Monday, September 26, 2011

Teen Truancy: Is your teen skipping school already?

Is your teen skipping classes?
Truancy is a term used to describe any intentional unauthorized absence from compulsory schooling. Children in America today lose over five million days of their education each year through truancy. Often times they do this without the knowledge of their parents or school officials. In common usage the term typically refers to absences caused by students of their own free will, and usually does not refer to legitimate “excused” absences, such as ones related to a medical condition. It may also refer to students who attend school but do not go to classes.

Because of this confusion many schools have their own definitions, and as such the exact meaning of the term itself will differ from school to school and district to district. In order to avoid or diminish confusion, many schools explicitly define the term and their particular usage thereof in the school’s handbook of policies and procedures. In many instances truancy is the term referring to an absence associated with the most brazen student irresponsibility and results in the greatest consequences.

What can cause teen truancy?

Bad Influences

One of the common causes of truancy and disruptive behavior in children is the influence of friends and peers. Many times these peers are seen encouraging truancy as a status-seeking activity or as a way of joining in or blending in. The child's natural instinct to want to be a part of a larger crowd or group dynamic will take over, even if they are taught better habits. Often times this same dynamic is prevalent in the face of any resistance the child may put forth, prompting teasing or goading the child into truanting.

Read more - click here.


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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Teen Suicide Warning Signs: Suicide is Preventable

October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month.  Take the time to get involved in your community and your schools.  Bullying kills.  Words kill.  People kill.  Children die.  They are too young, it is that simple.

Warnings signs your teen may be contemplating suicide:
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious, agitated or reckless
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • The more of these signs a person shows, the greater the risk. Warning signs are associated with suicide but may not be what causes a suicide.
Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens.

If you have a troubled teen, reach out and get help.  There is help.  Visit www.helpyourteens.com for residential therapy that could save their life.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Getting Your Teens involved in School Sports and Clubs

Times sure have changed when it comes to sports.  It used to be that kids would play sports in school or the occasional little league team.  Kids were allowed to be kids.  Today it seems like parents are enticed to join the rec league to teach the kids to play soccer or volleyball.  That’s great, but then along comes a different coach that tells the parents their kids have a lot of talent and they are wasting it in a rec league.  The parents have a decision to make.

Check out 10 reasons parents find sports clubs for their kids.
  1. Better coaching: There’s nothing wrong with a mom or a dad coaching their kids’ sports team, but there comes a time when the kids have learned everything that mom or dad can teach them and they need a professional.  This is a coach’s only job.  He’s not constantly out of town on business and canceling practice.  The skills that the coach teaches the kids are the skills that will take them to the next level.
  2. Top-level players: If your kid is the best player on the team that’s great, but does it offer him or her any challenges?  Can they play to their potential if the other players aren’t at their level?  When all or most of the players on the team are good players then that encourages each player to become better.  This level of players can be found at a sports club.
  3. More opportunity: College scouts don’t go to high school games anymore to recruit.  They go to tournaments with high-level players such that you would find at a sports club.  Scholarships to college are given to the best players and one way to be the best is to be trained by a professional on a sports club.
  4. Bigger venue: Sports clubs play against other higher-level teams from different sports clubs.  These tournaments are not exclusive, but they might as well be since it’s usually filled with other sports clubs as competitors.
  5. Private coaching: More time is given to each child at a sports club and the coach is available to do private coaching to teach the kids higher and higher skills.
  6. Better practice opportunities: Most sports clubs have team practices twice a week by the time the child reaches the age of 10.  Then there are open skills sessions on other nights where each players can learn and improve their skills.
  7. Competition: Healthy competition between the players for a spot to be a starter gives the players incentive to continue to give it their all every time.  Most rec teams don’t even keep score.  Well, they aren’t supposed to, but I bet every kid and parent there knows what the score is.
  8. Being part of something bigger: Sports clubs have many teams and to keep a club going they have fund raisers and banquets.  The work that is involved in keeping the club going often have a bonding effect so the parents become a family.
  9. Better facilities: Sports clubs have their own fields so you don’t have to fight for a spot to practice at the local park are other place.  Many clubs also offer indoor and outdoor options for some sports.
  10. More stability: Sports clubs have more stability in that if the coach has to leave for some reason or quits the team doesn’t disband.  The club just finds another coach to take the team.  It’s very frustrating to find out at the last minute that your coach isn’t going to continue coaching next season and you don’t know where your kid is going to play next season.
Source:  Change of Address

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Teen Drug Use Prevention: From Home to Homeroom

Parenting teens is a challenge today.


