Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sue Scheff: Parenting and Swine Flu

“During a time if people are nervous or scared, we can run out of essential goods. And so if people begin to prepare now and stock up on those things that can keep over time, such as non-perishable food and water and medicine… they’ll be in better shape for the pandemic.”

– Rachel Eidex, Centers for Disease Control

The outbreak of the swine flu has many Americans, parents especially, worrying about their own safety and the safety of their children. Before a possible pandemic, the CDC has several recommendations.

First, get in touch with your child’s school. “I think they should ask the schools, does the school have a plan for pandemic influenza, what is the plan,” explains Rachel Eidex of the Centers for Disease Control.

And, explains Jacquelyn Polder, also of the Centers for Disease Control, “How will they plan to communicate with parents regarding when the school will close or when it will open.”

Next, the CDC recommends that families have plan that, according to Eidex, would include, what you’re going to do if your children stay home from school.” Also, who will take care of the kids, should they stay in the house, if they do go out- where can they go? And, just as important, how do you keep the family entertained for days on end.

Georgie Renz, mother of two, has an idea, “Board games, songs, please, don’t let the t-v go away!”

Number three on the CDC’s list: stock up on supplies. Families should have at least two weeks of food and medicines stored. “During a time if people are nervous or scared, we can run out of essential goods,” explains Eidex. “And so if people begin to prepare now and stock up on those things that can keep over time, such as non-perishable food and water and medicine… they’ll be in better shape for the pandemic.”

Finally, Eidex advises the best prevention is good hygiene, “Wash their hands regularly. After sneezing, after coughing, after blowing their nose.”

And that’s not always easy for little kids, like 11 year old Morgan, to remember, “Cause sometimes I just get distracted and forget.”

Mother of three, Debra Mecher says, “You have to reiterate, you have to stress ‘wash your hands before you eat, wash your hands after you use the bathroom. Wash your hands whenever you’ve touched something that maybe wasn’t clean.”

And there is no better time to prepare than right now.

“Rather than sitting around and worrying about it and dwelling on it, just get yourself ready the best you can,” says Mecher.

Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can and do happen. Swine flu viruses have been reported to spread from person-to-person, but in the past, this transmission was limited and not sustained beyond three people.

Tips for Parents

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Swine Flu is currently at a phase 4 pandemic alert. Phase 4 is “characterized by verified human-to-human transmission of an animal or human-animal influenza reassortant virus able to cause ‘community-level outbreaks’.” This current outbreak has infected over 250 people in 7 countries. There are over 2,000 more cases still unconfirmed by laboratory testing.

The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection in people. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.
There are antiviral medications used to treat swine flu. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaler) that fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body. If you get sick, antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For treatment, antiviral drugs work best if started soon after getting sick (within 2 days of symptoms). There is no vaccine, however, to prevent contracting the swine flu.

The CDC gives these tips on how to stay healthy:

Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
If you get sick, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
Emergency warning signs that your child may need urgent medical attention include:

Fast breathing or trouble breathing
Bluish skin color
Not drinking enough fluids
Not waking up or not interacting
Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
Fever with a rash

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
World Health Organization

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sue Scheff: The Choking Game and Teens

The Choking Game - a teen thing? What is the Choking Game? It is definitely not a game any parent want to learn about the hard way. Learn more now about this horrific game through G.A.S.P. (Games Adolescents Shouldn’t Play).

I received an email from a mother that almost lost her son to this game. She is now part of an advocacy group to help inform and educate others about this choking game. She understands she almost lost her son, as a matter of fact, she thought she had. Miraculously, her son survived after several days in a coma following this incident. As a parent advocate, I always encourage others to share their stories, mistakes, experiences etc in an effort to help others. This is one of the many parents that is hoping you will learn from her firsthand experiences.

Source: G.A.S.P.

It’s not a game at all—just an act of suffocating on purpose.

