Chinese Executive Forced Workers To Complete Daughter’s Homework, Employee Says

A bad idea…

The Huffington Post  |  By  Posted: 02/27/2013

Chinese Workers Daughter Homework

Looks like the adolescent daughter of a Chinese executive will no longer be able to shirk her homework duties.

According to the Qianjiang Evening News, an employee of the unnamed Chinese businessman has come forward, exposing his employer’s scheme to enlist workers to do his daughter’s homework.

Identified only by his surname, Chen confessed that his boss asked him and eight other workers to complete a variety of assignments — such as taking photographs or writing essays — for the fourth-grade student. While the assignments were simple at first, recent requests have been more complicated and required more time to finish. On top of that, workers were also instructed to complete the work at a fourth-grade level, according to the outlet.

Since Chen has come forward, the student’s school has warned the father against such future behavior, the Telegraph notes.

For years, students around the world have outsourced their homework to India, using companies that offer online tutoring or homework help, GlobalPost previously reported. While many actually assist students so that they complete the work themselves, other websites have popped up offering to execute the entire assignment.

In January, a U.S. developer came under fire after an internal audit revealed that theman was outsourcing his entire job to China. The employee, who instead spent the vast majority of his workday surfing the Internet and watching videos, no longer works for the company.

“Stop Panicking About Bullies”

An interesting article from The Wall Street Journal on bullying.  The author claims that there are actually many fewer cases of bullying in schools than in previous years.

Childhood is safer than ever before, but today’s parents need to worry about something. Nick Gillespie on why busybodies and bureaucrats have zeroed in on bullying.

By NICK GILLESPIE

[BULLY]Getty ImagesIs America really in the midst of a “bullying crisis,” as so many now claim?

“When I was younger,” a remarkably self-assured, soft-spoken 15-year-old kid named Aaron tells the camera, “I suffered from bullying because of my lips—as you can see, they’re kind of unusually large. So I would kind of get [called] ‘Fish Lips’—things like that a lot—and my glasses too, I got those at an early age. That contributed. And the fact that my last name is Cheese didn’t really help with the matter either. I would get [called] ‘Cheeseburger,’ ‘Cheese Guy’—things like that, that weren’t really very flattering. Just kind of making fun of my name—I’m a pretty sensitive kid, so I would have to fight back the tears when I was being called names.”

It’s hard not to be impressed with—and not to like—young Aaron Cheese. He is one of the kids featured in the new Cartoon Network special “Stop Bullying: Speak Up,” which premiered last week and is available online. I myself am a former geekish, bespectacled child whose lips were a bit too full, and my first name (as other kids quickly discovered) rhymes with two of the most-popular slang terms for male genitalia, so I also identified with Mr. Cheese. My younger years were filled with precisely the sort of schoolyard taunts that he recounts; they led ultimately to at least one fistfight and a lot of sour moods on my part.

As the parent now of two school-age boys, I also worry that my own kids will have to deal with such ugly and destructive behavior. And I welcome the common-sense antibullying strategies relayed in “Stop Bullying”: Talk to your friends, your parents and your teachers. Recognize that you’re not the problem. Don’t be a silent witness to bullying.

Is America really in the midst of a “bullying crisis”? That’s doubtful, says Reason.tv’s Nick Gillespie. He tells WSJ’s Ryan Sager that over-protective parents and a rising wave of laws and regulations don’t really reflect a boom in meanness among kids. In fact, they may be safer and better behaved than ever.

But is America really in the midst of a “bullying crisis,” as so many now claim? I don’t see it. I also suspect that our fears about the ubiquity of bullying are just the latest in a long line of well-intentioned yet hyperbolic alarms about how awful it is to be a kid today.

