Youth Connections Magazine

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early childhood learning Reading for fun coping with tragedy

MARCH 2013


parental guidance suggesteD


When is it time for a cell phone?

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Calming an Angry Child Early Childhood Learning

10 Reading for the 14 Fun of It Teens & Cell Phones 17 Helping Kids Cope 18 With Tragedy What's So Great About Reading?

2 From the Director 5 The Kitchen Table 6 Calming an Angry Child 9 Faces in the Crowd 11 40 Developmental Assets 12 Assets in Action 20 Q&A 20 By the Numbers 22 Media Literacy:

Parental Guidance Suggested

What Parents Need to Know

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 one 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




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| March 2013


from the



Derek Satre is the three-year-old son of Brian and local business owner and webmaster Deanna Satre. As a woman immersed in the world of internet and mobile technology, Deanna understands the importance of learning to use electronic devices and media at an early age. “Technology today is extremely intuitive, but it is only as intuitive as the person using it,” she explains. “People who have been around computers most of their life are able to think like a computer and navigate menus based on what makes sense, instead of memorizing processes.” At the same time, she also understands the importance of guiding her child through this technological world, as well as limiting the time spent in it. When Derek wants to play on “Mommy’s tabwet,” she is right there, not just watching him, but interacting with his play, helping navigate the device properly, squishing the ants, and counting the Angry Piggies. Deanna stresses her aversion to using kid-safe electronics like his Leapster as a “babysitter.” She does admit, however, that “sometimes it is really handy.” Derek is still young enough that his attention span will not allow him to spend hours at a time playing games, but when he is, Deanna is confident she will be ready for it.

here is amazing work coming from the staff and coalition partners at Youth Connections – more than most people know. I came from the Better Business Bureau Education Foundation, where part of my job was teaching teens about ethics, which I defined as doing the right coleen thing when no one is looking. That smith is the epitome of this coalition. While the entire community may not realize the work they are doing, that doesn’t mean the work of Youth Connections staff and coalition is any less important. In fact it’s probably even more important. In my first week on the job, I was told about a student who was doing great with his school work, but was failing tests. Thanks to the A-teams that are functioning in schools, they were able to determine his problem was health-related, and not due to cheating or lack of studying. How thankful those parents must have felt that the school district had those systems in place and looked at the whole child instead of just the symptoms. I was also told about a girl who was sitting on the floor in the foyer at school. A staff member walked by and had a gut feeling something wasn’t right. When she sat down to talk to the student, this counselor found out the student was writing a suicide note. Thankfully the building staff had been trained in the protocol and knew how to get this girl help and a community tragedy was avoided. Again, how relieved the parents must have been that the individual had the training to know what to do. Although Youth Connections isn't a direct service provider, it is the systems and processes we have put in place that make stories like these possible. Check out our website to see what other programs we provide… when no one is looking. ■

Contact Coleen Smith phone: (406) 324-1032 Front Street Learning Center





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March 2013





The kitchen table

By "Worms for Dinner"

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


ids don’t come with a “how to” manual. As parents, my husband and I have done our best to learn about how to raise healthy kids, often gaining bumps and bruises along the way. Unfortunately, the guidance given by one child expert often contradicts the advice of another. As parents, we search for nuggets from others’ experiences to lead us in our own journeys. For example, many child experts tell us that setting clear boundaries and expectations is important. “Once a decision has been made, you should stand behind it. If you don’t, children may learn that badgering, begging, and a good ol’ temper tantrum can influence you to change your mind!” So, heeding that advice at the kitchen table, my husband and I created a rule that we would only cook one meal for dinner and our kids could either choose to eat what was served or not, their choice. Our daughter complied with the rule, but week after week our son, frustrated with the meal options, left us exasperated. How could any child not like spaghetti? Around and around we went. On the nights we served spaghetti he chose only the salad and bread. In the name of setting clear rules and sticking to them, we were not going to budge on the dinner table rule at our house. He was not going to budge on his refusal to eat spaghetti. We were going to stand firm and not put ourselves in a place to be manipulated into giving him what he wanted. Then, about four months ago, we started to learn about children who have become overstimulated with touch, smells, tastes, and sounds. As we learned more, we asked our son one evening, “Is it the sauce or the noodles you don’t like?” His response was clear, “The noodles feel like worms in my throat and make me gag!” What we learned was no amount of clear rule setting about dinner was going to change his mind that he should put something in his mouth that made him feel like vomiting. The solution was simple; switching to macaroni noodles instead of spaghetti noodles changed his outlook on dinner time. We learned an important lesson around our dinner table. Setting expectations is important, but so is listening, truly listening, to what our child is trying to tell us. ■

