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3 Signs That Your Child is being Victimized by a Bully

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Many of the kids who are returning to school this fall haven’t attended an actual school since March 2020. While this return is good in terms of reconnecting on a social level and regaining some normalcy, it also means that once again, parents are worried about bullies.

A single bully can do an enormous amount of damage to a child. They hit the child’s self-confidence takes can haunt your child for the rest of their life. In addition to psychological trauma, parents also worry about bullying and physical abuse.

Most kids don’t report bullying problems to their parents. Catching the early warning signs and putting together a plan of action takes a great deal of diligence, observation, and communication.

Pay Attention to Your Child’s Appearance Both Before and After School

The first sign that a child is being bullied is often changes to their clothing and overall appearance at the start of the school day versus the end. Yes, kids trade clothing and jewelry. Yes, kids rip, tear, and stain their clothing via innocent actions. However, if your child is consistently coming home looking bedraggled, or is hiding torn clothing, or constantly has items of clothing missing, it could indicate that your child has attracted a bully.

Look for Bruises, Cuts, and Scrapes

Active kids do get banged up while playing, but kids who are being bullied will often also be covered in cuts and bruises which is why you should ask how your child was injured. Not only should you pay attention to how they received the injury, but also to how they tell you about it. If the bruise was sustained while playing sports, your child will likely have an entire adventure regarding the wound. However, if they are quiet about the injury or try to hide it, it could indicate a bullying problem.

Changes in Personality

Kids’ personalities are in a constant state of flux. They go through stages of intense joy, irritation, and resistance. Sometimes these changes happen at a rapid-fire pace. What isn’t normal is for a happy, bubbly kid who likes school to go through a prolonged period of depression where they no longer want to socialize. It’s also unusual for your child to suddenly lose all interest in activities and friends that they have always loved in the past. Sudden and long-term changes often indicate a bullying problem.

If you notice signs that your child’s return to school has resulted in them being bullied, you’ll want to take a proactive stance before the situation leaves your child emotionally or physically scarred.


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The Legal Ins and Outs of Street Racing in California

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Street racing is fun. It’s exciting. It might even seem like a good idea. It’s also the type of fun that can land you in a great deal of legal trouble.

California lawmakers believe that street racing is reckless and dangerous behavior which is why they’ve created strict laws. The hope is that the laws are enough to convince you to give street racing a pass and look for a different, legal way, to get your kicks.

It’s important to understand that California lawmakers are cracking down on all types of street racing. You aren’t allowed to drag race, drift, or engage in a straight-up speed race while you’re on a public road. If you want to race, find a private racetrack.

At this point, street racing is a misdemeanor in California. Don’t assume that just because it’s a misdemeanor that you’ll get away with a reprimand.

The potential consequences of first-time offense for street racing in California include:

  • 40 hours of required community service
  • Losing your driver’s license for between 90 days and 6 months
  • Serving between 1 day and 90 days in county jail
  • A fine that ranges from $355-$1000
  • Potentially having your vehicle impounded for 30 days (which means 30 days of impound fees)

You probably already guess, the consequences are worse after the first time you’re convicted of street racing in California.

If less than 5 years have passed since your first street racing conviction, the consequences can include:

  • A mandatory 6-month suspension of your driver’s license
  • Serving 4 days to 6 months in the county jail
  • Paying fines that could range from $500-$1000
  • High impound fees

Many street racers are caught because someone is hurt during the race which means medical personal and police arrive on the scene. Not only do the injuries bring law enforcement, but the injury also means significantly worse consequences to everyone who was busted on the street racing scene.

Street racers who are caught in a race that resulted in minor injuries can be sentenced to 30 days up to 6 months, have their license suspended, be required to do a significant amount of community services, and be issued fines of $500 to $1,000.

When a person is seriously injured as a result of a street race in California, you could be sentenced to 16 months to 3 years in jail, lose your driving privileges for a long time, and be required to pay as much as $10,000 in fines. It’s also likely that you’ll be named as the defendant in a civil lawsuit.

