Making Sense of Snapchat Dangers Facing Our Kids

snapchat blog

With all the negative headlines and scary scenarios swirling around about social media, raising children in today’s digital world can be intimidating. Afterall, our sons and daughters are encountering a plethora of emerging dangers that were unheard of when we were young. Back in our day, we were concerned about teasing our bangs to unnatural heights or finding the perfect Kaboodle to stash our collection of lip gloss. However, our kids are facing social media oversharing, cyberbullying, sexting, and online predators.

Our digital natives might not bat an eyelash at these dangers, but all of this swiping and sharing is new to many of us who still remember when telephones had cords tethered to a wall. As we join the social media bandwagon by joining sites like Facebook or downloading other apps, our children are turning to the fast paced world of disappearing messaging apps. One popular social media app that our children are utilizing is Snapchat.

Understanding Snapchat

Snapchat is one of the leading disappearing messaging apps that continues to grow in popularity with our kids. It allows users to send images, photos, videos, or messages to select friends that automatically disappear after the receiver views the “chat”. The fleeting messages are a major draw to children, because many believe that it promotes more authentic forms of communication without creating a massive digital footprint full of selfies and memes.

For a more detailed account of the ins and outs of Snapchat, please watch the following informational video:

Making Sense Of Snapchat Dangers Facing Our Kids

The self destructing message feature offers users a sense of security, but we do need to sit back and really analyze if this app is safe. The promise of disappearing messages can encourage children to take risks they would never attempt on regular social media or in real life. In fact, Snapchat is widely becoming known for cases of cyberbullying and sexting.

It is believed that almost 90 percent of our children have encountered digital bullying and 54 percent of surveyed students openly admitted to sexting before they turned 18. Widespread bullying is concerning, but we also need to realize sexting is now considered a normal part of development in adolescence. It’s the new version of “I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours” for modern children.

This makes it vital for parents to monitor a child’s technology use. We need to stay on top of our child’s Smartphone, device, and interactions while teaching them appropriate social media etiquette skills. In addition, we need to challenge ourselves to begin an ongoing conversation about social media and the role it plays in our lives.

How do you protect children from disappearing messaging apps?

hilary smith“Born and raised in Austin, TX, Hilary Smith is a free-lance journalist whose love of gadgets, technology and business has no bounds. After becoming a parent she now enjoys writing about family and parenting related topics.”


Emotional Emergencies

pexels-photo-27967-largeWe teach our sons and our daughters that when there’s an emergency, when someone is physically in danger, that they should dial 911. We ingrain it in our children at an early age until it becomes second nature to them as they grow up and become teens. Even when you feel like they’re at that stage where they might not be listening to you, you can have peace of mind that they know what to do in a physical emergency.

But what about an emotional one?

What about when your son or daughter is stressed out about their grades and homework load at school? What about when your daughter breaks up with her high school sweetheart? What about when your son feels like they are “letting the team down”? Or they’re constantly feeling bullied and unsafe at their school?

What do they do when they begin to feel isolated, withdrawn, misunderstood…or all alone?

What do they do then?

All of us at Teen Lifeline, we believe that every teen, every one of your sons and your daughters and their friends, should never feel alone. If they do, we want them to know that there is a place, a number, which they can turn to and call. A place that they can feel connected to someone who understands them. A place where someone can help bring perspective back for them; to connect them to resources and people in their own life that they can trust. We call it a “connection of hope”.

Our crisis hotline and the Peer Counselors that staff it, are here to listen and help every teen that reaches out. But it takes your help.

It takes your generosity to train Peer Counselors, to operate our hotline, to send our prevention staff into the community. It takes your donations, 3rd party fundraisers, social media shares, and all around support to help us reassure our youth that they don’t have to face these struggles on their own.

So, while your children know to call 911 in an emergency, help them to know where to turn for an emotional one.

i need help


The three small words appeared on the screen. Jesus, a Peer Counselor for two years, immediately texted back a message and waited.

