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DECEMBER 2013

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stress-free HOLIDAys » Needs Vs. Wants » Walking Meditation » Mindful Parenting


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december 2013

FEATURES

IN EVERY ISSUE

2 From the Director 5 The Kitchen Table 8 Faces in the Crowd 11 40 Developmental Assets 12 Assets in Action 18 Q&A and By the Numbers

6 Walking Meditation 10 Mindful Parenting 14 Talking About Bullying 20 Blue Light Has a Dark Side 22 What’s in Those Energy Drinks?

Youth Connections is a coalition of over 700 community members representing parents, educators, churches, youth-serving organizations, businesses, and more who want to make Helena a healthy and supportive place for kids and families. Youth Connections recognizes the need to reduce negative behaviors including substance use and violence while also working to increase positive opportunities and mental wellness for all our local kids. So how do we do that? We know there is no silver bullet to making communities great, and so we do LOTS of things that we know make communities better. For example, we helped place professionals in the schools to help students who may be suffering from substance abuse or mental health issues. We support agencies and businesses who offer youth activities by helping coordinate transportation and funds for kids to be involved in activities. We support student mentoring relationships. We also know that when kids know better, they do better, so we support classroom education in the areas of bullying prevention and substance use prevention. Youth Connections also understands we must support the adults in kids’ lives and therefore we provide training, education, networks, and collaborative opportunities for parents and professionals to connect with others who care about kids. Youth Connections is well known for its quarterly publication, YC Magazine, a resource for parents and the entire community. These are just some of the projects we’re working on to serve our mission of engaging our community to create environments where youth thrive and succeed. For a comprehensive list of activities, services, and ways you can get involved, please visit our website at www.youthconnectionscoalition.org.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

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COVER PHOTO BY Helena Photography

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TO ADVERTISE (406) 996-1361 TO CONTRIBUTE (406) 324-1032 YC MAGAZINE

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December 2013

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from the

director

ON THE COVER

e’ve got a great issue for you just in time for the holidays. I know I get so stressed in December trying to orchestrate the perfect holiday for my family. However, when I think about my favorite memories growing up they weren’t the “Martha Stewart” perfectly decorated house; coleen they were decorating cookies, smith caroling with family, friends, and the anticipation of our annual handmade pajamas on Christmas Eve. (Of course the Christmas where I got my Barbie camper can’t be minimized.)

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Haley was one of 32 Rossiter students who participated in the principal’s summer reading challenge. Each summer, Dr. Bangert challenges her students to read at least six books throughout the summer to keep their reading skills sharp. To support the challenge, Rossiter opens their library on Tuesday evenings for families to keep their book supply new and fresh during the summer months. Rossiter staff understands the importance of developing daily reading habits in elementary school, noting that if kids read 20 minutes per day, they are likely to score much higher on standardized testing compared to children who don’t make reading a daily habit. To reward kids who met the summer challenge, students got to spend a fun afternoon with the principal riding bikes and scooters! So instead of watching television, playing with her iPod or laptop, Haley has made a habit of getting her 20 minutes of reading in as part of her bedtime routine.

December 2013

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YC MAGAZINE

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When my girls were younger, I tried to give them the same experiences. We always baked for our elderly neighbor and took a tag off the giving tree at church. What I didn’t do was savor each of those precious moments that I got to spend with my kids creating memories with them. It doesn’t seem to matter how soon I start shopping or decorating, I’m always doing things up until Christmas Eve. This year I’m going to make a pact with myself to enjoy everything I do and to be mindful of the details of each event. Art Becker’s article will help me do just that. In reading the article on blue light, I’ve already started to heed John Underwood’s advice. I’m finding sleep much more sound and peaceful. What a great gift to give myself and it didn’t cost a thing! I will encourage my collegeaged daughters to do the same. Stay tuned on how that conversation goes. I hope you’ll enjoy this issue we assembled with you in mind. Please open each page and accept it as a small gift from us to you. Happy Holidays!

Coleen Smith, YC Director Phone: (406) 324-1032 Helena Middle School, Room 210


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Needs vs. wants At Christmas and in Life

The kitchen table 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.

You can submit your story at: ycmagazine@youthconnectionscoalition.org

DYK

DID YOU KNOW?

