Teen Girls Create Award-Winning App In Hopes Of Preventing School Shootings


By Taylor Pittman, Huffington Post



In October 2014, high school freshman Jaylen Fryberg shot five students and then himself in Washington state. To help cope with this tragedy in their community, a group of teenage girls jumped to action.

Chloe Westphal, Marina Stepanov, Stephanie Lopez, Genesis Saucedo and Amanda Arellano, who are all students at Tri-Tech Skills Center in Kennewick, Wash., designed an app to help teens manage stress and deal with depression as a result of the shooting. Called Safe and Sound, the app features a journal for users to express their thoughts and descriptions about different kinds of anxiety and depression and their corresponding symptoms.

In an email to The Huffington Post, one of the students explained that the idea for the app was in reaction to Fryberg’s actions.

The Seattle Times did an article on how he [Fryberg] had been posting his feelings to Twitter for months with no one really listening,” Chloe said. “This sad example of how serious the situation can get really motivated us to create an app that could prevent this kind of thing in the future.”

Safe and Sound went on to win the Verizon Innovative App Challenge, which means its designers will meet with Massachusetts Institute of Technology trainers in a few weeks to build the app.

Though the project started as a submission in a competition, the students have bigger plans for the finished product. Amanda said the team wants Safe and Sound to go beyond the typical apps teens use today.

“Our hope is that Safe and Sound will be more than just a stress management app, but a light in the darkness that is anxiety and depression.”

Being safe on social media


By Kara Briggs-Campbell, Special to Tulalip News 

Social media is a player in every aspect of society these days.

Its profound impact hit home for the Tulalip Tribes after the tragic school shooting as an outpouring of grief, resentment and anger seemed to flow in every direction. Tulalip leaders called upon families to stop using social media all together in the weeks that followed, or at least not post in anger something that would be regretted later.

Off the reservation, law enforcement contacted those who posted hateful messages toward the tribe and its members, while regional and national news media scoured social media posts for information and photos of the victims.

Social media is an important form of communication for teens and adults. Increasingly, it is used in suicide prevention and education as way to directly inform teens and young adults, said Dr. Richard McKeon of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

“Social media is here to stay and it is up to those who use it to use it wisely,” he said.

Social channels are increasingly cooperating with organizations that seek to prevent everything from bullying to suicide.

In 2013, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline announced its partnership with Facebook, which allows Lifeline to connect via an online chat with people who are posting suicidal ideas. Users can report suicidal posts by a friend on their news feed by clicking “mark as spam” then on the pop up screen choose, “violence or harmful behavior,” on the next pop up choose, “suicidal content.” Or enter your friends name or contact information.

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin, when announcing the partnership in 2011, said, “We must confront suicide and suicidal thoughts openly and honestly, and use every opportunity to make a difference by breaking the silence and suffering.”

Social media for many of us is more than just a tool. It is a way that we connect, stay in touch, entertain ourselves and share information.

Laura van Dernoot Lipsky, founder and director of the Trauma Stewardship Institute, said finding the people who are healthy for you to be around is the same on social media as it is in real life.

“People need pay very close attention to who they are spending time with,” she said. “It is a turning point in life when you can give thought to who you spend your time with.”

The same way someone in sobriety should avoid the old friends they used to drink and use with in person, they also need to avoid them online.

Social media can be beneficial for people who feel isolated and need to interrupt the isolation, she said. But if people are going online and reading negative stuff that is poison.

“The question is what do you take in? You can drink a lot of water and its good, or you can drink a lot of poison and it will kill you,” Lipsky said.

In a tribal community meeting last month with Dr. Robert Macy who is president of the International Trauma Center in Boston, tribal parents talked about the pressure that social media places on teens.  Some talked about complex decisions to monitor teen’s online presence at the same time as respecting their privacy.

Macy said as long kids are dependent upon their parents to pay the rent and keep the lights on, parents have the responsibility to monitor everything that happens in their rooms or on their Facebook page or Twitter feed. For parents, the attitude must be, “I love you too much to let you hurt yourself.”

