Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The More You Know

I love coming to New York to appear on the Today Show, even when the topic is depressing and impossible to parse in three minutes. I got a call yesterday afternoon to jump on a bus (and train and car) to appear this morning to talk about the California shootings and warning signs in kids. 

I always have a goal when I appear in an interview, one takeaway piece of information I want to convey in the segment. Today I had two. 

First, the crime rate has been going down steadily since 1993, and homicides are down between 40-60% depending on which age group you are talking about. Thanks to Lenore Skenazy for the FANTASTIC resouces at on reassuring, reality-check crime statistics. 

According to Pew Research

Compared with 1993, the peak of U.S. gun homicides, the firearm homicide rate was 49% lower in 2010, and there were fewer deaths, even though the nation’s population grew. The victimization rate for other violent crimes with a firearm—assaults, robberies and sex crimes—was 75% lower in 2011 than in 1993. Violent non-fatal crime victimization overall (with or without a firearm) also is down markedly (72%) over two decades.  

But here's the thing. Pew also found that due to the media onslaught surrounding isolated and rare examples of gun violence, Americans believe that gun violence is up. 

Despite the attention to gun violence in recent months, most Americans are unaware that gun crime is markedly lower than it was two decades ago. A new Pew Research Center survey (March 14-17) found that 56% of Americans believe the number of crimes involving a gun is higher than it was 20 years ago; only 12% say it is lower and 26% say it stayed the same. (An additional 6% did not know or did not answer.)

So, takeaway point number one. Chill out, turn off the TV, go back to what you were doing, and remember that the crime rate continues to decline in this country.*  

Takeaway point number two: when a teacher notices that something is up with your kid, and gets up her nerve to tell you about it (which is not an easy thing, ask any teacher), LISTEN. Listen with an open mind and know that if she's come to you, she's worried. 

That said, PSA over, and here's today's segment on "Navigating the world of troubled children."

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*However, as a friend points, out, don't relax too much if you have a gun in your home or if your child has access to guns. That's just too damn dangerous. Here are some links from the Children's Defense Fund re: the stats on kids and guns

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Parenting: It's All a Big Test

This week, in the Parent-Teacher Conference, I answer the question of what it really means when a school asks to have a child tested. This is a wild and wooly topic, with lots of tangents and caveats, but I did my best to get the details down in 1000 words or less.

I even got to use one of my new action figures for the piece, and you can read it here.