Preventing Bullying on Unity Day and Beyond

October 18th, 2016

This month we’re delighted to have Prevent Child Abuse America as our guest blogger. In honor of National Bullying Prevention Month we’ve invited them to discuss Unity Day, a day for all Americans to show their support for all of the children who are bullied every year.

Wednesday, October 19 is Unity Day, a day for all Americans to unite around the ideals of kindness, acceptance and inclusion to stand up for bullying prevention. Sponsored by the PACER Center, Unity Day is a chance to visibly show your support for the estimated 13 million children who are bullied every year.

It’s easy to participate! The number one way to show your support on Unity Day is by wearing orange. Whether it’s as simple as a bracelet or as all-out as an entire outfit, wearing orange on Unity Day is a visual symbol that you support efforts to end bullying. There are also badges you can use on your social media profiles to show your support. But while wearing orange is a great way to show support, there are other actions that you can take – on Unity Day and beyond! – to help prevent bullying in your neighborhood or school.

Tips to Help Prevent Bullying and Peer Abuse for Parents and Students

The number one way for a parent to prevent and stop bullying is communication. Only by knowing what is actually going on in your child’s life can you make a difference. If you’re a parent or caregiver, make sure you’re asking your child the right questions. Instead of a question like “how was your day,” consider asking questions that encourage a longer conversation. Questions like “What was the best thing that happened today?” and “On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your day? Why?” can help give parents and caregivers more insight into what is actually going on with the children you care for.

If your child does disclose that they are bullied, make sure they understand that it is not their fault and that they did the right thing by telling you. Learn the facts and be sure to speak with school administration so they can monitor the situation and prevent future incidents.

If you are a student who wants to be an ally or a parent of a student, the best way to help prevent or stop bullying is by showing kindness and inclusion to fellow students and by choosing to be an “upstander” instead of a bystander in bullying situations. A great way to do this is with the new app SitWithUs.

Designed by 16-year-old Natalie Hampton, the idea behind the app is simple: if you don’t have someone to sit with at lunch, SitWithUs will help that lonely student find a place to eat, and instead of sitting alone, it gives them the chance to find and connect with new friends.

This app is a perfect example of the ideals behind Unity Day, and helps prevent bullying in one of the most common areas for bullying to occur – the lunchroom. While currently only available for iPhone, we thought the app was such a great idea that, alongside our bullying prevention partner Chartwells K12, we are funding the development of the app for Android, giving more parents and students access and increasing opportunities to exhibit the kindness and inclusion that helps prevent bullying situations.

For more ideas on what you can do to prevent bullying, check out our website or visit the PACER Center for more information on Unity Day. We hope you’ll join us on Wednesday and stand up for bullying prevention!

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3 Strategies for Good Communication with Your Kids with Margie Skeer, ScD, MPH, MSW

September 30th, 2016

Recently, we had the privilege of hosting a presentation on family dinners and parent engagement by Tufts University School of Medicine’s Margie Skeer, ScD, MPH, MSW. Dr. Skeer talked about her exciting research on the benefits of family dinners and revealed her thoughts on effective communication between parents and children.

Here are three strategies she shared for improving communication with your kids:

1. Ask your kids open ended questions. Encourage them to elaborate by asking follow-up questions if they give one-word answers.

2. Pick a topic that your kids are expected to talk about at every dinner, such as, “What was the best thing that happened to you today? The worst thing?” The topic can and should evolve as your family’s needs and activities change.

3. Express interest in their interests. Educate yourself about the things that are important to your kids (like Snapchat or Pokémon) so you can discuss them and ask questions.

We encourage you to try some of these strategies at your family dinner tonight. Are there any other strategies that you use to get your kids talking during a family activity or meal? If so, please share them with us in the comments below! If you’d like to listen to Dr. Skeer’s entire presentation please click here.


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Celebrate CASA Family Day – Be Involved. Stay Involved.® on September 26!

