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What Would You Do? A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers

What Would You Do? A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers
Keeping Children Safe

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Kid Power: Empowering Children to Stay Safe from Abuse, Abduction, or Predator Harm

Below is an excerpt from a very small part of chapter 1 of my children’s book, What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers. The last sentence in this excerpt makes reference to children learning to take an active part in protecting themselves. Children can’t be with their parents all of the time. My book presents strategies for children to employ to become proactive in keeping themselves safe from stranger threat, abduction, abuse or predator harm. In short, it develops kid power and street-smart kids. The book also has a chapter for parents, grandparents, teachers, and other child caregivers.

            The world seems like a scary place sometimes, doesn’t it? You hear adults talking about bad things that happen. That can be pretty frightening to you as a child in a grown-up world.  You hear about war and terrorists.  You hear about killer storms.  Sometimes you even hear news reports about child abductions.  Do you know what it means to be abducted?  If a child is abducted, it means he is taken against his will by someone.
The abductor might harm him or ask him to do something that may
make him feel uncomfortable.  
Most children who are abducted are returned safely. A smart and tough team of police officers and special police from the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) carefully look for them.  Nevertheless, hearing stories of such things can be terrifying.  Don’t worry!  Our country is doing everything it can to protect you from terrorists, natural disasters and storms.  Your parents will try to protect you from any kind of harm or threat from a possible abductor.  And you will learn in this guidebook that you can take an active part in protecting yourself as well.

My book is available online through Amazon, Books-a-Million, Barnes & Noble, and through Follett, Ingrams, and Baker & Taylor cataloges. Here is the Amazon link for What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers

Monday, March 9, 2015

Safe Screen Names and Passwords for Children

I am pleased to post a guest blog today from Keir McDonald, MBE. Keir McDonald, MBE, is founder and Director of EduCare, an online training solutions company that specializes in child protection, exploitation & online safety, and bullying and child neglect. EduCare is associated with both Kidscape and Family Lives and customers include over 4000 schools and colleges and 12000 pre-schools as well as councils, NHS, charities and more.

Keir McDonald, MBE, of EduCare

Helping children choose safe screen names and passwords
By Keir McDonald MBE

If your child is old enough to be online, he or she is old enough to learn how to choose safe screen names, passwords and protect this personal information. But when it comes to choosing screen names and passwords, many children, especially younger children, need some guidance.
Here are 4 easy tips for parents and educators to help children choose and maintain safe screen names and secure passwords for social media and other online applications.
Do Not Choose Screen Names That Contain Personal Information
Your child should choose screen names that do not include personal information, such as first name, birth date or last name. Begin by helping your kids understand what information should be private so they can make safe screen name choices.
Information such as full given name, Social Security Number, street address, phone number, and family financial information is all private and should stay that way.
Help your child think of a screen name that is fun and impersonal that he or she can remember.
Explain WHY Screen Names Should Not Contain Personal Information
Of course kids should only share content, including what is public via a screen name or profile, that you are both comfortable with others seeing. Encourage your child to think about any and all public information about them online.  Employers, college admissions officers, team coaches, and teachers may view your child’s postings and even a child’s screen name could make a difference.  Encourage children to think about the impression that screen names could make.
Strong Passwords are the Foundation of Online Security
Next, teach children how to choose passwords that are difficult to guess, including making use of capital and lowercase letters, as well as numbers.
A password should be easy to remember but tough to hack. One easy way to remember passwords is to replace a letter with a similar-looking number. For example, using a “1″ in place of an “L” or a “5″ in place of an “S” are easy ways to replace a letter for a number.  Never use “Password” as the password, or things like phone numbers or addresses. 

Encourage your child to maintain a password logbook for both you and your child to have access to, and try to change passwords together every 6 months or so.

