Thursday, October 27, 2011

Youth Leadership Students Attend County Wide Training

By Meredith Miller

On October 25, 2011 there was a Youth Leadership Council (YLC) training held at the Roberts Building for Van Buren and Harmony Community Schools 7th – 12th grade YLC Members. At this training we did various activities to help us lead the way to being drug and alcohol free.

We participated in four different workshops that focused on teamwork, leadership, living above the influence and helping create a drug and alcohol free community. The National Guard held a workshop on team building. There were four different activities the YLC Members participated in that helped them to work together as a team. An Above the Influence activity was held that had the members thinking about the slogan for their life. Students were encouraged to brand themselves by coming up with a logo and a slogan that described them. They displayed their ideas on posters and t-shirts for all to see. Three students were chosen to have their designs submitted to ONDCP to be used in a local media campaign.

Everybody had a lot of fun and we all learned new things. It was very beneficial to help us come up with new ways to influence our peers to make good decisions. All of us who attended really appreciate the work that went into making this training happen.

Friday, October 21, 2011

October, 2011 is Bullying Prevention Month

The time to take action is now! Everyone has a voice in raising the awareness of bullying. Whether you are a student, educator, or parent, here are important points to know:
• More than 160,000 U.S. students stay home from school each day from fear of being bullied.
• Bullying directly affects a student’s ability to learn. Students who are bullied find it difficult to concentrate, show a decline in grades, and lose self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth.
• Students who are bullied report more physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomachaches, and mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, than other students.
• In some cases, bullying has led to devastating consequences, such as school shootings and suicide.
• Bullying affects witnesses as well as targets. Witnesses often report feeling unsafe, helpless, and afraid that they will be the next target.
• Bullying is a communitywide issue that must no longer be ignored or thought of as a rite of passage. Students, parents, and educators all have a role in addressing bullying situations and changing school culture.
The two keys to creating change are:
o Increasing awareness that bullying has lifelong impact.
o Giving people the tools they need to respond effectively.
• Students can be especially effective in bullying intervention. More than 55 percent of bullying situations will stop when a peer intervenes. Student education of how to address bullying for peers is critical, as is the support of adults.
• Silence is no longer an acceptable response to bullying. Adults, students, and educators can no longer look away when they see bullying. Ignoring it won’t work. Everyone needs to be empowered with options to respond.

What DOES Work in Bullying Prevention: It DOES work to develop consensus among the whole community so they take action to discourage and interrupt low-level mean behavior before it becomes serious. Fire prevention and fire fighting are helpful analogies. We need firefighting teams to put out moderate-to-large fires. Yet we also need every individual to take action to reduce fire hazards. Similarly, we need parents, other adults, school administrators, teachers and counselors to intervene in more serious peer mistreatment. We also need people to be trained and ready to intervene by stopping the indirect use of biased speech or the small incidents of exclusion that can escalate into more serious behaviors. In addition, we can learn from firefighting that everyone in a community has an ethical responsibility to report fires. Similarly we need to see reporting peer mistreatment as a responsibility for all children rather than as “tattling.”

Information provided by: What Works in Bullying Prevention in Schools by Stan Davis and Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center at /bullying. Take time during the month of October to educate yourself about the signs and symptoms of bullying and what you can do to make a change.

If you are interested in more information on Bullying/Bullying Prevention please contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or or check for information online at or on Facebook – Van Buren County SAFE Coalition.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Now More Than Ever...

By Susan B. Carbon
The Justice Department and the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) join all our partners in recognizing October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Since the Sept. 13, 1994 passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), there have been significant changes in society’s understanding of and response to violence against women – but there is much more that needs to be done to end domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking.

Hundreds of thousands of victims have benefitted, and their lives forever changed, because of the resolve and commitment to end violence. This has been demonstrated not only by Congress, but by all those who have diligently worked so hard over the past 17 years to implement this legislation in their crisis centers, police departments, emergency rooms, prosecutors’ offices, courtrooms and communities.

