Category Archives: Youth Suicide

Protecting Kids Most at Risk for Cyber Harm (Guest: Dr. John DeGarmo)

The Changing Behavior Network, Radio Style InterviewDr. John DeGarmo shares how some youngsters are more at risk for cyber harm than others because of their needs, insecurities, and histories of difficulty. Listen in to this program from our archives as he discusses the dangers of unmonitored internet access, the problems it can create, and ways to manage issues more effectively.


Protecting Kids Most at Risk for Cyber Harm, Dr. John DeGarmoFor most folks, the internet has been a valuable resource and an enormous time-saver. The internet is virtually unlimited in its capacity to provide, in the blink of an eye, needed information and resources. Lives have been saved because of the availability and speed of the internet.

But, as we all know, lives have been burdened and even destroyed through use of the internet, and many of them were children and teens.

Cyberbullying is a serious problem, as are cyber predators looking for vulnerable young people. There are websites showing one how to make weapons and bombs, as well as sites that not only show a young person how to take their life, but convince them to do so. According to our guest on this program, Dr. John DeGarmo, these cyber dangers are just the tip of the iceberg.

Listen in as your host, psychologist Dr. James Sutton, interviews Dr. DeGarmo on the dangers of unmonitored internet access, the problems it can create, and ways to manage issues more effectively.

Keeing Foster Children Safe Online, Dr. John DeGarmoDr. DeGarmo also shares how some youngsters are more at-risk for cyber harm because of their needs, their insecurities and their histories of difficulty. Foster children are especially vulnerable to this sort of harm, deception, inappropriate contact through the internet, but non-foster youngsters can be affected, also.

Dr. DeGarmo provides training nationally to foster parents on how to keep kids safe online. He and his wife are foster parents themselves; they practice these interventions every day. They work!

In addition to a busy speaking and training schedule, Dr. DeGarmo is the host of a weekly radio show, Foster Talk with Dr. John. He also writes extensively on the topic of foster care. Today we are featuring his book entitled, Keeping Foster Kids Safe Online. (27:46)

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Five String Recovery, Part 1 (Guest: Phillip Wadlow)

A 16-year-old musician wins a national bluegrass championship while secretly battling addiction. Here’s his two-part story about his recovery, his music, and his message to young people.


Five String Recovery, Phil Wadlow, The Changing Behavior Network

If you take a Missouri boy who grew up with bluegrass music and encourage his natural talent for playing it well, you’ll have the ingredients for an awesome career very few can achieve.

Young Phillip Wadlow was that Missouri boy. Everything was falling into place for him, until drugs and alcohol threatened to destroy him and all he held dear. This is his story and his music, in two parts. This interview was recorded in May of 1990, as Phil was completing his first year of recovery and sobriety. It’s a story Phil wants young people to hear, for he hopes they can learn from the wrong turns he took.Five String Recovery, Phillip Wadlow

In this part, Part One, Phil shares how he began using marijuana at a very young age, and how so quickly its use became chronic. But Phil also shares about the music he grew up with and how, at 16, he won a national bluegrass championship. He plays the song that took first place, “Cattle in the Cane.” The joy of being recognized for his music, however, was tainted by the fact he was, by then, completely dependent upon his drug of choice.

Dr. Sutton, the host in this interview, picks up his guitar and accompanies Phil on most of the songs in both parts on the interview. The banjo solo at the opening is an original composition of Phil’s, “Dusty Roads.” (22:12)

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Bullycide: When Cyberbullying Turns Fatal (Guest: Judge Tom Jacobs)

The Changing Behavior NetworkIn this radio-style podcast taken from our archives, Dr. James Sutton interviews Judge Tom Jacobs, a former Arizona juvenile court judge, on the topic of bullycide, youth suicide as a result of cyberbullying.


Cyber Bullycide

As effective tools of communication and commerce, the internet and cyberspace have changed the way we live. For all the good and benefits they bring, there is a downside. This program addresses loss of life as a result of cyber abuse: Bullycide.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe suicide of young people as a result of cyberbullying is a serious issue that is growing in its impact. Our guest on this program, Judge Tom Jacobs, studies cyber bullycide and the circumstances and events that affect the lives and welfare of our young people. Judge Tom will guide us through the issues of bullycide and how it happens, and he will share his research on legal implications and what we can all do to best protect our children and grandchildren from such a grave threat.

