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Archives for April 2017

Media violence, the effects on youth and guide to media ratings

Managing the content your children view, and any subsequent exposure to media violence, is a daunting task. Are you ready for some absurd numbers? From birth to death, a human will watch TV for 7.5 years and spend over 5 years on social media. Evan Asano helps put that into context. If you used those 5+ years away from social media you could:

Fly to the moon and back 32 times!

Climb Mt. Everest 32 times!

What’s the problem?

Not all media is bad. It holds the potential to teach a wide audience a great deal of information and present views previously misunderstood by viewers. But the wrong content at the wrong time can dramatically change who we are. And kids view a lot of content. Compounding on that, teens are highly susceptible to media’s influence. WebMD found that teens who view sexual content are vastly more likely to have sexual intercourse at a young age, and a Medical News Today study conclusively deduced that movies are a high influencer in teens choosing to drink alcohol.

By their 18th birthday an average person in the U.S. witnesses over 40,000 murders on TV. That’s just fatalities, not assault, aggression, or other violent behaviors.  Overall, 60% of all television shows have violent scenes. It’s nearly unavoidable, and even children’s shows aren’t safe. 73% of shows designed for children under the age of 7 (TV-Y7) have at least one violent act. Certain episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants and The Fairly OddParents (seen on Nickelodeon) show more violence than many shows for mature audiences (TV-MA).  It’s easy to think: kids know what they see on TV isn’t real, but unless a parent actively sits down and spells that out, a child could form their own version of what is real and what’s not.

More than one thousand scientific studies and reviews conclude that significant exposure to media violence increases the risk of aggressive behavior in certain children, desensitizes them to violence and makes them believe that the world is a ‘meaner and scarier’ place than it is.

– The Academy of Pediatrics

So who makes these ratings? Are they reliable? Maybe. The individual networks place ratings on their own shows and the TV Parental Guidelines board oversees them. But that’s just TV. What about movies, video games, and music? What about apps? It’s more than a little complicated, but we’re going to break it down for you.

(click to enlarge graphic)
Illicit Drug Use in United States

Making sense of media ratings

Television content ratings

Kids watch a lot of tube. In over half of American households a TV is on nearly all of the time. Combining messages and meanings from sitcoms, sports, movies, cartoons, talk shows, and commercials: that’s a lot of influential information filtering through a child’s mind. The typical child gets plenty of information they probably should not.

54% parents of children aged two to six allowed them to see adult programs.

Violence occurs in 70% of episodes overall.

53% of all episodes contain sexual content or language.


TV ratings


We’re not suggesting you take a sledgehammer to your tube (though could be fun). Just take some precautions and familiarize yourself with the television content ratings guide. When a show starts, a little white set of letters and numbers pops up in the top left corner. It might say TV-MA or TV-G or something similar. That’s the rating. Perfect or not, it’s a great start to sorting through what you want your child to watch and avoiding media violence.

Movie ratings and the MPAA

What about the big screen? Violence is in 90% of movies, a 20% increase from what we thought was an already outrageous prevalence of violence on television programming. Most major films, or at least the ones we spend the most money going to see, are rated PG-13 or R and consequently, not suitable for children under that age of 13. PG-13 and R rated movies own 74% of all revenue since 1995 (cinema ticket sales, DVD rentals and sales, etc.). For every $100 consumers spent on movies, only $4 went to G-rated films. Does that even matter? What’s really the difference between G and PG?


Movie Ratings


Movie ratings are set by the MPAA (Motion Picture Associate of America) for partner members only. The studio members are 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Studios, Walt Disney Studios, and Warner Bros. Entertainment. So any movie made by a nonmember studio is not regulated by these ratings.

Video games

Do video games encourage violence? It’s certainly a hotly debated topic with over 90% of children in the US regularly playing video games, and 90% of the games they play containing violence and other mature content. Certainly some games are very beneficial. Puzzles and other logical problem-based games can increase memory, problem solving skills, and hand-eye coordination. But a classic shoot-em-up may do more harm than good. Recent studies found that excessive exposure to violent video games lowers attention span, emotion control, and increased likelihood of racist actions. So maybe the next time you’re shopping for a video game, check the little box in the bottom right corner.

