The Bully Proof Classroom

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How To Start The Conversation With Your Child About Sexting

Written By: Hilary Smith - May• 04•16

I used to wonder how I could bring up awkward subjects with my children, and as far as those go, sexting is pretty high on the list. At the time they start doing this, kids already understand the basic concepts of sex. In fact, a lot of them consider themselves to be experts who need no further information or instruction from mom and dad because they already “get it”.

DoSomething.org has reported that about 40% of all teens have sent sexts, and these numbers are weighted heavily by age – the older a teen is, the more likely they are to engage in sexting at some point. Given all of this, it’s clear that you need to talk with your child about sexting. Here’s how to do it.

Start with a strong opening

Tell your child to put their cell phone down, then say flat-out that you want to talk with them about sexting. Start by asking them how much they know about it – teens are often uncomfortable when put on the spot, but you really do need to know how familiar with the subject they are. If they ask why you want to know, just tell them that people have killed themselves after sexting and you want to make sure they’ll be safe.

Be honest, and avoid judging

Regardless of your personal feelings, you should try to avoid saying that sexting is wrong. If your teen has already sexted – or even just favorably considered the idea – they’re probably going to interpret that statement as a reflection on them. “Sexting is bad” becomes “You don’t trust me”, and few things will make a teen stop listening faster than the idea that you’re still treating them like a child.

Instead, focus on the safety aspect of it, starting with the statistics cited at DoSomething.org (through the first link above). Once both of you are on the same page, it’s time to address the problems with it. There are three particularly important issues to address.

1. Sexts are effectively child pornography

Most teens don’t think of it this way, but it’s true. If they share a sext with someone else, even if it was just passed to them, they are actively involved in the spread of child pornography and could get into legal trouble as a result.

2. You have no control of messages or pictures once they’re sent to someone else

No matter how much your child likes their current date, that relationship probably isn’t going to last… and people have been known to use sexts for revenge pornography. Once something is out on the internet, it’s almost impossible to stop it, and a significant number of sexts end up shared.

3. Many people, of both genders, are pressured into sexting

Dates may use phrases like “prove that you love me” or “I really want to see you” in order to pressure teens into sending sexts. However, teens should think carefully about whether or not they want to be in a relationship with someone who pushes them into something they’re not comfortable with.

This is not exclusive to girls. Boys can be pressured into sexting, too – and that kind of pressure is wrong no matter who is on the receiving end.

Keep the emphasis on their safety

Your goal shouldn’t be to stop sexting, per se – many people (including quite a few adults) think of it as a normal, healthy way of expressing their sexuality. However, you should try to keep your child safe, and that’s where the focus of the conversation should be. If you need additional help, you can look into tech safety and keeping a closer eye on what they’re doing – most teens don’t like being monitored, but if they know you’ll find out about their sexts anyway, they’re more likely to talk to you when they’re worried… especially if they know you’ll be sympathetic and help them, rather than threatening to take their phone away.

Talking about sexting isn’t easy, but it is important. Of course, every family is different, so don’t be afraid to change parts of the conversation to better fit your own family’s values and the personality of your child. Don’t wait too long to start, either – the sooner they understand the topic, the safer they’ll be.

Hillary Smith is a freelance journalist who specialized in telecommunications. As a graduate of NorthWestern’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism, she’s combines her love of technology, gadgets, and bulldogs with a career in freelance writing to make the world a more enlightened place.

 

The Haunted House

Written By: James H Burns - Apr• 11•16

Significant Others

Written By: James H Burns - Apr• 11•16

Can You Handle The Truth?

Written By: James H Burns - Apr• 11•16

 

He Wasn’t Cheap, He Cared

Written By: James H Burns - Dec• 30•15

honesty-is-a-very-expensive-gift-dont-expect-it-from-cheap-people-quote-1

My parents owned a bar and from the time I can remember which was about four years old I spent my time sitting on a bar stool. Most kids were playing with their friends or some toys that they had I was always talking to strangers and playing with beer boxes. It did have its advantages, like as I got older I had a built in job and I really learned how to talk to adults. You always had to agree with them because you didn’t want to lose them as a customer. Always polite always considerate and never giving anyone a hard time, of course I learned how to curse like a sailor at a very young age and got a taste of beer when I was about ten years old. The place had its characters that were both humorous and sad at the same time. I always thought it was normal for a guy to spend 4 or 5 hours drinking at the end of a work day before they went home. Many times as I got older I would drive some guy home who was to drunk to drive. When I got him home I found out why he spent that amount of time in the bar after work, his wife was less than happy to see him when he got there not because he was drunk she just didn’t like the guy.

