A L S OPotpourri, Is it Incense, it Spice? Isor it is Incense, Potpourri, or is it Spice?
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» What is Sexting and Why is it Dangerous? » 15 Smart Ways to Spend Your Summer » Summer Break and Dual Households
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6 Social Media and Self Esteem 14 What is Sexting and Why is it Dangerous? 16 15 Smart Ways to Spend Your Summer 20 Summer Break and Dual Households 23 Is it Incense, Potpourri, or is it Spice? 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 BROUGHT TO YOU BY
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ON THE COVER
director from the
Aaron Fossedal is a junior at Helena High. After the recent suicides, he and his friend Rowan started the Facebook Page “Saving HHS.” Aaron is active in Grandstreet Theatre and works at the Painted Pot. He is the newest student representative on the Youth Connections Board of Directors. His input has been invaluable.
About Youth Connections Youth Connections is a coalition of over 1100 community members representing parents, educators, churches, youthserving 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. We support agencies and businesses who offer youth activities because we know kids who are involved in positive activities aren’t involved in negative ones. We support student mentoring relationships because research shows it helps kids stay in school and be successful. 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.
ow – another year has flown by and now it’s time for summer. That big break from school can be a fun time to explore new things, take vacations, and just be a kid. Unfortunately there’s that whole summer ‘brain drain’ issue parents need to worry about. This issue is packed with lots of good information to help make it the best summer ever! With additional down time for kids, coleen that can mean a lot of free time to spend smith on the internet and social media sites. Alana Listoe was gracious enough to do an article for us on social media and the effects on self-esteem. This can happen not just with kids, but with adults too. It can be stressful trying to live up to and compare ourselves to others, even more so if you’re a teenager. We all know it’s important to know what our kids are looking at and that gets more difficult when parents are working and kids are at home. The article on sexting has some good information on keeping kids safe. As always, it comes down to talking to them. As if we don’t have enough to worry about, summer is a time where we see an increase in experimenting with drugs and alcohol. A huge thank you to Kim Gardner with Intermountain for the article on spice. It’s such a dangerous drug, and it’s important to keep up on all trends that affect our youth. We know in prevention that kids who are involved in positive activities are not involved in negative ones, which is why encouraging teens to get a summer job is a good idea. The Q&A section has lots of great pointers. Last, but not least, summer can be a time where kids and parents have to navigate the challenges of dual families, sometimes in other towns or states. Kelly Kilham helped us by providing advice on how to make that go smoothly. Take time to enjoy your kids while they’re still home! Take a bike ride to get an ice cream cone. Enjoy summer – it goes by fast.
Can’t get enough great resources? Follow us: Twitter: @Youthconx Facebook (for parents): Youth Connections Facebook (for kids): Find Your Spot
Coleen Smith, YC Director Phone: (406) 324-1032 firstname.lastname@example.org
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RESIDENT CAMPS, SPORTS CAMPS, DAY CAMPS, SWIM LESSONS, & YOUTH SPORTS FOR MORE INFO: helenaymca.org or call 406.442.9622 youthconnectionscoalition.org
Keep Baby Safe in the Sun Infants 0-6 months:
Keep baby out of direct sunlight. Baby’s skin is too sensitive for sunscreen. Plan outdoor time before 10 AM & after 4 PM. Dress in wide-brimmed hat and clothes that cover arms and legs, even while in the water.
Babies 6-12 months:
Continue with the above practices. It’s now safe to use zinc oxide sunscreen (at least SPF 30). Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outside.
GREAT DINING H ICE CREAM H SHOPPING H ARCHITECTURE H EVENTS H ARTS H MUSIC H FAMILY FRIENDLY H CLOSE HIKING AND BIKING
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confessions from The kitchen table y daughter is learning fractions, reading Dork Diaries, and practicing handstands when my doctor enters my exam room, kicks the door shut and pronounces the word cancer. Non-Hodgkins double-hit B-cell lymphoma, stage IV. The doctor points at the CT scan image. This is tumor. This is tumor. Here… here… here… It’s as big as a trout, pushing the organs against my spine. All I can say is: “I have a nine year old.” This was my invitation into a world millions inhabit: living with young children and major illness at the same time. While I can’t recommend it, the experience can dropkick you into a deeply intimate, tender place you might not otherwise get to on your own. I tell the doctor, “Just tell me what I have to do. Don’t tell me anything else.” I don’t want a prognosis; I want a pathway. My husband and I decide to wait to tell our daughter until we know for sure what to say. It takes a few days to learn my treatment plan: I’ll be hospitalized for week-long chemo drips, lumbar injections, steroids, and various cocktails of medications to protect my organs while the chemo attacks the cancer. At dinner the night before I check into the hospital, we tell her I have cancer. “Will you die?” she asks me. All of her grandparents have died already. “I am going to try very, very hard not to,” I tell her.
