Kerry, a teen mother, is frustrated because her 18 month old son, Jack, will not stop running in the house. Through her tears, Kerry explained to her Social Worker that Jack consistently refuses to listen to her although she tells him repeatedly to stop. Jack has already fallen several times while running in his socks, and according to Kerry, he still has not learned his lesson. The Social Worker advised Kerry to continue parenting Jack with patience, persistence, and a positive attitude. She reminds Kerry that Jack is naturally exploring as a toddler; just as Kerry explores as a teenager. As Kerry has shared this frustration several times, she finally made the connection that the social worker implied. As a teenager Kerry has admitted that she often doesn’t listen to her parents and that children sometimes test their boundaries; a lesson Kerry said she can relate to.
Fortunately, Kerry is a participant in the statewide Parent Linking Program (PLP), a program that helps teen parents finish their education but also become the best parents they can be for their children. PLP is a program for teen parents which is provided free of charge in high schools that includes a social worker who provides regular counseling to students like Kerry. All teen parents in PLP are encouraged to be more responsible and nurturing parents as they balance the responsibilities of being a student-parent. In PLP, Kerry’s Social Worker reminds her consistently of the positive outcomes she can continue experiencing if she avoids having another unintended pregnancy; specifically while she is still in high school.
May is Prevent Teen Pregnancy Month where national awareness and participation is encouraged in an effort to prevent unintended teen pregnancies. These efforts are especially important for those who live with and/or work with teens who are already parents. Over 700,000 teen pregnancies occur each year in the United States; most of them, 80%, are unintended pregnancies. Each year, the Parent Linking Program (PLP), of Prevent Child Abuse-NJ reminds over 200 teen parents to make plans for healthy family choices and avoid subsequent unintended pregnancies. Although teen pregnancy in New Jersey has declined, there are still 6,000 teen parents statewide who could use support in preventive efforts to avoid unintended pregnancies.
PLP, a School Based Youth Services Program funded by the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, was created because it is a proven fact that children born to teen parents are at greater risk of being neglected and abused due to lack of knowledge, resources, and finances. In exchange for free child care, program participants are required to attend the weekly parenting and life skills workshops, in addition to the normal academic curriculum required for graduation. These components prevent present and future child abuse and neglect by enhancing the teenage parent’s self-esteem, knowledge of parenting and child development, and ability to meet financial responsibilities by helping the teen parent complete high school and delay repeat pregnancies.
Fortunately with the support of the parents/guardians of the teen parents and the support of PLP Coordinators (Social Workers, Directors, and Caregivers) 95% of the program’s participants do NOT have a second unintended pregnancy. Often in home visits, PLP Coordinators discuss with family members the importance of the consistent reminder of responsible family planning.
Most PLP participants express good intentions with their children despite their challenges. They are usually challenged with sacrificing their time, money, and even personal space (sharing bedrooms with their children). Participants are reminded that a repeat unintended pregnancy can add harmful stressors to the teen mother as well as her child. In addition, stress puts repeat births of teenagers more at risk of preterm and low-birth weight in comparison to their first births.
The Parent Linking Program’s 25 year history has proven that the program’s services can lead to powerful changes in the communities of New Jersey. 95% of the teen parents enrolled in Parent Linking Program have graduated high school and, 90% planned to attend college. Many of the PLP program alumni and current participants speak to their peers in school about their challenges and ways to avoid unintended pregnancies. Teen pregnancy prevention can be a communal effort sharing messages of responsibility in the homes, schools, cultural centers in every community. Fortunately, New Jersey is one of the lowest ranking states in teen pregnancy rates. In May, and every day, please remember that supporting a teen parent is increasing the likelihood of successful outcomes; high school and college degrees, greater job and life skills, and of course, happier and healthier children.
While PLP has trained professionals counseling the teen parents, these professionals also encourage the parents and guardians of teen parents to talk about pregnancy prevention. If you are a parent, here are some tips to help you navigate the discussion on pregnancy prevention:
In May and throughout the year, spread the message to a teenager that avoiding an unintended pregnancy is a responsible decision.
Most people may not know that February is Dental Health Month. Well, now you know. If you are the type of person that is meticulous about oral care, GREAT!!! But, if you aren’t, after reading this you might want to run to your dentist’s office.
