Category Archives: Safety

Police Issue Warnings About Dangerous New TikTok ‘Orbeez Challenge’

“A growing number of police and sheriff’s departments across the United States are sending out warnings about the so-called “Orbeez challenge,” claiming it’s a dangerous new trend spreading via TikTok.

They say that the challenge encourages others to attack unsuspecting individuals with an Orbeez gun, which fires a gel pellet.

“We continue to see teenagers … discharging splat ball guns (Orbeez) at other people … even at innocent bystanders. Now they are modifying the beads to be more painful,” Peachtree City Police in Georgia wrote in a recent Facebook post.

“As you can see from the attached photos from an incident [Monday] on the cart path, these can be very painful and can cause permanent injury,” the department also wrote, attaching a photo of a boy whose face was injured in an alleged attack.

Police in Volusia County, Florida, also told the New York Post that its officers “also warned of a string of Orbeez shootings in the area leading to four arrests so far.

“Recently, deputies arrested a 19-year-old man who shot an Amazon delivery driver in Deltona, hitting him in his glasses and his neck while he was driving his route. The same shooter also shot another random adult and a 10-year-old child in the face and chest,” the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post.

-please click on the image for greater detail

Spin Master, which makes Orbeez, told NPR in a statement that “children’s product safety is paramount at Spin Master, and we are committed to providing children and their families with the highest quality toys, games, and activities. Spin Master does not manufacture or sell gel guns.”

It added that “Orbeez are designed for educational, creative, and sensory play and are not intended to be used as projectiles or inserted in mechanisms.”

Police officials said that in some areas, alleged violators could face felony charges.

“These kids think it’s funny. They’re violating the law. They’re committing a battery. If the pellet happens to injure the person to the point it breaks the skin, could be looking at a felony charge. These things don’t go away. Could affect your future,” Winter Garden Police Captain Scott Allen told Orlando’s Fox35.

The Epoch Times has contacted Spin Master for comment.”

Why young people do not need smartphones

recent report from Thorn found that 14 percent of 9 to 12-year-olds had shared explicit images of themselves in 2020 and 21 percent said it was normal for kids their age to do so. Nearly one in five teens had shared sexually explicit images of themselves. Thorn’s report also found a rise in children using secondary accounts to avoid online supervision. In 2020, 25 percent of 9-12-year-olds surveyed said that they were using at least one secondary account and 73 percent said they would prefer not to say. This lack of supervision leaves kids vulnerable to online predators and exposure to explicit content. Of the minors who reported that they had shared sexually explicit images of themselves, half said that they had shared those images with someone they had never met in real life, and over 40 percent reported having shared the images with someone over the age of 18.

As shocking as this is, it is sadly not surprising given the rise in pornography use across all age groups and the increasingly violent and exploitative nature of that content. According to Fight the New Drug, “teen” was one of the most popular search terms on one of the largest pornography platforms for five years running. When fantasizing about sexual exploitation becomes accepted as “normal,” real-life exploitation increases, which is exactly what is happening with the growing number of children sharing self-generated child sexual abuse material.

An important thing to realize when considering this trend is that children are listening to what the culture around them says about sexuality. When “sexting” is treated as normal, healthy, and “empowering,” it is hardly surprising that kids imitate this behavior. People deserve to be treated with more dignity than that and young people need to know that their bodies and God-given sexuality are good and beautiful — and what is good and beautiful should be valued and protected, not flippantly distributed on the internet.

Sexual exploitation is not the only issue that has arisen around kids and technology. Recreational screen time among 12 to 13-year-olds has doubled since the beginning of COVID-19 related lockdowns, reaching over seven and a half hours per day. Increases in screen time, including time spent on social media, has coincided with an alarming rise in depression and anxiety among children and teens. This is especially prevalent in girls, but it affects boys, as well. In addition to depression and anxiety, too much screen time can result in trouble sleeping and irregular sleep schedules, behavioral problems, poor academic outcomes, and desensitization to violence.