One of the things I loved as a kid was the fact that there was always cash around. I would ask my dad for a dime or a quarter and he would reach into the till and hand it over. One warm summer evening around 5 o’clock I asked my dad for a quarter and he said “no.” I asked again and he said “no.” I finally said “c’mon dad please.” He did not give in. I got as mad as an 11 year old could get and walked out passing four customers sitting at the bend in the bar right by the door and on my way out I said “CHEAP.” As soon as I said this I knew I was in trouble and I tried to think of words that sounded like cheap that I could use to try and convince him that he just heard wrong. Then I had to find a way to get back in without him seeing me. There was only one way in and that was through the bar. Well I rode my bike for a while and then decided to try and get passed the blockade. When I got back to the bar the bar was closed. The bar that was open 364 days a year was closed. He locked the door and made me knock to get in. I knocked on the door and he opened it. I asked him to hold the door open so I could bring in my bike. He stood there grabbed me by the arm and said to me “What did you say on the way out of here.” I told him I said “cheap.” The grip on my arm got tighter and he said to me “After all the nickels, dimes, and quarters I have given you, you call me cheap.” I said “sorry dad.” He then loosened his grip and told me to go upstairs. My dad took a break around 7o’clock for dinner and took a nap until 9 when he went back downstairs to work. Around 8:30 I learned the biggest lesson of my life. He called me into his bedroom and sat me down. My dad said to me “Do you know why I locked the door to the bar after you left.” I said “no.” He said to me “After you left the bar the four guys who heard what you said started talking about you and what an ungrateful and selfish kid you were, and I couldn’t take it. I had to put them out, I just got sick hearing them talk like this about my son.” My dad put those guys out in my defense and because of the ache he felt in his heart. My dad used my own stupidity as a time to teach me that I can’t say anything I want and he wanted me to understand that whether or not I think anybody else hears my comments doesn’t matter, somebody hears and starts to develop a perception of you as a person. I never forgot this lesson. You see all along I thought those guys would ride my dad on what a cheapskate they thought he was because he wouldn’t give me a quarter. I was so wrong. As I look at this story all I can think of is the way kids speak to their parents today at a younger age than I was when I called my dad cheap. Kids don’t just wake up one day and decide that they were going to be rude to their parents. This has happened so slowly it was almost unrecognizable at first but now we ask “What are we going to do with these kids.” I named this essay “Cheap” because of how ironic it is that I called my father cheap in front of his customers when he truly was not cheap, and I ended up feeling cheap, and deservingly so, when my father was done with me. Even though it is cheap to sit a kid down and talk to him today the way my dad did, does anyone take the time to do it anymore?

Helping Kids Manage Stress

Written By: James H Burns - Dec• 25•15

Stress and kids

Only adults are under stress right? Well not really. Stress is relative to situations and age. Worrying about paying your bills at the age of forty is probably the equivalent of worrying about having your lunch money stolen at the age of ten. So kids do worry, suffer from anxiety and feel the discomfort of stressful situations as much as an adult. A parent or a teacher may not take the child’s stress as seriously because they have their own stress and the kids stress just seems to be hard to understand. They may communicate their worry to us and it may get blown off with words like “don’t worry about it, or when I was your age, or you don’t know how good you have it.”

Mom and Dad Can’t Do It

Adults don’t manage stress well in our society; and there is a lot to be stressful about: the economy, unemployment, relationships, and their own upbringing; which has everyone dragging the baggage of their own imprint from childhood into adulthood. That youth conflict that they had at the age of ten is now an adult conflict and they are still searching for answers to some of life’s most basic problems and that includes how to handle stress.

Evolution

From an evolutionary standpoint the brain stem or the reptilian brain developed first, that’s where the heart rate, respiration and adrenalin flow comes from. Something the caveman needed as he battled and hunted animals for food or ran away from when he was at a disadvantage and felt like he was going to lose the battle. That type of stress was necessary for survival and one minute or two of this type of stress helped keep this guy healthy and fed. But what happens when a brain is placed under stress for years, like thirteen; the amount of time that a kid spends in school. Stress hormones end up swamping our bodies for days, weeks, months. Research shows that cortisol, specifically, chews up the brain if it loiters there long-term. When lab rats in Israel, Germany, USA, China, and Italy were given daily injections of rat cortisol for several weeks, it killed brain cells in their hippo-campus region, leaving them depressed, anxious, fearful, immature, needy, and unable to learn new behaviors.

