Monday, November 30, 2009

Sue Scheff: Priceless Holiday Gifts

Did you take part in Black Friday? Many people set their alarm clocks for those 4:00am sales. Everyone is looking for a bargain.

In a year that has been less than financially friendly to many families, these early morning sales can help them make a difference in giving their child that special gift they asked for.

During this time of year, it is also time to think about so many gifts that won't cost you money, however will be priceless in their value.

Here are some ideas:

Your time. It is that simple, your children crave your attention and would love to have more time with you. Can you make a promise to take more time out of your schedule and give it to your child? Learn about "Family Time Out" all year round.

Volunteer with your family. There is nothing more fulfilling than giving back to those with less. Contact your local Goodwill, Red Cross or Salvation Army. Find out where the homeless shelters or soup kitchens are in your area - take a day to donate your time to others as a family. Learn more about Volunteering in your community.

Clean out your closets! What does this mean? Do you have old toys, yet in good condition, or games that maybe you only used once or twice? Do you have clothes you no longer wear however are still like new? Donate! Everyone take the time to give up what they don't use and find a place to donate to needy families. Bikes are always a hot and needed item.

Does your grocery store offer buy one get one free? In Florida, Publix offers this almost everyday on many items. Give that item to a local food bank. Again, it is all about giving to those with less and doing this together will teach your children to be less materialistic and more about the true meaning of the holidays - to give.

Spirituality. Maybe you are not religious, maybe you were at one time or maybe you are. Whatever category you fall into, maybe it is time to find visit a new church or synagogue. Trying new experiences can be enlightening and you never know who you may meet or what you might learn.

Picture Time! Yes, of course you can take photo's but to have more fun, drag out those boxes from your childhood, home movies from years (decades) ago as well as your child's photo's from birth to today! Your kids, even teens love this - and there is nothing like laughing and memories to bring in a new year and celebrate the love of family.
Remember the holidays are about giving and as parents we need to set the example for our children.

Reminder: Holiday Safety Tips
Holiday Gift Ideas for Teens
Cards that Give
Don't forget to subscribe to receive my latest articles.
Also on

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sue Scheff: Love Our Children USA Helps Protect Teens on Cyber Monday

Ross Ellis, founder of Love Our Children USA and STOMP Out Bullying is a dedicated and devoted crusader to help protect children in our country.

Recently she wrote a fantastic and timely article to help protect you and your teens during this holiday season. Cyber Monday is a very busy time online. Here are some great tips by Ross Ellis – and as a Parent Advocate, I believe everyone needs to take the time to learn more about keeping you and your family safe in cyberspace!

Holiday safety for you and your teens on Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday is 6 days away, for those online shoppers who want a great deal on their holiday gifts.

61% of consumers are shopping online and that includes teens shopping online as well.

Here’s what you can do to ensure online safety:

• Talk to your teens about online safety and how to avoid these online Cyber Monday scams
• Be sure you know what sites your teens are shopping on
• Make sure the web site is legitimate before inputting your credit card info
• Make sure the site provides full contact info. It should list the company’s street address, phone number and e-mail address. You can find this in the “Contact Us” or “About Us” pages. Check out their return policy or privacy policy, for a mailing address.
• Check out the privacy policy. Look for a link at the bottom of the home page that says “Privacy Policy” or for a link on the “About Us” or FAQ pages. Read the policy to find out whether the company shares customer info with third parties and whether you can opt out. Look for a trust e-seal, which means the privacy policy is solid.

• See what says. Look for the BBB Online Reliability Program seal on a site’s home page. (Clicking on the seal should take you directly to Or go to Reviews and search by the company name or URL. Look for a rating of “satisfactory” or a grade of at least C-. Some smaller sites aren’t listed, and plenty of excellent sites aren’t yet accredited.

• If the site looks sketchy, contact and
If you have a bad experience you can file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau at You can also report your bad experience to the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, at if you are the victim of an internet crime contact Internet Crime Complaint Center, backed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, at

According to Consumer Reports, cybercriminals have bilked $8 billion from consumers in the past two years. As shoppers open their wallets and their Internet browsers for Cyber Monday deals there’s an increase in scams. Especially the 12 scams of Christmas.

Don’t click links in e-mails, which can easily redirect you to false or misleading websites. If you create a new account to buy something use a unique password with letters and symbols, rather than using the same password for all of your log-ins.

