Growing up Too Fast in New Rochelle

Over the last 10 days, my local community has been rocked by a tragedy that claimed the life of a 16 year old girl and shattered the future of the teen who committed the crime. Sadly, both girls were students at the high school that my son, who is a sophomore, currently attends.

Within a week of the incident, another fight broke out and a teenage boy suffered lacerations to his hands and in retaliation, he stabbed another teen in his class. To say that parents whose kids attend the high school are reeling over the lack of supervision and the poor response to the events by the Board of Education is an understatement.

While I know the community, the administration, school board members and the police are going to work to put an end to the violence that seems to be happening on a daily basis at the school, what I’m more concerned about is why these incidents keep happening. What I have learned is that there is a large gang presence at New Rochelle High School and while most students like my son just avoid the violent fights that break out and the stairwells that reek from marijuana, for a very long time, the gangs have been able to do what they want, leave the school at any hour of the day and ignore security guards who attempted to curb their dangerous behavior.

For the past week and a half, I had to grapple with the fact that while I love that my son’s high school offers great academic programs, incredibly talented and committed teachers, dozens of after school activities, fantastic sports teams and a friend group comprised of bright, funny and hard working kids, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine.

I know that my children are incredibly lucky to have a strong support system comprised of their family and friends, but I cannot say the same for the teens who have become susceptible to gangs. Which leads me back to the first story. Sadly, I heard from several people in my community that the girl who was murdered was practically raising herself. She no longer lived with her parents and she had become a target of bullies because she looked different and wore “Goth” makeup. She was enrolled in academically challenging classes and students who knew her said she was a nice girl, but she was obviously troubled. Unfortunately, on a day she was supposed to be in school, she found herself in a situation where she was cornered by a gang, pepper sprayed them in order to ward them off, was chased by the group and then stabbed twice in the torso.  Tragically, she passed away the same day.

The perpetrator of the crime has a pretty sad backstory as well. It was discovered soon after the murder that she was living in a homeless shelter in Yonkers but attending school in New Rochelle because that was the last place her family lived before they had to leave their home. There’s no telling what this girl had to go through every day just to get to school. And did all of these problems in her life lead her to decide to join a violent gang? I guess we will eventually find out what happened but I do hope something can be done to help rehabilitate this girl. I’m sure she didn’t start her morning thinking she would be arrested for murder. And the poor girl who was killed didn’t start her day thinking she’d be cornered by a gang, but somehow it happened and things have got to change now.

It is my sincere hope the students at New Rochelle High School will eventually get the chance to attend a school that’s free from gang violence. I want students who may not be fortunate enough to have the support of their families to be able to seek immediate help from administrators, teachers, guidance counselors, social workers and mentors in the community who can provide them with tangible ways to break free from this dangerous cycle and live up to their true potential. I’m not naive to think we can cure gang violence with hugs, but I do know these kids need tough love, mentorship and stability in their lives so they can find their way out of a world that is dangerous and self destructive.

Change is scary but it can also be very positive. Here’s hoping that New Rochelle High School will finally lead the way in changing the dynamic among students living in our community and attending our public schools for the better. We want our kids to be safe, to feel secure when they’re in school and be empowered to make a difference in the lives of others. As the anger subsides, we must find solutions, make much needed changes and support all of our students no matter who they are or where they come from.

Tweet and Heard: The 10 Funniest Tweets About the Government Shutdown

I know the government shutdown is no joking matter but I can’t help but find some of these tweets hilarious! Leave it to Twitter to bring Republicans, Democrats,Tea Partiers, Independents, and Anarchists together to laugh at the incompetence of the U.S. government at this time.

10) If we survived the apocalypse I guess everything else seems small in comparison

Apocalypse Tweet

9) I bet there are members of Congress that don’t understand Internet lingo
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8) For the Breaking Bad obsessed
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7) The Grammar Police are in full force
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6) Watching grown men fight on ice skates is definitely more entertaining than a Congress debate 
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5) If the government shutdown inspires another movie with Justin Timberlake starring as Sean Parker, I’ll take it.
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4) Was National Treasure based on a true story? Is there really a map on the back of the Declaration of Independence?
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3) There’s nothing better than using Nicki Minaj lyrics to explain the government shutdown 
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2) Nope, they’re still spying on you
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1) All I can say is poor Leslie Knope
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When Gifted Writers Are Taken Away too Soon

