Friday, August 27, 2010

Seven early-semester study tips

Seeing friends again after a summer apart is always exciting, but it's easy to use that as an excuse to put off studying for classes until you're facing midterms. Avoid that pre-exam panic with these study tips to use now while the semester is still new.

* Take and get notes now: The night before a midterm isn't the time to e-mail the class listserv, begging for notes because of a family emergency, whether it's real or concocted. Establish a system to organize notes, whether it's setting aside a different notebook for each class or saving typed lecture notes in separate folders. Be sure to back up your notes using secure wireless Internet. Clearly mark notes with the lecture date and topic that correspond with your syllabus for easier studying later.

* Keep track of reading: Details found exclusively in class readings show up on exams, so make sure to keep up with assigned reading. Once you fall behind in your books, it's hard to get back on schedule. Highlight reading assignments on syllabi as you complete them and write them down on sticky notes to use as bookmarks for the texts.

* Schedule study time: Study and reading time is less of an inconvenience when it's already mapped out in your schedule. Use your high-speed Internet connection to access Google's calendar function and block out hours by subject so you can better judge your free time. Be sure to stick to the schedule and treat yourself to study breaks.

* Pick a study location: Some people thrive in silence while others need background noise. Test which environment works best for you by studying at a library, student center and your own desk. Walking to the library takes more effort than sitting at your desk, but productivity there means more time for fun later.

* Read during down time: Spare time between classes is one of the best times to study because you're already in a learning mindset. Always carry a reading assignment or bring your laptop so those extra minutes can go toward your workload rather than the daily crossword.

* Use online resources: Somehow teachers know which definitions you didn't write down in class and always put them on study guides and tests. When - not if - that happens, use the greatest tool at your fingertips, the Internet. But be sure to check with multiple sources before memorizing anything found online. Also double-check essay citations and formatting using an online guide to avoid unnecessary penalties.

* Practice time-tested methods: Flash cards that worked well for memorizing multiplication tables in elementary school are also great for subjects that rely on memorization, like history and foreign languages. Study groups are also helpful because chances are someone else in the group understands concepts or has notes that you don't. Just try to set a time table for group study time and steer away from chatter.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Parents Shift Behavior to Save More for Their Children's College Education, Says College Savings Foundation Survey - Financial Literacy Education and Targeted College Savings are Key Trends

/PRNewswire/ -- More parents of college-bound students are saving for their children's college education and trying to reduce the burden of college financing from their children's shoulders, finds The State of College Savings, the annual survey of nearly 800 parents across the country and income brackets conducted by the College Savings Foundation.

"As a result of the economic crisis of the last several years, American families are aware of the need to save more, minimize debt and increase their financial literacy. It is clear from the survey findings that parents are shifting their behavior toward greater and more consistent savings," said Peter Mazareas, Chairman of CSF, a leading nonprofit whose mission is to help American families save for their children's college education.

Sixty-five percent of parents are saving for their children's college education, up from 59 percent last year. Conversely, the number of parents who weren't saving at all has fallen to 35 percent this year, down from 41 percent in 2009.

A major survey finding was the increased importance of financial literacy education for both parents and their children. Seventy-six percent of all respondents said that they take the time to teach their children how to be financially literate. Nearly all - 90 percent - said that they believe there is a need to teach financial literacy to children as part of the school curriculum. Of those parents, 82 percent said that they believed that school districts should be required to offer a multi-grade integrated financial literacy curriculum.

As evidence of a stronger savings mindset, parents advocated for financial literacy for their children and a more conducive environment for saving for themselves: 29 percent said that it would be easier to save with "more savings awareness - our society is too revolved around spending." A new finding is that 12 percent said that they have cut back on their discretionary spending.

"A better-educated and financially literate person will avoid the excess of debt and consumption that will have long-term negative consequences on both the consumer and the nation's economy," Mazareas said.

America's college-bound children are the end beneficiaries of their parents' improved saving habits: the portion of parents who expect their children to help with college financing has dropped to 60 percent from 68 percent last year. That drop occurred among parents who expect their children to finance between zero to one-third of their college costs (38 percent this year, down from 46 percent in 2009). Those expecting their children to help finance more than one-third have stayed the same.

Nonetheless, parents' confidence in their ability to reach their college savings goals is improving, with those who are "Completely, Very or Somewhat Confident" rising to 66 percent over 56 percent last year; and those who are "Not Confident" falling to 34 percent, down from 44 percent last year.

