Sunday, April 26, 2015

Offline Parenting Can Help Your Teen Make Better Online Choices

Make time to chat offline with your teens about online safety.
Did you know that spending 15 minutes a day listening and talking with your child can help build the foundation for a strong relationship? It can also provide support for your child to come to you with a problem, such as bullying or cyberbullying.

It's true - we live in a fast paced society.  Most families either have both parents that are working or have a single parent household, so it can be difficult to even find 15 minutes of quiet time (time without interruption of digital devices) to have face-to-face conversations.

This is why we often hear experts talk about side-by-side conversations - referring to chatting in the car.  Turn-off all gadgets, including the radio.  Chat on your way to their activities.  Talk to your child about their digital lives as frequently as you would ask how their day at school was.  

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Teens Mind Your Keystrokes

As PEW Research study said that 92% of teens are online daily in their recent report, it also said 24% of teens admitting they are on constantly.

It also gave us insight to their cell phone usage.  88% of teens now have or have access to smartphones or cell phones.  90% of them text on a regular basis with an average of 30 texts per day.

With all this digital life, offline parenting is keep to helping teens make better online choices.  

Recently Signe Whitson wrote an excellent piece in Huffington Post about how to help kids and teens use their smartphones safely and prevent cyberbullying.

She offered ten strategies from having rules to netiquette.  Which is about your child's digital citizenship.

In reality, we live in a society where a digital footprint can literally determine your future. Keystrokes and the way you use them matter.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Drug Treatment Works: New Stats Prove It

Have you been struggling to make a decision for treatment with your teenager?  It can be one of the most difficult ones a parent makes.  Especially since it doesn't seem natural to send a child to residential therapy - we give birth to a bubbly happy baby - only to find ourselves facing these stressful decisions.

Now, a new study is released on drug treatment programs.
Drug Treatment That Works If you are considering residential therapy for your teenager, visit

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Digital Parenting and Keeping Up With Social Apps

Unplug during mealtime. Be the role model.
Parenting teens can be a challenging, however today with the addition of technology it can seem overwhelming.

How are parents supposed to keep up with the ever-growing social-app age?

Offline parenting is your best tool to online safety and helping your teen's make better choices when you are not with them.

Having the tech talk is not like the sex talk.

Talking about your child's digital life is a daily chat - one you should have frequently.  It should be as common as how was your day at school.

Ask them:
  • Have you discovered any new apps lately?  Any new sites?
  • Any new friends online?  Remind them about pause before posting.

Ask them to help you with your technology.  

Be an interested and involved parent.  You need to build their trust and open lines of communication.

One of the main reasons teens don't tell a parent or adult that they are being harassed online is the fear that the parent will make things worse for them - either by embarrassment or taking their oxygen away (their devices).

Keep in mind parents, as you are monitoring your teens, they are also watching your online social behavior.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens - offline and online.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Teens and Marijuana: 41% Use It Before the Age of 15

What teen's are saying.
Today more than ever, your teens will debate you on the issue of marijuana use.  Hey mom and dad, it's legal - it's good for you!

It's time for parents to be prepared for this conversation - and more important to have the conversation before the confrontation!

Drug-Free offers a free download of Marijuana Talk Kit for Parents.

Statistically speaking, 41% of teens started using marijuana before the age of 15.

Learn more today and become an educated parent.  You will have safer and healthier teens.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Internet's Most Wanted: The Bully

The Bully.
No one is immune to online harassment.  No matter what your age, race or religion – you can quickly fall victim to vicious keystrokes within seconds.
According to a Cox Communications Survey, 81 percent of young people think bullying online is easier to get away with than bullying in person.  This makes sense since cowards use the easy way of not facing their victims through a screen – whether it is a cellphone or computer.
About 58 percent of kids admit someone has said mean or hurtful things to them online. More than 4 out 10 say it has happened more than once.
90 percent of teens who have seen social media bullying say they have ignored it. 84 percent have seen others tell cyberbullies to stop.
Only 1 in 10 victims will inform a parent or trusted adult of their abuse, this needs to turn around.  When a child holds this emotional pain inside of them, it can come out in many different negative ways such as sadness, withdrawn from family and friends, failing grades, loneliness, etc.
Why kids don’t tell their parents they’re being bullied online?
1)  Fear of consequences: Your child’s online existence is a critical part of their social life. With all their friends online, being excluded would be devastating them. They don’t want to risk you banning them from their friends and their digital lives.
2)  Humiliation and embarrassment: Our kids are human and have feelings. Although some kids portray a tough persona and believe they are invincible, deep down everyone feels hurt by cruel keystrokes. Your child may fear looking stupid or weak. If the incident gets reported to their school, will they be able to face their classmates? Imagine the horror of a child hearing from peers after being bullied that they somehow deserved it, brought it on themselves or should have just toughened it out rather than be a snitch.
3)  Fear of making it worse: We have taught our children well so they understand that bullies are looking for attention. By reporting the incident of cyberbullying to a parent, your child may fear it could anger the bully and make matters worse for them online. In some cases bullies will enlist more online trolls to cyber-mob your child. Of course the child’s dreaded fear is his or her parent reporting it to their school or camp and more people knowing whereby they become a possible target in the future.
What can you do to help your child?
1)  Speak openly and frequently about online bullying and abuse.  Don’t wait for national headlines to have conversations.  Make it part of your daily chat.  When you ask your child if they have homework, ask them how their cyber-life is going that day too.
2) Listen.  Sometimes we are so busy talking we forget to hear.  Let your child talk, let them complete their story, don’t interject your two cents while they are speaking. Give them the respect you expect them to give you.
3) Reiterate to them, it’s not their fault. Being a victim of a cyberbully is not their fault. Remind them you are not going to judge them or blame them.  Assure them that you will not revoke their Internet privileges or take away their phone if they are cyberbullied.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Questions to Ask Your Doctor or Pharmacist

During #DrugsFactWeek, I have a special guest contributor: 

Guest post by John T. James, PhD, DABT

Patients must understand that accepting drugs into their body is an invasion into their body, no less so than serious surgery. Even though that bodily invasion leaves no external scars, drugs often have powerful and lasting side effects on patients, even when approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Patients must ask questions about any new drug they are prescribed.

