Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teens Learning More from Physical Exercise

Researchers are finding that exercise can not only keep you fit, but make you smarter. A school in Illinois has developed a program that gets students moving and learning. Debbye Turner Bell reports.

Visit for more great information.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sue Scheff: Prevent CyberBullying

This is a very interesting article that will make parents think when safety trumps privacy - do you suspect your teen or tween is posting disturbing photos or communicating with questionable others? As a parent is is our responsibility to help keep our kids safe online. Having open lines of communication can help tremendously and helping them to understand the consequences of unflattering posts is critical.

We will spy on your teen’s website for you

More and more worried parents are resorting to using data-tracking services to keep up with what their teenagers are doing on the internet, writes Siobhan Cronin

Irish parents are the best in Europe at monitoring their kids on the internet. However, their kids are the least likely of all European children to turn to mum or dad for advice when something happens to them online.

These were the results of a recent survey by the European Commission into internet supervision by parents.

While our parents might be good at keeping tabs on their kids, cyber bullying is still on the increase, sometimes with tragic results.

Cork girl Leanne Wolfe’s horrific tales of bullying were revealed in her diary, days after her death by suicide last year.

Her sister later told of the nasty text messages and vicious internet entries which led Leanne to take her own life.

It is real-life stories like Leanne’s which have led thousands of American parents — and now a few hundred Irish ones — to resort to using a service that will keep tabs on what their children are reading, and uploading, on the web.

But it’s not just bullying that worries parents. Unfettered access to the web for our kids has also meant open access to them from anyone who is ‘roaming’ around in cyberspace.

This has led some parents to take the ultimate action — spying on their own children.

The founder of Reputation Defender, Michael Fertik, has been called to justify his online service: “Would you like to know your 16-year-old daughter is putting pictures of herself wearing only a bra on the web? Yes. People are not born with good judgment and it rarely develops by 15,” he says.

But another defence of Fertik’s service is, he claims, the prevalence of web bullying.

“When we were at school, we wrote mean notes to each other but you threw the piece of paper out the next day — now it’s on the internet wall forever,” he says.

Fertik’s solution, MyChild, scours the internet for all references to your child — by name, photography, screen name, or social network profiles.

For about €9.95 per month, the ‘online spy’ will send you a report of what your child has posted on the worldwide web.

Its approach is unashamedly tapping into parents’ paranoia: “Worried about bullies? Concerned that your teens’ friends and peers are posting inappropriate materials online,” the site asks.

Fertik, who says he has a “few hundred” Irish customers already, says his company grew out of a need to protect online privacy.

“Young people do the same things that they always did,” he points out. But now it’s on a wall on a web page. The internet is like a tattoo parlour.”

The firm, which started in his apartment in Kentucky, and now employs 65 staff servicing 35 countries, brought in revenues of $5.5m (€4.3m) this year.

He insists there is no “hacking” involved. His staff go through legitimate channels, but are simply better trained in the ways of teenage internet usage than most parents.

“We always encourage the parent to get the password — we don’t want to be spying on kids,” he adds.

One of the things that often causes concern among parents is the practice of their own lives being discussed on a website. “These things have always been discussed by children, but now it’s up there for everyone to see. Things like: ‘My parents are fighting’ or ‘I think they are going to get a divorce’.”

In pre-web days, we all had very intimate conversations with our peers about our home lives — either in person, or on the phone. Now it’s all on the internet, Fertik notes.

Once the offending material is identified, Reputation Defender can delete it, on the instructions of the parent, whether it involves comments, photographs or videos posted on social-networking sites, or on chat rooms or forums.

The service has become so popular that the company now offers packages to adults to manage search engine results, ‘reputation’ for career purposes, and general ‘privacy’ — so that you can stop sites selling your personal information to others.

But that very privacy is the reason that children’s rights organisations around the world have come out strongly against the practice.

Michael McLoughlin of Youthwork Ireland, which provides support and youth services for over 40,000 young people, says that while there may be some justification of the service for younger teens, this could become somewhat blurred when dealing with children of 16 or 17 years of age.
“At that stage in their lives they should really know what they are doing themselves,” he says. Youthwork Ireland is currently preparing guidelines for youth workers dealing with online bullying. “We try to tool them up on social networking, and try to improve the safety aspects.”
The ISPCC agrees that children need to be made aware of the risks of online networking.

However, National Childline Manager Margie Roe says that while parents need to respect privacy and maintain trust, they also need to police their children if they think they might be in any danger.