I have no interest in defending the bullies who dominate sandboxes, extort lunch money and use Twitter to taunt their classmates. But there is no growing crisis. Childhood and adolescence in America have never been less brutal. Even as the country’s overprotective parents whip themselves up into a moral panic about kid-on-kid cruelty, the numbers don’t point to any explosion of abuse. As for the rising wave of laws and regulations designed to combat meanness among students, they are likely to lump together minor slights with major offenses. The antibullying movement is already conflating serious cases of gay-bashing and vicious harassment with things like…a kid named Cheese having a tough time in grade school.

How did we get here? We live in an age of helicopter parents so pushy and overbearing that Colorado Springs banned its annual Easter-egg hunt on account of adults jumping the starter’s gun and scooping up treat-filled plastic eggs on behalf of their winsome kids. The Department of Education in New York City—once known as the town too tough for Al Capone—is seeking to ban such words as “dinosaurs,” “Halloween” and “dancing” from citywide tests on the grounds that they could “evoke unpleasant emotions in the students,” it was reported this week. (Leave aside for the moment that perhaps the whole point of tests is to “evoke unpleasant emotions.”)

And it’s not only shrinking-violet city boys and girls who are being treated as delicate flowers. Early versions of new labor restrictions still being hashed out in Congress would have barred children under 16 from operating power-driven farm equipment and kept anyone under 18 from working at agricultural co-ops and stockyards (the latest version would let kids keep running machines on their parents’ spreads). What was once taken for granted—working the family farm, October tests with jack-o-lantern-themed questions, hunting your own Easter eggs—is being threatened by paternalism run amok.

Now that schools are peanut-free, latex-free and soda-free, parents, administrators and teachers have got to worry about something. Since most kids now have access to cable TV, the Internet, unlimited talk and texting, college and a world of opportunities that was unimaginable even 20 years ago, it seems that adults have responded by becoming ever more overprotective and thin-skinned.

Kids might be fatter than they used to be, but by most standards they are safer and better-behaved than they were when I was growing up in the 1970s and ’80s. Infant and adolescent mortality, accidents, sex and drug use—all are down from their levels of a few decades ago. Acceptance of homosexuality is up, especially among younger Americans. But given today’s rhetoric about bullying, you could be forgiven for thinking that kids today are not simply reading and watching grim, postapocalyptic fantasies like “The Hunger Games” but actually inhabiting such terrifying terrain, a world where “Lord of the Flies” meets “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior,” presided over by Voldemort.

Even President Barack Obama has placed his stamp of approval on this view of modern childhood. Introducing the Cartoon Network documentary, he solemnly intones: “I care about this issue deeply, not just as the president, but as a dad. … We’ve all got more to do. Everyone has to take action against bullying.”

The state of New Jersey was well ahead of the president. Last year, in response to the suicide of the 18-year-old gay Rutgers student Tyler Clementi, the state legislature passed “The Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights.” The law is widely regarded as the nation’s toughest on these matters. It has been called both a “resounding success” by Steve Goldstein, head of the gay-rights group Garden State Equality, and a “bureaucratic nightmare” by James O’Neill, the interim school superintendent of the township of Roxbury. In Congress, New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg and Rep. Rush Holt have introduced the federal Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has called the Lautenberg-Holt proposal a threat to free speech because its “definition of harassment is vague, subjective and at odds with Supreme Court precedent.” Should it become law, it might well empower colleges to stop some instances of bullying, but it would also cause many of them to be sued for repressing speech. In New Jersey, a school anti-bullying coordinator told the Star-Ledger that “The Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights” has “added a layer of paperwork that actually inhibits us” in dealing with problems. In surveying the effects of the law, the Star-Ledger reports that while it is “widely used and has helped some kids,” it has imposed costs of up to $80,000 per school district for training alone and uses about 200 hours per month of staff time in each district, with some educators saying that the additional effort is taking staff “away from things such as substance-abuse prevention and college and career counseling.”

