Suggestions for How Teens Should Post Online

Suggestions for How Teens Should Post Online

Teenagers posting personal information on line has been an issue for a while. Also with the advent of cyber bullying it has made what teens post on line even more of an issue. Many teenagers have committed suicide due to cyber bullying.

In addition to cyber bullying, on line posting by teenagers has been associated with depression and low self-esteem. Many teens feel everyone always has positive things about their lives to post. Also some teens feels embarrassed because other teens have over 500 friends and they do not have that many friends. These issues involved with posting on line do have a dramatic impact on teenagers.

I recently read a blog by Frank Sonnenberg which addressed the issue of appropriate on line sharing by teenagers. His blog shared some comments by Sue Scheff. She is a nationally recognized author, parent advocate, and family Internet safety expert. Her new book, Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate, is powerful! The book is filled with practical advice and real-world examples, as well as powerful tools and strategies, to ensure that you thrive—and don’t become a victim of the cyberworld.

I have found her work very helpful and I tend to make the same recommendations to the teenagers I see for psychotherapy that Sue put in her book. Below are some guidelines Sue Scheff recommends about on line posting. I support these recommendations because they help protect teenagers from cyberbullying and feelings of depression and low self-esteem.

Sharing much too much: It’s about time we realize that not everything we do in our life needs to be documented online. Many of us have become addicted to documenting practically every breath we take on social media, from eating a doughnut to taking a train ride. Is it any wonder that overshare was The Chambers Dictionary’s word of the year in 2014? Even digitally savvy teens think people are divulging TMI online. In a 2015 Pew Research Center survey, 88 percent of teen social media users agreed that people share too much of themselves on social media. Everyone needs to understand the importance of social sharing for your platform—versus oversharing for your ego. A 2015 UCLA study revealed that people who overshare on social media are at a higher risk of being cybershamed. This study suggests oversharing of personal information leads bystanders to blame and not feel for the victim.

Sharing inappropriate material: The Internet is unforgiving. Before texting, tweeting, emailing, posting, or sharing anything, consider how you’d feel if your words or images went viral. Is your human need for approval, for eliciting likes and retweets, driving you to share questionable material? Does the content convey how you truly want to be perceived? You should have zero expectation of privacy when it comes to cyberspace.

Sharing with the wrong people: You should frequently review the settings on your social media accounts and make sure you actually know who are connecting with. Who’s in your Facebook friends and cell-phone contact lists? Do you actually know them? Would you be embarrassed if you accidentally butt-dialed one of them? In 2010, Jimmy Kimmel dubbed November 17 National Unfriend Day, a time to review your contact list and weed out your true friends from your virtual acquaintances. Just because you’ve set your privacy settings as high as possible doesn’t mean you are 100 percent secure from trolls or a friend turned foe. You may believe that you’re only sharing this with your core group, but remember, you don’t always have control over what photos others choose to take and share.

Sharing in haste: People often refer to the phrase, “Think before you post.” I say, “Pause.” It only takes a second to post—and 60 seconds to pause. Take that minute to consider that post before you hit send. Picture yourself in that photo or receiving that email. Is this something that could be embarrassing or humiliating at a later date? Does it reveal too much information? Always ask the permission of others who are in the photo, especially with children, before posting it, and never assume that they have given you permission unless they have. If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a million times—think before you post—but that hasn’t stopped many of us from making digital blunders.

Sharing without dignity: When we see adults, politicians, celebrities, or athletes acting childish or bullish online, it sends the wrong message to our fellow adults and to our kids. Many of these people are role models who our youths look up to. But when we have videos circling of hip hop-stars sniffing cocaine over a woman’s breasts and politicians trashing the reputation of private citizens or getting caught with their digital pants down, like Anthony Weiner, over and over again (and over yet again), we have crossed a line.