Targeted Savings Goals and Vehicles

Among people who are saving, those who are saving specifically for college jumped 14 points to 44 percent this year, up from 30 percent last year. Interestingly, the responses for saving in General and Emergency categories stayed the same as they were in 2009.

"While people are still saving for emergencies, the focus on avoiding student loan debt through college savings has clearly reaped results," Mazareas said.

One in four of all respondents owns a 529 college savings plan, with 56 percent of those employing automatic savings plans to enable consistent savings, up from 49 percent last year.

"Not only are more people saving for college, but they think it is enough of a priority to set up automatic savings plans to do so," Mazareas added.

As in last year's survey, parents using 529 college savings plans were more successful savers than those without them. Those who utilize a 529 saved more: 20 percent have saved between $5,001 - $10,000 (as compared to 10 percent without a 529); 17 percent have saved between $10,001 and $25,000 (as compared to 6 percent without a 529), and 15 percent has saved between $25,001 - $50,000 (as compared to 4 percent without a 529). While every 529 holder had saved something, 46 percent of those who did not utilize a 529 college savings plan had saved nothing at all.

Overall, the survey showed that more parents have increased their savings. Fifteen percent said they are saving more for college this year over last, almost double the 8 percent from one year ago. Perhaps more importantly, those parents are saving significantly more: 24 percent said they were saving between 10-15 percent more than last year - up from 5 percent in 2009. And, 17 percent said they were saving between 15-20 percent more - that's up from 11 percent in 2009.

Those who are saving less dropped to 28 percent, down from 32 percent last year.

The appetite for student loans appears to be waning:
-- 62 percent anticipate using them - down from 71 percent last year.
-- As the primary financing source, student loans dipped to 42
percent down from 47 percent in 2009; but parental loans edged up
to 14 percent from 11 percent last year.
-- Parents are more realistic about the long-term commitment required to
pay back loans: 30 percent expect they or their child to be paying
back loans beyond ten years after graduation; and 69 percent beyond
five years.

Parents would like to see Administration and Congress regulate college costs:

-- 26 percent up from 19 percent last year.

The College Savings Foundation's fourth annual survey of parents, The State of College Savings, surveyed nearly 789 parents from a Zoomerang data base from across the country and income brackets ($0 - $49,999; $50,000 - $99,999; $100,000-$149,999; and > $150,000). For more information see

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Recognize A Dynamic Young Hero

(NAPSI)-If you know a selfless child or teenager who has made a difference in the lives of others, there's a way to reward his or her dedication and determination.

Young people who have accomplished amazing things--both large and small--can win the ultimate summer celebration in their honor. Adults can nominate outstanding kids as part of the Nestlé® Drumstick® brand Heroes Contest. Fifty winning kids will be awarded a celebration complete with enough Nestlé Drumstick sundae cones and a fun-filled party package to host an unforgettable event for up to 50 family and friends.

"Entries will be judged on the child or teenager's accomplishments, as well as the originality and creativity used to achieve their goals," said John Harrison, Official Ice Cream Taster for the brand.

Last year's winners expressed kindness beyond their years. For example, Hannah Tachouet, age 13, from Sebastopol, CA, collected over 25 bags of clothing and $1,100 for a women's shelter. When delivering the donation, she learned that the shelter had no money to purchase breakfast for the week and that many women were going hungry. Struck by the fact that members of her own community were going without this basic need, Tachouet continues to donate to the organization, and to speak to her peers about the importance of giving.

Contest entry forms are available to download at Submit your story (150 to 500 words), along with the completed entry form, describing why the child deserves to be honored. Adults over the age of 18 may nominate children between 6 and 17 years of age who are residents of the United States. Official contest rules are online. All entries must be received by September 15, 2010. Winning children will be notified by phone and/or mail each month throughout the contest.

Creamy, crunchy, chocolatey Nestlé Drumstick sundae cones are available at grocery stores and other retail locations in both full-size cones and snack-sized Lil' Drums™ cones. What's more, the sweet and timeless flavors of S'mores and Caramel are now available in a Variety Pack of 10 snack-size cones. Perhaps even better, each cone is 120 calories or less.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Professor Gives Tips on Handling Cyberbullying, Sexting

/PRNewswire/ -- Parents should be more involved in their children's online activities and know what to do if their child is being bullied in cyberspace or engaging in sexting, according to one expert.