Macy had a warning for parents too.

Being too connected electronically can make you disconnected personally.

A 2014 study published in the Journal Academic Pediatrics found that mothers were regularly distracted at meal time by their smart phones. Overall, the study found that the use of cell phones and other devices during meals was tied with 20 percent fewer verbal interactions between mothers and their children, and 39 percent fewer nonverbal interactions. Those who had the highest use of mobile decides during meals were far less likely to provide encouragement to their children, researchers found.

So Macy urged the tribal families gathered to put their smart phones away during family time, and if you visit a friend, leave the phone at home or in the car. Then use the time to make a real person-to-person connection with someone you love.


Tips for students using social media


This list is based upon one published on the website of Carlton University in Canada. The tips are geared to college students, but apply as well to younger teens and for that matter to adults. The concern that Carlton University raises is that your social media posts will last forever on the World Wide Web. It is not overstating to say that this is new era in the history of the world. In past generations you could put your past behind you, you could move away, change your outlook. Now, if you have posted your life digitally on your social media sites, it will live online and be searchable by people in your future.


Privacy: Set all of your social networking accounts to private and maintain your privacy settings so you avoid posting too much personal information. On Facebook, don’t forget to set your privacy settings to include photos and videos that others post of you to avoid being found via basic Web searches.

Don’t over share:  Don’t say anything you wouldn’t normally share with a prospective employer or your mother or your grandmother.

Stay offline when under the influence: If you’ve just spent a night partying with friends, keep your computer off, or your online mistakes could come back to haunt you. Sometimes referred to as “drunk Facebooking,” posting inappropriate comments or photographs while inebriated may cast a negative reflection on your online persona.

Stop Complaining: Avoid speaking negatively about school, current or previous jobs, family or friends. Similarly, don’t update your Facebook status only when you have something negative to say; find a balance so your digital persona doesn’t look too angry.

Separate social networking from job networking: Avoid using social networking sites like Facebook for professional or scholastic networking, and build up your career contacts on other sites like LinkedIn.com.

Generate positive content: Experts agree that the best way to counteract negative content is by generating positive information that will rank high on search engines like Google.


Where can I call for help?

To report an emergency dial 911

National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Snohomish County Crisis Line: 1-800-584-3578

Crisis TEXT Line: Text “Listen” to 741-741

24 Hour Crisis Line: 1-866-427-4747

TEENLINK: 1-866-833-6546

Tulalip Tribes Behavioral Health Family Services: 360-716-4400




Teens Murder for Fun; Smash Heads of Homeless Men with Cinder Blocks

Courtesy Albuquerque Police DepartmentAlex Rios, 18, Nathaniel Carillo, 16, and Gilbert Tafoya, 15, are suspects in the brutal deaths of two homeless Navajo men in Albuquerque on July 21.
Courtesy Albuquerque Police Department
Alex Rios, 18, Nathaniel Carillo, 16, and Gilbert Tafoya, 15, are suspects in the brutal deaths of two homeless Navajo men in Albuquerque on July 21.


Alysa Landry, 7/24/14, Indian Country Today


Navajo President Ben Shelly is calling for answers in the gruesome murders of two homeless Navajo men last weekend in Albuquerque.

The victims, whose names have not yet been released, were beaten so brutally with a cinder block and other objects that they were unrecognizable. Their bodies, one lying on a mattress and one on the ground, were found Saturday morning in an open field in northwest Albuquerque.

Three teenagers, Alex Rios, 18, Nathaniel Carrillo, 16, and Gilbert Tafoya, 15, are each being charged with two open counts of murder, tampering with evidence, three counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and robbery. The teens likely will be tried as adults and all could face life in prison.

During their first appearance in court Monday, bail was set at $5 million for each of them. But even with suspects behind bars, New Mexico’s largest city and the neighboring Navajo Nation are still reeling from the attack.

