Wednesday, May 04, 2016

enter the silence | someone has to go first

There were things I never heard until I was prepared to hear them.

When I was a card-carrying, church-based youth worker, I never met a teenager with an eating disorder until the week I talked openly about what I was learning about eating disorders.

I never interacted with a person struggling with sexual identity or gender dysphoria until I started to express gently and honestly what I was learning about sexuality.

I never knew anyone engaged in self-harm until I described what I was learning about self-harm.

I never met a survivor of sexual assault in any form until I spoke frankly about sexual assault in all its forms.

I never knew what I never knew about teenagers around me until I intentionally and authentically gave the impression that I was open, safe, trustworthy, and steadfast.

Authenticating that impression certainly wasn't accomplished in a single move.
  • It meant accepting the possibility I was wrong about some things I'd taken for granted. 
  • It required learning to talk less and — without interrogating — listen more perceptively. 
  • It meant eliminating the lazy, cocky humor that looks for laughs in teasing — or plainly insulting — people about gender, sexuality, physical characteristics, puberty, menstruation, strength, agility, coordination, aesthetic sensibilities, emotional sensitivity — right down to haircuts and clothing choices. 
All this has taken time and attention, and a lot of do-overs ... it has required the willingness to look foolish on the way to acquiring a small measure of wisdom ... it has required that I learn compassion as a second language.

This week, The Washington Post's Petula Dvorak, wrote a column titled, "It's the Silence that Traps Them," about five boys — now men in their 50s — who were scared silent for decades after being molested by then Coach Dennis Hastert. One of those men, Scott Cross, testified at Mr. Hastert's sentencing in Chicago last week.

“I wanted you to know the pain and suffering he caused me then and still causes me today,” Mr. Cross told the court. “Most importantly, I want my children and anyone else who was ever treated the way I was to know that there is an alternative to staying silent.”

I have come to believe we — parents, youth workers, teachers, coaches, aunts, uncles, grandparents, neighbors, caring adults of every description — are the alternative to staying silent. But only if people in pain ... children, teenagers, and adults ... know we are open, safe, trustworthy, and steadfast. 

We're the ones who have to change. We have to enter the silence and bring them out.

Friday, April 29, 2016

in the wind | tweets from the space ending 04.29.16

What if kids' only contact with the world was the Internet? Would "they" be different from "us"?

hope I die before I get old

What the Father of a Transgendered Teen Wants You to Know About the Bathroom Controversy

babies not having babies | pockets persist, but less sex + better contraception = fewer US teen births

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

hope I die before I get old

From Vanity Fair, "7 Questions for the Baby-Boomer Generation’s Bluntest Life Coach, Michael Kinsley,"
Let’s say you’re talking with someone who’s 25 and the subject of old age comes up. What’s the most important piece of advice you would offer?
Try to avoid it. There is, of course, an obvious way to avoid it. Avoid that, too. From the library of clich├ęs about misfortune, choose a cheery one as your theme. “It could be worse,” though profoundly true, is not all that comforting. Try to do better.
I believe I will take this to mean something like, "I can turn into my parents i want ... but I don't have to. I can, if I want, keep growing and serving and adding fresh goodness to the world right up to the last minute. Why not do that?"

Sunday, April 17, 2016

in the wind | tweets from the space ending 04.17.16

curate a cheese-free Summer Film Festival for your family or youth group

opted out of testing | ½ of young Americans with HIV in 2015 didn't know they were infected

30% safer childhood | the crude death rate of US children dropped 30% from 1999-2014

global writing community for grades 8 - 12

POSERS = FAKERS = WANNABESPoser n: a person who habitually pretends to be something he is not. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

in the wind | tweets from the space ending 03.25.16

Stephen Colbert welcomes Macklemore, Ryan Lewis + friends to The Late Show + disrupts my sleep.

post-Gee-Whiz digital life | more than ½ of US teens say they need-and take-device breaks daily

what are you reading? | asks + tweens answer

progress | everybody dies—but not as fast as we did about a minute ago

A common complaint... high schools fail to look into reports of student-on-student sexual assault cases at all ?

Wall Street, we have a marketing opportunity | 95% of kids under 10 don't have phones

read it yourself | transcript of Donald J. Trump with editors at the Washington Post

high school football fatalities | this is our mess...

Millennial Irony! | A trend story about millennials, by the New York Times

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Seriously | White Privilege II

in the wind | tweets from space ending 02.21.16

cognitive dissonance | sometimes I can hardly believe I believe

it's complicated | assessing HIV risk in underage Black, Hispanic + White US high school boys

teach your children | limits > training > responsibility > feedback > autonomy

watching what they want | on kids' Wild West YouTube viewing habits

15-24 year-olds | rate of US White drug poisoning deaths 3x higher than Hispanics + 4x higher than Blacks

shoot me now | glad somebody finally did some polling on this = - )

Sunday, February 07, 2016

in the wind | tweets from the space ending 02.06.16

Study: Abuse by family members + other adults far more common than in youth-serving organizations

Boomers + drugs | US drug overdose deaths in people aged 45–54 are more than 3x greater than in those aged 15–25

take 4 of these... | advice on making gun violence harder from the Journal of the American Medical Association 

thinking about all my friends who visit mosquito-rich environments... | MMWR

Sunday, January 31, 2016

in the wind | tweets from the space ending 01.31.16

1991-2014, US birth rate for 15–19 year-old females dropped 61%, from 61.8 to 24.2 per 1,000

it ads up | day-to-day e-cigarette advertising impressions + teenagers

sick of political correctness

Yes, some types of screen time are better than others 

Liars, Tyrants + Beers (Oh my!) | What worries parents right now

What's your school district's policy dealing with student-on-student sexual assault allegations

