Go to www.refresheverything.com/robertmorrisplayground to vote
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Click here to read the full article. It's a bit longer, but it's worth reading.
Volunteers will be making blankets and/or cards for our military troops. For more details, please click to read yesterday afternoon's Batavian announcement.
Monday, December 27, 2010
"Study by 8-year-olds published in prestigious science journal," written by Zachary Roth and published on Yahoo! News last Wednesday (Dec. 22) at 12:23 p.m. ET, covers the recent achievement of a group of 8- to 10-year-old boys in Devon, England, who did a study on the ability of bumblebees to "see [and learn from] colors and patterns."
Experts from the Royal Society -- which, according to Roth, "is more than 300 years old and includes some of the world's most eminent scientists" -- lauded the boys' discovery of bees' perceptual and intuitive ability as "a genuine advance" (qouted in Roth's article).
I took a look at the study -- which is called "Blackawton bees," was written by
P. S. Blackawton, S. Airzee, A. Allen, S. Baker, A. Berrow, C. Blair, M. Churchill, J. Coles, R. F.-J. Cumming, L. Fraquelli, C. Hackford, A. Hinton Mellor, M. Hutchcroft, B. Ireland, D. Jewsbury, A. Littlejohns, G. M. Littlejohns, M. Lotto, J. McKeown, A. O'Toole, H. Richards, L. Robbins-Davey, S. Roblyn, H. Rodwell-Lynn, D. Schenck, J. Springer, A. Wishy, T. Rodwell-Lynn, D. Strudwick and R.B. Lotto, and was published in Biology Letters on Dec 22, 2010 -- includes the commentary of professional scientists. I particularly like the fact that they drew attention to the creative and playful elements of true scientific exploration, and of education in general.
As for the boys, they did a great job with this very complex study. I drew back a bit from their statement that the intelligence of non-human animals can be the same as ours, as I think this is going too far. But still, their study is interesting for the purpose of exploring the particular intelligence of animals, as well as the similarities between human and animal intelligence.
Click here to read Roth's article.
Click here to go right to the study itself!
As we know, a protective factor for dissuading youths from drug/alcohol use, bullying, and other risky behaviors is praise from adults. Likewise, another protective factor is involvement in healthy, creative activities. As a correspondent for The Batavian, I did a series of videos on school Christmas concerts in Genesee County. Even though some would argue that Christmas is over -- personally, I maintain that the Christmas Season extends officially through New Years' Eve -- I say it's still relevant. In the spirit of Prevention and education, let's take a moment to honor our kids for a job well done:
Click to read.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Whether they know it or not, Robert Morris staff and students are combatting community disorganization
Some of you may have driven by the school a couple nights ago, when the teachers were camped outside in the cold encouraging people to vote. Howard Owens did a piece on this yesterday morning -- click here to read.
The Robert Morris Playground Committee, which is made up of teachers and parents, wants to use the money for playground improvements, including safer and more kid-friendly equipment. They understand that the playground is used by the community as a whole, and they want to make sure that kids and their families have a safe and suitable place to go for recreation.
Joanne Beck of The Daily News reported on the project's voting status in an article that was posted this morning.
I would highly encourage everyone to vote for this project, not least of all because it will serve as a protective factor against harmful behavior among youth.
Monday, December 20, 2010
Michael J. Piasta's attorney pushed for a more lenient sentence than the one that was issued, arguing that the former "never had a chance to be a productive citizen" (Owens' wording). One of the issues is that Piasta's parents both suffered from substance addictions; he himself consumed LSD by accident as a toddler. Judge Robert C. Noonan expressed hope for Piasta's future, but urged him to take advantage of whatever substance abuse programs are available in prison.
Click here for the full article.
On a different (if not lighter) note, the Salvation Army is in need of bell-ringers and/or other services. I'm sure they would very much appreciate whatever help anyone here at GCASA can provide.
For more information, read "Salvation Army's S.O.S.: Got turkey? An extra coat? A few bucks? Can you ring a bell?" by Billie Owens.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Daily News reporter Paul Mrozek put the article up this morning. Click here to read.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
BATAVIA — They were there to dance and socialize, but they welcomed the opportunity to gain a bit of knowledge just the same.
The occasion was the “All That Glitters Dinner Dance 2010” – an annual gathering of seniors sponsored by Senior Spice, a program of Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse.
This year’s holiday event was attended by about 90 people at the Batavia First Presbyterian Church’s community hall last Saturday.
“We are delighted to be able to offer this activity each year as a healthy substance-free social event,” said GCASA Prevention Educator Sue Hawley, dance chairperson. “It gives senior couples and friends an enjoyable night out and also provides a forum where we can deliver a brief educational message about drugs or alcohol.”
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
According to Howard Owens' article, "Support, history of Genesee Justice motivated director to ensure division saved" -- which was published yesterday at 1:07 p.m. on The Batavian -- Ed hopes to set up a non-profit foundation "that will raise money to fill the budget gap for full Genesee Justice operations, including reinstating his job as director."
