11 results for "suicide"

September is Suicide Prevention Month: 3 Steps to Remember

As we tumble into fall, we are raising awareness on an issue that all should be mindful of–suicide prevention.

Suicide is a public health crisis. And for those who work with youth and young adults, it’s even more urgent. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in age groups 10-14,15-24 and 25-34, according to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, which makes it a critical issue for parents and other adults to understand.  Suicide has no boundaries and affects all genders, ages, races and ethnic groups. One in five young people face mental health challenges and approximately 80% of teens who contemplate suicide want others to know about it and to stop them.

So, how can you help? We must take a multi-tiered approach: Identify, Respond and Follow Up*

  1. Identify the warning signs: Look for feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, guilt, self-hatred, self-harm, sudden isolation, hurting others, anxiety or depression. Has the child or teen mentioned dying or disappearing? Has he lost interest in friends or activities? Have his sleep patterns changed? However, it’s important to note that not everyone who is contemplating suicide displays the same warning signs.
  2. Respond to the person: If you’ve identified someone displaying the warning signs, assist them in seeking help. Put them in touch with a good local hotline such as PRS (Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services 1-800-273-TALK). These organizations provide a full range of crisis services which can reduce suicides and provide treatment that focuses on underlying mental and/or substance use disorders as well.
  3. Build in a follow-up: This is key! Having a safe support system that can continually direct them to a responsible outlet for their mental health challenges will help them tremendously on their road to developing more effective coping strategies and no longer seeing suicide as an option.

Call to Action: I urge you to not just keep these tips in mind during the month of September, which is Suicide Prevention Month, but please…be mindful of your children, neighbors, co-workers, family and friends. If any of them are showing signs that may be red flags at any time of the year, please call your local hotline today. You will make the difference in their life!

*Data taken from Suicide Prevention Resource Center




Teen Suicide…What You Must Know From the Inside Out


This week we welcome Gretchen E. Downey, Prevention Expert and Best-Selling Author, as she shares her expertise on preventing suicide in – and strengthening our communication with – the teenagers in our lives. This is the first post in a two-part series:

Our hearts ache when the tragedy of teen suicide occurs in our community. Is it preventable?

The American Psychological Association states that, although it’s difficult to predict, there are warning signals to watch for – and one should always seek professional or medical help when a child is suspected of being in danger:

  • Talking about dying – any mention of dying, disappearing, jumping, shooting oneself, or other types of self harm
  • Recent loss – through death, divorce, separation, broken relationship, self-confidence, self-esteem, loss of interest in friends, hobbies, activities previously enjoyed
  • Change in personality – sad, withdrawn, irritable, anxious, tired, indecisive, apathetic
  • Change in behavior – can’t concentrate on school, work, routine tasks
  • Change in sleep patterns – insomnia, often with early waking or oversleeping, nightmares
  • Change in eating habits – loss of appetite and weight, or overeating
  • Fear of losing control – acting erratically, harming self or others
  • Low self esteem – feeling worthless, shame, overwhelming guilt, self-hatred, “everyone would be better off without me”
  • No hope for the future – believing things will never get better; that nothing will ever change

So the million dollar question… “What’s going on – why the low emotions and why are they so prevalent causing 1 in 5 US teens to seriously consider suicide and 8% of teens to attempt suicide annually? That’s nearly one tenth of our young people feeling helpless, hopeless and like life has no meaning.

For over 50 years the internationally acclaimed Search Institute has conducted research on what kids and teens need to thrive and succeed in life. They report that well over 50 million of our young people are feeling helpless, hopeless and not connected to their inner “spark,” or what gives their life meaning, connection and fulfillment. According to the Search Institute the more developmental assets a person builds, the more likely they are to succeed in school and become happy, healthy and contributing members of their community and society.

Next week, we’ll explore the teenage brain and tangible steps adults can take to help the teenagers in our lives.

– Gretchen E. Downey, Prevention Expert and Best-Selling Author

[PLEASE NOTE: It’s not uncommon for a large life event, such as the election of a new national leader, to force those who have had traumatic experiences to relive them all at once, said John Draper, Program Director with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. (Read more of John’s interview in the Washington Post article, At Suicide Hotlines, the First 24 Hours of Trump’s America Have Been Full of Fear,” November 10, 2016, here.)

