Kathy Lehner Honored as Rohrstaff Hero

Rohrstaff Law Firm has honored KATHY LEHNER as our Rohrstaff Hero in February 2013. Kathy has given an extraordinary amount of her time and energy to providing opportunities for girls to grow their confidence by providing after-school mentoring and establishing Girl Scout guidance for teens and younger girls in their community.

Read the article about Kathy in our firm’s Newsletter, The Rohrstaff Reader:  Pages from FEBRUARY 2013 Newsletter.

On behalf of Kathy, Rohrstaff Law Firm made a contribution to United Community Ministries, a non-profit organization that has provided assistance for her programs.

For information on how you can nominate someone to be a Rohrstaff Hero, go to www.RohrstaffLaw.com and fill in the form.

 

Hit the Road So Your Teen Can Talk

Children of a certain age suddenly quit talking — to their parents, that is. You want to talk — they leave the room. You ask “How was your day?” They say, “Fine”. “What happened at school today?” “Nothin’”.

So, what’s a parent to do? I suggest you hit the road. — with your child. Being in a moving auto together changes things. First, there is no escape, and you are in control of the destination. The pace of conversation is different. There are temporary distractions as scenery goes by. You can’t look each other in the eye so sometimes talking about important stuff comes easier.

Early one morning, a mother picked her daughter up  from school after an overnight competition out of town. She intended to take her daughter home to take a nap and then go on to work. When they were almost home, the daughter said, “I think I was assaulted on the trip.”  Mom chose not to make the last turn that would have taken them home. As Mom took the unplanned, long detour, she got the details of a frightening event that happened to her daughter on the trip. That mother often thought afterward what she would have heard if she had taken her daughter home instead of continuing to drive. Would her daughter have sat down at the kitchen table and told her the whole story? Or would she have insisted on “I’ll tell you later; I’m too tire now, I want to take a nap.” And, if she did hear later from her daughter, would the details have been as clear?

A son “runs away from home.” In fact, he did not go far, but he was gone long enough for his parents to get worried and to go out looking for him. Many hours later, he returned home. Dinner needed to be prepared for the rest of the family, but neither parent was able to get that done. So, the father decided to go pick something up from a nearby restaurant. He put his son in the car so they could go together to pick up dinner. The trip lasted a lot longer than it otherwise would have because of a suddenly-planned, long detour. By the time they got back home, they had been able to talk about a few of the things that were bothering the teen. Everyone was hungry for dinner by that time.

Being in a car together may not work the first time, or even the second. Both parent and teen must be willing to participate and listen. But, traveling  together in a car can provide a safer environment in which difficult issues can be discussed. So, when the time is right, hit the road!

UNSECURED SWING SET IN BACK YARD FALLS AND KILLS CHILD

Is there a metal swing set in any back yard where your child plays?

DON’T let your child NEAR it unless you are sure it is anchored into the ground. Cement works well. Seriously.

Three-year-old Ann Reese and her parents were at a party on Christmas Eve. It was warm. They were outside. Ann Reese was walking behind a metal back yard swing set where other children were swinging. She was pushing her stroller with her three favorite dolls. Suddenly, the swing set fell over, striking Ann Reese. She died later that day.

If you have such a swing set in your back yard, anchor it now. If the day care center or the home where your child stays while you are at work has a metal swing set that is not anchored, do not let your child go anywhere in the yard until it is anchored.

It is easy to think, “But this can’t happen to my family.” I hope that is true. However, I know Ann Reese’s family never imagined such a thing could happen to them.

Please make sure any metal swing set in your child’s life cannot come out of the ground.

When is an online game really advertising?

Ads are everywhere. We can’t escape them. There was a time, though, when they were not part of our children’s everyday lives. But, that was a long, long time ago. We’ve come a long way from the days of large print on the outside of cereal boxes “SECRET DECODER RING INSIDE!” and “Toy Surprise Inside” of Cracker Jack.

There are now thousands of opportunities for our children to be exposed to advertising, and for most children (AND parents), it is not easy to figure out where entertainment ends and marketing begins. Children’s TV shows, both successful and not so successful, have long fueled toy manufacturers’ cross marketing efforts by adding dolls, action figures, games, etc. to toy chests everywhere.

A recent article in The Washington Post (“When is a kid’s online game actually an ad?”) discussed the growing difficulty of figuring out when an online game (in this case, an IHOP game based on Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax) is really just an ad directed at children. The Children’s Advertising Review Unit said it was advertising. IHOP said it was not.  To children, a screen is a screen is a screen. They do not differentiate between a TV and other screens in their lives. However, neither the Federal Trade Commission nor the Federal Communications Commission regulates non-traditional, electronic media. Marketers will have a field day until they are told not to.

I’m not in favor of lots of regulation; however, when it comes to children, I do think there is a need to limit the amount of exposure our children have to marketing directed toward them. I’m sure companies love that market, because children are so susceptible. Children have not yet learned to question and filter what looks like information but is really marketing. Grownups – parents – are supposed to do that. But with the enormous growth on ways to have access to children, parents may be outmaneuvered in this arena. Here is a link to some examples of cross marketing to children.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Should the government regulate advertising to children? What can parents do?

