Friday, December 31, 2010

Teen Drinking and New Year's Eve

Did you know?

Most teens report that alcohol is easy to get - including 64 percent of eighth graders, 81 percent of sophomores, and 92 percent of seniors.

Did you know?

Since laws established 21 as the minimum drinking age, the likelihood that a 15 - to 20-year-old driver will be involved in a fatal crash has dropped by more than half.

Take part in We Don't Serve Teens and be a part of the solution - safety matters.  You could not only be potentially saving a life, it could be your own child's life.

We Don't Serve Teens is about educating you (parents and adults) with real life stories of what can happen when adults permit teens to drink alcohol.  The legal drinking age is 21 years old, there are no exceptions.
Most teens who drink get alcohol from "social sources" - at parties, from older friends, from their parents' cabinets. Teen drinking is linked to injury and risky behavior. We can reduce teen drinking by stopping teens' easy access to alcohol. Help us achieve this goal. - Source: We Don't Serve Teens

As New Year's Eve is fast approaching, be an educated parent - don't allow teenage drinking!

Underage drinking is linked to injury and risky behavior.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, about 5,000 kids under 21 die every year as a result of underage drinking – from crashes, homicides, and suicides. Teens that drink also are at risk for a long list of other injuries and potential life-long alcohol abuse. Reducing underage drinking can reduce drinking-related harm.

Power of Parents is a program by MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) which helps parents learn more about how to talk to your teens about the dangers of drinking, especially drinking and driving.

In Broward County Zingo Designated Drivers can be hired for a small fee.  Learn more about Drinking and Driving Prevention as well as finding designated drivers - click here.

AAA Auto Club South and Anheuser-Busch, Inc. are joining hands to provide “Tow to Go” to provide a confidential ride home and tow, free of charge, to anyone who may have had too much to drink by calling 1-800-AAA-HELP (4357) in Florida and Georgia.

Happy 2011 and end 2010 safely!

Read more.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Shocking Stats on Academic Cheating

Every student will face down the temptation to cheat on an assignment in his or her lifetime. By this point, turning in fake papers, copying the work of others and outright plagiarism has sadly grown inescapably woven into the education sector. Unsurprisingly, statistics abound regarding the whats, hows and whys behind academic dishonesty — and many will surprise those who find such actions deplorable.

8 Astonishing Stats on Academic Cheating:

  1. 60.8% of polled college students admitted to cheating. An admittedly informal 2007 poll conducted by the popular website CollegeHumor revealed that 60.8% of 30,000 respondents — most of them within its core demographic — confessed to cheating on their assignments and tests. This lines up closely with a questionnaire sent out to Rutgers students as well, to which 68% of students confessed that they had broken the university’s explicit anti-cheating rules. And the number only seems to swell as the years progress, with freshmen the most likely to fudge their way through class.
  2. The same poll revealed that 16.5% of them didn’t regret it. Probably the most disconcerting find that the very same CollegeHumor poll unearthed is the fact that 16.5% of those who admitted to cheating felt no guilt whatsoever for their breach of ethics. It did not go into any details regarding why, of course, but one wonders if today’s culture of entitlement and success without regard to the well-being of others plays a major role in such callous attitudes. With so many scholarships, awards, internships and other incentives at stake, it’s entirely possible that those reporting no regrets considered their actions justified when rewarded for their “success.”
  3. Cheaters have higher GPAs. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a poll conducted at Fordham University noted a significant gap between the GPAs of cheating students and their honest counterparts. Cheaters, on average, boast a 3.41 average. Non-cheaters average at 2.85. As mentioned with the previous statistic, many probably feel compelled to compromise their school’s ethics policies in their own self-interest — especially considering the significant number of academic rewards hinging on one’s GPA. What makes this statistic so upsetting is the amount of opportunities being robbed from honest students whose averages may not measure up, but at least they came about them without resorting to plagiarism, copying and other cheating strategies.
  4. The public is more concerned with cheating than college officials. The Ad Council and Educational Testing Service discovered that 41% of Americans and 34% of college officials considered academic cheating a serious issue. They attribute the surprisingly low numbers to a decreased stigma surrounding the actions and an increase in emphasizing a stockpile of rewards and honors over hard work and dedication. Though their fact sheet does not offer any specific numbers, they noted that men and women are equally likely to cheat in an academic setting; math and science classes inspire the most incidents. Engineering and business majors, fraternity and sorority members, students on the extreme ends of the GPA scale, freshmen and sophomores are all more likely to cheat, and there exists no real difference along gender lines. However, men seem to admit to it slightly more than women.
  5. Cheating college students likely start in high school. If not before. According to the very same Ad Council and ETS study, between 75% and 98% of college students who confessed to cheating reported that they set such a personal standard in high school. The organizations conducting the poll, however, believe that the motivation to cheat can start as early elementary and middle school. After kindergarten, teachers, parents and administrators place much heavier emphasis on grades and awards, placing considerable pressure on students to do anything necessary to stay ahead of their contemporaries.
  6. In fact, 85% of them think cheating is essential. Even college students that don’t cheat still think it a valuable strategy to scoring the best grades, internships, scholarships and awards possible. A U.S. News and World Report survey noted the phenomenon, revealing that 90% of those polled didn’t believe that they or others would get caught — and subsequently punished — for their actions. In his study of 1,800 college students, Professor Donald McCabe noted that 15% turned in a fake term paper (either from a mill or a website), 84% cheated on written assignments and 52% plagiarized one or more sentences for a paper.
  7. 95% of cheaters don’t get caught. As another study conducted by Ad Council and ETS confirmed, many of the suspicions that college students held about getting caught for their crimes. This gives them even more incentive to lie their way through classes rather than actually put forth the effort and learn something. Websites such as allow professors to check whether or not their students have handed over a fake paper, but it cannot help cheating on tests, quizzes and non-written assignments.
  8. Top-tier paper mill website average about 8,000 hits a day. ETS and Ad Council’s research quotes founder Kenneth Sahr as stating that his website receives around 8,000 hits a day. Even accounting for innocent, curious onlookers and suspicious educators and parents double-checking a student’s work, this does illustrate the prevalence and high demand for pre-written term papers, homework and other projects. and its ilk often post disclaimers citing their services as “for critique” or “research” purposes only – yet their copy almost always tends to suggest otherwise. Some schools have launched campaigns against their services, though such measures put little to no damper on the overarching popularity.
Source: Online Education Database
Read more.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Troubled Teens: It's Not Too Late

