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Thursday
Apr172014

School Flier Counsels Kids Not to Rat Out Bullies

Ziviani/Thinkstock(LINCOLN, Neb.) -- A Nebraska elementary school has apologized for passing out a flier containing nine questionable rules for dealing with bullies. Rule No. 7 is “Do not tell on bullies.”

Josh Mehlin, a parent who has children in the Lincoln Public School District, told ABC News that the letter did not go home to all Zeman Elementary School students -- only some fifth-graders -- but it quickly spread as flabbergasted parents started sending it to each other.

“I was horrified,” Mehlin said. “I called the school and said, ‘Is this for real or is this kind of an Internet thing?’ They said, ‘This is for real. We sent this out.’”

When he called the district office, however, administrators said they’d never heard of it. So he believes it may have originated with just one educator, Mehlin said.

The district has since issued an apology, explaining in a statement on its Facebook page that the flier contained “inaccurate information.”

“The flier was sent home with good intentions, unfortunately, it contained advice that did not accurately reflect LPS best practices regarding response to bullying incidents,” a letter that went home to parents reads.

The school has now created a new flier, which is posted on its website, concluding, “Asking for help is not ratting!”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr172014

What Led to Former “DWTS” Co-Host’s Cancer Diagnosis

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Months before former Dancing with the Stars co-host and ET correspondent Samantha Harris received a diagnosis of breast cancer, the TV personality had a mammogram and got an “all clear” from her doctor.

The mother-of-two said it was a “gut feeling” that the lump in her breast was something more that led her on a months-long journey of tests and doctors.

“It took me four months to go, ‘This doesn’t sit right with me,’” Harris, 40, told ABC News’ Amy Robach.  “Four months later, when I went to see my specialist, I had a needle biopsy, after two ultrasounds, and I had an MRI right before we scheduled a lumpectomy.”

“Even the pathology they do in the operating room said no cancer, so I came out and my husband, right next to me, said, ‘Babe, you’re all clear,’” Harris said. “I didn’t even take him to the follow up because I thought I didn’t have cancer.”

Harris was alone in her doctor’s office when she received the news that she did, in fact, have breast cancer.

“I started to realize that they kept saying the word ‘Carcinoma,’” Harris said.  “That means cancer, so I guess I have cancer.”

“Then the tears welled up in my eyes and it wasn’t until the surgeon left the room that all I wanted to do was crumble into my husband’s arms.”

Harris said she decided to have a double mastectomy to treat her cancer because it “came down to percentages” and the double mastectomy gave her the “best chance.”

Foremost in Harris’ mind when making the decision, she says, were her two daughters with husband Michael Hess: Josselyn, 6, and Hillary, 3.

“It puts you in a completely different place when you’re a parent and you have a diagnosis like this because you think of all the things you want to make sure you’re present for,” Harris said.  “I lost my dad to colon cancer and he was just 50 and to have him not present when I got married, when I had my first daughter, then my second, has been really hard for me.”

“I always think in the back of my mind, ‘I don’t want to not be there for my kids,’” she said.

Harris says she and Hess together told each of their daughters the news separately so that they could “tailor” what they told them to make it age-appropriate.

Harris said she is now receiving support from the “sisterhood” of breast cancer patients and survivors, including ABC News’ own Robach, who is currently battling breast cancer, and Robin Roberts, who has beat both breast cancer and, more recently, myelodysplastic syndrome or MDS, a rare blood disorder.

“I have to tell you,” Harris said, “reading your story and Robin’s gave me so much inspiration and gave me hope that I too will get through this as you are currently doing and as Robin has, and be stronger and a better person on the other side.”

“This is a sisterhood that you never want to be a part of but the women I have met through this already are incredible women,” Harris said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr172014

How Christina Milian Co-Parents with Ex-Husband

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Christina Milian is a chart-topping R&B and hip-hop star best known for hits like “Dip It Low” and her star run on Dancing With the Stars. It is a much more personal role, however, that means the most to Milian: being a mother to 4-year-old daughter Violet Madison Nash.

When Milian teamed up with the parenting blog Momtastic last month to share her motherhood experiences, it was a blog she wrote on co-parenting that struck a chord with other moms.

“I feel like I’m in a good place, then all the better to just put it out there and  hope that it can help someone else,” Milian told ABC News of why she decided to make her private life public.

