Friday, April 24, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teen Violence

It comes to a point where you are almost afraid to turn on the news. Kids with guns, teens shooting teens, threats, bullying and more - it is time for parents to take the time and learn more. Talk to your kids - open those lines of communication. Raising kids today has become more challenging than ever. I hear from parents almost on a daily basis and I am stunned at what these kids are learning and doing at such a young age.

Can Students Prevent Violence by Telling?

“He was saying ‘I’m gonna kill people,’ everyone took it as a joke. I can’t say that I would take it any differently.”
– Joanna, 15, talking about the school shooting in Santee, California

A student who seems strange, a comment that sounds frightening … how can students tell who’s serious and who isn’t, what’s a joke and what’s a real threat?

The problem is students say those kinds of ‘jokes’ are made all the time.

“I’ve had friends who were just like, ‘man I just want to kill that teacher’ or ‘I just hate it here and want to blow up the school,’” says Tara-Lynn, a high school junior, “I’ve probably said things like that myself.”

“I mean I hear people say that all the time. I don’t take it seriously,” adds Joanna, a freshman.
When should students take it seriously? They’re in a bind. If they tell on someone, they’re called a rat or a snitch. If they don’t tell, someone could die or be injured. Always in the back of their mind, what if they tell on someone… and they’re wrong?

“How do you know you’re not gonna just end up crying ‘wolf’ all the time, every time a kid makes a threat,” says Cliff, a junior.

How should kids evaluate a threat? Experts say first, kids should follow their instincts. If something another student says doesn’t feel right, even just a little bit, it probably isn’t.
“Either afraid, or guilty, or this is just going against my values, it doesn’t feel right,” says psychologist Dr. Wendy Blumenthal.

Then find an adult you trust. Someone you can trust to protect your anonymity. Someone you can trust not to panic when you tell them you’re worried.

Maybe that’s your parents, but it could also be a school counselor, a minister from your church or a coach.

Because if a disaster happens and you stay silent about what you heard, just think how that would make you feel.

“Because if we take everything for granted,” says Crystal, a junior, “this (the school shooting in California) is what can happen.”

Tips for Parents

Police have been able to prevent several ‘Columbine-like’ massacres at US schools recently–thanks to tips from students. Students notified school officials after learning that other students planned to carry out violent acts. And while kids are more willing to report threats of violence after Columbine, experts say parents should explain to their children that there is a difference between ‘telling’ and ‘tattling.’

According to the National Education Association (NEA):

Children ‘tattle’ to get their own way or to get someone else in trouble.

Children should be encouraged to ‘tell’ an adult when someone is in danger of getting hurt.
Some schools have started anonymous hotlines so that parents or children can provide information that could alert authorities to potential problems.

According to the American Psychological Association one in 12 high schoolers is threatened or injured with a weapon each year. To reduce that risk, the APA lists several ‘warning signs’ that kids need to recognize in other students, indications that violence is a “serious possibility”:

Loss of temper on a daily basis
Frequent physical fighting
Significant vandalism or property damage
Increase in use of drugs or alcohol
Increase in risk-taking behavior
Detailed plans to commit acts of violence
Announcing threats or plans for hurting others
Enjoying hurting animals
Carrying a weapon

Once students recognize a warning sign, the APA says there are things they can do. Hoping that someone else will deal with the problem is “the easy way out.” The advice for students:

Above all, be safe. Don’t spend time alone with people who show warning signs.

Tell someone you trust and respect about your concerns and ask for help (a family member, guidance counselor, teacher, school psychologist, coach, clergy, or friend).

If you are worried about becoming a victim of violence, get someone to protect you. Do not resort to violence or use a weapon to protect yourself.

The key to preventing violent behavior, according to the APA, is asking an experienced professional for help. The important thing to remember is, don’t go it alone.

National Education Association
American Psychological Association

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sue Scheff: Body Piercing and Teens

Source: TeensHealth

What Is a Body Piercing and What Can You Expect?

A body piercing is exactly that — a piercing or puncture made in your body by a needle. After that, a piece of jewelry is inserted into the puncture. The most popular pierced body parts seem to be the ears, the nostrils, and the belly button.

