Thursday, July 31, 2008

Teen Partying - Pros and Cons by Vanessa Van Petten

Parties are a regular occurrence during the course of a teenager’s high school career. They typically involve bad DJing, a lot of red plastic cups, and plenty of people. They can be a lot of fun, but they can also have unfavorable endings if you don’t act responsibly.

It’s a great way to meet new people

There is usually a good mix of classmates, familiar and unknown, and students from other school. Attending a party can provide you with the opportunity to encounter a new group of characters outside your usual circle of friends. It’s always fun to make new acquaintances and create new ties.

Fun way to de-stress after the school week

Who doesn’t want to kick back and unwind after a long week of tests and homework? Parties are entertaining, adult-free social gatherings where we can just relax and be ourselves. There’s no pressure from parents to be serious and mature. Instead, we can be silly and giggly, far away from the demands of the scholastic atmosphere.

The “high school experience”

Fun, carefree, and sometimes secret house parties have a short lifespan. Once you’re out of high school and onto college, your schedule becomes increasingly busy. Your mind is no longer solely occupied with the latest drama in the locker room and what you plan on doing over the weekend. Suddenly you have a nightly paper to write and career choices to make. Once responsibility has taken over, you’ll become less available for late-night-partying and more focused on what you want to do with your life when school’s over. So enjoy your worry-free time and make the most of it.



I’ve found that the negative side of partying tends to be centered around the underage drinking part. Even though it is illegal to purchase alcohol until you are at the ripe old age of 21, teens don’t usually have a problem getting their hands on it. Besides the easy access at home, there are a lot of places that either don’t card or don’t pay much attention to fake IDs.

Unpleasant Side Effects

It doesn’t take very much alcohol for teenagers to get “the buzz”, and the consumption generally doesn’t stop at that point. In addition using alcohol as party refreshments, drinking games like Quarters and Beerpong are both common and popular. The ingestion of large amounts of alcohol at a time can lead to all kinds of undesirable side effects. They include: dizziness, memory loss, slurred speech, nausea, intense headaches, sensitivity to noise, poor judgment, impaired coordination and dexterity, and vomiting.


When you’ve opted not to drink, and EVERYONE else is drinking, a party can become very dull, very fast. “Drunkards” or drunken teens usually find anything and everything around them to be hilarious and amusing. Their speech is slurred and their thought process has been altered, making it difficult to hold a conversation with them. When you are sober, this scene may not seem quite so comical. Instead, all you’ll see is a bunch of teenagers, falling all over themselves laughing and doing things that are totally out of character. And you’re the one who ends up sitting on the couch for the rest of the night, watching all your drunken friends enjoy themselves.

My advice: Have a good time but be cautious. It’s fine to get together and hang out with friends but it’s always good to be aware of your surroundings and be mindful of the consequences of your actions.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

(Sue Scheff) STOP BULLYING NOW? Why do kids bully?

There are all kinds of reasons why young people bully others, either occasionally or often. Do any of these sound familiar to you?

Because I see others doing it
Because it's what you do if you want to hang out with the right crowd
Because it makes me feel, stronger, smarter, or better than the person I'm bullying
Because it's one of the best ways to keep others from bullying me

Whatever the reason, bullying is something we all need to think about. Whether we've done it ourselves ... or whether friends or other people we know are doing it ... we all need to recognize that bullying has a terrible effect on the lives of young people. It may not be happening to you today, but it could tomorrow. Working together, we can make the lives of young people better.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts Experts (Sue Scheff) Communicating with your Teen About Suicide

As you have probably heard before, talking to your teen about suicide is one of the most important things you can do in helping to prevent a suicide attempt. Many times parents are unsure of what to say and instead say nothing. Here are some suggestions of how you can open the channels of communication and help your teen open up.

First, tell your teen you care; no matter the state of your relationship, just hearing this can go a long way. Tell your teen you are there if needed, and are willing to listen without judging. NAMI estimates that around 80% of all teens who attempt suicide give some sort of verbal or nonverbal warning beforehand, so be sure to take whatever your teen says completely seriously.

