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College Prep: Not Just for Seniors

DECEMBER 2015

staying organized

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» Facts About E-Cigarettes » How to Avoid Raising Codependent Kids » Teen Texting vs. Talking


decemBER 2015

FEATURES

6 Staying Organized 14 Facts About E-Cigarettes 16 How to Avoid Raising Co-Dependent Kids 20 Teen Texting vs. Talking Prep: It’s for Freshman and 23 College Sophomores, Too IN EVERY ISSUE

2 From the Director 5 The Kitchen Table 10 Faces in the Crowd 11 40 Developmental Assets 12 Assets in Action 18 Q&A and By the Numbers PRODUCED IN CONJUNCTION WITH BROUGHT TO YOU BY B3T

TO ADVERTISE OR CONTRIBUTE B3Tcoalition@gmail.com

COVER PHOTO BY

Wandering Albatross Photography YC MAGAZINE

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building a better bensalem together Building a Better Bensalem Together is a coalition of community members who work together to make Bensalem a safer, healthier place for kids to grow up. It was founded in 1998 as a grassroots coalition fighting substance abuse and other adolescent issues. B3T aims to celebrate diversity and promote equality. Working with community partners and grants, B3T has consistently provided high quality evidence-based programs to the schools, such as the Olweus Bullying Program, The Incredible Years, and Project Toward No Drug Abuse. Currently B3T is in year ten of a DFC grant which supports the sponsorship of prevention activities including #B3TKIDS and SADD. The Drug Free Communities Grant is a prestigious award, sponsored by the Office of National Drug Control Policy in partnership with Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which works to achieve two goals: 1. Establish and strengthen collaboration among communities, public and private non-profit agencies, and Federal, State, and local governments to support the efforts of community coalitions working to prevent and reduce substance use among youth. 2. Reduce substance use among youth and reduce substance abuse among adults by addressing the factors in a community that increase the risk of substance abuse and promoting the factors that minimize the risk of substance abuse. In addition to programming, B3T proudly hosts the annual Unity Week, Celebration of Culture, Red Cross Blood Drive, and proudly partners in such events as Bensalem Fall Festival, MLK Day of Service and Red Ribbon Week. The vision of Building a Better Bensalem Together is to motivate and organize the community by providing resources and building skills to reduce substance abuse and other adolescent problem behaviors using proven programs and strategies. It is a volunteer coalition and new members are always welcome. If you are interested in getting involved, please email B3Tcoalition@gmail.com

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director from the

ello and welcome to the very first issue of our #B3TKIDS Youth Connections Magazine! I am so very happy and proud to be involved with Building a Better Bensalem and our wonderful Bensalem Township Youth at this time of positive growth and progression in our community. The Bensalem community is a great place to raise a family. There are opportunities to get involved in every melinda P. gordan possible type of activity: civic associations, service organizations, sports, mentoring programs, educational and recreational adult classes, faith-based groups, special interest and hobbyist clubs and much more. Our children enjoy excellent schools, beautiful open spaces, recreational activities and a safe and nurturing environment. As we settle into the fall season, back-to-school routines and the hectic everyday lives that we all live, it’s often easy to overlook those things that provide us with the biggest sense of fulfillment and well-being. Quality time with those we love, such as family dinners or game nights have become rare in these hightech busy times, but I wonder sometimes what impact it might have on a family to set aside just one night a week to simply be together. It doesn’t have to be something fancy. Any chance we have to sit down to a family meal or play a trivia game or just watch a movie together provides us with another opportunity to bond and open lines of communication. Learning about each other’s lives outside of the family can provide great insight into who we are, and can help to form trust and understanding between family members. The purpose of this publication is to provide families with information that will be helpful in maintaining healthy relationships, introduce subjects for discussion between children and adults, and keep our community abreast of new and emerging trends. The articles may help you begin those conversations that your family has been wanting to have or weren’t sure how to start. Perhaps one of them will spark an idea that will bring your family closer. Please enjoy our first issue! I look forward to seeing you in the community and hearing your feedback!

BUILDING A BETTER BENSALEM TOGETHER Melinda P. Gordan, Ph.D. DFC Youth Project Coordinator (267) 454.3231 mpgordan@gmail.com Bensalem, Pennsylvania 19020


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Break the Connection.

Learn More. PAStop.org Commonwealth Prevention Alliance

Stop Opiate Abuse Campaign

Stop Prescription Drug Abuse Before It Starts. In the midst of America’s current epidemic of overdoses from painkillers and heroin, Pennsylvania’s overdose rate is currently higher than the national average. Visit PAStop.org for more information.