President Shelly has requested a meeting with Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry, during which he hopes to discuss ways to assist the city’s homeless population. The teens charged in the murders claimed to have attacked as many as 50 other homeless people during the past year, according to court records.

“Innocent men do not deserve to be murdered in their sleep,” Shelly said in a press release. “It’s beyond senseless that these teens would attack homeless people in this manner.”

The Albuquerque Police Department, which is under federal Justice Department scrutiny because of its high number of officer-related shootings – including a March incident during which an officer shot and killed a homeless Native man – was appalled by the violence of the recent attack, spokesman Simon Drobik said.

RELATED: What the Hell Is Wrong With Albuquerque Cops?

RELATED: Recent Police Shootings in Albuquerque Draw Federal Investigation

“My stomach turns when I think about it,” he said. “When all you know is that two people are dead and juveniles are in custody, it’s hard to wrap your brain around it. It was such a heinous crime and the nature of violence was so traumatic.”

The teens told police that they went out after a party looking for “someone to beat up,” according to the criminal complaint. Tafoya reportedly was upset because he recently broke up with a longtime girlfriend.

They tied black T-shirts around their faces in an attempt to conceal their identities then walked to a field near two of the teens’ homes, where they found three subjects sleeping on mattresses. One of the victims managed to run away, but the teens repeatedly beat the other two men with their hands and feet, as well as cinder blocks, wooden sticks and a metal fence post.

According to Tafoya’s statement to police, the teens “took turns picking cinder blocks over their heads and smashing them into the male subjects’ faces.” Tafoya admitted to using the cinder block as a weapon more than 10 times.

Drobik called the case “specifically brutal” because it involves two vulnerable populations: teenagers and homeless.

“Kids are killing transients,” he said. “My initial response was: who failed these kids? How did they get to this point in life where they thought this was an acceptable thing to do? It’s heartbreaking for everyone involved.”

The victims’ bodies were transported to the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator. A spokeswoman for that office confirmed the men were Native, but declined to release their names. It could take up to 90 days for autopsy reports to be complete, she said.


Bedding, clothing and broken glass litter a homeless encampment in Albuquerque, Monday, July 21, 2014, where three teenagers are accused of fatally beating two homeless Navajo men. (Jeri Clausing/AP Photo)
Bedding, clothing and broken glass litter a homeless encampment in Albuquerque, Monday, July 21, 2014, where three teenagers are accused of fatally beating two homeless Navajo men. (Jeri Clausing/AP Photo)



Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/07/24/kids-are-killing-transients-brutal-murder-teens-two-navajo-men-156034

One in 20 Teens Use Cancer Causing Smokeless Tobacco

Source: Native News Network

WASHINGTON – It is bad for teens to take up smoking because of ill effects it has on health, but young people should be taught smokeless tobacco is not good for them either.

Smokeless tobacco is a form of tobacco that is not burned. Smokeless tobacco, known as snuff, chewing tobacco, oral tobacco, spit or spitting tobacco, causes cancer and other diseases. Smokeless tobacco is known to cause oral cancer, esophageal cancer, and pancreatic cancer.

A recent study indicates one in 20 middle school or high school students use smokeless tobacco products. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health saw that in national survey data.

The scientists also saw the power of peer pressure.

“Adolescents who had a friend that used smokeless tobacco were 10 times more likely to use smokeless tobacco themselves,”

commented Researcher Constantine Vardavas.

For comparison, teens with a family member who used smokeless tobacco were only 3 times more likely to use it.

Nearly all of the smokeless users reported it’s easy to get the stuff.

Unfortunately, smokeless tobacco is addictive because it contains nicotine. Studies reveal users of smokeless tobacco and those who smoke cigarettes have comparable levels of nicotine in the blood. In users of smokeless tobacco, nicotine is absorbed through the mouth tissues directly into the blood, where it goes to the brain. Even after the tobacco is removed from the mouth, nicotine continues to be absorbed into the bloodstream. Also, the nicotine stays in the blood longer for users of smokeless tobacco than for smokers

Smokeless tobacco is not a safe substitute for cigarettes.

