Life Before Cell Phones…

girls-on-their-phoneIs extremely hard to imagine even for me. The other day I was trying to remember when I actually got my first cell phone. It took me a while to recall. But I did. My daughter was about eighteen months old (she will be 22 in august). The phone was the size of a man’s shoe. And out of all the mothers I knew, I was the only one who had such an item. The thing was so bulky I used to just leave it in the minivan. Back then they did not have car chargers for it. If the battery ran out you had to wait until you go home to juice it up.

The other mother’s used to look at me oddly when I did have it in my diaper bag. It could not fit into my purse!One time I had taken my daughter into the Boston aquarium. When we returned to my minivan, we discovered that the battery was dead. I had mistakenly left the lights on.There I was in the heavy drizzle of a June day, with a dead battery, an exhausted child and a cell phone that needed charging. Luckily there was a payphone nearby. You must be thinking “Good God lady this sounds like the dark ages”. I managed to call AAA and they came to charge my battery enough so I could get home.

During the time it took to make the phone call and wait for AAA to show up I remember my daughter and I sang the Barney song. Now for those of you who are unaware who Barney is I will give you a brief 411. Barney is or was a LARGE purple Dinasaur who had his own show on PBS at eight o’clock every morning. He would open and close the show with the “song”. I will spare you the lyrics!  After we had exhausted that song, we moved on to a few other of our favorite tunes.

When the AAA truck showed up my daughter asked me what was going on. I explained to her that the man was going to try to start our battery. She was fascinated as the guy opened the hood of the minivan. in fact she made me get out of the van so we could watch this man do his work. She kept asking me every step of the way what was going on.The guy himself had a smile on his face from answering her questions.

By the time my daughter was eight it had become fashionable for people to have movies in their vehicles to entertain their kids. And most of the kids had those small flip phones that no one would be caught dead with now! I miss those days of having conversations with her.  She has her cellphone in her right back pocket at all times. And help us all if she gets a text in the middle of a conversation.

That phone has become her master! She is powerless without it! A couple of years ago, I made a very unpopular rule in my house. There are absolutely no cell phones allowed at the dinner table. You would have thought I had said we were all moving to Albania. But I have stuck to my rule. We all have learned here that we can still have actual conversations outside of text messages. And I believe our relationships  are more grounded as a result of that!

Technology is here to stay that is for sure. But we need to learn to make it work FOR us instead of WORKING us! While we have our heads stuck in the screen of a cell phone, the world is moving forward. There are people doing business, getting jobs  and making a  name for themselves while we are stuck in Candy Crush!!

Instead of worrying about getting to the next level of a game, why not try getting to the next level of YOUR life! It can and will happen once YOU decide to control the things that surround you!

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Puns for Educated Minds

Puns for Educated Minds
The AAYC would like to help enlighten our readers.  The topic of puns has come up with the youth at the AAYC from time to time.  Here are a few catchy puns that we thought we should share.
1. The fattest knight at King Arthur’s round table was Sir Circumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.
 
2. I thought I saw an eye-doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian .
 
 3. She was only a whisky-maker, but he loved her still.
4. A rubber-band pistol was confiscated from an algebra class, because it was a weapon of math
disruption.

5. No matter how much you push the envelope, it’ll still be stationery.
 
6. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.
7. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.
8. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.

9. A hole has been found in the nudist-camp wall. The police are looking into it.
10. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

11. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

12.Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other: ‘You stay here; I’ll go on a head.’
13. I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.
14. A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center said: ‘Keep off the Grass.’
15. The midget fortune-teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.
16. The soldier who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.
17. A backward poet writes inverse.

18. In a democracy it’s your vote that counts.  In feudalism it’s your count that votes.
19. When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.
20. If you jumped off the bridge in Paris , you’d be in Seine .
21. A vulture carrying two dead raccoons boards an airplane. The stewardess looks at him and says, ‘I’m sorry, only one carrion allowed per passenger.’
22. Two fish swim into a concrete wall.  One turns to the other and says, ‘Dam!’
23. Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in the craft. Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again that  you can’t have your kayak and heat it too.
24. Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says, ‘I’ve  lost my electron.’ The other says, ‘Are you sure?’ The first replies, ‘Yes, I’m positive.’
25. Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root-canal?  His goal: transcend dental medication.
26. There was the person who sent ten puns to friends, with the hope that at least one of the puns
would make them laugh. No pun in ten did. 

