Opioid use and abuse among the older population

The public is quickly learning that drug abuse goes beyond the illegal substances that are purchased on the street. Abuse of drugs extends to the prescription medications sitting in many medicine cabinets. While teenagers and young adults may be the first to be stereotyped as prescription drug abusers, seniors may have unwittingly become mixed up in one of the most misused prescription classes: opioid pain relievers.

The problem of opioid abuse has been a growing issue for years. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates 2.1 million people in the United States suffer from substance abuse of opioid pain relievers. Older patients are increasingly and repeatedly prescribed opioids to address chronic pain from arthritis, cancer and other problems that become more apparent as people age.

Data from U.S. Medicare recipients found that, in 2011, roughly 15 percent of seniors were prescribed an opioid after being discharged from the hospital. When followed up on three months later, 42 percent were still taking the medication. Fast forward to 2015, and almost one-third of all Medicare patients were prescribed opioid painkillers by their physicians, says AARP. The Canadian Institute for Health Information says adults between the ages of 45 and 64 and seniors age 65 and older had the highest rates of hospitalizations due to opioid poisoning over the past 10 years.
AARP also indicates nearly three million Americans age 50 or older have started to take painkillers for reasons beyond what their doctors prescribed. Experts from the Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing warn that dependence on opioids can set in after just a few days. Discomfort and side effects can occur when the pills are stopped.

Opioids can decrease pain at first, but many people find they can be less effective over time. As a result, patients need to take greater amounts. Although many people can take opioids in small doses for short periods of time without problems, many find themselves overcome by a troubling addiction. Some doctors prefer not to use opioids as a first line of treatment for chronic pain.

Another possible risk of opioids among seniors is that the medication can cause disorientation that may lead to falls and fractures. The senior care resource A Place for Mom also says that prescription narcotics may increase risk of respiratory arrest. What’s more, an older body may not absorb and filter medicines as effectively as younger bodies can. This means that older adults might become addicted to or have side effects from a prescription drug at a lower dose.

Seniors concerned about opioids can discuss other options with their doctors, such as nonopioid medications and alternative therapies for pain management, like massage or acupuncture. If opioids are prescribed, ask for the lowest dose and don’t exceed the time frame for taking the medicine. Only take the pills when absolutely necessary, and never mix opioids with alcohol or other substances.

The various types of arthritis

Arthritis affects hundreds of millions of people across the globe. The Arthritis Foundation® notes that more than 50 million adults in the United States have some type of arthritis, while the European League Against Rheumatism estimates that rheumatic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis affect more than 120 million people in the European Union. In Canada, the Canadian Community Health Survey found that 16 percent of Canadians age 15 and older were affected by arthritis.

The Arthritis Foundation notes that arthritis is not a single disease. In fact, the word “arthritis” is something of an umbrella term and an informal way of referring to joint pain or joint disease. While these conditions may produce some common symptoms, such as swelling, pain and stiffness, learning to distinguish between some common types of arthritis can help men and women manage their conditions more effectively.


Osteoarthritis, which is sometimes referred to as “degenerative joint disease” or “OA,” is the most common chronic condition of the joints. The symptoms of OA vary depending on the joints that are affected, but pain and stiffness, especially first thing in the morning or after resting, are common. OA can affect the hips, knees, fingers, or feet, and those with OA may feel limited range of motion in their affected areas. Some with OA may hear clicking or cracking sounds when the affected joints bend, and pain associated with OA may be more intense after activity or toward the end of the day.

Inflammatory arthritis

Inflammatory arthritis occurs when the immune system, which can employ inflammation to fight infection and prevent disease, mistakenly attacks the joints with uncontrolled inflammation. Such a mistake can contribute to joint erosion and even organ damage. Psoriatic arthritis, which the Arthritis Foundation notes affects roughly 30 percent of people with psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis are two examples of inflammatory arthritis. Genetics and environmental factors, such as smoking, may trigger instances of inflammatory arthritis.

Infectious arthritis

Bacterium, a virus or a fungus that enters the joint may trigger inflammation and lead to infection arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation notes that the most common bacteria to cause infection arthritis is staphylococcous aureus, or staph. The majority of infectious arthritis cases occur after an infection somewhere else in the body travels through the bloodstream to the joint, though some infections may enter the joint directly through a puncture wound near the joint or during surgery near the joint. Intense swelling and pain, typically in a single joint, are the most common symptoms of infectious arthritis, which is most likely to affect the knee, though it can affect the hips, ankles and wrists. Some people with infection arthritis may also experience fever and chills.

Metabolic arthritis

The body produces uric acid to break down purines, a substance found in many foods and in human cells. But some people produce more uric acid than they need, which they then struggle to get rid of quickly. As a result, uric acid can build up. The Arthritis Foundation notes that this buildup can lead to the formation of needle-like crystals in the joints that cause sudden spikes of extreme pain.

Arthritis can affect people of any age, race or gender. More information about the various types of arthritis is
available at www.arthritis.org.

USDA reopens enrollment for improved dairy safety net tool

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue is encouraging dairy producers to consider enrolling in the new and improved Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy), which will provide better protections for dairy producers from shifting milk and feed prices. With changes authorized under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) has set the enrollment period to run from April 9, 2018 to June 1, 2018.

“We recognize the financial hardships many of our nation’s dairy producers are experiencing right now. Folks are losing their contracts and they are getting anxious about getting their bills paid while they watch their milk check come in lower and lower each month. The Bipartisan Budget Act provided some much-needed incentives for dairy producers to make cost-effective decisions to strengthen their farms, mitigate risk, and conserve their natural resources,” said Secretary Perdue. “This includes our support of America’s dairy farms. We encourage dairy producers to review the provisions of the updated program, which Congress shaped with their feedback. Those changes are now in effect, and I’d ask any producers who are interested to contact their local USDA service centers.”

About the Program:
The program protects dairy producers by paying them when the difference between the national all-milk price and the national average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount elected by the producer.

Changes include:
•Calculations of the margin period is monthly rather than bi-monthly.
•Covered production is increased to 5 million pounds on the Tier 1 premium schedule, and premium rates for Tier 1 are substantially lowered.
•An exemption from paying an administrative fee for limited resource, beginning, veteran, and disadvantaged producers. Dairy operators enrolled in the previous 2018 enrollment period that qualify for this exemption under the new provisions may request a refund.

Dairy operations must make a new coverage election for 2018, even if you enrolled during the previous 2018 signup period. Coverage elections made for 2018 will be retroactive to January 1, 2018. All dairy operations desiring coverage must sign up during the enrollment period and submit an appropriate form (CCC-782) and dairy operations may still “opt out” by not submitting a form. All outstanding balances for 2017 and prior years must be paid in full before 2018 coverage is approved.