My private, sensitive daughter is silent for a while, then asks us quietly, “Can I say the s-word?” So the three of us take a deep breath and yell the s-word as loud as we can, holding hands, shouting our grief and hope out across the darkening landscape. After that, we tell her everything. She and my husband move into my hospital room. He sleeps in the fold-out, she right in my hospital bed where she learns not to lie on the IV lines. She names the pole that holds my chemo bags “Bob.” She does math on my bedside table, and brushes her teeth in the ladies room. Every morning she waves goodbye to the nurses on her way to school as her dad walks her down the hall. Love becomes our landscape, laughter our coping method. My daughter rubs my bald head and starts calling me Baby Hedgehog. Her favorite nurse blows up hospital gloves into balloons for her to draw faces on. “I always know when you’ve checked in,” a nurse tells me. “You can hear laughter all the way down the hall.” Life becomes surprisingly normal. The chemo poisons away, but my family’s physical presence is my medicine. This is the first lesson cancer teaches us. Sofa, ER or hospital bed—as long as we are together we are home. While my body expels its tumor, we all join in the spirit of letting go. First go social obligations, work deadlines, my sense of
myself in the world. My hair; most foods. Then I lose my capacity to sing, take walks, and eat at the dinner table. Everything I thought I was—professional, creative person, caretaker—slips away. This becomes the second lesson of my illness: Letting go is not only possible, it really helps. Quibbles take too much time. Expectations—way too much effort. Fear— takes up too much space. During our second stay in the hospital I am next door to a teenager. One afternoon her room grows crowded and oddly quiet— hospital language for nothing good. A few hours later I hear a deep howling moan: the cry of a mother’s grief. “What was that?” my daughter asks. I tell her I think the girl next door has died. We are silent for a long time and then my girl asks me to call a friend for a playdate. My daughter is private, always has been. Should we worry about her? Press her to talk her feelings out? We decide not to; we know what she’s feeling. We often take our misfortunes personally: why me? But hardship touches every family. All around us there are people sick, scared, saying goodbye. And always we are surrounded by beauty, grace, reasons to laugh. I believe all healing requires laughter. Laugh together. It’s the only way to survive. My daughter seemed to know this at the age of nine: Accept what’s true, and be sure to get a lot of play time in. This is a lesson I will use for the rest of my life. ■
You can submit your story at: email@example.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.
steem By Alana Listoe
Like it or not, social media is here to stay, but be warned of the dangers. he variety of platforms - Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, Tumblr, Instagram, Vine, and Flickr - will inevitably change, but the ease of continual communication that they offer won’t. Adults and teenagers alike are entrenched in this technological age of nonstop social media interactions, and therefore it’s wise to navigate in a healthy manner. Social media has become a primary gateway to connect with friends or a daily ritual to be a digital voyeur. These interest interactions begin as harmless virtual experiences, but for some can be a fast-track to depleting self-worth and the way we perceive others – especially for young people searching for a sense of belonging. Experts say that social media gives us a false sense of belonging and fosters connections that are not built on real-life exchanges. The dangers are real. Social platforms are a playground for sexual predators, a canvas for those fluent in the disgusting language of bullying, and an easy escape for those looking to leave behind troubles of real life. Many young people have made online mistakes they regret or typed words they’d never speak to someone’s face, but are becoming increasingly savvy to the risks. “I have a hard time imagining life without social media,” says Aaron Fossedal, a junior in high school and creator of the Facebook page, “Saving HHS.” Fossedal, who is openly gay, said he created the awareness page after his school community experienced three suicides in a relatively short time. “Enough is enough,” he said. After he launched the “Saving HHS” Facebook page, “There were over 20 likes in an hour, over 1,000 the first day, and most of those likes were adults.” Today, at 2,400 likes and with the help of a friend, the page focuses on acceptance and tolerance of others, suicide prevention, and an online outlet for mental health topics. The bottom line is that people are using social media, some good and some bad. continued on page 9
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Fossedal has accounts on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest, but he deleted his personal Facebook account about a month ago because he recognized it was heavy to his spirit. “I feel a lot better without having a Facebook account,” he said. “It’s helped me back off that urge to seek approval there and I’m more confident within myself.” Fossedal acknowledges that social media is viewed as a place to get to know someone, but notes that it’s not a way to truly understand them. It’s unrealistic, in his opinion, for parents to tell their children not to use it. In reality, forbidding use may just propel young people into opening accounts without parental knowledge. Right Age Officially speaking, the minimum age to open an account on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Kik, and Snapchat is 13. For Vine, Tinder, and Yik Yak it’s 17. YouTube requires account holders to be 18, but a 13-year-old can sign up with a parent’s permission. Despite these clearly published age restrictions, there is a huge population of children using these platforms. Diana Graber, co-founder of CyberWise.org, wrote an article last fall for the Huffington Post citing a study by knowthenet.org.uk that found approximately 59% of children have already used a social network by the time they are 10. Facebook has the most users under the age of 13. Kids