Friday, February 26, 2010

Sue Scheff: Could your home be your teen's drug provider?

Have you ever considered you may be your child's drug provider? Have you ever thought when they visit your parents (their grandparents) your teens may be taking their medications too? Broward County, Florida offers Operation Medicine Cabinet.

According to the United Way Commission on Substance Abuse, prescription drug abuse is skyrocketing. This fact has fed the increasing rates of opiate-related deaths in recent years. In addition, the DEA reports that painkillers now cause more drug overdose deaths than cocaine and heroin combined. Florida teens abuse prescription pain relievers more than any other illicit drugs except marijuana, according to the 2008 Florida Youth Substance Abuse survey.

While illegal drug use among teens is falling, teen prescription drug abuse is on the rise. One in five teens has abused a prescription pain medication, and in Florida prescription drugs have killed 300% more people than illegal drugs.

Operation Medicine Cabinet helps you rid your medicine cabinet from expired or unnecessary prescriptions. These prescriptions, in the wrong hands, can be harmful and dangerous. Participants can drop off prescription drugs with no questions asked and receive a $5.00 gift card to local stores and pharmacies. For information about when and where BSO will hold its next "take back" program, download the schedule and plan you drop off.

Take the time to secure your medicine cabinet against teenagers and children. Having a teen overdose can be devastating. How would you feel if he/she overdosed on your very own prescription? Don't take that chance. Be proactive today!

For more information outside of Broward County, Florida, click here.

Read more and watch video.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sue Scheff: Chatroulette - Another Reason to Monitor Your Teen's Online Activities

A 17 year-old boy in Moscow created a new chatroom website: Chatroulette.

"I created this project for fun," Andrey Ternovskiy wrote in an e-mail to the paper. "Everyone finds his own way of using the site. Some think it is a game, others think it is a whole unknown world, others think it is a dating service." - New York Times

What does this mean for parents? Another website to monitor and talk to your kids about. If you haven't heard of Chatroulette, you may think that talking about it will only create curiosity with your kids. It may, however knowing about it can help you to be educated about it and talk to your teens intelligently about Chatroulette.

Chatroulette gives a person an opportunity to communicate, converse with people they would otherwise never know. It is talking to strangers. Anonymity encourages all types of people with a variety of colorful stories (whether true or not). This site is not blocked for minors, so it is up to the parents to be sure they have their parental controls and filters in place.

However remember, no matter how many fire walls you install, blocks to websites, etc.... unless your child understands the dangers, they will always find a way to get to where they want to surf. It is as easy as going to a friend's computer, your local library or even an Internet café with their allowance.

Education is key. As a parent you should learn about this latest trend and talk to your kids about it.

While Promise of New Web Site Is to Connect Strangers, the Practice Can Be Something Creepier - Good Morning America

Read more and watch video here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sue Scheff: Consequences of Sexting

Sexting is a word that years ago we would have not heard about. Today teens and tweens are not only familiar with this word, many have suffered the consequences from it.

A Thin Line debuted on MTV this month that educates and informs parents, teachers, kids and everyone about the dangers of the digital world.

What is Sexting?

Sending or forwarding nude, sexually suggestive, or explicit pics on your cell or online. For some people, it's no big deal. But real problems can emerge when the parties involved are under 18, when people get pressured into sexting, and when sexts go viral. - A Thin Line

What are the consequences of sending or receiving one? There are many, however the most common are the feelings of humiliation, embarrassment and much worse. The person that is in the photo can potentially suffer from extreme depression and even feelings of suicide.

For the person sending them to go viral, there could be potential criminal charges. You could get arrested. Taking, sending, and possessing naked images of a minor is a federal crime. Sex offenders' registry? Not the honor roll you were hoping for.

Parents need to take the time to sit down and talk to their kids about sexting and how it can potentially ruin lives for a long time. Review their phones or computers if you suspect that your child is participating in this activity. Remember, there comes a time when safety trumps privacy and this could be one of those times.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens.

Watch A Thin Line on Sexting in America. Watch the four-part series with your children.

Read more on Examiner.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sue Scheff: Bullying Busters or Bystanders

As the news continues about the rising rates of bullying, parents need to take a stand. Determine if your child is being bullied or possibly a bully. Has your child witnessed another child being teased? Is he/she a bully bystander or will they be the one that busts them (tells the teacher or person in authority)?

