Thursday, August 28, 2008

High School Transition by Connect with Kids

“(My sons are) scared and you’re nervous and you want to fit in. And hopefully they’ll come home and talk about it. And I know Kyle was worried about getting beaten up…and that’s the first time he’s mentioned that.”

– Carrie Bickwit, mother

Kyle and grant have spent the summer playing,

But now high school is just a few days away.

“As it gets closer it gets more… it hits me more that it’s that close,” says Kyle, 13.

“I’m a little nervous about all the homework,” admits twin brother Grant, “Everyone’s saying about how it’s going to be twice as much as middle school.”

Kyle worries about fitting in…

“I’m kind of shy,” he says, “And if you’re in with people you don’t really know, you’re afraid you’ll make a mistake and that’ll ruin you.”

Psychologist Nancy McGarrah, Ph.D., says there are plenty of kids who share Kyle and Grant’s concerns. “I hear a lot of headaches and stomach aches this time of year, because they are so anxious about going to school,” she says.

To help a child gear up academically, experts recommend a little extra reading the last several days before school begins.

“We’re actually doing a pre-reading book report and right now it’s taking a while ‘cause it’s summer and my brain’s off,” says Grant.

For a child worried about fitting in…experts suggest find a friend with an older son or daughter who’s been through it all…

“To tell them that this is going to be short lived,” says Dr. McGarrah, “This is going to be somewhat painful but it’s something you adjust to pretty quickly.”

Next, as soon as school starts, join a club, or activity- any small group where you can make friends.

“In a big school it’s even more important, because you really can feel lost in the crowd.”

Finally, whatever their fears or anxieties…

“I think it’s important to reassure them,” says Dr. McGarrah, “To tell them first of all that all kids feel that way. Even the kid that you look at as the most successful, attractive kid is probably feeling that way.”

Tips for Parents

Ninth grade is a time of great change in many students’ lives. They are either the “big men on campus” or else they are on the bottom of the totem pole. As the debate rages on as to whether ninth graders should be in middle or high school, experts have developed advantages and disadvantages to keeping ninth graders in the same school with the sixth, seventh and eight grades.


Ninth graders can have a leadership role that they would not enjoy in a senior high school setting.
The difference in age between age 14 (ninth grade) and age 18 (twelfth grade) is so great that it can be difficult for some ninth graders to adjust.
Some ninth graders are too young and immature to be placed with senior high school students.
The four-year stay in one school facilitates better relationships for students, staff and parents than a shorter stay.

Ninth graders are more like tenth, eleventh and twelfth graders because most have gone through puberty.

Separating ninth graders from tenth, eleventh and twelfth graders limits curriculum and extracurricular offerings for them.

The younger children, especially the sixth graders, may want to imitate the ninth graders and grow up too fast.

Ninth graders will experience a variety of new skills and milestones. It is always good for parents to have some idea of what their student is going through, and the following list should help.

Intellectual Skills – Higher expectations coincide with his/her own increasing abilities. He/she will have interests that span farther and wider than ever, in addition to a greater awareness and curiosity about the world around him/her. An example of your teenager’s expanding intellect is his/her newfound skill of deductive reasoning.

Social Skills – Your adolescent is becoming less egocentric in his/her views, and that gives a greater ability to compromise, to stay composed when he/she's in disagreement with someone and to be generally more tolerant and even-tempered. His/her view of the world will settle first on the friends he/she has around him/her.

Emotional changes – While your ninth-grader is less self-conscious than he/she has been in the past couple of years, he/she is most likely still uncertain about how he/she measures up. Physical appearance matters greatly to him/her, as well as how they're developing.
Challenges – Your student will encounter many challenges throughout the ninth grade year, and the most common ones are academic failure, eating too much or too little, struggling with abstinence versus teenage sex and adjusting to a bigger school.

U.S. Department of Education
Family Education Network
Parent Soup
Partnership for a Drug Free America

Monday, August 18, 2008

Struggling With Your Young Adult - by Sue Scheff

“My 18 year old is out of control and I am at my wits end! What can I do?” – Anonymous Parent.

18 – 19 year old teens can be the most difficult to address simply because they are considered adults and cannot be forced to get help. As parents, we have limited to no control. Practicing “Tough Love” is easier said than done, many parents cannot let their child reach rock bottom – as parent’s, we see our child suffering – whether it is needing groceries or a roof over their head and it is hard to shut the door on them.

I think this is one of the most important reasons that if you are a parent of a 16-17 year old that is out of control, struggling, defiant, using drugs and alcohol, or other negative behavior – I believe it is time to look for intervention NOW. I am not saying it needs to be a residential treatment center or a program out of the home, but at least start with local resources such as therapists that specialize with adolescents and preferable offer support groups.