Sponsored by the Commonwealth Prevention Alliance through funding made available by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD)

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confessions from The kitchen table

o get a perspective from both sides of the ball, we asked a parent and a referee for their reflections on sportsmanship and role models for kids. From a parent: I have always prided myself on being a very supportive parent of my two kids. After six years of competitive cheerleading, high school cheer, choir concerts, plays, preschool T-ball, middle school volleyball and basketball, and softball, I can count on one hand the number of games or performances I missed. I traveled to and around five states to watch them compete and perform and spent an undetermined amount of time on the road and in hotel rooms. I feel I should get an award. However, in those countless hours of support, there were times I conducted myself in ways that were less than stellar. In my defense, I did see some other parents who were worse. At one JV football game where my daughter was cheering, there was one parent from the opposing team who was running down the field screaming at the referee. She was so loud that all the parents on our side of the field could hear her. All I could think was, “She must have a lot of money on this game.” While I was not that bad, there was one time at a middle school basketball game

when I was ‘cheering’ for the girls and yelling what I thought were encouraging statements like, “Help her out,” “Defense,” and at one point, “Put your hands up!” I wasn’t intentionally yelling at the players, but it definitely came out that way. The girl kind of stopped and looked at me probably thinking, “Should I listen to this crazy woman!?” It occurred to me that in my quest to be supportive, I was actually crossing the line and being obnoxious. Yikes. I would like to think that I was being the kind of parent I hope my kids will be some day, but do I really want them copying everything they see me do? Probably not. We as parents need to keep in mind that our behavior has the potential of not only embarrassing our kids but, worse, being replicated at some time. From a referee: Forty years later, I can replay the scene with remarkable clarity. I was 15, and umpiring a 12-year-olds’ baseball game­—my first time behind the plate. I was a catcher, so I thought I knew it all about calling balls and strikes. Throughout the entire game, a grandmotherly woman was strongly (!) questioning almost every call I made. I heard every word. And I was getting mad, but didn’t say anything. Afterward she followed me to my dad’s car, chewing my rear the whole way.

I spun around and delivered a line that would have made a sailor blush. Not one of my better moments in life, but that experience didn’t stop me from wanting to umpire and officiate. I also coached my children extensively and have loved helping with youth sports. I remember other times as an adult when I was refereeing youth basketball games. Yep, I missed a few calls and blew the whistle when I should have let them play. As an official, I try not to listen to the fans, but I can’t turn it off. I know when I’ve blown a call. I’ve been yelled at by grandmas, moms, dads and kids. But contrary to coach, player, or fan opinion, I didn’t favor one team or player over another. I went out of my way to be impartial. When I umpired that baseball game 40 years ago, I made $5 and got a Coke; when I refereed the basketball game four decades later I made $10. Why do I do it? Why should I be verbally abused by parents, coaches, grandparents, and even the players? Why should I care what they say? Well, I’m human and words can hurt. I always want to get better­­—if I didn’t, I sure wouldn’t step between the lines for some free abuse. Kids need support, and they need to learn character lessons. Yeah, I heard you yell at me from the stands. Just remember, when I hear what you’re saying, so do your kids. ■

You can submit your story at: B3Tcoalition@gmail.com For many of us the kitchen table represents the typical family experience. We have laughed while having family game night. We have cried over our children’s choices. We have blown out the candles on many cakes. We have argued our way out of doing the dishes. We have struggled through those “three more bites.” We have learned hard lessons and celebrated many deserved successes. One thing is for sure though – if our kitchen tables could talk, there would be plenty of stories! So often it is in relating to others’ stories that we realize there isn’t always one answer, or even a right answer. Parenting is hard work! If you have a story of lessons learned, we invite you to share it with our readers. Sometimes, knowing we aren’t the only ones struggling to find the answer is all the help we need.

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staying

organ

And making ‘busy’ work for your family

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nized By carolynn bright

To use the term “herding cats” to describe the chaos that back-to-school brings for families with multiple active, engaged children may be cliché, but it’s pretty accurate at times, according to Molly Severtson of Helena, Montana. olly, and her husband, Eric, are the proud parents of a 14-year-old daughter and 13-year-old twin daughters. Molly is employed full time in donor relations for a nonprofit, and Eric works full time in the information technology industry. “Right now we have three teenagers and our lives are intense with ‘teenage’ things,” Molly said, adding that she knows all too well that her girls will be grown up and living their own lives all too soon. “We try to mitigate the frustrations and enjoy the good times.” In addition to attending middle school, the Severtson girls partake in activities including violin lessons, Youth Orchestra, Fiddle Club, swimming, Clarinet Choir, dance lessons, student council, basketball, volleyball, soccer, and babysitting at their church. How do they keep all of those activities straight? “We use Google calendar,” Molly said, adding that each family member has a designated color on the calendar. “It’s the only way we can do it, and we still miss things once in a while.” Having a centralized calendar that all members of the family can access appears to be crucial to success when it comes to keeping a myriad of appointments and activities in order. This merged family schedule can be as simple as a dry erase calendar posted on the refrigerator, to one of numerous smart phone apps — free or paid — that are available to help. In addition to Google Calendar, the Cozi Family Organizer shows up on numerous continued on page 9

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continued from page 7

Parents shouldn’t be afraid to ask their children to pitch in to help the family accomplish everything it needs to do.

