Monday, September 28, 2009

Fourth Annual National Bullying Prevention Awareness Week Is Oct. 4 - 10, 2009

/PRNewswire/ -- As part of PACER Center's fourth annual National Bullying Prevention Awareness Week, Oct. 4-10, 2009, children, teens, adults, schools, and communities across the country are encouraged to partner with PACER to prevent bullying. The movement is being given a boost with the launch of -- a relevant, edgy Web site created by and for teens. In addition to videos, stories, blogs, and social networking, the site features a toolbox of things teens and schools can do to address bullying -- from creating their own videos to performing role plays for younger students.

Every day, more than 160,000 children nationwide stay home from school to avoid bullying. Up to one-third of the nation's students are bullied during the academic year, and more than 60 percent witness bullying daily. The results of bullying can be devastating -- or even tragic.

"It's time to take action," said Paula Goldberg, PACER's executive director. "Teachers, parents, students, and adults throughout each community must work together to create a climate that doesn't accept bullying."

In addition to visiting for teens and for elementary school children, people can help prevent bullying in several ways. Free activities to help reduce bullying in schools, recreational programs, and community groups, and materials such as contests, classroom toolkits, and more are available at Organizations and schools can partner with PACER by sending an e-mail to with the name of their school or organization, their Web site URL, and a note about what their school is doing to support bullying prevention. Partners are listed on PACER's bullying prevention Web sites.

The week is sponsored by PACER's National Center for Bullying Prevention, which is for all children, including those with disabilities. It promotes national bullying awareness and teaches effective ways to respond to bullying. National Bullying Prevention Awareness Week is cosponsored by the American Federation for Teachers, National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education, National Education Association, and School Social Work Association of America.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

H1N1 Flu: Are Parents Underestimating Risk to Kids?

/PRNewswire/ -- With schools back in session, H1N1 flu has become more active across the United States -- especially among children. A new vaccine against H1N1 flu -- strongly recommended for kids -- has been tested and is expected to be available in October. But will parents get their children vaccinated?

The latest C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health finds only 40 percent of parents indicate they will get their children vaccinated against H1N1 flu -- while 54 percent of parents indicate they will get their children vaccinated against seasonal flu. Among parents who do not plan to get their children vaccinated against H1N1 flu, 46 percent indicate they are not worried about their children getting H1N1 flu, while 20 percent believe H1N1 flu is not serious.

"This information about parents' plans to vaccinate their kids against H1N1 flu suggests that parents are much less concerned about H1N1 flu than seasonal flu for their kids. That perception may not match the actual risks," says Matthew Davis, M.D., director of the poll and associate professor of pediatrics and internal medicine in the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the University of Michigan Medical School.

The poll also shows vaccination plans for H1N1 flu differ by racial/ethnic groups. More than half of Hispanic parents plan to have their children vaccinated against H1N1 flu, compared to only 38 percent of white parents and 30 percent of black parents.

Vaccination plans of Hispanic parents may reflect a higher perceived risk in the Hispanic community, given the well publicized outbreak of H1N1 flu in Mexico in early 2009, Davis says.

In describing their perceived risk of H1N1 flu for children, one-third of parents indicate they believe H1N1 flu will be worse than seasonal flu. Nearly half of parents believe H1N1 and seasonal flu will be about the same for children, according to the poll.

These perceptions contrast information from the CDC suggesting that -- unlike what is typically seen with seasonal flu -- rates of illness and hospitalizations related to H1N1 flu are higher for children than for other age groups.

"It can be difficult to follow all the new information about a fast moving target like H1N1 flu," says Davis, who is also associate professor of public policy at the U-M Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. "Health care professionals and public health officials need to help parents and the community at-large understand that children are one of the groups at greatest risk for getting H1N1, and for getting very sick from the disease as well."

Among parents who do not plan to get their children vaccinated against H1N1 flu, or who are unsure, about half are worried about possible side effects of the vaccine. Among parents who do plan to get their children vaccinated against H1N1 flu, about 4 in 5 believe that H1N1 is a serious disease and worry about their children getting H1N1 illness. Parents who think H1N1 flu will be worse for children than seasonal flu were much more likely to plan to have their children vaccinated against H1N1 flu.

