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Parents; How to Talk to Children about the Connecticut School Shooting

We have all heard the horrific news by now. At 9:40 this morning, a masked gunman named Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook elementary school and fired a gun around 100 times. He killed 26 people, 6 adults and 20 children under the age of 8 before killing himself.

Since then it’s been hard to concentrate on anything else but this story.  As a parent of young children, it’s the unimaginable. You send your children off to school hoping that they will be happy but knowing that they will be safe.  Typical worries of a friend not being so friendly or a teacher giving a bad grade may cross our minds.  But not this.

There is no making sense of this tragedy but we do need to be ready for questions.  What do we do for and say to our children about this senseless shooting?

(1) Limit media exposure:  Conversation and information about this tragedy should come from you, not the TV.  You know your children best and can limit details as necessary.  Information on the news is for you and is not age-appropriate for a child.

(2) Underscore safety:  Ensure your children that the authorities and people in charge at their schools are doing everything possible to keep everyone safe.  Help them to understand that a school shooting in one location does not mean that there will be another one in a different location.  These incidents are thankfully very rare and your children and their friends are not at risk because this has happened. In this case, as the gunman is also dead, there is a finality to this devastating rampage.

(3) Remain calm and levelheaded: While it is natural to be upset and infuriated about the shooting, it’s important that we don’t overwhelm children with our emotions.  They need to know that we are strong and reliable if they have questions—and that we are there for them if they need to talk.  If YOU need to talk about it, call a friend or speak to a loved one.

(4) Expect some unusual behavior or feelings: Sometimes news of this sort can make the children act in different ways.  Some will become withdrawn and quiet while others may become hyper or clingy.  Ask them how they are feeling and if they would like to talk. Assure your child that they are OK and give them space to feel anyway that they do—validating their feelings as normal and natural.  Help them to expend nervous energy in productive ways without pushing them.

(5) Discuss fears: Whether you sit with them and have a conversation or use art, role playing or dolls, allow children to express their fears.  What will help them feel safer and more secure?  Fears are nothing to be embarrassed about– today or any day. Sometimes just listening and being their can assuage their fears.

(6) Do not dismiss or avoid: It’s a tough topic.  But if your children are asking about it, talk to them in an age-appropriate way.  You don’t need to go into details and if you don’t know an answer, just say you don’t know! Assure them each time that they are OK and the people in charge are working hard to keep everyone safe.  Remember, if you aren’t talking about it and they want to hear an answer, they will go to another source.  YOU need to be the source.

(7) Hug them tight:  Nothing says safety and security like being tucked into your parents’ arms.  Tell them that you love them and that you and everyone who loves and cares for them are doing everything you can to ensure their safety.

The hug, of course, is also for you.  At times, having children can feel like a really big, tough and even frustrating job.  Everyone has their moments.  But today, take time to hold your children and tell them how grateful you are to have them.  That your life is enriched by them.  That they fill your heart with the most delicious happiness and you thank goodness everyday that they are yours.

Do it.  Again and again. You’ll be glad you did.

 

Parents forget child at Chuck E Cheese: 10 parenting tips for safety and preparation

I can’t believe I’m saying this…Parents are forgetting their kids at the children’s play place, Chuck E. Cheese’s.  While this may sounds like the makings of a Saturday Night Live skit to you, it’s actually the truth. Yesterday, Good Morning America called me to do a piece (which was squashed at the final hour) about a 5 year old girl who was left at Chuck E. Cheese’s last week.

It happened on Thursday night when the child was left at Chuck E. Cheese’s immediately following her own birthday party.  One of 10 children in a family, she was left behind by her mother—it wasn’t discovered that she was missing until the following day when her mother realized the girl wasn’t in her bed (she as getting her up for school).  Sounds completely implausible, right?

Perhaps.  But when 3 adults were attending the event with 19 children—things can get pretty hectic.  Was there a miscommunication of who was taking the child home?  Did everyone assume someone else was taking care of her?  We don’t know. The girl is now in protective custody until they determine what really happened here.

But, believe it or not, this has happened before to other parents.  In fact, it just happened last Monday to another family! Three-year-old Harmony was left behind by her parents at a Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant in Bel Air, Maryland. They only realized that they had forgotten her when they saw a report about her on the evening news. Apparently there have been other cases of this in other areas as well.

Were the children misbehaving? Were the parents trying to employ the safe haven rule at Chuck E. Cheese’s? No. Parents haven’t left their kids there because they were at their wits end, they were leaving them there…by mistake.

I know.  It’s ridiculous. How can people forget their child…let alone in a place that they attended for their children? But if you had 10 children…if it was a big crowd…if you made assumptions about who was picking up or dropping off your child…if you were exhausted or fed up or had a headache…could it happen to you or someone you know?

Whether you think so or not, this does beg some tips about parenting in a large, chaotic play place.

(1) Ensure that you have enough adults: When you have 19 children at a range of ages (some very young) and only three adults, you are out sorely outnumbered. There needs to be enough adults to ensure the safety of the children—especially when they may all be heading in different directions.

(2) Have an exit strategy: When you are dealing with multiple children, make sure every child and every adults knows where to meet, who they are going with, and how to check in with the adults.