Help Your Child Manage Passwords and Keep Them Safe
For younger children, make sure you know all screen names and passwords so you can monitor Internet use. When it comes to young children, knowing their passwords for all social media accounts, email, gaming sites, computer, tablet, and phone is important. This will enable you and your child to be open for communication and to gain trust in technology use over time.
Teenagers should of course be allowed some privacy when it comes to social networking. Regardless of age, it is important to always keep an open line of communication with your child about Internet safety. Talk to your children about the dangers of sharing a password with anyone besides you, even their best friend.  

Monday, March 2, 2015

Obesity in Children: Causes, Risks and Management

 Childhood obesity is an increasing problem. Parents need to understand the causes, the risks, prevention and management of obesity in their children. According to an article on the website, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, between 16 and 33% of children and adolescents are obese. MSNBC news reported in 2010 that 4% of American children are morbidly obese. The percentage is steadily increasing. The percentage of children and teens considered overweight has doubled since the 1970’s. A child is considered obese if his weight is 10% higher than what is recommended for his height and body type. The causes are varied, the risks significant, and prevention or management a necessity.

Causes of Obesity in Children

The causes of obesity in children can include genetic, behavioral, and lifestyle factors. Obesity becomes a factor when people eat more calories than their bodies can burn. According to experts on the website, American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychology, if one parent is obese, there is a 50% chance that his children will also become obese. If both parents are obese, the risk for obesity in their children rises to 80%.

Most cases of childhood obesity are due to family history, poor eating or nutritional habits, binging, lack of exercise, low self esteem, problems with family or friends, medical problems and certain types of medication, and emotional issues or depression.

Risks and Complications of Obesity among Children

The risks for anyone who is obese include the potential for diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, difficulty breathing with ease, and difficulty sleeping. Obese children face an additional risk of emotional problems and low self esteem. 

According to authorities on the website, American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychology, emotional problems and problems with self image can result in anxiety, depression and even obsessive compulsive disorders, a disorder characterized by persistent obsessions or compulsions that interfere with functioning on a daily basis.

Managing and Preventing Obesity in Children

According to the nutritional experts on the website, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in order for parents to help their children maintain a healthy weight and avoid the risk of obesity, they must balance the calories their children consume through food and beverages with the number of calories they burn through normal physical activity and growth. The experts also advise that parents should not put their children on a diet without first consulting with a doctor.

Parents should strive to help their children develop healthy eating habits. They should also reduce calorie rich temptations which can sabotage healthy eating. Parents can help their children learn healthy eating practices by providing fruits, vegetables, and whole grain products. They should provide their children with lean cuts of meat, poultry, fish, and beans for protein. Parents should provide low-fat milk and dairy products and encourage their children to drink plenty of water rather than sugar-sweetened beverages. Parents should also limit their children’s intake of sugar and saturated fat. Even when providing healthy, nutritious food, parents should monitor their children’s portions to ensure that their portions are reasonably sized.

Parents shouldn’t completely deprive their children of tasty treats. Even though most things can be enjoyed in moderation, reducing calorie-rich temptations of high-fat, high-sugar, or salty snacks can promote healthy eating habits. Instead, parents should only allow their children to eat such temptations sometimes, so that they truly will be treats for them. As often as possible, parents should encourage their children to substitute lower calories treats such as apples, blueberries, bananas, strawberries or grapes.

According to an abstract (Vol. 295, No.13, 4/5/06)  by Cynthia Ogden, PhD, of The Journal of the American Medical Association, “Children and teens should participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity most days of the week, preferably daily.” Parents should reduce their children’s sedentary time. Children will be more motivated to be physically active if their parents are also physically active. Moderate intensity physical activity includes such things as brisk walking, jumping rope, playing running games such as tag, dancing, playing soccer or basketball, doing gymnastics, and swimming.

In conclusion, there are risks to childhood obesity, but the problem can be prevented and managed. The Related Articles section includes links to three different articles that give additional information about physical activity for children, dressing to look slimmer, and dealing with bullies. It is not uncommon for obese children to be bullied by their peers.

Picture credit:
Asif Akbar