A common mistake parents make when dealing with a suicidal teen is thinking that if they mention suicide they will be planting the idea in their teen’s brain. This is simply not accurate. In fact, by mentioning your fears, you are showing your teen that you take their actions and their life seriously. Remember, most people who are suicidal do not really want to die- they want to put an end to the suffering they are experiencing. When given an opportunity to be helped through that suffering, or when some of that suffering is alleviated by knowing they aren’t alone, this can help reduce the desire to end the pain by more drastic means.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Teens - National Crime Prevention Council

Growing up in the 21st century provides young people with amazing opportunities. We have access to incredible technology that allows us to communicate instantaneously through email and cell phones. We are the healthiest, best-educated generation in history. We volunteer at an even higher rate than adults do. The level of crime that we face is lower than it has been in 30 years. However, crime rates are still too high. The good news is that there are real things we can do about the problems that plague our communities.

Community Works offers us a way to do something about crime and violence. When we participate in the Community Works curriculum, we can work with our friends, other young people, and adult leaders to learn the facts about crime and violence, how we can help prevent crimes, and how we can become involved in service-learning projects that benefit our community.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Troubled Teens, Struggling Teens, Teen Depression, Teen Help, by Sue Scheff

Are you at your wit’s end?

Are you experiencing any of the following situations or feeling at a complete loss or a failure as a parent? You are not alone and by being a proactive parent you are taking the first step towards healing and bringing your family back together.

• Is your teen escalating out of control?
• Is your teen becoming more and more defiant and disrespectful?
• Is your teen manipulative? Running your household?
• Are you hostage in your own home by your teen’s negative behavior?
• Is your teen angry, violent or rage outbursts?
• Is your teen verbally abusive?
• Is your teen rebellious, destructive and withdrawn?
• Is your teen aggressive towards others or animals?
• Is your teen using drugs and/or alcohol?
• Does your teen belong to a gang?
• Do they frequently runaway or leave home for extended periods of time?
• Has their appearance changed – piercing, tattoo’s, inappropriate clothing?
• Has your teen stopped participating in sports, clubs, church and family functions? Have they become withdrawn from society?
• Is your teen very intelligent yet not working up to their potential? Underachiever? Capable of doing the work yet not interested in education.
• Does he/she steal?
• Is your teen sexually active?
• Teen pregnancy?
• Is your teen a good kid but making bad choices?
• Undesirable peers? Is your teen a follower or a leader?
• Low self esteem and low self worth?
• Lack of motivation? Low energy?
• Mood Swings? Anxiety?
• Teen depression that leads to negative behavior?
• Eating Disorders? Weight loss? Weight gain?
• Self-Harm or Self Mutilation?
• High School drop-out?
• Suspended or Expelled from school?
• Suicidal thoughts or attempts?
• Is your teen involved in legal problems? Have they been arrested?
• Juvenile Delinquent?
• Conduct Disorder?
• Bipolar?
• Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)?

Does your teen refuse to take accountability and always blame others for their mistakes?

• Do you feel hopeless, helpless and powerless over what options you have as a parent? Are you at your wit’s end?

Does any of the above sound familiar? Many parents are at their wit’s end by the time they contact us, but the most important thing many need to know is you are not alone. There is help but the parent needs to be proactive and educate themselves in getting the right help.

Many try local therapy, which is always recommended, but in most cases, this is a very temporary band-aid to a more serious problem. One or two hours a week with a therapist is usually not enough to make the major changes that need to be done.

If you feel you are at your wit’s end and are considering outside resources, please contact us. An informed parent is an educated parent and will better prepare to you to make the best decision for your child. It is critical not to place your child out of his/her element. In many cases placing a teen that is just starting to make bad choices into a hard core environment may cause more problems. Be prepared – do your homework.

Many parents are in denial and keep hoping and praying the situation is going to change. Unfortunately in many cases, the problems usually escalate without immediate attention. Don’t be parents in denial; be proactive in getting your teen the appropriate help they may need. Whether it is local therapy or outside the home assistance, be in command of the situation before it spirals out of control and you are at a place of desperation. At wit’s end is not a pleasant place to be, but so many of us have been there.

Finding the best school or program for your child is one of the most important steps a parent does. Remember, your child is not for sale – don’t get drawn into high pressure sales people, learn from my mistakes. Read my story at for the mistakes I made that nearly destroyed my daughter.