"This connection between perceived risk and plans to vaccinate against H1N1 flu makes a lot of sense," says Davis. "What it emphasizes is that to reach parents who are currently unsure about H1N1 vaccination and convince them to go ahead and vaccinate their kids, the health care community needs to focus on communicating key information about the risk of H1N1 flu for children."

The poll surveyed 1,678 parents from Aug. 13 - 31, 2009 across the U.S. about their plans and perceptions related to getting their children vaccinated against H1N1 flu and seasonal flu.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Federal Ban on Candy and Fruit-Flavored Cigarettes Starts Tuesday

/PRNewswire/ -- The following is a Statement by Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:

One of the first provisions of the new federal law regulating tobacco products will take effect Tuesday as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enforces a ban on candy, fruit and other flavored cigarettes.

The ban on candy and fruit-flavored cigarettes is a critical step to end one of the most insidious tactics the tobacco industry has used to target and addict children. The tobacco companies have a long history of using flavors to attract kids, and survey data show that youth smokers are much more likely to use these flavored products. Flavored cigarettes introduced in recent years have included Camel's Twista Lime, Kauai Kolada (pineapple and coconut), Margarita Mixer, Warm Winter Toffee and Winter Mocha Mint, and other brands featuring strawberry, vanilla and chocolate.

It is troubling that some tobacco companies may already be trying to circumvent the ban on flavored cigarettes. For example, Kretek International Inc., which imports Djarum-brand tobacco products from Indonesia and is the nation's top distributor of clove-flavored cigarettes, has introduced clove cigars that look and, according to news reports, taste like its clove cigarettes. We are pleased that the FDA has put tobacco companies on notice that it is prepared to take aggressive action against attempts to evade the new law. In a recent letter to industry, the FDA stated that the flavoring ban "applies to all tobacco products that meet the definition of a 'cigarette' . . . even if they are not labeled as 'cigarettes' or are labeled as cigars or some other product" (the FDA letter can be found at 182186.htm).

In June, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which gives the FDA broad authority over the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products. The new flavoring ban is one of many actions authorized by the law that will protect kids from tobacco addiction, stop tobacco companies from deceiving the public and reduce the death and disease caused by tobacco use. The new law will also:

-- Restrict tobacco advertising and promotions, especially to children.
-- Stop illegal sales of tobacco products to children.
-- Require large, graphic health warnings that cover the top half of the
front and back of cigarette packs.
-- Ban misleading health claims such as "light" and "low-tar."
-- Strictly regulate health claims about tobacco products to ensure they
are scientifically proven and do not discourage current tobacco users
from quitting or encourage new users to start.
-- Require tobacco companies to disclose the contents of tobacco
products, as well as changes in products and research about their
health effects.
-- Empower the FDA to require changes in tobacco products, such as the
removal or reduction of harmful ingredients or the reduction of
nicotine levels.
-- Fully fund the FDA's new tobacco-related responsibilities with a user
fee on tobacco companies so no resources are taken from the FDA's
current work.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people, sickening millions more and costing the nation $96 billion in health care bills each year. Every day, another 1,000 kids become regular smokers - one-third of them will die prematurely as a result.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Tips For Developing Good Sportsmanship

(NAPSI)-There may be good news for people concerned about what they think is a lack of sportsmanship in America.

A program created to reward and recognize sportsmanship on and off the field has developed a set of practical steps that parents and others can take to encourage fair play in youngsters and adults alike.

Tips To Help

• ABCs of sportsmanship. Teach sportsmanship as part of the fundamentals of the sport. Sportsmanship isn't naturally learned and must be taught daily.

• Go team. Parents should cheer for the team, not just their child, to teach the importance of being part of a group.

• Reward the positive. Give game balls, provide privileges for the "best sport of the game" or give the opposing team an award.

• More than the handshake. Start new end-of-the-game rituals that highlight sportsmanship. From creating a special song to a new ceremony, create an atmosphere that's positive.

• Be a reporter. Call or e-mail the media when witnessing great displays of sportsmanship to spread good news.

• Form a sports support group. Join forces with parents, coaches and community leaders.