If the person performing the piercing provides a safe, clean, and professional environment, this is what you should expect from getting a body part pierced:

The area you've chosen to be pierced (except for the tongue) is cleaned with a germicidal soap (a soap that kills disease-causing bacteria and microorganisms).
Your skin is then punctured with a very sharp, clean needle.
The piece of jewelry, which has already been sterilized, is attached to the area.
The person performing the piercing disposes of the needle in a special container so that there is no risk of the needle or blood touching someone else.
The pierced area is cleaned.
The person performing the piercing checks and adjusts the jewelry.
The person performing the piercing gives you instructions on how to make sure your new piercing heals correctly and what to do if there is a problem.

Read the entire article:

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teen Stress and Peer Pressure, can it lead to Youth Gangs?

School is winding down, finals are piling up - the stress of getting good grades as well as keeping your GPA up to be able to get into that college or university you dream to go to, can be stressful. Compound that with summer coming and if you are like many teens, looking for a summer job is in the plan but may be more difficult than last summer. The economy is hitting all levels of employment, and parents are not the only ones having stressful times.

Here is a great article I found on TeensHealth. Take the time to learn more about your teen and how stress can effect them.

What Is Stress?

Stress is a feeling that’s created when we react to particular events. It’s the body’s way of rising to a challenge and preparing to meet a tough situation with focus, strength, stamina, and heightened alertness.

The events that provoke stress are called stressors, and they cover a whole range of situations - everything from outright physical danger to making a class presentation or taking a semester’s worth of your toughest subject.

The human body responds to stressors by activating the nervous system and specific hormones. The hypothalamus signals the adrenal glands to produce more of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol and release them into the bloodstream. These hormones speed up heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, and metabolism. Blood vessels open wider to let more blood flow to large muscle groups, putting our muscles on alert. Pupils dilate to improve vision. The liver releases some of its stored glucose to increase the body’s energy. And sweat is produced to cool the body. All of these physical changes prepare a person to react quickly and effectively to handle the pressure of the moment.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teen Depression

“Just this gloom was like hanging over my head and I knew something wasn’t right but I wasn’t exactly sure what it was.”

– Amy, 16 years old

New research from Columbia University finds that nearly 50 percent of teens suffer from some form of depression, anxiety, or a number of other psychiatric disorders.

“A lot of people I know get depressed all the time about lots of stuff,” says 15-year-old Meagan.

“It’s like everything’s all on your shoulders and you have to take everything at once,” says Meredith, 14.

Sixteen-year-old Amy agrees, “Just this gloom was like hanging over my head and I knew something wasn’t right but I wasn’t exactly sure what it was.”

“My parents went through an awful divorce my ninth grade year and I was devastated, worse than my heart could ever imagine,” says 18-year-old Brittany, “and it hurts a lot, and I still hurt to this day and I’m a senior in H.S.”

The symptoms vary: some kids may be lethargic and withdrawn; others may show agitation and frustration, even aggression. Often, there is a drop in grades.

And sometimes these symptoms can cause parents to punish the child, instead of providing treatment.

“Rather than thinking of children’s misbehaviors as discipline problems or misbehaviors as deliberate,” says psychologist Sunaina Jain, Ph.D., “it’s important to see them as communications from the child.”

Experts say lots of kids experience depression or anxiety, often mild and temporary, but not always. And that’s why parents need to constantly check their child’s emotional pulse.

“You know it doesn’t take hours and hours. Even a few minutes of checking in with each other every day is a great way of saying you know I’m here, I’m interested in you,” says Jain.

Tips for Parents
All teens experience ups and downs. Every day poses a new test of their emotional stability – fighting with a friend, feeling peer pressure to “fit in” with a particular crowd or experiencing anxiety over a failed quiz – all of which can lead to normal feelings of sadness or grief. These feelings are usually brief and subside with time, unlike depression, which is more than feeling blue, sad or down in the dumps once in a while.

