Tag Archives: safety

Foster Children and Online Technology: A Feeling of Control- A World of Danger

kids

Curtis was not in control. In fact, he had no control with just about everything in his life. After all, Curtis was in foster care.

Thirteen year old Curtis was placed into foster care after suffering neglect from a mother who was addicted to and sold illegal drugs. The teenager had been separated from his other two siblings, a younger brother and sister, as there were no foster homes in the area able to take in three children at that time. The foster teen’s father had been in and out of the family’s life, just as he had been in and out of jail. When Curtis arrived in his new foster home, he was confused, he was lonely, and he was scared. Curtis had been taken from everything he knew. He had been taken from his mother, his father, his brother, and his sister. He had been taken from his bedroom, his toys, his baseball card collection, his pet dog, his house, his home. The teen had been taken from his grandparents, his aunts, his uncles, his cousins, his neighbors, his friends, his teachers, and his classmates. Indeed, Curtis had been taken from everything that was familiar to him, everything he knew, and everything he loved. Continue reading

Do You Text While Driving? Why You Shouldn’t — and How to Stop.

iphone-driving_2891450b-300x187Guess: What’s one habit that’s very common and extremely dangerous?

Yes, of course, smoking. But what else?

Using your smart phone while driving is a terrible habit. So common, so dangerous. About one quarter of car accidents involve the use of a smart phone.

It’s easy to think, “Oh, I’ll just glance at the screen,” but it takes a minimum of five seconds to take a look, and if you’re going 55 mph, you’ll go the length of a football field in that time.

And it turns out that just reaching for the device raises the chance of an accident.

Probably, most of us know that using a phone while driving is a bad idea. And yet we’re in that habit. So how to stop? Continue reading

Protect Yourself From Food Bourne Illnesses

Screen shot 2013-12-19 at 1.31.38 AMEarlier this year the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a report about Salmonella poisoning in various imported spices that people use every day. Shortly thereafter there was a nationwide panic when Salmonella was found in grocery store chicken. With these various threats it is important to know what you’re dealing with and how keep yourself safe from salmonella and other food-borne illness. And it is especially important to us that you understand why you never have to worry about such contaminants in Wakaya Perfection products.

What exactly is Salmonella?

The FDA defines Salmonella as a group of bacteria that is the most common cause of food poisoning. Symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea and fever, usually last 4-7 days and many can get better without treatment. However, symptoms can be more severe or lead to more serious illnesses in older adults, infants and those with chronic illnesses.

What are the sources and how do you prevent it from being in your food?

Salmonella is usually found in uncooked eggs, poultry and meat. It can also be found in unpasteurized milk, juice, cheese, raw fruits and vegetables, and spices that have been processed improperly.

The primary ways to avoid Salmonella are to make sure that your meat and egg products are thoroughly cooked. Salmonella is usually killed off at 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Also make sure to wash your hands properly before handling any raw food products, especially if you are interacting with animals or their treats beforehand. Germs can easily transfer from humans to the food, and if not heated properly can lead to Salmonella poisoning.

Be careful with your cooking utensils as well. Don’t use the same utensils to handle raw products that you do when your food is finally cooked. Check your labels and packaging for refrigeration protocols and follow them. Food that is not properly refrigerated before cooking can also carry the bacteria.

Why are you safe with Wakaya Perfection?

First of all, all of our products are 100% organic which means there are absolutely no outside pesticides or chemicals used in their processing. They are watered completely by Fijian natural rains – no man-made irrigation is used to cultivate our ginger plants.

Once our ginger is ground it is cooked for many hours in a sealed convection oven and immediately processed in our USDA NOP certified full stainless steel sealed suction powder processing machinery that allows no human contact or surrounding air contamination.. It is totally enclosed in the system for the entire process.

The packaging is immediate with no delays and no contaminants entering the system at any stage. The proprietary process is strictly controlled at every stage for immediate processing and not exposed to open environmental and human pollutants.  Our state of the art USDA NOP certified organically registered factory facility is our consumers’ guarantee of quality, purity and superior hygiene at all times.

