Tuesday, July 22, 2008

School safety, who can pick up your child?

Who can pick up your child from school? Do you know what the pick up procedure is at your school? How well are those policies followed? I was watching a Dr. Phil episode about children being picked up or kidnapped from their school. In both cases the policies that are in place to protect the kids were not followed. As a parent I need to know what the procedures are and how well are they followed. How do you test your school?

What can we do to keep our kids safe? One thing to do is let our kids know what to do if someone tries to pick them up from school. One solution is to tell the child to refuse to go unless the person knows your safe word. A word only you and your child know. Your child should also know that just because a teacher says this person is here to pick you up does not mean it is ok to go. They can say NO to the teacher and not go with that person until the person gives them the word or they have talked with you over the phone.

It is funny but both kids had been told by their parents not to go with strangers, but they went anyway because the teacher told them that this man was here to pick them up. At no point was the identity of the man taking the child established. This was a definite breach of policy. So you can have the best policies in place but they are only as good as the person enforcing them.

It is not good enough to have great policies you have to enforce them as well. There are real consequences here. If someone is kidnapping a child from school chances are they don't have the best interest of the child in mind. As a parent we need to make sure the policies are being enforced, even if it is inconvenient for parents and the teachers. It is a lot more inconvenient to have to search for your child then it is to show some id when picking them up.

At our kids pre-school no one is aloud to pick up our kids unless they are on the list of people we have authorized to pick them up. On top of that they have to have verbal confirmation from us prior to pick up, otherwise the person cannot take them from the school. So we have to pre-arrange for anyone other then us to pick up our kids. Then the person has to show id proving that they are the person that they claim to be. There is only one door that people are aloud to go in or out and it is manned at all times. You have to be buzzed in. They have a great system, one of the better ones in our area. However, this fall our son is going to real school and we have to establish the schools pick up policies. I expect that they are not as secure as the preschool. Now we have to teach our son what to do if someone other then us tries to take him from school. I hope he does a lot better then the two kids that were taken from school by strangers.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Spam is one thing but sending me child porn is criminal

Today in my business email was a “wonderful” email of child porn. It was marked as Spam but as I could preview it before opening it I saw what it was about and had to stop from deleting it. It was talking about hardcore sex with little girls and boys and had seven links to video clips of said child sex. What the F*** is this.

Quick call to the police and it has now been reported. There will be a police offices calling me and then making arraignments to come over and take the information from my computer. I don’t care if it is going to take time out of my day this gets reported. First I am so against child porn I cannot let this slid. Second they sent it to me out of the blue, no idea of who I am or even how old I am. This was on my home computer; my kids could have seen this. Third if I was working for a company then I could be fired for this, child porn on my computer. Hard to explain that one, and trust me the larger companies do have email monitoring programs that would have caught this one. It had all the key words that would flag any system. This is malicious and evil.

The problem is that when most people receive an email like this it just gets deleted. Not many people actually report it or even know how to report it. Also people worry about what people are going to think about them receiving a child porn email, that others will think they signed up to receive it or will question how a company dealing in child porn got their email in the first place. It is Spam. The company trolled for emails or purchased an email list and then sent it to everyone, not caring who received it.

Every email like this needs to be reported to the police, so call the non-emergency number and report it. You never know when one email can open a big can of worms and break a case open or lead to a child porn ring. As hard as it is to keep it on your computer, please keep emails like this long enough to let the police take whatever information they can. With the smart computer techs they have these days they should be able to trace this back to whomever sent it. With the current laws it may even give them the info to stop this person and possibly lead to this persons arrest.

Some of the world governments are taking this seriously and are co-operating to bring child porn to an end. It does not matter what country you are in report emails promoting child porn to the authorities. The next time you hear of a large child porn ring being discovered and the people arrested you may have provided the information that helped get them. Don’t let them get away with this, be part of the solution and report the email.