Cyberbullying and sexting have become major problems facing school-age children, their parents as well as school personnel, according to Bridget Roberts-Pittman, Indiana State University assistant professor of counseling.

"With the increase in technological devices, children are now using such to harass and harm other children," said Roberts-Pittman. "Many children have personal cell phones making it very easy to use these devices in that way. Communication in cyberspace also seems more anonymous and seems to require less responsibility on the part of the child committing the behavior."

While bullying has long posed problems for children, it has now moved to cyberspace. Surveys show as many as 25 percent of children are reporting being cyberbullied. Cyberbullying can be defined as the use of technological devices to deliberately harass or harm another person such as through e-mail, text messaging, instant messaging, cell phones and Internet social networking sites.

Sexting refers to sending sexually explicit photographs typically via a cell phone. At least 20 percent of teens said they have sent a sexually explicit photo through a cell phone.

"Teens and their parents are not aware of the serious nature of such an act and the potentially life-long consequences," Roberts-Pittman said of sexting.

In responding to cyberbullying and sexting issues, Roberts-Pittman said parents need to be aware of major changes in a child's behavior.

"Behavior change is a part of adolescence. However, a significant change could mean the child is dealing with a serious issue such a cyberbullying," she said. "Parents should be aware of signs such as anxiety, depression, their child not wanting to attend school or making a drastic decision such as quitting a sports team."

Parents also need to be aware of what their children are doing in cyberspace. While 93 percent of parents said they knew what their children were doing online, 52 percent of children said they do not tell their parents what they do online, according to Roberts-Pittman.

"Parents have a right to check their child's phone and Internet use," she said and suggested using software packages such as Spectorsoft or I Am Big Brother. "Parents need to talk to their children about cyberbullying and sexting. Children today are so saturated with technology that they might not even recognize the behavior as a serious problem."

Teens caught sexting can be charged with possession of or distribution of child pornography and be required to register as a sex offender for many years, up to 20 in Indiana.

"The Legislature has not caught up with technology," she said. "The best message for children is 'Don't do it.'"

Roberts-Pittman said parents can take steps to help their children if they are involved in sexting or cyberbullying. The first is to listen.

"It is critical that children feel heard and understood," she said. "Keeping an open dialogue about issues such as peers is not easy, but very important for children to know that they can talk to their parents."

She said children often do not talk to their parents because they are afraid of their parents revoking their cell phone or computer privileges. They also don't believe their parents have the technical knowledge to understand. They also fear their parents will say "I told you so."

A second step for parents to help their children is to know they have options, especially in responding to cyberbullying.

"They can and should talk to the police about harassment," Roberts-Pittman said. "If the information is posted on a social networking site, they can contact the site to have the information removed."

The third step is to save all of the texts and emails sent to the child.

"It seems to be the parent's natural tendency to encourage their child to ignore the information and delete but that is the opposite of what we want children to do," she said. "Information can be tracked and traced."

Also, parents of the child being bullied may want to address the cyberbullying with the parents of the child committing the bullying.

"I only encourage parents to do this if they have the saved information to share with the other parents," she said.

As a fourth step, Roberts-Pittman said parents should share the information with school personnel.

"The collaboration between parents and school officials is critical to address the cyberbullying and sexting," she said.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Teen Vaccination Rates Increasing Across the US

CDC survey provides estimates of coverage for adolescent vaccination at the national, state and selected local area levels

Continued increases--as much as 15 percent--were made in nationwide coverage for vaccines specifically recommended for pre-teens, according to 2009 National Immunization Survey-Teen (NIS-Teen) estimates released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The survey of more than 20,000 teens aged 13-17 found that in 2009 there were increases in the percentage of teens in this age group who had received vaccines routinely recommended for 11- and 12-year-olds. Specifically:

-- For one dose of the tetanus-diphtheria-acellular pertussis vaccine
(Tdap), coverage went up about 15 points to about 56 percent;
-- For one dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine, coverage went up
about 12 points to about 54 percent;
-- For girls who received at least one dose of human papillomavirus (HPV)
vaccine, coverage increased 7 points to about 44 percent. However, for
girls who received the recommended three doses of HPV vaccine,
coverage was only about 27 percent (a 9 percent increase);
-- For one dose of HPV vaccine, no differences were observed between
racial/ethnic groups. However, coverage was higher among teens living
in poverty compared with those living at or above the poverty level.
For the recommended three doses of HPV vaccine, differences were
observed between racial/ethnic groups, including significantly lower
coverage for blacks and Hispanics compared to whites;
-- There were no significant differences in coverage by racial/ethnic
group or by poverty status for Tdap or meningococcal conjugate
vaccine; and
-- As in 2008, there was wide variation in adolescent vaccination
coverage among state and local areas.