parent-oriented blogs as being an effective organizing tool, along with Skedj. At this point, Molly and Eric make sure the calendar is up to date and that their girls get to where they need to go. However, Molly says she will soon share the calendar with her children and expect them to take a more active role in the coordination of activities. “Our eldest will be driving soon, too, which should help,” she said. How do the Severtsons get their kids to and fro? Molly and Eric don’t have any family members living in their community, so until they hand the car keys over to one of their children, some finely orchestrated arrangements need to be made. In some cases, carpools are the answer. “We do set up a few carpools, but sometimes they don’t help much because we often combine trips, picking up multiple kids at a time, so they don’t always save us that much driving,” Molly said. In an effort to create a smoother flow for members of the household, the Severtsons have coordinated their work schedules to allow one parent to be home to handle “getting to school” activities, and the other to be finished with work to manage “after school” efforts. “We’re lucky to both have employers who understand the value of family time and the obligations we’re under,” Molly said. “We both work hard at our jobs and are able to flex our time so that we can take great care of our kids, too.” Molly said the ability for parents to work as a team when schedules get hectic is important as well. For example, Molly stays home in the evening to make dinner, ensure the girls are ready for their activities, do the dishes, and perform other necessary tasks. Eric handles all of the driving. “We had both been trying to drive and/or cook every evening, and that was too chaotic for me,” she said. “I’m happier when I’m focused.” How do they get it all done? Molly says parents shouldn’t be afraid to ask their children to pitch in to help the family accomplish everything it needs to do. The Severtsons rely upon their daughters to make their own lunches and organize their school books and projects for the

following day. Completing their homework to the best of their ability falls within the category of organizing themselves for the next day, as well. “Our kids are really responsible and we don’t have to oversee (homework) very much,” Molly said. “We’ve taught them a few organization and prioritization techniques, but they’ve figured it out on their own, mostly, and they do a great job.” It’s well known in the Severtson household that school always comes first. However, Molly added, these types of conflicts between activities provide an opportunity to talk about commitment and priorities. “We try to impress upon our kids the importance of following through when they’ve made a commitment to a team or activity,” she said. “It’s not always an easy balance.” How do they balance family time with other activities? While many families schedule “family time” into their calendars, the Severtsons are a little less regimented about that—they find their schedules naturally provide for family opportunities. Whether family time entails camping, going out to eat, traveling to visit family, Molly says they make the most of it. In addition, Molly and Eric encourage their children to support each other in their activities. “We spend that time together, driving to other towns to perform or compete and to cheer each other on,” she said. What happens when it doesn’t all work out? Of course, the Severtsons acknowledge that managing multiple schedules doesn’t always come together perfectly. Communication is key in those instances. Recently, Molly had to go out of town for work; one child had a soccer tournament out of town; and another had a dance recital at home. They made arrangements for another family to take over the soccer excursion while Eric stayed local for the recital. “We are almost always both able to attend our kids’ events, games, performances,” Molly said. “However, if only one of us (or occasionally, neither of us) can be at an event, the kids understand that our professional work is important too. That’s how we pay for the activities.”

Take a break now and then As busy as Molly and Eric get with nurturing their children’s passion for school and activities, the two of them always make time for themselves as a couple and as individuals. That may mean going for a bike ride, taking a walk, or going on a date night. “We recognize the importance of making sure we stay connected as a couple, as well, so that when the kids leave, our relationship is still strong,” Molly said. “We’ll be sad when they leave, but we’re also looking forward to some freedom to do things together that we’ve always dreamed of.” Molly advises parents not to get wrapped up in what other families are doing. Every family needs to find its own comfort level. “Ever since our kids were babies, we’ve tried not to be too kid-centered, or too parentcentered, but to be family-centered,” she said. “It’s only good if it works well for all five of us.” Stay on top of things Even if your family doesn’t go in as many directions as this one, staying organized will help reduce the stress and chaos of getting ready for back to school. Since iPhones and Androids are pretty common these days, many families use the automatic syncing system to update family calendars. Smartphones take the work out of ensuring that all calendars are up-to-date. Once you’ve set up a shared family calendar, all phones and computers that are networked to the calendar will automatically refresh whenever you or your family members update the schedule. If you don’t have the benefit of every family member having a phone, a calendar on the refrigerator with a dry erase marker can do the trick as well. To reduce the chances of throwing a wrench in the schedule, touch base with each child every night to see if anything new has come up that you need to be aware of, such as treats for practice or an upcoming project that is due. To keep your child’s classroom or teams organized, set up a Facebook page. Practices or assignments can be added and checked at a moment’s notice. It makes communication so much easier with all parties involved. A little bit of organizing at the beginning of the year can make for a smoother transition from back to school throughout the year. ■ YC MAGAZINE

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Check out who’s standing out in our community. IS THERE SOMEONE YOU’D LIKE TO NOMINATE? Please email B3Tcoalition@gmail.com and tell us why this individual has stood out in your crowd.

Nathan Pitcher

FACES IN THE CROWD

bensalem high school, 9th grade

A freshman at Bensalem High School, Nathan hopes to be involved in the planning and execution of activities for his class of 2019. Additionally, he will try out for baseball. As a member of the youth group at Bensalem UM church, he participates in many activities. He has served meals to the homeless and participated in other outreach activities. He most recently joined B3T and has attended all meetings, hoping to participate in activities designed to promote a positive Bensalem image. When he isn’t at school or working at Sofiabella, he loves to go fishing, riding, and boating, and of course he always makes time for his video games.