In his proclamation marking October 2011 as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, President Obama noted the effects of domestic violence, especially on young people and children:
… The ramifications of domestic violence are staggering. Young women are among the most vulnerable, suffering the highest rates of intimate partner violence. Exposure to domestic violence puts our young men and women in danger of long-term physical, psychological, and emotional harm. Children who experience domestic violence are at a higher risk for failure in school, emotional disorders, and substance abuse, and are more likely to perpetuate the cycle of violence themselves later in life.

Prevention and intervention efforts focused on breaking the cycle of abuse and violence is an important part of OVW’s ongoing work. Over the past couple of years, OVW has embarked upon the development of a new program to broaden the reach of those working to end violence against women by engaging men and boys to work together as allies with women and girls.

This is the first time in the history of OVW that a grant program focuses primarily on the prevention of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking by acknowledging the critical role men and boys play in addressing these issues. That, along with the program’s focus on the creation of public education campaigns through the work of community-based organizations and local community partners, has generated great interest and excitement. With men as partners in this work, we have the potential to reach men and boys in new and creative ways, implementing programs most relevant to them and their communities.

We remind all those in need of assistance, or other concerned friends and individuals, to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

October is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month

Primary prevention is a systematic process that promotes healthy environments and behaviors before the onset of symptoms, thus reducing the likelihood of an illness, condition, or injury occurring. Substance abuse clearly is among the most costly health problems in the United States. Among national estimates of the costs of illness for 33 diseases and conditions, alcohol ranked second, tobacco ranked sixth, and drug disorders ranked seventh (National Institutes of Health [NIH]). This report shows that programs designed to prevent substance abuse can reduce these costs.

President Obama has proclaimed October National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. In his proclamation he states:

“By providing strong support systems for our loved ones, and by talking with our children about the dangers of alcohol and other drugs, we can increase their chances of living long, healthy, and productive lives. During National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, we celebrate those dedicated to prevention efforts, and we renew our commitment to the well being of all Americans.

The damage done by drugs is felt far beyond the millions of Americans with diagnosable substance abuse or dependence problems countless families and communities also live with the pain and heartbreak it causes. Relationships are destroyed, crime and violence blight communities, and dreams are shattered. Substance abuse touches every sector of our society, straining our health care and criminal justice systems.

For all these reasons, my Administration has made prevention a central component of our National Drug Control Strategy, and we have developed the first ever National Prevention Strategy. These strategies, inspired by the thousands of drug free coalitions across our country, recognize the power of community based prevention organizations, and suggest that prevention activities are most effective when informed by science, driven by State and local partnerships, and tuned to the specific needs of a community.

By investing in evidence based prevention, we can also decrease emergency room visits and lower rates of chronic disease, easing the burden on America's health care system. We can improve student achievement and workforce readiness. Most importantly, we must continue to support the efforts of parents and guardians, our children's first teachers and role models, whose positive influence is the most effective deterrent to alcohol and other drug use and the strongest influence for making health choices.”

Be a part of prevention in your community by joining one of the many organizations devoted to the health and wellbeing of the county. The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition is a group of diverse leaders and organizations committed to integrating and aligning our resources to make our community safer and healthier. The coalition is dedicated to engaging our entire community in this endeavor. By moving in this direction, we work smart, spend smart and strive to reduce our tax burden as we focus on preventing such costly problems as drug abuse, underage alcohol and tobacco consumption, teen pregnancy, juvenile delinquency, school safety and school drop outs. The prevention efforts are results focused, identifying and implementing proven, cost effective programs, policies and activities. The bottom line is that the work of the coalition is a common sense, smart spending, sound investment in the future of our youth and community. The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition is committed to making Van Buren County a SAFE Place to live.

If you are interested in getting involved with the SAFE Coalition or would like more information feel free to contact us at 319-293-6412 or