Archive | April 2010

Sue Scheff: Mean Girls Attack Virtually

As many are learning, cyber sticks and stones can hurt your bones deeply and scar emotionally.  As reported on The Today Show with Matt Lauer, renown author and educator Rachel Simmons discusses the need for parents and schools to establish anti-bullying policies.

Although there may be times when authorities, such as law enforcement need to intervene, as in the Phoebe Prince case, the main directive should be from both parents and the schools.  Education is key to prevention.  Be part of the solution and be proactive in speaking out and fighting against bullies and cyberbullies.

In Florida, 5th grader Dalton Reynolds with the help of her mother, who is a teacher, took the initiative and formed an Anti-Bullying Club in their school.  If an elementary student can do this, why can’t teenagers? 

A teenager’s social life is one of the most important things to a teen.  When ugly gossip arises about them, the emotional roller coaster can be damaging not only to their self esteem but to their mental well-being.  As we witnessed in the recent tragedy of Phoebe Prince, the constant stream of ridicule, teasing and harassment allegedly drove her to her death.

Today we are hearing about Facebook groups surfacing that are targeted at insulting, hurting, harming and literally destroying lives of teens emotionally.  Teens are waking up to find themselves on a “naughty list” or even a “wannabe who-e list“.  Thankfully Facebook is taking steps to remove these ugly pages and monitoring new groups as they form. 

Help be part of the solution.  Start an Anti-Bullying Club in your school.  Every voice counts.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens.

Watch video  for more insights on how teens are fighting back.  Read more.

Sue Scheff: Texting Teens – Will They Be Able to Verbally Communicate Effectively?

Today more and more teens have cell phones.  Teen texting between friends has now overtaken cell phone communications – and every very other common form of interaction.  According to a recent study by PEW Research:

  • Half of teens send 50 or more text messages a day, or 1,500 texts a month. One in three send more than 100 texts a day (or more than 3,000 texts a month.)
  • 15% of teen texters send more than 200 texts a day, or more than 6,000 texts a month.
  • Boys send and receive 30 texts a day; girls typically send and receive 80 messages per day.
  • Teen texters ages 12-13 typically send and receive 20 texts a day.
  • 14-17 year-old texters typically send and receive 60 text messages a day.
  • Older girls who text are the most active, with 14-17 year-old girls typically sending 100 or more messages a day or more than 3,000 texts a month.
  • 22% of teen texters send and receive just one to 10 texts a day, or 30 to 300 texts a month.

Is this a time parents need to pick and choose issues of concern?  Yes and no.  There are many other more serious issues such as drug abuse or gang relations, however if your teen is obsessed or addicted to texting, it may be time to intervene.  Give your teen limits, and be sure there is a time that the phones are simply turned off.

Having consequences in place and following through with them can help convey to your teen that you are serious.  Teens need to learn how to “talk” to others outside of texting. Parents should be concerned that all the texting may alter their ability to communicate effectively.

When it is time to apply to colleges or interview for a job, will they have the verbal skills they need? At last glance, you can’t text your way into employment or into a college.

In Florida, there is a bill in legislation that will ban texting and driving.  Although many know the  dangers of texting and driving, many still do it.  Stress to your teens, no text is worth dying over.  Encourage your teens to take the pledge and join thousands of others that are putting the cell phone aside as they drive.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier teens.

Watch video  on Teen Cell Phone Addiction. Read more.

Sue Scheff: Teen Obesity – Food Revolution – French Fries are a Veggie?

As Jamie Oliver’s new show continues to explode with the reality of how unhealthy eating can effect our lives and shorten them, one of his recent episodes shocked us as he was told that “French fries count as a vegetable”.

Maybe this is not shocking to some dieticians, however to many people this was a moment of that left us scratching our heads.  You mean greasy French fries are considered a veggie?  Seems strange,  however that is exactly what a food service director stated on Food Revolution in an elementary school in Huntington, West Virginia.

So do French fries count as a vegetable? Yes, they do, according to the government.

French fries have been on the list of “fresh” vegetables since 1996 under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act. They are considered fresh because they fall short of the guidelines that would qualify them as “processed.” 

“When I found out that a French fry was considered a vegetable, it insulted me, it upset me, and it was a small little inkling as to why maybe we have the problems that we’ve got,” said Jamie Oliver.

