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WATCH: Florida police, firefighters dance to 'Thriller' for Teal Pumpkin Project

Officers and firefighters in one Florida city are showing off their dance moves in a viral video to raise awareness about food allergies this Halloween.

>> Watch the video here

According to WTSP, the Tarpon Springs police and fire departments re-created Michael Jackson's "Thriller" music video for the Teal Pumpkin Project. The annual campaign by Food Allergy Research & Education aims to make Halloween "more fun and inclusive for millions of children with food allergies and other dietary restrictions," according to its website. Participants place a teal pumpkin on their doorstep and offer non-food treats like toys to trick-or-treaters. Learn more here.

>> Read more trending news

The police and fire departments also are raising money for the nonprofit CURED, the Campaign Urging Research for Eosinophilic Disease. According to a police press release, "many children with Eosinophilic diseases cannot eat or ingest food orally." To make a donation, visit the foundation's website here.

Opioid crisis: Parents share emotional story of childhood friends who overdosed on same day

Parents of two Gwinnett County, Georgia, teenagers are warning others about the fast and easy way kids are getting their hands on powerful drugs.

>> Watch the news report here

Earlier this year, 18-year-old Dustin Manning and 19-year-old Joseph Abraham died just hours apart.

Manning and Abraham were Little League teammates and knew each other when they were younger.

Their parents said they hadn’t been in touch in years, but their lives took similar paths.

Both men started using drugs in middle school, and they both spent time in drug treatment centers.

>> Read more trending news

It was only after they died that their lives connected again. 

“I never thought that I’d never get to see him grow old,” Joe Abraham’s mother, Kathi Abraham, said.

Their parents believe they bought the same toxic mix of heroin and fentanyl. Police said it appears the teens bought the drugs from the same dealer.

“They said it happened within 20-30 seconds after he sniffed it, he was gone,” Dustin Manning’s mother, Lisa Manning, said.

Hoda Kotb shows off baby daughter's adorable 1st Halloween costume

Hoda Kotb is so excited to celebrate her baby girl Haley Joy’s first Halloween that she showed off her little one’s adorable costume ahead of the big night, People reports.

>> Kim Kardashian West dressed up as Cher for Halloween, and people are loving it

“I couldn’t wait!” Kotb captioned a photo of Haley donning a plush Jack-o’-lantern costume and a huge smile.

>> See the photo here

>> On Rare.us: Hoda Kotb shares yet another precious photo of her daughter Haley 'just because'

The “Today” host adopted Haley back in February, and her life hasn’t been the same since, saying, “There’s a line of demarcation: before Haley and after Haley. Every day after Haley is better than every single day before.”

>> Read more trending news 

Kotb is now navigating motherhood for the first time with some help from boyfriend and the man Hayley calls dad, Joel Schiffman. The proud mom has been active about sharing pictures and milestones with fans on social media.

>> On Rare.us: Hoda Kotb’s latest picture of her 'everything,' daughter Haley Joy, just might be the cutest one yet

“It’s one of those things where you think you’ve done it all, you think you’ve felt it all. But I just didn’t know that this kind of love existed,” Kotb said after welcoming Haley Joy into her life.

Pit bull attack: Child's death reignites official's call for banning breed

A Lowell, Massachusetts, city councilor plans to call for a citywide ban on pit bulls following the death of a 7-year-old boy. Police told WFXT that the boy was brutally attacked by two dogs of that breed. 

>> Watch the news report here

Candles and flowers now sit at the place where a little boy was mauled to death Saturday night.

While the Middlesex District Attorney handles the investigation, a local lawmaker is calling for a citywide ban on the breed that caused this tragedy.

City councilor Rodney Elliott believes this is an issue of public safety. Although he knows banning pit bulls is a controversial issue, he believes that's the necessary measure needed to keep people safe.

>> On Boston25News.com: 7-year-old mauled to death by dog in Lowell

Elliott believes the city of Lowell is too crowded, and therefore there's no room to safely keep pit bulls. 

"I just don't want to see this happen again," Elliott said. 

However, this isn't a new cause for Elliott as he's been calling for a pit bull ban for years. In 2011, following a number of pit bull attacks, he helped spearhead an ordinance to regulate pit bulls and pit bull mixes within the city limits – and it passed. 