Expert Advice

Consider the advice of LaVell Edwards, the legendary former coach of the Brigham Young University Cougars football team and chair of the blue-ribbon panel that selects the winner of the national ARA Sportsmanship Award. The award is given annually to a college senior who excels at sportsmanship on and off the football field.

Said Edwards, "This is an issue we need to address at the grade-school level and with coaches and parents everywhere."

The Good News

A higher percentage of Americans (83 percent) report they have witnessed positive displays of sportsmanship than have seen bad sportsmanship (78 percent).

That's according to a national sportsmanship survey fielded by TNS for the Awards and Recognition Association (ARA), an international trade association whose members are specialists in recognizing people through awards, trophies and other forms of appreciation.

Learn More

To learn more, visit

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Monday, September 14, 2009

HHS Awards $35 Million to States for Increasing Adoptions

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today awarded $35 million to 38 states and Puerto Rico for increasing the number of children adopted from foster care. States use the funds from the adoption incentive award to enhance their programs for abused and
neglected children.

"Adopting a child from foster care is a wonderful way to enrich any family's life," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "We congratulate the states that performed so well this year and we thank the parents who are providing loving and permanent homes."

The Adoption Incentives program was created as part of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997. The original program authorized incentive funds to states that increased the number of children adopted from foster care. In order to get payments, states had to increase the
number of children adopted relative to baseline data.

Under the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-351), the adoption incentives were revamped to provide stronger incentives for states to redouble their efforts to find children - particularly older children and children with special needs - loving adoptive homes. In addition, the law introduced the concept of an adoption rate, which is derived from comparing current year adoptions to the number of children in care at the end of the previous year. States receive additional money if they exceed their highest foster
child adoption rate for previous years back to 2002. The Adoption Incentive program gives states $4,000 for every foster child adopted above their 2007 baseline, plus a payment of $8,000 for every foster child age nine and older and $4,000 for every other special needs child
adopted above the respective baselines. In addition, states receive $1,000 for every foster child adopted over and above the level of the state's highest foster child adoption rate for previous years.

"We are pleased with the positive results states have achieved under the new adoption incentive guidelines," said David Hansell, acting assistant secretary for children and families. "Older children with special needs are the hardest to find homes for, but they are especially deserving of
the safety and stability of an adoptive family."

States receiving today's funding are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania,
Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Puerto Rico also qualified for an incentive award.

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Saturday, September 5, 2009

"Mom, Am I Good Enough?"

(NAPSI)-Girls today are facing increasing pressure to do it all- and do it perfectly-which is stressing them out and causing their self-esteem to plummet. Parents can make a difference by helping girls navigate difficult issues around body image, boys and the pressure to do well in school. While the top wish among girls is for their parents to communicate better with them, according to Real Girls, Real Pressure: A National Report on the State of Self-Esteem (Dove, 2008), many parents just do not know how to start the conversation.

The Dove® Self-Esteem Fund, established as part of the Campaign for Real Beauty, is committed to reaching 5 million girls globally by 2010 with self-esteem building programming. That is why it has collaborated with Jess Weiner, best-selling author and self-esteem expert, to create tips to help parents tackle some of the toughest subjects that teen girls face today.

1. Supergirl Syndrome: Girls may respond to the pressure around them from school, media, parents and peers by trying to do it all (look perfect, get good grades and have a busy social life) and do it all perfectly.

Tip: Encourage your daughter to find her favorite one or two activities and focus on doing them well, rather than being the very best at everything. Set an example for her by doing the same thing in your life.

2. Body Image Breakdown: When girls feel bad about their looks, more than 70 percent age 15 to 17 avoid normal daily activities such as attending school, going to the doctor or even giving their opinion, as Beyond Stereotypes: Rebuilding the Foundation of Beauty Beliefs (Dove, 2006) revealed.

Tip: Your daughter's body image starts with you. Show her each and every day how great you feel about your body and your looks-you will build the foundation for how she sees her body and the importance of how she looks.

3. Cyberbullying: The Internet has become an additional platform for the teasing and taunting of vulnerable girls. More than one in ten girls age 8 to 17 have been bullied online Real Girls, Real Pressure: A National Report on the State of Self-Esteem (Dove, 2008) revealed.