Sharing with negativity: I’m sure everyone knows people who use their social media feed as a venting machine. The complaining never stops, whether it’s their bleak life, their horrible job, or their dismal dating scene. Worse is when they impose their negative thoughts on your good fortune—you’ve just landed your dream job, and they make an unenthusiastic remark like, “Not a great company to work for.” Yes, we’ve all experienced the Negative Nellies and Debbie Downers in our world, and we don’t want to be one of them—especially online. From the moment you are given the privilege of your first keyboard, your virtual résumé begins. It’s up to you to maintain and create a positive persona. It’s true, we can’t be happy all the time, and it’s fine to reach out for support in times of grief. But the good news about the Internet, and even your smartphone, is that you can turn it off if you’re having a bad day. Also, never post something in haste or anger that you might later regret—log off instead. I like to say, “When in doubt, click out.” Remember, once you post a comment, a thought or a picture, it is on the internet forever. No matter what you do, you can never totally erase it. Also if you hurt someone, you cannot change that fact either. On last point to remember, colleges are now searching for your posts on line when you apply to their college. They can find posts you thought you erased and those posts may cost you being accepted to a college. This year, Harvard University withdrew their acceptance offers to approximately 100 applicants because of posts they discovered after the acceptance letters had been mailed. Bottom line, on line posting can have very serious negative impacts on your life or other people’s lives that you are not intending to hurt.

Dr. Michael Rubino has over 20 years experience working with teenagers and children. For more information about his work with teenagers or his private practice visit his website www.rcs-ca.com or follow him on Twitter @RubinoTherapy.

Advertisements

Facts about Guns and Boys in the United States

Facts about Guns and Boys in the United States

I recently read an article by Cody Fenwick regarding children and gun violence. The fact that mass school shootings continue in our country, I feel it is important that we pay attention to the facts in Mr. Fenwick’s article.

Many of us feel because we live in Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek or Lafayette that our children and teenagers do not have to worry about gangs or gun violence. Unfortunately, this is not the truth. According to a new research study in the Journal of Pediatrics, guns continue to be the third-leading cause of death for Americans younger than 18 years old, killing around 1,300 children and teenagers a year in the United States. In addition, almost 6,000 children and teenagers are injured per year. Many teenagers are permanently disabled from these injuries.

The study examined data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Consumer Product Safety Commission between 2002 and 2014. The study found that boys, especially older boys such as teenagers and minorities, were much more likely to be the victims of gun violence. The study did not say anything about where the boys lived. The facts are children who are male and teenagers, are at a higher risk for becoming a victim of gun violence. Therefore, teenagers in our area are at risk of becoming a victim of gun violence.

The study does indicate there has been a decrease in accidental deaths such as boys cleaning a gun. However, the rate as a method for suicide has increased. I have mentioned before that suicide is the third leading cause of death for 10 year old boys. This study confirms that statistic and indicates the preferred method of suicide for boys and teenagers are guns. According to Katherine Fowler, one of the lead researchers at the CDC, “Firearm injuries are an important public health problem, contributing substantially to premature death and disability of children.” Understanding their nature [guns] and impact is a first step toward prevention.”

When we look at these numbers, can anyone argue against taking steps to protect our children? Can you imagine a 10 year old boy using a gun to kill himself? Can you imagine a 10 year old boy feeling that his life is so bad at the age of ten that death seems like a better option than living?

The study indicates that in recent years guns were responsible for a large number of adolescent, males who were murdered. The study documented that deaths in the category of murder for boys under the age of 18 years old decreased to 53 percent. This is a decrease yet the rate is still 53%. The other causes of gun-related deaths include:

38 percent suicides

6 percent unintentional deaths

3 percent law enforcement/undetermined cause

The study found 82% of deaths by guns were boys. This means 82% of gun deaths were boys who were children or teenagers. Putting it another way, this means these boys were not even 18 years old yet at the time of their deaths. The study also found that white and American Indian children have the highest rate of suicide using a gun.

We also like to think that the United States in one of the most advanced nations in the world. However, the statistics show that the United States has the highest rate in the world for children under 14 years old committing suicide. Again, the United States has the highest rate of children under 14 years old using a gun to commit suicide. That number scares me and is appalling to me. However, as an adolescent and child psychotherapist, I do not doubt it. I have heard 6 year old boys seriously discussing suicide.

Furthermore, I hear teenagers routinely talking about needing to carry a knife or gun with them for protection. They tell me you never know when you will be jumped and you need to be able to protect yourself. In fact, a few years ago a teenager was shot on his front door step in Danville over a marijuana deal. When I mention to teens the risks they are taking, they tell me there is no guarantee they will live until 30 years old. They would rather die protecting themselves than doing nothing.

As a society, we need to look at these numbers and ask ourselves some questions. What are we going to do in order to improve gun safety? Most importantly, why are children as young as 6 years old thinking about suicide? Also what are we going to do so that children who are suicidal have access to mental health care? This is our problem because it does happen in Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek and Lafayette.