Parenting is probably one of the hardest jobs there is.

During the holidays the added stress can cause contention as well as family disputes.

However if you are dealing with an at-risk teenager, a teen that was already struggling down a negative path - maybe experimenting with drugs or hanging with a less than desirable peer group or has failed their first semester of school, holiday times can be more strenuous.

Dealing with troubled teens at any time of the year is not easy, it is a challenge.  Dealing with troubled teens during the holidays can be double the trouble.  With time off from school, many families have both parents working with limited supervision at home which leaves many teens on their own.  Have you checked your medicine cabinets lately?

Parents' Universal Resource Experts, founded in Broward County, has been helping families with teens in trouble for almost a decade.  One of the common threads is during the holidays when teens start to escalate with their issues, and parents will go deep into denial hoping to get through the holidays.

What they don't seem to understand is that teenager is crying out for help and prolonging this help can only make things worse - whether it ends up in a legal battle or otherwise, if you are debating an intervention with your teens, don't hestitate because it is the holiday.  There will be many more holidays in the future and the sooner you get your teen help, the sooner your family will be on the road to healing.

Being a parent in denial is also being selfish.  This is not about the parent - it is about the teen.  There will be plenty of time for blame and/or shame later, the immediate issue is getting your teen help.

Ask yourself:
  • Is your teen escalating out of control?
  • Is your teen becoming more and more defiant and disrespectful?
  • Is your teen manipulative? Running your household?
  • Are you hostage in your own home by your teen's negative behavior?
  • Is your teen angry, violent or rage outbursts?
  • Is your teen verbally abusive?
  • Is your teen rebellious, destructive and withdrawn?
  • Is your teen aggressive towards others or animals?
  • Is your teen using drugs and/or alcohol?
  • Does your teen belong to a gang?
  • Do they frequently runaway or leave home for extended periods of time?
  • Has their appearance changed - piercing, tattoo's, inappropriate clothing?
  • Has your teen stopped participating in sports, clubs, church and family functions?  Have they become withdrawn from society?
Be an educated parent - don't let the holidays prolong you from getting your teen the help they may need.

Need parent choices?  Click here.

Helpful hints when looking for residential therapy: Click here.

Visit for more information.

Read more.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Texting Wars: Girls verses Boys - Who Texts More?

One in three teens sends more than 100 text messages a day, or 3000 texts a month.
Daily text messaging by teens to friends has increased rapidly since early 2008. Some 38% of teens were daily texters in February 2008, and that has risen to 54% of teens who use text daily in September 2009. Of the 75% of teens who own cell phones, 87% use text messaging at least occasionally.  

Among those teen texters:
  • Half of teens send 50 or more text messages a day, or 1,500 texts a month, and one in three send more than 100 texts a day, or more than 3,000 texts a month.
  • 15% of teens who are texters send more than 200 texts a day, or more than 6,000 texts a month.
  • Boys typically send and receive 30 texts a day; girls typically send and receive 80 messages per day.
  • Teen texters ages 12-13 typically send and receive 20 texts a day.
  • 14-17 year-old texters typically send and receive 60 text messages a day.
  • Older girls who text are the most active, with 14-17 year-old girls typically sending 100 or more messages a day or more than 3,000 texts a month.
  • However, while many teens are avid texters, a substantial minority are not. One-fifth of teen texters (22%) send and receive just one to 10 texts a day or 30 to 300 texts a month.
Girls more fully embrace most aspects of cell phone-based communication.
As we see with other communicative technologies and applications, girls are more likely than boys to use both text messaging and voice calling and are likely to do each more frequently.
Girls are also more likely than boys to text for social reasons, to text privately and to text about school work.
  • 59% of girls text several times a day to "just say hello and chat"; 42% of boys do so.
  • 84% of girls have long text exchanges on personal matters; 67% of boys have similar exchanges.
  • 76% of girls text about school work, while 64% of boys text about school.
Source: PEW Research

