STUDENTS WITH LEARNING DIFFICULTIES (click HERE)
  • VIII. KIDS AND GUNS (click HERE)
  • IX. TOO MUCH TV VIEWING HARMFUL TO KIDS (click HERE)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

FOOLPROOF WAY TO TEACH ALPHABET TO CHILDREN!

     Lots of parents try to teach their toddlers the alphabet. They don't pressure them, but would like their children to learn all the upper and lower case letters before they enter Kindergarten. There are computer programs that do everything for recognizing and matching letters, but they notice their toddlers continue to have difficulties drawing the letters. I have some ideas for them. 
      If you are one of these devoted parents, I’m glad you’re making it a fun project. You don’t want to turn your toddler off to school before he starts! First, toss the computer and get a hold of a small chalkboard, three-dimensional plastic or wood letters, a pile of 8½ x 11-inch paper, large pencils and crayons. 
     Decades ago, a lady name Grace Fernald practiced the theory that young children benefit from a multi-sensory approach to learning. Your computer screen can access worldwide events, but it cannot connect to your child’s tactile and kinesthetic modalities and neural pathways. Here’s how you can. On the large paper, use a magic marker to put dots ¼-inch apart to form a capital “A” at least 8-inches high. Your child can finger-trace the dots while saying “A-A-A”. The visual (seeing), tracing (tactile or touch), and auditory (hearing) modalities are used. But, since the letter “A” dots are drawn 8-inches high, his large shoulder and arm muscles are called into play. This is called kinesthetic input and is better than using small wrist and hand muscles.
     Have your child “feel” a three-dimensional wooden or plastic letter “A” for more tactile input. For review, have him close his eyes and feel several different capital letters he’s learned and guess which one it is. Saying aloud while tracing large letters through chalk dust with his index and middle fingers on the chalkboard also call in Grace Fernald’s multi-sensory approach: looking (visual)- saying (auditory)- kinesthetic (large muscles)- touching (tactile).

     Gradually, remove the structure! Use fewer dots until only three are used to make the capital “A”. Eventually, he should be able to draw the “A” just by hearing its name. Next, start with “B”.

     If your child is ready to learn the alphabet, we recommend you try the VAKT approach. Enjoy and make it fun for both your child and you!

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Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his positions of school Psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership and Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University. Contact him on the secure Contact Mail Form.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

TEACH YOUR CHILD THE ALPHABET THE OLD-FASHIONED WAY!

     This post has been updated! Please read newer version "Foolproof Way To Teach Alphabet To Children".    


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Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his positions of school Psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership and Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University. Contact him on the secure Contact Mail Form.

Monday, March 25, 2013

CHILD BULLYING PRODUCES SUICIDAL TENDENCIES

Dear Mr. Morton- My son is bullied by several students his age. I’ve talked to them nicely, and with their parents, but to no avail. Why do some children torment others? -Concerned Parent.

Dear Concerned Parent- Today I will drive to the University of Toledo (Ohio) to hear a man named Mr. Kirk Smalley talk.  It's been almost three years since Smalley lost his 11-year-old son, Ty, to suicide. Small for his age, Ty became an easy target for bullies. The youngster was about to start sixth grade, but was the size of a fourth grader.

The bullies called his son "Tiny Tim" and shoved him into lockers. Once, they even put him in a trash can. Since Ty's death, Mr. Smalley and his wife, Laura, of Perkins, Okla., have made it their mission to raise awareness about bullying and the devastating harm it causes.

"We relive that every single day, sometimes three to four times a day," Mr. Smalley said. "But if us sharing our story saves one child, it's all worth it." I will hear him share his story at the University of Toledo tonight (3/25/13).

Researchers don't know why some children torment others, but the effect can be devastating. Several years ago, nine teenagers were charged with a months-long campaign of bullying that led to the suicide in January of a 15-year-old girl, named Phoebe. Her younger sister discovered the body hanging in the stairway leading to the family's second-floor apartment in the city of Northampton, Massachusetts. Authorities stated that, and I quote, "It appears that Phoebe's death on January 14 followed a torturous day for her when she was subjected to verbal harassment and physical abuse."
I’m sorry to hear that your son is being bullied by several students. To help answer your question, research reveals key personality traits dwell in full-time bullies, including a desire to dominate others and a strong need to feel in control and to win. There’s also a pattern of aggressive behavior, no remorse for hurting others, and a refusal to accept responsibility for their own actions (Samenow, Dr. S.).