A hummingbird weighs less than a penny.

f your house is anything like ours, the Christmas “wish list” started back in September. Despite my best efforts to hold my kids off until after Halloween, I was fighting a losing battle with the Christmas catalogs and store displays inundating the conversation. The trouble with starting Santa’s list in the early fall is that by the time December hits, the wish list becomes unmanageable. One night at dinner I opened the discussion. “If you could pick your top three items, what would they be?” My daughter, who I’m sure will become an attorney with her ability to use verbal skills to persuade people, started talking about how everything on her list was a priority. She needed the lap top because, “All the kids say you need one in middle school.” She needed the new iPod docking station because hers was old and sounded funny. She needed, needed, needed. I sat in disbelief and realized that she wasn’t just trying to sell me on her “needs.” She truly believed they were necessities that warranted placement on the Christmas wish list with an expectation that Santa would deliver. Where did I miss the boat? If I am honest, I will admit my kids didn’t learn it from the catalogs or store displays. They learned it from me. There. I said it. I am the cause of my children’s materialism! How many times had they heard me rationalize and justify why I NEEDED a new car so I had a reliable car to drive? I NEEDED my new

camera so I could take quality pictures of my kids’ activities. I NEEDED an upgraded iPhone for all my traveling for work. I needed, needed, needed. Somewhere along the path, I realized that the word “need” evolved to mean something different. The threshold for which our family defines needs has risen to a bar unimaginable in many families. While some families need food and shelter, my 5th grader thinks she “needs” a computer and I think I “need” an iPhone. How did that happen? In thinking back, I realized as a child, if I used the word “need” there was a justification not present with the word “want.” Over time, I began to use the word more loosely to justify what I really wanted instead of what I needed. My parents strived to give me what I “needed.” When I told my parents I “needed” something, I put a different level of responsibility on my parents to deliver. As a parent I am now repeating the cycle. This Christmas I’m working hard on the idea of “need” versus “want.” I remind my kids it is okay to dream and wish for things, but saying they “need” it in hopes of pressuring me into getting it isn’t okay anymore. My gift to my kids this year is to teach them to be mindful of their needs versus wants by consciously sorting through their wish list not only for Christmas, but for life. I would like them to be intentional about what they “need” versus what they “want” in life in order for me as the parent to guide them successfully down that path. ■

The busiest shopping hour of the holiday season is between 3:00 pm and 4:00 pm on Christmas Eve.

Beethoven dipped his head in cold water before he composed.

Source: http://funny2.com/facts.htm

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Walking M

The holiday season is full of joy, love, anxiety, stress, terror and worry for most parents. It is clear that we all love our children dearly and it is equally clear that the biggest joys in life come from spending quality time with those we love. Why then do we let such a blissful time in life create such psychological strain? Learning to cope with the stresses of life is much easier than we make it out to be. Through simple practice we can begin to recognize that which we are grateful of rather than focusing on that which is out of our immediate control. Walking Meditation is a Buddhist practice used by monks worldwide, and I am going to explain this simple exercise so that you can practice mindfulness and appreciate your holiday season.

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By ART BECKER, LAC, One Recovery Counseling Services youthconnectionscoalition.org


Meditation Anxiety, Stress, and Worry

Happy Holidays! It’s time to start building anxiety and stress while needlessly worrying about situations that : will likely be some of your best memories when you look back on them. Why do we get so far ahead of ourselves, mentally, that we cannot enjoy the comforts of the holiday season? To answer this we must first decide what anxiety, stress, and worry mean to each of us. Getting (and affording) presents, uncle Johnny coming to dinner drunk, and finding something our children might actually like are probably at the top of many parents’ worry lists (sorry to all actual Johnny(s) for the insult). These are some of the factors in life which build our anxiety, stress, and worry, but they are not the definitions of such feelings in and of themselves. Anxiety, stress, and worry are, in this writer’s opinion, nothing more than us getting ahead of ourselves by predicting negative futures through our ever-reliable emotional crystal balls. If we only look at the negative possibilities in life (I used to do this and call myself a “realist”), it is going to be very hard to enjoy right now. We can effectively cope with our anxiety, stress, worry, and even terror, if we simply look at what is actually in our control…the right now. If you are rushing through this article because you are thinking about having to cook dinner after reading this, then you are not in the right now. Right now you are reading, and you obviously know how to read, so the right now cannot pose any real forms of anxiety, stress, or worry. It is true that dinner is in the near future, but right now you are just reading.

