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School Bus Stop Arms Are Being Ignored: How to Fix That

school bus stop sign armWithin the next several weeks most or all schools across the country will be back in session.  Some already are.  Last year, as in previous years, many of the headlines were about school shootings.  These are tragedies by every definition. However these are well covered in the media as are many steps to prevent future occurrences.  There have also been recent headlines about tragic school bus crashes and this is perhaps the subject of a different article.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that by design and other factors, school buses are the safest transportation method to get children to and from school.  Most injuries and fatalities happen off the bus.

In this piece I want to instead focus on a different school hazard and that is the act of driving past school bus stop arms.  We will not likely hear much about this in the media until a group of students is run down.

Once a year the state of Kansas conducts a survey asking bus companies/drivers to participate. 

  • For 30 days they ask the drivers to record and report the number of times other drivers pass an extended stop arm sign.
  • In the most recent survey (2017) nearly 10,000 occurrences of stop arm violations were reported.
  • Simply multiply this number by 50 states and there could be as many as 500,000 stop arm violations each and every month school is in session.

The laws may vary by state, whether the road is divided and if so how many lanes etc.  Confusing laws is no excuse for violating laws- for putting children’s lives in jeopardy.  In one study up to 2% of all violations are on the passenger side- the side where the door is when students are being off loaded.  The side where the curb is; where students gather to wait for the bus.  This is not allowed in any state for any reason. Think about it 2% of 500,000 is 10,000.  The number and the potential is staggering.  This risk is real.  A child hit by a vehicle going often 25 plus MPH has little chance of a good outcome-  perhaps little chance of surviving.

What can be done.

Know the laws and obey them.  Talk about stop arm safety at back to school orientations and PTA meetings.  Get your local police involved.  Have them wait at known high hazard bus stops.  Contact local TV and radio stations ask them to run public service announcements (PSA’s).  There has been considerable media in the past – there is chilling video.  This is a story with a real human interest.  Consider stop arm cameras.  These specialized cameras make it easier to prosecute violators. A few states don’t require stop arms on school buses- ask your legislators to reconsider.

What you should not do.

Don’t wait until tragedy strikes your area- a car strikes a child- a child is crippled or killed.  Don’t regret that perhaps being proactive could have prevented the loss. Don’t assume someone else in your community is taking care of this.  The more people involved- the higher the success.

Like this article- share this article- spread the word.

When Should Kids Get Their First Orthodontic Evaluation?

Pediatric dentists play a key role in monitoring the health and development of your child’s smile. One of the most significant aspects of orofacial development is how your child’s teeth bite (occlude) together.

Both orthodontic experts and pediatric dentists recommend that all children have an orthodontic evaluation by the time they reach age 7. At this point in development, your child most likely has a mixed dentition of both primary (baby) and permanent (adult) teeth. As such, it’s usually the earliest that a children’s dentist can detect orthodontic complications or prevent them from developing in the first place.

Who Can Perform an Orthodontic Evaluation?

An orthodontic consultation can be completed during your child’s routine checkup and dental exam. As such, it doesn’t add any extra time to the appointment you already have scheduled.

A pediatric dentist will evaluate tooth development, spacing, and biting patterns to determine if any type of early intervention is necessary. If it is, interceptive treatments can be started in the dental practice to minimize more complex orthodontic needs later on.

What Does an Orthodontic Evaluation Consist Of?

Here are a few of the things your pediatric dentist will look for during an orthodontic evaluation:

  • The way upper and lower teeth occlude together
  • Open, cross, or under bites
  • Tooth eruption patterns
  • Premature tooth loss
  • Spacing concerns
  • Oral habits, such as tongue thrusting or thumb sucking
  • X-rays to detect missing or unerupted teeth
  • Placement of developing permanent teeth

Advantages of Children’s Orthodontic Screenings

The earlier orthodontic problems can be diagnosed, the more effective your pediatric dentist can help you to correct them. In many cases, interceptive therapies minimize the length of time that a child may have to wear braces later on.

For example, if a tooth is lost prematurely, a space maintainer can be attached to the next tooth, preventing the space from closing-in due to the teeth shifting. This may not seem like a serious concern, but it can directly impact whether the developing adult tooth erupts correctly or becomes impacted due to crowding. A few years down the road without a space maintainer, complex surgery or lengthy orthodontic work may be the only option.

Ask Your Pediatric Dentist for a Screening 

If your child is coming up on their 7th birthday or you have a checkup planned soon, make sure to discuss an orthodontic screening with your family’s pediatric dentist to get the answers you need.

The Debate on Teens and Social Media: In Perspective

The debate over the effects of social media on our teen’s mental health is a heated one. Some argue that social media is causing narcissism, depression, and anxiety among other things. Others believe social media actually aids people with depression and anxiety by giving them an outlet and a support group that they might not have had otherwise.

With rising depression and suicide rates, it is understandable that we would seek causes that are easily actionable, like social media use.

Regardless of which side you are on, this debate highlights some important issues facing our society right now:

Our society is developing at a faster rate than has ever been seen before. We are living in the Information Age and our children are more immersed in news, politics, pop culture, and advertisements than any generation before.  Information is now widely available to adults and children alike and the dark parts of our society are coming more into the light. Our children know and see things that many of us didn’t have to deal with until we were adults, or didn’t have to deal with at all.

This means our dialogue with our children will have to change and the direction we choose to take this conversation will affect our future.

The internet is bringing mental health issues to light in a way that has never been possible before now. Social media platforms give individuals, who otherwise might never have had space, the place to discuss their experiences. This can be cathartic for them and help them find a community of people who relate. This is especially important for children and teens who may not have a healthy home life and good support system within their physical community. Mental illness is a major problem in our society and has been for a long time – as it becomes less stigmatized it will be easier for the kids and teens affected to reach out for help. 

As they become more comfortable reaching out, it is up to us how their call for help is answered. Parents and communities have a wonderful opportunity to use the internet to observe and act on mental health issues before they become a crisis. However, social media, like mental illness, doesn’t play favorites. If the wrong person responds, the situation can escalate from bad to worse very quickly.

Social media can serve as a type of coping mechanism, something that helps kids, teens, and adults deal with the stressors of life. Coping mechanisms are important, but it is very important that they be used in a healthy way. Anything can be used to the point where it causes harm under the right circumstances and social media is no exception.

Social media is a tool. Tools are very important. Social media can be used to spread hatred and violence, or it can be used to organize protests against those same ideals. It can be a support system, a place of comfort, or a sounding board for a new creative project. It can be used amongst friends to make plans and share moments when they are far apart, or by loved ones to keep up with relatives who live in different cities. It can also be used to bully kids and spread disinformation.

We need to learn the positive impacts of social media on the world as well as the negative so that we can, in turn, teach our children how to use it in a healthy and positive way.

As we continue to find our way in this new world I believe it is important to keep a few things in mind.

  • Mental health issues are caused by a variety of factors, and the seeds for the crisis we are facing now were sewn long before social media.
  • Teaching our children to respect themselves and others will go a long way in both the physical world and online
  • For better or worse, the Internet is here to stay and social media is a huge part of that. I believe we need to keep an open mind and remember the good that can come from this shift as well as the bad
  • The Internet is a reflection of our physical world, the issues facing children online are also facing them in the real world and we won’t change the Internet without addressing the causes of those issues in the outernet.

When tragedy strikes we look for explanations. When something like the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting happens, we must ask questions like, did social media exacerbate Cruz’s mental illness to the point of violence? Or did we miss his calls for help and, in our grief, use social media as a scapegoat for a society that ultimately failed him?

For more information on the links between social media and mental health, check out these resources:

Teens, Social Media, and Technology – Pew Research Center

Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking – NCBI

Can Social Media Help People with Serious Mental Illness Feel More Connected to Their Community? – NIDILRR

Benefits of Social Media For Mental Health Support –

Your Kids Can’t Catch Cystic Fibrosis- What You Need to Know

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited condition that causes sticky mucus to build up in the lungs and digestive system. This causes lung infections and problems with digesting food.

In the UK, most cases of cystic fibrosis are picked up at birth using the newborn screening heel prick test.

Symptoms usually start in early childhood and vary from child to child, but the condition gets slowly worse over time, with the lungs and digestive system becoming increasingly damaged.

Treatments are available to help reduce the problems caused by the condition and make it easier to live with, but sadly life expectancy is shortened.

Symptoms of cystic fibrosis

The build-up of sticky mucus in the lungs can cause breathing problems and increases the risk of lung infections. Over time, the lungs may stop working properly.

Mucus also clogs the pancreas (the organ that helps with digestion), which stops enzymes reaching food in the gut and helping with digestion.