Although 80 percent of children don’t bully others and only a fragment of the 20 percent who do are full-timers, the aftereffects are far-reaching. Nationwide, roughly 77 percent of students are bullied at some point and 14 percent of them admit to having severe reactions to it.
Our picks! 14 Resources to stop bullying
 


Here’s some more facts from the Bureau of Justice Statistics-School Crime and Safety, Center for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Departments of Education about students who bully others and for students who are the victims of bullying:
  • 60% of those characterized as bullies in grades 6-9 will have at least one criminal conviction by age 24
  • Those that are bullied tend to grow up more socially anxious, with less self-esteem and require more mental health services throughout life
  • 61% said students shoot others because they have been victims of physical abuse at home
  • 54% said witnessing physical abuse at home can lead to violence in school
  • Among students, homicide perpetrators were more than twice as likely as homicide victims to have been bullies by peers.
  • 282,000 students are physically attacked in secondary schools each month
  • 100,000 students carry a gun to school each day
  • 28% of youths who carry weapons have witnessed violence at home, Duane Alexander, M.D., Director of NICHD.
  • Bullying occurs most frequently in grades 6-8 with little variation between urban, suburban town, and rural areas
  • Young people who bully are more likely to smoke, drink alcohol and get into fights.
Chances are that when your son becomes a teenager and is climbing the mountain to adult maturity, the tough guys presently tormenting him will still be loitering in the same gutter.
Why? Because children your son’s age may look up to a bully, but after early adolescence, the popularity of the “bully mentality” collapses.

It’s ironic, but even though your son may own the problem today…his tormentors may suffer tomorrow. Their universal popularity will thaw as their “browbeater” reputation precedes them into high school where maturing peers will frown upon them. They’ll have no one but themselves.
 
Here’s some interesting facts from the Teasing and Torment Report (GLSEN 2005), National Mental Health Association 2002 and from the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Educators Network about bullying and harassment of Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Youth:
  • 65% of LGBT students report verbal harassment because of their orientation
  • Adults are often uncomfortable intervening when bias is based on sexual orientation
  • Unlike other forms of bullying harassment of LGBT students increases in higher grades
  • Students hear anti-gay epithets 25 times a day, and teachers fail to respond to these comments 97% of the time
  • 89.2% of students frequently hear “THAT’S SO GAY” OR “YOU’RE SO GAY”
  • For every LGBT student that reported being harassed, 4 straight students reported being harassed because they were perceived as being gay or lesbian.
One 35-year study of childhood bullies lays open true problem ownership. It appears your son may not own the long-term problem. By age 24, 60 percent will have one or more criminal convictions along with alcoholism and mucho court convictions, dependence on government welfare, antisocial personality disorders, and use of mental health services. They end up “out”, not in control.

Few bullies, but many of their victims, march forward into a triumphal adulthood. As children, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Tom Cruise, Phil Collins, and Michelle Pfeiffer (to name a few of many) were tormented by bullies in their youthful days.

In the long run, your child doesn’t own the problem…his bullies do. The National Institutes of Health 2004 survey concluded that the prevalence of bullying in U.S. schools suggests a need for more research to understand and devise ways to intervene against bullying. School intervention programs have been shown to be successful. Effective programs are comprehensive in nature involving parents, students, school staff and the whole community.
 
Great resources for bullying prevention & intervention:
OLWEUS BULLYING PREVENTION PROGRAM
BEST PRACTICES IN BULLYING PREVENTION & INTERVENTION
STOP BULLYING NOW! SITE FOR ADULTS AND CHILDREN
WHEN YOU'RE NOT ALONE- FOR VICTIMS OF BULLYING
NEA: DON'T GET EVEN, GET HELP!
STANFIELD BULLYING PREVENTION PROGRAMS
STOMP OUT BULLYING!