Walking Meditation

The word meditation might spark stereotypical images of sitting in a quiet room with your legs crossed while touching

your thumb to your middle finger. This is not the case. Meditation is simply reflecting upon your right now. You can meditate while you fold clothes, eat a meal, drive to work, or walk. Walking meditation is a very effective way to ground your racing thoughts which build your anxiety, stress, and worry. Simplicity is key in Walking Meditation so let me lay down a few ground rules to start off:

Rule One

Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Rule two

No talking! Rule three

Walk for at least five minutes. Okay now that we have laid out the rules of your walk, let’s get started. Experiencing our senses is the focus of walking meditation. What you see, hear, smell, and feel will be the focus of your walk. Each step you take is full of different senses. What does the ground feel like under your feet? What smells are present? What sounds are present? What details that you see do you like? This, in a nutshell, is walking meditation. Let me give an example. I walk out of my front door. The sidewalk under my feet is uneven and slippery, but my shoes are comfortable. The smell of winter is here, and it is much crisper than the summer air. I recognize the seasonal

smell of chimney smoke and pine trees. There are no birds chirping, but I can hear the ice breaking and snow packing under my feet. I see my breath as I exhale. There are lights glowing around the neighborhood, and there is snow shoveled to the sides of the sidewalk. I enjoy winter. I feel refreshed in the cool air, and I have great memories linked with snow, bundling up, pine trees, and walking. Right now is very enjoyable. This probably sounds like walking to you, but think about what you normally do when you go for a walk. Do you think about situations which have nothing to do with your walk? I know I do. I like to use the example of my four-year-old son sitting in the backseat of my car on the way over MacDonald Pass. As my thoughts race about getting to where I am going and getting back home at a certain time, my son sits in the back seat and takes in all the scenery. He asks questions about what he sees, hears, and smells, while I simply get way too ahead of myself and begin to cause anxiety, stress, and worry. My son is in the right now while I am in a self-made, imagined state of misery. If problems arise in your ability to focus on the right now while you are practicing walking meditation, try focusing on the sense you like the best. If you like the way it smells on your walk, focus your attention to the various smells. If the sound of the snow under your feet is relaxing, devote your attention to that. And if the sights of winter are enjoyable, find comfort in the view. By focusing your full attention on one sense at a time, you become invested in the most pleasurable experience you recognize right now. You can practice this with your entire family if you like, though I would suggest attempting it a few times alone first, and your appreciation of each other and your environment will grow greatly. ■

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FACES IN THE CROWD

Check out who’s standing out in our community. IS THERE SOMEONE YOU’D LIKE TO NOMINATE? Please email cosmith@helena.k12.mt.us and tell us why this individual has stood out in your crowd.

Lily Templeton

Central-Linc School, 4th grade

Lily Templeton may be quiet, but there is a lot to this creative, active, imaginative nine-year-old. She loves art and drawing, studies gymnastics, is learning guitar, and enjoys spending time with her iPad almost as much as her 11-year-old sister, Emma. Her friends admire her because she’s loyal, artsy, and “the best friend ever.” And one thing you may not know about Lily is that some of her best friends are chickens (she has seven in her back yard) and guinea pigs (two, in her bedroom).

Landon Highwood

C R Anderson Middle School, 7th grade

If you have ever met Landon Highwood, a 7th grader at CR Anderson, your life has been touched by an amazing young man. Landon is very artistic and uses his great imagination to create drawings and figures that one would normally see in books and movies. He is very active, enjoys reading and is always smiling. If you ever get the chance to meet Landon, I highly recommend the topic of dinosaurs or chocolate!

Ginger Bell

helena high school, 11th grade

Aloise “Ginger” Bell has been playing percussion for six years and is the drumset player for the HHS jazz band, Carroll College Jazz Combo, and Wilbur Rehmann’s Crosstown Jazz band. She is an avid piano player and is learning the clarinet. Ginger writes original and fandom-related stories, some of which are published on fanfiction.net. She attended the Teen Writers’ camp at YMCA Camp Child in June and is a member of the Lewis and Clark Library’s Teen Writers’ Group. Ginger is also a member of the International Thespian Society, is Junior Representative on the Thespian Board at HHS, and has maintained a 4.0 GPA through high school. She plans to be a book editor someday and dreams that she will become a nationally respected author.

