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Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers!

Dear Commons Community,

Jenny Tuten, a colleague at Hunter College in the Department of Curriculum & Teaching, sent this along to the Hunter LISTSERV.  It might be very helpful to those needing to speak to young people about the violence on Friday at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Tony

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Talking to Children About Violence:

Tips for Parents and Teachers

By The Center for School Mental Health

High profile acts of violence, particularly in schools, can confuse
and frighten children who may feel in danger or worry that their
friends or loved-ones are at risk. They will look to adults for
information and guidance on how to react. Parents and school
personnel can help children feel safe by establishing a sense of
normalcy and security and talking with them about their fears.

1. Reassure children that they are safe. Emphasize that schools
are very safe. Validate their feelings. Explain that all feelings are
okay when a tragedy occurs. Let children talk about their
feelings, help put them into perspective, and assist them in
expressing these feelings appropriately.

2. Make time to talk. Let their questions be your guide as to how
much information to provide. Be patient. Children and youth do
not always talk about their feelings readily. Watch for clues that
they may want to talk, such as hovering around while you do the
dishes or yard work. Some children prefer writing, playing
music, or doing an art project as an outlet. Young children may
need concrete activities (such as drawing, looking at picture
books, or imaginative play) to help them identify and express
their feelings.

3. Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate.
Early elementary school children need brief, simple information
that should be balanced with reassurances that their school and
homes are safe and that adults are there to protect them. Give
simple examples of school safety like reminding children about
exterior doors being locked, child monitoring efforts on the
playground, and emergency drills practiced during the school
day.

. Upper elementary and early middle school children will be
more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are
safe and what is being done at their school. They may need
assistance separating reality from fantasy. Discuss efforts of
school and community leaders to provide safe schools.

. Upper middle school and high school students will have strong
and varying opinions about the causes of violence in schools and
society. They will share concrete suggestions about how to make
school safer and how to prevent tragedies in society. Emphasize
the role that students have in maintaining safe schools by
following school safety guidelines (e.g. not providing building
access to strangers, reporting strangers on campus, reporting
threats to the school safety made by students or community
members, etc.), communicating any personal safety concerns to
school administrators, and accessing support for emotional
needs.

4. Review safety procedures. This should include procedures and
safeguards at school and at home. Help children identify at least
one adult at school and in the community to whom they go if
they feel threatened or at risk.

5. Observe children’s emotional state. Some children may not
express their concerns verbally. Changes in behavior, appetite,
and sleep patterns can indicate a child’s level of anxiety or
discomfort. In most children, these symptoms will ease with
reassurance and time. However, some children may be at risk
for more intense reactions. Children who have had a past
traumatic experience or personal loss, suffer from depression or
other mental illness, or with special needs may be at greater
risk for severe reactions than others. Seek the help of mental
health professional if you are at all concerned.

6. Limit television viewing of these events. Limit television
viewing and be aware if the television is on in common areas.
Developmentally inappropriate information can cause anxiety or
confusion, particularly in young children. Adults also need to be
mindful of the content of conversations that they have with each
other in front of children, even teenagers, and limit their
exposure to vengeful, hateful, and angry comments that might
be misunderstood.

7. Maintain a normal routine. Keeping to a regular schedule can
be reassuring and promote physical health. Ensure that children
get plenty of sleep, regular meals, and exercise. Encourage
them to keep up with their schoolwork and extracurricular
activities but don’t push them if they seem overwhelmed.

Suggested Points to Emphasize When Talking to Children

. Schools are safe places. School staff work with parents and
public safety providers (local police and fire departments,
emergency responders, hospitals, etc.) to keep you safe.

. The school building is safe because . (cite specific school
procedures).

. We all play a role in the school safety. Be observant and let an
adult know if you see or hear something that makes you feel
uncomfortable, nervous or frightened.

. There is a difference between reporting, tattling or gossiping.
You can provide important information that may prevent harm
either directly or anonymously by telling a trusted adult what
you know or hear.

. Don’t dwell on the worst possibilities. Although there is no
absolute guarantee that something bad will never happen, it is
important to understand the difference between the possibility of
something happening and the probability that it will affect our
school.

. Senseless violence is hard for everyone to understand. Doing
things that you enjoy, sticking to your normal routine, and being
with friends and family help make us feel better and keep us
from worrying about the event.

. Sometimes people do bad things that hurt others. They may be
unable to handle their anger, under the influence of drugs or
alcohol, or suffering from mental illness. Adults (parents,
teachers, police officers, doctors, faith leaders) work very hard
to get those people help and keep them from hurting others. It
is important for all of us to know how to get help if we feel really
upset or angry and to stay away from drugs and alcohol.

