Sunday, June 19, 2011

At-risk Kids In School

Kids get into trouble in school for several reasons. The most prevalent is a troubled home life. Most people think that kids that are provided with material comforts have no excuse to enter the field of the at-risk crowd. I've had to explain this fact to astounded, affluent, strict-pillars-of-the-community-parents. Too bad that emotional abandonment doesn't come across as a problem in today's societal norms. Emotionally abandoned kids tend to unabashedly splash into the murky waters of desperation and wind up drowning in society's excesses. These excesses include street drugs, alcohol, prescription drugs, promiscuous sex that leads to prostitution, teenage pregnancy, click or gang activity, and an all-too-early initiation into crime. Desperate kids looking for attention make easy prey for recruiters looking to score. Everyone likes to be heard, acknowledged, and appreciated. Parents that ignore their kids are setting them up to fail. Many parents view school as a babysitting-dump-ground. They drop them off with the false hope of an education peppered with discipline. What they fail to understand is that kids in school are at-risk just as much as kids on the streets. Drugs are prevalent in the school setting. It's a great place for criminals to recruit from. So what can we do to help? Volunteer and start a crime-watch support group and take it to the school. Just by randomly walking through hallways you can observe shady, older characters that don't belong, and report them to school security. Go into the bathrooms and hide in a stall and listen to conversations. Look for gang colors and signs on the play ground. Keep an eye out for kids that walk off school grounds and take their pictures. That might be the last time a kid is seen before they wind up as just another face on a milk carton. Watch kids to see which cars they get into and take down the tag and description of the vehicles. This could save a few lives. I believe that drug testing should be administered in school. Not for punitive reasons, but for the sake of rehabilitation. Many judges mandate adults to drug treatment, but fail to be proactive in their juvenile sentencing. Addiction starts early in life so why don't we, as a proactive society, approach the problem in the school system? Holding children's rights unassailable clears the path to an addictive generation of gargantuan proportions. It is easy to identify at-risk kids if you know what to look for. School referrals, poor personal hygiene, bruises, scars, sleeping in class, poor grades, truancy, wearing certain colors or color patterns, pant legs rolled up on one side, tattoos, provocative and revealing outfits, texting in class, an obsession with computer time, runaways, homelessness, hanging out with older kids, sexual abuse, experiencing or witnessing domestic violence, anger problems, coming home late or staying out until the next day, saying they're in pain and asking to go to the doctor, stealing money from purses or wallets, underage drinking, experiencing dysfunctional parenting, sexually transmitted diseases, depression, suicidal verbalization, and stealing prescription medications out of bathroom cabinets are all signs of at-risk behaviors. The question is this, "Is the ostrich ready to pull his head out of the hole?" This article represents solely my opinion and does not represent any company or organization. © 2011 Julia Jankowski - all rights reserved. BA Criminal Justice, Masters in Education, Certified Addiction Counselor, Certified Mental Health Professional, Civil Competency Evaluator, previous Criminal Competency Evaluator for juveniles.
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The Adolescent Brain


The adolescent brain isn’t fully developed until the early twenties.
Longitudinal studies were performed on children’s brains using MRI, magnetic
resonance imaging technology.  The children’s brains were scanned in 1999.
The brain scans conducted on children during early childhood show the growth
state of the frontal lobe until young adulthood.  The results showed a
significant wave of production of gray matter just before they reached
puberty.  However, a three dimensional picture of the brain showed that gray
matter is discarded from the frontal lobe between adolescence and
adulthood.  Gray matter is the thinking part of the frontal lobe.  This area
rules the executive functions such as reasoning, planning, and impulse
control.  The abuse of alcohol and drugs will affect how an adolescent’s
brain develops during those crucial years leading to adulthood.  According
to the Institute of Highway Safety, adolescents are four times likely as
adults to crash while driving and three times likely to perish.  Due to the
fact that the frontal lobe is not fully developed, adolescents tend to
respond to situations with emotions.  This does not allow them to fully
evaluate the consequences of their actions.  Adolescents seem to struggle
with aggression and impulsivity.  How can we expect our teenagers to show
moral maturity if their brains have not fully developed?  Many children are
exposed to traumatic brain injury by way of physical trauma from severe
beatings, car, bike, motorcycle accidents, or contact sports.  Many endure
sexual abuse that goes unreported that leaves them broken and angry.  Some
are sold for sex so their parents or caretakers can get drugs or money.  How
can these children be expected to behave rationally and get good grades in
school?  How can we ask that of them if they have been exposed to so much
trauma?  How many of these kids do you think are going to suffer from
depression, anxiety, or maybe turn to alcohol and drugs to numb their pain?
According to Dr. Mallet, Public Policy Director at Bellefaire Jewish
Children’s Bureau in Ohio, 2004, a comprehensive study was conducted of
traumatic life experiences of death row juvenile offenders.  His findings
indicated that 74% experienced family dysfunction, 60% were victims of abuse
or neglect, 43% had a diagnosed psychiatric disorder, 38% suffered from
substance abuse addictions, and 38% lived in poverty.  Imagine how many of
these kids were afraid to come forward and talk about their sexual abuse
issues?  How many adolescent rapes go unreported each year due to fear of
retaliation?  I recommend reading about juvenile competency at **.
In order for a juvenile to stand trial, he or she must be capable of
understanding the adversarial nature of the court system.  If your child is
evaluated and found incompetent, the charges are dropped. This article
expresses solely my opinion and does not represent any organization and does
not offer any medical or legal advice.  By Julia Jankowski, M.Ed., Certified
Addiction Professional, Certified Mental Health Professional, Civil
Competency Evaluator

