Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sue Scheff: Gangs

Source: Connect with Kids
“Usually I know guys paralyzed for life…sipping through straws.”

– “Jose”, 19

He doesn’t want to reveal his name. We’ll call him “Jose”. He was 12 when he joined a gang. Jose says, “I’m looking at them like, ‘Do I really want to do this?’ And they’re like, ‘If you’re going to do it you’ve got to say yes, you don’t think about it.’”

Saying yes meant a three-minute beating from four older gang members. He says, “They only give you three chances to fall down. After the third one, you got jumped for being stupid.” He didn’t fall down. He was beaten and bloody, but he made it into the gang.

Police say at first, gangs hide the crime and violence from their new recruits. Corporal Edward Campuzano, a gang officer with the Cobb County Police Department in Georgia says, “To them it’s one big party. What they don’t realize a lot of times, is that it might be like that at the beginning, but if you stay focused on that gang and you progressively get older, you’re progressively required to do other things and start committing crimes and start giving back to that gang.”

He says parents should explain to kids that “giving back to the gang means” fighting, stealing, and killing people. Corporal Campuzano says, “That’s when it doesn’t become appealing to them and they try to get out, and they can’t get out because now they have to take what is known to them as a beat out.” It’s a beating to get out of the gang. Jose says, during the beating, gang members could use any weapon but a gun. Often kids die….others barely live. Jose says, “Usually I know guys paralyzed for life…sipping through straws.”

So Jose left the gang, but he was never “beat out.” Now, and maybe forever…he is forced to hide.

Jose is 19-years-old. He never finished school, never learned to control his temper, and has been fired from several jobs. That’s why he’s hoping his story will keep others out of a gang.

Tips for Parents
Gangs are the new mafia, and their organization systems resemble traditional Cosa Nostra operations. Gang crime runs the spectrum of offenses, including underage drinking, extortion, prostitution, drug manufacturing and distribution, and murder. National gang organizations, with infamous names like Bloods, Crips and Latin Kings, often send trusted lieutenants to cities across the country to establish local chapters, called “sets.” Consider the following:

■Gang violence is not an urban problem or a rural problem, nor is it a problem for any one economic class – it is a community-wide problem.
■In 2002, youth gangs were active in over 2,300 cities with populations over 2,500.
■Over 90 percent of large cities (population over 100,000) in the United States reported gang activity between 1996 and 2001.
■There are more than 750,000 gang members nationwide.
■Ninety-five percent of hard-core gang members drop out of high school, and most range in age from 12 to 24.
■The media’s dissemination of gang culture and a restructuring of the economy (unemployment, increases in the urban underclass, etc.) are cited as major factors in the rise of gangs during the ‘90s.
A street gang occurs when three or more people share a unique name or display identifiable marks or symbols (e.g. tattoos, clothing styles, colors, hairstyles, graffiti) and associate together on a regular basis, often claiming a specific location or territory. A gang will have an identifiable organization or hierarchy, and a typical gang will engage in antisocial, unlawful or criminal activity in an effort to further the gang's social or economic status. Such behavior can be carried out either individually or collectively.

Risk factors for gang membership include individual characteristics, family conditions, problematic parent-child relations, low school attachment and academic achievement, peer group influences, prior and/or early involvement in delinquency (especially violence and drug use), association with peers who engage in delinquency, community context, and disorganized neighborhoods where many youth are in trouble. Often, a gang provides young members with comforts society and/or family fails to give them. A gang can morph into the child’s parental unit and also his/her sibling. Gangs can provide a sense of belonging, security and economic opportunity. Unfortunately, most monies are generally attained through crime.