One thing seems certain: The focus on bullying will lead to more lawsuits against schools and bullies, many of which will stretch the limits of empathy and patience. Consider, for instance, the current case of 19-year-old Eric Giray, who is suing New York’s tony Calhoun School and a former classmate for $1.5 million over abuse that allegedly took place in 2004. Such cases can only become more common.

Which isn’t to say that there aren’t kids who face terrible cases of bullying. The immensely powerful and highly acclaimed documentary “Bully,” whose makers hope to create a nationwide movement against the “bullying crisis,” opens in selected theaters this weekend. The film follows the harrowing experiences of a handful of victims of harassment, including two who killed themselves in desperation. It is, above all, a damning indictment of ineffectual and indifferent school officials. No viewer can watch the abuse endured by kids such as Alex, a 13-year-old social misfit in Sioux City, Iowa, or Kelby, a 14-year-old lesbian in small-town Oklahoma, without feeling angry and motivated to change youth culture and the school officials who turn a blind eye.

But is bullying—which the stopbullying.gov website of the Department of Health and Human Services defines as “teasing,” “name-calling,” “taunting,” “leaving someone out on purpose,” “telling other children not to be friends with someone,” “spreading rumors about someone,” “hitting/kicking/pinching,” “spitting” and “making mean or rude hand gestures”—really a growing problem in America?

Despite the rare and tragic cases that rightly command our attention and outrage, the data show that things are, in fact, getting better for kids. When it comes to school violence, the numbers are particularly encouraging. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, between 1995 and 2009, the percentage of students who reported “being afraid of attack or harm at school” declined to 4% from 12%. Over the same period, the victimization rate per 1,000 students declined fivefold.

When it comes to bullying numbers, long-term trends are less clear. The makers of “Bully” say that “over 13 million American kids will be bullied this year,” and estimates of the percentage of students who are bullied in a given year range from 20% to 70%. NCES changed the way it tabulated bullying incidents in 2005 and cautions against using earlier data. Its biennial reports find that 28% of students ages 12-18 reported being bullied in 2005; that percentage rose to 32% in 2007, before dropping back to 28% in 2009 (the most recent year for which data are available). Such numbers strongly suggest that there is no epidemic afoot (though one wonders if the new anti-bullying laws and media campaigns might lead to more reports going forward).

The most common bullying behaviors reported include being “made fun of, called names, or insulted” (reported by about 19% of victims in 2009) and being made the “subject of rumors” (16%). Nine percent of victims reported being “pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on,” and 6% reported being “threatened with harm.” Though it may not be surprising that bullying mostly happens during the school day, it is stunning to learn that the most common locations for bullying are inside classrooms, in hallways and stairwells, and on playgrounds—areas ostensibly patrolled by teachers and administrators.

None of this is to be celebrated, of course, but it hardly paints a picture of contemporary American childhood as an unrestrained Hobbesian nightmare. Before more of our schools’ money, time and personnel are diverted away from education in the name of this supposed crisis, we should make an effort to distinguish between the serious abuse suffered by the kids in “Bully” and the sort of lower-level harassment with which the Aaron Cheeses of the world have to deal.

In fact, Mr. Cheese, now a sophomore in high school with hopes of becoming a lawyer, provides a model in dealing with the sort of jerks who will always, unfortunately, be a presence in our schools. At the end of “Stop Bullying,” he tells younger kids, “Just talk to somebody and I promise to you, it’s going to get better.” For Aaron, it plainly has: “It has been turned around actually. I am a generally liked guy. My last name has become something that’s a little more liked. I have a friend named Mac and so together we are Mac and Cheese. That’s cool.”

Indeed, it is cool. And if we take a deep breath, we will realize that there are many more Aaron Cheeses walking the halls of today’s schools than there are bullies. Our problem isn’t a world where bullies are allowed to run rampant; it’s a world where kids like Aaron are convinced that they are powerless victims.

—Mr. Gillespie is editor in chief of Reason.com and Reason.tv and the co-author of “The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What’s Wrong With America.”