Tip: If you find your daughter is participating in cyberbullying (by bullying or being bullied), do not ignore it, thinking it is harmless. Talk to your daughter about how it feels and let her know you understand it hurts. If your daughter is engaging in cyberbullying, talk to her about how it feels to be on the receiving end and ask her what is making her do this. If you find your daughter is being victimized, remind her that while she cannot always control what is said in school, she can control her reactions to it.

4. Frenemies: Frenemies are defined as relationships in which girls behave as half friends and half enemies. Self-esteem plays a crucial role in determining a girl's tendency to engage in this type of behavior.

Tip: Talk to your daughter regularly and let her know you are aware of things that go on in school. Encourage her to walk away from a friendship that harms her and make other friends.

5. Clashing with Cliques: From jocks and geeks to drama queens and cheerleaders, cliques are rampant in middle school and high school.

Tip: Help your daughter recognize that being authentic is better than any label out there.

Every person can make a difference in the life of girls. To learn more, visit campaignforrealbeauty. com, where you can download free self-esteem building tools for girls, moms and mentors.

"Self-esteem can be a tough subject to discuss, but it is more important than ever for parents and other role models to talk to girls and get involved. Every person has the power to help girls gain confidence and reach their full potential."-Jess Weiner, Global Ambassador for the Dove Self-Esteem Fund.

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

DVD Addresses School-age Children’s Concerns about Stuttering

Stuttering is a frustrating and embarrassing problem for millions of people, but it can be especially tough on elementary school-age children.

Help is available for parents, teachers, and speech-language pathologists at many public libraries including the Fayette County Public Library in Fayetteville in the form of a DVD designed to help school-age children who stutter.

"It's meant to give speech-language pathologists the tools they need to deal with stuttering in this age group, but it also offers good ideas for parents and teachers," said Professor Peter Ramig of the University of Colorado at Boulder. Ramig is one of five nationally recognized experts appearing in the DVD produced by the nonprofit Stuttering Foundation.

The DVD features students from first through sixth grade, some of whom talk about their experiences with stuttering. They talk openly about the teasing they face from classmates and how their stuttering sometimes makes them feel about themselves.

"We focus on demonstrating a variety of therapy strategies that are appropriate in working with children who stutter," adds Ramig. He appears in the DVD along with speech-language pathologists Barry Guitar, Ph.D., of the University of Vermont, Hugo H. Gregory, Ph.D., and June Campbell, M.A., of Northwestern University, and Patricia Zebrowski, P.D., of the University of Iowa.

These five experts answer questions about stuttering, refute myths and misconceptions, and present examples of therapy sessions showing how stuttering can be reduced.

More than three million Americans stutter, yet stuttering remains misunderstood by most people," said Jane Fraser, president of the Stuttering Foundation. "Myths such as believing people who stutter are less intelligent or suffer from psychological problems still persist despite research refuting these erroneous beliefs."

The 38-minute DVD, entitled Therapy in Action: The School-age Child Who Stutters, is being distributed free of charge to public libraries nationwide. If you wish to check it out and your library does not have it, ask them to contact the Stuttering Foundation toll-free at 800-992-9392, visit and, or e-mail for a copy. Some libraries have an older video version.
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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Survey Suggests Children's First Instinct in an Emergency Might Not Be the Safest

/PRNewswire/ -- Darkened skies, emergency warning sirens or smoke creeping under the bedroom door in the middle of the night - would your family react safely? Emergencies can happen anywhere, at any time, and often without warning. Therefore, it is critical to discuss - and practice - emergency and disaster preparedness plans, such as a home fire escape route and severe weather safety plan.

A national survey released by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), an independent product safety organization, reveals that children's initial reactions might actually put them in danger during an emergency. While more than 90 percent of children said they would know exactly what to do if there was an emergency like a fire, only 47 percent chose the safest option - get out of the building immediately.

As part of National Preparedness Month, UL encourages parents to prepare children for a variety of unexpected situations like home fires, severe weather and natural disasters.

"It's natural to get confused when sudden danger demands quick action," says John Drengenberg, director of Consumer Safety at Underwriters Laboratories. "Children may say they know what to do, but as parents we need to be diligent and provide them with the guidance, resources and skills to make the right choices."

UL urges families to consider the following safety tips before, during and after any type of emergency situation.