easily make up fake birthdays and use their parent’s iTunes account to download Instagram to their own devices. Navigating digital waters Emily Harris got a Facebook account her sophomore year in high school and now has accounts on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Snap Chat. She’s in her final year at Seattle University and expects to graduate in June 2015 with a degree in American Politics and Women’s Studies. Harris knows that social media is incredibly important for her future professional career either working on a campaign, a non-profit advocating for youth, political engagement, or public policy. “I have learned what is appropriate to share with the public and things I wouldn’t want a future employer (or a parent) to see,” she said. “It’s also taught me how very few things are totally private and to be very careful about how I present myself.” She admits that social media “absolutely” has negatively impacted her self-esteem. “Girls can get very catty over social media
and, since it’s such a public forum, everyone can see the harassment, which can be very humiliating and degrading,” said Harris. “It gets better when we grow up, but social media as a young girl is tough.” Harris says the best test of whether it’s appropriate to post is to ask ourselves if we would want our grandmother to see it. Another check is to consider how a future employer may interpret a photo or a post, especially if there is underage drinking involved or something sexual. “Just be conscious and smart,” she said. “Social media is an incredible tool for networking and staying in touch, but it can also be very dangerous.” Gage Gibson is in his first year of college at Pacific Lutheran University and competes on the varsity swim team. He’s been on Facebook since ninth grade and says all social media has impacted his life in some way, even if it’s learning new things. He said, “I’d say social media negatively impacted my self-esteem at a younger age. The way love, relationships, and fitness is portrayed has made me look at those areas of my life from the third person. I’ve overcome most of those impacts, though.” Gibson says individuals just starting their social media presence should not let anything viewed or read change their life, but rather provide an opportunity to have an opinion. “Focus on what you need to do for your own life, such as school and family, but do not beat yourself up over not having or being like what/who you read on social media, because it often portrays unnatural life expectations” he said. Francie Tupper, a high school freshman, offers a similar perspective, and says children under the age of 10 really can’t understand social media. She says posting selfies that young suggests beauty and potential is based on “likes” or complimentary comments. She feels social media can be useful because it broadens horizons by providing a window into a variety of lifestyles and perspectives of others. It’s been useful in her own life by providing an avenue to meet like-minded people her own age. “Without it, I never would have met other friends who play soccer but live in another town, or even be able to keep in touch with my family outside of the state,” she said. “It has also allowed me to become closer to my friends, tagging them in posts, reminiscing on an old inside joke. However, a lot of the other social media is just for entertainment.” While Tupper said she’s not had any drastic bad experiences or been targeted, she’s not proud of all her behaviors. “We were mean to
a completely harmless girl, whom we were all probably just jealous of,” she said. “I realized that she had found out and I noticed just how much I hurt her. I ruined a perfectly good relationship with an amazing person just because I wanted to feel better about myself. Looking back on that I would have never made that choice. I regret it every day. Although the other person and I have made up, it is not the same and never will be. I learned to be careful what I say, everywhere, not just on social media. I also learned that my worth is never as much as the worth of a beautiful relationship.” These students overwhelming agree that social media affects girls and guys differently. Maybe it’s the age-old double-standard. Maybe it’s that girls are generally more selfconscious. Or, maybe it’s all about perception and subjective to the individual. These students also agree that love of ourselves starts within. “Don’t listen to any negativity,” Tupper said. “If someone tells you you’re ugly, delete the comment and block them. Life is too short for you to dwell on the negativity in the world and what others think of you. What matters most is what you think of you. Your life does not depend on others. The only thing it depends on is you.” Parent involvement matters Having engaged and involved parents better arms children in all aspects of life. That’s a shared belief from local educators, child development specialists, and law enforcement. They all agree too that it’s important to be mindful of quantity of screen time, but it’s equally, if not more important to know what kids are playing, who they are chatting with, and what they are seeing. Conversations between children and parents about the potential dangers, opportunity for bullying, and inappropriate content should be ongoing. If young people are old enough to use a computer, then they are also old enough to understand rules and consequences. There’s no reason for adults to be super sleuths if expectations are clear, talk is open and honest, and model desired outcomes. And, as with all parenting; sometimes techniques and approaches need adjusting for optimal results. For young people, being online feels like real life. While, there are indeed events and stories about real people shared there, it’s far from real life. Let’s treat social media as the complex communication platform it is, while recognizing that our actions impact others in all realms of life. ■
Alana Listoe is a freelance writer living in Helena with her family, is an advocate for children, and engages in a variety of social media platforms.
Check out who’s standing out in our community. IS THERE SOMEONE YOU’D LIKE TO NOMINATE? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us why this individual has stood out in your crowd.
