Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sue Scheff: Hate crimes up

It is disturbing just reading this title yet important to read the article.  Parents need to take time to be informed and know if their kids are being taunted or if they fear for any reason.  It is important to keep your lines of communication open before your child escalates to anger and rage. 

Source: Connect with Kids

Hate Crimes Up
“I'm scared that I go to a Jewish school that's so public that someone could just ... come in and put a bomb in it or start a fire, just 'cause it's a Jewish school that's filled with Jewish people.”

– Debbie, 12 years old

The F.B.I. has released new data showing that hate crimes were up last year. Crimes based on religious preference were up nine percent, crimes against black people went up eight percent, and crimes based on sexual orientation are up three percent.

Sometimes kids are the victims or fear they will be. "I'm scared that I go to a Jewish school that's so public that someone could just, well, they have like video cameras and everything but, just come in and put a bomb in it or start a fire, just 'cause it's a Jewish school that's filled with Jewish people," says 12-year-old Debbie.

Kids can get hurt because of their race, religion or sexual preference. So what can parents do?

Psychologist, Dr. Stephen Thomas says, "I think the most important thing parents can do is to listen, is to listen to their kids, even when they're in pain. And to help them understand that sometimes that pain and anger is part of life."

Psychologists say that kind of communication is crucial, because often victims get angry.

"Some kids don't know that what they're feeling is anger. No one has taught them that this feeling that you have, you're heart racing, you want to lash out... that's anger, they don't know that... they don't know that," says Thomas.

And when kids cannot identify and deal with those kinds of emotions they are more likely to become hateful themselves.

"I could understand if everyone around you is showing you hatred you know," says 18-year-old Brian, "you're gonna show them hatred, that's what I... if everyone did that to me I might feel like killing somebody one day."

The Internet has opened the door to a wealth of information at our fingertips. But it has also brought instant accessibility to illegal drugs, pornography, hate websites and more. It's important to set guidelines regarding your child's Internet usage. Consider these important steps from the University of Oklahoma police department:

■Learn about the Internet – If you are just starting out, see what information and classes are offered by your local library, community center, schools or newspaper.
■Get Involved – Spend time online with your child -- at home, at the library or at a computer center in your community. Your involvement in your child's life includes his/her online life. Your participation and guidance is important to help ensure your child's Internet safety.
■Stay Informed – Learn about the latest parental control tools that can help you keep your child safe online. Stay abreast of what's in the news about kids and web sites.
■Become an Advocate for Kids – If you see online material or practices you do not like, contact your Internet Service Provider (the company that provides you with a connection to the Internet) or the company that created the material. Take advantage of this unique opportunity to help this growing medium develop in positive ways for kids.

Tips for Parents

According to, there are steps you can take to help prevent your child from seeing inappropriate content on the Internet. Consider the following suggestions:

■In an online public area such as a chat room or bulletin board, never give out identifying information, including name, home address, school name or telephone number.
■In an email, do not give out identifying information unless you are certain you are giving it to someone both you and your child know and trust. Think carefully before revealing any personal information such as age, marital status or financial information. Consider using a pseudonym or unlisting your child's name if your service allows it.
■Get to know the sites and services your child uses. If you don't know how to log on, have your child show you. Find out what types of information the services and websites offer, how trustworthy the information is and if parents can block objectionable material.
■Never allow a child to arrange a face-to-face meeting with another computer user without parental permission.
■Never respond to messages or bulletin board items that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, threatening or make you feel uncomfortable. Encourage your children to tell you if they encounter such messages. If you or your child receives a message that is harassing or threatening, forward a copy of the message to your service provider and ask for their assistance.
■Remember that people online may not be who they seem. Because you can't see or even hear people over the Internet, it is easy for them to misrepresent themselves. For example, someone who says he/she is an expert in a certain field may actually be a biased individual with an agenda or someone with harmful intentions.
■Not everything you read online is true. Be wary of any offers that require you to come to a meeting or have someone visit your house. Also, research several different sources of information before referring to something you read on the Internet as "fact."
■Set reasonable rules and guidelines for computer use. Discuss these rules and post them near the computer as a reminder. Remember to monitor your kids' compliance with these rules, especially when it comes to the amount of time your children spend on the computer. A child's or teenager's excessive use of online services or bulletin boards, especially late at night, may indicate a potential problem. Remember that personal computers and online services should not be used as electronic babysitters.
■Make computers a family activity. Consider keeping the computer in a family room rather than the child's bedroom. Get to know your children's "online friends" just as you do their other friends.

■Federal Bureau of Investigation
■National Center for Health Statistics
■Smart Parent
■The Police Notebook
■The University of Illinois