Be sure your security software is updated!

Discuss Cyber Monday safety rules with your teen and have fun shopping safely!
Want to know more? Visit
If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe to my page by going here and clicking the Subscribe Button at the top of the page.
Click here for more articles by Ross Ellis
Click here to subscribe to my articles by Ross Ellis
Also on - Comments welcome there!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teens Lying

Part 10 of my sneak peek inside the BIG Book of Parenting Solutions, written by parenting expert, Dr. Michele Borba, brings us to a topic that I hear about frequently - LYING. Why do our kids lie to us? What is the motivation? Where did they learn this habit from? Is there really a difference between a white lie and not a white lie? Let's explore this subject. There is an entire chapter on lying starting on page 173.

Red Flags

Lies, exaggerates, or stretches the truth; can no longer be trusted; deceives out of habit

Pay Attention to This!

An occasional fib is nothing to worry about, but if your child develops a habit of lying, it could be a sign of some deeper problem or, in rarer situations, Conduct Disorder. Seek the help of a mental help professional for these reoccurring symptoms: stealing, lying, fighting, destroying property, truancy, deliberate infraction of rules, bullying and cruelty, or showing no sadness or remorse when confronted with the mistruth. See also Bullying, page 332, and Steals, page 218.

ONE SIMPLE SOLUTION (of many listed in this book)

Use Moral Questions to Stretch Your Child's Honesty Quotient
Asking the right questions when your child bends the truth can be import tool for stretching your child's honesty quotient. Here are a few questions to get you started:

"Did you tell the truth?"
"Was that the right thing to do?"
"Why do you think I'm concerned?"
"If everybody in the family [class] always lied, what would happen?"
"If you don't follow through on your word, what will happen to my trust in you?"
"How would you feel if I lied to you? How do you think I feel to be lied to?"
"Why is lying wrong?"

The change you are aiming for is for your child to finally grasp that lying breaks down trust. It will take time, so use those teachable moments to help your child understand the value of honesty.

Previous sneak peeks: (1) Gratitude Recipes: Big Book of Parenting Solutions, (2) Parenting 101: Ungrateful teens and children (3) Seven Deadly Parenting Styles, (4) Sex Talk with your Children, (5) Gifted children, (6) Money and your kids, (7) Oppositional Defiant Disorder, (8) Sibling Rivalry, (9) Overweight teens and children, (10) Lying

For those that don't have time to read, this is the perfect book for you since it is not the type of book you sit down to read. As parenting questions come up, you can go straight to the index and find the page number. Immediately you will see the pages divided by boxes, quick tips and advice and easy to read and understand resources. Did I mention she also gives you proven research and statistics?

Order The BIG BOOK of Parenting Solutions today! Whether it is for yourself or as a gift, you won't be disappointed.

Also on

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teen Drug Use

Personally, I don’t think parents of kids today can hear enough about the dangers of drug abuse. It has never been more deadly, and that is not saying it was not deadly years ago, however the access seems to be easier and the peer pressure is growing. When I hear parents tell me their teen is “only smoking pot” it bewilders me that many don’t understand that is the gateway to many other substances for many kids. I won’t say all, but many will start with pot and graduate to meth, crack, and so many others on the streets now. One of the most dangerous, in my opinion, is heroin. Take a few minutes to read a recent article by Connect with Kids about this drug and some parenting tips.

Source: Connect with Kids


“Yeah, you can snort heroin. Definitely snort heroin. That’s what I do.”

– Christina, 18 years old

In Illinois, Oregon, New York, Alabama and several other states, police are reporting an increase in the number of deaths of young people from an overdose of heroin. In fact, today government surveys show that over 25 percent of high school seniors say heroin is “fairly easy to buy.”

“Smack”, “H”, “Junk” … they’re all street names for heroin. And anecdotal evidence suggests the use of this drug may be on the rise for two reasons, experts say.

First, many kids already using prescription drugs are looking for a new and cheaper high.

“Kids are looking for something different. And this is something different. Every addict- anybody who’s ever been addicted to drugs is always looking for that perfect high, the thing that will get them feeling the way that they want to feel, but they still want to convince themselves that they’re in control. And so addicts are constantly looking for new drugs, new combinations, new ways to take drugs and this is just an extension of that,” explains substance abuse counselor, Dr. Robert Margolis.

Second, heroin today is purer and more refined, which means it can be snorted instead of injected.

