Is Your Child’s School Environmentally Safe?

Dear Advocate,

As parents, grandparents and child advocates, we are concerned about recent increases in the rates of asthma, cancer and other childhood illnesses as well as in learning and behavioral problems. And, growing evidence of the link between health and toxic environmental exposures, especially with respect to the unique vulnerability of children, has ignited increased interest in the environmental quality of schools.

The ChildSafe School (CSS) provides a step-by-step framework to help parents, teachers and administrators make their schools as environmentally safe as they can be, by adopting policies that prohibit the idling of school buses and other vehicles; mandate the use of safe cleaning products, and eliminate the use of pesticides on school grounds and playing fields. CSS also addresses current and emerging issues related to synthetic turf, fragrances and wireless radiation.

The question we ask, Is Your Child’s School Environmentally Safe?, is highlighted on the cover and in a feature article in National PTA’s fall (October-November) issue of Our Children. Improving the health of school environments is a goal that not only benefits students but teachers and staff as well.

The web site  details each issue, provides short video presentations and a Resource Guide of science-based and advocacy materials, including sample policies and how to initiate a local school building/district campaign. CSS is a thoughtful approach to ways we can empower parents and families to assure their children’s learning (and play) environments are healthy and safe while, at the same time, encourage cost-savings for schools.

We invite you to join our community to raise awareness about these important issues. You can “like” us at and please be sure to visit our blog! Let us know how we can help you and your community make sure your schools are ChildSafe schools!

With thanks for all you do and continue to do,


Lana Ajemian
Director, The ChildSafe School
Grassroots Environmental Education
52 Main Street
Port Washington, NY 11050


Stay Informed; It Could Save A Life

Suicide is a serious public health issue for all age groups. But teens are at a higher risk, with suicide being the third leading cause of death between 10-24 year olds. The good news is that by knowing what to do or where to get help, you can help save a life.

During National Suicide Prevention Month, take an opportunity to learn the warning signs and share these resources with a friend, a family member or coworker, this information could make a difference for someone down the road.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please call or visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

Power Outage Safety Tips

If your power goes out, take the following steps:

1) Check to see if other lights are on in your neighborhood.  If other homes have lights, check for a blown fuse or a circuit breaker that has tripped to the “OFF” position.
2) If there are no other lights on in your neighborhood, or if you are unable to locate the cause of your power outage, call your local Power & Light company.
3) Unplug televisions and computers  Leave a light or radio on to help you know when power has been restored.
4) Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed.  Food can stay cool for 12-48 hours, but that time is signifacantly reduced if the door is opened.
5) Stay away from any downed power lines, which are eextremely dangerous.  Call your local Power & Light company immediately if you see power lines down.
6) Keep batteries and flashlights in the same area for easy access if power goes out at night.  Flashlights are safer than candles.
7) Before using a generator, learn how to operate it safely.

Power outages can be a little alarming at first but if you are prepared and creative you can take advantage of this down time to “plug in” to your family and spend this time talking, playing a game together or even catching up on some much needed sleep.

Earthquake Drill Set for October

The Great Central U.S. Shakeout earthquake drill will take place at 10:20 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 20. Last year more than 400,000 students, teachers and staff throughout Missouri took part in the drill that helps schools incorporate earthquake awareness and safety tips into classroom instruction.   In addition to Missouri, 13 other nearby states will participate, with more than 2.3 million people already signed up.

Visit for more information

Use the Power of Parents® to fight underage drinking!

 Mothers Against Drunk Driving Missouri is pleased to announce a new community-based underage drinking prevention program available in our state.  Based on scientifically proven results from research conducted by Dr. Robert Turrisi and his colleagues from Pennsylvania State University, MADD has created a parent handbook to provide guidance to parents of teenagers and middle schoolers for communicating with their kids about alcohol. Why parents? Research shows that 74% of kids say their parents are the leading influence on their decisions about drinking alcohol. And alcohol kills more teenagers than all other illegal drugs combined.

The handbook will be given to parents at 30-minute workshops located throughout the community by certified MADD staff and volunteer facilitators.  There will be no charge to parents.

If you are interested in learning more about holding program presentations in your community, please contact Missouri Program Specialist Emily Schell at or 314-426-1595, ext. 2964.

MADD Missouri website:

Power of Parents website:

Missouri Safe and Sober Program

SAFE AND SOBER is a non-profit organization, under the Mercy Health Foundation-Springfield, which creates awareness about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and encourages teens to lead a safe and sober lifestyle. After watching a video presentation of the tragic effects drinking can have on their friends, families, and their future, students take a pledge -a written commitment- to stay drug and alcohol free until they are 21 years old.