According to the Nemours Foundation, depression is a strong mood involving sadness, discouragement, despair or hopelessness that lasts for weeks, months or even longer. It also interferes with a person’s ability to participate in normal activities. Often, depression in teens is overlooked because parents and teachers feel that unhappiness or “moodiness” is typical in young people. They blame hormones or other factors for teens’ feelings of sadness or grief, which leaves many teens undiagnosed and untreated for their illness.

The Mayo Clinic reports that sometimes a stressful life event triggers depression. Other times, it seems to occur spontaneously, with no identifiable specific cause. However, certain risk factors may be associated with developing the disorder. Johns Hopkins University cites the following risk factors for becoming depressed:

Children under stress who have experienced loss or who suffer attention, learning or conduct disorders are more susceptible to depression.
Girls are more likely than boys to develop depression.
Youth, particularly younger children, who develop depression are likely to have a family history of the disorder.

Possible Symptoms:

Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells
Significant changes in appetite and sleep patterns
Irritability, anger, worry, agitation or anxiety
Pessimism or indifference
Loss of energy or persistent lethargy
Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
Inability to concentrate and indecisiveness
Inability to take pleasure in former interests or social withdrawal
Unexplained aches and pains
Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

It is important to acknowledge that teens may experiment with drugs or alcohol or become sexually promiscuous to avoid feelings of depression. According to the National Mental Health Association, teens may also express their depression through other hostile, aggressive, risk-taking behaviors. These behaviors will only lead to new problems, deeper levels of depression and destroyed relationships with friends and family, as well as difficulties with law enforcement or school officials.

The development of newer antidepressant medications and mood-stabilizing drugs in the last 20 years has revolutionized the treatment of depression. According to the Mayo Clinic, medication can relieve the symptoms of depression, and it has become the first line of treatment for most types of the disorder. Psychotherapy may also help teens cope with ongoing problems that trigger or contribute to their depression. A combination of medications and a brief course of psychotherapy are usually effective if a teen suffers from mild to moderate depression. For severely depressed teens, initial treatment usually includes medications. Once they improve, psychotherapy can be more effective.

Immediate treatment of your teen’s depression is crucial. Adolescents and children suffering from depression may turn to suicide if they do not receive proper treatment. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for Americans aged 10-24. The National Association of School Psychologists suggests looking for the following warning signs that may indicate your depressed teen if contemplating suicide:

Suicide notes: Notes or journal entries are a very real sign of danger and should be taken seriously.

Threats: Threats may be direct statements (“I want to die.” “I am going to kill myself”) or indirect comments (“The world would be better without me.” “Nobody will miss me anyway”). Among teens, indirect clues could be offered through joking or through comments in school assignments, particularly creative writing or artwork.

Previous attempts: If your child or teen has attempted suicide in the past, a greater likelihood that he or she will try again exists. Be very observant of any friends who have tried suicide before.

Depression (helplessness/hopelessness): When symptoms of depression include strong thoughts of helplessness and hopelessness, your teen is possibly at greater risk for suicide. Watch out for behaviors or comments that indicate your teen is feeling overwhelmed by sadness or pessimistic views of his or her future.

“Masked” depression: Sometimes risk-taking behaviors can include acts of aggression, gunplay and alcohol or substance abuse. While this behavior may not appear to be depression, in fact it may suggest that your teen is not concerned about his or her own safety.

Final arrangements: This behavior may take many forms. In adolescents, it might be giving away prized possessions, such as jewelry, clothing, journals or pictures.

Efforts to hurt himself or herself: Self-injury behaviors are warning signs for young children as well as teens. Common self-destructive behaviors include running into traffic; jumping from heights; and scratching, cutting or marking his or her body.

Changes in physical habits and appearance: Changes include inability to sleep or sleeping all the time, sudden weight gain or loss and lack of interest in appearance or hygiene.

Sudden changes in personality, friends or behaviors: Changes can include withdrawing from friends and family, skipping school or classes, loss of involvement in activities that were once important and avoiding friends.

Plan/method/access: A suicidal child or adolescent may show an increased interest in guns and other weapons, may seem to have increased access to guns, pills, etc., and/or may talk about or hint at a suicide plan. The greater the planning, the greater the potential for suicide.
Death and suicidal themes: These themes might appear in classroom drawings, work samples, journals or homework.