Now more than ever, we need to make sure that the teens in our lives feel supported and heard. Fear of the unknown and no hope for the future, as Gretchen points out, can lead teens to suicide. We must help them find their “spark” even during a time when we struggle ourselves. Intervening is important, but modeling self care and emotional regulation are also important. –  Tracy Leonard, SCAN Public Education Coordinator]

Teen Suicide (Part 2)…What You Must Know from the Inside Out


This week we once again welcome Gretchen E. Downey, Prevention Expert and Best-Selling Author, as she shares her expertise on preventing suicide in – and strengthening our communication with – the teenagers in our lives. This is the second post in a two-part series:

Ruling out genetics and specific pathologies related to mental health and suicide, there still remains something incredibly wrong with the picture and we need to take a closer environmental and internal look at what might be the cause – because the two are closely linked.


The first thing we need to get familiar with is how the brain and mind operate. It’s hard to develop assets when we don’t know how our internal technologies or assets actually work. You can’t fly a plane if you don’t know how the equipment functions. You’ll crash and burn…and that’s what we’re seeing with our young people.

Education about how the brain and mind work shouldn’t be dreaded or feared. This is the very attitude that pushed us away from the golden key of our own empowerment. Our brain and mind belong to us and it’s high time we learn how to use it, regulate it and build it for our advantage… rather than letting our environment craft it for us.

The mind is one of our virtual technologies, so to speak. You can’t touch it, yet there’s something within you doing the thinking and imagining. It can be focused and directed, it can wander off, or it can work on autopilot i.e., think in a reactive and unregulated way. The brain is the organ that simply responds to what your mind is thinking. It computes the information and programs itself, the nervous system and the body according to the quality of the data it receives – good or bad.

If children learned at an early age some basics about how to regulate their own mind and how to build healthier neuro patterns in their brain, they’d develop greater abilities in self-regulation, reflection (instead of reactivity), healing, discernment and even…. emotional regulation. Shouldn’t this be part of our fundamental human education?

To gain a better understanding, here are some simple basics about how the brain works.

One of its major functions is the flight or flight response, meaning it perceives threat. It protected us from lions, tigers and bears. However, we don’t have these primitive challenges anymore. So what did we do? We made a habit of inventing all sorts of harmful fear-based and stress-filled thoughts that cause a vicious cycle of unnecessary revving up and over stimulation of the amygdala! This part of our brain is very important and necessary when we have a true emergency. However, a majority of the time we aren’t in a life or death threat….and our amygdala doesn’t know the difference. You see, it can’t distinguish what is a real threat and what is not! It just fires regardless.

Any time you build neural pathways in the brain you are “imprinting,which is like programming or hardwiring the brain to think, react and believe in a certain way. The brain then directs the body to react, feel, and heal or breakdown according to the input. And worst of all, when over-stimulated and unregulated the amygdala (in a metaphorical sense) hijacks the electrical activity of the rest of the brain which keeps you from more effectively accessing the highest “thinking centers” of the brain (prefrontal cortex) responsible for reflection, integration and…. higher happier emotions. When a person is chronically thinking and feeling fear, powerlessness, self-hate and despair, these trigger the amygdala.

The hippocampus is located deep in the center of the brain near the amygdala. It’s the part of the brain that is responsible for holding and storing long-term information. You don’t relearn how to walk and talk each day, or ride a bike or drive a car. It’s “automatic” and the hippocampus is responsible for this programming function and storage. Think of it as the region of the brain that turns everything on “auto pilot. If you had to relearn everything every day, life would be impossible. You can also think of it like the hard drive on your computer. It simply stores information and waits for commands from YOU to perform a specific function or task without thinking about it. Sometimes this is beneficial and sometimes not. In regards to our less desirable or fear-based stress-filled behavior patterns and programmed thoughts, it is not.

Most people are unaware of stored familial or other learning patterns that they were taught. Have you ever noticed how some families are really happy, forgiving or funny and others are pessimistic, stubborn or easily angered? More often than not, these patterns were shown to them between 0-7 years and then stored in the hippocampus as automatic “reactions.”

When a person is chronically thinking about and feeling fear, powerlessness, self-hate and/or despair, the brain builds the neuro circuitry to match the input…and these become the automatic “auto pilot” behaviors and emotions. The more you think it, the more you build it.