If you would like to do something about making a change, you can start by signing Jamie’s Petition.

First Lady Michelle Obama is also promoting healthy eating options, exercise and education on making better food choices with the Let’s Move Campaign which she recently brought to South Florida.

Be an educated parent, you will have healthier teens and children.

Watch video  for the French fry controversy. Read more.


Sue Scheff: Prescription Drug Abuse and Teens

Smoking marijuana is unfortunately common amongst many tweens and teens, however just behind that is the use of prescription drug use.  This is a serious problem since many homes are stocked with RX’s – and some parents are in denial that their teen would even consider taking these medications.  Be an educated parent.  Talk to your kids about the dangers of taking prescriptions that are not for them.  Check out Operation Medicine Cabinet.

Source: Connect with Kids

Sharing Prescription Drugs

They’re sort of acting as their own health care providers, and that can really be dangerous.”

– Katherine Lyon Daniel, Ph.D.

What’s the most commonly abused drug by today’s high school students? According to the National Institutes on Drug Abuse, prescription drugs rank second behind marijuana. Abuse is more than buying drugs illegally. Parents should be talking with their kids about the problems of sharing prescribed medications – something that’s more common place in school hallways than one might believe.

Kids share asthma drugs… “I might say here you go and let him borrow it,” says Jaiah Scott, 17, about sharing his inhaler.

They share prescription pain killers… “People at school do that, if they have a headache or something,” says fifteen-year-old Michelle.

Even prescription medications like Accutane… “Like your friend could be oh, you know it helped me, it could help you,” says Jennifer, 18.

Studies report that about 20% of teens have shared their prescription drugs and about one-third who borrowed the medications experienced a negative side effect. Says 17-year-old Ginny, “I think there’s a lot of sharing of medication, prescription medications. It’s kind of come to not be such a big deal.”

But experts warn otherwise. The risks include overdose, allergic reactions, interactions with other prescriptions and a number of other side effects.

“They’re sort of acting as their own health care providers, and that can really be dangerous. You want to help a friend, they have a medication problem — you’re sharing. But this is one time sharing isn’t nice,” says Katherine Lyon Daniel, Ph.D.

With the acne drug Accutane, for example, severe birth defects can result if a teen who is pregnant takes even one dose. Another alarming statistic: 40 percent of adults share their medications. Experts say that while 40 percent of teens surveyed said that they got prescription medications from a friend, 33 percent said a prescription medication came from a family member.

Since children often take their cues from adults, experts say parents should set an example. Don’t share your own drugs and make it clear to your child that sharing medication with friends is dangerous — and that taking someone else’s medicine can be dangerous for you.

“You may think you need that medication, but you’re much better off if you get a medication that’s intended for you and the health problem that you’re experiencing,” adds Dr. Daniel.

Related Information

When teens want medicine to help clear up their acne or a strong painkiller for a headache, an alarming number of them skip the doctor and borrow prescription medication from friends, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Researchers based their study on a survey of approximately 1,500 U.S. boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 18. They found that roughly 19.7% of girls and 13.4% of boys actually borrow or share prescription medicine with both friends and family. Consider these additional findings from the study, published in the journal Pediatrics:

  • About 7% of older teen girls (aged 15-18) reported sharing prescription medication more than three times.
  • Eleven percent of the girls aged 12 to 18 admitted one reason they shared medications is they wanted “something strong for pimples or oily skin.”
  • Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed reported they received prescription medication from a family member.

A survey of 12- to 17-year-olds in the U.S. has found that about 20 percent said they have given their prescription drugs like Oxycontin and Darvocet to friends or obtained drugs the same way, according to a study published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Allergy drugs, narcotic pain relievers, antibiotics, acne medications, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications were the most commonly shared. About one-third of those who borrowed medications said they had experienced an allergic reaction or other negative side-effects as a result.
Past research has shown that 40 percent of adults also share their medications. “However, prior to our study, no one had asked adolescents how often they shared prescription medications, which meds they shared and what some of the outcomes were,” said lead researcher Richard Goldsworthy of Academic Edge, Inc.