. Stay away from guns and other weapons. Tell an adult if you
know someone has a gun. Access to guns is one of the leading
risk factors for deadly violence.

. Violence is never a solution to personal problems. Students can
be part of the positive solution by participating in anti-violence
programs at school, learning conflict mediation skills, and
seeking help from an adult if they or a peer is struggling with
anger, depression, or other emotions they cannot control.

 

Sandy Hook Elementary School: “I just want to hug my child today”.

Dear Commons Community,

One parent at the scene of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School commented:  “I just want to hug my child today” summed up the feelings of many whose children were not the victims of the lone gunman who killed 27 innocents yesterday.

The initial stories were conflicting but it appears that:

The gunman, Adam Lanza,  had a personality disorder whose mother might have worked at the school.

He killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, in the home he shared with her before going to the Sandy Hook School.

The first reports erroneously had Lanza’s older brother, Ryan, as the gunman.

The principal and school psychologist were among those killed.

There are a number of stories of teachers who bravely sacrificed their own safety for the children.

President Obama and the rest of the country shed tears.

Tony

Gunman Claims 27 Lives in an Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut!

Dear Commons Community,

Once again a crazed gunman with easy access to weapons enters a school and takes the lives of innocents.  The Daily News reported:

Twenty-seven people were killed, including 18 children, when a masked gunman unleashed a bloody rampage through a Connecticut elementary school.

The mass murderer, packing a pair of weapons, was among the dead at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. — a small suburban town of about 27,000 people.

The gunfire erupted around 9:40 a.m. inside the main office and soon spread to the morning kindergarten classroom — where class began just 35 minutes earlier.

A 9-year-old girl reported hearing a scream come over the school intercom during the yet-unexplained killing spree by the lone gunman. The shooter was described as a 20-year-old man with ties to the school.

Once the horrified surviving students were hustled to safety, an entire class of kids remained missing, the Hartford Courant reported.

The small children wept and held hands while fleeing the school.

Our hearts are with the victims and their families!!!

Tony

 

In Ignorance We Trust: Timothy Egan on History, the Liberal Arts and Florida’s Governor Rick Scott!

Dear Commons Community,

Timothy Egan has an op-ed piece in today’s New York Times presenting the importance of learning history as a critical part of a good basic liberal arts education.  He covers a lot of ground and wanders a bit  but saves his best shot for Rick Scott, the Governor of Florida:

“For knuckleheaded refinement look to the state of Florida, a breeder of bad ideas from its dangerous gun laws to its deliberate attempts to make it hard for citizens to vote. Gov. Rick Scott’s task force on higher education is now suggesting that college students with business-friendly majors pay less tuition than those in traditional liberal arts fields.

“You know, we don’t need a lot of anthropologists in this state,” the governor said in October. “I want to spend our dollars giving people science, technology, engineering and math degrees. That’s what our kids need to focus all their time and attention on.”

Notice he said “all.” If the governor, who’s been trying to run Florida like a corporation, had applied the skills of the liberal arts, his approval rating might be higher than 38 percent. Any anthropologist could tell Scott how he misread human behavior in the Sunshine State.”

In an effort to be balanced, Egan refers to David McCullough:

“And yet, as McCullough has said, the keepers of academic gates in these fields are their own worst enemies. Too many history books are boring, badly written and jargon-weighted with politically correct nonsense. There are certainly exceptions among the authors — the witty Patricia Limerick at the University of Colorado, for example, or the prolific Douglas Brinkley at Rice. And I defy anyone to read Robert K. Massie’s “Catherine the Great” (enlightened German teenager takes over Russia) or Erik Larson’s “In the Garden of Beasts” (Nazis, oozing evil in diplomatic circles) and not come away moved.”

Important commentary!

Tony

 

U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice Withdraws her Name from Consideration for Secretary of State!

Dear Commons Community,

U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice has withdrawn her name from consideration for secretary of state, Brian Williams of NBC News reports.

“If nominated, I am now convinced that the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly — to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities,” Rice wrote in a letter to President Barack Obama, obtained by NBC News. “That trade-off is simply not worth it to our country … Therefore, I respectfully request that you no longer consider my candidacy at this time.”

With Rice out of the running, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is widely believed to be the frontrunner to replace current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Ambassador Rice has made a very classy decision and is showing a lot of loyalty to President Obama.

Tony

Nate Silver: News Punditry is Fundamentally Useless!

Dear Commons Community,

Nate Silver, the New York Times polling master, hammered members of the media on Wednesday night.  Politico’s Mike Allen reported that Silver appeared at Google’s Washington D.C. headquarters as part of the company’s Talk series. ABC News’ Jonathan Karl interviewed Silver, who spoke about working for the Times and the differences between journalism and punditry.