Click here to read the full article.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Friday, December 3, 2010
According to "Kenny McKinley gambling problem: Broncos receiver was deep in debt before suicide," by Arnie Stapleton and P. Solomon Banda, McKinley purchased the gun with which he would later kill himself from teammate Jabar Gaffney months ago. Gaffney said McKinley wanted the gun for self-protection.
Click here to read the full article.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Out of the Box is sponsored by the Community Tool Box, an online resource for community-building groups around the world. This particular contest is geared toward highlighting "innovative approaches to promoting community health and development" (part of the contest description at http://ctb.ku.edu/en/out_of_the_box.aspx).
From now until January 31, people can vote for their choice. If we come in first place, we will be awarded $5,000 and a free customized WorkStation; if we come in second, our prize will be $2,000 plus the free customized WorkStation.
Please click here to see the list of candidates; click on our link to read our submission and vote (lower right corner of the page)! Tell family and friends to do the same!
Thanks in advance for your support.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Click to read.
Meanwhile, The Daily News has announced an upcoming "Holiday Bazaar" to benefit Justice for Children, an extension of Genesee Justice.
Click to read.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
He cites the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which turned up some very interesting data. According to Gever, researchers found that while there is little difference in lifetime alcohol and illicit drug use between youth in urban, suburban/small metropolitan and rural communities, rural teens are more at risk for non-medical use of prescription medications.
Rx drug abuse among rural teens was found to be correlated with factors such as household income, school dropouts, etc. There is no conclusive evidence regarding causation, though, if my understanding of the study's conclusions are correct.
Jennifer Havens, PhD, MPH, of the University of Kentucky at Lexington, is quoted by Gever as having said that intervention "may be difficult for rural areas where (. . .) resources are in short supply or nonexistent."
Click here to read the full article.
Monday, November 29, 2010
As it turns out, teens who develop gambling addictions run an appreciably higher risk not only for suicide, but also other problem behaviors such as stealing, drug selling, and destruction of property. According to Sabharwal's article, most of these behaviors seem to be geared toward obtaining money to feed gambling addictions.
I found the link to this article on the Western New York Prevention Resource Center website, which has been up and running for about a week now. Check it out!
Click here to read Sabharwal's article.
Monday, November 22, 2010
A new study suggests they do. Smokers shown grim images of a mouth with a swollen, blackened and generally horrifying cancerous growth covering much of the lip were more likely to say they wanted to quit than smokers shown less disturbing images.
a) Yes, and that's one reason I want to keep Genesee Justice around
b) Yes, but it's a chance I'm willing to take
c) No, I don't believe that will happen
d) No opinion
I would encourage everyone here at GCASA to vote. To do so, click here.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Click here to read the Daily News article.
Please stay tuned to The Batavian, which will likely also be running an article on the hearing shortly.
UPDATE: The Batavian posted the article about 45 minutes ago. It is very informative and takes account of the depth of the issue. Click here to read.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
About three weeks ago, according to the article "Cow Palace bans rave-type shows after drug-related deaths," which was written by Neil Gonzales and published on MercuryNews.com at 11:28 p.m. last night (Nov. 16), "more than a dozen people attending a show (. . .) fell ill because of suspected drug and alcohol use and were sent to hospitals, with two reportedly in critical condition."
Gonzales also reports two deaths having resulted from these drug/alcohol overdoses in the past year.
Click here to read the full article.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Genesee County's first aggravated vehicular homicide conviction was issued just recently, and yesterday met with a sentence of 2 1/2 years in state prison. The prosecution argued that the sentence was too lenient, given the result of the offender's actions. If I understand correctly, the levity of the sentence was due, in large part, to the fact that this was his first offense.
This information is from this morning's Daily News article. Click to read.
Monday, November 15, 2010
(Note: The program titled "Emerging Drug Trends" previously scheduled for 19 November has been postponed to February 24th 2011 due to production delays. If you were previously registered for this program, your registration will be carried over to the new date. Meanwhile, please register for this new December title and other upcoming titles if interested. Please also forward this message to others within your community, state, email and Facebook contact lists. Remember, only one person per organization need register for each program. Thanks in advance!)
"Raising Drug-Free Kids"
A FREE, Public Domain Video Program
Available as a C-Satellite Downlink and as an On-Demand Webcast
Thursday, December 2nd, 2010
1:00-2:00 PM ET
It's the ultimate goal of every parent to raise a safe, healthy, drug-free kid. For local coalitions who work at the community level, connecting with parents is a key strategy in reducing overall substance abuse rates. Many coalitions have come up with unique ways to engage and educate parents. See how their ideas could help strengthen your community and protect kids.
We know teenagers are different from adults, and so are their brains. Different parts of the brain mature at different rates. Although adolescence is often characterized by increased independence and a desire for knowledge and exploration, it also is a time when brain changes can result in high-risk behaviors, addiction vulnerability, and mental illness. Learn about the science of the adolescent brain so you can use the knowledge as another way to reach your teen with important prevention messages.