Oral care starts before birth. For many of us, our oral history is directly related to that of our mother’s. So eating a nutritionally balanced diet during pregnancy is important and a great way to create a positive path towards good oral health. Secondly, when a child is born, just because their teeth aren’t usually visible doesn’t mean that you ignore oral health until the child starts teething. Parents should take the time to wipe out their baby’s mouth with a soft washcloth and tap water after each feeding. For those of you who are asking why tap water and not spring water – tap water contains Fluoride, the same main ingredient used in toothpastes. Another benefit of wiping out a baby’s mouth is that this prevents thrush, white patches that develop over time because of yeast build up in a baby’s mouth usually found in breast milk or formula. Once your child’s teeth start to grow, you should use a kid’s soft toothbrush to brush away the bacteria that forms from milk or baby food. This is also the time to start familiarizing your child with the dentist. A baby’s first dental visit should take place by their first birthday.
As a child grows, it is beneficial to lead by example. If you want your child to brush their teeth, you can start by having them watch you as you brush your teeth. Your “mini-me” is going to want to emulate everything you do so make sure you set a good example. You can start the process by having your child pick out a toothbrush they like. This way, they will be excited to brush their teeth. In addition, choosing a toothpaste that tastes good to your child and singing a song will also make it easier to get them to incorporate brushing into their daily routine. Tooth time will feel less like a chore and more like a fun activity for your child. As a parent or guardian, you will still need to assist your child through the oral care process because until a child is about 8 years old, they may not know how to or understand the importance of flossing. To get them to floss on their own in the future, you may want to show your child how it’s done while facing a mirror or show them an animated video.
Now that you have established an oral care routine with your child you can add a fluoride rinse to your regimen. Fluoride rinses, such as Listerine, aide in washing away bacteria and promotes fresh breath. The added fluoride also helps to strengthen teeth to reduce the risk of cavities and gingivitis. For children you may want to use an alcohol-free rinse in order to avoid the harshness of traditional fluoride rinses.
We at Prevent Child Abuse-NJ are providing this informational blog to ensure that you, the parent, who serves as your child’s first and most important teacher, have the tools to ensure your child continues to have a happy, safe and healthy childhood. Since these are such important reasons to visit the dentist regularly, why not start the tradition of family dentist visits with your child.
Remember to brush twice a day, floss once a day, replace your toothbrush once every three to four months and have a dental check-up twice a year.
Check out the following websites for more information:
Now that you have all the tools for a successful oral health routine, it’s time to use them. Go and make a dentist appointment for you and your family. Make February 1st dental health day.
Recently, Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) released a report that finds that our youngest children –those younger than age 3 — were far more likely to die from child abuse and spend longer times in foster care than older children. The report is a valuable wake-up call that raises public awareness about the high levels of stress for parents with young children and a number of long-standing weaknesses in the foster care system. The report calls for better training of child welfare workers and special attention to the special issues of babies and toddlers.
Prevent Child Abuse-New Jersey supports these excellent recommendations and while they may be necessary, they are not sufficient to fully address the challenge of child maltreatment that lies before us.
Child maltreatment – most notably physical abuse and neglect – happens to younger children in all settings for many of the same reasons it happens in the foster care system: younger children can present some of the most difficult challenges for parents because their communication skills are limited and their behavior can be trying even for the most stable and successful parents. And many parents lack sufficient knowledge about healthy child development to be a positive parent.
Federal statistics and NJ show that the highest rate of maltreatment happens to children under age 4 and the 80% of all fatalities from abuse occur to children younger than.
So certainly, ongoing reforms are needed in the foster care system to reduce the risk of child abuse for our youngest children.
But maybe more importantly, we have the opportunity to PREVENT these tragedies from occurring before a foster placement becomes necessary and before a child becomes a victim.
Improving the training of child welfare workers can be helpful, but strengthening proven prevention programs like home visitation would yield better results. Although home visitation programs have been expanded, we are only able to serve a small percentage of families in high-risk situations. We should also consider requiring foster parents to participate in home visitation programs to more closely monitor the stress level in this new temporary family setting, which would provide added education and support to prevent a tragedy.
The foster care system is a result of our most fundamental failure to prevent child abuse. Our first priority should be to strengthen our efforts to prevent child abuse from ever happening. Research about prevention programs shows they save lives, improve a child’s long-term health outcomes and success, and save taxpayers money by preventing the downstream costs of foster care, law enforcement, health care, treatment for substance abuse and mental health issues, incarceration and unemployment.
Anytime there is a case of child abuse, we need to back up from the crime and ask, “What could have been done to prevent this from ever happening?” In addition to helpful recommendation by ACNJ about reforms in the child welfare systems, there are many valuable opportunities to do better to prevent child abuse in NJ.
