Author Image Nick Wilkinson

Nicholas Wilkinson is a writer and social commentator who lives in Phoenix, Arizona. With over 14 years of experience in the Behavioral Health Field, Nicholas has been working in close contact with children from all walks of life. Specializing in teenagers and young adults Nicholas has been a career long supporter of verbal deescalation and non violent crisis intervention. Nicholas believes that not just what you say but how you say things are the keys to successful communication. Using practical and no nonsense approaches to dealing with teenagers from all walks of life, Nicholas has worked with survivors of abuse, juvenile sex offenders, neglected and abandoned adolescents, as well as a wide array of both mental illness and autism clients. Nicholas believes that every teen, given the tools & encouragement, has the ability to succeed and that practicality and common sense MUST play a factor in everyday thinking. . You can purchase Nick's first published book From Here To Obesity on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/From-here-Obesity-Nicholas-Wilkinson/dp/1257090720

Guest Blogger: HopeLine Provides Survivors A Helping Hand

HopeLine

I recently came into contact with Joanne Peters from HopeLine. Joanne had some great information to share. So, rather than simply giving out a link, I thought it would be great to have Joanne tell all of my readers about this amazing program. I hope you all take this valuable information and share it with your social networks. (more…)

Video: Types of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are so dangerous, especially when it comes to teens. I wanted to share a video with you. This video contains some basic information about eating disorders. It’s not my video, just one I came upon not to long ago.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to message me.

Viral Aggression – Teens and Social Media Fame

I would be willing to wager that most of you reading this are probably asking, “What is Viral Aggression?”

Viral Aggression is a phrase that I am using to pinpoint and bring attention to a new form of violence and aggression that is eating away at the moral compass of teens growing up the this YouTube generation. Listen, this is not one of those anti-social media posts. I am a big advocate for responsibly using social media, for adults and teens. This is something different. Something far more dangerous.

Viral Aggression is what happens when teens and pre-teens record random acts of violence for the purposes of achieving some level of internet fame.

What is particularly alarming about Viral Aggression is the fact that in many cases there is no typical motivating factors behind the violence. These acts of escalating violence are not motivate by race, anger, or even opportunity. Even scarier, the nature of recording these videos shows us clearly the events that lead up to the act of violence, and many times the perpetrator is not just happy, but eagerly awaiting the act with a disturbing level of joy and anticipation.

You only have to Google “Knockout Game”to see that this “game” is becoming all too real. The game involves teens being recorded sneaking up on unsuspecting individuals and punching them in the face, with the intention of knocking them unconscious. Again, this is not a robbery, it’s not a racially motivated attack, it’s not retaliation either. The purpose behind this dangerous form of “entertainment” is internet celebrity, and bragging rights when it comes to the number of engaged viewers of the video.

viral aggression

The reason for the act of violence committed on another person is for the purpose of uploading the video to social media sites like Youtube or WoldStar, in order to receive “hits” or “likes” for the content.

You read that correctly. Teens are being recorded committing random acts of violence in order to regularly post edited clips, which are quickly ranked against other similar clips, in order to determine perceived online popularity.

The entire system is based on likes and views used as a way to validate physical, verbal, and emotional assaults. It amounts to  perfectly orchestrated, escalating in severity, self absorbed acts of violence. The desire to be the best, at anything, and a demonstrated lack of concern for the personal safety of other people, is a dangerous combination. Violence begets violence. Victimized teens are going to retaliate if possible, and violence tends to quickly escalate beyond mere fisticuffs. There are already more than a few current news stories that feature teen fights and brawls ending in gunfire, stabbings, and escalating acts of violence. This trend is going to continue as long as teens are seeking popularity and validation at the expense of innocent victims.

viral aggression

Just so we are all on the same page, Viral Aggression is not limited to random acts of violence being perpetrated under the guise of a “game”.

The term includes any and all acts of violence filmed and uploaded with the intent to create a hit video, or, “go viral”. A quick scan of sites like Youtube, Worldstar, and Daily Motion, and you can find thousands of videos featuring teens being recorded while committing acts of violence. 99% of these videos are uploaded by someone who was in attendance, typically filming the act and encouraging the violence to continue.

A few parents may read this and think that this could not possibly reflect their teen. However, Facebook sites like “Ghetto Fights & Crazy Videos” have over 2,800,000 likes, and over 88,000 fans talking about the site at any given time. Clearly someone is watching them in record numbers.

A similar video on WorldStarHipHop feature two teen girls fighting each other. The video ends with one girl smashing the other girls head off off the concrete repeatedly. That video currently has over 700,000 views, and it’s one of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of fight videos posted for the world to view.

(I did not post the actual fight video because I do not want to contribute to the views and fame seeking behavior of whoever posted the video).

Have you experienced Viral Aggression first hand? Send us a message and share your story. What do you think we can do to curb this dangerous new trend?

Teaching Teens About Giving Consent

As the father of a teenage daughter, nothing keeps me awake at night more than her personal safety. Aside from STI’s, teen pregnancy, and random acts of violence, consent, and everything that comes with is still a huge topic of conversation in the world today.
consent

Click the image for more information about consent.

When I grew up, we lived in a world where “No Means No”, but that outdated philosophy has been replaced with, in my opinion, the more accurate and conclusive, “Yes Means Yes”.
What does it all mean? Truthfully, it’s kind of a mess. Why? Because we are trying to define consent using a word like “yes” or “no”. In reality, that’s not how consent works. Sometimes yes means maybe. Sometimes yes means no! Learning about consent isn’t just about preventing sexual assault. It’s about learning now to read your partners physical, verbal, and nonverbal cues. Sometimes, saying “yes” feels like the right thing at the time, but quickly escalates to a situation that one or more parties find uncomfortable.