The good news is, our brain has “neuroplasticity”, meaning we can reshape it’s neuro-programming at any time.

Prefrontal Cortex (PFC)
The PFC, located in the top forehead region of the brain, is the highest thinking center of the brain responsible for some of the highest human emotions and abilities such as inspiration, compassion, joy, love and play. This is the area of the brain that you want to activate, stimulate (light-up the electrical flow) and build up neuroplasticity in as much as possible! This brain center is responsible for creativity, problem solving, discernment and inspiration. When the amygdala is over stimulated, electrical flow to this area is impeded – which is the exact opposite of what you need to calmly create solutions and regulate your emotional responses. Teen PFCs are most electrically stimulated when they are engaged in meaningful, inspiring work…or when they are feeling gratitude and compassion.

We all have a responsibility to use this information to correct the way we parent, educate our kids in schools and choose the things we give our attention to within our environments. Whether it’s domestic violence within the home or the aggression, fear and violence we see on drama/reality shows, movies, TV, video games and the evening news, each of these are over stimulating the reactivity of the human amygdala in unhelpful ways, while at the same time shutting off access to the PFC.

Many children do not have a stable home environment, but if caregivers and teachers readily taught this information, kids would be greater equipped with tools and the ability to regulate their own emotions and outcomes to a greater degree than what is currently happening.

Things you can do to promote daily stability, feelings of happiness and well-being and PFC access (while quieting the amygdala):

  1. Deep purposeful breathing – Quiet the amygdala and open the pathways to the PFC.
  2. Nourishing your physical body – Engage in regular physical activity and healthy eating; stimulants, sugar, refined products, alcohol, preservatives and artificial colors can affect emotional and behavioural stability.
  3. Understand the basics about your own brain – How does it work? How can you train and build it to perform the functions that you want?
  4. Practice mindful awareness techniques or MBSR (mindful based stress reduction) – Help calm the mind and build positive neuro patterns within the brain.
  5. Practice saying, feeling and expressing love and gratitude to yourself and the world around you – Science has proven that expressing gratitude lights up the PFC to a high degree, while building positive neuro patterns within the brain.

We can be successful at building our brain to express habitual joy, gratitude, optimism and love, just as certain as we can build it to be successful at fear, powerlessness and unworthiness.


Learn more about guest auhthor Gretchen E. Downey here. Read Part 1 of 2 here.

Suicide Prevention

One in five young people struggles with mental health issues. The risk for suicide often increases during the teen years when external circumstances can seem to overwhelm some teens. Examples of challenges include disciplinary problems, interpersonal losses, family violence, sexual orientation confusion, physical and sexual abuse and bullying. It’s important to help young people develop healthy coping skills before crisis hits.

> Read the Suicide Prevention Fact Sheet (English)
> Read the Prevencíon del suicidio Fact Sheet (Spanish)

> Listen to Parenting Today show on iHeart Radio: Preventing Teen Suicide

You might also be interested in:

Tips for Parents: Talking about ’13 Reasons Why’

If you work with children and teens, you’ve probably heard about 13 Reasons Why, the Netflix Original series about a young girl who commits suicide and leaves behind 13 tapes explaining why she did it.  The show’s main characters are young people, but it addresses–sometimes in graphic detail–some very heavy topics, ranging from mental illness to cyber bullying to date rape. Experts have expressed diverse opinions on the show and how appropriate it is for young people to be watching. Some say it’s a healthy way to start a dialogue about taboo issues like suicide; others claim it glamorizes forms of trauma and can be a trigger for victim, even inspiring unhealthy choices and behaviors in the future.


Either way, parents need to 1.) understand that even if their child isn’t watching the show, they are hearing about it from others; and 2.) now is the time to start talking to their kids about the show and its subject matter. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite articles that provide smart suggestions and real-life questions for parents to use when they discuss the show with their children:

If you’re looking for other helpful resources, we have a number of tools on our Parent Resource Center worth sharing:

One of the biggest criticisms of the show has been its lack of information if a viewer needs immediate help. The Mighty‘s article above provides an important list to share with youth:

  • Crisis Text Line: Text “HOME” to 741-741 to text with a free trained crisis counselor, 24/7.
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline: If you prefer to talk to someone over the phone, you can call 1-800-273-8255.
  • Teen LineIf your child would rather talk to a peer, they can text “TEEN” to 839863 between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. PST.