"This year's data are mixed," said Anne Schuchat, M.D., director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. "We can see that more parents of adolescents are electing to protect their children from serious diseases such as pertussis, meningitis, and cervical cancer, but there is clear room for improvement in our system's ability to reach this age group."

"Pertussis outbreaks in several states and an increase in pertussis-related infant deaths in California highlight how important it is for pre-teens to receive the Tdap booster," said Dr. Schuchat. "It is important for teens and adults to get a one-time dose of Tdap to protect themselves and those around them from whooping cough. Young infants are most vulnerable to serious complications from pertussis and can be infected by older siblings, parents or other caretakers."

The CDC encourages parents to talk with their child's health care provider to find out when to come in for recommended check-ups. "Completing the three-dose HPV vaccine series is very important to ensure protection against cervical cancer. Visits for immunization can be a great opportunity to address other important preventive issues that all teens need," Dr. Schuchat said.

Although poverty was not a barrier to receiving any of the three adolescent vaccines, financial challenges could prevent some teens from getting vaccinated. Families who need help paying for vaccines should ask their health care provider about the Vaccines for Children program, which provides free vaccines to uninsured children and many others with financial barriers. For help in finding a local health care provider who participates in the program, parents can call 800-CDC-INFO or go to

The CDC has conducted the National Immunization Survey-Teen since 2006. It is similar to the standard NIS, which in 1994 began collecting immunization information among children 19 through 35 months old and is a random telephone survey of parents or care-givers, followed by verification of records with health care providers. The NIS-Teen estimates the proportion of teens aged 13 through 17 years who have received the three recommended pre-teen vaccines, as well as three of the recommended childhood vaccines, by the time they are surveyed.

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Kids' Sports Training Injuries on the Rise

/PRNewswire/ -- Bobby Boyle engages in serious year-round sports training and has had his share of minor muscle injuries. When the 12-year-old athlete felt tightness in the back of his thigh while sprinting at track practice, he and his parents thought he pulled a hamstring and assumed it would heal with limited exercise time.

"We asked Bobby to take it easy for the week and not to go to his track practice. We wrote him a note to skip that but we wanted him to go to soccer practice and just take it easy," says John Boyle, Bobby's father. "So for the first week, he was icing it, he was in the hot tub, he was stretching; but he wasn't getting any better."

After two weeks of pain, frustration and no improvement, Bobby's parents took him to the University of Michigan MedSport clinic, which is one of the only pediatric sports injury programs in the United States. There, he was examined by Laurie Donaldson, M.D., who diagnosed him with a potentially serious growth plate injury to his pelvis and prescribed him six weeks of complete rest.

"That diagnosis was pretty shocking," says Olabisi Boyle, Bobby's mother. "He works out and tries to stay in shape all year long. It was pretty devastating hearing that, mostly because I know how hard he had worked for this season in particular and now he was basically being told the entire season was shot."

Younger age, multiple sports involvement increases risk

Bobby participates in soccer, tennis, track and field, basketball and cross country--often times playing on more than one team in one season. Similarly, 45 million children participate in organized sports each year in the U.S. Many of these children, like Bobby, are engaging in serious sports training and specialization at younger ages, which makes them more susceptible to potentially serious injuries.

Earlier year-round sports specialization is likely contributing to the rise of overuse injuries.

"We're seeing more serious sports injuries at a younger age," says Donaldson, sports medicine specialist at U-M's MedSport. "The concern is they are still skeletally immature with open growth plates that are prone to injury."

The growth plate is the area of developing tissue near the end of a child's bones and is the weakest area of a growing skeleton. Once growth is complete around adolescence, the growth plates become solid bone. An injury that would cause a sprain to a ligament or muscular strain in an adult could cause a serious growth plate injury that could affect physical development in a child.

Donaldson says growth plate injuries are commonly seen at MedSport.

"Growth plate injuries can be very serious, particularly if it's a fracture in one of the long bones because that can affect the growth of the bone," says Donaldson, who is also team physician for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program. "If treated improperly, it can either grow too long or not long enough."

Donaldson says there isn't one sport that causes more injuries in kids. Each sport is unique to the type of injury it can produce, depending on the body part most often used. Half of pediatric sports injuries are related to overuse while the other half constitutes ligament sprains, muscle strains and bruises.

