Archive | March 2009

Sue Scheff: Teen Depression

usatodayAs I saw on the news last night, experts are saying that parents with children between the ages of 12-18 should have them screened for depression.  It is not about promoting medication, it is about helping to understand if there are areas in their lives that can be causing stress and anxiety that can leave to making negative choices such has experimenting with substance abuse, hanging with a  less than desirable peer group, feelings of low self worth, etc.  Like adults, children can be prone to depression and stress and not mature enough to understand these feelings.  With this, acting out in a negative way can follow.  Take time to learn more.

Source: USA Today

Experts: Doctors should screen teens for depression.

If you have teens or tweens, government-appointed experts have a message: U.S. adolescents should be routinely screened for major depression by their primary care doctors. The benefits of screening kids 12 to 18 years old outweigh any risks if doctors can assure an accurate diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care, says the independent U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

It’s a change from the group’s 2002 report concluding there wasn’t enough evidence to support or oppose screening for teens. The task force, though, says there’s still insufficient proof about the benefits and harms of screening children 7 to 11 years old.

Depression strikes about 1 out of 20 teens, and it’s been linked to lower grades, more physical illness and drug use, as well as early pregnancy. 

Questionnaires can accurately identify teens prone to depression, plus there’s new evidence that therapy and/or some antidepressants can benefit them, the expert panel says in a report in today’s Pediatrics .  But careful monitoring is vital since there’s “convincing evidence” that antidepressants can increase suicidal behavior in teens, the report says.

Accompanying the task force advisory in Pediatrics is a research review saying there have been few studies on the accuracy of depression screening tests, but the tests “have performed fairly well” among adolescents.  Treatment can knock down symptoms of depression, say the reviewers from Kaiser Permanente and the Oregon Evidence-Based Practice Center in Portland, Ore. 

In a “show me the money” volley back, pediatricians also weigh in on the topic in today’s issue of their journal. Insurance plans and managed care companies that stiff or under-pay pediatricians for mental health services throw up barriers to mental health care in doctors’ offices, says the American Academy of Pediatrics.  Kids’ doctors should be compensated for screenings, as well as consults with mental health specialists and parents, AAP recommends.

Sue Scheff: SAT Prep – Teens Do Your Homework

satprepStudy, study, study – college applications, campus tours and major decisions!  What do I want to be when I grow up?  What do I want to study?  Do I want a large campus, small?  Close to home or out of state?  Choices, choices, choices – but most will begin with your SAT scores.  Be prepared, no one says you have to know what you want to be, but what you do need to know is you have to do your best on your test scores.  With this, many doors will be open for you and chances are greater will find what will be your brightest future.

Source: Connect with Kids

“Some students will see huge differences. [Some] students don’t improve at all. Students get out of it what they put into it.”

– Wendi Deen Johnson, Kaplan Score Prep

In just a few weeks 17-year old Caroline will take the SAT for the first time.

 “Well I know it’s like a really important test and I am really kind of concerned about that because I want to go to a really good college,” says Caroline.
To prepare for the college entrance exam, Caroline enrolled in an SAT prep course where she learned some useful strategies. 

“For instance, she says, “What kind of questions are going to be asked and timing- it speeds me up so that I can get through more questions and hopefully get more answers right. “

But how will that prep course affect her score?

 “Some students will see huge differences- we’ve had students who’ve increased 300-points. We also have students who don’t improve at all. Most of the time, students get out of it what they put into it,” says Wendi Deen Johnson, a spokesperson with the Score Prep division of Kaplan, Inc. a national test preparation company.

According to the College Board which administers the SAT, on average, SAT coaching increases verbal scores by eight points and math scores by eighteen points. In other words, coached students are likely to get one to three more questions right when compared to non-coached students.

If parents do opt to enroll their children in professional prep courses, even some in the test prep industry say it can be a mistake to start too early.

“If it’s a kid who’s really anxious about test-taking, then probably preparing them early wouldn’t be the best thing. You’d want to give them some time to mature and grow and learn some more skills,” says Johnson.

Commercial prep courses can cost hundreds of dollars, but experts say parents can help their kids prepare for less money by purchasing study guides, surfing the net for information, or enrolling in independent study courses.

That is exactly what Caroline did. Soon she’ll find out how well it worked.

“I’m hoping for a 1400 on the SAT,” she says.  A near perfect score.

Tips for Parents

Anxiety stemming from standardized tests is not uncommon among today’s teens. In fact, a poll conducted by Public Agenda showed that 73 percent of surveyed students said they get nervous before taking a test, while 5 percent said they become too nervous to even take the test.