It was the first text message that Teen Lifeline would receive, marking a new era for our organization.

Because of the generosity of YOU and the community, Teen Lifeline was able to soft launch our new text messaging service, the first new program in 20 years, on December 14th, 2015. It’s a program that gives us a chance to really connect with teens on their level.

Ted, another Peer Counselor that helped clinical staff test the new service, said, “In many ways, texting for a teen is less intimidating than talking on the phone. We hope that using texting will appeal to a wider range of teenagers who might really need our service. They can text with a Peer Counselor just like they would a friend, getting the same care that they would if they had called.”

IMG_9341Jesus added, “It’s a pretty easy transition for the Peer Counselors, too. We’re using the same exact skills we learned for the hotline.”

Jesus would go on to have a back and forth conversation with that very first texter over several hours. They were feeling suicidal, but Jesus and Teen Lifeline were able to provide them with the resources and hope needed.

Since then, each new day has seen a gradual influx in texts.

“I think there are probably many teenagers out in the community who would really benefit from our services,” Ted explained, “but they just aren’t yet comfortable calling the hotline. This is a great way to get them to test us out.”

Ted said that while the hotline is 24/7, texting will only be available between 3pm and 9pm every day. During that time, any teen in Arizona can text the hotline number (602-248-TEEN) and have another teen answer. As always, all messages will be monitored by one of our Master’s Level Clinicians.

Clinical Director, Nikki Kontz, further said, “We definitely want to encourage the teens that text to eventually call the hotline because things can be better assessed and done faster. But, including text messaging will allow us to reach those teens that are scared or hesitant to call a crisis line.”

Ted believes the new texting service will have a huge impact on the community. “I think that expanding our services to include texting is an amazing tool to aid in prevention… and [because of it] we will continue to save lives and prevent more teen suicides.”

30 Years of Help and Hope

The original logo.

It all started with Molly Ringwald and Zach Galligan in a 1985 made-for-tv movie called Surviving. It was the first time teen suicide had been discussed on a national level, and the film kick-started the notion that something needed to be done.

Enter Teen Lifeline in 1986.

The concept was simple. Studies had shown teens first turn to other teens to talk about their problems. So, Teen Lifeline set out to train teens aged 15-19 to take calls and provide hope and help to their peers.

Now in our 30th year, our mission has remained unchanged; to provide a safe, confidential, and crucial crisis service where teens help teens make healthy decisions together. Our vision? To prevent teen suicide.

It has been with the tremendous support from our community that we have been able to grow and reach hundreds of thousands of teens across the state of Arizona.

YOUR support helped build a peer-to-peer crisis hotline that provides 24/7 service with Peer Counseling from 3-9pm every. single. day.

YOUR continued commitment has helped Peer Counselors save over 175,000 lives! We’ve been able to reach over HALF A MILLIONpeople throughout Arizona with our prevention messaging through schools and other youth organizations.

YOU have truly become part of the “connection of hope”.

And 2016 is shaping up to be our biggest year yet!

Not only are we expanding our 602 number to include a texting service but we are also excited to be expanding our Community Ed department! This year we’ll be able to provide better coverage in reaching communities in Northern and Southern Arizona. (We’ll have more details on this expansion soon!)

So, as we reflect on 30 years of help and hope, we want to thank YOU! Your support matters. Whether it’s  donations, volunteering, holding those 3rd party fundraisers, or simply sharing our message on social media – together we’re bringing hope to our children.


Digital Safety and Teenagers


As parents, we have prepared our children to handle peer pressure, underage drinking, and sexual exploration. While we have had many heart to heart talks on these issues, chances are we have addressed them to the best of our ability. Unfortunately, the world our sons and daughters are living in is evolving with digital advances. These changes mean that we might be missing an important conversation with our children in one key area: digital safety.

