Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 09-22-2014 to 09-28-2014

twitter thumbWelcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world.

Each day we use Twitter and Facebook to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 15 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
What Should I Do If A Baby Is Choking?

6 Week Parent Check-Up: 4 Areas Not to Miss for School Success

Four crucial–and sometimes overlooked–areas that affect learning and how to check them to see how your child is doing. Parenting advice and simple tips I shared on the TODAY show to help your child have a more successful school year

school-workload-stress-checkThe honeymoon period is over and the school year is in full swing. At this point most parents have a good idea about how their children get along with the teacher and which subjects are hard or easy. But school success is more than just our kids’ opinions about homework, and in our fast-paced lives we can overlook other important areas that affect our children’s learning.

Checking up on those four crucial areas could identify any issues, resolve any problems, and even make the rest of your child’s school year go far smoother. Think of it like your child’s regular doctor check-up, except this one is no cost, doesn’t take as much times, you never have to leave your home and involves your child’s education. There’s no better time than right now to check-up and check-in with your child’s school progress. Here are the four core areas of your child’s education you should assess for school success.

Four-Part Parent Back-to-School Check-Up

Part 1. ACADEMICS: How is your child handling the school load?

Don’t wait to be shocked on that first report card! Now is the time to zero in and find out if your child needs a tutor, a class change, or just needs to hit those books harder.

Grades: Most school’s have a website service parents where parents can review their child’s grades, test scores and absences. Register for that service (it’s free), and then use it at least once a week. And let your child know you’re checking up (you just may see a sudden change in his motivation). If you see a dip in grades or test scores, it’s time for a serious chat with your child. If the problem continues, set up a conference with the teacher to see if this is a learning problem, inappropriate class not at the child’s ability, a tutor is needed or your child needs to study more.

Missing school notes: Being involved in your child’s education is essential, but to do so you have to make sure you’re receiving all school correspondences. Important notes about upcoming conferences, open houses or school projects often end up at the bottom of those backpacks, so now is a great time to have your child to empty his backpack and clean it. If you find missing forms, then set aside “Note Catcher Box” (a basket, tin) in a convenient spot near the front door. Then set a new rule: the minute your kid walks in the door, he opens his backpack and puts any school correspondence in the box. You can check it later, sign it, and then put it back that backpack.

Part 2. SOCIAL: How is your child getting along with others?

Pals play an enormous part of our kids’ self-esteem, and research finds that who our kids befriend can affect their study habits and their overall academic success and feelings of security. While kids don’t need lots of friends they do need at least one loyal buddy. A lack of friends, rejection or bullying makes concentrating on those school assignments a lot harder.

Friend problems: The two places where kids are most likely to be excluded are in the cafeteria or school playground. A quick way to find out if your child has a pal is to ask him to draw a map of the cafeteria or playground, and then mark where he usually sits or plays. Next ask him to mark where the other kids sit or play. Does he have pals? Worry if your child has no friends. If you see a pattern, dig further and then contact the teacher for his or her perspective.

Cyber-bullying: Electronic bullying via internet, cell, text, email or web is escalating. A quick way to find out your child’s online presence is to Google your child’s first and last name and determine how many hits come up. If you see a growing presence it could be a sign of cyber-bullying. Watch especially when your child receives a text or email. If he looks jumpy, worried or covers up the computer, monitor closer. And regardless, now is a great time to review Internet safety rules and change your child’s password.

Bullying: Peer cruelty is a growing problem and usually happens where there is least adult supervision. Hot spots include bathrooms, cafeterias, the corners of the playground, the back of the bus, lockers, and hallways. So ask: “Where are places you or the other kids try to stay away from because you don’t feel as safe?” Is your child avoiding certain spots? Does he run home to use the bathroom? (Forty-three percent of students are afraid to use the school restroom). Heading to fridge famished might be because his lunch money is stolen. If so, develop a safety plan for your child, monitor daily and report your concerns to the school.

Part 3. EMOTIONAL: How is your child handling stress and that activity load?

According to a new poll from the University of Michigan, childhood stress is now a top-5 concern for parents, and 56% of parents believe it’s getting worse. Stress affects our kids’ learning and their ability to concentrate.

Activity overload: A survey published by found that 41 percent of children aged nine to thirteen said they feel stressed most or all of the time because they have too much to do. Nearly 80 percent wished they had more free time. Watch out! Overscheduled kids run the risk of stress-related illnesses. Now is the time to sit down with your child and look at her weekly schedule and all those extra activities. Is there one thing that could be cut to free up time and give your child a chance to decompress? Cutting just one thing can make a difference.