Is Zurich’s New Drive-In Prostitution a Good Idea?

Even putting aside the moral and ethical arguments against prostitution, there are some sound concerns expressed over the practice. For one, we must take health and safety into consideration any time people will be coming into close contact with one another. And as a still largely underground industry (unlike the medical field, where bodies also come into close contact) there is very little precedent for regulation in prostitution.

What if governments decided to stop prosecuting prostitution and instead establish measures to ensure safety and fair-play? That is exactly what Switzerland, the small, beautiful, chocolate-rich country, has been doing since 1942 when it legalized prostitution. And now, in an effort to enforce safety regulations, the Swiss city of Zurich has instituted what are colloquially being called “sex boxes.” This is essentially a drive-in brothel where cars can enter a small park with sex workers lined up all around, and clients and prostitutes can negotiate with one another to determine an agreement. Once paired, they’ll enter small wooden garages to…conduct their business.

Though there won’t be surveillance, prostitutes will need permits in order to use the facilities and will have access to panic buttons and on-site social workers in case of emergency. There are also policies in place in the country to enforce health checks and screenings in order to reduce the risk of HIV and AIDs. And the “sex box” sites also offer showers, lockers, laundry, and other facilities. As reported by the National Post:

“We built the place to be secure for the sex workers. It also had to be discreet for the sex workers and the clientele,” said Michael Herzig of Zurich’s social welfare department. “But we thought if we build the place, we can also make it look good.”

Here’s a look at the facilities:

switzerland_sex_boxes

SWITZERLAND-PROSTITUTION-BUSINESS

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You might be surprised to learn that Switzerland isn’t alone in such policies. Eight European countries currently have legal and regulated prostitution, and countless others in Europe and around the globe have legalized but unregulated prostitution. Here’s a map outlining prostitution in Europe:

680px-Prostitution_in_europe_corrected_2.svg

 Screen Shot 2013-08-26 at 9.58.49 AM

 

 

 

 

What do you think of Zurich’s “sex boxes”? Can you imagine a U.S. city instituting something along those lines? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

 

Photo credit: AP Photo / John Heilprin

Photo credit: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Photo credit: Fabrice Coffrini / AFP / Getty Images

Map credit: Wikimedia Commons

 

Should Schools Arm Staff with Guns to Protect Kids?

012schoolsecurity1358542932Although gun violence has apparently decreased on the whole in the United States the last two decades, many schools are reporting increased violence and bullying in recent years. School and mass shootings in particular have grown more frequent and more deadly, causing many to question the accessibility of deadly weapons.

Soon after the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting last year, President Obama released a plan to reduce gun violence, which included closing background check loopholes, banning military-type assault weapons, and increasing access to mental health services. Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association released a different kind of plan, one that involved increasing gun ownership and instituting armed guards in every school in America. It seems there was a bit of a disconnect.

But apparently several schools have opted to run with the NRA’s suggestion. One such school, the Arkansas Christian Academy, has decided to train and arm their staff, with at least 1-7 armed staff members present on any given day.

Pastor Perry Black, an administrator at the school, told KARK:

I just felt like with what’s going on in many of the public sectors where there seems to be a lot of shootings we need to take the same stance that we do in church on Sunday for our kids Monday through Friday.

Here is the sign the school recently posted on their campus:

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One argument for this kind of action might be that the guns themselves are just a precautionary measure, but the sign should hopefully do enough to discourage any would-be shooters. Do you think this is realistic? And are guns ever acceptable in a school setting?

Bonus – Watch Deepak Chopra address gun violence in this episode of “Ask Deepak” on the Chopra Well:

Photo credit: Jahi Chikwendiu / The Washington Post

5 Questions Every Modern Parent Should Be Asking

Screen Shot 2013-07-05 at 1.00.44 PMDo you ever find yourself in a situation where you’re sort of uncomfortable but you don’t complain, don’t leave, don’t speak up because you don’t want to cause a scene or make anyone feel bad?

