Halloween Safety tips

Halloween is a very exciting time for children and often the last thing on their minds as they head out the door for an evening of trick or treating, is safety. This is where parents, guardians and care givers need to step up to ensure their evening is not marred by an accident which could have prevented.

Here are a few safety tips to follow.

Parents

  • ensure your little goblins can see from behind their mask, make sure they are wearing comfortable footwear and their costumes are reflective
  • only trick or treat at houses where lights are on
  • never eat treats until an adult has inspected them
  •  Adults should carry a flashlight with them
  •  walk only on the sides of roads or sidewalks

Motorists

  •  slow down and expect children to pop out at any time from any direction
  •  be prepared to react, stay alert

Homeowners

  •  when handing out candy, ensure your porch light is left on and your walkway is clear of debris that could cause a child to fall.

Nanaimo Police Department

Gang Prevention -What can Parents do?

Research shows gang members are likely to die before age 30.

Always know where your kids are, what they are doing, and who they are with.

Explain to them that you are asking questions about their activities and whereabouts because you are interested, you love them, and you care about them.

Help your kids choose friends who are not involved in any criminal or antisocial activity.

Build strong family ties by making family events fun such as regular family dinners, outings, watching movies and playing games with them.

Accompany your kids to after school activities such as sports, and stay for the whole duration as often as possible.

Participate in parent-teacher meetings and events at your kids’ schools.

Take interest in your kids’ homework and make sure they complete it.

Encourage your kids to participate in school activities and do volunteer work in the community.

Do the same yourself.

Ensure that they take pride in their cultural/ethnic/religious/linguistic heritage while fully participating in the mainstream life of our society.

Have open communication with your kids so they feel comfortable to share with you their concerns and worries.

Thank them and reward them for sharing information, even when the information might be potentially worrisome.

Remember that kids learn a lot from observation. So modeling good behaviour yourself, such as leading a life that is free of crimes, drugs, and violence is very important.

Foster thankfulness in your kids by modeling thankfulness yourself for your own life situations and people in your life.

Remain consistent in your message to kids that although you love them unconditionally, antisocial behaviour is not acceptable. Ask questions for an honest conversation.

Emphasize the importance of ‘being true to self’ and reward them for doing the ‘right thing’ despite peer pressure.

Demonstrate that forgiving others for their harmful actions towards you is better than trying to take/plot revenge.

Keep an eye on your kids’ choice of movies, videos, and internet browsing habits. If you see a consistent theme of violence and crimes, talk to them and steer them to other entertainment choices.

Make your kids understand that although money is important, long lasting happiness in life comes from having good trusting relationships with family, friends, neighbours, and the community.

If you are worried that your kids may be involved in antisocial and/or self-destructive behavior, remember that it can be changed.

Avoid ‘tough love’ such as cutting them off or forbidding them from going out. Instead, stay involved and let your kids understand that making mistakes and wrong choices are part of learning and that you will always help them correct their mistakes.

When you are worried about your kids’ well-being and need some help, talk to their school teacher, counsellor, or even a police officer. An earlier check and prevention will help your kids stay on track and avoid getting into a dangerous life of crime, violence, and gangs.

Opinion: Three things everyone should know about autism in Canada

Until recently, the federal government has done little to address the crisis faced by autism families across the country and has left the issue to the provinces to manage. But things are starting to change — for the better.

Earlier this month, the federal government appointed an “Autism Spectrum Disorder Working Group” with a $2 million budget to develop a plan for a “Canadian Autism Partnership” that will address autism research, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, among other issues.

It’s a good step forward, but much more is needed, particularly on the health and educational services side of the issue, so that real families get real help, now.

As governments across the country tackle the gap between need and resources, here are a few things everyone should know:

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  1. Autism is not a mental illness or a learning disability. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized by impaired verbal and social communication; rigid, restrictive and repetitive behaviours; uneven intellectual development; sensitivity to sensory input; challenges with fine and gross motor skills, among other characteristics.

Autism is more accurately referred to as “autism spectrum disorder” (ASD) because each person on the spectrum can exhibit a differing array of these characteristics with wide-ranging severity.

  1. The rate of autism in Canada is not yet fully known, but we have recent estimates. Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionestimate1 in 68 children in the United States has ASD. Since autism is five times more prevalent in boys than girls, they estimate 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls has ASD in the U.S.

So what are the rates in Canada? And are they on the rise?

“Our best estimate at this time is that ASD affects 1 in 94 children six to nine years of age,” according to Dr. Hélène Ouellette-Kuntz, Professor in the Department of Health Sciences at Queen’s University and Director of The National Epidemiologic Database for the Study of Autism in Canada (NEDSAC). The estimate is based on diagnostic and services data from Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and Southeastern Ontario from 2003-2010.

