Parents: Do you know what your children are into this summer?

Parents: Do you know what your children are into this summer?

By Matthew Hite Amarillo, Texas

YIPPEE it’s summer time, kids are out and about, staying up late, sleeping in… Some organized activies but LOT and LOT of free time…  WAIT!  Parents this is a fun time for your kids but please be vigilant with what your kids are doing and where they are going.

Sometimes kids go and stay at their friends houses for a day or two or hang out all day places.  Do you know where they are, exactly, and what they are doing?  If they are staying at a friends or neighbors, cousins, schoolmates, etc; Do you know who else is there and what type activities go on there?

This is a breeding ground for lots of activities that you may NOT want your kiddos involved in or it could be a great safe and enjoyable experience for your kiddos.  How do you know?

Did you know that Childcare’s are required to screen visitors and keep your kids safe but they are also required to allow parent to watch, visit, and see exactly what goes on in the childcare.  Even with this policy bad things happen in childcares everyday.  It would be GREAT if these same policies were in place everywhere our children go, but that’s not the case.  If your kiddos are going somewhere and you don’t have access to them or can’t check on them…… Something is WRONG!

Here is a quick check-list of things you can do to make sure your kiddos are safe AND not into anything you don’t want them to be in.

  1. Keep in touch, Cell phones are a great thing
  2. Be honest and open with your kids about expectations while they are away from the house.
  3. Know and talk with the parents, adults and people that are around your kiddos
  4. An unannounced drop by to check on your kiddos is a GREAT idea, anytime.
  5. Check your kiddos social media and internet and see what they are posting and who they are with
  6. If you are uncomfortable with a situation just tell your kiddo(s) “NO” but be real with them and tell them why.
  7. Talk with your kiddo(s) make sure they know how to keep there body safe AND to get away if they become uncomfortable for any reason.
  8. Let your kiddo(s) know that you are there fro them and even if they are embarrassed or uncomfortable;  they can trust you to be there for them, no matter what and that they can tell you anything, anytime!  Open honest dialog.
  9. Be part of your kiddos life, do things with them and there friends.  Take interest in them and their activities!

Please use this check-list when they go to friends houses, go to a camp, enroll in a program or spend a lot of time anywhere.

It’s important with all the drugs going around that your children know the boundaries you have set for them and that YOU help them keep those boundaries and help them stay safe and secure.  There are many predators out there as well; know whom your kiddos are around and what influences those people have on them and what they are doing.

DO THINGS with your KIDDO

Did you know that enrolling in a class, program or activity with your child is a great way to get to know them and learn with them?  You get to see their friends and interactions with others and become a more in-depth part of their life.  Your kiddo will learn that we all learn, even as parents and its ok not to be in control all the time.

It is important to note that some kiddos get embarrassed when their parents are directly involved.  Sometimes your kiddos need to be away to grow more independent and to learn on there own.  As a parent you  can’t shelter your kiddos and be there every second of everyday.

OPEN DOOR POLICY

The AAYC has an open door policy, we invite you to come to any of our programs with your kid(s). Join the program and participate if you’ like.  The more adults and parent we have the better.  All our programs are designed so that the kiddos can go independently or with an older family member.

SCREENING

The AAYC also screens all our volunteers and staff to make sure they are safe and our administrative team is always watching the classes, programs, activities, other adults, parents and even kids because we want YOUR children to be safe.  Make sure the places your kiddos go are safe for your kids.

AAYC Child Safety Initiative

AAYC Child Safety Initiative Take a stand with us against Child Abuse

The AAYC Child Safety Initiative is one way WE work with our community, families and law enforcement agencies to keep your kids, our kids safe as we help develop them into future leaders of Amarillo.

Our goal is to help inform parents, please free free to copy and post this information. If you’d like to publish in pleae contact Matt.hite@amarilloyouth.net for permission.

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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!

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!

 

 

Role Models

When we are growing up we look to our role models for inspiration and use this as a guide for how we should behave when we’re older. In later life when we are striving for that same kind of success our role model showed us, it could bring us happiness. Then having the correct role model will help us learn to be successful and adaptive in later life, and that we are happy when we are older having achieved that aim. It’s very important to get the right role model for yourself, and to provide one for your children.