The Death of Us

The Death of Us

Our Sedentary Lifestyles

 Are you tired all the time, stressed and have a hard time doing things that use to be easy for you?  Do you feel that YOU are not all you can be?  Did you know that many Americans has adapted to a sedentary lifestyle and that this is killing us.  A sedentary lifestyle is more than just spending an excessive amount of time sitting each day.

This lifestyle has negative health influences including increased anxiety, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression and more.   Some people have jobs that require them to sit all day, others sit in front of the TV all the time. A sedentary lifestyle is a type of lifestyle with no or irregular physical activity. We joke a call people couch potatoes, well that’s what we are doing turning our body’s into curved, rounded versions of the image God created us in.

State of mind

As a kid I would go to school and sit most of the day but at least at school you get to get up every 45 minutes and move around; then there’s PE/athletics, Band, lunch and other activities as well.  Our problem is that then many youth in today’s society then go home to sit in front of a TV or computer screen all night and in their free time.

Why?  Well its simple we are training our kids this way.  When they are young, very young; we stick kids in front of the TV to entertain them and keep them busy.  As they grow up they get more and more technology; as adults we get busier and busier and spend less time out of the house doing things with people.  We mentally enjoy that time sitting, doing NOTHING in from of the TV; but it’s at the cost of our health.

Coupled with our changing diets, as we eat less fresh, more processed foods without paying attention to what we are putting into our bodies.

Obese but full

Did you know that just because you are full does NOT mean you are being nourished?  Fatty food seem to fill you and keep the hunger away longer but it’s not putting anything in your body you need.

Today’s society is overweight but under-nourished because we are putting junk in our bodies.  In school we learned Garbage-in/Garbage-out when working with computers.  It’s the same with our bodies.   What are you putting into your body.

Activity

As our population grows heavier and struggles more and more to do daily activities we all have to look at our activity levels.  Yes, YOU, and me and everyone we know.  I’m not saying we all need to goto the gym and become the next Arnold but we NEED to become active.  We need to take time with our kids going places, doing things, and getting out of the house.

Since man was created we have been walking….. Walking, walking, walking.  We all need to remember that our bodies are built to be in an horizontal (sleeping) or vertical (standing)  position; not the bent over form you have when sitting down.  Let’s all try to spend more time up and moving, on our feet.

Ultimately I thin it is imperative to get involved with an activity that requires movement that you enjoy on a regular basis if you want to stay with it.  Whether it be a sport, hobby or activity; its up to each of us to find SOMETHING to get us more active.

Desk Jobs

Ultimately, experts urge people to get out of their chairs and start doing something.   While this may not seem practical for those stuck in an chair or cubicle but small, simple changes like taking phone calls standing up can help. I encourage you to redefine our workouts into all moments, have a weight or stretch-band at your desk.

I spent five years sitting in a call center environment and growing chubbier and chubbier for it.   It’s so easy to grab a bag of chips from the vending machine or a coke from the machine.  if you have been on a job where you’re on the phone all day you understand the need to have something to drink.  Well let’s all try water.  I know yeah, water.  A friend of mine, Patty, introduced me to putting fresh fruit (cucumber, watermelon) into water to give it flavor without the additives and such that are in a lot of the drink mixes.  YUM!  It tastes good too.  I need to start doing more of this; but so do YOU!

Let’s do it!

This is not something easy for you to do alone, get your whole family involved, your co-workers and those that are around you!  Lets make a positive change in our lives TODAY!

Well I have been sitting here typing this for too long, time to walk around and do something less sedentary.  Same to you, right now DO IT!  Let’s go up, on your feet.  Right NOW!

Written by Matthew Hite  Amarillo, Texas

Predator 101 By Angie

Hey guys! It’s been a crazy few weeks, but the blog is back and so are some great information and safety tips on online predators! This information is invaluable not only to kiddos, but also to parents as well. As parents, we sometimes feel overwhelmed at the bombardment of sexual content that infiltrates our children’s lives through media outlets. It comes in the form of advertisements and magazines and movies and even in the music they listen to. One place we do have control however, is online. By using a few safety measures and keeping a watchful eye, we as parents can limit the possibility that our children will become online predator victims.

Great Angie. Let’s do this. But, how do we know who is a predator and who isn’t? They should stand out pretty easy right? After all, they are all perverted old men right? Not exactly. Online predators blend into everyday society as any other person. Most predatory pedophiles are white, male, and middle aged right?  Online predators can be any race, age, or shockingly, any gender. They hold any kind of job, even respectful jobs, like doctors and lawyers. However, hope is not lost. They do share some common traits that may help you identify them.