Duval, Clay and St. Johns County, as well as the entire First Coast of Florida is part of The Great Hang-Up.  Distracted driving kills.  There is no text worth losing your life over.  During this holiday season and all year round, talk to your young teen drivers about the dangers of texting and driving.

Florida teens have put together a group of PSA (Public Service Announcements) to spread the word about the dangers of texting and driving.  Watch and vote today. Click here.  Definitely worth watching and encourage your teens to watch too.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens.

Read more.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Teen Help Programs - Parent Alert - Be an Educated Parent

If you need help for your teen, do your research.
Are you at your wit's end and desperately searching the Internet for help for your out of control teen? Is your child a good teen making some very bad choices? Failing in school? Underachieving? Defiant? Runaway? Teen drug use? Teen drinking?

Are you considering a Residential Treatment Center (RTC), Therapeutic Boarding School (TBS), Emotional Growth Program, Behavioral Modification Program, Wilderness Program, etc?

As a Parent Advocate, I founded my organization after struggling with my own teenage daughter. My story has been widely read and published by Health Communications, Inc - original home of Chicken Soup for the Soul book series.

My daughter was harmed at Carolina Springs Academy. I won a court battle in 2004 proving my allegations against World Wide Association of Specialty Programs (WWASPS - the umbrella that Carolina Springs Academy fell under) and what they did to my daughter and the deception I endured.

It has been brought to my attention that Carolina Springs Academy lost their license and re-opened with a new name in 2009 - "Magnolia Christian School".  As they closed again in June of 2010, rumors lingered about whether they were housing teens at the owners home.  Now we are hearing they are re-opening again in early 2011 and their target is me!  (Don't I feel special).  Why are they so afraid of my story - they sued me to get it down, they lost - then started a smear campaign online - and I won again - this time over $11M jury verdict for damages they did to me.

This time Magnolia Christian School will be classified as a Christian boarding school, making it exempt from state licensing and staffing rules.  Now why don't they want to be regulated by the state?  Is this in the best interest of your child?

It is my own opinion that if you are considering this "school" for your family, you may want to do your homework and also read my story. I understand not much has changed except the name. Although my story was in 2000, sadly I still receive calls and emails from parents and former students that have claimed abuse and fraud today.

See Below for an updated list of possible affiliation with the same organization that harmed my daughter.

As of December 2010 it is believed that WWASP aka WWASPS or Premier Educational Systems LLC has affiliations with the following:

Academy of Ivy Ridge, NY (CLOSED)
Bell Academy, CA (CLOSED)
Canyon View Park, MT
Camas Ranch, MT
Carolina Springs Academy, SC (License revoked, re-opened as Magnolia Hills Christian)
Casa By the Sea, Mexico (CLOSED)
Cross Creek Programs, UT (Cross Creek Center and Cross Creek Manor)
Darrington Academy, GA (CLOSED)
**Discovery - Mexico (see below)
El Dorado, Costa Rica - 90 Day Boot Camp
Help My Teen, UT (Adolescent Services Adolescent Placement) Promotes and markets these programs.
Gulf Coast Academy, MS (CLOSED)
Horizon Academy, NV
Jane Hawley - Lifelines Family Services
Kathy Allred - Lifelines Sales Representative
Lisa Irvin - Helpmyteen and Teens in Crisis (Will use Lisa Irvine at times too)
Lifelines Family Services, UT (Promotes and markets these programs) Jane Hawley
Magnolia Christian School, SC - formerly Carolina Springs Academy (RE-OPENING 2011)
Mark Peterson - Teen Help Sales Representative
Majestic Ranch, UT
MENTOR School, Costa Rica
Midwest Academy, IA (Brian Viafanua, formerly the Director of Paradise Cove as shown on Primetime, is the current Director here)
Parent Teen Guide - Promotes and markets these programs
Pillars of Hope, Costa Rica
Pine View Christian Academy, (Borders FL, AL, MS)
Reality Trek, UT
Red River Academy, LA (Borders TX)
Respect Academy, NV
Royal Gorge Academy, CO (CLOSED)
Sherri Schwartzman - Lifelines Sales Representative
Sky View Academy, NV (allegedly closed?)
Spring Creek Lodge, MT (CLOSED) Rumors they have re-opened in another location of MT.
Sunset Bay Academy, CA
Teen Help, UT (Promotes and markets these programs)
Teens In Crisis - Lisa Irvin
Tranquility Bay, Jamaica
Sunset Bay Academy, Oceanside, CA - rumors of short term program there.

