Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Nowadays, they do more than talk on that phone...

As a mom of a two and a half year old, I have come to appreciate my smart phone - sometimes it's my only hope if I want to have a productive trip to the grocery store. Lucas loves the apps that are helping him learn his shapes, alphabet, colors, numbers and more. He is even better than I am at games like Angry Birds and Temple Run - it’s amazing how quickly he has picked up on  technology and the way he can navigate through my phone. But, his favorite app is YouTube because he can look up silly videos about trains or monster trucks and watch some of his favorite shows like Pokoyo and Spiderman.

However, as we all know, there is a lot of material on YouTube that you don’t want your toddler viewing. So, as a parent, I strictly monitor what Lucas is watching and playing with on my phone. Granted, he is two, but I think it is becoming increasingly important for parents of children of all ages to know what their kids are up to on their cell phones.

A new study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy says that 20% of teens are now sexting – the practice of sending sexually explicit text messages to others. Because of my job this didn’t surprise me too much, but as a mother I hope this news will serve as a wakeup call to parents. Yes, I know teens need their privacy, and when Lucas gets to that stage in his life where he wants to go to his room and shut the door, I will come to grips with it. But, what teens also need is a parent – a parent who cares enough about their child to take a look at his/her text messages; a parent who cares enough to sign up for Facebook so they can monitor what is happening on their son/daughter’s page. A parent who cares enough to have difficult conversations.

No, as parents we aren’t always going to be our kids’ best friend. At times, they may really resent us; but I think that is what being a parent is all about. I remember times growing up when I thought, “my parents just don’t understand” or “this is so unfair”, but looking back, I now know it was called love. My parents cared enough about me and my future to set boundaries, to check in on those boundaries, and to talk to me about my friends and boyfriend (who is now my husband J).  
Teens are going to make mistakes along the way; heck, adults are going to make plenty of mistakes, but if I can educate my child on our family values, on the ways that improper use of cell phones and social media can hinder him from reaching his goals; I am going to do it – even if he doesn’t want to hear it.

By Cayci Banks, Director of Communications for the SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

(Editor’s “Cheeky” Note: Someone in the Royal Family should care enough too! Latest scandal with Royal Family and Prince Harry is enough to show how dangerous data plans and camera phones can be! Don’t be like the Royals…keep up with your kids and teach them responsibility with their online presence!)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Let's Recap: Summertime Vetos and Reproductive Rights

 To say this summer has been a busy one for reproductive rights may be
putting it lightly. For those of us working in the field it has felt a bit like a battlefield.

While many were all out celebrating our nation’s freedom, the SC governor was constructing a veto that seemed to add insult to injury for victims of sexual assault. On July 5, Governor Haley released a list of vetoes including Veto 51 that cut $454,000 that was to be given to the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC) to fund rape and sexual assault prevention programs across our state. To make matters worse, she claimed that providing these services to rape and sexual assault victims and their families was a distraction to the overall mission of DHEC. As if victims of rape and sexual assault do not feel isolated enough from society, Nikki Haley made a public statement that the small slice of normal they are given through the services of a victim advocate is nothing but a distraction for the community.

In a press conference held at the office of Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands on Monday, July 16, representatives from both sides of the political sector were present. The message from all of them was clear: rape and sexual assault can affect anyone at anytime no matter one’s race, gender, age or political affiliation. While women are targeted at a much higher rate (1 in 6 women are directly affected), it is estimated that one in every 33 American men will become a victim of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime [1].

It is imperative that funding to prevent rape and sexual assault be maintained in our state. Sexual assault has the ability to change a person’s life forever. Sexually abused teens are more likely to run away from home, use drugs, and experience psychological changes in the brain [2]. In addition, sexually abused adolescents are more likely to experience a pregnancy than non-abused teens [2]. Sexually abused adolescents are also less likely to use condoms or other forms of contraception [2]. Providing funding to organizations and programs who work around the clock to provide assistance to victims and their families deserve our support.

  I am proud to report that 111 House members and 39 Senate members were able to overturn this veto. It is near impossible for me to put into words how proud and appreciative I am of those House and Senate members who not only understood the importance of funding rape crisis centers, but had the courage to stand up for the victims.

When a person is victimized by sexual assault, the entire community is affected. In order to strengthen our community, we must protect every member.

[1] Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN),
[2] Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2004, 36(3):98-105. Found online:

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sports and Safe Sex...

As most Americans are doing these days, I try to avoid Olympic results on Facebook and Twitter so I can watch the games at night without already knowing the outcome. I am exhausted from staying up late, but it's worth it to watch Michael Phelps become the most decorated Olympian ever and to watch the Fab 5 (USA women’s gymnastics team) take gold in the team competition. What I have also loved about this year’s games are the commercials. P&G has done a great job of showing what it is like to be an athlete’s mom, Nike has shown us that there is greatness in us all, and Visa has portrayed some of the best Olympic moments – with the soothing sounds of Morgan Freeman as voiceover, of course. But, one advertisement you may not have seen, is a billboard that Durex condoms put up in London this month. The famous Olympic rings are condoms and the words are simple, “Usain, not every man wants to be the fastest in the world.” How true that is.

Durex serves as the official condom distributor of the Olympics, providing 150,000 to the Olympic village alone. Yes, you read that number right…150,000. Apparently, more happens at the Olympics than tumbling, swimming and fencing! At least we know safe sex is a priority.

What’s been your favorite commercial of the games?

by Cayci Banks, Director of Communications, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy