August 20, 2014

Advocacy group works to end domestic abuse among teens

Wisconsin Attorney General JB Van Hollen along with Patti Seger, executive director of End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin. (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Wisconsin Attorney General JB Van Hollen along with Patti Seger, executive director of End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin. (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

One in three teens is affected by dating violence, yet 81 percent of teens’ parents don’t believe it’s an issue, especially in the lives of their children. That’s according to Patti Seger, executive director of End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin. She says there are great consequences for failure to recognize and respond to teen dating violence. “Teens experience dating violence are more likely to engage in substance abuse, eating disorders and risky sexual behavior that could lead to teen pregnancy. The rate of suicide or suicide attempts increases dramatically.”

Seger says teens are reluctant to report abuse and seek help — and violence can follow teens into adulthood. That’s why it’s important to educate youth and teens early and often, she says. They want to gear their latest efforts to teens via text messaging — a favorite mode of communication among that age group.

Wisconsin Attorney General JB Van Hollen says Seger’s group and others like it do great work, but the government also needs to do more to educate and help prevent such violence. “Hopefully we can make schools and communities safer for them; hopefully we can prevent young people from being victimized and get into trouble and have their lives thrown off track; but hopefully along the way we can also prevent them from becoming adult abusers themselves.”

AUDIOState Attorney General JB Van Hollen calls teen dating violence a specific, but as of yet, a relatively unknown issue.

Amber Oldroyd, director of retail at Verizon Wireless; Wisconsin Attorney General JB Van Hollen; Patti Seger, executive director of End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin. (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Amber Oldroyd, director of retail at Verizon Wireless; Wisconsin Attorney General JB Van Hollen; Patti Seger, executive director of End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin. (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Seger says the biggest misconception about teen dating violence is that it doesn’t happen. “There’s a huge failure to recognize that teen dating violence exists.”

Verizon Wireless encourages everyone to donate their old wireless devices in any condition from any carrier to their HopeLine program. After getting those devices refurbished and recycled, the money generated is distributed to the community for the cause. The phone company presented a $30,000 grant to End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin to help provide support, education, and training.

Approximately 1.5 million high school age teens experience some form of physical violence from a dating partner each year, according to Amber Oldroyd, director of retail at Verizon Wireless.  The grant from Verizon will help End Domestic Abuse WI continue to develop its programs to serve teens in need.

EdVest is easier, available to more people

Jim DiUlio, director of EdVest (PHOTO: Bob Meyer)

Jim DiUlio, director of EdVest (PHOTO: Bob Meyer)

Edvest gets easier and more people can contribute. 

Wisconsin’s 529 college savings program is new and improved. Jim DiUlio is director of EdVest. “One of the big changes we made now is that the tax deduction only went to parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles. We got a new change now. Any adult can put money in the account for a child. They don’t have to be related. It could be a godparent or whatever. And they can also get the tax deduction.”

They have also made it possible to contribute to an account electronically. DiUlio touts it as a good investment for the child’s education, and money invested in the program grows tax free. “We’ve also made a change now … it used to be up to $3,000 you could deduct on your Wisconsin income taxes, but now it’s up to $3,050. And we go through a formula so it increases a little bit each year because college costs more, too.”

Anyone can open an account with as little as 25 bucks, he says, and then add to it as you see fit. DiUlio notes it is never too late to start an account for a child and the money can be used at universities, colleges, and technical colleges. 

DiUlio notes there’s plenty of information online — via their website EdVest.com, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and their blog.

(Thanks to Bob Meyer, Brownfield)

Backpacks can be a real pain

Backpack -- perhaps a tad too big.

Spencer wears a backpack correctly with padded straps over both shoulders, but demonstrates the wrong size for his small frame.

With school right around the corner, there’s a warning about aches and pains from the misuse of backpacks. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that there has been a 300 percent increase in the number of backpack-related back injuries over the last 17 years.

Doctor Douglas Keehn with Advanced Pain Management in Madison says it’s important to make sure the backpack is not too big or too small for the child’s frame and be cognizant of what’s in it. “How do you find the right backpack and fit it appropriately and then how do you load it appropriately? By doing those things,” he says, “it makes a lot of sense that we would probably be able to reduce the number of backpack-related injuries that we have each year.”

An estimated 14,000 individuals seek medical care for backpack related injuries every year, including 7,000 folks who visit the emergency room for injuries associated with carrying a backpack.

