1. Plan a route in advance.
(Trick or treating hours will be from 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm in Macomb County)
To make Halloween Safety a priority, map out a well-lit route and have an emergency plan in place. In the event that a child gets split up from the group or lost, he or she will be more likely to know how to find the way back. Also, have a meeting spot along the route in case this happens. Make sure your child is always with an adult and knows the neighborhood. Don’t forget to bring a flashlight!
2. Trick-or-treat at houses with their lights on.
Children will be going door-to-door and interacting with neighbors they are unfamiliar with (its tradition!), but teach your child to first be cautious and to never enter a stranger’s home or car. If a house doesn’t have its porch light on, don’t waste your time. The kids will have more time to get candy from homes displaying the proper “We have candy!” signals, and you will feel better knowing you don’t have to take that risk.
Not all states have specific laws regulating sex offenders on Halloween. In the link posted below you can learn about different actions law enforcement have taken against sex offenders interacting with children on Halloween. "Operation Boo," "Halloween: Zero Tolerance," and "No Candy" are among some of the laws on the list.
Regardless, law enforcement is extra present on Halloween night, and are aware of the unique hazards. Many departments in Macomb County establish a Halloween task force and recruit volunteers to provide extra eyes and ears to ensure trick or treating goes safely and smoothly.
3. Check your child’s candy.
When sorting through candy at the end of the night, be sure to throw away any candy that is opened or not in its original wrapper. Every Halloween my siblings and I would dump our candy bags on the kitchen floor and sort, trade, and admire all of the candy we were going to eat. This was a perfect opportunity for my parents to see exactly what we were given, and an easy chance to spot unwrapped candy or anything out of place that should be thrown away. Although it is unlikely that anything will be tampered with, this really is important because it is better to be safe rather than sorry.
Remember to enjoy all of the fun that today brings! Being prepared and aware will make it that much better, and I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful day with family and friends!
Posted by Brittany M
Trauma can take many forms. There are many different causes of trauma and lots of different signs. Knowing the signs is especially important because there can be so much variation. The signs a person expresses can differ depending on their age, what they’ve experienced, and how they’re processing what has happened. By reviewing the ways that trauma symptoms may appear, we can better recognize them to help the people we serve.
According to the National Child Trauma Stress Network, signs of trauma can vary based on the child’s age. Signs of trauma can include:
1. In Children 1-5 years old
Very young children may have very loud or strong expressions of trauma, such as being aggressive, excessive screaming, crying, or seeking attention through positive or negative behavior. Other signs may be quieter but still troubling, like weight loss or loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping or nightmares, generalized fear, or bedwetting.
2. In Children 6-11 years old
School-aged children may have some of the same signs as very young children, such as bedwetting, having nightmares, and showing aggressive or anxious behavior. These older children may also:
3. In Teens and Young adults
Teenagers and young adults may have some of these signs:
So how can you help your child?
Be patient with your child’s healing process and recognize that it may take a long time. Tell your child that he or she is not to blame and explain that they are safe. Learn more about trauma symptoms and reflect on how your own past traumatic experiences may be affecting you. Recognize that trauma affects everyone in the family in some way and take steps to manage the stress. Find an appropriate mental health professional for your child and for any other family members if needed, including yourself. Find support where possible, including friends, family members, and community resources.
Click here for links to educational information and professional help:
To learn more, you can visit this page from the National Child Trauma Stress Network: http://www.nctsn.org/resources/audiences/parents-caregivers
The website provides lots of information and resources for professionals, educators, and families.
Posted by Lauren B
Unfortunately, in today’s society a lot of adults and kids are left confused about the definition and nature of what sexual abuse actually is. There have been a multitude of news stories in the past several months leaving people wondering: What is it? Is it just sexual intercourse? Does it include things leading up to intercourse? What if the victim is intoxicated? Does it go as far to include sexual talk and/or photographs?
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) provides this definition for child sexual abuse:
“Child sexual abuse happens when a child or young person is forced, or entice to take part in sexual activities. No matter the level of violence, and regardless of the child’s awareness of agreement to what happening, it is sexual abuse.”
