Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 12-23-2013 to 12-29-2013

Last updated on March 2nd, 2018 at 02:39 pm

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 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 who are not on Twitter (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 10 events & stories.

PedSafe Headline of the Week:

Obamacare has unintended loophole in kids’ dental care

When One Little Boy Said NO to Bullying… a message for 2014

Last updated on March 2nd, 2018 at 02:40 pm

say no to bullyingHave you noticed…it’s hard to go a week without hearing or reading a story about bullying. There’s the “traditional” bullying we all knew growing up – and perhaps dismiss a bit too easily because of that. The skinny kid being shoved in the hallway…the mean rumors spread about one kid by the “in-crowd”.

And then there’s the new “flavor” of torment –cyber-bullying. Where leaving school no longer brings relief but often just opens the door to a whole new world of abuse. By email, by phone, on social networks, the insults, the hurt just keeps coming.

We read about it…

We read the sad stories – after the fact – when bullying contributes to the death of a child:

  • Rebecca Ann Sedwick – the 7th grader from Florida – who jumped to her death from an abandoned cement silo after enduring a year of online and in-person bullying.
  • Jordan Lewis – a sophomore in high school – who committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest. In a note, he blamed his suicide on bullying.

We read in the Huffington Post that bullying is starting to become recognized as a public health issue. According to Dr. Jorge Srabstein, medical director of the Clinic for Health Problems Related to Bullying at the Children’s National Medical Center (CNMC), “Bullying is linked to a wide range of health issues, both physical and emotional symptoms,“

In fact I have to say I’m a little worried for this current generation of kids. They have all this wonderful technology we didn’t have growing up – but they’re using it in some incredibly destructive ways. And with a callous disregard for human life. In fact one of the two teenagers accused of bullying Rebecca Sedwick was reported as having posted on Facebook that she knew she bullied Rebecca and she killed herself but she didn’t care.

How do we enter 2014 with this hanging over us? Can we change this scary direction we’re heading in??

Email can be a help line

To answer that, I’m going to share with you a story…well actually it’s an email, but the email itself tells the story. It was written by an ELEVEN year old, to his school principal.

Email Subject: I have found out about a serious bully situation – Benjamin E.

Dear Mr. C.

I began writing this e-mail as soon as I got home, I was on my bus and I found an eighth grade boy, I forgot his name already, but he is in eighth grade and is black and rides bus 115. Anyways, he was crying so I talked to him. He looked so depressed and sad and nobody was paying him any heed. The first thing he said to me was “I’m a loser”. I tried to comfort him and all, but nothing worked I told him to tell his parents about his being bullied but he said that his dad was out of the state and he thought his mom might have moved, he has a grannie though. He says that he doesn’t know the bully’s name, but the bully is male, white, an eighth grader, and is not on bus 115. He say he has no friends, he also says his mom did this to him and that his parents are awful people. I tried to get him to make friends with someone else on the bus but he says they don’t follow him at school so they can’t be his friend…or something like that. I have notified the bus driver of bus 115 and he said “oh, yeah, he does that” so I e-mailed you. I am very worried about him since he said this is my life which made me think he really hated himself.

If you want, I would be happy to talk to you about this boy being bullied. if you need to get ahold of me, my classes are….xxxxx

Sincerely, Benjamin E., 6th grade

So, to answer the question I asked before… can we change this scary direction we’re heading in??

I have to believe if an eleven-year old could write this email, we have a chance.

Starting with one child… and parents who care enough to teach that bullying isn’t ok (and neither is just standing by and watching it happen)…and a school system that reinforces that message and teaches kids what to do if they see someone being bulled… I think we can

…it only takes one Benjamin to jump in and care and make a difference in one child’s life…and a whole bunch of people to share his story…and hopefully before long, there are two kids…and then four.

That is my wish for all of us for 2014


Note:  For some wonderful anti-bullying resources, please go to the National Bullying Prevention Center

Combating Tween Phone Entitlement

Last updated on March 16th, 2018 at 11:50 am

The spirit of Christmas can easily get lost within a sense of entitlement. And nothing seems to drive a sense entitlement among tweens more than the desire for a smartphone. At least that’s the recent experience in our family. Elliott, our 11-year old has been begging and negotiating for a phone for a couple of years now. Age nine seemed a little young, both to have such an expensive electronic “toy” and also to handle the risks and responsibilities. But as he went off to middle school, the concept of phone ownership began to make more sense. Certainly many of the kids his age now have one (he maintains all but him!), but more importantly, there is now some utility to him having a phone, such as when he misses the bus home from school or needs to contact me at work, when texting would be less disruptive.