Schools and parents today need to work together to help prevent teen drug use.

Fast Facts: Preventing Teen OTC Cough Medicine Abuse - From Home to Homeroom

A Wake Up Call for Parents
  • Thirty-three percent of American high school teens know someone who has abused cough medicine, a wake up call for those parents who think that their teen is not affected or being exposed to the issue.
  • Six percent of high school teens admit to abusing cough medicine containing dextromethorphan, or DXM, to get high in the past year.
Cough Medicine Abuse Does Not Happen By Accident
  • While safe and effective when taken as directed, teens looking to get high from cough medicine take excessive amounts, sometimes 25 to 50 times the recommended dosage. This translates to multiple bottles or packages of medicine at one time.
  • Teens often abuse cough medicines with other prescription drugs, illicit drugs, or alcohol.
  • Even the best kid in the world doesn't have the same ability as adults to assess risk because the part of their brain that processes risk, the frontal cortex, doesn't finish developing until their mid 20s.
Parents Have the Power to Keep Teens Drug-free
  • Research shows that kids who learn a lot from their parents about the risk of drug abuse are up to half as likely to use.
  • Parents are not alone in their fight to prevent medicine abuse; reaching out to the school nurse can help parents learn more about the issue and access local resources.
  • Parents can learn more about the Home to Homeroom campaign by logging onto www.StopMedicineAbuse.org
Parents can interact and help raise awareness by joining online communities including:

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Dangerous and Deadly: OxyContin and your teens

It’s not just pot anymore!

It’s not the pot some parents smoked in college!

It’s not just pills that gave you a quick high or a downer!

Today’s teen drug use is worse than generations prior.  Why?  The access, the technology, the peer pressure, society, many reasons that all lead to one result:  Parents need to take the time to not only educate their teens on they dangers of substance abuse, but also themselves.

What is Oxycontin?

OxyContin is a drug that is administered in pill form.  The actual drug name is oxycodone and OxyContin is a brand name for the pills that are produced by Purdue Pharma.

OxyContin is considered a narcotic painkiller and is in a class of drugs called opiates because it contains chemicals called opioids which bind with particular opioid receptors in our brain. Other drugs that are opiates include:
  • Heroin
  • Codeine
  • Vicodin (brand name for a drug with active ingredieant hydrocodone)
  • Morphine
  • Percodan (also contains oxycodone)
  • Percocet (also contains oxycodone)
  • Codeine
How OxyContin is Taken
OxyContin is a “time release tablet” that is intended to be taken orally.  The “time release” formulation means that it gradually releases the medication over the course of 12 hours.

OxyContin is also widely abused by people who crush the tablet and either:

a)   take it intranasally (sniffing or “snorting” it up their nose)
b)  take it intravenously (mixing with water and then injecting it into their veins with a needle)

What OxyContin Feels Like
Accounts vary slightly on what taking OxyContin feels like because everyone is different. Most people report a sensation of euphoria and strong sense of well being.  There is often a “warm and fuzzy happiness” associated with opiates.




OxyContin Experimentation Has Dangerous Consequences
What OxyContin Withdrawal Feels Like

Unfortunately the euphoric sense of well being is chemically induced and once the drug wears off, there is a sense of irritation and discomfort (often accompanied by a feeling of sadness).

Tolerance and Addiction
As the OxyContin user continues their addiction, their tolerance goes up so that the benefits are less and more of the drug is required to feel the “high.” Conversely the withdrawal symptoms become more pronounced too.  The person who is in withdrawal from opiates and is accustomed to using large doses can be in unbearable pain, shaking violently, vomiting and having uncontrollable diarrhea.
What’s tragic about addiction to OxyContin and other opiates is that most users who have habitually been taking the drug for more than a few months report that instead of really feeling “high” from the drug, it is more like feeling “normal.” The drug is obsessively sought out mainly to “maintain” normalcy and prevent the onslaught of unbearable withdrawal symptoms.