The University of Illinois Extension says that most students experience some level of anxiety during an exam, and this anxiety is due to a variety of reasons:

  • Poor time management
  • Failure to organize information
  • Poor study habits
  • Negative test-taking experience
  • Low self-confidence
  • Negative attitude about school

According to the State University of New York at Buffalo, children who frequently experience test anxiety also worry about the future and become extremely self-critical. Instead of feeling challenged by the prospect of success, they become afraid of failure. This makes them anxious about tests and their own abilities. And ultimately, they become so worked up that they feel incompetent about the subject matter or the test.

The National PTA says that it does not help to tell your child to relax, to think about something else or stop worrying about standardized tests. But you can help your child reduce test anxiety and prepare for tests like the SAT by encouraging the following actions:

  • Space studying over days or weeks. (Real learning occurs through studying that takes place over a period of time.) Understand the information and relate it to what is already known. Review it more than once. By doing this, your child should feel prepared at exam time.
  • Don’t “cram” the night before – cramming increases anxiety, which interferes with clear thinking. Get a good night’s sleep. Rest, exercise and eating well are as important to test taking as they are to other schoolwork.
  • Read the directions carefully when the instructor hands out the test. If you don’t understand them, ask the teacher to explain.
  • Look quickly at the entire examination to see what types of questions are included (multiple choice, matching, true/ false, essay, etc.) and, if possible, the number of points for each. This will help you pace yourself.
  • If you don’t know the answer to a question, skip it and go on. Don’t waste time worrying about it. Mark it so you can identify it as unanswered. If you have time at the end of the exam, return to the unanswered question(s).

As a parent, you can be a great help to your child if you observe these do’s and don’ts about tests and testing from the U.S. Department of Education:

  • Don’t be too anxious about your child’s test scores. If you put too much emphasis on test scores, this can upset your child.
  • Do encourage your child. Praise him/her for the things he or she does well. If your child feels good about himself or herself, he/she will do his/her best. Children who are afraid of failing are more likely to become anxious when taking tests and more likely to make mistakes.
  • Don’t judge your child on the basis of a single test score. Test scores are not perfect measures of what your child can do. Other factors might influence a test score. For example, your child can be affected by the way he/she is feeling, the setting in the classroom and the attitude of the teacher. Remember also that one test is simply one test.
  • Meet with your child’s teacher as often as possible to discuss his/her progress. Ask the teacher to suggest activities for you and your child to do at home to help prepare for tests and improve your child’s understanding of schoolwork. Parents and teachers should work together to benefit students.
  • Make sure your child attends school regularly. Remember, tests do reflect children’s overall achievement. The more effort and energy your child puts into learning, the more likely he/she will do well on tests.
  • Provide a quiet, comfortable place for studying at home.
  • Make sure that your child is well rested on school days and especially the day of a test. Children who are tired are less able to pay attention in class or to handle the demands of a test.
  • Give your child a well-rounded diet. A healthy body leads to a healthy, active mind.
  • Provide books and magazines for your child to read at home. By reading new materials, your child will learn new words that might appear on a test. Ask your child’s school about a suggested outside reading list or get suggestions from the public library.


  • College Board
  • National PTA
  • Public Agenda
  • State University of New York at Buffalo
  • University of Illinois Extension
  • U.S. Department of Education

Face to Face – Talking Online – Taking it Off Line

facetoface1Source: ReputationDefender Blog


Taking it Offline: The Lingering Importance of Face-to-Face Networking in a Digital World

With the rise and blossoming of online networking sites like LinkedIn and ClaimID, many people, especially younger people, are doing the majority of their business networking online. This phenomenon is not anything new, and it has been covered in this blog and elsewhere.


But while it may be easier to sit in front of the computer screen and interact with your peers, it is hard to think that interpersonal relationships can ever be fully fleshed out (if you will) in the digital sphere. Face-to-face networking will never go away. The information on the Internet is not always accurate (although that doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant, according to Google’s algorithms), and there is a lot to be said for looking someone in the eyes.


Today people should try to balance their “new school” digital networking with the “old school” tried and true methods. The approach will literally double the amount of chances a person has to make an impact with a potential employer, and the effort required to do so is not unreasonable (point of fact, until a few years the “old school” method was the only game in town).


LinkedIn and other popular business networking sites thrive because they offer an alternative to actually speaking with a fellow networker. The information you put in the profile becomes the equivalent of a hand shake and a greeting. Thus, a user profile, for business purposes, should be looked at as an opportunity to distinguish yourself as someone others want to know and be connected to.


There are small and effective steps one can take to achieve this. Focus on brevity. 100 words is enough to grab someone’s attention and establish a positive image. If done correctly, a LinkedIn profile can, for practical purposes, be the difference between just another interview and a job offer. Conversely, a poorly written profile can have you knocked out of the running before you even get started.