It is unfortunate that in most cases the local therapy is very limited how it can help your teen. The one hour once a week or even twice, is usually not enough to make permanent changes. Furthermore getting your defiant teen to attend sessions can sometimes cause more friction and frustrations than is already happening.

This is the time to consider outside help such as a Therapeutic Boarding School or Residential Treatment Center. However these parents with the 18-19 year olds have usually missed their opportunity. They were hoping and praying that at 16 – 17 things would change, but unfortunately, if not addressed, the negative behavior usually escalates.

In the past 8+ years I have heard from thousands of parents – and most are hoping to get their child through High School and will be satisfied with a GED. It is truly a sad society of today’s teens when many believe they can simply drop out of school. Starting as early as 14 years old, many teens are thinking this way and we need to be sure they know the consequences of not getting an education. Education in today’s world should be our children’s priority however with today’s peer pressure and entitlement issues, it seems to have drifted from education to defiance – being happy just having fun and not being responsible.

I think there are many parents that debate whether they should take that desperate measure of sending a child to a program and having them escorted there – but in the long run – you need to look at these parents that have 18-19 year olds that don’t have that opportunity. While you have this option, and it is a major decision that needs to be handled with the utmost reality of what will happen if things don’t change. The closer they are to 18 – the more serious issues can become legally. If a 17+ year old gets in trouble with the law, in many states they will be tried as an adult. This can be scary since most of these kids are good kids making very bad choices and don’t deserve to get caught up the system. As a parent I believe it is our responsible not to be selfish and be open to sending the outside of the home. It is important not to view this as a failure as a parent, but as a responsible parent that is willing to sacrifice your personal feelings to get your child the help they need.

At 18, it is unfortunate, these kids are considered adults - and as parents we basically lose control to get them the help they need. In some cases - if the teen knows they have no other alternatives and this is the only option the parents will support, they will agree to get outside help.

Visit for more information.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

5 Ways Teens Might Cheat on Drug Tests

5 Ways Teens Might Cheat on Drug Tests—and How to Catch Them
These tricks are out there on the Web, so parents need to be informed

By Lindsay Lyon
Posted August 6, 2008

Google "beat drug test," and the search engine spits out page upon page of ploys and products that can make incriminating urine seem drug free. All it takes is a computer-savvy teen to access them. The ease of cheating, in fact, is one of at least seven reasons parents shouldn't try to test their kids for drug use. Instead, experts say, they should seek out a professional assessment.

Related News
7 Reasons Parents Should Not Test Kids for Drug Use
How to Protect Your Kids From Substance Abuse
The Sheff Family Struggles With Addiction
Video: Life After Meth

"Cheating remains the Achilles' heal of drug urine testing in all settings," says Robert DuPont, president of the Institute for Behavior and Health Inc. and former director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. With increasing opportunities for testing—by prospective employers, schools, and parents—experts worry that teens may have more impetus than ever to try. Last week, at the American Association for Clinical Chemistry's annual meeting in Washington, D.C., toxicologist Amitava Dasgupta of University of Texas-Houston medical school demonstrated various ways that employees try to beat workplace drug tests—and how experts foil these schemes in the laboratory. There's nothing to stop kids from using the same tricks, and there's no guarantee that parents will be able to catch them at home.

Here are five ways—some of them downright dangerous—that teens may try to cheat drug tests. They're all described elsewhere on the Internet, so parents should be aware of them.
1. Tampering. A sprinkle of salt or a splash of bleach, vinegar, detergent, or drain cleaner is all that's needed to muck up a urine specimen. These and other household substances are all too often smuggled into the bathroom and used to alter the composition of urine, making the presence of some illegal substances undetectable, says Dasgupta. Same goes for chemical concoctions sold all over the Internet. Sometimes these additives or "adulterants" will cloud or discolor urine, easily casting suspicion on the specimen, but others leave the sample looking normal. Laboratory toxicologists employ simple tests to catch these cheats. For example, a few drops of hydrogen peroxide will turn urine brown if it's been mixed with pyridinium chlorochromate, an otherwise-imperceptible chemical designed to foil drug tests.

2. Water-loading. Gulping fluids before providing urine, a long-standing tactic, is still the most common way that teens try to beat tests, says Sharon Levy, a pediatrician and director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program at Children's Hospital Boston. Whether cheats use salty solutions to induce thirst, flushing agents that increase urine output, or just plain old H20, their aim is to water down drugs so they can't be detected. Some testing facilities may check urine for dilution and deem overly watery samples "unfit for testing." But consuming too much fluid too quickly can occasionally have dire consequences. "Water intoxication" reportedly killed a woman following participation in a radio show's water drinking contest, says Alan Wu, a professor of laboratory medicine at the University of California-San Francisco.