What we know from NEDSAC published materials suggests that autism rates are on the rise in Canada, though they vary widely across the studied regions. Even when you factor in increases due to the identification of previously undetected cases and other factors, “we cannot rule out the possibility of a true increase in incidence,” says Ouellete-Kuntz.

  1. Families often wait several years to access autism services covered by the public health-care system. It is not uncommon for families to wait several years to receive a diagnosis of autism for their child from publicly funded health services in most provinces. Once a child is diagnosed, interventions with a strong evidence base, such as behavioural therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy, have wait times of several months up to several years in most places across the country. Once services are received, families have access to these therapies for only limited time periods and often beyond the window of time most experts believe optimal.

The wide range in disparity of publicly funded services for autism across the country has even generated a kind of “medical migration” with several published accounts of families leaving their home provinces to move to Alberta or British Columbia, where services are more readily available and more flexible.

It is also no longer uncommon to find Canadian families using crowd sourcing campaigns to fund their children’s therapies.

By KATHLEEN O’GRADY,

 MONTREAL GAZETTE

Published on: July 28, 2015 | Last Updated: July 28, 2015 1:17 PM EDT

Kathleen O’Grady is a research associate at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, Concordia University and managing editor, EvidenceNetwork.ca. She is based in Ottawa and has two young sons, one with autism. \

Thousands of kids sidelined as Surrey soccer club gets red carded

An estimated 2,800 young players could be affected by suspension of Surrey-based Central City Breakers

 

BY CASSIDY OLIVIER, THE PROVINCE JULY 27, 2015

 

Photograph by: Shaheem Ali , Pinterest 2013

 

An estimated 2,800 young players could be affected

One of B.C.’s largest youth soccer clubs, the Surrey-based Central City Breakers, has been suspended from play pending an investigation into charges against the organization’s management team, who are alleged to have broken several of the organization’s bylaws and even indirectly diverted funds to another club.

The suspension was handed down last Friday by the South District Girls’ Soccer Association (SDGSA), the authority that oversees the Breakers’ female players, following a series of complaints against the club, including the improper use of club funds to support the Canadian Eagles, a club that the complaint says is not affiliated with the district or B.C. Soccer.

The suspension means the club cannot register any female players or participate in any B.C. Soccer-sanctioned events.

Surrey Metro Soccer, which oversees the boys who play for the Breakers, has also been notified of the allegations and was expected to issue a statement outlining its position on the case Monday evening, according to a source close to the matter. An estimated 2,800 boys and girls play for Central City Breakers teams.

Details of the allegations are contained in a four-page letter sent to the SDGSA earlier this month by Amar Bains, a member of the Breakers and the former vice-president in charge of equipment. In the letter, Bains claims the club violated four of its own bylaws around with whom the club can be affiliated, timing of the annual general meeting and conflicts of interest.

Surrey Breakers Correspondence

Specific attention was paid to the alleged support the Central City Breakers have been providing to the Canadians Eagles FC.

In his letter, Bains claims the two clubs share seven board members and that “monies have been paid” from the Breakers to the Eagles, a violation of club bylaws.

Bains further alleged that:

— Breakers membership fees are being used to pay for field rentals for the Eagles;

— The shared board members are using the Breakers membership date to expand the Eagles membership;

— Breakers management is “making payments” to the Eagles in “direct violation” of the club’s constitution and bylaws.”

“I am asking that both the South District Girls Soccer Association … and the Surrey Metro Soccer Association (SMSA) hold account the CCFC (The Central City Football Club, same as Central City Breakers) for its abuse of power,” Bains wrote.

“If there is no action taken by the districts and B.C. Soccer within a reasonable time, this serious matter will be put forth to the Supreme Court of Canada.”

Bruce McCallum, chair of the girls soccer association, declined to comment on the matter when contacted by The Province, other than to confirm an investigation has been launched into the allegation, which the organization’s website characterized as “grievous.”

While suspended, the club can’t register any female players or participate in any B.C. Soccer-sanctioned events.

Efforts to contact the club Monday were not successful, but a statement posted on its website late Monday said the club has asked the district for specific details of the allegations, as well as a justification for “imposing discipline on the club without first providing details of these apparent complaints or an opportunity to address the allegations.”

“The club believe the district has acted unfairly in this matter and intends to pursue the issue with B.C. Soccer,” the statement read.

“The Club is also considering other avenues of recourse to attempt to rectify this egregious conduct by the district.”