“We all figure it out,” she said.  “Sometimes, you just got to take it, take the lesson, and learn, and know that this happened for a reason.”

Milian, 32, divorced Violet’s father, singer-songwriter The Dream, in 2011, when their daughter was just a few months old.

The singer says she gets past the rough points of dealing with a former spouse by allowing herself to pause and remember what’s important.

“I say, ‘Take a second and breathe,’” Milian said.  “You know, have the best intentions.  Pray on it.”

Milian revealed she also got outside help -- in the form of a therapist -- to help her learn how to communicate with her ex, whose real name is Terius Nash.

“I think that communication will save you half the drama,” she said.  “You know, it makes things so much easier.  And I think I learned that.

“My motivation at the end of the day was making sure that my daughter had two parents that were in her life consistently,” Milian said.  “She’s a really smart girl and I think she has a healthy understanding of knowing that mommy and daddy are no longer together but we both love her.”

Engaged since last year to Jas Prince, Milian says another important aspect of co-parenting is to know when to introduce a new partner to your child.

“I think it’s very important to take your time when introducing a new person into your child’s life,” Milian said.  “You want to make sure this is going to work out so you’re not introducing them to a new person over and over again because you never know who is going to be the one.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr172014

Conjoined Twins See Sunlight for the First Time

Medical City Children's Hospital(DALLAS) -- A pair of formerly conjoined twins were finally able to go outside and see sunlight for the first time, more than seven months after they had surgery to be separated.

Owen and Emmitt Ezell were born joined from their breast bone to hipbone and shared several organs, including their liver and intestines.

The two infants were separated when they were just six weeks old during a lengthy nine-hour surgery. Originally doctors were simply worried about the twins’ survival and at the time of surgery their medical team estimated the boys had a 40 to 50 percent chance of survival.

However, after months of intensive care the twins are finally healthy enough to leave the hospital for a rehab facility. Their parents Jenni and David Ezell are elated, although Jenni Ezell had to shield her son’s eyes as they were wheeled outside for the first time.

“They couldn’t even open their little eyes,” said Jenni Ezell. “The sun was so bright, I shaded Owen’s face.”

While Owen and Emmitt may look the same, their parents say now the 9-months-old infants are easy to tell apart.

“Emmett is really easy going, laid back,” said the infants’ father David Ezell. “Owen is a little more… little agitated at times.”

While the infants aren’t going home quite yet, there’s a chance they might get to leave the rehab facility within just a few weeks.

“The doctors are cautious,” said David Ezell. “They are not going to come out and say, these are going to be two healthy boys but we will come out and say it for them these are going be two very healthy boys.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr172014

Alicia Silverstone's Son Has 'Never Had a Drop of Medicine'

MJ Kim/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Alicia Silverstone has long been a proponent of attachment parenting. Now, she has written a book about it.

In The Kind Mama, Silverstone opens up about raising her nearly 3-year-old son, Bear.

"He's never been sick-sick, just feeling a little off from time to time. And he's never had a drop of medicine," Silverstone writes. "Because his body is a super-clean, healthy machine, it can defend itself against and flush out all the nasty stuff much more quickly than a baby whose diet isn't as kind. He actually never had to deal with the achy ears, gooey eyes or rashy bottom that a lot of other babies experience."

Silverstone, 37, advocates for a clean, vegan diet, and even includes recipes in her book. She also wades into the vaccination debate a bit ("There is increasing anecdotal evidence from doctors who have gotten distressed phone calls from parents claiming their child was 'never the same' after receiving a vaccine," she writes) and warns parents against overmedicating their children.

"In most cases, those [over-the-counter] meds aren't necessary. Antibiotics should also be used with care," she writes. "Sometimes they are truly useful and can save lives, but when we over-administer them, we challenge bacteria to grow stronger and more resistant to treatment. ...More often than not, you can make baby well with minimal medical intervention. The key is patience, love, and a few natural remedies to bring her comfort."

Dr. Richard Besser, chief health and medical editor for ABC News, agrees with Silverstone about antibiotic use, though he adds, "I have some concerns that she is lumping these in with overmedication."

"I can’t think of anything I do for my patients as a pediatrician that has more proven value than getting them vaccinated fully and on time," he says. "Thanks to our vaccination programs, we no longer see so many of the diseases that plagued our parents’ and grandparents’ lives."

