Together For Jackson County Kids

Jackson County, Wisconsin

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Pain pills leading cause of untimely death

According to federal officials, accidental poisonings, largely due to prescription drug overdoses, are now the leading cause of premature death in the United States, outpacing auto accidents and gunshot wounds. Prescription drug abuse accounts for more overdoses than heroin and cocaine combined. Of the 37,000 people who died of a drug overdose in 2009, roughly 40 percent — more than 15,000 — were using prescription opiates, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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Upcoming Events:

White House LGBT Conference on Safe Schools & Communities

Bullying Prevention Twitter Live Chat!

Webinar: “Creating Safer Schools & Healthier Children”

Webinar: “Improving Supervision by Collaboration, Transparency, and Accountability”

National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect: April 16-20, 2012

Funding Opportunities:
Funding Opportunity: Mentoring Research

Funding Opportunity: Examining Teen Dating Violence Data

Funding Opportunity: “Investing inInnovation Fund” Program

Funding Opportunity: Helping Young Adult Former Offenders Through Training and Service Learning


Opportunity for Involvement:
CDE Launches “What can YOU do?” Video Contest

DOJ Seeking Participants for Defending Childhood Public Hearing in Miami


Reports and Resources:
“Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults”

“Take Action to Protect Children”

Part 2 of Civil Rights Data Collection Released

Learn About the Equal Access to Housing Rule

Resources to Prepare for Federal Grant Competition

Youth as Advocates for Change

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The Queer Guide To Surviving Middle And High School

Apr. 9, 2012

I grew up in Cincinnati, OH, which combines Ohio’s love of xenophobia, racism and rivers catching on fire with the vernacular and dental work of Indiana and Kentucky. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got mad love for my hometown and get a little misty-eyed when anyone mentions Skyline or 98 Degrees, but it was also a crappy place to grow up sometimes, especially for a awkward-looking queer kid who was really into Agatha Christie and Drew Barrymore. I didn’t really have the luxury of hiding my sexuality, because my giant lisp kind of spread the word for me, and I learned a lot from being the only “Super Out” person around. Thus, if you plan on packing your Britney or Tegan and Sara CDs with you to school, this is how to deal.

Immerse Yourself in Your Interests and Study Your Tail Off

When I was 12, I couldn’t really talk to other people at school without it ending in being mocked or having my backpack thrown in the garbage. I had one real friend, who did the morning announcements, and beanie babies to stand in for the rest of a friend group. Sometimes, I found fleeting friendships with people, and I made up for a lack of community by finding that in books and movies, learning to inhabit other worlds where I could experience what love was like. And when I got to high school, I read almost every book our teacher recommended; I was that kid who asked for more homework.

I also enrolled in almost every school organization I could, which meant that I didn’t have to have that many friends and could cherish the few real friends I did have. Who even had the time to be popular?

Work on Your Coping Mechanisms

Queer kid, ice cream and reruns of Gilmore Girls are about to become your best friend for six years. When life, school and everything gets you down, you need to find those special places you can go to, those things that always make you feel good no matter what. Although other people can be great and helpful, learn to rely on yourself for your own happiness.

Find Supportive Friend Groups

If you live in a Gay Narnia — like that boarding school in Glee — where everyone loves you, awesome! Be thankful for how lucky you are, because Middle-School-me would totally hate your guts.

For everyone else, don’t make the mistake I did: Don’t try too hard to be liked by everyone. If you are queer or read as queer, not everyone in your school is going to be cool with it, and even if you don’t like that, respect their space. It’s actually good life training, because out in the real world, not everyone is going to be totally cool with your identity. (Hi, Dad!) You’ll want to learn how to start handling that now.

Everyone in existence might not accept you, but you can always fit right in with the Band Kids, the Drama Kids, the Art Nerds, AP English Geeks, the Academic Team or, if you’re me, the Intellectual Metal Heads. Not only are the latter surprisingly supportive but also they usually have the best parties and, because of that, are surprisingly well connected at school. All these groups of people end up becoming the cool kids when you get out of high school anyway, and so it’s best to get in with them now.