Gender-mixed gangs are becoming more common. Years ago, females were considered property of gang members. Today, some gangs are initiating females as full-fledged members. Estimates indicate between 25 and 33 percent of all youth gang members are female. Consider the following:

■Police see gang recruitment directed toward students as early as elementary school.
■A survey of nearly 6,000 eighth-graders in 11 cities found that 11 percent were currently gang members, and 17 percent said they had belonged to a gang at some point in their life.
■Gang members are far more likely than other delinquents to carry guns and, perhaps more importantly, to use them.
■Research has consistently shown that adolescents are significantly more criminally active during periods of active gang membership.
■Gangs are showing increased sophistication. For example, hard-core gang members are shying away from wearing gang colors or getting symbolic tattoos, knowing school and police authorities will recognize such signs.
Kids often participate in gang activities without their parents’ knowledge, and children can become interested in gang activity as young as elementary-school age. As a parent, it is important to be aware of the warning signs that could indicate your child’s interest in gangs. This is a partial list of those signs, compiled by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

■Your child suddenly begins performing poorly in school
■He/she doesn't attend school regularly
■He/she becomes disinterested in extra-curricular activities or family events
■He/she has negative contact with the police
■He/she writes the name of a gang in graffiti, or you find gang symbols in his/her notebooks or in his/her room
■He/she has problems at home
■He/she has gang tattoos
■He/she has friends who are in gangs
■He/she dresses in gang clothing
As a parent, you can play a huge role in helping your child feel accepted, important, worthy and loved – the feelings he/she seeks. For instance, if you continually skip meetings with teachers or don’t attend your child’s team games or extracurricular activities, your child may begin to feel unwanted or underappreciated, increasing the risk that he/she will seek approval elsewhere. Experts at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have developed a list of other tips to help you minimize the chances of your child joining a gang:

■Get to know your child's friends, how they influence him/her and what they do when they're together. Discourage your child from hanging out with gangs.
■Spend your free time with your child. Give him/her chores to do around the house or enroll him/her in after-school activities, sports, and community center or church programs.
■Stress the value of an education and motivate your child to do well in school.
■Develop good communication skills with your child. Good communication means that it's open, frequent and positive. This will allow your child to express himself or herself and confide in you.
■Find positive role models for your child.
■Plan activities for the entire family, such as trips to parks, libraries, museums or the beach. Give your child attention!
■Give your child some one-on-one time – your undivided attention.
■Don't let your child wear clothing that resembles gang wear. It might attract attention from the wrong people.
■Set limits and rules for your child. From an early age, let him/her know what is acceptable and what is unacceptable. Enforce a curfew. Don't let him/her hang out until all hours of the night.
■Don't let your child write or draw gang-like graffiti.
■Get involved in your child’s education. Go to his/her school, get to know his/her teachers and attend parent-teacher events.
■Learn about gangs and gang activity in your community. Get educated!

■Faith and the City
■Gang Resistance Education And Training
■Know Gangs
■Michigan State University
■The National Youth Gang Center
■U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
■The Nawojczyk Group, Inc

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sue Scheff: Connecting with your Preteen


Connecting with Your Pre-Teen

Staying connected as kids approach the teen years and become more independent may become a challenge for parents, but it’s as important as ever — if not more so now.

While activities at school, new interests, and a growing social life become more important to growing kids, parents are still the anchors, providing love, guidance, and support.

And that connection provides a sense of security and helps build the resilience kids needs to roll with life’s ups and downs.

What to Expect
Your preteen may act as if your guidance isn’t welcome or needed, and even seem embarrassed by you at times. This is when kids start to confide more in peers and request their space and privacy — expect the bedroom door to be shut more often.

As difficult as it may be to swallow these changes, try not to take them personally. They’re all signs of growing independence. You’re going to have to loosen the ties and allow some growing room.

But you don’t have to let go entirely. You’re still a powerful influence — it’s just that your preteen may be more responsive to the example you set rather than the instructions you give. So practice what you’d like to preach, just preach it a little less for now.

Modeling the qualities that you want your preteen to learn and practice — respectful communication, kindness, healthy eating, and fulfilling everyday responsibilities without complaining — makes it more likely that your son or daughter will comply.

What You Can Do
Small, simple things can reinforce connection. Make room in your schedule for special times, take advantage of the routines you already share, and show that you care.

Here are some tips:

•Family meals: It may seem like drudgery to prepare a meal, particularly after a long day. But a shared family meal provides valuable together time. So schedule it and organize it just as you would any other activity. Even if you have to pick up something pre-made, sit down together to eat it. Turn off the TV and try to tune out the ringing phone. If it’s impossible to do every night, schedule a regular weekly family dinner night that accommodates kids’ schedules. Make it something fun, and get everyone involved in the preparation and the cleanup. Sharing an activity helps build closeness and connection, and everyone pitching in reinforces a sense of responsibility and teamwork.