(3) Make sure everyone knows the rules: Before entering a large play place, talk to your children about the safety rules. Even though this place is devoted to having fun, safety must come first.  Young children must be Read more

Walmart Kidnapping: How can I keep my child safe from unkind strangers?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4PxkTiU0yU]

My Facebook page is hopping today after I posted about the little girl, Brittney Baxter, age 7, who fought her way out of getting kidnapped from Walmart yesterday, when a man grabbed her, covered her mouth and tried to subdue her.  The girl is safe and the alleged kidnapper in custody, but these stories of attempted child abduction always leave a trail of fear, frustration, concern, and questions from parents and educators.

Several parents and concerned citizens have gotten in touch because they are unsure about how they can protect the children in their lives from a similar situation. I wanted to reach out to you to provide some tips.  Please feel free to pass it on and repost the link as this is an issue on many people’s minds today.

In terms of “stranger danger,” what are we supposed to tell our young kids?

(1) People are mostly kind…but some aren’t:  For the most part, people are good, kind and helpful.  But not everyone. “Most people are very kind. When we go to the store, there are many kind people who are there to help you, right? Most people want everyone to be safe and happy. But some people are not kind.  Some people do not make safe and kind choices. We don’t always know who the kind and unkind people are because there are no superhero or villain masks in real life.”

(2) Stay by the person who brought you:  Your school age children should be told to stay by you or the person who brought them.  “When we go out, please stay where I can see you and you can see me.  Please don’t wander into the next aisle alone because I won’t be able to see you.  Wandering off is an unsafe choice.  Staying by me is a safe choice.”

(3) State what you want in the positive as well as in the negative: We Read more

How Parents Can Talk to Their Children about the Leiby Kletzky Murder

How Can I Talk to My Children about the Leiby Kletzky Murder? 10 Tips Parents Need to Know

A horrific story about a 8 year old boy, Leiby Kletzky, gone missing, murdered and dismembered in Brooklyn this week, has parents wondering how to talk to their children about this tragedy.  As a parent myself, all I wanted to do was shut my eyes, close my doors, and hold my children tight.  It is every parent’s nightmare—not just because of the loss itself—not just because of the gruesome way this young boy died—but because of the senselessness of the murder.  What was the motive? Why this boy? Or perhaps more accurately, could it have just as easily been mine?

As a mother I find it so hard to write this article.  My stomach flips and my teeth chatter just like yours.  We want to raise happy, healthy, confident children—not ones that hide from the world and fear those within it.  At the same time, these kinds of sickening stories make us want to yell; “stay home with me and never venture out alone!”  Logically, we know this isn’t possible or realistic.  But pure emotion—and fear– can sometimes hijack our sense of reason.

Given that the tragic murder of Leiby Kletzky is now all over the media, your children will likely hear about it in some way.  It would be proactive to be prepared for questions and a discussion about everything from the facts to the meaning of it all.

So what do you need to do and know in order to talk to your children about the Kletzky murder?

(1) Be available and shut off the media: The best person to talk to your Read more

Ashley's law: Following up on Ashley McIntosh's deadly car crash

Ashley McIntosh who died in a tragic car crash with police officer Perry

Virginia Residents!

A Plea From Ashley’s Mother: Bringing Ashley’s Law to the Table

Dr. Robyn Silverman

As you know we’ve been following the tragic story of Ashley McIntosh, my niece’s teacher, who died in a horrible collision with a police officer, Amanda Perry, on an icy day last February. Witnesses had clearly seen the police car speeding through the red light without a siren, yet with lights, towards the intersection where Ashley was thrown from the car and killed. Many of you have responded in comments about this story over the last year.

There have been many questions around the negligence of the police officer as she didn’t have a siren on—something that hasn’t been required by the police. In fact, the law states that police officers are exempt from the red light/green light law if their “speed is sufficiently reduced.” While Officer Perry had been charged with reckless driving  in May, she was not found guilty in September. Now, it’s time to look at the bigger picture.  We need to protect others.

While there is no way to bring back Ashley, Ashley’s mother, Cindy McIntosh Colasanto, is trying to bring Ashley’s Law to the lawmakers.  This law would require police officers to use their lights and sirens (and slow to a safe speed) when driving through red lights .Anyone in Virginia, please pay attention:

Dear Virginia Resident,

I want to thank you for your signature on the petition urging state legislators to introduce “Ashley’s Law,” a law that would require police officers to slow their cars and turn on their sirens when driving through red lights.    My daughter, Ashley, was killed when a Fairfax County police officer failed to take those simple, life-saving measures.

State Senator Toddy Puller has now introduced a bill requiring officers to follow those guidelines.

Now I want to ask you one more favor that could make the difference in whether this bill become law.

Would you please write/email/call your local senator and representative urging him or her to vote for this bill?

I have included a sample letter that you can cut and paste into an email or letter.

Thank you for your support.   Your actions could truly save a life.

With gratitude,

Cindy McIntosh Colasanto, Ashley’s mother

Dear Assemblyman/Senator ________________:

I am writing to urge you to vote for SB 847 which will require Virginia police officers to slow to a safe speed and use their sirens when driving through red lights.
This is a common-sense requirement which protects innocent citizens as well as police by reducing the risk of potentially deadly collisions.

Thank you,

If you are a Virginia resident, please lend your support to the McIntosh family.

Best regards,

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

Related:

Original article on Ashley McIntosh

*May 2nd 2008 update here.