FACES IN THE CROWD
Broadwater Elementary School, 3rd grade
Rowan exhibits our universals every day by always being respectful, responsible, safe, and a learner. Rowan had a very special birthday party this year. Instead of presents, she asked her friends to bring food to her party. She and her friends went to the YWCA and they donated the food to families staying at the YWCA. Rowan thought it would be a nice thing to do because the people there do not have their own homes. She said, “It made me feel happy to know I was helping.” Rowan is the daughter of Buck and Jeri Lynn Rea.
HELENA MIDDLE SCHOOl, 7th grade
Aase is a prime example of maturity. She is one of the most respectful and responsible students in class, always participates with enthusiasm, is kind to her peers and is never one to “show off,” even though she easily stands out! She is patient with her peers and is always willing to offer assistance. She balanced being the lead in a Grandstreet Theatre play, being the captain of her soccer team, as well as maintaining a 4.0 grade point average. She is a leader to her peers through her example and is a fantastic student to have in class.
Rowan Rankin Helena High school, 11th grade
After the most recent suicides at Helena High School, Rowan and her friend Aaron felt something needed to be done to change the stigma around mental health issues. So they started the Facebook page ‘Saving HHS.’ Each Wednesday they honor a different student for their Wednesday Warrior. Rowan loves to golf, is in the choir, and plays the ukelele. Her goal is to attend college and study psychology. We highlight Rowan for her commitment to helping her classmates and for bringing the issues teens face with mental issues into the light.Thanks, Rowan!
coach and advisor
Coach Straub has been instrumental in helping Helena High student athletes implement Bengal Pure Performance. He has volunteered many hours preparing reports for potential grants, fundraising to bring two former Navy SEALS to town to conduct training, and working with the athletes. He works with the students on a weekly basis and has organized elementary school visits for the athletes to mentor younger students. He spent part of his summer booking speakers and developing team building and leadership activities for the athlete’s summit. He is committed to helping kids of all ages live a healthier and substance-free life. Thanks for making Helena a better place for kids!
Sunrise Rotary Club & The Noon Rotary Club
We would like to thank both local Rotary Clubs for their commitment to Youth Connections and kids. Sunrise Rotary designated Youth Connections as the recipient of the proceeds from the monthly Trivia Night for March. The Noon Rotary Club made a donation to support YC’s programming for kids. Both clubs do fundraising to support programs such as Clothes for Kids, scholarships for high school and Carroll College students, as well as support for local non-profits who help kids. They also sponsor a cabin at Camp Child, which includes yearly cleaning and maintenance. Internationally, their focus is eradicating polio. Thanks, Rotarians, for your support of Youth Connections and local kids!
Home and community based intervention services for children with developmental delays or disabilities birth through age 18.
Supporting families to promote development in their young children with special needs. 1212 Helena Avenue • Helena, MT 59601 406-443-7370 • www.familyoutreach.org
RMDC, Inc. Head Start is enrolling for fall! Head Start is a quality preschool program serving income-qualified children ages 3-5 and their families at no cost.
Call 457-7308 for information about eligibility for children of all abilities and disabilities in Helena, East Helena, Townsend, Boulder and Whitehall.
40 developmental assets
FAMILY OUTREACH INC.
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.
“Strong families, successful children.” Visit www.rmdc.net for more info.
Turn the page to learn more! youthconnectionscoalition.org
assets in action
40 DEVELOPMENTAL ASSETS
Student rewarded by getting to be principal for the day
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.
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 Bengal Pure Performance learning leadership skills
Students building a house through Youth Build
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
Actors and actresses practicing at Grandstreet Theatre
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 email@example.com with a picture and the number of the asset the picture represents.
Not all pictures are guaranteed publication.
33 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.
Students wear purple to support Military Kids
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.
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.
MTAD fundraised to buy food for families over spring break
Student reads to furry friend at Broadwater Elementary
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.