Lastly, don't forget to scroll down the narrow, right margin to code "(J)" and view daily newspaper and journal updates on Bullying, plus videos as well!


Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his positions of School Psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership and Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University. Contact him on the secure Contact Form

Thursday, January 17, 2013

AUTISM EPIDEMIC CAUSED BY ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS

With 1 in 88 American children now affected by autism, it's time to look at the environmental toxins connection seriously. Scientists have compelling new evidence that autism may be the result of the pairing of environmental exposures with genetic susceptibilities that together impact the brain development of children. Many experts believe that environmental toxins may be sparking this disorder in vulnerable children. 

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And, mercury from coal-burning plants is a new concern. So, I ask- Should parents worry about the environmental mercury toxin? Researchers uncovered a strong connection between environmental toxins, particularly mercury, and children being born with a brain disorder. Unfortunately, a growing number of unbiased researchers believe they should be. A strong association was uncovered in the Lone Star state between mercury emissions, special education services, and autism rates. For each 1,000 lbs. of mercury release, a 43% increase in special education services and a 61% increase in autism rates were found. Examiners painstakingly obtained total amounts of released mercury in each Texas county from the EPA’s documentation of chemical releases by major industrial facilities. Autism and raw numbers of special education students were, literally, a function of pounds of mercury release. This is the first impartial study uncovering a connection between childhood developmental disorders and environmentally released mercury at the county level.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina recently doubled their estimate of the numbers of women of child-bearing age who have harmful blood mercury levels. Twenty-one percent of mom’s-to-be have levels that far exceed federal health standards. Unlike other toxins, our bodies don’t filter out mercury…it’s forever.

Unfortunately, EPA biochemist Mahaffey grew alarmed when she discovered that mercury readings from fetus umbilical
 cords were 70 percent higher than the concentrations measured in mother’s blood. So, if a pregnant woman’s mercury blood level is safe, she can still give birth to a baby with levels way over the limit! Since the Mahaffey findings, EPA scientists doubled their estimate of America’s newborns having unsafe levels of mercury to 630,000, up from 320,000.

An increasing number of America’s fetuses and newborns grow at risk for brain impairments by mercury exposure in the womb. It’s now estimated at 15%. One in six American women has enough mercury emissions residue in her body to risk having a child with brain damage, mental retardation, autism, blindness, seizures, and/or speech impediment.

And, my state of Ohio ranks second on the nation’s grimy roster of mercury polluters…behind first place Texas. Few issues cause as much strife in contemporary society as does the cause and treatment of autism. It's making the headlines in newspapers and magazines, and is frequent themes on talk shows. As celebrities and politicians express their personal opinions on the cause (or causes) of the increase in autism spectrum disorders (or ASDs), I only hope increased research funding is provided to connect the dots between environmental toxins and autism.

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his positions of School Psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership and Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University. A portion of Ad sale revenue from this site is donated to Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America. Questions? Comment? Concerns about family, parenting, educational or personal concerns? Contact him on the secure Contact Form

Saturday, January 12, 2013

IDENTIFYING VIOLENCE-PRONE CHILDREN

Dear Mr. Morton- We’re concerned about our son’s friend. He’s aggressive and enjoys hurting and teasing others. We fear he may show violence. Any ideas? - Parents.