Adolescents cut off the flow of blood to the brain, in exchange for a few seconds of feeling lightheaded. Some strangle themselves with a belt, a rope or their bare hands; others push on their chest or hyperventilate.

When they release the pressure, blood that was blocked up floods the brain all at once. This sets off a warm and fuzzy feeling, which is just the brain dying, thousands of cells at a time.
From this parent:

Holding my son, as he took his first breath of life, for the second time took my breath away. He got a second chance to make a better choice. What I witnessed defies logic and reason. I made a choice to quit trying to understand, and instead pour my passionate gratitude for his life into advocacy work - to be a ripple in the wave of some much needed change. Stopping this behavior only starts with awareness. Ed4Ed is a program of education for educators. I consider all who possess knowledge, all upon acquiring it who connect with youth, care for and/or guide them, are then in turn ambassadors of that truth – incumbent educators. When I am personally presenting from the materials of the program, I conclude by passing that torch to those with whom I speak. This deadly activity, masquerading as a “game” is an international problem, with a simple solution, educate! Give our kids the facts and they’ll make a better choice. Once he became aware of what had happened, Levi just shook his head and said “I didn’t know, Mom. People pass out all the time. I didn’t know.” Not one boy in the 500 that attended his boarding school knew the facts. They studied physics, science, biology and anatomy. None thought of it as anything more than a parlor trick, something new to try, not drugs, not alcohol – just a game. When we know better, we do better. When they know better, they will too.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teens and Birth Control

Source: TeensHealth
One of the toughest decisions that a lot of teens face is whether to have sex. If people decide to have sex, it means they must also take responsibility to protect themselves from unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

In the United States, the teenage pregnancy rate is higher than in many other countries. Approximately 1 million teens become pregnant every year and most didn't plan on becoming pregnant. In addition to preventing unplanned pregnancies, people who have sex must protect themselves from STDs. For those having sex, condoms must always be used every time to protect against STDs.

The most effective way to prevent pregnancy and STDs is document.write(defabstinence120)
abstinence. Couples who do decide to have sex can choose from many effective birth control methods.

Check the articles below to learn some important information about different methods of birth control. You may be surprised — some popular ones aren't as effective as people might think.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Parents Universal Resource Experts - Sue Scheff: Preventing Inhalant Abuse Kit


Download this valuable kit today and learn more about inhalant use. It is a serious concern today - since most inhalants are found in your household.

The Alliance for Consumer Education launched ITS Inhalant Abuse Prevention Kit at a national press conference at the National Press Club in Washington DC. The kit was successfully tested in 6 pilot states across the country. Currently, ACE’s Inhalant Abuse Prevention Kit is in all 50 states. Furthermore, the Kit is in its third printing due to high demands.

The Kit is intended for presentations to adult audiences. Specifically parents of elementary and middle school children, so they can talk to their children about the dangers and risks associated with Inhalants. We base the program on data from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. Statistics show that parents talking to their kids about drugs decrease the risk of the kids trying a drug.

The Inhalant Abuse Prevention Kit contains 4 components: the Facilitator’s Guide, a FAQ sheet, an interactive PowerPoint presentation, and a “What Every Parent Needs to Know about Inhalant Abuse” brochure. Additionally, there are 4 printable posters for classroom use, presentations, etc.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sue Scheff: Parenting Healthy Teens and Kids

Summer is almost here - help your kids get healthy, eat healthy and get outside and get active! Promoting positive eating habits and regular excercise can help build your child’s self esteem and help them to make better choices!