This means most people with cystic fibrosis don’t absorb nutrients from food properly and need to eat more calories to avoid malnutrition.

Symptoms of cystic fibrosis include:

People with the condition can also develop a number of related conditions, including diabetes, thin, weakened bones (osteoporosis)infertility in males, and liver problems.

Diagnosing cystic fibrosis

In the UK, all newborn babies are screened for cystic fibrosis as part of the newborn blood spot test (heel prick test) carried out shortly after they’re born.

If the screening test suggests a child may have cystic fibrosis, they’ll need these additional tests to confirm they have the condition:

  • a sweat test – to measure the amount of salt in sweat, which will be abnormally high in someone with cystic fibrosis
  • a genetic test – where a sample of blood or saliva is checked for the faulty gene that causes cystic fibrosis

These tests can also be used to diagnose cystic fibrosis in older children and adults who didn’t have the newborn test.

The genetic test can also be used to see whether someone is a “carrier” of cystic fibrosis in cases where the condition runs in the family.

This test can be important for someone who thinks they may have the faulty gene and wishes to have children.

The Cystic Fibrosis Trust has more information on genetic testing for cystic fibrosis (PDF, 130kb).

Treatments for cystic fibrosis

There’s no cure for cystic fibrosis, but a range of treatments can help control the symptoms, prevent or reduce complications, and make the condition easier to live with.

People with cystic fibrosis may need to take different medicines to treat and prevent lung problems.

Physical activity and the use of airway clearance techniques may also be recommended to help clear mucus from the lungs.

Find out more about treatments for cystic fibrosis.

Complications of cystic fibrosis

People with cystic fibrosis also have a higher risk of developing other conditions.

These include:

  • weak and brittle bones (osteoporosis) – medicines called bisphosphonates can sometimes help
  • diabetes – insulin and a special diet may be needed to control blood sugar levels
  • nasal polyps and sinus infections – steroids, antihistamines, antibiotics or sinus flushes can help
  • liver problems
  • fertility problems – it’s possible for women with cystic fibrosis to have children, but men won’t be able to father a child without help from fertility specialists (see a doctor or fertility specialist for more advice)

They’re more likely to pick up infections, and more vulnerable to complications if they do develop an infection, which is why people with cystic fibrosis shouldn’t meet face to face.

The Cystic Fibrosis Trust has more information about complications of cystic fibrosis and preventing cross-infection.

Cause of cystic fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition. It’s caused by a faulty gene that affects the movement of salt and water in and out of cells.

This, along with recurrent infections, can result in a build-up of thick, sticky mucus in the body’s tubes and passageways – particularly the lungs and digestive system.

A person with cystic fibrosis is born with the condition. It’s not possible to “catch” cystic fibrosis from someone else who has it.

How cystic fibrosis is inherited

To be born with cystic fibrosis, a child has to inherit a copy of the faulty gene from both of their parents.

This can happen if the parents are “carriers” of the faulty gene, which means they don’t have cystic fibrosis themselves.

It’s estimated around 1 in every 25 people in the UK are carriers of cystic fibrosis.

If both parents are carriers, there’s a:

  • 1 in 4 chance their child won’t inherit any faulty genes and won’t have cystic fibrosis or be able to pass it on
  • 1 in 2 chance their child will inherit a faulty gene from one parent and be a carrier
  • 1 in 4 chance their child will inherit the faulty gene from both parents and have cystic fibrosis

If one parent has cystic fibrosis and the other is a carrier, there’s a:

  • 1 in 2 chance their child will be a carrier
  • 1 in 2 chance their child will have cystic fibrosis


Cystic fibrosis tends to get worse over time and can be fatal if it leads to a serious infection or the lungs stop working properly.

But people with cystic fibrosis are now living for longer because of advancements in treatment.

Currently, about half of people with cystic fibrosis will live past the age of 40. Children born with the condition nowadays are likely to live longer than this.


Support is available to help people with cystic fibrosis live as independently as they can and have the best possible quality of life.

It can be helpful to speak to others who have the same condition, and to connect with a charity.

The following links may be useful:

Information about you

If you or your child has cystic fibrosis, your clinical team will ask you if you consent to being on the UK Cystic Fibrosis Registry.

This is a secure anonymous registry sponsored by the Cystic Fibrosis Trust that records health information on people with cystic fibrosis.

The registry helps scientists look for better ways to prevent and treat this condition. You can opt out of the register at any time.

