Category Archives: Protecting Our Kids

Changing The Face Of Childhood Hunger In America

I could tell you the cold, hard facts about childhood hunger. Share that right here in the United States 1 out of every 5 children do not know where their next meal is coming from. Hit you with the numbers;

16 Million Suffer from Childhood Hunger

I could even bring it home for you and say that with numbers like that, it’s highly likely that someone you know is dealing with this. Or, I could tell you my story.

When I was in elementary school my dad lost his job. Saver of lives, a man who rescued people and fought fires – a hero, my hero – was laid off by the state of California due to budget cuts. In the blink of an eye our family of five lost the sole breadwinner in the house.

All I knew was that we got to play with daddy more. I thought that mom was hunting more because dad was home so much – driving her crazy. To me the time we spent as a family volunteering at the local food-share program was another way for my parents to teach us life lessons. The bonus always being that we got to bring home a big box of “leftovers.” My 8 year old self had no clue that, that was our only food. I didn’t know what my parents were struggling through to keep a roof over our heads and food in our bellies.

As an adult I look back on that time and my heart breaks for them. How could a man with multiple advanced degrees, years of experience,  who had saved countless lives and homes, EVER end up in a place where he didn’t know if he could feed his family? I can’t imagine looking at my own children and knowing I couldn’t feed them.

We made it through. Mom kept us all strong, held the family together. She was always our rock. Dad went back to work. I grew up not ever knowing how bad it had gotten. Sadly, not all kids can say that.

Today I’m joining with Unilever Project Sunlight in doing my part help shine a light on hunger in America. We need to change long-held notions of what hunger looks like, why it happens and to whom. Childhood hunger touches us all, in so many ways. Let’s talk about it, listen without judgment, and put an end to it. 

The families in the short video, “Going to Bed Hungry: Changing the Face of Child Hunger” have shared their stories – who they are, where they come from, will surprise you. I add my story to theirs and ask that you take a moment to watch (with some tissue nearby) and then take one minute more to spread the word. Help put an end to the hunger – we CAN DO THIS!

Is There a Drug Dealer in Your Medicnine Cabinet?

Parenting teens.  It’s hard, you guys. Way harder than I ever imagined, and I’m quite the overacting type. Really, it’s kind of my thing.

We try to keep them safe, try to educate ourselves on the new dangers that seem to crop up incessantly.  Take drugs, for instance.  Everyone knows to watch out for the drug dealers on the corners, right?  But, what if the drugs they might be getting that aren’t illegal?

What if the new danger  is currently residing in your medicine cabinet at home?  What if it’s something they can get on a seemingly innocent trip to Walgreens or Rite Aid?

October is National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month. Thanks to the ongoing work of the organization Stop Med Abuse, whose website and continuing prevention efforts are funded by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, my eyes have been opened to the dangers of the “recreational” abuse of Over the Counter (OTC) medicines by teens.

Cough syrup, y’all.  If taken in large enough doses, it can seriously mess you up.  And teens are doing just that, at an alarming rate.

The hidden culprit is dextromethorphan, aka (DXM).  Now, DMX is a safe and effective ingredient found in many over-the-counter cough syrups.  Trouble is, an overabundance of DMX can also result in hallucinations, mild distortions of color and sound, loss of motor control, vomiting, stomach pain.  For some teens, the “high” appears worth the risk.

It’s estimated that 1 in 20 teens reports using excessive amounts of DMX to get high.  One in 3 knows someone who has used cough medicine to get high. “Not my kid!” you say?  Lord, we hope not.  But those numbers come from somewhere.  Those are SOMEBODY’s kids.

Now, this may not be a new thing…but some of the terminology teens are using for this behavior IS new, and knowing the slang as parents gives us a weapon against it. The infographic lists some of the colorful “code” currently being used in school hallways, on cell phones and via text.  Skittling. Red devils.  Robo-tripping.  Tussin.  Triple C’s and dexing.

Keep your eyes and ears open, folks. Listen to your kids. If you see empty bottles in trash cans and backpacks, notice a change in physical appearance, friend interaction or see declining grades, pay attention.  I know I will…even though I hope I never, ever have to face this.

Most importantly, though?  TALK to them. I asked my teens -under our house, “I ask. you tell. We’ll both be cool about it.” rule- if they knew what some of those terms where, or if they knew of anyone who might have tried OTC meds to get high. They did, on both counts. I made sure to share the dangers, hopefully helping them “get it”.  I certainly let them know that I DO and I’ll be around, keeping an eye out and always here to talk. Teens are funny people. You can’t drag a conversation out of them most of the time, but they still want to know they can talk to you. Whatevs <—had to stick that in there to make them cringe, they love it when I try to talk “cool”.

My advice, talk. Talk even if they don’t. Talk even if you don’t think they are listening. It could mean the difference between a bad cold…and a whole lot worse.

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For more information and useful resources for parents, log onto www.stopmedicineabuse.org,”like” Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook, and follow @StopMedAbuse on Twitter.  We are using and promoting the hashtag #NotMyTeen all month because we are trying to empower parents to be sure it isn’t their teen.

This post was sponsored in part by StopMedicineAbuse.org. I was compensated for my time, but this message would have been shared had no compensation been offered. This is stuff ALL parents need to know.