“I don’t want to totally lump reporters and pundits in together,” Silver said. “It’s kind of venial sins versus cardinal sins basically … where reporting is very, very important and journalism is very, very important, and there are some things about campaign coverage that I might critique. Whereas punditry is fundamentally useless.”

By the way, I have just finished reading Silver’s The Signal and the Noise: Why Most Predictions Fail but Some Don’t.  It is well worth the read.

Tony

HSBC Banking Giant Admits to Money Laundering for Drug Cartels and for Shielding Terrorist Funds!!

Dear Commons Community,

The news media are aglow with the report that federal and state authorities secured a record $1.92 billion payment from HSBC on Tuesday to settle charges that the banking giant transferred billions of dollars for nations under United States sanctions, enabled Mexican drug cartels to launder tainted money through the American financial system, and worked closely with Saudi Arabian banks linked to terrorist organizations.

The case represents the conclusion of a multiagency investigation that spanned years. It convened the Justice Department, the Manhattan district attorney’s office, bank regulators and the Treasury Department.

In a filing in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, federal prosecutors said the bank had agreed to enter into a deferred prosecution agreement and to forfeit $1.25 billion. The four-count criminal information filed in the court charged HSBC with failure to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program, to conduct due diligence on its foreign correspondent affiliates, and for violating sanctions and the Trading With the Enemy Act.

It seems to me that while the fines appear steeped, there should be criminal indictments against major officers of this company.

Tony

 

 

Joe Scarborough: Modern Conservatism Has Become a Racket for Pundits to Make Millions!

Dear Commons Community,

Joe Scarborough lashed out at some conservatives, particularly pundits, for “destroying” the Republican Party yesterday.

The MSNBC morning host was reacting to Bill Kristol’s recent op-ed, which alleged that parts of American conservativism have become “a racket.” Scarborough could not agree more.

“You have a lot of people running around, saying harsh things that sell books and push ratings and lose elections,” he said on Monday. “Conservatism is a racket for a lot of people to get very, very rich. With no thought of winning elections.”

He said that conservative media personalities would only lead the GOP to a “permanent minority.” Scarborough continued, “Who are they to say anything about what the future of this party and of this movement is? They’re making tens of millions of dollars. They’re getting rich and they’re not really hurting this country because they’re irrelevant… but they are destroying the Republican Party everyday.”

Scarborough was on target and it was clear that he was referring to the Rush Limbaughs, Ann Coulters, Glenn Becks, Bill O’Reillys and Sean Hannitys of the conservative media.

Tony

 

 

 

 

Detroit Free Press: Governor Rick Synder Betrayed Voters by Supporting Right-to-Work Legislation!

Dear Commons Community,

Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder was slammed yesterday in a front-page Detroit Free Press editorial over his support for right-to-work legislation that is being rushed through the State’s legislative process with little public review or debate.

“…trust has now been betrayed — for us, and for the hundreds of thousands of independents who voted for Snyder with the conviction that they were electing someone more independent, and more visionary, than partisan apparatchiks like Wisconsin’s Scott Walker or Florida’s Rick Scott.

Last week, in an abrupt about-face Snyder’s defenders said was born of his frustration with organized labor, the governor unleashed a legislative blitzkrieg that seems certain to bring a bill barring closed-shop contracts to his desk next week.

He has already promised to sign it.

Watching Snyder explain his right-to-work reversal was disturbing on several levels.

His insistence that the legislation was designed to promote the interests of unionized workers and “bring Michiganders together” was grotesquely disingenuous; even as he spoke, security personnel were locking down the capital in anticipation of protests by angry unionists.

Snyder’s ostensible rationale for embracing right-to-work legislation — it was, he insisted, a matter of preserving workers’ freedom of association — was equally dishonest. Watching Snyder explain his right-to-work reversal was disturbing on several levels.

His insistence that the legislation was designed to promote the interests of unionized workers and “bring Michiganders together” was grotesquely disingenuous; even as he spoke, security personnel were locking down the capital in anticipation of protests by angry unionists.

Snyder’s ostensible rationale for embracing right-to-work legislation — it was, he insisted, a matter of preserving workers’ freedom of association — was equally dishonest.

The real motive of Michigan’s right-to-work champions, as former GOP legislator Bill Ballenger ruefully observed, is “pure greed” — the determination to emasculate, once and for all, the Democratic Party’s most reliable source of financial and organizational support.”

The full text of the editorial is below.

Tony

 

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Detroit Free Press

December 9, 2012

Editorial: A failure of leadership: Snyder’s about-face on right-to-work betrays voters

Two years ago, a newly elected Rick Snyder told the Free Press editorial board he was determined to be a new kind of governor — a pragmatist focused like a laser on initiatives that promised to raise standards of living for all Michiganders.