•Bedtime and goodnight: Your child may not need to be tucked in anymore, but maintaining a consistent bedtime routine helps preteens get the sleep needed to grow healthy and strong. So work in some winding-down time together before the lights go out. Read together. Go over the highlights of the day and talk about tomorrow. And even if your preteen has outgrown the tuck-in routine, there’s still a place for a goodnight kiss or hug. If it’s shrugged off, try a gentle hand on the shoulder or back as you wish your child a good night’s sleep.

•Share ordinary time: Find little things that let you just hang out together. Invite your preteen to come with you to walk the dog. Invite yourself along on his or her run. Washing the car, baking cookies, renting movies, watching a favorite TV show — all are opportunities to enjoy each other’s company. And they’re chances for kids to talk about what’s on their mind. Even riding in the car is an opportunity to connect. When you’re driving, your preteen may be more inclined to mention a troubling issue. Since you’re focused on the road, he or she doesn’t have to make eye contact, which can ease any discomfort about opening up.

•Create special time: Make a tradition out of celebrating family milestones beyond birthdays and holidays. Marking smaller occasions like a good report card or a winning soccer game helps reinforce family bonds.

•Show affection: Don’t underestimate the value of saying and showing how much you love your preteen. Doing so ensures that kids feel secure and loved. And you’re demonstrating healthy ways to show affection. Still, preteens may start to feel self-conscious about big displays of affection from parents, especially in public. They may pull away from your hug and kiss, but it’s not about you. Just reserve this type of affection for times when friends aren’t around. And in public, find other ways to show that you care.
A smile or a wave can convey a warm send-off while respecting boundaries. Recognize out loud your child’s wonderful qualities and developing skills when you see them. You might say, “That’s a beautiful drawing — you’re really very artistic” or “You were great at baseball practice today — I loved watching you out there.”

•Stay involved: Stay involved in your preteen’s expanding pursuits. Getting involved gives you more time together and shared experiences. You don’t have to be the Scout leader, homeroom mom, or soccer coach to be involved. And your child may want to do more activities where you’re not in charge. That’s OK. Go to games and practices when you can; when you can’t, ask how things went and listen attentively. Help kids talk through the disappointments, and be sympathetic about the missed fly ball that won the game for the other team. Your attitude about setbacks will teach your preteen to accept and feel OK about them, and to summon the courage to try again.

•Stay interested: Stay interested and curious about your preteen’s ideas, feelings, and experiences. If you listen to what he or she is saying, you’ll get a better sense of the guidance, perspective, and support needed. And responding in a nonjudgmental way means your child will be more likely to come to you anytime tough issues arise.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sue Scheff: Program Helps Youth with ADD/ADHD

Drop Your Reins – Learn to TrustPeaceful Solutions for ADHD/ADD & Autistic Children Using Natural Horsemanship

Founded and run by Danielle Herb, Drop Your Reins is a holistic training school based in Live Oak, FL. From direct interaction with horses to supplemental training videos the program uses Natural Horsemanship For Kids helps guide the powerful minds of ADD/ADHD and Autistic children to reach their greatest potential while maintaining their innocence and purity.

Horses are amazing because they are sentient animals that mirror our personalities as well as our fears. –Danielle Herb

The old model of parenting and training horses, still being used by many today, is to break their spirit into submission to get them to do what you want. They are repeatedly worn down until the end result is unhappy, unhealthy kids and horses.

Are you curious about how horses can help humans learn to communicate more effectively, build inner self-esteem and outer confidence? By partnering with horses, we create an experiential learning environment that invites open communication, personal reflection, and increased self-awareness. Find out more about this “horse stuff” by joining us for a short, complimentary, introductory demonstration of this truly amazing learning process!

We begin each demo with introductions, to each other, to horse assisted learning and to horse behavior. Next, we partner with our four-legged friends to give you an opportunity to experience, first-hand, an on-the-ground (non riding) Drop Your Reins experience. Following the exercise with the horses, we take time “debrief” or talk – seeking to help identify assumptions and belief systems, increasing understanding and awareness. There’s also time to answer questions about how we can collaborate to help you reach your families development or personal growth goals.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sue Scheff: Keeping Your Kids Safe Online

For those that know me know that this topic is very important to me. I believe safety for our kids is priority, however we need to remember all of us need to be educated to online safety! This is a time when both parents and kids need to take the time to learn about what lurks in cyberspace - how to protect your identity, your family, your privacy and yourself. Not to mention your virtual reputation.

