Category Archives: safety

Help stop bullying Pt. 1-The time to talk is now!

Photos from "Stop Bullying Now! One Mile Fun Walk"
Photos courtesy of: Mental Health America of NE Florida

According to Gayle Eckerd, CEO of River Point Behavioral Health, “Bullying among our children and adolescents has become an epidemic and something needs to be done now.”

To stop an epidemic, there is often a source where a treatment can be implemented and then spread out from there. But, with bullying, each and every case is different because it is not only dealing with the victim of bullying but also the person or persons behind the act of bullying. It is also looking at what is causing this person to act out in this way and we also must ask a few questions; Why is this becoming such a growing problem? What is bullying? Where does the problem of bullying begin? Who is responsible to address these concerns?

The first question to address is the last one. Who is responsible to address these concerns? We all are. This is a concern for everyone to not only realize but to be part of the overall solution. The first thing to recognize is the problem. Look around. Bullying is not something that only happens on the school playground or during playgroups at the park. It is not something that is happening only amongst our young people. This is a problem in homes with siblings, at school within all age groups. Bullying is a problem within the workplace, within our political system, between parents, between parents and their children and the lists go on. What happens is, it isn’t always considered bullying and therefore the issue is getting beyond our grasp and out of control. But, it isn’t beyond help.

Preparing for the walk, everyone can be part of the solution to stop bullying.

In today’s world, anyone who wants to bully someone else can do so in a buffet of places and even without ever showing their face. Once a person becomes aware of the problem bullying has become in our society, it becomes hard to avoid or overlook this issue. The problem is so many people have begun to accept it as a way of life or have learned to overlook it until the problem becomes unavoidable or irreversible. Too many people are getting physically, mentally and emotionally hurt and many are committing suicide over it or living in silence and unspeakable pain on the verge of a meltdown. But, there is help.

Everyone who participates, tells someone else and the word spreads...
that's a good sign!

On Saturday, May 21st, Riverpoint Behavioral Health in Jacksonville, Florida joined forces with Mental Health America of Northeast Florida to organize the “1st Annual Stop Bullying Now! One-Mile Fun Walk” to raise awareness in their community and beyond.

With 200-250 walkers and their tremendous success, this is one of the most powerful ways to make a difference in the battle against bullying. They are reaching out to the younger generation, their friends and families, starting necessary conversations and letting it be known that it is not only okay to talk about bullying but also making it known that bullying against anyone, for any reason, at any age is never okay!

Studies have shown 15-25% of students report being the victim of bullying while 15-20% of students report they engage in bullying. These reported numbers are often low due to victims’ fear of retribution keeping them from coming forward.

Bullying is a form of abuse and can have immediate and long-term effects.

Recently, as seen on the news, reports of suicides have been on the increase due to bullying. Young people who are victims of bullying are more likely to drop out of school, abuse drugs and/or alcohol, have mental health disorders such as depression, eating disorders, self mutilation, thoughts of suicide, anxiety, etc.

Youth who bully are more likely to engage in violence, get involved in gangs, criminal behavior and become abusers as adults. These traits can often effect the next generations as well.

Mental Health America of Northeast Florida has been working to raise awareness of this epidemic of bullying in our country beginning with our local communities. With sponsors like, River Point Behavioral Health who paid for this event, allowing all proceeds to go the Mental Health America of Northeast Florida for their amazing work in not only this event but also working within schools and summer camps, this is an amazing example of what can be done to stop bullying, prevent bullying and everyone can be involved.

Mental Health America of Northeast Florida has found the necessary treatment is to not only treat the victim but also those that feel the need to bully. There is very often a reason behind the bullying but also to get people talking and raise awareness to this growing problem.

Take time to listen. Take time to talk. Talk about bullying.

The more people who get involved and the more help made available, the better the chances for everyone.

In this series of articles, I’ll share different stories from people who have had their lives affected from bullying in one way or another. The only way to effectively stop bullying is to show its hiding places, bring them out into the open and let people know the best thing to do is speak up and get the necessary help when needed. Let people know it is okay to say they need help because they are not alone.