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr172014

Dogs Can Be Important Members of Families with Autistic Children

AnneMS/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Owning a dog can be a family’s great pleasures, particularly those with special needs children, at least according to one study.

A University of Missouri study seems to allay the fears of parents who have youngsters diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders.

After interviewing 70 parents of children with autism, Gretchen Carlisle with the MU College of Veterinary Medicine said that two-thirds owned dogs and in those homes, 94 of autistic kids bonded with the pet.

Even when there were no dogs in the house, seven in ten parents said their children liked the animals.

Dogs have been shown to provide companionship for autistic youngsters and can act as a bridge to forming relationships with other kids.

As for the kind of pooch to pick, Carlisle said, “Many children with autism know the qualities they want in a dog. If parents could involve their kids in choosing dogs for their families, it may be more likely the children will have positive experiences with the animals when they are brought home."

Naturally, not every autistic child may be drawn to dogs, which shouldn’t exclude other possible pets such as cats or rabbits.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr172014

The Closer You Sleep, the Stronger the Relationship

BartekSzewczyk/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Sleeping together doesn't have such a sexual connotation when you're talking about how couples actually fall asleep in bed.

University of Hertfordshire psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman wanted to find out about the most popular sleep positions so he interviewed 1,000 people and learned that a whopping 42 percent sleep with their backs to each other.

Meanwhile, 31 percent said they slept facing in the same direction while just 4 percent sleep face-to-face.

Wiseman also investigated how the strength of a couple's relationship also affected sleep habits. For instance, 94 percent who said they touched each other during sleep reported being happy in their relationship while just 68 percent of non-touchers said the same thing.

The physical distance between sleepers also seemed to indicate how figuratively close they were to each other.

For example, 66 percent of people who slept 30 inches or more apart said they were happy with their relationship while 86 percent of folks who were less than an inch apart reported being satisfied with their significant other.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr172014

Extroverts May Hold the Key to Happiness

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(PULLMAN, Wash.) -- Pharrell Williams’ song "Happy" is everywhere these days although there’s been no study to show if it actually makes people happy.

However, Timothy Church, a Washington State University professor of counseling psychology, believes there is something that puts people in a brighter mood and that’s by exhibiting extroverted behavior.

In a study of behavior that encompassed college students in the U.S., Venezuela, China, the Philippines and Japan, Church learned that acting positively, such as smiling at a stranger, seems to have the same effect, whether it’s in either Western or Eastern cultures.

Church also conducted additional research in these same countries and found that when people are able to act the way they want to, without the pressure of society holding them back, they have an easier time exhibiting what are referred to as the Big Five personality traits.

These traits are: being extroverted; agreeable; conscientious; emotionally stable; and open to experience in situations.

According to Church, extroversion can lead to more happiness, which in turn can result in longer, healthier lives than those who tend to shy away from sociability.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr162014

AG Eric Holder Highlights Heroin Death Epidemic

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Attorney General Eric Holder Wednesday told a group of police leaders it is time for street cops to start carrying the drug Narcan that can reverse deadly heroin overdoses. And this time the police, facing a rising number of overdose deaths, agreed.
 
Police around the country are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of deaths linked to overdoses of heroin and opiate prescription drugs. The recent heroin overdose death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has focused attention on the issue. Police are dealing with more deaths from overdoses than from murders.
 
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says prescription drug and heroin fatalities in the U.S. surpass homicides and traffic deaths. After cancer and heart disease, overdoses are said to be the number-one killer in the United States. In New London and Norwich, Conn., for example, heroin overdoses doubled last year.
 
It’s not just heroin. Most of the overdose deaths come from prescription opiate painkillers. In 2010 about 100 Americans died every day from drug overdoses. Prescription painkillers were involved in more than 16,600 deaths in 2010, and heroin was involved in about 3,000 deaths, according to the White House.
 
Holder told the Police Executive Research Forum he once associated heroin with the 50s and 60s. There's no question it's an issue we have to deal with, he said. This problem has resurfaced, he said; it is truly a national problem.
 
There clearly has to be a law enforcement response, he told the group, but we also have to view this as a public health problem as well.  Young people can't view this as a risk-free drug, he said. If we shine light on the problem we can have a significant impact on making sure it doesn't get worse and reduce the number of people involved.
 