September 14th, 2016

CASA Family Day is quickly approaching, and we can’t wait to share all the news with you about how to join this year’s celebration online or in person.

If you are a parent, you can celebrate Family Day by posting your #myfamilyselfie photos on social media. It’s simple and easy to participate. Just gather your family for a meal or special activity, snap a picture of everyone spending time together, and share the image on social media using #myfamilyselfie on Family Day, Sept. 26. Learn more here.

You can also celebrate Family Day with other families in your community. Our sponsors and partners/ambassadors and community groups all over the country have special events and activities planned to help families have fun and connect, whether it be over food, games, or conversation. Here’s a taste of what’s going on this year:

  • 20 State First Spouses are serving as Honorary Chairs of Family Day. First Lady of Illinois Diana Rauner will be hosting a dinner for military families. First Lady of South Dakota Linda Daugaard will be reading to kids at the Dahl Arts Center in Rapid City.
  • 12 Major League Baseball teams are helping to celebrate Family Day at their home games, including the: Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Seattle Mariners, and Washington Nationals.

Here is how some of our other sponsors and partners are celebrating Family Day:

  • The Coca-Cola Company is back as Family Day’s Presenting Sponsor! Coca-Cola is partnering with Waffle House to offer coupons for a free kid’s meal.
  • Family Day Partners/Ambassadors who will be sharing Family Day information with their community include: Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), Fathers Incorporated, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), National Center for Fathering, National Military Family Association, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, Prevent Child Abuse America, Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), The Family Dinner Project, the Kids Time, and The Moyer Foundation.
  • The Governors’ residences in Nevada and New Jersey will be lit in red and blue on September 26th in honor of Family Day.
  • Mom Bloggers Amy Roskelley of Super Healthy Kids and Jen Frost of Faith and Fabric are once again partnering with Family Day to help spread awareness about the importance of parental engagement.

What are your Family Day plans? Let us know in the comments below! From our family to yours, we hope you have a fun and happy Family Day this year!

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5 Tips to Help Get Kids Ready for the New School Year

August 30th, 2016

After almost three months of summer break, kids may find it difficult to go back to their academic routine. To help get your child in the right frame of mind, start talking now about how they can be ready to begin this new chapter in their life. Also, check out our 5 tips below to help you and your child prepare for the new school year.

  1. Start adjusting your child’s eating and sleeping schedule. Ease your child back into a school year routine gradually. During the last two weeks of summer, re-introduce a scheduled bedtime to ensure they get enough sleep. If meal times or other regular routines have changed over the summer vacation, reset those as well. For example, if you know when your child’s lunch period is have them start eating lunch at that time again.
  2.  Organize your child’s workspace and school supplies. Work with your child to create a space in your home where they can keep their school materials organized and readily available. Establish when and where homework will be done daily.
  3. Create a family calendar. Keep you and your child on track by creating a calendar to put on your fridge or in their room. Take some time to sit down together and write in all of their after school activities, various holidays, tests dates, etc.
  4. Shop for school supplies and clothes early. Go through your child’s wardrobe and get rid of clothes they have outgrown over the summer. Reducing clutter will make getting ready in the morning a lot easier for your child. If possible, try to buy school supplies early. If you’re not sure what the teachers require try to buy the basic necessities that kids will need like pencils, computer paper, etc.
  5. Plan healthy and nutritious meals. Try to plan and gather ingredients you need for meals during the school week on the weekends. Get your kids involved with the preparation when possible. They can help you shop, cook, or even set the table.

Just breathe. You’re not alone. Many parents and guardians across the country are going through this process right now. The good news is that a little bit of preparation can make those first weeks of school easier for both you and your child. Good luck and have a great school year! Is there anything else you do with your child to prepare for the school year that we haven’t mentioned? Let us know in the comments below!