Alleh Naqvi

Bensalem High school, 11th grade

This is Alleh’s third year as a member of #B3TKIDS and she is also involved with Kick Butts Generation, Fashion Club and Reading Olympics at school. Being involved with B3T has offered her many experiences. Last year, Alleh was one of three students chosen to be on a panel on underage drinking and drug use at a Town Hall meeting. Her hobbies are reading, writing stories and poetry, watching Teen Wolf and shopping. Alleh plans to major in Liberal Arts in college. Her favorite season is fall, favorite color is black and favorite activity is reading. An interesting and fun fact? Alleh speaks three languages!

Fred Harran

B3T Co-Chairman

Fred has been in law enforcement for 27 years with the Bensalem Township Police Department. He has a Bachelors Degree in Political Science and a Masters Degree in Criminal Justice Administration. He is currently the Director of Public Safety for Bensalem Township. He is responsible for managing the police department and for the coordination of the Township’s Fire and Rescue departments. Director Harran serves on a variety of county boards including chairing the Bucks County Juvenile Crime Enforcement Coalition and Chairman of the County Emergency Response Team Board. Fred lectures nationally on a variety of issues including current drug trends, youth violence, gang awareness, school-based prevention programs, domestic violence, internet issues, grant writing, and funding sources.

Yolanda Robinson

B3T’s Youth Committee Chair

Yolanda has been a Special Education teacher in the Bensalem School District for over 30 years. Ms. Robinson was born in San Antonio, Texas. Her father was in the US Air Force and the family, including her three older brothers and a sister, lived in North Dakota, South Dakota, Massachusetts, Kansas, Louisiana, and New York before moving back to the Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia where she attended Cecilian Academy High School. Yolanda received her Bachelors and Masters degrees at Arcadia University. She’s involved with many activities at school, including Diversity Club, National Junior Honor Society, the Student Assistance Program, as well as PAL in the community. In her spare time, Yolanda enjoys crafting and attending jazz concerts.

Joseph DiGirolamo

Mayor of Bensalem

Born in 1937 to parents who were immigrants from Italy, the mayor grew up working on his family’s farm. At the age of 51, he retired from the business world to become involved in community work, volunteering wherever he was needed. He was elected mayor in January of 1994. The mayor feels that Bensalem is a wonderful place to live, and an incredible community recognized throughout the state. He believes that it is the work of teams that create success. Our mayor leads a private life when not working. He lives in Bensalem, surrounding himself with hundreds of homegrown flowers and vegetables, a koi pond and a greenhouse. He rises at 4:00 a.m. to work on his gardening before going to the office.

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40 developmental assets

40 Developmental Assets are essential qualities of life that help young people thrive, do well in school, and avoid risky behavior. We utilize the 40 Developmental Assets Framework to guide the work we do in promoting positive youth development. The 40 Assets model was developed by the Minneapolis-based Search Institute based on extensive research. Just as we are coached to diversify our financial assets so that all our eggs are not in one basket, the strength that the 40 Assets model can build in our youth comes through diversity. In a nutshell, the more of the 40 Assets youth possess, the more likely they are to exhibit positive behaviors and attitudes (such as good health and school success) and the less likely they are to exhibit risky behaviors (such as drug use and promiscuity). It’s that simple: if we want to empower and protect our children, building the 40 Assets in our youth is a great way to start. Look over the list of Assets on the following page and think about what Assets may be lacking in our community and what Assets you can help build in our young people. Do what you can do with the knowledge that even through helping build one asset in one child, you are increasing the chances that child will grow up safe and successful. Through our combined efforts, our community will continue to be a place where Great Kids Make Great Communities.

DIVERSITY…it makes the world go around!

Want to get involved in B3T’s Diversity Committee? b3tcoalition@gmail.com

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assets in action

40 DEVELOPMENTAL ASSETS

7 Support

1. Family support: Family life provides high levels of love and support. 2. Positive family communication: Young person and her or his parent(s) communicate positively, and young person is willing to seek advice and counsel from parent(s). 3. Other adult relationships: Young person receives support from three or more nonparent adults. 4. Caring neighborhood: Young person experiences caring neighbors. 5. Caring school climate: School provides a caring, encouraging environment. 6. Parent involvement in school: Parent(s) are actively involved in helping young person succeed in school.

Director of Public Safety Harran recognizes Building Bridges participants

Empowerment

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7. Community values youth: Young person perceives that adults in the community value youth. 8. Youth as resources: Young people are given useful roles in the community. 9. Service to others: Young person serves in the community one hour or more per week. 10. Safety: Young person feels safe at home, at school, and in the neighborhood.

Boundaries & Expectations Student Ambassadors at BHS Back to School Night Detective Nieves and B3T Youth teamed up for diversity

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11. Family boundaries: Family has clear rules and consequences and monitors the young person’s whereabouts. 12. School boundaries: School provides clear rules and consequences. 13. Neighborhood boundaries: Neighbors take responsibility for monitoring young people’s behavior. 14. Adult role models: Parent(s) and other adults model positive, responsible behavior. 15. Positive peer influence: Young person’s best friends model responsible behavior. 16. High expectations: Both parent(s) and teachers encourage the young person to do well.