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| March 2013


Calming an


angry Child

aising children in today's world, filled with financial burdens, constant interruptions from numerous forms of social media, and hectic extracurricular schedules can be very difficult. On top of all of this juggling comes the task of learning to be a parent who helps our children balance their overwhelming developmental, social, and academic changes, not to mention their changes in mood. When a child’s mood turns angry on a consistent basis, the challenges we face as parents get even more time-consuming and trying. Through applying some basic techniques, an angry child could grow more calm and able to understand their own feelings. The parent caring for this child can also show more confidence in their ability to help with these skills. Many articles have been published giving specific techniques to apply when dealing with angry children. One of the main researchers of childhood moods is Ross W. Greene, Ph.D. Dr. Greene, in a book titled “The Explosive Child,” refers often to children who are regularly angry, explosive, inflexible, and unwilling to comply with adults (2001). These children often have low frustration tolerance or difficulties controlling their emotional outbursts and/or internal feelings. The technique of addressing these children with empathy has proven itself effective (Faber & Mazlish, 1999). Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. In order to give empathy to an angry child, one must listen with full attention to what the child is saying and acknowledge the child’s perspective by responding with encouraging words like “Sure,” “Yes,” or “I see.” Parents must also accept what a child is saying as an honest expression of their feelings (Faber & Mazlish, 1999). As difficult as it may be, communicating with children who have low frustration tolerance is key. Along with showing empathy, there are a number of key communication techniques

By Michelle N. Cuddy, MS, LCPC

that will help to increase a child's ability to regulate their emotions. These include asking if your child wants suggestions before giving advice, talking directly with your child about matters that concern you, and choosing your battles wisely. Realize that some battles are not worth fighting and compromise may be a better solution. Address issues when they're small instead of letting them build up, and give negative feedback in a calm voice. Also, stress the positive - all children love to hear when they have done something good, no matter how big or small (Fristad & Goldberg Arnold, 2004). Setting boundaries and clear expectations is also important. Setting expectations is a normal part of parenting, however, these expectations can be hard to manage when parenting an angry child. According to Fristad and Goldberg Arnold, setting expectations that are neither too low nor too high can be difficult (2004). Parents can find the right balance by lowering expectations when a child is consistently unable to meet them, then slowly raising expectations and evaluating the child's progress. Complimenting children for the positive steps they take and showing empathy when things don't go as planned is important in this process (Fristad & Goldberg Arnold, 2004). Remember, parenting is a huge task and there’s no instruction manual. It is a constant learning process that involves the beautiful interaction between parent and child, whether rocky or not. Parents should not expect perfection from themselves, but rather the ability to learn and move forward with their child and this is always a step in the right direction. ■

Faber, A. & Mazlish, E. (1999). How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers Inc. Fristad, M. A. & Goldberg Arnold, J. S. (2004). Raising a Moody Child: How to Cope With Depression and Bipolar Disorder. New York, NY: The Guilford Press. Greene, R. W. (2001). The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children (2nd ed.). New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers Inc.

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| March 2013


early childhood


Your child learns all kinds of things from you. You are his or her first and most important teacher. Your home is a learning place. By making the most of this very special setting, you can teach your child skills that will help him or her do well in school and beyond. Children learn best through play. Play with your child using common household items and your child will learn new skills and develop a love of learning.

Receptive Language Children enter into the exchange of information around what is seen, heard, and experienced. They begin to acquire the concepts of language that contribute to learning to communicate and eventually, to read.  Sing a song about actions to the tune of “This Is The Way We Wash Our Hands.” Put in a lot of different action words that your child can try to copy. See if your child can do the actions when they hear the words you sing. If they don’t know what the word means, do the action so they can copy what you do.  Read books with action words and encourage your child to participate in the storytelling by doing the actions they see and hear as you read together.

Expressive Language

Phonological Awareness

Print Development

Children learn when they talk out loud. Children use words to help adults and others to understand their needs, ask questions, express feelings and solve problems.

Children become aware of the sounds of letters and combinations of letters that make up words. They begin to manipulate syllables and sounds of speech. The first letters a child will learn are those that are most important to him or her: the first letter of her name, the first letter of a favorite store, restaurant, or product, the first letter of the names of people important to her.