"We're an urban city. We have 108,000 people living in 13 square miles. You can go to some very densely populated areas in the city and I think that would be appropriate," Elliott said. "I don't think the law in the books is effective enough, and I do think the responsibility is on the owner, but if we didn't have pit bulls in the city, this attack would never have happened."

>> On Boston25News.com: Neighborhood mourns 7-year-old boy mauled to death by pit bulls

The state then passed its own law prohibiting cities and towns from labeling specific breeds as "dangerous" and regulating them. Elliott believes it should be up to each community to make that decision.

"At the very least, give us the authority to implement strong measures as we did in the past to hold dog owners accountable," Elliott says.

However, many strongly disagree with Elliott, saying the majority of pit bulls are gentle, loving creatures. 

WFXT reporter Stephanie Coueignoux spoke with Mike Keiley, the director of adoption centers for the MSPCA by phone. 

Keiley told WFXT that proper training, socialization, and spaying or neutering a dog play a large role in their behavior. 

>> On Boston25News.com: Family and friends hold vigil for 7-year-old killed by dogs in Lowell

"These particular dogs are the dangerous animals that we are talking about. There are so many other pit bulls out there that never would be involved in this type of situation," Keiley said.

Elliott said there are 74 registered pit bulls in Lowell, but he says many more are being illegally bred. Overbreeding is a problem that can easily lead to overly aggressive dogs. 

Keiley said the issue arises when people who aren't properly trained mate two overly aggressive pit bulls together and can end up breeding an increasingly aggressive generation of dogs. 

"I think that's why you're seeing aggressive dogs continuing to be in the community because they're continuing to be allowed to breed and continued to give a bad name to this breed of dog," Keiley said.

>> Read more trending news

Keiley said pit bulls are loving and gentle by nature, but lack of training and care can lead to aggressive behavior. 

The department of public health said the number of injuries caused by dog bites is a "pretty rare set of circumstances." 

In 2014, 189 people were hospitalized due to dog bites, which accounts for a total of 0.3 percent of all hospitalizations in Massachusetts for that year. 

Elliot said that if Lowell can ban raising chickens because of health concerns, the city should be allowed to ban pit bulls for safety reasons. 

"That makes no logical sense to me. There are other animals and species in this city, in this state, in this country so when we feel there is a problem with a particular breed – and there is," Elliott said.

Last year, on Oct 3, a citywide ban on pit bulls went into effect in Montreal following a pit bull attack that killed a woman in Pointe-aux-Trembles, Quebec. 

The attack has since been contested by animal rights organizations and pit bull owners who say the ban is senseless and that there was no forewarning regarding the ban. 

Elliott plans on raising the issue at a council meeting Tuesday.

The MSPCA said Lowell is one of a number of local cities with what they call an overpopulation of pit bulls, so the organization is now offering free spaying and neutering of pit bulls in those communities. 

More information regarding their "Pit Pals" program for spaying and neutering pit bulls and to check if you're eligible to receive those services for free, check out their website here.

Why more US teens are suffering from severe anxiety than ever before — and how parents can help

Nearly one-third of American adolescents and adults are affected by anxiety, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. It’s the most common mental health disorder in the country.

» RELATED: What is anxiety and how can you overcome it?

And when it comes to teens, severe anxiety is becoming more crippling each year.

In fact, over the last decade, anxiety has surpassed depression as the most common reason college students seek counseling services, the New York Times reported.

» RELATED: Anxiety and depression do not define who we are

The data comes from the American College Health Association’s 2016 survey of students about the previous year.

Sixty-two percent of undergraduate students in the survey reported “overwhelming anxiety,” a significant increase from 50 percent in 2011.

A separate survey from the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, asks incoming college freshmen whether they “felt overwhelmed by all I had to do” during the previous year.

>> Read more trending news

In 1985, when the institute began surveying students on the issue, 18 percent said they felt overwhelmed.

By 2010, 29 percent said they did. And in 2016, the number jumped to 41 percent.

And since 2012, the Washington Post reported, the Boys Town National Hotline has seen a 12 percent spike in teens reaching out via calls, texts, chats and emails about their struggles with anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.