The Best of Intentions Gone Awry
OxyContin may have been created with the best of intentions – to kill pain. OxyContin can benefit the person who is in chronic and long lasting pain –  perhaps in recovery from a surgery or coping with an injury.  That is, if this person is not prone to becoming physically and mentally dependent on the drug.
Unfortunately, OxyContin is incredibly addictive and habit forming.  Users who are legitimately prescribed the drug often find themselves reliant upon it in a very short time.  This can lead to addictive behaviors like doctor shopping and abusing other medications.

More commonly, users in the United States have been getting hooked on OxyContin without prescription.  Many of these users are younger people of high school and college age.  OxyContin being a prescription medication may cause it to seem much more innocent than a drug like heroin.  Unfortunately both are opiates and produce similar “highs.”

There has been a wave of heroin addiction sweeping the United States in recent years and drugs like OxyContin are very often a gateway.  Websites like this are created to raise awareness about the dangers of OxyContin.

Learn more at www.StopOxy.com and follow them on Twitter.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Protecting Your Teens Digital Privacy: Tips for Strong and Secure Passwords

With the ever expanding world of technology and the sometime irresponsible world of our teenagers, it is important they learn how to create strong and secure passwords for their cell phones, iPads, computers, social networking etc.

There may come a time when they lose their phone or other technology devices; help them secure their privacy and safety.  Or maybe someone picks up their phone or iPad and starts browsing it with unacceptable searches or worse gains access to their social networking page and posts pictures or content that are less than acceptable.

School is opening, more teens than ever have cell phones or iPads that are easily transported with them to school.  Help them create strong and secure passwords and this includes their social networking sites.
In this day in age it seems like you can’t trust anyone.  It’s sad when you think about it. Every time you log on to a site you have to have a password now.  We all have trouble remembering passwords, but it’s not a good idea to use something easy like your birthday or your kids’ birthday.  These are dates and numbers that hackers and sadly even friends will try.

Check out 10 tips for stronger, more secure passwords.
  1. Length matters: Longer passwords are harder for hackers to figure out.  Use a password that is at least 8 characters or longer.  Try combining names and dates to make it easy for you to remember, but harder for a hacker to discover.
  2. Change it up: Yep, I want you to come up with different passwords for different sites.  It is possible that your password for one site could be compromised and then they can use your password to access other sites that you frequent.  You may be wondering what are the odds of that happening and while I can’t tell you the exact odds I can tell you that you don’t want someone to steal your identity.  If someone gets your password they can find you on Facebook and see what you are into and then that will give them clues for where else to try to login.
  3. Be different: Use a symbol in your password.  People are less likely to guess a password with an @ symbol in the middle of it.  Or use a capital letter or a number in your password.  The more unusual you can make it the harder it will be for someone to figure it out.  If you use a symbol you can use it as part of something easy for you to remember.  Something you like, Big$$$$$ or something funny like that.
  4. Make up your own acronym: For example, you could do Sghsin1985.  This stands for Sam graduated high school in 1985.  This is a strong password because it’s not easy to guess, it’s longer than 8 characters, it blends numbers with letters and there is a capital letter in it.  If you want to be even cleverer you can substitute the s for high school and use $ in it’s place. (Sgh$in1985)
  5. Hide your passwords: Okay, I know what you are thinking.  How am I supposed to remember what password I used for which site if I’m going to use different ones for everything?  Feel free to write them down, but don’t use a sticky note stuck to your computer.  If someone were to break into your home they could see that and take it figuring that they will continue to steal from you online.  Hide your passwords in your home.  Tape it in the back of a reference book or something.
  6. Beware of the computer you’re using: With cyber cafes out there and libraries that let you get online you need to be careful with how secure the computers are.  Even our home computers might not be as secure with being able to access the Internet through our phones and tablets.
  7. Don’t pick a random word: You may think that just picking some random word that is longer than 8 characters would be a good choice, but it isn’t.  There are programs out there that hackers use that will literally run through all of the words in the dictionary.  Always change it up.  If your favorite word is curmudgeon then use it, but add some sort of number with it either before or after it or a symbol.
  8. Avoid using personal information: One of the biggest mistakes people make when coming up with a password is by using their kids’ names or dog’s name or anniversary date.  All of these things are available for hackers to find and they can use that information against you.  Feel free to use this information in combination with other things though.
  9. Try not to use repeated numbers: You might be tempted to use 8 characters in a row on your keyboard.  (wertyuio)  This looks on the surface like it would be a good idea, but hackers are onto these types of passwords.  That same as 12345678 is a bad choice.  Also, don’t just spell something backwards.  Hackers are onto that trick too.
  10. Test your new password: Once you have done all the legwork and come up with what you think is the perfect password you can go HERE and check the strength.  If you need to make adjustments after that you can.
Source:  Internet Service Providers