Watching violent television, watching violent films, or playing violent video games increases the likelihood for aggressive behavior.

– Media Violence Commission of the International Society for Research on Aggression (ISRA)


Video Game Ratings


All video games are rated by the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board). While not an exact science, it’s easy to use and beneficial for weeding out inappropriate content. Moving onto a new and unregulated rating system for something most of us use hourly (and that’s on the low end)…

App age ratings

Seemingly after a child begins to crawl they are constantly in front of a screen. If it’s not TV then it’s a computer or smartphone. By the age of 8, 72% of children have used a smartphone or tablet. 10 years ago this wouldn’t really be a problem. Most internet browsers make it pretty painless to up parental controls, but who uses a browser on their phone? We have apps for nearly every single website or social media network. And while they are far more intuitive and pleasant to use, they require a bit more investigative research on the part of the parent.


App Ratings


From Tinder to Snapchat to Surgeon Simulator, the app store is filled with racy and violent content that can make a parent want to move the family 100 miles from the nearest cellular tower. But before you head off to Saskatchewan, it is possible to monitor the content on your child’s phone or tablet. Every app has a detailed list of potential mature content and an age rating. This list should always be the first thing you check before allowing your teen to sign up. Or you can fight apps with apps.

Music and the Parental Advisory Label

Unlike apps, music predates any other technology. We’re talking thousands of years, before writing, drawing, and automatic pancake makers at the Comfort Inn (pure magic). While music has certainly come a long way, any parental ratings or labels are still rudimental. The Parental Advisory Label is the best we’ve got, but it’s optional and only used by a few record labels, though they do make up the majority of music releases. Unfortunately, the absence of this label doesn’t guarantee explicit-free content. Roughly 33% of songs on pop and county radio contain drug or alcohol references, and the average teen listens to over 2.5 hours of music every day. That’s a ton of explicit or at least suggestive content.

Ease the influence media violence has on your child

So, you see your child sitting on the couch. The TV is on, phone in hand, earbuds inserted, and you think: “I’m in trouble.” You are going to be ok. If you read through these ratings you are in good shape. Most parents are either unaware of media ratings or uninterested; both are troublesome in combating exposure to media violence among our youngest generation. But even setting strict media guidelines for your children will not keep out everything. So before all else, talk to your children about important issues and beliefs you want them to understand without media’s influence.


As they get older


No more information, I promise. You’ll thank me the next time a cartoon pops up on the TV with TV-Y7 (L, D, S). And I don’t want to freak you out here with all these doom-inducing stats. A little fight or chase will most likely be alright. We’ve all grown up with Tom and Jerry or Sylvester and Tweety fighting each other, and we’re fine. Right? Right?!

Binge drinking in Wisconsin and United States

How many drinks does it take to merit a binge drinking distinction? Is it four drinks in an hour? Ten in one night? According to the CDC, binge drinking is four drinks in the course of two hours for women and five drinks in a two hour period for men. Are you surprised? For one in six adults binge drinking is just a typical Friday night.

(click to enlarge graphic)
Illicit Drug Use in United States

The science behind a binge

Binging is not exclusive to alcohol. The most common adult eating disorder is binge eating, and compulsive buying disorder is at an all-time high. Much of the problem is tied to sociocultural and psychological factors.

We’re always being told that you’re not worth anything if you’re not thin, if you don’t drink, if you don’t own certain things.

–Dr. Michael Mantell

You might think, “Oh I’m just having fun. This is what we do to blow off steam.” And the science behind biological reactions to consuming alcohol does confirm the onset of a certain buzz or loss of anxiety. But it’s the consequences of that buzz of a loss of inhibitions that can land us in trouble.

Dire consequences

Binge drinking invariably leads to drunkenness. Drunkenness contributes to erratic, unusual, and uncontrolled behavior. Uncontrolled behavior can lead to dangerous situations and decisions. Here’s a sobering stat: Roughly 40% of prisoners convicted of violent crimes were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crime. And those are only the immediate effects. Binge drinking is associated with an increased risk for a litany of ill health concerns:

Alcohol Poisoning | STIs | Colon Cancer

Unintended Pregnancy | Liver Disease

When your drinking habits begin to negatively impact your life, or the lives of those close to you, binge drinking may no longer be an apt description.