To address this, families need to be intentional about how they approach technology, recognizing how the design of a device may encourage isolation, making sure that young children do not have unfettered and unsupervised access to the internet, and helping teens establish healthy boundaries and accountability around devices. Parents need to make sure that they are aware of their children’s online activities and how that may be affecting them, and they also need to make sure that their own habits around technology set a healthy example for their kids.

Many adolescents have expressed that they wish their parents had more rules about screen use. This is imperative, not because we don’t want to treat teens as emerging adults but because we recognize that, as emerging adults, they need to develop habits of discipline. Moreover, preventing kids from interacting with strangers on the internet and sending explicit images is just as important as helping them understand that they shouldn’t get in a car with a stranger or that there are certain places where no one should ever touch them.

Because children are valuable their bodies, hearts, and minds should be protected. Part of protecting children’s bodies, hearts, and minds is helping them safely navigate the digital landscape, including setting boundaries on how much time they spend in front of screens and what online activities they engage in. Children deserve not to be exposed to sexual content online or in person. They deserve to be taught that their bodies matter and should be treated as valuable. And they deserve to know that their hearts are precious and that they matter to the adults in their lives – and that those adults will work to protect them from harm.

9 UW-Madison fraternities, sororities ordered to quarantine to stop spread of COVID-19

-Bascom Hall, UW Madsion

-by Matthew Cash

MADISON (WKOW) — Members of nine fraternities and sororities at UW-Madison have been ordered to quarantine at their off-campus live-in chapter houses following confirmed cases of COVID-19 among their members.

Out of about 420 members in the 9 chapters, 38 tested positive as of Sept. 2, according to a UW-Madison press release. As a precaution, all other members will be required to be tested on Sept. 8 at a university testing site.

Members who have previously tested positive within the last 90 days through a verified lab result and are not currently in isolation do not need to test or quarantine. Proof of a previous positive must be submitted to UHS at [email protected] for verification.

“Our goal is to stop any further spread of the virus among our students and the broader community,” says Jake Baggott, executive director of University Health Services. “We’re working closely with county health officials, student leaders, chapter advisors, and the housing corporations that own the chapter houses to address this quickly and thoroughly.”

A violation of isolation or quarantine order may result in a fine of up to $10,000 or a court order to comply. Failure to comply also will result in university sanctions against students who violate a quarantine directive.

Out of a total of about 5,000 students who are in Greek life, about 1,500 live in off-campus greek houses.

“Given the sheer size of some of these fraternity and sorority chapter houses, some having over 50 household members, we felt that Public Health orders were important to ensure compliance and contain the spread of COVID-19,” in a statement provided to 27 News by PHMDC.

College to use tracking device that notifies officials if students leave school’s ‘COVID-bubble’- violators may be temporarily suspended

Michigan’s Albion College is requiring that students download a phone application that tracks at all times their physical locations as well as their private health data in order to battle the spread of the coronavirus, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

Albion — a private college — is aiming to create a “COVID-bubble” on campus for the entire semester, the Free Beacon said. And if a student breaks the 4.5-mile perimeter, the app notifies the administration, and the student could be temporarily suspended, the paper added.

But as you might imagine, this plan has students and parents complaining about privacy invasion.

“The school wants my daughter to sign a form consenting to specimen collection and lab testing,” one father told the Free Beacon on the condition of anonymity. “I have a ton of concern with that. … Why is the state of Michigan’s contact tracing not enough?”

The paper added that while students are required to remain on campus, professors and administrators are not. And Albion — when asked about this disparity and potential “COVID-bubble” loophole — declined to comment, the Free Beacon said.

“I feel like I am being treated like a five-year-old that cannot be trusted to follow rules,” rising senior Andrew Arszulowicz told the paper. “If the school believes masks work … why are we not allowed to leave if they work? It does not make sense to me.”

What else?

More from the Free Beacon:

“Albion is planning to offer in-person learning only, and students who refuse to comply with the contact-tracing program will be forced to defer for a semester or a full school year.