Develop Online Networks

Because I came of queer in the early aughts, we had this thing called AOL and M4M chat rooms that were helpful for me in coming to terms with myself. I was able to talk to a lot of older guys who weren’t looking for sex but looking for what I craved: connection. The internet isn’t just about porn anymore, and talking to people you only know online is a really low-stakes way to open up about what you are going through. I came out to my first person on the Internet, had my first sexual experience on the Internet (which kind of counts) and made some of my best friends through Xanga. In fact, some of the people I met on the internet meant more to me than the people I knew in real life. (I still talk to a few of them today.)

Talk to a Therapist or Counselor

Even if your family is supportive about what you are going through, you can’t talk to them about everything, especially if those things are sex things. If they aren’t supportive, it’s important to talk to someone whose job it is to be supportive and help you through this time. Having someone to talk to is so important, and a therapist or counselor can help you not only open up about what your dealing with but also equip you with some of the language to verbalize it.

Learn How to Protect Yourself

For some, taking community classes in tae kwon do or karate could be a useful way to vent your anger and frustrations and a means to even channel it into something healthy. The goal of these traditions to learn how to protect yourself without harming another person, which will be helpful for you. Learn how to stand up to bullies, but don’t become one yourself.

Otherwise, try to have friends that have your back, especially if those friends are on the football team. In my case, I was friends with our school’s gossip queen, who had dirt on everyone, even some of the teachers. I couldn’t fight to save my life, but I could absolutely destroy you by letting everyone in school know about your burgeoning coke habit. Fear is a very powerful weapon.

Stay True to Yourself

This doesn’t mean you have to be out, because that’s not an option for everyone. However, don’t be like the token gay character in Easy A and go down the beard route, which is just painful for everyone. If you are gay, don’t make up a Canadian girlfriend, because that’s been done. If you are a lesbian, don’t go steady with any of the drama guys, even if they are good kissers. Even if it’s convenient now, you end up hating yourself later for putting up with the ruse.

Figure out how to express yourself in ways socially acceptable at your school. Channel your queerness into punk music and pink hair dye. Join a band and drum your rage away. Start your own zine or art project. Embrace your future power queer and run for student body president. High school may be all about blending in, but that doesn’t mean you have to hide.

Make an Impact

If being out and proud is an option at your school, don’t fall for the rhetoric of “It Gets Better One Day When I Move to a Big City and Get Out of Here.” See what you can do to make your town a better environment for other LGBT people, especially the ones who don’t have the option to leave. If you can start a GSA without getting beat up for it, do so. While you’re at it, be a mentor to other kids you know who aren’t out or come from bad family environments. Try to make your culture more accepting and safer than the one you inherited. Because it’s not just important that you survive, it’s important to help others to survive, too. TC mark


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Bath salts are the newest drug scourge to hit the US. They are currently available online, in gas stations and convenience stores across the nation. In the first few months of 2011, poison control centers nationwide reported a record-breaking increase in ER visits related to bath salts.

This is a highly addictive substance which causes intense paranoia, psychosis and suicidal thoughts. A drug abuse expert who treats young people in the grips of bath salt addiction speaks bluntly about this methamphetamine-like drug. The gut-wrenching story of Jarrod Moody, a young man who took his own life after a binge on bath salts caused him to spiral out of control, makes a powerful case against experimenting with bath salts.

Watch a 20/20 Report on Bath Salts.

If you are interested in ordering classroom materials for educational purposes HRM Video has movies and pamphlets available.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just launched a national mass media campaign to educate the public about the harmful effects of smoking and to encourage quitting. The campaign is called “Tips From Former Smokers” and features real people who have experienced a variety of illnesses stemming from tobacco use, including cancer, heart attack, stroke, asthma, and Buerger’s disease. The ads not only show the toll that these smoking-related illnesses have taken on these individuals’ lives—e.g., losing one’s natural voice, experiencing paralysis, having a lung removed or limbs amputated—but they also provide encouragement to quit and information on how to access free help.