Remember parents, you should always have access to these passwords.  It is for your child's safety.

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Friday, September 2, 2011

Is your teen addicted to the Internet?

One of the most common concerns from parents of teens, behind drug use, is Internet addiction.

It would be difficult, if not impossible, to find a college campus or schools that don’t have Internet. College students and teens use the Internet for research, communication, and other educational activities. Of course, students also use the Internet for social media, news, and even online gambling, activities that can be fun and even enriching, but when overused, become a real problem.

Some college students suffer from Internet addiction, unable to step away from the computer or put down mobile devices even for a day. Eighty-four percent of college counselors agree that Internet Addiction Disorder is legitimate, but at the same time, 93% of them have not been fully trained to diagnose Internet addiction, and 94% have insufficient training for Internet addiction treatment. The result? Falling grades, physical problems, and even clinical addiction.

Internet addiction is a real problem for college students and teens today, and here are several trends that are worrisome.

1.     Students have feelings similar to drug and alcohol addiction: Two hundred students were asked to abstain from all media for 24 hours, and were then asked to blog about their experiences. The words the students used to describe their feelings during the restriction period were typically the same words associated with a substance abuse addiction: "withdrawal, frantically craving, very anxious, antsy, miserable, jittery, crazy." It seems that these students are addicted to media, particularly in its online form. This is disturbing, but not surprising, as studies have already shown that Google can actually change your brain.
2.     College students are especially susceptible to Internet Behavior Dependence:A college student case study revealed that college students are a "population of special concern" when it comes to Internet addiction, and they are disproportionately vulnerable due to psychological and environmental factors in their lives. When faced with an Internet addiction, college students have a hard time forming their identity and building intimate relationships. Online, students can "develop relationships devoid of the anxiety found in face-to-face relationships," and they "can take on any persona they desire, without fear of judgment on appearance or personal mannerism, and can avoid racial and gender prejudice." This type of adaptive behavior tends to diminish the social capacity of college students, leaving them unprepared for the development of real world relationships.

3.      Online poker is prevalent on college campusesOnline poker joins two addictions together: gambling and online interaction, so its use on college campuses is especially worrisome. The University of Pennsylvania predicts that over 20% of college students play online poker at least once a month, and you can typically see lots of students playing online poker on a college campus. Although it can be a fun game, and many students may be able to maintain healthy lives while enjoying playing online poker, some simply can’t. At the University of Pennsylvania, researchers noted that among college gamblers that played weekly, over half of them had a serious problem with the habit. In some cases, students fail out of classes or gamble their tuition away, even turning to crime to pay debts created by online poker.