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Dear Parents- Here’s 23 signs of potential violence in children and teens. All children will, at one time or another, exhibit some of these behaviors without resorting to violence. But, the more of these behaviors your child’s friend exhibits, the more likely he is to commit a violent act:
  1. makes verbal or written threats of violence;
  2. has shown past violent/aggressive behavior: angry outbursts, etc.;
  3. has access to guns, knives, or any dangerous weapons;
  4. has brought a weapon to school;
  5. has made past suicide attempts or threats. Note: If you have a gun in your home, lock it up! (Are there unlocked guns in his house?);
  6. a family history of violent behavior or suicide attempts exists;
  7. projects blame on others or doesn’t accept responsibility for his actions;
  8. has recently experienced a loss or rejection, or some type of shame;
  9. bullies or intimidates others;
  10. is a victim of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse;
  11. witnesses abuse or violence in the home;
  12. talks, writes, reads material or draws with themes of death or depression;
  13. is engrossed in TV shows, movies, music, magazines, comics, books, video games or Internet sites that show acts of violence;
  14. has a diagnosed illness such as depression, mania, psychosis or bipolar disorder;
  15. uses alcohol or illegal drugs;
  16. gets into disciplinary problems at school or in the community;
  17. has destroyed property or vandalized;
  18. has shown cruelty to animals;
  19. has shown fire setting behaviors;
  20. shows poor peer relations or is socially isolated;
  21. is involved in cults or gangs;
  22. has little or no supervision from parents or other caring adults;
  23. believes he deserves whatever he wants at whatever or whoever’s expense.

Experts are debating how much government intervention America needs, or wants, regarding the violence in children. The effects of violent entertainment to the commercialization of youth culture and self-identity are being studied. Schools are making efforts to include children with emotional and behavioral difficulties and teachers are having to deal with angry and violent pupils on a daily basis. People are asking where all the violence comes from and what can be done to solve the problem of increased youth violence and aggression. America's child and youth violence is seeping into the classroom as teachers find it difficult to deal with aggressive and violence-prone pupils. Their ability to successfully teach all their pupils effectively is threatened.

There are many degrees and variations in aggression and violence during adolescence over time and by grade, gender, and race. But, the 23 signs listed above provide early clues for parents, teachers and child caregivers. The list can lead to early identification and help, so  later serious violence in adolescence may be avoided. Early-identified children and teens at-risk for violence can get help in programs before violence erupts.

Interestingly, one inner city school that has a majority population of African-American and Hispanic children from mostly poverty areas, can offer us hope and teach us some lessons. This school has a high potential for violence and subsequent poor atmosphere for learning, but they mandated that all children will be reached on an academic and emotional level. The principal empowered all to do their jobs with at-risk and violence-prone children by creating a role for their home school coordinator that is different from the traditional model of managing disciplinary problems. They involved and educated parents, trained school staff, teachers, and even other students to work together to prevent violence and increase school achievement. A clear set of expectations and a way of handling mistakes was created, including open
communication channels with everyone who deals with children. Nothing happened by coincidence: what they did that worked and what make the most difference was documented. They compared their  results over three school years to the results of two other similar schools and it was found that their "Empowerment" modeling was shown to be effective in reducing violent episodes and increasing students' achievement among elementary school children.

In sum, their final set of principals that worked to reduce violence and increase student achievement were: build trust through empowerment, bring people together and teach communication skills, curtail violence through clear expectations and integrity in dealing with students, adults must model what is expected of students, focus on solutions, not problems and what works in school will spread to the community.

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his positions of School Psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership and Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University. A portion of Ad sale revenue from this site is donated to Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America. Questions? Comment? Concerns about family, parenting, educational or personal concerns? Contact him on the secure Contact Form

Friday, January 4, 2013

CHILD GUN SHOOTINGS- HOW TO PROTECT YOURS

Dear Mr. Morton- My three sons have friends whose parents are hunters. They have deer rifles and pistols in their homes and I'm concerned that something tragic may occur. My kids are very curious about everything! Any ideas on how to ease my fears? They are great friends and the parents are responsible, so I don't want to make these gun-owning homes off-limits to my boys.- Concerned Parent.
 
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Dear Concerned Parent- All of us watched with empathy as classes resumed for the students of Sandy Hook Elementary School. Visions of last month's massacre in Newtown that left 20 first-graders and six educators dead remains embedded in our minds. Many of us are amazed at how many guns there are in the U.S. and, ironically, the vast majority of firearms are purchased by sportsmen for themselves and for their children. Yes, many wonderful deep and lasting friendships are forged between parents and kids who share an interest in hunting. Young girls are getting into the hunting scene in record numbers as well...it's not just a father/son thing anymore!