Dr. Rubino has 20 years experience as a psychotherapist working with children and teenagers. For more information about his work or private practice visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com or on Twitter @RubinoTherapy

Helping Teenagers Avoid Risks Associated with Memorial Day and Graduations

Helping Teenagers Avoid Risks Associated with Memorial Day and Graduations

It’s Memorial Day weekend, the beginning of summer and graduations and graduation parties are starting to occur. Many teenagers will be involved in various activities celebrating graduations and Memorial Day. It’s a popular weekend for teenagers to be going to parties, drinking, and having swim parties and barbecues with friends. Most people assume these are every day activities and everyone will have a good time.

However, this is not reality. Every year over this weekend, 5,000 teenagers are killed in motor vehicle accidents and 400,000 are injured (CDC statistics). These injures may range from cuts and bruises to someone being paralyzed.

Also regarding swimming, there are 3,500 accidental drowning every year. One in five teenagers die in these drownings (CDC statistics). This is only the number who die. It doesn’t include Traumatic brain injuries or teenagers breaking their neck or back in an accident. A broken neck can result in death, paralysis or being in a Halo Brace for 6 months or longer. Again we assume such activities as swimming or a barbecue are safe and nothing will happen, however, accidents do occur.

Since it is Memorial Day Weekend and people will beginning to celebrate graduations too, there are going to be a lot of parties and drinking. There are also going to be a lot of drunk driving accidents, drownings and accidental drug overdosages. You have no way to know if you or your family might be one of the unlucky families this weekend. It could be your teen who is killed or it could be you.

You never know what is going to happen in life. Especially given everything that is happening all over the world. And if you look at the above statistics, you never know when or if something is going to happen.

A mother experienced this fact when her son committed suicide. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for teenagers. After that she wrote the following poem to her son. She also encouraged all parents of teenagers to remember to say “I love you,” to their teenagers. You may not get another chance.

I Love You

How could you?

They asked you,

How could you?

But you could not answer

As you were not here.

Why would you?

They asked you,

Why would you?

But their questions fell onto

The world’s deafest ears.

I loved you!

They told you,

I loved you.

But they told you too late,

Through their tears.

I’ll miss you,

They told you,

I’ll miss you.

And in death now

They hold you more dear.

The point of this article is don’t take the risk. Since you never know what may happen and many teens feel that their parents don’t care, take the opportunity while you have it to express your feelings. Don’t spend the rest of your life regretting “I never told him I loved him” or wondering if that would have made the difference.

Also take the opportunity to talk to your teenagers about parties or activities they have planned. Acknowledge there may be drinking or drug use and discuss a safety plan with your teenager, if they find themselves in an unsafe situation due to alcohol or drugs. Many high schools now have Grad Nights because of these risks. Grad Night provides teenagers the opportunity to celebrate their graduation in a safe environment. Thereby, decreasing the possibility that someone may accidentally get hurt. Therefore, high schools have given you an opportunity to discuss these issues with your teenagers and hopefully prevent a tragic accident. My recommendation is to take the chance you have been given by high schools and have an open, honest discussion about their safety.

Dr. Rubino is a psychotherapist is Pleasant Hill who specializes in treating children and teenagers. He has over 20 years of working with teens. To find out more about his work or to contact him visit his website at http://www.RubinoCounseling.com.

The Difference between Discipline and Punishment

The Difference between Discipline and Punishment

As a psychotherapist who works with children and adolescents, I often hear how their parents are too strict and unfair. Many children and adolescents feel their parents punishments are not appropriate and their parents are out of touch with today’s world. I also hear parents tell me no matter what rules or punishments they impose that their children refuse to follow the rules. Yes this is a common argument but let’s look at the situation closer.

From my experience, one of the major issues in this situation is the difference between discipline and punishment. Many people may feel there is no difference between the two concepts. However, there is a major difference between the two terms.

Discipline is used to teach a child or teenager about rules and life. Punishments are used to tell a child or teenager they did something wrong such as breaking a house rule. However, punishments often have no association to the broken rule and often make a child feel like they are bad and they often don’t know which rule they broke. Punishments do not teach they only make a child feel bad or angry. For example, if it was the child’s turn to take out the garbage and they forgot and went to a friend’s house instead. Discipline would be having them take out the garbage and clean the dinner table for a week. A punishment would be that they were grounded and had to stay in the house for two weeks. What connection does the grounding have to forgetting to take out the garbage?

