Monday, December 26, 2011

December Mentor of the Month

Mark Mutal

Mark met his 8th grade mentee for the first time about a year and a half ago. His mentee was struggling with his parent’s ongoing divorce. He needed someone to talk to and someone to support him. The mentee emailed or called the mentor program nearly every day, asking for a mentor. Then Mark answered our call. Mark was a perfect fit. He understood this boy's struggles. They also soon discovered a shared love for soccer, animals, and laughter. They hit it off right away and quickly started spending time outside of school; going to watch soccer games at UCSB, doing homework and playing at the Boys and Girls Club, or just walking Mark’s dog around the neighborhood. Mark focused on providing his mentee with consistent emotional support and understanding while exposing him to new and character building activities to improve his confidence and self-esteem. They became fixtures at nearly every mentor program event, from Zodo’s Bowling to Career Night, and Mark even went above and beyond by coming up with suggestions for future event opportunities to enrich the program.

Not only has Mark supported his mentee and the program, he's also made time for his mentee’s younger siblings, including them whenever he could. And then when the siblings were matched up with mentors, he took time to help their new mentors as well! Mark’s consistent support for his mentee, the family, and the program, have made a huge impact on all of us, but the best result is seeing how the painfully shy boy who couldn’t make eye contact, is growing into a confident and accomplished young man. Thank you for all that you do Mark, and congratulations! You are our December mentor of the month!

Monday, December 12, 2011

What Do You Think?: Alcohol Use


Dani is fourteen years old and has lived with her younger brother and grandma since she was ten. She used to live with her happily married parents until her mom died of cancer five years ago. Soon after her death, Dani's father started drinking, only a few beers after work late at night, but it quickly escalated.
His drinking got in the way of him being a present or supportive parent. Dani and her dad were super close, but when her father started drinking more, he became aggressive and argumentative. Dani was depressed about the loss of her mom, upset that her dad basically didn't exist in her life anymore, but even more than that, she really missed their happy family. She tries to be a good sister, but her brother is too young to understand and still idolizes their father.
Over the past 3 months, Dani and her friends have started drinking before football games at their friend's house. Dani quickly learned she could drown out her sadness and worries with alcohol and discovered that she loves the feeling of being drunk. She knows drinking is bad and wants to stop but she craves the numbness that being drunk provides. She thinks that so long as she isn't an "angry drunk" like her father, it's okay. As she seeks out opportunities to drink, her grades & friendships start to decline. Her friends start to see that Dani's only fun when she's drinking, depressed and solemn when she isn't, so Dani sometimes finds herself sneaking her dad's tequila from his closet to get a quick buzz and so her friends will want to spend time with her. She wants to stop, but doesn't want her friends to stop hanging out with her. She also doesn't want to feel the pain of knowing her family will never be the same. It's going to be a hard holiday season.

Questions for Discussion:

1. Why do you think Dani enjoys drinking so much?
2. Do you think Dani is an alcoholic, why or why not? What makes someone an alcoholic?
3. What might happen if she continues drinking and doesn’t get help? (consider family, friends, school, relationships, physical issues, legal problems etc)
4. Do you think her father’s drinking problem made it more or less likely Dani would drink? Why?
5. Dani wants to stop drinking but isn’t asking for help, why do you think that is?
6. What could Dani do to get help for her drinking? Are there deeper issues that need to be addressed?
7. Do you think that her friends know something's wrong? What could they do to help her? What would you do if you were Dani's friend?
8. How would Dani’s grandparents feel if they knew how much she was drinking?


** Alcoholism (alcohol dependence) is a negative pattern of alcohol use leading to a number of problems:
  • needing an increased amount of alcohol to feel drunk (tolerance)
  • physical discomfort that occur when the effects of alcohol wear off (withdrawal)
  • using more alcohol or drinking for a longer time than intended
  • an inability to discontinue use even after suffering serious consequences
** Approximately 11 million people suffer from alcohol dependence. 1 in 5 adult Americans lived with an alcoholic relative while growing up. In general, these children are at greater risk for having emotional problems than children whose parents are not alcoholics. Alcoholism runs in families, and children of alcoholics are 4x more likely than other children to become alcoholics themselves.

**Teenagers at risk for developing serious alcohol and drug problems include those:
  • with a family history of substance abuse
  • who are depressed
  • who have low self-esteem, and
  • who feel like they don't fit in or are out of the mainstream
** Alcohol is more toxic than many other drugs because it damages the entire body, not just the brain. It can cause a huge variety of health problems, including cancer, heart problems, liver disease, and death. Drinking also slows reaction times, so some activities -like driving, cycling and operating machinery – can be deadly while under the influence.

** Underage drinking raises the likelihood of other substance abuse and alcohol addiction. Underage drinkers are 22 times more likely to use marijuana, 50 times more likely to use cocaine, and five times more likely to become alcoholics. (SAMHSA, 2006)

** Human brains continue to develop until the mid-20s. Damage from underage drinking can be irreversible. Even short-term or moderate drinking impairs learning and memory far more in youth than adults. (American Medical Association, 2003)

** Youth are at greater risk of alcohol poisoning because their brains have not fully developed an internal "cut-off" switch that causes adults to fall sleep or pass out after consuming too much. Alcohol poisoning can cause difficulty breathing, unconsciousness and death. (

** Drinking alcohol during puberty may upset the critical hormonal balance needed for normal development of organs, muscles, bones, and the reproductive system. (National Institute of Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism, Alcohol Alert, 2006)

** Alcohol tricks the brain's pleasure-reward system by stimulating production of dopamine, thus creating unnatural feelings of pleasure from a chemical instead of real experiences. Because teen brains produce an abundance of dopamine compared to adults, they can rapidly go from liking, to craving, to needing alcohol, which can initiate a path toward alcoholism. (Journal of Substance Abuse, 1997)

** 40% of kids who start drinking before age 15 will become alcoholics at some point in their lives. (National Research Council, "Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility,” 2003)

** Alcohol use has also been linked to many social problems, including unwanted sexual activity, domestic violence, and violent crime. The loss of inhibitions caused by alcohol can lead to uncharacteristic aggressive or sexual behavior that can end a relationship or put you in prison.