We recognize the extraordinary challenges and stresses facing parents in our State. The recent devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, followed by an early Nor’easter, caused millions of New Jersey residents to lose access to the basic necessities – food, shelter, clothing, water and electricity. These unprecedented events came on top of other forms of devastation related to the economic downturn that caused many to lose their homes, jobs, and security for their families.
As we celebrate fatherhood this weekend, it is important that fathers treat themselves and relish in all of the gifts and attention provided by their loved ones. This time should also be used, however, for one to take a good look at themselves and really evaluate their fatherly practices. Although there are many fathers who are present in the lives of children, it is essential that they are making a priority of spending “quality time” or “fun time” with not only the children, but the other co-parents, as well, if possible. This creates a positive experience in many ways for the child and is crucial to their socio-emotional development and overall well-being.
If you are a father who believes you can be doing more for your children or wish to strengthen the bond you share with your children and their mothers, here are 10 great tips for fathers of all backgrounds. If you are already doing these things, please share this information with fathers you know.
1. Play with your child
Children love it when you play with them. Especially boys. It can be playing board games or playing sports. Or as simple as chasing around the yard. The important thing is that you are giving them your time, and that is what a child wants.
2. Read with your child
Children love to learn. And books are a great way to learn. Read with your child, and they will grow up loving to read. Your child may try and just read certain types of books, but try and find a variety of books. Some, your child won’t like. Some they will. The point is to expose them to the many different types of books as early and as often as you can.
3. Change your child’s diapers
I don’t know why men are afraid of this one. I’ve been involved with changing my children’s diapers ever since the first one was born. Yes, it can be smelly. Yes, it can be messy. You will survive. And your wife will appreciate you helping out.
4. Be firm, but gentle
From time to time, your child will need to be disciplined. This should start early and ideally be done by both parents, not just one. Parents need to agree on what should be disciplined and how. When your child needs to be disciplined, it is important to be firm. Your child, especially as they get older, may try to test you. If you don’t remain firm, your child will not learn to obey you.
5. Listen to all sides
Disagreements will arise between your child and others, whether they are siblings or cousins, or other children. It is important that before you decide what you should do, you need to listen to both sides. You may not know everything that led up to the disagreement, so this is important in deciding what to do.
6. Be fair
Sometimes, when you discipline one, you must discipline another as well. That is part of why you must listen to both sides. But being fair extends to more than just discipline. Being fair when you have multiple children is that you make sure you do things for both. There may be times when you have to pay more attention to one than the other, like when one is an infant and the other can fend at least partially for themselves. But you must not do this to the exclusion of the other. As they grow older, it can be important that you find time to do things with each of them. Just remember to be fair in the time you spend with all of your children.
7. Cook (and not just on the grill)
Some men disdain the kitchen. They will go out of their way to prove they don’t know how to cook. Or if they do cook, will only do so on the grill. Cooking in the kitchen not only gives your wife a break, but also shows your children that men can cook.
8. Help with the housework.
The only thing some men disdain more than cooking, it is helping with the cleaning of the house. You don’t have to maintain a spotless household, but helping to keep the house clean and orderly helps keep the environment safe for your children. With you helping to do the housework, your wife will be able to relax and have more time to spend with you as well. Just because certain roles are “given” by society to men and others to women does not mean that the other can’t do the work.
9. Be available and present
You don’t have to spend every moment you are around with your children. However, there are times when your child needs your attention. Make yourself available to your child. But you must also remember to be present. Just being physically present when your child needs you may not be enough if you are busy on the computer, watching television, or on the phone. Look your child in the eye and listen to what they need so you can better help them with what they need.
10. Remember to teach.
As a parent, you are a role model, Even if your child is in school, there are things you can teach your child that schoolteachers can’t teach. Be involved in what your child is learning. You may not be able to help with everything. Help with what you can. Remember, the most important thing you can teach your child is how to interact with others, and you do that with how you interact with your child and with others.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/1390408
As you celebrate fathers with your families this weekend, consider a donation to Prevent Child Abuse-New Jersey in their honor. We know that when parents — mothers, fathers, and all caregivers alike — are actively involved with their children’s lives, they are bound for future success. Decades of research show that when parents are involved, children have higher test scores, better attendance in school, better self-esteem, decreased usage of drugs and alcohol… the list goes on and on. Every father can make this difference for their children.
Earlier this week, the American Academy of Pediatrics published new car seat recommendations for parents in the April 2011 issue of Pediatrics.