Research has shown that discipline is a more effective way to teach children\teenagers about rules and appropriate behavior. The discipline needs to have some association with the rule that was broken. A punishment which tends to make a child think they are bad and has no association to the rule they broke typically teaches a child nothing. What it typically does is make a child feel like they are a bad person and they often don’t understand why they are being punished.

I had a fourth grader ask to come to therapy because they were tired of getting in trouble at home. They felt like they were a bad person and he had no idea why he was doing bad things at home on a regular basis. Therefore, the punishments taught him nothing except it did lower his self-esteem. Research also has shown that children and teenagers who feel they are bad people are more likely not to graduate high school and to get involved with drugs and alcohol. They feel they are bad so they feel they should be doing things associated with “bad kids.”

As I stated discipline has been shown to be more effective with children and teenagers. However, before a parent imposes discipline there are important steps for the parent to take:

1. First, the parent needs to let the child\teenager know that they love them and that the child\teen is not bad, but they made a mistake.

2. The parent needs to explain what mistake the child made and why it is a mistake.

3. Explain that they are imposing the discipline to help the child learn from their mistake and hopefully they won’t make the same mistake again.

4. Let the child know when the discipline starts and ends. Also do not make it too long or severe. It should be in proportion to the mistake. It should also needs to be age appropriate.

5. Finally, ask the child if they understand and if they have any questions.

One thing that makes disciplining a child or teenager easier is having a behavior contract. It is important if parents sit down with the child or teenager and develop a behavior contract and consequences if the child violates the contract. Therefore, if your child makes a mistake, the consequence is already known because it is in the contract. Therefore, it is less likely that the child will feel like a bad person or confused about the consequences because everyone in the family agreed to them.

I recommend contracts on a regular basis. The contracts help reinforce the discipline that choices have consequences. Therefore, the parent is teaching a child to think before they act. Thereby, significantly decreasing the odds that they will make a bad choice. It can also help a child deal with peer pressure because you have already discussed what you feel is appropriate. They also help to reduce arguments at home. If everyone agrees to the contract and a teenager violates the contract they cannot blame Mom and Dad for the consequences. Mom and Dad are only enforcing the agreed upon contract. The teenager needs to take responsibility for their choice.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with 20 years experience treating children and teenagers. For more information about Dr. Michael Rubino’s work visit his website at www.RubinoCounseling.com or his Facebook page, www.Facebook.com\drrubino3.

Is Your Child A 2E Child?

Is Your Child A 2E Child?

Many parents are very happy to hear that their child has been classified as “gifted.” They assume that their child will do very well in school and have a very bright future because they are “gifted.” While “gifted” children may excel in certain academic areas, often they have difficulties in other social situations or academic areas. These children are called twice exceptional children. Research by John Hopkins estimates that one out of five children are twice exceptional or 2E which is a more common term. Therefore, John Hopkins estimates that there are approximately 700,000 2E children in the United States.

Wikipedia defines 2E children in the following way:

A 2e child usually refers to a child who, alongside being considered gifted in comparison to same age-peers, is formally diagnosed with one or more disabilities. Although 2e can refer to any general disability, it is often used to refer to students with learning disabilities, although research is not limited to these areas, and a more holistic view of 2e can help move the field forward. The disabilities are varied: dyslexia, visual or auditory processing disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, sensory processing disorder, autism, Asperger syndrome, Tourette Syndrome, or any other disability interfering with the student’s ability to learn effectively in a traditional environment. The child might have a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or diagnoses of anxiety or depression.[6] Often children with 2e have multiple co-morbid disabilities than present as a paradox to many parents and educators.

Many people may find this hard to believe, however, as a psychotherapist who specializes in treating children and teenagers, I have seen many “gifted” children who do have the disabilities listed above. A common issue I have encountered is that “gifted” children often have difficulties making friends and dealing with social situations. If they had not been classified as “gifted”, parents would see that they do meet the criteria for Asperger’s Syndrome. Another common issue I have seen in psychotherapy with “gifted” children is that they have difficulties organizing their ideas and maintaining sustained attention. These children meet the criteria for ADHD.

One of the primary difficulties for these children is since they have been classified as “gifted,” many schools do not want to offer support services for a “gifted” child who has ADHD or a processing problem. Because they are not receiving the academic support they need, many of these children suffer with depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. I have seen this many times with “gifted” children that I see for psychotherapy. It also creates a great deal of stress for the parents. They can see their child is having difficulties and the child is complaining about difficulties, but the school tells the parents the child is doing fine because they are “gifted.”