Young females are eight times more likely to suffer an anterior cruciate ligament tear in the knee and are susceptible to the female athlete triad, where females have disordered eating, causing menstruation to become irregular or stop altogether and stress fractures from weakened bones.

On the mend

After completing six weeks of rest, Bobby says he's doing a lot better.

"Once I got off my restriction, I started jogging a little, I had some lessons with my soccer coach, I did rehab, I've been doing some exercises and lifting weights," he says. "I'm feeling a lot better and there's no pain so that's good."

Bobby's parents say they've learned a lot about how to continue to encourage his sports participation and protect him from potential injuries in the future.

"While it's great these kids are getting all this activity and getting all the fun and enjoyment and success that they get out of doing well, there's a potential downside if you don't really keep on them to make sure they're training properly," says John Boyle. "I didn't remember anything like this when I was their age and it's quite serious."

Advice for parents

Donaldson says she encourages kids to be active but provides advice for parents in order to protect their children from potentially serious sports injuries:

-- Encourage play and fun rather than competition under the age of six.
-- Discourage year round sport specialization until after puberty, but
rather encourage the "well rounded" athlete. "We know that young
athletes who participate in a variety of sports play sports longer and
have fewer injuries than those who specialize in a single sport before
-- Have children rest two or three months out of the year from a specific
sport to participate in cross training.
-- Recommend a day or two of rest a week from organized sports and
-- Make sure they stretch and warm up appropriately to prevent growth
plate injuries from lack of flexibility.
-- Condition ahead of seasons and follow the 10 percent rule--increase
distance or participation by 10 percent a week, particularly if coming
back from an injury.
-- Teach children not to work through the pain of an injury because it
could be a more serious injury than originally assumed.

"With guidance from parents, coaches, trainers, physicians and the sporting community, we can promote safe sports for kids. I believe kids' activity in sports is great for life-long health reasons because it encourages them to be active for the rest of their lives," says Donaldson. "It's good for teaching socialization, teamwork and healthy competition that can lead to success later in life."

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

SafetyWeb Launches New, Free Service to Help Find Missing Children

/PRNewswire/ -- SafetyWeb (, the groundbreaking online privacy and safety service for parents, announced today the release of SWOT(TM), the SafetyWeb Online Tracking Tool, to assist nationwide law enforcement agencies in finding online traces of missing children. The service is now available for free to any qualifying agency and is already in use nationwide.

SafetyWeb unveiled SWOT(TM) at the Crimes Against Children Conference, which it co-sponsored along with Google, Facebook, and Adobe last week in Dallas. More than 2,000 kids go missing daily in the United States, a statistic that SafetyWeb founders Geoffrey Arone and Michael Clark (both parents) found alarming.

"Michael and I visited The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and realized that SafetyWeb could help law enforcement efforts in locating missing children," said Arone. "SafetyWeb monitors nearly all the social networks and websites, making it much easier for law enforcement to gather clues about missing children in real time. There is nothing else available that is as advanced, comprehensive, and easy-to-use," said Clark.

SafetyWeb changed the online security space with advanced, cloud-based technology to help protect children. SafetyWeb looks at a child's public behavior as well as any public mentions of the child online. Unlike products that require installation or invade the privacy of the children, SafetyWeb runs on the Internet and can be accessed from anywhere, with almost any Internet connected device. SafetyWeb provides parents with easy-to-read weekly reports and 24-hour access to website services for $10/month. SafetyWeb is also available for both the iPhone and Android. To learn more or to get started, visit

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Top Study Tips For Kids

(StatePoint)  Although your child may be spending hours quietly studying for that big test, it doesn't mean he's getting the most out of his study time. 

Help your children study smarter with these tips from Dr. John Stuppy, spokesman for TutorVista, an online tutoring service:

* Schedules: Plan well and prioritize. Study when you're rested and alert.

* Outlines: Summarize lessons learned in class. Review notes rather than the entire lesson.

* Study Groups: Help kids stay motivated while exchanging ideas and knowledge.

* Flash Cards: Reinforce lessons and help with last minute preparation. 

* SQ3R: Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review. This technique maximizes learning.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Top Five Back-to-School Online Safety Questions Every Parent Should Ask

/PRNewswire/ -- As the role of technology as teaching aids continues to evolve, do you know how your school uses it in the classroom? What are the policies for Internet use? What about mobile devices? Is your school using a filter, and if so what are the monitoring policies?