Wired Moms is is an online community of people that are dedicated to keeping our kids, and all kids, safe online. This site is your virtual back fence - a place where you can come and meet with other moms to share stories and learn different ways to navigate through the latest technologies that our kids seem to know intuitively. Register today, stay involved, meet new people and have fun at the same time. Visit today!

Wired Safety is headed by Parry Aftab (also a volunteer), a mom, international cyberspace privacy and security lawyer and children’s advocate. Parry is the author of The Parent’s Guide to Protecting Your Children in Cyberspace (McGraw-Hill), which has been adapted and translated around the world. WiredPatrol volunteers range in age from 18 to 80. WiredKids range from seven to twelve, and the Teenangels from 13 to 18, and these programs are run in conjunction with, also headed by Parry Aftab. WiredSafety backgrounds include everything from TV personalities, teachers, stay-at-home moms, retired persons, law enforcement officers, and students to PhD’s and writers.

From Wired Safety for Parents:

Parents need to understand that the greatest risk our children face online is being denied access. The Internet is essential to our children’s education, future careers and lives. But even the most experienced Internet user doesn’t understand how children use the Internet and how to help them have a safer and more enjoyable surfing experience.

Visit for great questions and answers from Parry Aftab.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sue Scheff: Parent Empowerment


Last week I went over to a client’s house and was working with her on the time management lesson of my program. We were looking at her school planner and slotting in her homework and project schedule. I noticed that for Tuesday night she had highlighted, added stickers and highlighter smiley faces.

“Is it your birthday?” I asked.“No, it’s the night of the 8th grade parent meeting at school!” She replied.“Um, you get that excited for a parent meeting?” I questioned.“Silly, we love parents night because the entire 8th grade can get online and watch videos and hang-out together, we have to make sure I get my homework done on Monday night!”

I am sure, that High School’s parents have no idea that the whole grade not only looks forward to parent meetings like birthday celebrations, but also that they class is bonding and throwing an online party in their respective homes across the city. (She let me blog about this, as long as I keep my promise not to share the school’s name.)

I think, this is a good thing actually:

-It makes them get homework done early
-It helps them bond with each other
-They are all at home, their really rebellious move is to video chat with, gasp, more than two people at once while mom and dad are out.

-The online environment has allowed for an outside of school recess. (I have many posts about how technology has blurred the lines between home, school and social life and this can be a very negative thing, so I want to have at least one article where it is good!)
-They encourage their parents to be involved. Because everyone wants to be able to go to the online party, kids are now encouraging their parents more than ever to join those committees, and attend meetings to stay informed…hey the schools need all of the help they can get!

I asked my teen advisory council and interns what they do when their parents are out, here are some of the answers, listed in order of popularity (there was a very long tail on this one of some very random activities–some of which I chose to include, some of which I left out).

1) YouTube Videos
2) Talk on the phone
3) Text
4) Raid the kitchen
5) Go on AIM/Skype/iChat
6) iTunes and/or listen to music
7) Watch TV/Movies
Invite friends/boyfriend/girlfriend over
9) Play video games
10) Masturbate
11) Prank phone calls
12) Go out
13) Look through parents room/desk/siblings room
14) The same thing I do when they are home
15) Homework

As you can see, it varies. A lot of the time, you can just ask them and they will tell you. Or show them this post and see if they find any of the answers surprising.

Related Articles:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teens and Drug Abuse

Every day in our schools and communities, children are teased, threatened, or tormented by bullies. To help care for our youth, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) developed webpages and resources (print and online) that serve can as useful tools to parents, educators, and everyone with today’s children, teens and tweens.

• About Bullying
• Systems of Care
• National Strategy for Suicide Prevention
• National Suicide Prevention Initiative

These sites offer parents, caregivers, educators, and other professionals a great opportunity to know the facts, recognize signs and symptoms, and access easy to read tips on how to talk to children about mental health. These resources can help caregivers build healthier, safer environments and support anti-bullying initiatives.