Coronavirus testing will be required upon arrival to campus. It’s unclear how many follow-up tests the university will mandate throughout the 14-week semester, but the results be stored on Albion’s tracking app.

Returning students must also sign a form authorizing the disclosure of their test results to the county, state, or “any other governmental entity as may be required by law” — though the school told the Free Beacon that state and county officials are not collecting information from the app.”

In addition to downloading the app, students must undergo a mandatory three-day quarantine after they move back to campus. They will be given a list of “approved businesses” to frequent, and must fill out an online form five days in advance if they plan to leave for “approved” activities, such as medical appointments, religious obligations, and “significant family obligations.””

In addition to the possibility of receiving suspensions, students who don’t comply with the guidelines will be locked out of their dorms and other on-campus buildings, the paper said, citing emails from the university it obtained.

Teen girls on birth control pills report crying more, sleeping too much and eating issues, study says

Teenage girls who use birth control pills are more likely to cry, sleep too much and experience eating issues than their peers who don’t use oral contraceptives, according to a recent study published in the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Research has shown that adolescents who use birth control pills are more prone to be at risk for depression in adulthood — regardless of whether they continue taking the pills when they get older.

But investigators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, University Medical Center Groningen and Leiden University Medical Center sought to examine something more subtle — depressive symptoms, which include increased crying, sleeping too much, feelings of worthlessness and suicidal thoughts.

“Depressive symptoms are more prevalent than clinical depression and can have a profound impact on quality of life,” co-author Hadine Joffe, vice chair for psychiatry research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said in a news release.

“Ours is the first study of this scale to dive deep into the more subtle mood symptoms that occur much more commonly than a depression episode but impact quality of life and are worrying to girls, women and their families.”

For this study, researchers looked at 1,010 girls and women over a period of nine years using data from an ongoing survey in the Netherlands called TRAILS, Tracking Adolescents’ Individual Lives Survey. They assessed birth control pill usage at ages 16, 19, 22 and 25.

“One of the most common concerns women have when starting the pill, and teens and their parents have when an adolescent is considering taking the pill, is about immediate depressive risks,” said lead author Anouk de Wit, a psychiatry trainee at University Medical Center Groningen.

Researchers found that 16-year-old girls on birth control pills reported more crying, more sleeping and more eating problems than girls who weren’t on the pill, although the symptoms diminish once they enter adulthood.

High schoolers misusing prescription drugs have more than one way to get them

Researchers warn that this could lead to substance abuse issues

By Kristen Dalli

07/18/2019 | ConsumerAffairs | Health News

“A new study from Michigan State University shows that high schoolers have many different sources they can turn to when it comes to obtaining prescription drugs.

While the misuse and abuse of these drugs raises concerns on its own, the team says the findings are also worrisome because the misuse of prescription drugs is often associated with other mental health concerns or substance abuse issues.

“These adolescents are most in need of intervention to address their substance use and any other medical and mental health issues,” said researcher Ty Schepis.

Knowing the numbers
The researchers completed two studies to gain a better understanding of young people’s misuse of prescription drugs.

In the first study, the researchers analyzed over 18,500 high school students to gain insight into their attitudes about drugs and their behaviors around them. The students were specifically asked about stimulants, opioids, and tranquilizers.

Of the students involved in this study, 11 percent reported misusing prescription drugs, with 44 percent of those same students reporting that they had more than one way to get their hands on the drugs when they wanted them. While some opted to take leftover drugs they found in their medicine cabinets, others bought them off of their peers at school.

The second study focused on nearly 104,000 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17, and the researchers aimed to discover how these young people were securing prescription drugs.

The most common source for drugs in this study was getting them for free from friends or relatives, as this accounted for roughly 33 percent of the participants’ misuse of drugs. Getting an opioid painkiller prescription from a doctor was the second highest source, with 24 percent of participants obtaining drugs this way. Buying drugs from others rounded out the list.