If someone passes away because of injuries sustained in a street race, you could be charged with vehicular manslaughter.

Additional charges that are frequently added to the street racing charges include:

  • Reckless endangerment
  • Reckless driving
  • Evading the police
  • Speeding
  • Failure to yield

When you consider the potential consequences of street racing, it really is in your best interest to take the time to find a private race track where you can legally race to your heart’s content.


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4 California Bike Laws you Probably Don’t Know About

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Do you spend a lot of time biking in California? If so, there are some California bike laws you’re probably not familiar with.

Bikes and Crosswalks

Did you know that as a cyclist, you’re not supposed to stop your bike in the middle of a crosswalk? When you’re on a bike, you need to treat it the exact same way you would if you driving a car. Instead of pulling into the crosswalk, you’re supposed to stop at it. This gives pedestrians the opportunity and space needed to use the crosswalk.

Prep Your Bike For Nighttime Rides

If you’re cycling at any time between dusk and full-on morning sunlight, you need to have your bike properly equipped with enough equipment that motorists can easily see your bike. It’s not enough to simply rely on the reflectors the bike came with You should also have a red solid or flashing light attached to the back of your bike that can be easily seen from a distance of 500 feet away. On the front of your bike, you need to attach a white light that not only helps with your visibility but can also be seen from 500 feet away.

Ideally, you should wear clothing that has reflectors on it as well.

Keep One Ear Open

You see it all the time, cyclists cruising along with headphones in their ears, taking advantage of their ride to listen to audiobooks, songs, and podcasts. What you probably don’t know is that you can’t legally have two ears full of earbuds or be covered by a headphone while you’re cycling. CVC 27400 states that you must leave one ear uncovered while you’re riding your bike.

Stay Away from that Oversized Bike

If you think it’s okay to send your child out on the bike they haven’t quite grown into, or you’re tempted to purchase a massive bike you’ve been admiring each time you visit your favorite bike shop, you need to think again. California’s bike laws prohibit you from operating an oversized bicycle on public roads.

CVC 21201(c) states that, no person shall operate upon a highway a bicycle that is of a size that prevents the operator from safely stopping the bicycle, supporting it in an upright position with at least one foot on the ground, and restarting it safely.

Were you familiar with these bike laws?


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Tips for Kids Going Back to School

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The threat of your young child disappearing when they go back to school is far greater than you imagine. According to Child Find of America, approximately 2,300 children are abducted every single day in the United States. The National Center of Exploited and Missing Children reported that in 2020, an estimated 1 in 6 missing children were victims of sex trafficking.

Stranger danger and abduction prevention lessons are something you and your children should always be working on. With the start of school just around the corner, now is the time to sit down with your child and review everything they know about stranger danger and staying safe.

While you’re shopping for school supplies, use this time with your child to review the rules you should already have in place regarding accepting rides from strangers.

The rules your child should already be familiar with include:

  • Never get into a stranger’s vehicle
  • Always staying several feet away from a stranger’s vehicle
  • Knowing that if a person makes them feel even the slightest bit uncomfortable, that they should immediately seek out the assistance of a trusted adult

Abductors usually don’t bother with children who are traveling in packs, which is why it’s important to teach your child that they should always have a friend or two with them wherever they go. The more friends they have with them while walking home from school, playing in the back, and riding bikes, the safer they will be.

Now is the perfect time to teach your child how to be aware of their surroundings. This is something you should do by example. Put your phone in your pocket and actively survey your surroundings when you walk to and from buildings. Teach your child to notices is strange people are hanging around places like the playground. Teach them to be particularly aware if they notice that the same person shows up in multiple locations your child is at and to let you know about this person.

Make it very clear that it doesn’t matter if a stranger has candy, is saying they are lost/hurt, or has kittens/puppies to play with that your child is not to approach them. That their best course of action is leaving the immediate area and finding a trusted, familiar adult.