What many people see as harmless fun is very hurtful and has long-term effects to others. This is bullying. This is causing many people a lost childhood, lifelong trauma, physical harm and as we are learning it is more often leading to suicide. This has to stop. It must stop now.

See the signs, read the warnings and act. Don't ignore what is right in front of you.




The first story is something that is horrible and should be unheard of but it is a situation that very much needs to be recognized for what it is.





This is about a young lady that had been bullied by not only one person but multiple people. She was bullied to the point of victimization in both a medical facility and her family environment. She is disabled and required help for much of her daily care.

During what should have been a 5-day admission to a hospital for medical testing for a diagnosis, she was instead bullied, made fun of, called names and left in unsanitary conditions. In the end, due to the lack of care from the medical staff, the correct tests had not been done which led to a long delay of the correct diagnosis. She said, ““It was an awful experience; the mental games were terrifying and I was stuck there because they did not want to discharge me.”

At the hands of her family, where she should have felt the most secure, cared for and loved, she was instead bullied most by her siblings until she was later sent to live with other relatives. There, she was often left alone as a live-in babysitter, neglected for her own daily medical needs and left to fall into the hands of a family friend who raped her.

When she couldn’t take anymore and tried to leave, she was locked in a room, slammed against the wall, unable to use a phone or a bathroom until she eventually crawled out a window and escaped. Yes, escaped. She said, “You hear about human trafficking nowadays, but that was kind of the case, even within my own family.”

At the time, this woman was wheelchair bound. Since getting better care after these experiences, this has changed. She has chosen to remain anonymous for very clear reasons.


The second story is about Lynda in Parkersburg.

Lynda’s has quite a different side of things. At first, in middle school, Lynda was having a lot of troubles at home and this led to troubles at school. During her 8th grade year, Lynda ran away.

This ended up getting her moved to another relative’s home and also to a new school. The kids at the new school didn’t treat her too well, in fact, they were just mean. She was poked, tripped, had her books knocked out of her hands and threatened about showing up places outside of school. So, she decided to just stay quiet and stay to herself.

In the 9th grade, she moved back in with her grandparents and returned to her old school. However, she had taken on a new attitude. She was loud, mean and a bully now. She wasn’t going to be picked on anymore. She took things to a new level you could say. Name calling and harassing was an everyday part of her demeanor and she’s sure she made the daily lives of some of her classmates a living hell.

“So many things that I look back on in shame,” Lynda says, “I cannot believe the intolerance that I showed back then.”

Now Lynda has her own children and would she never want to see them be bullied”, but she says, “I cannot stomach the thought of one of my kids being the bully.”

Lynda is making this known to help stop bullying.

Many people are stepping forward in efforts to help stop bullying. Below are some excellent links to visit for information on how you can speak with children, friends, coworkers or reach out for help.

Please feel free to comment on your experiences with bullying and how it has affected your life as well. Together, we can help in the effort by sharing information, speaking up, getting help and bringing an end to bullying in our own local communities which will prevent more victims and help save lives from the hurt or worse, from the loss of life. Please pass this along and keep an eye out for part 2 of this series.



AHMIR ANTI-BULLYING VIDEO – “Perfect”
Purchase this song on iTunes and 20% of the proceeds will be donated to the Make Laughter Count foundation (an organization that brings comedians & entertainers together to increase awareness about bullying and raising funds for charities)




SEE PART 2 OF THIS TOPIC



Help stop bullying Pt. 2 – Bullying effects everyone




Please see links below and feel free to share comments below.



StopCyberBullying.org

TakeAStand.StopBullying

ItGetsBetterCampaign

StopBullying.gov

PeaceBuilders.com

TheTrevorProject.org

WelcomingSchools.org

Let’s Move.gov

Teach for America

MakeLaughterCount

Freedom – What is it worth?

