Energy drinks could be a gateway to cocaine use, according to a new study.
Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Public Health found that young adults who said they’d consumed energy drinks yearly between ages 21 and 24 were at greater risk for subsequently doing cocaine, using prescription stimulants for non-medical uses and problem drinking.
The 1,099 study participants were recruited as 18-year-old college students.
Those who didn’t consume energy drinks as they got older were less likely to develop substance-abuse problems.
Amelia Arria, director of the university’s Center on Young Adult Health and Development, explained that factors contributing to a propensity for risk taking, susceptibility to peer pressure and and changes in energy-drink users’ brain that make them like stimulants more.
“Energy drinks are not as regulated as some other beverages. One policy implication is to consider options for regulating the maximum amount of caffeine that can be put in an energy drink.” she said. “Parents need to be aware of those risks when their child or adolescent or young adult wants to make a decision about what sort of beverage to consume. They need to be aware of the potential risk.”
Energy drinks are a booming segment of the beverage market. Last year, North American retail sales were close to $11 billion, up from less than $5 billion in 2007, according to the market research company Euromonitor.
Big names among energy drinks include Red Bull, Monster, Amp and Rockstar.
Anheuser-Busch announced last month that it was acquiring the organic energy drink maker Hiball Energy.
Arria and her co-authors cited existing data that an estimated one in every three American teens and young adults consume energy drinks or energy shots with 50% of college students reporting they’ve taken them in the past month.
William Dermody, vice president of policy for the American Beverage Association, questioned the methodology and comprehensiveness of the University of Maryland study and said it didn’t prove causation.
“Mainstream energy drinks have been extensively studied and confirmed safe for consumption by government safety authorities worldwide, including a recent review by the European Food Safety Authority. Nothing in this study counters this well-established fact,” he explained, adding that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates the drinks’ ingredients and labeling.
Dermody said that mainstream energy drinks contain about half the caffeine of a similarly-sized cup of coffee shop coffee and that they account for about two percent of Americans’ caffeine intake from all sources.
In this age of controversy, a fresh reason for social justice warriors to unite has arisen on Wall Street in New York City. The statue “Fearless Girl” was installed within sight of “Charging Bull” to bring attention to International Women’s Day. Having served its purpose—whatever that was—it is now time for its scheduled removal. After the images of the statue went viral, the sculptor and others want the statue to stay as a commemoration of the fearlessness of women.
True fearlessness is silently represented around this country daily, and not in the form of an iron statue.
What a load of unadulterated poppycock! Not only is the statue a poor representation of a lack of fear, it utilizes another artist’s work without permission in an attempt to make the point.
True fearlessness is silently represented around this country daily, and not in the form of an iron statue. The “silent representation” of this is exemplified in the media’s coverage of famous women who have been attacked. Sandra Bullock, Gwyneth Paltrow and Taylor Swift have all received expansive media coverage of their battles to protect their homes and families from invasion by dangerous stalkers intent on bodily harm. Each woman has suffered home invasion and had to endure (sometimes unsatisfying) judicial resolutions. Fortunately, none of these women were physically harmed in the altercations. Many American women who undergo similar experiences are not so lucky.
Renowned criminologist Gary Kleck estimates that firearms are used in self-defense approximately 2.5 million times per year in the United States. But in cases of women using firearms for self-defense, it is surprising how few of them garner any national attention: So-called “mainstream” media outlets tend to largely ignore them since they don’t fit their “guns are bad” narrative.
To illustrate the point, try running an internet search of “woman shoots assailant.” Based on national media reports, one would expect to see only four or five instances over the past several years. Instead, there are thousands of hits. Similar searches for “woman shoots robber” and “woman shoots invader” provide even more local news stories of women using guns defensively. Then, to get an idea of the true scope of the phenomenon, consider that in most instances of defensive gun use, a shot is never fired and doesn’t get reported on.
Fearless Women Are Survivors
These attacks happen across the country, at any time of day, in any locale. A woman out running errands in Jacksonville, Fla., returned home unaware that she had been followed. Just before 10 a.m., the assailant forced his way into the victim’s home attempting to rob her. She shot him twice instead. The man survived the shooting and was able to flee the scene, only to be apprehended by police a short time later.
In another morning incident—this one in Chattanooga, Tenn.—Latisha Hinton used her gun to shoot her assailant after they argued and, as Hinton stated, he assaulted her. She feared for her own safety and that of others, which prompted her lawful use of her firearm. Her assailant was arrested on outstanding warrants in addition to being charged with five counts of reckless endangerment.