Why Digital Safety Matters

It is imperative that we challenge ourselves to instruct our teens on digital safety to prevent their exposure to some very negative scenarios lurking behind the screens of our beloved devices. Here is a sampling of the most common pitfalls our teens may encounter: cyberbullying, oversharing, identity theft, sexting, and online predators. Up until a few years ago, many of these subjects were unheard of and completely off a parent’s radar.

Take for instance the case of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying has been linked to increased rates of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. If that isn’t bad enough, recent research unveiled digital aggression is so common that 87 percent of our children have encountered this trend. This is appalling on many fronts, but these statistics show within the last year cyberbullying rates have tripled!

While technology has provided easy access for bullies to their victims, it has also opened an avenue for sexual exploration. The digital world has led to a revolution of sexting and sharing racy images. Children who sext are opening themselves up to cyberbullying, harassment, exploitation, and prosecution for distributing or possessing child pornography. In fact, sexting is so commonplace that experts are now declaring it a normal part of development.

Those are frightening realizations for many parents, especially when we consider that 70 percent of teens take measures to hide their online activity from us! Children need to understand how their social media presence can impact future goals and opportunities. Employers, colleges, scholarship committees, and even possible offspring will be able to view what is posted online years from now.

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Nine Ways To Embrace Digital Safety

Thankfully, parents have the power to take an active stance in regards to a child’s digital safety. Choosing to be involved allows us to instruct children on the correct ways to handle our devices. By reducing a child’s risks, we can ensure they have the opportunities to live a healthy and happy life enriched, not hindered, by technology.

Listed below are nine practical ways to embrace digital safety within our families:

Help teens set their privacy settings and passwords. One of the easiest ways to keep children safe online is as simple as using adequate privacy settings. Take a few minutes and check to see if a child’s privacy is protected and encourage them to never share their passwords.

Tell children to “friend” or follow people they actually know. Cyberbullies and predators are notorious for creating fake accounts which they use to gain access to their victims.

Limit data to prevent oversharing or sexting. Studies show that the greatest deterrent to sexting is as simple as limiting their data plans.

Track your child’s online activity. Be aware of how your child behaves online by knowing the sites they frequent and who their friends are.

Encourage a teen to seek help from an adult if they witness or receive menacing messages. Data shows that only one out of ten kids will do this! Surprisingly, when an adult intervenes the bullying will stop within ten seconds.

Develop a technology contract. As a family, create a list of expectations, rules, and consequences concerning the role of technology. This should help prevent future problems and arguments.

Teach social media etiquette and build on this as a child ages. In the beginning, stress to post only things they would feel comfortable with Nana or Papa seeing. As a child matures, include sexting and oversharing.

Understand how social media sites address cyberbullying or inappropriate conduct. Know the correct ways to report, block, or stop cruel digital activity to protect kids.

Utilize monitoring software that allows you access to deleted texts, web browser history, social media sites, and text messages. Teens are notorious for hiding their digital activity so it is essential to gain an accurate picture of how a child is behaving online.

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As our children age, they might act like they don’t need parental input. However, they still need our guidance to safely navigate the digital world as they are coming of age. Parents need to take these advancements as an invitation to teach digital safety. What is one thing your family does to ensure a child is protected online?

Author_Amy_2Amy Williams is a journalist based in Southern California. As a mother of two, she hopes to use her experience as a parent to help other parents raise their children to be the best that they can be.


A Connection of Hope: A Peer Counselor’s Story

“He was in desperate need of direct medical attention,” Peer Counselor Jackman recalled about one of his most memorable calls.

Peer Counselor Jackman answers a crisis call.
Peer Counselor Jackman answers a crisis call.

Jackman received the Peer of the Year award this year at the Connections of Hope gala that took place on Oct. 9. The award recognizes one outstanding Peer Counselor that exemplifies what Teen Lifeline is all about. Last year Jackman volunteered over 1,600 hours, providing a connection of hope to approximately 130 callers.

“At the end of the call,” Jackman continued, “I had encouraged him to call back and let us know how he was feeling. A week went by with no word. Then, one day he finally called and thanked me. He said it was such a tremendous help for himself as well as his family.”