  • They appear trusting at first.
  • Pretend to share interests with targeted victims.
  • Take part in children’s activities.
  • Look for emotionally vulnerable children.
  • May pretend to be someone they are not.
  • May be very good at Internet lingo.
  • Will become more provocative as victim begins to trust.

The dangers of an online predator can extend beyond sexual deviance. Other dangers can include Identity theft, sexual solicitation, pornography or exposure to pornography, and even kidnapping and rape. Identity theft occurs when the predator tries to get personal information from the victim such as social security numbers, addresses, birthdates, and the like. Teach your kids to never give out personal information. Teach them that what goes on the Internet, STAYS on the Internet. Solicitation is usually started in chat rooms or social media sites. After a connection is made, they try to meet the minor for sex. Parents need to use parental controls and keep in mind that 44% of solicitations come from children under 18 years old. By using seemingly harmless information such as school mascot and town or even just metro area, a predator can find a child. Through a social networking page, this information is usually readily available. Once this information is put together, the predator can track the victim and perpetrate heinous crimes such as kidnapping and rape against the victim. I have seen stickers on the back of cars that not only list the soccer club of children, but their names, team names, and jersey numbers as well. Game schedules are listed online. This is a terribly dangerous thing to broadcast. Anyone can find these children and the parents would be none the wiser. Please parents use common sense when protecting your children. Each trip to the mall you take with your children, one person notices them. If your children are older, they have been followed at least once. These are terrifying facts, and my goal is not to scare, but to arm you with knowledge. Knowledge truly is power.

So, now that you will never take a trip to the mall again, you are asking me, “What can I do to protect my children Angie? How do I keep them safe?” First, teach your kids to be aware of the dangers. Teach them to know the signs and characteristics of predators. Second, get involved and stay involved. Dig deep into the online community and know what is happening. Know the red flags and look for them often. Keep computers usage to common areas such as a kitchen table or living room so children are easily monitored. Third, set boundaries. Set time limits, strict friend guidelines, open communications about actions on social sites and maybe a “no deletion” policy. Finally, everything has parental controls nowadays. Use them.

Common Statistics to be aware of:

  • The majority of internet crimes are initiated in chat rooms
  • In 82% of online sex crimes against minors, the offenders used social networking sites to gain access about the victims likes and dislikes.
  • 65% used victim’s social networking sites to gain home and school information about the victim.
  • At least 100 million BOYS and 200 million girls will be sexually victimized before they reach adulthood.
  • 26% of online predators used the victims social networking sites to gain information of the victim’s whereabouts at a specific time.
  • 1 in 7 kids received a sexual solicitation online.
  • 56% of those kids were asked to send in picture and 27% of those pictures were requested to be sexual in nature.
  • 44% of sexual solicitors were under the age of 18.
  • When a solicitor attempted to meet a victim offline in person or via phone call, 73% met their perpetrators online.
  • And finally, the more risky behaviors kids engage in online, the more likely they will be approached or receive an online solicitation.

Parents, please inform your kids of the real risks of online information sharing and who is ok to interact with. This is a real problem and together we can protect our children and bring light to this terrifying problem. We must be vigilant in protecting our children and the biggest thing we can do for them is to stay INVOLVED.

Find safe places like the AAYC for you children to be at night so that they are not left to find something to “get into”
Until next time AAYC!

Trafficking in the US: Bigger than we think!

Random Fact: If you yelled for over 8 and one half years, you would have produced enough sound energy to heat one cup of coffee.

Mental Health Fact: 1 in 5 persons suffering from Bipolar disorder
Will complete suicide

Ok guys, it is time for this blog to get serious! I have been hearing in the news a lot lately about human trafficking specifically human sex trafficking. I know, I can hear the groans now, but let’s put this terrifying risk in perspective. Amarillo sits on I-40. This is a major freeway running coast-to-coast, meaning, if you get snatched, you could be halfway out of the state within an hour. Within four hours, you could be in OKC, which not only has I-40 running east and west, but also I-35 which runs north and south. Now that I have your attention, let’s move on.

So, you have heard of this thing called human trafficking but what is it really? You may be asking, “Does it really affect me? Is there anything I can do to protect myself?” I hope to provide some answers to those questions today.

First off, let’s define human sex trafficking. Sex trafficking occurs when people (men, women, and children) are forced to perform sexual acts against their will. Child sex trafficking includes ANY child forced into sexual acts for money against their will. Sex traffickers are looking for vulnerable people who may have been abused and will use violence, threats, lies, control, or even make that person work off money through sex, and other forms of manipulation to keep their victims involved in the sex trade. We will talk about the Domestic Sex Trafficking problem happening right here in the United States as we speak.