Binge drinking vs alcoholism

All binge drinkers are not alcoholics. But that doesn’t mean binge drinkers are in the clear: Minors who binge drink are 3 times more likely to become alcoholics. Binge drinking turns into an alcohol use disorder when it interrupts daily responsibilities and life in general. Alcoholism means you physically cannot resist alcohol or you find yourself consistently drinking more than you want.

A minor problem

Perhaps no age group experiences the social pressure and expectancy to drink more than minors. We all face certain pressures and can create justifiable reasons to binge drink, but nowhere is drinking for purely the after effects more prevalent than among high school and college students. These kids are not drinking often, but when they do it’s usually to dangerous levels.

90% of the alcohol consumed by people under the age of 21 is through binge drinking.

The economics of binge drinking

The average price of a pint of domestic beer in an American tavern is $3.99. But that’s without reading the fine print. Drinking too much costs the US about $2.05 per drink in crime, health care, lost wages, etc. So that $4 pint just increased by 50%. That’s a culmination of hangovers forcing us to skip our morning meeting, an arrest for a DUI, and taking a trip to the emergency room after twisting an ankle stumbling out of the bar. So where are all these binge drinkers?

At least 10% of the population of every state in the union binge drinks. And in North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Washington D.C. that number rises to nearly a quarter of all state citizens. In some states (looking at you Wisconsin) the amount of alcohol consumed is worn as a badge of honor. They may want to hide that badge when they learn that binge drinking costs the state of Wisconsin roughly $6.8 billion with taxpayers covering nearly 40% of that bill.

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Illicit Drug Use in United States

Some states are starting to realize the unhealthiness, economical and physical, of such a large portion of their populations binge drinking. North Dakota recently began to run ads to eliminate any notion of pride over how much you can drink. Does your state have a plan to educate its citizens on the dangers and costs of binge drinking?

All binge drinking is not created equally, but it all carries risks. If you feel your drinking is out of control please look for assistance now.

Share the US map on your site

Share the Wisconsin map on your site

Charitable donations, how to give more with less in 3 steps

Americans donated $373,250,000,000 in 2015. Now, that might seem an obscene number and a bit intimidating for those absent a Rolls Royce or summer home in Nantucket. But a closer look reveals that the average household dedicated less than 6% of their annual income towards charitable donations, and we still set records for the most giving in one year.

So, for all of us who sometimes feel too financially constrained to make an impactful gift: think again. Your time and money, no matter how big or small, is an integral building block positioned to help Americans and those abroad when they need it most.

1. Finding the right place for your donation

Most of us don’t have the means to give to every single charity we come across. And that’s why it’s vital you find the charity, nonprofit, or other organization that will put your hard earned dollars towards the values and missions you hold most dear. Start here. Research charities with Charitynavigator.org or Guidestar.org to see reviews, financial information, and comparisons with similar charities. Then, spend some time spreading out your donations to discover who uses your charitable donations most effectively.

2. Maximizing your charitable donations

More than likely, several missions will meet your criteria. Narrow down your list to charities that let you see what your donation provided. All charities are not created equally. $10 dollars could pay for one meal with a charity down the street, or a whole week’s at the nonprofit two blocks north. A sound charity will advertise the percentages of donations spent on directly helping people, fundraising, and administrative costs. As a general rule, a charity should spend at least 65% of donations on programs and no more than 35% on fundraising.

3. Giving your most valuable asset: Your time

When money is tight, gift your time and energy. Get involved in a mission you value to truly appreciate and understand what the organization provides. Make a personal connection to the people you’re helping and those leading the charge. Your donation, no matter the size, will give you more joy than an automated withdrawal from your back account every month (though that’s great too!).

That’s what I consider true generosity. You give your all, and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing.

-Simone de Beauvoir

And if free time is something you only vaguely remember having, you can still help.

Skip the rummage sale. Donate gently used electronics, books, clothes, etc. Don’t forget your receipt for tax purposes.