These findings are certainly cause for concern, as having multiple avenues to secure prescription drugs for the wrong reasons has been proven to lead to substance use disorder in over 70 percent of young people.

“The implications from these two studies could not be clearer,” said researcher Sean Esteban McCabe. “Parents, public health experts, and clinicians must rally to address this problem. There is a critical need for clinical workforce training to support clinical and school-based education, screening, prevention, and early intervention.””

Abusing painkillers as a teen could lead to heroin use later in life

Researchers are unsure why this pattern exists

By Kristen Dalli

07/09/2019 | ConsumerAffairs | Health News

In a new study, researchers have discovered that teens are more likely to turn to heroin when they use prescription painkillers to get high.

“Prescription opioids and heroin activate the brain’s pleasure circuit in similar ways,” said researcher Adam Leventhal. “Teens who enjoy the ‘high’ from prescription opioids could be more inclined to seek out other drugs that produce euphoria, including heroin.”

Tracking drug use

The researchers’ primary focus with the study was to see how prescription painkiller use during teenage years impacted potential drug use in later years. To get a gauge of teens’ drug habits over time, the researchers had nearly 3,300 high school freshman complete surveys, which were retaken twice a year through their senior years.

The biggest takeaway from the study was that students who were currently using, or had previously used, prescription painkillers were more likely to turn to heroin by the time they graduated high school.

“Adolescents are sometimes overlooked in the opioid epidemic discussion,” said researcher Lorraine Kelley-Quinn. “The association between nonmedical opioid use and later heroin use in youth is concerning and warrants further research and health policy interventions.”

Prescription painkillers were popular in nearly 600 of the students surveyed throughout their high school experience, and this led to a large portion of students later turning to harder drugs.

Nearly 11 percent of students who reported formerly using prescription opioids and over 17 percent who were currently using the drugs were found to use heroin by the end of high school.

“While we can’t definitively conclude that there is a cause-and-effect relation, there may be something unique about opioid drugs that makes youths vulnerable to trying heroin,” said Leventhal. “The results do not appear to be driven by the tendency of some teens to act out, rebel, or experiment with many types of drugs.”

Protecting young people
A recent study revealed that parents are choosing opioids for their kids when it comes to pain relief, despite knowing other options exist.

Now knowing how prescription opioids can affect teens into early adulthood, these findings shed new light on how future treatment options could be affected.

Moreover, researchers have discovered that today’s children and teens are three times more likely to experience opioid poisoning than they were two decades ago.

Teen crashes in Bird Box challenge

Police say a teenager participating in the latest viral challenge is responsible for a crash on a parkway and will face reckless driving charges.

Friday, January 11, 2019 03:15PM

LAYTON, Utah — Police say a teenager participating in the latest viral challenge is responsible for a crash on Layton Parkway and will face reckless driving charges.

Layton Police tweeted two photos of the crash, which they said occurred Monday. No injuries were reported.

“Bird Box Challenge while driving… predictable result,” the department stated. “This happened on Monday as a result of the driver covering her eyes while driving on Layton Parkway.”

Police said they didn’t learn about the story behind Monday’s crash until Friday. The “Bird Box Challenge” takes its name from a recent Netflix movie in which the characters must remain blindfolded.

Lt. Travis Lyman, Layton Police, said the 17-year-old girl driving the pickup truck was with a 16-year-old boy when she decided to attempt the “Bird Box Challenge” and used a beanie as an impromptu blindfold.

The driver veered into oncoming traffic and struck a passenger car.

“Honestly I’m almost embarrassed to have to say ‘Don’t drive with your eyes covered’ but you know apparently we do have to say that,” Lyman said. “…The stakes are just so high and it’s just such a potentially dangerous thing as it is: to try and do it in that way is inexcusable. It really puts everybody at risk.”

Police are recommending reckless driving charges in the case but it will be up to the County Attorney’s Office to determine what charges, if any, are filed.