The U.S. Department of Education cites the following ways in which bystanders and peers of victims can be negatively affected by acts of bullying:

  • They may become afraid to associate with the victim for fear of lowering their own status or of retribution from the bully and becoming victims themselves.
  • They may fear reporting bullying incidents because they do not want to be called a "snitch," a "tattler" or an "informer."
  • Some experience feelings of guilt or helplessness for not standing up to the bully on behalf of their classmate.
  • Many may be drawn into bullying behavior by group pressure.
  • They may feel unsafe, unable to take action or a loss of control.

Bullying has become a vicious trend that although is not new, it is escalating as it spreads into cyberbullying. We are hearing about more children suffering with depression and committing suicide that may have links to them being bullied or teased in school or outside of school.

To find out more parent tips visit Connect with Kids - Bullying Bystanders.

Be an educated parent, learn all you can about bullying. Talk to your children and encourage them to do the right thing.

Read more on Examiner.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sue Scheff: Racism starts at home

Today we live in a melting pot. Our children are exposed to many diversities of life through a wide variety of cultures and languages. Generations earlier the divide seemed to be clearer. There were the "white" neighborhoods and the "black" neighborhoods.

Unfortunately there is still some racism that exists with some people. Whether it is your grandparents or parents, adults from prior generations have a harder time accepting all walks of life. Children today are more likely not to see color, race, religion.

Connect with Kids recently published an article, Pre-Empting Racism which shared how teens today are learning more from other students with different backgrounds starting in their earlier years.

Tips for Parents

At what age do children begin to notice and understand race? Psychologist Stephen Quintana, Ph.D., has developed and evaluated a model of children's understanding of ethnicity, race, gender, social status, nationality and social class. Quintana's research, through interviews conducted with hundreds of children of various ethnic backgrounds, led to a model described in Monitor on Psychology, a journal of the American Psychological Association. The model divides children's developmental understanding of race and ethnicity into four levels:

  • Physical: Ages 3 to 6. Children in this age group view race purely in physical terms and may think racial characteristics can be changed by surgery, that skin color could be the result of staying in the sun too long.
  • Literal: Ages 6 to 10. Children understand that ethnic background is a function of ancestry that influences not only how people look, but also the food they eat, the language they speak, and the activities they enjoy. It is a very literal understanding of ethnicity.
  • Social: Ages 10 to 14. Children realize that ethnicity can be linked to social class. Often, among children in this age group, interracial and inter-ethnic friendships that began in elementary school come to an end, as social groups become more racially segregated.
  • Group: Adolescence. Many teenagers express pride in their heritage and a sense of belonging to a group. Their view of ethnicity and race matures.
Source: Connect with Kids

Be an example for your children, we can learn from all walks of life.

Read more and watch video on Examiner.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sue Scheff: Parents Are Number One in Drug Prevention

Drug prevention with teens and kids today start with PARENTS. Parents need to take the initiative to talk about the dangers of drug abuse, inhalants, Choking Game, trunking, SNAP, Rainbow Game and many other disturbing issues surrounding teens today.

Peer pressure is a powerful tool, parents need to be stronger and more vocal than the peer groups.

Being an educated parent is the beginning of instilling prevention and having safer and healthier teens.

The Anti-Drug begins with parents. About The Anti-Drug: was created by the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign to equip parents and other adult caregivers with the tools they need to raise drug-free kids. Working with the nation's leading experts in the fields of parenting and substance abuse prevention, serves as a drug prevention information center, and a supportive community for parents to interact and learn from each other.

The site provides parents and other adults caregivers access to:
  • Helpful articles and advice from experts in the fields of parenting and substance abuse prevention;
  • Science-based drug prevention information, news and studies;
  • Support from other parents striving to keep their children drug-free;
  • Perspectives of teens themselves.
Where are teens getting prescription drugs? The search starts at home. Teens say they are easily assessable in their own homes, at a relatives or friends house or even online pharmacies. What does this mean for parents? It means you need to learn to safeguard your prescriptions, but more important you need to educate your teens of the dangers of these drugs taken without being prescribed.

Learn much more at The

Read more on Examiner.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sue Scheff: Not My Kid - Parents in Denial

After speaking with Dr. Drew last week in an insightful call on teens and cough syrup abuse, the conversation turned to the many parents that are in denial or constantly looking to blame others for their child’s behavior.