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 When it comes to teaching our teens about consent, you want to make sure that boys and girls alike understand that it is OK to say “no”, and it’s OK to change your mind. It’s OK to back out, no matter how “far” things have escalated.
I think it’s important that we teach our teens that consent isn’t just about preventing sexual assault. It certainly is a huge factor, but it’s also about respecting your partner, and the way they feel in the moment. For many teens, intimate encounters, even more innocent ones, are already a jumbled mesh of hormones, emotion, anxiety, and impulse. Add in peer pressure and feelings of rejection, and these intimate encounters can easily become a situation that got out of hand to one or both teens involved.

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Here’s a couple of things to consider when teaching about consent. Some of them can be taught at any age, and some or more focused on adolescence and young adults.
  1. Make sure you kids ask permission before touching their peers. If the answer is no, move on with your business.
  2.  Educate your teen by telling them that it’s OK to “check-in” with their partner every once in a while to make sure that they are still a willing participant to any activities.
  3.  Help teens understand the importance of the words “STOP” and “NO”.
  4.  Help teens read social cues, body language, facial expressions, and other non-verbal cues that suggest a partner might not be as comfortable as they say they are.
  5. Empathy is a gift that we can give our children. Teaching them to put themselves in someones shoes can help children understand that their actions have consequences.
  6.  Don’t assume just because your partner was OK with something once that it means it will happen again.
  7.  Encourage children and teens to speak up when they feel uncomfortable or violated.
  8.  Explain to teens exactly what harassment and assault are, and the consequences of such actions.
  9.  Don’t leave out topics that include consent and other high risk behaviors, like drinking and drugs.
  10.  Of course, include consent related topics in “the talk” when you feel your teens are ready.
Here’s something else to consider. Teaching about “Good Touch” and “Bad Touch” is not just something we teach to younger children. Working in group homes with teen boys I saw a lot of physical interactions: butt smacking, “purple nurples”, pinching, and even hits to the genitals. However, time and time again teens will sit down and discuss consent and often the boys and girls will have dramatically different reactions to these types of physical interactions. I also feel it’s important to point out that this is not just a boys vs girls scenario. We are all different, come from different backgrounds and cultures, so respecting physical boundaries isn’t about not allowing “boys to be boys”. It is about teaching boys and girls to have fun and stay safe and comfortable around each other.

five-bullets

This topic is a pretty big deal. We could spend all month talking about consent in all of its forms. If you have any specific questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below, or message me in private. I’m always open to new topics too!
Nick.

Personal Update: House Fire Destroyed Everything

I get personal in my posts, and sometimes share stories, but I rarely post topics that are 100% about my life. It’s not that I don’t like sharing, I just like helping more. However, since my family has suffered a serious setback this week, I figured I’d share and reach out to my readers.

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We had just sat down to a nice lunch at Panera Bread when a neighbor called to tell us something had been going on at the house. We rushed home, and found 6 fire trucks waiting for us. It was unreal. The fire-fighters who bravely put out the fire informed us that our dogs (Atreyu, Pinoy, and Nick Furry) along with our cat (Miss Kitty Fantastico) did not survive the fire, and that a majority of our belongings were gone as well.

My family was devastated by the deaths of our pets, but that was just the beginning of a nightmare that’s still not over.

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We are now staying at a Motel 8, surviving on the little funds The Red Cross can help us with, and hoping to find a new place to rent before the money runs out.

Friends have started a GOFUNDME to raise some funds for a down payment and some modest furnishings (mattresses to sleep on). If you feel the urge to donate, or share the link, that would be super. I’m desperately trying to bring some normalcy back into the life of my 13-year-old daughter.

Thank you for listening.

Nick.

3 Ways to Strengthen Your Parental Bond

parental bond

Relationships are natural, but that does not mean that they don’t require regular maintenance. In order to develop a strong, trusting, and healthy parental bond with your teen, try one of these activities.

  1. Let Your Teen Teach You – Do you have a teen that is great with computers? A musical instrument? Video games? Strengthen that parental bond by letting your teen teach you something about a topic that is important to them. Actively listen to what is being said, and pay attention to the things that excite your teen. You have an opportunity here to not only bond with your teen, but also show your teen what a good student looks like.
  2. Plan a Shared Experience – Give your teen something positive to look forward to while you strengthen your parental bond! It doesn’t have to be a trip around the world, but it should be something that you can both look forward to doing together. Use a calendar to mark the occasion, and do some research together on where you are going, or the activity you are planning to do. This can provide bonding time prior to the trip, build excitement, and also memories that they will likely treasure for the rest of their life.
  3. A Tangible Results Activity – You could compete in a charity walk, start a garden, raise money for charity, collect food for the homeless, or any number of other activities that will end in a clearly tangible manner. So your teen that you can successful start, and finish, a task together. You’ll be able to share in the wonderful results, improve your parental bond, and spend quality time together as a family. Completing small tasks and challenges can boost self-esteem and promote organizational skills too!

They key here is to have fun with each other and value the time you get to spend together strengthening your parental bond and improving your relationship. You teen is going to spend a lot of time out in the world trying to figure out who they are, and where their place is, so get those precious moments in while you can. Have no regrets when it comes to the amount of time you spend with your teen, and hope they remember those little life lessons you taught along the way.

Nick.

Are You Using Consequences or Punishment?

Consequences

One of the first questions I ask parents who come to me with teens who are experiencing behavioral issues is, “Are you using consequences or punishments?” You would be surprised at the number of parents that have never really thought about the difference between the two. (more…)

Guest Blogger: Robbie Richards – Cyberbullying

Today’s guest blogger is Robbie Richards from Rawhide Boys Ranch. We’ve asked Robbie to talk a little bit about cyberbullying and the challenges parents face when dealing with this serious issue. (more…)

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