Tips for Parents

According to the CDC study, most of the adolescents surveyed said they actually had their own prescription for the medication they borrowed from friends. They said they borrowed the medication because they either didn’t have the medication with them or they ran out of it. Others said they shared medicine because they “had the same problem as the person who has the medicine.”

What is the harm in sharing prescription drugs? The Nemours Foundation reports that drugs are tools doctors use to fight infection, treat disease and relieve pain. The right drug, however, must be given to the right child, for the right condition, and taken in the right amount and under the right circumstances to work well. Taking another person’s prescribed medication puts a teen at risk for overdose, allergic reactions, hazardous interactions with other medications and dangerous health side effects. In fact, the CDC study reported that many teens share the acne drug Accutane, which can result in severe fetal birth defects if a pregnant teen takes only one dose.

As a parent, it is important to familiarize yourself with the basic elements of a prescription:

  • How much of and how often the medicine should be taken
  • What the side effects and reactions are, if any
  • How the medicine should be taken
  • How the medicine should be stored

If your doctor prescribes medication for your teen, always look at it carefully before you leave the pharmacy. The Nemours Foundation offers these additional questions to ask your pharmacist:

  • Does this medication require special storage conditions (room temperature or refrigeration)?
  • How many times a day should it be given? Should it be given with food? Without food?
  • Should my teen avoid dairy products when taking this medication?
  • Should I look for any special side effects? What should I do if I notice any of these side effects?
  • Should my teen take special precautions, such as avoiding exposure to sunlight, when taking this medication?
  • What should I do if my teen skips a dose?
  • Is it OK to cut pills in half or crush them to mix into foods?
  • Will this medicine conflict with my teen’s alternative treatment of herbal remedies?

To ensure that your teen is using his or her prescription medicine safely, the National Clearinghouse for Drug & Alcohol Information suggests reviewing the following information with your teen and or your physician:

  • Talk with your physician about any other drugs – prescription, over-the-counter or illegal – you are taking. Drugs may interact negatively with one another, causing harmful side effects and even causing medications to be ineffective.
  • Discuss your medical history with your doctor. Side effects caused by some drugs may worsen other health conditions, even if the medication is used properly. For example, some prescription medications may elevate the user’s blood pressure, causing a serious consequence if the user already suffers from high blood pressure.
  • Read the instructions that come with your medication carefully and take the drug exactly as recommended.
  • Do not give your prescription medications to other people, and never take prescription drugs that have not been prescribed to you by a physician.
  • Throw out expired or leftover medicines.


Sue Scheff: Above the Influence – April is Alcohol Awareness Month

Underage drinking and/or teenage drinking is a serious concern for parents.  Alcohol is usually more accessible than most drugs.  We often hear about college students that binge drink.  Could this be the beginning of a dark future called alcoholism?

During the month of April it is time to learn more about teen drinking and underage drinking.   The younger you are when you start drinking, the greater your chance of becoming addicted to alcohol at some point in your life. More than 4 in 10 people who begin drinking before age 15 eventually become alcoholics. Children of addicts and alcoholics are four times more likely to become addicts and alcoholics themselves than children of non-addicts.

Why do teens drink?

Experimentation with alcohol during the teen years is common. Some reasons that teens use alcohol and other drugs are:

  • curiosity
  • to feel good, reduce stress, and relax
  • to fit in
  • to feel older

From a very young age, kids see advertising messages showing beautiful people enjoying life – and alcohol. And because many parents and other adults use alcohol socially – having beer or wine with dinner, for example – alcohol seems harmless to many teens.  – Source: Kids Health for Teens

Talk to your kids about the dangers of alcohol.  Talk to your kids about the dangers of drinking.  Simply talk to your kidsEducation is the key to prevention.

In Broward County there is a Task Force to Combat Underage Drinking.  For more information, contact Pat Castillo, Director of Youth Programs at the Broward County Commission on Substance Abuse at 954-760-7007.

The Task Force to Combat Underage Drinking in Broward County was created in 2004 by The United Way of Broward County Commission on Substance Abuse (BCCSA) with guidance from the Florida Office of Drug Control and funding from the Florida Department of Transportation. The Task Force mission is to reduce underage drinking in Broward County.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier kids.

Read more and watch video.