In searching for schools and programs we look for the following:

• Helping Teens - not Harming them
• Building them up - not Breaking them down
• Positive and Nurturing Environments - not Punitive
• Family Involvement in Programs - not Isolation from the teen
• Protect Children - not Punish them

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Sue Scheff: Know Your Child's Friends and Their Parents

Know Your Child’s Friends and Their Parents

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

A New Era

As children move into middle school and on to high school, they meet new people and experience changes in style, outlook, and social life. Don’t be surprised to see major shifts in your child’s fashion sense, the movies she watches, and the music she listens to. As your adolescent develops her new identity, she may challenge the way things are done and may see little need for advice and direction. Disappearing into her room, spending endless hours on the phone, and hanging out with friends—often new friends—are behaviors that signal a whole new scene.

Peer Influences
As a child begins to declare his independence, his social circle may provide new views about what’s right, acceptable, “cool,” or “hip.” Unspoken expectations as well as direct encouragement can sway an adolescent’s behavior as well as his attitudes.

The youth scene inevitably includes issues of drinking, smoking, and illegal drug use. When a young person has friends who engage in these activities, it becomes easier for her to believe that such conduct is normal. Besides, adolescents tend to think nothing bad can happen to them. As a result, a child may be inclined to go along with the crowd. She may try a substance that not only is dangerous, but also can get her in trouble. Remember, tobacco and alcohol use are against the law for adolescents.

A Watchful Eye
Young people often are so focused on their personal world of friends and activities that parental influence may seem to be squeezed out. But you can do a lot to help your adolescent take the right social cues.

Getting to know a child’s friends is a good place to start. Meeting them will give you a sense of their personalities, what they are “into,” and their family situations. Don’t be too quick to judge a child’s friends, though. Radical styles and unconventional appearances may be nothing more than a badge of identity. Besides, your child will dismiss any snap judgments that you offer.

Welcome your child’s friends into your home. Encourage your child to invite them over. Talk with them. Offer to drive them home or to drop the group off at a party, the movies, or a school event.

Get to know the friends’ parents. If you haven’t met them, give them a call. Ask what their expectations are regarding curfews, sleepovers, and entertainment. Share your rules and views. Invite the friends’ parents to contact you with any questions or concerns regarding the adolescents’ behavior or to clarify arrangements for their activities. Doing so will add to your impressions of your child’s friends. It will help you know where your child is, whom he is with, and how (or if) he is being supervised when he’s not at home.

A Guiding Hand

Adolescents may react negatively to any pressure or direct suggestions about whom they should hang out with. But there are plenty of opportunities to learn more about their friends. You can ask a child what she likes about a friend or what she thinks of a situation. Use examples from your own experience. Spending time together and being involved in a child’s life allows communication about friends and other sensitive topics to become natural and expected.
Encourage your children to get involved in activities that match their interests. Trying different activities channels an adolescent’s curiosity into things that are safe and fun. Positive activities are good ways to meet friends who have positive attitudes.

Read the entire article here:

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Home Alone

By Connect with Kids

“99 Percent of the time we would follow the rules but you know, every time every now and then you want to just stray from the circle and do what you want instead of the rules.”

– Jamal, 16 years old

We know them as latch key kids. Most afternoons they come home alone and unlock the door to a world free from adult supervision.

Once inside, they often encounter boredom … and temptation.

Because both of his parents work, sixteen-year-old Jamal Inegbedion spends many afternoons home alone with his sister. He says it’s hard to be good all the time, “99 Percent of the time we would follow the rules but you know, every time every now and then you want to just stray from the circle and do what you want instead of the rules.”

Whether young or old, kids alone are prime targets for trouble.

“When there’s no parent around or anyone involved in supervising them they have idle time,” explains Judge Greg Adams, “and what is the old adage idle time is the devil’s workshop. And as a result of that, they get with other young people and they are experimenting with drugs. That’s when a lot of it takes place right after school before the parents get home.”

So, how do parents decide when to leave kids alone? How to keep them safe? And how to keep them out of trouble?

Experts say leaving kids alone before age twelve is a big risk.

After that, “Try very short periods of time and see how the child reacts and how fearful they are,” advises David Hellwig from Child Protective Services. “A parent really knows their child best about their maturity level. [And] Certainly, having emergency phone numbers being immediately available; whether there’s a supportive neighbor relative close by.”

Give them specific instructions, chores to keep them busy, rules to follow and make sure kids know there are consequences for bad behavior.