For additional information on this topic and more, or to order resources at no cost, please call the SAMHSA hotline at 1-877-SAMHSA-7 or visit

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sue Scheff: More Parents Are Talking with Their Teens About Cough Medicine Abuse

Washington, D.C. (May 4, 2009) — The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) applauds the latest nationwide survey results showing that more parents than ever are addressing over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine abuse with their teens.

The Partnership/Metlife Parents Attitude Tracking Study (PATS) indicates that 65 percent of parents are talking to their teen about the dangers of using OTC cough and cold medicine to get high, up from 55 percent in 2007. PATS-Parents 2008 is a nationally projectable survey of 1,004 parents of children in grades 4-12 and was conducted by the Partnership with major funding from MetLife Foundation.

“We know that parents play a critical role in keeping their kids drug-free,” said Linda A. Suydam, president of CHPA. “It is great news that more and more parents are exercising that power and talking to their kids about cough medicine abuse just as they would about any substance abuse behavior.”

The latest PATS-Parents results show an 18 percent increase in parent-teen conversations about cough medicine abuse. This was the single highest increase in all categories examined in the survey.

“The data are encouraging, since we know that kids who learn a lot from their parents about the risks of drugs are up to 50 percent less likely to ever use drugs,” said Steve Pasierb, president of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. Nationwide statistics from the National Institutes of Health’s Monitoring the Future study show a slight overall decline in teen cough medicine abuse. ”That is one of the reasons the Partnership is so committed to helping parents have these important conversations with their teens.”

CHPA works with the Partnership and other interested organizations on a number of initiatives targeting teen cough medicine abuse. All of the association’s efforts can be found on The site provides additional information on talking to teens about substance abuse issues, free pamphlets for parents in both English and Spanish, easy access to downloadable materials for community leaders, the initiative’s recently launched Facebook fan page, a new widget containing automatically updated information, the award-winning Five Moms Campaign, and much more.

“Our member companies are steadfast in their commitment to prevent teen cough medicine abuse. But we know that our work is far from over. With the help of such partners as the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, and D.A.R.E. America, we will continue our efforts to make sure all parents are aware of this substance abuse behavior and most importantly, talking with their children about it,“ remarked Suydam.

About PATS-Parents 2008The Partnership/MetLife PATS study is an in-home, anonymous survey conducted for the Partnership and MetLife by deKadt Marketing and Research with a margin of error of +/- 3 percent. For more information and the full PATS Parents report visit

Contacts: Mimi Pappas and Virginia Cox202.429.9260

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sue Scheff: Self Defense and Teens

Source: TeensHealth


You’ve seen it in movies: A girl walks through an isolated parking garage. Suddenly, an evil-looking guy jumps out from behind an SUV. Girl jabs bad guy in the eyes with her keys — or maybe she kicks him in a certain sensitive place. Either way, while he’s squirming, she leaps into her car and speeds to safety.

That’s the movies. Here’s the real-life action replay: When the girl goes to jab or kick the guy, he knows what’s coming and grabs her arm (or leg), pulling her off balance. Enraged by her attempt to fight back, he flips her onto the ground. Now she’s in a bad place to defend herself — and she can’t run away.

Many people think of self-defense as a karate kick to the groin or jab in the eyes of an attacker. But self-defense actually means doing everything possible to avoid fighting someone who threatens or attacks you. Self-defense is all about using your smarts — not your fists.