Stress: Have you seen a marked change since school began from your child’s “normal” behavior that lasts everyday for at least two weeks. For instance: Is your child more irritable or withdrawn lately? Have trouble concentrating or have more headaches? Is he quicker to frustrate? If so, could it be stress related? Identify your child’s stress triggers. Reduce those triggers that you can (like that scary shows or too difficult of a math class). Watch also conflict at home, which can spill over into kids’ school life. Find ways to de-stress with your kids and help him learn to decompress.

Part 4. PHYSICAL: How is your child’s health?

Don’t overlook your child’s physical health, which is critical to learning and overall school success. Reoccurring headaches or illnesses are often school related.

Sleep deprived: A lack of sleep can have a serious impact on children’s abilities to learn and perform at school. Missing just one hour of sleep can be enough to reduce a child’s cognitive abilities by almost two years the next day. Is your child waking up refreshed and ready to go or are you playing Big Ben to try and get him out of bed. If the later, make sure bedtimes are kept to a routine schedule. Turn off the computer and television at least 30 minutes prior to bedtime. Take away the cell phones during nighttime hours (62% of kids admit they use it after the lights go out and their parents are clueless). Avoid caffeinated sleep stealers like cold medications, chocolate, or energy-drinks.

Skipped breakfasts: Tune into those breakfasts dishes to check what your child is eating –or not eating. A healthy breakfast is important for concentrating and keeping up with the stamina. If mornings are rushed and your kid is missing that crucial first meal, think of healthy simple options that your kids can grab on the run like ready-to-go bottles of orange juice or milk, low-fat yogurt, apples and whole-grain English muffins.

The secret is to identify one thing that may affect your child’s learning success. Then find a simple solution that works for your family and commit to implementing it until you reap positive change. And make sure you get to your child’s school Open House!

****************************************************************************************************************************Borba - book cover -parentingsolutions140x180

Dr Borba’s book The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries, is one of the most comprehensive parenting book for kids 3 to 13. This down-to-earth guide offers advice for dealing with children’s difficult behavior and hot button issues including biting, tantrums, cheating, bad friends, inappropriate clothing, sex, drugs, peer pressure and much more. Each of the 101 challenging parenting issues includes specific step-by-step solutions and practical advice that is age appropriate based on the latest research. The Big Book of Parenting Solutions has recently been released and is now available at

Tomorrow – Sept 27th, DOLPHIN TALE 2 is Sensory Friendly!

Sensory-Friendly-Films-logoOnce a month, AMC Entertainment (AMC) and the Autism Society have teamed up to bring families affected by autism and with other special needs ”Sensory Friendly Movie Screenings“ – a wonderful opportunity to enjoy their favorite “family-friendly” films in a safe and accepting environment.

The movie auditoriums will have their lights turned up and the sound turned down. Families will be able to bring in snacks to match their child’s dietary needs (i.e. gluten-free, casein-free, etc.), there are no advertisements or previews before the movie and it’s totally acceptable to get up and dance, walk, shout, talk to each other…and even sing – in other words, AMC “Silence is Golden®” policy will not be enforced during movie screenings unless the safety of the audience is questioned.

Does it make a difference? Absolutely! Imagine …no need to shhhhh your child. No angry stares from other movie goers. Many parents think twice before bringing a child to a movie theater. Add to that your child’s special needs and it can easily Dolphin Tale 2become cause for parental panic. But on this one day a month, for this one screening, everyone is there to relax and have a good time, everyone expects to be surrounded by kids – with and without special needs – and the movie theater policy becomes “Tolerance is Golden”.

On Saturday September 27th at 10am local time, Dolphin Tale 2 will be screened as part of the Autism Society “Sensory Friendly Movie Screenings” program (although not in 3D for our Sensory Friendly audiences). Tickets are $4 to $6 depending on the location. To find a theatre near you, here is a list of AMC theatres nationwide participating in this fabulous program (note: to access list, please scroll to the bottom of the page).

Coming October 25th: BOOK OF LIFE

**************************************************************************************************************************** Editor’s note: Although Dolphin Tale 2 has been chosen by the Autism Society as this month’s Sensory Friendly screening, it has been rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for some mild thematic events. As always, please check the IMDB Parent’s Guide for a more detailed description of this film to determine if it is right for you and your child.

What Should I Do If A Baby Is Choking?

If a baby is choking, you need to assess the situation quickly to see how best you can help.

This information applies to babies aged under one year old. For information relating to adults and older children, see What should I do if someone is choking?