Constructive Use of Time

Students participated in the B3T faith-based Unity Week

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17. Creative activities: Young person spends three or more hours per week in lessons or practice in music, theater, or other arts. 18. Youth programs: Young person spends three or more hours per week in sports, clubs, or organizations at school and/or in the community. 19. Religious community: Young person spends one or more hours per week in activities in a religious institution. 20. Time at home: Young person is out with friends “with nothing special to do” two or fewer nights per week.


If you or your child would like to submit a picture that represents one of the 40 Developmental Assets, please email the picture with information and the number of the asset the picture represents to: B3Tcoalition@gmail.com Not all pictures are guaranteed publication.

34 Commitment to Learning

21. Achievement motivation: Young person is motivated to do well in school. 22. School engagement: Young person is actively engaged in learning. 23. Homework: Young person reports doing at least one hour of homework every school day. 24. Bonding to school: Young person cares about her or his school. 25. Reading for pleasure: Young person reads for pleasure three or more hours per week.

The community came together for a celebration of culture

Positive Values

26. Caring: Young person places high value on helping other people. 27. Equality and social justice: Young person places high value on promoting equality and reducing hunger and poverty. 28. Integrity: Young person acts on convictions and stands up for her or his beliefs. 29. Honesty: Young person “tells the truth even when it is not easy.” 30. Responsibility: Young person accepts and takes personal responsibility. 31. Restraint: Young person believes it is important not to be sexually active or to use alcohol or other drugs.

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Shafer Middle School made a statement about resisting drugs

Social Competencies

32. Planning and decision making: Young person knows how to plan ahead and make choices. 33. Interpersonal competence: Young person has empathy, sensitivity, and friendship skills. 34. Cultural competence: Young person has knowledge of and comfort with people of different cultural/racial/ethnic backgrounds. 35. Resistance skills: Young person can resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations. 36. Peaceful conflict resolution: Young person seeks to resolve conflict nonviolently.

B3T Youth worked on creating environmental changes

35 40

Positive Identity

37. Personal power: Young person feels he or she has control over “things that happen to me.” 38. Self-esteem: Young person reports having a high self-esteem. 39. Sense of purpose: Young person reports that “my life has a purpose.” 40. Positive view of personal future: Young person is optimistic about her or his personal future.

B3TKIDS create a Wishing Tree with positive choice messages

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facts about

e-cigarettes By Jennifer Heronema, President & CEO, The Legacy Center for Community Success

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An electronic cigarette can contain as much nicotine as a regular cigarette, or more—amounts vary by cartridge.

The Survey Says According to the 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), the percentage of middle and high school students reporting current use of cigarettes (defined as smoking at least once in past 30 days) decreased from 15.8 percent to 9.2 percent between 2011 and 2014. During the same period, hookah use among high school students doubled and e-cigarette use increased even more dramatically. NYTS, a school-based, self-administered questionnaire given annually to middle and high school students in both public and private schools, was given to 22,000 students in 2014. The nationally representative survey is conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Key findings of the 2014 survey include:

for Tobacco Products, said that the study confirms the tobacco product landscape has changed dramatically: “Middle and high school kids are using novel products like e-cigarettes and hookahs in unprecedented numbers, and many are using more than one kind of tobacco product.” An electronic cigarette can contain as much nicotine as a regular cigarette, or more—amounts vary according by the cartridge. Some contain no nicotine and only have a liquid, so users can have the experience of smoking with no harmful effects. But, the FDA has said that consumers have no way of knowing if other potentially harmful chemicals are being inhaled during use. Nicotine is dangerous and highly addictive for kids of any age, whether it comes from an e-cigarette, hookah, cigarette or cigar. Because the brain is still developing, adolescence appears to be a particularly vulnerable time. Research has clearly demonstrated that exposure to nicotine at a young age increases the chance that kids will become addicted. In addition to nicotine exposure, tobacco use can be harmful due to the numerous other chemicals present in tobacco products that can cause disease. Today, FDA has regulatory authority over cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco. The agency is in the process of finalizing the rule that would extend its authority to regulate additional products that meet the legal definition of a tobacco product, such as e-cigarettes, cigars and hookahs. The FDA also is proposing a minimum age of 18 for buying tobacco. The public comment period ended in June, and it is uncertain when the final rule will be published.

» Current e-cigarette use among high school students increased from approximately 660,000 in 2013 to 2 million students in 2014.

What you can do: » Be clear with your kids that smoking of any kind is off limits.

» Among middle school students, current e-cigarette use more than tripled from 120,000 in 2013 to 450,000 students in 2014.

» Educate your kids that e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is a highly addictive substance, as well as a stimulant, and overall dangerous drug. They should know that cancer-causing chemicals are found in e-cigarette cartridges.

Middle, High School Students Find E-Cigarette Flavors Appealing E-cigarette sales in the United States could reach an estimated $3.2 billion this year, compared to just $416 million five years ago. This growth is driven in large part by the growing popularity of e-cigarettes among young people. E-cigarettes are cigarette-shaped devices containing a nicotine-based liquid that is vaporized and inhaled. Hookahs are water pipes that are made to smoke specially made tobacco. It’s not surprising. E-cigarette manufacturers continue to use marketing tactics perfected by Big Tobacco for promoting regular cigarettes to kids. Their tactics include glossy magazine ads, concert sponsorships and auto races, celebrity endorsements and sweet, colorful flavors like apple, mint, bubble gum, grape and blueberry.