None of this is good for the adult brain, but children’s fast-developing brains with dendrites numbering in the millions are especially vulnerable to the ravages of cortisol. Study after study has found that children who are exposed to extremely stressful situations — via violence in the home or corporal punishment — have significantly lower IQ’s than children not exposed to such traumas.

Different Reasons For Stress

In a modern society we don’t battle saber tooth tigers, our stress come from slow drivers, our kids, our boss, and at times our spouse, and other things that frankly we have very little control over. We worry, fret, get uneasy when we have to have a confrontation and we assume too many responsibilities that we were never intended to have. For sure at times we put ourselves in bad situation because of poor choices and the lack of self control by over eating, drinking, spending, and by going crazy when the toothpaste tube doesn’t have a cap on it. Unwittingly we put our minds and bodies under constant stress and we operate in a state of constant survival. The primary function of the brain is survival of its owner and all that stress puts us in survival mode daily with those stress hormones eroding our brains. We will either run or fight but in reality as a society we don’t handle stress very well. It makes us sick, obese, it could result in the onset of high blood pressure, heart problems and type 2 diabetes. We meditate, exercise, practice yoga, seek therapy, and when all else fails we begin to believe in God again and pray.

Our Kids Need The Help

A bleak picture you say. Well yes it is, but things will get bleaker if we don’t help our kids manage stress and develop the resiliency to cope with the trials of life. There are more young people today who are anxious, depressed, and who fear age appropriate responsibilities then in past generations. Responsibilities that are just basic to a household like taking out the garbage or to school like completing a homework assignment. This fear of responsibility has resulted in higher levels of anxious and depressed adolescents than ever before. In America today, high school and college students are five to eight times as likely to suffer from depressive symptoms as were teenagers 50 or 60 years ago, according to Psychology Today.

Responsibilities Produce Pressure

When kids are not held accountable for their responsibilities and are let off the hook they begin to view their responsibilities as nothing more than pressure from adults. They are completely aware of what they need to do but lack the motivation and the desire to complete tasks or follow through on requests from anyone. This awareness with age activates that fight or flight mechanism that we mentioned earlier and kids will either start arguments when they are confronted by an adult with a request (like completing a homework assignment, or taking out the garbage) or run for the hills and disappear when there is work to be done. This now young adult feels the stress and may become anxious or depressed. They can get labeled as lazy, disaffected, unmotivated, and careless. They may seek to ease the stress through the use of a substance such as alcohol or a prescription medication that is gotten either legally or illegally and may begin to think hypochondriacally. (Believing that they may become or are seriously ill)

Responsible Behavior Can Reduce Stress

Do we need to help kids manage stress in a more effective manner or do we need to help kids take their responsibilities more seriously? Irresponsible behavior leads to stress. What is done in moderation as a child gets done in excess as an adult and adults currently are not managing stress very well. The model that the kids are getting is one that stress gets handled by drinking, eating, spending, or medicating. Mom and Dad may just be producing children that manage stress far less effectively than they did and they weren’t very successful.

So let’s teach our kids to manage stress more effectively right? Wrong. Let’s teach our kids to be more responsible adults and instead of running or fighting help them learn to see responsibility as an opportunity rather than pressure.

Looking For The Plan? Jim Burns’ New Book ” Helping Kids Manage Stress” will be out in the spring of 2016. You can pre-order in the comments section.

Stop Watching and Start Grooming

Written By: James H Burns - Dec• 24•15

grooming image

Why did our parents stand the test of time 50 years ago and stay married, and manage money so well? Why have the last 3 generations suffered so much financial difficulty, and been involved in one divorce after another? We observed our parents being financially responsible, and we observed our parents remaining married. The problem is we observed, but we never learned. It’s almost like watching a car mechanic fix a car, but never learning how to fix it ourselves. Wisdom, wise decisions, wise behavior, needs to be learned. We needed to know why our parent’s did what they did and we needed to be shown how to do it.