"the crouch before a leap" | a brief history + long view on digital reading
teaching kids to neutralize trolls + haters

87% of US kids 0 - 14 engage in non-screen traditional play each week

Ad features regular girl with regular body | everybody freak out

" appears that Gen Z may not be as enamored with luxury goods as millennials were"

are your kids' favorite Minecraft video channels "family friendly"?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

read it yourself | 2016 State of the Union Address

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Remarks by the President in the State of the Union Address

United States Capitol
Washington, D.C.  
9:10 P.M. EST
PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, my fellow Americans:  
Tonight marks the eighth year that I’ve come here to report on the State of the Union.  And for this final one, I’m going to try to make it a little shorter.  (Applause.)  I know some of you are antsy to get back to Iowa.  (Laughter.)  I've been there.  I'll be shaking hands afterwards if you want some tips.  (Laughter.)  
And I understand that because it’s an election season, expectations for what we will achieve this year are low.  But, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the constructive approach that you and the other leaders took at the end of last year to pass a budget and make tax cuts permanent for working families.  So I hope we can work together this year on some bipartisan priorities like criminal justice reform -- (applause) -- and helping people who are battling prescription drug abuse and heroin abuse.  (Applause.)  So, who knows, we might surprise the cynics again.  
But tonight, I want to go easy on the traditional list of proposals for the year ahead.  Don’t worry, I’ve got plenty, from helping students learn to write computer code to personalizing medical treatments for patients.  And I will keep pushing for progress on the work that I believe still needs to be done.  Fixing a broken immigration system.  (Applause.)  Protecting our kids from gun violence.  (Applause.)  Equal pay for equal work.  (Applause.)  Paid leave.  (Applause.)  Raising the minimum wage. (Applause.)  All these things still matter to hardworking families.  They’re still the right thing to do.  And I won't let up until they get done.
But for my final address to this chamber, I don’t want to just talk about next year.  I want to focus on the next five years, the next 10 years, and beyond.  I want to focus on our future.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

read it yourself | Remarks by the President on Common-Sense Gun Safety Reform 01.05.16

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Remarks by the President on Common-Sense Gun Safety Reform

East Room
11:43 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you, everybody.  Please have a seat.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.
Mark, I want to thank you for your introduction.  I still remember the first time we met, the time we spent together, and the conversation we had about Daniel.  And that changed me that day.  And my hope, earnestly, has been that it would change the country. 
Five years ago this week, a sitting member of Congress and 18 others were shot at, at a supermarket in Tucson, Arizona.  It wasn’t the first time I had to talk to the nation in response to a mass shooting, nor would it be the last.  Fort Hood.  Binghamton.  Aurora.  Oak Creek.  Newtown.  The Navy Yard.  Santa Barbara.  Charleston.  San Bernardino.  Too many.
THE PRESIDENT:  Thanks to a great medical team and the love of her husband, Mark, my dear friend and colleague, Gabby Giffords, survived.  She’s here with us today, with her wonderful mom.  (Applause.)  Thanks to a great medical team, her wonderful husband, Mark -- who, by the way, the last time I met with Mark  -- this is just a small aside -- you may know Mark’s twin brother is in outer space.  (Laughter.)  He came to the office, and I said, how often are you talking to him?  And he says, well, I usually talk to him every day, but the call was coming in right before the meeting so I think I may have not answered his call -- (laughter) -- which made me feel kind of bad.  (Laughter.)    That’s a long-distance call.  (Laughter.)  So I told him if his brother, Scott, is calling today, that he should take it.  (Laughter.)  Turn the ringer on.  (Laughter.) 
I was there with Gabby when she was still in the hospital, and we didn’t think necessarily at that point that she was going to survive.  And that visit right before a memorial -- about an hour later Gabby first opened her eyes.  And I remember talking to mom about that.  But I know the pain that she and her family have endured these past five years, and the rehabilitation and the work and the effort to recover from shattering injuries.
And then I think of all the Americans who aren’t as fortunate.  Every single year, more than 30,000 Americans have their lives cut short by guns -- 30,000.  Suicides.  Domestic violence.  Gang shootouts.  Accidents.  Hundreds of thousands of Americans have lost brothers and sisters, or buried their own children.  Many have had to learn to live with a disability, or learned to live without the love of their life. 
A number of those people are here today.  They can tell you some stories.  In this room right here, there are a lot of stories.  There’s a lot of heartache.  There’s a lot of resilience, there’s a lot of strength, but there’s also a lot of pain.  And this is just a small sample.
The United States of America is not the only country on Earth with violent or dangerous people.  We are not inherently more prone to violence.  But we are the only advanced country on Earth that sees this kind of mass violence erupt with this kind of frequency.  It doesn't happen in other advanced countries.  It’s not even close.  And as I’ve said before, somehow we’ve become numb to it and we start thinking that this is normal.
And instead of thinking about how to solve the problem, this has become one of our most polarized, partisan debates -- despite the fact that there’s a general consensus in America about what needs to be done.  That’s part of the reason why, on Thursday, I’m going to hold a town hall meeting in Virginia on gun violence.  Because my goal here is to bring good people on both sides of this issue together for an open discussion.