» This is the first time since the survey started tracking e-cigarette use in 2011 that it surpassed current use of every other tobacco product, including cigarettes. » Hookah smoking roughly doubled for middle and high school students, while cigarette use declined among high school students and remained unchanged for middle school students. » Among high school students, hookah use increased from 770,000 in 2013 to approximately 1.3 million students in 2014. » Among middle school students, current hookah use increased from 120,000 in 2013 to 280,000 students in 2014. Why should you care? In a statement in the June 2015 FDA Consumer Update, Benjamin J. Apelberg, Ph.D., branch chief of epidemiology at FDA’s Center

» It can be difficult to know if your kid is using e-cigarettes, but e-cigarettes have been associated with dry cough, as well as mouth and throat irritation. So if these types of symptoms are persistent in your child, and have no other known cause, you might want to investigate if there has been e-cigarette use. » Look up e-cigarettes on Google Images so you are clear about what they look like, as well as the cartridges that go with them, and can identify them, if needed. Adolescence is a critical time for brain development. Nicotine exposure at a young age may cause lasting harm to brain development, promote addiction and lead to sustained tobacco use. The only way to prevent these problems is to avoid nicotine altogether. ■

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How to Avoid Raising

codependent kids By mark merrill

It may not seem like a big deal today, but shielding kids from consequences can have long-term consequences for parents. The following true story connects the dots on how we literally can’t afford to raise codependent kids or be enabling parents.

he quarter in which the Florida housing market crashed was also the quarter my friend’s brother Bill closed on a house he clearly couldn’t afford. He financed 110% of the purchase price, spent the extra cash on cosmetic upgrades, immediately put the house back on the market, and waited for his big payday. Bill’s salary wouldn’t nearly cover the mortgage, so his parents bailed him out. Within a year, the house tanked 40% of its value – long story short – Bill lost both the house and $50,000 of his parents’ money. Bill is 45 years old, and he’s gone through a lot of his parents’ savings over the past 25 years; but there’s little chance he’ll change until they’re as broke as he is. Why? Because they’ve been codependent since the enabling started in the first grade. It started small, such as Mom doing his chores so Bill wouldn’t get in trouble with Dad. Quickly, it moved to homework cover-ups and “science project by parent.” Then it graduated to Mom covering when he skipped school; Dad lying to the police when he wrecked a car he didn’t have permission to drive; and increasingly large financial defaults. By the time Mom and Dad let Bill move back home after failing college (no questions asked), he felt entitled to every bailout that came his way. The bailouts just kept getting bigger.

Naturally, we’re all concerned about keeping our kids safe and happy. But we raise our children to fly, not flop around the nest. One day, we’re going to have to let go and, when we do, it’s a good idea to make sure they’re equipped and ready. Or they’ll end up like Bill: pushing 50 years of age and still suffering from failure to thrive. Expect more of them We all tend to rise to the level of expectation. A two-year-old can learn to pick up toys. A three-year-old can help to set the table. A four-year-old can take dirty clothes to the laundry room and learn how to operate the machine. The more, and the earlier, we train children to contribute, the more self-reliance will become a part of their DNA. Allow (managed) natural consequences Typically, there is no better learning tool than to experience the consequence of behavior. A five-year-old refuses to clean up the toys in the middle of the floor? The toys visit the attic for a prescribed amount of time. A ten-year-old curses? Get a dictionary, then handwrite five acceptable words that mean the same thing, plus their complete definitions. Establish a direct line between behavior and a real world result.

Be consistent Mom and Dad need to be on the same page because learning thrives where children know what to expect. When children understand that what they do or do not do makes a consistent and measurable difference in the quality of their life, they will become more likely to accept responsibility for themselves and work to impact the outcome more favorably. Be clear Leave no doubt as to the outcome when encouraging children to accept responsibility. Then having made ourselves clear, we need to follow through. This is why it’s important not to threaten beyond our willingness to enforce. If we say, for example, “If you do that again, I will take away your phone for a month,” but then only take it away for one day, we have created a problem. Trust them Having made ourselves clear, we must demonstrate trust by getting out of the way. We can’t expect a child to grow if we treat them as if they are incapable of doing what we ask. When they succeed, we congratulate. If they fail, we follow through on consequences because we believe they could have done better. ■

© 2015, Mark Merrill. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.MarkMerrill.com

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The more, and the earlier, we train children to contribute, the more self-reliance will become a part of their DNA.

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BY THE

NUMBERS

Q. What should I do if a child discloses that he

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or she is being (or has been) sexually abused?

A.

Sexual abuse affects many families. It is estimated that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before age 18. Therefore if we have children in our lives, it’s possible that they may disclose their own experience of sexual abuse to us. It is important for adults to understand that disclosure can be a scary and difficult process for children. Some children who have been sexually abused may take weeks, months, or even years to fully reveal what was done to them. Many children never tell anyone about the abuse. In general:

» » »

Girls are more likely to disclose than boys. School-aged children tend to tell a caregiver. Adolescents are more likely to tell friends.