The Benefits of Positive Parenting

By DAVID BORNSTEIN

From The New York Times

Is there a science to parenting?

For all the current discussion in the United States about gun violence and mental illness, there has been little attention paid to root causes. Any effort aiming to reduce gun violence — or child abuse, intimate partner violence, suicide or sexual abuse — must include a serious discussion about how society can improve the quality of parenting.

In 2010, children’s protective service agencies investigated 1.8 million referrals of child abuse and neglect pertaining to 3 million children. Although only 20 percent of these were substantiated, researchers report that physical abuse, including harsh physical discipline that is equivalent to abuse, is vastly underreported and may be 20 times more prevalent than is reflected in official statistics. (In other countries, including Spain, India and Egypt, harsh punishment is even more prevalent.) In Philadelphia, this behavior has recently been linked to the recession and the rate of mortgage foreclosures. When lenders put people out of their homes, one unforeseen consequence is that more kids end up with traumatic brain injuries.

It is now well accepted that physical discipline is not only less effective than other non-coercive methods, it is more harmful than has often been understood — and not just to children. A review of two decades worth of studies has shown that corporal punishment is associated with antisocial behavior and aggression in children, and later in life is linked to depression, unhappiness, anxiety, drug and alcohol use and psychological maladjustment. Beyond beating, parents can also hurt children by humiliating them, labeling them in harmful ways (“Why are you so stupid?”), or continually criticizing their behavior.

Improving the way people parent might seem an impossible challenge, given the competing views about what constitutes good parenting. Can we influence a behavior that is rooted in upbringing and culture, affected by stress, and occurs mainly in private? And even if we could reach large populations with evidence-based messages the way public health officials got people to quit smoking, wear seat belts or apply sunscreen, would it have an impact?

That’s what was explored in South Carolina in recent years, and the answer appears to be yes. With funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a parenting system called the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program, which was developed at the University of Queensland, Australia, was tested in nine counties across the state. Eighteen counties were randomly selected to receive either a broad dissemination of Triple P’s program or services as usual. The results were both highly promising and troubling.

The good news was that, in contrast to the control counties, over two years, the nine counties that received the Triple P Program had a 35 percent reduction in hospitalizations and emergency room visits for child injuries, a 44 percent reduction in out-of-home placements, and a 28 percent reduction in substantiated cases of abuse. The bad news was that the Triple P counties mainly held their ground, while abuse increased elsewhere in the state, possibly because of the recession and the concomitant budget cuts in children’s protective services.

The Triple P Program has evolved over the past 35 years. It focuses on families with children under age 12 and has shown efficacy in numerous studies. It started as a home visiting program, but researchers found it too expensive to deliver more widely, so they looked for ways to broaden its reach – to get good parenting into the water supply. “You know how vast Australia is,” explains Matthew Sanders, Triple P’s founder. “Our question was how do we ensure that all families, regardless of where they lived, could access good quality evidence-based parenting interventions.” Sanders experimented with different dissemination techniques, including telephone consultations, and found that they could do just as well as face-to-face meetings.

What’s notable about Triple P is that it pursues a community-wide, preventive approach. Sanders believes that all parents would benefit from some education — though some need a light touch while others need significant help. And why would it be otherwise? Unlike driving a truck or teaching, no one needs a permit to become a parent. We copy others and make it up as we go. Without a “reflective awareness” and the benefit of information, says Sanders, parents are apt to struggle with strategies that don’t work – or that work for some children, but not others. He has seen a great deal of conflict and unhappiness and violence-begetting rage and humiliation that could have been averted with manageable changes.

Triple P works at multiple levels, ranging from media and communication strategies (TV, Web, radio, newspapers) to brief individual consultations and group sessions to intensive parenting and family interventions for serious difficulties. “You need to get lots of practitioners from different sectors — education, day care, mental health, health, social services, pastoral counseling – who are trained to work with parents and families and give them an added skill,” explained Ron Prinz, the director of the Parenting and Family Research Center at the University of South Carolina, who led the Triple P study. “Parents need different ways to get exposed to it.” In the nine counties in South Carolina, 649 people received training (three to six days on average) to deliver the program.