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5 Playful End of Summer Activities to do with Your Kids

August 17th, 2016

Did you know that children learn a lot when they play? According to pediatrician and adolescent specialist, Ken Ginsburg, MD, FAAP, free play (or downtime) offers protection against stress and gives kids chances to discover their own interests and talents. The end of summer offers a perfect opportunity to squeeze in a few more activities that allow your child to play, be outdoors, learn new things, and most importantly, have meaningful conversations with you. Check out 5 end of summer activities you can get started on today.

  • Make a Lemonade Stand – This project allows you to connect with your child and teach them a variety of important skills. You will be working together to create your stand, collect the ingredients, and budget the money. Also, it gives your child a chance to socialize with others in their neighborhood and to feel good about providing a needed service to their community on a hot day.
  • Write and Perform a Play – Write a short play with your kids and make sure to assign a role to each family member. The play can be serious, funny, educational, or all three. The point is to help your child improve their writing skills, be more creative, and learn from you. You can perform your play outside for some neighbors or in your home with no audience. Just be sure to have some fun!
  • Go on a Hike – Go outside with you child and learn more about different types of plants, trees, and animals together. Make some trail mix with your kids, bring your binoculars, and if possible maybe even camp out for a night and talk about all of your adventures that day.
  • Make Popsicles – Make popsicles with your kids using your favorite juices and fruits. Get creative and try different ingredients like yogurt or pudding. Take your child shopping with you and give them jobs in the kitchen that make them feel special. Make sure when the popsicles are ready you enjoy them together at the kitchen table or outside in the yard while talking and enjoying each other’s company.
  • Visit a New Place – Go to a museum, an amusement park, a fair/festival, or a baseball game. It doesn’t matter which activity you choose, as long as you’re going somewhere you’ve both never been to before. It’s fun to experience new things as a family. It’s also fun to talk about the new memories you’ve made for years to come.

The end of summer doesn’t have to be all about shopping for the new school year. Take some time out to really connect with your kids through conversation and give them a chance to play.  Are there any other end of summer activities you do with your kids that we didn’t mention? Tell us about them in the comments below.

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Towards Zero Deaths

July 28th, 2016

This month we’re delighted to have Dawn M. Teixeira, President and CEO of SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), as our guest blogger. We’ve invited Dawn to discuss the “Towards Zero Death” initiative, which works towards keeping teens, parents, and their friends safe on the roads in their communities when driving.

Thirty-five years ago, a revolution began in the halls of Wayland High School in Wayland, MA with a simple idea that one young person, when empowered, can and will make a difference. Wayland was the birthplace of SADD after that community suffered the loss of three students in three alcohol-related crashes. What followed was a decade of students accepting responsibility and taking change into their own hands. Students rose up and advocated, educated, and joined forces with parents, teachers, and other caring adults, businesses, legislators, law enforcement, and the community at large to stop the deaths and injuries that resulted from the decision to drink and drive. At that time, the organization was named Students Against Driving Drunk and in 1997, the name was changed to Students Against Destructive Decisions at the urging of its student members to address other critical teen issues.

SADD students of today continue the revolution with great passion because they know that their prevention work has no end. It’s true, with decades of mass media campaigns, local peer-to-peer and community education and programming, improvements in road conditions and emergency response tactics and changes in laws, our population is much more aware of the dangers on the roads and the long-term numbers do show the progress. However, motor vehicle crashes are still the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. General lack of experience behind the wheel, judgement and decision-making ability, as well as distractions from other people in the car and personal technology all contribute to the fact that teen traffic safety is an issue that must stay at the forefront of our work. Having just one young person die on our roadways is one too many.

That is why at the recent SADD National Conference on Youth Health & Safety, we announced that SADD officially joined the “Towards Zero Death” initiative. This effort, led by the Department of Transportation and dozens of other organizations across the country, seeks to achieve one goal- a day when no life is lost on our roads; a day when every mom and dad, brother and sister, coworker and friend, gets where they are going safely, every trip, every time.