Dairy producers can participate in FSA’s MPP-Dairy or the Risk Management Agency’s Livestock Gross Margin Insurance Plan for Dairy Cattle (LGM-Dairy), but not both. During the 2018 enrollment period, only producers with an active LGM-Dairy policy who have targeted marketings insured in 2018 months will be allowed to enroll in MPP-Dairy by June 1, 2018; however, their coverage will start only after active target marketings conclude under LGM-Dairy.

USDA has a web tool to help producers determine the level of coverage under the MPP-Dairy that will provide them with the strongest safety net under a variety of conditions. The online resource, which will be updated and available by April 9 at www.fsa.usda.gov/mpptool, allows dairy farmers to quickly and easily combine unique operation data and other key variables to calculate their coverage needs based on price projections. Producers can also review historical data or estimate future coverage based on data projections. The secure site can be accessed via computer, smartphone, tablet or any other platform. USDA is mailing postcards advising dairy producers of the changes. For more information, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/dairy or contact your local USDA service center.

Register your child for 4H camp this summer

By Rick Thomason
University of Tennessee
Johnson County Extension Director

Johnson County 4-H campers can enjoy a wide variety of camps through the 4-H program this summer. Our camps provide recreational activities that include: kayaking, swimming, electricity, wildlife, archery, fishing, hiking, ecology, photography, crafts, canoeing, talent shows, drama, soccer, softball, basketball, volleyball, low ropes, cookouts, making new friends and hanging out with old friends. We make sure our camps are not only a place where children will have fun and learn a lot, but that they are safe locations for the children to stay.

But more important than the “fun” aspects, the staff at the camps and the agents working there are dedicated to making sure camp is also educational. Children attending our camps will be learning valuable life skills such as teamwork, responsibility, healthy lifestyle choices, personal safety, critical thinking, decision making, service learning, organizing, communication, empathy, sharing, citizenship and leadership.

We focus on experiential learning, which means our children are learning by doing. Camp is rich with hands-on activities and opportunities for the children. Clyde Austin 4-H camp located in Greeneville, TN offers programs on leather work, wildlife, tie-dye, astronomy, water ecosystems, and so much more!Camp is a week long experience for children. However, the skills they learn from their time involved in 4-H, whether it’s project work throughout the year, camp experiences or the lessons learned along the way stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Camps that we have available for this summer include: Junior camp for 4th through 6th grade, Junior High camp for 7th and 8th graders, Electric camp for grades 6th and 7th and 4-H Quilt camp open to youth in grades 6th through 12th. These camps have quotas based on the number of beds available and are on a first come-first served basis.

More information and registration forms for these camps can be obtained at the Extension office located at 212 College Street in Mountain City or by calling 727-8161. You can also e-mail 4-H Agent, Danielle Pleasant at dsilver2@utk.edu with any questions you may have about any of these camps. Camp scholarships are also available to assist with the cost of camp for deserving youth.

Timely tips to ensure strawberry success

By Joan Casanova

Homegrown strawberries are a billion times better tasting than the hard, rarely ripe, flavorless selection in the supermarket. Strawberries are cold hardy and adaptable, making them one of the easiest berries to grow and are the first fruit to ripen in spring.

While most fruit trees can take several years to begin bearing, you can harvest your homegrown strawberries the very first season you plant. And even if you live in an apartment or small home, you can grow strawberries in a container on your balcony, rooftop, or patio. If your horizontal space is limited, consider growing strawberries in a hanging basket, strawberry pot or stacked planter, which will allow you to take advantage of vertical growing space as the strawberry plants tumble out over the edges.

There are two main kinds of strawberries: “June-bearing” and “Ever-bearing” varieties. June-bearing varieties bear all at once, usually over a period of about 3 weeks. Because of their earliness, high quality and concentrated fruit set, June-bearers, like All-star, produce high yields of very large, sweet, extra juicy berries in late mid-season, which is usually late spring and early summer, depending on your geographic region. These are the best variety for preserving.

“Ever-bearing” strawberries produce high yields of big, sweet berries from late spring until frost, with concentrated fruiting in late summer and fall. Perfect for large containers or raised beds, where you can give them attentive watering and feeding.

Bonnie Plants, available at most garden retailers nationwide, offers a good selection of ever-bearing strawberries including the very popular Quinault variety. This variety offers large berries ripening in abundance, ideal for preserves or fresh eating.

Tips to ensure strawberry success:

*When planting strawberries in-ground, be sure the crown is above soil level and the upper most roots are 1/4 inch beneath soil level, buried crowns rot and exposed roots dry out. Strawberry plants should be placed approximately 14 to 18 inches apart from each other in neat rows that are separated by 2-3 feet each. Let runners fill in until plants are 7-10 inches apart.

*Use mulch to keep berries clean, conserve moisture and control weeds.

*If you want to keep it simple, plant strawberries in a container. Just remember that container plantings need much more water than in-ground plantings, usually once a day and if it’s hot, twice. To know when to water, stick your finger or a pencil 1.5” deep into the soil in the center of the pot, if the soil is moist; don’t water, if dry, it’s time to water.

Strawberry pots are an obvious container choice for growing strawberries. You can fit several plants in one pot; just make sure whatever type of garden pot you use has good drainage. Strawberries have a relatively small root ball and can be grown in containers as small as 10-12 inches in diameter and 8 inches deep. However, the smaller the container, the more frequently you will need to water. Another great choice that’s practical and pretty are strawberries in hanging baskets, once they begin to fruit they’re showstoppers and fruits are easy pickens.

*Strawberries like well-drained fairly rich soil, so be sure to add compost or other organic matter when preparing the pot or patch.

*They need full sun, 6-8 hours per day, will grow in all zones and should be fed twice a year — when growth begins and after the first crop.

*Control slugs and snails by handpicking them off plants and prevent theft from birds by covering your patch or pot with netting as the first berries ripen.

Strawberries are one of the easiest and most delicious home garden fruits to grow. Try growing them with kids, plants produce fruit throughout the summer and children will love to pluck them right off the plant, wash and eat! If your ki

ds have yet to plant and care for a fruit or vegetable, strawberries are a perfect choice for their first gardening experience. Kick off this gardening season with your kids and get growing strawberries!

For more info on growing strawberries as well as vegetables and herbs please visit: www.bonnieplants.com

Take it up a notch out back – adding appeal to your patio or deck

Raised beds and multipurpose potting benches can add both beauty and functionality to your patio or deck. Photo by Gardener’s Supply Company

By Melinda Myers

Summer means time spent gardening and relaxing with friends. And just like the kitchen in winter, the patio or deck tends to be the gathering spot when the weather turns warm. Get the most from this space with a bit of preseason planning and decorating. Select functional and beautiful furnishings to create a special spot for you, family and friends to enjoy whenever the weather allows.