Exercise your heart. The app Charity Miles donates a certain amount per mile you run to a charity of your choice.

Play the match game. Join company matching programs to stretch your donated dollars.

Recruit your friends and family. Set up a fundraiser with GoFundMe or on Facebook to spread the word about your favorite charity.

Follow your heart

Only you know when and where to give your hard earned dollar. Working with donors for over 50 years, we understand the emotional connection between a charity and its supporters. It’s an amazing and transformative relationship. And if you are looking to give, Rawhide dedicates 83% of all donations directly to programs and services. Just a thought, no pressure.

Rawhide Boys Ranch mourns the loss of co-founder Jan Gillespie

Rawhide Boys Ranch, founded by John and Jan Gillespie in 1965, was informed that Jan has passed away at their home with John by her side on Wednesday January 25, 2017.  Jan Gillespie was 82 years old and married to her husband and best friend John for 59 years.

The entire family is comforted knowing she is in the arms of her beloved savior Jesus, having accumulated such a great reward through a life completely given to serving Rawhide youth, her family, and others.

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Jan Gillespie Memorial Infographic

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

Janice (Krull) Gillespie met John Gillespie in the fall of 1941 in grade school. John was a grade younger, and Jan had no idea the impact a simple seating arrangement would make.

Little did I know the second-grade guy assigned a seat behind me would play a significant role in my life for the next 70 years. His name was John Gillespie and we instantly became best friends.

This verse laid the foundation for 59 years of marriage and the founding of Rawhide Boys Ranch.

How Jan Gillespie helped start our mission

Over 50 years ago, a 13-year-old boy approached the Gillespie’s at their church and told them about the struggles he was facing at home. He asked to spend the afternoon with them; they were more than happy to welcome him into their home. That afternoon turned into a week, which turned into a month, and 2 years later John and Jan were still overjoyed to have this boy as a part of their family. From then on, John and Jan Gillespie felt called to open their home to more at-risk youth. However, they needed a bigger facility to accommodate additional young men and they needed partners.

Jan was instrumental in securing Bart Starr’s support by encouraging John to cold call him. John was hesitant, but Jan, always an optimist, told him, “How do you know if you don’t try?”

Jan left a lasting legacy

Jan Gillespie was a housemother to over 350 boys together with her husband John as house-father for over 27 years at Rawhide. She was instrumental in providing care and direction to teens in need of the unconditional love that she provided to them. Jan would frequently say about the boys at Rawhide she parented, “they’re like your children and even though they weren’t born into your family, you treat them like your children and you love them unconditionally.” She remained active with Rawhide even after retirement. She attended many fish fry’s over the past dozen years at Rawhide and loved spending time with Rawhide guys, young and old, whenever she could.

Jan Gillespie was an avid horsewoman who utilized her love for horseback riding to work with young men residing at Rawhide.  In the early days of Rawhide she would pair up a youth with a horse and give him the responsibility to care for the horse.  Youth would then learn to ride and could saddle up a horse and utilize area trails to ride the horses with staff.  Rawhide is unique in the field of residential care due to the family living model that is utilized. To this day, houseparent couples live in each of the seven youth homes at Rawhide and provide a family living structure while supervising and caring for boys aged 13 – 18 years of age. One youth in particular Dave Clause in 1972 was paired with Smokey and he credits that relationship with his horse and John and Jan Gillespie with redirecting his life.  In fact just two months ago Dave Claus wrote, recorded and released a music video entitled “I’m a Rawhide Guy” as a tribute to John and Jan Gillespie and the three years he was a resident at Rawhide. You may listen to the song below.

Please keep John Gillespie and his family in your prayers as they grieve the loss of Jan, and celebrate her life.

Funeral arrangements will include visitation from 9 – 11 am, memorial service at 11 am, and lunch following at 12 pm on Monday, January 30th at Appleton Alliance Church. The family has asked that those interested, in lieu of flowers, can support a memorial to Jan Gillespie that has been established at Rawhide Boys Ranch to support the building of a home on the grounds at Rawhide, contributions can be made online by clicking the button below,  or mailed to Rawhide, E7475 Rawhide Road, New London, WI 54961.