Tuesday, February 14, 2012

12 Ways to Show Your Kids You Care and Build a Capacity to Prevent Abuse and Bullying at the Same Time

The month of February is mainly about the feelings of care and love for your friends and family. When we think of February, we mainly think of celebrating Valentine’s day one of two ways: 1) when we were in elementary school and gave cheesy cards to our classmates and 2) celebrating a romantic night with your loved one. However, spending Valentine’s day doesn’t have to be solely dedicated to your spouse. It can also be a good time to really show your kids how much you love them and care for them.  Ladies’ Home Journal has some great tips on how to connect with your kids that I’d like to share and some of our tips (http://www.lhj.com/relationships/family/raising-kids/25-ways-to-show-your-kids-you-love-them/):
·       Spend time alone with each of your children. Go out to lunch, take a leisurely walk,  read “just one more book”, view photo albums and baby books, get messy with your kids or just hang out together letting them know you value them as individuals.

·       Nurture self-esteem and self-confidence by praising good effort and a job well done, not just results- allow them to choose their own clothes, wear the “jewels” your children made for you or the picture they drew for you.
·       Celebrate everyday accomplishments. Make a special dinner with your child as the guest of honor to toast losing a tooth, making the soccer team, getting an A on a science paper, and more.
·       Teach children to think positive by being positive. Instead of noting how dirty they are when they come in for dinner, say, "Looks like you had a great time!" or Instead of saying, "You're doing it wrong," when your child makes a mistake, try saying "Why don't you try it this way."
·       Tell them how wonderful it is being their parent and how much you like the way they're growing up.
·       Bend the rules. Let your children put on their boots and jump in the puddles you usually tell them to avoid.
·       Eat dinner together even if it's just once a week. Take turns sharing your week's accomplishments.
·       Let your children overhear you complimenting them to someone else.
·       Try not to do all the things your parents did that you vowed never to do to your children.
·       Get to know their schedules, friends, and teachers so you can ask, "Did you and Sam sit together at lunch today?" or "What did Mr. Rogers sing in music class?" instead of simply, "What did you do today?" and know what is going on around them or what they learned at school.
·       Teach them about bullying and child abuse and how to recognize when something is not right.
·       Hug them, kiss them, and say, "I love you" every day, no matter what. Kids thrive on it and it's a daily fix we all need no matter what our age. Creating a secret word, sign, or gesture of affection that only you and your child share.

 Speak Up Be Safe™ (SUBS), the bullying and child abuse prevention curriculum being distributed throughout Florida in public elementary schools by the Monique Burr Foundation for Children, is helping students, parents/ caregivers, and school personnel get the information they need to understand what abuse and bullying is and how to prevent it. By educating your child on bullying, they will feel cared about and gain trust in you. They will not be afraid to speak up.  Nothing is more precious than the lives of your children. Show your love by educating your child rather than thinking it won’t happen to them. Learn more about SUBS and how you can help us get this message out and show your love for your children at www.MoniqueBurrFoundation.org. Join us and help us protect Florida’s children today! - watch for our follow up article on this topic and how it relates to preventing child abuse!

Guest Blogger:
Jackie Wiggins
Senior UNF Intern 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Protecting children from sexual exploitation more important than ever!

Internet sex stings in Florida are nothing new.  40 men were arrested in Orlando for soliciting sex with minors just a few weeks ago.  That arrest included a pro-golfer, a swim coach and an eighth grade teacher.  And here we are again, 21 arrested in Gainesville, including a Physician’s Assistant and an elementary school teacher.  So why am I so disturbed by this report that I felt the need to blog about it?  It’s just becoming more and more common and the perpetrators are seeking these encounters with children and teens knowing that these sting operations are happening.  But their desires are such that they are willing to take that risk in order to meet up with a young child or teen for sex.  Consequences aside, they think the risk is worth it, and that to me is scary!

There is no doubt that the sexual exploitation of children on the Internet is a huge problem in our country and it’s growing every day.  The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) has ample facts and resources about this issue for professionals, parents and communities that can be found on their website: http://www.missingkids.com/missingkids/servlet/PageServlet?LanguageCountry=en_US&PageId=218.  However, it is up to us to learn more and do more.  Reading the newspaper and being appalled is simply no longer enough.  There are tools available and we, as the responsible adults in society, MUST use them to protect children today!

Do you know what the sexual exploitation of children is?  Do you know if your child has ever been solicited online, if they’ve ever received any unwanted offers, if they’ve ever communicated with a stranger online? Do you know that according to NCMEC, 1 in 7 children between the ages of 10 and 17 has received a sexual solicitation online? Yet only 5% of those solicitations were ever reported to law enforcement or an Internet service provider.  Do you know NCMEC hosts a cybertipline for just such reports?

At the Monique Burr Foundation for Children we are working hard every day to protect Florida’s children by educating and empowering all elementary school age children in first through fifth grades to recognize and report any unsafe situation they might encounter on the Internet.  It is a part of a more comprehensive program called Speak Up Be Safe™ and we are diligently working to educate and empower the adults in their lives as well as the community about these same dangers and resources.  Please help us.  Visit our website at www.MoniqueBurrFoundation.org/SUBS to become educated about this program and share our message.  It’s that important and it’s that necessary!