jz.jpegOn Friday, February 10, one of the most prolific storytellers of our time was driving back from a book signing appearance on a snowy Michigan road.  A New York Times best selling author many times over, the writer probably was cautiously driving along reflecting on the night he had just experienced at a signing for his latest book, “The Magic Room.”   A kind and gentle man, the writer didn’t have to trudge out in the snow to meet his fans.  He could have cancelled – blamed it on the weather and instead, remained safe in his home with his wife and three daughters.  But he didn’t and in the blink of an eye, his life was senselessly taken away.
Out of all the journalists I have worked with in my career, Jeffrey Zaslow was by far, one of the kindest. I first had the chance to work with him nearly two decades ago when he had been assigned a USA Weekend cover story on Ricki Lake, who had just launched a new talk show. As publicist for her show, I was there to help facilitate the interview and research process and what I remember back then, was that Jeff Zaslow was incredibly nice, easy going and a great listener who managed to capture the energy and excitement of that time when Ricki’s popularity as a talk show host truly began to take flight.
More than 10 years later, I was at the check out line of Barnes & Noble and noticed “The Last Lecture” sitting on the counter. When I saw that Jeff Zaslow had co-authored the book, I snatched it up in an instant and literally read it in one day (crying through many parts of it). I then searched for Jeff’s email address so that I could congratulate him on writing such an incredibly moving and inspirational book. And guess what? He wrote back and even said he remembered who I was and was so gracious in his response.
That’s why it’s no surprise that the man responsible for penning some of our nation’s most well read and inspiring books, was doing what he loved the morning he died. Sharing his stories with people who appreciated his incredible gift. The world has lost an incredible person who managed to touch millions of lives with his prose. If you’ve never read one of Jeff’s books, then visit his website and dive into “The Last Lecture,” “Highest Duty,” “Gabby,” and now, “The Magic Room.” While he was taken away from his family and friends way too soon, his legacy as a journalist and author will last for generations to come.

To Spank or Not to Spank, that is the Question…

Screen shot 2011-05-04 at 10.12.59 AM.pngToday, I got to chance to weigh in or shall I say confess my less than par parenting skills when it comes to the topic of spanking. This morning’s ‘Mom’s the Word’ segment on the WPIX morning news tackled the topic of disciplining kids and Dr. Lawrence Balter had some important advice for me and new mom/WPIX anchor Sukanya Krishnan:
Spanking is bad!
Yes – even if you want to smack your toddler’s hand when they try to touch the stove, Dr. Balter says don’t do it! Instead, take them out of the environment they’re in so that they stay away from dangerous situations. Of course, that would require the parent to exert some energy and potentially leave a place earlier than they anticipated (such as the supermarket or a restaurant), but Dr. Balter says, the earlier you nip your kids’ negative behavior in the bud, the better off you’ll be.
Take a look…
As for my kids, who are now almost nine and 12, we obviously don’t resort to spanking but I did admit that I’m a bit of a yeller. And guess what – yelling does not work. It might relieve stress, but Dr. Balter says if you discuss with your child what you should take away if they do something wrong, that’s the better way to go. For us, taking sleepovers and cell phones out of the equation oftentimes works like a charm. And as for my son, I’m sure once his brand new eSpark Razor arrives on our doorstep just in time for his birthday, that’ll be a good bargaining chip if he misbehaves.
So now it’s time for you to weigh in. Do you spank, yell or punish your kids when they do something you’re not happy about? No answer is wrong – well, according to Dr. Balter, spanking is – but feel free to share, it’s cathartic, really it is!

Dinner for Busy Moms on TV

Check out the fabulous Jeanne Muchnick on Better TV as she shares her tips to get your family eating right and spending mealtime together! Jeanne is the author of Dinner for Busy Moms and the managing editor of a brand new magazine that we will be launching through Role Mommy in the coming weeks.

For more tips about making mealtime easier, visit Jeanne at Dinner for Busy Moms and order a copy of her book.

Eating Healthy with Chef Mehta

By Role Mommy Contributor Aloha Pat, founder of Mom’s Best Bet.
0.jpegI recently had to the opporunity to meet Chef Jehangir Mehta in Hawaii while he took keiki (children) on a food adventure through Whole Foods Market.
Check out your Whole Foods to see when he will be coming to your store. Your kids will learn a lot about healthy eating and so will you!
WHAT: The Kids Food Adventure with Chef Jehangir, a national children’s food tour and cooking class, is coming to a Whole Foods Market near you to offer families a free tour and demonstrations.
This program is a partnership between Whole Foods Market and Chef Jehangir Mehta, runner up on “The Next Iron Chef” and executive chef/owner of Graffiti, to encourage families to make healthier choices while introducing their palates to new
ingredients and exciting flavors.
The food adventure is led by Chef Mehta and includes an interactive store tour,
educational and creative cooking demos as well as interactive discussions
designed to encourage healthy, adventurous cooking at home. Following the
New York City launch in April 2010, The Kids Food Adventure with Chef Jehangir
has made stops in cities around the country and is part of Whole Foods Market’s
effort to promote lifelong positive eating habits for children.
For more great travel and food tips from Patrice, visit her at