**There is reason to believe a program in Mexico is now open - parents need to be aware of this. It is believed they may have re-opened Casa By the Sea location with another name - possibly Discovery. We have heard that Jade Robinson is running this program - he was formerly at Horizon Academy, Bell Academy (closed) and Casa by the Sea (closed).

In addition to the legal battle with WWASP, P.U.R.E. and founder Sue Scheff won an unprecedented $11.3 million jury verdict for Internet defamation and Invasion of Privacy. Despite being vindicated, many of the attacks on P.U.R.E. continue out of malice and spite.

Full Disclosure: The sales reps will discredit me as a disgruntled parent. When someone harms your child and dupes you, you tend to become disgruntled. However I have proven my allegations in court - and sadly continue to receive emails and calls from victims of this organization (2010).

It is being told to me that Magnolia Christian School is going full steam ahead to start a smear campaign on me - again.  Bringing up only the sides of the legal end they want you to hear - not the whole story that won both my cases.

If you are seeking help for your teen - just do your own research, where there is smoke - fire is about to burn.  Take your time - and don't wait until you reach your wit's end!

Related articles:  Alleged animal abuse - horrific findings after they closed the program.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Teen Energy Drinks: Are they healthy?

College students jamming for an exam, high school students getting ready for SATs, or teen athlete’s needing that boost – Energy drinks seem to be more and more popular among our  youth.  But is it safe?  Is it healthy?  Read more about what your teens could be drinking today.

Source: Connect with Kids

Energy Drinks and Teens

“They’re going to get that boost, but in the long run they’re not going to be doing their best. And they may not even notice they’re not doing their best.”
– Elizabeth Redmond, Ph.D. and Nutritionist

According to a recent Time magazine article, the afternoon coffee break for an energy boost — may just become a generational thing. Those under age 24 are now more likely to reach for a caffeine-loaded energy drink, a trend that just might mean risky business for today’s teens.

Researchers from the University of Buffalo have found a link between teens who consume a large quantity of high energy drinks and risky behavior. Is it that these drinks cause risky behavior? Or is it that kids who consume these drinks take more risks? The jury is still out, but nutritionists say these drinks are risky in another way.

In the past few years the market for so called ‘energy drinks’ has exploded. Full of sugar and caffeine, there’s now around a dozen energy drinks on the market, and they’re very popular with kids.

“I’ve had Rockstar,” says Hunter, 13.

Thirteen-year-old Will’s favorites? “Monster, Rooster Booster.”

“Sobe’s Adrenaline Rush,” answers T.J., age 14.

“It tastes very good,” explains 16-year-old Corrissa, “It gives me energy.”

Energy, according to promotional materials, makes these drinks good for school or sports performance. “They do kind of imply they’re sports drinks,” says Nutritionist Elizabeth Redmond, Ph.D., “but a sports drink like Gatorade or something would hydrate you. And these drinks have a lot of caffeine, and they’re actually going to have a diuretic effect and can dehydrate.”

And while the caffeine in many of these drinks, the same as the amount in an average cup of coffee, gives kids a boost, a couple hours later, they crash.
“Yeah if I drink one I might be kind of hyper for a while and then I’ll be like ‘Ehhhh’ and get real tired,” explains 12-year-old Luke.

Experts add the side effects of caffeine also include loss of appetite, moodiness, headaches, nausea, difficulty sleeping.

And while there haven’t been any long term studies on the effect of regular caffeine use by kids, Redmond explains that, “Once you get used to the caffeine boost you’re going to want to keep getting it. But it’s just not a healthy lifestyle that you want to get into.”

Experts say parents should teach kids caffeine can be addictive, and that if they’re looking for better performance, there’s a much better way. “Getting enough sleep, being hydrated and eating a healthy diet would be the three biggest things you’d want to look at if you wanted to get more energy to do better at sports,” says Redmond.