Ask the Judge

Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of, a teen-law website for and about teen, tweens and the laws that affect them. His daughter, Natalie, assists him in making a go-to resource. It’s also a valuable website for parents and educators who want to stay current with issues that affect the safety and welfare of our young people., bullycide, judge tom jacobs

Judge Tom Jacobs

Judge Tom is a retired juvenile judge from Arizona, having spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges, as well as for teens and parents, including the book that covers our topic in this program: Teen Cyberbullying Investigated. (28:04)

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“I Want to Die:” Helping the Severely Depressed Youngster (Michael Bushman)

BTRadioInt-300x75-300x75There’s not doubt at all that they youngster who says or thinks, “I want to die,” is struggling with a profoundly serious issue. The severely depressed youngster needs hope, they need help, and they need them quickly.

Mike Bushman, Michael Bushman, Suicide Excape, I want to die, suicidal thoughtSevere depression in our young people is not only a serious concern, they may rarely talk about it, especially to an adult. A sense of hopelessness can cause a youngster to feel that things for them will never be any better, that their circumstances can no longer be tolerated. At that point, even suicide makes sense to them.

So why would they talk about it, especially if their decision is made, or nearly so?

What are these young people experiencing, and why? What are some of the signs that could suggest they are struggling with depression? What can we do to help? How can we offer hope that deeply difficult moments rarely last, and that they are not worth the cost of a life?

Michael Bushman, Suicide Escape, the severely depressed youngster, how to deal with depressionMike Bushman, this program’s guest, has a deeply personal and powerful perspective on severe depression in young people. The insights and interventions he shares can and do make a difference in how to deal with depression.

For 25 years, Mike worked as a congressional aide, lobbyist, press secretary, investor relations executive, corporate and marketing communications leader and global policy head. Then, in 2012, he retired to return to his first passion: writing.

Mike has authored two novels reflecting the future we would face if we as a country continue on our current divisive political path. This newer book, Suicide Escape, is a unique combination of novella and memoir addressing deeply personal stories of teen depression and despair. The book reflects what Mike has learned and what he wishes he knew and understood as a young teen dealing with thoughts of suicide. (27:03)

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(START/STOP Audio Here)

When Behavior Becomes Desperate: Insights and Interventions (Guest: Dr. James Sutton)

BTRadioIntThreat and danger don’t even have to be real to be a problem. There are youngsters (adults, too) who, for any number reasons, live in a constant state of alert. Behaviors of others toward them, even something as mild as one step too many into their personal space, brings a reation that hardly fits the circumstance.

Because this behavior is based on survival and fueled by fear, typical responses and discipline easily can worsen subsequent behavior as it increases the perceived threat. It’s a vicious cycle, and it’s difficult to stop. Exactly how do we negotiate with one’s need to survive?

Our guest on this program, The Changing Behavior Network’s founder and host, Dr. James Sutton, calls this Desperate Behavior, for that’s precisely what it is. Considering all of a school’s students, desperate behavior is rare. It occurs in only about 1-3% of the entire population, but it accounts for the majority of the problems, as well as the lingering misery of affected youngsters.

Since traditional approaches often fail, something different is needed, and that’s the focus of this program. It’s also addressed in Dr. Sutton’s newest book, The Changing Behavior Book.

A nationally recognized child and adolescent psychologist, author and speaker, Dr. James Sutton is in demand for his expetise on emotionally and behaviorally troubled youngsters, and his skill for sharing it. A former Special Education teacher, he is the founder and host of The Changing Behavior Network, a popular internet radio-style podcast supporting young people and their families. 23:58)

(Dr. Sutton has made an arrangement with the publisher for listeners to receive a FREE copy of his bestseller, 101 Ways to Make Your Classroom Special, when they order a copy of The Changing Behavior Book. For more information or to order, CLICK HERE and use the password supplied at the end of this program.)