For parents, exposures can range from watching a video to participating in two 20-minute phone calls to attending 14 group sessions. “We follow the principle of ‘minimal sufficiency,’ ” says Sanders. “Use the smallest possible intervention to solve or prevent a problem.”

There are dozens of strategies and variations for parents — those who have children with disabilities, chronic illnesses, obesity or emotional difficulties, as well as those going through separation or divorce or at risk of maltreating their children. Parents discover techniques like “planned ignoring” (good for low-level misbehavior like whining or minor tantrums where the goal is attention) or learn how to escape the “escalation trap,” which occurs when parents get exasperated.

The essence of the research is that children do best when they receive calm and consistent feedback and assertive discipline that’s based on reasonable expectations – with significantly more encouragement and positive feedback than criticism. “The main mistake parents make is forgetting the importance of catching kids doing the right thing,” says Sanders.

Stephanie Romney, director of the Parent Training Institute at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, agrees. Romney and her colleagues deliver higher level Triple P interventions to 1,000 families, many of whom are involved with children’s services. “Typically, the children have been on the receiving end of a lot of negative attention from adults,” she said. “Even if the child has misbehaved all day, their parents try to catch them for that brief window when they are behaving well and praise them.” Parents are sometimes amazed by the changes. “I’ve had parents tearing up talking about how their relationship with their child has improved,” she added. “They went for a walk together and held hands for the first time. And parents report that they try it out on their spouses and coworkers and it works with them, too.”

Triple P is one of several evidence-based parenting programs that have demonstrated how society can reduce behaviors that put children at risk. Some others include SafeCareParent Management Training – the Oregon ModelThe Incredible Years and Nurse Family Partnership. What is different here is the idea that parenting education could be broadly disseminated. This is important, because parenting training needs to be de-stigmatized. It’s not just about reducing abuse.

Romney notes that one of Triple P’s strengths is that it presents a multiplicity of strategies and leaves it to parents to decide which ones to use. The community approach comes with limitations, however. It’s difficult to get parents to come in if they aren’t required to and it involves training numerous people to deliver the program – so start-up costs can be a barrier. But a lot of Triple P’s teachings are available online. And unlike many parenting blogs, the advice is supported by research.

Parenting doesn’t get much attention in policy circles. “We don’t have mechanisms that help people to understand that parent education and training can be very effective,” explains Richard Barth, dean of the University of Maryland School of Social Work, who has studied parenting programs for 30 years. “The Triple P study showed that if you engage people before things go awry, they can avoid problems that we might have predicted for them, or they might have predicted for themselves. There should be a significant investment in understanding how to implement some of the elements of Triple P — so every family and clinician in the United States knows the basics of parenting and the things we can do if things get more difficult.”

It’s not just for children. “It really influences adult well-being, too” Sanders said. “Parents become less stressed, less angry, less depressed, and have less conflict with their partners. We now have research that shows that parenting interventions improve your capacity to function at work, too.”

New Report Sheds Light On Teen Dating and Digital Abuse

February 20, 2013 2:08 PM

From Education Week

By guest blogger Mike Bock

One in four teens in a romantic relationship reported that their partners had harassed or abused them during the previous year using social media, text messages, or other forms of digital communication, a new report from the Urban Institute concludes.

But 84 percent of the teens who reported experiencing abuse in digital forums said they were also psychologically or physically abuse, suggesting cyberbullying in relationships could be a natural extension of other types of mistreatment, said Janine Zweig, one of the chief researchers of the report.

“This type of abuse seems to be another tool in the toolbox of someone who is inclined to abuse or harass their partner,” she said in an interview.