First, sketch out the space and measure the dimensions of all furnishings you are considering, making sure they will fit. Allow extra space for people to pull chairs in and out from the table and navigate around furnishings, preferably 3 to 4 feet.Next, select a table that fits the space and provides ample serving space. An extension table allows you to expand your surface if a few more folks drop by. A round folding table provides space for guests, and it can be stashed against the wall when workspace is needed.

Small- and large-space gardeners will enjoy the benefits of elevated gardens with built-in trellises. These maximize growing space even on a small deck or patio and bring the garden to the party. Look for self-watering planters and especially those with wheels so you can easily move them out of the way of a family gathering or closer to the kitchen for easy harvesting.

Include a multifunctional piece like a potting bench. Look for a versatile and well-built, furniture-quality piece like the CedarLast potting bench (gardeners.com) that complements other furnishings and can be used as a serving surface when entertaining. Consider features like a faucet for washing and watering that drains into a bucket or the ground, as well as hooks for hanging tools and baskets and space for storage.

Bring nature to your door and mask unwanted background noise with the soothing sound of water. Wall-mounted and container fountains add the sound and motion of water to even the smallest patios and decks. Watch for colorful winged visitors stopping by for a sip. Extend your enjoyment into the evening with pleasing outdoor lighting. Make sure the light is deflected and not shining directly into visitors’ eyes. Downward facing overhead lights brighten large areas. Use them to illuminate key spaces such as those used for cooking. Strands of lights on structures, ribs of an umbrella or the underside of a bar provide a festive touch.

Use tabletop lighting to create a more intimate mood. Outdoor flameless candles add warmth to your space while a Columbine Solar Lantern adds charm. Look for a style that complements your outdoor décor. Add pathway lighting to direct guests to the patio or on a stroll through the garden. Solar lighting allows flexibility and eliminates the need for trenching wires to a power source. Think beyond traditional pathway and railing lighting. Strategically placed upward lighting of structures and plants or downward lighting hung from above can also provide needed illumination.

Whatever the size of your patio or deck you can create an inviting outdoor space for gardening and entertaining. Just invest a bit of time planning and shopping for attractive and functional furnishings. Then sit back and relax in your newly decorated space.
Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses “How
to Grow Anything” DVD series and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio segments. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and was commissioned by Gardener’s Supply for her expertise to write this article. Myers’s web site is www.melindamyers.com.

Garden detective: Clues to determine and deter unwanted animals in your yard and garden

By Joan Casanova

Holmes and Watson, Riggs and Murtaugh, Starsky and Hutch – when it comes to sleuthing out just what critter is munching on your spring garden, you may feel like your partnership with Mother Nature is as contentious as any that ever graced the big, or small screen. After all, how are you supposed to fight the “crime” of a decimated garden if you can’t identify the suspect who’s been devouring your daylilies?

And while Mother Nature may happily grace your garden with rain, warmth and sunshine, she may not always be on the same team when it comes to keeping critters out of your gardens and landscapes. Foraging pests can destroy your yard, literally overnight. It is possible to thwart garden thieves, but first you have to know what animals have been dining on your plants and shrubs. Once you’ve identified the culprits, you can settle on effective animal repellents that will persuade pests to leave your garden alone. Here are some facts to get your detective work under way:

Devouring deer – Ragged bites, typically a foot or more above the ground indicate deer damage. Deer are notorious for devouring gardens and landscapes. You’ll see them, and their offspring, every year, making dinner of your daisies, daylilies and other ornamental plants.

Ravenous rabbits – If plant damage is low to the ground – a few inches above the soil – and includes stems clipped cleanly at an angle, you’re probably dealing with rabbits. These four-legged foragers will eat just about any kind of vegetation, including your fabulous flowers, bushes and other woody plants. If you don’t want bunnies nesting and raising families near your garden, remove brush and other debris that could provide them with shelter.

Voracious voles – When flower bulbs disappear from the ground or plant roots go missing, chances are you have voles – mouse-like creatures that burrow underground and that are highly destructive to gardens. Exit holes are further indications that voles are tunneling under your garden. Teeth marks around the base of trees, droppings or trails in the grass can also indicate the presence of voles.

Greedy groundhogs – Mounds of dirt beside burrow entrances are a sure sign of groundhogs, a garden pest that eats just about every type of green plant. Groundhogs can destroy a garden. These solitary herbivores live in burrows underground.

Capricious chipmunks – The on-screen antics of Chip and Dale might charm your children, but the presence of chipmunks in your garden is nothing but bad news. Damage to flower bulbs, plant shoots and leaves, uprooted plants and dug-up roots are all signs you have chipmunks. Their underground burrows may be a challenge to spot since the entrances are usually only about 2 inches in diameter and not surrounded by noticeable dirt mounds. You can curtail their activity by removing yard debris where chipmunks hide.

Salacious squirrels – While you might think of them as mostly the enemy of anyone with a bird feeder, squirrels can also cause damage to gardens. They live in colonies, digging underground tunnels and mounds in grassy areas and around trees that can lay waste to gardens and landscapes.

Once you’ve identified the culprits assaulting your garden, you’ll need the right tools to take care of them. Most traditional pest-control measures – row covers, netting, noise deterrents, predator urine or even human hair strewn around the yard – simply don’t work. Fences can do the job, but they’re expensive and you may live in a community that restricts the type and height of fences you can erect.

Some small animal repellents, however, do work. Bobbex-R is all-natural, environmentally friendly and proven effective at protecting ornamental plantings from small, four-legged garden critters. In testing by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, the product – which works through smell and taste aversion – received a 100 percent efficacy rating at repelling rabbits. Usable in any weather, it won’t burn plants or wash off. Use it as a bulb dip to deter underground damage, or spray it at the mouth of burrows to prevent animals from re-entering. Safe for humans, pets, birds and aquatic life, Bobbex-R contains no petro chemicals. To thwart deer damage, try Bobbex Deer, an all-natural repellent made from a combination of ingredients, including putrescent eggs, garlic, fish, clove oil and vinegar. By mimicking predator scents, this fear repellent also tastes unpleasant to deer. The product is more effective than nine other commercial repellents (including coyote urine), according to independent
testing by the Connecticut AG Station. Testers gave it a 93 percent protection index, second only to a fence at 100 percent.

For more information on keeping wildlife away from your yard and garden please visit www.bobbex.com

Plunging temperatures have strawberry farmers covering crops

NASHVILLE – Tennessee’s eagerly-anticipated strawberry season is a month away, but the frigid weekend forecast has many growers watching the weather and covering their crops.