In February of this year, Naou Mor Khantha was working the night shift in a laundromat in Upper Darby, Pa. An armed man entered her workplace, and she fought back. She recounted that the criminal entered the facility armed with a handgun and trapped Khantha in the restroom, where, Khantha said, the criminal attempted to rape her. Khantha managed to shoot the criminal with his own gun and flee to a nearby 7-Eleven, where she called the police. Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood marveled at her bravery: “She fought for her life. She won. She’s a lucky young lady.”
In other words, bravery is more than a statue. Sounds about right. But those stories are only the tip of the iceberg. In February of this year, in Rising Sun, Ind., a conservation officer was attacked after responding to a report of a suspicious person. A woman ran from a nearby home and, upon seeing the officer being overwhelmed by an attacker, shot the attacker once in the torso to save the officer. The attacker later died at the hospital.
An Ohio woman was visiting the home of her elderly parents when she was assaulted. Kim Sinnott was enjoying a family party for her father’s 75th birthday when the family’s alarm system sounded. After grabbing her father’s handgun, she and her twin sister went to take a look and found an intruder in the garage. Sinnott warned the intruder that she had a gun and would use it. She repeatedly stated that the police were on the way and not to come out of the garage or she would shoot. Instead, the intruder allegedly lunged at Sinnott, tackling her in an attempt to take the gun. The intruder was reportedly on top of Sinnott when she shot him. His injuries were not life-threatening; he fled down the street and was later apprehended by police.
In Mobile, Ala., a woman in her vehicle shot a man brandishing a bat. Fortunately for him, his injuries weren’t life-threatening, either. But you may be noticing a theme here: Women who are attacked by unknown assailants have virtually zero chance of surviving unscathed, save for their possession of a firearm. In the case of the twin daughters home with their elderly parents, the gun was their equalizer in an altercation with an individual bent on mayhem.
Fearless Woman Stops Domestic Violence Attack
While anti-gun activists claim that a gun makes domestic violence situations more dangerous for women, in truth a gun can turn the tables on an attack that might otherwise prove deadly.
When a Mound View, Minn., woman had told her boyfriend their relationship was over, he had moved out of the house they had previously shared. However, one night about midnight the man returned demanding he be let in.
Fearing the man because he had repeatedly threatened her in the past, the woman took her gun to the door with her. When told he could not enter, the man broke into the home, tackled the woman and began assaulting her. The woman then shot her attacker once in the chest, ending the attack.
More recently, in June, an Indiana woman fatally shot a home intruder to defend herself and her children. The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department reported that the mother heard someone breaking into her apartment—and, when investigating, came face to face with a strange man holding a gun. However, the mother was also carrying a firearm, and she fired first.
The shooting was the second in two days where an Indianapolis parent was forced to fire in self-defense.
In Glendale, Ariz., a woman at a Circle K showed her attacker that a gun to your victim’s head doesn’t necessarily mean you possess the upper hand. It was 1 a.m., and Carole Miracle was walking toward the store when she allegedly felt a gun pressed to her head and heard a man demand her money. Instead of complying, Miracle pulled her own gun from its holster and shot the man, killing him. Eyewitness accounts reportedly corroborate Miracle’s account of the events that night.
A surveillance camera recorded a man following a woman into an elevator at a parking garage in Louisville, Ky. As the woman left the elevator, he trailed closely behind her. When she unlocked and entered her vehicle, the man allegedly got in behind her and covered her mouth with one hand, while holding a knife in the other. The woman fought back, and as they wrestled, the windshield was cracked. The woman pulled a gun from her purse and shot the man in the neck. He fled, but was later arrested and charged with attempted murder, criminal mischief and kidnapping. The woman suffered multiple injuries, but her bravery and preparation in carrying a firearm saved her life.
This is a story that would be very good for millions of American women to hear. It illustrates how quickly an assailant can escalate an attack to a level that is impossible to win unarmed.
Of course, a parking garage isn’t the only place a concealed firearm can be a lifesaver. One mom was in her Indianapolis home with her family when she heard breaking glass. After alerting her husband to the unexpected noise, she emerged from her bedroom, pistol in hand, to see an intruder come out of her baby’s room. The intruder shot at her, and she returned fire, hitting him multiple times. The man was later found to have zip ties and a walkie-talkie in his possession. Of note is the sign on the porch of the home, reading, “We don’t call 911,” with a pistol hanging beneath. Great call on the mom’s part. Even though the baby was home during the break-in, none of the residents were harmed in the incident.