In our almost 30 year history, Peer Counselors like Jackman have been a connection of hope for over 158,000 troubled youth on the hotline. Teen Lifeline doesn’t just help its callers though, it helps the Peer Counselors, too.

“Peers and staff at Teen Lifeline are so dedicated to making sure that everyone that volunteers here is taken care of and loved on an immeasurable scale,” Jackman said. “Teen Lifeline has impacted my life by helping me to overcome the problems that I faced in my personal life like: depression, self-harm, low self-esteem, and family issues.”

Peer Counselors Kassie, Tristan, Clinical Director Nikki Koontz, Jackman, Sydney, and Prevention Specialist Alicia Celis
Peer Counselors Kassie, Tristan, Clinical Director Nikki Kontz, Jackman, Sydney, and Prevention Specialist Alicia Celis

It takes a minimum of 72 hours to train a Peer Counselor. It is an immense commitment that these teens undertake. They not only take the time to learn from Master’s level clinicians, but they give up their evenings and weekends to help teens in crisis. “Hope, is the driving force for everything we do,” Jackman explains. “I smile whenever I think about that memorable call because I know that I truly helped someone overcome an obstacle in their life.”

Shifting his focus, Jackman continued, “There is a strong chance that your children, or the children of someone else you know will have suicidal thoughts before they graduate high school. Donate or support Teen Lifeline, not for your benefit, but for the benefit of them and their peers.”

You can be a connection of hope in a variety of ways. Your impact can be felt by simply sharing our information on Facebook, Twitter or any social media channel. You can hold a third party fundraiser or pass out materials in your school, work or social meeting. Monetary donations help keep our doors open, but spreading awareness of our support system guarantees one more teen doesn’t have to feel helpless or hopeless.

Jackman speaking at the Connections of Hope event.
Jackman speaking at the Connections of Hope event.

“I want everyone to know they are not alone. On the other end of the line is someone that truly cares about your well-being and wants you to be happy,” Jackman adds, “No matter who answers the phone, they will not judge you or your problems. Peer Counselors are here to help and would be more than happy to talk about whatever you need to talk about.”

If you or someone you know is struggling, please call us at 
602-248-TEEN or 800-248-TEEN.

Connections of Hope 2015: A Recap

Weren’t able to attend COH this year? No worries, we got you covered!

Chaired by Mandy Purcell, the gala event proved to be our biggest yet with record-breaking attendance and a record-breaking OVER HALF A MILLION dollars raised in support of area youth!

Executive Director Michelle Moorhead, Jeff Fields, Mandy Purcell
Executive Director Michelle Moorhead, Board of Director’s Secretary Jeff Fields, Event Chair Mandy Purcell (© Alyssa Campbell Photography)

Taking place at the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia, the event opened with a silent auction as attendees began arriving and mingling.

In the reception hall, ABC15’s very own Katie Raml welcomed everyone as our “Mistress of Ceremonies” for the evening!

Once food was served, Lelea & 3Nations accompanied the courses with some sweet musical sounds. Fun Fact: The band was formed at last year’s Connections of Hope event and we were absolutely delighted to have them back again this year!

Lelea & 3Nations perform during dinner.
Lelea & 3Nations perform during dinner. (© Alyssa Campbell Photography)

A live auction also took place with attendee’s bidding on trips to Italy, Utah, and opportunities to eat with Diamondback’s great Luis Gonzalez! A special thanks to “auctiontainer”, Letitia Frye, who MC’ed the auction.

The night also featured personal stories from Peer Counselors. Then, Executive Director Michelle Moorhead presented the Peer of the Year award to Jackman Rice (above story).

Donald Tapia receives the Alfredo J. Molina Community Lifeline Award.
Donald Tapia receives the Alfredo J. Molina Community Lifeline Award. (© Alyssa Campbell Photography)

The culmination of the night was the presentation of the Alfredo J. Molina Community Lifeline Award. Named after it’s inaugural recipient, the award is given to those who provide hope in the community through their philanthropic endeavors.