Many employers look at LinkedIn as a sort of research tool. A resume can only say so much about a person, and employers are always looking to find out the little bits about a potential employee that are not immediately apparent. This fact has had disastrous consequences for some people whose Facebook and MySpace profiles contain otherwise unflattering images/language/etc. We’ve blogged that story here more than once.


Online business networking profiles are still just a piece of the puzzle, though. A successful blend of the old and the new networking techniques will counteract the deficiencies inherent in both approaches. A human touch in the new digital landscape goes a long way towards maintaining awareness and crafting image, while drawing in more localized business and opening channels previously untapped.

Sue Scheff: Jobs and Drug Use

Source: Connect with Kids

“They end up experimenting in such a way that the use of that [extra] income is not really going toward beneficial things for them.”

– Dr. Richard Winer, Psychiatrist

For just seventeen, Adam Shapiro’s work experience is impressive. “I have worked at my synagogue… like three hours a week probably on a Sunday. I was assistant teacher. I’ve ref’d soccer before,” he says.

But with major exams this week, the jobs will have to wait.

“Are you studying the rest of the week?” his mom, Karen, asks him,
“Yeah,” says Adam.

“The number one priority for us is his studies. So, if he wanted to work and make extra money that was great, as long as it did not interfere with his studies,” explains his mom, Karen.

Previous studies have found that kids who work just ten hours a week admit to cheating more often in school and taking less challenging courses.

And a new survey by the Rand Corporation finds that kids who work are also more likely to use drugs and alcohol and smoke cigarettes.

The difference between them and their unemployed peers: lack of supervision for one and extra cash.

“They end up experimenting in such a way that the use of that the use of that income is not really going toward beneficial things for them,” explains Dr. Richard Winer, a psychiatrist.

He says parents need to keep a close eye on where the money is going, and how the job is affecting their child. “Their sleep patterns, their eating patterns, their social skills among peers as well as family member… if there’s a distinct change that’s taken place then it’s probably worth looking into to that, because that might be kind of a warning sign.”

Finally, he says kids will do better off if they take a job for the experience, not just the money.
“If you enjoy your work, it won’t feel that taxing to you,” he says, “and [it] probably will have less likelihood of being an impediment to your academic work as a teen or as a college student.”

Adam, who already has been accepted to college early admission, says that’s exactly what happened to him.  “I ref soccer, and I enjoy, I love sports… so, I try to find a happy medium in between working, getting paid… and doing something I love.”

Tips for Parents

The Department of Labor estimates that 80 percent of high school students will hold a job at some point before graduation. Most teens are working for spending money. Few are contributing to family expenses. The National Academies assessed how work affects the health, education, development and behavior of young people. Their research found advantages and disadvantages for students that work.

Among the advantages of a job are that it can …

  • Help develop responsibility and time management skills.
  • Provide experience in dealing with people.
  • Provide opportunity to acquire specific job skills that might transfer to subsequent work situations.

Research has also shown the following negative consequences of work, particularly when a teen works more than 20 hours a week:

  • Work can interfere with schoolwork and academic achievement
  • Work can take precedence over extracurricular activities and social experiences that are an important part of adolescent development
  • Work can interfere with sleep
  • Students who work long hours – more than 20 hours – are more likely to use illegal drugs or engage in other deviant behavior.
  • Many students who work long hours get insufficient sleep and exercise and may spend less time with their families.
  • Students who consistently work more than 20 hours per week also complete less schooling.

Though working can help to acquire specific job skills, the reality is that many teens are employed in jobs that utilize low-level skills and do not provide any valuable learning experience. The National Academies and others recommend that Congress give the U.S. Department of Labor the authority to limit the number of hours worked during the school year by all children under 18.

Currently, under federal law, students under 16 cannot work more than three hours on a school day and 18 hours in an entire week. The government has not set guidelines for 16 to 17-year-olds. The National Consumers League recommends that 16 to 17 year olds be restricted to no more than four hours per day and 20 hours a week during the school year.

The North Carolina State University Family and Consumer Sciences offers these tips for parents and kids to make the most of a teen’s job:

  • Agree to make schoolwork the number one priority
  • Set clear expectations about the conditions of acceptable employment (type of work, how much work, maintaining good grades, etc.)
  • Have the teen work out expectations and conditions with employer (e.g. must have time off during finals week, must finish by a certain hour on school nights, etc.)
  • Consider working only during school vacations and/or vacations.
  • If money is not the issue, consider an unpaid or volunteer work that will serve the teen’s personal growth and long-term career interests.