Children acquire the ability to write through a sequence of stages. These stages are: writing scribble-like markings; writing individual letter-like marks or mock letters; writing using recognizable, random letter strings; writing with semi-phonetic spelling; and writing with phonetic spelling.

 Cut pictures from magazines or catalogs of animals, cars, furniture, anything that interests your child. Stick with one theme at a time.  Use the book frequently with your child having him or her “read” the labels under the pictures to you.  Expand upon the pictures as your child becomes familiar with the labels. Ask your child questions about the pictures such as, “Is the dog under the table?” or, “Is the red ball bigger than the blue ball?”

 Write your child’s name on a sheet of paper or cardboard. Talk about the first letter of your child’s name and the sound that letter makes.  Ask your child to find things in your home that start with M or the “mmmmm” sound.

 Create an area or box of materials that encourage your child to pretend. You might include a “school” box with a small chalkboard, lined paper, pencils, and marking pens. Or create a “work” box where your child can pretend to do what you do at work. Your child will learn that writing has a purpose in everyday life.

Print Awareness Children acquire an understanding that print carries a message through symbols and words. Children learn to make the connection between sounds and letters (the alphabetic principle).  Take a “reading walk” in your home with your child. Walk around your home looking for places where print is used (books, magazines, grocery lists, instructions, labels, etc.). As your child points out print examples, write them down on a paper to make a list. After the walk, sit down with your child and write the book title We Went Walking on a file folder to make a cover for the book.  Write the first print example on your list on a piece of paper; ask your child to “write” the same words under what you have written and let them scribble what they see. Their scribble may not look like letters, which is alright. This will be the first page of your book. Your child may want to illustrate each page with a picture. Continue making your book pages in this same manner.  Attach all the pages together inside the file folder using a stapler, tape, or lacing with yarn.  Read the book aloud with your child and see if your child can follow the path you followed to make the book, pointing out the print examples in the book. Take turns reading the book and following the path. - Adapted from Montana’s Early Learning Guidelines: Fun Family Activities For Children 3 to 5 & Their Families. Early Childhood Services Bureau. Human and Community Services Division. Department of Public Health and Human Services.


March 2013




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


Seth Knapp

rossiter elementary school, 2nd grade Seth is a very polite young man who comes to school every day wearing a smile. He is a kind individual who follows the Rossiter Crown Jewels and is very respectful of all adults. In fact, Seth will approach a visitor in the building and will ask them if he can be of assistance. Seth always has a positive attitude, is a friend to his classmates and an inspiring face in the crowd.

Desirae Gould

cr anderson middle school, 6th grade Desirae is 11 years old and has a dream of becoming a professional ballet dancer. She currently dances five days a week with Ballet Montana. She recently received her pointe shoes, and soon will be able to try out for ballet scholarships. She works hard at school and is a big help at home. Since her dad works out of state, Desirae often babysits her younger sister while mom runs errands. She received her babysitting certificate and hopes to make a little extra money watching kids. Desirae is an all-around awesome kid.

Jesse Seliskar helena high School, 11th grade

Jesse takes pride in everything he does. He has a positive and energetic attitude that makes him fun to be around. He has been a caregiver for two years for two boys from the ages of two and seven, and participates with the Helena School District SACC program. He participates in football, weightlifting, and track. He is involved in Carpentry 3, which includes building a Home for Humanity. In his spare time he loves hunting and fishing. He is a great mentor and loves to work with children. His future plans are to pursue a career in education, so he can continue to inspire youth.

Justin Murgel

intermountain, chief operations officer Justin Murgel is a very active person in the Helena Community. Not only is he instrumental in the work of the Safe Schools Healthy Students Initiative and a member of the Youth Connections Board of Directors, he is also a Helena High School basketball coach, father and all around good guy. Justin serves as the Chief Operations Officer of Intermountain, where he works daily to help make Helena a better community for kids. In everything he does, personally and professionally, Justin advocates for all kids to thrive and succeed.