However, we felt that a step of this magnitude required him to earn the privilege of phone ownership to some degree. So this past fall I put together a plan for him to earn “grades” for good behavior and for doing things around the house – including a tracking sheet to monitor his progress. With the goal of him getting a phone for Christmas. Unfortunately the whole thing fell apart….Elliott was extremely indignant that he had to step through our hoops to earn a phone – and especially that I was “tracking” his actions. And we got tired of having to hover over him and nag him to do the things on the list (the original idea being that his desire for the phone would finally compel him to do all these things WITHOUT us nagging). I finally gave up on the whole tracker. In hindsight, I think it was too complicated, with too many vague elements of behaviors that were difficult to measure.

As time marched on towards Christmas, my husband and I were increasingly concerned about the phone decision. Not only did we feel that he hadn’t really done anything to “earn” it – but we felt his sense of entitlement (shown through his complaints and comments about other kids’ phones) would persist once he had the phone – possibly making him resist our plans to heavily monitor his use and activity on the phone.

In the end we decided that none of us were yet ready for the big phone adventure. While we knew Elliott would likely see our actions in a very bad light, we decided he would not get a phone for Christmas. We are instead putting in a shorter and simpler requirement: one month without ANY late homework – and we will go phone shopping with him. But we are also going to have a detailed talk during that month about how things will work in the brave new phone-owning world:

  • ANY late homework and he loses the phone for a couple of days (other very bad behavior will also have a similar outcome)
  • We will always need to know his password – and will regularly check his phone including texts/etc – inappropriate behavior could risk lost phone privileges
  • We will be running parental controls and monitoring remotely on his phone
  • He will have to pay himself for the running of the phone – which he can do by earning allowance

I’m not sure how well this plan will work either, since we haven’t had much luck to date and our only child does tend to think that the same rules that apply to adults (e.g. our phones are personal and private) should also apply to him. But in the end, we can keep sticking to our guns and refuse to buy the phone at all. He may not like it, but in the end I hope he will learn a valuable lesson.

Nine Ways to Keep Your Sleeping Baby Safe

Last updated on March 9th, 2018 at 10:19 am

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is scary to think about! It may even cause you to spend a lot of time hovering around your baby’s sleep environment during her first few weeks at home. While experts don’t know all the causes of SIDS, they do know that it’s rare — and that there are plenty of things parents can do to reduce the risk of SIDS.

Here’s what you need to know:

Baby sleeping safety1. Precaution starts during pregnancy. Give your baby a head start by getting proper prenatal care. It’s also essential to refrain from drinking alcohol, smoking, or spending time in smoky environments.

2. Place your baby to sleep on her back. Whether it’s naptime or nighttime, babies under 1 year should always sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS. The exception: If she rolls onto her side or stomach, it’s OK to leave her like that. She probably has the ability to roll herself back.

3. Place your baby on a firm sleep surface. Your baby’s crib should meet current sleep safety standards (find out more at – new crib safety standards were introduced in 2011) and her mattress should be covered with a fitted sheet.

4. No extras in the crib. That means no stuffed animals, loose bedding, pillows, crib bumpers, quilts, comforters, or any other objects that could potentially suffocate your baby while she sleeps.

5. Sleep near your baby. Keep her crib or bassinet within arm’s reach. But don’t let her sleep in your bed, which can actually increase the risk of SIDS.

6. Breastfeed and immunize. Doing both can reduce the risk of SIDS, according to research.

7. Keep your baby cool. Signs your baby might be too hot include sweating or a hot chest or forehead. As a rule of thumb, you only need to dress her in one more layer than you would wear to keep warm.

8. Offer a pacifier. Pacifiers given during sleep or naptime may reduce the risk of SIDS. But if your baby isn’t interested, that’s okay — you don’t have to force it.

9. Avoid SIDS-reducing products. Despite what the package’s label might say, wedges, special mattresses, and sleep positioners have not been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS. In fact, they could cause suffocation.

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 12-16-2013 to 12-22-2013

Last updated on March 2nd, 2018 at 02:41 pm

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 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 who are not on Twitter (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 10 events & stories.

PedSafe Headline of the Week:

Thin ice can be dangerous! Find out how to stay safe & what to do in an emergency

Keep Your Family Warm AND Safe: The Best Present You Can Give

Last updated on September 12th, 2015 at 10:46 pm

Family game of cards by the fireIts winter, those words do not strike fear into the hearts of many down here in sunny south Florida, but as for the rest of the country, I am sure it means a whole lot more. No matter where you are or how cold your area may become, staying warm in the winter is a must and doing it in the safest possible way should be a priority for you and your family. According to the N.F.P.A. (National Fire Protection Agency) heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths. Almost half of home heating equipment fires are reported during the months of December, January, and February. Some simple steps can prevent most heating-related fires from happening.

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Test smoke alarms monthly.
  • Test Carbon Monoxide Monitors as well. Some heaters put off Carbon Monoxide.
  • Have a Family Approved and Practiced Emergency escape and meet plan in case a Fire or other emergency should occur.

So as you can see, these are just a few tips to keep us all warm and safe through this winter season. Please feel free to add to this list and check your warming equipment every year before its put into use.

Thank you and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the beach here in Miami.