STATISTICS

*There are 100,000-300,000 underage girls being sold for sex in America.
*The average age of entry into prostitution is 12-14.
*50,000 woman and children are trafficked into the United States each year.
*1 out of every 3 teens will be lured toward prostitution within 48 hours of running away from home
*Minor victims were sold an average of 10-15 times a day, 6 days a week.
*1 out of 5 pornographic images is of a child
*The sale of child pornography has become a $3 billion industry.
*Over 100,000 websites offer child pornography.
*55% of Internet child pornography comes from the United States.

You may be thinking, “Ok, well that is all fine and good Angie, but how do I know someone is a victim?”
Here are some warning signs to look for. If you see any of these red flags, tell an adult immediately and have them call 888-373-7888, or you can always call them yourself. These are only some of the signs someone might have.

Red Flags: This person is

Not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes
Under 18 and getting paid for sex
Performs sex acts and has a pimp or manager
Unpaid or paid very little, or paid through tips
Works long, excessive, or unusual hours
Not allowed breaks or has unusual restrictions at work
Owes a large amount of money and can’t pay it off
High security measures exist in the work and/or living locations
Poor Mental Health or Abnormal Behavior
Anxious, Depressed, Submissive, Tense, Nervous, or Paranoid
Unusually afraid of law enforcement
Avoids eye contact
Poor physical health
Has multiple Cell Phones

***Please note these are only some of the Red flags a person might exhibit if one is a victim of trafficking.

“Ok, Angie, I Know what trafficking is, I know what signs to look for, but how do I escape someone who might try to kidnap me? How can I stay safe?” These are great questions, and the answers are fairly easy! The best thing to do is to ALWAYS tell someone where you are going. Go in groups! Safety in numbers is not just a cool thing to say, it’s a cool and super safe thing to do! However, if someone does grab your wrist and try to drag you away, simply stay calm and do those giant windmills they have you do in gym class. You know the ones where you swing your arms in giant circles. Do it big and do it strong! A kidnapper will not be able to hold on to your wrist. Then RUN, SCREAM, and TELL! Also, the thumb is the weakest point on a person’s hand when they grab your wrist. Pull your hand quickly and forcefully in the direction of their thumb and they will let go. Go on, practice with Mom and Dad. Then, RUN, SCREAM, and TELL! If someone grabs your backpack, purse, or jacket, drop it. Take them off. Drop that item. It is better to lose a textbook or money than a child who is priceless. Then RUN, SCREAM, and TELL! Don’t be afraid to poke someone in the eye. They can’t drag you away if they can’t see you. Also, guys, if it comes down to survival, kick ‘em where it counts and get out of there. Say it with me,
“RUN, SCREAM, and TELL!”

I hope this blog has been helpful and has in some way given you guys a sense of peace and control. My goal is not to scare you, that is for Matt to do with as scary as he is, but to arm you with knowledge and show you what you can do to protect yourself. You guys enjoy your summer and please, please, BE SAFE OUT THERE!!

Angie

The Talk….

The Talk

by Matthew Hite

Amarillo, Texas

 

Parents, if you have not had the “talk” with your child(ern) its time.  NO not that talk.. The Talk about drinking.  Most children between the ages of 9 and 15 have access or friends that have access to drinks.  Does your child know?  Has your child experimented with drinking already?  Many parents turn the other cheek or pretend it’s not going on with “their kids.”  Don’t fool yourself… Have the talk….

Communicating with teens can be difficult.  It is important to lay a good foundation with your child before they hit the teen years…. and NOT JUST ABOUT DRINKING EITHER….  Your child will be exposed to the outside world, prepare them for it and talk to them before they are put into a situation about it.

Please remember that threats and lectures rarely prevent anything and are usually reactionary in nature.  Be proactive, talk with them and not too them.  Citing laws, rules and regulations will not stop most children.  They need to know these things but that in itself will NOT stop them.  One of the most valuable things you can share as a family is time where you speak openly and honestly with one another.  Maybe at dinner or just before bedtime,  find a time to talk with your kids and to become part of there life or they may not turn to you later when they are encouraged to experiment with things.

