A scary and horrific combination!
Stacey Honowitz, a regular on HLN, CNN, Fox and MSNBC is also a leading state prosecutor with over 17 years dedicated to the Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Unit.
However most importantly one of her accomplishments is her two educational books that serve to help parents, children, advocates and others to finally talk about this difficult subject in a manner which is comfortable for everyone.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Stacey Honowitz answered a few questions:
Q) What changes in a child’s behavior should raise a red flag for parents?
Stacey: Some behaviors in small children are nightmares, bed wetting, a constant need to be with you, a fear when you go to change them, and a general fear of staying alone with the person after they never had a problem before. I don’t like to generalize, because some of these behaviors are indicative of other issues, but sometimes a decline of grades in older kids, and a lack of enthusiasm for things warrant a discussion. It might not be abuse, but certainly if something doesn’t sit right with you, make sure and ask if they feel uncomfortable about something and want to share it.
Q) What sorts of behaviors from an adult should raise a red flag for parents to prohibit that adult from ever spending alone time with their child?
Stacey: This really goes back to the first question that you asked. Sometimes a person will pursue a child by engaging in behaviors that the child will enjoy. Constant gift giving, a relationship based on “being friends” and “don’t be afraid to tell me anything” coupled with an opportunity to spend “alone” time with them.
Red flag number one, the person calls and communicates with the child by phone or computer without you being present, and constantly asks you if they can “take your child” out for the day, or that they would love to babysit while you do what you have to do. Most parents are thrilled to have an adult take such an interest in their child, but they must realize that many times there is an ulterior motive.
Q) If a parent is suspicious of an adult’s behavior, what steps can the parent take?
Stacey: If any parent believes that another child is being abused please do not feel like your are intruding by trying to help. Most parents later on say “I thought something was happening but it was not my place.” It is your responsibility to alert either a family member, school authority or protective services if you suspect some type of abuse either sexual or physical. If you have a relationship with that child there is nothing wrong with you questioning the child, and asking “is everything okay” or “do you need my help with anything going on at home.” Better safe than sorry is a motto that really holds water.
For more information, order Stacey’s books:
What exactly is a parent looking for when their once happy bouncing toddler has turned into an out-of-control teenager?
Second semester. Some teens have had enough. They don’t want to go to school anymore. They believe they know it all. It is easier to get a GED, after all, some of their so-called friend are doing it!
As much as you are trying to ignore or just say it is a phase, you notice your teen is withdrawing from the family, failing in school, smell alcohol, maybe even marijuana, cigarettes, and overall have become a child you no longer recognize with a personality that is defiant and totally disrespectful the the family boundaries – what do you do?
Most parents try local therapy – which is a great first step, but when happens when therapy doesn’t work? You can’t be afraid to take that next step! A parent in a denial only harms your teenager. Don’t be held hostage in your home by your teen’s behavior.
Sending a child to a residential program/school is a major decision. It is not one to be taken lightly or to be decided on overnight.
Usually a teen’s behavior has been slowly escalating and a parent knows that deep down things are not getting better. As much as you hope and pray that things will change, this is only typical teen behavior, sometimes it just isn’t.
With drug use and substance abuse rising – more dangerous and deadly ingredients being used, such as spice and inhalants, parents have reason to be concerned. It isn’t your marijuana of generations prior – it is so much worse and in many cases – addictive and deadly.
If you have reached your wit’s end and now surfing the Internet for help, remember, anyone can build a website. Anyone can put up nice pictures and create great content. You need to do your due diligence.
Years ago I struggled with my own teenager. I was at my wit’s end. I didn’t realize what a big business this “teen help industry” was. Yes, my child needed help, but what we received was anything but that. My story is a cautionary tale – not one to scare you into not using a program, however on the contrary, you have to get your child help, but you have to do your research in getting them the right help.
Here are some quick tips:
- Your child is not for sale, try to avoid those marketing arms selling you a list of programs that are not in the best interest of your child’s individual needs.
- Always speak with an owner or director – Someone that has a vested in your teen’s recovery. Their reputation is on the line.
- Wilderness and other short term programs are usually nothing more than a band-aid that will fall off as quickly as the program lasted. They are expensive camping trips and in most cases the Wilderness program will tell you at about 4 weeks that your teen will need to continue on to a longer term program. What? Yes, now you go back to the research board and worse than that, your teen will be deflated when he finds out he/she isn’t coming home in 6-9 weeks as they were lead to believe – and they will be starting all over again with a new therapist – new schedule – and new setting. Don’t get caught up in this “shuffle.” Start and finish with the same school/program.
- The average stay should be about 6-9-12 months, depending on your teen. Anything less is probably non-effective. Anything more, you may be creating abandonment issues in my opinion.