This definition covers a number of things including, but not limited to:
At Care House, we see kids every day who have experienced sexual abuse in person or online, but don’t always recognize it as such. They will make comments like “I was almost sexually abused” or at times, not even acknowledge it was anything close to what they perceive as abuse. The reason for this is sexual abuse can be very confusing, especially for kids. When asked to describe abuse, a lot of people picture violent physical abuse, including punching and hitting, leading to a lot of hurt with bruises and broken limbs to prove it. Sexual abuse can present itself in this way, but doesn’t typically fit that description. A lot of time the abuser is someone they love or trust, who they would never anticipate to betray them. It’s a gradual process that often begins with the abuser gaining the child’s trust by befriending them, giving gifts, showing them special attention, etc. and ends in the taking advantage of the child, leaving them broken and confused.
As parents, it’s important to know and understand what sexual abuse is and create an open dialogue with your children about healthy relationships and body safety. They need to know that if they ever feel uncomfortable or unsafe in a situation to immediately tell a trusted adult who can help. Next week, we will be posting about the common symptoms of trauma and what signs to look for in your child.
In the meantime, check out NSPCC's website and PDF guide for more information on identifying and preventing child sexual abuse.
Posted by Lauren B on October 11, 2016
If you’ve watched the news recently or sat in a large public area for any amount of time, there’s no doubt you’ve noticed nearly every kid wandering around with their nose in their phones talking about catching Weedles, Squirtles, Pidgeys, and a slew of other creatures that you can’t hear or see in real life. For those that don’t know, Pokemon Go is a new app created by Nintendo that was released earlier this July and has taken this nation by storm. It allows "gamers" to catch virtual characters on their cell phone, using real-life maps and locations. I gave it a try the first week and wandered around with the other hopeful Pokemon trainers attempting to catch every Drowzee and Evee I passed, with quite the beginner’s luck! Being a 90’s kid, I have to admit it was a lot of fun running around, catching the Pokemon I had always dreamed of capturing as a kid; that along with the fact it created a talking point at work and nearly everywhere else I went. There’s been a big debate of whether this app has been healthy for society because it brings families and friends together and encourages us to get active, or if it’s detrimental to our society as we are getting further engulfed in a virtual world, creating more isolation than community.
Regardless of which side of the debate you fall on, the more immediate concern is if and how these young and hopeful Pokemon trainers are being monitored while playing the game. I didn’t think much of it until I found my first “Lure Module” which is basically where someone creates a hotspot that attracts all the Pokemon…and naturally all the Pokemon trainers, young and old. As I sat there joking and laughing, I noticed kids walking around with no regard to the world around them as they were attempting to catch each new Pokemon that popped up on their phone screen. The first question I asked myself was, “Where are their parents?” and then thought to myself “We’re going to see one of these kids at Care House”
At Care House we see kids daily who have been victims of abuse, physical and sexual, and it is not uncommon for us to hear the situation where a kid or teenager was innocently using a social media app, was engaged in a conversation that seemed innocent enough, and the situation spirals downhill from there. With this new phenomenon, or as I call it, epidemic spreading, parents need to be informed on how to keep their kids safe on the internet with all the new social media apps, including Pokemon Go. This app in particular is not unsafe in and of itself, but it creates more opportunities for children to be alone, unsupervised and vulnerable to predators and perpetrators. There have already been several articles put out by a number of law enforcement agencies and news stations voicing their concerns about predators using these Pokestops to target victims and lure them to an unsuspecting place.
In New York a study was conducted that found the following:
I'm not saying this to scare you, but rather to tell you, as parents, it’s important to monitor your kids' online activity and supervise their social media interactions.
Here are three tips to help keep your kids safe on social media:
1. EDUCATE YOURSELF
Take the time to learn and know about the apps and "games" your kids are using on their phones and tablets. The list of social media apps is ever increasing and at times can be hard to keep up with, but do the research to familiarize yourself with how these apps work, along with the risks that come with each. Some of the common ones we see at Care House are:
2. TALK TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT THE DANGERS OF SOCIAL MEDIA
In working with kids, it is apparent that most of them have little to no idea how dangerous social media can be. They don't comprehend how available their personal information is and how permanent it can become. They are unaware that other people can see their online activity and how this can impact their future. As parents, it's helpful to discuss real-life situations and consequences that have happened as a result of kids being unmonitored and/or not safety-conscious on the web. These types of stories can often be found on the news and can become a great opportunity for parents to spark a conversation with their kids.
It's also important to set rules and guidelines for your child on social media, whether this be limiting the amount of time they are on the computer or, depending on age, not allowing kids to have their cell phone, tablets, or computers in their room. These rules should be consistent, but not too rigid, still allowing kids to feel in control of making good decisions they can be proud to share with you.