Jan Buyske

Helena High School, General Secretary

Jan is currently in her seventh year at Helena High School. She is being highlighted as the workplace giving extraordinaire. Jan is consistently one of the top performers in the workplace giving campaign and this year had the highest percentage of participation in her building. Her co-workers shared this story about Jan: “Although Jan Buyske is a very caring, compassionate individual, knowing the names of people is not always her strong suit. Quite often, she refers to people as ‘who-be-do.’ This name can reflect the name of a student, administrator or co-worker. No one is immune from being lovingly referred to as ‘whobe-do.’” Thanks, Jan, for all you do for the students and for all your work on the charitable giving campaign!

Helena Photography

Kevin Hudson, owner

We called Kevin and asked him to donate his expertise to shoot the cover our magazine. He graciously agreed and voila! we have an amazing cover for our December issue. It wasn’t an easy ‘just come into the studio’ photo shoot. He spent an evening at a staff member’s house getting the perfect shot to portray the feel we wanted for this magazine. It is businesses and people like this in Helena that help make it such a great place to live and raise children. Thank you Kevin Hudson from Helena Photography for supporting our mission!

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mindful parenting

Parenting can be an overwhelming task at times. Conversely, research points to the quality of the parenting relationship over the quantity of time that is spent. “How can this be?” is a common thought when parents struggle with questions such as “How could I send my children to daycare?” or “Is it okay for the child’s mother to work?” By DR. BO SMELKO

often turn to examples of the real world to help explain these issues. On the other hand, research points to the quality of the parent/child relationship over the amount of time that is spent. With today’s technology, it is very easy to get mentally distracted while we drive. I can think of many times when I was traveling across country where I was conducting business while on the road. While talking on my Bluetooth headset, I find the hours go by quickly; however, I cannot remember where or what the details of the trip were. I made it fine. I was safe, and I arrived in a timely manner. Still, I could not recall moments of passing towns or the scenery along the way. Parenting is often very similar to this. We can spend time with our children; but not stopping to pay attention, we just go through daily activities, moving from one thing to another, and not stopping to be ‘in the moment’ with our children. Being mindful and present with your child is one of the key pieces to his or her emotional development and to the relationship built between you and them. Being present with the child allows the child to reflect on their feelings and confirm what

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her or she is experiencing. It also allows children to understand who you are and that you are there for them. These are precious moments; however, these mindful moments also build the social and emotional supports of the children, allowing them to take you with them as they go. Mindless parents often develop children who are anxious and are unsure of themselves, as opposed to self-confident and secure children. Although the most important times are between roughly the ages of zero and seven, one could argue that mindful parenting is a task to do throughout children’s lives. It also means that being with your child does not require large amounts of time, but instead paying attention to them in the time you have with them and making sure that they feel understood. This mindful trip with your children will allow you to see the glory and the beauty of their development along the way and allow them to respond through even and consistent behaviors in times of crisis. Therefore when going on that road trip, stay off of the Bluetooth, enjoy the scenery, and enjoy knowing that your child is gaining even more than the delight you experience. ■


Looking for a great activity for this school year or summertime? A great way to make friends, learn new and fun skills, and compete in a sport at the same time? If so the Helena Lions Swim Team may be just the thing for you. Open to anyone between the ages of 6 and 18 who can swim one length of the pool on their own.

Contact Head Coach Jake Byrne jbyrne.sae@gmail.com or (307) 254-0070 w w w. h l s t. o r g

d e v e lo p i n g

A B i b lic al Wor ldv iew Achieving

h i g h Ac ademic S tan dar ds + Serving the Helena community for over 30 years

40 developmental assets

MAKE A SPLASH!

40 Developmental Assets are essential qualities of life that help young people thrive, do well in school, and avoid risky behavior. Youth Connections utilizes 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 Helena will continue to be a place where Great Kids Make Great Communities.

+ Pre-school through 12th grade + Fully accredited through ACSI and NAAS

helena christian School 3384 canyon Ferry Rd / 442.5210 www.helenachristian.org

Turn the page to learn more! youthconnectionscoalition.org

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assets in action 1

40 DEVELOPMENTAL ASSETS

Families can get where they are going with team work.

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.

Empowerment Crosstown football rivals warm up the NAMI Walk crowd with Zumba.

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.

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Boundaries & Expectations High school club members direct walkers at the 2013 NAMI Walk.

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Author Emily Danforth brainstorms with Teen Writers at the local library.

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

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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 cosmith@helena.k12.mt.us with a picture and the number of the asset the picture represents.