Teach your child to scream. If the worse does happen and a stranger approaches your child, the screams will cause the adult to quickly decide that your child isn’t worth the effort and they will flee the scene.

Don’t assume that just because your child is older that you no longer have to worry about abductions. According to the Missouri Child Identification and Protection Program, 81% of abducted minors were 12 years old or older.


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Distracted Walking in California

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Everyone is familiar with distracted driving, but few of us have ever heard of distracted walking laws. If you’re wondering if that’s even a real thing you’re not alone.

Rest assured, not only is distracted walking a viable concern, but one California city, Montclair, has already passed a distracted walking law. In April 2018, the city’s distracted walking law officially went into effect. Once that happened, anyone caught using their cell phone while walking across the street was subjected to a $100.

It seems like a silly rule, but if you take a few minutes watching people walking on the sidewalk and you can see why distracted walking is a concern. These days, people are completely glued to their phones and often unaware of what is happening around them. Some don’t even look up when they start crossing the street. This type of behavior has prompted more cities to explore the concept of distracted walking laws.

A team of researchers at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark revealed that the number of medical emergencies that included head and neck injuries has substantially increased in the past 20 years.

Legally, drivers are supposed to be aware of pedestrians and do everything in their power to avoid hitting them with their vehicle. The problem that arises is how are drivers supposed to predict when a pedestrian who is texting will suddenly step into the path of oncoming traffic. What makes the issue even more challenging is that many of these pedestrians don’t even realize that they are now in the middle of the road and don’t behave rationally.

Do you think more cities should have distracted walking laws? If distracted laws became common and patrol cops started issuing tickets and fines, would you be more inclined to leave your phone in your pocket, or would you continue to talk and text?


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Getting Into Trouble for Vandalism in California

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California lawmakers have little patience for vandalism. The exact law dealing with the issue is Penal Code 594 PC which defines vandalism.

“Every person who maliciously commits any of the following acts with respect to any real or personal property not his or her own, in cases other than those specified by state law, is guilty of vandalism:

  • Defaces with graffiti or other inscribed material.
  • Damages.
  • Destroys.

Whenever a person violates this subdivision with respect to real property, vehicles, signs, fixtures, furnishings, or property belonging to any public entity, as defined by Section 811.2 of the Government Code, or the federal government, it shall be a permissive inference that the person neither owned the property nor had the permission of the owner to deface, damage, or destroy the property.”

Most people assume that vandalism is a deliberate act, such as spraying graffiti on the side of a commercial building, and in some situations, that’s certainly true. However, there have been many instances where vandalism has been added to other charges. In many of these situations, people had no intention of committing an act of vandalism and don’t even realize they have until their defense lawyer explains the list of charges that have been filed against them. An example of this is being charged for vandalism because you broke a window during a fight.

Even doing something as seemingly innocent as leaving a handprint in some wet cement can be considered an act of vandalism.

Don’t assume that a vandalism charge isn’t something you don’t have to take seriously. Yes, it’s a misdemeanor but a guilty conviction could result in you spending some time in jail. If you’re convicted of felony vandalism, the long-term impact the single incident has on your life could be huge.

Vandalism in California is a wobbler offense, meaning that it can be a misdemeanor or a felony. The only thing that determines which way the charge wobbles is the monetary amount to the damage. Don’t assume that you would have to do a lot of damage to be charged with felony vandalism. If your act of vandalism results in $400 or more worth of damage, you’ll be charged with a felony. Considering today’s cost, that’s not much vandalism.

If you’re convicted of misdemeanor vandalism, you could be sentenced to a full year in jail and asked to pay a $1,000 fine. In many cases, the judge will also order restitution. It’s common for community service and probation to be a part of the sentencing.

A guilt conviction for felony vandalism could end in a sentence that includes up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The reason the penalties connected to vandalism are so severe is that state lawmakers want people to stop and think about their actions beforehand. Throwing a few eggs at your neighbor’s house when you’re upset about them blocking your driveway might seem like a good idea until you realize that doing so could result in you being sent to prison.