If society is going to develop the wisdom, common sense, or street smarts it has to start with grooming the kids of today and giving them the instruction they need to deal with money and relationships. When you get right down to it there really isn’t much else left. The challenge is great because parental role models are not as wise today as they were in days past. Parents can’t be asking their children what they want to be when they grow up, they have to taught the best career choices and then pointed in that direction. Parents have to teach their children how to handle money at a young age and show them how to save and invest for the future. Parents have to stop thinking that they don’t have a say in terms of who their children choose as a marriage partner. They have to speak up; if they believe that who their son or daughter is dating is not good for them they need to instruct them about the qualities they believe are important in a life partner. Society believes after a certain point that kids know what their doing and they’ll be fine. Parents don’t want to interfere. They don’t want to ram something down their kid’s throats. If parents don’t ram something down their kid’s throats some else will. If society is going to become wise again, it will have to spend more time teaching, and less time watching. We can start to teach our kids now when their young, or wring our hands as they get older and wonder where we went wrong.

Stop Watching and Start Grooming

Written By: James H Burns - Dec• 24•15

 

grooming image

Why did our parents stand the test of time 50 years ago and stay married, and manage money so well? Why have the last 3 generations suffered so much financial difficulty, and been involved in one divorce after another? We observed our parents being financially responsible, and we observed our parents remaining married. The problem is we observed, but we never learned. It’s almost like watching a car mechanic fix a car, but never learning how to fix it ourselves. Wisdom, wise decisions, wise behavior, needs to be learned. We needed to know why our parent’s did what they did and we needed to be shown how to do it.

If society is going to develop the wisdom, common sense, or street smarts it has to start with grooming the kids of today and giving them the instruction they need to deal with money and relationships. When you get right down to it there really isn’t much else left. The challenge is great because parental role models are not as wise today as they were in days past. Parents can’t be asking their children what they want to be when they grow up, they have to taught the best career choices and then pointed in that direction. Parents have to teach their children how to handle money at a young age and show them how to save and invest for the future. Parents have to stop thinking that they don’t have a say in terms of who their children choose as a marriage partner. They have to speak up; if they believe that who their son or daughter is dating is not good for them they need to instruct them about the qualities they believe are important in a life partner. Society believes after a certain point that kids know what their doing and they’ll be fine. Parents don’t want to interfere. They don’t want to ram something down their kid’s throats. If parents don’t ram something down their kid’s throats some else will. If society is going to become wise again, it will have to spend more time teaching, and less time watching. We can start to teach our kids now when their young, or wring our hands as they get older and wonder where we went wrong.

The Baby Boomers: From Black and White To Color

Written By: James H Burns - Dec• 20•15

social-security-card-baby-boomers

Before the 1960’s, most people watched television in black and white. Looking back at what society was like 50 years ago, it seems like people looked at life in terms of black and white also. Things were either right or they were wrong. There wasn’t too much in between. Some of the things we viewed as wrong were disrespectful children, smoking pot, and sex before marriage. Some of the things society viewed as right were children not talking back to their parents or teachers and conservative dress. If you want to look back and see exactly what society viewed as right versus wrong, just watch some retro television and you’ll get the picture.

After WWII a new kind of generation was born in the United States. Because of the after effects of the War the United States experienced an economical boom, which resulted in high income jobs, (relevant to the time in history) with unemployment rates being almost non-existent. Education was also enhanced by the government with universities and colleges prompting people to get a college degree. Education was cheap, and was readily available. In fact, many took college courses to open up higher paying job opportunities and because of this lifestyle many people became financially secure. This financial freedom allowed people have more children and there was a significant increase in birth rates. People who were born during this period are called baby boomers and were born between the years of 1946-1964.

To me it seems like things really changed during this generation. Dr Spock came along, and his book became a child rearing bible for many people. Parents changed their approach to raising their children. It started to become in vogue for parents to be less authoritarian and more liberal in terms of discipline. The result; the baby boomers themselves took this to an extreme when they began to have children of their own. They took this more liberal mentality and kicked it up a huge notch. Baby boomer parents believed that their children had the right to decide everything. This included when they got fed, what they wanted to eat, what they wanted to wear, and what they wanted to say and do and it became the idea that at three years old children were asked to do things rather than being told.