One of the biggest changes in recommendations is for children to remain in their rear-facing car seat up through age two (or the maximum height and weight limit), whereas the previous recommendations from 2002 prompted many parents to begin the switch after the child’s first birthday.
Another new recommendation is that children twelve years and younger should ride in the back seat, in addition to other recommendations involving booster seats and the heights of the children.
Pediatrician Dr. Alison Baer has produced a short video showcasing each of the recommendations, the evidence behind them, and suggestions and tips for children of all ages:
Many parents have shared stories of children frightened to not be facing forward (and therefore able to see where they are going), which can lead to either switching the child’s seat around, or at the very least, making for a loud trip with plenty of crying and screaming! At the end of the day, though, it has to be about the children and their safety. Prevent Child Abuse-New Jersey actively works to end child abuse by way of evidence-based programs, and we of course must recommend that parents take the science and evidence from these exprts into account when making decisions about the safety of their children.
Like Dr. Baer says, it does not matter if it is just a short trip back home from school or the grocery store — the vast majority of accidents happen close to home, so always remember to buckle up properly!
On January 26, 2011, the NJ Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a parent “slapping their child” did not constitute “child abuse”. The court’s ruling overturned an action by the NJ Division on Youth and Family Services to remove a teenager from her father and stepmother’s home in 2008. The father admitted that his wife had slapped his daughter and took her earnings from a part-time job to pay a TV cable bill.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that an occasional slap, “although hardly admirable…does not fit a common sense prohibition against excessive corporal punishment”.
In general, the NJ definition for physical child abuse states that a parent’s punishment of a child would need to lead to a serious injury to be classified as child abuse, so the court’s actual decision isn’t the story.
However, the court’s comment that the act is “hardly admirable” is important for two reasons.
First, research overwhelmingly shows that there are alternatives to spanking (or in this case “slapping a child in the face”) that are more effective in raising and disciplining a child — which is the point.
Striking a child has been shown to increase negative behaviors, including aggression, in children. When someone is hit, whether it’s an adult or a child, a natural reaction is hostility, fear, anger, and resentment. There is research that points out that children experience these same emotions and it affects their future behavior and attitudes — the same as it would an adult.
Second, research also shows that hitting a child as a disciplinary measure simply doesn’t work. It may change an immediate behavior due to the child’s fear of being hit again, but research shows that children who are hit are more likely to be misbehave after five years than children who weren’t hit.
Even supporters of spanking concede that the emotional and mental state of the parent can negatively, and quite harshly so, affect the child on the receiving end. Organizations such as the Family Research Council have noted, even amidst their other recommendations, that “physical abuse by an angry uncontrolled parent will leave lasting emotional wounds and cultivate bitterness and resentment within a child,” and further, “reactive impulsive hitting after losing control due to anger is unquestionably the wrong way for a parent to use corporal punishment“.
Do you think the mom of this teenager who was slapped was administering “balanced” and “prudent” use of spanking, or is it more likely that she was angry, reactive, or impulsive? How many parents are cool, calm and collected when they reach out and spank their children?
The reality is many parents resort to spanking their children out of frustration, when a child has pushed their buttons and refused to obey, with the result being an impulsive smack “to get the child’s attention”. Usually, the parent has simply run out of patience and believes they have the right to hit their children if they want to. Additionally, a parent who chooses to spank may come to rely on it more frequently to get a child’s attention, and use more severe spanking as the child grows older… and bigger.
It may also be useful to realize that parents choose to hit their children, in part, because while the children are small, they are unlikely to hit back. Not too many parents spank their six-foot-tall sons. In addition, parents choose to spank because they lack the patience or education to use more positive — and effective — parenting techniques, or they were hit as a child and simply repeat their parent’s behavior.
I asked a fellow parent, who supports spanking his son as a disciplinary measure, if he thinks spanking his children strengthens his child’s respect for him as a father or mother… or whether it might fuel hostility or anger in the child. The answer: “Spanking teaches my child to respect me” (because if they don’t, they get spanked again…).
There is a better and more effective way to raise children than resorting to hitting your child when they don’t behave. It requires patience — a boatload of patience, sometimes — along with knowledge about other ways that work better. For more information about positive discipline, check out some of our “Tips For Parents“.
The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to set resolutions. This year, why not make getting involved in your child’s education one of them? This one simple resolution can lead to a lifetime of benefits for your child including: better grades and test scores, more positive attitudes and behaviors, stronger connections in the classroom, higher literacy levels and an increased likelihood that they will pursue higher education. Parent involvement is also one of the best investments a parent can make. Students who graduate from high school earn, on average, $200,000 more in their lifetimes than students who drop out. College graduates make almost $1 million more!
