My grief about Elliot Rodger’s Santa Barbara killing rampage takes me to an almost wordless place. But I think it’s important to find my voice and try to address it.
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15-year-old Audrie Potts from Saratoga, California, took her life after expressing her despair online about being sexually assaulted and cyber-bullied. Her parents only found these messages when searching for reasons after her death. According to some estimates, teens spend half their lives online. These electronic worlds are too dangerous for our kids to live in without the knowledge and guidance of the adults who love them.
Too many times, adults don’t discover online messages about cyber-bullying, parties with heavy drinking, or warning signs of despair or violence until after something terrible has happened, when the opportunity to take protective action is gone.
The only place I could get Internet access was on the window ledge over the bathtub of my son’s apartment, I thought you’d enjoy this photo of my impromptu office.
Adults worry about how to talk with children when a tragedy happens, and this is when our kids need our guidance more than ever. We can offer that guidance by making thoughtful choices about the words we say, the feelings we express, and the ways we cope with our own adult-level feelings.
The NCAA’s penalties for the Penn State’s football program send a clear message from the national level that child safety should be put ahead football, winning, and hero worship. The message that the well-being of kids is more important than sports is revolutionary. By moving through this hard situation, Penn State Football, and the University as a whole, can develop a reputation of true excellence built on a foundation of integrity, courage, and safety.
Make sure your kids are prepared to avoid and escape from danger on the way to school, a friend’s house, the store, or anytime they go out without adult protection. Download a free one-page “Kidpower Safety Checklist for Parents” about how to prepare kids and assess to ensure they are ready to recognize potential danger and make safe choices immediately.
Here are five steps Kidpower recommends to protect children from being betrayed by someone they love and trust.
Watching the video of school bus monitor Karen Klein being cruelly bullied by four boys makes me want to stand up and shout, ‘STOP THE BUS!’ Parents and teachers need to teach kids how to recognize destructive behavior, resist peer pressure, speak up when they see someone acting unsafely, and get help. School staff, including bus monitors and playground supervisors, need training and support to stop kids from engaging in bullying of anyone in the moment.
My heart aches with empathy for everyone whose lives are devastated by disasters. At the same time, watching the news over and over, feeling upset, and worrying about the bad things that might happen does not make anyone safer -it just makes us and our children more anxious. Instead, especially when things go wrong, we need to take charge of what each of us can do to keep our children and ourselves emotionally and physically safe.
Here are some ideas about what to do before, during, and after a disaster.