Choking happens when a person’s airway suddenly gets blocked so they cannot breathe. Their airway can be partly or fully blocked. In babies, choking is often caused if they put small objects in their mouths, which then get stuck. It can also be caused by food getting stuck.

Mans arms holding a baby dollChoking in Babies Under One Year Old

A baby who is choking will be distressed and may be unable to cry, cough or breathe.

  • Lie the baby face down along your forearm or thigh, with their head low. Support their head.
  • Give up to five firm slaps to the baby’s back between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand. (The heel is between the palm of your hand and your wrist.)
  • Stop after each slap to check if the blockage has cleared. Look inside the baby’s mouth and remove any obvious blockage. Do not poke your fingers into the baby’s mouth unless you can see and reach the blockage. You may push it further in.
  • If the airway is still blocked, give up to five chest thrusts (see below).
  • Stop after each thrust to check if the blockage has cleared.

If the baby’s airway is still blocked after three cycles of back slaps and chest thrusts, you should:

  • Dial 999 (UK) or 911 (US) for an ambulance immediately. Do not leave the baby – take him or her with you to the phone
  • Continue with the cycles of back slaps and chest thrusts until help arrives

Chest Thrusts for Babies Under One Year Old

In babies under one year old, chest thrusts are used in an emergency to clear a blockage from their airway. Important: do not use abdominal thrusts with babies under one year old.

  • Lie the baby along your forearm on their back, with their head low. Support their back and head.
  • Give up to five chest thrusts. Using two fingers, push inwards and upwards (towards the head) against the baby’s breastbone, one finger’s breadth below the nipple line.
  • Check if the blockage has cleared after each thrust, by looking inside the baby’s mouth and removing any obvious blockage. Do not poke your fingers into the baby’s mouth unless you can see and reach the blockage as you may push it further in.


Once the baby’s airway is cleared, some of the material that caused the blockage can sometimes remain and cause complications later. If the baby still has a persistent cough or difficulty swallowing, they need to see a health professional urgently. You should take the baby to A&E, an NHS Walk-in Centre or your GP if it’s during GP hours (UK).*

*In the US, take the baby to the ER, an urgent care clinic, or your primary care physician, if during office hours.

Further information:

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 09-15-2014 to 09-21-2014

twitter thumbWelcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world.

Each day we use Twitter and Facebook to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 20 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
These are the 12 drugs sending the most kids to the emergency room

Predators Pt 2: Grooming-How Pedophiles Get Into Our Kid’s Lives

Editor’s Note: This is the second of a two part series on sexual predators written by David Pittman, the founder of Together We Heal – an organization dedicated to helping survivors of childhood sexual abuse (CSA). Today’s focus is on helping parents understand how predators target, approach, groom and eventually insinuate themselves into a child’s (and even a family’s) life. Since 90-95% of CSA occurs at the hands of someone that is known, trusted and often loved, it is essential to be educated on what signs or red flags to be looking for. The once held notion of “stranger danger” is a myth. Education is the key to learning what are the real threats to children. Our hope is that by teaching you how to recognize the signs that someone is targeting your child, together we can keep them from becoming one more CSA statistic. (Click here to read last week’s post on How to Talk With Your Kids About Sexual Abuse).


Together We Heal logoAfter posting my story of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) on the Together We Heal website, I was asked an important question by a concerned parent. How did this monster get into your life?

The answer is both simple and complex. The easy part is that they don’t have the appearance of a monster. They don’t look like some James Bond or Cartoon character villain, with beady eyes, horns coming out of their heads, or a big neon sign saying, “STAY AWAY, PEDOPHILE HERE!” Sadly, they almost always look like everyone one else. The gentle minister, the encouraging coach, the neighbor always willing to lend a hand or the family member who seems to be there just when you need them.

And this is where the complexity comes in. How do you distinguish genuine care from pure evil? While there are no set in stone answers, there are some clues to look for and ways to evaluate what is going on. And though nothing is fool-proof, I hope it’s at least a start for you to help figure out friend from foe.

One of the most frightening things about pedophiles/sexual predators is that they seem so “normal”. They are notoriously friendly, nice, kind, engaging and like-able. And they target their victims, often insinuating themselves into that child’s life through their family, school, house of worship, sports, and hobbies. But don’t ever forget, pedophiles are professional con-artists and are experts at getting children and families to trust them. They will smile at you, look you right in the eye and make you believe they are trustworthy.

So let’s first define exactly what grooming is and then we will go into the steps involved.

Predator-relationship-with-the-childErika Lyn Smith, of the “Missing And Exploited Children Site”, gives a thorough explanation of what we are talking about.