The parent-child relationship is more complex now than it has ever been. Do kids know how to make difficult decisions about life and drugs without consulting their parents? Are underage drinking and drug use simply a "rite of passage"for teens? Do all teens experiment? Why is keeping the partying at home a bad idea? During this encore airing of Raising Drug Free Kids we'll answer these questions and more.
- See why the teenage brain is not just an adult brain with fewer miles on it
- Learn which tactics work best to keep kids away from drugs
- Find out what has worked for other coalitions and how this may help you
- See how you can help guide your kids to learn to make better decisions
- Find out what resources are out there to help coalitions reach parents
Mary Elizabeth Elliott, Vice President, Communications & Membership, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA)
Kat Allen, Communities That Care Coalition in Franklin County, Massachusetts
Kat Allen is one of the two Chairs of the Communities That Care Coalition in Franklin County, Massachusetts. She holds a masters degree in public health from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, specializing in Reproductive, Adolescent, and Child Health. She has spent the past ten years working in the field of adolescent health: she has worked in an alternative sentencing program for adjudicated youth, a peer education program for interpersonal violence prevention, a teen health clinic, a young men's clinic, school-based health clinics, a clinic for HIV positive youth, and a peer education program in the Dominican Republic. For the past three years Kat has served as the Coordinator of the Community Coalition for Teens, which co-hosts the Communities That Care Coalition. The Communities That Care Coalition was awarded the 2007 Coalition of the Year Award from Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA).
Gwen Schiada, Psy.D., Director, Technical Assistance and Research, Connect With Kids
Dr. Gwen Schiada is a licensed clinical psychologist with more than 15 years experience working with individuals in therapeutic settings and in systemic change roles at the local, state and federal levels. As a senior research analyst for the American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C., she provided consultation and support to federal grantees implementing violence prevention initiatives. Dr. Schiada has held positions with the U.S.Department of Education - Safe and Drug Free Schools program and the Safe Schools/ Healthy Students Action Center. Additionally, Dr. Schiada was involved in conducting a large-scale mental health needs assessment for the District of Columbia following the attacks on September 11, 2001. She currently leads the professional development services for CWK Network, is involved in all aspects of research efforts and plays a key role in fostering relationships with government agencies, universities and other organizations that focus on children's health and wellness issues.
Dr. Wilkie Wilson, Researcher, Duke University
Dr. Wilkie Wilson is a Professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology at Duke University Medical Center, a Senior Research Scientist for the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Director of BrainWorks at Duke. The mission of BrainWorks is to be both an international resource to communicate the science of brain function, and a research enterprise that studies how this information can be used effectively to improve the lives of young people and the adults who interact with them. He is a neuropharmacologist who studies the ways in which alcohol and other drugs interact with the central nervous system, with a particular interest in how the brain acquires and stores information. An author of numerous scientific publications, book chapters and books, he has trained more than twenty young scientists and physicians. He is a senior editor of Jasper's Basic Mechanisms of the Epilepsies, and an author of three books for the general public. Buzzed: The Straight Facts About The Most Used and Abused Drugs From Alcohol to Ecstasy, Pumped: Straight fact for athletes about drugs, supplements and training, and Just Say Know: Talking with kids about drugs and alcohol.
This pre-recorded program is targeted to parents, grandparents, teachers, and others who would like to better understand the influences and tactics that can keeps kids away from drugs. Coalition leaders, and members will find it especially useful as will law enforcement, community leaders, health professionals and others who want to create new strategies to combat substance abuse among teenagers within their communities. Public and general access television distribution is also encouraged.
This program is sponsored by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA). The broadcast is produced by the Multijurisdictional Counterdrug Task Force Training Program (MCTFT), a division of the Center for Public Safety Innovation at St. Petersburg College in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Availability:These programs are available via satellite over C band and the DOD/DETN satellite networks, private network carriers and selected community cable access stations. They are also available as an on-demand webcast via the Internet for those without satellite access. Only one Point-of-Contact need register for each viewing location. Final satellite coordinates and webcast links will be provided to all registered site co-ordinators 3-5 days prior to the broadcast date.
Click Here To Register For This Free Program
Also, Don't Forget:January 27th 2011: "Preventing Prescription Abuse"andFebruary 24th 2011: "Emerging Drug Trends"
Thursday, November 11, 2010
In an effort to reduce smoking rates -- which have "stalled" in recent years -- the Food and Drug Administration and the Health and Human Services Department are trying to have new labels placed on cigarette packs that depict infected lungs, cancer patients, tracheotomies, and other such graphic images that bring home the dangers of smoking.
Some argue that people will find these labels "offensive" and just ignore them. To give these people their due, there is social psychological research suggesting that hyping up the fear factor has a counterproductive effect, since people don't like to associate horrible and disturbing consequences with pleasurable activities (this is according to the ninth edition of Eliot Aronson's "The Social Animal"). I don't know how up-to-date this information is, though.
Stanton Glantz, a tobacco researcher at the University of California at San Francisco, claims that the aforementioned argument was "cooked up by cigarette companies" and that "[i]f that were true, the tobacco industry wouldn't be fighting them (the new labels) so hard" (this is Felberbaum's wording of Glantz' argument).