*September 2008 update here

Ashley’s law website here

10 Things You Must Know When Traveling with Children

Children and traveling

Traveling with Kids? Be Prepared!

Dr. Robyn Silverman

NOTE: Would you please vote for Dr. Robyn’s Blog for best Parenting Blog?  It only takes a moment! Thank you!!!

Getting ready to go to Grandma’s for the holidays?  Heading out for a long car ride? Plane ride? Don’t stress. Just be prepared.

It’s amazing that our parents were able to take us on trips without a zillion electronic gadgets.  No Ipods, DVD players, hand held games, or cell phones. Well, it’s a new world.  We need to make sure that everyone is occupied if it’s going to be a pleasant trip.

Whether you’re taking a GrandVacation with the grandparents or simply going on a long car ride to visit Aunt Patti in Mobile, be prepared with:

(1) Location games to play: I-spy, Padiddle (pointing out a car with one headlight), counting games, the alphabet game (saying destinations by going through the alphabet, A my name is Alice…), looking for specific letters on license plates, locating one car from every states.  The number of games is endless.  Brainstorm these games in advance so you’re not trying to remember them while on the road.

(2) Communication games to play: The car is one of the best places to talk to your children and teens.  The side by side nature of travel makes talking less uncomfortable.  You can simply tell stories and ask questions but you can also play games that inspire communication like  Finish the sentence (If I had a million dollars I would…) and Everyone answers (Name one thing that made you laugh today, name one thing you’re worried about).

(3) Sleepy, bored campers must be comfortable: Have someone who gets sick in the car? Tired on planes? Make sure they have a comfy blanket, pillow, and their favorite stuffed toy, if they need it.  Go over exactly what needs to be packed and make sure the children check everything off before they leave. This is a great time for children to learn how to pack their own suitcase (even if you look everything over) for the trip. We want them to have what they need! Fussy, crabby, sleep-deprived teens or children are not fun to be around!  Even if it’s something extra for them to carry (get portable sizes), be sure they have what they need to sleep it off. Other things to pack in your carry on bag here.

(4) Songs to Sing: Many children love to sing in the car. You might think that you can go with the old standbys like 99 bottles but after you get about 4 measures in you’ll see that it wasn’t the best choice.  Be prepared with short songs that your children like to sing like “wheels on the bus,” “It’s a hard knock life,” “The Circle Game,” or “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead.”  You can even print out the words so that one of the adults can lead the singing and actually know the words that are supposed to be sung.

(5) Mechanical back-up: If you’re going to be in the car, trailer, or plane for over8-10 hours, you may want to have a portable DVD player available as a reward for children who’ve been sitting still all day.  Get a movie that all your children can enjoy.  You can give them earphones so that they can listen while you get some moments of peace and quiet.  You can also bring along Ipods, hand held games, and leap frog systems.  Make sure that you don’t bring loud games.  They’ll drive you crazy.

(6) Snacks! Troops get hungry: Make sure you have healthy snacks like carrot sticks, celery sticks, orange segments, and raisins ready to go.  You can also bring along other snacks like crackers, cookies, and fruit roll-ups.  Also ensure that you have juice boxes and water. No trip is fun when people are hungry or thirsty.

(7) Wipes! People get messy: Children who eat in the car or on the plane get messy.  Bring along wipes. tissues, and a sense of humor.

(8) Maps to know where you’re heading: Make sure your children know where you’re going and what you’ll be doing so that they get excited and mentally prepared. You also need maps to ensure that you know where you’re going, the locations of favorite kid friendly restaurants, sites you might want to see, and places where you can meet friends who you haven’t seen in a long time.  Stops give the children and teens time to stretch their legs and break up the day if you’re driving int he car.  If you’re flying, maps are fun ways to learn about the places where you’re going as well as the places you’re flying over!

(9) Labels so things don’t get lost: Make sure that you label your suitcases well.  Everyone has a black suitcase, so if you have the option, get another color.  Label special toys and blankets so that if they get lost there is a chance they’ll come back to you.

(10) Stranger danger and ground rules: We don’t want our children and teens to be frightened when we go away but we do want them to be smart.  Go over what you expect and talk to them about staying safe while in an airport, rest stop, or other place away from home.  Call a family meeting and talk about the different rules we need to follow, buddy systems you need to have, and things to expect.  Getting it all out in the open before you leave with ease the way for everyone.

In the end, it’s just important to have a good time– so leave the stress at home and enjoy! It’s time to make memories!

Happy Holidays everyone!

NOTE: Would you please vote for Dr. Robyn’s Blog for best Parenting Blog?  It only takes a moment! Thank you!!!

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

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Dr. Robyn’s Halloween Safety Tips for Families

10 Halloween Safety Tips and Tricks for Children, Parents, Pets, and Families

Dr. Robyn Silverman (Sign up for Dr. Robyn’s feed)

Halloween is a fun and exciting holiday for children and adults. But in order to keep Halloween and fair for children, teens, pets, and parents, everyone should be aware—and commit to– these 10 Halloween safety tips. Trick or Treating is always more fun when nobody gets hurt!

(1) Guarantee Halloween Supervision: No child should trick or treat by themselves even if they’re in a familiar neighborhood. Make sure a parent, other trusted adult, or teen-aged sibling or sitter can take your son or daughter from house to house.

a. If your child wants to expresses that they’re “big enough” to go without supervision, see if you feel comfortable allowing them to approach the houses on their own while you stay in full view on the sidewalk.

b. Know the route your child will be taking if you aren’t personally going with them.

c. Teens should go in a group—they might be older but the buddy system is always safer (and more fun!) than going it alone.

d. If the supervisor is a teen, be sure to discuss ground rules so everyone’s on the same page.