Freedom
Photo by: Moe

More often it seems people are concerned about what is happening to their freedoms or one person’s freedom is standing in the way of another person’s freedom.

One person’s freedom of speech can become bullying or harassment to another which has been making headlines recently across the nation even inspiring the “It Gets Better” campaign.

Freedoms have been fought for throughout America’s history but when one person’s freedom has become a source of disrespect, intolerance, hate or the cause of a crime, this is no longer just someone exercising their freedoms but instead it is an act against someone else’s rights.

What exactly is a freedom and what is a right? Where should the line be drawn and who should draw the line?

A freedom is very difficult to just flat out define but it is being free willed, making one’s own choices, having liberty, not being physically bound or confined or not having one’s future pre-determined. Freedom is being able to have something that is yours and know you will be able to hold on to it.

A right is the freedom to do something or the justifiable claim or entitlement to something. Some may say a right is something you are born with and die with like the rights spelled out in the U.S. Constitution. However, this has been something that is argued that these are more a privilege because they can be taken away from you. For example, prisoners lose many of their rights. However, we are looking at this primarily as freedoms.

Can a person have too much freedom? Is it possible for freedom to be taken too far or to be misinterpreted?

If a person had 100% freedom to do absolutely anything he/she wanted this could and most likely would begin to infringe on those around them. Each person having their own freedoms would expect to have the same apply to them, 100% freedom for themselves. This couldn’t work.

It’s very easy to come up with a quick example that is not extreme but more or less a day to day example. Imagine a busy supermarket, long lines at the register and everyone is on their cell phones, talking loudly and in no hurry to get off. That includes the cashier, the person ahead of you and the person ahead of them. Everyone is just freely talking. It may seem rude but is it breaking the law?

Putting one’s freedoms aside to respect another person and/or their freedoms has made life not only tolerable but has made America a place where people feel safe enough to speak up, be religious or choose not to practice religion, pick and represent political parties, vote, chase their dreams or follow in the footsteps of previous generations.

But, is this America being pushed aside as more individuals are consumed by personal freedoms instead of overall respect, safety and equality?

Not too long ago, in the top of the news was the Islamic Center in NYC. The issue originally stated that people were concerned with it being so close to Ground Zero.

However, once the media became more involved, the issue became more against Islam and the NYC Islamic Center wasn’t the only one having issues with people not wanting to see it built.

Another proposed Islamic Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee ran into extreme debates even though they had been in the community for two decades. Their plans were for a larger center than their already existing one. However, opponents went to court to try to put a halt to their plans.

This past week, Chancellor Robert Corlew III denied the opponents of the Mosque an emergency injunction that would block construction so for now, it looks like plans can move forward.

What happened to freedom of religion? Who decides where the line of freedom is drawn? Then, is it really freedom?

Remember the Florida Pastor, Terry Jones? He was willing to go against top brass in the military, Lt. Gen. William Caldwell and General David Petraeus, as well as multiple religious and community leaders who urged him to reconsider his plans to burn the Holy Book of Islam, the Qu’ran, on September 11th of this year.

Why would he do such an act? Because he felt Islam was of the devil and he wanted to express how he felt.

Once his story reached the news and the news spread worldwide what he was planning to do, safety for American troops in the Middle East was a great concern as well as the safety for Americans abroad due to retaliation for what Terry Jones was planning to do. However, with these details, Terry Jones did not want to back down.

Was he breaking the law or was he just exercising his right to free speech and to share how he felt about Islam?

Terry Jones changed his mind at the last minute after all of the attention and after a great deal of fear had set in due to riots in the Middle East. This was going on at the same time as the issue over the Islamic Center in NYC and the one in Tennessee was going on. Tensions were already high. In the U.S., many people were debating different views and politicians had become involved as the 2010 mid-term elections were approaching.

When does one person’s freedom hinder another person’s freedom?