- Do you really need an Educational Consultant? Absolutely not. You are the parent and no one knows your teen better than you do – with a few tips, you will be able to make some sound choices.
For more helpful hint and tips, please contact www.HelpYourTeens.com for a free consultation. After the ordeal I went through, I created this advocacy organization to help educate parents on finding safe and quality programs.
Talking to teens about drug abuse is never easy. Did you know teens that learn about the dangers of drugs from their parents are 50 percent less likely to abuse drugs? As parents, we must work together to educate our teens and create awareness about the dangers of substance abuse, including over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine abuse.
In 2007, five moms from around the country were brought together to share information with other parents about the largely unknown trend among teens of abusing OTC cough medicines to get high. Since then, the Five Moms campaign has reached more than 24 million parents to help educate them about preventing teen cough medicine abuse, spreading awareness to parents, schools, and communities. And now they want your help! The campaign recently launched the Are You the Next Five Mom? search to look for a new Mom to join the fight against cough medicine abuse.
Are you a mom who is passionate about working with teens? Do you have experience working with teens and substance abuse? If you are interested in being a part of the Five Moms campaign, they are looking for someone who:
- Has experience or a passion for working with teens;
- Has past or previous involvement in teen programming or issues affecting teens;
- Has experience working with teens and/or substance abuse;
- Has raised awareness of cough medicine abuse in their community or is a community leader;
- Works with teens on a daily or weekly basis a coach, teacher, guidance counselor, youth group leader, etc.;
- Uses social media to reach parents and educate them about teen substance abuse;
- Is involved with community organizations that center around pre-teens and teens;
- Developed an original idea or event to educate others about cough medicine abuse; or
- Has distributed Five Moms and/or cough medicine abuse information to their children, peers, community, etc.
For more information on how to enter the Are You the Next Five Mom? search, and for the official rules and regulations, visit FiveMoms.com. To learn more about over-the-counter medicine abuse, visit StopMedicineAbuse.org.
I must say, I am so flattered and honored, not only to be listed, but to be among some people I look up to and feel they have been my mentors.
Do you think there are more parents on Facebook or Twitter?
Now, if I had to guess, I would say that more parents are active on Facebook than Twitter. Just going by the numbers, Facebook has over 750 million subscribers. I know that as a parent, I spend more time on Facebook.
However, I have found that Twitter is a great source for all types of connections and resources.
Just like anything on the internet there is a lot to sort through to get to the good stuff. That is why I wanted to write this post and share with you some of the best parenting experts that I have found on Twitter.
Of course, these folks have websites and Facebook pages too, if you don’t hang out on Twitter. I will post those links as well.
1. Brian R. King, LCSW – @brianrking
Brian is a fantastic resource for families and children on the autism spectrum. He is an adult on the autism spectrum and is also the father of three sons on the autism spectrum. He has a unique and powerful perspective in serving this community and parents in general. He also has innovative programs, including webinars and coaching programs.
2. Dr. Michele Borba – @micheleborba
Dr. Michele Borba truly is a parenting expert and literally wrote the big book on parenting solutions. She is a Parenting Contributor for several TV shows, including the TODAY Show, Dr. Phil and MSNBC. Michele is a Psychologist, educator and author of 22 books, including “The Big Book of Parenting Solutions.” Oh yeah, most importantly she is also a Mom. She is also very friendly and personable on Twitter.
3. Dr. Laura Markham – @drlauramarkham
Dr. Laura Markham is an excellent resource for parents. She has a website that is jam packed with great info that is helpful to parents of kids of all ages. Dr. Laura is definitely “making the world a better place…one family at a time.” She is both a Mom and a clinical psychologist. In all of her work she emphasizes self-care for parents and ways to always maintain a connected relationship with your kids. Really good stuff. You should check her out online.
4. Sue Scheff – @suescheff
Sue Scheff seems to be a tireless advocate for kids and teens. She is an author and parent advocate who has been on many TV shows, including 20/20, CNN, Rachael Ray and Dr. Phil. She is very active on Twitter and posts many helpful articles and resources on a daily basis. She is especially connected and fluent in youth culture and trends, which I appreciate with my focus on working with teenagers.
Website: suescheff.com and helpyourteens.com
5. Suzanna Narduci - @suzannanarducci
Suzanna is a Mom of two and co-founder of TweenParent.com, which is a website for parents of preteens, also known as 9-13 year olds. Her website is really fun and easy to navigate. It is chock full of good parenting advice and relevant blog posts. She is fun to connect with on Twitter and always generous in mentioning my Twitter name as someone who cares about kids. Thanks Suzanna!
These are just a few of my favorite Parenting Experts to follow on Twitter. There are so many more.