YMCA of Helena

The YMCA has been an outstanding community partner of Youth Connections for a long time and has continued to throw their weight behind the coalition’s Find Your Spot efforts in the last few months. At the beginning of the current school year they started hosting Second Saturdays at The Y (a monthly teen activity night that takes place every second Saturday of the month), You Got Served (an afterschool tutoring and community service program for middle school students), and middle school dances. They have also partnered with Youth Connections and other community organizations to help launch a student hiking and wilderness skills program. The YMCA has been key to the success of the Find Your Spot community campaign, and more importantly, has given students a consistent and healthy place to plug in to the Helena community. We are very grateful for The YMCA’s continued partnership, and all of the great things they are doing for Helena’s kids.



| March 2013


what's so great about


By Niki Whearty, Retired High School Librarian


We live in a busy world, one filled with demands, deadlines, and distractions. Many of our young people’s after school and after work hours are filled with sports practice, dance rehearsals, music lessons, or hanging with friends and gaming. So, who has time to read? For that matter, who needs reading anyway? We get plenty of information from listening to the radio and keeping an eye on television’s 24-hour news cycle. Entertainment is literally at our fingertips, with movies and pop tunes streaming to us via our phones, tablets, or computers. Who needs reading? Well, we all do. And young people should be reading now more than ever. Why? Because: Reading exercises the brain. Studies by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, have found that our brains act as if we are experiencing the events and situations we are reading about. When we read about the aroma of bread baking in the

oven, the segment of our brains responsible for interpreting the sense of smell is activated. When we read about the cold, wet surface of a pebble pulled from a stream, the brain center that communicates the sense of touch comes alive. Reading strengthens cerebral connections and creates new ones. Reading improves vocabulary. If we actively seek out a variety of materials to read – magazines, newspapers, short stories, biographies, essays about history and/or science – whether in hard copy or electronically, we come in contact with words that we might never have seen or heard before. Sometimes the meaning of the word becomes clear in context. Sometimes the electronic text is designed so the definition of the word is just a click away. Other times, the reader feels compelled to search through the pages of a dictionary or thesaurus in order to crack the meaning of a new word. Whatever the process, readers enrich their own speech patterns and writing styles with the words they see in print. Reading contributes to school success. Reading has a positive impact on all of us with regard to vocabulary, general knowledge, verbal fluency, and the ability to concentrate. The habit of reading is particularly important, however, in early childhood years when a young person’s language and cognitive skills are in critical stages of development. Up through third grade, children learn to read. After third grade, they read to learn. If they read poorly, they learn slowly. With each successive school year, the academic vocabulary in specialized subjects becomes more complex. To some, the struggle to understand complicated texts may not seem worth the effort. But, less reading substantially weakens the likelihood of school achievement. Continued and disciplined practice of reading throughout high school and adulthood keeps our language and cognitive skills strong and widens our opportunities for success. Reading develops empathy. We typically learn about other people by observing them from the outside. We watch what they do, listen to what they say, and talk to others about this person. Reading allows us to understand individuals (and


March 2013




characters) from their point of view because it lets us enter into their minds, experience their emotions, and understand their actions. We begin to understand them from the inside. When reading helps us to identify with a person who has different experiences from ours, we recognize the human traits we share with them. We are able to stand in their shoes and consider how we might respond if we were in similar circumstances. Reading teaches us about the diverse world around us and helps us to connect with others. It doesn’t matter that the connection comes through the vehicle of our mind and imagination.

Some people will lie, cheat, steal, and back stab to get ahead…and to think, all they have to do is read.

- Fortune Magazine Reading relaxes the body. Reading can relieve the stresses and strains that life brings to us. It can help us to escape the discomforts of the physical place we are in and take us, using our minds, to a place we have never been. The student who is stressed about the advanced chemistry test scheduled for early the next morning can leave the pages of formulas behind for a few minutes and get lost in a world of high fantasy, or use problem solving skills to decode the secrets in a rip-snorting thriller. A break from the hectic schedules we have is rejuvenating and allows us to come back stronger to the tasks that face us. What’s so great about reading? Everything! Reading is the key that opens the door of opportunity. It is the flame that guides us to understand the past and light our way to the future. Our commitment to cultivate a love of reading is the finest gift we can give to our children, our world, and ourselves. ■

Niki Whearty is a recently retired high school librarian, who worked in Helena, Montana, schools for thirty-five years. She currently works part-time at the Lewis and Clark Library and team-teaches a course in Young Adult Literature at Carroll College.

The Science Behind Tobacco, the Truth Behind the Lies

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40 developmental assets


40 Developmental Assets are essential qualities of life that help young people thrive, do well in school, and avoid risky behavior. 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.

turn the page to learn more!




| March 2013


assets in action Reading at Students' Level


external assets Support



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.


Serving at SACC After School

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.