The FBI estimates that Americans buy 12 million guns every year. There’s a lot of them around and your concern is valid- for every 10 children killed each year, one is killed by a firearm. Yes, guns account for 10% of all deaths among kids from age 5 to 14. Last year, 1,400 children under age 18 were killed by guns and for each of these fatalities, almost 5 children received nonfatal firearm-related injuries. Many of these children had access to household firearms that were stored loaded or in unlocked places. Are the guns secured in a locked place at the homes your children visit?  

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So, what can you, as a parent, do in a country where almost as many people are killed by guns than by motor vehicles?
Federal data reveals 31,236 firearm-related deaths and 36,361 motor vehicle-related deaths in 2009... and the gap  is closing. In fact, in ten states, more people are slain by guns each year than are killed in car crashes.

I highly recommend you double-check that the gun-owning households where your children play have guns that are secured and inaccessible to children. Studies show that unintentional injuries, suicide, and homicide among youth occur when young people have easy access to firearms, especially when they‘re not properly stored. Why? Because 90% of fatal firearm incidents involving children occur within the home, and according to a study of children and youth aged 0 to 14 years (Wintemute), 40% of firearm incidents involve a firearm stored in the room in which the shooting occurs. Researchers also uncovered via interviews that twice as many firearm deaths among children and youth under age 18 occur in states with the highest proportion of people living in households with loaded firearms (Miller).
 
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Through surveys, it was found that a third of adults in America keep firearms in or around their home. The prevalence of adults with household firearms ranged from 5.2% in the District of Columbia to 62.8% in Wyoming. The prevalence of adults with loaded household firearms ranged from 1.6% in Hawaii, Massachusetts, and New Jersey to 19.2% in Alabama and the prevalence of adults with loaded and unlocked household firearms ranged from 0.4% in Massachusetts to 12.7% in Alabama. Among adults with children and youth under age 18, the prevalence of loaded household firearms ranged from 1.0% to 13.4% and the prevalence of loaded and unlocked household firearms ranged from 0.3% to 7.3%. In sum, the studies reveal that nearly 2 million children and youth in the United States under age 18 are living with loaded and unlocked household firearms.

So, it crucial that you, and other parents with similar concerns, ask two questions: Do you know if the parents of your children’s friends are firearm owners? If so, do you know what their firearm safety precautions are?

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If your answer to the second question  above is "No", I advise that you you to ascertain their firearm safety precautions by considering the following six(6) “best practices” of gun ownership safety, which are espoused by the National Rifle Association (NRA), American Academy of Pediatrics and public health agencies:
1. Keep firearms stored unloaded, locked, and separated from ammunition. A child or teen should not have access to firearms without direct adult supervision.

2. Talk to your children about guns. Common Sense about Kids and Guns is a non-profit group of owners and non-owners of guns committed to working together to protect America's children from gun deaths and injuries. They recommend discussing firearms with children, especially if you have them in the house.
Pre-teens: This is a good time to begin talking with children about ways to solve problems that do not involve violence. With older children, explain to them the consequences of violence and the dangers inherent in the mishandling of guns. Continue to emphasize to children that they should never touch a gun without adult supervision.
Young children: Experts advise parents to reassure children that, as parents, they are doing their best to keep children safe. Children can be exposed to a good amount of violence by the media, especially from TV and movies. It is important to teach children that this is not real and that guns cause real injuries. Emphasize to them that they should never touch a gun and should always tell an adult if they come across one. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends repeating this message periodically to keep children from forgetting.
Teens: This can be a difficult time to maintain open communication with kids as they become more independent and rebellious. However, maintaining dialogue with your children can help you spot any potential problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that, at this point in a child’s life, it is easier to keep guns away from teens than to keep teens away from guns, which are often glamorized in the media. It is important that parents watch for signs of depression or changes in behavior, as teens feeling this way are at an increased risk for suicide.

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3. Get yourself educated and aware about the risks of unsupervised access to guns by children and teens. Begin by viewing the “GUNS AND KIDS” videos in the right-hand margin.