And until last week, we believed him.

For two years, we supported Snyder as he took painful steps to restore Michigan’s fiscal stability and confront a crisis in which plunging tax revenues and mounting obligations to retired workers threatened to cripple the state’s cities and school districts.

We criticized the governor for signing legislation that burdened a woman’s right to choose, condoned discrimination against gays, and beggared colleges and universities to pay for business tax cuts.

But we also indulged many compromises Snyder maintained were necessary to advance his pro-growth agenda. And when ideologues on the right and left mounted campaigns designed to hamstring state government by limiting its authority to raise revenues, regulate labor relations, and fund critically needed infrastructure, we joined the governor in opposing them.

In short, we trusted Snyder’s judgment.

That trust has now been betrayed — for us, and for the hundreds of thousand of independents who voted for Snyder with the conviction that they were electing someone more independent, and more visionary, than partisan apparatchiks like Wisconsin’s Scott Walker or Florida’s Rick Scott.

Last week, in an abrupt about-face Snyder’s defenders said was born of his frustration with organized labor, the governor unleashed a legislative blitzkrieg that seems certain to bring a bill barring closed-shop contracts to his desk next week.

He has already promised to sign it.

Watching Snyder explain his right-to-work reversal was disturbing on several levels.

His insistence that the legislation was designed to promote the interests of unionized workers and “bring Michiganders together” was grotesquely disingenuous; even as he spoke, security personnel were locking down the capital in anticipation of protests by angry unionists.

Snyder’s ostensible rationale for embracing right-to-work legislation — it was, he insisted, a matter of preserving workers’ freedom of association — was equally dishonest.

The real motive of Michigan’s right-to-work champions, as former GOP legislator Bill Ballenger ruefully observed, is “pure greed” — the determination to emasculate, once and for all, the Democratic Party’s most reliable source of financial and organizational support.

Off track for a better state

Michigan voters have never trusted business interests or organized labor to govern Michigan unilaterally, and they have been appropriately wary of schemes to secure a permanent advantage for either side. Thus the ignominious demise of Proposal 2, which a majority of voters correctly perceived as an attempt not just to tip the scales of labor negotiations in unions’ favor, but to lock them there for decades to come.

Snyder and other critics of Proposal 2 called it an overreach — and we agreed, even when proponents warned that Snyder and his Republican legislative allies would move to crush the labor movement if the voters rejected Proposal 2.

Nonsense, we assured them — Gov. Snyder is smarter than that. Too many of Snyder’s higher priorities would be jeopardized, we reasoned, if he picked a needless fight over right-to-work.

Our reasoning was sound, and it remains so. What we miscalculated was Snyder’s resolve to buck his own party’s most irrational ideologues and keep his eye on the main prize: a better Michigan.

It’s all about politics

Like the failed labor initiative it seeks to avenge, Snyder’s right-to-work legislation is an attempt to institutionalize Republicans’ current political advantage. Everything else is window dressing, and most of these diversionary talking points are demonstrably false.

The argument that right-to-work status makes states more competitive or prosperous is refuted by a mountain of evidence that shows right-to-work states trailing their union-friendly counterparts in key metrics like per capita wealth, poverty rates and health insurance coverage.

Snyder’s contention that workers’ First Amendment rights are compromised when a union they have freely elected to bargain on their behalf proposes a contract making union dues compulsory is equally specious. Employees are always free to reject such a contract or decertify the union that negotiated it, just as stockholders can force the ouster of corporate managers they deem unresponsive to their needs.

Snyder has long acknowledged that steamrolling right-to-work legislation through the Legislature would have enduring negative consequences for productive collaboration between workers and employees. His decision to embrace such legislation now destroys, in an eye blink, the trusting relationship he and his business allies have struggled to establish.

It also yokes a governor who once aspired to be seen as a new kind of Republican with the most ideological, backward-looking elements of that party — the very people whose exclusionary vision of the country’s future was rejected by voters in last month’s election.

Trust betrayed

Snyder’s closest brush with candor came when he suggested that his endorsement of right-to-work was less than voluntary — a decision “that was on the table whether I wanted it to be on the table or not.”

But that is less an excuse than a confession that Michigan’s governor has abdicated his leadership responsibilities to Republican legislators bent on vengeance.

What reasonable person now believes that Snyder has the will or the wherewithal to deliver Michigan, or even his own party, from the failed politics of division?

Michigan voters who provided Snyder’s margin of victory in 2010 feel betrayed, and they have every justification. If he was ever serious about being the governor who brought Michiganders together, Snyder has just sent himself back to Square One.