Sabrina Bryan has teamed up with The Alliance for a Healthier Generation to launch their new campaign called empowerME by challenging today’s youth to make their own workout video! The top five finalists will receive autographed copies of Sabrina’s newest BYOU DVD and the winner will also receive a personalized video message from Sabrina. For more information on The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, the empowerME campaign and Sabrina Bryan’s video contest please visit

About empowerME: empowerMe is a by kids, for kids movement that inspires today’s youth to eat healthier and move more, motivate each other, and to be a solution to America’s obesity epidemic. One million kids have already joined the movement and we want one million more by 2010! For more information about the empowerME campaign, please visit:

About the Alliance for a Healthier Generation:
The Alliance for a Healthier Generation is a partnership between the William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association created to reduce childhood obesity and empower kids to make healthy lifestyle choices. For more information on the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, please visit:

There has been such a huge jump in childhood obesity and there is no time better than now to join the fight against it!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teen Eating Disorders

Especially young girls today, the peer pressure can encourage your young teen/tween that being “thin” is in. Teen body image can lead to other concerns, whether your child is suffering with some depression, not being able to fit in at school, or just plain feeling fat and ugly - we need to talk to them and explain about Teens and Eating Disorders, including anorexic. Teen Obesity is another issue parents need to learn more about.

“I think that it definitely had something to do with my mom and my sister talking about different diets, and at that age …you don’t understand everything that they are discussing and the way that they’re discussing it, and in my head I blew it up as something bigger.”
– Shay Fuell, recovering anorexic
About 2.5 million Americans suffer from anorexia. Shay Fuell was only nine years old when the fixation began.

“(I) was starting to have body-image issues and looking in the mirror sideways and just pinching my skin seeing if there was fat there,” she says.

A few years later, she was 5-feet-2 and weighed 78 pounds.

“Literally, it becomes [a part of] every thought … in your head,” she says. “You can’t think about anything else. You can’t concentrate on anything. You can’t even hold a conversation with somebody because you are thinking about the last meal that you ate or what you should be doing to work out or how you’re going to be able to throw up without anybody knowing.”

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the number of girls under the age of 12 hospitalized for eating disorders has more than doubled since 1999.

“I don’t know if they’re actually developing them younger or if it’s that parents are having a greater awareness of what’s going on with their children,” says Brigette Bellott, Ph.D., a psychologist and eating disorder specialist.

What’s going on, typically, is depression, children obsessed with eating or overly anxious about their weight and their appearance.

“Things to watch,” says Bellott, “what do they believe about their own body? I mean I would ask that: “What do you think about your body, how do you feel about it?”

Experts say it’s crucial for parents to catch the first signs of an eating disorder because the fatality rate for anorexic women is 10 to 15 percent.

“Some of them [die] through malnourishment, some through suicide,” says Mary Weber-Young, L.P.C. “It is the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness.”

Shay wasn’t diagnosed until she was 14. It took five difficult years of treatment before she had fully recovered.

“It was an addiction,” she admits. “It was an obsession.”

Tips for Parents

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) describes an eating disorder as “an obsession with food and weight.” The two main eating disorders are anorexia nervosa (an obsession with being thin) and bulimia (eating a lot of food at once and then throwing up or using laxatives; also known as ‘binging and purging’). Who has eating disorders? According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders:

Eight million or more people in the US have an eating disorder.
Ninety percent are women
Victims may be rich or poor
Eating disorders usually start in the teens
Eighty-six percent of victims report onset by age 20
Eating disorders may begin as early as age 8
Seventy-seven percent report duration of one to 15 years
Six percent of serious cases end in death
It’s not always easy for parents to determine if their daughter or son is suffering from an eating disorder. But the AAFP does list the following warning signs for anorexia and bulimia:

Unnatural concern about body weight (even if the person is not overweight)
Obsession with calories, fat grams and food
Use of any medicines to keep from gaining weight (diet pills, laxatives, water pills)
The more serious warning signs can be more difficult to notice because people with eating disorders often try to hide the symptoms:
Throwing up after meals
Refusing to eat or lying about how much was eaten
Not having periods
Increased anxiety about weight
Calluses or scars on the knuckle (from forced throwing up)
Denying that there is anything wrong

If left untreated, people with eating disorders can suffer some health problems, including disorders of the stomach, heart and kidneys; irregular periods or no periods at all; fine hair all over the body, including the face; dry scaly skin; dental problems (from throwing up stomach acid); dehydration.