Winners of the weld-off competition
what is sexting
And Why is it Dangerous? By Greg Hart, School Resource Officer
hat is ‘sexting’? Almost all of us have heard the term, especially in the last few years or so. Thanks to social media sites, emails, and text messaging, ‘sexting’ is one of the hottest topics in our school systems, especially for 6th through 12th grades. Would anyone have thought back when ‘bag phones’ became popular, that we would have this problem? Unfortunately, the rapid spreading of this crime is effecting too many of our youth. As a result, at least 20 states in the U.S. have adopted laws that address ‘sexting.’ ‘Sexting’ occurs when someone sends a request for pictures of the other person, specifically, pictures that show that individual either fully or partially nude. ‘Sexting’ also takes place when a person under the age of 18 takes a nude or partially nude picture of him or herself and sends it to someone else using some sort of electronic means. This ‘sharing’ can be done through text message, email, chat rooms on the internet, or social media. The scary part is this: if teens are participating in this dangerous act over the internet, they have no way of knowing who is actually receiving their picture. In our current world of smart phones, sexting has become as easy as snapping a picture and texting it out – an action that takes two minutes, tops. New
research shows that about 20 to 30% of teens have sent and/ or received a sext. In a study published in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch found teens who sext may be more likely to engage in sexual behaviors. They found that over 75% of teens who were propositioned to sext admitted to having had sexual intercourse. And 68% of girls were asked to send a sext compared to 42% of boys. One part of the problem with sexting is that most of the individuals sending and receiving the pictures or ‘pics’ are not yet 18 years old. The peak age for engaging in sexting is between 16 and 17 years of age. The laws are very specific when it comes to these violations. It is illegal to make a request of someone less than 18 years old to take and/or send out a nude photo. There are specific statutes in each state that cover child pornography. Under these statutes, Child Pornography is a felony which is punishable by several years in prison and fines ranging from $1,000 to $100,000, or more, depending on the state. In addition, offenders could be required to register as a sex offender for as long as the remainder of their lives. Some states have options for law enforcement when it comes to violations of sexting laws. One of the options is called a Formal
Station Adjustment (FSA). FSA is used in lieu of the offender going to court and having a permanent record. There are assorted consequences that can be put in place for the minor to complete. Possible consequences of the FSA or adjudication include, but are not limited to:
» Ordered to obtain counseling or other supportive services to address the acts that led to the need for supervision; or
» Ordered to perform community service; or
» Ordered to have no
further contact with the other individual(s) involved; or
» A period of curfew and/or home confinement.
If the option of a FSA is offered and accepted, once the minor successfully completes the program, he or she would not have a criminal record since formal charges would not be filed through the State’s or District Attorney. The first part of stopping this epidemic of sexting is to know what the problem is. We must now take the time to stop these actions. In many schools, education is provided by a School Resource Officer, social workers, or other faculty. On a more personal level, parents should sit down with their children and have a
conversation about why it is wrong to request or send nude or partially nude images. Be open and honest with them as you would with any other parental advice-giving conversation. A two-way dialog usually opens the door for a productive conversation. Explain to your youth what it means to be arrested, have a criminal record, and what it means to be a registered sex offender. Explain to them the legal consequences, home consequences, and social consequences and let them know you are there for them if they have questions. Remember, if one picture is sent to one person, then that person shares it with three friends, those three share with five of their friends…before the end of the hour a majority of students in the school have seen that picture. With a quick click of a button a picture can be distributed to many people instantaneously—and once it’s out there, there’s no going back. What would that do to a teen knowing that many other classmates have seen nude photographs of them? The devastation a young girl or boy could feel may have a life-long impact. Taking a moment to discuss these consequences and realities with your children can have nothing but a positive outcome for everyone. It’s never too late to have that conversation with your child and always worth it! ■
New research shows that about
20-30% of teens have sent and/or received a sext
15 By MELODY TAYLOR
Smart Ways to Spend Your
With summer approaching, many parents worry about how to keep their children’s brains occupied with something other than TV, video games and tablets. It’s a legitimate concern, as kids lose an average of two months of grade-level equivalency in math computation skills and 25 percent of their reading skills over the summer. Is it any wonder that teachers typically spend between four and six weeks re-teaching materials when kids return to school in the fall? As parents, we are not powerless in the face of summer “down time.” We can employ a variety of strategies to ensure that endless hours of TV and other passive activities do not send our children’s brains back to the Stone Age. Choose from these 15 things.
1. Enroll your child in a summer reading program. This could be through your local library or create your own with a series of rewards for meeting benchmarks. According to Scholastic, it only takes reading six books over the summer to keep a struggling reader from falling behind during the break. 2. Buy a stack of “brain game” books—like crossword puzzles, sudokus and other brain teasers. Keep them on the coffee table in front of the TV. 3. Create a Smart Mom’s Toy Box for rainy days. These don’t have to be expensive; even the simplest things, like a deck of playing cards for memory matching, can work. Choose toys that develop complex learning skills, like memory, logic & reasoning, processing speed, attention, and auditory and visual processing. Puzzles, games that build rhyming, math and memory skills, strategyfocused games (e.g., Battleship) and those that require planning (e.g., checkers, chess) can usually be found for under $15. You can download a free chart of Games for Skills at www.UnlockTheEinsteinInside.com. 4. Put together a Traveling Toys Kit for long car rides and trips. Many of the games in your Smart Mom’s Toy Box will also have travel versions (i.e., smaller and magnetic). You can also make an “I Spy” bingo game or treasure hunt, print out a list of states (in a U.S. map format to teach geography) to cross off license plates as you see them or buy paper games like Mad Libs to teach parts of speech. 5. Download some fun but educational apps and games, if your kids are set on using tablets. Here’s a list of free brain-building apps for tweens: http:// media.learningrx.com/free-brain-buildingapps-for-tweens/
6. Enroll kids in an educational summer camp. Summer camp isn’t just about campfires and swimming in the lake. Today’s versions range from music, sports, drama, and poetry camp to those focused on engineering, veterinary services, and mountaineering. Research a list of summer camps often found in local parenting magazines or the newspaper.