** There are many legal issues to consider with teens and alcohol as well:
  1. It’s illegal to have ANY alcohol in your body if you’re under age 21.
  2. It’s a class 3 misdemeanor if you are under age 21 and solicit another person to purchase, sell, give, serve or furnish you with alcohol.
  3. It’s unlawful to drive or be in physical control of a motor vehicle or motorized watercraft if you’re under age 21 and there is ANY alcohol in your body.
  4. Using fake IDs when under age 21 in order to be sold, served, given, or furnished alcohol, or gain entrance into a licensed establishment is a class 1 misdemeanor.
  5. Possessing alcoholic beverages can result in misdemeanor charges and a heavy fine for anyone under 21. Penalties may include one or all of the these:
    1. Juvenile court hearing
    2. Driving privileges suspended for 180 days
    3. $500 fine
    4. Required counseling or education programs
    5. Community service or probation
What Mentors Can Do to Help:
Check out this website: Time to Act

** Be aware that this topic may hit really close to home with your mentee. If they have a parent or other close family that struggles with this, be careful not to offend your mentee. Their family comes first, even if they sometimes talk badly about them. If they were to say something against their family, it's one thing, but if you do, it could do serious damage to your relationship with your mentee. Be careful to not let your opinions cloud your conversation.

** Talk to your mentee about drinking and its potential consequences, and be honest about the positive or attractive aspects along with the negative. Share your own experiences with alcohol growing up and how that turned out for you.

** Listen to your mentee’s personal experiences with alcohol and try to be understanding of his/her opinion on the matter while sharing how you feel about it. Brainstorm with them the potential positive or negative outcomes of their/a friend’s/a family member’s drinking.

** Educate them about the legal penalties related to underage alcohol use for them and for their older friends or parents who may be facilitating it.

** Look for the signs of alcohol abuse, such as:
  • lying
  • making excuses
  • breaking curfew
  • staying in their room
  • becoming verbally or physically abusive toward others
  • having items in their possession that are connected to alcohol use (paraphernalia)
  • the smell of alcohol on their breath or body
  • mood swings
  • stealing
  • changes in friends
** If you are concerned your mentee has a problem talk to them about it. Let them know they are not alone and you just want to help them get better because you care about them. Do not guilt or shame them about their drinking as this will only make it worse. Try to get them to accept help and contact your case manager for information on treatment options and referrals.

** Go over possible outcomes for the addiction if treated versus not treated.

** These are some very informative website for teenagers who are involved with alcohol or have an alcoholic parent.
Drug Addiction Support
Knowing about Alcohol & Teens
Children of Alcoholics

Monday, December 5, 2011

What Do You Think?: Talking Back


Peter, a 7th grader, has been really frustrated in his English class. He's already 2 grade levels behind in his reading ability, and his teacher expects him to keep up with the other kids. A lot of days he just gives up and doodles in his notebook instead of reading. There are so many words he doesn't understand and he doesn't want to ask his teacher for help in front of his classmates because they'll make fun of him outside of class.

When his teacher starts a class discussion on the chapter they were supposed to have finished last night, he starts to tap his pencil on his desk as he thinks about football practice after school. His teacher calls on him to answer a discussion question, and Peter looks up at her and snidely responds, "What, don't you know the answer?"
Questions for Discussion:
  1. Do you think that this was an appropriate response for Peter? Why do you think this was his response?
  2. What might have been a better answer to the teacher's question, if Peter didn't understand the book and couldn't contribute to the discussion?
  3. How might his classmates perceive him after this incident? Positively or negatively?
  4. What do you think are the short and long term consequences of his actions?
  5. How does talking back affect the relationship between Peter and his teacher?
  6. What should Peter do to help establish a better relationship with his teacher? (*hint: may involve time before or after class)
  7. Is there someone else that Peter could talk with about the situation and ask for help to mend the relationship with his teacher?

** Talking back is usually observed when a child or teenager doesn't know how to properly ask for things or to communicate. It is better for authorities to calmly explain to a youngster how to properly communicate, in an appropriate setting and time (and not when a child has just challenged an adult with back-talk). It is important to explain that simply asking respectfully does not necessarily mean they will achieve the outcome they are requesting, and keep in mind that the younger the child or teen the more difficult it can be for them to understand this. The lesson may need repeating...mutliple times. 

** Sometimes as the adult witnessing the situation, it is easy to let it go; we already have too much on their plates and it becomes just one more thing to worry about. Sometimes we're reluctant to intervene because we think our mentee will just become more angry. But simply avoiding back talk doesn’t work, because then our protegĂ© won’t learn how to express himself effectively.

** Research shows that if a child is talking back all the time without punishment or firm limits being set, make no mistake, that child is being trained to do it more often.

** Some back talk is normal during adolescence while teenagers are trying to establish their independence. Teenagers often aren’t thinking things through; they’re just beginning to learn how to stand up for themselves, and most of the time they’re not going to do it very well.

What Mentors Can Do to Help With This?

** Most importantly, share your experiences with back talk and how you feel about it. Did you talk back when you were their age, why or why not?  How did that work out for you?  How do you perceive kids/people who talk back now? Also, remember that your mentee is always watching you, so be a good role model whenever you're with them. If someone cuts you off on the road, be careful not to yell. If you encounter a person being rude to you, make sure you think about what you say before you say it. And if you accidentally talk back to someone, be sure to talk it through with your mentee and come up with an alternative conversation that could have been had.

** Pay attention to your mentees opinion about talking back. Is the child disrespectful or verbally abusive to you and others?  Is that their only way of getting what they want or are they capable of other ways of communication?

** Analyze your mentee’s self-esteem and comfort. Do they feel powerless or not listened to? Do they seem out of control?  Talk with them about why they talk back and try to be understanding.  Whatever the reason, once you figure out why they are doing it you can help them problem solve to find another, more effective, method to communicate and reach their goal.  Help them consider long term effects of talking back or being respectful. Talking back is often an immediate response that is not well thought out, so considering the consequences before they do it will help them avoid making the same bad choices. 

** If you perceive back talk in your mentee, it would be appropriate to help the child/teenager change rude behavior by showing how one’s viewpoint and opinion can be stated in a more respectful and appropriate way.  Talk with them about the pros and cons of different communication styles and how not talking-back could be much more effective in reaching their goals at home and in school. Be patient through this process, as your words may need to be repeated several times on various occasions. 

** Explain to your mentee that even when two people absolutely don’t agree, there are other options that will work much better than back talk.  And sometimes silence, or agreeing to disagree, will keep them from saying or doing something they might regret later.  Feel free to role play different situations and responses so when they are in the moment they don’t have to think about it, they have responses planned.

** Talk with your mentee about how he feels when ignoring disciplinary efforts and talking back to authorities. Help them consider the potential consequences of talking back, from just being labeled a “jerk” to getting in serious trouble at home/school or even with the law.  Talking back to a police officer can take a simply warning and turn it into an expensive ticket!  And if talking back becomes a habit it could negatively impact their work and personal relationships for the rest of their life!