Use Your Head

People (guys as well as girls) who are threatened and fight back “in self-defense” actually risk making a situation worse. The attacker, who is already edgy and pumped up on adrenaline — and who knows what else — may become even more angry and violent. The best way to handle any attack or threat of attack is to try to get away. This way, you’re least likely to be injured.
One way to avoid a potential attack before it happens is to trust your instincts. Your intuition, combined with your common sense, can help get you out of trouble. For example, if you’re running alone on the school track and you suddenly feel like you’re being watched, that could be your intuition telling you something. Your common sense would then tell you that it’s a good idea to get back to where there are more people around.
De-Escalating a Bad Situation
Attackers aren’t always strangers who jump out of dark alleys. Sadly, teens can be attacked by people they know. That’s where another important self-defense skill comes into play. This skill is something self-defense experts and negotiators call de-escalation.
De-escalating a situation means speaking or acting in a way that can prevent things from getting worse. The classic example of de-escalation is giving a robber your money rather than trying to fight or run. But de-escalation can work in other ways, too. For example, if someone harasses you when there’s no one else around, you can de-escalate things by agreeing with him or her. You don’t have to actually believe the taunts, of course, you’re just using words to get you out of a tight spot. Then you can redirect the bully’s focus (”Oops, I just heard the bell for third period”), and calmly walk away from the situation.
Something as simple as not losing your temper can de-escalate a situation. Learn how to manage your own anger effectively so that you can talk or walk away without using your fists or weapons.
Although de-escalation won’t always work, it can only help matters if you remain calm and don’t give the would-be attacker any extra ammunition. Whether it’s a stranger or someone you thought you could trust, saying and doing things that don’t threaten your attacker can give you some control.

Reduce Your Risks

Another part of self-defense is doing things that can help you stay safe. Here are some tips from the National Crime Prevention Council and other experts:

Understand your surroundings. Walk or hang out in areas that are open, well lit, and well traveled. Become familiar with the buildings, parking lots, parks, and other places you walk. Pay particular attention to places where someone could hide — such as stairways and bushes.
Avoid shortcuts that take you through isolated areas.

If you’re going out at night, travel in a group.

Make sure your friends and parents know your daily schedule (classes, sports practice, club meetings, etc.). If you go on a date or with friends for an after-game snack, let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return.

Check out hangouts. Do they look safe? Are you comfortable being there? Ask yourself if the people around you seem to share your views on fun activities — if you think they’re being reckless, move on.

Be sure your body language shows a sense of confidence. Look like you know where you’re going and act alert.

When riding on public transportation, sit near the driver and stay awake. Attackers are looking for vulnerable targets.

Carry a cell phone if possible. Make sure it’s programmed with your parents’ phone number.
Be willing to report crimes in your neighborhood and school to the police.

Take a Self-Defense Class

The best way — in fact the only way — to prepare yourself to fight off an attacker is to take a self-defense class. We’d love to give you all the right moves in an article, but some things you just have to learn in person.

A good self-defense class can teach you how to size up a situation and decide what you should do. Self-defense classes can also teach special techniques for breaking an attacker’s grasp and other things you can do to get away. For example, attackers usually anticipate how their victim might react — that kick to the groin or jab to the eyes, for instance. A good self-defense class can teach you ways to surprise your attacker and catch him or her off guard.

One of the best things people take away from self-defense classes is self-confidence. The last thing you want to be thinking about during an attack is, “Can I really pull this self-defense tactic off?” It’s much easier to take action in an emergency if you’ve already had a few dry runs.
A self-defense class should give you a chance to practice your moves. If you take a class with a friend, you can continue practicing on each other to keep the moves fresh in your mind long after the class is over.

Check out your local YMCA, community hospital, or community center for classes. If they don’t have them, they may be able to tell you who does. Your PE teacher or school counselor may also be a great resource.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sue Scheff: Texting and Cell Phones with Teens

Love Our Children USA is an organization that educates you on protecting our children. I was privileged to be introduced to their Cyberbullying Spokesperson while on The Rachael Ray Show. This non-profit organization continually helps many families by not only reaching out to them, but keeping parents up to date on how to keep your children safe and keeping you informed of today’s adolescents and these new activities such as texting and sexting. Well, semi-new activities - to many of us, texting is still foreign, however these kids have their fingers going a mile a minute.

THE ISSUE:Every year over 3 million children are victims of violence and almost 1.8million are abducted. Nearly 600,000 children live in foster care. Every day1 out of 7 kids and teens are approached online by predators, 1 out of 4kids are bullied and 42% of kids are cyberbullied.

THE SOLUTION: PREVENTION! Getting to the root of the cause through education and changing behaviorsand attitudes. Loving and nurturing children. Stopping Violence BEFORE itstarts — creating happy and healthy children … Keeping Children Safe


Who is text messaging you? If your friends, family and parents are the only ones sending you text messages — than that’s cool! They should be the only people who are texting you!