11. Take advantage of the extra time that kids won’t have homework in the evenings. Plant a garden, go on a bike ride, lie on the grass and see what shapes their imagination finds in the clouds.
7. Head to the museum. You may be surprised how interactive museums can be for kids. Many now incorporate hands-on activities like arts and crafts, dressing up in time-period clothing, making and/or playing musical instruments, and dinosaur digs.
13. For high schoolers, encourage them to find summer employment. Even working as a server at a café can teach them about money, time management, responsibility, and customer service.
8. Keep kids physically active. Physical exercise not only decreases obesity, which has been linked to brain-based disorders, but it also increases oxygen to the brain. In addition, physically active children often watch less TV (which has been linked to weakened cognitive skills). “Green time” (i.e., outdoor play with lots of grass and trees) specifically has been found to reduce the severity of ADHD symptoms. 9. Keep a regular sleep schedule. Both the quantity and quality of sleep is important for children’s and teens’ brains. In young children, sleep is used to strengthen the connections between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. During sleep our brains “clean house” and recharge to prepare us for the next day. 10. Feed them nutritious food. “You are what you eat” is as true for the brain as any other organ. Eat healthy foods and your brain stays healthy! Take advantage of fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmer’s market. Medical News Today states there are indications that high-fat diets are linked to childhood brain-based disorders such as ADHD and anxiety.
12. Visit your local nature center. What’s not to love about nature hikes, puppet shows, crafts, and other hands-on activities?
14. Look into summer learning programs. Unlike pre-college programs, which cater primarily to high school students, summer learning programs are available for elementary as well as middle school kids. The types of programs can vary greatly, but most offer a mix of academics, field trips, community service programs, and enrichment classes (e.g., drama, creative writing, financial literacy, tennis, digital music production, character development, etc.). Check with the YMCA or local museums for programs. 15. Encourage regular “free play” (unstructured play without technology or adult direction). In animal studies, play improved memory and stimulated the growth of the cerebral cortex. After rats experienced “rough-andtumble” play or were allowed to explore, they had an increased level of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which is essential for the grown and upkeep of brain cells. The phrase, “Don’t let summer make you dumber!” may sound silly, but the Summer Slide is no joke. Keep your kids’ brain skills strong so they’ll be as ready for school to start in the fall as YOU are! ■
Q. How can I help my teen get a
Summer jobs are a great way for teens to gain career and life experience, earn money, and enhance their college applications. Here are some tips for helping your teen successfully join the workforce. Start the process early. There will be many other teens and college students applying for the same jobs. Encourage your teen to take the lead in finding a job. Talk with them about options, but allow them to choose the places they apply. Encourage them to check bulletin boards, look for employment signs in stores, and search for ads in the newspaper or online. Once they pick a few jobs to apply for, help them fill out the applications. Resist the temptation to fill out and turn in the applications for them. Learning to properly fill out paper work and follow through turning it in is an important life skill you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want them to miss practicing. If your teen is unsure about the type of job he or she wants, needs help building a resume, or learning how to interview, take a trip to the local job service. There are people there to help with all sorts of job-related questions. No work experience yet? Help your teen find a volunteer opportunity in the field he/she is interested in. Future bosses will appreciate seeing a willingness to learn about the business, and teens can show that they already have the skills of a good employee such as being punctual, polite, and hardworking. The supervisor of their volunteer job could also serve as a good reference on future job applications. Check for volunteer opportunities at the Humane Society, churches, hospitals, the library, YMCA, Meals on Wheels, Senior Centers, food banks, or parks and recreation department. Have a teen who doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to do something traditional? Encourage them to create their own summer job. There are many things teens can do like mowing lawns, babysitting, selling art at a local farmers market or online, playing an instrument at weddings, or creating webpages for local small businesses. If your teens have an idea, encourage them to think through the process and help them create and market it. Whether working in a restaurant, mowing lawns, volunteering at the animal shelter or interning with a local business, your teen will benefit greatly both now and in the future from a summer job.
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The number of toilet-related injuries reported in the United States each year. www.funfactz.com
Average number of times a child laughs daily, compared with 15 times for adults. www.funfactz.com/top
The number of miles a typical lead pencil can draw a line. www.funfactz.com
The amount of money North American kids spend annually on chewing gum. www.uselessfacts.net
The number of glasses of milk a cow will give in her lifetime. www.uselessfacts.net
The number of pounds of skin an average human will shed in a lifetime. www.uselessfacts.net
Career Training Institute Youth Programs 347 North Last Chance Gulch Helena, MT
Montana’s Only Botanic Garden and Arboretum
Are you between 16 and 24 and need help finishing school, going to college or getting a job? CTI’s youth services include:
Assessment and basic skills testing
Theme Gardens + Gift Shop + Nursery Partners with Denver Botanic Gardens and Colorado State University “Plant Select” program
Goal setting Career exploration and planning
Fairy & Wizard Festival Sat., June 27
+ Activities for the kids and whole family. + Dress as your favorite fairy, gnome, elf or wizard. + Vendors, music, great food by Chili O’Brien’s, parades.
