Category Archives: Children

MYO brochure

One of Medfield’s treasures is the Medfield Youth Outreach, which does things both wonderful and and large, for a two person department.  After the Board of Selectmen meeting last night I picked up the new MYO brochure at the Town House.

Dealing with children about trauma

Good advice in two articles from our local community mental health agency and my former entity, Riverside Community Care, as circulated this morning by Blake Middle School -

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Riverside Trauma Center 255 Highland Avenue, Needham, MA 02494 (Tel) 781-433-0672
24 hour trauma response line: 888-851-2451 (this is not a suicide prevention hotline)
http://www.riversidetraumacenter.org
Rev: 3/11
Riverside Trauma Center

CHILDREN AND TRAUMA

Children respond to traumatic violence in a variety of ways; however there are several typical responses. These responses vary, depending on numerous factors, some of which are: the child‟s age, whether the child knew the individuals involved, and how „graphic‟ the violence was.  Some common responses to trauma include:
 Concerns about fearing that the person (people) suffered
 Repeatedly visualizing the crime/incident in their minds
 Constant attempts to tell and retell the story of the crime/incident
 Need to reenact the crime/incident through play
 A desire to seek revenge (for those who knew the victim(s))
 Feelings of guilt for not having intervened or prevented the crime

For some children, particularly those who knew the victim(s), signals of grief after a violent crime/incident include:
 Fear of death
 Fear of being left alone or sleeping alone
 A need to be with people who have been through the same experience
 Difficulty concentrating
 Drop in grades (during the school year)
 Physical complaints (headaches/stomachaches)
 Bed-wetting
 Nightmares
 Fear of sleep
 Clingy behavior (wanting to be with and around parents more often)

What you can do to help children who have witnessed violence:
 Allow your child to talk about what he/she experienced or heard about
 Know that younger children may prefer to “draw” about their experiences
 Ask them what they saw and heard and what they think about the experience. Help them to label feelings, and normalize their reactions (“that must have been pretty scary. It wouldn‟t surprise me if you keep thinking about it.”)
 Spend some extra time with your child: have dinner together, make sure to keep bedtime routines.
 Remind your child of things he/she likes to do to help feel better when upset (playing, reading, etc.).
 Keep routines as much the same as possible in the aftermath of an unpleasant event. Children count on routines and structure.

If you have concerns that your child may be having serious responses to trauma, you should speak to a counselor.

RIVERSIDE TRAUMA CENTER
http://www.riversidetraumacenter.org
24 hour Critical Incident Line: 888-851-2451

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RIVERSIDE TRAUMA CENTER

Talking with your Children About Traumatic Events

Here are some tips for talking with your children when they have witnessed or heard about traumatic events:

Listen to your children: Ask what have they heard about the traumatic event. What do they think happened? Let them tell you in their own words and answer their questions. Don’t assume you know what they are feeling or what their questions will be. The easiest way to have this conversation might be while they are engaged in an activity: drawing, sitting on a swing, or driving with you in the car. Details that may be obvious to adults may not be to children. For example a child may see a school shooting on television and assume it happened in his or her neighborhood not hundreds of miles away. Be truthful but don’t tell them more information than they can handle for their age.

Focus on their safety: Once you understand their perception of the traumatic event, be clear that you will keep them safe and let them know adults (school, police, etc.) are working hard to make sure they will stay safe. School age children may be assured to know the shooter or persons responsible for this tragedy are dead or have been arrested and do not present a danger to your child or his or her school.

Pay attention to your reactions: Your children will be watching you carefully and taking their cues from you. If you can manage your anxiety about the traumatic event your children will be more easily reassured.

Monitor your child’s access to media: It will help if young children do not watch news reports or see the front page of the newspaper. Young children who watch a traumatic event on the TV news may think the event is still ongoing or happening again.

Watch for behavior changes: Your children may show you through their behavior they are still struggling with what they have heard or seen. They may have physical complaints or regressive behaviors often including nightmares, insomnia or bed wetting. They may feel guilty that they are responsible for the event, and need to be reassured that they are not responsible.

Maintain your routines: Sticking to your daily structure of activities: mealtimes, bedtime rituals, etc. reduces anxiety and helps children feel more in control.

Keep the door open: Encourage your children to come to you with any questions or concerns and do not assume the questions will stop after a few days or even a few weeks. Let them know their fears and questions are normal and you will always make time for them.  Remind them all questions are welcome.