» RELATED: Teens and the distorted reality of social media

The rate of hospital admissions for suicidal teenagers has also doubled over the past decade.

Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mirrored a national trend in suicide rates across the board.

» RELATED: The suicide rate for teen girls is the highest it’s been in 40 years — Is social media to blame?

But the research found suicide rates among 15- to 19-year-old girls doubled between 2007 and 2015, reaching a 40-year high.

That means for every 100,000 American girls in 2015, five committed suicide.

For teen boys, the rate rose by more than 30 percent.

» RELATED: ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ shows how adults can mess up teen angst

What’s causing the rise in teenagers with severe anxiety?

Anxiety, along with depression, cuts across all demographics, including both privileged and disadvantaged teenagers.

But privileged teens are among the most emotionally distressed youth in America, Arizona State University psychology professor Suniya Luthar told the New York Times.

» RELATED: How to keep your kids safe on social media 

“These kids are incredibly anxious and perfectionistic,” she said, but there’s “contempt and scorn for the idea that kids who have it all might be hurting ... there’s always one more activity, one more A.P. class, one more thing to do in order to get into a top college. Kids have a sense that they’re not measuring up. The pressure is relentless and getting worse.”

But helicopter parents aren’t always to blame. Many students internalize the anxiety and put the pressure on themselves, Madeline Levine, co-founder of Challenge Success, a nonprofit aimed at improving student well-being, told the Times.

» RELATED: The more social media you use, the lonelier you feel, study says

Another expert, psychiatrist Stephanie Eken, said despite the cultural differences, there’s a lot of overlap among teens regarding what makes them anxious.

Eken mentions factors range from school, family conflicts, what food to eat, diseases, how they’re perceived by friends and notably in the last few years, Eken told the Times, to a rising fear about terrorism. 

“They wonder about whether it’s safe to go to a movie theater,” she said.

A lack of close, meaningful relationships is also a major factor.

» RELATED: Should kids be watching new Netflix series on teen suicide? 

Experts have long said hormonal, mental and physical changes associated with puberty may leave teens especially vulnerable to anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders.

And social media doesn’t help, Eken said, adding that teens are always comparing themselves with their peers, which leaves them miserable.

When Times reporter Benoit Denizet-Lewis visited Mountain Valley, a nonprofit that offers teens need-based assistance for $910 a day, a college student at the facility said, “I don’t think we realize how much it’s affecting our moods and personalities,” he said. “Social media is a tool, but it’s become this thing that we can’t live without but that’s making us crazy.”

» RELATED: This social media platform is the worst for cyberbullying 

But social media can also be used to “help increase connections between people,” CDC suicide expert Thomas Simon told CNN in August. “It's an opportunity to correct myths about suicide and to allow people to access prevention resources and materials.”

Still, Simon acknowledged that cyberbullying can greatly impact vulnerable youth.

More from experts at NYTimes.com.

How parents can help

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 80 percent of kids with a diagnosable anxiety disorder are not getting treatment. And anxiety disorders are highly treatable.

While anxiety can be a normal reaction to stressful environments and situations, there are specific symptoms associated with anxiety disorders.

Generally, someone with anxiety disorder would have fear or anxiety that is out of proportion to the situation or inappropriate for his or her age.

The anxiety would also affect normal day-to-day function.

Two questions parents should ask themselves: Is my child more shy or anxious than others his or her age? Is my child more worried than other children his or her age?

» RELATED: Nighttime cellphone usage linked to poor mental health among teens

According to Lynn Miller, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia, those questions can help predict a child’s potential of developing an anxiety disorder.

If you notice overwhelming feelings of anxiety in your child, the ADAA suggests seeking help and talking to a professional.

While antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can offer relief from symptoms, they’re not treated as cures. Instead, talk therapy is often recommended.

More tips from ADAA.org.

Boy sleeps for 11 straight days, baffling doctors

When a 7-year-old boy fell asleep following a late-night wedding party, his mother expected him to be tired, but she could never fathom what would unfold.

>> Watch the news report here

The boy, Wyatt Shaw, was admitted to Norton Children’s Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, during the first week of October after his mother tried and tried and tried to wake up him following the exciting Sunday night wedding festivities.