An effort like this may seem impossible but I am reminded of the numerous moments in history when we doubted the ability of human drive and passion. The students and adults that make up SADD Nation have that drive and passion to make this goal happen by using the SADD approach. The SADD approach challenges each of us to empower the teens around us- whether they are our friends or our children, students in our classroom or in our neighborhood. It challenges us to engage parents, so they know the laws and have those meaningful conversations that must happen to make our roadways safe. The SADD approach mobilizes communities because it not only takes a village to raise a child; it takes a village to keep a teen safe. In the end, we believe the SADD approach saves lives and advances the collective effort Towards Zero Deaths.

As we celebrate SADD’s 35th birthday this year, our wish is simple. We need each of you! We ask you to join this commitment with us. Join the commitment simply by:

  • Reflecting on how you drive each time to get behind the wheel
  • Educate others on the issues
  • Speak-up when you see a driver being unsafe
  • Do whatever it takes to make sure that everyone around you gets home safely

Find more information and free resources and programs for parents and teens please visit SADD’s website:

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9 Tips for Keeping Teens Safe During the Summer Months

July 7th, 2016

This month we’re delighted to have Brooke Webb, Co-Founder of the Kids Time (formerly known as itsgr82bme), as our guest blogger. the Kids Time is a trusted source to recommend quality activities and events to families all over the U.S. We’ve invited Brooke to share some tips to keep teens safe during the summer months.

School is out and the lazy days of summer are upon us. There is a sense of freedom that overcomes us all. There is also an abundant amount of free time in the summer, and unsupervised teens may succumb to negative peer pressure. Here are a few good tips to follow to be sure teens don’t find their way into trouble:

  1. Assign Chores – Giving teens chores around the house or yard not only keeps them busy, but also allows them to demonstrate their ability to be responsible. Suggest they help an elderly neighbor with their housework or gardening as well.
  2. Set Boundaries – Never allow your teen to invite friends over when you’re not home, and let them know if there are any places/locations they are not permitted to go to.
  3. Keep in Contact – This one is important. Use FaceTime, texting, or calls to keep in touch with your teen. Create an understanding that they must answer. The whole purpose of having these electronics is for communication, right?
  4. Know the Plan – Let your teen know they have to have a plan if they’re going out. Who is driving? Who is picking up? Know who is going, where the destination is, and what time you can expect them home. Accountability is key.
  5. Find Help in Your Community – Have someone check in on your teen when you’re not at home for an extended period of time. A neighbor, a friend or relative you can trust is a good choice. Leaving kids unsupervised for hours on end is asking for trouble.
  6. Know their Friends – Get to know your child’s friends. Host a movie night, a BBQ, or another fun activity at your home.
  7. Establish a Curfew – Let your teen know what time they need to be home every night, and enforce consequences if they cannot abide by your rules. When they complain everyone else is out, offer your front steps, basement or backyard to continue the gathering. At home is better than another location with no parental supervision.
  8. Do Summer Activities Together – Whether it’s a baseball game, a trip to an amusement park, or just some time at home making a yummy summertime snack, make it priority to regularly spend time with your teen this summer.
  9. Monitor their Online Activity – People can pretend to be anyone online. Encourage your teen to use good judgment, and not share personal information with people they have never met. Make sure you know what apps your child is using and what websites they frequently visit.

At the end of the day, your teen’s safety is most important. Throughout the summer months, check in daily with your teen to make sure they are having a fun, productive, and safe summer.

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How to Get Kids Talking at the Dinner Table

June 23rd, 2016

Many parents, especially parents of older teens, oftentimes feel their kids don’t want to sit around the dinner table and talk to them. You can rest assured that this is actually not the case. At The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, we surveyed thousands of teens. Kids do, in fact, want to have family dinners. More than eight out of ten teens of all ages preferred to have dinner with their families. And what they want at dinner is to talk to you!