Boundaries & Expectations


Sledding with the Kids


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

Playing Basketball at the YMCA


March 2013




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 with a picture and the number of the asset the picture represents.

Not all pictures are guaranteed publication.

21 internal assets 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.

Positive Values

Learning About Robotics

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.


On Stage with Lt. Governor Walsh

Social Competencies

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

Doing Their Part Together



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.

Learning About Each Other on Puerto Rico Mission Trip



| March 2013


encourage your teen

reading for the By Heather Dickerson, Teen Ser vices Librarian at Lewis & Clark Library


hen asked what motivates her to read, one teen replied, “Need motivation to read? That’s like saying ‘what motivates you to eat chocolate cake?!’ ” This response accurately describes how many teens feel about reading. Not all teens are alike, and just as some might dislike math or playing sports, some teens look at reading as an obligatory chore, not a hobby. The fact remains that reading for pleasure is vital to all teens’ development and education. The following suggestions can help you encourage your teen to go ahead and read for the fun of it.

[ Appreciate The Complexity And Value Of What They Are Reading, Especially If They’re Not Reading It From A Book ] A 2012 study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project splashed headlines around the internet last October proclaiming that, yes, the Facebook generation is reading (Zickulr et al.). What does this mean? Your teen really is reading to meet his or her need for fun, knowledge, enrichment, and entertainment. It just looks a little different than how adults, and even teens themselves, envision reading for pleasure. Books are involved, but teens spend increasing amounts of time reading digitally. They might read plot lines and dialogue on a video game screen, or decipher subtitles in a favorite anime series. Eliza Dresang, leading researcher in the area of digital literacy and young people, stresses the importance of building a universal paradigm where reading for pleasure celebrates the overlap between the digital and analog (Dresang 178). Shifting the status quo to let your teen know that you see the different ways he or she is engaged in reading activities will not only build goodwill between you, but can help change universal attitudes about teens and how much they read. The online and device-based reading teens do in video games, anime, fan-fiction, web comics, and other online creations has a direct connection to their development of 21st century skills and digital literacy. What you are saying when you acknowledge your teen’s reading choice is “Hey! I acknowledge your efforts and interests. I’m meeting you where you’re at.” Few things go further in building the relationship between teens and adults than teens feeling valued as the unique individuals they are. Go ahead – appreciate their anime!

Dresang, Eliza. “The Information-Seeking Behavior of Youth in the Digital Environment.” Library Trends 54.2. (2005): 178-196. Print. Reading is Fundamental. “Motivating Kids to Read: Teens and Reading.” (2013). Web. 6 January 2013. < Rothbauer, Paulette M. “Rural Teens on the Role of Reading in Their Lives.” The Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults 1.2. (2011). The Search Institute. “40 Assets that Teenagers Need to Succeed.” (1997). Print. Zickuhlr, Kathryn, et al. “Younger Americans’ Reading and Library Habits.” Pew Internet & American Life Project. (2012). Web. 6 January 2013.

n to love

e fun of it

Resources for Parents

Check out the Reading Is Fundamental brochure for parents. Practical tips for encouraging your teen to read, including strategies for starting the reading conversation. Visit their website: www. teenagers-and-reading.htm

Resources for Teens

[ Give Your Teen a Choice ] Once you have acknowledged the diversity of your teen’s reading selections, encourage them to expand to different topics: books about vampires, magazines about their favorite sport, how-to manuals, or graphic novels. In a 2011 study of the role of reading in the lives of teens, the most common theme to emerge was the idea of reading as a form of “autonomy and independence … important for feelings of self-validation and empowerment” (Rothbauer). A teen’s ability to choose the books he wants to read apart from what he has to read significantly impacts the teen’s perception of reading. When choice is involved, reading can become something to celebrate, as it symbolizes one’s individuality. Authentic, teen-directed choice in reading materials has a host of side effects: the desire to continue reading for “habit and comfort,” a way to develop and reflect on experiences of others, and the possibilities for future experiences for themselves, and to cultivate personal knowledge (Rothbauer). When you give your teen the power to choose, you show them you value their responsibility. In turn, they learn to value their own. You’ve opened the door for them to build some serious life skills and a sense of positive identity (The Search Institute).

[ Relationships & Resources ] The theme underscoring recognition, appreciation, and choice is one of relationship and involvement. This begins at home. Reading is Fundamental (RIF), a national literacy organization, outlines the best do’s and don’ts for adults invested in promoting teen pleasure reading. The best place to start is with your example. Have books, magazines, newspapers, blogs – the whole gamut – available, and show your teen that you practice what you preach. ■

Visit your local library and talk to the Teen Librarian. Librarians LOVE talking about books. Use their knowledge. Tell them about your favorite TV shows, video games, and other interests. They’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.