With back-to-school time right around the corner, now is the time that parents should ask teachers and administrators about the school's technology policies. But as Internet-enabled devices take on more and more varied forms--pacing the Internet itself--just what questions to ask has itself become a complicated and multi-faceted question.

Here are the top five questions every parent should ask their child's teachers and administrators at the beginning of this school year.

5. What technology does the school provide for the classroom, and how will the teacher use it?

Internet connected devices today range from your standard desktop computer to SmartBoards and iPads. Ask how the technology will be used in the lesson plan, and if you have questions about the educational value of something--like YouTube--ask why it's being included.

4. What are the rules regarding mobile devices at school?

Are children allowed to use a mobile device for calculating and research? Is there a punishment for texting in class? Or, are mobile devices not allowed in the classroom at all? Knowing the answers to these questions can help your child steer clear of trouble.

3. What are the social-networking rules regarding student/teacher interaction?

Many teachers use Facebook and other social networks to connect to students and make themselves available for questions, while others do not allow such connections. Ask your child's teacher what their ground rules are, and make sure any social-networking requirements for your child fall within your comfort level as well.

2. Does your school have a Cyberbullying policy?

Cyberbullying refers to bullying through electronic means, and is an emerging area of concern for educators and parents alike. Ask about your school's policy for dealing with Cyberbullying, and what is expected from both the parents and student when it comes to dealing with Cyberbullying incidents. Many schools have recently implemented harsher penalties for Cyberbullies, including suspension and even expulsion.

1. Does your school filter?

Filtering school networks is becoming more common but is not yet ubiquitous. Find out what measures your school has in place to protect your child from harmful online content and contact while they are at school, and what steps are followed if a student tries to access banned material.

Make sure to review your school's rules with your child so he or she clearly knows what kind of online activity can get them in trouble. Establishing your own Internet usage rules at home helps kids carry that same care into web usage at school. For more information about building a game-plan for home and school Internet rules, visit

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Helping Kids Deal With Bullies

(StatePoint)  With school bullying a growing issue that is prompting many states to adopt anti-bullying laws, parents need to learn to recognize signs of bullying and how to help their children deal with the problem.

For years, bullying was considered by many to be a normal part of growing up, a "rite of passage." That antiquated thinking is being replaced by more progressive understanding of peer abuse, its causes and consequences.  

"Everyone asks me if bullying is any worse today than it was 30 years ago. The cruelty that kids perpetrate is the same but the weapons to achieve it are more sophisticated. With the Internet, Facebook and texting, students can't even escape bullying in their own homes," says survivor turned activist, Jodee Blanco, author of The New York Times bestseller, "Please Stop Laughing at Me..." and its award winning sequel, "Please Stop Laughing at Us." 

Blanco, who travels the nation's schools sharing her story, says that when addressing students her message is two-fold: It's not just joking around, bullying damages you for life. And bullying isn't only the mean things you do, but the nice things you never do, like letting someone sit alone at lunch or walk to class alone -- such exclusion often hurts more than overt abuse.  

Here are some tips to help children deal with bullying:

* Look for signs your child may be a victim of peer cruelty -- change in appetite, depression, fits of rage, frequent illnesses or faking sick, or spending too much time alone in his or her room.

* Fix the problem, not your kid. It's often what's right about a child that makes him or her a target.  Encourage children not to change who they are for anyone, that who they are is wonderful and you're proud of their individuality.  

* Don't tell your child to ignore bullies and walk away. Grown up logic doesn't work in teen situations. Tell your child to look the mean kid in the eye, show absolutely no emotion, and simply tell him or her to stop. 

* Find an interim social outlet where your child can experience a fresh start with new faces. Contact the nearest park district and public library that do not feed into your school district and ask them to send you lists of their activities for kids, then enroll your child in an activity of choice.  

* Be your child's advocate. Reach out to other parents whose children are being bullied and organize a coalition. Go up the ladder until you get results, starting with the school counselor all the way to the school board. 

For more advice on preventing and dealing with bullying or to invite Jodee Blanco to speak at your child's school, visit

As Blanco frequently reminds bullying victims, "Standing up for yourself in the moment abuse occurs is your human right. Seeking vengeance later on is a mistake. So be brave, and speak up."

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Are Georgia's Children Truly Prepared to Start School?