Zweig also said that digital abuse through email, text messages, and social media can sometimes be a red flag that indicates in-person abuse is occurring, and that teens’ increased access to digital communications means that abuse can easily happen away from school property.

The Washington, D.C.-based research organization recently published the complete results of the report, called “Digital Abuse: Teen Dating Harassment through Technology“, in theJournal of Youth and Adolescence. More than 5,600 middle-school and high-school students participated in the survey.

The report found that tampering with a partner’s social media account is the most prevalent form of digital abuse, with 8.7 percent of teens reporting having been subjected to it. Sending threatening messages, posting embarrassing photos, and pressure to engage in sexting also made the list.

In addition, girls report being victims of digital abuse while in a relationship more frequently than boys do, with 29 percent of female respondents and 23 percent of males reporting abuse.

While only 17 percent of the teens who report digital harassment say they experienced it during school hours, Zweig said that schools can play a bigger role in monitoring and preventing that abuse from playing out.

Since many schools and districts are taking steps to prevent cyberbullying, those measures can easily be extended to online dating abuse, she said. And since abused teens so rarely seek help—only 9 percent of them do, the report said—increased safety and prevention measures can help create a context by which teens feel more comfortable reporting abuse, said Zweig.

Social Media For Girls: The Potential is Explosive

From: The Girl Effect

SOCIAL MEDIA FOR GIRLS: THE POTENTIAL IS EXPLOSIVE

18.02.13 | BY TOPSIE OGUNYADE EGBETOKUN

 

Social media is a powerful tool in today’s world – it connects people across continents and has affected massive social and cultural change. I believe that for girls in particular, the potential it holds is explosive.

Working as a female entrepreneur in Nigeria, I’ve been able to see first-hand how using it smartly is one of the best ways to overcome communication barriers.  This week, I’ll be at Social Media Week Lagos, discussing how social media has the power to change the lives of adolescent girls. As part of the ‘ Mobilize! Social Media For Social Change‘ event hosted by Girl Effect, I’ll be debating how tools like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have given Nigerian girls the opportunity to use social media to take part in the global development dialogue.

The importance of social media is clear to me. I’m always using platforms like LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook to make contacts, create links and develop relationships with others. Tools like these expand the communication and engagement I have with those around me, giving me the chance to join the right groups, meet the right people and get my voice out there.

Networking with others on LinkedIn is absolutely crucial in my professional life – it gives me the chance to reach out to new projects and opportunities, as well as share my experiences with influential professionals. On a more personal level, using Facebook means that I can connect to old classmates, friends and family, plus keep them up to date with what’s going on in my life on a regular basis.

The same benefits apply to girls, as there are huge opportunities available to them as a result of using social media.

Social media should not just be seen as social networking and having fun. It is fun, but there’s also an art to getting it right, and I think it’s important that girls discover how they can make their communication with the wider world successful. When used effectively, social media gives them a voice, helps create noise around a cause and brings both local and global attention to issues that matter to them.

An example of how this can be done is the youth social media advocacy campaign I am championing, which uses social media to educate, inform and empower young girls. With programmes like these, girls can learn how to use social media to their advantage; be it to further their career, meet influential business people or simply have their voice heard – learning these skills is vital to them.

Social media is also cheaper – a lot cheaper – than the alternatives. You can reach 1,000 people through the power of social media for a fraction of the cost that you can through television or print. It’s also interactive and this two-way relationship is key to the power of social media, and therefore key to the argument for girls using it more.

Through conversations that they can now have with high-level decision makers, NGOs and policy-makers, girls can affect the global agenda for change.

Girls have the potential to be an incredible force in the social media world. By using the technology in the best way possible, they will be able to change their lives and the lives of generations of girls to come.