This year’s award was bestowed to Donald Tapia for his service to children & youth, the disadvantaged, animal welfare, first responders, and veterans.
The night ended with plenty of dancing as Nate Nathan & the MacDaddy O’s played us out!
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Nate Nathan & The MacDaddy O’s (© Alyssa Campbell Photography)

We thank EVERYONE who helped make this night a success! That includes our event advisors: Shannon Barthelemy, Stacey Caron, Jennifer Collins, Renee Dee, Amanda Eisenfeld, and Alfredo J. Molina. Plus, thank you to our event coordinator, Dottie Kobik, for making the night flow seamlessly. A big thanks to our Advisory Council memberDave Alexander for his support and leadership! And THANK YOU to all the volunteers who helped us spread HOPE to the community!

If you attended, we thank you for sharing the evening with us. If you weren’t able to attend, you can STILL be a connection of hope for youth in crisis by heading over to our website and learning more about where your dollars go.

A Father’s Plea

By Steele Campbell


On February 2, 1995 at 7:56 AM our family’s life changed. Our son, Brandon Steele Campbell, was born.

Then on January 2, 2012 at 4:51 PM our family’s lives changed for a second time, taking a turn down a very dark path that seemingly knows no end.  It was the day my wife and I came home to discover Brandon had taken his own life.

It was like at that moment I was in a dream state. My wife screaming, “NO GOD, PLEASE NOT THIS BRANDON!” This could not be happening to us. As we waited for the police and ambulance to arrive, only one word kept going through my head, “Why?”

Brandon was caring, bright, and witty; he had a great future ahead of him.  I could see him as an economist, a teacher, or maybe an actor. He was not into drugs, booze, or anything like that.  He was an accomplished scuba diver with over 50 dives. When he put his mind to it he could focus and accomplish anything he desired. We were a family that did many wonderful things together and determined to live our lives to the fullest extent together.

But he did struggle. He struggled with Asperger Syndrome and making friends. We know now that is what he desired most.

I do not write this for sympathy. We’ve had massive amounts of that over the past 3 years. I write this to talk to all of the parents of troubled teens, and to the teens themselves.

Parents, know the warning signs. If your child shows signs or comes right out and tells you that they have contemplated taking their own life, please take it very seriously. Do everything you can do to get your child help. Monitor them, their computers, phones, their school work, everything. Never let your guard down.

Teens, if you’re struggling, THERE IS HOPE AND HELP. Maybe you feel alone and isolated from your parents, friends, everyone; but Teen Lifeline is one of those places that genuinely wants to listen to you and your troubles.

Should you think that no one will miss you, you are greatly mistaken. Should you think the world would be a better place without, you are flat out wrong.

By taking your own life, the heartache of those that you know, those you care about, and those that care about you, will forever have a gaping hole in their souls.  They will go through the rest of their lives asking questions for which there are no answers. Their grief will only fully disappear when they too have passed.

For myself, as time wears on, what Brandon did may dull a little but it’s always there. Always lurking in my mind and waiting for a moment to jump out and drag me down into that bottomless pit.  So many things trigger my feelings; driving by your old school, hearing a song you liked on the radio, scuba diving with your sister. The list could go on and on. All because of a desperate moment where emotions overcame logic.

I cannot speak for my wife or Brandon’s sister; however, as his father, it is this forever emptiness in my very being. We were close. We did all sorts of wonderful things together. How could this god-awful thing happen? Brandon, you broke your promise to call me if you were in trouble.

I am forever changed for the worse.

I am not angry, mind you, just very disappointed.

If you or your loved one is struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide. Please reach out. Teen Lifeline is there for teens and their parents to help with whatever struggles you may be going through. There is help and there is hope. Please call 602-248-TEEN or 800-248-TEEN.