Resources for Parents & Teens Get Social!  Utilize social media websites like and to record and share what you’re reading. It’s a great way to connect and share books and suggestions with friends.  If you’re looking for new mediums to read, check out some webcomic or teen writing communities. offers opportunities for teens to read, write, and be involved in a safe and dynamic community.  Blogs are a great way to hear real-life people react to the things they’re reading.  Use bookmarks to collect your favorite blogs and websites in one place. They're easy to read on the computer, your tablet, or your Smartphone.  Try a cell-phone novel! They're all the rage in Japan!

s/articles/teenagers-and-reading.htm> . Web. 6 January 2013. <>

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| March 2013


Got kids?

sick happens.

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March 2013





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what parents need to know about their teen's cell phone By Detective Bryan D. Fischer, Helena PD/MT ICAC Task Force


s a parent of a pre-teen or teenage child, have you ever opened your cell phone bill to see 10,000 text messages have been sent and received from your child's phone, which averages roughly 300 per day? Children are using cell and smart phones during all hours of the day and night. As a parent, does it give you a hopeless feeling? In this fast-paced, technological world, is there anything a parent can do? Yes parents, there is. Many parents today ask the same question, but it takes a little bit of research to find out what help is available. Many wireless carriers offer services for parents to monitor or restrict usage of their child’s phone, including phone calls, text messaging and data usage. Of course this is not a free service, but in the long run it may be just the thing to provide a parent with some peace of mind. Major wireless carriers in the Helena area can offer packages, for a fee, that restrict hours of usage for phones. As a parent, you can designate hours of the day and night when only approved phone numbers can be called or received by the child’s phone. As in my case, during school hours, my child can only receive phone calls from numbers approved by me. The same feature can apply to evening hours. Certain wireless carriers can also offer packages that restrict, monitor, or limit data usage on smart phone devices and internet browsing phones. Not all wireless carriers offer these types of services, but you can check with your provider to find out what types of parental monitoring services are offered. Be aware that if you have an unlimited data package for any type of smart phone device, you may not be able to activate those types of services. Not all hope is lost, however. There are certain computer programs offered by independent companies that allow you to monitor phone usage, filter internet content and track your child's phone with GPS. For a fee, you can gain control of the software and can set limitations to your own liking. In researching these types of products, On Guard Online (http://onguardonline. gov/) offers tips to parents on the types of parental monitoring software products available. When researching parental monitoring software on the internet, be sure that the product has some type of endorsement from a technology watchdog company or is endorsed by a group committed to the safety of children. The Montana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force also has a website,, which has resources for parents, as well as a Facebook page,, which offers useful cybertips on protecting your children on-line. ■

At Helena Public Schools, we know technology can serve as an important tool in both the education and safety of students. The same cell phone that can be used as an educational aide in the classroom can now be used by students to contact their School Resource Officer directly. Through a campaign called TXT UR HPD, all students in Helena Public Schools are encouraged to program their School Resource Officer’s phone number directly into their phones. While we know that calling a police officer directly can feel intimidating and is difficult to do discretely, the new TXT UR HPD allows students to report illegal or unsafe activity directly and immediately. To help your child become part of this effort, help them program their phone using these numbers:

Domingo Zapata P.A.L./HMS: (406) 949-3680 Loren Mardis Capital: (406) 949-3683 Shawn Lashway CR Anderson: (406) 949-3681 Cory Bailey Helena High School - (406) 439-9640

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

Reminders About 911

» Texting your SRO does not » »

replace 911 If you face a life threatening emergency, call (don't text) 911 If you have a "text only" cell phone plan, you are still able to call 911



| March 2013


“ 18

March 2013


Our resilience is measured by how we navigate our way through the tragedy or trauma in meaningful ways that sustain us and give us hope for the future. Families fare better when they are informed, supported, and flexible.