Jamal’s mom says her kids know the rules … and what will happen if they don’t follow them. “I would let them know that if they didn’t follow instruction I would punish them but most of all worse things could happen to them.”

Tips for Parents
Every day in America, nearly 8 million children go home to an empty house. Experts say, the after school hours are the peak time for juvenile crime and risky behaviors. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention reports that teens are at the highest risk of being a victim of violence between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. and the peak hour for juvenile crime is from 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., just after school is dismissed. Studies also show that students who don’t take part in after-school activities, such as sports or after-school programs are 49 percent more likely to have used drugs and 37 percent more likely to become teen parents.

The National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center defines after-school programs as safe, structured activities that convene regularly in the hours after school and offer activities to help children learn new skills and develop into responsible adults. Activities may cover such topics as technology, reading, math, science and the arts. And the programs may also offer new experiences for children, such as community service, internships or tutoring and mentoring opportunities.

As a parent, why should you consider an after-school program for your child? Without structured, supervised activities in the after-school hours, youth are at greater risk of being victims of crime or participating in antisocial behaviors.

If you are interested in enrolling your child in an after-school program, you have several different types from which to choose. The Educational Resources Information Center says that a good after-school program should offer children the chance to have fun and feel comforted, as well as motivate them to learn. The best programs offer a comprehensive set of activities that do the following for your child:

Foster his or her self-worth and develop his or her self-care skills
Develop his or her personal and interpersonal social skills and promote respect for cultural diversity.
Provide help with homework, tutoring and other learning activities
Provide time and space for quiet study
Provide new, developmentally appropriate enrichment activities to add to his or her learning at school, help him or her develop thinking and problem-solving skills and spark curiosity and love of learning
Provide recreational and physical activities to develop physical skills and constructively channel his or her energy pent up after a day sitting in a classroom
Encourage participation in individual sports activities to help develop self-esteem by striving for a personal best, and participation in group sports to provide lessons about cooperation and conflict resolution
Provide age-appropriate job readiness training
Provide information about career and career-training options, preferably through firsthand experiences with community business leaders and tours of local businesses
Some programs may be excellent while others may be lacking in resources and staff, and therefore, less attractive to parents. It is important when choosing an after-school program to ask questions, visit the facility and get to know the staff.

21st Century Community Learning Centers
Boys & Girls Clubs of America
Educational Resources Information Center
National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Teens and Theft- Why it Happens?

Too Young to Start

There are almost as many reasons teens steal as there are things for teens to steal. One of the biggest reasons teens steal is peer pressure. Often, teens will steal items as a means of proving’ that they are “cool enough” to hang out with a certain group. This is especially dangerous because if your teen can be convinced to break the law for petty theft, there is a strong possibility he or she can be convinced to try other, more dangerous behaviors, like drinking or drugs. It is because of this that it is imperative you correct this behavior before it escalates to something beyond your control.

Another common reason teens steal is because they want an item their peers have but they cannot afford to purchase. Teens are very peer influenced, and may feel that if they don’t have the ‘it’ sneakers or mp3 player, they’ll be considered less cool than the kids who do. If your teen cannot afford these items, they may be so desperate to fit in that they simply steal the item. They may also steal money from you or a sibling to buy such an item. If you notice your teen has new electronics or accessories that you know you did not buy them, and your teen does not have a job or source of money, you may want to address whereabouts they came up with these items.

Teens may also steal simply for a thrill. Teens who steal for the ‘rush’ or the adrenaline boost are often simply bored and/ or testing the limits of authority. They may not even need or want the item they’re stealing! In cases like these, teens can act alone or as part of a group. Often, friends accompanying teens who shoplift will act as a ‘lookout’ for their friend who is committing the theft. Unfortunately, even if the lookout doesn’t actually steal anything, the can be prosecuted right along with the actual teen committing the crime, so its important that you make sure your teen is not aiding his or her friends who are shoplifting.

Yet another reason teens steal is for attention. If your teen feels neglected at home, or is jealous of the attention a sibling is getting, he or she may steal in the hopes that he or she is caught and the focus of your attention is diverted to them. If you suspect your teen is stealing or acting out to gain your attention, it is important that you address the problem before it garners more than just your attention, and becomes part of their criminal record. Though unconventional, this is your teen’s way of asking for your help- don’t let them down!

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