What We Need To Know

Now more than ever, it seems that students are relying on caffeinated products like Red Bull to help them stay awake to study for tests. In fact, some experts report that caffeine dependency among high school students has steadily increased over the past five years. Consider these recent studies of children and caffeine consumption:
  • A researcher at the University of California-San Francisco found that when school-aged children took a high daily dose of caffeine, their attention span decreased. And after the effects of the caffeine dissipated, their performance in various tasks was impaired.
  • National Institute of Mental Health child psychiatry researcher Judith Rapoport, M.D., found 8- to-13-year-olds who regularly consumed high doses of caffeine were judged more restless by teachers, and that one-third were hyperactive enough to meet the criteria for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • In a study by Stanford University neurobiologist Avram Goldstein, fifth- and sixth-graders at a Denver school deprived of daily caffeine reported having symptoms including trouble thinking clearly, not feeling energetic and getting angry. Even children who typically consume 28 milligrams a day (less than an average soda) felt symptoms.
  • Since caffeine leaches small amounts of calcium from the bones, a 1994 Harvard study concluded that soda consumption increases the possibility for bone fracture among teenage girls.
Even though these products may seem like a quick fix for helping students study late into the night, most teens are unaware of how caffeine affects their bodies. According to the Nemours Foundation Kids’ Health online resource, caffeine is a mild stimulant that causes increased heart rate and alertness. Most people who are sensitive to caffeine experience a temporary increase in energy and elevation in mood. Yet, this energized feeling quickly evaporates and leaves students feeling tired and irritable. The Mayo Clinic cites these additional side effects of caffeine:
  • Insomnia
  • Heartburn
  • Intestinal upsets, such as constipation and diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Jitters, anxiety, heart palpitations or rapid heart rate
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Temporary depression
  • Calcium loss: Kids build their peak bone mass as they grow through calcium intake and exercise. Yet, caffeine causes calcium loss, so if they’re drinking more coffee and soda, but less milk, they not only get less calcium from the dairy products but also lose calcium due to increased caffeine intake.
  • Dehydration: Because caffeine is a diuretic, it can cause your body to become weak from not having enough water. Although you may think you’re getting plenty of liquids, caffeine works against the body in two ways: It has a dehydrating effect on the body’s cells and increases the need to urinate. It is particularly important for active teens who play sports to drink non-caffeinated beverages each day to avoid dehydration.
Energy drinks are not harmful if you have them occasionally, but they’re not the healthy choices the advertising hype makes them out to be either. The truth is, the best energy boost comes from healthy living. People who eat well, drink water, and get enough physical activity and rest will have plenty of energy — the natural way.
There is also concern about the combination of “energy drinks” and alcohol, especially on college campuses. The company that produces the Four Loko beverage recently announced that it will remove the caffeine and two other ingredients from its products after facing a cascade of criticism and regulatory scrutiny for producing the energy drinks, which combine high levels of the stimulant with alcohol. According to an online publication of the Boston University School of Public Health, the beverages are used by party-goers to get drunk faster. What you get, one nutritionist says, is “a wide-awake drunk.” Just because your child may be drinking energy beverages, doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is mixing them with alcohol.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Teen Driving: When is your teen able to drive?

Many teens will count the days until they take their first step into adulthood -- driving!  However it is a parent's responsibility to determine if their teen is mature enough to take on this major responsibility.

Each state has their own laws on the age your teen can start driving.  In Florida, at age 15, teens can apply for a learner’s license. The teen must have completed a Traffic Law and Substance Abuse Course; pass the written, vision and hearing tests; and have a signed parent consent form.

With a learner’s license, teens may only drive with a licensed driver age 21 or older supervising and sitting in the front seat. For the first three months, teens may only practice during daylight hours; then, teens may practice no later than 10 p.m. Teens are required to practice driving for at least 50 hours, including 10 hours at night, with a parent or a legal guardian, before they’re allowed an intermediate permit.

DMV Practice Questions - Take this sample test to determine if you’re ready to take the state driving test.
When teens turn 16, have had a learner’s license for at least 1 year without any traffic violations and have completed 50 hours of practice driving, 10 of which must be at night, they can apply for the intermediate license. They also must pass a behind-the-wheel driving test, complete a vision test and provide proof of practice driving time. Legal guardians must accompany their teens to the DMV to sign the application form, or their signature must be notarized on the form.

At the intermediate stage, driving privileges are based on age. For a 16-year old, driving is allowed between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. For a 17-year old, driving is allowed between 5 a.m. and 1 a.m. Outside of these time frames, teen drivers must be accompanied by a licensed driver at least 21 years old in the front passenger seat, or must be traveling to or from work.

At age 18, teens are eligible for a full unrestricted license. The state does not place night or passenger limits on those with unrestricted licenses.

All first time drivers in Florida must take a Traffic Law and Substance Abuse course and a written exam to receive a learner’s license. The tests below are approved by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and are offered online through AAA:
Source:  AAA

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens.

Read more.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Fraud Awareness: Play it Safe

With more consumers at this time of the year, Black Friday and Cyber-Monday approaching, it is a perfect time to remind your adult teens as well as yourself about the high risks of fraud and scams that exist.

Warning Signs:

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
  • People, sales reps, online pressure: Anyone or anything that pressures you to act “right away,” stop and think.  Do your due diligence – it could save you money and grief at the end.
  • Guarantees of success.  In life there are two main guarantees: Death and taxes.  After that – use caution.
  • Requires an upfront investment, even if it is for a free nothing.  Run, and don’t look back.  A perfect example is when an adult will approach a vulunerable teen and tell them they have the look of a model – but they need a portfolio.  Unless they are providing you the necessary means to get one (which could be nearly $1000.00 or more), don’t believe it.  If an honest modeling agency wants you – they will pay to get your portfolio completed.
  • Buyers want to overpay you for an item and have you send them the difference.
  • Doesn’t have the look or the feel of a real business.
  • Something just doesn’t seem or feel right.  Your gut is telling you to run.
Play it Safe:

  • Never click on a link inside an email to visit a website.  Type the address into your browser instead.
  • It’s easy for a business to look legitimate online.  If you have doubts, verify the company with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Only 2% of reported identity theft occurs through the mail. Report online fraud to the Federal Trade Commission at
  • Retain your receipts, statements, and packing slips.  Review them for accuracy.
  • Shred confidential documents instead of simply discarding them in the trash.
The FTC, the nation’s consumer protection agency, works hard to prevent fraud and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid it.  To file a complaint or get free information on consumer issues, visit or call toll-free 1-877-FTC-HELP.
Read more.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Teens and Brain Games

Are Brain Games Addictive or Healthy?
Today, technology is being used not just for work, but for entertainment purposes as well. People not only surf the net and do other things online to while away their time, most of them also play games with virtual strangers (friends?) too. Most of these games are so addictive that people end up playing them all day long. You may ask, if the games are mentally stimulating and improve your coordination and response time, why are they considered detrimental? If something is good for you, why should it not be addictive? Are all addictions unhealthy?

Now I’m not addicted to Facebook by any length; what I am addicted to is the game of Scrabble that you can play with other online gamers. To me, it’s not a waste of time if I spend a few hours a day playing this word game, simply because I’m using my brains and playing with letters, something that is right up my alley because of the nature of my job. Even so, there are others who would consider my addiction unhealthy, simply because they feel that I could be more productive at work if I did not waste so much time on Scrabble. It may help sharpen my mind no doubt, but the addiction is also taking me away from my job and lowering my efficiency and dedication to my job.

Therefore, if we’re analyzing whether brain games are healthy or addictive, we must draw a line that demarcates the boundary between the point where it’s healthy and the instant that it crosses over to becoming an addiction. Remember, an addiction is something you have no control over, and even if it’s a good thing, when you cannot control it, it stands to reason that it controls you.

Look how addictive technology has become today – we can see how children, teens and adults are becoming addicted to Facebook and other social networking sites. It’s true that we spend more time in our virtual space than in the real world; we interact more with people who are online than with people who we can see and touch; and we’re so addicted to technology that it’s impossible to imagine our world without it today. But if we look at technology through different eyes, we see that it is highly advantageous too – information is available in an instant, we’re able to keep in touch with loved ones who live afar, and we’re able to boost our knowledge and widen our experiences even if we’re constrained by location and other factors.

So how then do we classify technology? Is it healthy or addictive? Again, it’s the crossover from healthy to addictive that we must be aware of and enforce self restraint. It’s the same with brain games too – no doubt they’re good for you, but when they cross that line and start to become addictive, they’re more detrimental than advantageous.

This guest post is contributed by Patricia Duggan, who has completed her Bachelors in Psychology and now pursuing her Masters of Science in Psychology.  She is the co-founder of the website and she like to write on the topic of Psychology Degree . She welcomes your comments and suggestions at her email id: patricia.duggan70<@>gmail<.>com.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Teen Depression: When it returns, be ready

Teen depression is a serious concern that can lead to tragic results if not treated.  According to a new study from Duke/John Hopkins University, nearly half of teens who suffer a severe episode are back in depression within a few years of their initial recovery.  Also noted in this new study finds that depression affects an estimated 6 percent of U.S. teen girls and nearly as many teen boys.

Nearly all (96 percent) of the 196 teenagers in the study either improved or fully recovered after an initial depressive episode, but 47 percent had one or more subsequent depressive episodes in an average of two years.

As the holidays approach, it is a time that suicides among adults and teens will increase.

It is critical to be aware of your teenagers feelings and activities. 

For reasons that are not clearly understood, girls were more likely to have repeated bouts of depression, with nearly 60 percent of them suffering subsequent depressive episodes after recovery, compared to 33 percent of the boys.

Some common warning signs of teen depression:
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits (eating and sleeping too much or too little)
  • Significant change in weight (loss or gain)
  • Often misses school and/or shows bad school performance
  • Reclusive, withdrawing from friends or family members
  • Quick to show anger/rage
  • General restlessness or anxiety
  • Overreacts to criticism, even constructive
  • Seems very self conscious, guilty
  • Unusual problems with authority
  • No longer partakes in or enjoys activities and events they once loved
  • Indecision, lack of concentration, or forgetfulness
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Frequent health complaints despite being healthy
  • Lack of motivation and enthusiasm for every day life
  • Drug/alcohol abuse
  • Mentions or thoughts of suicide
Some common causes of teen depression:
  • Significant life events like the death of a family member or close friend, parents divorce or split, breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or moving to a new school/area.
  • Emotional/Physical neglect, being separated from a nurturer, abuse, damage to self esteem.
  • Many changes happening too quickly can cause depression. For some teens, any major change at one time can trigger symptoms.
  • Stress, especially in cases where the teen has little or no emotional support from parents, other family members, or friends.
  • Past traumatic events or experiences like sexual abuse, general abuse, or other major experiences often harbor deep within a child and emerge in the teen years. Most children are unable to process these types of events when they happen, but of course, they remember them. As they age, the events/experiences become clearer and they gain new understanding.
  • Changes associated with puberty often cause emotions labeled as depression.
  • Abuse of drugs or other substances can cause changes in the brainĂ•s chemistry, in many cases, causing some types of depression.
  • Some medical conditions such as hypothyroidism are believed to affect hormone and mood balance. Physical pain that is chronic can also trigger depression. In many cases, depression caused by medical conditions disappears when medical attention is sought and treatment occurs.
  • Depression is a genetic disorder, and teens with family members who have suffered from depression have a higher chance of developing it themselves.
If you suspect your teen is suffering with saddness and depression, reach out and get help.  Don't ignore the signs or just brush it off as typical teenage phase, which it could be, but your teens safety and health come first.  Broward Prevention offers a vast amount of resources to assist you further.  If your teens has escalated to a point that their life or your family is at-risk, you may need to consider residential therapy.  Visit for more information.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier teens.