Safe and Sober is a three part program:

1) The high school program is two-fold. Teens participate in a video based presentation that shows the consequences of underage drinking and how it can change their future forever. Students are then asked to take sign a pledge card to remain safe and sober until they are 21 years old. Students must take the card home and have a parent or guardian sign it, making them aware of the pledge their student is taking. Many high schools combine the program with other activities, including assemblies and docudramas of accident scenes involving drunk drivers to encourage pledge taking and responsible choices.

2) The parent program provides education to parents about the dangers and consequences of underage drinking, including alcohol’s affect on the developing brain. Parents are provided information that helps them set limits and expectations for their teen about underage drinking.

3) The middle school program further engages the high school students who have taken the pledge. High school students will share the reasons they took the pledge and the share the culture of high school that does not include alcohol.

Register your school online at Missouri Safe and Sober – click here

PTA’s Stand Against Child Abuse

Children are suffering from a hidden epidemic of child abuse and neglect. Over 3 million reports of child abuse are made every year in the United States; however, those reports can include multiple children. In 2009, approximately 3.3 million child abuse reports and allegations were made involving an estimated 6 million children. Child abuse can take many forms and includes neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse and medical neglect. The repercussions of all types of abuse are life altering and lifelong.

  • A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds.
  • More than five children die every day as a result of child abuse.
  • Approximately 80% of children that die from abuse are under the age of 4.
  • It is estimated that between 50-60% of child fatalities due to maltreatment are not recorded as such on death certificates.
  • More than 90% of juvenile sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator in some way.
  • Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education.
  • Abused children are 25% more likely to experience teen pregnancy.
  • Abused teens are less likely to practice safe sex, putting them at greater risk for STDs.
  • About 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible cycle of abuse.
  • About 80% of 21 year olds that were abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder.

As a PTA, what can we do to make a difference in this staggering problem of child abuse? Our goal should be to prevent child abuse before it occurs. Although recognition and treatment are important, prevention is the best way to combat this epidemic. Heightening the awareness of the problem is an important first step in the fight against this epidemic.

As a PTA leader, you have the ability to make a difference in the lives of the children and families around you. Educate yourself about the problem and the resources around you. There are many types of programs that strive to prevent abuse. Support and education for new as well as older parents, early and regular child and family screenings and treatment, and general family support all can contribute to preventing abuse.

As a PTA, we can do our part to provide information, education and family support through our programs at the local, state and national level. We can also advocate for laws and policies that strengthen the family and work to prevent and treat child abuse. PTAs can collaborate with other organizations that specialize in the prevention of child abuse and connect the families in our schools with these organizations.

“Missouri Kids First” offers these steps for helping to prevent child abuse.  They can be found and printed out for your membership at

1. Care for Yourself

Learn more about how children grow and learn, and tips for parenting during each stage

of growth. Take time out for yourself so you have the inner strength to bounce back when things are hard. Seek support from family, friends and neighbors to help cope with the stress of everyday life.

2. Care for Children

Spend time listening, reading, talking and playing with a child. Teach good behavior by using good behavior yourself. Let children know they are loved.

3. Care for Others

Offer a helping hand to others who care for children and let them know everyone needs help from time to time. Provide emotional support to family, friends and neighbors caring for children.

4. Get Involved

Ask community leaders and businesses to make caring for children and families a priority. Register to vote and stay informed about local, state and national policies that impact children. Volunteer your time or donate to help children thrive.

5. ­Report

Trust your instincts. If you believe a child has been or may be harmed, call the Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-392-3738 or 911 for law enforcement.

The PTA mission, to be “a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for all families and communities, and a strong advocate for the education and well-being of every child” should be our focus as we work together to prevent child abuse.  Working together and with other organizations we will make a difference.


Safe Kids – Preventing Accidental Injury

The Safe Kids website provides information on a variety of topics including fire and burn safety, pedestrian safety, poison safety, railroad safety, toy safety, and water safety. There are also specific areas to learn more about child passenger safety, children in and around cars, the Cub Scout safety patch program, and how to find car seat check up events. Of special interest is information about raising children – one stage at a time. Kids will enjoy the Danger Rangers activity interactive website.

In 2009 Safe Kids USA issued grants to continue the PHOTOVOICE program by offering grants to help identify and photograph dangerous pedestrian environments. More than 14 coalitions participated in the project.