When The 911 Operator Says To Shoot
What a scenario: It’s New Year’s Eve, your husband died of cancer just a few days before, and you’re home alone with your 3-month-old baby. The doorbell rings, and some guy who introduced himself at your husband’s funeral is at your door with his friend—only this time, he has a knife.
Fortunately, the 18-year-old mother recognized him from the week before, and refused to open the door. They worked to get inside the house while she dialed 911.
The young widow I just described is named Sarah McKinley. When McKinley asked the operator if she could shoot the assailants if they entered the home, the operator told her to do whatever she needed to protect her baby. Armed with a shotgun and a pistol, she opened fire when they allegedly broke in, killing one of the intruders. His friend fled and later turned himself into police.
In truth, there are thousands upon thousands of other fearless women out there with memories of attacks, and some with battle scars from their encounters with the criminal element. These women are alive today because they chose to arm themselves just in case there was ever a need.
Many never even had to fire a shot to successfully practice armed self-defense. Due to the newsworthiness of her sorrowful situation and her youth, McKinley’s story received widespread attention back in 2012 when it occurred, but other women who have survived because they had a gun and knew how to use it have done so with little fanfare or notoriety.
Every woman should be apprised of her likelihood of surviving an assault armed only with her wits. The more knowledge women have of the laws in their states and of their rights under the Second Amendment, the more lives will be saved.
Women owning firearms is the picture of fearlessness—and there’s no bull in that.
BY STACY WASHINGTON
Stacy Washington is a decorated Air Force veteran, Emmy-nominated TV personality and host of nationally syndicated radio program “Stacy on the Right,” based in St. Louis.
Culture critic: Having an Affair Is Going Out of Style
Extramarital sex “is changing before our very eyes,” says Megan McArdle at Bloomberg: “While the overall rate of people reporting extramarital flings is the same, the demographics of the people who report the adultery are changing dramatically.
And not necessarily in the direction you might think.” It’s the baby boomers, who came of age in the Sexual Revolution, not millennials, who are driving the trend.
In fact, younger people are having “markedly less extramarital sex than people in that age group did in the 1990s. But people over the age of 55 are busy making up for their missed action.”
With sex, “the past really is another country, and the future a land unknown.”
A video advising UK holidaymakers what to do in the event of a terror attack abroad has been released by police.
The four-minute film depicts a firearms attack unfolding at a hotel and uses the “run, hide, tell” safety message.
Thirty British tourists were among 38 people killed when a gunman attacked a Tunisian beach resort in June 2015.
Counter terrorism police said there is no specific intelligence Britons will be targeted this summer and the film is part of a general awareness campaign.
But Det Ch Supt Scott Wilson told the BBC it was “only right” to offer advice following the terror attacks in London and in Sousse, Tunisia.
“These people are not there to steal a mobile phone or steal your watch, they are there to kill you, you have to get yourself out of that danger zone,” Mr Wilson told the BBC.
“It’s very unlikely [that you will be caught up in a terror attack].
“It’s very much like the safety briefing you get on an aeroplane before it takes off – it’s very unlikely that plane is going to crash, but it’s very important you are given that knowledge of what you should and what you shouldn’t do.”
The video has been produced with the Foreign Office and travel association Abta.
Mr Wilson said 23,000 representatives from major UK holiday companies at resorts all over the world had been trained in what to do in the event of a terror attack as well as how to spot suspicious items and activity.
Foreign Office minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon said: “While there is no specific information that British holidaymakers will be targeted this summer, it sets out some simple steps we can all take to minimise the impact of an attack if one does take place.”
The run, hide, tell message was first introduced by police in December 2015.
If there is a safe route run
Insist others go with you, but do not let their indecision slow you down
An English religious school for Orthodox Jewish girls age three to eight may be forced to close “because it does not teach its students about gender reassignment or homosexuality,” reports Eliot Kaufman at National Review.
The UK’s Office of Standards in Education says it will “not relent in its application of the 2010 Equalities Act” against the Vishnitz Girls School.
The law is being interpreted to “force prepubescent girls to learn about sexual orientation.
And if that violates the teachings of their faith, the bureaucrats maintain, the faith shall have to change. If it won’t, the kids will have to lose their school.” Ironically, officials admit the school “appears to excel at teaching secular subjects — a challenge for many Orthodox schools.”