(2) Establish a Curfew: If your children are going with a sitter, older sibling, or other trusted adult, ensure that you agree on a time by which they should be home. Time discrepancies can cause undue anxiety—get it out of the way so you don’t have to think about it.

a. So there isn’t any question about what time it is, ensure that your child wears a watch s/he can easily see in the dark.

b. Make sure s/he knows how important it is to be home on time.

c. The adult or supervisor may want to carry a cell phone for quick communication—however, be sure that the supervisor isn’t talking or texting while s/he should be paying attention to your child!

(3) Ensure Powerful Character: Even if you’re not the one accompanying your child on the Trick or Treating Trip, talk to your child about using their Powerful Words and doing the right thing even when nobody’s looking or in the face of peer pressure. Encourage your children to make good choices based on values and character.

a. Vandalizing someone else’s house or property is never OK even if you’ve heard that “mischief night” or Halloween are exceptions. They’re not.

b. Hurting or throwing things at animals or other children won’t be tolerated.

c. In the immortal words of my grandmother, Thelma (“Nanny”), “please and thank-you are not dirty words.”

(4) Remember Halloween Costume Safety: Some costumes might be cute or funny—but if the children can’t see well out of the masks or can’t move well in the body of the costume, they aren’t the best choice. Children need to be able to see so that they can easily cross the street safely, walk up and down steps without incident, and move out of the way of danger, if necessary, with ease.

a. Costumes should be fire retardant or flame resistant. Candles and jack o’ lanterns are common on Halloween and accidents sometimes happen.

b. Ensure good peripheral vision out of the eye holes of masks, if used.

c. Be careful of Halloween props: If swords, sabers, pitch forks, or other items are used, be sure that they’re smooth, safe, flexible, and of no danger to anyone who might touch it, trip over it, or fall on it.

d. Make sure the costume fits. Shoes shouldn’t be too lose or too tight (even if they look good!) and costumes shouldn’t drag on the ground.

e. Just a note: Please refrain from putting your youngsters in “sexy” Halloween costumes. They send a twisted message that is both unintentional and inappropriate. Need I say more?

(5) Be Pumpkin Safe: Carving pumpkins can be a fun activity to do with children. However, young children should not be using sharp knives to carve out the pumpkin themselves. An adult should do that part.

a. While there are kits that allow children to do some carving, be careful. Children can still cut themselves. If your child is using such a kit, be sure to educate fully and supervise.

b. You can always have your child decorate the pumpkin with a permanent marker and other fun items like feathers, paints, stickers, and googly eyes. This is safer and just as fun.

(6) Make your Home Halloween Safe: Nothing ruins Halloween fun more than an accident on your property! While Halloween is often about “darkness” and “spooky props” remember safety first.

a. Your home should be well lit so that no child (or adult) trips over anything on the way to or from your door.

b. Set candles and jack o’ lanterns away from the door and walkway so that no costume is accidentally set on fire. Keep paper or other decorations away from any fire. You can also choose to use a battery powered light source or light stick in the place of live candles.

c. Be careful that no fire source is within reach of your pets. Wagging tails and excited animals can lead to accidents when fire is around. In addition, leave pets inside around Halloween time—aside from some stupid tricks some may want to play, the neighborhood children may not know that feeding animals candy can be dangerous.

(7) Educate Children about Halloween Safety: It’s been a year. Refresh your children’s memory about obeying traffic laws, not going inside anyone’s home, staying on sidewalks (when available), and being aware of the surroundings.

a. Children should carry a flashlight if they’re going in the late afternoon or evening time.

b. Children and teens should wear reflective clothes or reflective tape so that cars can see them.

c. Remind children not to get into anyone’s car and to always remain with the group and teen/adult supervisor.

d. Children should stay on a familiar, approved route—no short cuts through yards, parks, back alleys or dimly lit, less traveled areas. They might be used to taking short cuts across neighbor’s yards during day light hours, so be sure to impress upon them the importance of staying on populate paths during Halloween.

(8) Let’s talk Candy: Children can rack up a lot of candy on Halloween. Make sure your child isn’t eating it until you’ve taken a look through it and discarded anything opened or sketchy-looking.

a. Feed children a good, nutritious dinner before they go Trick or Treating so they don’t make a meal of the candy they collect from the neighbors.

b. Make sure you read candy ingredients if you are unsure if they contain anything to which your child may be allergic. If you still are unsure after reading the contents, you can always make your own treats.

c. While you don’t need to replace all candy with carrots, you also don’t have to allow your children to eat all their candy at once! Perhaps you’ve read some of my articles on how much sugar  is poured into the items children eat and drink these days. While Halloween only comes on comes once per year, that doesn’t mean that the children need to eat a year’s worth of candy in once sitting!

(9) Keep Pets Safe: There are a lot of people around on Halloween and not all of them know how to handle themselves around your family pets.

a. Warn children against feeding candy to pets or neighborhood animals. This can cause the animals to get very sick and can attract other, perhaps not as welcomed animals, to your child’s bag of candy!

b. Put a sign on your door that you have a pet (yes, even if friendly!) so that children are aware before ringing your doorbell. You don’t want them to accidentally open your door and let the cat out or be licked by a dog when they’re scared or allergic.

c. Pets might look cure in costumes but make sure that the costumes are safe and comfortable for the animal in question!