Some areas of the state will experience temperatures dipping into the 20s. Tennessee strawberry growers are accustomed to cold snaps and say they are prepared to keep this year’s crop on target without significant damage. Strawberry farmers roll out heavy cloths and drape them over rows of berries to shield the tender plants. Straw may also be spread similar to mulch. The process is labor intensive, but worth the effort.

“We were out until midnight Wednesday making sure the strawberry plants were covered,” Paul White of White’s Family Farm in Springfield said. “Because we have prepared, we do not expect much of an impact from the cooler weather. Strawberries will be ready on time.”

Strawberries in West Tennessee are typically ready for harvest by May 1, with crops ripening eastward across the state as the month progresses. Upper East Tennessee’s strawberry season may begin in June and last through the end of that month. With such a wide range of elevations and temperatures across the state and even farm to farm, every strawberry farmer in Tennessee will be on alert until the weather warms.

It’s best to call local growers to find out when their patch is ready to pick, hours of operation, and how the berries are sold. Some farms provide their own containers, while others are pick-your-own. Some growers also sell berries at local farmers markets.

There are 180 farms that offer strawberries listed online at www.PickTNProducts.org and on the free Pick TN mobile app. Pick Tennessee Products is the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s service that connects farmers to consumers. Follow Pick Tennessee on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for seasonal updates about Tennessee farm-direct foods, local source restaurants, and farm activities.

TN producers to plant less burly tobacco, soybeans in 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released the Prospective Plantings report today, showing Tennessee farmers intend to set less burley tobacco and plant fewer soybean acres, but increase cotton acreage in 2018.

“Prospective plantings gives us the first indication of producers’ plans for row crop acreages,” said Debra Kenerson, Tennessee State Statistician. “In addition to farmers intending to set 2,500 fewer acres of burley tobacco and 90,000 fewer soybean acres, this release indicates that growers intend to plant 5,000 more acres of cotton this season, an increase from the 345,000 planted in 2017.”

Burley tobacco growers in Tennessee intend to set 9,500 acres for harvest, down 2,500 acres from 2017. For the burley producing states, growers intend to set 72,900 acres, down 8,600 from last year.

Soybean acreage in Tennessee was expected to total 1.6 million acres, down 90,000 acres from the previous year. U.S. soybean planted area for 2018 is estimated at 89 million acres, down one percent from last year and a record high.

Upland cotton acreage to be planted in Tennessee is forecast at 350,000, up 5,000 acres from 2017. The U.S. total upland cotton acreage is estimated at 13.5 million acres, up seven percent from the previous year.

Farmers in Tennessee intend to plant 750,000 acres of corn, unchanged from 2017. U.S. corn growers intend to plant 88 million acres for all purposes in 2018, down two percent from last year and six percent higher than 2016.
Producers intend to set 7,000 acres of dark-fired tobacco in Tennessee, down 500 acres from the previous year. Acreage set to dark-air tobacco was estimated at 1,600 acres, unchanged from 2017.

Winter wheat seeded by Tennessee farmers in the fall of 2017 totaled 400,000 acres, up 30,000 acres from previous year. Seeded acreage for the nation was 32.7 million acres, up slightly from 2017.

Farmers in the state intend to harvest 1.65 million acres of all hay, down slightly from 2017. U.S. farmers intend on harvesting 53.7 million acres of hay in 2018, down one percent from last year.

“This is a busy time of year for farmers,” Kenerson added. “We appreciate our producers taking the time to respond to this survey. Response rates are crucial to publishing accurate data.”

Adjustments in agriculture

By Jai Templeton
Tennessee Department of
Agriculture Commissioner

Agriculture is important to the 67,000 farmers across this state who make all or part of their living from producing our food, fiber, and fuel. It is also important to the 6.7+ million Tennessee residents who enjoy and depend on the fruits of their labor. We have long understood that agriculture is the foundation of many communities’ economies and livelihoods.
Agriculture is seeing many adjustments at this time. Some changes, like the new Tyson Foods poultry production complex in West Tennessee, are great for our farmers. However, the challenges are also very real, and many families are now facing difficult decisions.

Several farms have been given the news that major clients will stop purchasing their tobacco and milk for reasons beyond the farmers’ control. Tobacco and dairy have long been foundations of agriculture in Tennessee, and we are working with all stakeholders to determine the best way forward.

With an annual economic impact of more than $81 billion, agriculture is our state’s top industry. Keeping nationwide market influences in mind, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) is focused on strengthening the ag industry. This past year, we completely retooled the way we think about our role in building Tennessee’s agribusiness environment.
We have revamped our Agricultural Advancement division and changed not only the titles, but the direction of our employees. Our Agribusiness Development Consultants are dedicated to bringing opportunities to our state. I like to think of our efforts as being the five pillars of Agricultural Advancement with services directed toward international exports, meat processing, on-farm sales, forestry, and food manufacturing.
One out of every three direct-farm receipts is attributed to international markets. Tennessee is a frontrunner in livestock production, and we have room to expand our fresh and local processing capacity. In 2017, TDA issued permits to more than 225 new food manufactures, proving the desire to do business here. We continue to lead the charge to support and promote our farmers through the Pick Tennessee Products program, farmer’s markets, agritourism ventures, and farm development programs, and we are organizing a statewide community garden program.

More than 52 percent of Tennessee is forestland. That asset alone gives us a great opportunity to add value to our land, wildlife, and environment, as well as create jobs in rural communities. The Tennessee Wood Products branding initiative is increasing visibility and enhancing marketing options for Tennessee’s wood products industry.
While we remain committed to assisting the front-line farmers and foresters through the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program (TAEP), we are also looking ahead. With AgLaunch, we intend to move Tennessee forward as a hub of agriculture innovation and entrepreneurship. The Agriculture Enterprise Fund aims to provide opportunities to small agribusinesses that need the nudge to add value to our farm and forest production.

The entire TDA team comes to work every day committed to the tasks we are mandated to accomplish by law or challenged to do in order to best serve our constituents. We also show up for work thinking about ways we can increase the value of farm and forest products. That extra value puts dollars in the wallets of the landowner, farmer, and forester, and it creates jobs.

Thank you for the great support that you give Tennessee’s most valuable industry. I look forward to keeping you updated on our progress.

‘Safe at Home”to protect domestic abuse victims

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – For many victims of domestic abuse, stalking and similar crimes, escaping abusers is no easy task.
In 2016 alone, 78,100 domestic violence offenses were reported in Tennessee. In over 80 percent of these reported incidents, the primary victim was either a woman or a child. In over half of reported cases, the victim was physically injured. Victims may need to move to other towns, switch jobs, move their children to different schools or even change their names just to escape their abusers. Even then, abusers may still easily find them by searching public records online.