Friday, December 2, 2011

November Mentor of the Month

Jessica Sanchez

Jessica and her mentee have been together for about a year and a half. Through this time, Jessica has seen her mentee change in many positive ways. When they were first matched, her mentee's mother recently passed away, and her father was raising 4 kids on his own. Futhermore, he had to work extra late night hours to support his family. 

Jessica's mentee was very shy and introverted to begin with, so it was difficult for her to share anything about her family situation. Jessica was able to help her mentee feel comfortable sharing, and start the process of building a lasting friendship by telling her about her own history and childhood experiences. Not long after, Jessica’s mentee was able to open up about herself and her family. She even said that her favorite part of being in the mentor program was “having someone to talk to.” 

Additionally, Jessica was able to help her mentee improve her grades in math, which was a subject with which her mentee struggled. Her mentee became more engaged and active; she joined the soccer and volleyball teams, and asked Jessica to go and watch the games. Jessica’s mentee also performed in a school play!

Although her mentee was her only responsibility, Jessica always made time to talk with her mentee’s other siblings and encourage them to do better in school and reach for their dreams. Jessica unofficially mentored her mentee’s brother until he was matched up with his own mentor to make him feel wanted and included. She is constantly going above and beyond to be a support system for her mentee and her mentee’s family. Because of this amazing commitment, Jessica’s mentee has blossomed into a far more confident and outgoing young lady. Thank you for all that you do for your mentee Jessica, and congratulations!  You are the November Mentor of the Month!!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

What Do You Think?: Dealing with Divorce


Bobby is eleven years old and is in 6th grade. His parents have been together for over 13 years, but have always had a very hard relationship. They managed to stay together for Bobby and his sister, thinking it would benefit them. However, they have trouble being around each other and fight constantly. When they start fighting, Bobby and his sister run to their room and he tries to occupy his sister to distract her. Bobby has recently noticed more and more yelling between his mom and dad and he doesn’t know what is happening between them.
Just last week, Bobby's parents told his sister and him they are getting a divorce. Bobby is scared and sad because he is used to having both parents at home. He is trying to figure out what to do, and how can he deal with such a new reality.

Questions for Discussion

1. Can Bobby understand the reasoning behind his parents separation? Do you think he blames himself? How would you feel?
2. Do you think Bobby can try to convince his parents to stay together? Should he try?
3. What are the pros and cons of his parents getting divorced? What could be positive about it?
4. How might the divorce change Bobby's relationship with his parents?
5. What could his parents do to make this easier for Bobby?
6. What other emotions do you think Bobby is feeling? Should he talk to someone about them? Who?


** Studies reveal that children who are raised in a two person, loving, and stable environment show less signs of depression, anxiety, and defiant behavior and these children also have better academics and develop the capacity for truly intimate relationships. Children raised in a stressful and conflicted marriage are more stressed, have more defiant behavior, and have more disciplinary problems than children raised in a stable divorced or stable single parent home.

** Studies also have shown that children can do better when their parents get divorced. Sometimes they live a healthier life than when their parents lived together in a continuous state of conflict, instability, argumentation, hatred, and uncertainty.

** Many people marry out of love and divorce out of anger. Unfortunately, children become the victims of marital war. Regardless of the decision, it is important to remember that when children are involved – both parents will be involved in some capacity for all of the activities, decisions, and emotional consequences that affect the entire family moving forward.

** The goal of any decision is to develop a cordial and harmonious relationship with a partner. And that is always in the children's best interest.

** Divorce can be an emotionally exhausting experience. It is important to take into account how the stress and heightened emotions can affect everyone in the family, especially the children.

What Mentors Can Do to Help With This?

** Talk to your mentee and help him/her understand the pros and cons of a divorce. Try to see the divorce from the perspective of everyone involved so your mentee can have a better understanding of why this is happening and that it is not because of them.

** Make sure that the mentee understands that this decision to divorce is not something that is under his/her control, but that he/she should talk to his parents about how it is making him/her feel as a part of the family.

** Explain to the mentee that parents staying married only because of kids can result in an overall bad experience.

** Try to be a source of stability during a potentially stressful, sad, and confusing phase in your mentee’s life.

** Allow your mentee to talk to you about the situation and try to just listen and comfort rather than fix. Remind them that you are a safe person to talk to and acknowledge how hard this must be for them.

** If you have personal experience with divorce share it with them so they know they are not alone, but be appreciative of how their experience is different and highly personal.

** Check out this website for a good source of information on how parents can make divorce an easier experience for their children.

Monday, November 21, 2011

What Do You Think?: Sneaking Out


Megan is so excited to go to the big football game this Friday. It is the championship game against the rival high school. She and her best friends have decided to wear the school colors and even paint their faces! That is all everyone is talking about. But when she gets home Friday after school she is confronted by her parents in the kitchen. They have her progress report and see that she is not doing well in school. Megan’s parents tell her she is grounded and can not go to the football game tonight. Megan runs to her room and starts crying. She calls her best friends and tells them she won’t be able to go to the game. They are all bummed out.

The game has started and she is home just staring at the wall. Megan’s friends text her that the boy she likes is asking about her, wondering where she is. They tell her to sneak out because her parents won’t notice. Megan gets ready, and climbs out through her window.

Questions for Discussion

1. What would you do? Sneak out or stay in your room? Why?
2. Do you think if Megan talked to her parents about how important the game is to her they would understand and maybe come to an agreement? Or is sneaking out the only option?
3. Imagine Megan’s parents finding out that she is gone, how do you think they are going to react?
4. Will they be able trust her again after she sneaks out?
5. What are some consequences that can arise from sneaking out? Could Meagan’s life be in danger?


** The curfew for minors (under 18 years old) is 10:00 pm.

** If a minor breaks curfew, he or she can be temporarily detained by police and returned home. You can also be fined $80.00 and/or receive eight hours of community service.

** Some common reasons why kids sneak out:
~ To hang out with friends.
~ To see their boyfriend or girlfriend
~ To go on a date
~ To go to a party or event.
~ For the thrill of it. To defy their parents; which might seem cool.
~ Parents are too strict and teens feel like they need space and/or independence

What Can Mentors Do To Help Prevent This?

** Talk to your mentee about sneaking out at night, even if you don’t think he/she would do it. Make sure they are aware of the curfew laws and what would happen if they got caught. To view the local curfew laws & consquences, click here, and scroll to pages 3 and 4.

** If they are sneaking out ask them why they do it and see if there is a better way for them to achieve their goal without breaking their parent’s trust and the law. Share your own experiences, if applicable, and what you learned from them.

** Consider with your mentee the consequences of sneaking out (i.e. grounded, phone taken away) and how the parents will react. Even share how you would feel if they snuck out.

** Explain the dangers of sneaking out (getting arrested, kidnapped, hurt while their parents don’t know where they are etc) and that you want to make sure they are safe.