Not all pictures are guaranteed publication.

24 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.

Elementary students and parents run at a fundraiser to earn funds for improving their playground equipment.

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.

26 Celebrating the joy of “right now” is a key part of healthy self-esteem.

Social Competencies

Helena Education Foundation’s annual Carnival Classic.

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.

38

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.

Students learn about food groups and healthy eating habits.

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Talking About

Bullying By KIM STORY, EdD, National Bully Prevention Website Article re-printed with permission from August 22, 2013 Promote Prevent newsletter.

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“Definitions matter because they help guide our conversations about bullying. Accurate definitions of bullying help engage all of us in effective efforts to stop bullying. Misuse and misconceptions of the definition weaken our conversations— they distract or mislead us in our prevention efforts.” — Kim Storey, EdD

Once dismissed as “just a part of growing up,” bullying is now a regular topic around our dinner tables, in our classrooms and communities, and on the evening news. As a researcher and educator in the field of bullying prevention for many years, I listen carefully to these conversations. Paying attention to our national dialogue is important because it is often a good indicator of our progress and our outlook. It can reveal if we are on track and making headway to solve the problem of bullying. Recently it has become clear that we need to do a better job of defining and properly using the word bullying. Sometimes this word is used when it shouldn’t be, sometimes it isn’t used when it should be, and sometimes it is avoided out of fear of its toxic implications.

Definitions Matter

“Definitions matter when it comes to talking about and reporting on bullying,

conflict and aggression,” explains Deborah Temkin, Bullying Prevention Manager at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, in a recent Huffington Post blog. Definitions determine how we implement our policies and our programs. So, what is the best definition of bullying? Although researchers debate and discuss this question, it is generally accepted that bullying is a form of emotional or physical abuse that is deliberate, repeated, and involves a power imbalance. All three elements must apply for an aggressive act to be considered bullying (see Eyes on Bullying for more on this definition). Let’s take a look at some examples. Sometimes when the word bullying is used, it’s not bullying Consider recent news coverage of the University of New Hampshire study linking sibling aggression (physical assault, property victimization, and psychological aggression) with mental health problems. Although bullying was not investigated in this study, the word bullying dominated the headlines in news media throughout the country (e.g., “Bullying by siblings just as damaging, research finds,” and “Sibling bullying is under-recognized, study finds”). The relationship between sibling aggression and bullying is an intriguing issue—but again, it was not addressed in this particular study. The media’s misuse of the word bullying as a synonym for aggression may lead parents and educators to deal with sibling aggression in inappropriate ways. Effective intervention for bullying is substantially different from effective intervention for the types of aggression that were investigated in this study. For example, an effective intervention for continued on pg. 17

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sibling or peer aggression might focus on conflict mediation, whereas mediation is not recommended for bullying. To move forward with understanding bullying among siblings, we would need to look carefully at what bullying and effective interventions look like within the family context. Proper treatment requires accurate diagnosis, so we must be precise and accurate in assessing bullying versus other forms of aggressive behavior. Sometimes it is bullying, even when the word isn’t used “This is not an anti-bullying foundation. This is a youth-empowerment foundation,” Lady Gaga announced during the launch of her Born This Way Foundation at Harvard University. It’s laudable that Lady Gaga wants to cast her initiative in positive terms, such as empowerment, bravery, and self-acceptance. However, to successfully stand up to bullying, youth also need to build specific skills to use in bullying situations, such as empathy and assertiveness. We’ve come too far to avoid using the word bullying when it’s appropriate. By directly educating youth about bullying, we ensure that they develop the skills they need to feel empowered and brave in the face of bullying.

“The word bullying can be regarded as too toxic to use at all ... if you accuse a child of bullying, you risk implying that he or she may be on a pathway to becoming a troublemaker or even a criminal. Likewise, adults may hesitate to identify kids who are victimized—since they hear that kids who are bullied grow up to feel excluded and depressed.” — Kim Storey, EdD

Sometimes the word bullying is avoided for fear of its implications The word bullying can be regarded as too toxic to use at all. A coach of a boys’ soccer team recently said to me, “The problem is, you can’t use the word bullying any more.” He explained that if you accuse a child of bullying, you risk implying that he or she may be on a pathway to becoming a troublemaker or even a criminal. Likewise, adults may hesitate to identify kids who are victimized— since they hear that kids who are bullied grow up to feel excluded and depressed. This fear of the word stems from limited understanding about bullying and its prevention. Although bullying is a serious problem, it can be effectively stopped. We need to understand that bullying is preventable and does not necessarily lead to devastating consequences. Proper understanding and use of the word bullying helps us to understand the nature of the problem and to intervene appropriately.