The Culture of Kids: The realities of being a kid today, and how we can help

How does it feel to be a kid in today’s world?  How can we help children and teens manage new 21st-century realities — from the impact of online bullying to LGBTQ issues to the tragedy of rising suicide rates among youth?  Earlier this month, we gathered in Arlington to discuss this new “Culture of Kids” with our Allies in Prevention Coalition.

14362714_10153981898095735_4241383210178593937_oPanel participants from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), Prince William County, Fairfax County and Arlington County led the discussion, answering questions about services and needs in Northern Virginia as well as inspiring guests to take action. Their top recommendations include:

  • Ask kids about their support network. (Explain what it means to have a support network, if they don’t know.) Who would they go to if they needed help? What is the best way to get in touch with those connections? Kids should be aware of and think through this network before a crisis occurs. EXPERT TIP: Identify trusted adults. It doesn’t have to be a parent – help them brainstorm possible contacts.
  • When it comes to bullying, peer training is key. Bullying prevention programs that include peer training – kids working with kids to model positive behaviors — are more successful and tend to increase parent involvement by linking families to community resources. EXPERT TIP:If online bullying is an issue and kids need help, there are some great resources for kids (and parents) at NCMEC’s NetSmartz.org
  • Gauge (and be sensitive to) every child’s safety level. When talking to youth, we must try to understand how safe they are in their home and in their greater community. (Neighborhood, school, etc.) For example, is it safe for a gay teenager to “come out” to her family? Her circle of friends? Her school community? Sensitivity when asking questions is also key: “Are you dating anyone?” is better than “Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?” Even intakes should be considered — instead of a simple “gender” it might work better to include “gender at birth; current gender.” EXPERT TIP: Post a rainbow or HRC (Human Rights Coalition) sticker in your workplace so LGBTQ youth recognize a person and/or space that could be helpful for them. 
  • Don’t be afraid to have touch-point conversations with teens. And don’t be afraid to talk about difficult topics and open conversations around things like suicide: “Do you feel like hurting yourself?”, “Have you thought about killing yourself?” EXPERT TIP: Don’t talk about someone who “committed suicide” because it carries a note of guilt/crime. Instead, use “killed themselves” or “died by suicide.”

Parenting Today Radio Show

12 Minutes of Informative & Supportive Parenting Radio

iheartradioSCAN is proud to produce Parenting Today with iHeart Radio to be a show focused on the challenges faced by today’s parents. Featuring SCAN’s executive director and expert guests from the Allies in Prevention Coalition, each show provides information, support and resources to help families deal with everything from positive discipline to anger management to family nutrition.

Parenting Today airs Sunday mornings on a variety of local iHeart Radio stations, including 98.7 WMZQ, HOT 99.5, 97.1 WASH-FM, DC101 and BIG 100.3. You can see all of the iHeart COMMUNITIES shows here.

Recent Parenting Today shows include:

New Safe Sleep Guidelines, SIDS Update
SCAN’s Executive Director Sonia Quiñónez speaks with Public Education Manager Tracy Leonard for a discussion on how to keep babies safe while sleeping, including new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics and details from SCAN’s Operation Safe Babies program.

LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: New Safe Sleep Guidelines, SIDS Update

Trauma, Toxic Stress and Children
SCAN’s Executive Director Sonia Quiñónez speaks with Mary Beth Testa from Voices for Virginia’s Children about the impact of ACEs, trauma and toxic stress on children, as well as how trauma-informed care can be a critical part of helping children heal after trauma.

LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Trauma, Toxic Stress and Children

Immigrant Rights: How to Protect Your Family
SCAN’s Executive Director Sonia Quiñónez speaks with Erin McKenney, Executive Director of Just Neighbors, about the unique challenges facing immigrant families today. Listen to hear more about the important issues, realities and actions parents (and other community members) can take to help keep their children safe.

> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Immigrant Rights for Families

Substance Exposed Infants
SCAN’s Executive Director Sonia Quiñónez speaks with Dr. Joshua Attridge, a Neonatalogist with Children’s National Health System. Over 400,000 infants are affected by prenatal alcohol or drug exposure every year. These babies are considered “substance exposed” and they often suffer long-term effects into infancy, childhood and beyond. Listen and learn about substance exposure, how it affects infants and what we can do – as parents and community members – to help manage its devastating impact on our community.

> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Substance-Exposed Infants

Preventing Youth/Teen Suicide
SCAN’s Executive Director Sonia Quiñónez speaks with Wendy Gradison, President and CEO at PRS, Inc., a nonprofit providing mental health services throughout Northern Virginia and in the District of Columbia. They discuss the prevalence and causes of youth suicide, as well as critical measures for parents and community members can take to focus on prevention in Northern Virginia and beyond.

> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Preventing Teen Suicide

Separation Anxiety | Helping Children with Transitions
SCAN’s Executive Director Sonia Quiñónez speaks with Myra Sawyers, a Curriculum and Education Specialist with Minnieland Academy, a childcare center in Prince William County. They discuss Separation Anxiety in children, the challenges it presents — especially during transitions like back to school — and how parents can work with teachers and other professionals to best support their children as they learn to handle separation and change.

> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Separation Anxiety & Transitions

Choosing Childcare
SCAN’s Executive Director Sonia Quiñónez speaks with Mary Guerrant Goodwin, a Childcare Licensing Administrator from the Virginia Department of Social Services, to discuss the challenges of finding childcare as well as new online tools to help parents in Virginia.


Kids and Nature
SCAN’s Executive Director Sonia Quiñónez speaks with Tracy Hannigan, the Recreation Services Division Chief for Prince William County Parks & Recreation, for a discussion on Nature Deprivation, what happens to kids when they miss out on nature, the benefits of more time outdoors and how parents can replace “screen time” with more “green time” in our communities.


SCAN’s Executive Director Sonia Quiñónez speaks with Ann Warshauer from Fairfax County Public Schools to discuss the power of co-parenting, a choice for unmarried or divorced parents that puts kids first while managing the realities and challenges of changing family dynamics.


Public Displays of Agression
SCAN’s Executive Director Sonia Quiñónez speaks with Tracy Leonard, SCAN’s Public Educaton Manager, about how to react when you witness a parent being aggressive or inappropriate with their child in public, including tips on what to say and what NOT to say, how to redirect attention and how to keep the child’s safety your first priority.

>  LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Harsh Interactions with Children (mp3)

The Value of Child Advocacy Centers
SCAN’s Executive Director Sonia Quiñónez speaks with Giselle Paleaz with the Center for Alexandria’s Children,  about the critical services offered at Child Advocacy Centers (or CACs), how and why CACs put children first, and an overview of CACs in our metro area.

> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Child Advocacy Centers (mp3)

Talking to Teens about Marijuana
SCAN’s Executive Director Sonia Quiñónez speaks with Kate McCauley, slinical social worker, parent educator and founder of The Center for Parents and Teens, about the legalization of marijuana, the real impact it can have on teens, the current laws and how to keep talking as a family about the issue.

> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Talking to Teens About Marijuana (mp3)

Corporal Punishment
SCAN’s Executive Director Sonia Quiñónez speaks with Bill Clark, an educator and active member of the U.S. Alliance to End the Hitting of Children, to talk about corporal punishment, research on its ineffectiveness, and how it can harm children and families.

> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Corporal Punishment (mp3)

The Power of Family Recreation Time
SCAN’s Executive Director Sonia Quiñónez speaks with Michael Swisher with Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth & Families and Emily Thrasher form Arlington Parks & Recreation about how families can stay healthy and connected by spending time together enjoying play, sports and other phsyical activities.

> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Family Recreation Time (mp3)

Helping Children in Foster Care
SCAN’s Executive Director Sonia Quiñónez speaks with Elizabeth Buchholz and and Leslie Perez from United Methodist Family Services about the state of foster care, how we can support children in the system and the new Collaborative Problem Solving approach as it applies to families involved in foster care.

> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Children in Foster Care (mp3)

Focus on Fathers
SCAN’s Executive Director Sonia Quiñónez speaks with Steve Gell, a parenting class facilitator in SCAN’s Parent Education Program, about the impact of fathers on children’s wellbeing, development and safer, healthier outcomes for families.

>LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Focus on Fathers (mp3)

How Faith-Based Groups and Social Services Can Work Together to Help Children and Families
SCAN’s Executive Director Sonia Quiñónez speaks with Doug Brown, Acting Program Manager for the City of Alexandria, to discuss how faith groups and social service agencies can work together to help orotect children and strengthen families.

> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: How Faith Groups and Social Services Can Work Togerth for Kids (mp3)

Kids in Cars
SCAN’s Executive Director Sonia Quiñónez speaks with Emily Crown, Fire Rescue of Montgomery County, about the dangers of leaving children alone in cars.


Supporting Parents of Children with Disabilities
SCAN’s Executive Director Sonia Quiñónez speaks with Piper Phillips from the Phillips Program about strategies and supports for parents of children with disabilities.

> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Parents of Children with Disabilities (mp3)

Volunteering with the CASA Program
SCAN’s Executive Director Sonia Quiñónez speaks with Linda Franz, a volunteer with SCAN’s Alexandria/Arlington CASA Program, about the CASA Program and its impact on children in the court system.

> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Volunteering with CASA in Alexandria and Arlington (mp3)

How to Sooth a Crying Baby
SCAN’s Executive Director Sonia Quiñónez speaks with Judy Martens from the Virginia Association for Infant Mental Health to discuss tips for soothing a baby, how caregivers can stay calm and SCAN’s new initiative Operation Safe Babies.

> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Soothing a Crying Baby (mp3)

Operation Safe Babies: Safe Sleep and Care for Newborns
SCAN’s Executive Director Sonia Quiñónez speaks with Linda Watkins from Safe Kids Fairfax City Coalition to discuss sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and related safe sleep issues for babies, as well as SCAN’s new initiative Operation Safe Babies.
> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Safe Sleep for Babies (mp3)

Understanding Human Trafficking in Northern Virginia

human traffickingSCAN’s Executive Director Sonia Quiñónez speaks with Jessica Woelkers, who works in sex trafficking prevention for Prince William County Schools. They discuss the realities of human trafficking — a modern day form of slavery — as well as its impact on children and families in Northern Virginia. They also share practical tips for staying alert and keeping children safe from the risks of trafficking.
> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Human Trafficking (mp3)

Supporting Immigrant Families During Reunification
SCAN’s Executive Director Sonia Quiñónez speaks with Robin Hamby with Fairfax County Public Schools’ Family & School Partnership Program. They discuss what “reunification” means, the risks involved and the dramatic impact the experience has on children. They also discuss how communities can best provide support for these families and where immigrant parents can find support.
> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Reunification and Immigrant Families


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The Impact of Domestic Violence on Children
SCAN’s Executive Director Sonia Quiñónez  speaks with Nicole Acosta from LAWS, the Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter. They discuss how domestic violence can impact children, even when they aren’t directly targeted by the abuser. They also cover the signs of a child living in a violent home, as well as how community members can connect with children and other victims in these situations.
> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Impact of Domestic Violence on Children (mp3)


Children in Foster Care
Christine Foster Care June 2014SCAN’s Executive Director Sonia Quiñónez  speaks with Christina Miranda, a woman who experienced the foster care system as a child and is now a representative of the Foster Care Alumni of America. They discuss how the foster care system works, its changing impact on children and why foster parents are so critical to the success of the program. They also discuss what it means to “age out” of the system (as Christina did) and how the community can better connect with and provide resources for the children and young adults in these situations.
> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Children in Foster Care (mp3)


Teachable Moments
Claudia Thomas Teachable Moments June 2014
SCAN’s Executive Director Sonia Quiñónez speaks with Claudia Thomas from Fairfax County Public Schools’ Family and School Partnerships, which provides programs, resources, and services that connect families with schools and promote student success in school and in life. They discuss the definition of a “teachable moment” and why parents should understand them and use them as opportunities for connection in their parenting. Claudia also discusses how these moments are generated by the child’s interest/questions/energy, not the parents — so the can build trust, security and openness when handled in a positive, nurturing way. June 2014

> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Teachable Moments (mp3)