To be safe, you should not give anyone but your close friends and family your cell number. Do not give out personal identifiable information, such as real full name, addresses, phone numbers, photos, descriptive information from which this information could easily be found (like a picture of you in front of a recognizable place, or a photo referring to your sports team by name or by wearing something with identifying information in a photo.)

If you text message people other than your family and close friends, you could be texting people who can cause you harm.

And, it’s not uncommon for bullies to use cell phones to harass other kids and, tragically, it’s not unheard of for kids to be contacted on their cell phone by adult predators.
You wouldn’t text a stranger and give them all of your information and let them know what school you go to — would you?

By using common sense and maintaining your privacy when using your cell phone and text messaging you stay safe from online predators and cyber bullies.
What To Do If Strangers Or Bullies Text You?

REPORT IT immediately! To your parents, a trusted teacher and the police!
No one has the right to bully you! And no stranger has the right to text you!

For more information click to read:BullyingBullying At School Bullying …

Through The Eyes Of A Victim Bullying: What Have I Ever Done To You

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teens Driving While High

Everyone fears drinking and driving and the danger it can cause, today we need to add driving while high (smoking pot) and how your instincts are diminished to the point that it could cause accidents and worse. Learn more now.

“Pot is the sneakiest of drugs because it takes out your functioning. It decreases reaction time. It messes up judgment. It messes up driving,”
– Steven Jaffe, MD, psychiatrist

For a young driver, there are so many dangers: speed, ego, inexperience and another often ignored danger: drugs.
“I think it’s very irresponsible and it could lead to a lot of dangerous accidents. It’s just as bad as driving drunk – quite possible even worse,” says 17-year-old Allison Meisburg.

Researchers from the University of Montreal studied the habits of 83 male drivers. They found that nearly 20 percent have been high behind the wheel.

“…and I would estimate at least two or three times that number have been in the car in which the driver was stoned,” says Dr. Steven Jaffe, a psychiatrist, who specializes in substance abuse issues.

“[Driving while high] is not as bad as drinking and driving, but it is still bad of course, because you know your reflexes are delayed and all that jazz,” says 16-year old Justin.
Experts say teens simply don’t realize the dangers.

It’s hard to believe, but some kids believe pot helps them driver better.

“They really think they do,” says Dr. Jaffe. “But they don’t. They really don’t. They don’t realize they are impaired. Pot is the sneakiest of drugs because it takes out your functioning. It decreases reaction time. It messes up their judgment. It messes up driving.”
Dr. Jaffe says parents should adopt a zero-tolerance attitude. Remind your kids that pot is a mind-altering drug and not to ride with drivers who are high on any drug. Then, remind them of the consequences.

“The biggest consequence would be you run into another on-coming car during traffic and you kill them and yourself. That’d be the biggest consequence,” says Reggie, 17.
Dr. Jaffe concurs. “It only takes one time to kill yourself and kill somebody else.”

Tips for Parents

According to government studies, nearly 11 million Americans, including one in five 21-year-olds, have driven while under the influence of illegal drugs. Young adults don’t consider driving while high to be as dangerous as driving while under the influence of alcohol, according to John Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Therefore, his office is starting a campaign warning teens about driving while smoking marijuana. Concentration, perception, coordination and reaction time can all be affected for up to 24 hours after smoking marijuana, Walters said.

So how can you determine if your teen has been using drugs, namely marijuana? The experts at the National Institute on Drug Abuse suggest looking for these trouble signs in your teen. He/she may:

Seem dizzy and have trouble walking
Seem silly and giggly for no reason
Have very red, bloodshot eyes
Have a hard time remembering things that just happened
Seem very sleepy or groggy (after the early effects fade, sleepiness may occur)
In addition to these signs, parents should also be alert to changes in any of the following:
Behavior, such as withdrawal, depression, fatigue, carelessness with grooming, hostility and deteriorating relationships with friends and family
Academic performance, including absenteeism and truancy
Loss of interest in sports or other favorite hobbies
Eating or sleeping patterns
Also be on the lookout for:
Signs of drugs and drug paraphernalia
Odor on clothes and in bedroom
Use of incense and other deodorizers
Use of eye drops
Clothing, posters, jewelry, etc., promoting drug use

National Institute on Drug Abuse
Parents. The Anti-Drug.
Office of National Drug Control Policy
University of Montreal