Paid work experience, including summer jobs Job search assistance
High Tea July 19 & August 9
Life skills and work readiness
Montana’s Only All American Selections Display Garden
Computer skills training Planning for college or apprenticeships Guidance and advocacy To qualify, individuals must meet income guidelines and have an additional challenge to employment or educational success. CTI serves Broadwater, Jefferson and Lewis & Clark counties.
Open Daily May through September 10 am-6 pm Including Holidays 38 Tizer Lake Road, Jefferson City, MT 15 minutes south of Helena on I-15
Call 443-0800 for more information.
www.tizergardens.com (406) 933-8789 Check out our website for summer festivals & activities
h t t p : / / www. h e l e n a m t . g o v/ p a r k s . h t m l
Free Archery Shoot
Kay’s Kids Summer Youth Program Program Dates:
Monday – Friday 9 AM – 3 PM June 22 – August 14 No pre-registration required! Memorial Park ~ Barney Park Lincoln Park Mtn. View Park* Tue-Thurs.
Ages 9+. In partnership with Montana FWP at Montana WILD. 6-7pm ~ June 16 & 30, July 14 & 28, August 11 & 25. Bows provided by FWP, no outside equipment allowed, must wear close toed shoes, parents or guardians must stay with kids at all times. To register email: email@example.com
Session 1: June 22 - July 16 Session 2: July 20 - August 13 Monday – Thursday Register NOW!
Helena Skateboard Academy
Wednesday @ 5:50pm this summer! www.lastchancesplash.com Pool open June 22 – August 23
Kelly Killham, LCSW
summer break and dual households
Helping Kids Cope and Thrive By Kelly Killham, LCSW
arenting through divorce is difficult to say the least, but one of many main points reiterated tirelessly from experts is that children should maintain important, independent relationships with each parent. This is true whether mom and dad are remarried or single because it fosters good judgment, character, and values. While being separated for the summer may be difficult for child and parent, it is definitely in the best interest of the child to support such a relationship with their other parent. It is not easy to be away from our children for special holidays or over school vacations, but there are ways to make those times more manageable and less stressful for everyone. While being separated for the summer may be difficult for the child and parent who live together during the school year, it is definitely in the best interest of everyone to support both parents’ relationship with their child. There are two components to be considered when preparing your child and yourself for an extended visit with their mother or father following a divorce or separation. First, think through the practicalities of the upcoming visit; and, second, be sensitive to the emotional issues of children and the other parent as they adjust to the change. On a practical level, be sure the other parent is aware of details vital to summer activities such as swimming skills, or hiking and biking levels. Communicate regarding your child’s favorite foods, habits, i.e. needing a nightlight or contacting friends that they will miss over the summer. While some things may seem like small details,
knowing and sharing aspects of your children’s day to day life will help support their adjustment so that they can enjoy the visit. This supportive communication helps foster that positive independent relationship with their other parent. Make sure that the communication plan is clear including whether the child will have access to a cell phone, Skype or other methods of communication, as well as set up a schedule. These connections will help your child or children to adjust to a new place by easing their anxiety and yours. Children who are allowed consistent and open communication with both of their parents adjust better to the change that divorce brings. Children frequently demonstrate or express in a multitude of imaginative ways that communication between mom and dad is key whether separated, single, divorced or even intact as a family. In one instance, a child specifically stated that being able to contact either mom or dad when needed has been vital in her being able to cope with emotions and be successful with the transition to and from each parent’s household. Make positive communication a priority whether or not you are planning for a visit to the child’s other parent. Positive communication supports the second component of a successful summer visit, taking care of your child’s emotions as well as your own. There is no question that divorce, separation and coping with two households is emotionally loaded for children and parents alike. However, helping your child to name and process through emotions such as fear, anxiety or worry prior to the trip is vital.
Being able to work through emotions with a trusted adult builds self-esteem and security in children. If children are older and will miss social activities and events with their friends, understanding their potential anger, sadness and frustration will help your child work through his or her difficulties. Helping your child through the emotion of changing households for the summer and helping your co-parenting partner to understand the emotion will support a positive summer vacation experience. It’s important to remember that you cannot help your children deal with their emotions when you are overwhelmed with your own, so find sources to support you in working through your difficulties around being separated from your child/ children for an extended period of time. One strategy for coping with separation from your children might be to make a list of tasks you’d like to accomplish. Another might be to reconnect with an old friend or try a new activity such as hiking, kayaking, photography, or artwork. In summary, when preparing for your child’s extended summer visit, take care of the details and take care of yourself. Help your child through the emotional difficulties and support her or his positive emotions. Foster a positive relationship with your child’s other parent and build a good working relationship with the other parent. Hopefully the results will be a positive, well-adjusted child with two great families. Lastly, be supportive of their excitement, and supportive of their having that positive independent relationship with their other parent because it will largely benefit your child in the long run. ■
Some good resources include: Mom’s House, Dad’s House: Making Two Homes for Your Child, Isolina Ricci, PhD; The CoParenting Toolkit: The Essential Supplement for Mom’s House, Dad’s House, Isolina Ricci, PhD; “Making the Most of Summer Visitation,” ruthpeters.com; A Parent’s Guide To Making Child-Focused Visitation Decisions, svnetwork.net/visitation-decisions.asp.