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Scared Justice: Fighting America’s War on Youth (Kenneth Johnson)

BTAboutThemAn eleven-year-old Florida student was handcuffed, taken to jail, and charged with a third-degree felony for having a plastic butter knife; a New York pre-K student is suspended for having too many bathroom accidents; a Mississippi student was arrested for breaking wind; a Tauton, Massachusetts second grader was suspended and forced to undergo a mental health evaluation for drawing a picture of Jesus on the cross; a California student faces a judge on criminal charges of being tardy too many times; and a Baltimore, Maryland student risked suspension for nibbling on a Pop Tart in the shape of a gun. We see it all the time in the headlines. For those who are unaware, there’s a war in America that’s been going on for some time now.

KJohnsonphotoEvery year, we are arresting over 2 million students. Far more students are suspended and expelled. Studies have shown that a child’s chances of dropping out increases by 50% for every time (s)he is suspended out of school. Presently, some 7,000 students drop out each school day. Most of these suspensions, expulsions, and arrests take place just before standardized testing. The reason for this, scholars posit, is what’s being called the Test-to-Prison Pipeline (a variation of the older School-to-Prison Pipeline theory). Simply put, a child that is suspended/expelled or incarcerated cannot take the standardized test and therefore the overall test results will be higher. This is critical in states like Florida where a school’s funding is based on how well students do on these tests.

Most juvenile arrests in America today are predicated upon what criminologists call the “Super Predator Myth.” This myth was first postulated by Professor John DiIulio, Jr. as a research-based theory of juvenile crime. Later, his research was found to be fundamentally flawed in every conceivable way. However, Pandora’s Box had already been opened by this junk science theory. We became a nation fearful of our youth and with the wrong-headed notion the only way to keep them from turning into murderous thugs was to arrest and try them as adults for felony crimes.

Today in America, the prison system is such a booming business. Private prisons, like the Geo Group, publicly trade on the stock market. Most of America’s population of inmates first came into the criminal justice system by way of juvenile arrests. The primary reason that an incarcerated person leaves a juvenile detention facility is because they have reached the age of majority and now must be transferred to an adult prison to finish out the rest of their sentence.

Rather than being a nation of law and justice, we have turned to “scared justice” tactics where laws vary based upon a person’s income, race, age, and other factors. And, no place can this injustice be more finely felt than by our nation’s youth.


In the fields of Conflict Resolution and Restorative Justice, professionals and writers are now focusing a tremendous amount of time on pathways to engaging in difficult discussions. Each field of conflict study has its own thought leaders with their own ways of tackling this endeavor head-on. But why are we seemingly in need of such study and works?

Part of the problem is the manufacturing of fear in the public over juvenile crimes. One major culprit is our nation’s School Resource Officer program. The other player in this social malaise is Hollywood.

While SROs are used practically nation-wide, the data on their effectiveness is less than compelling. While their stated purpose is to safeguard the students, national crime data reveals they generally arrest students for innocuous offenses when traditional school-based disciplinary procedures would be more effective and beneficial. In protecting students from school violence and shootings, the data also reflects they generally are ineffective with them mostly arresting students on baseless charges.

One of the best publicly available arguments against SROs can be found in the Justice Policy Institute’s “Education Under Arrest: The Case Against Police in Schools,” where it looks at the chronic failures, duties, dangers and case law surrounding SROs. For instance, in the Supreme Court case of J.B.D. vs North Carolina, involving a 13 year old student who was arrested without being read Miranda rights, the court found juveniles do not possess proper understanding to appreciate Miranda. Ultimately, the report delineates five ways to improve schools without needing SROs. These suggestions ranged from properly training and supporting staff on issues of behavioral disruptions to building quality relationships between staff and students.

Ironically, these suggestions are things which are best handled through Conflict Resolution and Restorative Justice strategies. In my book, Unbroken Circles for Schools, I specifically addressed how using Peer Mediation with Circles, Panels, Conferences, and Justice Circles can create a community of care which improves classroom instruction, addresses behavioral issues, builds relationships, provides counseling options, and identifies issues early on in order to render SROs needless in schools. The JPI piece proposed using government funds to purchase varying national plans but, as I note in my book, effective strategies already exist in the public domain.