This sort of reminds me of a similar campaign depicted in the 2005 film, "Thank You For Smoking."
Click here to read the whole article.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
I can’t help but be reminded of that when I read Inge’s commentary on modern cities, which appears on page 20:
“The problem is that places are turning from ‘places’ into dehumanizing
‘spaces’. This is more than anywhere else true in North America, where the
‘downtown’ areas of most cities have become no-go areas of deprivation, squalor
and crime . . . Once built, the buildings reinforce the prevailing norms. As
Winston Churchill put it: ‘first we shape our buildings and then our buildings
shape us.’ We ‘breathe in’ our surroundings as much as we observe them[.]”
After three interim chapters that focus on the importance of place in the Bible and in the history and traditions of Christianity, Inge ends the book with a chapter on the important role faith-based communities can play in the renewal of a sense of “place” in today’s world.
His point is that all churches should be regarded important insofar as their physicality is concerned; the building where people meet to worship becomes imbued with value and meaning because of the community of persons that meet there and because of the shared identity and sense of purpose that comes from their faith. If our church communities are vibrant and alive in the midst of a society that is either deadened or driven to extremes by the influence of modern conceptions of space and place, change on the municipal level is quite possible.
I invite all of our friends in the faith-based sector to read this book and see what they think. Depending on one’s particular beliefs and/or denominational affiliation, he/she may disagree with certain of Inge’s points. Personally, I myself took issue with his citation of a medieval bishop's statement that God can create an infinite amount of space as part of the cultural shift that gave rise to the devaluation of place in Western society. I'm not sure how one can argue that to be the case. For a more helpful view on this subject, I might recommend G.K. Chesterton's "Orthodoxy."
My endorsement the book is by no means an endorsement of every single statement Inge makes. But overall, I think people will find “A Christian Theology of Place” to be a helpful reflection on what place should mean to the faith experience and to the human experience; hopefully, they will see in it a catalyst for positive change.
Photo from http://www.librarything.com/
I recently finished reading "A Christian Theology of Place," by John Inge, a bishop in the Church of England. This is an interesting book that demonstrates commendable scholarship and communicates important ideas without resorting to inaccessible language.
The book was published in 2003 by Ashgate Publishing, and is part of the "Explorations in Practical, Pastoral and Empirical Theology" series. Its aim, it seems to me, is to put the so-called "theoretical" and/or "scholarly" aspects of faith to work at the parish level and for the community.
Anything that strengthens our faith communities also has the ability to strengthen the overall community. Some of our partners in the Drug Free Communities (DFC) Coalition are from the faith-based community sector, and our survey data has shown religiosity and belief in the moral order to be significant preventative factors when it comes to problem behavior among youth – alcohol, tobacco and other drug (ATOD) use in particular. So, we take very seriously the need to collaborate with the faith communities in our midst. Church leaders, furthermore, share with GCASA a concern for fostering communities with positive morals and values that discourage ATOD use.
Inge’s book is relevant to the DFC’s mission on two fronts. The first relates to the faith-based sector in general, as indicated above and to which I will return shortly. First, I would like to talk about the second front, which is our concern with Community Disorganization (for clarification, see Daily News article).
What Inge does is show how the "demise of place" in Western culture has affected society as a whole, and religious communities in particular (his focus is on Christian churches, but this could probably apply to other faiths as well). The first chapter is dedicated to his exploration of the effects of modernity on our idea of "place," and on how the importance of particular, concrete, physical locations as the loci of our histories and relations has been diminished. He traces this trend through Enlightenment Rationalism, industrialization, the increasing mobility of Western society, and the pervasion of technology in our everyday lives.
Monday, November 8, 2010
Thursday, November 4, 2010
The article covers the results of a study that was published online in the medical journal, Lancet. Funded by Britain's Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, this study was designed to assess the dangerousness of various drugs/substances. Researchers determined final "scores" based on harm to individuals, environmental damage, how often families are broken up, and crime and health care costs.
On the whole, alcohol surpassed all other substances. Cheng noted that "[e]xperts said the study should prompt countries to reconsider how they classify drugs."
I haven't read the study itself, so I'm not sure if it was restricted to the U.K. or included other countries as well. If it was strictly a U.K. study, it may be that the enormity of the problem is due, at least in part, to Britain's deregulation of alcohol (see Oct. 15 post). Personally, I would not be too surprised if similar results were found in the U.S. -- but, to be fair, the differences between our countries in this area should be kept in mind.
For the whole article, click here.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Current popular song contains a number of coded drug, drinking-and-driving, and other unsavory references
See the Urban Dictionary for definitions of terms used in this video -- especially G6 (which has many very disturbing definitions -- in fact, I'll give you the direct link to that right here), 808 and sizzurp.
Monday, November 1, 2010
Dr. Robbins is actually a former professor of mine. I took his Social Psychology class as an undergraduate at Daemen College. He is a brilliant man with a lot to offer the field of psychology.