“Monday I tried to wake him up, and he fell back to sleep,” the boy’s mother, Amy Shaw, told WDRB. “[I’d say], ‘Wyatt, Wyatt, Wyatt!’ And he fell back to sleep again.”

Wyatt slept for 11 consecutive daysAccording to WTVR, medication usually used to treat seizures finally woke the boy up, but doctors are mystified by what happened. Every test performed on Wyatt came back clear.

>> On Rare.us: 'Nothing brings me more joy': Artist brings smiles to sick children with beautiful tattoos

“[The doctors] said, ‘We’ll probably never know, but we’re just going to treat him now with rehab to get him better,’” Amy Shaw said.

>> On Rare.us: Anthony Rizzo breaks down in tears at Chicago hospital

Wyatt is having some trouble talking and walking, but he’s improving and is well aware of his story, WDRB reported. The only thing he doesn’t understand is the same thing the doctors don’t — what happened to him.

>> Read more trending news 

His mom hopes he’s back to showing off the energy he’s always exhibited, especially that night cutting up the dance floor at the wedding.

A benefit concert is being held for Wyatt and his family from 6 to 10 p.m. Oct. 26 at Northside Hall in Radcliff, Kentucky.

Kate Middleton debuts tiny baby bump in first public outing since pregnancy announcement

Duchess Catherine made her first public appearance since announcing her third pregnancy in honor of World Mental Health Day alongside Prince Harry and Prince William on Tuesday.

>> Prince Harry and Meghan Markle: A relationship timeline

The duchess wore a blue frock and black heels as she attended a reception at St. James Palace, her tiny baby bump on display. The reception marks the first time Catherine has been seen in public since announcing her pregnancy in early September.

>> PHOTOS: Meghan Markle through the years

The mother of two suffers from hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe form of morning sickness in her pregnancies, and it forced her to miss several engagements, including Prince George’s first day of school.

“The duchess’ condition is improving but she’s still suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum,” a royal aide told E! News. “She’s delighted to be here tonight.”

>> On Rare.us: Duchess Catherine has a new secret weapon to help aid against morning sickness

She is reportedly less than 12 weeks into her pregnancy.

The royals celebrated the impact of their Heads Together Charity that encourages people to speak out about their struggles with mental health.

Prince William reportedly spoke about how “proud” he was to be involved and credited his wife for coming up with the idea.

>> Read more trending news

“It was Catherine who first realized that all three of us were working on mental health in our individual areas of focus,” he said. “She had seen that at the core of adult issues like addiction and family breakdown, unresolved childhood mental health issues were often part of the problem.”

Mom who refuses to vaccinate son sentenced to jail for decision

UPDATE 9:47 a.m.: Rebecca Bredow was sentenced to seven days in jail and temporary custody was granted to the father of her child to get him vaccinated, a judge decided Wednesday morning. 

ORIGINAL POST: A Michigan mother was told she’d face jail time if she didn’t get her son vaccinated.

Rebecca Bredow is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday to find out if she will be behind bars for standing by her decision to not get childhood shots for her son.

Bredow’s ex-husband wants their son to receive the vaccinations, but as primary caregiver, Bredow has declined.

>> Read more trending news 

“I would rather sit behind bars standing up for what I believe in, than giving in to something I strongly don’t believe in,” Bredow told WXYZ.

She had one week to comply with a judge’s order to get her child his shots, or she could go to jail.

Bredow and the child’s father had made the decision to get their child vaccinated when he was born, but space them out, delaying some. 

“It wasn’t until they started grouping them together that I backed off of doing vaccines,” she told WXYZ.

Skipping or delaying vaccines is permitted in Michigan.

“We’re fortunate in the state of Michigan that’s still permitted, still allow religious, personal and medical exemptions for parents who chose to delay, to skip a vaccine to make various choices,” anti-vaccine advocate Joel Dorfman told WXYZ.

Bredow had a week to have the child brought up to date on his vaccines, according to the judge’s court order. 

How a teal pumpkin can save a child's life

When you have a child with allergies, the fun and excitement of Halloween can become overshadowed by the haunting worry about hidden ingredients and undisclosed allergens in the candy your little one collects.