Sexual Abuse Is Everywhere


     Sexual abuse is everywhere.  Victims of child abuse are at constant
risk of violation.  Most parents don’t have a clue about preparing their
children for sex offenders.  They tell their kids not to talk to strangers.
What they say is not as important as what they don’t say.  Many children are
confused by this statement.  Especially since parents don’t tell them what
strangers look like.

     Sadly enough most cases of child abuse take place right at home.  Most
sexual abuse cases are committed by men.  A small percentage of offenders
are women.  Offenders come in all backgrounds, ages, genders, professions,
and walks of life.  They are sly and adept in the art of manipulation.  If
you need a baby sitter, I strongly recommend checking into the person’s
background.  Sex offenders are smart.  They will offer to baby-sit for you.
They will first hang out with one of your older children.  They will put on
a good show and ingratiate their way into your home.

     They will gain your trust to gain full access to your home.  They will
then select their victims.  Sex offenders prefer to use manipulation and
blackmail rather than force.  They will set out to win over their victims
through an intricate pattern of deceptions and will be extremely friendly.
They will offer kids candy or toys and befriend them to gain their trust so
they can slowly lead them astray.

     Leaving your children with strangers is scary for most parents, but
leaving their children with relatives is not.  Guess again.  It should be
just as scary.  If you choose to do so, make sure that the children are not
left alone with the sitter.  Do your best to ensure that there are other
adults around.  Make sure that the children are not left there for an
indefinite amount of time.  Look in on your children.  Call on the phone.
Let the sitter know that you could drop by at any moment.  Ask your friends
to stop by.  Use the same precautions if you leave your children at a
daycare center.

     Check your children for physical evidence of abuse.  Look at their
underwear for signs of blood, discharge, or semen.  Be on the lookout for
bruises in the genital area, rectal pain, itching, and swelling.  Watch them
for a change in sleeping patterns, appetite, bed wetting, or soiled
underwear.  Children may feel scared and behave oddly.  They may act
withdrawn from social activities.  They can also develop a fixation with sex
that isn’t age-appropriate.  Talk to them.  Ask them questions.  Listen to
them.  Children will tell you the truth as they see it.  All you have to do
is listen.  Children can describe situations in detail.  Given them pencil
and paper.  You’ll be surprised at the graphic pictures they can provide.
They will also be able to identify their assailants.  Tattoos, scars, and
skin pigmentation descriptions can help the proper authorities identify sex

     Teach your children about their bodies and let them know that no one
should touch anything covered up by a bathing suit.  Encourage them to come
to you and share their experiences.  Get the message across.  Fondling is
not acceptable! This article expresses solely my opinion and does not
represent any organization  or offer any medical or legal advice.  By Julia
Jankowski, M.Ed., Certified Addiction Professional, Certified Mental Health
Professional, Civil Competency Evaluator

Profiling Sexual Offenders


     Teach your children about their bodies and let them know that no one
should touch their private parts.  Make sure you let them know that private
parts are those that are covered by their bathing suits.  Encourage them to
come to you and share.  Get the message across.  Fondling is not acceptable!

     Communication with children is a matter of life and death.  Sex
offenders rely on their victims experiencing guilt and shame.  They tell
their victims fondling is a secret.  They become more demanding and threaten
to tell their victims’ parents.  They’ll say things like, “You’re just a kid
and they’ll believe me over you.”  These threats aren’t effective if the
children have an open line of communication with their parents.  Another
tactic sex offenders use is physical threats.  “If you don’t do what I say,
I’ll kill your mother.”  Children are easily intimidated by such threats and
sacrifice themselves to save  loved ones.  It’s up to loving parents and
caring adults to prepare children for dangerous encounters with pedophiles.