Preparing for the Unexpected

Families that have discussed where they'll meet and what to do in different situations are always better prepared when disaster strikes. Preparation is key to keeping your family safe; here are some crucial safety tips from UL:

-- Make sure children can spell their name, parents' names and know their
phone number and address. Children should know their full name,
parents' full names, address (including city and state), home phone
number (including area code) and parents' work phone numbers or cell
phones before leaving the home.
-- Designate an out-of-town relative or friend to be your family's
emergency contact and keep their information with you at all times.
-- Prepare an emergency kit, including: five days worth of non-perishable
food and water, a can opener, flashlight, portable emergency radio
(hand-crank, solar-powered or battery-operated), batteries, any
prescription medication needed by family members, a first aid kit,
list of phone numbers for relatives, neighbors and utility companies,
and pictures and descriptions of your family. If you have pets,
include five days worth of canned pet food and water, sturdy leashes,
harnesses or carriers, current photos and descriptions and a litter
-- Develop and practice several disaster preparedness plans. Make sure
your child knows the first thing he/she should do in the event of a
storm or other disaster, regardless of their location.
-- Practice a fire escape route by drawing out a floor plan and
mapping out each family member's route of escape making sure each
room has two exit options. Designate a meeting place where your
family will reunite if separated. Consider posting the fire escape
route on refrigerators and in each family member's bedroom.
-- Make sure your children know how to respond to an emergency in the
environments they frequent, including schools, friends' houses and
public buildings like grocery stores. Point out exit signs in
public buildings, ensure they actively participate in school fire
drills and talk to their friends' parents about their individual
escape plans.

Stay Connected

While it might prove challenging to stay connected with family during a disaster, parents can use the following to help them stay connected and re-connect with their family.

-- Keep your child connected. If you're not with your child, make sure
they have your family's emergency contact information on-hand.
Additionally, whether your child is at school, at a friend's house or
participating in an extracurricular activity, make sure you have the
appropriate contact information should an emergency occur.
-- Identify your family's "ICE" (in case of emergency contact). If you
have a cell phone, program your emergency contact as ICE - in case of
emergency. ICE is recognized by police and first responders across the
nation. In addition, identify an out-of-town contact. In a disaster
situation they may be in a better position to communicate among
separated family members.
-- Subscribe to alert services. Check with your local Office of Emergency
Management to see if your community has an alert system that will send
instant text or e-mail alerts to let you know about bad weather, road
closings, local emergencies, etc. If listening to an emergency radio,
make sure you know the most appropriate station for your community.
-- If separated from family members, call your designated out-of-town
contact. It is often easier to make a long distance phone call than a
local call from a disaster area. Keep in mind, telephone lines are
frequently overwhelmed in disaster situations, so try to keep regular
telephone use to a minimum.

Post-Disaster: Don't Take Safety For Granted

While the winds may have calmed or fire debris has been cleaned up, it's not a time to let down your guard when it comes to keeping your family safe.

-- Watch animals closely after returning home. Pets may become
disoriented, particularly if the disaster has affected scent markers
that normally allow them to find their homes. Be aware of hazards at
nose and paw level, particularly debris, spilled chemicals,
fertilizers, and other substances that might not seem to be dangerous
to humans.
-- Stay clear of downed wires and power lines and be extremely cautious
of floodwater - it is frequently contaminated with septic waste, oil
and/or dangerous debris. If appliances are water damaged have them
inspected by a qualified technician and then either refurbish or
-- Keep generators outside of the home and garage and away from doorways
and ventilation systems. A potential post-storm danger is carbon
monoxide (CO) poisoning, especially if generators are being used as an
alternative source of electricity.

"The first step towards safely handling an emergency is planning ahead," says Drengenberg. "Take the time to ensure your child is Safety Smart in emergency situations and know how to empower them to respond safely."

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Ready Campaign, National Preparedness Month helps raise awareness and promote action by Americans, businesses, and communities on emergency preparedness.

For more information on disaster preparedness, please visit

Survey Methodology

The Safety Smart Survey was conducted by Kelton Research on behalf of Underwriters Laboratories, between April 16 - 23, 2009, using the phone, an email invitation and an online survey. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. In this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 5.6 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.

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