3. Switching drugs. Perhaps most alarming, says Levy, is that teens bent on defeating drug tests will sometimes switch their drug of choice to an undetectable (or harder to detect) substance that's considerably more hazardous. Inhalants, for example, include numerous types of chemical vapors that typically produce brief, intoxicating effects. "You don't excrete [inhalants] in your urine," says Levy, but "inhaling is acutely more dangerous than marijuana." Indeed, inhalants can trigger the lethal heart problem known as "sudden sniffing death" in otherwise healthy adolescents, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The tragic case of young David Manlove is an example.

4. Popping vitamins. Perhaps it's because niacin (aka vitamin B3) is known to aid metabolism, or perhaps it's because Scientologists are said to take it in excess to flush their bodies of toxins. Whatever the reasons, some teens got the idea that extreme doses of this vitamin would erase any trace of their illicit drug use. Instead, it almost cost them their lives. In two separate incidents, emergency physician Manoj Mittal of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has found adolescents who downed at least 150 times the daily recommended dose of niacin (15 mg) to cheat drug tests. (He described the cases last year in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.) Both kids were vomiting, had low blood sugar, and had "significant" liver toxicity when they arrived at the ER. And the niacin didn't even do what they'd intended; both tested positive for illicit drugs. "People might think that since [niacin] is a vitamin it's harmless," says Mittal. "But these cases suggest that our bodies have limits."

5. Swapping urine samples. Whether they use a friend's clean urine, synthetic pee, or even freeze-dried urine purchased online, some teens try to pass off foreign samples as their own, says Levy. The biggest tip-off is temperature. "Anything significantly lower than body temperature is suspicious," says Dasgupta, which is why some have tried to shuttle samples in armpits or taped to thighs to keep them warm. Possibly the oddest trick of all is a device marketed to those trying to beat witnessed drug collections, says Wu: a sort of prosthetic penis called the "Whizzinator" that claims to come equipped with clean urine "guaranteed" to remain at body temperature for hours, with the help of special heat pads. "Believe it or not, [the prosthesis] comes in different colors," says Wu.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

'Bullycide' by Connect with Kids

“They may incorporate that dislike into disliking themselves and then it’s only one or two short steps from disliking one’s self to wanting to harm one’s self.”

– Jim Stark, Ph.D., Forensic Psychologist

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people in the United States.

Marvin Novelo is 17, openly gay - and has tried to kill himself several times.

“Drowning, pills, several other things,” he remembers.

Since the third grade, Marvin says, he has been the victim of bullies at school.

He’s been beaten up, thrown into a dumpster, a trashcan, and into a toilet in the girl’s bathroom.

“But of course, none of it was really as bad as just the verbal harassment,” Marvin says. “Because you couldn’t escape it. You could run away from someone trying to beat you up, but in a classroom there was nowhere to run.”

A new review of studies by Yale University finds that bully victims are two to nine times more likely to report having suicidal thoughts than other kids.

“They may incorporate that dislike into disliking themselves,” says Dr. Jim Stark, who has worked with gay and lesbian teens, “and then it’s only one or two short steps from disliking one’s self to wanting to harm one’s self.”

“I see myself a person that’s not even deserving to live, a person that doesn’t deserve anything in life,” adds Marvin. “I see myself as this -and this is embarrassing, it’s humiliating.”

Psychologists say parents of kids who are depressed or bullied at school should ask their son or daughter if they’ve thought about suicide.

“And if you can present it in a way that you don’t label it as horrible, that someone would consider suicide as a solution, then you give permission for that thought to be there, and more permission to be able to talk about that option and other options,” says Dr. Paul Schenk, a psychologist.

As for Marvin, his goals for the future are simple.

“I want a life where I can actually be at peace,” he says.

Tips for Parents

The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) reports that kids fear violence in school from bullies more than outside terrorist attacks, and it appears that they do so for good reason. The NCPC surveyed more than 500 students aged 12 to 17 and found that six out of 10 U.S. teens witness bullying in school at least once a day. Even among students in lower grade levels, elementary school officials are seeing an increase in assaults and threats to classmates and teachers. In Philadelphia, 22 kindergartners were suspended during the first half of this school year, one for punching a pregnant teacher in the stomach. An 8-year-old in Maryland recently threatened to burn down his school. And a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that at least 10,000 children stay home from school each month out of fear of bullies.

