Click inside for the weekly family rail, with tips on protecting kids from bullies, a review of “Easy A” and more. Or check out these links:

Tip of the Week


Kennedy Krieger Institute's Interactive Autism Network (IAN) recently released a report exploring how children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are particularly at risk of becoming victims of bullying. Children with ASD may have trouble correctly interpreting social cues, especially in a bullying situation where the bully may intentionally mislead the child.


Successful anti-bullying strategies require a team effort from school personnel, early childhood professionals and psychologists, students involved in bullying as targets or aggressors, and child bystanders. Teachers and other staff should be trained on how to respond to bullying, while victims and bullies need training in special social skills that target the perceptions, misinterpretations or interactions that contributed to the bullying in the first place.


What if efforts made by parents, in partnership with a school, fail? What might a parent do? Suggestions include:


- Find out exactly what the school's anti-bullying policy (if any) contains.


- Determine if the school is implementing that policy effectively, or at all. Has a lack of tolerance for bullying really been incorporated into the school's culture? Or is the school only paying lip service to a zero tolerance for bullying?


- If the policy is not being implemented in an effective way, make an issue of the fact that your child is not able to benefit from his or her education when he or she is being bullied and living in fear.


- Don't accept "We didn't see it happen" and "It's that kid's word against his" as excuses for inaction, especially if the conditions remain the same and the same things happen again. If incidents are occurring at the same place and time (during gym, on the playground at recess, in the cafeteria), someone should be assigned to monitor and "catch" the next incident in progress.


- Expand their thinking. Are they really grasping how a child's ASD is playing into a bullying situation, whether the child is a victim or a bully-victim? Are the interventions proposed getting at the real issues, or are old myths and ways of thinking about bullying coloring adult responses?


- If a child does act out such that he or she would usually be suspended or face other drastic action, does the school hold the required Individualized Education Plan meeting to determine whether the behavior was a manifestation of the child's disability?


- ARA


Family Screening Room


“Easy A”


Rated: PG-13 (for mature thematic elements involving teen sexuality, language and some drug material)


Length: 92 minutes


Synopsis: After a little white lie about losing her virginity gets out, a clean-cut high school girl sees her life paralleling Hester Prynne's in "The Scarlet Letter," which she is currently studying in school - until she decides to use the rumor mill to advance her social and financial standing.


Violence/scary rating: 2


Sexual-content rating: 4


Profanity rating: 3.5


Drugs/alcohol rating: 3


Family Time rating: 3.5. This film is quite high on the sexual content, and it might be best thought of as an R movie.


(Ratings are judged on a five-point scale, with 5 being “bad for kids” and 1 being “fine for kids.”)


Book Report


“Best Halloween Ever,” by Barbara Robinson


Ages: 8-12


Pages: 144


Synopsis: The Herdmans plus Halloween have always spelled disaster. Every year these six kids - the worst in the history of Woodrow Wilson School, and possibly even the world - wreak havoc on the whole town. They steal candy, spray-paint kids, and take anything that's not nailed down. Now the mayor has had it. He's decided to cancel Halloween. There won't be any Herdmans to contend with this year, but there won't be any candy, either. And what's Halloween without candy? And without trick-or-treating? The Herdmans manage to turn the worst Halloween ever into the best Halloween ever.


Did You Know


According to the Annals of Neurology, children who had H1N1 flu in 2009, had more seizures than children who had regular flu.


GateHouse News Service