Tell us how you’re using social media to change the world for girls on Twitter and  Facebook

Find out more about equipping girls to change the world

Follow Social Media Week Lagos using the hash tag #SMWLagos

Find out more about Girl Effect’s session at Social Media Week Lagos

Six Ways to Help the Stressed-Out Teen in Your Life

ERIN ANDERSSEN

The Globe and Mail

Published Wednesday, Feb. 06 2013, 5:36 PM EST

To many a frazzled Canadian parent, the days seem shorter and the expectations higher. Our teens have hopped on the racing treadmill, facing a bleak job market and doubling down on university degrees, juggling the insatiable, and intrusive, demands of social media. The result: Nearly 7 per cent of Canadian teens suffer from serious anxiety, with symptoms that cause them to miss school or avoid peers – and behind them is a whole cohort of stressed-out adolescents, trying to juggle all their obligations. (In a 2008, Statistics Canada study, four of 10 teenagers reported being under “constant pressure to accomplish accomplish more than they could handle.”) But if anxiety thrives in the conditions confronting the modern teen, there are some steps that parents can take. The good news is that mom and dad might feel the load lighten too.

1. Keep them busy (but bite your tongue): A common refrain of modern parenting is that young teens are being overscheduled. And while downtime is important, research suggests that it’s not the extracurricular activities themselves that are anxiety-inducing – in fact, pursuing a favourite hobby or sport by choice is mentally sustaining. What heightens stress are the achievement goals parents attach to the activities, says Suniya Luthar, a psychology professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College, who conducted the study in 2006 with Grade 8 students, and replicated the same findings with older students last year. “It’s not the number of hours, it’s the pressure they feel” to be MVP or star of the school play, she says. What’s more, this pressure may spill over into their friendships: If you are being taught, even unconsciously, to see teammates, or co-stars, as rivals for the big scholarship, Luthar asks, how does that impact your relationships? “We have to to be hypervigilant about our kids being drawn into this [attitude of] ‘achieve more, and excel more at all costs,’” says Luthar, “The message in that is so overpowering, that parents need to work extra hard to show our kids the importance of kindness, connectedness and integrity.” That’s an easier endeavour when parents aren’t counting goals in the stands, or plotting the next résumé-building endeavour. “It’s about who’s calling the shots,” says Carl Honoré, author of The Slow Fix and the parenting book Under Pressure. His advice: Drop your teen at hockey practice and go relax over a latte.

2. Find your teen an “auntie”: Modern families are shrinking, more mobile and time-crunched – and that means teens, distancing themselves from parents, who might otherwise have spent time with adult relatives in the past, may turn to peers to fill the gap. But Steve Biddulph, an Australian psychologist and the author of the new bookRaising Girls, says that girls, especially, who are more susceptible than boys to media messages about their appearance and sexuality, can benefit from time with an older woman, who can impart important life lessons that focus on character, not fashion sense. That person doesn’t need to be a relative. In Britain, Biddulph notes, there’s a trend of groups of moms intentionally creating relationships with each other’s daughters, to serve as a sounding board beyond their own moms. A wise auntie can pass on advice in a way a parent might not be able to, especially in the crucial early teen years. And they are also another adult to watch for warning signs when the stress of adolescence becomes more serious.

3. Encourage them to face their fears (even if they fail): “Life is the rough and the smooth; and part of the problem now is we just want the smooth,” says Honoré. “This is a Photoshop culture we live in. We want to edit out the bad stuff.” But teens need to understand that feeling anxious is a normal human reaction to stress – a physiological response designed to warn of danger, and, in healthy measure, improve performance and focus. Avoiding or postponing an activity, such as the dreaded science test, actually enhances anxiety the next time around. A key component of therapy for anxious teens (and adults) is forcing them outside their comfort zone. In one of her group sessions, Dr. Alexa Bagnell, a child psychiatrist at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, directs her young patients to stand in front of the sign for the Halifax Public Gardens – and ask for directions to the public gardens. “People will laugh at them and they have to process that and realize the world didn’t end.” Missing school, says Bagnell, can be especially problematic – because teens become increasingly anxious about falling behind, or how their peers might be judging their absences. Better to encourage a nervous teen to prep for the stress-inducing event – practise party small talk for instance – than skip it altogether.