Hollywood is also just as guilty of culpable harm. Specifically, shows like “Beyond Scared Straight” perpetuate a myth while fostering practices proven to actually harm children as bad, if not sometimes worse, than what SROs do by arresting children needlessly.

According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, “A study by Anthony Petrosino and researchers at the Campbell Collaboration analyzed results from nine Scared Straight programs and found that such programs generally increased crime up to 28 percent in the experimental group when compared to a no-treatment control group. In another analysis of juvenile prevention and treatment programs, Mark Lipsey of the Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy Studies found that youth who participate in Scared Straight and other similar deterrence programs have higher recidivism rates than youth in control groups. And a report presented in 1997 to the U.S. Congress reviewed more than 500 crime prevention evaluations and placed Scared Straight programs in the “what does not work” category. Despite these findings, Scared Straight programs continue to be used throughout the United States and abroad.”

Again, the OJJDP focused on the very same solutions which the JPI looked at. Naturally, like with the JPI, the OJJDP urged for costly programs to be employed by schools and communities. However, like I stated before, effective Conflict Resolution and Restorative Justice solutions are already in the public domain and used daily by trained and certified professionals.

A common saying, “A leopard can’t change its spots,” is often used in reference to criminals. The meaning behind this is that a child who does wrong actions now will only do worse actions later as an adult – a flawed line of logic at best. I say, “If you paint spots on a lion cub, it doesn’t make it a leopard.” Ultimately, I contend that officials are making children out to be worse than they are. In fact, most, if they were given a little extra attention, could become tremendous benefits to society as adults.

Research has come forth saying that children are facing massive issues with underemployment by their parents, broken homes where they may have only an extended family member at best to serve as guardian over them, domestic violence in the home, substance abuse in the home, untreated illnesses, lack of proper nutrition, homelessness, child neglect, and sexual molestation to name a few. In fact, where I live, homeless kids have coined the term “couch surfing” to refer to how they spend their nights sleeping on the couches of friends, relatives, or anyone else that would take them in for the night. These are the children that our schools seemingly target.

What’s more troubling is that the children actually suffer more once they are incarcerated. This is because most states exempt juvenile detention officers from state child abuse and child neglect laws. In Florida, which is a top arrester of youths in America with over 58,000 arrested per year, a number of detention facilities have recently gone under review for children being allowed to die in front of guards without any call for help, children being sexually molested by staff, unnecessary beatings, and the list goes on and on.

There is a solution to this social justice dilemma. The crux of the problem is that the community must become engaged and press for resolve since schools and law enforcement refuse to take responsibility with this issue. This is a hard discussion topic for a society where many trappings of the traditional community are gone due to our nomadic existence and where the media colors our understanding of reality with sensationalized stories and filtered-out stories. This makes collaboration between nonprofits and religious institutions , on this issue, all the more critical for lasting change to take place since these are the unsung heroes doing most of the unseen social justice work in this nation.


I suggest that interested stakeholders in the community, as well as Conflict Resolution and Restorative Justice professionals and advocates, agree to assemble at a neutral venue and break bread to talk about the problems facing their community. After all, this is how America got started! Once the problems have been stated, then the community should evaluate resources that each group can bring to the table. Since I pretty much wrote the book on this issue, here are some suggestions that I would make for consideration:

Have the school district do away with SROs. There’s simply no need for them. National statistics show time and time again juveniles make up less than 1% of the violent crimes committed in America. These are officers that can be put out on the streets to arrest real criminals, direct traffic, or engage in a number of social benefits inherent to law enforcement.

Have the school engage in Restorative Justice (RJ) and Peer Mediation practices. RJ has been proven far more effective on juveniles than any other group at reducing recidivism and also making lasting, positive behavioral changes. By the same token, peer mediation has been proven effective in handling issues typically tying up vital time normally handled needlessly by teachers. A good program should be a balance of daily circles, peer mediation, and conferencing.

Creating a peer counseling corps can offer critical support and assistance for students in needs. Like peer mediators, peer counselors are trained by professionals in the field and given similar skill sets as adult professionals in the field use in their own practices.

