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SafePassage – Amy Chua

By Holly Hunter | July 18, 2011

One of the highlights of the recent IECA Conference in Philadelphia was a presentation given by Amy Chua: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Many of you may have seen her interviewed on television or seen some of the snippets with her children on You Tube. I must say she is even more dynamic in person. She captivated a really tough crowd of more than 400 conference attendees; I say it this way because less than five people left the room during her discussion and usually after the first fifteen minutes or so people begin to get up and leave – unless of course there is food. And there was no food.

This audience of professional educational consultants, therapeutic school and program owners, staff and educators and attendees  from all type of industry related services sat attentive as she regaled stories of life with her daughters. She told us how her parenting methods were a textbook answer for her oldest daughter, but as her second child protested and resisted, Chua gave thought to whether or not she should change her ways. There was a particular story about a family come-apart in Red Square that you have to read about in her book. The essence of her message was that although her methods were not, and apparently are not popular, they work.

Following her address to the conference attendees I waited in line to obtain a copy of her book. As I approached her I had plenty of time to reflect on rearing my own children and how my parenting philosophy earned me the title of Wicked Witch of Alpharetta. At the time I laughed about it, and to this day it still brings a smile to my face when I remember the first time my son introduced me using the title. I suppose it was indicative of how a ten year old expressed his dislike for structure in our household. We had rules and a code of ethics by which I held fast; most of the time it was unpopular with the other kids. When they would come over to play or spend the night they were very careful not to elaborate on the elements of structure and rules in our home and mostly only told their parents that they watched movies or played video games while at our house.  But as time went on the truth began to surface and when other parents in our circle of friends learned that my middle schoolers had to wash their own clothes, take two nights each week to prepare dinner and that there was no Friday night football game for the high schooler because the grass did not get cut first I began to receive phone calls asking how they could implement change in their home. Of course in the eyes of my children it became my fault that their friends became subjected to similar protocols that were imposed at our home and as a result their friends were upset with them. Thus, the title was earned.

When I arrived at the front of the line I thanked Chua for having the courage to tell the world that they do not have to let their children become  one of the crowd; that its okay to set boundaries and have standards that are different from the everyone else. Amy just smiled and said you are welcome.

What an outstanding contribution to our rapidly decaying society she has made. I encourage everyone to read her book and implement three of her philosophies into their family. I believe you will be pleasantly surprised.

Topics: IECA | No Comments »

SafePassage – Merry Christmas

By Holly Hunter | December 20, 2010

To honor our Clients and express our appreciation to the therapeutic schools and programs and Educational Consultants who place their faith and trust in SafePassage Adolescent Services, a donation to the United Methodist Children’s Home in Decatur, GA has been made. The UMCH, founded in 1871, assists children and families who do not have access to other types of help. Through Family Counseling, Family Housing, Parenting Classes and Financial Aid the UMCH is able to preserve families and protect children.

This is our way to say thank you for allowing SafePassage to assist our Clients in their time of need. We hope that the parents in crisis whom we serve have experienced positive support from the moment of their first phone call through their at risk adolescent’s transport, treatment and continuing education.

Merry Christmas and a blessed holiday season to each of you.

Topics: at-risk adolescents | 1 Comment »

K-9 Intervention

By Holly Hunter | November 3, 2010

SafePassage Adolescent Services announces K-9 Intervention.

K-9 Intervention is a unique service that affords parents and grandparents of adolescents an opportunity to discover if illegal drugs and/or drug paraphernalia are in their home. SafePassage, through our parent company Hunter Investigations LLC will work with parents by sending a highly trained drug dog, the dog’s handler and licensed private investigator to their home to do a sweep of the premises.  The sweep can be done while your teenager is in school and  depending on the size of your home it can be completed in a few hours or less.

The issue here is not if your teenager is at-risk, the issue is that the home-owner is liable if illegal drugs are on the premises. First of all if you think there may be illegal drugs in your home there very well may be. If you do not know what to look for or are not certain where your teenager’s hiding places are, call the professionals to assist. If drugs are found during the sweep you will be advised of what action is recommended.

Parents and grandparents with teenagers in their homes who raise the question: how do I know if there are drugs in my home, have an advocate. SafePassage and Hunter Investigations can provide the answer.

Topics: SafePassage News | No Comments »

Contract With Your Teen: No Texting Allowed

By Holly Hunter | September 28, 2010

The USA Today reports that to date the ban on texting while driving has not decreased the automobile accident rate but increased it because teenagers simply lower their phones, and their eyes, when they spot law enforcement nearby. Research compiled at the Highway Loss Data Institute indicates that of the four States that were studied prior to the institution of texting bans, three of these have reported an increase in automobile accidents. They alluded to the heightened state of anxiety that teenagers face when being forced to ignore incoming text messages while driving as the reason for the increase in traffic accidents. I am thinking that statement is bogus. If your teenager has that level of anxiety when behind the wheel of the car why did you allow them to obtain their drivers license in the first place which is probably the same reason you have not put a stop to texting while driving.

Text messaging is a communication phenomenon that has swept into our culture and because multitasking while driving causes accidents and deaths, society has decided that there is a need to remove the option of texting while driving. It is true that teenagers are a big culprit for this offense but we have all seen many adults reading email, texting, reading books, and balancing their lap top while driving as well. You know your teens see this when they are on the road and they assume if its okay for adults its okay for them.  So what do you do? Unfortunately you cannot keep your friends and associates from being stupid while driving, but you can help your teenager to see the error of their ways. Set rules for your household and enforce them.