Try making talking about anything and everything part of your normal family routine, and establish that free exchange as early in life as possible. One great way to get kids talking at dinner is to use conversation starters. At your next family dinner try some of our conversation starters below.

For preteens:

  • What are the best and worst things that happened today?
  • What’s your favorite place in the house to hang out?
  • If you were in charge of the music for our family vacation, which songs would you pick?
  • Which TV show is the most fun to watch?
  • What do you like about your friends?
  • What’s your favorite amusement park ride?
  • What’s favorite toy or game?

For teens:

  • What values are most important to you?
  • Who’s the greatest athlete of all time?
  • What can each of us do to make the world a better place? What can we do as a family?
  • Did you see anything fun on YouTube today?
  • Who’s your favorite teacher and why?
  • What’s your favorite subject in school?
  • What’s your favorite pizza topping?

For even more great conversation starters check out our CASA Family Day Activity Kit. In addition, there’s also many other tips, games, and tools in our activity kit that can help you connect with your kids on a daily basis. All of these activities can help the dialogue between you and your child grow more each day, so that when it comes time to talk about nicotine, alcohol, and other drugs, it will feel more open, honest, and natural for everyone.


  1. Kristen Repetti writes:

    Our family enjoys our own version of Trivia Night. We use cards from Trivia Pursuit, or use education fan decks and take turns asking questions. Topics on history, world history, famous people, geography and more. It opens up conversations about learning about the answers in the classroom at school, which sparks additional dialogue about teachers, fellow classmates and so forth. We don’t exactly keep score, but you could arrange for the winner to choose his/her choice of clean up duty (because everyone should help with clean up!). Clear and wipe the table, put left overs away, load dishwasher, take out trash, etc.

  2. casafamilyday writes:

    Thanks so much for sharing, Kristen! What a fun way to connect with your family!

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Five Tips for Dads Who Would Like to Have A Better Connection With Their Kids

June 9th, 2016

This month we’re delighted to have Kenneth Braswell, Sr., Executive Director of Fathers Incorporated and Director of the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, as our guest blogger. In honor of Father’s Day we’ve invited him to share some tips for dads who would like to have a better connection with their kids.

Check out the blog below!

As Father’s Day approaches many of us who are dads are preparing to take our day of celebration to the next level. Fathers have spoken. No more ugly ties, short lines at the restaurant or gifts we have to force ourselves to smile for. We believe we have come of age and demand Best Buy gift cards, new golf clubs and tickets to the Superbowl. A father can dream can’t he?

While these fathers have dreams of great gifts, others dads are simply worried about how they can make the day more meaningful. The reality is Father’s Day is still an occasion that stirs up a myriad of emotions in both dads and moms. I think we all have the desire to embrace the complete concept of family. Where we differ is in what we believe it should look like and how we achieve healthy families regardless of our personal relationships.

The Pew Research Center suggest as many of us would surmise that we still have some work to do on connecting fathers with their children. In an article, “Tale of Two Fathers: More Are Active, But More Are Absent[1],” Gretchen Livingston and Kim Parker reveal that fathers who live with their children are more engaging, however non-resident fathers still struggle with connection.

Fatherhood programs around the country are attempting to deal with the systemic issues that serve as barriers for families. In addition to these programmatic needs; relationship building and other communication skill challenges must also be addressed. As difficult as that may sound to overcome, there are some simple ways to begin a consistent path of connection with your children as a father. Here are a few ways.