The act of grooming a child involves spending time, energy, and money to make a child and even the parent or parents feel comfortable with the relationship. Only after a trusting relationship is established will the child predator start to become more intrusive and to test the boundaries of the relationship by pushing limits. These violations may include hugging, kissing, tickling, wrestling, and invading a child’s privacy while showering, dressing or toileting.

Initially a pedophile will begin to violate the physical boundaries, by accidentally touching the child through his or her clothes to see what kind of reaction he or she receives. If a child or parent questions the action the predator will likely back off and regain the trust of the child or parents before proceeding.

By befriending the parent or parents, the pedophile gains the trust of everyone in the family. Children are less likely to tell when the relationship turns sexual if the adult is someone he or she knows personally or is a friend of mom or dads. In addition, mom and dad may be less likely to listen to a child when it involves a good friend of the family.

Single parents, especially mother’s will be looking for a positive male role model if there is no father involved. Single mothers are more likely to accept offers from a child’s coach or school for help when offered. All parents needs to be vigilant when it comes to allowing someone access to his or her child, and question friendships or relationships that take up a lot of a child’s free time.

Signs that a pedophile may be grooming your child include:

  • Telling a child, he or she is a “special” friend
  • Bringing a child special mementos or gifts
  • Talking to a child about adult issues like sex or marriage problems
  • Giving a child alcohol, cigarettes or drugs
  • Inviting a child to spend the night or go camping

A former F.B.I. agent named Kenneth V. Landing wrote about 5 steps he identified as the general process most sexual predators use in grooming children to be their next victims. Below you will find this listed.

  • Stage 1: Identifying a Possible Victim Although pedophiles differ in their “type” regarding age, appearance and gender, all pedophiles will look for a victim who seems in some way vulnerable.
  • Stage 2: Collecting Information The next step is for the pedophile to collect as much information on the targeted victim as possible. This is most commonly done through casual conversations with both the child and the parents or caretaker.
  • Stage 3: Filling a Need Once the individual has the information he needs, he then becomes part of the child’s life by filling a need. If the victim is poor, for example, the pedophile will provide him/her with expensive toys. If the victim is lonely, the pedophile will act as a friend.
  • Stage 4: Lowering Inhibitions The pedophile will then start to lower the child’s inhibitions concerning sexual matters. He may come up with games or activities that involve getting undressed, make sexual comments or show the child pornographic images or pictures.
  • Stage 5: Initiating the Abuse At this final stage, the pedophile begins to sexually abuse the child.

Another technique used by these predators is called the 4 “F’s”: Friendship, Fantasy, Fear and Force.

  • Friendship is built through nurturing a relationship through bonding. The adult will usually give the child gifts, take them on special outings and show them a lot of attention.
    Once a child trusts an adult, the adult can influence the child’s attitude regarding sexual behavior. Grooming may include introducing sexual content to the child as an example of what the perpetrator desires and to give the impression that the depicted acts are acceptable. If the child thinks that sex between children and adults is ok, it’s easier for the pedophile to victimize the child.
  • Then they will introduce Fantasy”. They will manipulate the child with a false sense of security. They will pay a lot of attention to the child’s problems and personal matters and offer advice and counseling. They will tell the child how much they love them and that they want to have a long term, loving relationship with them.
  • Once the child has opened up to the pedophile, they will begin to instill “Fear” by threatening to share the child’s secrets with their classmates or their parents. Sometimes they will even threaten the life or safety of the child or of their family and friends It’s all a manipulation tactic to get the child to do what the pedophile wants them to do.
  • Ultimately, the pedophile uses “Force” to sexually exploit the child.

While these are by no means the only ways sexual predators work their way into ours and our children’s lives, they are at least a beginning place for parents to be on the lookout. The more information you have and the better educated you become, the more you will be able to best protect your kids.

Knowledge truly is power and we cannot give over our power to these heinous criminals. They will use every trick in the book so you have to know what they’re doing. Even more frightening, pedophiles and sexual predators work together to help each other figure out ways to gain access to our kids. Don’t believe it, read this article about a 170 page, “How To” publication put together by and for adults who prey on innocent children. They are making a concerted effort to help each other so we have to be more vigilant, more active and tireless in our work to combat these predators.

I hope this is a good start on helping you to protect your children. God knows I wish my family had been told this when I was a child. Maybe they would have been able to stop my abuse before it began. So please take a page from our family history book, educate yourselves and talk with your kids.



  • Kenneth V. Lanning, Special Agent, F.B.I.
  • Erika Lyn Smith
  • America’s Most Wanted
  • WBTV