Peter Lonergan, marketing and communications officer with the B.C. Soccer Association, said his organization is monitoring the situation and gathering information.

“These things are always concerning,” he said. “In terms of kids playing, we do our best working with both the district and the clubs to get those kids playing as soon as possible.”

ISIL instructors handed 120 children a doll and a sword. Then they were given their next lesson: Behead the ‘infidel’

BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
The children each received a doll and a sword. Then they were lined up, more than 120 of them, and given their next lesson by their Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant instructors: Behead the doll.
A 14-year-old who was among the line of abducted boys from Iraq’s Yazidi religious minority said that at first, he couldn’t cut it right – he chopped once, twice, three times.
“Then they taught me how to hold the sword, and they told me how to hit. They told me it was the head of the infidels,” the boy, renamed Yahya by his ISIL captors, recalled in an interview last week with The Associated Press in northern Iraq, where he fled after escaping the ISIL training camp.
When ISIL extremists overran Yazidi towns and villages in northern Iraq last year, they butchered older men. Many of the women and girls they captured were given to ISIL loyalists as sex slaves. But dozens of young Yazidi boys like Yahya had a different fate: the group sought to re-educate them. They forced them to convert to Islam from their ancient faith and then tried to turn them into jihadi extremist fighters.
It is part of a concerted effort by the extremists to build a new generation of militants, according to a series of AP interviews with residents who fled or still live under ISIL in Syria and Iraq. The group is recruiting teens and children, using cash, gifts, intimidation and brainwashing. As a result, children have been plunged into the group’s atrocities. Young boys have been turned into killers, shooting captives in the head in videos issued by the group. Last week, for the first time, a video showed a child involved in a beheading: a boy who appeared younger than 13 decapitating a Syrian army captain. Kids also have been used as suicide bombers.
In schools and mosques, the militants infuse children with their extremist doctrine, often turning them against their own parents. Fighters in the street befriend children with toys. ISIL training camps for children churn out the Ashbal, Arabic for “lion cubs,” young fighters for the “caliphate” that ISIL has declared across the regions its controls. A caliphate is a historic form of Islamic rule that the group claims to be reviving, though the vast majority of Muslims reject its claim.
“They are planting extremism and terrorism in young people’s minds,” said Abu Hafs Naqshabandi, a Syrian sheikh in the Turkish city of Sanliurfa, where he runs religion classes for refugees to counter ISIL ideology. “I am terribly worried about future generations.”
The indoctrination mainly targets the Sunni Muslim children living under ISIL rule. But the abduction of the Yazidis, whom ISIL considers heretics ripe for slaughter, shows how the group sought even to take another community’s youth, erase its past and replace it with ISIL radicalism.
The camp where Yahya and other Yazidi boys were taken was the Farouq Institute for Cubs in the Syrian city of Raqqa, which serves as the extremists’ de facto capital. The boys were given Muslim Arabic names to replace their Kurdish-language names. Yahya asked that the AP not use his real name because of fears of retaliation against himself or his family.
Yahya, his little brother, their mother and hundreds of Yazidis were captured when the extremists overran the town of Sulagh in northern Iraq last year. They were taken to Syria, where the brothers were separated from their mother and put in the Farouq camp, along with other Yazidi boys aged between 8 and 15, Yahya told the AP.
He spent nearly five months there, undergoing eight to 10 hours a day of training, including running, exercising, weapons’ training and studying the Quran. The boys hit each other in some exercises. Yahya said he punched his 10-year-old brother, knocking out his tooth.
“I was forced to do that. (The trainer) said that if I didn’t do it, he’d shoot me,” he said. “They … told us it would make us tougher. They beat us everywhere with their fists.”
In an online ISIL video of the Farouq camp, boys in camouflage do calisthenics. Some repeat back religious interpretation texts they have memorized justifying the killing of prisoners and infidels. An ISIL fighter sitting with a line of boys says they have studied the principles of jihad “so that in the coming days God Almighty can put them in the front lines to battle the infidels.”
ISIL videos from other training camps show young boys in military fatigues marching with weapons, crawling under barbed wire and practicing shooting. One child lies on the ground and fires a machine gun; he’s so small that the recoil bounces his whole body back a few inches. Other scenes show boys undergoing endurance training. They stand unmoving as a trainer punches them or hits their heads with a pole. They lie on the ground as a trainer walks on them.
Most of the children look stony-faced, their only emotion a momentary flicker as they try to remember texts they are told to recite.