The Tennessee Secretary of State’s office is proud to offer SB 1935 sponsored by Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) and HB 2025 sponsored by Rep. Andrew Farmer (R-Sevierville) to help alleviate this potentially life-threatening issue.The legislation will create a program that is known nationally as “Safe at Home,” which has been implemented by more than 35 states across the country. The goal is to help survivors of domestic violence, rape, human trafficking, stalking and other crimes who have relocated or are about to relocate, in their effort to keep their abusers from finding them. In doing so, the program will allow victims to take back their lives by preventing an abuser from locating them through public records searches and inflicting additional harm.

“It is time for Tennessee to join the growing majority of states across the nation by enacting proactive legislation to provide greater protections for victims and taking positive action to shield all our citizens from the effects of domestic violence,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “For these reasons, we look forward to serving our fellow Tennesseans through our assistance in preventing violence in our communities.”
“Domestic abuse is a horrible crime, and I am pleased to support victims of domestic abuse by sponsoring the Safe at Home Act,” said Sen. Kelsey. “The Safe at Home program will offer victims of domestic abuse a path to escape their abusers and start a new life.”

“As Republican leaders, I believe we must continue to strengthen protections for victims of these despicable crimes including domestic abuse, stalking, human trafficking and other sexual offenses,” said Rep. Farmer. “I am honored to work with Secretary Hargett and to sponsor passage of House Bill 2025 so that we can better protect victims while encouraging them to seek assistance so that they can begin the healing process.”
The Safe at Home program provides victims with a government-managed substitute address (such as a post office box), for both themselves and their children, which can then be used to obtain a driver’s license, register to vote and complete most other government forms without disclosing the participant’s home address.

Once enrolled, the participant can provide the substitute address to virtually all government entities in Tennessee. Participants may also request that other nongovernmental entities, such as their employers and other private businesses, use this address as well.
The Secretary of State’s office will receive all mail sent to the substitute address and then forward that mail to the participant. Our department will keep the participant’s actual residential address confidential and will only disclose it in narrow circumstances to authorized officials.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reports that in 2016 more than 78,000 domestic violence crimes, including stalking and rape, were reported to police. 91 Tennesseans were murdered in domestic violence situations during that same time. These cases account for more than 51 percent of all crimes against individuals reported in 2016.

These dramatic statistics demonstrate that this program is a critical step toward protecting victims of domestic abuse, stalking, human trafficking and similar crimes from any more trauma. This program will also make our communities safer by reducing crime for all Tennesseans.


Using our nation’s resources to provide care

By Dr. Bob Vero

Most of us have been impacted by addiction. Whether it be through a parent, spouse, child, friend, co-worker or neighbor, few of us are immune to its effects, and unfortunately this trend is growing.
Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Tennessee had the country’s fourteenth highest rate of deaths due to overdose (1,630) in 2016, a statistically significant ten percent increase from 2015.

As a nation, we’re losing Americans in what should be the prime of their lives at record high numbers to an unprecedented drug crisis. To ensure the future of our local communities and our nation at-large, this cannot continue. Fortunately, we can change this startling statistic. Addiction is a disease that we know can be treated, but we must do more to ensure that we are providing people with the highest quality treatment and safest possible care.

Today, many seeking addiction treatment simply have no access to proper care – or, sadly, in some cases, to any care at all. It’s estimated that up to 30 million Americans are living in rural counties where no treatment options exist. In areas where some treatment options do exist, many are receiving insufficient care because there are no quality standards for addiction treatment.

This lack of standards means that a person seeking care at five different treatment centers may receive five different treatment protocols. In many cases, these protocols might not be comprehensive enough. Since addiction has biological, psychological and social factors, individuals may need a range of services, including residential care, Intensive outpatient, medication-assisted treatment, counseling, addiction education, peer support and assistance with finding employment and/or housing to sustain recovery.

For the health and wellbeing of our country, we must provide additional resources to ensure everyone has access to the right addiction treatment and develop standards that incentivize providers to offer the best care – delivering positive outcomes.
Congressmen Brett Guthrie of Kentucky and Gene Green of Texas, along with Senators Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, have proposed a new bill that could reduce barriers to lifesaving care in some areas hardest hit by the opioid epidemic. The Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers Act of 2018 would establish and fund Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers (CORCs) in areas with high rates of overdose deaths.

Funded centers would provide a full continuum of treatment services including medically supervised detoxification, counseling, peer support, residential services, housing and job placement support. All centers would report the outcomes of people they treat as well as the effectiveness of interventions, which could provide much needed perspective on best practices that can be deployed nationwide.
In addition, Tennessee Congressman Marsha Blackburn and Senator Lamar Alexander are taking strides to address strategies and secure sufficient resources for prevention, treatment and law enforcement that can help save lives.

All of us at Centerstone commend congressional members for their leadership in proposing meaningful solutions to combat the opioid crisis and provide evidence-based care for members of our community seeking addiction treatment. As a nation, we must do better to ensure those struggling with addiction receive effective care. As Congress continues to debate solutions to the opioid epidemic we urge leaders to take decisive action on legislation that supports evidence based, comprehensive care. Ensuring treatment standards is a critical step in saving lives and stemming the tide on opioid crisis.

Site Selection and Planning is Essential for a Successful Vegetable Garden

By Rick Thomason
University of Tennessee
Johnson County Extension Director

A good garden site is essential for high vegetable yields. Poor sites not only produce low yields, but may also be extremely difficult to grow a garden on at all. Choose a garden site with deep, medium-textured, well-drained, nearly level soil. Fine-textured, clay soils stay wet late into the spring, are difficult to work and tend to crust badly. Sandy soils dry out very quickly and require frequent nutrient applications. Excessive slopes tend to erode. A slight slope, however, is desirable to prevent cool air from collecting and forming a frost pocket.

Most garden vegetables require six hours of sunlight or more per day to produce well. The more the garden is shaded, the slower the vegetables will grow and the lower their yields will be. Trees and large shrubs not only shade gardens, but also use nutrients and water needed for proper vegetable growth.

A site near the house makes it more convenient to care for the garden and to harvest vegetables. In addition, water is available for transplanting and irrigation. Children or animals in the garden can be observed, and the garden may be protected from these and other potential problems.

A garden plan will save time, space and money. Yields will be increased, as will the length of the harvest season. Begin by making a scale drawing of your available garden area on graph paper. Divide the drawing into cool-season and warm-season vegetable planting areas.