The research from John Hopkins University shows us that the two are not mutually exclusive. A child can be “gifted” in one area and have a learning disability in another area of life. Therefore, a “gifted” child may need a 504 plan or an individualized educational plan (IEP). Therefore, if you are the parent of a 2E child and you notice that your child is having difficulties at school, do not be afraid or nervous to advocate for your child. To make this easier, I have included a link which discusses misconceptions about 2E children, 7 Myths About Twice-Exceptional (2E) Students http://u.org/2hp0dNU. I am also providing a link to a newsletter for an organization which helps parents with 2E children and advocates for them, https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=3&ved=0ahUKEwiv8PmrxYDYAhUH6oMKHbmyD10QFggiMAI&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.2enewsletter.com%2Farticle_2e_what_are_they.html&usg=AOvVaw35GmKdn_P9FJzqMBPkMMrD.

If this sounds like your child do not panic. Arrange to have your child evaluated by a mental health clinician who is familiar with 2E children. They can help you develop a treatment plan and let you know if your child needs accommodations at school.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience treating children and teenagers. In fact, he specializes in treating children and teenagers. If you want to know more about Dr. Rubino’s work or private practice visit his website www.RubinoCounseling.com or his Facebook page http://www.Facebook.com\drrubino3.

The Traumatic World U.S. Children Live In

The Traumatic World U.S. Children Live In

In light of the terrible attack on the high school in Santa Fe, Texas and the shooting at the high school in Parkside, Florida, a couple months ago, it is important to remind parents and help them deal with the trauma their children are having to face. Also let’s not forget the shooting seven months ago in Las Vegas where a man shot at families, teens and adults enjoying a concert killing and injuring hundreds of people.

As a result of these shootings, I have been seeing more and more teenagers who are complaining of anxiety and depression. Many of these teenagers are also afraid to go to school too. I have also been seeing more teenagers being placed on home/hospital for school due to anxiety. This means a teacher comes to the house once a week instead of the teenager going to school. This is an alarming trend.

I have also been hearing more teenagers talking about needing to carry a knife with them for their own safety. They tell me you never know when someone might try to attack you. These are not juvenile delinquents or gang members, these are average teenagers. They come from healthy families and are doing well in school and not involved in drugs. This need they feel to protect themselves is an alarming trend.

However, if you take a step back and look at what these children have seen over their lives it makes sense. Most of these teenagers were very young or not even born yet on 9/11 when the United States was attacked. Since 9/11 they have also seen two wars and heard on the nightly news about terrorist alerts or attacks around the world and in the United States.

In addition to terrorism, this is the first generation growing up with mass shootings. According to ABC News from 2000 to 2015 there have been 140 mass shootings and since January 1, 2016, there have been more mass shootings than the previous 15 years combined. According to the statistics on mass shootings every day 36 people are killed in the United States by a gun. This does not include suicides. For the group we are discussing, suicide is the third leading cause of death for children between 10 and 18 years old and using a gun is one of the most popular methods of suicide.

Now, in addition to these facts stated above, think about what these children see on the news and the video games they play. Anytime there is a shootings incident in the United States there is pretty much 24 hour news coverage of the event for days. Also when there are bombing or shootings in Europe there is 24 hour news coverage for days. And now we have moved on to covering funerals. When the officers were killed in Dallas the memorial was televised nationally. If we look at the video games these kids are playing most have to do with killing and death. And since computer graphics have significantly improved, many of these games look real.

Additionally, children in the fourth and fifth grades are telling me they are worried about our President’s attitudes and what he tweets. They have heard what Trump has said and they are afraid other countries might attack us or Trump may start a war. Also Hispanic children who are legal citizens are afraid that they will be deported. This is a great deal for a nine or ten year old child to worry about.

Looking at all of this it begins to make sense why I am seeing more depressed and anxious teenagers who fear for their lives. These teenagers are being traumatized. They may not be experiencing the trauma personally but they are experiencing vicarious trauma. With all of the pictures on television and news reports and realistic video games these teenagers are playing, they are being traumatized vicariously. We have never had a generation of children grow up with the amount of trauma that these children are growing up. Even children growing up during World War II didn’t experience this amount of trauma. We didn’t have instant access to news nor did we have the graphic videos being shown by the news media.