Moving Forward

What should we take away from these examples? It’s important to understand the definition of bullying. Adults and children who understand what bullying is and the different forms it takes are better able to recognize bullying when they see it or when they become involved in it—and to avoid using the word when the situation doesn’t call for it. It’s important to talk directly and openly about bullying. Bullying is no longer thought of as “just kids being kids” or a taboo subject. Children need to know that bullying hurts and can have devastating consequences when it’s allowed to continue and increase. They need to know that bullying is preventable and that we have the knowledge and strategies to stop it. They need to know that adults take bullying seriously and are prepared to help prevent and stop it. It’s important to use the word bullying appropriately. Accurate labeling of certain behaviors as bullying helps both adults and children talk meaningfully about bullying and its prevention. It also encourages children to ask for help in bullying situations. If you can’t see bullying when it happens, you won’t be able to do anything about it. We’ve come a long way in our discussions about bullying and our actions to prevent it—let’s not allow the word itself to lead us astray. ■

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BY THE

NUMBERS

Q. What is FAFSA, and what’s in it for me? A. The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and

is the key for students to receive federal aid, along with some state and institutional aid, to help pay for their postsecondary education. “My parents make too much money.” “My grades aren’t very good.” “It takes too long, and I don’t think I would qualify anyway.” These are just some of the reasons students give for not completing the FAFSA, according to Rhonda Safford, state-wide coordinator of College Goal Montana. “Each year these misconceptions result in many Montana students missing out on financial aid to help them pay for school,” she said. “The truth is, the FAFSA is for everyone who wants to pursue higher education. The only thing for certain is you won’t get any financial aid if you don’t apply!” College Goal Montana is an annual campaign to encourage FAFSA awareness and to help students and families complete the important form. 2014 will mark the ninth year that Student Assistance Foundation (SAF) has organized the effort for Montana. Beginning on January 1, 2014, Montana students and their families can begin completing the FAFSA for the 2014-15 Academic Year, and nonprofit SAF is available to help. Visit SmartAboutCollege.org to access videos explaining the FAFSA completion process step by step, beginning with getting a FAFSA PIN, through signing and submitting the application. In addition, FAFSA filers can watch the videos on SAF’s YouTube channel, SAFTube4U. Should students or families need one-on-one assistance, the SmartAboutCollege website provides email and phone options. Plus, students can get additional inspiration to complete the FAFSA by visiting our Facebook page (FAFSA-What’s in it for me?) and following us on Twitter at @getFAFSAhelp. SAF’s campus outreach managers also are available to assist with the process at no charge. SAF will be providing guidance to schools and communities who want to host their own FAFSA completion event, so students and parents should watch for information about those opportunities in their area. “About $150 billion in federal grants, loans and work-study funds are available each year, and that doesn’t include the state and institutional aid that is out there,” said Safford. “Financial aid professionals in Montana will tell you that the return on the investment of taking 30-45 minutes to complete the FAFSA is worth it.” Safford reminds students that many postsecondary institutions have priority deadlines for completing the FAFSA. At most Montana schools, that deadline is March 1, with the exception of The University of Montana which has a deadline of Feb. 15.

- Student Assistance Foundation

Have a question?

ycmagazine@youthconnectionscoalition.org 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 average number of hair follicles on a scalp. www.statisticbrain.com/hair-loss-statistics


ON HOW TO DRINK RESPONSIBLY www.dominostrategy.org

Sponsored by Lewis & Clark DUI Task Force youthconnectionscoalition.org

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blue light has a dark side

Sleep and Body Function disruption 20

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By JOHN UNDERWOOD, Life of an Athlete, Human Performance Project