(10) Prepare Ahead: We still have a couple of days before Halloween so safety preparations can be made. Don’t wait until the day to talk about how to stay safe and make good choices on Halloween.

a. Make sure that your child knows his name, address and phone number. If s/he gets separated from the group, you can be reached. For young children, an address tag can be discreetly attached to their costume.

b. Review “Stop, Drop, and Roll.” While we are all aware that we need to be vigilant about candles, jack o’ lanterns, and other possible outside fire sources on Halloween, not everyone might. Teaching your children to Stop, Drop, and Roll can be a life saver. Talk about watching where you go but also what to do in the rare event that something on them catches fire.

c. Remind them that they can call 9-1-1 to get the police if there is an emergency. Go over some examples of emergencies in which 9-1-1 would be helpful or necessary.

From the Powerful Words family to yours, have a very Safe, Fun, and Happy Halloween! Do you have any great Halloween Tips for other families?  Please share below!

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Photos:

Jupiter Images

Picture of my niece, Evie

City of Chiliwack website

Ashley McIntosh: Denied Justice for Deadly Car Crash with Police?

Ashley McIntosh: Justice Denied?

Dr. Robyn Silverman

Bad weather, No Siren, Red Light: A case of an Officer given preferential treatment? You Make the Call

As many of you know, my niece Evie and her schoolmates lost their beloved teaching assistant, Ashley McIntosh (affectionately known as Miss Mac), last February when a police officer, Amanda Perry, crashed into her Toyota sedan. The Fairfax County police officer, as witnessed by several onlookers, had driven through a red light with her emergency lights on but without a siren. Upon impact, Ashley was tragically ejected from the vehicle.

Although the officer had been charged with reckless driving in May, she was found not guilty last week to the shock of Ashley’s family and friends.

“Taking the totality of the circumstances I don’t find the evidence rises to a level that the driving was reckless.” — General District Judge Sarah L. Deneke

Witnesses all voiced that police officer Perry was driving at a speed close to 50 mph and spend through the intersection. Virginia law states that officers are actually not required to sound their sirens when they’re running red lights. (Clearly, this law needs to be amended as the practice resulted in a preventable deadly crash). Perry stated that she was indeed trying to turn on her siren while making herself aware of the traffic ahead of her but despite her efforts, “it did not come on.”

A video from officer Perry’s dashboard, which showed that the officer hit the brakes and turned on her emergency lights, was the key piece of evidence that prompted the not guilty verdict. Perry had perceived that the intersection was clear. For several seconds before the crash, the officer did not use her brakes or swerve. The light had been red for about 5 seconds prior to the crash. Perhaps not surprisingly, she claimed that McIntosh’s car “came out of nowhere.” Perry was going between 38-44 mph, according to crash experts, when the crash occurred. Perry was not seriously hurt but Ashley suffered fatal injuries that led to her death the following day.

“The judge saw the video and heard all the testimony and the judge found that that did not rise to the level of a conscious disregard for life, limb or property,” Ed Nuttall, defense attorney

Ashley McIntosh had her whole life ahead of her. She was loved by the children at Clermont Elementary School. She was engaged to the love of her life. She was young and contagiously happy.

Ashley’s supporters, many of whom signed the petition that begged for justice to be served despite the fact that an officer was involved which appeared to be delaying and swaying the process, are in shock. She has yet to apologize to the family. Perry has taken no responsibility whatsoever. Supporter recently commented on our blog about the outrage concerning the lack of outrage and the fact that Amanda Perry was allowed to leave the courtroom through a special entrance, without statement.

It is obvious that the reckless driving charge was a set up. It was a charge designed to placate Fx Co residents but it is a charge the Commonwealth’s Attorney knew could, and would, be defeated. A charge of running a red light was indisputable and would have certainly resulted in a conviction and would have paved the way for a wrongful death suit. Where is the outrage? Other than the Washington Post, I have not connected with any of the outrage this case deserves. –RT Greenwood

Now that the officer has been found “not guilty” of the absurdly low level charge DESPITE traversing the intersection at 45 mph with NO SIREN activated (to investigate shoplifting?), will you be following through to demand some independent oversight for the Fairfax County police, required to attain no more than a high school diploma in a county and state with NO independent Ethics Commission/No Inspector General and led (as “chiefs” of police) by a revolving door of insider males? Should the defendent have been allowed to leave the courtroom through a side door used by deputies? –C Green

Cindy Colasanto, Ashley’s grieving mother, read a statement prepared in the event of an unexpected acquittal.

“It’s beyond any understanding I have to think that an officer of the law, sworn to protect and defend us, is not held responsible for the irresponsible decision she made, responding to a call and resulting in the violent death of my daughter. Her misdeed has caused my family lifelong grief and a pain that we’ll never forget.”

The attorney for Officer Perry argued that the crash was the fault of Ashley. Ashley’s car was going about 22 to 26 mph through her green light.