Eating disorders can be treated. The first step is getting back to a normal weight, or at least to the lower limits of the normal weight range, according to Dr. Rex Forehand, a psychologist at the Institute for behavioral Research at the University of Georgia. But more needs to be done, Dr. Forehand says. “Attitudes and beliefs about body weight and eating patterns must also be changed. A comprehensive intervention may be necessary.”

Treatment may require hospitalization. The physician may recommend a dietician. For both anorexics and bulimics, family and individual counseling may be helpful.


Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
American Academy of Family Physicians
National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sue Scheff: Stop Teen Sexual Abuse, Assault and Rape

As a parent advocate, I don’t only hear from parents, I hear from teens. Joni Poole is someone very special. Joni has possessed strength, dignity and courage through some horrific events. She is no longer a victim - she is a survivor and one that has a strong message to all others. She has created a website and advocacy group (Sexual Abuse, Sexual Assault and Rape Awareness) to educate others and hopefully prevent sexual abuse and assualt. Take a moment to read her story and pass it on - you don’t know who may benefit.

Here is Joni’s story - and please read her website at

My name is Joni Poole. I am a 17 year old Senior in high school. I am telling my story in hopes that it will help others who have been a victim of a sexual crime. I have also provided Public Information, from the Georgia Department of Corrections, about my offender within my story.
On August 22, 2007, I was at work at a Toy Breed Dog Kennel. Near the end of my shift, around 7:45 P.M., I was raped by my second cousin/co-worker/manager, Martin Malone Griffin. As soon as I could leave my workplace, I immediately began calling my mother from my cell phone. I drove about a mile down the road to her job. We then went to the hospital and had a rape kit performed. This began the process of pressing charges. From that moment on, the next year of my life would become a living nightmare. Investigators did not want to believe me. They told us that there was no way it was rape. Due to me turning 16 nineteen days prior (the assault happened August 22, 2007 and my 16th birthday was August 3, 2007) to the attack, Marty could not be arrested for statutory rape. DNA tests were performed and proved that the he was in fact the perpetrator of the crime. The magistrate judge would not give us a warrant for his arrest due to lack of evidence, so he said. Although by law, all that is needed to secure a warrant is probable cause. We had probable cause and DNA evidence, which was more than enough for a warrant. However, no matter what others said, I was not going to give up.

The day the Magistrate Judge told us there was no probable cause, we turned to the Assistant District Attorney. Much to my relief she wanted to help. She was enraged at how I had been treated by the Magistrate Court and decided to pursue the case. The case was brought before a Grand Jury. I had to testify and tell the Jury my account of what happened. This was extremely hard and embarrassing for me. The Grand Jury agreed to issue a warrant for his arrest. A few weeks later we went back to court for jury selection. The jury was chosen and trial was set for the next day. However, the original investigator hurt himself in an accident and would not be able to attend court. Therefore, court was rescheduled for September 22, 2008, 1 year and 1 month after the rape occurred.

Due to court being postponed, we had to pick a new jury Monday, September 22, 2008. Our case was possibly going to have to be postponed once again due to the two other criminal cases ahead of us. However, the two cases ahead of us plead out, therefore, our case was moved up to Wednesday, September 24. We began trial at 2:00 pm. on Wednesday. After opening arguments, it was time for me to testify. I was so scared and nervous. I could not stand the thought of being in the same room as the man who had raped me. The questions I was asked were difficult and embarrassing to answer.

I felt terrified, embarrassed, angry, and experienced many other emotions the entire time I was on the stand. I also had to stand in front of the Jury and show them a map of the building I had drawn to give them an illustration of where the rape took place. After the Assistant District Attorney asked me questions, it was time for me to be cross-examined by the Defense Attorney. He asked very difficult and sometimes confusing questions. However, I stood strong and did not let him shake me. I kept my eyes focused on the Jury, my family and supporters, and the Assistant District Attorney. I did this because to look at Marty would cause to experience flashbacks of the rape.