When it comes to acts of vandalism you should always stop and think if the moment of satisfaction will be worth the potential fallout if you’re caught and convicted.


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Safety Tips for College Students

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It’s the time of year when many young adults are preparing for their first semester of college. In most cases, this is the first time they have lived without the supervision and guidance of their parents. One of the things collegebound students should already be reviewing is how they can make sure that they have fun and manage to stay safe during their freshman year.

Always Be Mindful of Your Safety

The great thing about living in a dorm is that the close living quarters means forming a tight bond with many of the people living on your floor. The downside to living in a dorm is that the sense of family and friendship can cause you to become lax when it comes to your safety. The biggest problem many students encounter while living in the dorm is that they become so comfortable that they start neglecting to lock their doors.

From day one, get into the habit of locking your door and double-checking the lock each time you enter and leave your dorm room.

Establish the Buddy System

While staying in your dorm and only going to classes will keep you safe, it’s not much fun. Rather than locking yourself away, get into the habit of creating a buddy program when you go out. Make a deal with a few different friends that no one goes home without the others and to keep an eye on one another the entire time you’re out and having a good time.

Keep Your Phone Charged

Each time you leave your dorm room make sure your phone is fully charged and that it’s easily accessible. It’s your first line of defense if you get into trouble while you’re out.

Pay Attention to Your Surroundings

When you’re out and about, pay attention to your surroundings. Stay in brightly lit areas. Stick to areas that are populated and heavily patrolled by campus security. Keep your eyes on the environment rather than on your phone.

Get Your Own Drinks

It doesn’t matter if you’re at a party, relaxing in your own room, or at a local pizza place, always get your own drinks. You should also never leave your drink unattended. If for some reason you do have to walk away from your drink, discard the unfinished portion and get yourself a new one.

Don’t be Afraid to Contact Campus Security

If your friends leave without you, it’s better to contact campus security and have them give you a ride back to your dorm than to try to walk home alone. Remember, that they’re paid to protect you.

Following these safety tips and using common sense provides you with the tools needed to stay safe while also enjoying your first year of college life.

Establish Patterns for Contacting Loved Ones

While you don’t necessarily want to always use the same route for going to classes and parties, you do want to establish good patterns when it comes to checking in with friends and family. Checking in on a specific day of the week and close to the same time each time is a good warning system if something goes wrong. If you don’t check-in, they know that they should contact the authorities and have someone do a physical check on you.


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Criminal Trespassing in California

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When you read through California Penal Code Section 602 you’ll learn that it’s illegal to come onto someone’s property without the owner’s permission. While this doesn’t mean you’ll face criminal charges each time you have to use someone’s driveway to turn around or when you stop in at a neighbor’s home to inquire about a lost pet, it does give the property owner the right to tell you that you’re not welcome on the property.

The other thing to keep in mind is that if you’re on someone else’s property and they request that you leave, failing to do so right away gives the property owner the right to call the police and file trespassing charges against you.

Refusing to leave a hotel or restaurant is another way trespassing charges can be filed against you.

Don’t assume that just because a person’s property is a business, that you can’t potentially be charged with trespassing. There have been cases of people who have gotten into a dispute with business owners/employees/other customers being arrested for trespassing after they entered the business and did things like harass people or refused to leave.

The majority of the trespassing cases that make their way through the California court system or considered misdemeanors. The maximum sentence for a guilty conviction is six months in a county jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

It’s important to understand that it’s not uncommon for trespassing to be added to a list of additional charges that can include violating a personal protection order, property damage, assault, etc. When a judge looks at the additional charges they could decide to hand out a maximum sentence. If the trespassing charges look relatively minor and nothing indicates that you’re a habitual offender, the sentence could be minimal.

Aggravated Trespassing in California

Aggravated trespassing is an exception to the idea that all California trespassing cases are misdemeanors. Aggravated trespassing in California is one of California’s wobbler crimes.