He told the police leaders, we should spread the word about Narcan, the drug that can reverse a heroin overdose, and make it as widely available as possible.  He believed making the drug available did not amount to enabling. It is our job to keep as many people alive as possible, he said. The emphasis should be on safety and life and we can handle the things that might give people pause.
 
Holder admitted the overdose epidemic took a lot of people by surprise. This kind of sneaked up on us, he told the group. The consciousness of the nation had not really focused on the problem. People saw it as something that was localized. We focus a lot as a nation on drugs that are sold on the streets, Holder said. Things that come out of our medicine cabinets such as opiate drugs don't generate as much fear. That has a dulling effect.
 
Standing by itself the heroine problem is worthy of our national attention, he said. We have to hold those accountable who trade in it.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr162014

Deciphering the Signs of Anorexia in the Very Young

iStock/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- Until the age of 10, twins Reagan and Grace Freeman were like two peas in a pod living in a Houston, Texas, suburb.

After they moved to another state, their mother, Cindy Freeman, noticed that Reagan started rejecting foods she used to love, exercised nonstop and complained daily of a stomachache.

Believing her daughter was reacting negatively to the move, Freeman tried to take her to a psychiatrist but ran into a roadblock. “I called every psychiatrist in the city and no one would see her until she was 11,” she told ABC News.

Determined to get her daughter treated, Freeman then brought her to a medical doctor.

“He said, ‘Well, she’s a little on the thin side. She just needs to eat more,’” Freeman said.

She said he didn’t recognize how serious Reagan’s situation was, despite her losing 30 pounds in a six-month period.

Freeman finally began calling eating-disorder clinics across the country in an effort to get a psychiatric recommendation.  One by one, each of the clinics told her Reagan needed more than a psychiatrist; she needed to get admitted to inpatient treatment immediately.

Reagan was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, a classified mental illness. She was just 10.

Experts say the national focus on obesity has meant that doctors and parents aren’t trained to look for treat eating disorders in the very young. An estimated 33,000 U.S. children between the ages of 8 and 15 are diagnosed with eating disorders, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes for Mental Health.

Doctors say the distinction between healthy activity and overexercising can be hard to recognize in children. It can also be difficult for doctors and parents to distinguish between a child’s predilection for picky eating and a drastic change in eating patterns, they said.

In Reagan’s case, she often jogged in circles inside her room and ran four miles a day while walking the dog. She then started throwing away her lunch at school or hiding food in toilet paper dowels.

“We would spend two hours just trying to get food down her stomach,” Freeman said.

Reagan once sat at the table for more than four hours until she ate dinner. “It’s hard for someone to eat food and there’s this voice inside their head telling them not to,” Reagan said.

Verbally expressing concerns about weight gain is crucial in diagnosing adults and adolescents but young children often don’t have words for what is at the root of the illness: fear of weight gain and distorted body image.

After spending three months at an inpatient facility 1,000 miles away in Colorado, Reagan returned home before Thanksgiving. The whole family is involved in her ongoing recovery.

“It’s hard on her sister....Everyone has to watch her during every snack and every mealtime. She’s gotten very good at hiding and sneaking and throwing things away,” Freeman said.

Working with a nutritionist and therapists, the Freemans attend family-based therapy, also known as the Maudsley Approach. It has a 50 percent to 60 percent full recovery rate within a year, according to a 2013 Journal of Adolescent Health study.

It encourages parents to take the reins, counterintuitive to a doctor’s inclination to take over, but, parents and experts told ABC News, the method has shown the most effective results.

“It’s getting easier,” Reagan said of her recovery process. She said she still thinks about her eating disorder “a lot.”

Reagan and her family came forward with their struggle because they hope it will help other families who have children struggling with anorexia.

F.E.A.S.T., or Families Empowered and Supporting Treating of Eating Disorders, is a nonprofit organization helping families overcome eating disorders.

The group provides a 24-7 online forum for families and sufferers of the disease, a localized list of eating disorder support groups, a recipe book geared toward those recovering from eating disorders and countless other resources to educate people on eating disorders and the recovery process.

Freeman advised parents to “open your eyes and look.”

“Don’t listen to necessarily what a doctor or a psychiatrist or anyone else tells you, because you know your kid better than anyone,” she said. “And don’t think, ‘No, this can’t be an eating disorder, they’re too young.’ Go get help.”

To learn more about F.E.A.S.T., visit here.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio