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<October 2014>

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Safe Teens - Net & Cells

Digital citizenship applies to adults as well as youth: Conversation with Rebecca Randall of Common Sense Media
Much of the focus around this week’s celebration of Digital Citizenship Week centers around children and teens. But, guess what? Adults are citizens too and need to be included in the conversation. I thought about this when I was speaking … Continue reading Continue reading

Digital Citizenship Week is a time to recognize youth rights
As we celebrate digital citizenship week, there will be a lot of discussion about good online behavior, including treating others with respect. And that’s certainly a very important part of what it means to be a good citizen, whether “digital” … Continue reading Continue reading

Teen Health and Wellness

Red Ribbon Week 2014
Every year, October 23 to 31 marks Red Ribbon Week, the nation’s longest-running drug prevention campaign. Red Ribbon Week began in 1985 as a way of commemorating Enrique Camarena, an undercover agent killed by drug traffickers. The red ribbon symbolizes the destruction and violence caused by drugs, and wearing the ribbon signifies your commitment to raising awareness. The theme of Red Ribbon Week 2014 is “Love Yourself. Be Drug Free.” From depression to poor grades to ruined relationships, drug use has been linked to many problems for teens. By refusing to use drugs, you are protecting your physical and mental health and increasing your chance for a successful future.

Ending Domestic Violence
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Violence between parents and children, siblings, intimate partners, or roommates occurs in half of all households at least once a year, according to the Department of Justice. Despite this, domestic violence is a hidden problem. Only 40 percent of incidents are reported to police. One in ten teens have been abused by a partner recently, yet few teens believe abuse is a problem among their friends. Most teens have never discussed domestic violence with friends or parents. You can do your part to raise awareness and change the culture that allows this violence to continue. For example, the Because Voices Have Power campaign contributes to anti-violence charities. If you post a message of hope for survivors of abuse using the hashtag #VoicesHavePower on social media, the campaign will donate $3 in your name.

Doctors: Start School Later and Let Teens Sleep!
With the school year in swing, teens are feeling the effects of lack of sleep. Less than a third of high school students get eight or more hours of sleep on school nights, according to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. In response, doctors at the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommend middle schools and high schools begin classes at 8:30 or later. Currently, only 15 percent of schools do so, according to the magazine New Scientist. Doctors say puberty causes changes in teens’ body clocks, sometimes pushing their natural sleep-wake cycles back by two hours. Lack of sleep is linked to poor test scores, more car accidents, and increased risk of depression and obesity in teens.

Bullying Prevention Month
One out of every three students will be bullied this school year, according to the National Bullying Prevention Center. October is dedicated to bullying prevention, and this year’s message is “the end of bullying begins with me.” Every teen can do something this October to prevent bullying. For example, you can set an example of respectful behavior, or simply be there for a bullied friend. You can join a mentoring program, such as the “You Have the Power!” program, where teen volunteers mentor younger students on preventing bullying. Start a conversation on social media to raise awareness. Teach others that bullying is not a teen “rite of passage.” Explain the effects bullying can have on teens: Anxiety, depression, self-harm, and more. Get creative: One Georgia high school staged a play about the harmful effects of bullying. Whatever you do this October, work hard to banish bullying and make respect the norm at your school.