He and his students are dealing with the over-medication of children, which relates to our concerns with the abuse and/or overuse of over-the-counter and prescription medication.
Click here for more...
However, many times the motivation to use is very simple: “There’s nothing else to do.”
This tends to be a problem in poorer, urban communities, but also in rural areas such as those that surround Batavia. Take Attica, for example. How often have we heard youth lament the fact that there is just “nothing to do in this town?”
The Drug Free Communities (DFC) Coalition has, of course, worked hard to engage young people in positive activities towards which they can channel their energies and attention, and it is very important that we encourage any such effort in our region.
The reason I’m talking about this is that Attica resident Wittnes Smith, whose wife is the niece of Coalition member Mary Ellen Wilbur, is hard at work trying to get a Teen Center started in Attica. It’s called Club ALT – as in alternative (to negative behavior) – and will be open to 6th-12th-graders in Attica and all surrounding areas. This is a very ambitious project that would have something to offer just about every teen, regardless of his/her interests.
As a per Diem correspondent for The Batavian, I was recently asked to write an article on Wittnes’ efforts to raise funds for the project. I hope that we here at GCASA, and anyone else who is interested, can in some way help to support his mission.
Click here to read more about it.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Blood Relatives: If grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins live in the same community or close by, that’s great. There’s your wider family support system right there (it’s not the only one that should be available, but it’s one of the best). Unfortunately, this is not always the case – in fact, quite often it is not. We live in a much more mobile society than those of the past, and consequently our domestic and extra-domestic family units do not always stay together. We have to come to terms with that.
Neighborhoods: Neighborhoods have tremendous potential, especially when they include families with young children. And yet how many people nowadays even know their neighbors? Unfamiliarity within the neighborhood is not uncommon, as I suggested (albeit indirectly) in part 2. Recognizing this, the Drug Free Communities Coalition has worked with neighborhoods in the recent past. But we can each take some responsibility for this on our own, in terms of getting to know our neighbors. Granted, there are some obstacles involved, but whatever little we can do could go a long way – even if it’s something as simple as having some leftover brownies we’re not going to eat, and going over to ask the next door neighbor if he/she would like some.
Churches: The parish has the potential to be not only an invaluable support system for the domestic family, but also a source of affirmation – that is, affirmation of the family and of what the family is all about. But I could pose this question to anyone reading this post (and to myself as well): How many people do you know at your church? On a typical Sunday morning (or Saturday evening, if that’s when your church meets for worship), would you know the person sitting in the pew in front of you? Or behind you?
I have visited some churches right here in Batavia where the community and family aspects of the faith-based life are very strong. This tends to be the case in smaller churches. The pastor is almost like another family member, the church community an extension of the family. Any time the domestic family has problems, they can turn to their “family in faith” for support, encouragement, and help.
Schools: First of all, parents and teachers are partners. Both are involved – not equally, of course, but surely – in the development of children. Both are helping to shape the generation that will be the future of our society. Secondly, kids from many families come together to take part in the school community. Parents of children in the same classroom often network and form lasting relationships (sometimes the teachers even get in on that, too). The parent-child, student-teacher, teacher-parent relationships are complex, sometimes frustrating, and always interesting; how much more so are the student-to-student and family-to-family relationships?
The opportunities for communal fosterage in the schools are so diverse that I could subdivide this section into further categories – but for the reader’s sake, I won’t.
The Workplace: Most of us work with other people. Most of the people we work with have families. People who work together support their families through the work they do, and the latter unites them in a common purpose. Like it or not, if you work with others, your family and theirs are connected.
Coworkers should get to know one another’s families. You might say that just as the church is an extension of the domestic family, coworkers’ families form an extension of the professional family (or community, if you’d rather use that term); as such, company families can encourage and reinforce people in their mission with regards to the work they do (after all, no matter what type of place you work for, your workplace is performing some service that has a place in society as a whole).
As we celebrate Red Ribbon Week, let’s take time to consider the indispensability of the family in communal life, and of support systems for the family. My advice to myself and to us all is that we should sharpen our appreciation of our respective family lives, as well as any support systems that make them possible.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
High divorce rates, child abuse and neglect, single-parent homes – these are only a few signs of the disintegration of the family in our time. Is this a sad occurrence? Certainly. Is it something that’s easily ignored? I don’t think so – people bemoan the trend all the time. And rightly so, I would say. After all, so much of society’s welfare depends on the stability of our families.
Many people consider this matter especially significant in light of the fact that American families were relatively stable for many, many years, right up until the 1960’s. I’ve heard different theories as to what could have hurt the American family so badly, and I’m sure there are at least as many remedial ideas.
In a nutshell, what I submit to you is that the so-called “nuclear family” fell apart because of one thing: non-self-sufficience.
Think about it for a second: What does “nuclear” mean? The first and most obvious thing that comes to your mind is probably stuff that blows up. Granted, even the best family situations can be…well, explosive. But the word nuclear also brings to mind high school biology lessons on the nucleus, which is the central part of a cell. I think that’s probably closer to the intended meaning of the word nuclear as applied to the family. So yeah, I guess you could say that the idea of the centrality of the family is inherent within its designation as nuclear.