But they’re demanding full exposure to “fundamental British values.” This, says Kaufman, “is nothing short of the imposition of secular dogma.”
80% of children studied in the U.S. and Canada grow out of the trans gender feelings and resume normal behavior related to their sex. [Dr. Paul McHugh Dr. Lawrence S. Mayer, New Atlantis Sexuality and Gender: Findings from Biological, Psychological, and Social Sciences]
Bathroom signs are temporary, but hormones are forever.
That seems to be the implication of a new paper called “Growing Pains: Problems with Puberty Suppression in Treating Gender Dysphoria,” published in the journal The New Atlantis this week.
Paul Hruz of the Washington University Medical School and Lawrence Mayer and Paul McHugh of Johns Hopkins Medical School looked at the recent use of hormones to treat children who feel that they should be members of the opposite sex and concluded that this experimental treatment, which is becoming commonplace in medicine, could have serious long-term effects on children.
According to an analysis by UCLA last year, about 1.4 million people in the United States identify as transgender, a growing number of whom are children. And there’s no doubt the number of children diagnosed with “gender dysphoria” — described by clinicians as “incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender” — has been on the rise.
A gender identity clinic for children in the United Kingdom, for instance, received 94 referrals in 2009-10 and 1,986 referrals in 2016-17 — a 2,000 percent increase. Referrals for children under the age of 6 went from six to 32 in the same time period.
According to the authors, the reasons for the rise aren’t clear. It could be that increased awareness has led more parents to have their children treated. Or it could be that “gender affirming” treatments “may drive some children to persist in identifying as transgender when they might otherwise have, as they grow older, found their gender to be aligned with their sex.”
In fact, as the authors note, the vast majority of children with gender dysphoria grow out of it. But for parents whose children are experiencing symptoms right now, things can be very difficult for them and for the kids, who are more prone to depression and suicidal thoughts.
Well-meaning parents who want to alleviate this burden as their children approach puberty (and their bodies seem to comport even less with their gender identity) have been increasingly trying hormone suppression. This will not only mean, though, that sex organs won’t develop in boys and girls in the usual way. Puberty, as the authors note, affects all parts of the body. It changes the development of the brain, muscle mass, bone growth and a variety of other systems.
While parents might see hormones as a way of allowing their children to postpone decisions about actual sex-reassignment surgery — the removal of testicles, the creation of breasts, etc. — the truth is that this therapy may have real and long-term effects on children’s physical and psychological development. “Whether blocking puberty is the best way to treat gender dysphoria remains far from settled,” Hruz, Mayer and McHugh write, “and it should be considered . . . a drastic and experimental measure.”
Proponents of such treatments like to tout the fact that they’re “reversible,” but once the process of puberty is disrupted or stopped because of a medical intervention, it’s not at all clear that if the treatment is stopped, things will proceed as they would have otherwise, according to the report: “There are virtually no published reports, even case studies, of adolescents withdrawing from puberty-suppressing drugs and then resuming the normal pubertal development typical for their sex.”
And the fact that few withdraw from this treatment may simply indicate that “these treatments increase the likelihood that the patients’ cross-gender identification will persist.”
Indeed, the use of these drugs to treat gender dysphoria is entirely “off label,” meaning parents who would never feed their children food that wasn’t tested by the FDA or give them toys that weren’t approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission are signing their kids up to receive drugs that are purely experimental at this stage.
Children can’t consent to this. How can parents agree to this on their behalf?
As a society, we can continue to debate policies for locker rooms and restrooms. We can talk about the extent to which religious institutions should be forced to hire transgender employees. If we make a mistake on those, it can be fixed. But when it comes to ensuring that children are able to be healthy and happy, adopting radical and experimental medical treatments will be awfully hard to undo.
Naomi Schaefer Riley is a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.
The children of transgender people will have to struggle with the knowledge that their mother is also their father, or vice versa. It hurts them. I know, because I was that child, too.
In 1960, when Random House Books first published P.D. Eastman’s classic children’s book “Are You My Mother?,” no one would have guessed that a generation later children might be asking that very question of their fathers.
Imagine Darth Vader surprising Luke Skywalker with the earth-shattering news that he’s the young man’s father—and mother. Sounds funny, maybe even impossible, doesn’t it? But it is possible, and no laughing matter.