“By God, (Barack) Obama and all those allied against the State, we will kill you. Who will? We lion cubs of the caliphate,” proclaims one boy who looks younger than 10, holding an automatic rifle as he addresses the U.S. president.
ISIL has claimed to have hundreds of such camps, though the true number is not known – nor the number of children who have gone through the training. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based organization that follows the Syrian war, said it documented at least 1,100 Syrian children under 16 who joined ISIL so far this year, many of whom were then sent to fight in Syria and Iraq. At least 52 were killed, including eight who blew themselves up in suicide attacks, the organization said.
The effects of the indoctrination are chilling. In an ISIL video released last month, 25 young boys with pistols take position between 25 captured Syrian soldiers brought into the ancient Roman amphitheater in the Syrian city of Palmyra. Unflinching, each boy shoots a soldier in the back of the head. Previous videos have shown boys killing what ISIL alleged were an Israeli spy and two Russian agents.
Often, recruiting starts on the streets of ISIL-held areas at outdoor booths called “media points,” where militants show young people propaganda videos. Militants hold outdoor events for children, distributing soft drinks, candy and biscuits, along with religious pamphlets and CDs. Bit by bit, the idea of jihad as a duty is drilled into young minds. The group’s acolytes distribute toys in the street and tell children to call them if they want to join, according to an anti-ISIL activist who recently fled Raqqa.
“They tell (adults) … `We have given up on you, we care about the new generation,’” the activist said, speaking on condition of anonymity to preserve the safety of relatives living under ISIL rule.
One Raqqa resident told the AP of his neighbour’s 16-year-old son, Ahmed, who spent long hours at his local ISIL-run mosque. Ahmed began picking fights with his family, telling his older brother and parents they were bad Muslims because they didn’t pray.
In November, when he told his family he wanted to join ISIL, his mother wept, while his father told him his family would never take him back. The teen vanished 10 days later. His father was told by ISIL members that his son was fighting for the group in eastern Syria and he should be proud of him.
“They turned him against his family. They convinced him they were apostates,” said the neighbour, a friend of the parents who also spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. Ahmed’s family members refused to speak to the AP, fearing ISIL might punish their son for anything they say.
Some parents in ISIL-run areas take their children out of schools to avoid ISIL brainwashing.
In Eski Mosul, a town in northern Iraq recently liberated from ISIL, residents showed the AP a book the militants used to lecture children titled “The Clear Evidence of the Heresy of Those Who Support the Crusader Campaign against the Islamic Caliphate.”
“America is the head of the infidels, atheism and the central base of corruption and moral decay – it is the land of shame, crime, filth, and evil,” the book says.
Umm Ali, a woman from the predominantly Kurdish Syrian town of Afrin who worked in fields held by the extremists in Aleppo province, said her sons were approached by ISIL members several times, and she hated that children saw beheadings and other punishments carried out in public squares.
“I saw one man hanging from a pole, his body badly tortured. Children were taking photographs. It’s horrible, horrible,” she said, crying. She spoke at a health clinic in Gaziantep, Turkey, where she had fled with her six children.
Even in refugee camps, children are not out of ISIL’s reach. Often under the guise of humanitarian organizations, ISIL organizes religious lessons to recruit people, said Naqshabandi, the Syrian sheik. The militants would pay students who enroll 300 Turkish liras ($110) a month, said Abu Omar, a field worker at the camps.
“They taught us to hate,” said a 15-year-old former refugee camp resident who witnessed ISIL indoctrination, speaking on condition of anonymity to protect himself and his family. “This is what they teach” – and he moved his hand sharply across his throat.
Yahya, the Yazidi boy, escaped the ISIL training camp in early March, when ISIL fighters left to carry out an attack. As the remaining guards slept, he said he and his brother slipped away, telling the other children he was going to throw out the garbage. He asked one friend to come with them, but the friend chose to stay. He was Muslim now, the friend said. He liked Islam.
Yahya knew his mother was staying in a house nearby with other abducted Yazidis, since he had occasionally been allowed to visit her. So he and his brother went to her, and then travelled to the ISIL-held northern Syrian city of Minbaj with some fellow Yazidis. There, they stayed with a Russian member of ISIL, Yahya said. After that, he contacted his uncle in northern Iraq, who negotiated to pay the Russian for the two boys and their mother. A deal struck, the Russian sent them to Turkey to meet the uncle and they made their way to the city of Dohuk in the Kurdish autonomous zone of northern Iraq.
Now in a house in Dohuk rented by the uncle, Yahya and his brother spend much of their time watching TV, grateful to be back with their mother and away from the terrifying camp, where they were forced to watch videos of beheadings.
“I was scared,” Yahya said. “I knew I wouldn’t be able to behead someone like that. Even as an adult.”