Kids Need Connections
SCAN’s Executive Director Sonia Quiñónez  speaks with Clear Channel’s Bernie Lucas to discuss the importance of positive adult connections in the lives of children, as well as their ability to prevent abuse and neglect. This show was originally taped for the kick off of SCAN’s Kids Need Connections campaign during National Child Abuse Prevention Month. April 2014

> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Kids Need Connections (mp3)


Talking with Teens
DanielK_REVSCAN’s Executive Director Sonia Quiñónez talks with Daniel Kefale from Change in Action, a local nonprofit that supports families through change and offers a special “Real Teens” program. They discuss what teens need from their parents for meaningful communication, and tips we can all use to open up and truly listen to the young adults in our lives. Daniel also touches on “active listening” and how it can change the family dynamic with a few simple steps.  April 2014
> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Talking with Teens (mp3)


Supporting Homeless & Transient Families
Magaly Maltez ACTS March2014_REVSCAN’s Executive Director Sonia Quiñónez talks with Magaly Maltez from ACTS Turning Point, the only domestic violence intervention program serving Prince Williams County and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park. They discuss the prevalence of homelessness among families in Northern Virginia, as well as how the daily challenges of raising children are handled in addition to the many issues that accompany homelessness, co-habitation or transience among homes. Magaly also touches on how community members and agencies can better support children and parents in these situations. February 2014
> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Supporting Children & Families Facing Homelessness (mp3)


Helping Parents & Families in the Military
SCAN’s Sonia Quiñónez talks with Rebecca Childress who works in the Family Advocacy Program at Quantico Marine Base. They cover the special challenges faced by military families, as well as specific resources, information and support to help them strengthen parenting skills and grow healthy, resilient families.
> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Supporting Children & Parents in the Military (mp3)


Building Empathy in Children
SCAN’s Sonia Quiñónez talks with Michael Swisher with the Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth & Families. They discuss what empathy means, why it’s an important skill for children and how parents can build empathy in daily life.
> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Building Empathy in Children (mp3)


A Special Need for Bilingual & Male CASA Volunteers
SCAN’s Sonia Quiñónez hosts CASA Volunteer Craig Fifer to talk about SCAN’s Alexandria/Arlington CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate Program), with a focus on why there is a special need for bilingual and male volunteers–and the incredible impact they can make on the life of a child in the court system because of abuse and neglect.
> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: A Need for Bilingual & Male Volunteers in CASA (mp3)


Benefits of Yoga for Children
SCAN’s Sonia Quiñónez talks with Michelle Kelsy-Mitchell, co-founder and Executive Director of YoKid…Stretch Your Limits, an organization that provides yoga instruction to children around the region, including those in SCAN’s Parent Education Program. They discuss the many benefits of yoga for children and families, as well as tips on how to incorporate practice in family life.

> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Yoga for Children (mp3)


Behavior, Communication & Children
SCAN’s Sonia Quiñónez talks with Candace Radoski and Mary Louise Cohen, two co-facilitators of SCAN’s ABCs of Parenting classes. They discuss how parents can be more aware of our children’s behavior and cues, respond to their needs and strengthen how we communicate with and raise our children.
> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Behavior, Communication & Children (mp3)


Faith-Based Parent Education & Prevention
SCAN’s Sonia Quiñónez talks with Rev. Trisha Miller Manarin from McLean Baptist Church on the importance of faith groups being a source of support, education and resources for parents. They discuss how knowing the facts and signs of child abuse is just the first step in the prevention of child abuse, but drafting a safety plan and participating in the efforts of tackling child abuse is a continual and significant effort that needs to take place in all communities.
> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Faith-Based Parent Education & Prevention (mp3)


Aging out of Foster Care
SCAN’s Sonia Quiñónez talks with Cordelia Cranshaw, a young adult who is  transitioning out of foster care, and Cathy Bartholomew with the Alexandria Department of Community and Human Services.  They discuss the unique needs and  challenges for youth who age out of foster care and provide tips for foster parents, children and community members who can support these families.
> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Aging Out of Foster Care (mp3)


Sibling Dynamics & Relationships
CIMG5170_Sept2013DrMilevskyFIXEDSCAN’s Sonia Quiñónez talks with Dr. Avidan Milevsky, a well-known psychotherapist, author and professor who focuses on family issues, parenting and siblings. They discuss why the sibling relationship is so important for healthy development, and how parents can support communication an empathy between siblings while managing conflict and competition in healthy ways.>
> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Sibling Dynamics (mp3)