How many times have you blamed your child’s friend or a neighbor for negative behavior of your child? It is not your child, it is the friends he/she is hanging with. Your child would never do drugs, they are too smart for that. Are they? Yes, many are highly intelligent but that doesn’t mean they are immune to drug use.

The faster you remove yourself from the “it’s not my child” excuse, the sooner you can work on getting your child the help he/she may need.

According to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, one in five teens reports having abused a prescription drug to get high.

Teens who learn a lot about the dangers of drugs from their parents are half as likely to abuse drugs. – StopMedicineAbuse.

Some red flags parents should be aware of, and not ignore are:

  • Change in friends/peer group
  • Withdrawn, secretive
  • Change in appearance, grooming
  • Decline in grades, skipping school
  • Dazed eyes, glassy eyes, bloodshot
  • Odor or smell to their hair or clothes of alcohol, pot, or nicotine (using body sprays and perfumes more frequently)
  • Lying about their whereabouts, defiance
  • Loss of interest in their usual interests such as sports, dance etc.
Parents need to understand that ignoring these signs or blaming it on others is not going to help your child. You need to seek treatment so it doesn’t escalate to much worse. A parent in denial is not helping the child, it is actually harming them. There isn’t any shame in having a child that is struggling, there is only shame if you don’t reach out and get help.


Time to Talk, Five Moms, Stop Medicine Abuse, Inhalant Abuse, Drug Free America, The Anti-Drug

Read more on Examiner and watch video.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Sue Scheff: Teen LINK - Community Service and Your Teens

Encouraging your teens to get involved in their community by volunteering can help your child build their self confidence as well as bring sunshine to those in need.

Many high school students may need community service hours, which can help motivate your teen. Once they start giving back they will soon feel the rewards of paying it forward.

Volunteering is so much more than helping others, it is helping yourself. It can feel so good to put a smile on another face, or simply have a dog look forward to their walk. The little things in life are major to those that are need.

In South Florida, there is TeenLink which offers a listing of places that are looking for teen volunteers. From working with the elderly to giving museum tours, there is something for everyone.

Select a category that interests you. Just click on the link to view all volunteer options for that category. Some organizations require you to register or contact an event coordinator prior to volunteering. Use the contact information provided. For the most recent updated volunteer opportunites, click on "Do it Now" located on the right. Happy volunteering!

Read more on Examiner.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sue Scheff: Stop, pause and think before you speak

How many times have you said something you wish you could take back? How many times have your children repeated things you wish you never said? As many parents know, what goes in their little ears can come out of their mouth - when you least expect it or want to hear it!

How about when your teens repeat personal matters in your family? If you are sharing private information with your teenagers, you may want to be clear it is personal and especially not to share it online or in text.

What about when kids don't understand certain slang words and use them unknowingly in conversations that end up hurting others?

A very sensitive and difficult subject is sexuality. Today we are better educated and in tune with different ways of life for people and their own sexuality. What happens when a teen believes they are gay or a lesbian? Life can become extremely difficult for them.

Parents play a crucial role in teaching their children about the negative impact of bullying and harassment. Talk about these issues with your children and within your community. Learn about the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). No matter what your religious beliefs are, no one should condone bullying. We should not judge others, as we don't want them to judge us.

GLSEN Mission: The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

Some parents may not be comfortable with this subject, however it is a topic that needs to be addressed. Ignoring it can lead to devastating results. Whether it is a child hurting or taking their own life (watch video below of grieving mother, Sirdeaner Walker), you need to be an educated parent. Teach respect for all people, all races and all walks of life.

Studies indicate that students who regularly experience verbal and non-verbal forms of harassment suffer from emotional turmoil, low self-esteem, loneliness, depression, poor academic achievement and high rates of absenteeism. Research also shows that many of the bystanders to acts of harassment experience feelings of helplessness and powerlessness, and develop poor coping and problem-solving skills. Clearly, homophobic and all types of harassment-and the toxic effects they produce-are whole school problems that all educators must confront. -

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens. Teach your kids to "think" before they speak. As adults, we also need to think before we speak at times too. We need to be an example to our children.

Watch video and read more.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sue Scheff: Teen's Getting Teacher Recommendations for College Applications

As your High School Juniors and Seniors prepare to apply to colleges, getting teacher recommendations is usually part of the process. Today colleges have become competitive and more selective on their applicants. Many college recruiters are using search engines to research their applicant, however the old-fashion teacher recommendations are also an asset. Here is a great article to help parents and teens to better understand this process.