Cool-season vegetables are those such as lettuce, onions, cabbage, radishes and English peas. They require cool weather to grow and mature properly and can withstand some frost. Cool-season vegetables are planted in the early spring and again in the fall.

Warm-season vegetables require warm weather to grow properly and are planted after the soil has warmed up. Note that frost will kill warm-season vegetables. Examples of warm-season vegetables include beans, okra, squash, cucumbers and tomatoes.
The cool-season section of the garden will be planted early and harvested in time to be replanted. Alternate the cool and warm-season areas of the garden each year to reduce plant pest problems.

Decide which vegetables to grow and the amount of each vegetable you want. The following publication on “Growing Vegetables in Home Gardens” can be found at this website: https://extension.tennessee.edu/publications/Documents/PB901.pdf. Tables 1-3 (pages 5 through

7) can assist you in estimating the row lengths required to obtain the desired amounts of each vegetable.
As you make plans for your garden, sketch and label the rows of each vegetable on your plan to scale, using the row spacings suggested in Tables 1-3. Be sure to arrange the rows so tall vegetables won’t shade shorter ones. Make a note of the planting dates, varieties and amount of seeds required on your plan so a periodic glance will show what needs to be done.

Proper planning and site selection will help assure a successful gardening experience. For more information on vegetable gardening, check with your local Extension office located at 212 College Street in Mountain City or call 727-8161.

Trump Attacks Earth, Resistance and Innovation

By Mel Gurtov

In 1992, 1700 scientists from around the world signed a “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity. The statement argued that “human beings and the natural world are on a collision course,” and urged immediate, dramatic to reverse the trend. Last fall the statement was updated. This “second notice” has now been signed by 20,000 experts. As you would expect, the scientists report “insufficient progress” and warn that besides failing to deal with climate change, “we have unleashed a mass extinction event, the sixth in roughly 540 million years, wherein many current life forms could be annihilated or at least committed to extinction by the end of this century.”

Against that sobering assessment is some good news. Is it enough to give us confidence that we will not destroy ourselves? I leave that to you; but the main message is that “it’s up to us.”

What Works?

Protecting the environment is a bit like fighting a war: it takes action on two fronts—effective resistance and winning strategies—to be successful. Resistance has come from many places: legal action by states and their industries impacted by the opening up of our coasts to oil drilling, for instance. Thirty-two US senators signed a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke January 9 protesting the decision and pointing out that further drilling isn’t necessary. Nine governors and a number of governments agencies, including NASA and the US Air Force, have joined in objecting to the drilling.

Time and the law may also be on the side of protection: drilling requires technical and bureaucratic preparation that delays starting for many months, even years. Then there’s the surprise decision in January of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, dominated by Trump appointees, to deny a form of subsidy to the nuclear and coal industries that energy secretary Rick Perry had sought. And there’s this fact: the administration’s sloppiness in implementing new regulations, creating opportunities for NGOs and other affected parties to sue over failure to follow proper procedures, as with Zinke’s offshore drilling decision.

Fortunately, Trump-era deregulation and other environment-destroying activities are being closely monitored by many sources, starting with the New York Times and the Washington Post. Harvard University’s Environmental Law Program is also tracking Trump, as well as the Columbia University School of Law’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law.

The latest study on the cost of switching to renewable energy for electricity once again shows just how sensible that switch is: declining costs and increasingly competitive prices for solar, wind, and hydro power. The more technology improves, competition widens, and projects worldwide gain experience, the greater the cost reductions will be, according to the International Renewable Agency. To quote from its report: “Electricity from renewables will soon be consistently cheaper than from most fossil fuels. By 2020, all the renewable power generation technologies that are now in commercial use are expected to fall within the fossil fuel-fired cost range, with most at the lower end or undercutting fossil fuels.” Executives with some large energy companies are now saying the same thing.

What it comes down to is this: While Trump continues to tout “clean coal,” the story of the now-abandoned $7.5 billion Kemper power plant shows that clean coal is a mirage. No one is going to be building a coal-fired plant by 2020. And maybe not a nuclear power plant either. In fact, as the New York Times reports, some of the biggest energy companies are embracing wind and solar power as the economics of energy shift in their favor, even after federal subsidies end. Consider the deep-red state of Texas: wind power capacity now exceeds coal for the first time in the state’s history. As the

Texas Monthly reports:
total wind power capacity in the state [is now] more than 20,000 megawatts, while coal capacity stands at 19,800 megawatts and is slated to fall to 14,700 megawatts by the end of 2018 thanks to planned coal powerplant closures. Next year, Luminant will shutter three coal-fired plants—Monticello, Sandow, and Big Brown—and San Antonio’s CPS Energy will close J.T. Deely Station. Wind capacity in the state will reach 24,400 megawatts by the end of 2018, according to projections from Joshua Rhodes, a research fellow at UT Austin’s Energy Institute.

Bill McKibben reminds us that we don’t need Washington in order to impact climate change. Divestment from fossil fuel companies is one way. McKibben writes: “Consider what happened in mid-January, for instance, when New York City declared war on the oil industry, pledging to divest its $200bn pension funds of fossil fuel stocks and announcing that it would sue the five biggest energy majors for the damage they knowingly inflicted by not ’fessing up to their knowledge of climate change.”

The ongoing efforts of dedicated scientists working for the government to insist on evidence-based research are another source of resistance. Scientists worldwide are not sitting still in their laboratories while global warming reaches a critical state. One finding does give us a bit more lead time to deal with global warming: a British study that concludes that Earth’s temperature is more likely to increase by roughly 2.8C during this century in response to a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rather than by a possible 4.5C predicted by a UN agency. But even that lower prediction hardly undercuts the urgency of dealing with climate change, as the study’s authors emphasize.

While Trump’s minions have been hard at work destroying the environment and ecosystem, high-minded scientists and ordinary citizens all over the world have been fighting to preserve our heritage and conserve precious resources. The best of these efforts relevant to climate change are reported in a new book: Paul Hawken, ed., Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming (Penguin Books, 2017). We should be encouraged as well by good news that is sometimes reported by the mainstream press but more often appears in the newsletters and magazines of environmental NGOs such as the Natural Resources Defense Council and Environmental Defense. And let’s not forget that some of the best environmental protection efforts are taking place outside the US, such as China’s carbon market, Saudi Arabia’s solar farm to power 200,000 homes, and the agreement of most European Union members to end construction of new coal plants by 2020.

Bertrand Russell has the last word: “To preserve hope in our world makes calls upon our intelligence and our energy. In those who despair it is frequently the energy that is lacking.”

Diet vs. Exercise: Which is better for weight loss?

Diet vs Exercise

(StatePoint) What’s more important: diet or exercise? Anyone who’s tried to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle has likely asked this question.