/PRNewswire/ -- Many children and teens are enjoying the remaining days of their summer vacation, but are they truly prepared for what lies ahead? Don't fret, with a few simple medical exams, Georgia's school-age children will be armed with the tools they need to have a more healthy school year. The exams we are referring to are given in a doctor's and/or dentist's office, and should take place before or shortly after the start of the new school year, and include a routine doctor's exam to confirm that all immunizations are up-to-date, a dental exam and a vision exam.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia (BCBSGA) is reinforcing the importance of parents talking with their child's pediatrician about the specific examinations their child should receive. This helps ensure that Georgia's youth population receives the care it needs and deserves. "As parents prepare their children and teenagers for the transition back to school, they need to make sure each child gets the recommended immunizations, along with an eye exam and dental cleaning," said Dr. Robert McCormack, Medical Director, BCBSGA.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there are many recommended vaccines for children and teens, including influenza, which should be given to all school-age children from six months to 18 years. Other immunizations include:

-- The meningococcal vaccine, which is recommended for those who are age
11-12 and at age 13-18 if not previously vaccinated.

-- The tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine, which is
recommended for all adolescents age 11-12 who have not received a
tetanus and diphtheria toxoids vaccine (Td) booster dose. Adolescents
between age 13-18 who missed the 11-12 Tdap dose or received Td only
are encouraged to receive one dose of Tdap five years after the last
Td/DtaP dose.

-- The varicella (chickenpox) vaccine. All children should receive two
doses of the chickenpox vaccine at age 12-15 months and 4-6 years.
Since the risk for transmission can be high among school-aged children
and teens, those without evidence of immunity should receive two doses
of the chickenpox vaccine and those who received one dose previously
should receive a second dose.

-- The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. All children should
receive two doses of the MMR vaccine. A first dose is recommended at
ages 12-15 months and a second dose at ages 4-6 years. If not
previously vaccinated, children and teens age 7-18 should be

-- The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which is recommended for girls
beginning at ages 11-12 and may be given to boys beginning at ages
11-12 to reduce their likelihood of acquiring genital warts. The HPV
vaccine is a three-dose series administered over a six-month period.

For the 2010-2011 flu season, which begins in the fall of 2010, the seasonal flu vaccine will include protection against the 2009 H1N1 vaccine. All children through age 18 should be immunized. Younger children who have never had a seasonal vaccine will need two doses. Additional information about the flu is available at and

The message seems to be hitting home on some level because according to a report, 73% of Georgia's children, ages 19 months to 36 months, were immunized in 2008, compared to the national average of 78% percent.


According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Bright Futures, 3rd Edition, school age children should be evaluated for visual difficulties at their annual visit and formally screened according to the AAP's recommended schedule.

In addition, the American Public Health Association (APHA) recently reported that one-in-four children in kindergarten through sixth grade has a vision problem. Some studies indicate that 80 percent of learning in children occurs visually; therefore, getting regular routine eye exams should be a major part of the back to school preparation. Undiagnosed vision problems can lead to difficulty with schoolwork, resulting in poor performance.

According to the American Optometric Association's (AOA) 2009 American Eye-Q® survey, 60 percent of children identified as "problem learners" actually suffer from undetected vision problems and in some cases have been inaccurately diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

"Having healthy eyes and clear vision can make all the difference in how a child learns and/or performs in class," said McCormack. "Poor vision can result in lower grades and ultimately lower self esteem."


Interestingly, many parents do make sure their child is current on their immunizations and vision exams; but, a visit to the dentist is oftentimes an afterthought. However, when children and teens get routine dental exams, many problems or issues can be caught early and possibly corrected.

The American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) suggest parents take their child to a pediatric dentist as soon as the first tooth appears, or at least by his or her first birthday. And then start the regular routine of visiting the dentist every six months for a dental exam and cleaning going forward.

According to the CDC, more than 51 million school hours are lost each year nationwide because of dental-related illness, and more than half of children aged five to nine have had at least one cavity or filling, with 78 percent of 17-year-olds having experienced tooth decay.

Anthem provides coverage for most vaccines and exams. However, policyholders should confirm their specific benefits by calling the toll-free number listed on their insurance card.

"We encourage our members to make sure their children start the school year off on the right foot health-wise by getting the recommended immunizations, and having their eyes and teeth examined," said McCormack. "These simple exams are essential for keeping children and teens healthy, letting them focus on other events and activities during the school year."