Read more.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bullying: Stop the Hate

Yes, normal and acceptable, tolerance is taught at home and reaches into our communities.  South Florida has been the battleground of bullying and school violence and it has to stop.

For many years, kids were bullied because their behavior or appearance was perceived by the bully to be different. Now, bullying children who are gay, lesbian, trans-gender or bi-sexual has become more flagrant. The National Center for Transgender Equality reports that of 6,500 people surveyed, 51 percent attempted suicide because of bullying.

Currently, approximately 160,000 children stay at home from school each day because of bullying. It also seems to be socially acceptable to bully anyone who is different, and that includes children who are overweight, underweight or disabled.

Bullying has also encroached on the Internet. 

According to Pacer's National Center for Bullying Prevention:
  • 42 percent of children and teens have been bullied on line, one in four more than once;
  • 35 percent of children have been threatened on line, one in five more than once; and
  • 58 percent of children admit someone has said mean or hurtful things on line, four out of ten more than once.
Things we can do to stop bullying:

1.  Facebook has a “Report” button so you can report bullying. You can also block the sender. Don't add a friend you don't know.
2.  Report bullying. Telling is not tattling. If the teacher does not listen, go to the principal, the district, etc. until you are heard. Remember, the bully relies on fear and intimidation to keep his threats secretive.
3.  Keep a record of the bullying, including the location, the bully's name, and any witnesses.
4.  Some great resources are:
If you have seen bullying or have been bullied, you can e-mail
5.  The American Civil Liberties Union can also address the rights of a child or teen who has been bullied.
6.  If you are feeling suicidal, call:
Common sayings: “Boys will be boys,” “Girls aren't bullies,” “Words can never hurt,” “It's only teasing,” “Kids deserve bullying,” or “Kids need to toughen up,” are not true. Billy Lucas, age 15, Justin Aaberg, age 15, Tyler Clementi, age 18, Asher Brown, age 13, and Seth Walsh, age 13, recently killed themselves because of bullying. No one deserves to be bullied.

Contributor:  Kim A. Tennant, author of  Thin Club and The Ordinary Extraordinary Boy

Read more.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Overweight Teens: Support for Parent with Teens That are Being Bullied

Bullying is one of today's growing and serious trends in our country today.  Whether a student has a sexual preference that you don't agree with, or a child that is overweight, bullying is becoming a way to harass and harm kids.  School violence is being used as kids are being hurt.

Promoting health, wellness and good eating habits is sometimes difficult for busy parents.  According to a recent Harris Interactive poll, 30% of us who are overweight or obese think that we are just fine, thanks, and 70% of us who are obese think that we are merely overweight.  Our self-esteem, in other words, hasn't skipped a beat.  Some have even surmised that "fat is the new norm," our perceptions gradually adapting to the sight of our heavier friends, neighbors, and acquaintances around us.

Weight discrimination has increased a whopping 66% over the past decade, and is "comparable to rates of racial discrimination, especially among women."  Weight bias affects the workplace, media, healthcare, schools, and yes, family life.  A recent study reveals that parents discriminate againsttheir own overweight kids by being less willing to help pay for college or buy them a car.

Sadly, weight bias is no joke, but like any form of bullying, a potentially deadly affair.  Overweight kids and teens are often physically bullied, taunted, and excluded by peers, family members, teachers, and other authority figures.  Not only does criticism and public pressure about one's weight tend to increase eating disorders, comfort-eating, reduced physical activity, and weight gain, but it contributes to depression, damaged self-esteem, poor body image, and even suicidality.

So what can parents do?  Get educated.  Watch three fantastic videos on weight bias and kids from Yale University's Rudd Center and share them with your family, your PTO or PTA, your school principal, your friends.  Read posts on Fitsmi from a teen who was bullied for her weight; a girl who suffered drive-by insults; a teen teased by her brother and his friend; a Mom reflecting on the importance of praising a daughter's beauty, at any size.  Increase sensitivity to weight bias in your home, raise awareness at your local schools, and make sure that in a tough world, your child at least has one person he or she can turn to:  you.