Even when we have concerns that are legitimate, sometimes we hold our tongues to avoid awkwardness or confrontation. We don’t walk away because we believe our departure implies criticism, judgment or lack of trust in another’s decisions or lifestyle.  We take care not to step on anyone’s toes. We don’t want to be rude or offensive by questioning what folks are doing. Maybe we assume that the other person knows better – or knows something we don’t.

Of course we know just fine ourselves. Our little voices whisper to us, “Get out of here. This feels wrong,” or, “This guy has no idea what he’s talking about. We’re in danger.” And our little voices are usually right on target. Those voices become especially useful when it comes to our kids. But sometimes, just as we ignore it when it comes to our own safety, we ignore it when it comes to theirs.

Even though we like to think that we’d never put our babies in harm’s way, it happens to every parent at some point. That moment when we know we should be changing course but we stay put instead because we don’t want to make waves. At times like these it’s important to remember that there’s nothing rude or offensive about being a good advocate for our children. After all, our kids trust us implicitly and believe that when we send them off into the world that we are sending them off to safe place with responsible people. They never say, “Momma, will I be safe?” They move through the world with confidence, knowing for certain that we have their little backs.

We are our children’s best advocates. We are responsible for our children’s safety. And knowing about the world and how it spins in 2013, we can initiate some pre-emptive, full-disclosure conversations that will provide us with comfort and trust as our children explore the world independently. These are five “little voice” questions that every parent should be asking without hesitation or fear of imposition:

1. “Can you please not drive and text or talk on the phone while my child is in the car?”  

We all know the stats. Distracted drivers hurt people. Carpools being a vital part of parenting, often times we toss kids into minivans assuming that the drivers are responsible behind the wheel simply because they are responsible for children. Do you know if the parents or guardians in your carpool are texting while driving? I admit, while I’ve asked this question to friends on occasion, for the most part I assume that people are doing the right thing. But there’s nothing wrong with asking. We have every right to protect our kids.

2. “Do you keep a gun in your house?”  

The Newtown tragedy was not lost on anyone, certainly not parents of small children. Let’s use this tragedy as a lesson to us all when it comes to gun safety. A few weeks ago, my son was eagerly anticipating a play date with a new friend. The night before the big day, I received an email from the boy’s mom, “Don’t take this the wrong way. But in light of everything that happened this year, do you keep guns in your house?” I was so happy that I wasn’t the only parent asking that question. There is nothing intrusive about ensuring our children are playing in a safe environment. I assured her I don’t have any weapons in my house and we cleared the way for a terrific conversation about modern parenting.

3. “Will there be any other people in your home during the play date?”  

Listen, I’m not a paranoid parent, but when I drop my kids at someone’s house, I want to know about older siblings, friends, visiting uncles or handymen hanging around. When we are alert, we pass this awareness onto our children and we give them a beautiful gift called confidence. When their heads are up, they are better prepared to protect themselves if placed in an uncomfortable position. Abusers seek opportunity.

I always tell my kids this: When you go to pick out a puppy, do you want to take home the puppy who is nipping and barking? Or do you want to take home the puppy that curls up in a ball in your arms? Of course they vote for the snuggly puppy. And then I tell them that abusers think this way when they pick out victims. They want easy prey. When we are confident, when we look people right in the eye and use our strong voices to tell them when we don’t feel comfortable, we are unbreakable. Knowing who is in the house, we can prep our kids with an easy conversation and remind them that if they are ever in a place where they don’t feel right, they should go to a parent and ask for help.

4. “Will the birthday cake have nuts in it? Will nuts be offered at the party?” or, “Does your child have a food allergy?”

According to Food Allergy Research & Education, 1 in 13 children has a food allergy – that’s about two kids in every classroom. With this in mind, the likelihood that an allergy sufferer attends your child’s birthday party is pretty darn good. Peanut is obviously the most prevalent allergy in children, though lots of other issues are out there – eggs, shellfish, gluten, dairy, soy… how can we do the right thing? Some kids know enough to ask the right questions. My son, for example, has been asking, “Are there nuts in this?” since he was two years old. He has a genetic allergy and knows to be vocal. Other kids might just trust that the food is safe. So it’s important for us parents to clear potential danger out of the way by asking about allergies ahead of time. This way the party host has a chance has full disclosure.