“If a parent is concerned about their child, they have a right to protect them,” she says.
“They need to be careful they don’t damage the trust between them and their child, but if they feel their behaviour is in anyway unusual, or their child is disappearing a lot, then it could be justified.”

This would be particularly relevant if parents are concerned their children might be making plans to hook up with people they have only met online, says Margie.

Michael Fertik is adamant that he is not doing anything ethically wrong.

“If a kid is 18 or older, we won’t do it. Parents who are signing up for this feel they don’t know how to keep up with their kids and they don’t understand Facebook or Bebo.”

He says the children themselves have mastered the art of ‘multiple’ personalities, in order to make discovery of their sites more difficult, but Reputation Defender is on their case.

However, even Fertik’s own ’solution’ can be subject to unsavoury interference. The system flags a query when the last name of the parent does not match the child’s, prompting further requests from the applicant, before they are given information on the child’s use of the web.
Fertik’s attitude appears to be that online surveillance is now a necessary evil in our modern world.

“There is no medical privacy for kids, no legal privacy. We are not suggesting they shouldn’t be allowed use the internet, but it’s like driving a car — you want to make sure they know how to drive first.

“We are not spying on someone else’s kid. It’s a new day, the internet brings new threats, and we need new armour.”
- Siobhan Cronin

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Parents Universal Resource Experts - Sue Scheff - Teen Drug Prevention

D.A.R.E. - Drug Abuse Resistance Education has been known for many years and has helped been part of many schools in helping children learn the dangers of drug abuse. As a parent, take some time to review their newly updated information and website. It is important that parents and educators work together to help prevent drug use.

This year millions of school children around the world will benefit from D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), the highly acclaimed program that gives kids the skills they need to avoid involvement in drugs, gangs, and violence.

D.A.R.E. was founded in 1983 in Los Angeles and has proven so successful that it is now being implemented in 75 percent of our nation’s school districts and in more than 43 countries around the world.

D.A.R.E. is a police officer-led series of classroom lessons that teaches children from kindergarten through 12th grade how to resist peer pressure and live productive drug and violence-free lives.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sue Scheff - Blogs on Parenting

Recently I am noticing more and more parents are stepping up and talking about their issues, concerns, frustrations as well as sharing ideas and tips they have used in raising their children. All in all, it is about parents helping parents.Years ago when I struggled with my daughter, I felt so alone - and it was such a hush hush mentality. We were all so determined to prove our kids were nearly perfect! Oh, so smart and athletic or gifted and talented in some way. In today's generation of raising children it is become more challenging.

Here are a few Blogs on Parenting that could help you help your child:

Van's Mom - Exploring and dealing with an ADHD and ODD daughter.
Tangerine Times - Myrna's parenting tips on the sweet and sour times of teens.
Phil's Blog - Why physical education is so critical to children today in highly techy times.
Inhalant Abuse Blog - Parents educate other parents on the dangers of many home products.
Love Our Children Blog - Helping keep today's children safe.
Sarah Maria's Blog - Learning to increase your self image to make better choices. (For parents and teens!)
Lori Hanson's Blog - Holistic solutions for a eating disorders.
ADD/ADHD Blog - ADDitude Magazine offers many parent Blogs on ADD/ADHD and more.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sue Scheff - Inauguration Day 2009 - Parents and Teens and Politics!

What an exciting week we have ahead of us! It is amazing how today’s youths are getting involved in politics and taking the initiative to learn all they can. This is not only a historical time for our country, there is a feeling of unity among all people of all ages. This can also a great time to spend with your kids and explain the importance of this upcoming week. How do you feel? Do your kids truly understand the history of this moment? This is a perfect opportunity to have family time and excitement as well as creating lasting memories.

Read the article Connect with Kids posted back in June outlining how teens really took part in this past election. Again, an exciting time in history!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sue Scheff - HIV Testing and Teens

Years ago, one of our biggest fears with pre-marital sex, was getting pregnant! Today we still have that fear, but what is more concerning is the STD’s! They can be death sentences in some cases. Parents need to take the time to educate our teens today of the consequences of unprotected sex. None of us like the idea of our teens having sex so young, but we need to face the reality if they do, they need to be protected.

Source: Connect with Kids

“Our evidence is that when people find out they’re infected with HIV, they cut down their risky behavior by more than two-thirds.”