“Yeah, you can snort heroin, definitely snort heroin. That’s what I do,” says 18-year-old Christina.

That makes heroin more appealing to kids afraid of sticking a needle in their arm.

“It’s a way for kids to rationalize doing a drug that is highly addictive and highly dangerous. Of course, it’s in no way safe, it’s in no way ok, but it’s a way that in their minds they convince that it’s safe,” says Margolis.

That’s exactly what Christina thought. “I won’t do it because I know shooting things up is stronger and it makes it more addictive.”

But, Margolis warns, it won’t be long until they’re looking for a stronger high. “Give them time. After a few years of snorting, they’ll be shooting up. There’s no doubt about it.”

Heroin is an illegal, highly addictive drug. It is both the most abused and the most rapidly acting of the opiates. Heroin is processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of certain varieties of poppy plants. It is typically sold as a white or brownish powder or as the black sticky substance known on the streets as “black tar heroin.”

According to the National Institutes on Drug Abuse, although purer heroin is becoming more common, most street heroin is “cut” with other drugs or with substances such as sugar, starch, powdered milk, or quinine. Street heroin can also be cut with strychnine, fentanyl or other poisons. Because heroin abusers do not know the actual strength of the drug or its true contents, they are at risk of overdose or death. Heroin also poses special problems because of the transmission of HIV and other diseases that can occur from sharing needles or other injection equipment.

Tips for Parents
Heroin enters the brain, where it is converted to morphine and binds to receptors known as opioid receptors. These receptors are located in many areas of the brain (and in the body), especially those involved in the perception of pain and in reward. Opioid receptors are also located in the brain stem—important for automatic processes critical for life, such as breathing (respiration), blood pressure, and arousal. Heroin overdoses frequently involve a suppression of respiration.

After an intravenous injection of heroin, users report feeling a surge of euphoria (”rush”) accompanied by dry mouth, a warm flushing of the skin, heaviness of the extremities, and clouded mental functioning. Following this initial euphoria, the user goes “on the nod,” an alternately wakeful and drowsy state. Users who do not inject the drug may not experience the initial rush, but other effects are the same.

With regular heroin use, tolerance develops, in which the user’s physiological (and psychological) response to the drug decreases, and more heroin is needed to achieve the same intensity of effect. Heroin users are at high risk for addiction—it is estimated that about 23 percent of individuals who use heroin become dependent on it.

National Institutes on Drug Abuse

Friday, November 20, 2009

Magnolia Christian School ALERT

Are you a parent with an at risk teen, considering a residential treatment center? Maybe a therapeutic boarding school? Do you have a good kid that is making some not so good choices? Are you at your wit's end? Please read my earlier post on Magnolia Christian School.

This is a cautionary story.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sue Scheff: Money Talk with Your Teens

Part 6 of my sneak peek series inside Dr. Michele Borba's latest book, BIG BOOK of Parenting Solutions, brings up a topic that is not only timely with today's difficult economy, it is critical parents understand the importance of how to talk to your kids about money and finances.

"Are you talking to your kids about money? If not, you'd better!" - Michele Borba

Approximately fifteen hundred high school seniors were asked basic facts about personal finance, and the great majority were stumped by those questions: 95 percent scored below a C. So it should be no surprise that another survey found that 80 percent of all college freshman admitted to never having a conversation with their parents about managing their money. What's more, almost one in four of these teens say it's just fine to blow as much as $500 without checking in with Mom and Pop. If you're concerned about your kids' future spending habits, than start the "money talk" now. Let them know that money doesn't come easy and that you do have clear expectations and limits about their spending (and then tell them what they are).

Step 1. Early Intervention

Identify your parenting style. Here is a quick quiz to see how you doing to help your kids learn about money management. Check the statements that describe your typical family: (page 553-554 will offer you descriptions you can review).
Be a good role model. Kids always look to us as the example to copy. (continued on page 554)
Monitor TV Consumption. Television is the one of the biggest culprits in fueling kids' spending urges, and commercials are relentless in trying to get kids to buy, buy, buy. (continued on page 554)
Explain how money works. Start money lessons when your kids are young. (continued on page 554)
Use real-life examples. Take your child to work. Show your daughter how you balance your checkbook. (continued on page 554)

Step 2. Rapid Response (read pages 555-556 for this wise advice)

Step 3. Develop Habits for Change (read pages 557-558 and start raising a money-smart child)


Cut Impulsive Shopping by Teaching Kids to "Think Before Spending"

Set a household rule that your child must write down any pricier intended purchase and postpone buying it for at least twenty-four hours. A younger kid can draw it on her "wish list". The wait time could vary from an hour or day to a week or month depending on the child's age and maturity. If she loses interest before the time is up, even she will agree that she didn't really want that item after all.