Before your teen sets his or her heart on a job, make sure he or she is aware of the potential hazards of the job. According to the National Consumer League, the five worst and dangerous jobs for teens to hold include the following:

  • Driving and delivery, including operating or repairing motorized equipment
  • Working alone in cash-based businesses and late-night work
  • Cooking with exposure to hot oil and grease, hot water and steam, and hot cooking surfaces
  • Construction and work at heights
  • Traveling youth crews

As a parent, you need to teach your child the skills to keep a job by excelling in his/her chosen field. The YouthRules! Initiative of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) offers parents the following tips for teaching their child the importance of appearance and courtesy on the job:

  • Know the dress code. If business attire is expected, wear it.
  • Make sure your clothes are clean, pressed and fit you properly. Shoes should be polished.
  • If you’re supposed to wear an identification card, wear it.
  • The basic rule is clean and neat: Bathe and brush your teeth before your work day. Hands and fingernails should be clean. Hair must be clean and neat, in acceptable styles and colors.
  • When you answer the phone at work or meet customers, always say, “Good morning (or afternoon or evening). Thank you for calling [name of your employer]. May I help you?”
  • Be friendly and sociable. Remember to say “thank you” and “please.”
  • Even if someone is rude to you, remain polite and keep your good attitude.


  • National Center for Education Statistics
  • National Consumers League
  • North Carolina State University Family and Consumer Sciences
  • The National Academies
  • Rand Corporation
  • U.S. Department of Labor
  • YouthRules!

Sue Scheff: Preventing Hazing

bookhazingDr. Susan Lipkins is a leading expert on preventing hazing and helping people understand the dangers of this type of violence. After watching her on What Would You Do last night, I was shocked at how some people felt this behavior was amusing. I think parents need to learn more about this horrible behavior and learn how it can potentially effect someone you love.

Visit Dr. Susan Lipkins website and learn more.
What is Hazing? Source: Inside Hazing
What: The Basics

Hazing is a process, based on a tradition that is used by groups to discipline and to maintain a hierarchy (i.e., a pecking order). Regardless of consent, the rituals require individuals to engage in activities that are physically and psychologically stressful.
These activities can be humiliating, demeaning, intimidating, and exhausting, all of which results in physical and/or emotional discomfort. Hazing is about group dynamics and proving one’s worthiness to become a member of the specific group.

Sue Scheff: Stop Medicine Abuse and Teens

stopmedicineabusemainI feel this topic is so important, that I am posting another Blog Post on it with a bit more information.  Many parents fear their teens are involved in substance abuse (whether it is pot or crack) – but what you need to remember is many of the drugs can be located in your own home.  Cough medicine, sleeping pills, prescription drugs (meant for other family members, etc).  Take the time to learn more.

Source: StopMedicineAbuse

Recent studies among middle and high school aged kids across the country show a disturbing form of substance abuse among teens: the intentional abuse of otherwise beneficial medications, both prescription (Rx) and over-the-counter (OTC), to get high.

Teens who learn a lot about the dangers of drugs from their parents are half as likely to abuse drugs.

According to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, one in five teens reports having abused a prescription drug to get high. Where OTC medicines are concerned, data from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America indicate that one in 10 teens reports having abused OTC cough medicines to get high, and 28 percent know someone who has tried it.

The ingredient the teens are abusing in OTC cough medicines is dextromethorphan, or DXM. When used according to label directions, DXM is a safe and effective ingredient approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is found in well over 100 brand-name and store-brand over-the-counter cough medicines. When abused in extreme amounts, DXM can be dangerous. was developed by the leading makers of OTC cough medicines to build awareness about this type of substance abuse behavior, provide tips to prevent it from happening, and encourage parents to safeguard their medicine cabinets. Substance abuse can touch any family: The key to keeping teens drug-free is education and talking about the dangers of abuse.

Sue Scheff: Slime Online – What is Google Saying about You?

slimonline2Yesterday my co-author, John Dozier  and I, announced our exciting new book that will be released in fall 2009 from Health Communications, Inc.  Then I read this article that I could really identify with. Slimed Online from

Michael Fertik, CEO and Founder of ReputationDefender, was powerful force in helping these women fight for their online image.  As a client of ReputationDefender, their services are priceless – although there seems to be many of these services popping up now, as the demand grows, I feel that in my experiences, the pioneer of these online reputation management companies start with ReputatationDefender.

Our new book, Google Bomb will be a must read for anyone and everyone that works and plays online. From protecting your online profile and reputation, to keeping your kids safe, this new book is a must have – and can potentially help you from being a victim of wicked and evil keystrokes.

Years ago gossip was limited to a geographically area that you live in.  Today gossip goes viral worldwide!  Your one former friend is now a foe or a few clients out of years of a reputable business have decided to take revenge via e-venge!  Take cover, Google Bomb can help you protect yourself.