Sixty-eight percent of people want to lose 10 pounds or more, according to a recent Harris Poll on behalf of Nutrisystem. March is National Nutrition Month, and a good time to get started on your goals. So, should you focus on diet, exercise or both?

When it comes to weight loss, the split should be roughly 80 percent focus on what you eat and 20 percent on exercise. The logic is simple, say experts.

“It’s all about calories in and calories out. If you’re eating less and exercising, you’re going to burn more calories,” says Courtney McCormick, corporate dietitian at Nutrisystem. “However, exercise often makes us hungrier, which is why many people who only change their exercise habits don’t see the scale move.”

To achieve a healthier lifestyle and shed weight, consider these quick tips that combine both diet and exercise.

• Eat more often: A 2015 study from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that on average, people who ate six times or more daily consumed fewer calories, had a lower body mass index, and ate more nutrient-rich foods than those who didn’t eat at least six times a day. Eating smaller meals every three hours keeps you feeling full, controls blood sugar and helps boost metabolism.

• Watch portions: American portions have become too big; and those used to dining out may consider restaurant portions to be correct, when they’re often four times as large as what’s recommended. Learning portion control is key to losing weight. When eating out, ask for a to-go box and save half for later. You can also turn to plans, like Nutrisystem, which deliver portion-controlled meals to your home.

• Veg out: Vegetables are low in calories, high in filling fiber and loaded with nutrients. For breakfast, add spinach to an omelet; at lunch, pile your sandwich high with fixings like tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, or use lettuce as a wrap instead of bread. During snack time, munch on carrots dipped in hummus or blend kale into a fruit smoothie.

• Drink more water: A study found that when people drank six cups (48 ounces) of cold water, they increased their resting calorie burn by up to 50 calories each day. Another study found that dieters who drank two eight-ounce glasses of water before meals lost 36 percent more weight over three months than those who didn’t sip before sitting down to eat. So, fill up that water bottle!

• Get moving: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend 150 minutes of aerobic activity weekly, but research suggests that it doesn’t matter if you exercise for two-and-a-half hours straight or break it up into 10-minute chunks. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise per day then build up to 60 minutes when you’re ready.

More diet and exercise tips can be found at leaf.nutrisystem.com.

Remember the key to meeting your weight loss and health goals is to make sustainable lifestyle changes. Focus on eating better and moving more and you’ll be on the right track.

Counseling corner: Is family counseling worth considering?

family counseling

We all face problems and usually tend to think that the burden of those problems is just ours. Actually, many times there may be real benefit in dealing with such problems by involving those with whom we’re the closest — our families.

Family counseling is a specialized field for professional counselors that was developed in the 1950s. Many decades of experience have shown that involving family members often leads to greater understanding, increased support and the discovery of more effective ways to treat the causes of a problem.

While professional counselors specializing in family counseling may employ a number of different approaches, they tend to have some common characteristics. These include focusing on the family as a client rather than just seeing an individual as the one with the problem. They look at how a family operates and how it reacts to influences from within and without. They see dealing with the family as a whole as an effective way to help overcome problems and work through issues even though they may be affecting only one or two family members.

While family counseling is not the answer for every problem, it has been very effective in dealing with several long-term, serious issues. A family member suffering from addiction, an eating disorder or severe depression, for example, are cases where family counseling often yields positive results. Other issues, such as gender identity, may also be understood better if all family members are aware and supportive.

Professional counselors in the field of family counseling work in a variety of ways depending on their educational background and the situation being presented. It can be important to discuss your counselor’s approach and methods before beginning the process of treatment.
You also want to approach such counseling with the right understanding. Seeking to change someone else is usually not productive, but looking for ways you can change yourself in regard to family matters usually is.

Family counseling is usually as effective as individual counseling when the family is willing to seek help as a group. Your local mental health center, an online search, or the American Counseling Association website at www.counseling.org (click the “Find A Counselor” tab at the top) can help locate professional family counselors in your area who can help break down barriers in communication and intimacy and assist you in finding more productive ways to operate as a family.

“Counseling Corner” is provided by the American Counseling Association. Comments and questions to ACAcorner@counseling.org or visit the ACA website at www.counseling.org.

TN Farm Bureau announces black vulture sub-permit

Black vulture attacks on livestock are a serious and costly issue for many Tennessee producers who experience losses of livestock to black vultures. Unfortunately, producers are limited in legal methods of removing problem black vultures since they are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Previously, the only legal option to protect livestock from depredation was to apply annually for an individual black vulture depredation permit at the cost of $100.

We are pleased to announce the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation (TFBF) Board of Directors has obtained a statewide depredation permit for black vultures from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). TFBF has worked with both state and federal elected and agency personnel to be able to issue sub-permits to livestock producers who are experiencing problems with black vultures.

This permit provides Farm Bureau members who are livestock producers an opportunity to apply for a livestock protection depredation sub-permit allowing legal “takes” of black vultures that are attacking livestock. The statewide permit will be administered by TFBF. There is no cost to TFBF members who apply for a TFBF livestock protection depredation sub-permit.

Sub-permits will be issued to livestock operations only. Applications will be scored based on the information provided regarding past depredation history, proximity of black vulture roosts, number of livestock on the farm and the general livestock density of the area based on the most recent Tennessee Agricultural Statistic Service.

Applicants must agree to follow all rules and regulations required by USFWS in the TFBF statewide permit, including:

1.Adoption of non-lethal measures to deter black vulture depredation,

2.Use of shotguns and “non-toxic” shot in the lethal “taking” of depredating black vultures,

3.Report “takes” to TFBF quarterly,
4.Use of black vulture carcasses as effigies in areas where depredation is occurring.

Producers approved for sub-permits will receive a signed approval and sub-permit with an allotted number of black vulture “takes,” a copy of the TFBF statewide depredation permit, guidelines for removal methods and a black vulture dispatch log.

Producers experiencing extreme depredation and large black vulture roosts are encouraged to apply for an individual black vulture depredation permit with USFWS. Individual permits allow producers to be approved for a larger number of “takes” by USFWS. Sub-permit applications are available at:www.tnfarmbureau.org/blackvultures (Black Vulture sub-permit 2018) or at any county Farm Bureau office in Tennessee. Applications should be returned to Tennessee Farm Bureau, Attn: Debbie Briggs, P.O. Box 313, Columbia TN, 38402.

Common causes of cancer that people can control


A cancer diagnosis can be shocking. After receiving such news, many people are filled with questions such as, “How did I get this disease?” That question often has no definitive answer, though physicians may be able to work with patients to determine the various factors that contributed to their cancer diagnosis.