– Bernard Branson, M.D., Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Does your 13-year-old need an HIV test?

“No, because she’s not sexually active,” says father Mark Alterio, “So I wouldn’t have her screened.”

“I’m a proponent of being more informed,” says mother Ingrid Emmons, “and I feel like if you’re more informed then we can get you the help that you need. So I’d rather know than not know.”

The American College of Physicians is now backing the Center for Disease Control’s recommendations to have everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 tested for HIV.

But why start so young?

“Our information, first of all, from recent surveys suggests that about 47-percent of teenagers, high school students, are sexually active,” says Dr. Bernard Branson, with the CDC’s division of HIV/AIDS Prevention.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 250-thousand Americans have HIV and don’t know it.

Experts say expanded testing could stop thousands from spreading the virus.

“Our evidence is that when people find out they’re infected with HIV,” says Dr. Branson, “they cut down their risky behavior by more than two-thirds.”

Experts estimate testing will reduce the number of new HIV cases from around 40-thousand to 17-thousand a year.

Screening could especially benefit teenagers.

“Our recommendation is to make this something that’s routine,” says Dr. Branson, “so that it doesn’t cause an adolescent in particular to have to admit something they might prefer not to, in order to get HIV-tested.”

In other words, if it’s not routine, some kids won’t ask to get tested - because it means admitting they were sexually active.

Some parents agree.

“Kids are always hiding something,” says mother Melanie Zentner, “especially in the teenaged years, even if you’re close. So I’d like to know, so you can take care of it right away. That would be my opinion.”

HIV tests cost between eight and 20 dollars each. If there is a positive result, more testing is done to confirm the results.

Tips for Parents
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2006, 15 percent of persons diagnosed with HIV/AIDS were 13 to 24. Twenty-six percent were aged 25-34. The typical delay between the exposure to HIV infection and the onset of AIDS means that most of these young adults were infected as teens. There is a growing concern among U.S. health organizations about complacency – referred to as “safe-sex fatigue” – among young people toward HIV infection and AIDS. However, statistics show there is no reason for teens to be complacent about AIDS.

The Kaiser Family FoundationSexual Health of Adolescents and Young Adults in the United States 2008 report finds the following statistics about HIV, AIDS and teens:

The CDC estimates that almost 46,000 young people, ages 13 to 24, were living with HIV in the U.S in 2006. Women comprised 28% of these HIV/AIDS cases among 13- to 24-year-olds.
African-American young adults are disproportionately affected by HIV infection, accounting for 60% of HIV/AIDS diagnoses in 13- to 24-year-olds in 2006.
More HIV infections occurred among adolescents and young adults 13–29 years old (34%) of new HIV infections than any other age group. Most young people with HIV/AIDS were infected by sexual transmission.
In 2006, 16% of young adults ages 18 to 24 reported that they had been tested for HIV in the past 12 months.
The Kaiser study also shows that over the past decade teens have become smarter about sex:

Nearly half (48%) of all high school students in 2007 reported ever having had sexual intercourse, a decline from 54% in 1991. Males (50%) are slightly more likely than females (46%) to report having had sex. The median age at first intercourse is 16.9 years for boys and 17.4 years for girls.
In 2007, among the 35% of currently sexually active high school students, 62% reported using a condom the last time they had sexual intercourse, up from 57% in 1997.1 African-American students (67%) were more likely to report using condoms compared to White (60%) and Hispanic (61%) students. Males (69%) were more like to report condom use than females (55%).
Using a dual method of a condom and hormonal contraceptive is becoming more prevalent for teenage females. The percentage of currently sexually active never-married females 15–19 years of age reporting use of dual methods rose from 8% in 1995 to 20% in 2002.
Sexually active teens need information, skills and support to protect themselves from HIV and AIDS. The American Association for World Health (AAWH) says parents communicating in a positive way about sexuality and risky behaviors can have a “profound influence” in helping young people make healthy decisions. Talking to your teen about AIDS can often be difficult and uncomfortable because it requires talking about issues like sex and drugs. The AAWH suggests the following tips when talking to your teen about HIV and AIDS:

AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. It is a serious and fatal disease of the human immune system and is caused by a virus called human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). A person will not develop AIDS unless he or she has first been infected with HIV.
HIV can be spread through oral, anal or vaginal sexual activity. The sexual transmission can be from male to female, from male to male, from female to male or from female to female. HIV may be in an infected person’s blood, semen, vaginal secretions or breast milk. It can enter the body through cuts or sores on tissue in the vagina, penis, rectum and sometimes the mouth. The cuts may be so small that you don’t know they’re there.
You can become infected with HIV from even one instance of unprotected sex. While complete abstinence is the surest way to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV, protecting yourself with a latex condom or barrier at every sexual encounter is very important.
Most birth control methods like the pill or diaphragms don’t protect you from HIV.
Whether you inject drugs or steroids or use needles for tattoos or body piercing, sharing needles places you at risk for becoming infected with HIV.
Using drugs of any kind, including alcohol or inhalants, can cloud your judgment. You could become less careful about having sex or injecting drugs – behaviors that place you at risk for HIV.

American Association for World Health
American College of Physicians
Centers for Disease Control
The Kaiser Family Foundation

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sue Scheff - Teen Self Abuse or Injury

Self abuse (or self mutilation) can come in many forms; most commonly it is associated with cutting, hair pulling or bone breaking, but it can also manifest itself as eating disorders like bulimia, and/or anorexia. This site will focus mainly on cutting, which is the most common form of self abuse, with 72% of all self injurers choosing to do so by cutting themselves, and hair pulling. Cutting is exactly as it sounds; when your teen cuts him or herself as a physical expression to feel emotional pain.

There are many reasons why teens injure themselves, but many people assume it’s just ‘for attention’. Often this can be an element of why your teen may be abusing him or her self, but just as often it can be something your teen does privately to express the emotional pain they feel inside. And while self injury is a taboo subject, it is estimated that 3 to 6 million Americans self injure themselves in some way, and that number is on the increase- in fact, its already doubled in the past three years.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Parents Universal Resource Experts - Sue Scheff: Where Do Teens Turn for Medical Advice

Source: Connect with Kids

“I had irritation in my special ‘no-no’ place. And that was a question that I wasn’t going to ask my mom.”

– Sheaele, Age 17

So where do teenagers like Sheaele turn when they want a health question answered? Sometimes friends, sometimes teachers… and according to a new survey, nearly half of teens are now going to the Internet to look for medical information.

“If it was a personal problem that I didn’t feel comfortable talking to anybody about, I would probably just look it up online,” says 18-year-old Joe.

But the information teens find on web sites may not always be accurate. Experts say to help a child avoid bad information, parents should do their own search of teen-friendly medical web sites.

Check them out. Then suggest the ones you like to your teen.

“Internet sites that do that, just give clear health information … I think that would be probably a good idea,” says Dr. Dawn Swaby-Ellis, a pediatrician.

But experts have an even better idea for parents: Find a real-life doctor their teen can trust.

“The best guarantee for growing up a healthy, secure, communicative adolescent is for that adolescent to have a constant relationship with a health practitioner over time,” says Dr. Swaby-Ellis.

Because while a doctor can promise teens the privacy they want, unlike the Internet, a doctor can also alert parents in the case of a serious health issue.

“If there’s anything at all that we hear, during an interview with a child alone that sounds like they’re in trouble,” says Swaby-Ellis, then we’ll certainly let (the parent) know.”

Tips for Parents
Previous studies have found that over 60 million Americans use the Internet for health and medical information. Teens make up a sizeable portion of this number; the Project estimates 45% of all children under the age of 18 have Internet access.

Health-related web sites that targeted teens are appearing on the Internet. Sites such as:
THINK (Teenage Health Interactive Network)
Teen Growth
These sites are like interactive magazines written specifically for teens. Headlines from a recent ZapHealth page include: “My Friend's Acne” and “Guilt about Drinking.” Other topics on the site include “getting the dirt on important issues like kissing, piercing and buying condoms.”

In addition to articles, these web sites offer:

Information and advice on general, sexual and emotional health
Information on fitness and sports
Family issues
Chat rooms where teens can talk with others with similar concerns
Bulletin boards where teens can post questions and receive answers from health care professionals
Links to other resources

It’s easy, quick and convenient. An added appeal of these sites is that teens can get information anonymously, without having to talk to anyone. The Pew Project says that 16% of web health seekers do so to get information about a sensitive health topic that is difficult to talk about.

Although a teen can get answers to some questions on these sites, the sites caution teens that they are not a substitute for regular healthcare; teens should see their healthcare providers as needed.

ZapHealth also urges children under 18 to talk with their parents or guardians about any health or emotional issues.

The Pew Internet and American Life Project