Confessions of a Computer addict

Several months ago I discovered something about myself I don’t like. I have an addiction to my computer. I would spend most of my time on the computer. There was always something I was dong, looking at, and working on or needed to be done. Everything was “in a minute I have to finish this” or “Can it wait I am working?” Sometimes I would go all day not eating because I become too caught up in what I was doing or just did not feel I had the time to make or grab food, or I would eat at the computer, even dinner.

This was affecting my life more then I knew. My husband was never happy. He was always upset that I was on the computer yet again. My kids were acting out to get my attention. Even though I thought I was paying attention to them I was actually in the same room with them but always on the computer. My kids would be asking me to play with them and I would have them play on the computer desk so I could keep working as I played with them. That did not work very well. My family felt that I cared more about the computer then them.

After months of my family complaining I finally realized they were right. I had gone to the parenting class, the Incredible Years, to try and deal with two kids that were always acting out. One of the first things we had to do was identify wheat we did with our time, and how much time did we really spend playing with our kids. It was a real eye opener for me. I really did spend almost all my waken moments on the computer. No wonder my kids were acting out to get my attention. It was the only way to get me off the computer.

This had to change; it was not healthy for my family or me. I had to drastically cut back on the time I spent on the computer. Harder to do then I thought it would be. I told myself I did not have a problem and could walk away from the computer anytime. Not true. I work from home, on the computer and as everyone knows work is never done. Then there was all the socializing I did on line. I was multi-tasking like crazy to try and do everything in a day and never could and my family was paying the price for that. Family time was all of us in the living room, the kids playing or watching TV and me at the computer desk, working.

We moved our computer/office to the basement and made a rule that when the kids are home we stay out of the office and off the computer. It is still hard to do. You don’t know how much you depend on or use a computer everyday until you restrict your access to it. We are always checking emails, looking up information like phone numbers or doing price comparisons online. That is not including how much we use the computer for work. We are still on the computer more then we should be but things are better.

I wonder if there is a place computer addicts can go to for help? With my luck it would be an online website. This is not the same as trying to quit drinking or smoking. Computers are such a part of our lives and how we socialize now. I have to be able to work on a computer all the time and be able to stop and separate work time from family time. It would be easer if I did not work from home, but then I would still have a computer at home to tempt me.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Why have the Sex talk with a five-year-old boy?

I have been getting some very strange questions from my 5 year old and I had to really think about my answers. I had to decide if I should just give some meaningless answer or actually give him some information, and if I gave him information how much. I also had to think about what other questions my answers would give him.

During bath time he asked:

What are balls?
What is inside balls?
Does Mommy have Balls? Why not?
Does Daddy have balls?
Where do babies come from?
What is sperm?
How do babies get inside Mommies?
What is sex?

It started out easy, “What are balls?” and then became progressively harder as my answers gave him questions I was not sure I was ready to give uncomplicated answers to. I gave honest answers trying to keep it as simple as possible until he reached a point where the answers became too complicated for him to understand. At that point I used redirect to get him back to his bath and gave myself some time to think before the next set of questions. I want to get the information across without having to get into details and that is not an easy thing to do.

So why give a five year old real answers? It is a lot easer to provide information now that will be stepping stones for him to learn about himself, his body and sex, as he gets older. If he is looking for information now, then now is when to give it. It makes it easer to have conversations latter on when he older and ready for more information. I have to start thinking about strategies now so I can be ready when he is. I cannot say that I would be the type to buy an adult magazine and use that to answer questions, but I can see me finding some medical books and using those when he is older. It is still the same information but presented in a different way. There is a fine line between providing answers and resources about sex and corrupting a minor.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Improve the local economy by giving to food banks

Giving to the food bank makes good economic sense. To you it may only be a can of potatoes or tuna but to someone going to the food bank it is food they did not have. A small contribution makes a difference. If everyone who could afford to buy an extra can for the food bank did it would make a huge difference.

It gives people food, letting them spend their money on other things, like more food or a hair cut. The point is that by using the food bank it increases their disposable income to spend, they can buy more. That increases sales and helps retailers.

