Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Play to Remind Us Why We Have Women's Equality Day

Stopping by the League of Women Voters' table at the farmers' market last Saturday, I ran across some friends.  We started talking about how important it is to get the word out to vote. I've spoken with elder women I know who told me how important voting has always been to them. We tend to forget how hard our predecessors fought for the right to vote.


Well the League has a great way to help us remember... The Stone that Started the Ripple is a humorous yet historical representation of the return of the women who initiated the crusade for women's right to vote. Using their actual words from the 1800's, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, and Lucretia Mott offer commentary on the status of women's issues today. Written by local author, Pat Nugent.
All proceeds benefit the League of Women Voters of Saratoga County. One performance is being offered, on Wednesday, August 26th at 7 PM in Skidmore College’s Filene Hall.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

David Cassidy...Deserving of Praise?

I serve on quite a few community coalitions that address issues affecting our youth and how to guide children, teens and young adults to make healthy decisions.  If you’ve been alive so long that  your memory has stored the Kodachrome images of childhood in frames nostalgically gilded with Huck Finn-like images of childhood innocence and  freedom from care… well I hate to burst your bubble, but your memory is playing tricks on you (and you probably need to go back and reread Mark Twain). The years of our youth are full of challenges, disappointments, tragedies, fears and betrayals; it’s those struggles that help us to become resilient, compassionate adults.

Often when adults question “How can we help kids to make better decisions?”, I think one simple response is to be aware of the messages we send them through our own actions. Kids learn much more by watching what we do than by listening to what we say. When my sons were teens they would roll their eyes as I imparted well-intentioned pearls of wisdom (teenage translation –Mom’s constantly nagging me about stuff I haven’t even done). Like most parents I thought my words fell on deaf ears. But my work on the Shenendehowa Community Coalition suggests otherwise. Time and time again students have told us (in interviews and anonymous surveys) that their parents are the top influence as they make decisions about using drugs or alcohol.

So last week I found one article about David Cassidy’s volunteerism at CAPTAIN’s summer lunch program really troubling. Glenn Griffith’scoverage of Cassidy’s mandatory community service gushed unabashedly about Cassidy’s generosity, humility and caring…. as well as his fame.  Cassidy has repeatedly driven drunk (a DUI in Florida followed by 2 DWIs within a six month period, one in California and one in NYS).  The repeat convictions for driving intoxicated raise questions about whether he takes any of this seriously (he reportedly even failed to attend a court date for the NYS arrest, instead choosing to spend the day at the track.)  I wish the man no ill and hope that the arrests have led him to evaluate his choices to get behind the wheel after drinking, but wonder what message we are sending to our youth with this public adoration of Cassidy’s community spirit, while downplaying the severity of the offense that prompted the community service. These are the same kids we’ll soon be talking to about the dangers of drunk driving. If community service and laudatory news articles are the only consequences they see, will they take us seriously when we explain the decision to drive drunk can be a life altering mistake?

I’d welcome an article about the really great work CAPTAIN does for kids every day… about their dedicated staff and passionate volunteers. Their summer lunch program served 1,700 lunches per week this summer at 12 sites throughout Saratoga County. Yes, you read that right-- 1,700 lunches each week! Any kid under 18 who needed a lunch got one, just for asking. If you think poverty, homelessness and hunger don't exist in Saratoga County, those numbers should get you thinking. These kids sit beside yours in schools all over the county. They play on the playground together. They study for the same math tests. And their families struggle to provide for the most basic needs. The challenges these families strive to overcome and the agencies like CAPTAIN who are working every day to help them---  that's what I find inspirational.

But Griffith’s front page news article lauding a ‘celebrity’ for mandated community service, sugarcoats the reality that drunk drivers cause accidents with tragic consequences. It also ignores the reality that a multiple drunk driving offender was sentenced to a $900 fine, 6 months' license suspension and community service. Let’s think about the messages we’re sending our community and our kids.   They are watching.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Parents' Homework- Do You Know How to Keep Your Kids Safe Online?

It's never been easy keeping up with kids...and it's even harder keeping ahead of what they are learning.   When I was a kid,  the 'New Math' had parents mystified. My kids were learning to read with the 'Whole Language' method... which meant I wasn't supposed to correct them if they spelled cat,  "ket" , or I might extinguish their love of reading. Today's parents feel like they're always one step behind their kids with computers.  Just when they got Facebook figured out it's passé.

While I don't think new math or misspellings ever had dire consequences, predators do lurk on social media, so it's important that parents have the knowledge to monitor their kids' computer activities. The Saratoga Center for the Family is hosting a workshop, How predators use today's social media to lure teens into risky behavior. John Kelly, community educator for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and former Saratoga Springs police officer, will offer parents tips for keeping their children safe on line.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Perfect Weather for Golfing

Summer is winding down, but here's a chance to enjoy one more day golfing with friends. The weather predictions are for a beautiful summer day, low 80's, a mix of sun and fluffy white clouds. Don't miss the opportunity. If you need more incentive, 100% of the proceeds benefit Wellspring's work to end relationship and sexual abuse.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Google Responds to Revenge Porn

Revenge porn...it's used to control a partner,  to expose them and most of all to humiliate. With a simple mouse click, an embarrassing image can become public not just to a select group, but can be viewed by dozens, hundreds, thousands or more.  And worse, that image lingers in the public domain. A simple search of someone 's name and anyone can view the image. Victims of on-line posting of unauthorized sexually explicit photos and videos feel intensely violated not only at the initial incident... but indefinitely, affecting relationships, employment, and an individuals entire on-line presence.

Google just announced a response to the problem- individuals can request that Google remove unauthorized pornographic images from search results. While the images remain on the Web and can be accessed  through the direct page link, they will not show up through Google search engines.  

Click here to ask Google to remove your sensitive personal information, like your bank account number, or an image of your handwritten signature, or a nude or sexually explicit image or video of you that’s been shared without your consent, from Google search results.