The most common role models for any child are the parents, followed by other immediate family members. This is why it’s so important to be a good role model– as children imitate your behavior. That means that if you smoke, you can expect your child to take up smoking later in life. If you swear meanwhile they too will swear. They will also find other role models elsewhere, as they grow older, just as you probably have different role models today. This is even more the case if you or they are somehow lacking in immediate role models. When we look elsewhere for role models we are have many options. We have our peers, we have characters from the media – comics, films, books, the music industry, sports and all of these can become a big influence on us and how we present ourselves. This might mean they affect us in a minor way leading us to alter the clothes we wear and our habits, or in a major way, leading us to make important considerations in our career or love life that make us closer to our idols, or changing our views on politics or religion.

So what is a good role model?

A good role model should be someone hard working, creative, free thinking and moral. While you can’t choose role models for your children as such, you can make sure that they are exposed to a better selection to choose from. For example encouraging your child to read ‘Superman’ rather than‘The Punisher’ (who murders his enemies and has a general bad attitude) might have a good impact on the way they turn out. However, it’s important not to put role models on a pedestal, everyone makes mistakes.

Where can I find a role model?

As I have mentioned previously, role models are all around us. They come from unlikely places and different walks of life, they come from media and they come from programs geared towards our youth. It has been said the younger generations have no aim, but what can we do about that? Having someone the youth of Amarillo can look up to as a positive role model benefits the youth and help guide them to become successful adults. There aren’t many organizations in Amarillo for the youth, but the AAYC is making its impact as one of the few. The AAYC is a place youth can come to do community service, take sports lessons or just play ball; whatever the reason maybe that draws the kids there. These kids may show up for an activity, but they go away with more than what they came for. The leaders and coaches take time to talk to everyone who comes in, they take a personal interest in their successes. They teach the kids what it means to be a part of a community by helping others and giving back to society. In my early teen years I met Matthew Hite  and several other leaders of the AAYC, and quickly found a group of people who were willing to sacrifice anything for others. I admired the way they were able to find a way to help those who needed it and wanted to do the same in my life. I began volunteering with the AAYC and used my time there to learn what it means to help others. It may be giving someone food to eat or even listening to someone talk about their day. Having a role model such as the ones I found in the AAYC has taught me I can make a difference to someone, and that I can influence others as well.

carajohnson1  This blog was written by Cara Johnson;  cljohnson8952@gmail.com

Tips for Improving your life through Healthy Living

In today’s fast pace society a lot of us, including myself, forget that we have to maintain the flesh and bones and keep ourselves healthy.  We over-extend ourselves and push ourselves further than we should and don’t take time to smell the roses.

We can all improve our quality of life by making small healthier choices every day.  Here are six categories that will help you improve your life please take a few minutes to review them and to implement them!

1.  Stress is a mess–everything causes stress…. even good things in your life.  It is important to learn to manage your stress.  Stress has been known to lead to serious health issues such as depression, obesity, self-inflicted wounds and even death can come from being too stressed.   Take some time each day to clear your schedule, get organized and your street will be easier to manage.  Set realistic goals and work toward them.  If you get in over your head, STOP, close your eyes (if your not driving) and then take a few deep breaths which will also help to enhance your blood circulation.  Eat antioxidants because they fight stress hormones on a regular bases.

2. Eat Healthy–you are what you eat is very true.  Many of us spend too much time eating processed food and we eat out too much.  These foods are NOT what our body needs, our body needs a balanced diet of foods and minerals and fresh fruits and vegetables are king!  Also drink, yes drink but drink the right thing.  Everyone should keep hydrated with WATER.  There really is NO substitute.  Avoid drinks loaded with sugars and caffeine. COKES are NOT good for you!

3. Put your feet up–everyone need to have some “me time” prop up your feet, relax, take deep breaths and think about what you are successful at instead of dwelling in the negatives.  Did you know you can build your immune system up by laughing.  Endorphins are released into your body when you laugh.  Schedule time to relax, its important.  Also laughing will help your blood flow and can give you a great abs work out; LOL.