Find out more about the registry

**Resources outside the U.K.

NHS Choices logo


Why You Need to Stop Giving Energy and Sports Drinks to Kids

First let’s differentiate between these two popular drinks.  Sport drinks have water, sodium, potassium and sugar (among other things), while energy drinks include caffeine or other stimulants. For the most part, after moderate exercise, only water needs to be replaced and free access to water is key to training athletes.  While large amounts of water can be lost in highly trained athletes, younger children will probably not lose an exceptional amount of anything, and water is the only thing necessary.  Even in adult trained athletes, the amount of sodium and potassium lost through sweating is probably negligible; again water is the vital component needing replacement.

Also included in these drinks is a significant amount of calorie- containing sugars; highly trained athletes who have depleted their sugar resources might benefit from this addition as an immediate energy boost, but in younger children and non-training athletes, this only adds to the sugar intake and can contribute to childhood obesity and dental cavities.  These same stimulants can be found in coffee and colas, also to be avoided in younger children.

The use of stimulants in children probably has more unwanted side effects than the possibility of any positive effects. Jitteriness, poor sleep, elevated blood pressure, and increased  risk of dehydration through the diuretic effects of caffeine and other stimulants, can be just a few of these negative effects.  Depending on the quantities consumed, it can even lead to cardiac irregularities with other potentially serious consequences resulting from that

Unfortunately, these products are promoted in every form of advertising by highly popular athletes in high profile positions and many parents have gotten the idea to have these drinks readily available for their children.  Children may actually prefer this substitute fluid in place of other drinks during meals and other snack times.  Milk and some juices are still important to the growing, developing child and should not be forgotten.  By far the most important ingredient remains water and parents should promote it as the primary source of fluid intake.

Energy or health bars create the same dilemmas for parents and children and may also contain sugar, stimulants, fats, and vitamins and minerals that may not be appropriate for children or may be over the daily recommended intake for children since most are developed for adults.

Always read the labels carefully

Know How To Raise Your Child to Be Patient and Have Self Control?

Preschoolers aren’t exactly known for their patience and self-control. Have you ever counted how many times a day your young child says, “mom” or “dad” followed by some sort of question or request? Although preschoolers are still learning skills like patience, research is teaching us that how we interact with them may help them learn these lessons.

In a recent study, researchers followed children and their families from the time they were 7 months old until they were 4.5 years old. They wanted to delve deep into how the relationship between parents and children developed early in a child’s life.

Then, at 4 years of age, the children were asked to complete several tasks which assessed their skill at self-regulation. This included tasks that required patience, deliberation and restraint—all tasks that tend to still be difficult for young children.

What the researchers found was fascinating. Children who had close, mutually responsive relationships with their parents (particularly mothers), were more likely to regulate themselves better. They showed more restraint, patience and self-control. Not surprisingly, families with close relationships also used forced discipline less. In other words, in the context of a mutually responsive relationship, forceful discipline is not needed because the children respond to more subtle tactics.

You may wonder what it is about a responsive relationship that helps kids learn self-regulation better. The “old school” model of parenting would have parents force submission of kids by demand and physical force in some cases. Why does a mutually responsive relationship seem to work better?

It all comes down to trust.

Once a child feels that their parent understands their needs, will strive to meet them, and respects their feelings, a certain level of trust develops between parent and child. When this trust is firmly established, the child is much more likely to comply with the parents requests, even if it is difficult, because they trust that what the parent tells them is in their own best interest.

Children in these close relationships respond quickly to parents requests without the threat of force because they have come to trust in their parents’ care and respect for them. This is very important news in light of the well-publicized study of spanking in which many parents were found to spank their children for seemingly minor misbehaviors. Years of research has shown that exposure to this type of forceful discipline (i.e., corporal punishment) actually has the opposite of its intended effect—children tend to comply less and begin to show even more disruptive behavior.

Forceful discipline essentially breaks down the relationship of trust that otherwise could be established between parents and children. Forced compliance through tactics like spanking robs children of the skills they need to learn to regulate themselves.

Helping children learn to self-regulate is one of the major parenting goals in the early years of parenting. That, however, does not mean that it is easy. What this research reminds us is that self-regulation does not develop in a vacuum, but in the context of a supportive, responsive relationship. Every time parents are patient, responsive and kind, they are laying the foundation for a harmonious relationship that will reap benefits for you and your child years later.