Sue Scheff: Addicted – Are you the Addict or the Enabler? Addiction Effects the Entire Family

“You are loving your child to death” is a common phrase we will hear professionals say when a parent has become an enabler to their child, whether adult or teenager, that has become or on the road to becoming an addict.

But she/he needs a place to stay, they are hungry, they promised they will change – this time” is a common phrase we hear a parent say to others that are attempting to help that family.

As the author of “Wit’s End, Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out-of-ControlTeen“, and a Parent Advocate, I speak with parents of struggling teens regularly. Parents in denial cannot see they are only hurting their teen and prolonging their recovery by continuing to rescue them and make excuses for them.  The number of times I hear parents say how smart their child is, or they know he/she will change, it is just a typical teen, etc – all this could be true, however do you want to risk it isn’t being a phase?

Interventionist Kristina Wandzilak shares her story of addiction and the experience that eventually changed her life.  Watch video here.  This is worth 4 minutes of all parents that are struggling with an at risk teen or addict child.

Addicted is one of the most powerful and realistic reality shows that has recently hit the air waves.  This show exposes how an addict is not only destroying their life, they are affecting their entire family and what is left of their circle of friends.

Stealing their parents valuables, siblings and parents putting bolt locks on their bedroom doors, the addict is sometimes literally selling their body for sex for money for their next high.  Even being arrested doesn’t effect some addicts.  Many have been through numerous rehabs only to fall back again.

That is why this is an entire family that needs to work this  process, not just the addict.  The family needs to change their habits, their enabling, their thought process. They need to accept that they cannot control, help or force their child to change.  Sometimes hitting rock bottom isn’t far enough.

The addict needs to make that decision to change, the family needs to make that decision to change.  If the family doesn’t change, the addict will continue to feed off them and vice versa.

As hard as it may be, until the family let’s go, steps away from denial and enabling; the sooner the addict will realize there is no more rescue net.  Many fear their addict may die or commit suicide, God forbid that happens, however it is not the parents fault.  If you truly think about it – by enabling them you are helping them toward one less day of life.  There is nothing good or healthy that can come from addiction.

So parents, stop being in denial. Watch Addicted, learn you are not alone.  Reach out, get help.  Even if your child doesn’t want it, do it for your family. 

Stop making excuses and save a life.

Resource for parents of troubled teens:

Resource for parents of adult children:

Order Wit’s End today and watch Addicted.  Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens.

Read more and watch video.

Sue Scheff: Dangerous Games Kids and Teens Are Playing – Space Monkey aka Choking Game

Children are “strangling” themselves to get high and then sharing the videos on the Internet, campaign and advocacy groups have warned.

The Choking Game.  Is not a game you want any teen or child to play.  Parenting today can be a challenge, however if you are not kept inform on the games teens can play, you may not be able to educate and protect your children from the consequences.

It is true, many children need to learn from their mistakes, and learn how to pick themselves back up again, but when it comes to dangerous games that could potentially kill them, you need to talk to your teens about these dangers.

Space Monkey. Just another trendy name for what is also called, The Choking Game. Nicknamed “Space Monkey,” the practice involves squeezing the carotid arteries in the neck to restrict the flow of blood to the head. Releasing the pressure leads to a sudden rush of oxygen to the brain, giving a feeling of euphoria.

What is the Choking Game? 

It’s not a game at all-just an act of suffocating on purpose.

Adolescents cut off the flow of blood to the brain, in exchange for a few seconds of feeling lightheaded. Some strangle themselves with a belt, a rope or their bare hands; others push on their chest or hyperventilate.

When they release the pressure, blood that was blocked up floods the brain all at once. This sets off a warm and fuzzy feeling, which is just the brain dying, thousands of cells at a time. – G.A.S.P.

In Florida The Dangerous Behaviors Foundation is a non-profit organization targeted at educating and bringing awareness to this deadly game and dangerous behaviors of teens.  DB Foundation is community based and community driven to offer their own experiences, tragic losses, and knowledge firsthand.  Sadly, learning the hard way about this heartbreaking game kids are playing and sharing it with others helps people heal from their own horrific experieces.  Learn more at

Be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier children.

Take the time to explore, read and learn at both The DB Foundation and Games Adolescents Shouldn’t Play (GASP).

Read more and watch video.