I was already weeping from the questions and having to remember and tell every detail. I did not need to have a panic attack. I can remember looking out into the crowd to my aunt and other family members crying. They were there in support of me, but they had never heard my full story. They did not expect me to be interrogated like I was that day. After I finished testifying I was released and asked to return to the witness room. I felt satisfied with my testimony and so was the Assistant District Attorney.

A few more people testified Wednesday and the case was put on hold until the next day. We began trial again the next morning. The last of the witnesses testified Thursday morning. After testimonies were finished it was time for closing arguments. The defense attorney called me a “liar” many times and said, “if my client is convicted based on a liar’s testimony, then we need to burn this courthouse down and plant a turnip patch.” He also tried to discredit me many times. After closing arguments the Judge told us to remain at the courthouse until the verdict was reached. She charged the jury. They were told what the charges were and the definition of each charge. He was charged with:

Count 1: Rape

…[Rape occurs when sex is non-consensual (not agreed upon), or a person forces another person to have sex against his or her will. It also can occur when the victim is intoxicated from alcohol or drugs. Rape includes intercourse in the vagina, anus, or mouth. It is a felony offense, which means it is among the most serious crimes a person can commit. Rape is a crime that can happen to men, women, or children.]…

Count 2: False Imprisonment

…[The illegal confinement of one individual against his or her will by another individual in such a manner as to violate the confined individual's right to be free from restraint of movement.]…

Count 3: Sexual Battery

…[A person commits the offense of sexual battery when he or she intentionally makes physical contact with the intimate parts of the body of another person without the consent of that person.]…

After charges were read, the Jury went to the Jury room for deliberation. Marty was offered a plea bargain of 1 year in boot camp, 10 years probation, and Sex Offender Registry. He was able to accept this verdict until the Jury came back with a verdict. However, he REFUSED this lenient deal, several times. After 2 and 1/2 hours the Jury came back with their verdict.

The Jury’s verdict was…

Count 1: Rape…GUILTY-

Count 2: False Imprisonment…NOT GUILTY-

Count 3: Sexual Battery…GUILTY

Contact Joni at - her mission is to spread the word and help others.
You can join S.A.A.R.A. Fan Club on Facebook too! Help carry her message throughout the world!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teens and Tattoos

This can be a hot topic today - each parent has their own beliefs, however learn more about getting tattoo’s and important information for keeping it safe.

Source: TeensHealth

It seems like everyone has a tattoo these days. What used to be the property of sailors, outlaws, and biker gangs is now a popular body decoration for many people. And it’s not just anchors, skulls, and battleships anymore — from school emblems to Celtic designs to personalized symbols, people have found many ways to express themselves with their tattoos. Maybe you’ve thought about getting one. But before you head down to the nearest tattoo shop and roll up your sleeve, there are a few things you need to know.


A tattoo is a puncture wound, made deep in your skin, that’s filled with ink. It’s made by penetrating your skin with a needle and injecting ink into the area, usually creating some sort of design. What makes tattoos so long-lasting is they’re so deep — the ink isn’t injected into the epidermis (the top layer of skin that you continue to produce and shed throughout your lifetime). Instead, the ink is injected into the dermis, which is the second, deeper layer of skin. Dermis cells are very stable, so the tattoo is practically permanent.

Tattoos used to be done manually — that is, the tattoo artist would puncture the skin with a needle and inject the ink by hand. Though this process is still used in some parts of the world, most tattoo shops use a tattoo machine these days. A tattoo machine is a handheld electric instrument that uses a tube and needle system. On one end is a sterilized needle, which is attached to tubes that contain ink. A foot switch is used to turn on the machine, which moves the needle in and out while driving the ink about 1/8 inch (about 3 millimeters) into your skin.Most tattoo artists know how deep to drive the needle into your skin, but not going deep enough will produce a ragged tattoo, and going too deep can cause bleeding and intense pain. Getting a tattoo can take several hours, depending on the size and design chosen.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sue Scheff: The Truth About Sexting

'GMA' Holds a Town Hall Meeting to Discuss the Growing Teen Trend

Sex easily and quickly integrated itself into the digital age; and now the teen trend of "sexting" -- where a user sends sexually explicit images or messages via text on a cell phone -- has parents struggling for a way to address the situation.