Establish a Neighborhood Restorative Justice Center (NRJC) as a deferment option should a child still end up in the court system. In many states, like Florida, there are already laws on the books allowing this sort of deferment but officials refuse to establish these centers. An NRJC, created by the community, allows the student that final, yet critical, opportunity to seek out atonement for their actions and to seek the help that they need.

There’s no other way to put it other than to say America’s war on youth is a national scandal. However, if handled properly, the communities around America have an opportunity to make a significant impact on the overcrowding of prisons, increasing tax revenues, increasing productivity, and re-engaging the “American dream” which has historically been our driving force in becoming a superpower in the global marketplace.###

Ken Johnson is a private researcher, writer, lecturer, and consultant on issues of culture and conflict. Organizational architecture and anabolic (positive) conflict are just some of the key issues he investigates. Though written for the school system, his book, Unbroken Circles for Schools, has core concepts which can be applied to various life applications. To learn more about Ken and his work, CLICK HERE to visit his website.



Letters to God: Diary of an Unsilenced Generation (Guest: Cassandra Smith)

BTRadioIntHere’s a replay of a very special program we featured in March of 2014. Cassandra’s work and book carry a powerful message for us.

CSmithphotoAmong the Millennial generation , there are young people who experienced their childhood during a time when many families were at-risk. In fact, some counselors, clergy and mental health professionals call this the “Orphan Generation.” Why is this, what happened, and what can we do about it?

Fortunately, our guest on this on this program, Cassandra Smith, discovered a way for us to know more about what these young people are really thinking about us, about themselves, and about the challenges of life they face.

LTGCover1Cassandra collected thousands of anonymous handwritten letters to God as she worked with Acquire the Fire youth conferences across the United States and Canada several years ago. What she discovered, and what she’ll share with us, were not only the deepest needs of these young people, but their intense desire for help and hope in their lives.

Cassandra is an honors graduate from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She has worked extensively with youth for twelve years, including tours for four years with Teen Mania’s Acquire the Fire and years of work with Youth with a Mission. Today, you’ll find her deeply involved in speaking engagements at events and churches, where she creates a deeping awareness of the needs of youth today, as well as how these young people can discover a path to restoration as they search for authentic and lasting hope and change. (25:23)

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The Power of Dadhood (Guest: Col. Michael Byron Smith)

BTRadioIntOne of the greatest challenges of society today is the “reconnection” of families. Solid and reputable research has shown us that, as two-parent, married-couple families have declined, there have been corresponding increases in poverty, ill-health, educational failure, unhappiness, antisocial behavior, isolation and social exclusion of many children and adults.

MSmithphotoIt is the consensus of many that these issues are rooted in the lack of structure in the family. Most often, father absence is both cause and result of family dysfunction.

These problems are not going to repair themselves. Our guest on this program, Michael Byron Smith, believes that now, more than ever, fathers must be present and engaged with their children if the family is to function as it should. Michael understands all too well the impact of a physically or emotionally absent father.

Fortunately, Michael brings to this program some thoughts and suggestions for how fathers can connect and better connect with their children. In fact, he will share with us how the “Seven Characteristics of a Successful Father” can help all dads become more present, more loving and more nurturing with their children. It could well be the most important task they will ever accomplish, as it stimulates the growth and character of their sons and daughters.

MSmithbook(Be especially mindful of the end of this interview when Michael shares “What Every Dad Should Teach His Children.”)

Michael is a retired Air Force colonel and former military pilot. He’s also a retired civilian engineer for the US government in the aerospace industry. In addition to being the author of the new book, The Power of Dadhood: How to Become the Father Your Child Needs, Michael is a husband, father and grandfather dedicated to helping fathers to be present and involved dads through his blog, “Helping Fathers to be Dads.” (29:47)

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Restorative Justice: An Old Voice & Way in New Times (Ken Johnson)

BTAboutThemAugust 8, 2015 was a great night for me. In front of my peers, at the Florida Authors & Publishers Association President’s Awards, I received not one but two gold medals for my book, Unbroken Circles for Schools. But, what really moved me were the words of wisdom given by Mark Wayne Adams, FAPA president and multi-award winning author & illustrator, before the awards were given.

Mark told us there is always this one person in our life that encourages us to step out and do something great. He told us the medals will not matter and instead we need to focus on the one person that brought us here to the awards.