Source: Connect with Kids

Teacher Recommendations

“I only see a few (recommendation letters) that are really specifically negative, but a few are less than positive. That’s the best way I can put it. Where they say, ‘Well, this student may be strong in this area in the future,’ or, ‘They have a lot of potential.’”

– David Graves, Associate Director of Admissions, University of Georgia

Across the country, high school seniors are in the midst of applying to college. One important factor is a recommendation from a teacher – a task that is not always without risk.

“I only see a few that are really specifically negative, but a few are less than positive,” says David Graves, associate director of admissions at the University of Georgia. “That’s the best way I can put it. Where they say, ‘Well, this student may be strong in this area in the future,’ or, ‘They have a lot of potential.’”

He says “a lot of potential” is one of those phrases that shows a teacher has reservations.

“They might say something like, ‘They turn in all their information on time,’” he adds. “Well, I expect that from everybody pretty much, so just having that as their best praise isn’t much of a praise.”

Another risk is that letters can be so vague as to become meaningless.

“That doesn’t give me any insight if its just a run-of-the-mill ‘here’s my formula’ recommendation letter,” says Graves.

His advice? Students should ask the teacher directly if they would give a positive review.

“Just say, ‘How do you feel I’ve done in your class?’” suggests Graves.

“If you are really having doubts, I would probably reconsider asking that teacher,” says Afrooz, a high school senior at Atlanta International School.

Also, kids should choose a teacher who can be specific about their skills and efforts in the classroom.

“I felt like I wanted teachers who knew me,” says Eva, 18, “not just as a strong student, but as a person.”

Another tip is to find the right teacher. A good choice is a math or English teacher from junior year.

“It might be a teacher that teaches, you know, driver’s ed,” says Graves. “And that’s not going to matter that much to me what the driver’s ed teacher says.”

Finally, he says, ask for the letter at least a month in advance.

“I think I asked for my letter about two or three months before it was due,” says senior Graham, “just to make sure that they had time.”

“I was kind of late so I kind of had to do a little begging,” says classmate Rodrigo.

Experts advise students to get to know their guidance counselor as well, because many universities require the counselor to fill out an evaluation form.

Students once allowed the luxury of “finding themselves” now fear that without serious direction early in high school, their future may be lost. What they may lose instead is their childhood.

College enrollment has increased nearly 20% since 1985 and almost tripled from a generation ago. With competition for specific schools fiercer than ever, high school freshmen hoping to go to a choice school are told they may already be behind in the race to build a college résumé.

“I guess in middle school they start emphasizing they’re like, OK, you gotta start getting good grades ’cause colleges will look back even at your eighth-grade year if you’re on the brink of getting in or not getting in,” 17-year-old Sharyn says.

However, good grades may only get them past the first cut. Then, it’s outside activities like volunteer work or special clubs that factor in as much as 40% by some colleges.

Says 17-year-old Andrew: “Sometimes, I find that I take too many things at once – track, academic, math team … I mean, it’s really time consuming.”

Experts say parents of these pressurized kids need to look closely for signs of too much stress and urge them to ease up.

Tips for Parents

It’s one of the most difficult and important decisions your child will make in his or her young adult life. And no parent of a high school junior or senior needs reminding of the pressure that selecting a school brings to his or her child and the entire family.

Recent statistics reveal that it’s also more competitive to enroll in college than years before. Between 1985 and 1995, higher education enrollment increased by 16%, due in part to an increase in female enrollment and the new trend of part-time students. And while experts urge parents to have an open dialogue with their child to deal with the stress, there are a few changes in the process that will make enrolling in a school easier.

More and more schools are turning to the Internet to disperse information, easing the workload on counselors and empowering the curious student. A word of caution: stay with reliable sites or go to a specific college website to verify application deadlines.

Another stress reliever: The trend toward hiring assistance for the essay portion of an application seems to be subsiding. More and more colleges have stated that they are looking for creative responses, even if they are unpolished. And many universities have dropped the essay portion of the application altogether, relying on scores and recommendations to make their decision.

Here are a few starting steps to help you or your child pick the right college or training program:

Request as much information as possible from the schools on your list, including an application for admission, financial aid and all costs.
Make a short list of the schools that possess the characteristics for which you are looking.
Decide if a traditional college is right for you – consider picking up information on community technical schools.

Mapping Your Future
National Center for Education Statistics