Why is bullying on the rise in U.S. schools? Educators cite various causes, including violent video games, the failing economy and a stressed or abusive home life. Experts say that schools and families often ignore the resulting damage caused by bullying, including a fear of attending school, carrying weapons for protection and committing more violent activity. In fact, the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD) found that the long-term effects of frequent bullying often follow victims into adulthood. They say that these adults are at greater risk of suffering from depression, schizophrenia or other mental health problems, and in rare cases, may commit suicide.

Parental involvement is the key to reducing and preventing bullying and the problems it brings. The NCPC offers the following tips to help prevent bullying incidents in your child’s school and community:

Listen to your child. Encourage him or her to talk about school, social events, classmates and the walk or ride to and from school so you can identify any problems he or she may be experiencing.
Take your child’s complaints of bullying seriously. Probing a seemingly minor complaint may uncover more severe grievances.

Watch for symptoms that your child may be a bullying victim. These symptoms include withdrawal, a drop in grades, torn clothes or the need for extra money or supplies.
Tell the school or organization immediately if you think that your child is being bullied. Alerted caregivers can carefully monitor your child’s actions and take steps to ensure his or her safety.
Work with other parents in your neighborhood. This strategy can ensure that children are supervised closely on their way to and from school.

Teach your child nonviolent ways to resolve arguments.

Teach your child self-protection skills. These skills include how to walk confidently, staying alert to what’s going on around him or her and standing up for himself or herself verbally.

Help your child learn the social skills needed to make friends. A confident, resourceful child who has friends is less likely to be bullied or to bully others.

Praise your child’s kindness toward others. Let him or her know that kindness is valued.
Don’t bully your child yourself, physically or verbally. Use nonphysical, consistently enforced discipline measures as opposed to ridiculing, yelling or ignoring your child when he or she misbehaves.

Although anyone can be the target of a bully, victims are often singled out based on psychological traits more than physical traits. The National Resource Center for Safe Schools says that passive loners are the most frequent victims, especially if they cry easily or lack social self-defense skills. Many victims are unable to deflect a conflict with humor and don’t think quickly on their feet. They are usually anxious, insecure and cautious and suffer from low self-esteem. In addition, they rarely defend themselves or retaliate and tend to lack friends, making them easy to isolate. Therefore, it is vital that you instill confidence in your child and empower him or her to become a healthy, socially adjusted adult.

Yale University
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Crime Prevention Council
National Institute of Child Health & Human Development
National Resource Center for Safe Schools

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Parents Univesal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Teen Truancy

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.

Many educators view truancy as something much more far reaching than the immediate consequence that missed schooling has on a student's education. Truancy may indicate more deeply embedded problems with the student, the education they are receiving, or both. Because of its traditional association with juvenile delinquency, truancy in some schools may result in an ineligibility to graduate or to receive credit for class attended, until the time lost to truancy is made up through a combination of detention, fines, or summer school. This can be especially troubling for a child, as failing school can lead to social impairment if the child is held back, economic impact if the child drops out or cannot continue his or her education, and emotional impact as the cycle of failure diminishes the adolescent's self-esteem.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Teens Today - by Vanessa Van Petten - Exposing The Net Generation

Vanessa Van Petten the young author of You’re Grounded and offers an informational and incredible website about teens today! Visit and you will be amazed at the subjects and questions and answers you can find by exploring her website.

From Vanessa:

Welcome Brave Parents!

HOORAY! Finally, parenting advice from the kid’s perspective! It’s usually impossible to get more than one-word-answers from us, but with my book “You’re Grounded!” and my blog, I hope I can be honest about real issues that teens and pre-teens are dealing with, so you, the parents, can actually understand us (well at least a small part of our world)…and we can finally develop better relationships.

Have you ever wondered what really goes on in the mind of a teenager?As a teenager, have you ever wondered why parents really make your curfew so early?As a parent, have you hoped for a better understanding of the teenage years?

I wrote this book when I was 17, I interviewed over 700 teenagers to bring you our real advice. I know that teens often feel lost and angry, and parents usually wish they can read our minds, because at around age 15, we start pulling away.

Please read my testimonials and description below of how my book can change. your. family. If you feel like you need to get to know me better first, no problem! I offer tons of free advice with daily posts, interviews and stories right here on the main page of my blog so you can get to know me. You can also sign up by email in the box on the right, bookmark my page or RSS!
You can also check out my new ebook: The Dirt E-Secrets of an Internet Kid!

I learned the hard way that parent-child relationships are precious. I want to help you and your family bridge the gap. Please email me with any questions!

We can do it together,