** Tell them they should try to talk to their parents and come to a compromise. Role play how that conversation might go so they feel comfortable having that talk with their parents.

Monday, November 14, 2011

What Do You Think?: Underage Driving

At least he's wearing
a seatbelt, right?

Pedro is 15 years old. He is the only child of divorced parents, and he can’t wait to turn 16 and be able to get his driver’s license. Pedro lives with his dad, who is usually very busy with work, and he keeps promising to give Pedro some driving lessons, but never has the time. Most of Pedro’s friends have already started learning the basics of how to drive, and constantly share how exciting each practice has been.
Pedro feels left out, and although he has never driven a car, he has been reading the DMV driving manual, learning the street signs, and getting driving tips from his friends. Pedro is impatient with the situation and is thinking about taking his dad’s car out for a ride because his dad is traveling for work and will be away for a couple of days. Pedro’s friends guarantee him he will be fine and keep saying he should drive them all to a friend’s house that weekend.

Questions for Discussion:

1. What would you do if you were Pedro?
2. How would his dad feel if he found out about it? What are the possible consequences of Pedro borrowing a car when he has no practice driving, or permission to do so?
3. How much trouble could he get in if he was caught? Would he be the only one who got in trouble?
4. How would he feel if he damaged the car, got hurt, or hurt somebody else while driving?
5. What would be a different option for Pedro and his friends to get to his friend’s house that weekend?


Getting a Learner's Permit
• Anyone under 18 but at least 15 1/2 years old must first apply for a provisional learner's permit. Teens need to get written permission from a parent or guardian on state forms to receive a permit. Teens must also pass a vision test and a traffic laws and sign test, and have completed, or be enrolled in, driver's education. There are three chances to pass the traffic and signs test, and if you fail, you must wait seven days to take the test again. An adult 25 years old or older with a California driver's license must accompany you whenever you drive.

Getting a Driver's License
• Teens who are at least 16 and have had a learner's permit for at least six months may apply for a driver's license. You must have finished driver's education and six hours of driver training. You must also have logged 50 hours of driver practice under the supervision of an adult 25 or older, and 10 of those hours must be night driving. Once you have met those requirements, you may apply to take a driving test. If you pass, you will be awarded a provisional license. For the first 12 months after you've received the license, it will be illegal to drive with anyone under the age of 20 without the supervision of an adult 25 or older. It also will be illegal to drive between 11 p.m. and 5 p.m. for the first year after receiving a restricted driver's license. No one under the age of 18 may be employed to drive a vehicle. After the driver turns 18, a driver's license is no longer considered “provisional.”

• Driving without a license is a misdemeanor offense in California and can result in a fine. Police may also tow and impound the car. A minor caught driving without a license also will be delayed in being able to get one. According to California state law, an employer, legal guardian or parent also could face legal trouble if he permits an underage, unlicensed driver to drive.

National Statistics
** 16-year-olds have higher crash rates than drivers of any other age.

** 16-year-olds are 3 times more likely to die in a motor vehicle crash than the average of all drivers.

** Drivers ages 15-20 accounted for 12% of all drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2008 and 14% of all drivers involved in police-reported crashes

** 63% of teenage passenger deaths in 2008 occurred in vehicles driven by another teenager. Among deaths of passengers of all ages, 19% occurred when a teenager was driving (IIHS).

**The number of drivers ages 15-20 involved in fatal crashes totaled 5,864 in 2008,

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Center for Statistics and Analysis, in 2008:

** Hand-held cellphone use while driving was highest among 16- to 24-year-olds (8% in 2008, down from 9% in 2007).

** 37% of male drivers ages 15-20 who were involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time.

**55%, or 2,014, of the 3,678 occupants of passenger vehicles ages 16-20 who were killed in crashes were not buckled up.

What Can Mentors Do to Help Prevent This?:

** Educate yourself on the topic, so that you can be a good source of reliable information for your mentee.

** Talk about this topic with your mentee. Make sure your mentee is aware of the risks involved in driving, as well as statistics. Educate them about risks and penalties resulting from underage driving.

** Ask their opinion on the matter. Talk about their friends’ opinions as well.

** Give tips on important driving skills, which they might find fun and helpful before they are able to start driving.

** Know that happens and accidents can result. Read a short article about a true story.

** These sites are a great resource for information on how to apply for a driver’s license once you have reached the minimum required age:
DMV Handbook
The Unofficial DMV Guide
Review a Driving Contract

Monday, November 7, 2011

What Do You Think?: Managing Anger


Marina is a 6th grader and recently she has been getting in trouble at school for fighting with her classmates. When she was younger her parents used to fight constantly and her father struggled with alcoholism. He used to yell all the time and once he even hit her mother. But last year he got sober and is trying hard to mend things with his family. Although Marina likes seeing her mother so much happier and wants to be a close family again she can’t stop feeling angry at her father for what he put them through.
When she is at school she gets along well with her classmates and has many friends, but if things aren’t going her way or someone says something she doesn’t like she blows up and can’t control herself. Because of this she has been in several fights during and after school and is in danger of suspension or even expulsion. Marina knows she needs to stop fighting but she doesn’t know how to control herself and that only makes her angrier.

Questions for Discussion:

1. How do you think you would feel if you were Marina? Why does she fight?
2. What do you think she could do to control her anger besides fighting? Is there anyone she can got o for help?
3. What might happen if she doesn’t learn to manage her anger?
4. What could her parents or teacher do to help Marina?
5. What would you do if you were Marina’s friend?


** Anger in children is their way of telling us that there is something wrong, usually that a goal is blocked or needs are not being met.

** According to research (Fabes and Eisenberg, 1992) anger has three main components: the emotional state itself and physiological response, the resulting behavioral expression of anger, and the person’s understanding of their anger. Learning to manage anger effectively starts with an understanding of these three aspects, and children need extra help because they are just starting to learn about emotions and often have a limited ability to think critically about their own feelings and behaviors.

** Learning to deal with anger in a productive way is extremely important because people who are often angry are at an increased risk for a huge variety of physical ailments including high blood pressure, heart attacks, gastrointestinal problems, diabetes, and high levels of stress. In fact, chronic anger can shorten your lifespan by as much as 10-20 years!

** Chronic anger is also a leading cause of workplace dissatisfaction, depression, insomnia, anxiety, relationship problems, low self-esteem, and substance abuse.

** Anger, and the behaviors associated with it, is one of the many things children can learn from their parents. Children of an angry or abusive parent are 10 times more likely to be angry and abusive themselves!

** The frontal lobe is critical in managing anger and that part of the brain is not fully formed until about 24 years of age. This explains the difficulty children and teens have in regulating their emotions and shows why they need extra guidance to help them do so effectively. 