4. Sleep, eat, sweat and be merry: In adolescence, melatonin, the hormone in the brain that initiates sleep, is released later at night, so teenagers “are already fighting their biology” to get good rest, explains Bagnell. Add in the constant white noise of electronics, energy drinks and homework, and the average high-school student, who needs between nine and 10 hours of sleep, is only getting about seven hours. “Sleep deprivation makes it more difficult to manage our emotions and make decisions, and increases our stress level.” A good night’s sleep, Bagnell says, in a dark room – along with eating well and exercising – is a proactive de-stresser, and it’s important for parents to monitor bedtime, including when their teen actually falls asleep. Research also shows that students who get good rest before a test perform better overall than those who cut into their mental rest with a few more hours of cramming.

5. Tune out the (media and Internet) message: This week, a new Ipsos Reid survey found that 84 per cent of Canadian families feel technology keeps them better connected. But teenagers may be too connected. Another online Ipsos Reid survey last year found that 21 per cent of Canadian teens between the ages of 12 and 17 had witnessed someone they knew being bullied through a social-networking site. Half reported a negative experience themselves, including an embarrassing photo or someone hacking their site and pretending to be them. What’s more, teenagers, and girls in particular, are inundated with media that set an impossible standard for beauty and success. Biddulph says that, particularly in the early teens when social time on the Internet increases, parents need to monitor their child’s activity, discuss the ethics of social behaviour online, and educate them about marketing tricks such as airbrushing.

6. Reduce your own anxiety: Anxious parents are more likely to pass on the trait to their kids, both genetically and with their own behaviour – a link supported in a study published by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center last fall. “You can only help your kids if you are significantly less anxious than they are,” says Biddulph. Positive mental health develops when active and even stressful periods are followed by an opportunity to relax. Make sure your teen has a quiet space to escape, and spend time as a family that isn’t goal oriented – a weekend meal, for instance, minus the scheduling flowcharts. “Ideally, your home should be a haven because the outside world has gotten faster, and probably nastier,” says Biddulph.

Dad, Gives Daughter $200 To Quit Facebook

Paul Baier, Dad, Gives Daughter $200 To Quit Facebook In New Contract

Posted: 02/07/2013 6:21 pm EST  |  Updated: 02/07/2013 7:21 pm EST

Quit Facebook Agreement

Facebook may be hard to quit for a teenage girl, but as it turns out, cash is one powerful incentive.

Boston father Paul Baier was able to lure his 14-year-old daughter off the social media site after offering a five-month, Facebook-free contract worth $200, CNN notes.

Baier, a vice president of sustainability consulting and research at Groom Energy Solutions, posted about the contract on his blog, Practical Sustainability, on Tuesday.

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The official-looking contract states his daughter must surrender access of her account to her dad, who “will have access to my Facebook to change the password and to deactivate the account. This will prevent me from re-activating the account in the future.”

Payments will be secured in two installments.

As ABC News points out, the contract was actually his daughter’s idea.

“She approached me. She has been frustrated she hasn’t been able to find a babysitting job and she has been looking for ways to get cash,” Baier told ABC News. “So she asked, ‘If I didn’t use Facebook for so long would you pay me?'”

And the contract was drawn up. The Boston father told the news outlet that, so far, his daughter has upheld her part of the bargain.

“She has deactivated a few times for the weekend,” he said “She has spent two to three years on Facebook for 24/7, she realizes there is a lot of talk and noise.”

A new Pew study shows that the teen may not be the only one getting Facebook fatigue. The Pew Internet and American Life Project reports that 61 percent of Facebook users have taken “a voluntary multi-week break” at some point during their usage.

Plus, now the 14-year-old can spend more time hanging out with her friends face-to-face, perhaps sporting a new outfit bought with her cool $200.

quit facebook agreement