"We're seeing 14, 15 and 16-year-olds and up are very commonly sharing naked pictures or sexual pictures of themselves," said Internet safety expert Parry Aftab, of Wired Safety. "We're talking about kids who are too young to wear bras who are posing in them, and then topless and then actually engaged in sex or even in masturbation. So we are seeing a lot of kids who are sexually active."

There's nothing coy about this 21st century amorous pursuit. Children as young as 12, who aren't sexually active, are sending explicit, provocative and even pornographic images to their peers.

Click here to ask a question about sexting.
Click here for more Internet safety tips.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sue Scheff: Inhalant Use

About a year ago, a mother emailed me about her son’s tragic death - it wasn’t your typical drug overdose, it was normal household items that teens/kids are now using as a high. Inhalant Abuse is not discussed enough, and needs to be. These items are much easier for teens to find and a lot less expensive. A cheap high? It is awful to even have to think like this, but parents needs to be aware and take pre-cautions. As always, communication with our teens is number #1 - and I recommend you visit for more valuable information about this potentially deadly habit.

“They didn’t want to believe that I had a problem … their little girl, you know?”
– Kelli Crockett, 18 years old

Five years ago, 18-year-old Kelli Crockett was already drinking and smoking pot, but she wanted a different “high.”

“And I remember in middle school, actually a drug awareness program hearing about the inhalants, like the household products, you know, and I was like, ‘I know we’ve got something around the house,’ and I really wanted to get messed up,” Kelli says.

Air freshener, glue, paint thinner, furniture polish, hair spray: The government estimates over 17 percent of adolescents have tried inhalants at least once.

Certified Addiction Counselor Ashley Kilpatrick explains: “It’s accessible, I mean, that’s what the problem with inhalants is that they’re just so easy, they’re under the kitchen sink.”
Inhalants cut off oxygen to the brain, and that makes them extremely dangerous. Huffing just once can kill.

“It just feels toxic … you’re high for five minutes and then you feel sick,” Kilpatrick says.
Kelli adds, “I hated the way it made me feel, but … when I didn’t have anything else to use or drink or smoke, I did it cause it was around.”

Experts say a child who’s high on inhalants may seem drunk or disoriented. Parents should also look for signs around the house, like aerosol cans that are out of pressure or punctured on the bottom. There’s also a hangover effect.

“Headaches afterwards, dehydration, you know, bad moods, all that can last up to 24 hours after a use,” Kilpatrick says.

But experts say parents won’t see the signs if they’re in denial.
Kelli says it took an overdose that nearly killed her for her parents to notice. “They didn’t want to believe that I had a problem … their little girl, you know?” she says.

Tips for Parents

Nail polish remover, paint thinner, canned whipping cream, marking pens: Each of these common household items – and literally hundreds more – can be abused by inhaling. Inhalants are volatile substances that produce chemical vapors that induce a psychoactive, or mind-altering, effect when inhaled. Kids sniff, or “huff,” to get high.

According to the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug information (NCADI), sniffing can cause sickness and death. Victims may become nauseated, forgetful and unable to see things clearly. They may lose control of their bodies, including the use of arms and legs. The effects can last 15 to 45 minutes after inhaling. In addition, sniffing can severely damage the brain, heart, liver and kidneys. Even worse, victims can die suddenly – without any warning. It’s called “Sudden Sniffing Death,” which can occur during or right after sniffing. Even first-time abusers have been known to die from breathing inhalants.