Consider this a teachable moment: For older children this traumatic event may lead to a discussion about ways they can help others who have experienced a tragedy. You can also ask them if they know how to keep themselves safe when they are away from home. Traumatic events make us feel like we have lost control so any constructive activities we engage in make us feel less vulnerable.

Medical marijuana

The Board of Selectmen got (1) a letter from the Walpole selectmen asking us to support their request to the legislature to delay implementation of the medical marijuana statute, and (2) resident Joe Cavanaugh’s suggestion for a zoning change to control where the marijuana “clinics”  can be located in town, along with copies of bylaws enacted in two other towns.

The Walpole delay is to be able to plan for implementation, and to enact regulations and make plans on how to deal with the whole new enterprise.  The zoning changes would be to set out where the stores can be located.

I think Massachusetts missed a huge opportunity to get tax monies from marijuana, as the ballot initiative positions our marijuana “clinics” as non-profits, from which the state will get no revenue at all, but the state will still incur a lot in costs to regulate and police this new business.

And I continue to be concerned for what is apparently the detrimental effects of the marijuana use on our kids, which use will certainly go up once there are the stores around.

Community Reads Day at Memorial School

Thank you to all at the Memorial School for inviting me to read to the children this morning, as part of their celebration of Read Across America (for the birthday of Dr. Seuss last week).  I got to read Marc Brown’s DW the Picky Eater to preschoolers.  My daughter Kristen picked out my book for me.  Good fun event.

Blake’s MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey Information Night

BMS last night reported, via Susan Cowell and Kelly Campbell, on the results of the results of the November 2010 MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey.  This was the email from Nathaniel Vaughn advising of the event -

MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey Information Night

Every other year our 7th and 8th grade students participate in the MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey. The Education Development Center (EDC) administers the MWAHS to monitor trends in health and risk behaviors among middle and high school adolescents. The survey is funded by the MetroWest Health Foundation, an independent philanthropy providing over $5 million in annual financial support to address the health needs of twenty-five communities in the MetroWest area of Massachusetts. The data from the survey is used to inform planning, policy-making, health education, and prevention programming at the local level. An overview of the data from the 2010 survey for Blake will be presented on Thursday, January 26 at 7:00 p.m. in the Blake Auditorium.

My main take always were -

  • minimal drug and alcohol use – later confirmed by my daughter
  • BMS kids generally reported that they felt more secure, felt a greater ability to talk to an adult at school, and felt they were having fewer problems than kids from the rest of the area
  • 32% reported having been bullied in past year
  • 16% reported having been cyberbullied in past year
  • 7% have thought of suicide
  • 1% have carried a weapon to school
    Map of Massachusetts with MetroWest highlighte...

    Image via Wikipedia

     

The Parent Resources handout is available here via this link http://medfield02052.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/20120126-parent-resources-handout.pdf

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Teen alcohol use

I wrote this as a comment to an article on Medfield.Patch.com this morning, and Patch told me it was way too long (“Easy there, Tolstoy. Your comment cannot exceed 1500 characters.”), so I have posted it here instead.

What I took away from the MCAP meeting last November, and from prior similar ones, was both the high incidence of binge drinking amongst the juniors and seniors at Medfield High School, but even more importantly, the research that clearly documents a direct correlation between the onset age at which alcohol use begins and the eventual rate of alcohol related problems later in life.  It is apparently both well researched and well documented that the earlier in one’s life that one starts to use alcohol, the more likely it is that one will have alcohol addiction problems later in life.   So every year we can get our kids to postpone alcohol use makes later addiction problems that much less likely for them.

Given that there is such a well documented cause and effect relationship between the earlier onset age of drinking and later increased alcohol related problems, and given too that those adverse results can be avoided by the current choices being made by our youth, it strikes me that we as a society should be doing whatever we can to assist our youth to:

  1. first, fully understand and appreciate the increased risk and the potential long term consequences of their present choices and actions surrounding drinking, and
  2. second, learn the strategies and gain the confidence to avoid current choices that have potential to start severe long term effects for such a significant number of them.

It was at a prior similar meeting that the speaker noted that they now know that the brain is not fully developed until we are about twenty-five years of age.  As a result, the effects of alcohol use by those younger brains differs from its effect on the fully developed brain.  One of those differences seems to be the greater susceptibility to addiction.  If we so clearly know both that fact and those risks, how can we as a society not try to influence our youth away from  behaviors that will cause then long term problems and greater grief.