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas have gone to military funerals across the country but not to pay respects to the families or say goodbye to a friend or loved one. They are armed with signs that say, “God Hates You” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers”. They feel America’s war casualties are God’s wrath for tolerating homosexuality. Is this really the time or place for a protest or picketing? Again, are they breaking a law? Do they have the right to do this? Do these families have the right to peacefully say goodbye to their loved ones?

Freedom is something that has set the U.S. apart from many other countries around the world. Many countries do not allow near as many freedoms as the U.S. allows and although this sets us apart, this can also be a wedge that drives a great divide through the nation. The more one person’s freedom takes away from another person’s freedom, the nation loses its freedom and therefore what separates the U.S. from many countries around the world.

Freedoms lost today may not affect you, as it happens to one person or a group of people today it can happen to another tomorrow and then more people over time.

Americans must understand that every freedom we have today has come to us through someone’s great effort, fight and even death. Freedoms that have been gained over time can also be lost. They’re never to be taken lightly or for granted; not your own freedoms or someone else’s.

To be truly free requires the respect of the freedom of others and to know the limits of our freedoms. Then we, and those around us, can have a more meaningful and lasting freedom.

Is the Internet really safe anymore?

By now, most adults and teens own a cell phone and it isn’t uncommon to see a 9, 10 or 11 year old texting these days.

There’s a number of ways a person can reach someone. Anyone can text, tweet, message or email from practically anywhere they are to basically anywhere in the world and it be received in a few seconds. Kudos to technology, right? But, the days of sitting down and writing a letter, addressing an envelope and actually putting a stamp on to mail it (snail mail) just doesn’t happen very much. Do people still receive personal, handwritten letters in the mail? Those were nice.

Remember when two people “liked” each other and they exchanged phone numbers so they could call and talk endlessly about their heartfelt devotion and then spend ten minutes deciding who would hang up first? Silly, right? Now mostly, things are done through texting and chatting online.

Here’s one that most people deal with a lot. Remember when a company had a phone number for customer service that when a customer called for assistance an actual, living person answered it and could work with their customer’s concerns instead of people having to go through automated options answering, “yes” or “no” and pushing in account numbers or numbers for 10 minutes only to be disconnected and have to start over?

It doesn’t take too long to look around and realize how many things have changed over the last 20 years. A lot of these changes were done to make people’s lives easier, save time or make things more convenient and sure, some of them have.

The Internet for instance has made the world available at the click of a mouse. A person can basically find nearly anything through Google or Bing. Researching has become very simple and learning about places around the world, other cultures, medical information, animals, cars, architecture, languages, nearly anything is there if a person wants to find it.

However, along with the Internet came the issue of privacy concerns and it also simplified the ability for criminals to commit crimes like child pornography, identity theft and stalking. Law enforcement basically had to catch up with the times to keep up with the criminals.

As the Internet’s popularity grew, computers were becoming part of nearly every home. What these homes were not getting was the information about how dangerous being on the Internet could be, especially for children and teens and how easily children could be drawn in by a child predator. Many parents were unaware of the dangers online as they weren’t actively using the Internet.

As the social media websites grew more popular and crimes became more obviously connected to these sites, news stories started coming out about Internet safety due to sexual predators stalking kids and teens through websites such as MySpace first and then Facebook. Suddenly more parents were becoming aware of this growing concern over Internet safety and changes needing to be made.

Social media websites needed to keep their users safe and block users under certain ages from being on their websites. They were made very aware that sexual predators were going online, becoming friends with minors, chatting, setting up face to face meetings, getting their personal location information and planning sexual encounters with underage children. This was being done with children using their computers right in their homes, mostly unaware of who they were chatting with online and what they would be encountering when they went to meet this person.

Laws were not set up to prosecute this type of crime where stalking or setting up a meeting with a minor was done online.

The first sexual predator law was Megan’s Law, passed in 1994 in response to the rape and murder of 7 year old Megan Kanka.

President George W. Bush signed two laws to make it much harder for child molesters to lurk with anonymity on the web, especially at social networking sites. One law is called the “KIDS Act of 2008”, which requires registered sex offenders to provide “Internet identifiers”, including email addresses, to state sex offender registries.