Supporting Immigrant Parents
ParentingToday_ShirleyJones_Jan2013SCAN’s Sonia Quiñónez talks with Shirley Jones from HACAN (Hispanics Against Child Abuse and Neglect) about the special challenges faced by immigrant parents and their children. They discuss how community members can support immigrant parents in their communities, preventing them from feeling isolated and connecting them to services and information.
> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Supporting Immigrant Parents (mp3)


Teen Parenting
SCAN’s Sonia Quiñónez talks with Lorraine Friedman, founder of the Dream Dog Foundation and a facilitator with SCAN’s Teen Parent Program at TC Williams High School in Alexandria. They discuss why it’s especially critical that we connect with and support the teenage parents in our community, who face a special set of challenges when raising children of their own.


Tech-Savvy Parenting
SCAN’s Sonia Quiñónez talks with Laurie Nathan with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about ways parents can protect their children online. They discuss tips for educating and empowering kids to make smart decisions, protect privacy and understand the impact of online bullying and harassment.
> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Tech-Savvy Parenting (mp3)


SCAN’s Sonia Quiñónez talks with Joy Trejo, formerly with Early Childhood Programs and Family Services at the Campagna Center in Alexandria, about what it means to co-parent. They discuss how healthy co-parenting can be a way for divorced or separated parents to approach the challenges of raising children together even when struggling with their own relationship and living apart.


Boundaries & Healthy Relationships for Children
SCAN’s Sonia Quiñónez talks with Mary Ann Moran, formerly with the Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth & Families, to discuss how parents can help children develop boundaries and healthy relationships. They discuss how children involved in unhealthy relationships are at risk of abuse, bullying, low self esteem and other challenges, as well as how parents can teach–and model–healthy relationships in everyday life.
> LISTEN TO PARENTING TODAY: Boundaries & Healthy Relationships (mp3)


Thanks to a grant from AT&T, SCAN developed a brand new way to share tips, resources and more with parents as they face the difficult job of raising children. You can download the MP3 files or below:

Anger Management with special guest Leon Harris [4 min 10 sec]

Children & Divorce with special guest Lori Brooks from WASH-FM [3 min 1 sec]

Pause for a Child with special guest Leon Harris [3 min 6 sec]

Positive Communication with special guest Lori Brooks from WASH-FM [3 min 36 sec]

Positive Discipline with special guest Leon Harris [3 min 31 sec]

Self Care for Parents with special guest Lori Brooks from WASH-FM [3 min 9 sec]

Parent Resource Center


Parenting can be tough! It’s okay to ask for help. SCAN and the Allies in Prevention Coalition are proud to support parents here in Northern Virginia by providing the tips, resources and support that can help you improve your positive parenting skills.

Download SCAN’s NEW Parent Resource Center App:


Abuse and Neglect

Children’s Physical Health

General Parenting

Parenting, with Young Children

Parenting, with Teens

School-Related Topics

Unique Family Structures

Mental Health & Wellness

ACEs: Adverse Childhood Experiences

 Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are traumatic childhood events, such as abuse and neglect, parental divorce, domestic violence and parental mental illness. Experiencing an ACE, like abuse and neglect, can actually increase the odds of developing serious adult health issues like cancer, liver disease and heart disease. ACEs can also make people more prone to suicide, substance abuse, poor work performance and a host of other negative outcomes.

• Read the ACEs, Stress & Children Fact Sheet (English)
• Read the ACEs, estrés y los niños Fact Sheet (Spanish)

Programs like CASA and SCAN’s parenting classes can help protect children from further trauma and build resiliency in families.


You might also be interested in:

From the blog: ACES and Child Welfare

blogblock_ACESDecember 6, 2013

Can a traumatic childhood experience cause adult health problems? A landmark study shows that exposure to an Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) like abuse and neglect can actually increase the odds of later developing serious adult health issues like cancer, liver disease and heart disease. It can also make people more prone to suicide, poor work performance and a host of other negative outcomes.

The groundbreaking research survey known as the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACES) asked over 17,000 adults to report on 10 adverse childhood experiences, such as abuse and neglect, parental divorce, domestic violence and parental mental illness. The study found a significant association between (more…)

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