I do not claim to know the answer as to how this gets done, but I do know that it is not enough to just say that we all drank when we were young, that the kids now will all continue to do it too, and as a result to do nothing.  There is just too much to lose to not try to make more of a difference.  I also know that society has been able to successfully change attitudes and behavior towards both smoking and seatbelt use during my lifetime, primarily by the education of our youth on the associated risks and consequences.  Now it is our children who chose not to smoke and chose to wear seatbelts, and in turn teach and shame we parents into following suit.  As a society, we cannot afford to risk the loss of one more of our youth to alcohol, so we must do something.

I posted at my blog, http://medfield02052.wordpress.com/,  the materials from that MCAP meeting last November, which can be found at http://medfield02052.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1158&action=edit&message=6&postpost=v2.

Arsenic in apple juice

FDA reconsidering limits on arsenic levels in juice.

The AP (11/30, Jalonick) reported that the Food and Drug Administration “is considering tightening restrictions for the levels of arsenic allowed in apple juice after consumer groups pushed the agency to crack down on the contaminant.” On Wednesday, FDA deputy commissioner for foods Michael Taylor said the agency has already begun increased testing and research on arsenic in apple and other juices, and is seriously weighing lowering the amount of arsenic allowed. A Consumer Reports study released Wednesday found that nine of 88 samples of apple juice from grocery stores exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency’s 10 parts per billion standard for drinking water. Consumer groups argue that FDA’s current “level of concern” standard for arsenic in apple juice of 23 parts per billion “is too high and isn’t enforced with enough urgency.” The Consumers Report study calls for reducing the levels to as low as 3 parts per billion.

Reuters (11/30, Keiper) added that the report’s findings were put online and will be featured in the January 2012 issue of Consumer Reports magazine

Janice D’Arcy wrote in a Washington Post (11/30) blog posting, “Given that arsenic can be organic and harmless, or inorganic and dangerous, perhaps the most troubling finding is that most of the arsenic found in the juice was inorganic.” She noted that Consumer Reports’ parent, Consumers Union, “is suggesting that parents restrict juice consumption to children up to 6 years old to no more than six ounces per day. For older children, it recommends no more than eight to 12 ounces a day.”

HealthDay (11/30, Gardner) reported that inorganic arsenic is “known to cause bladder, lung and skin cancer. It can also up the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and some reports have stated that arsenic exposure can affect brain development in children.”

Jeannine Stein wrote in a Los Angeles Times (11/30) blog posting that the Consumer Reports study “comes just months after television host Dr. Mehmet Oz proclaimed results from his own investigation showed that arsenic levels in apple juice were unhealthful. The Food and Drug Administration claimed Oz’s statistics were faulty and said juice was safe to drink. Apple juice contains a certain amount of organic arsenic, and what Oz found, they said, represented the total amount of arsenic and wasn’t an accurate reading.” It adds that, in light of the Consumer Report study, “Oz may feel vindicated.”

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5i0OVg-WttM8liDgcPJa1-FpP7lsA?docId=d85414935c0247e197c119d2deb1f580

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-parenting/post/consumer-reports-finds-alarming-levels-of-arsenic-in-apple-and-grape-juices/2011/11/30/gIQACVl1CO_blog.html

http://www.latimes.com/health/boostershots/la-heb-arsenic-apple-juice-consumer-reports-20111130,0,7800816.story

Town opts to postpone Halloween

The town opted this morning to postpone Medfield’s celebration of Halloween until Friday, because of the ongoing issues related to the storm.  I was told that the administrators, public safety and department heads were conferring and felt that prudence and safety should control.  There apparently continue to be downed and leaning tree limbs, downed wires, and widespread electrical outages.  The safety of the children has to be the the paramount underlying consideration, as we cannot afford even one unexpected event.  However. that does not avoid the fact that any such change is bound to inconvenience people  and their children, for which effects the town should be sorry.

Report on Unsafe Toys

Trial lawyers report on toy safety (www.justice.org/toys) good road map for what to watch out for: sharps joined by lead, toxins, & magnets

MHS Mentors available for girls in Blake and elementary schools

MHS students seek to mentor elementary & middle school girls – email medfieldyouthoutreach@yahoo.com to arrange a teen mentor