Very young children tend to accidentally reveal abuse, because they don’t have as much understanding of what occurred or the words to explain it. Children are often reluctant to tell about being sexually abused. Some reasons for this reluctance may include:

» » » » »

Fear that the abuser may hurt them or their families. Fear that they will not be believed or will be blamed and get in trouble. Worry that their parents will be upset or angry. Fear that disclosing will disrupt the family, especially if the perpetrator is a family member or friend. Fear that if they tell they will be taken away and separated from their family.

Your reaction to the disclosure will have a big effect on how a child deals with the trauma of sexual abuse. Children whose parents or caregivers are supportive heal more quickly from the abuse. To be supportive, it is important to:

» » »

Stay calm. Hearing that a child has been abused can bring up powerful emotions, but if you become upset, angry, or out of control, this will only make it more difficult for the child to disclose. Believe the child, and let the child know that he or she is not to blame for what happened. Praise the child for being brave and for telling about the sexual abuse. Protect the child by getting him or her away from the abuser (if you are able) and immediately reporting the abuse to local authorities. If you are not sure who to contact, call the ChildHelp® National Child Abuse Hotline at 1.800.4.A.CHILD (1.800.422.4453; www.childhelp.org/get_help) or, for immediate help, call 911.

Have a question?

email: B3Tcoalition@gmail.com We cannot guarantee all questions will be published; however, we will do our best to respond to all questions submitted.

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The number of work days (8 hours a day) it would take for the average person to read the Terms and Conditions they agree to in a year. www.funfactz.com/latest

100

Every second, Americans collectively eat 100 pounds of chocolate. www.strangefacts.com/facts3.html

57,285

The amount of fuel a Boeing 747 airliner holds, in gallons. www.strangefacts.com/facts1.html

30

The human heart creates enough pressure to squirt blood 30 feet in the air. woddstuffmagazine.com/50-really-weird-facts-about-your-body.html

5

The average number of pitches that a major league baseball lasts. uselessfacts.net/sport-facts/

2

The number of swimming pools you will fill with the amount of saliva you will produce during your lifetime. woddstuffmagazine.com/50-really-weird-facts-about-your-body.html


Pick up a Book by Michaela Sit Ever needed something to do? Well, I have an idea for you. Pick up a book With Peter Pan and Captain Hook. Or join Katniss Everdeen, In "The Most Dangerous Game" you've ever seen. And go look up "Romeo and Juliet", Cause that's a romance you'll never forget. I hope your mind isn't set, For I'm not done just yet. Travel back through time, In a treehouse with your partner in crime. And play with a cat, With a red and white hat. Or read about the soldiers who died To protect their country's freedom and pride. But don't forget when you put the book down, Never ever close it with a dissatisfying frown. If you do, pick up the book And take another look, For there are many ways to read a tale, So find yours before you bail.

Anyone Can Become Addicted. Anyone. Stop Prescription Drug Abuse Before It Starts.

Learn More. PAStop.org Commonwealth Prevention Alliance

Stop Opiate Abuse Campaign Sponsored by the Commonwealth Prevention Alliance through funding made available by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD)

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Teen Texting vs. Talking By mark merrill

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ave you ever tried to have a conversation with your child only to be quickly interrupted as they respond to a friend’s text? If so, you’re not alone. In the Merrill home, Susan and I have had more than a few conversations with our children where one of their friends butts in on our conversation with a text. It can be frustrating, can’t it? I’m sure there are many children who have experienced the same thing with their parents. To be fair, our kids have grown up with technology as a part of their everyday existence. It’s almost as if it’s part of their DNA. Yes, it is frustrating when they, or we, get too engrossed in phones and seem unattached and unaware of what’s around us, but we need to understand what’s behind it before we can do something about it. Before you assume the worst about your non-communicative child or grandchild, consider some of these reasons that may be behind their overuse of phones and other technology: Avoiding Awkward Situations and Conversations Children avoid awkwardness as much as they can. They often already feel awkward about themselves, their appearance, their place in the world. They may feel a sense of relief if they can avoid such feelings by being heads down on a chat or in a game. Generational Comfort in Digital Communication People find it so much easier to text than to talk, especially young men. They don’t see it automatically as an alternative to face-to-face communication, but simply one of many ways to communicate. ICYMI (In Case You Missed) ICYMI is an acronym for “In Case You Missed It.” It pervades social media and news media today. It’s used to trigger curiosity about news, marketing messages, and media announcements. But over time, the constant barrage of ICYMI messages creates a bit of anxiety in people, stirring a fear of being out of the loop on what everyone else is talking about and reacting to.