Each time I went to receive my award, Mark made it a point to tell the audience great things about me. When I thanked my publisher, Terri Gerrell, for having faith in me and my message (most authors can understand where I was coming from) she simply said, very sternly might I add, “It’s a good book!”

Ken Johnson receiving gold medal1Later that night, someone was joking and said, “Hey Ken, how many awards did you get – four?” To that I meekly replied, “Just two.” Not thinking of how it may have sounded, I heard a joking reply, “Yeah, JUST TWO!” Looking around the table, I laughed in joy because my peers and my loving wife were by my side and I was in a good place.

After putting a little blurb on Facebook about the book doing well, a friend of mine wrote back that the award merely proved to me what they already knew about me – I nearly came to tears. Again, I was in a good place.

I say all of this to make note how, for me, I was always pushing and uplifting the book while family, friends, and colleagues were instead pushing and uplifting ME.

When is the last time someone has done that for you? When have you done that same thing for someone else?


In the United States, just a little under fifty percent of households with children are underemployed. Underemployment often translates into a child having unmet needs. Children of impoverished homes tend to have chronic illnesses, suffer neglect and abuse at higher rates, witness more domestic violence, and generally do not have the social resources a child needs to cope and adapt. Hunger and malnourishment are huge problems.

Moreover, there is a growing trend of child abandonment in America where parents, both mothers and fathers, are leaving children to fend for themselves for days, weeks, months and sometimes years at a time. Lest we not forget, there are also circumstances where middle and upper class children are suffering in plain sight, in their own unique and sometimes obfuscated ways.

So, these children come to schools where they are increasingly expected to perform like trained animals due to performance-based funding. Mom just got beat, but Johnny is told he needs to learn a nonsensical Common Core math problem or else he’ll be sent home – where he’ll probably be beaten or have to cry himself to sleep hungry and with a pillow over his head to drown out the yelling.

His friend Billy has a different problem. Billy has no mom or dad to take care of him this foreseeable month and so he has to “couch surf” from friend’s house to friend’s house hoping he might get a hot shower, a warm meal and a couch to sleep on for the night. Across town, in a gated community, young William feels much like Billy, being that he has to travel from house to house like a hobo – carrying his clothes and belongings in a small suitcase. This week, he is with his dad who left him with Cindy, dad’s latest girlfriend, because of yet another business trip. Next week, William will be at his mom’s apartment, where a similar occurrence will happen. His only companions are the trinkets his parents give him – mostly out of guilt for not being there for him. His only release comes from the self-cutting he ritualistically does to drown out the pain – the evidence of such cleverly concealed by his long, baggy clothing.


Children sometimes get placed in the “backseat” of society even though they are our future. We do this for a number of reasons. Sometimes it is due to simple ignorance. Other times, it is out of fear due to sensational media stories. Other times, it is because we let our need for money and happiness cloud our views on things. And still, there are a plethora of other reasons. Yet one thing remains constant through it all – the children’s voice is muted.

As school starts back up, we are once again on track to see the same old trends. We can expect to see nearly 2.2 million children being arrested at school for trivial offenses. Each school day, we can expect to see 7,000 children drop out. And we can expect to also see students suspended in great numbers – each suspension now known to increase a child’s chances of dropping out by fifty percent. All of this, academics now pose, is aimed at skewing performance-based testing by culling out the poor performers. But, what if I could tell you these numbers could be turned around while also saving lives?


Restorative Justice is a very old voice and methodology which has been adapted for our contemporary times. You know, when I was first training to be a mediator, the instructors said to never say, “So, what’s your story” or “Tell me your side of things.” I was also reminded that a person’s problems are not mine and I have to remain objective, neutral and always allow the problem to be owned by the persons with the problem.

RJ does just the opposite of this. Essentially, RJ thrives off storytelling. We are not talking about fictional storytelling, rather a person being able to express their views and retell an account of what happened to them, how they felt, what they expected, etc. This discussion is driven by a facilitator who is as much involved in the problems and issues as are the people who are talking about the problem. At the heart of this is something profound – focused attention. Focused attention is focusing direct attention on someone to hear their story, to empathize with their situation, to show genuine compassion, to encourage them, to uplift them, and to offer insight and counsel.