“It’s clear from the video, Ms. McIntosh’s vehicle is not taking a left-hand turn. . . . The way in which Ms. McIntosh’s vehicle was driven was unforeseeable [to Officer Perry] and therefore the reason that this impact occurred.” –Edward Nuttall

NOTE: While Ashley’s light was definitely green and Officer Perry’s light was certainly red, police officers are exempt from the red light/green light law if their “speed is sufficiently reduced.” Of course, considering that they have due regard to the safety of persons and property.” However, the law states that the officers must have both their lights and their siren on, which was not the case here.

My deepest condolences to Ashley’s family and loved ones.

Do you think the officer was given the same treatment and verdict as a common citizen would be given? Voice your opinion.

[digg=http://digg.com/educational/Ashley_McIntosh_Justice_Denied]

September 11th: The Day The World Changed (In Your Words)

September 11th: The Day the World Changed (and Your Responses)

Guest Post By: Jason M. Silverman and Powerful responses

Note: Very Long Post!

As you know, 7 years ago everything we thought we knew about our own personal safety was blown to smithereens as we witnessed 2 hijacked planes being driven into the World Trade Center. In memory of all who perished and all who stepped up in our time of need, I thought I’d share just a few words. If you are so moved to, please reply back to this note with anything that comes to mind (or heart).

It was just before 9am on September 11, 2001 and I was at my own powerful words member school. I’d just finished teaching a private lesson and was getting ready to start preparing some marketing campaigns to take further advantage of the back to school rush that we had been experiencing. Then I heard it on the radio – A plane just flew into the World Trade Center in New York City! I couldn’t believe it. I was shocked!

Before I opened my school, I had been a bond trader for Fidelity Investments. My office had been located in the Boston World Trade Center. Many of the people I did business with on a daily basis, however, worked in NYC at the building that had just been hit. My mind went to all the people I knew and I hoped that they were OK. It seemed like such a freak accident – but oh so sad. Then I heard the radio AGAIN – ANOTHER PLANE HAS HIT THE OTHER TOWER! THIS IS NOT AN ACCIDENT!

I felt my heart in my throat and for the first time in a long time I actually feared for my own personal safety and that of my family. I hated that feeling. After calling all of my family members (even those that for one reason or another, I’d not been that close to), I felt a little bit better and felt more comfortable when I got home to my wife, Dr. Robyn Silverman.

For the next couple of days, we were both glued to the Television and watched that horrific image of the towers coming down, over and over and over again until it became permanently burned into our memories. Then we watched in amazement as the first responders did everything they could to rescue those still alive and locate those that hadn’t been as lucky. I was proud to see the camaraderie that was displayed over the following days, weeks, and months after the attack.

Today, Dr. Robyn and I were watching the memorial services and listening to the children of those lost in the attack. All those same emotions came rushing back – it was quite powerful to tell you the truth. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family’s that were robbed of time, love and memories that awful day.

What I realized, and wanted to share with you, is that we know that all of what we have can disappear in just a flash just like 7 years ago. Being grateful is a mere understatement for how we feel about our lives and the path we’ve chosen to travel. We’re honored and blessed that we have the opportunity to help you change lives on a daily basis. It means the world to us that you’ve welcomed us into your schools and into your lives. Thank you for making our journey so amazing.

As I said earlier, I’d love to hear where you were (physically, mentally, and emotionally) 7 years ago if you’d be so kind to share.

Hope you have a Powerful Day!

Jason M. Silverman

Powerful Words Character Development

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Dear Jason and Dr. Robyn,

7 years ago I was just starting my first September rush of enrollment since buying my gymnastics school the previous January. Fall classes had just started on Monday the 10th…I was just finishing dressing to go down to my gym for the AM preschool classes and my husband was in the shower when I saw the report and video on CNN of a plane hitting one of the twin towers. This had some meaning for our family since half of my husband’s family lives in and around NYC and the last problem there had affected his cousin personally.

I literally pulled my husband out of the shower and while we sat there watching CNN we got to witness the second plane hitting the second tower. I will never forget the look on Seth’s face and the pit of fear in my stomach as the realization that we were under attack hit us. In total shock we both went into automatic pilot and without ever losing sight of the TV we both finished dressing. Seth continued to his job and I went in to my gym. It never dawned on us, in our shock and our fear, to do anything else.

Preschool gym classes started with only a handful of children there. Many of the parents present were military parents because my gym is in such close proximity to both McGuire AFB and Ft.Dix Army Base. My instructors looked shell shocked and during breaks kept asking for updates. We kept all information away from the children and kept it “business as usual” with fun activities in class (talk about putting a game face on!). I stood in the lobby with the parents watching our tiny TV. As a group of 10-12 strangers stood there witnessing the towers crashing, the Pentagon getting hit (which REALLY hit home for the military families), and then the news that another airliner was missing, then had been reported as crashed we became bonded as strangers do in times of serious duress. I do not allow customers to see me in serious emotional states but that day

owner, parents, coaches, men, women, and soldiers became simply humans with tears dripping down our faces, hugging each other for comfort in our fear and horror. Then we did what we as resilient parents and humans do the best — we stopped reacting and began proactive.