  1. Technology – Social media is the tale of two cities, however used correctly it can serve as a great tool to remain connected to your children. Obviously the age of your children is a factor in this, however something as simple as sending your child an affirmation each morning is a great way to let them know you are thinking about them.
  2. Letter Writing – The art of letter writing is fading however it impact remains strong. There is nothing about being able to open a hand written letter from someone you love. The whole notion of someone taking the time to stop what he or she is doing to write you a note is priceless.
  3. Phone Calls – The numbers on your phone do more than just type numbers. Distance serves as no barrier when you have the ability to pick up the phone and call your children. Phones give you the ability to always be accessible to your children.
  4. Personalizing Gifts – My children love the newest gadgets a much as the next child, however when I give them gifts that speak to their own interest, it deepens my connection with them. I’ve learned that when I listen to them intently, I will hear the desires of their heart. Often they will tell me what’s important to them without them being aware that they’re doing it. Musical artist they like, place they desire to go, people they want to see and activities they want to do are at the top of the list of things that make giving; personal.
  5. Show Interest – A great way to be connected to your children is to show interest in the things that matter to them. Showing up to events, attending school meeting on their behalf, purchasing books or sending them links on subjects they like. Nothing expresses love more, than your children knowing that you are paying attention to their needs and wants.

Here’s a bonus tip…Affection. I know, depending on the age of your child this becomes a little tricky to pull off. Do it anyway. They’ll never forget it.

Kenneth Braswell is the Executive Director of Fathers Incorporated ( and the Director of the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearing House ( You can follow him on Twitter @fathersincorp and his personal blog at


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How Can I Prepare My Kids for College?

May 26th, 2016

College is a stepping stone toward adulthood for your child. While this may be true, college campuses are oftentimes not the most mature environments. Your child will be thrown into a new and unfamiliar situation with thousands of other unsupervised teens. They will face opportunities, challenges, and the temptation to use alcohol and drugs.

If your children are young, start teaching your kids about the dangers of alcohol and drug use as soon as they understand the difference between good and bad. The most important qualities to teach your child throughout their formative years are love, discipline and respect. So by the time they reach college and experience a new kind of independence, they will be focused on being productive and getting good grades.

When your children are in high school, conversations about alcohol and drug use should be routine and frequent. During these talks, make sure you’re asking questions about what they are seeing around them and you’re listening as much as you talk. Continuously reinforcing your expectations about drugs and alcohol is important: 70 percent of college students say that their parents’ concerns or expectations influence whether or how much they drink, smoke, or use drugs. Students who are drug and alcohol free in high school are less likely to drink and use drugs in college.

The college experience today is very different from the days when you were a student. Students can set their schedules so that they have no Friday or even Thursday classes, and fewer morning classes. Many college campuses are encircled by bars that sell beer and alcohol at low prices to attract students. Technology gives students greater access to parties that have drugs and alcohol, and students have more time to devote towards partying. Temptation is nearly constant, and because the brain is still developing throughout the midtwenties, the controls needed to resist it, and the ability to appreciate consequences of actions, are not yet fully in place.

Alex (a student at Miami University) remembers the impressive assortment of drugs he once used. “I used pretty much everything,” he said. “Adderall, Ambien, Xanax, Klonopin, Percocet, morphine, Suboxone, ketamine… Now I only use Xanax once in a while.” He used each drug, he said, for a different purpose. “Adderall helps me study,” he said “The benzos chilled me out and helped my anxiety, and the opiates made me feel great and forget about my problems.” (Source: Victoria Slater “Prescription Drug Epidemic on the Rise,” Miami student newspaper, Miami University of Ohio, December 3, 2013.)

The reasons college students use drugs, whether it be to party, relax, study, or avoid something stressful, are no different from the reasons high school students report using the same drugs. The big difference for college students is their environment. College freshman don’t need to go home and face their parents and family members after smoking, drinking, or using other drugs. To college kids, the nights are longer, the parties are harder, and the access to drugs and alcohol is much easier.

As a parent you have the power to influence your kids throughout their college years, especially if you begin talking about drugs and alcohol with them at an early age. Keep the lines of communication open when they’re in middle school, high school and college. This will help you develop a positive, open, and nurturing relationship with your child. Let your child know that you explicitly disapprove of substance use, and monitor their behavior as they continue to mature and grow. Resisting peer pressure and avoiding risky situations are acquired skills, and the best time to teach them is when your child is at home with you.

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