The food you buy for the food bank is a sale the store would not have made. This increases the stores sales. It does not make a large difference when you buy one can but it does if you buy a can each trip and so does your neighbors. Suddenly it is not a sale of $1.00 but and extra $1.00 for every shopper. It adds up very quickly. If you have 300 people shopping everyday, that’s an extra $300 a day in sales and food given to the food bank.

A difference of $300 a day can keep a retailer open, or let them keep a staff member, or even hire one. So buying food to give to the food bank may even create a job, or keep someone working, and not using the food bank. There are a lot of benefits to donating to your local food bank. The more people who do it the better it is.

So help the local economy, give to your local food bank.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Emergency Room Dilemma – Do you go or not?

Question, do you take your kid to the emergency or wait until morning when the Doctors office or walk in clinic is open? In Hamilton we can call Telehealth Ontario, talk with a registered nurse who will assess the situation and determine what would be your best course of action. Then you know if you actually need to go to the hospital or just go see a Doctor. The idea is to help reduce the number of unnecessary visits to the emergency room. This free health service has been very helpful for us. There have been many late night calls where we have been told to stay home, do this, and then take the kids to the clinic in the morning.

When your kid is sick it is nice to be able to call and talk with someone who is a professional healthcare worker and can reassure you that you are doing the right thing, or tells you to do something different or more. As a parent of young children I want those instant answers. I don’t want to take an ambulance ride in the dead of the night and have a long wait at the hospital only to be told I could have just taken him or her to the local clinic. It is very expensive to use an ambulance, but sometimes you have no options but to use one. No one likes waiting hours in the emergency room only to get treatment at about the same time as they would have it they stayed home and went to a clinic in the morning.

I say this after my daughter had a coughing attach about 10:30 last night. She had difficulty breathing and it scared the beep out of me. We monitored her for about a ½ hour. She was having painful coughing and difficulty getting air back in. We called Telehealth Ontario and waited for their call back to us. Very quickly we had someone on the line walking us through all sorts of health questions to eliminate possible problems. The lady even had us hold the phone up to our daughter so she could hear her breathing and coughing.

The end result, she had to go to the hospital right then. So we had the fire department and two ambulances show up full sirens. Of course as soon as the firemen had arrived she stopped coughing and having problems breathing so she was not in danger anymore. We arrived at the emergency room just after midnight, was given a bed at 7:15 am, saw the Doctor at 7:30, was given medicine at 7:15 and by 8 am we were on the bus home. I spent about 4 of the almost 8 hours I was there trying to get her to go to sleep. Hard to do in a waiting room. Turns out she has Croup. It can usually be treated at home, but in some cases you do need to go to the doctors or emergency room.

So as a parent you have to make a decision to stay at home or go to the hospital. What is going to be the best thing for your children? For us it was easy, she was having problems breathing and we did not know why or what to do. It is just nice to be able to get a second professional opinion at anytime to let us know if we are panicking or does our child need to go to the hospital.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Canada Day was a blast

It was so much fun to watch the kids as the neighbors filled the air with fireworks. The kids got to stay up late with their friends and had a wonderful time. Everyone barbequed hotdogs and hamburgers and there was lots for every kid, even the ones that don’t live in our little area. The community pulled together, gave a little and it added up to a lot.

This year we were unable to add to the fireworks, though we did make lots of hamburgers and hotdogs. We are planning to put money aside for fireworks next year. Watching the kids anticipation as they waited for it to get dark enough for the fireworks was fun. They were all running around and playing, all kind of hyper. Then the sparklers came out. There was enough for every kid and then some. It kept the kids busy as the fireworks were set up.

Then the first blast of sound as the first Roman candle went off. All the kids ran to their seats and blankets to watch. My daughter hid her face each time a firework went off. Our son become more and more excited as his best friend and he watched the bright lights flashing in the sky and the loud bangs. Hearing them scream as each firework went off was fun. Eventually the loud noise was too much for our daughter and in she went, only to fall asleep right away as the fireworks continued to go off. Our son watched every firework and was upset that he had to come in once they were done. It was great to be able to sit in the back of our home and enjoy this time with our children and neighbors.

I hope whatever celebrations you have this summer as are as wonderful for you as Canada Day was for us.