What Mentors Can Do to Help Prevent This?

** The best thing to do is to talk with your mentee about emotions in general, and about any anger they might be experiencing to try to help them understand the three components mentioned above. Depending on the age of your mentee you may have to spend more time simply educating them about emotions: the different types, what they look like, what they feel like, what you can do if the feel each one etc. But once they understand more about emotions you can talk to them specifically about ay anger they might have felt or be feeling and start explaining the 3 parts.

** The first component, the emotional state of anger, is the moment when someone becomes angry and feels the physical symptoms such as teeth grinding, fists clenching, flushing, paling, prickly sensations, numbness, sweating, muscle tensions and temperature changes. Many children don’t know or understand their physical reactions and they might make them more upset or agitated, so explain to your mentee what is going on in their body when they feel anger.

** Then you can touch on the second component, the behavior expression of their anger, and talk to them about what they did when they got angry. Did they react aggressively with angry words or even physical assault, or did they react passively by running away, sulking, bottling up their anger, seeking adult comfort etc? Let them talk openly and without judgment about their anger and subsequent behavior, and let them know that anger is a normal emotion and they should not be embarrassed or ashamed. You just want to help them handle it in the best way possible for their health and happiness.

** Then you can move to the third component, self analysis and understanding. Start helping them think critically about their anger and how they deal with it.

         ~Why are they really angry? What goal is being thwarted or need not being met? For example, if Marina is angry because a girl said something mean about her mom she is angry at that girl for not meeting her need for respect from her peers. But she is also angry at her father for years of not meeting her needs of safety and parental love/warmth. Obviously the first is a little easier to deal with than the second but understanding why she is angry is the first step.

         ~What can they do to deal with their anger effectively so they feel better and don’t hurt anyone or get in trouble. Brainstorm with them possible strategies and suggest some of these proven effective methods:
1. The best response is to talk with someone they trust about their feelings and try to be as rational as possible to come up with a solution to what is causing the anger. But if they can’t handle their anger while talking or need tips to cool down in the moment these next one will be more helpful.
2. Count to 10 slowly
3. Focus on taking deep slow breaths
4. Move to another room or go for a walk, get out of the angry space
5. Meditate or think of something nice that you enjoy.
6. Exercise or play a sport, or just get up and run around a little bit.
7. Teach them to keep a journal where they can write down all of their anger and get it out of their head.
8. Do art (drawing, painting, music etc) to help them express their anger in a creative way.
9. Have them release their anger into a pillow by squeezing, punching, or yelling into it. But don’t encourage lots of aggressive behavior as it will only help them practice a negative response.

** Let them choose which one of these responses they would like to try next time they get angry and practice it with them. If it doesn’t work for them try a different one until something works.

** For more tips and strategies visit these websites:

Monday, October 31, 2011

What Do You Think?: Cheating in School

Interesting article from a concerned Atlanta citizen
Read more here.


Brent hates going to school because he has to do math everyday and thinks it’s very boring. His teacher, Ms. Peterson is explaining a math problem, and he feels she is speaking a different language. At the end of class, she reminds everyone that tomorrow is the Chapter Review test. Brent is worried because he doesn’t know how to solve the problems and doesn’t want to study.

The next morning he wakes up and gets to school. He didn’t study and is sitting at his desk nervously waiting as the teacher passes out the test to each student. Brent looks down at the test and doesn’t know a single answer. He looks over to his friend Justine’s who is right next to him. Brent whispers to her and asks if he can see her answers. Justine thinks Brent is cute, so she moves her test to the side of her desk and lets Brent copy her answers.

Questions for Discussion:

1. What do you think are different ways people cheat?
2. Who will get in trouble for cheating? Brent, Justine, or both?
3. What are some consequences of cheating?
4. Why do you think Brent cheated?
5. What do you think his teacher will think about him because he cheated? What about his parents?
6. If you saw someone cheating, what would you do?


** Math and Science are the courses in which cheating most often occurs.

** According to one recent survey of middle schoolers, 2/3 of respondents reported cheating on exams, while 9/10 reported copying another’s homework.

** 24% of girls and 20% of boys admitted that cheating started for them in the 1st grade.

** Research about cheating among middle school children (Ages 12-14) has shown that: 1) There is increased motivation to cheat because there is more emphasis on grades; 2) Even those students who say it is wrong, cheat; and 3) If the goal is to get a good grade, they will cheat.

** High school students are less likely than younger test takers to report cheaters, because it would be “tattling” or “ratting out a friend.”

What Mentors Can Do to Help Prevent This?

** Take Pressure Off. Kids often cheat because they see it as the only way to measure up to high expectations. Although it's good to expect the most from your kids, make it clear that you expect them to do their best, not be the best.

** Prep for Peer Pressure. Whether your child is involved in cheating or not, she will feel pressure to participate from peers at school, from friends asking to copy a last minute lab report to students passing notes across their desk during a test. Make sure they know that by saying “No” now, she's not only helping herself, but helping others in the long run.

** If your mentee discloses that they’ve cheated, help them determine why. If they're young, it could be because they don't know that cheating is wrong. If they're older, there could be other reasons. Maybe they feel too much pressure to do well on their tests. Or maybe they simply didn't study for a test because they were too busy watching TV the night before. If they're cheating at sports, they might be looking for a scholarship to their favorite college. Before you can decide the best method of action, you'll need to get to the bottom of their reason for cheating.

** Explain why cheating isn’t the best answer for problem-solving. Young children are generally trying to learn right from wrong. With them, you can simply explain that cheating is "wrong." But cheating isn't only wrong; it's unfair to those who work hard without cheating. Explain that cheating only undermines their actual abilities and makes them feel less confident. Hard work pays off much more than cheating because you actually get long-term benefits from it.

** Discuss the consequences of cheating. They might even think it's okay to cheat if there's no chance of getting caught. On top of reminding them why cheating is wrong, drill into their heads the consequences of cheating, including embarrassment, punishment and even prison if they get caught cheating at the wrong thing when they get older. Most children will simply avoid cheating because it's wrong, but you might need to use the "scared straight" method with others.

Friday, October 28, 2011

October Mentor of the Month

Steb Chandor

Steb and his mentee posing
like flamingos at the zoo
Steb and his mentee have been together for over three years. In that time, Steb has seen his mentee grow and develop into an intelligent young man. His mentee was referred to the program because he needed someone who would help him academically and bring him out of his shell. Although his parents were supportive, they were not able to help him academically because they only speak Spanish, so they were very excited to have Steb come into their son’s life. As soon as Steb and his mentee were matched, they began working on math, English, and his homework assignments. By including games such as Scrabble and dominoes, Steb has helped his mentee vastly improve his academics while showing how learning can be fun!