In a typical classroom situation, the teacher is usually involved either as a facilitator or a circle keeper in the process. A round of praise is generally done so students can uplift each other and offer encouragement – something child psychologists are finding to be profoundly beneficial. Today, maybe the teacher decided Susan was a little “off,” so she inquired as to everyone’s well-being. When it comes around to Susan, the circle learns how a girl from another school has been tormenting her via text messaging and social media. The girl makes fun of Susan’s appearance and the rented home. She can’t turn off the phone because her mother uses the phone to keep in contact with Susan between breaks waiting tables. Susan can’t use the computer because the school has gone to a computer-only system of paperless instruction. So, the students offer support, possible solutions, etc.

KyleesitJanet tells the circle how she went through the same thing and what worked for her. In the end, Susan agrees to tell her mother what is going on, a report is made to Principal Tsulakis to let him know what is going on and a school counselor is called in.

Two weeks later, Susan’s bully is now in a similar session where it’s revealed the girl, Erica, was being abused by her mother’s fiancee when she was at work. Now, Erica is getting help and Susan is no longer bullied. In the end, the two even become friends as they call each other every day to make sure the other is okay and doing well.

It sounds different. Some might even say, “Oh he had to use bullying! It’s the new, hot-button word – just tell her to get over it and move on!” But here’s the deal: We are now finding out how bullying acts as a catalyst for suicide – which is the top reason for premature death in teens and pre-teens. We also know now that bullies generally are bullied themselves. The act of bullying essentially is a spin-off of the classical “fight or flight” response where the child loses power in one aspect of their life, then try to rob a weaker person of power through bullying. Restorative Justice diffuses the situation through allowing all parties a right to tell their story through the implementation of focused attention on the individual. In a nutshell, it puts people in a good place by giving a voice back to those who once had none. ###

KJohnsonbookKen Johnson is a culturalist and conflict specialist. His book, Unbroken Circles for Schools, deals with issues of conflict in the school system while also proposing common sense, cost-effective solutions using Restorative Justice strategies. Until November, you can get $9 off Ken’s book by entering in coupon code “NACRJ” at checkout when you go to


Groundbreaking Research: Childhood Trauma and Issues of Adult Health (Guest: Donna Jackson Nakazawa)

BTRadioIntStress can be a good thing. In can cause us to stretch and grow to learn new skills and handle conflict effectively on our own. Without reasonable, normative stress in our lives, authentic accomplishments would be much fewer.

DNakazawaphotoBut heavy, chronic stress can be debilitating, especially when it’s a ongoing circumstance in  a child’s development. Scientists are calling these early toxic stress episodes Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACES.

We’ve known for some time about the impact of these experiences on a youngster’s emotional and psychological development. What is new is the research linking Adverse Childhood Experiences to chronic illnesses in adulthood, illnesses like heart disease, cancer and a whole range of autoimmune diseases.

According to our guest on this program, science journalist Donna Jackson Nakazawa, Adverse Childhood Experiences set the intensity of a youngster’s “Fight or Flight” response (including a chemical component called the “inflammatory response”) to “High,” and it stays there. There is no “Off” switch. As Donna explains in this interview and in her book, Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology and How You can Heal, just about any stress can bring on an extreme reaction, while the inflammatory “cocktail,” still set on “High,” begins to create damage to the youngster’s health and vitality. The picture of their health just a few decades later is often not a good one. (Scientists are now calling this the psychosocial “Theory of Everything.”)

DNakazawabookBut, thankfully, there is reason for hope and recovery. With therapies and activities available today, as well as changes in pediatric medicine, the inflammatory response can be brought back under control. Donna is here to share this good news, also.

Donna Jackson Nakazawa is an award-winning science journalist, public speaker and author of The Last Best Cure, a book in which she chronicles her own year-long journey to health. She’s also the author of The Autoimmune Epidemic. Donna lectures nationwide and has appeared on The Today Show, National Public Radio and ABC News. Her work has been featured on the cover of Parade and in Time Magazine, USA Today Weekend, Parenting, Psychology Today, and many other popular blogs and magazines. (25:41)

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