Start at the top and set the example; clean up your act on the road and institute a plan for your family. Establish a written contract with your teenagers and include things like: no texting or emailing; no use of electronics after the car is engaged on the road. Most any iPod or PDA can be programmed ahead of time; even the car radio has preset buttons so there is really no excuse here. No headphones while – that’s because most teenagers will not listen with only one and buy having both ear-buds in their ears they cannot hear the sounds of traffic that will alert them to potential dangers. No phone calls unless it is a 911 emergency. Applying makeup, shaving and reading books are out, too. Whatever is potentially distracting needs to be on the No List. Why? The car they are driving is a loaded lethal weapon and if they do not pay close attention to everything that is going on while they are driving they may become a statistic.

This is a family bonding moment; use it to the fullest. Draft the contract together and remember to add consequences. If your teen is caught texting while driving, revoke their driving privileges for a week. The consequence should fit the offense and make enough of an impression that they do not want to repeat the offense. What do you mean you won’t really know if your teen texts while driving you don’t ride with them because you go to work? Don’t you receive a monthly bill from your service provider? Of course you do. When that bill comes in and you sit down with your teenager and review their list of phone calls and text messaging you will have your answer. Doing this a few times will drive home the point that you care about your teenagers safety and well being so much that you will revoke their privilege to get behind the wheel of a car.

This is about loving your teenager so much that you are going to keep the safe from themselves. This exercise in following the rules and self esteem building will serve them well as they interact with their peers and prepare to face the world after they leave your nest.

Topics: SafePassage News | No Comments »

No Pop Tarts Please

By Holly Hunter | September 25, 2010

In a recent conversation with a parent in crisis we were discussing the logistics for the upcoming transport when the parent said to me, “Is it okay if I pack a bag of comfort food; some of his favorites like sports drinks and Pop Tarts to let him know that its all going to be fine?”

I told the parent that I understood the thought behind the bag of favorite snacks, “…but the thing that will make your son know that everything will be fine is that once you have told him that you have provided a new opportunity for him to change his life and get back on track and you have introduced the people that will take care of him and safely see him to the program, you allow him to trust what you have said.”

I went on to explain to the parent that immediately following your directive the Team will establish boundaries for the duration of the transport. Within these boundaries your son will be told that they will not lie to him and if they something will happen, it will. This means food too. When your son sees that the boundaries set are kept, the trust begins.

Dependency on the Transport Team for his very basic needs is where the trust-bond begins. Allowing your son to rely upon the Team to supply his food establishes trust. Once the trust is established your son will more readily accept the directive you gave and from that moment your son begins to have acceptance for the opportunity you have provided.

So when you are packing for your at-risk teenagers transport to the therapeutic boarding school or wilderness program you have selected, remember no Pop Tarts, please.

Topics: SafePassage News | No Comments »

The Discovery School of Virginia

By Holly Hunter | August 17, 2010

Tucked away in the rolling hills of central Virginia is The Discovery School of Virginia. I recently visited this therapeutic boarding school and talked over lunch with Chris Yates about their program.

The Discovery School affords opportunity for teen age boys and girls who are experiencing emotional complexities and behavioral problems to obtain therapy for their issues while the working on their academics. Discovery has developed an independent study center which allows students who have learning difficulties to be able to excel.

I was given a guided tour of each campus, the boys and the girls, by two of the students in residence. My first tour was given by young man who said he had been at Discovery for more than eight months. As we walked on the trails through the woods he explained their daily routine at Discovery. The walk was long from the school house to the cabins, but even in the sweltering heat of the summer the trees shaded the trails and made the walk pleasant. As we conversed about their routine – individual responsibility to keep their cabins neat and clean, keep clothes washed, folded and put away from the elements so they stay dry – he shared an interesting story with me about some parents he recently toured who were looking at the school for their son. He said after the tour was completed the mom looked at him and said she just didn’t think it will work for her son because he is not made to attend class; she explained that presently he was truant and needed to be forced into studying. A big smile came over the young man’s face as he recounted what he told the mom: after thirty or more days of sweeping the campsite, picking up sticks and limbs on the trails cleaning cobwebs and making sure everything stays neat everyday, all day he will want to go to school. Absolutely.

One of the first things I saw was a tent that was being rebuilt. The young lady told me that the roof was beginning to leak so it was time to replace the tent. When I asked why not just replace the roof, she told me that most of the cabins and tents only last about 2 -2½ years because the timbers begin to rot. So since the roof needed to be fixed, it was time to simply build new from the ground up. As we continued my tour I noticed this young lady had incurred some sunburn. When I asked her about it she indicated that she was on a canoe trip and didn’t use the sunscreen as she should have. She accepted full responsibility for the decision not to apply the lotion properly and went on to say that had this happened the previous summer she would have blamed everyone else for what happened to her. Discovery, she told me, has taught her to accept responsibility for all of her decisions regardless of what they are. Good decisions she added are easy to take credit for, but dumb decisions, not so much. What a great thing to hear.

I think the best part of the tour at Discovery was seeing the progress of the students. Transporting at-risk adolescents I see these students at what is quite possibly their worst. To see and talk with students who have been at their worst, are now in a structured environment openly accept responsibility for their decisions and actions; who are talking candidly about their future in a positive way is so exciting. After all this is what its all about.

Topics: At-Rick Adolescents, Therapeutic Schools and Programs | No Comments »

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