For baby boomer children things were no longer black and white. Nothing was totally wrong anymore, and everything was a combination of colors. Parents couldn’t establish rules in black and white because it might hurt their child’s self esteem and kids began to feel good about who they were becoming for no apparent reason. The idea came into popularity that parents have to “respect” their children. The concept of respect is wonderful, but it was taken to a ridiculous extreme. Respect for children came to mean allowing them to say and do anything they wanted. Baby boomer children no longer learned self control in words and actions. This actually resulted in them not showing respect for anyone else but themselves. Basically, baby boomer children became extremely selfish, self-indulgent, arrogant, and demanding. Everything was about feeling good no matter what the cost. The end result, baby boomers have the highest debt and the poorest health with largest waistlines. The way they deal with relationships is if you don’t agree with me I am not talking to you and that means if we are married or not with the divorce rate being higher than what is reported. The research points to the fact that baby boomers get divorced later in their marriage. Their parents stayed together at all cost while the boomers hung on until their kids were grown.

We are now dealing with the children of baby boomers. They are being referred to as the millennial generation. Only time will tell what their problems will be. One thing that seems for sure, that the days of right and wrong and black and white are gone forever.

Bare Feet And White Flour

Written By: James H Burns - Dec• 19•15

bare-feetwhite flour

Have you ever wondered why your parents did some of the things that they did. I did lots of times. My dad had so many regimented activities that I thought he had a screw lose or something. I’m only going to talk about two here because there are too many to put into one essay. I really spent time observing my dad as a kid and listening to him, and it wasn’t until I was about forty that I realized some of the benefits of his behavior and very recently some of the real benefits of his behavior. My dad had an unbelievable fear of getting a cold. He came home from WWII with malaria and tuberculosis. He was always cautious of sharing food, towels, cups, and silverware. Any watermark on silverware in a restaurant was sent back immediately. I remember one time in a restaurant in New York a fork went back three times. Some people send food back he sent the silverware back. It got so bad that one guy sitting close to use told my dad that the he thought that the waitress was on Candid Camera. If you sneezed you were accused of trying to bring a cold into the house, to try and kill him. He was hospitalized on December 27, 1967 due to a reoccurrence of the TB and was sent to the infirmary at the veteran’s hospital in East Orange NJ for 3 months. When he came out that’s when anything and everything could give him a cold. Two things were absolutes, cold feet and white flour. I never saw my father walk around without shoes or slippers on. He wouldn’t walk three feet without putting on a pair of slippers. If you sneezed he would always ask you what you ate. My sister, my mother, and I thought he was crazy. Bare feet and white flour would make you sick and if you got sick, well as he put it, “If I get a cold I am finished.”

All of these things I observed always stuck with me. When I was about 40 years old I started to battle my weight. Always watching my calories and trying to stay in shape. The Atkins diet started to become very popular along with other diets that restricted carbohydrates, and other foods that contained you guessed it, white flour. Exactly what the old boy was talking about 30 years ago. Suddenly everyone had a carbohydrate allergy, was gaining weight, had type-two diabetes, high blood pressure, and all kinds of health issues because of white flour. I started to watch my white flour intake and I started to lose weight. The stuff I loved as a kid was something that could now kill me. The stuff that my father said could make me sick was making me sick.

Recently I was walking around the backyard with a pair of flip-flops on. I have a tendency to drag my feet when I walk primarily because my feet are kind of flat, something that I also inherited from my dad. I walked from the shed to the concrete walkway and slammed my right foot into an Adirondack chair. I know I broke the middle toe, at least it looked broken. The next day passing through the garage I stubbed the same toe on a hand weight in the middle of the floor. I got into the car in agony looked down at my foot which had the same $3.00 flip-flop on it and I could hear my father say to me, “Will you please put your slippers on.” This isn’t the first time I stubbed that toe but it is the first time it dawned on me that my father knew me because I was just like him. He didn’t want me to go through the same agonies that he had gone through. He didn’t want me to get fat or stub my toes he just had a strange way of letting me know. I don’t think he ever gave me the reason why he did what he did, that’s probably why it took me thirty years to figure it out on my own. If I could ask for something I would ask that my two daughters learn the reasons why I do what I do quicker than I learned things from my father. There’s a question that kids ask all the time “Why do we have to do this?” Sometimes by the time that gets figured out it’s too late. So put your slippers on and have a piece of whole wheat toast, you’ll be glad you did.