More than 1,000 products are potential inhalants that can kill, including:

Cleaning agents
Computer agents
Correction fluid
Gases (whippets, butane, propane)
Hair spray
Lighter fluid
Paint products

How can you tell if your child may be abusing inhalants? The NCADI lists the following symptoms to look for in your child:
Unusual breath odor or chemical odor on clothing
Slurred or disoriented speech
Drunk, dazed or dizzy appearance
Signs of paint or other products where they wouldn’t normally be, such as on the face or fingers
Red or runny eyes or nose.
Spots and/or sores around the mouth
Nausea and/or loss of appetite
Appears anxious, excitable, irritable or restlessness (chronic inhalers)
Inhalant abusers also may show the following behaviors:
Sits with a pen or marker near nose
Constantly smells clothing sleeves
Shows paint or stain marks on the face, fingers or clothing
Hides rags, clothes or empty containers of the potentially abused products in closets and other places

If you suspect your child or someone you know is an inhalant abuser, you should consider seeking professional help. Contact a local drug rehabilitation center or other service available in your community.

National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information
National Institute on Drug Abuse

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sue Scheff: Parents, Divorce and Teens

I know there are many parents that can relate to this. Personally, I grew up in a time when the divorce was almost unheard of, however once my siblings and I were all over 18, our parents divorced. What a relief! In many ways - it is my opinion, if you you know the marriage it over, and you have exhausted every avenue to keep it alive - and it is obvious that the union is over, in many ways divorce can be a better route for the kids - rather than living with the feuding and constant tension and confliction within the family unit. This is only my experience, take time to review these great tips from Connect with Kids. I am in no way promoting divorce, I am only saying as mature adults we need to do what is best for all involved. Of course, each family and their dynamics are different - requiring different solutions and results.

Family Feuding

“It’s very hard, and it takes a lot for me to trust somebody. I don’t trust people very openly, very freely.”

– Katherine Yarberry, 14 years old

Katherine Yarberry’s parents got along well until she was about 4 years old.

“We all had a lot of fun together, that’s all I can remember,” says Katherine, who is now 14.
But those good times with her mom and dad didn’t last long. Soon, the arguing began, creating moments in time she will never forget.

“I was in the other room, and I heard something break, and my dad had thrown a plate against the wall,” she says. “They were having a fight.”

When children grow up in households where their parents often fight and the prevailing emotion is anger, it’s easy to imagine why they would be unhappy. And that unhappiness can last a lifetime.

“It’s very hard, and it takes a lot for me to trust somebody. I don’t trust people very openly, very freely,” Katherine says.

The Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry reports that kids who witness constant fighting are at greater risk for depression, drug dependence and low self-esteem.

What’s more, their future relationships with their spouse or their children are also at risk.
“I think parents don’t understand, and they get involved in their own issues [so] they don’t get the perspective that they need to that they are role modeling for their children and children are probably going to copy them in some way or another,” says Dr. John Lochridge, a psychiatrist.
Experts say parents need to remember that every time they fight, they are influencing their children’s behavior patterns.

The good news, Lochridge says, is that if angry parents teach their kids anger, then they can also teach them conflict resolution. And it’s never too late to begin.

“I think you can change your relationship to make it much more appropriate for the kids,” Lochridge says. “In fact, you can even role model conflict resolution.”

Tips for Parents

Several studies suggest that children of divorced parents are at an “increased risk” for later problems – namely divorce – in their own marriages. One study, published in the Journal of Marriage and Family,followed 2,000 married people and 335 of their children over a 17-year period.

“Children who grow up with divorced parents tend to reach adulthood with a relatively weak commitment to the norm of lifelong marriage,” says study author Dr. Paul R. Amato of Pennsylvania State University. “When their own marriages become troubled, they tend to leave the relationship rather than stick it out or work on it.”