Here’s the thing, though: The word nuclear can also denote isolation, sequestration, being cut off from contact with the surrounding world.
If we look at the history of humankind, we may come to find that people across time and in all cultures had a very different conception of the family, one that pretty much endured right up until the modern era. At this point in history, we can barely hear the word family without thinking of the nuclear family – that is to say, a husband, a wife, and the children they have together, all living within a single household.
This is most definitely a correct notion of the family – and, indeed, is the most critical component of any individual’s family (the whole concept of family is, I might venture to say, almost useless without it). And you do see both the existence and the importance of this family situation in pre-modern cultures. However, this is not all that you see.
Throughout most of human history, the place of the immediate family was within a wider network of familial relations. In tribal cultures, for instance, the tribe itself was considered an extended family. To try to conceptualize family apart from this context was unthinkable.
We can see traces of this mentality even today, in what we might call “pre-industrial” communities (for example, the Amish). Among some of these communities, it’s not too uncommon for three or more generations to live together under a single roof, with siblings and cousins relatively close by.
In modern Western culture, this type of thing tends to be the exception rather than the rule. Whereas the most basic and important family unit – consisting of the mother, father, and children – has/had the benefit of a larger support system, to which it has/had constant access, in modern non-industrialized/less-industrialized societies and in pre-modern societies, it’s basically on its own in the modern, mainstream West.
Let’s say you have three children. Given the state of the culture, don’t be too surprised if, when they are all married and have families of their own, one ends up living in New York, one in California, and another in Louisiana. You never know, one of them might even end up overseas.
When external support systems are removed from the immediate family unit, which then takes upon itself more than it should have to bear alone, what happens? Pressure is inevitable, internal hardships more intense, disintegration seemingly imminent.
But this was not always the case -- even in the modern West. For a long time, it was standard practice that the mothers would stay home while the fathers went off to work. Being at home for most of the day, the women in each neighborhood were able to network and foster communities that supported the family. Since then, the majority of women have entered the workforce, and neighborhood bonding has slowly dwindled. So, obviously, this particular opportunity to foster a larger support system for the so-called “nuclear” family has become attenuated.
I’m not suggesting for a moment that we need to go back to the ways of tribal societies, much less that women shouldn’t go into the workforce. But we have to take account of what factors are affecting the modern family and figure out where we can go from where we are. This will be the focus of the third part of this post.
Photo courtesy of Shannon Ford.
Friday, October 15, 2010
The DVD presentation is very short, but also very informative. It highlights a study (with the same title as the DVD) that Pam Erickson, a former alcohol regulator here in the U.S., conducted on the effects of alcohol deregulation in the United Kingdom (UK), which she believes to be the center of the country’s current “epidemic.”
Here are some of the key points:
1. According to Erickson’s study, which includes information on problems that were identified by members of the British Parliament, there is virtually “no effective regulation” of alcohol at the regional or national level in the U.K. The production’s narrator contrasts this situation with that of the U.S., where alcohol is regulated by each state.
2. Another difference between our two countries is that there is a clear distinction between manufacturers and retailers here in the U.S. The narrator characterizes the purpose of this distinction well: “To provide transparency and accountability.” There is very little such distinction in Britain.
3. Alcohol is very inexpensive in the U.K. Retailers sell alcoholic beverages at prices below cost in order to lure customers.
4. In addition to being cheap, alcohol is also available 24/7 in the U.K.
The chart above includes some of the statistics that correlate with the U.K.’s alcohol deregulation. Sorry I couldn't make it bigger -- the first set of bars represents the number of youth who reported drinking alcoholic beverages in the last month, the second represents the number of 15-16-year-olds who reported having been drunk in the past month.
In the year 2006, the following alcohol-related illnesses were reported in the U.K. (Source: Hospital Episode Statistics, The Information Centre, 2008):
Thursday, October 14, 2010
The approach of Red Ribbon Week reminds us all of the fact that community, at its best, tends to be among the most effective antidotes to drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Community can, of course, take many forms – whether it be municipal (your town), professional, faith-based, neighborhood or otherwise.
But I would agree with commentators from different schools of thought who have said, in so many words, that the foundational community is the family.
Admittedly, this statement sounds a little simplistic. Our research, however, suggests otherwise. When we started our community coalition work in Genesee County, we conducted a needs assessment using the Communities That Care (CTC) Youth Survey; from the results, we were able to identify two primary risk factors for alcohol, tobacco, and other drug (ATOD) use, and one of them was Favorable Parental Attitudes and Involvement in the Problem Behavior (also, a recent study in Orleans County identified sibling drug use as a key risk factor). Likewise, we identified four protective factors for improvement, and two of the four were: Family Attachment and Family Involvement. In the cases of both risk and prevention, then, family relations are a good half of the overall picture.
Why is this, exactly? I’m no psychologist, but I think I can point to some key things that everyone can recognize about family. In the midst of a loving and supportive family, people gain a sense of who they are and a sense of belonging.