Preschooler (page 558)
School Age (page 558)
Tween (page 558)

Next sneak peek: Could your child have Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)? - page 78

For those that don't have time to read, this is the perfect book for you since it is not the type of book you sit down to read. As parenting questions come up, you can go straight to the index and find the page number. Immediately you will see the pages divided by boxes, quick tips and advice and easy to read and understand resources. Did I mention she also gives you proven research and statistics?

Order The BIG BOOK of Parenting Solutions today! Whether it is for yourself or as a gift, you won't be disappointed.

Click here to subscribe to my articles and read more.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sue Scheff: Having the Sex Talk with your Teens

Part 4: In my continuing series with parenting expert and TODAY Show Contributor, Dr. Michele Borba, author of BIG BOOK of Parenting Solutions, she helps us to ease into that uncomfortable birds and the bees discussion.

Pay Attention to This!

Adolescent sexual activity began to level off around 2001 and for the longest time failed to budge, but suddenly there is the first increase (3 percent) since 1991 in the U.S. teen birth-rate. About one in thirteen teens becomes pregnant every year; 80% of those pregnancies are unintended. That’s despite $1.5 billion spent since 2000 on abstinence education. In fact, there is no reliable evidence that “abstinence only” programs work to curtail kids’ sexual activity. With the AIDS epidemic and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, the health stakes for kids are much higher – all the more reason to have repeated talk about the birds and the bees.

“So what are you waiting for? Don’t you think it’s better that your child gets this information from you than from her friends or media? This entry offers tips to help you discuss this crucial topic with your child. Ant the sooner the you begin, the better!” – Michele Borba


In this section of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions, Dr. Borba offers 6 Strategies for Change. I will give you the headers and part of the discussion; however you will need to turn to page 395 to get complete answers. Again, this is a sneak peek and another reason this book belongs in your home library.

1. Get savvy about today’s kid culture. It’s a different world now in many ways, including how our teens view sex. It’s far more casual, and they are less likely to have close, personal, high-quality relationships with sex partners…. (continued on page 395)
2.Read up and get prepared! Today’s kids are for the most part more open and ask questions at far younger ages. So be ready…. (continued on page 396)
3.Talk about sex – and the earlier the better. The earlier you start those talks about the birds and the bees, the more comfortable you’ll be discussing the “heavier” topics that come later… (continued on page 396 with great in-depth tips).
4.Communicate you values. Your “sex talks” need to be far more than just a lesson about body parts. Be sure to communicate your family’s values about sexuality so that your child hears our views about intimacy, commitment, and love… (continued on page 397).
5.Monitor your child and her friends. Kids are most likely to have their first sexual encounter in your home or their partner’s home during the evening hours or when you’re away during the weekend…. (continued on page 397).
6.Stay connected. One of the best deterrents to early sexual activity appears to be the state of your relationship with your child. About 20 percent of both boys and girls whose parents reported a poor relationship with them during the tween years had sex by fifteen, almost double the number of kids who had good parental relationships… (continued on page 397).

For those that don't have time to read, this is the perfect book for you since it is not the type of book you sit down to read. As parenting questions come up, you can go straight to the index and find the page number. Immediately you will see the pages divided by boxes, quick tips and advice and easy to read and understand resources. Did I mention she also gives you proven research and statistics?

Next sneak peek: Gifted Children (page 508) – don’t miss it!

Don't forget to subscribe to my latest articles, and you won't miss the sneak peeks inside this valuable book as well as other great tips, resources and stories.

Also on

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sue Scheff: The Price of Bullying

After one of the most horrific acts of violence by teens in South Florida, which left 15-year old Michael Brewer with burns over two thirds of his body, 3 of the 5 teenagers accused of this despicable crime will be tried as adults.

This is a strong and solid message by Broward Circuit Judge Lee Seidman. What type of child or teen does this unconscionable act to another person? It is very disturbing to believe this type of violence exists and that bullying can reach a level of nearly killing another person.