If you suspect suicide, it is important to contact a medical professional immediately. A counselor or psychologist can also help offer additional support.

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
American Foundation for Suicidal Prevention
Columbia University
Johns Hopkins University
Mayo Clinic
National Association of School Psychologists
National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association
National Institute of Mental Health
National Mental Health Association
Nemours Foundation

Friday, February 20, 2009

Sue Scheff - Parent Resources in Florida

After speaking with a mother in Northern Florida, she introduced me to another valuable website of information for other parents. Parents’ Universal Resource Experts is based on parents helping parents and this is another example of it.

What you as a parent will need to change unwanted child behavior?

1. A commitment: We can’t keep you from giving up on your child. Only you can stay committed to parenting.

2. A plan: Without a plan you will not succeed.

3. Support: Without someone to stand with you, to encourage you and to guide you, you will fail. Changing unwanted, defiant child behavior is just too difficult to go it alone.

If you have these three necessary requirements, we are ready to help you. We can show you what to do and how to do it, but we can’t do it for you. That’s the parent’s job. We have lots of success in helping parents change unwanted child behavior from 7 to 17.

We can help every parent develop a plan. The parenting plan we facilitate is the nation’s best parenting program. It’s call the Parent Project,, and they are already in 32 states. This program has been around for 20 years. It’s not on trial. Whether this parenting plan works is totally based on your ability to execute the Parent Project parenting plan.
Learn more here.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teenage Brain - Troubled Teenagers? See How the Teenage Mind Works

Source: Connect with Kids

Troubled Teenagers? See How the Teenage Mind Works

Are you dealing with the emotional rollercoaster of raising a teenager? Teens are impulsive, stubborn and moody. A troubled teenager will yell at you one minute and hug you the next. What’s a parent to do? Get The Teenage Brain and see the latest research to help you understand defiant teenagers and how their mind actually works. You’ll improve your parenting skills and learn how to influence troubled teenagers and how to better communicate with them.

Find out what makes defiant teenagers tick.

New research shows that there are clear-cut, physical differences between an adult’s brain and a teenager’s brain – differences that explain typical “teen behavior.” The Teenage Brain is a compelling video program that gives families with troubled teenagers hope while providing the latest facts, tips from experts, advice from health practitioners, stories from teens themselves and much more.

When it comes to teenagers, you can never have enough parenting skills.

If you have teens, part of your job is to develop their mind. New research shows that you can actually shape the structure of your child’s brain – so shouldn’t you understand how troubled teenagers' or defiant teenagers' brains work? Now you can.

“It’s important for parents to understand how the brain works because the brain is incredibly responsive to experiences, and the kind of experiences that parents provide can actually shape the structure of the brain.”
- Dr. Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., child

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Parents Universal Resource Experts - Sue Scheff - Teen Gangs

Teen Gangs and Teen Cults

Gangs prey on the weak child that yearns to fit in with a false illusion they are accepted into the “cool crowd”. With most Gangs as with Teen Cults, they can convince your child that joining “their Gang or Cult” will make them a “well-liked and popular” teen as well as one that others may fear. This gives the teen a false sense of superiority. Remember, many of today’s teens that are acting out negatively are suffering with extremely low self confidence. This feeling of power that they believe a gang or cult has can boost their esteem; however they are blinded to the fact that is dangerous. This is how desperate some teens are to fit in.

In reality, it is a downward spiral that can result in damage both emotionally and psychically. We have found Teen Gangs and Teen Cults are sometimes hard to detect. They disguise themselves to impress the most intelligent of parents. We have witnessed Gang members who will present themselves as the “good kid from the good family” and you would not suspect their true colors.
If you suspect your child is involved in any Gang Activities or any Cults, please seek local therapy* and encourage your child to communicate.

This is when the lines of communication need to be wide open. Sometimes this is so hard, and that is when an objective person is always beneficial. Teen Gangs and Teen Cults are to be taken very seriously. A child that is involved in a gang can affect the entire family and their safety. Take this very seriously if you suspect your child is participating in gang activity or cult association.

Learn more click here.

Need help - visit