3. TRUST, BUT VERIFY
Talking to most parents a common response is "Yeah, but my kid would never do that." or "That would never happen to my kid." Both of which may be very true statements, but how do you really know what is going on if you're not monitoring your child on the internet or on their cell phone? It's all too often that parents underestimate their child's curiosity and/or naivety because "they're a good kid."
This isn't to say parents should doubt or question everything their child does or tells them, or to become a hover-parent, monitoring every second of their child's internet or cell phone usage. Rather this is to encourage parents to have open eyes and open minds, keep lines of communication open between them and their child, and to be the parent in the relationship, protecting their child from potential harm.
Posted by Lauren B on October 5, 2016
Care House…if any of you are like me, the first time I heard this name, I had no idea what is was, what it meant, or what it did. The first time I heard it, I was meeting with my internship coordinator at Oakland University. I had told her I had a passion for working with kids and wanted my internship experience to capitalize on that in one way or another. After flipping through a few files, she looked at me and said, “How about Care House?”…I think my first reaction was “Huh?” I had no idea what it was! She handed me an internship description that read as follows:
“It is important that all prospective interns understand we service a specialized population here. Interns will see clients and family members suffering from trauma related to child sexual abuse, other child abuse and neglect, witnesses to violent crimes including homicide and accidental death, grief and loss."
Needless to say, it’s not what I expected, but felt immediately drawn to it. Several months later, here I am interning at Care House and sharing with you what I have learned in my past four months here.
To put it formally, Care House is an advocacy center that helps child victims of abuse and their families heal by providing a child-friendly place for services, including the coordination of forensic interviews, crisis counseling, child safety assessments, individual and group therapy, support groups, family advocacy, access to forensic medical examinations and referrals to other needed community resources. All the services provided are free to the families served.
Before I go on to break it all down, here’s a picture of what our place looks like. The pinwheels represent all the children we helped in a year…look how many there are!
Okay, so now that you can see that there is hope for all these kids and families, here is the breakdown of everything I just explained into commonly asked questions…hopefully you all can follow me:
1. How does my child end up at Care House?
This whole process starts when a police report or Child Protective Services (CPS) report is made.One of the two parties contacts Care House to set up a forensic interview and the child and/or family comes in to be interviewed by a trained professional.Besides the initial police and/or CPS report, this is the first step in the entire investigation where Care House, law enforcement, and CPS worker join together.
2. What is a forensic interview?
It’s kind of a scary term that normally reminds people of a dark room, at the police station, with one table and the one super bright light that’s pointing directly at the person being interviewed…that, my friends, is an interrogation.What we do at Care House is much less intimidating and much more kid-friendly; we have trained professionals who sit down with the child and have an open-ended conversation, following specific guidelines, to get as much information as possible about what the kids have experienced or witnessed.We don’t ask leading questions or “put things in the kids’ heads.” Instead we provide a supportive environment and use open-ended questions that allow the child to share their experience.
So to review, we do this: NOT this
3. What happens after the interview?
A lot of parents and families assume that if their child tells us they witnessed or experienced abuse, it’s a done deal and the “bad guy” will be put in jail immediately. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case, because as I said before, Care House is the FIRST step in the entire process. Immediately after the interview, the parents meet with the interviewer, law enforcement, CPS, and an on-staff counselor. The parents are given an idea of how the interview went and what law enforcement and CPS’ next steps are. A counselor then follows up with the family to provide resources, offer support, and answer any further questions they have. If a child or family member appears to be at risk for suicide or self-harm, a counselor will meet with them to assess the level of risk and take the necessary steps to make sure they are safe when leaving here.
4. How is Care House’s counseling different than other counseling centers?
Care House’s counseling is different than most because our therapists and social workers are trained to work with kids who have been exposed to trauma. Children and families who have been traumatized have an entirely different set of needs than those clients coming in for non-trauma related problems. We follow the Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral (TF-CBT) model of therapy that focuses on:
We also provide therapy and support groups for kids and their family members. The therapy groups help to enhance the healing process by teaching everything I listed above in a fun and engaging way. The support groups are more for the parents, to help them develop a support system and share their experiences with other families who have been through a similar experience. It’s important for people to come together during difficult and trying times to encourage one another and offer advice about the things they have learned along the way.
Hopefully this gives you a better idea of who we are and what we do at Care House. If you have any further questions, feel free to call us at (586) 463-0123 or visit our website at www.mccarehouse.org. For more information on the TF-CBT model of therapy and other great resources, check out https://tfcbt.org/