The question now becomes, what do we do? Well we can not change the world unfortunately. However, we can monitor how much exposure our children are receiving to mass shootings when they occur. We can monitor the video games they are playing and limit access to games that focus on violence and killing. We can demand that the Congress pass gun control laws that make sense. No one needs an assault weapon to hunt a deer. We can also listen to what our children are saying and talk to them about their concerns. When a mass shooting occurs we can ask them how they are feeling, ask if they have any concerns and reassure them that you are there as their parents to protect them.

Finally, if you start to notice a change of attitude in your child that you are concerned about have them assessed by a psychotherapist. There is nothing to be ashamed of if a child needs therapy. We are exposing children to situations that most adults have problems dealing with themselves. You may find it very upsetting to talk to your child about these incidents. For these reasons and many more, if you feel your teenager has been traumatized vicariously make an appointment with a psychotherapist who specializes in treating teenagers and victims of trauma. Our kids have had to deal with a lot. We can help make it easier for them growing up in this time by providing the help they need.

Dr. Michael Rubino has over 20 years experience treating children and teenagers and dealing with victims of trauma. For more information about his work or private practice visit his website at www.RubinoCounseling.com or on Twitter @RubinoTherapye

Parents A Call to Action

Parents A Call to Action

This is a different article than I typically write. First I want to say my thoughts and prayers are with all the victims, their families and friends, the students and teachers and first responders of the school shooting this week in Santa Fe, Texas. Next, I want to ask the United States Government, when will they finally take action and protect our children? This shooting is not long after the shooting in Florida. The students there and across the country protested across the United States demanding laws impacting mental health care and requesting sane gun control laws. They were tired of the NRA dictating to the United States Congress about what gun laws would be passed and which were unacceptable.

The NRA always points to the second amendment which grants people the right to protect themselves with guns. However, the NRA ignores the fact that the U.S. Declaration of Independence guarantees everyone the unalienable rights to life, liberty and happiness. I do not see how students having to go to school everyday and worrying if they will be killed fulfills this promise of life, liberty and happiness.

Another important point is the United States is the only country in the world which is dealing with this problem of school shootings. The ABC news show 20/20 did a story about school shootings last year. In their report they reported that more students had been killed in school shootings in 2017 than the previous 17 years added all together. CNN had reported on January 24, 2018 that there had been a school shooting every day of 2018. These are very alarming statistics.

As a psychotherapist, who treats children and teenagers, I have seen a significant increase in anxiety in children and teens over the last several years. Most of these children and teens are reporting that they are afraid to go to school. They are afraid that they will be shot and killed at school. Many teenagers I work with have started caring knifes with them. They tell me they need the knifes for their protection. They tell me they have no way of knowing who has a gun or knife and if they will be shot at school. These children and adolescents fear for their lives because they see our government doing nothing to protect them. Instead, they hear daily about school shootings and they have drills at their schools about what to do if a shooter is on their campus.

When are children fear for their lives and are demonstrating for sane gun control, when will the government act? As the Congress debates this issue, students are still being killed on a regular basis. In February of this year, there was the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. It has only been about two months and we have this shooting in Santa Fe, Texas. There have been other school shootings during this time too. When do we say, enough?

Parents, the U.S. Congress is not paying attention to the students protesting and requesting gun laws to be changed so they can go to school and feel safe. They ignore the students because most of them are not old enough to vote. Many of the members of the U.S. Congress are mainly concerned with being re-elected and maintaining their high paying job where they do not have to do a great deal of work. Parents it is time for you to act! The 2018 elections are occurring this year and many seats in the House of Representatives and Senate are up for re-election. Since the U.S. Congress will do nothing to protect the school children then you must. Every parent needs to go to the polls this year. You need to vote for people who will stand up to the NRA and vote for people who will enact laws which will protect the children of our country. You also need to cast votes that will remove those members of the Congress who refuse to enact laws that will protect our children. Many of the high school students impacted by shootings may not be old enough to vote in the 2018 election, but parents you can. You can send a very important message to the teenagers of our country. You can tell them that you hear their cries asking for laws that will make them feel safer and you agree with their demonstrations and you are responding to their requests to be safe. You can say the Congress may ignore them but we will not ignore them. You are too important to ignore and we will keep you safe.

Dr. Michael Rubino has over 20 years experience as a psychotherapist treating children and teenagers. For more information about Dr. Rubino’s work or private practice visit his website www.RubinoCounseling.com or on Twitter @RubinoTherapy.