But academics were not the only area Steb’s mentee needed support with, he is also a grade ahead of his age and struggled to relate to his peers. Steb worked with him to improve his interactions with others and encouraged him to try new activities around school. With Steb’s encouragement he has even started playing in the band at his school and Steb makes every effort to attend his band performances. Steb also takes his mentee to many Mentor Program Events so that he has ample opportunity to experience new things and enrich his life. Step has even helped at the Career Day event by participating as a job presenter. Through his great commitment to helping his mentee Steb has become an integral support system and friend and helped a struggling boy blossom into a promising young man. Thank you for all that you do for the program and especially your mentee Steb! Congratulations! You’re our October Mentor of the Month!

Monday, October 24, 2011

What Do You Think?: Red Ribbon Week


Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena grew up in Calexico, California and joined the US Marine Corps in 1972. He served for 2 years before transferring to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) division. In 1981 he was transferred to a field office in Mexico, where he was sent undercover to investigate a major drug cartel believed to include officers of the Mexican Army, police, and government.

On February 7, 1985, Kiki was kidnapped in broad daylight by corrupt officials. These officials worked for a drug lord Kiki was investigating, whose 1000-hectacre marijuana plantation had recently been destroyed, costing him an annual production income of $8 billion. (The Last Narco)

Kiki’s body was found a month later. DEA investigation showed that Kiki had been brutally tortured before his murder, and audiotapes recorded medical doctors had been kept by his side to keep him alive to further the torture and interrogation. 

After Kiki’s death, family, friends, and neighbors of Calexico wore red ribbons in his honor. Congressman Duncan hunter and high school teacher David Dhillon started “Camarena Clubs” in California high schools to “honor the sacrifices made by Kiki and others on behalf of all Americans” and to encourage lives free from drug abuse. (Camarena Foundation)

Questions for Discussion:

1. Did you know why we wore Red Ribbons the last week of October?
2. Even though Special Agent Camarena knew the dangers of his mission, he decided to embark on it anyways because he wanted to protect our country and his children from the dangers of drug trafficking. Are there things you do to protect your family?
3. Kiki gave his life to protect our country. Are you willing to wear a red ribbon to honor him and others like him? Will you take a pledge with me to avoid illegal drug use and illegal use of legal drugs (Rx drugs)?


** In 1988, the National Family Partnership organized the first National Red Ribbon Week, an eight-day event proclaimed by the U.S. Congress and chaired by President and Mrs. Reagan. (Camarena Foundation)

** Today the Red Ribbon Campaign symbolizes support for efforts to reduce demand for drugs through prevention and education programs. Each year from October 23rd to October 31st thousands of schools, communities and drug abuse prevention organizations throughout the country distribute red ribbons to honor Special Agent Camarena's memory and visibly show a dedication to avoid drug abuse. (Camarena Foundation)

** The 2011 Red Ribbon Week Theme is “It’s Up to Me to Be Drug Free”.

What Can Mentors Do?

** Take the pledge for adult community members. You can find it here.

** Encourage your mentee to take the pledge at their school and to wear the red bracelet throughout the week.

** Thursday, October 27th is Wear Red Day in Santa Barbara County. You know what to do.

** Visit to see example facebook and twitter posts to spread the word about the Red Ribbon campaign.

** Think about participating in the Red Ribbon Theme contest for 2012. Click here for more information.

Monday, October 17, 2011

What Do You Think?: Cyber Gossip


Bianca and her friends have hung out together since they were little. They’ve had the same teachers all through the 6th grade. But now they’re in junior high and don’t see each other all the time except during lunch. So they all set up Facebook accounts to connect during class and after school. Bianca didn’t want one at first, but her friends made an account for her and requested a bunch of “friends”. Over the course of the first day, Bianca had over 50 friends on Facebook. She noticed that everyone was talking about the big school dance on Friday.

It’s now Friday and Bianca and all her friends are having a blast! Towards the end of the dance, Bianca gets asked to dance by a boy she has had a crush on named Kevin and she giggles with her friends before saying yes. As soon as the dance is over she gets home and logs on to Facebook. She starts talking to her friends about how much fun she had at the dance. Her friends are posting pictures of her and Kevin dancing and making comments on them. They are calling her really bad names, and making up rumors about her and Kevin. She doesn’t know what do to and sits in her bedroom, crying herself to sleep, dreading school on Monday.

Questions for discussion:

1. Why do you think the girls are spreading these rumors about Bianca?
2. What should Bianca do to make the girls stop?
3. How would you feel if someone was spreading rumors about you online?
4. Who can you talk to if someone is spreading rumors about you?
5. Should Bianca retaliate towards the girls?


**About 50% of teens have been the victims of cyber bullying.

**Mean, hurtful comments and spreading rumors are the most common type of cyber bullying.

**Girls are somewhat more likely than boys to be involved in cyber bullying.

**Boys are more likely to be threatened by cyber bullies than girls.

**21% of kids have received mean or threatening e-mail or other messages.

**58% have not told their parents or another adult about something mean or hurtful that happened to them online.

***53% of kids admit having said something mean or hurtful to another person online. More than 1 in 3 have done it more than once.

What Can Mentors Can to Help Prevent This?:

**Educate. Teach your mentee what to do in cases where they feel threatened or bullied. They should ignore the offender and contact an adult immediately.

**Be your mentee’s support system. The biggest way to prevent your mentee form being a victim is to keep the lines of communication open. Your mentee needs to feel that he or she can come to you without negative repercussions. This also means listening carefully and avoiding the tendency to trivialize what they are experiencing. It may not seem like a big deal to an adult, but it can be a serious blow to the self-esteem of a child or teen.

**Know the danger signs. You mentee may become more withdrawn or moody. They may spend more time online, or may refuse to use the computer altogether. They may cut off ties with friends. If your mentee gives any indication that they are being bullied on or offline, take it seriously and report it to your case manager or their school personnel. It is of utmost importance to make sure this doesn’t hurt them more or turn into something bigger.

**Try to help your mentee understand. Ask if the rumor was meant to hurt them, or was it just a case of misinformation or exaggeration? Is someone trying to get back at them for something?

**Talk with your mentee about resisting the urge to take revenge. Keep in mind that when someone starts a rumor meant to hurt another person, he or she is probably doing it because of insecurity or unhappiness. If you are a victim of gossip and rumors, you might want to think up lies or expose secrets that you know and take revenge. This might feel good, but only for a short time, and can potentially lead to serious consequences.