But even though the party host may not have an allergy kid, it’s also important for her to ask guests ahead of time. Because the last thing anyone wants to do is serve a strawberry cake with almond extract to a kid with a nut allergy and sit there helplessly while the child breaks out in hives and gasps for air. This is the world we live in now, and these are the precautions we need to take. We can no longer take the “I didn’t know better” approach. Because we do know better. Ask the questions. Protect the child. Protect yourself.

5. “Can you please not use your cell phone or go in my bedroom while babysitting?”  

We may be comfortable assuming that our babysitters know better than to text, play “Words with Friends” and chit-chat on their iPhones while caring for our children. But most likely, this is not the case. Very rarely do teens log out. But it is absolutely acceptable to ask them to turn off electronics while watching our kids. We are paying them to give their full attention to our children, after all. And if there is an emergency, they can use the house phone.

We may also assume that sitters respect our privacy when they’re in the house. But I’ve been shocked to hear many adult friends confess that they used to rifle through bedside goodie drawers and personal spaces of parents for whom they sat as teens. If it’s an uncomfortable topic to discuss casually, write down a short list of expectations for the sitter like this:

  • chicken soup for dinner
  • PG movies only
  • no texting or phone calls while kids are awake
  • be sure toys are put away and kitchen is clean
  • kids in bed by 9pm
  • my bedroom is completely off limits
  • we’ll be home by 11 but call for any problems

By taking time to create clear boundaries, we are letting others know that we value ourselves and our families. This is a good thing. And really, when we share our expectations we are helping everyone by avoiding uncomfortable situations. It’s okay to speak up. It’s okay to ask questions. It’s okay to advocate for our kids’ safety. Safety is the last thing on their minds so it needs to be the first thing on ours.

Elephant in the Room: Personal Safety and Your Right to Say No

This is not a brothel...Dear Cora,

Last year I ended my last long term relationship. For a long while I was happy being single but lately I’ve been tempted to “get back on the field.” Recently, a man approached me while I was taking my dog for a walk. He was very complimentary, forward even and asked for my number. I’ve never been socially outgoing and get uncomfortable with that sort of unabashed attention, but I thought that maybe I need to be more flexible so I gave him my number. It also seemed easier to give it to him than to risk confrontation by saying no. Now he’s texting me about going out and I’m not sure about what to do. Is it just me being awkward that is causing my hesitance? Is it okay not to want to go out with him? How do I turn him down if that’s the case?

 

Signed,
On the Edge

Dear On The Edge,

Today we are going to talk about two very important subjects – safety and consent. Your letter reminded me immediately of the Margaret Atwood story where she asked a male friend why men felt threatened of women he answered, “They are afraid women will laugh at them.” When she asked a group of women why they felt threatened by men, they answered, “We’re afraid of being killed.”

Unfortunately, we live in a world where women have to confront that fear on a regular basis. It feels to me that you giving this man your number had almost nothing to do with wanting to hear from him again but mostly what you felt would be the safest path to exit the situation. You’re right, you avoid confrontation in the moment, but what you’ve done is invite this person further into your life. Statistically, he was probably just a man on a walk who decided to hit on a woman he thought was pretty and means no harm. However, are we supposed to just live with the risk that maybe he does have menacing motives? No, we aren’t. If you are uncomfortable in the situation you have every right to deny him your number. You can just say no, or even “Sorry, I have a rule that I don’t hand out my number to strangers.” If he persists then you find any excuse to walk away.

If you take one thing away from this article please let it be this: No woman is obligated to give a man her number, no matter how complimentary they are to her. That’s your information, your space and your privacy. You only give it to people you feel comfortable with.