In a now controlled state of fear, I closed the gym for the remainder of the day — which was fortunate since they put NJ in a state of emergency and all highways were to be cleared by that afternoon. In my first really official act as a leader in a serious situation, I sent all my staff and parents home to be with their families. I called my neighbor and best friend and we cried together on the phone. No one in her family had heard from her brother, a Port Authority Cop who was on the scene after the first plane hit. His cell phone was not working so no one knew if he was still alive (fortunately we were to find out a day later that he had vacated the first tower and was running people down the street when the tower fell — his police cruiser was crushed but he was spared.) Together my friend and I called our children’s schools and we made a plan of how to pick up the six children who at that time were attending 3 different schools with 3 different pick up times. No bus rides home that day — we wanted our children with us!

By 3:00 PM all of my children were home with me, my husband was home from his job. My older two sons (age 13 and 15) sat with us watching CNN reports throughout the night. My youngest son (age 8) simply was not able to handle that. To this day, I will forever salute the Nickelodeon station — while all other stations had coverage of the horrors of the day, Nick kept the cartoons running! My 8 year old NEEDED that as did

many other children in this country who simply did not need the emotional overload of that day. He would come up to say a word or two to us, then retreat back to his TV. No one ate dinner that night and even my teenaged boys wanted nothing. No one except the 8 year old even got any sleep.

Besides fear, grief, and a sense of loss my biggest impression of that night was the SILENCE. It was eerie and I have never heard that kind of silence in my area before or after that night. No one was out, and the only noise you heard was crickets and the occasional sound of sirens going up the turnpike as emergency crews from all over went to help. I remember thinking how weird it was that the crickets would just keep going as normal but why would I expect them to do anything else? No planes, no cars, no one outside, nothing but silence and sirens for the entire night. This was the silence of a nation in shock and it was not the type of silence that “peace and quiet” usually brings. It was the silence of loss — the loss of our security, the loss of friends (with both my husband and I having our MBA’s we knew quite of few people in the twin towers who were lost), the loss of our childrens’ innocence, the loss of personal freedom, and the loss of optimism. I was always a “glass half full” person, until that day. It took many months for my optimism to return — and I still seem to struggle with overdoing the “what-if” scenarios.

Last night my husband watched several specials commerating the 9/11 tragedy. I simply could not sit and watch for more than a minute before all that loss began to overwhelm me again — I began to cry once again (much like I am tearing up simply writing this) and I came to the realization that I do not need to watch specials to remember. I will

NEVER forget. Now, with my 22 year old in the military, I now live with a different fear generated from that day — Iraq is still a reality for many families and it is a direct result of 9/11. While our nation remembers the losses of 9/11, the armed forces are continuing to suffer losses which keeps 9/11 alive for many families every day. I used to go through periods of months where I would not think about 9/11 but ever since my son enlisted I think about it every time he puts on his uniform to go on duty.

I have dedicated my life to working with children, in helping them develop into great people (and sometimes great athletes), and more than anything else, 9/11 instilled in me a greater sense of my purpose. A parent mentioned to me that she was glad that her daughter had gymnatstics last night because the TV specials are very upsetting and this gave her daughter a place to be instead of home watching TV (and I will point out that this is a teenaged child). I am not simply a person who likes to wear sweat pants and run around playing with children for fun — I provide a safe, structured environment for children where they can learn life lessons without trauma. I provide them with something positive to look forward to even when the outside world is crazy. I help shelter them from the bad, put them on an equal footing with their peers no matter their grades in school, athletic skill, or family situation. We (because I do have a great staff that works with me) lead and mold them in to becoming great people. I was very positive about my business before 9/11 but afterwards I realized exactly WHAT I actually provided and what my role was in this world. Remembering 9/11 is always painful but it also reaffirms my purpose.

Terry Veit-Harmening

EnVision Gymnastics, LLC

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Seven years ago, I was here at work and was told by a co-worker what had happened. Believe it or not I hadn’t heard yet as I got to work at 7:00 am. We then turned on news through a computer inside the office where it played all day long. We were in shock, our parent’s were in shock as they came in the door for their child’s class.

The whole day we had CD’s playing in the stereo so as not to upset the children and putting on happy faces all the while we were crying inside. There are no words adequate enough to convey the feelings of that day.

I wish Americans would still behave now as we did then. You felt proud to be an American because WE knew we were not going down without fighting. Our pride needs to show 24/7 365 days a year not just when tragedy strikes.

I am proud to be an American and proud to be the daughter of a United States Marine who was a veteran of the Vietnam War.

Casey Tanon

V.P. & Secretary

GymStars Gymnastics, Inc Stockton, CA

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Oh yes Jason, that memory still burns in me everyday! In addition to my school I have been a fugitive recovery agent since the early 1990′s. I was sitting on my sofa that morning getting ready to go arrest a fugitive when I seen the news begin to cover it live. I thought how the hell did a plane get off coarse to hit the WTC. Then I personally saw the second plane hit the WTC. I knew right at that second we were being ATTACKED!!!

I remained frozen on my sofa felling numb. I didn’t even care about the person I needed to go arrest. At the time he wasn’t a bad guy to me. Just someone who broke the law. Then the ATTACK just kept coming, hitting the Pentagon, then the plane in Penn. It was at that time I remembered that the President was in Sarasota just over the Skyway bridge from us. I thought these people ATTACKING us mean business and they will be going after the President as well. My mind began to run, thinking of what else could happen!! My wife and I ran to our kid’s schools, got our kids home and we all couldn’t even move from the TV until late at night when we couldn’t stay up any longer. However we I went

to bed I only could lay there listening to the TV all night long. What a memory!!! The next morning I finally started to come to the reality that these people really, really, really hate Americans and this is the Holy war that is at hand.