Modern science and medicine, ever exploring new possibilities, rarely stop these days to consider the ethical implications of zooming down those uncharted paths. Once upon a time, we generally weighed questions of scientific possibility on ethical scales before proceeding. Not so much these days.
Consider the Beatie Children
In 2002, doctors performed sex-reassignment surgery on Tracy Lehuanani LaGondino, physically molding the young lady into a resemblance of a young man, Thomas Beatie. Beatie chose to keep her female reproductive organs. In 2008, Beatie became pregnant and gave birth to a daughter. Beatie later gave birth two more times, to sons.
In 2012, Beatie filed for and was granted a divorce from her bodybuilder wife, whom she claimed had physically abused her. Recently, Beatie married her kids’ preschool teacher. How are the three Beatie children faring through all this turmoil? It seems that few outside the little family know the answer to that question.
Since I grew up with a transgender father, however, I have a pretty good idea. Based on the difficulties I endured and the struggles I saw in my siblings, I suspect the answer is that the Beatie children are not doing well. I suspect they’re confused, sad, sometimes resentful, and sometimes fearful.
Beatie’s children—and, increasingly, more like them—will have to struggle with the knowledge that their mother is also their father, or vice versa. If the terminology alone is confusing for adults to pin down, imagine what day-to-day life is like for the kids.
What Is in the Child’s Best Interests?
Prior to the mid-twentieth century most children were raised by both a mother and a father. That was the natural order—God’s design. That was how most people saw it, and, generally, the arrangement suited society well. Divorce was relatively rare, and when single-parenting occurred, it was more likely due to the death of a parent. These days, divorce or absentee fathers are more likely to be the causes of single-parent homes.
Sometimes divorce is necessary, and I do not condemn divorced people. But living in a single-parent home, while it can be a good and positive environment, is never the very best environment for children. In most cases, these single-parent homes lack a father, so they’re headed by heavily burdened mothers. As President Obama declared (while still a senator, in 2008):
We know the statistics—that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime, nine times more likely to drop out of schools and 20 times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home or become teenage parents themselves. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it.
So is the cure for a fatherless society to have one adult who is, biologically, both father and mother? No. While modern science has now made it possible for one person to fulfill some parts of acting like the biological father and mother, one person cannot fulfill both roles emotionally, physically, and psychologically. Each sex brings unique contributions to parenting. Children need two parents—a father and a mother.
Why Not Give Kids the Best We Can?
Yes, children can adapt to a one-parent household. Many have done so very well. But why, if not necessary, make the children adapt to a less-than-ideal environment? Why not seek to provide children with the best parenting situation? In the two-in-one parent scenario, the adult’s desires are fulfilled, but at what cost to the children? The purpose of the family is to nurture children, not to fulfill parents’ desires.
Sara McLanahan, an expert on child well-being, may have said it best:
If we were asked to design a system for making sure that children’s basic needs were met, we would probably come up with something quite similar to the two-parent family ideal. Such a design, in theory, would not only ensure that children had access to the time and money of two adults, it would provide a system of checks and balances that promote quality parenting. The fact that both adults have a biological connection to the child would increase the likelihood that the parents would identify with the child and be willing to sacrifice for that child and it would reduce the likelihood that either parent would abuse the child.
When one parent is both father and mother, the children cannot have a biological connection to two parents, the best scenario for meeting all the children’s needs. Sadly, in today’s culture, affirming adults’ choices is increasingly taking precedence over requiring or even encouraging adults to make sacrifices to benefit children.
Denise Shick is author of “My Daddy’s Secret,” “When Hope Seems Lost,” and “Understanding Gender Confusion.” She serves on the academic council of the International Children’s Rights Institute
Sarno’s most notable achievement is the development, diagnosis, and treatment of tension myoneural syndrome (TMS), which is currently not accepted by mainstream medicine. According to Sarno, TMS is a psychosomatic illness causing chronic back, neck, and limb pain which is not relieved by standard medical treatments. He includes other ailments, such as gastrointestinal problems, dermatological disorders and repetitive-strain injuries as TMS related. Sarno states that he has successfully treated over ten thousand patients at the Rusk Institute by educating them on his beliefs of a psychological and emotional basis to their pain and symptoms. Sarno’s theory is, in part, that the pain or GI symptoms are an unconscious “distraction” to aid in the repression of deep unconscious emotional issues. Sarno believes that when patients think about what may be upsetting them in their unconscious, they can defeat their minds’ strategy to repress these powerful emotions; when the symptoms are seen for what they are, the symptoms then serve no purpose, and they go away. Supporters of Sarno’s work hypothesize an inherent difficulty in performing the clinical trials needed to prove or disprove the diagnosis, since it is difficult to use clinical trials with psychosomatic illnesses.