I read an article just yesterday about the phenomenon of “pick-up culture.” It circles around the controversy over a Reddit author trying to get his book – that blatantly encourages sexual assault – published through a Kickstarter campaign. The author’s blatant misogyny aside, it is disgusting when men think that the right combination of compliments or “lines” will lead to sex. It is horrifying when women also buy into it. It has nothing to do with social awkwardness or level of outgoing attitude – if you are uncomfortable with a man’s advances then they are inappropriate, end of story. If you feel safe enough to do so please tell him that he is being too forward or that you are uncomfortable. We can only expect to reverse the current mentality if we start to stand up and correct it ourselves. If you don’t feel safe walk away, keep your keys gripped in your hand just in case. I wouldn’t call you paranoid for having a small bottle of pepper spray on your key chain either.

It saddens me to have to respond to this in such a defensive manner. Not every man that approaches a woman or hits on her is a potential rapist or intending to do any harm. However, as women we have limited options in figuring out a suitor’s true intentions upfront. Your gut instinct is one of those few options. If your intuition is telling you that something doesn’t feel right, go with it. It’s better to be safe.

Don’t believe that because someone compliments you or hits on you that you owe them something. You aren’t going to find a worthy partner out of obligation or the idea that you’re supposed to like that kind of attention. It seems obvious to me that you don’t find that level of advancement to be flattering or charming. That doesn’t mean you’re awkward, sweetheart, it is a personal level of comfort that every person is entitled to.

That being said you have a couple of options to end the situation (because I gather that’s what you actually want.) You can simply not respond to the texts – though I fear that might bring unwanted conversations should you run into this man again. So I suggest texting a simple reply, “It was nice to meet you, but I’m not interested in something romantic right now,” and let that be it. You don’t have to explain yourself more than that.

And this might be my over-protective father upbringing speaking, but look into that key chain pepper spray.

Best wishes,
Cora

photo by: Tom Coates

Love Yourself by Loving Your Home

Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 8.12.12 PMA great way to love yourself is to create a beautiful home that nurtures and inspires you. Your home is one of the few places in the world that is truly just about you. The one place we should always feel loved, at peace, at one, and “at home” is at home! So honor yourself by creating a space that feeds your spirit.

One of the most effective ways to create a home that nourishes and inspires you is to live with things you love. This may sound obvious, but when you take a close look around your home, you might be surprised to find that you’re living with things that bring your energy down rather than inspire and lift you up. It’s amazing how easy it is to tune out to our surroundings and stop really seeing the stuff in our homes that get in our way, drain our energy, or in some way make us feel badly. Sometimes it’s little things such as a drawer that gets stuck and frustrates and slows us down each morning, the sharp edge of a table that we regularly bump against, or an uncomfortable chair. Or it could be something more significant like sleeping in a bed we bought with a former partner that continually brings up memories and keeps us stuck in the past. These things can nag at us, deplete our energy, and wear on our self-esteem.

Everything around us is made up of energy. Even things that we may have considered inanimate are made up of moving molecules and have a life force and vibration of their own. Objects also come “alive” because of how we relate to them, i.e. the memories and associations they trigger. Earth wisdom traditions, such as Feng Shui or Vastu, affirm that all of these objects and materials in our homes interact with our own unique energy—either positively or negatively. When you look at your home from this perspective, you can clearly imagine the importance of surrounding yourself with things that you love—whether they are useful, comfortable, beautiful, have positive personal meaning, or just make you feel good.

Below are three steps to living with what you love:

  1. Go through your home room by room and look at each object one at a time. How do you feel? What thoughts come up? Did you notice any sensations in your body? Imagine the object has a voice—what would it be saying to you? Does the object trigger any memories? Are they positive, negative or neutral? Your answers to these questions will give you a pretty good idea of how these things are affecting your energy.
  2. If something is not serving you, let it go. Give it away, throw it away or sell it. Generally it is better to live with empty space knowing that something better will be coming your way than it is to live with something that brings you down. An exception to this would be if the object is functional and necessary—for example, your only computer or your only sofa that you can’t afford to replace at the moment. In these cases, set an intention that you will easily find a replacement in a timely manner and keep your eyes open for an opportunity to replace that item.
  3. If you discover that you are surrounded by many things you don’t love, but at the moment can’t afford to replace them, make sure you move things around so you have at least one object you love in every room. Then make sure that object is the focal point of the room. The object you love will inspire you as you’re waiting to attract other things that will serve you.