4.     Students can’t go 24 hours without the Internet:When 1,000 college students took part in an international study on electronic media, they were asked to go without media for 24 hours. But many students in the study were not up to the challenge. A majority of students did not actually go without media for 24 hours, giving in and checking in with their phones or email.  Students confessed, "I sat in my bed and stared blankly. I had nothing to do," and "Media is my drug; without it I was lost. How could I survive 24 hours without it?" The study revealed a physical dependency on media, especially Facebook and mobile phones. Students recognized that typing the address for their favorite sites had become muscle memory: "It was amazing to me though how easily programmed my fingers were to instantly start typing "f-a-c-e" in the search bar. It’s now muscle memory, or instinctual, to log into Facebook as the first step of Internet browsing." Other students recognized physical signs of withdrawal, sharing that "I would feel irritable, tense, restless and anxious when I could not use my mobile phone. When I couldn’t communicate with my friends, I felt so lonely, as if I was in a small cage in a solitary island."

5.     Students are surfing, not studying: Students who spend a lot of time online are likely to neglect their studies. In many cases, students who performed well in school before developing an Internet addiction allowed their grades to crash, only then realizing the impact of Internet dependency. Counselors across the US have identified the problems of excessive Internet use, including: lack of sleep and excess fatigue, declining grades, less investment in relationships with a boyfriend or girlfriend, withdrawal from all campus social activities and events, general apathy, edginess, or irritability when off-line, and rationalizing that what they learn on the Internet is superior to their classes. Students may not realize the problem until serious trouble happens: "They flunk out of college. Their real-life girlfriend breaks up with them because all they ever want to do is play on the Net. Their parents explode when they find out their huge investment in their child’s college education is going to support all-night Internet sessions." By then, it may be too late to recover the damage.

6.     The Internet is everywhere: Ninety-eight percent of students own a digital device. This prevalence throws gasoline on a spark: students who are already susceptible to Internet addiction have access online in computer labs, their dorm, and other places around campus, and on top of that, they have the Internet in their pocket at all times. Knowing this, it’s not surprising to find out that 38% of students say they can’t go more than 10 minutes without using a digital device, contributing to an ever-present existence of the Internet on campus.

7.     Internet use can physically change your brain:  In a study of Chinese college students who were online for 10 hours a day, six days a week, morphological changes in the structure of their brains were noted. Scientists found reductions in the size of the "dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, rostral anterior cingulate cortex, supplementary motor area and parts of the cerebellum as high as 10-20%." Although at the same time, there was an increase in the "density of the right parahippocampal gyrus and a spot called the left posterior limb of the internal capsule." These changes happen to the detriment of short term memory and decision-making abilities.

8.     Many students need intervention and treatment for their addiction, and it can lead to depression: We might joke about "Crackberries," but for some, the Internet is truly a significant concern. A study published in BMC Medicine indicated that 4% of the students who participated in their survey met the criteria for having a problem with online addiction. But perhaps the more disturbing fact from this study is that there is a "significant association between pathological Internet use and depression in college students," putting a population that is already at risk for mental instability in a precarious position.

9.     Cyberbullies go to college, too:Although most of the news on cyberbullying focuses on adolescents, the fact is that cyberbullies exist on the college campus as well. It’s not surprising, considering how much time students spend online, and how much impact a college student’s online presence can have. In fact, a University of New Hampshire study reported that one in 10 students was abused online. College students have been the target of sexually violent rants, and one professor at BU had to persuade Facebook to remove his page, which he did not set up himself. Researchers believe that students are especially vulnerable to cyberstalking because "they live in a relatively closed community where class schedules, phones, and e-mails are easy to find." And sites like Rate My Professors may be helpful for students choosing classes, but some comments may be hurtful for faculty members. Thierry Guedj, adjunct professor of psychology at Metropolitan College reports, "It really hurts faculty members badly when they read these things about themselves online. People have become quite depressed about it."

10.  Tech conditions can be dangerous to your health: College Candy’s list of tech conditions that can be dangerous to your health seems to be written as a joke, citing "Blackberry Neck," and "Glazey Dazey Lazy Eye," but these conditions really can be a problem. Using the Internet too much can lead to a sedentary lifestyle, a decline in physical fitness, and as a result, weight gain. Heavy users report carpal tunnel syndrome, eye strain, and headaches. Sleep disturbances can also stem from Internet addiction, as Internet use may lead to later bedtimes and less restful sleep. Additionally, researchers believe that the light from computer screens may affect circadian rhythms, creating a risk factor for insomnia.


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