We all want our children to succeed in school, but with work, home, and other responsibilities we often feel like we are being pulled in a million directions and can’t imagine doing one more thing. As a parent of two elementary school children and a full time working mom, I understand how difficult it can be to become and stay involved. However, parent involvement doesn’t just mean going to meetings or volunteering in a classroom during the day. There are lots of different types of activities you can do (and may already be doing) to support your child’s education.
Parent involvement in education can mean:
Whatever your level of involvement, remember: If you get involved and stay involved, you can make a world of difference. So resolve to get involved — it may be the most profitable resolution you can make!
My professional colleagues here at Prevent Child Abuse-New Jersey have educated me on the many stressors that predispose a family to being at risk for abusing or neglecting their child. Substance abuse, incarceration, isolation from friends and family in a new community, and domestic violence are some of the more common situations. Unemployment, and with it, a lack of an income stream, is another contributing factor. With unemployment levels at double digits, reports of jobs not being re-introduced to the economy, mandatory furloughs, a reduction from full time to part time, and cuts in pay rates, everyone knows someone in their lives who has, or will, experience the stress first hand.
In addition to the financial impacts that unemployment has on families, there are psychological effects such as depression, lack of confidence, feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, and anger.
What can the unemployed individual, and his family members, do to be supportive during this stressful time? It is a competitive workplace out there, and you need to stay 5 steps ahead of other candidates with small tips:
Work is only one aspect of what defines you as a person. Being a parent is THE most important job you will ever have in life. Focus on your job search and, if you are overwhelmed by the stresses of unemployment, seek help.
Job Site Resources:
At a recent neighborhood barbecue, a mom raised the question: “What is the right age for a child to stay at home alone?” This mom had two children ages 7 and 9, and wanted to leave them home alone to exercise in the morning for one hour while they were still sleeping. Of course, this question raised all kinds of comments and a wide range of opinions. As the social worker at the table, everyone looked at me for the “correct” answer. The fact is, there isn’t an exact age when a child is ready. The laws in New Jersey do not specify an age when a child is considered old enough to stay home alone. The National SAFEKIDS Campaign recommends that no child under the age of 12 be left at home alone; however, parents must make an individual decision based on many factors, including the child’s age and maturity level. All children are not the same. Some 12-year-olds may be ready to stay home alone, but not all will be.
To determine if they may be ready, consider the following: how is your child at handling emergencies, following instructions, and behaving appropriately? Do you still feel the need to check on him/her or to re-direct his/her behavior? If so, then s/he may not be ready to be left on their own. Also, how does your child feel about being left alone? If they seem worried or frightened then they just aren’t ready yet. Keep in mind that even if you feel they may be able to handle staying home alone, it doesn’t mean they can take care of a younger sibling. That requires additional responsibilities that your child may not be ready for yet.
Before you take the big step of leaving your child alone, make sure you review with your child what to do in case of an emergency. Practice with your child a variety of “What would you do if…?” scenarios to make sure they understand how to handle different situations. Discuss your expectations regarding what is allowed while you are away – can they watch TV, use the computer, answer the phone, have friends over…?
Other things to consider when deciding if your child is ready to be left alone is where you live. Are there neighbors nearby you know and trust to help your child in case of an emergency? Do you live on a busy street with lots of traffic? Is there a lot of crime? You and your child need to feel that the surroundings are safe.
Before you leave your child alone for extended periods of time, take a trial run. See how they handle being left alone for 15-20 minutes while you run to the store or pick up a sibling. Start out during the day. If they are able to handle this, then you can gradually leave them alone for longer periods of time.
When you are ready to leave your child alone make sure you leave emergency numbers (doctor, ambulance, fire department, etc.) in a place where they can see them and easily locate, such as on the refrigerator or by the phone. Always leave a phone number (land and cell) where you can be reached, as well as an emergency contact such as a relative or neighbor in case your cell fails or they can’t reach you. Call home frequently to check on your child.
While I do admit I sometimes dream of the day when I’ll no longer have to pay a babysitter, I know those days will come soon enough! Children grow up quickly so enjoy the time you have with them now.
For additional guidelines and things to consider in making this difficult decision, download a copy of the PCA-NJ “Is My Child Ready to Stay Home Alone?” (PDF) tip sheet.