Should minors be charged as adults? In some instances, such as this one, many believe that to be true. This crime was so heinous that adults have a hard time comprehending how anyone could do this to another person.

As a parent we need to take the time to talk with our children about this incident. Open up your lines of communication, talk about bullying, discuss consequences and answer their questions and concerns honestly.

Neighbors 4 Neighbors has created the Michael Brewer Fund to help the Brewer family with the high hospital costs. Additional fund raising is taking place throughout South Florida. Visit and join their Facebook Michael Brewer Foundation.

For more information on this story: Miami Herald, CBS4, ABC News
Also on

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sue Scheff: Parenting in the Digital Age

I created my organization, Parents Universal Resource Experts in 2001. Many parents contact us for assistance when they are at their wit’s end with their teenager. Parenting has so many more challenges since 2001, with the ever expanding technology that seems almost impossbile to keep up with.

Now bullying has escalated to cyberbullying. Texting has created sexting. For parents, teachers and most adults, we are struggling to keep up. Today I speak a lot about protecting your teens online – what they post today, can haunt them tomorrow. More and more colleges are using Search Engines to research their candidates, do you know what Google is saying about your potential college applicant?

ReputationDefender is the original online reputation management services, and since 2006 they have been helping people learn about their virtual presence. I personally have retained them, and find them to be priceless. Their service to protect your children is also priceless – take a moment to read their recent Blog post. They are always 10 steps ahead of us! As a parent, we need to be there too!

Parenting in the Digital Age

By Rob Frappier

It’s 2009. That means that there are children using the internet everyday who were born after the Y2K scare. Am I the only one that finds that fact somewhat mind boggling?In the last decade, the internet has grown exponentially. With the creation of social networking websites like MySpace and Facebook, the internet has become more than a place to seek out information, but to connect with friends. For kids, the development of social networking expanded the school day from 7 hours to 24 hours, replacing the phone as the place where students shared gossip after the last bell rang.

Along with the increased internet usage, came a new problem, cyberbullying. Kids and teens, many no doubt struggling with their own emotional development and maturation issues, used the internet as a tool to reach out and anonymously torment their peers. In the most simplistic cases, cyberbullying leads to depression and anxiety. In severe cases, where abuse is especially virulent and prolonged, it has led teens to commit suicide. Apart from cyberbullying, there’s the danger of your child meeting a cyberpredator online, or, posting inappropriate and reputation damaging information about themselves or your family.

The list goes on and on.

When you have a child, you’re expected to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders for them. In the digital age, that means carrying the weight of the World Wide Web as well. As scary as it can be to think about the dangers lurking online (in addition to the countless everyday worries), it doesn’t do any good to ignore these issues. If your kids have more experience using the internet than you do, that doesn’t automatically mean that they understand the proper way to use it. As in any other aspect of life, your kids need you to help guide them, and with the internet that means setting expectations and abiding by them.

There are a number of ways you can help protect your kids from getting into trouble online. Here at ReputationDefender, we offer MyChild. With MyChild, you can see where and in what context your child’s name appears on the web. Through personalized monthly reports, parents can keep an eye on how their kids are using the web and help head off any potential problems before they spin out of control. Later in the week, I will be offering some practical advice for parents on securing their children’s safety online and protecting their family’s reputation.Being a parent isn’t easy under the best circumstances. That’s why, from our earliest days as a company, we have been committed to making the internet a safer and better place for kids. We show this in our products, and in our work with other leaders in the field, such as the Internet Keep Safe Coalition.

Check back to the ReputationDefender Blog later in the week for more help and advice on raising your children in the digital age.

Follow ReputationDefender on Twitter @RepDef

(I believe in ReputationDefender. I do not receive any referral fees and have never been paid by them. I am simply a satisfied client and Parent Advocate that wants to share information to help other parents.)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teen Dating Abuse

With the recent gang rape of a 15 year-old girl in Richmond, California, our country is awakening to one of the ugliest forms of abuse to teens. Sexual abuse, assault and rape of teens are horrendous and more attention needs to be brought on this subject.

Teen dating violence and abuse is an issue parents need to be aware of and learn more about. Love is Not Abuse is an organization that was founded in 1991 by Liz Claiborne Inc. Everyone needs to take the time to be an educated parent; you will have a safer teen.

Love is Not Abuse posted an informational letter from an expert on Teen Dating Abuse. Please learn more now and explore their website for more resources.