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Go Green for Back-to-School With the Paper Mate Plant-A-Pen Challenge

/PRNewswire/ -- Each year, U.S. consumers purchase nearly 12 million writing instruments*. This back-to-school season, Paper Mate®, a global leader in stylish, innovative writing instruments, is encouraging families to choose a greener alternative while also involving them in a fun and easy science experiment they can do in their own backyard.

It's called the Paper Mate Plant-A-Pen Challenge. Here's how it works:
-- Find a spot in the backyard and bury the biodegradable** components of
Paper Mate's new Biodegradable pen or mechanical pencil. Place a
Popsicle stick or reusable garden marker next to the site so you can
easily locate it later.
-- Check on the pen components at various times throughout the year.
Watch the stages in real-time as the components biodegrade back into
the soil or view a time-lapsed video of the entire process on
-- About a year later, revisit the site and dig to see what's left of the
pen components.

"This fun project gives parents a hands-on way to get their children excited about science and helping the environment," said Kanan Banerjee, director of marketing for Paper Mate. "It also empowers kids to make a difference, even when shopping for school supplies."

The new Paper Mate Biodegradable** products are the latest step in Paper Mate's ongoing commitment to the environment. The biodegradable components are made from plant-derived sugar, a renewable resource. Once the biodegradable components are disassembled and placed in soil or home compost, they naturally decompose in about a year, producing less waste and more compost. The products are also packaged in 100 % PVC-free recyclable material.

The Paper Mate Biodegradable** pen comes in black, blue, red or purple ink and retails for about $1.70. The mechanical pencil is available in 0.5mm or 0.7mm lead sizes and retails for about $2.70. Both are available wherever Paper Mate office products are sold. Both products are also featured in a TV ad airing on select NBC stations, including the Today Show, Tonight Show, Saturday Night Live and the Emmy Awards.


In addition to the new Biodegradable** products, Paper Mate offers a complete line of products made with recycled sources, and recently introduced an innovative new upcycling program to find new ways to repurpose writing instruments. Go green with the Paper Mate® FlexGrip Ultra® Recycled Ball Point Pen, made from 70 % recycled material; Paper Mate® Earth Write® Recycled Pencil, made from 100 % recycled wood; Paper Mate® Write Bros.® Recycled Ball Point Pen, made from 80 % recycled material; and Liquid Paper® DryLine® Grip Recycled Correction Film, made from 67 % recycled material. Paper Mate's upcycling program, created in partnership with TerraCycle(TM), is the world's first program to collect and reuse or recycle pens, markers and other writing instruments while also helping raise funds for non-profit organizations, including schools and charities nationwide. For more information on the program, visit


Teachers spend hundreds of dollars out of their own pockets on school supplies each year. Paper Mate wants to show teachers some love this back-to-school season with its "I Pick Paper Mate/Share the Love and Make a Difference" campaign***. This exclusive Facebook promotion makes sharing the love easy. Simply visit and select your level of support:

-- I Love Paper Mate: Collect qualifying Paper Mate UPCs now through
January 14, 2011. Encourage your school, family, coworkers and local
businesses to help. The first 400 eligible participants to register
and send in just 25 qualifying UPCs during the promotion period will
receive $50 in Paper Mate products. The three participants who submit
the most qualifying UPCs during the promotion period will win one of
three prizes - $5,000, $10,000, or $15,000 in Paper Mate products for
their favorite school****!
-- I Like Paper Mate: If you "like" Paper Mate on Facebook, Paper Mate
will donate $1 of product to underprivileged kids, up to a maximum
donation of $20,000 in product.
-- I Pick Paper Mate: Upload a picture of you and your favorite Paper
Mate product with a description of why that product is your favorite
and receive a free pen or pencil ($2 retail value) from Paper

Visit Paper Mate on Facebook and get started today. For complete details on all the Paper Mate earth-conscious products, visit

*As reported by WIMA, Writing Instruments Manufacturers Association, 2007.

**The majority of the Paper Mate Biodegradable pen and pencil components biodegrade in soil or home compost in about a year. See disassembly instructions on packaging.

***Official rules for all promotions that are part of this campaign can be found at Eligibility is limited to legal residents of the 50 United States and D.C. who are 18 years of age or older. Void where prohibited. All three promotions began 6/28/10. The "I Love" and "You Like" promotions end on 1/14/11 and the "I Pick" promotion ends on 9/30/10.

****Must be an accredited school (excludes home schools).
*****Until allocated supply of 60,000 pens/pencils is exhausted.

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