     Pedophiles are everywhere that children go.  You can find them in the
park approaching children to lure them away right under their parents’
noses.  They will observe the children closely before they move in.
Sometimes they’ll be on the look out for children who have book bags with
their names labeled on them.  Other times the pedophiles will mill about and
mingle in the crowd long enough to hear parents call their children by
name.  Once the pedophiles have secured the names of the children, they will
approach them with a smile and address them by name.  They can introduce
themselves as friends of the parents.  They can say things like “Betty, I
found a kitty.  It’s hurt.  Do you like kitties?  Do you know anything about
them?  Can you take a look at my kitty and see if you can help?”

     Many children go with them in spite of the fact that their parents
told them not to go with strangers.  After all, the nice gentleman was well
dressed.  He smelled good and he knew their names.  As a matter of fact, he
may have even looked like daddy.  Pedophiles also frequent malls, schools,
and churches. Child abuse is a crime of opportunity and that’s just what
they’re waiting for.  They’re waiting for you to drop off your kids at the

     Some sexual predators look for an easy target.  The victim of choice
might be a kid with scruffy hair and poor hygiene.  This tells the predator
that the kids is probably a latch key kid.  This child has no parent
around.  The parent could be working and not be able to afford daycare.
This kid is left alone in the house and has his own set of keys.  If the
child’s keys are hanging form a pocket, this alerts the predator.  He wants
to make sure the no one is around to protect the victim.  Learn to read the
warning signs.  They will be quite obvious once you know what to look for.
All you have to do is learn to recognize them.  Never leave your children
alone or with family members they don’t like.  If they don’t like them, they
have a good reason.  Children everywhere are at risk for being violated.
Learn to be proactive, not reactive.  Don’t leave your children’s safety to

     There are some things you can do to prepare your children for possible
encounters with pedophiles.  Take them to a local martial arts school.
Children can learn to strike the offender in vulnerable places and get lose
from certain grips.  This will incapacitate the offender and allow them time
to get away and seek help. According to Childhelp:  Abused children are 25%
more like become pregnant, 2.5 times more likely to develop alcohol and drug
abuse, 2/3 of the people in treatment for drug abuse reported being abused
as children, are more likely to be arrested as adults, and 30% more likely
to commit violent crime.  This article expresses solely my opinion, doesn’t
represent any organization, and doesn’t offer medical or legal advice.  By
Julia Jankowski, M.Ed., Certified Addiction Professional, Certified Mental
Health Professional, Civil Competency Evaluator

Helping Your Child Develp Empathy And Bonding


     Empathy is crucial in a child’s development.  Children that grow up
without empathy wind up disconnected from the world.  This can develop into
a dangerous pathology linked to juvenile murderers.  Most children that
murder are pretty much disconnected and feel nothing for anyone around

     You can help your child develop empathy by purchasing a pet.  A pet is
good because it will teach a child to care and maybe come to love another
living creature.  A pet is something that you can share with your child.
You can walk a puppy in the park together and go shopping for puppy items
like food, accessories, and toys.  Signing up for puppy obedience is a good
way to spend quality time with your child and keep that parent-child bond
strong.  You and your child can volunteer at a local animal shelter and go
to fundraisers.  Your child can make friends with other kids that have pets
too.  You can both watch animal shows on TV and share that family that kids

     All children need the sensory stimulation of touch.  Babies that are
touched regularly develop strong immune systems. They progress through their
developmental stages normally.  Maybe you didn’t touch as a rule in your
family.  The important thing is that if you gift your child with a pet, he
may become accustomed to cuddling.  I grew up in a no-touch zone.  My one
brief exposure to healing touch ended by age two.  I can remember my
father’s soothing heartbeat as I fell asleep on his chest and the sense of
love and security.  We can learn to bond, feel empathy, and heal through the
miracle of touch.

     By touching, we are stimulating our brains to produce certain
chemicals that can have beneficial effects.  Dr. Arthur Janov discussed one
particular chemical, Oxytoxin, at length in his book, “The Biology of
Love.”  Oxytocin is a soothing hormone produced in the brain that raises
serotonin levels and lowers aggression.  People who are engaged in long-term
relationships and have a steady support system produce high levels of
Oxytocin.  Scientific experiments that have been conducted with a rodent
population show that a particular rodent, the prairie vole, produces a
certain hormone that causes it to be nurturing, and monogamous with its
mate.  This hormone, injected into other rodents that showed poor parenting
skills, had some very positive results.  These disconnected rodents showed a
remarkable increase in parenting skills and they became kinder and more
nurturing to their mates.  This article expresses solely my opinion, doesn’t
represent any organization, and doesn’t offer medical or legal advice.  By
Julia Jankowski, M.Ed., Certified Addiction Professional, Certified Mental
Health Professional, Civil Competency Evaluator