A Letter to Parents on Teen Dating Abuse from Pediatrician and Expert, Dr. Elizabeth Miller

Dear Parents/Guardians/Educators,

As a physician who specializes in care for adolescents, a researcher on teen dating abuse, and a parent of a teen, I am often asked by other parents to talk about the warning signs of dating abuse, what parents should be looking for, and how they can help their child navigate out of an unhealthy relationship. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers to these questions.

A Common Characteristic

A common characteristic of unhealthy and abusive relationships is the control that the abusive partner seeks to maintain in the relationship. This includes telling someone what to wear, where they can go, who they can hang out with, calling them names, humiliating them in front of others. Over time, the isolation from one's social network increases, as the abuser insists on spending time "just the two of us," and threatens to leave or cause harm if things do not go the way they want, "You must not love me."

Creating this isolation and dissolution of one's social supports (loss of friends, disconnectedness from family) are hallmarks of controlling behaviors. In addition, abusers often monitor cell phones and emails, and for example, may threaten harm if the response to a text message is not instant.

Parents are rarely aware of such controlling tactics as these occur insidiously over time, and an adolescent may themselves not recognize the controlling, possessive behaviors as unhealthy. "They must love me because they just want to spend time with me."

Warning Signs

While the following non-specific warning signs could indicate other concerning things such as depression or drug use, these should also raise a red flag for parents and adult caregivers about the possibility of an unhealthy relationship:

•no longer hanging out with his/her circle of friends
•wearing the same clothing
•distracted when spoken to
•constantly checking cell phone, gets extremely upset
when asked to turn phone off
•withdrawn, quieter than usual
•angry, irritable when asked how they are doing
•making excuses for their boyfriend/girlfriend
•showering immediately after getting home
•unexplained scratches or bruises

Sexual coercion and violence are also not uncommon in teen dating abuse. Again, because of the emotional abuse and control, victims of sexual violence may be convinced that they are to blame for what has happened. "You'd do this if you loved me" or "If you don't have sex with me, I'll leave you" are common examples of sexual coercion. In some instances, girls in abusive relationships describe how their partners actively tried to get them pregnant. Rarely do teens disclose such sexual abuse to their parents as they may feel shameful, guilty, and scared. Parents need to be aware of the possibility of sexual abuse, and to ensure that they communicate with their child that they are never to blame if someone tries to make them do things sexually that they don't want to do. And certainly, that no one ever has the right to put their hands on them, period. The physical and sexual violence can escalate quickly in these unhealthy relationships where the abusive partner has significant control over the other.

Advice for Parents

Perhaps the best advice for parents is to start talking about what constitutes a healthy, respectful relationship early on with your child. Sharing the warning signs of teen dating abuse with your child and saying, "If you know someone who's experiencing something like this, let's talk about it, let's talk about how you can be a good friend and help them stay safe." Please assure your child that they are not to blame for an unhealthy relationship, and that you are available to help them be safe and happy. Please avail yourself of the many good resources available on teen dating abuse for youth and adults.

For more information on teen dating violence and abuse: Stop It Now, MADE Coalition, Love is Respect, S.A.A.R.A., Rachel Simmons (Huffington Post).

Also on

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teen Gang Rape, Teen Sexual Abuse

This is not a subject many are comfortable talking about, however it is imperative that we learn about protecting ourselves and our teens. The recent news out of Richmond, CA about the gang rape of a 15 year-old girl, is outrageous. As parents, we need to be educated so we can better protect our own children and teach them about prevention.

This past August, I wrote an article about Teens that Inspire which included Joni Nicole Poole. 18-year old Joni Poole is not only a survivor of sexual abuse, she is a voice! She has created an organization, S.A.A.R.A. (Sexual Abuse Assault and Rape Awareness) to share her story, offer resources and let other victims know they are not alone.

According to S.A.A.R.A. the statistics for sexual abuse are frightening.

Due to the secretive nature of sexual crimes and the inability for members of society to talk about these crimes; many believe that sexual crimes are a rare occurrence. The unfortunate reality is that 1 out of 3 girls and 1 out of 5 boys are victims or will become victims of a sexual crime before the age of 18. Nine years old is the median age of child sexual assault victims. Society holds beliefs that sexual crimes are committed by strangers, when in fact, 34% of sexual crimes involve a family member or caregiver. Members of society do not realize how often these crimes occur, how often they are over looked, and the toll these crimes have taken on the lives of victims.