Helping Kids Cope With Tragedy Building Resiliency in Families

By Kimberly Gardner, MSW, LCSW, LAC


hen tragedy occurs in our community, we are all affected in some manner. We may be personally involved through work, our neighborhood, or our family connections. We may be called on to support those most gravely affected, or we may be experiencing changes in our community in response to the tragedy. The enduring impact of tragedy influences how our community evolves over time; and this evolution can strengthen or shatter the way we care for and support one another. As a community we should work together to build resilience for all children and families. Many children and families have inherent strengths and can cope fairly well through these challenges. Unfortunately, not all of us have the support, knowledge or resources to fare well when tragedy happens in our world. Most of us are somewhere in between. Whatever our capabilities, we each have a need for community. Our resilience is measured by how we navigate our way through the tragedy or trauma in meaningful ways that sustain us and give us hope for the future. Families fare better when they are informed, supported, and flexible. Hopefully, the following tips will help your family when tragedy strikes. Children cope best when they can trust that the adults who care for them are capable of continuing in this role while the adults are also coping with

the news. Parents should be purposeful in talking with their children about the event in thoughtful and caring ways. Often, children have some information about the event and have usually formed perceptions or misperceptions based on how others are coping and what they have heard. Be honest with your children about the event, keeping in mind their age and developmental stage. Avoid conclusions and speculations about what might have happened. Also avoid temptations to overgeneralize or over respond. Instead, keep your discussion focused on the actual facts and how your child is coping in the here and now. Be mindful that exposure to, or experience with a tragedy can result in a trauma reaction for those involved. Consider the child’s trauma history and their understanding of the event. If you are concerned about your child’s response to the tragedy, seek professional support. Our community has many agencies and professionals that are skilled in helping families address emotional distress that is not resolved over time or is a delayed reaction. Reach out to others for your own support as well. Healthy grieving can take many forms. Family life should remain fairly consistent and predictable. Work to sustain your regular routine and structure. Be purposeful and check in daily with your child about each day’s

events; focus on their whole world without concentrating solely on the tragedy. Build in times to be together during typical down times – you might add an after school check-in, skip an extracurricular activity to have dinner as a family, or have an evening free from the distractions of television or other activities. Schedule times to have fun together! Coping with highly stressful events leads to emotional fatigue in all of us. Find time to connect with each other in energizing and positive ways, even if this is not the typical way your family spends time together. Make more frequent connections with supportive extended family members or friends. As time passes and the tragedy is behind us, consider contributing your time and talents to support or create activities for all kids and families in our community. Engage your children in the process and make it a family focus. Support existing community efforts that create healthy outlets for all kids, or work to share your ideas for creating a new one. Strong and healthy communities provide a prevention factor that helps support each of us when tragedy strikes. It’s been said that “None of us have it all together, but all together, we have it all.” That’s true of our families, our friendships and our community, too. Take care of yourselves and each other. We need each other, and together we’re better. ■



| March 2013





Q. YC keeps pushing 40 developmental

assets, but I don’t know any child who has all 40. Are we doomed for failure as parents?

A. We are sorry we made you feel doomed by our

continued awareness of the 40 Developmental Assets. That certainly wasn’t our intention. The 40 Developmental Assets are part of a model from which Youth Connections works to build all aspects of our programming, including articles in the YC Magazine. Even staff, board members, and volunteers with Youth Connections feel we “short change” our children whenever we are not able to live up to the sometimes idealistic expectations of the 40 Developmental Asset Model. In the rat race of work, homework help, dinner, and laundry, it is easy to look at the Asset checklist and see all the things we didn’t have time to squeeze into the day: no time for reading a book, no time to volunteer at school, and no extra money for those drum lessons your son has been begging to take. At the end of the day it is easy to see our own gaps in parenting when we look at which Assets we fail to build in our children. However, be kind to yourself. It is impossible for parents to do it all. The reason we keep the Assets in front of our readers each edition is to keep the concepts in the forefront of parents’ minds. While you can’t do it all of the time, it might be a goal to pick one or two assets you and your child would like to focus on for the month. Don’t feel bad because you can’t put your child in musical lessons. Instead, select a good book and read it together. Take the Assets in digestible bites and focus on the areas where you have control. Be intentional in areas where you would like to focus and include your child in that process. If you use the model as a framework to focus your energy, instead of a tool to critique your parenting, you will soon begin to see all the things you do every day to build healthy and resilient kids! - The Editor

??? 20

March 2013



Number of drivers under the age of 21 who died in motor vehicle crashes who had been drinking alcohol. (


Percent of teens who do not tell their parents when cyber bullying occurs. (


The number of high school seniors who reported they had smoked marijuana during the past 12 months. (


The number of insect legs the average chocolate bar contains. (


Nation-wide, the number of high school seniors have used stimulant drugs like "speed." (


The number of entries in Webster's Dictionary that will be misspelled. (

Have questions? Send us an email at We cannot guarantee all questions will be published; however we will do our best to respond to all questions submitted.