Sarno wrote about his experience in this area in his first book on TMS, Mind Over Back Pain. His second book, Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection, has sold over 150,000 copies. Sarno’s most recent book, The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders, features chapters by six other physicians and addresses the entire spectrum of psychosomatic disorders and the history of psychosomatic medicine.
Statistical studies of TMS treatment
Sarno’s books describe two follow-up surveys of his TMS patients. The first in 1982 interviewed 177 patients selected randomly from those Sarno treated in the preceding three years. 76 percent stated that they were leading normal and effectively pain-free lives. A second follow-up study in 1987 restricted the population surveyed to those with herniated discs identified on CT-scans, and 88% of the 109 randomly selected patients stated that they were free of pain one to three years after TMS treatment.
In 2007, David Schechter (a medical doctor and former student and research assistant of Sarno) published a peer-reviewed study of TMS treatment showing a 54% reduction in the average pain intensity scores for a cohort of 51 chronic back pain patients, whose average pain duration before the study was 9 years. In terms of statistical significance and success rate, the study outperformed similar studies of other psychological interventions for chronic back pain.
Senate Hearing before the Committee on Health, Education, and Pensions
On February 14, 2012, John Sarno, MD appeared before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, and Pensions to address ‘Pain in America: Exploring Challenges to Relief’. The committee was chaired by Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) who was very supportive of the mind-body connection espoused by Dr. Sarno’s treatment approach to pain. In fact Senator Harkin describes his own successful experience with pain relief from reading Dr. Sarno’s books. Senator Harkin relates how his niece’s chronic pain symptomatology from fibromyalgia resolved after reading Dr. Sarno’s books as well.
A recording of the hearing, with Senator Harkin’s account of his own experience (beginning 101 mins. 15 secs. into the video) can be viewed here:
Last June, 16-year-old Hailey Burns walked out of her home in Charlotte, leaving behind a distraught and frantic family who searched for her for the last 12 months.
Hailey, who was found alive this week in Georgia in the home of 31-year-old Michael Wysolovski, a man she allegedly met online, was among the 465,676 cases of missing children reported to the FBI in 2016, a number that has decreased significantly over the past 10 years. There were 662,228 reported cases in 2006.
The vast majority of missing children are runaways, said Nancy McBride, the executive director of Florida Outreach at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). In 2016, NCMEC worked with law enforcement and families on more than 20,500 cases of missing young people — 90% were cases of runaways.
One of the disturbing aspects in cases of missing kids, experts say, is the number who are lured away through technology.
Found one year later:
North Carolina teen missing for a year found alive in Georgia
At the time of her disappearance, Hailey’s family said they had tried to limit their daughter’s use of computers after they discovered she’d been talking to strangers online. Hailey, now 17, did not even have a cellphone, they said, but they thought she was still communicating with someone and had left to meet with him.
“(Technology) has great benefits and some potential risks,” McBride said. “It’s important to stay plugged into their lives.”
David Finkelhor, the director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, said parents should work on having a strong relationship with their children. “When relationships deteriorate with kids . . . dangers really come into play,” he said.
When the child’s relationship with their parents isn’t strong, their communication breaks down and that makes the child vulnerable to online predators, McBride said.
A good relationship is important for communication, which is important for developing trust, she said. “If something is going on, it’s important for parents to be able to tell their kids: ‘If someone approaches you and makes you feel uncomfortable, you can come to me.’ Then they can work to prevent a situation.”
She doesn’t think cutting the child off from social media is the answer. “Kids are going to do it anyway,” she said.
“Talk it out with them,” she said. “Get your kids to show them where they like to go (online). Talk to them about how the dangers in the virtual world can translate into the real world.”
Technology and social media have their protective elements, too, Finkelhor said.
Abductions are rare, he said, but if such cases do come up, technology can be helpful. For instance, cellphones can be used to help locate children, he noted. And McBride said NCMEC works with law enforcement to harness the power of social media tools such as Twitter to get more eyes looking out for missing persons.
However, both agree the best safeguard is a strong home environment.
“The best thing parents can do is to have a good relationship with their kids,” Finkelhor said.