He says adult children of divorce have a tendency to jettison relationships that may be salvageable. Among the findings in Dr. Amato’s study:

Children of divorce are twice as likely to see their own marriages end in divorce.
Children of “maritally distressed parents” who remain continuously married did not have an elevated risk of divorce.

The risk of divorce was more likely among children whose parents reported a low, rather than high, level of discord prior to divorce.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) says that during the difficult period of divorce, parents may be preoccupied with their own problems but continue to be the most important people in their children’s lives. Children will cope best if they know their mother and father will still be their parents and remain involved with them even though the marriage is ending and their parents won’t live together.

The AACAP says research shows that it is best for children of divorce when their parents can cooperate on behalf of their children.The authors of Making Divorce Easier on Your Child: 50 Effective Ways to Help Children Adjust give the following advice to parents to help minimize the negative effects of divorce on their children:
Subject children to as few changes as possible as a result of the divorce. For example, try to have the children attend the same schools, continue to live in the same home, etc.
Don’t argue or fight with your ex-spouse in your children’s presence. The amount of parental conflict that your children witness following divorce is directly related to their level of adjustment.

Consistent discipline is very important. Both parents should use similar, age-appropriate discipline techniques with their children.

Don’t use children as messengers in parental communications. Children should never be asked to relay messages, such as “Tell your dad that he is late with the child support payment.”
Don’t use children as spies.

Don’t use children as allies in parental battles.

Don’t demean the other parent in front of children. Remember that your ex-spouse is still your children’s parent.

Don’t burden children with personal fears and concerns.

It is usually in your children’s best interest to have a consistent pattern of frequent visits with the non-custodial parent.

If major problems develop for children and/or parents, seek professional assistance.

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Journal of Marriage and Family
Making Divorce Easier on Your Child: 50 Effective Ways to Help Children Adjust, by Nicholas Long and Rex Forehand
Pennsylvania State University
Simmons College

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teen Depression

As I saw on the news last night, experts are saying that parents with children between the ages of 12-18 should have them screened for depression. It is not about promoting medication, it is about helping to understand if there are areas in their lives that can be causing stress and anxiety that can leave to making negative choices such has experimenting with substance abuse, hanging with a less than desirable peer group, feelings of low self worth, etc. Like adults, children can be prone to depression and stress and not mature enough to understand these feelings. With this, acting out in a negative way can follow. Take time to learn more.

Source: USA Today

Experts: Doctors should screen teens for depression.
If you have teens or tweens, government-appointed experts have a message: U.S. adolescents should be routinely screened for major depression by their primary care doctors. The benefits of screening kids 12 to 18 years old outweigh any risks if doctors can assure an accurate diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care, says the independent U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
It’s a change from the group’s 2002 report concluding there wasn’t enough evidence to support or oppose screening for teens. The task force, though, says there’s still insufficient proof about the benefits and harms of screening children 7 to 11 years old.

Depression strikes about 1 out of 20 teens, and it’s been linked to lower grades, more physical illness and drug use, as well as early pregnancy.

Questionnaires can accurately identify teens prone to depression, plus there’s new evidence that therapy and/or some antidepressants can benefit them, the expert panel says in a report in today’s Pediatrics . But careful monitoring is vital since there’s “convincing evidence” that antidepressants can increase suicidal behavior in teens, the report says.

Accompanying the task force advisory in Pediatrics is a research review saying there have been few studies on the accuracy of depression screening tests, but the tests “have performed fairly well” among adolescents. Treatment can knock down symptoms of depression, say the reviewers from Kaiser Permanente and the Oregon Evidence-Based Practice Center in Portland, Ore.

In a “show me the money” volley back, pediatricians also weigh in on the topic in today’s issue of their journal. Insurance plans and managed care companies that stiff or under-pay pediatricians for mental health services throw up barriers to mental health care in doctors’ offices, says the American Academy of Pediatrics. Kids’ doctors should be compensated for screenings, as well as consults with mental health specialists and parents, AAP recommends.