Wednesday, April 2, 2014

It's Child Abuse Prevention Month, but what exactly is child abuse?

Dear Jack,

I’m an 8th grader at Scenic Middle School.  I’ve had some friends who have not had the best family situations.  Sometimes they tell me what’s going on at their homes, sometimes they don’t, but I have my own ideas.  I have always felt helpless and don’t know what to do or what to say.  I think they just want someone to listen.  I’m not sure what child abuse really means and would not want to say something that would get them in more trouble.  Would you please tell me exactly what child abuse is so I can be sure and do whatever needs to be done to help my friends?  I have read that April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and I want to know what I can do to support this cause and to know what to do if those situations happen again.



Dear Sam,

It sounds like you are a very good friend.  It can be very difficult for kids to tell about abuse going on in their home.  They must trust you.  There are several types of child abuse: neglect, emotional, physical and sexual. 

Neglect is when persons responsible for a child fail to provide care, protection, and nurturing necessary for the child’s emotional and/or physical well-being. Some examples are failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, or medical care.  

Emotional abuse is when their emotional integrity (personal honesty and independence) is compromised through name calling, degrading remarks, judgmental looks/actions and conditional love.  

Physical abuse occurs if the child has sustained any physical injury, not by accidental means, and does not fit the explanation given.   

Sexual abuse is the exploitation of a child for the sexual gratification of an adult or significantly older person. This may include touching of private parts, taking sexually explicit pictures of children, showing children sexual pictures or having sex in front of a child.  Incest is when sexual abuse happens between family members, including mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, adoptive and step relations, legitimate and illegitimate children, or relatives of whole or half blood.

It is important that the community knows about abuse and how to keep children safe.  We have a Darkness to Light Training offered at the Children’s Advocacy Center which “educates adults to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.  It seeks to protect children from sexual abuse by placing responsibility squarely on adult shoulders.”  I know that you want to be the one to help your friends and you can, by having the adults in your life take this training. You can also let your friends know that there are places and people that are here to help them:  The Children’s Advocacy Center, Sexual Assault Victim Services, Department of Human Services, and Jackson County Mental Health to just name a few.

Thank you Sam, for giving me the opportunity to tell you about how to recognize and prevent child abuse.  I hope your friends are able to get the help they need and recognize what a good friend they have in you.  If you have any more questions, you can always call my mom, Toni, at CAC.  Her phone number is: (541) 734-5437 X107. 

Take care.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Advice for a teen whose teacher is too "nosey" and "touchy"

Jack and therapist, Toni Richmond

Dear Jack,

My name is Susan and I’m a freshman in high school.  I have been reading your blog and decided to write to you myself about a problem that I and my friends have been trying to deal with, on our own, but it’s not working.  What I want to ask you about has to do with a teacher at our school.  We’re all uncomfortable about some of the things that have been happening.  First of all, the teacher likes to have kids come in the classroom, after school, to talk about whatever is going on in their lives.  This would be okay, but usually it’s one-on-one and it can become very personal and, at times, downright nosey.  There’s also the problem of how touchy the teacher is to everyone, boys and girls alike.  We’re supposed to be respectful to our teachers, but it feels as if she is not respectful to us!  I know that because she’s a woman that it shouldn’t be an issue, but it is. Were afraid if we say anything it may affect our grade in the class.  Help!


Dear Susan,

Thank you for writing to me about your serious problem.  When I say serious I mean it, because, as you said, your teacher is not being respectful to you.  Your teacher may be using her position of power and control to put you in situations that are unsettling.  It does not matter if the person is male or female, if they are invading your personal boundaries, whether they are physical/sexual or emotional/spiritual, it isn’t okay if you feel uncomfortable. Boundaries are important because they define areas of privacy.  Physical/sexual boundaries protect your body.  You decide who can touch you, how they can touch you, and where.  Emotional/spiritual boundaries protect your private thoughts and emotions.  You decide what feelings you will or will not share with others.

I know you are afraid to say anything because of how it may affect your grade, but I think it’s necessary to talk to someone.  If you don’t want to tell her how her actions make you feel then it may be helpful to talk to your school advisor about your concerns, or the Dean or Principal.  It is important that you speak out.  It seems as if this teacher is violating the boundaries of others.  We all have our personal space and some peoples are much smaller than others.  Maybe hers is very small and, because she is comfortable standing close and talking about private things, she may not realize how it is different for you.  On the other hand, she may be very aware of what she is doing, knows it is out of line, and needs to be called on her unwanted behavior.  Whatever you decide to do, whoever you decide to speak to, do it soon.  This type of behavior is not okay and needs to stop.

Thank you for writing about a topic that is difficult, but I know you will choose to do the right thing.  If you want to talk to my mom, Toni, you can always call the Center.  She’s really easy to talk to and very understanding.  Take care.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Jack's advice to a child who may be depressed

Dear Jack,

I think there is something wrong with me.  School’s a drag.  My teachers are a drag.  Sometimes I feel like everything is closing in on me and all I want to do is sleep for a very long time.  There are some days that are okay, but sometimes I just want to be left alone.  I don’t want to be with other kids and they don’t want to be with me.  They all hate me!  I’m mad all of the time and I don’t know what to do about it.



Dear Jed,

Thanks for being so honest about your feelings.  It sounds like you are really sad and I’m wondering if you are suffering from depression. There’s a book called "Kid Power Tactics for Dealing with Depression" that I like to suggest for kids to read. It’s written by a 6th grader and his mom.  In the book it talks about depression being an illness that six million kids suffer from.  There are two kinds of depression – the sad kind and the mad kind. The sad kind is when you just want to hide from the world.  When you have the mad kind, you may feel like you want to hide from the world, but what you show to others is someone angry, disagreeable and, sometimes, even mean.

Depressed kids are not bad, they just want to be happy and liked.  Sometimes people may think they are crazy; cry babies; stupid or faking it -- but depression is real.  It can affect how you feel, think and act.  You may cry a lot, feel like the world isn’t a safe place, no one likes you, life isn’t fun, you have no energy, you are eating too much or too little, you can’t concentrate in school, you are on edge and you may make bad choices about drugs, drinking and skipping school. Depression is not an excuse for making bad choices.  It doesn’t mean you can blow off school and not try your best.

It’s important to see your family doctor to make sure there isn’t some other reason why you seem depressed.  There are other medical problems that make you look and feel like you are depressed, such as a bump on the head or not getting enough vitamins.  Once your doctor is sure that your feelings are caused by depression there are several kinds of treatment.  Medication and therapy are two methods of treatment.  Medication is used to balance the chemicals in your brain so that your emotions can get back on track.  Therapy is done by a trained professional to help you feel better emotionally through talking, art work and games.  Sometimes your entire family comes to the appointments.

Whatever you decide needs to happen, I’m glad you talked to me.  I hope my advice helps and you see your doctor real soon.  Take care Jed.  If you want, you can always call my mom, Toni, and talk to her.  She’s one of those professional people who work with kids and their emotions.