Talk to your children about your past drinking and share stories about it.  Be factual and let them know a few things that could happen to them if they do drink.  You need rules that are spelled out clearly.  Share your personal opinions, beliefs and thoughts about drinking and then clearly layout ground rules about drinking.  Work with your child and help them feel good about themselves.  Self esteem is vital so that they can say NO to those that admire later when and if approached.  Be a good parent and work on building a positive family environment so that your kiddo will be willing to talk with you.  Also be a good role model and practice what you preach.  Lastly know where you child is going, when they will be home and who they are will and follow up to make sure they are where they are suppose to be.

It’s a lot of work being a parent and I hope this will help you remember that YOU make a difference in your child’s life and that these tips can be applied to any topic; NOT JUST DRINKING!

Family values have NEVER been so important.  Kids today face a different world than their parents.  Family life is different, family structure is different but YOU can’t use this as an excuse.  Parents and children are spending less and less time together everywhere because of technology, social media, TV, video games and parent’s busy personal life.  YOU have to make TIME!   .

Yes the talk…. every talk…. every day… be a positive influence to your child, don’t just talk, listen!

 

 

On-line Predators

What you should know about On-line Predators

Written by: Matthew Hite; Amarillo, TX

Preface:

In the month of April the AAYC is focusing on Child Abuse prevention.  One of the often forgotten ways a minor is exploited is over the internet, on their phones and other mobile devices.  PLEASE take a few minutes to read this and share this with youth, parents and those that are around children.  PREDATORS BEWARE!

The information age

Today we are in the age of technology.  We spend hours a day viewing and working on technology items.  Whether it’s communicating with friends and family, sharing life events, playing games, watching videos, or even watching TV, YOU are being exposed to the age of technology.  Computer and online exploration opens a world of possibilities for children and can expand their horizons and expose them to different cultures, ways of life, and current events.  They can also be exposed to dangers and inappropriate content/contacts while exploring the internet highway.

There are individuals who attempt to sexually exploit youth through the use of the internet, social media and online services.

Your Child

Many times, children are curious and interested in sexually explicit material.  Some adolescent children may also be attracted to and lured by online offenders close to their age or who have the same interest and activities. Children can be seduced and most likely manipulated by some scary people.

If your child is approached by someone online that they don’t know and there is questionable activity going on YOU as a parent need to step in right away.  Bottom-line is that kids can be tricked with fake accounts, lieing adults and manipulating offenders.

Precautions parents should all take:

Teach your child and communicate with them

Explains what you expect from your child’s on-line use; set limits, explain dangers of the internet.  Let them know that it is NEVER ok to send explicit pictures to ANYONE on the internet or over their phone.   Many parents never discuss these things because they are uncomfortable.  This should be a continuing talk at the dinner table.

Access to accounts

Always maintain access to your child’s accounts.  Take time to check the accounts and see what is being said and done.  Be up-front with your child and let them know that you will be checking and monitoring their account.  Log-in and check their online accounts on a regular basis.  It might be best to do it with your child present so that they don’t feel like you are prying and they know exactly what is going on.

Set-up your own account

One deterrent to these people is to see active adults on-line comments and overseeing the account.  Make positive comments and like your child’s pictures.  Spending a few moments a week on a Social media account can really help and will help you monitor who is liking, comments and involved in your child’s on-line life.

Computer location

Keep computers in a common room or area of the house where the computer screen is visible to others in the household throughout internet sessions.  Disabling the web-cam or taping over the lens unless you use it for positive communications for  time to time can help as well.

Personal Information

Make sure that person information lie address phone, birthdate and other information is not being broadcast on your child’s account.

Mobile Devices

In todays world we face yet more problems,  mobile devices.  I recommend that parents check these devices on a regular basis as well.  Also I recommend that the devices be charged in a central location in the house and not be in the child’s room at night.  Please utilize parental control on your mobile devices and check what your child is viewing on a regular basis.

Prevention

If parents are informed and active it is much less likely that a predator will take interest in your child’s life.  We were all children at one time and as the age of technology evolves we must be more diligent to protect our youth because, now, more than ever children have explicit resources right at their fingertips.

On-line resources

There are thousands of resources on-line to help you learn, identify and report on-line predators.  We all need to watch and be vigilant in stopping inappropriate activities and making the internet a safer place for all.

Most social media sites like Facebook have a large area for online safety and option where you can secure an account and report an any suspicious activities.

AAYC

For more info about the AAYC (Amarillo Activity Youth Center) please visit our Official web-site http://www.amarilloyouth.org.  Follow us on instagram @amarilloyouth. Please like us on FaceBook as well: http://www.facebook.com/373aayc.