Be on the lookout for the following:

  • Possessions that have negative memories associated with them.
  • Things that look beautiful or are valuable, but that you just don’t like. Often we keep these because we feel we have to or should, but if you don’t like something let it go and chances are someone else will give it a home where it will be appreciated and loved. And you will now have space to find something you love.
  • Similarly, things you inherit and perhaps feel an obligation to keep, but that you don’t like or are associated with a negative memory.
  • Things that don’t feel good but you aren’t sure why—trust your intuition!
  • Disturbing art—even if on one level you can appreciate the image or artistic expression, sometimes our bodies will respond instantly and physically to a disturbing image. Your mind may then kick in with reason or logic or an association with the image that is more positive, but your body has already registered your first reaction.
  • Things that don’t work well, are broken, get in your way, and/or lead to frustration in your daily routines.
  • Broken items that you have been planning to get fixed for a long time—commit to fixing it in the next month or get rid of it.
  • Items that are stained or dirty—same as above, clean them if you can, but commit to doing it in a timely manner. If they can’t be cleaned, consider a replacement.
  • Perceived dangers—which mean things that look threatening and elicit a ‘fight or flight’ response in our bodies. For example, a very heavy chandelier or artwork hanging over a bed or sofa—we may know it is anchored to the ceiling or wall, but it can still makes us feel uncomfortable to having something heavy hang over you. Similar to the disturbing artwork, your body will have already registered a response before your mind kicks in with logic to override your body’s reaction.
  • Things made with unhealthy or toxic materials—replace with natural materials to connect you to nature, create more harmony, and support your health.

Our homes should be a supportive, loving sanctuary. There are many things in the world that are less than loving and often we feel we can’t control those things, but we can control our home environments by choosing to live with what we love. We need to insist that, at the very least, we feel good and can ‘win’ in our own homes. The same qualities that we create in our homes—love, peace, joy, inspiration—will be the same qualities that we experience in our lives.

 

Originally published February 2011

What the Sleepy Dog Taught Me About Compassion

Hackley Sleeping
Photo Credit: Andres Meneses

This is one of my favorite little stories:

One afternoon, a tired-looking dog wandered into my yard and followed me through the door into the house. He went down the hall, laid down on the couch and slept there for an hour.

Since my dogs didn’t seem to mind his presence, and he seemed like a good dog, I was okay with him being there, so I let him nap. An hour later he went to the door motioned for me to let him out and off he went.

The next day, much to my surprise, he was back. He resumed his position on the couch and slept for another hour.

This continued for several weeks. Finally, curious, I pinned a note to his collar, and on that note I wrote, “Every afternoon your dog comes to my house for a nap. I don’t mind, but I want to make sure it’s okay with you.”

The next day he arrived with a different note pinned to his collar. “He lives in a home with three children in it. He’s trying to catch up on his sleep. May I come with him tomorrow?”

While lighthearted, this points toward the mood of compassion. Compassion can be described as letting ourselves be touched by the vulnerability and suffering that is within ourselves and all beings. The full flowering of compassion also includes action: Not only do we attune to the presence of suffering, we respond to it.

There is a wonderful expression that says: “Be kind. Everyone you know is struggling hard.”

It doesn’t matter what age we are, if we’re in these bodies and on planet Earth, it’s not easy. That doesn’t mean that we’re always slaving away or that life is bad, it just means life can be really challenging at times.

Because we are conditioned to pull away from suffering, awakening a compassionate heart requires a sincere intention and a willingness to practice. It can be simple. As you move through your day and encounter different people, slow down enough to ask yourself a question: “What is life like for this person? What does this person most need?” If you deepen your attention, you’ll find that everyone you know is living with vulnerability. Everyone is living with fear, with loss, with uncertainty. Everyone, on some level, needs to feel safe, loved, and seen – just like the dog who just needed a place to rest.

To be kind, we need to slow down and notice.

Enjoy this short video on: The Warmth of Compassion

Adapted from my book Radical Acceptance (2003)
For more information visit: www.tarabrach.com

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