Bush also signed the “PROTECT our Children Act of 2008” which requires the Department of Justice to create and implement a national strategy, as well as a new task force for tracking down predators on the web and prosecute them.

Although laws have been put in place and there has been more awareness drawn to issue of sexual predators being online, parents need to continue to be more aware of what their children are doing online, who they are talking to, what sites they are visiting and keep computers in an area of the house where it can be visible when children are online.

Recently, both Facebook and Twitter have added applications that allow users to opt in and share their actual locations with other users. This shows their current longitude and latitude location with other users and also allows advertisers to see this information as well. The user has the ability to change their privacy settings if they understand how to do so. As in the past though, this has upset both Facebook and Twitter users but some have come to like the service, others have learned to opt out of the service while others have chosen to cancel their accounts.

Sadly, most laws that are made to protect our society from online predators or online fraud do not prevent something from happening and only come into light after something has already happened and it is too late.

One in five U.S. teens, who regularly use to the Internet say they have received an unwanted sexual solicitation via the Web. Solicitations were defined as requests to engage in sexual activities or sexual talk, or to give personal sexual information.

25% of children/teens have been exposed to unwanted pornographic material online.

Only around 1/3 of households with Internet access protect their children with filtering or blocking software.

With adults and children walking with a Smart Phone in their hands and “connected” 24 hours a day online, Internet safety is a must. By having that device in a person’s hand, there are certain responsibilities involved and those start by understanding Internet safety. For parents, when giving a child the “privilege” of using the Internet or having a phone that has text or Internet abilities, there are multiple responsibilities that go along with that for both the parent and the child.

Safety should always come first and if it questionable whether or not the child is ready for the responsibility, maybe doing without the data part of the plan or making other limitations could save their life.

Possibly moving a computer from a bedroom to the living room could save someone’s life.

Making laws and passing them to protect society is done in Washington D.C. but setting down rules and fulfilling a parent’s responsibility is something that should be passed down through each generation. The responsibility of protecting each child will never change even though life may continue to rapidly change.

To find more information on Internet safety or sexual predators in your area, please visit the following links.


National Center for Missing & Exploited Children



Locate sexual predators in your area



Florida Sexual Offenders and Predators



CyberSitter11



CyberNanny on Windows Vista


PRIVACY MATTERS


The year is 2010.

I am typing this on a laptop while using a WIFI Network in my home. No I am not willing to give my social security number like the Life Lock Commercial on TV because I think that would just be ridiculous for me to do so, irresponsible.

Since I am an Internet user, I have to know what risk may come along while using the Internet. Not just while ON the Internet but the entire time my Internet access is available.

Understandably there are a lot of people that are either too young or not “Internet Savvy” understand fully what the risk, or benefits, of the Internet may be.

So, is there a solution to this problem or is the problem bigger than a solution?

We know there are problems. Here are just a few.

“Google: Google Street View Cars Sniffed Wi-Fi Networks”

You know how we like to be able to look at those Street Views on Google Maps when we look up an address or GPS location?? Well, they get there somehow and oops… a little too much info was gathered in the process.

Facebook: Problems again…
Some users taking matters into their own hands.

Facebook has changed their privacy policies and security tools so many times, it lets you know it is something you need to keep an eye on constantly. I tell people that are friends of mine on Facebook or new to Facebook that the smartest thing to do with Facebook or other online accounts is to change their passwords often and whatever you do, don’t click on links from people you don’t know (heck, don’t click on a bunch of links-one can send you into Virus Hell!) Is it worth it??

“The Top Facebook Privacy Settings You Should Know”

 Want to learn more about Facebook? Stay on top of how things are changing ALL the time? Click here.

MySpace was the trend for so long and is still there and very much used. It just doesn’t seem to change so often.

Facebook launched on February 4, 2004 it wasn’t heard of in the media, around schools or much anywhere for that matter.