No family is perfect, and oftentimes the more tightly knit a family is, the more fighting (in the more benign sense) there tends to be. Those of you who have had the experience of being parents and/or siblings can attest to this, right? But at its best, being part of a family can give each individual a sense of his/her part in a communal situation and of his/her responsibility towards others. By the same token, growing up within a broken or troubled family environment can impede one’s development in these areas.
While this is not always the case, people often turn to drugs and alcohol to fill some kind of “gap” in their existences, to compensate for a lack of meaning in their lives. Could it be that the general sense of meaning that comes with and from family life (along with the headaches) has been weakened in recent years, and that this is a key contributive factor behind the aforementioned phenomenon?
A lot of people have talked about how the American family has suffered over the last 30-40 years. Certainly, the family lives of many of today’s youths are cases in point. I’d like, in the next segment of this 3-part post, to talk about my theory of what exactly has happened to the American family, before suggesting a remedial approach in the third part.
Photo courtesy of Shannon Ford
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Click here to read the Yahoo! News article.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Click here to read.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
My children were killed on March 10, 1993 by a repeat drunk driving offender. The DWI crash that killed my children was his third DWI. He was driving a tractor trailer truck with 48,000 lbs. of flour going from Lockport, NY to Schenectady,NY. He crashed into my wife and 4 children on Rt. 31 in Ogden between Brockport and Spencerport.
The average OTPS cost is $11.00 with the highest among the 10 comparable agencies at $20.00 per unit. GCASA's OTPS cost per unit of service in both Genesee and Orleans counties is $6.00 almost half the average.
Other than personal services are expenses such as equipment, supplies, postage, etc.
Once again GCASA is thrifty and frugal in its operations and the taxpayers are getting excellent value for their expenditures.
Here is a graph depicting the findings.
Let me tell you what was most interesting to me, as an observer. As people were just arriving, one attendee came in with what seemed to be an emotionally impervious, "I-could-care-less" attitude. But once David was well into his talk, I glanced over -- and it looked like this person was getting misty-eyed.
You almost have to be at a V.I.P. session to truly understand what it's all about. What V.I.P. illustrates is not some wishy-washy, hippie-happy hugfest; nor, on the other hand, is it some vindictive, condemnatory, finger-wagging forum. What V.I.P. does is draw upon the principles of Restorative Justice in order to help people realize how their actions affect others, themselves, and the community as a whole, and to encourage them in their ability to become part of the solution rather than the problem. Those in attendance were asked to fill out an evaluative survey and offer comments afterwards; the resulting comments suggested appreciable changes of minds and hearts.
Hats off to Brenda and Dave for opening up about such a painful and personal topic. By doing so, they may have helped to save many lives. Hats off also to Laura Ricci, who did a marvelous job of coordinating the program. Go Laura!
Please click here for an article on the decline of marriage rates due to the poor economy. This is relevant, because family life and attachment are significant preventative factors -- the lack thereof being significant risk factors -- for alcohol, tobacco and drug use.
Please click here for an article on Americans' religious awareness. I thought this would be interesting to look at, given the fact that religious faith is a major preventative factor when it comes to ATOD use.
In looking at the GCASA's treatment programs in Genesee and Orleans Counties the average cost of a unit of service delivered was $38.00 per unit in Genesee and $41.00 per unit in Orleans. the average of the 12 agencies, the other 10 plus GCASA's two clinics was $38.00 per unit. A number of agencies were spending significantly more with three agencies spending $49.00, $48.00, and $45.00 per unit.
In looking at the cost of benefits per unit GCASA was below average with $8.00 per unit while the average was $9.00 per unit. The high agencies were one at $12.00 per unit and three at $11.00 per unit.
GCASA's personnel costs both cost per unit of service and costs for benefits per unit of service are lower than most other agencies. These agencies are all nonprofits. If a similar comparison were done for State and County employees the disparities would much greater.
Is GCASA's salaries and benefits per cost of service a good thing or a bad thing? It definitely is a bad thing if you are an employee. It is a good thing if you are a funder or a client.
It terms of organizational performance, GCASA outperforms most substance abuse agencies in the region for many reasons. It has a great staff who are very productive, a great managerial team, and a great board of directors.
In terms of being accountable to the communities we serve, they couldn't be getting better services at a lower cost by any other provider.
The accusation heard from time to time that GCASA's employees are rich and only want money and that GCASA is only a Medicaid mill bilking the taxpayers out of money is not borne out by the facts. GCASA operates most effectively and efficiently and provides great returns for the money spent.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
MEDICATION SUPPORTED RECOVERY INITIATIVE LAUNCHED
New York leads the nation in support of individuals who are in recovery from substance use disorders. As part of September’s Recovery Month, OASAS began an initiative for all programs called “Medication Supported Recovery.” With the support of our prevention, treatment and recovery partners: COMPA, ASAP, NAADAC, ATPA, TCA and NAMA, this will enable programs to provide – directly or by referral – the use of addiction medications as treatment options, when appropriate. The OASAS Office of Health, Wellness, and Medical Direction and the Bureau of Treatment, along with Field Office and Technical Assistance Staff are available to assist providers in integrating addiction medications into programs. Resources to help providers move forward with this initiative are available on the OASAS Web site addiction medicine pages.