Joni also offers steps to prevent sexual abuse, as well as sharing stories from other survivors.
One of the most interesting pages on the S.A.A.R.A website is the facts vs myths. Here is a few from that page, but I encourage everyone to visit the website to read them all.


-Rape is a crime of sex/passion.


-Rape is experienced by the victims as an act of violence.

-It is a life-threatening experience.

-While sexual attraction may be influential, power, control and anger are the primary motives.

-Most rapists have access to a sexual partner.

-Gratification comes from gaining power and control and discharging anger.

-This gratification is only temporary, so the rapist seeks another victim.


-Women incite men to rape them.


-Rape is the responsibility of the rapist alone.


-There is a "right way" to respond to a rape situation.


-Since rape is life-threatening and each rapist has his own pattern, the best thing a victim can do is follow her instincts and observe any cues from the rapist.

-If the victim escapes alive she has done the right thing.

Visit for more myths and facts.

Learn more about sexual abuse, dating violence and more: Stop It Now, Just Tell, Love Our Children USA, MADE Coalition (Love is Not Abuse)

S.A.A.R.A offers help hotlines as well as steps towards healing. Join Joni Poole on Facebook.
Also on

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teen Holiday Gift Ideas

It is not a secret buying for teens at the holidays can not only be expensive, it can be difficult. They seem to want items we barely understand (technology). With this comes high ticket gadgets which are difficult for many families struggling in today’s economy.

Most can’t go wrong with gift cards to their favorite stores, movie gift cards, mall gift certificates and don’t forget good old fashion cold cash is the best to satisfy most teens. However when I speak with parents of teens today, their financial resources is strained more than usual. Buying gift certificates are always good, however we have to remember many of the items our teens want are more than an average gift card.

What does this mean? Usually you will end up spending more to make up for the difference, or in some fortunate cases your teen will purchase within their means.Let’s consider gifts that may not cost much monetarily, however will be priceless to your teenager. One of the gifts parents could give their teenager is their TIME. Sounds simple doesn’t it? With today’s fast paced world, usually both parents working full time, or a single parent environment, one gift that will always keep on giving is “time with your kids.” Many are thinking that our teens would prefer to hang with their friends, however deep down I believe all children want to be part of their family.

Breaking down the barriers can be difficult, but what a perfect time of year for us to try.
No matter how old they are, every child on some level craves for the attention of their parent(s). Positive attention: Not nagging or complaining about a messy room, failing grades or how they are dressing. Giving gifts that involve time being spent together, having fun and creating your Kodak moments, can be priceless. Many parents of teenagers have lost the lines of communication.

Although movie tickets have become high in price, if you consider what the cost of buying merchandise and gift cards for stores, the cost of movie tickets for a family can seem minimal. Find a fun family movie, or a suspenseful one (make it a family decision), go out as a family and afterwards your conversation starts with a discussion about the movie. It is starting with common ground, all equal. Family dinners are becoming a thing of the past. What about everyone helping with dinner and then moving to the family room for a movie or a board game? What happen to the days of Monopoly and Life? Yes, all about the family and spending time together. We need to move away from commercial holidays and think about what holidays are about - family.

This is one of my favorite gift ideas: Giving your teen their personal history! From birth to today!

Parents have you thought about getting those old baby pictures out and creating a scrapbook for your teen? Before you snub your nose that your teen wouldn’t appreciate it, think twice. Start from birth to their first day of kindergarten to their dance recitals, first soccer games and so much more! What about their first birthday parties? And remember those elementary school pictures? I am sure we all have some priceless artwork by our kids we can include. Give your teen a piece of their history only you can give! This is what you call priceless!

You don’t have to be creative to do this. I am far from creative but a quick trip to the dollar store or Walmart and you can start a project your teens will keep forever. You will be surprised, they may even show their friends! You are sharing your pride with them, and they will feel great. This will take time so start now for the holidays.

Thinking back, I wish I had a scrapbook made by my parents. Start today creating your memories and who knows; maybe you and your teenager will discover more things to talk about!

Get those photos out and start planning your priceless gift to your teenager! By the way, this gift has no age limits. I would bet grandparents would love receiving this gift too. The costs involved? Very little, considering the gift that lasts forever.

Remember, Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, Target, Snapfish and others can make photo prints (copies) for less than .25 cents.

Also on