Faces of the Hotline

OnthePhone2by Tom, Peer Counselor

Every day I see the faces of people who are dedicated to helping others, not only in this city, or this state, or this country, but throughout the entire world.

They come in, say hello to me, and we catch up on anything new in our lives. We laugh and we bond with each other, as old friends.

These faces become my family. I care about them.

Then a call comes in. I see these same faces running towards the phone with a smile over the prospect that they will be able to help someone in crisis. But, I also see a hint of sadness over the fact that someone, in that moment, had a reason to call.

Faces, and their expressions, interest me.

I like thinking that a person displays their deepest emotions openly in their expressions. I see new people at Teen Lifeline with anxiety on their face as they take their first call. Then I see their face transform into joy in knowing that a caller has thanked them for helping and listening to what they have to say. Sometimes even saving the caller’s life.

Hotline ProgramI can’t fathom how happy a caller is knowing that they can talk confidentially to any of the teens here at Teen Lifeline. I can’t fathom how happy a caller is ( who was so close to suicide) after talking to someone who cares. It’s as if their world was in black and white and they finally see color.

There are times, however, where we as Peer Counselors struggle with a call. I see the somber faces of my friends as they place the phone back. I see the same expression on the Supervisors who were helping on that call.

But always I see those people light up again the next time the phone rings.

Every single person at Teen Lifeline cares about you, the callers.

And they will do everything they can to help.

When you feel alone and you have no one to turn to, call Teen Lifeline, because you’re never alone. 602-248-8336 or 800-248-8336

Life Skills Development

Life Skills Development
by Alicia Celis, Prevention Specialist

HotlineTLLThe reality is that teens don’t always turn to their parents when they’re struggling.  They turn to other teens who understand them or are going through similar problems. It was from this concept that Teen Lifeline was born!

The crisis hotline provides peer-to-peer support by utilizing teens (Peer Counselors) who answer the hotline from 3-9pm every day. Even holidays and weekends! Last year, our Peer Counselors volunteered over 15,000 service hours and provided a connection of hope to 13,987 youth! Quite impressive!

We could simply not exist without the dedication of our teens! However, in order to become a Peer Counselor, they must go through the Life Skills Development program.

In the program, teens learn how they can be a huge support. We empower our volunteers with the knowledge they need to help make other teens’ lives better. At the same time, they gain skills to impact their own lives every day.

One Peer Counselor explains:

As a teen going through the training process, you become very aware of your own habits and communication patterns. Through training, you find new ways of bettering your own communication skills and building new skills. This helps immensely when it comes to talking with parents, teachers, and friends. I have learned so much through my training and it has helped me in all aspects of my life outside of Teen Lifeline. Also, these new communication skills really help to develop lasting relationships with the other Peer Counselors. You meet so many different people, who all share similar interests and passions as you, that you would not be able to meet elsewhere. Teen Lifeline is amazing because it teaches you such valuable skills, but also because you can create lasting friendships and amazing memories.

In order to start training at Teen Lifeline, teens must be at least 15 years old and dedicated to the program. We break the training down into 3 phrases lead by Master’s level clinicians and seasoned Peer Counselors.

LEARN the breakdown of the 3 phrases of the program HERE!

photo(2)As part of becoming a Peer Counselor, we ask teens to make a four month commitment to the program after the initial training is completed. Part of that commitment is agreeing to work on the hotline a minimum of 15 hours a month. This equals about 2 to 3 shifts per month. During this time, our Peer Counselors will receive continued training, mentorship, and skill-building opportunities that they can use for the rest of their life!

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a Peer Counselor, and between the ages of 15-19, please visit our website and fill out the volunteer application form. We’ll contact you at the beginning of each new training period.

If you’re over the age of 19, we do have internships available for those who are studying in the field at University. For internship opportunities please contact Alicia Celis by email at

For all adult volunteer opportunities on the administration or fundraising side, please contact Nick Shivka at or call the business line at 602-248-8337. You can ask for Alicia or Nick!

We look forward to you joining the family!