After the incident what I remember is what I believe America needs the most. A coming together and bonding as one body. It was phenomenal what America did to truly become one, it only is a little sad that we can’t keep that sense to stay so strong as it was shortly after the event. I only work on striving to uphold this true American sense of being, myself with each and every person that surrounds me in my life.

To close this flash back, every moment of the rest of my life I will feel so blessed to be an American and how blessed to still have my family with me!!! My only thing left to say is…

May GOD bless those people who lost someone that day and may HE bless America and keep his hand of protection on us all!!!

Jason thank you for allowing me to share this special moment.

Master Tim McCahan

St.Petersburg, Fl

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Jason and Dr. Robyn,

I spent 20 years and 20 days in the service of the NYPD.

On September 22,  2000 I retired. I spent about 8 years of my career in Manhattan.

Those buildings were majestic and every time I stood in front of them only one thing used to enter my mind. What if these building ever fell, I always thought that if they fell they would tip over never thinking that they would implode on themselves.  On September 11, 2001 my fears became reality.

When I turned on the TV I saw the first tower fall I. truly believed my brother was dead. My brother Michael worked in the building. I didn’t realize that many of the occupants had enough time to escape.  He was lucky ones to escape without injury.

But the scars of the day remain.  He witnessed people jumping from the floors to escape the fire.   One of my student’s brother wasn’t so lucky, he lost his life in the building. My childhood friend Battalion Chief Orio Palmer lost his life in the building trying to save people and so did a colleague Police Officer John D’Allara. We worked together in the 46 Precinct.   I will never forget the people that lost their lives that day and the rescue people that continue to lose their lives from the toxic fumes that our government told them were safe.  I really do not believe that the whole story is being told and I hope to live long enough to get the true story.

Thank Y ou
Shihan Gary Gione
Elite Defensive Tactics, NY

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Hey Jason,

I clearly remember the events of that morning as well. I had also just finished a private lesson and was stopping at a convenience store to grab some breakfast when the first reports came over the radio. I called my wife and asked her to check out CNN and see if she could figure out was going on. She turned on the TV just in time to witness live the second plane impact on the tower. I can still vividly remember how I felt, holding on to my 5-month old daughter, watching the first tower collapse, and wondering what kind of world I’d brought her into. Every protective instinct in me was on fire, to shield my family from that horror. I’d have to say that in light of and maybe because of the events that day, I have tried to appreciate each day for the miracles it reveals, and that I’ve not only grown closer to my family but to God as well.

May our country never have to suffer a wound like that again. May we also never forget.

God Bless America!

Rob K.

KMAI

Hockessin, DE

Landenberg, PA

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Please share your stories…

[digg=http://digg.com/world_news/September_11th_The_Day_the_World_Changed]

Is Drowning an Issue of Race Among Children? What Cullen Jones Can Teach us

Daniel Johnson/AP

Copyright: Daniel Johnson/AP

How can Olympian, Cullen Jones, inspire children to learn to swim?

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

What Powerful lessons can children learn from Olympian, Cullen Jones?

Watching Cullen Jones, along with his teammates, Michael Phelps, Garrett Weber-Gale and anchor Jason Lezak set a world record in the 400-meter freestyle relay on Monday at the Beijing Games, you might be surprised to know that Jones is just the third African-American swimmer to medal in the Olympic Games, and only the second to win gold.

And competition is the least of our problems when it comes to African-American swimmers.

The New York Times published a disturbing article this week that laid it all out. First, in general, swimming is a problem such that in 2005, there were 3,582 unintentional drownings in the United States, or 10 per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In fact, drowning is the second-leading cause of accidental death among children.

But even more tragic is that drowning and NOT swimming can actually be compounded by race such that:

the most worrisome statistics involve black children and teens ages 5 to 19, who are 2.3 times more likely to drown than whites in this age group. For children 10 to 14, the rate is five times higher.

In addition, nearly 6 out of 10 African-American and Hispanic children are unable to swim (almost twice as many as their Caucasian peers)!

What’s the problem here?

§ There once was a widely discredited theory about black people suffering from a “buoyancy problem” which made people think that black children couldn’t learn to swim.

§ Segregation kept black people out of pools and beaches and created generations of non-swimmers. This perpetuated the myth that African-Americans couldn’t swim.

§ While studies have shown that Africans were avid swimmers, slaves born into the United States were not allowed to swim because it could be seen as a means of escape.

What can an Olympian do?

The fate of the young African-American swimmer might be resting on the shoulders of Cullen Jones, who is dispelling the myths about black people and swimming as he enjoyed Olympic gold and showed himself as a great role model to all children.

I was told, ‘You could change the face of swimming by getting more African-Americans into swimming,’ ” Jones, 24, said. “At first I was like, ‘Really, me?’ I never got into it thinking I could do something like that, you never do. I just liked to swim.

Bank of America has stepped up to sponsor Jones as he teaches a series of clinics and meets in order to promote minorities to get back into the pool and learn to swim. Having nearly drowned himself as a child, he knows how important swimming lessons are and hopes to impart these all important lessons to the children he interacts with on his tour.

With the strength of the lessons children are learning through their Powerful Words Member Schools and the lessons they can learn in the swimming pool about staying safe and strong, who knows? Another Olympian might just be born!

Cullen Jones’ NPR interview