Tamiflu Approved for Infants

The FDA announced its approval for Tamiflu to be given to infants as young as two weeks old.

Important information for parents who give their infant Tamiflu:

  • Dosage must be carefully calculated for each infant according to the infant’s weight. That is, there is no ‘standard’ dosage for infants as there is for older children and adults.
  • Tamiflu is not approved to prevent flu infection in young infants. It is approved for that use in older children and adults.
  • A special dispense must be provided by the pharmacist so the proper dosage can be administered. The dispenser that has come with the medication will not give the proper dosage.

Be sure to ask questions and get every answer you need from both the health care provider and the pharmacist before giving the medication to your infant. Also understand what side effects to watch for.

Talking to Kids About Scary News

Words are inadequate. How do we even get our brain around what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut?

Children need help in getting their brains around extraordinary events – often just when parents are least able to figure out what to do or say. What do you tell your five year old? Your eleven year old?

Here is a link to an article with some helpful information – 5 Tips on Talking to Kids About Scary News.

Fear of Concussions

I remember when I was young and thought I was “bullet proof.” Others might get hurt while taking physical risks, but NOT ME!

All children and teens go through bullet-proof stages. One of the challenges of being a parent is guiding our son or daughter through those times to help them make good decisions.

Some parents who clearly recall the bumps and bruises and stitches and breaks and tears from their athletic youth are re-thinking what sports they will allow their own children to try. Especially with the recent focus on concussions in professional football, the fear of concussions may be reshaping the way parents make those decisions.

This article from The Inquirer tells the story of how one family handled the dilemma when their son wanted to play youth football.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-football. When I was growing up, my father was a high school football coach (in Texas), and I was the only one of my parents’ four children who did not play football. (Hint: I was the only girl.) I must say, though, that after watching my son out there on the football field, I was glad when he chose to concentrate on a different sport.

High School Football Brain Injuries the Highest Since 1984

Here is a blog post from my friends at Bisnar Chase, personal injury lawyers in California. This post has important information about the dangers of high school football players suffering catastrophic brain injuries.

I posted a blog about high school football brain injuries earlier this week.

Parents are told they must sign a waiver as part of giving permission for their child to participate in sports that gives up their right to seek compensation if their child is injured while playing. In Virginia, those waivers are not enforceable if someone’s negligence causes injury. So, if your child has been injured while playing sports, you should contact a Virginia child injury lawyer to determine whether your child can be compensated for her injury.

Do not assume you are without a remedy until you consult a lawyer.

 

Toys You Can’t Have

The Banned Toy Museum has a list of the top ten banned toys. Some are from long ago, some from very recently. According to the website, “these are toys that someone says you can’t have.”

I mean, after all, why would anyone think it was a bad idea to buy a kid an Atomic Energy Lab with four kinds of uranium ore (one of which is 250,000 more toxic than hydrogen cyanide)? Or a Derringer belt buckle that could shoot a bullet by “extending your stomach.” Who knew?

Or, how about lawn darts that pierced anything they hit, including children’s bodies?

We hear and read lots of people complaining that we are becoming a country of sissies and children are being coddled and over protected by regulations. I say I’m happy not to have such choices as these (and others on the list) available to children.

Football — Do Our Children Need It?

What do these NFL quarterbacks have in common?

  • Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
  • Alex Smith,  San Francisco 49ers
  • Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles

All three of them suffered concussions during football games on November 11, 2012. That means that 25% of the NFL games that day saw quarterbacks leave the game with a concussion.

There likely is no organization with more money to be used to provide protective gear to its players than the NFL. There likely is no sport with more resources to regulate player behavior and to provide professional referees on the field. Yet, concussions continue to occur and players continue to live lives greatly altered by their professional careers.

So, do we really want our sons to play football? Are our neighborhood sports programs safer than the professional sport with millions of dollars to be used to protect players?

The answer to the second question is yes & no. Youth sports are “safer” just because youth are not as strong or aggressive as professional players are. Youth sports come up short, however, in financial and personnel resources. Youth sports rely heavily on volunteers to run the programs, coach the players and regulate the play. Adults who volunteer to work in youth sports typically have experience playing or coaching or refereeing that sport. Also typically, none is a professional. Furthermore, youth sports do not always have trained medical teams standing on the sidelines.

Am I advocating eliminating professional football? No. The NFL is made up of adult men who can make their own decisions about whether and how and how long to play the “game”.  I have recently begun to hear from sports guys, however, that the growing attention being paid to the number of concussions and other serious injuries that happen on the gridiron may mean the beginning of the end of that violent sport. We’ll see about that.

Am I advocating eliminating youth sports, tackle football in particular? I’m not sure. To a great extent, kids participate in sports at their parents’ behest, or at least acquiescence. More often than not, the parent had a good experience with the youth sport and wants the child to have the same kind of experience. None of that is objectionable. However, when you sign your son up for youth tackle football, be sure to think about the seriousness of the risk you are taking. Sure, most kids who play tackle football as a youth do not get a concussion or broken neck or even a broken arm or leg. However, the consequences of a brain or spinal injury are so severe, parents should take time to seriously consider those consequences. Your son’s life may depend on it.

 

 

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