Some children with ADHD or autism also have certain dietary restrictions that prohibit eating candy, especially in the quantity involved around Halloween.

For these children, Halloween is a time of frustration instead of celebration.

 >> Read more trending stories  

FARE (Food, Allergy, Research & Education) and the Teal Pumpkin Project understand the challenges parents and children face during this candy-filled holiday, and have continued a nationwide movement to offer an alternative for children who cannot partake in the usual fare.

By encouraging families to offer non-food options this Halloween, like scented pencils, stickers, small toys and erasers, the Teal Pumpkin Project hopes to transform this holiday into something every child can enjoy and participate in.

Want to take part? Here's how you can have a safe and fun Halloween this year!

 

  • Join more than 100,000 families by pledging your support for the Teal Pumpkin Project.
  • Paint and display a teal pumpkin, which shows that you support allergy awareness and a food-free Halloween. Make sure to print out a free sign from FARE to place next to your pumpkin.
  • Offer only non-food items at your door for trick-or-treaters this year.

If you really want to help take charge of Halloween, you can spread awareness of Halloween-related food allergies by holding your own fundraiser. The Teal Pumpkin Project suggests a few easy ways to raise money, including hosting your own pumpkin walk, a teal pumpkin painting party, a teal-painted pumpkin sale, neighborhood collections, and having a food and candy-free Halloween party.

 

For more information, contact FARE and Teal Pumpkin Project at 1-800-929-4040.

 

Children dismissed from private school because parents have open marriage

Akia Brown released her self-published memoir in February. A few months later, she learned her decision to reveal her life in print would get her children dismissed from their school.

>> Read more trending news 

The book, “Beyond Love,” details Brown’s journey from a single parent in Detroit to her current life as a mother of six in Atlanta who said she is happy in an open marriage with her husband.

It took a few months for news of her book to travel to administrators at Mount Paran Christian School in Kennesaw, Georgia, where her daughter had been a student for two years and her son was set to begin pre-kindergarten this fall.

In late July, Brown received a call from two administrators at the school. Via speaker phone, they told her that her daughter would not be allowed to return and her son was being denied admission.

Mount Paran is a private Christian, nondenominational, college preparatory day school that serves students ages 3-12. Parents are required to sign a covenant agreement upon enrollment, school officials said. The admission policy states:

The applicant and his/her parents must express a belief of biblical teachings, and a willingness to follow them, as well as student and parent’s affirmation of faith. Parents and students must read and agree to support the Statement of Faith (p. 4-5 in parent/student handbook on MPCS website), commit to uphold Christian principles in their daily lives, and actively participate in a local church body. As a covenant Christian school, MPCS reserves the right to determine whether Mount Paran Christian School is an appropriate placement for the applicant and/or the family. MPCS reserves the right to deny acceptance, terminate, or suspend enrollment of students at the school’s discretion with non-disclosure of reasons.

In this case, the school did give a reason -- Brown and her husband’s open marriage -- but Brown wanted the opportunity to plead her case.

“They haven’t even read the book. I don’t know how they even found out about the book,” Brown said.

She said her daughter, a shy first-grader, was flourishing at Mount Paran and misses her friends. She and her husband had made sure their children were supported academically and socially, she said.

In the book, Brown describes her nontraditional life. Her husband, Brian Maurice Brown, was incarcerated for almost 10 years on drug charges. In 2012, he started BMB Records, which has hosted a roster of hip-hop artists including Charli Baltimore and Ray J.

According to a recent story in the Detroit News, the company has been under investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration since 2013. Brian Maurice Brown has not been charged with a drug-related crime.

Over the years, their relationship evolved from husband and wife to one between her, her husband and at least two other women, which they refer to as “wife-in-laws.” In the vein of urban nonfiction, Brown offers salacious details, but she contends the book is about unconditional love.

Brown said she was able to enroll her children in a new Christian school. She told the school administrators right upfront what happened and explained her views, an opportunity she said she never had at Mount Paran.

“Yes, (the book) discusses open marriage – or what others may consider an open marriage – but the real meaning and everything I have ever talked about is unconditional love and having a forgiving heart,” Brown said.

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