Monday, October 10, 2011

What Do You Think?: Marijuana Use


Roberto is in 7th grade and he is struggling. His family life has always been difficult with a mother working two jobs, a father in jail for drug related charges, and 4 other siblings to take all the attention. He is an average student, smart although not well motivated, but now in
Junior High the classes are harder and his mom doesn’t speak English so she can’t help him. He used to play soccer but his mom forgot to send in the paperwork on time so he didn’t make the team this year.
Roberto feels abandoned by his busy and overwhelmed mother and incarcerated father, and turns to his friends for everything and desperately wants to be accepted by them. So while he considered getting help on his homework in the after school tutoring program he quickly caved when his friends invited him to hang out at the park instead. As they walked to the park they talked about how hard and lame Junior High is, and how their parents are so unfair.
Once they reached a secluded spot one of them said “I know what we need to relax and take our minds off our problems” and brought a marijuana joint out of his backpack. While Roberto knew a few of his friends smoked weed they had never done it around him before and he didn’t know what to do, but he didn’t want to look stupid or for them to not like him.

Questions for Discussion:
1. What do you think Roberto should do? How could he say no so that his friends will respect him and his choice?
2. Why might smoking marijuana be attractive for Roberto? Would it make his problems better or worse (short and long term)?
3. How could smoking marijuana affect his future (school, health, relationships, family, work)?
4. What do you think would happen if Roberto and his friends were caught?
5. What could Roberto do to help relieve his stress and family problems without smoking marijuana?


**Common street names for marijuana include: weed, pot, dope, ganja, grass, herb, Mary Jane, refer, skunk, sinsemilla, blunt, and joint.

**According to the California Law, possessing marijuana is a misdemeanor with punishments depending on location and amount. However, if the minor is selling drugs it is a felony punishable by significant time in juvenile hall.

**A minor in possession of less than one ounce of marijuana could be fined up to $100 and taken to a juvenile probation officer. If the minor has more than one ounce of marijuana in their possession the fine could be up to $500 and they could be sentenced to up to 6 months in jail (juvenile hall). 1st and 2nd time offenders can opt for a treatment program, such as through Teen Court, instead of regular court and probation. Their record is then wiped after successful completion of the program.

**If the minor has marijuana on school campus he could be expelled along with a fine and potential jail time.

**According to the Santa Barbara Healthy Kids Survey in 2011 6% of 7th graders have used marijuana in the last 30 days (4% on campus), and 33% believe that there is slight or no harm in smoking marijuana once or twice a week.

What Can Mentors Do to Help Prevent This?:

**Educate yourself about drugs so that you are prepared to discuss them with your mentee. These two sites are great resources:,

**Talk with your mentee about drugs and alcohol early and often. It’s always better to prepare them before they ever encounter it. Make sure they know the realities of its use (why people like it and use it, how many of their peers actually use etc), how it will effect them physically, mentally, and socially, and potential legal consequences. It is very important to be honest about drugs rather than use scare tactics, teens will not listen if you only talk about the negatives without acknowledging the attractive aspects.

**Ask them what they and their friends think about Marijuana, and don’t be overly critical of their answers, you want them to be open with you.

**Share your own experiences with drugs and peer pressure (within reason of course) and help them learn from your successes and mistakes. And most importantly, make sure they know you are always there for them and will not judge them for telling you the truth about what they or their friends do.

**Know the signs of use in your mentee:
• While under the influence: Rapid, loud talking and bursts of laughter in early stages of intoxication. Sleepy or dazed in the later stages. Forgetfulness in conversation. Inflammation (redness) in whites of eyes; pupils unlikely to be dilated. Odor similar to burnt rope on clothing or breath. Brown residue on fingers.
• Changes in friends
• Negative changes in schoolwork, missing school, or declining grades
• Increased secrecy about possessions or activities
• Use of incense, room deodorant, or perfume to hide smoke
• Subtle changes in conversations with friends, e.g. more secretive, using “coded” language
• Change in clothing choices: new fascination with clothes that highlight drug use
• Increase in borrowing money
• Evidence of drug paraphernalia such as pipes, rolling papers, etc.
• Bottles of eye drops, which may be used to mask bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils

** If you notice any of these signs and/or suspect your mentee is using don’t be afraid to confront them about it, although be calm and caring when you do. Tell him or her the truth — that you know or suspect he/she is using marijuana. Be patient and listen. Make your best effort to be non-judgmental about what the teen is telling you. Let him/her know that you wouldn’t bring up the topic if you didn’t care about him/her, and you are only interested in his/her health and safety.

**Tell them that you’ve read some materials on alcohol and drug use by teens and tell them what your expectations are for them, along with what happens if they violate the rules. Tell them that, while you’re no expert, you have access to experts in the community and that if they need help, you’ll be there.

** Talk with them about peer pressure. Ask if they have ever felt the need to do something they didn’t think was right because their friends asked them to. Try to problem solve with them and brainstorm ways that they can avoid the pressure next time.

**Encourage your mentee to participate in afterschool activities because they are shown to significantly reduce drug use. 3pm to 6pm is the most common time for teens to use drugs together because they are bored and unsupervised.

**For more tips see this PDF on how to deal with drug use and drinking when it’s not your child,

Monday, October 3, 2011

What Do You Think?: Tagging/ Vandalism


Mia loved to draw since she was a little girl. It started with flowers and doodles on her classwork. Then, when she was 11, her dad was sent to jail and her mom was stuck working 2 or 3 jobs at a time to support Mia and her 9-year-old brother. Mia loves her mom and looks out for her little brother, but she is upset and blames her mom for her dad going to jail. Her pretty doodles started to turn into doodles of snakes and fire where spelling words should have been on the test. She started to write her name not in bubble letters, but in different designs, sharp angles. She’d write her name, her friends’ names on her arms and her legs, in permanent ink.
On her 13th birthday, her friends decided to “take her out” (i.e. cut school). To mark the special day, they went to a set of walls near the train tracks and her friends pulled out spray cans. They handed one to Mia and said, “Happy birthday.”

Questions for Discussion:

1. What do you think Mia should do? Do you think this is an easy or hard thing for her to do?
2. Do you know anyone, who, like Mia, loves art? What do you think is a good place for her to practice her art?
3. What do you think is the punishment for vandalism?
4. Mia seems to use art as an outlet for her sadness and frustration. What is your outlet?
5. If Mia chooses to tag a wall and is caught, how will her brother feel?


**According to the California Vandalism Law, under Penal Code 594, the definition of vandalism is, "Every person who maliciously commits any of the following acts:
• Defaces with graffiti or other inscribed material
• Damages or
• Destroys the real or personal property of another."
Vandalism is recognized as the deliberate damage or destruction of public or private property, without the owner's permission.

**In California, if a youth under the age of 18 possess an aerosol container of paint, they can be charged with vandalism, even if they haven’t used it.