Support to Quit

For free quit support, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669; TTY 1-800-332-8615). This service provides free support and advice from experienced counselors, a personalized quit plan, self-help materials, the latest information about cessation medications, and more.


Filed under tobacco smoking CDC

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I dare you to measure the “value” I add

(When i wrote this, I had no idea just how deeply this would speak to people and how widely it would spread. So, I think a better title is I Dare You to Measure the Value WE Add.)

Tell me how you determine the value I add to my class.

Tell me about the algorithms you applied when you took data from 16 students over a course of nearly five years of teaching and somehow used it to judge me as “below average” and “average”.

Tell me how you can examine my skills and talents and attribute worth to them without knowing me, my class, or my curriculum requirements.

Tell me how and I will tell you:

How all of my students come from different countries, different levels of prior education and literacy, and how there is no “research-based” elementary curriculum created to support schools or teachers to specifically meet their needs.

How the year for which you have data was the year my fifth graders first learned about gangs, the internet, and their sexual identities.

How the year for which you have data was the year that two of my students were so wracked by fear of deportation, depression and sleep deprivation from nightmares, that they could barely sit still and often fought with other students. How they became best of friends by year end. How one of them still visits me every September.

How that year most of my students worked harder than ever, (despite often being referred to as “the low class” or “lower level” within earshot of them), inspiring me and the teachers around us, despite the fact that many of these same students believed they could never go to college because of their immigration status.

How that year many of my students vaulted from a first to third and fourth grade reading levels but still only received a meaningless “1″ on their report cards because such growth is not valued by our current grading system.

How that was the year I quickly gained 6 new students from other countries and had my top 3 transferred out in January to general education classrooms because my school thankfully realized I shouldn’t have 32 students in a multilevel self-contained ESL class.

How the year for which you have data was the year that two of my students, twins who had come from China just the year before to live with parents they hadn’t seen since they were toddlers, finally started to speak in May. And smile. And make friends. How they kept in touch with me via edmodo for two years after leaving my school.

How that year I taught my class rudimentary American Sign Language for our research project; inspired and excited, they mostly taught themselves the Pledge of Allegiance, songs for our school play, John Lennon’s Imagine, and songs for graduation, all in ASL. Then we created an online video-translation dictionary using their first language, English, and ASL. They wrote scripts for skits we videotaped to teach many of these words in context.



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Teen girl dies after inhaling helium at party

Last weekend, 14-year-old Ashley Long told her parents she was going to a slumber party. But instead of spending the night watching videos and eating popcorn two blocks away, she piled into a car with a bunch of her friends and rode to a condo in Medford, Ore., where police say the big sister of one of her friends was throwing a party with booze and marijuana.

After drinking on the drive, and downing more drinks in the condo, it came time for Ashley to take her turn on a tank of helium that everyone else was inhaling to make their voices sound funny.

"That helium tank got going around," said Ashley’s stepfather, Justin Earp, who learned what happened from talking to Ashley’s friends at the party. "It got to my daughter. My daughter didn’t want to do it. It was peer pressure. They put a mask up to her face. They said it would be OK. ‘It’s not gonna hurt you. It’ll just make you laugh and talk funny.’"

Instead, she passed out and later died at a hospital, the result of an obstruction in a blood vessel caused by inhaling helium from a pressurized tank.

"It blew her lungs out," Earp said. "It exploded them. It created air pockets in her veins. Then it went up into her brain and blew it up."

It’s a common party trick — someone sucks in helium to give their voice a cartoon character sound.

But the death exposes the rare but real dangers of inhaling helium, especially from a pressurized tank. The gas is also commonly seen in suicide kits — mail-order hoods sold out of Oregon and elsewhere that can be attached to a helium tank by people who want to kill themselves.

(Source: MSN)

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Dear Educators,

Join the nationwide effort to stop underage drinking and alcohol abuse. April 2012 is Alcohol Awareness Month. With prom season and graduation just around the corner, now is the time to remind your students of the dangers of alcohol abuse and driving under the influence. Please click this link for information about our complete lineup of alcohol awareness videos and other materials: Alcohol Awareness

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