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| March 2013


media literacy

Parental Guidance


At What Age is My Kid Ready For a Cell Phone? know that my kids want cell phones. I can feel them crossing their little fingers and hoping that this next birthday will be the birthday; the one where I finally relent and deliver a shiny package of technological independence. They are eight and 10. Now, it’s not that they don’t have any access to technology...they have iPads and iPods, loaded with music, movies, and a few educational apps, but there is something different about a phone. I don’t know who they think they need to call...neither of them is likely to backpack across Europe in the near future...and I could always loan them my phone for birthday parties, sleep-overs, and the like. So what’s the big rush? Let’s start with some background information.

Health and Behavior Implications

There have been limited studies that examined possible physical effects of cell phone use, particularly on kids and teens. Cell phones do emit some RF radiation. The FDA has concluded “scientific evidence does not show a danger to any users of cell phones, including children and teenagers.” Because cell phone use has been increasing so much in recent years, it’s a good idea to stay tuned for new research on this topic. Before swearing off technology altogether, one should consider how kids are using their cell phones. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, the average teenager sends 50-60 text messages a day, a number which has risen steadily over the last few years. Consider for a minute how much raw communication that is. Digital devices are also changing the way we access information. There are apps to help you master algebra, learn a language, read novels, and make movies. Our young people are weaving a new social fabric; we need to sit down at the loom with them and make a tapestry that brings us together.

Two Conversations to Have

The first question should be: Does my child need a cell phone? If the answer to this question is “No, but it would be great if there were a device that could be used for listening to music, reading books, surfing the internet, online learning, and playing the occasional game,” then have no fear. There are great devices out there that can accomplish those things without a cellular connection. If the answer to this question is “yes,” many parents will choose


After 15 seasons of the Bachelor, not one is still in a relationship with the female "winner"!



March 2013





By Gary Myers, Educator

the cheapest, most basic phone available. It may be easy to dive right into a smart phone, but you should consider the ongoing monthly cost of a data plan, as well as the cost of replacing the phone if it gets broken or lost. Question two needs to be: Am I willing to monitor and model appropriate cell phone use? This is no simple task. Do you text or talk on the phone while you drive? Do you prioritize human conversation over cellular interaction? Are you willing to make sure your child is following the rules you set? Consider a “contract” that emphasizes healthy cell phone use and has specific consequences for violations. The details are different from family to family...parents should consider themselves the expert on their own child. A few ideas:

» Kids need sleep; your phone will be charged in my bedroom at night...I will also know if you are getting messages when you shouldn’t.

» When I call, you will answer. » Don’t send any messages that you would be uncomfortable with me reading, and let your friends know to do the same. I trust you, but I’ll still check from time to time.

» You will not use your phone at school unless your teacher asks you to, or if there is an emergency. Texting your BFF about what’s for lunch does not constitute an emergency! The more specific this contract and the conversation that goes with it is, the better.

And the Answer Is...

There is no one age that is perfect for every kid. My own kids have a few years to wait. Time enough for me to retain a lawyer and iron out the details of the perfect parent-child cellular user agreement. Here are a few resources to consider while you weigh your decision, or better yet, have your eager child research and prepare a persuasive presentation on their own.

The average American will watch nine years of television in his/her lifetime. (

Depression affects all people regardless of age, location, demographic or social position.




| March 2013


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March 2013




g n i n r wa

s n g i s

e id ic u s f o k is r t a e b y a m o of someone wh ➽ Abrupt change in personality

➽ Decline in personal hygiene

➽ Giving away prized possessions

➽ Sleep disturbance, either too much or too little

➽ Previous suicide attempts

➽ Overall sense of sadness and hopelessness

➽ Increase in drug or alcohol use

➽ Eating disturbance, either weight gain or loss

➽ Flat affect or depressed mood

➽ Unusually long grief reaction (varies with different youth)

➽ Inability to tolerate frustration

➽ Overall sense of sadness and hopelessness

➽ Withdrawal and rebelliousness

➽ Decrease in academic performance

➽ Difficulty concentrating

➽ Isolating and choosing to spend time alone

➽ Increase in hostility

➽ Recent family or relational disruption

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 take them to a health care professional or > Call the Montana Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-talK (8255)


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