And what kind of injuries? Keehn says they are usually sprains and strains — muscular issues.

AUDIO:  Dr. Keehn gives advice on choosing a good backpack, how to wear it, and load it. 2:19

Keehn says the weight of the fully-loaded backpack should not be more than 10 to 15 percent of the student’s total body weight. He offers a few tips: Find the right bag, adjust the straps — which should be wide and padded over the shoulders, pack properly to distribute the weight, use both straps, lift with the knees, and don’t pack what you don’t need.

The weight really adds up when considering text books, laptops, notebooks, cell phones, and other items. Also, Keehn says kids need to use both straps to distribute the weight. He advises everyone not to just sling the loaded backpack over one shoulder.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:11

Coach Bo Ryan films new tourism ad with ZAZ

Coach Bo Ryan (PHOTO: Wisconsin Department of Tourism)

Coach Bo Ryan (PHOTO: Wisconsin Department of Tourism)

University of Wisconsin Badgers Mens Basketball Coach Bo Ryan is the latest celebrity to be featured in a state tourism ad.

Hollywood producers, directors, and Wisconsin natives David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, and Jim Abrahams — also known collectively as ZAZ — return to the Badger State to do their magic. Ryan says he’s a huge fan of the trio and their movies, including Airplane! and The Naked Gun. “I know with the direction of these three gentlemen here that they’ll figure out some way to make me look entertaining.”

The 13th Badgers Basketball coach — who took his team to the Final Four last year — will star in the 2015 summer tourism commercial. 

Stephanie Klett is Wisconsin Department of Tourism secretary. “Coach Bo Ryan epitomizes Wisconsin at its best. What we love about him is that the whole state can claim him and we all feel that we have a certain kind of ownership in him.” Ryan was named champion of Coaches versus Cancer in 2013.

At a press event at the Kohl’s Center Wednesday, Ryan tells the crowd he feels “honored” to represent Wisconsin, a place he has called home since 1976.

Green Bay Packer Jordy Nelson and Milwaukee Buck Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were featured in previous tourism ads. Klett says Wisconsin tourism has increased 18 percent in the past three years. Total visitor spending last year was $17.5 billion.

Few details were given about the ad, but Klett says Coach Ryan will be “in his element” coaching a game and getting a “little bit worked up.”

Filming began Wednesday at the Kohl Center and moved to locations in and around Wisconsin Dells.

Suicides top homicides in Wisconsin fourfold

Robin Williams

Robin Williams

The death of comedian/actor Robin Williams brings attention to mental illness, especially in Wisconsin where suicides are much higher than homicides.

There are many different types of mental illness, explains Shel Gross, Director of Public Policy for Mental Health America of Wisconsin, ranging from mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder to thought disorders like schizophrenia.

Suicide remains a significant public health burden in Wisconsin, according to a new report recently released by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), in partnership  with the Injury Research Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) and Mental Health America of Wisconsin (MHA).

Gross says there are more suicides than homicides nationwide, and more so in Wisconsin. “Nationally there are twice as many suicides as homicides, but in Wisconsin there are traditionally four to five times as many suicides each year as people who died through homicide.”

Middle age men are more likely to die by suicide than any other demographic, though more females were hospitalized for a self-inflicted injury. The report shows, “of the suicides with known circumstances, 51 percent had a current mental health problem, 35 percent had problems with an intimate partner, 26 percent had an alcohol problem, 23 percent had physical health problems, and 21 percent had job problems.”

The report shows firearms were the most frequently used method to kill oneself in Wisconsin. Williams died by hanging.

During the course of the year, one in four people experience a condition that could be diagnosed as a mental illness — probably someone you know. Gross says some individuals might not acknowledge their mental disorder and simply shy away from treatment for fear of being stigmatized or discriminated against. “So when you have a coworker or a neighbor, maybe you’ve known for a while and you like and you say they’re a nice guy, and they disclose to you ‘Yeah, I’ve been dealing with depression for 15 years’ or ‘I have bipolar but it’s controlled well by medications,’ it sort of changes people’s attitudes about what it means to have a mental illness.”

Mental illness is real; it’s common; and it’s treatable. Sadly, Gross says, many people don’t reach out for treatment. Those who are treated, he says, live with their disorders just as someone would with diabetes and heart disease.

Anyone seeking help for oneself or a friend can call 1-800-273-TALK. Gross says many of the calls made in Wisconsin are answered in the state. PreventSuicideWi.org