Sometimes it’s hard to get kids in bed – especially teenagers. And once they’re in bed, it’s no guarantee that they’ll fall asleep in a short amount of time. In order to fall asleep, the human body produces melatonin, a hormone created in the pineal gland, deep in the brain. Melatonin allows the body to relax enough to sleep, allowing it to follow the natural daily rhythm. However, some external factors can interfere with the production of melatonin and make falling asleep naturally very difficult. One such factor is blue light found in cell phones, computers and televisions. Why is light such a key factor? Before electricity, light bulbs, and technology, the human body relied upon environmental light to determine when it was time to sleep and when it was time to wake up. Basically, when it was dark, we went to sleep ,and when it was light, we woke up. In today’s world there are alarm clocks, cell phones, and other devices that tell us when it is time to get out of bed, but the body has yet to adapt to these technological changes. Ever wonder why the sky is blue? Blue light is a part of the light spectrum that is especially visible during the day, making it a cue to the body to wake up. No matter how tired you are, your body may be limited in its production of melatonin if you are exposed to blue light, making it more difficult to fall asleep. It follows, then, that avoiding blue light before going to bed is a great way to allow your body to produce the natural levels of melatonin that it needs to fall asleep. In a sense, it over-stimulates the brain and prevents the pineal gland from releasing the sleep hormone. Other wavelengths of light do not cause this problem like red light, orange light, or yellow light. If you’ve ever been on a military ship, the lights at night in the halls are red. It allows you to see, but it doesn’t tell your body it’s time to get up. Though this sounds straightforward,

many of the technological gadgets that people use emit the blue light that reduces melatonin production. For example, the screens on computers and television sets can interfere with natural sleep habits because they emit the blue light that limits the melatonin produced in the brain. To help kids sleep peacefully, and fall asleep faster, have them avoid using computers and watching television before bed. It is best to stop using blue light devices one and a half hours prior to sleep. Watching these devices in total darkness is even worse. Leaving a light on in the room reduces some of the blue light thereby decreasing the negative impacts. Many experts say not to put a television in a child’s room. This would be why. Though watching a TV show or emailing or texting before falling asleep may be a habit, reading a book or having your child read to you will be more helpful for naturally restful sleep. This is especially important for teens, who tend to text and be on the computer until all odd hours of the night. If it’s absolutely necessary to use a computer at night, f.lux is a free downloadable program that can make the computer screen’s blue light levels filter to pink or yellow, depending upon the time of day. This will help ease bodies back into the natural rhythm even if teens need to study late or get an earlier than normal start. The health benefits of getting an ideal amount of sleep are numerous, but avoiding blue light can also bring about other health improvements, including the reduction of ADHD symptoms, stress, fatigue, the avoidance of depression, the prevention of Seasonal Affective Disorder, and even a reduced risk of cancer. Getting kids to receive enough sleep is a task that challenges many parents, but doing what you can to help growing bodies rest naturally can greatly improve the quality of the sleep they are able to get. By avoiding blue light in the evening and right before bed, bodies are able to produce the ideal amount of melatonin and allow kids to fall asleep in a natural way. Additionally, they will gain all of the benefits that a healthy sleep cycle provides. A well-rested child is one who is able to participate in learning in addition to being able to control their moods. ■


In addition to improved sleep, avoiding blue light can bring about the reduction of ADHD symptoms, stress, and fatigue, the avoidance of depression, the prevention of Seasonal Affective Disorder, and even the risk of cancer.


What’s in Those

Energy Dr

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rinks? By DR. JEFF ROUSH

Life is so stressful during the holidays – baking, decorating, extra events, shopping… it often feels like there are not enough hours in a day. Perhaps that is how our teens feel all year long – school, activities, maybe sports or music lessons, homework, possibly church, chores and a social life. It’s no wonder kids feel like they need to rely on energy drinks to keep up with everything. If they or their parents knew how harmful these energy drinks are to growing bodies, they might find a healthier alternative. While that initial boost of energy does seem to help, the down side is when it wears off; they are lower than where they first started.

Consuming too much caffeine can cause nervousness, irritability, insomnia, rapid heartbeat, and increased blood pressure – none of which are good for kids. Side effects also include nausea and diarrhea. Kids with medical conditions may be at even greater risk. Caffeine in high doses becomes toxic. There have even been reported deaths of teens from overdose. Because of its potential toxicity and because it’s a non-essential ingredient for health, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that adolescents get no more than 100 milligrams of caffeine a day. They recommend younger children shouldn’t drink caffeinated beverages on a regular basis. However, it’s not unusual for teens to drink up to three energy drinks a day. One can of energy drink (500 milliliter), like Monster or Nos, contains 160 milligrams of caffeine and 50 grams of sugar. Multiply that by three, and they’re consuming almost five times the recommended amount of

caffeine and more than three-fourths cup of sugar, which can lead to weight gain. Teens have started drinking energy drinks at a record pace. Sometimes it is to stay up to study, but a lot of times it just for the “high” they get from the caffeine. Over the past 30 years, caffeine consumption among teenagers has increased by 70 percent. In December 2010, the Journal of Pediatrics revealed that children ages eight through 12 were consuming an average of 109 milligrams of caffeine per day; in the 1980s that number was 38 milligrams. The American Association of Poison Control Centers adopted codes to start tracking energy drink overdoses and side effects nationwide; 677 cases occurred from October through December 2011; 331 were reported in the first six weeks of 2012. A 2010 study by Dr. William Warzak of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, found that three-fourths of kids between

the ages five and 12 take in caffeine daily, often in the form of soda. Children who consume caffeine have the same sleep impairments and next-day drowsiness as teenagers, which may lower their academic performance. And since caffeine is a stimulant, it is physically addictive. Do we really want our elementary kids addicted to caffeine? Parents need to be aware of caffeine withdrawal symptoms, which include headache, fatigue, decreased alertness, difficulty concentrating, decreased desire to socialize, flu-like symptoms, irritability, depressed mood, muscle pain or stiffness, and nausea and/or vomiting. Caffeine is a stimulant, like cocaine, nicotine, meth and amphetamines. It temporarily elevates mood, alertness and awareness. Most of us wouldn’t think that giving children illegal stimulants is a good idea, so why is caffeine okay? It’s not just energy drinks that are messing with our kids’ health. Researchers from Auburn University analyzed the caffeine content of 56 national-brand and 75 private-label store-brand sodas. Results of the study were published in the Journal of Food Science in August 2007. Caffeine content per can: > Diet Mountain Dew: 55 mg > Mountain Dew: 55 mg > Diet Coke: 46 mg > Diet Dr. Pepper: 44 mg > Dr. Pepper: 43 mg > Pepsi: 39 mg > Diet Pepsi: 37 mg > Coke: 34 mg Remember that the Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting caffeine from all sources to 100 mg a day. So if kids are drinking one soda and one energy drink, they’re over the recommended limit. And then there is the sugar issue. Recognizing that a can of soda has almost a fourth of a cup of sugar, puts the amount into perspective. Here are some items comparable in sugar content: > 12 oz. Soda: 10 tsp > 4 Oreos: 8 1/2 tsp > Bag of Skittles: 12 tsp or 1/4 cup > 2 Cherry Poptarts: 8 tsp > Cinnabon Cinnamon Roll: 14 tsp Parents serve as powerful role models in shaping this trend in kids. When children see their parents choosing high doses of caffeine and sugar drink solutions to help them through their afternoon slump, children may copy that same pattern to get themselves through school, practice, and homework. Help kids learn the importance of healthy eating and sleep to curb their energy slumps and help shape life-long habits. ■

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tXt UR hPD

TXT UR HPD allows you to report illegal or unsafe activity discreetly and immediately to your School Resource Officer directly Cory Bailey P.A.L./HMS: (406) 439-9640 loren Mardis Capital: (406) 949-3683 shawn lashway CR Anderson: (406) 949-3681 Bryan FisCher Helena High - (406) 949-3680

Walk and Bike Safely! Help your children get the physical activity they need while forming healthy habits to last a lifetime.

www.bikewalkhelena.org A message from the Lewis & Clark City-County Health Dept.

When to tXt UR hPD

» When you feel unsafe, in school or outside of school » When you think someone else is unsafe, in school or »

outside of school With confidentiality if you think a crime may take place

get connected. get answers. WHAT IS 2-1-1?

It is an easy-to-remember telephone number that connects people with important community services and volunteer opportunities.

WHAT DO I DO?

Dial 2-1-1 or visit wwwmontana211.org

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S n g i S g warnin at e b y a m o h w e of someon

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what you can do tO save a lIFe

> If you see the signs, ask the person, “are you suicidal?” > Offer hope, don’t leave them alone, and tell others the person to the nearest eR, call the police, take them to > take a health care professional or > Call the Montana Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

www.prc.mt.gov/suicideprevention


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• Step-by-step videos • Questions answered by FAFSA experts

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Text FAFSAHELP to 41411 Call 877-COLG4ME toll free Email FAFSAHELP@safmt.org @GetFAFSAHelp


Ycmag dec2013 issuu