**First time vandalism charges with minimal damage (less than $400) is generally considered a misdemeanor, and comes with no jail time, fines, restitution, community service, and 3 years informal probation. Sometimes misdemeanors can be elevated to felony charges if there is a prior criminal record, gang involvement, or if it’s a hate crime.

**If the damage is $400 or more, and the defendant has had a prior vandalism charge, then the charges could be at the felony level, with punishments of jail, formal probation, restitution, and community service.

**Fines for vandalism charges could be anywhere from $400 to $5,000.

**In 2008, 37% of juvenile arrests were for vandalism. (OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book)

What Can Mentors Do to Help Prevent This?

**If you notice that your mentee loves drawing, even if it’s happy things, help them find a creative outlet. Create a scrapbook together, bring scratch paper from work and start off your meetings by drawing out their perfect day, or their saddest memory, or even what they want to be in the future.

**Like Mia, many of our kids come from single parent households. If you notice that your mentee is having difficulty dealing with this, contact your Mentor Program advocate who can help by making a referral to their school counselor.

** If you notice your mentee is drawing on tables while you’re trying to work on homework with them, mention it. They may not realize they are doing it. You can ask them why and offer them a piece of paper to doodle on instead. Provide them with the scenario that it would be upsetting if someone came to their house and started etching something into their table at home.

** Talk with them about peer pressure. Ask if they have ever felt the need to do something they didn’t think was right because their friends asked them to. Find out how they handled the situation, how it made them feel. Talk with them…don’t judge their reactions, but see if you can help them come to a conclusion about doing the right thing the next time around.

Friday, September 30, 2011

September Mentor of the Month!

Kanta MacDermott and her mentee will be celebrating an amazing three years together in October. Her mentee was referred in 2008 and need a mentor who would help her improve her self-esteem, academics, and social skills. Together, they have been able to accomplish these things and many more. Kanta's patience has been a strong factor in developing their mentoring relationship. It wasn't always easy to mentor a young girl whose main interest was playing with her friends. But Kanta stuck with her mentee, encouraged her to develop her artistic skills and creativity, and further her academic achievements. Kanta's consistency has helped her mentee improve in all areas of her life. One of their goals was read three new books over their first year together. They surpassed that goal quickly and Kanta encouraged her mentee to read one book a week during a summer program. Her mentee has become a better reader and actually enjoys reading now! Each year, Kanta makes an effort to reach out to her mentee's teacher to see how she can best help outside of school hours. Beyond academics, Kanta encouraged her mentee to be caring and thoughtful of others, and now we see her mentee say, "please," and "thank you" with a sweet smile at every appropriate moment.

Kanta takes advantage of the many mentor resources to help out develop her mentee's interests. For example, she encouraged her to sign up for the PAL Twelve35 Teen Center to develop her mentee’s passion for arts. They have also created a scrapbook, mosaic art pieces, and other forms of arts and crafts. Kanta goes above and beyond to be that support system and friend that her mentee needs. She takes extra time to look into community events and activities to keep her mentee engaged, especially during the summer months. She helped her sign up for Fun in the Sun and brought her to many Mentor Program events. Thank you for all that you do, Kanta!

Monday, September 26, 2011

What Do You Think?: Sexting


8th grade Leah went to her brother's high school football game Friday night. She wasn't "popular" in middle school, but not known as a "nerd" either. She didn't really stand out in any way. So when a cute 10th grader started talking to her during the game, she was flattered. At the end of the night, they exchanged numbers and stayed up until the early morning hours sending text messages to each other. The same thing happened the next night. Leah was excited, butterflies in her stomach. If she entered as a freshman with an 11th grade boyfriend the next year, her popularity would definitely skyrocket. She was determined to make this happen.

Saturday night the text messages started to get a little more mature. He asked her what she was wearing. When she tried to describe it, he said, "cute. send a pic." So she did. He told her he wished he could see what she really looked like under her big shirt, instead of imagining it. After a pause, Leah thought, "What's the harm? Then he'll know he definitely wants to date me, right?" So she took a picture of herself again, but without her shirt this time, asked for a pic from him, and hit "Send." He never responded, but she assumed he fell asleep.

On Sunday afternoon, Leah heard her brother yell from his room. Leah's mom came running up the stairs to his room, then Leah heard her scream and Leah went running to see what was wrong. Leah's mom was shaking and crying on the floor and her brother looked up and showed her his phone...on it was the picture she'd taken for the cute 10th grade boy.

Questions for Discussion:

1. What do you think happens next for Leah? Do you think it stops here? Do you think that this situation could happen in real life? Read this article to find out.

2. Look at the above definition for sexting. If you sent a text to your friend saying, "hung out last nite with jessie. back corner, movie theater...parking lot. dats rite," would you consider it sexting? Why or why not?

3. If you received a naked pic of your boyfriend or girlfriend, would you show it to others? Do you think you could get in trouble for passing it along?

4. If you received a "sext" from someone, what would you do? What if it was about your best friend, your sister, your brother, your cousin? Who is someone that you could tell about this to help stop it from spreading further?

5. If you're comfortable watching this with your mentee, view this Motorola ad from the 2010 Superbowl of Megan Fox. She is supposedly advertising a phone, but what kind of message do you think this sends to viewers, especially teens?

Factoids: (taken from a national online survey)

**20% of teens (ages 13-19) & 11% of young teen girls (ages 13-16) have sent/ posted a nude or semi-nude picture or video of themselves

**39% of teens have sent or posted a sexually suggestive message; 48% have received one.

**47% of teens say “pressure from guys” is a reason girls send and post sexually suggestive messages and images. 24% of teens say “pressure from friends” is a reason guys send and post sexually suggestive messages and images.

**4 in 10 teen girls who have sent sexually suggestive content did so “as a joke” but many teen boys (29%) agree that girls who send such content are “expected to date or hook up in real life.”

What Can Mentors Do to Help Prevent This?

**Talk with your mentee about their cell phone and internet use. Make sure they understand that everything they send and post is not truly private or anonymous.

** Remind them about the consequences of taking, sending, or forwarding a sexual picture of someone underage, even if it’s of them. They could get kicked off of sports teams, face humiliation, lose educational opportunities, and even get in trouble with the law.

** Let them know that if they forward a sexual picture of someone underage, they are as responsible for this image as the original sender. They could face child pornography charges, go to jail, and have to register as a sex offender.

** Remind them that if they received an inappropriate text or noticed an inappropriate photo or post about someone online, that they should notify a parent or someone at school ASAP. They have the power to help stop the cycle of bullying and humiliation, and no one has to know it was them that spoke up...chances are that everyone else in their school saw it as well.
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