According to Penal Code Section 602, aggravated trespassing in California takes place when a trespasser, “makes a credible threat to cause serious bodily injury to someone else with intent to place them in reasonable fear of their own safety or safety of their family, and who within 30 days of the threat, unlawfully enters their residence, property, or workplace with the intent to carry out the threat.”

If you’re convicted of felony aggravated trespassing, the sentence could include 16-21 months in prison, felony probation, and a $10,000 fine.


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California Stalking Laws

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In California, you can be convicted of stalking even if you have never engaged in actively pursuing a victim as they went about their daily activities. It’s even possible to be found guilty of California’s stalking laws if you’ve never had a face-to-face encounter with the victim. The reason for this is because California lawmakers have written the state’s stalking laws in such a way that they encompass a variety of acts that include harassment, even if that harassment only takes place in the form of letters, social media posts, or phone calls.

The issue of stalking in California is addressed in Penal Code 646.9 PC. The laws states, “Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or willfully and maliciously harasses another person and who makes a credible threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the safety of his or her immediate family is guilty of the crime of stalking.”

The interesting thing about California’s stalking laws is that contacting someone via social media posts, making phone calls, and following them around isn’t always considered stalking. While these things may result in a police report getting filed, to convict you of stalking, the prosecution must prove that your actions/words threatened the victim so that they feared for either their life or their safety.

One of the interesting things about California’s stalking laws is that they are wobbler offenses. That means you could be charged with misdemeanor or felony stalking. There have even been instances where a person was charged with both misdemeanor and felony stalking. The bulk of stalking convictions in California are misdemeanors.

If you’re convicted of one count of misdemeanor stalking in California, the judge can sentence you to a full year in county jail, fine you up to $1,000, and misdemeanor probation. If convicted of felony stalking, your sentence can include up to five years in a state prison, felony probation, and a fine.

While stalking charges involve threatening a victim, if that victim is hurt as a result of your actions, you’ll likely be charged with assault and intimidation in addition to stalking.

Criminal charges could represent one of the problems you face following a California stalking case. Many stalking victims also decide to file a civil case against their stalker. The purpose of the civil case is to gain financial compensation for the mental anguish they suffered as a result of the stalking episode.


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Drinking on California’s Beaches

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Summer is finally here. For many of us, that means long, lazy weekends and evenings at our favorite beaches. We can’t get enough sun, sand, and surf. The big question is, can you bring a cooler full of beer to your favorite California beach?

The answer varies depending on which beach you’re going to.

If you’re in San Diego, the answer is no. The beaches have a strict, no-alcohol policy. Many state park beaches also prohibit alcohol, though some will allow you to pop a top.

The California state beaches where you can drink are:

  • Carmel Beach, Monterey County
  • Descanso Beach Club
  • Doheny State Beach, Orange County
  • Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County
  • Paradise Cove, Malibu, Los Angeles County

If you are going to one of those beaches and plan on bringing your favorite alcoholic beverages along, double-check the beach rules. Some have specific times when alcohol is prohibited.

Even on beaches where alcohol is allowed, you need to use extreme caution and make sure you don’t overindulge. If you get drunk and the police come by, you could be charged with public intoxication or even disturbing the peace.

You also need to be mindful of how much you drink before you go swimming, diving, or surfing. Getting into the water after you have been drinking slows your reflexes and dulls your judgment, increasing the likelihood of you getting hurt and drowning. The unspoken rule of thumb is that if you plan to go into the water at all, you should do so before you start drinking.

You should also expect the police to be patrolling the roads that lead to and from the beach, so you’ll want to make sure you’re sober before you slide behind the wheel. Before heading home, make sure that any remaining alcohol is properly stored in your cooler so that you don’t get caught with an open container in the car.

The other thing to keep in mind when you head to the beach is that littering is a crime. In addition to picking up all of your trash, make sure you collect your bottle tops, empty cans, and other alcohol-related paraphernalia before you leave.

Have fun and stay safe!