At-risk kids get a new safe haven

Julie Muhlstein, The Herald

It’s a bigger safety net for kids, an immediate way out of dangerous situations.

That’s how Cocoon House CEO Cassie Franklin describes a new program, National Safe Place. Bright yellow “Safe Place” signs will soon show up on all Everett Transit buses. The signs are part of the National Safe Place effort to let kids know that help is available for the asking.

Cocoon House, a local agency that shelters and provides other programs to at-risk young people, is working with Everett Transit to bring National Safe Place to Snohomish County.

“It allows us to reach kids in that moment they want help,” Franklin said. It could be late at night. A child might be a runaway, or may have left a dangerous party.

Drivers on all buses with “Safe Place” signs will be trained to help, Franklin said. If a young person asks, the driver will call Cocoon House to send a “navigator,” a staff member available around the clock to pick up that child or teen. Help could be as simple as a ride home, or as comprehensive as emergency shelter and counseling.

“It’s an exceptional program,” Franklin said.

Cocoon House will officially launch National Safe Place at Saturday’s grand opening of its new Cocoon Outreach Center in Everett. The event, open to the public, is set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the center at 1421 Broadway.

The two-story outreach center is several blocks north of the former Cocoon House U-Turn Drop-In Center. That facility was in leased space. Cocoon House used grant money to buy and renovate the building for its new outreach center, formerly Old West Mortgage.

The new center is more than double the size of the old U-Turn site, with upstairs space for a WorkSource representative and a drug and alcohol treatment coordinator from Catholic Community Services. There’s room, too, for a shower and full kitchen.

“It’s a wonderful space,” Franklin said. The new center will have Cocoon House staff to help kids with housing and counseling information, school goals or reconnecting with family. Many teens on the streets are involved in gangs or are sexually exploited, she said.

“It’s nice to have all those services right there, with food, a place to get inside from the rain, so they can just spend time being a kid again,” Franklin said.

National Safe Place is one more way to help get kids off the streets. Franklin said Safe Place signs will be displayed first on Everett Transit buses, but the program may grow to include libraries and other venues.

Although it’s a partnership with Everett Transit, Franklin said Cocoon House is the lead agency for the program here. With a cost of about $70,000 per year, most of that for staff time, National Safe Place is supported locally by the Evertrust Foundation, the Howarth Foundation and individual donors. “We are still in search of additional funding partners,” Franklin said.

Steffani Lillie, an Everett Transit spokeswoman, isn’t sure when signs will go up on buses, but said Tuesday that Cocoon House and transit agency administrators recently took part in Safe Place training. Driver training will follow that, she said.

“We’re still working out logistics,” Lillie said. Along with Cocoon House navigators, transit inspectors may also be called upon to take kids to safe places, she said.

“We currently operate in 41 of 50 states at nearly 20,000 Safe Place locations,” said Hillary Bond, a spokeswoman for National Safe Place. Based in Louisville, Ky., the program was started in 1983.

National Safe Place has been in operation in King County about two years, Franklin said. While Cocoon House is licensed to run the program in Snohomish County, in the Seattle area it is run by YouthCare.

Around the country, Bond said, Safe Place signs are up in buses, YMCAs, fire stations, grocery stores and fast-food restaurants.

“Teens may be experiencing a family crisis, bullying or sexual identity issues. We want them to seek help,” Bond said. “The ultimate goal is to reunite the child with their family, if possible.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460, muhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Grand opening

The Cocoon House Outreach Center will host a grand opening 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at its new facility, 1421 Broadway, Everett. It will include the launch of National Safe Place. RSVP requested, not required; email julio.cortes@cocoonhouse.org

Information about Cocoon House: www.cocoonhouse.org/index

Information about National Safe Place: http://nationalsafeplace.org