4. Sleep–everyone needs 6-8 hours of sleep each night but did you know that less than 75 percent of people get that.  Games, computers, texting, and social media keep people in contact 24/7 and we need time to rest, our body has to have it.  Shut it off and go to bed!  Between school, work, sports, family, church and other activities who has time to sleep in today’s fast paced world?  The answer:  Truly Successful people do.   Zzzzzzzz

5.  Preventions and check-ups–be sure to know your body, know your limits and don’t step outside of what you can safely do.  Its ok to push yourself a little but don’t push too hard.  get a yearly check-up and physical, sometimes we don’t realize there are issues because they creep up on us gradually. Regular checkups can help you prevent/detect serious health issues.

6. Scare yourself–this is my personal favorite.  We need to scare ourselves or do something to cause our heart to race at least one a day.  The most common way to do this is to exercise but its very healthy to get your adrenaline up and get some blood flowing.  Just don’t do anything that will physically put you in harms way.  In all seriousness we all need to spend more time with a raised heart rate, even a 30 minute walk each day is better than just sitting at the computer, it does not take a high intensive workout to maintain and keep yourself healthy.   Remember to BOO someone, it might help them stay healthy.

Blog post by Matthew Hite, Executive Director AAYC, matt.hite@amarilloyouth.net

Does A College Degree Still Have Value?

As everyone prepares for graduation and the coming summer we thought it important that everyone think of college and their future plans. Please take a minuted to read this great article!

Life + Times

As the 2013 graduation season is among us…

There has been a lot of buzz lately about whether a college degree is worth anything these days. It stems from the post-recession era, where new graduates are not finding employment and are shackled with student loan debt. Experience has proven more valuable than education when it comes to the job hunt. Additionally, now famous genius and millionaires such as Mark Zuckerberg and David Karp were college dropouts. It’s almost the cool thing to do – dropout and get rich anyway.

Back in the 90’s when I was growing up, I was embraced the notion that the only way I would succeed in life was by going to college. And not everyone went to college, but those that did, would be set for life. Or so it seemed to me. Now, it seems that is changing completely. More people than ever…

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Please GOD….. I’m only 17…..

As we get ready for the summer and FREEDOM from school and structure, please take a moment to read this and THINK before you act this summer.

Please God… I’m only 17….

The day I died was an ordinary school day. How I wish I had taken the bus!  But I was too cool for the bus, I remember how I conned the car out of Mom. “Special favor” I pleaded.  “All the kids drive.”  When the 2:50 bell rang, I threw all my books in the locker. I was free until 8:40 tomorrow morning!  I ran to the parking lot, excited at the thought of driving a car and being my own boss.  FREE!  It doesn’t matter how the accident happened.  I was goofing off – going too fast. Taking crazy chances but I was enjoying my freedom and having fun.  The last thing I remember was passing an old lady who seemed to be going awfully slow.  I heard a deafening crash and felt a terrific jolt.  Glass and steel flew everywhere.  Mt entire body seemed to be turning inside out.  I heard myself scream.

Suddenly I awakened;  it was very quiet.  A police officer was standing over me.  Then I saw a doctor.  My body was mangled.  I was saturated with blood.  Piece of jagged glass were sticking out all over.  Strange that I couldn’t feel anything.

Hey, don’t pull that sheet over my head… I can’t be dead, I’m only seventeen.  I’ve got a date tonight.  I am supposed to grow up and have a wonderful life.  I haven’t lived yet.  I can’t be dead.

Later I was placed in a drawer.  My folks had to identify me.  Why did they have to see me like this?  Why did I have to look into Mom’s eyes when she faced the most terrible ordeal of her life?  Dad suddenly looked like an old man.  He told the man in charge, “Yes that is my son.”

The funeral was a weird experience.  I saw all my relatives and friends walk toward the casket. They passed by, one by one, and looked at me with the saddest eyes I have ever seen.  Some of my buddies were crying.  A few of the girls touched my hand and sobbed as they walked away.  PLEASE… Someone… Wake me up!  Get me out of here!  I can’t bare to see my mom and dad so broken u.  My grandparents are so racked with grief they can hardly walk.  My brother and sisters are like zombies.  They all move like robots.  In a daze… everyone I know.  No one can believe this…. I can’t believe this…..

Please don’t bury me!  PLEASE.  I’m not dead, I can’t be.  I have a lot of living to do!  I want to laugh and run again.  I want to sing and dance.  Please don’t put me in the ground.  I promise if you give me just one more chance, God, I’ll be the most careful driver in the whole world.  All I want is one more chance.

Please God, I’m only 17!