The first question to ask is whether lifestyle changes might be effective rather than drugs. Many people report a “cure” from diabetes simply by major and sustained changes in diet and exercise. Likewise exercise and dietary changes can stave off the progression toward hypertension as we age. Now let’s suppose that there are no alternative to taking a therapeutic drug.

The most important question is to ask whether the drug is being prescribed to you off label – that is for purposes or populations of people other than the ones for which the FDA has approved it. The very young and very old are often prescribed drugs that have never been evaluated in these extreme age groups where drug metabolism and effects at the target organ are unknown. Many drugs are not approved for use in the very young and the elderly. Off-label prescribing by physicians is basically human experimentation with no formal oversight. Unless you enjoy being a guinea pig, you will know whether your drug is being prescribed to you off label.

If you determine that your drug is prescribed to you off label, then you must know why this has been done. Does your doctor have data showing that it is safe and effective for people like you? Does his personal experience with patients like you warrant a prescription for you? Does your doctor have a “close” relationship with the manufacturer of the drug? Does your doctor even know if he is prescribing it to you off label? Many won’t.

The second question to ask is how soon you will know the positive effects of the drug and how that will be known. Many drugs take weeks to exert the favorable effects they are alleged to provide. Likewise, you must know the potential side effects of the drug and how to report these if they occur in your case. You should also ask how the drugs you are already taking might interact with the new drug you have been prescribed. In general this is not going to be known by your doctor or pharmacist, but you should ask anyway.

The patient must know how long a new drug prescribed to them has been approved by the FDA. The FDA approves drugs based on quite time-limited data, so the full adverse effects of a newly approved drug may not be known for many years. Drug companies are slow to perform post-marketing, follow-up studies once they have gotten FDA approval for a drug. I would recommend not taking any drug that has been on the market for less than three years unless there is no other choice.

The patient needs to ask if there is a “black box” warning for the drug they have been prescribed. This means that the FDA has determined that the drug may be especially risky for certain types of patients. Ask if there is an alternative without such a warning. If you are taking a “black box” drug you must be especially vigilant for side effects and adhere strictly to the prescribed dosage.
If you are taking more than four drugs you should ask about medication reconciliation. This is a systematic process of reducing the number of drugs you are taking. Studies have shown that in elderly people a reduction of an average of eight drugs to an average of four drugs per patient provided remarkable improvement in patient wellbeing with no adverse effects.

Overuse of antibiotic prescriptions is widespread and facilitates the appearance of multi-drug resistant organisms. If you are prescribed an antibiotic, ask about the rationale for this. Perhaps your condition is due to a virus and not to a bacterium. Is the antibiotic specifically targeted to the type of bacterium you are presumed to be suffering from? Ask for a culture-and-sensitivity test if your physician is not confident that the antibiotic is going to be effective against the organism causing your illness.

The victims of overuse and misuse of therapeutic drugs appear by the hundreds of thousands at emergency rooms each year. Medication errors in hospitals are among the leading causes of lethal adverse events in hospitals. There are critical times in hospitals when patient advocates must be vigilant for drug mistakes. Were medications changed after admission and if so, then why? Have medications been mistakenly deleted? What is the purpose and risk associated with any new medication? At discharge, does the patient fully understand how to take any new drug she has been prescribed? Can the patient afford the new drug?

Each patient or their advocate must take responsibility for being fully aware of the rationale for the drugs they are prescribed. Unfortunately, the patient or patient’s advocate cannot depend on anyone else to do that.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wood Creek Academy Formerly Spring Creek Lodge Opens

The  "hobbit" from Spring Creek Lodge. Teens were placed here for punishment.
Wood Creek Academy formerly Spring Creek Lodge, which was one of WWASPS's largest programs at one point - and home of the hobbit, is open for business again.

I can't believe it's been over 14 years since my nightmare with WWASPS.

Sadly I still receive emails from students struggling to overcome the emotional trauma they endured during their time at a WWASPS facility, as well as many simply looking for help in seeking academic credits.

Neither which I can help them with, however it never ceases to amaze me that there are so many victims that have been effected by these people -- yet they continue to close and open facilities in our country.

The blessing is that many parents are doing their due diligence and learning how to educate themselves before placing their child into a residential therapy school or program.  They are asking the right questions, and digging deeper into the past of the program.  If your gut is twisting - it's time to move on to another program.

It's not about "not" getting your child help, it's about finding the right help for your child and family.  Never select a program when you are at your wit's end.  Never get pressured into placing your child.

Wood Creek Academy, Red River Academy and any others that formerly have been WWASPS associates -- we can only hope and pray they are not using the same methods and tactics that have been used on the many, many students priors.  In my opinion - there are many programs in our country - make an educated decision.

After receiving a phone call from a parent that was suspicious of the marketing of Wood Creek Academy,  I called the Montana licensing bureau to confirm that Wood Creek Academy is formerly Spring Creek Lodge.   Unfortunately zebras don't change their stripes. 

If your gut tells you something isn't right - keep on searching for the right program for your child.  There are many quality schools and programs in our country.