Cancer does not discriminate. People from all walks of life are diagnosed with cancer every day. Certain contributors, such as family history of cancer, may be beyond a person’s control. But the American Cancer Society notes that people can avoid some potential cancer contributors by making healthy choices.

Anti-smoking campaigns have done much to impact the number of people who smoke, but tobacco remains one of the leading causes of cancer across the globe. The ACS notes that while cigarettes, cigars and pipe tobacco are made from dried tobacco leaves, in order to make smoking more flavorful and pleasant, tobacco companies add various substances. As the resulting products burn, the smoke they produce is made up of thousands of chemicals, at least 70 of which are carcinogens.

Some smokers may not give the smoke coming from their cigarettes much thought, but that smoke contains chemicals such as formaldehyde, lead, arsenic, and carbon monoxide. Recognizing that the smoke from their cigarettes is sending formaldehyde into their air may lead some smokers to quit for good.

Alcohol consumption can raise a person’s risk of getting cancer. Alcohol has been linked to cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and breast, among others. The ACS notes that regular, heavy alcohol use can damage the liver and cause inflammation and scarring that might increase a person’s risk of developing liver cancer. Women who consume a few alcoholic beverages may be increasing their risk of developing breast cancer, which the ACS believes might be a byproduct of alcohol’s affect on estrogen levels in the body.
Evidence suggests that the ethanol found in alcohol is what increases a person’s risk of developing cancer. All alcohol beverages contain ethanol, so drinkers should not assume that one type of alcohol is safer than another.

Diet and sedentary lifestyle
According to the ACS, research has shown that poor diet coupled with a sedentary lifestyle can increase a person’s risk of getting cancer. In fact, the World Cancer Research Fund estimates that roughly 20 percent of all cancer diagnoses in the United States are related to body fatness, physical inactivity, excessive alcohol consumption, and/or poor nutrition. Men and women who can control their weight and maintain a healthy weight throughout their lives can reduce their risk of getting cancer as well as other conditions, including heart disease and diabetes.

Anyone can be diagnosed with cancer. But men and women who make healthy choices can greatly reduce their risk of getting this deadly disease.

Helping a child deal with disappointment

Disappointment comes to everyone. As adults we, hopefully, have learned that when people or activities may sometimes let us down, we can keep such things in perspective and find ways to overcome our dashed hopes.

But for children, disappointment can come in numerous forms. Even a seemingly minor hurt can often seem like such a complete disaster that the child truly has a difficult time accepting and dealing with it. And, in many cases, such as when a beloved pet dies or a close friend moves away, the hurt can be very real and deep and won’t disappear easily.

While responding to childhood disappointments can seem difficult, there are solid reasons to do it in a good way. We can make our child feel less sad, avoid more serious emotional issues, and, when we respond well, we help open communication that can strengthen the child – parent relationship.

How do you begin to respond to a child’s disappointment? Listening is step one. Don’t minimize or discount the story your child has to tell, even if it seems trivial to you. It’s very real to your child, and a response such as, “That’s no big deal,” or, “You’ll forget about it by tomorrow,” only serves to convince your child that you don’t really understand or even care.

You also don’t want to hurry in with a pleasant experience or reward to make the hurt go away. This can establish flawed patterns that carry over into adulthood and can present very real future problems.

Instead, talk “with” your child, rather than “to” him or her. Don’t begin an interrogation when something seems wrong but instead tell him or her in a gentle way that you’ve noticed they’re unhappy and encourage them to tell you what has happened.
Don’t be judgmental about what is being reported but instead offer sympathy and understanding. Let your child know you empathize because you’ve suffered your own disappointments. Don’t try to top your child’s story, but instead listen and sympathize. Just being able to share can do much to minimize the hurt.

In some cases, being a good listener may not be enough. If you notice a persistent change in behavior over time, and if your child is refusing to talk about what’s wrong, it may be appropriate to seek help from a trained professional counselor. Your child’s school counselor is always a good place to start.

Counseling Corner” is provided by the American Counseling Association. Comments and questions to ACAcorner@counseling.org or visit the ACA website at www.counseling.org.

Schools should use student walkouts in protest of gun violence as a teaching moment

By Sarah Hinger,
Staff Attorney, ACLU Racial Justice Program

For 17 minutes on March 14, students and their supporters across the country are planning to walk out of their schools, honoring the victims of the Parkland school shooting and calling for Congress to pass meaningful gun regulation. Unfortunately, some schools view this act as a disruption and are threatening to discipline students who participate. A disciplinary response is a disservice to young people and a missed educational opportunity.
Too often, adults discipline students for expressing their opinions or simply being themselves. LGBTQ students have been sent home for expressing their sexual orientation, and girls have been disciplined when they challenge gendered uniform policies. Students of color are more likely than their white classmates to be disciplined, especially for subjective offenses like excessive noise. A hairstyle, a hoodie, or even a creative school science project can be seen as cause for disciplining Black and brown students. Punishment has even been invoked against students who attempt to speak up when they see abuse. That’s what happened to a high school student in Columbia, South Carolina, who was charged with “disturbing schools” after daring to speak up against a police officer’s violent mistreatment of a classmate.
The impulse to discipline and control young people may come from the desire to avoid a contentious conversation in the short term, but resorting to punishment doesn’t solve the problem, and it doesn’t keep kids safe. We’ve learned this lesson in other areas of school discipline. Adults too often rely on discipline and even policing to address student behavior rather than providing the resources — like school counselors, special education services, and peer mentoring for teachers — necessary for a real solution. Moreover, reliance on punitive responses creates a school environment that feels more like a prison than a safe space for all students and staff.
In the wake of the Parkland school shooting, and after other school shootings, there has been a rush to increase the police presence in schools. There is no evidence this approach improves safety, and in practice, students — particularly students of color and students with disabilities — often end up the targets of increased police scrutiny. Fortunately, students are taking a stand against these practices, too.
School administrators owe it to their students to examine their reaction to young peoples’ self-expression and to ask how they can help build on this moment of protest as an educational experience. As the Supreme Court observed in Brown v. Board of Education, education is “the very foundation of good citizenship.” Public school is the place where students experience and interact with government, learn through discussion and debate with other students from differing backgrounds, and build the foundation for participation in a democratic society. Rather than seeking to silence students’ political engagement and quashing their desire for conversation, schools can approach this moment as an opportunity for learning about civic action.
Several districts are planning to do just this. Local and state departments of education — in Idaho, Montana, North Carolina, and New York — as well as the School Superintendents Association have provided guidance to aid school administrators in making the March 14 actions safe and teachable moments.
“Security thrives in an open, trusting environment,” as school officials from Wake County, North Carolina rightly noted. The concept of school security must include making schools places where all students are safe to be themselves and express their views.