Set Values Discuss as a family what your values and priorities are and how they will that will impact your decisions, guidelines, and limitations. » Do this as a team. Let your family know that the guidelines you’re looking to create are to be developed and shared by everyone in the family, not just the kids. Talk with, not at, your kids and give them some say in the process. » Discuss how your family values working on relationships with family, friends, and people all around you face-to-face, not just through technology. » Develop a statement that expresses your family’s commitment to following your established guidelines in a certain way (e.g. respected, heard, and loved, etc.). Set Guidelines Decide the ways you’ll use and not use technology in your home. » Establish rules regarding the usage of social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other online activities. » Make specific times or areas of your house tech-free zones. Agree on whether or not to have phones in the bedroom, at the dinner table or other areas of the home. For example, phones are allowed at the dinner table during meals and Internet access is not allowed in the bedrooms. » Create a space for isolating smartphones and tablets, etc. Have a basket to hold electronics during tech-free times or when entering tech-free zones. For example, place one by the dining room table during mealtimes. No matter what procedures your family agrees on, remember to do so with patience and grace. ■

FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) In addition to viral “news” dominating the ICYMI trends in social media, Fear of Missing Out, or “FOMO”, creates a similar social anxiety in young people. Their tech is their connection to the outside world. If they fall behind in what’s going on with friends or in those social arenas, they begin to feel like they’re falling out of touch with people, causes and interests. Here are some important steps you can take to improve communication between you and your child or grandchild and get beyond texting to actual talking and relationship building. Set the Scene Sit down with your child and gently help them to understand why this issue is going to be addressed. » Review the reasons listed above, and ask your children which, if any, are true of them. Speak candidly, but kindly, about those struggles. » Be willing to recognize that you may struggle with some of the very same issues. » Discuss together what some of the long-term consequences might be for all of you: poor communication skills, shallow relationships, an inability to function in jobs or community, and fractured family relationships now and in the future.

© 2015, Mark Merrill. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.MarkMerrill.com

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BUILDING A BETTER BENSALEM TOGETHER

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college prep It’s for Freshmen and Sophomores, Too By Carolynn Bright

eniors, seniors, seniors! It seems like when people talk about college preparation, they immediately focus their attention on high school seniors. That makes sense, but freshmen and sophomores can be proactive, too. “Obviously there will always be plenty of work to be done in the junior and senior years in high school,” said Greg Kolwicz, outreach manager for nonprofit Student Assistance Foundation (SAF). “It only makes sense to check as many items off the list as early as possible.” Here are some tips to get students started on planning: Identify a goal Ninth and tenth grade may be too soon for most students to select a career, but it’s a good idea to figure out whether college, trade school, or another path will be part of their future. Many decisions over the next few years will be made based on this goal. Check the map It is hard to reach a goal if one isn’t heading in the right direction. Have your child check with the school counselor regularly to make sure he/ she is taking the right classes and will have all of the credits needed to graduate from high school and meet the requirements for acceptance into the postsecondary program of choice. Explore opportunities Freshman and sophomore years are good times to refine goals by exploring all options available. Use websites like The College

Board’s bigfuture.collegeboard.org to research interests, careers, postsecondary schools, scholarships, and more. This research will help to refine your student’s goals for the future. Help students get organized, manage their time, and learn to study These skills are going to serve them well throughout high school, college and into adulthood. Some suggestions include purchasing a daily planner to write down assignments, or spending time with a teacher or tutor who can help suggest effective study techniques. Have students challenge themselves High school is no time to coast. Encourage them to invest in themselves by taking rigorous core classes like Algebra II. Have them consider taking dual credit and advanced placement classes. Potentially, they could graduate from college sooner and save money on tuition to boot. Get them involved School isn’t all homework and tests! Encourage them to get involved in extra-curricular activities like yearbook, sports, band, or any other club. Not only do extra-curricular activities look good on college applications, they also allow teens to be a part of their high school community. Planning now for the future can make the transition from high school into adulthood smoother and less stressful. ■

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Paper Joy

By Kady Dennis When I went down the shore this past summer, my family and I spent a lot of time on the beach. Since we couldn't spend all the time in the water, we hung out on the beach. While I sat back in my beach chair I read, like I always do! Very rarely do people catch me without a book in my hand. Then, some guys around my age came up and saw me reading. With looks of absolute disgust on their faces they asked, "Why are you reading on the beach?" It wasn't the first time people had asked me this same question, so I them my usual answer. "Because I love reading. It's fun!� Then they gave the usual backlash response. "Ew! How do you like reading? I hate it!". The fact that this kind of conversation happens so frequently to me that I already knew what they were going to say before they even said it is sad to me. For me, reading is fun. It's not boring, an obligation or assignment. I do it because it is enjoyable to me. It's a movie that the author directs and I illustrate in my mind. No two people will ever picture the same thing in their head. When an author says the truck is red, you may see a fire truck red, while I see a maroon red. When they say a character has red hair, some see dyed red hair, while I see ginger red. As a story unfolds page by page, I almost feel a part of it. I become a bystander to what's happening in the plot. I'm there with the characters witnessing everything. I feel the blow to the face when my favorite character is punched in the jaw. I feel the love growing between the main boy and girl. As they fall in love with each other, I fall in love with them. Books can be an escape from the real world. They're a world of dragons, fairies, love, loss, fighting, mystery and adventure. I could read for hours on end getting lost in their world. I read when I'm bored. I read when I want to. I read to de-stress. I read because I love reading. I can't go into Barnes and Noble anymore without stopping to read at least one cover. Usually I end up leaving with a book or two. My friends are forced to drag me from the store just to keep me when wasting my life-savings in there. So when someone says they don't like reading, I feel bad for them and the joy they're missing out on from reading. "So many books, so little time." Frank Zappa

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Building a Better Bensalem Together 2400 Byberry Road Bensalem, PA 19020

Youth Connections - Bensalem - December 2015