I am proud to write that GCASA is a pioneer in Medication Supported Recovery. GCASA's Medical Directors and Psychiatrists have provided psychotropic medications to GCASA's clients. We also have been and still are pioneers in using Suboxone for opiate addiction. In addiction, GCASA has been a pioneer in the use of nicotine replacement therapy and beginning 10/01/10 will begin a pilot project with Electronic cigarettes as a nicotine delivery mechanism.
GCASA also works collaboratively with the mental health clinics in both Genesee and Orleans counties and with many private providers in managing the care of our mutual patients.
The discovery of small-town mayor Gustavo Sanchez and one of his aides yesterday was a case in point. According to Gustavo Ruiz' article entitled "Small-town mayor stoned to death in Western Mexico," which was published on Yahoo! News last night (Sept. 27th, 2010) at 8:41 p.m., the town in question "is in a region where soldiers have destroyed more than 20 meth labs in the last year." It is not yet clear whether Sanchez' murderers were members of a drug cartel, but given the amount of drug activity in that area it is not unlikely that drugs were a factor in some form or other, directly or indirectly.
The reason I mention the meth labs should be obvious -- we've had quite a few of those in Genesee County in the past year or so. Fortunately, our drug woes have not escalated to anywhere near the level seen in Mexico. But every now and then, we could use these reminders of how important it is to stay on top of it.
On that note, I want to allude to something one of my colleagues said yesterday. Stephanie Armstrong, DFC Program Assistant at the Orleans site, observed that if we limit ourselves to closing down meth houses, culprits will just move to another house. Understanding that we do need to keep closing down any meth lab we find, she noted that we should also addresss the social problems that give rise to such things -- widespread unemployment, for example. Granted, we don't know how much we can do with regard to that sort of thing, but clearly we can't do nothing.
For the Yahoo! News article on Mayor Sanchez' death, click here.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Click here for the insert in The Batavian.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Click here for the Yahoo! News article.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Here is a chart which lists GCASA's funding sources and the percentage of the revenue that that funding stream makes up of the over 4 million dollar budget.
What has yet to be determined is whether or not alcohol consumption was a factor in the accident. Wendt claims to have had his last beer 15 minutes before the accident occurred.
Two articles on the most recent developments were posted yesterday. Click here for those articles and for all previous coverage on The Batavian (it goes in reverse chronology, from top to bottom).
Underage Drinking TIPLINE
"You know you care…make the call"
Many thanks to Sheriff Gary Maha and all his deputies for making Genesee County safer due to DWI and underage drinking.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
New data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that drunk driving deaths dropped to their lowest level since MADD has been tracking the data.
The number of fatalities in 2009, 10,839, represents a 7% decrease from 2008.
MADD was founded 30 years ago, at which time the number of fatalities was twice as high as the 2009 number. MADD started its Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving four years ago, and the number of deaths from drunk driving declined by 20% since that campain began. However, close to 11,000 deaths is still way too high, so we must all continue to promote better awareness.
Just think about how much better educated our children are about the dangers of drinking and driving than young adults were in the 1960's, 1970's and 1980's.
There have been DWI deaths in Genesee County recently in Oakfield.
GCASA runs a Victim Impact Panel every month for offenders from Orleans, Genesee, and Wyoming counties. It is usually attended by 35 -50 people monthly.
Even though deaths are down, there is still a problem locally and nationally. 11,000 DWI deaths a year is nothing for us to brag about. By way of comparison, there were 3,000 on 9/11.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Whether teenagers who smoked pot will use other illicit drugs as young adults has more to do with life factors such as employment status and stress, according to the new research. In fact, the strongest predictor of whether someone will use other illicit drugs is their race/ethnicity, not whether they ever used marijuana.
Conducted by UNH associate professors of sociology Karen Van Gundy and Cesar Rebellon, the research appears in the September 2010 issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.
"In light of these findings, we urge U.S. drug control policymakers to consider stress and life-course approaches in their pursuit of solutions to the 'drug problem,' " Van Gundy and Rebellon say.
For more information click here.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
The number of states in the United States with some form of gambling increased from 2 in 1972 to 48 in 1999.
In a 1999 report by the National Opinion Research Center, 86%of adults in the United States reported some gambling in their lifetime and 68% reported some form of gambling in the past year.
Research has found that Native Americans are 4 to 6 times more likely to have pathological gambling problems than the non-Native American population.
As a child growing up in the 50s, gambling was considered a vice and immoral. Today, gambling is a major governmental and church fund raiser.
Times have changed and so has the incidence and prevalence of pathological gambling as a public health issue.
The statistics in this article come from "Implications of American Indian Gambling for Social Work Research and Practice, Social Work,, Volume 55, No. 2, April 2010, pp.139 - 146. For the abstract, click here.