When I joined in 2007, it was hard for me to locate people on Facebook even then. The idea of finding people via a High School website was still new so I had to start my own.

Since then, Facebook has boomed! There are groups for everything from schools, workplaces, regions of towns, states, nations and countries. There is a group if you like to do something or if you don’t like to do something. There are groups of people fighting for cures for cancer, helping finding missing people, getting petitions signed, trying to form a group, trying to break up a group, name a group, even a group for people that have joined too many groups.

What do you do on Facebook? Are you worried about your messaging? Your photos? Your privacy overall? Or do you just use Facebook as a “light source” of staying in touch and reconnecting? To me, that is what it should be and this is why I feel that way.

Facebook has over 400 million users logging on and off daily.

About 70% of them reside outside of the U.S.

The average user has over 130 friends.

There are more than 550,000 active applications currently on the Facebook Platform and

There are more than 250,000 websites that have integrated with Facebook Platform

Click here for the above statistics and more.

And… if you think Facebook and MySpace, emailing, Google, Bing is what the Internet is about, there is much more coming through the Internet which is why it is very important you stay informed, daily.

On the lines of what can go wrong with meeting the wrong people, cyber bullying, giving out too much information, going too far… comes along “Chat Roulette”. Please watch this Video Clip.

If you are a parent and you have a computer in your house, there are HUGE responsibilities that go along with this.

“Social Media Parenting: Raising the Digital Generation”

Know what is going on at all times on that computer. Don’t let computers be in the bedrooms or away from plain site.

A lot of times, children in the house understand the usage of a computer more than their parents. A computer can be a fantastic tool of education, information, fun and entertainment even. But, too many times, boredom and the Internet can lead to trouble.

Good kids can find themselves in a bad position and do something they regret or too many times something they can’t get out of. There are also a good amount of children that know they can outsmart their parents and do as they please online because they understand the Internet far better, therefore, they can do whatever they wish and cover up whatever they are doing. This can lead to some very serious problems. We all watch the news. Kids meet people on line. They think they are safe, they think they know who the person is, send a picture or agree to meet somewhere and suddenly everything turns bad. This may seem like someone else’s child but this can be anyone. If you don’t know 100% it isn’t your child and what your child is doing, you have to know. It is our job as parents.

WiredSafety.org (GREAT SITE!). This is a must read for everyone, not just parents. Read around the site, click the links. More and more, this is affecting more children, more teens daily. Bookmark the site as it is updated.

Here is another site to check out as this is really becoming a bigger and bigger issue both during and after school. Remember this is online and cellphones.

http://stopcyberbullying.org/

Your child can have a blog going that is pouring out their heart that is asking for help and if someone knew what was being said, help could be offered. If someone knew how much time was being spent on the computer, someone could be spending that time preventing the need for filling that empty space. I read a blog being written by a 15 year old girl the other day that was just heartbreaking. She never did pinpoint why she felt so bad but she very much shared how alone she felt, everyday. At school, at home, in some groups she was part of. This blog had been written over a period of at least a year. There were no comments.

It’s not that children don’t hear about the dangers of being online or sharing to much information online, or that they don’t know of other kids that are doing the same things. It is a lot of times either they don’t see themselves in a situation that can go so far that it will lead to trouble or that they are so caught up in a situation, it isn’t clear enough to them to see they are at a point they need help.

Sometimes, they are doing certain things, even by being in a dangerous situation online to reach out for help. But, they are kids. As much as they want to be grown up so much and be treated like adults, they aren’t.

The fact is that each child is different and to assume that one “would never” do something that we hear others are doing online is the same as thinking that a person’s private information would be perfectly safe in a world where hundreds of millions of people are all sharing information back and forth on the World Wide Web (the name alone should be something to tell us to use it with caution).

If we aren’t willing to put our SS# or your bank account information on Facebook, the Internet or anything that can be found via the Internet now or in the coming days without being extra guarded or just not doing it at all, why would we put our children on there without keeping a close eye and being extra guarded and responsible??