4. The most important thing a parent can do, according to Betsy McAlister Groves, director of the Child Witness to Violence Program at Boston Medical Center, is to listen to a child’s concerns. As she told Newsweek, "allowing kids to voice their worries is very important." Not talking about the problem will not make it go away.

5. Contact an organization like Common Sense about kids and guns: Their website is: http://www.kidsandguns.org/ You can reach them by snail mail, telephone or fax: 1225 I Street NW Washington, DC 20005 · (202) 546-0200 · fax: (202) 371-9615.

6. Ask yourself honestly: Do you feel your child may be prone to violence? Or, is any of your children's playmates prone to violence? If so, follow the steps above. Any child who is violence-prone should not have access to firearms. Definitely keep the firearm unloaded and locked away, separate from the ammunition, which should be locked away as well. Studies have shown that teens who are angry or depressed are more likely to kill themselves or others, particularly if a firearm is easy to get. Here’s 23 signs of potential violence in children and teens. All children will, at one time or another, exhibit many of these behaviors without resorting to violence. But, the more of these behaviors your child is exhibiting, the more you should consider locking up or getting rid of your firearms until he/she gets professional help:
  1. makes verbal or written threats of violence;
  2. has shown past violent/aggressive behavior: angry outbursts, etc.;
  3. has access to guns, knives, or any dangerous weapons;
  4. has brought a weapon to school;
  5. has made past suicide attempts or threats; Note: If you have a gun in your home, you are 5 times more likely to have a suicide in your house than homes without a gun. An unlocked gun could be the death of your family.
  6. a family history of violent behavior or suicide attempts exists;
  7. projects blame on others or doesn’t accept responsibility for his actions;
  8. has recently experienced a loss or rejection, or some type of shame;
  9. bullies or intimidates others;
  10. is a victim of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse;
  11. witnesses abuse or violence in the home;
  12. talks, writes, reads material or draws with themes of death or depression;
  13. is engrossed in TV shows, movies, music, magazines, comics, books, video games or Internet sites that show acts of violence;
  14. has a diagnosed illness such as depression, mania, psychosis or bipolar disorder;
  15. uses alcohol or illegal drugs;
  16. gets into disciplinary problems at school or in the community;
  17. has destroyed property or vandalized;
  18. has shown cruelty to animals;
  19. has shown fire setting behaviors;
  20. shows poor peer relations or is socially isolated;
  21. is involved in cults or gangs;
  22. has little or no supervision from parents or other caring adults;
  23. believes he deserves whatever he wants at whatever expense.
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Lastly, make sure your chldren or you chidren's friends aren't attracted to delinquent or gang activity. If you are sure your children aren't, are you sure their friends of gun-owning homes are not? Professor Bernard Harcourt delivered a fascinating Chicago's Best Ideas Talk, entitled "Language of the Gun: A Semiotic for Law and Social Science." Professor Harcourt's talk was based on his recent book, "Language of the Gun: Youth, Crime and Public Policy. He interviewed incarcerated teens about their opinions about guns and analyzed the particular language they spoke about guns and the associations their words have, and what the implications are for public policy.

His interviews were conducted at the Catalina Mountain School, a juvenile prison for boys aged 12 to 17. He uncovered the symbolic dimensions of guns and gun carrying among male youths. His book offers a vision of how semiotics can redraw the traditional relationship between law, social science, and public policy. Here’s some of what he heard:

“If you’re out there and you don't have a strap, you're going to get killed.”

“I had me two baby 9's. I fell in love with those. They look beautiful to me.”

“I never got into guns besides selling them.”

“I like to reload bullet shells.”


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“You feel powerful when you have a gun. You get respect.”

“It's too much time to fxxk with guns.”

“Anybody can fight with a gun, anybody can pull a trigger. It takes somebody, like a real man, to fight somebody.”

“I love guns. Hell yeah, I love guns. I love everything about a gun.”

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his positions of School Psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership & Policy Studies at Bowling Green State Univeristy. A portion of Ad sale revenue from this site is donated to Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America. Questions? Comment? Concerns about family, parenting, educational or personal concerns? Contact him on the secure Contact Form