Beneficial Bugs for Yard & Garden! Saturday, June 20 1-8 p.m. at Tizer Gardens
Presentations include: Beneficial plants to attract pollinators Pollinators - a diverse crowd Native Bees of Montana Honeybees – a look inside a honebee hive Kids can build a bee house, shoebox gardening and Buzz-a-Bout. Also! Hands on Dutch Cooking Demonstration – then join us for the Dutch Oven Dinner! $10/person or $25/family; register by calling (406) 461-0428 or (406) 933-8789
Looking for a Group Outing?
See what really happens in a garden! We will develop a program just for your group – young or old - on bugs, birds, plants and lots more. Book today!
38 Tizer Lake Rd Jefferson City www.tizernatureconnection.org
Is It Incense, Potpourri,
or iS it spice? By Kimberly Gardner, LCSW, LAC
Spice is far more risky than other substances due to the slow effect on the receptors in the brain, but longer lasting effects.
ust as we are making progress with improving awareness of the hazards of drug and alcohol use, synthetic marijuana, known as Spice, tempts our kids with false advertising and enticing marketing displays. Spice is an easily acquired new drug made of shredded plant material that has been saturated with chemicals. It gives the user an experience similar to the effects of marijuana. Also known as K-2, Red Dawn, Black Mamba and Blaze, it is significantly more potent than marijuana and lasts longer in the system. Spice is easily purchased online and in specialty shops or tobacco stores. The shiny metallic packets frequently with cartoon characters makes it appealing to youth. It looks like potpourri and is labeled “Not for human consumption”, which exempts Spice from inspection by health oversight agencies.
Across the country the use of Spice has resulted in a rash of hospitalizations and some deaths. Spice users easily underestimate the hazards due to the perception that, because it’s easily obtained and difficult to test for, it is less dangerous than other drugs. In fact, Spice is far more risky than other substances due to the slow effect on the receptors in the brain, but longer lasting effects. Hospitals are reporting significant unintended overdose effects due to the user’s intense use and misunderstanding of the delayed absorption rate. Once the user has smoked, inhaled or consumed Spice they are at risk for extreme anxiety, vomiting, hallucinations, violence and aggression, very troubling and morose thoughts, high blood pressure, heart attacks, seizures, and paranoia. Our best approach is ongoing diligence
with our prevention efforts on all levels. The “Monitoring the Future” study, a survey conducted by the University of Michigan in 2011, reports that “at 11.4 percent, the annual prevalence of synthetic marijuana is 41 percent greater than Vicodin, four times greater than inhalants and cocaine, and eight times greater than meth. It is also more common than hallucinogens, LSD and OxyContin and twice as likely to be used as over-the-counter cough/cold medicine.” Parents and families are the most powerful prevention tools. It’s important to communicate with kids about the hazards of using any illicit or street drug, prescriptions and over-the-counter substances. It’s critical to keep communication open about the dangers of drug and alcohol use and to continue to develop and provide fun and meaningful alternatives for youth to engage in. ■
For more information visit: drugabuse.gov / timetotalk.org / drugfree.org youthconnectionscoalition.org
HELENA TEENS REPORT MISUSING/ABUSING RX DRUGS
SAVE THE DATE! RX DRUG FORUM: OCTOBER 6 6-8 P.M. ST PETER’S HOSPITAL
LEARN FROM EXPERTS ANDY DURAN & DR. MARILYN BENOIT,
Hear from a panel of local experts on:
It’s a national epidemic. Teens state Rx drugs are easy to get, use and hide. A few simple steps can help keep them safe: Lock up medications Dispose of them properly Talk to them about the dangers of using
For more information & resources visit:
The dangers of Rx drugs on the developing brain Signs of use/abuse How to keep your child safe Where to get help Refreshments and valuable take-aways with information provided CEU, MEU and POST Credits available Additional info contact Coleen at 324-1032
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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)
Youth Connections 1025 N Rodney Helena, MT 59601
a free event for the entire family also sponsored by:
Saturday, August 8 ST PETEâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S 8:30 a.m. â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Noon Centennial Park and Great Northern Town Center: One-mile fun run starts 9 a.m. Health & wellness fair Free T-shirt gets kids complimentary admission to the Great Northern Carousel, Exploration Works and the YMCA pool!
register by July 31 at stpetes.org