Visit for more valuable and educational information.  Watch video on sidebar to learn more about how Fitsmi can fit into your parenting!


Be an educated parent, you will have healthier teens.

Read more.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Teen Drinking: Drunkorexia

Between the expanding technology, learning about Internet safety, texting and cellphone use, bullying, drug use, huffing, inhalants, rainbow parties, choking game, learning the teen lingo etc.... Parents can add one more worry to their list of raising teenagers:


What is Drunkorexia?  It is the term used to describe a mixture of alcoholism, bulimia and anorexia.  Schools and universities are dealing with a new student issue and it is an concern for counselors and parents.
In 2008 the New York Times was one of the first times we heard about this issue that is becoming a trend. The Denver Post just ran a recent article, "Drunkorexia" act swaps food calories for alcohol.  ABC News Health also just posted Drunkorexia: Alcohol Mixes With Eating Disorders.

Health workers warn drunkorexia is a serious medical condition that can harm the body. It is also often coupled with other psychological disorders. Statistics suggest that 30% of 18-24 year olds skip food in order to drink more according to

What can you do if you suspect your teen is substituting alcohol for food?

Communication and education is the key to prevention.  However most parents know that talking to our teens can be difficult.  Getting them to actually listen is even harder.  But you can't stop talking about it - you can't stop sharing with them the harm it does to their health and body.

Drinking alcohol and body image is part of life for today's teenager. As the parent of a teenager you have a responsibility to educate your child in order to ensure that he or she has a healthy relationship with alcohol and self-confidence to feel good about how she looks. Get educated and get talking; don't let your child be another teen drinking statistic.

For more information, go to, or call the toll-free helpline, 800-931-2237.
For more information on your local services contact PACT in St. Augustine at 904-829-6261.
Be an educated parent, you will have healthier teens.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Good Grades Can Save You Money

There can only be one answer for this, unless you are not concerned about saving money, YES - good student discounts are worth it and for two reasons.

Teens that are now taking the wheel or even getting their first car, will be able to qualify for a discount on their automobile insurance, so first, saving money is great reason.  Second, it is an incentive to your teen to keep their grades up!

In Florida it is the law that all automobiles and drivers have insurance.  Here is a quick glance from the official website of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles:

I am registering a vehicle for the first time in Florida. Is automobile insurance mandatory?

Yes. If you own a vehicle with at least four wheels and are registering it, you must have Florida insurance.

What type of insurance is required to purchase and maintain a Florida license plate and registration?

Florida's minimum coverage is $10,000 personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 property damage liability (PDL) as long as you have a valid Florida license plate.

With today's struggling economy, parents are looking for ways to cut corners financially and since insurance is a must when you have  teenager driving in the household or at college, finding auto insurance that offer good student discounts can save you quite a bit of money.

Here is a few examples of Good Student Discount qualifications from three major insurance companies:

State Farm Good Student Discount

All male and unmarried female drivers under 25 who are full-time students in high school or at a college or university, and the scholastic records for the immediately preceding school semester show that this student meets at least one of the following:
  • Ranked scholastically in the upper 20% of his or her class.
  • Had a grade average of B or higher.
  • Had a grade point average of 3.0 (out of 4.0) or higher.
  • Was included in the Dean's List or Honor Roll.
Allstate Good Student Discount
  • Your teen driver can save you money before they even get behind the wheel with the Good Student Discount. The better they are in the classroom, the bigger the discount you’ll get. Add a good student to your policy and you'll earn extra credit-up to 10-20 percent, depending on your state.
American Family Insurance
  • If you're a good student or your household includes a good student who's an insured driver.  Click here for more information.
No matter who insurance carrier your family has, be sure to inquire about good student discounts.  They could save you a substantial amount of money as well as encourage your teen or college student to keep their grades up.  It is a win-win situation!

Call your insurance representative today to find out exactly what your savings could be.

On a personal note, I saved over $300.00 a year with my college student's good student discount.  It's real!

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens - and maybe have more money in your pocket!

Read more.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Parenting Teens: Monitoring Your Teens

When safety trumps privacy - is when invasion of privacy is thrown out the window.

As a parent keeping our children safe, especially our new young teen drivers is a priority. Many teens believe they are invincible and accidents only happen to other people.  Sort of like those other people are the only ones that get STD's or have bad things happen.

Newsflash - bad things can happen to good people.

NBC's Kevin Tibbles had an interesting segment today on TODAY about how parents are taking back technology, that their kids are so far advanced in, and using it to protect their teens and children.  The question is, how much parental monitoring is too much? (Watch segment on sidebar.)
The three resources of advanced technology that were discussed are as follows:
  1. ZPass | Ridership Tracking:   For Student TrackingZPass was designed specifically for pupil transportation to monitor student ridership in a safe and non-intrusive way.  Knowing if and when a student got on or off the bus accounts for a significant portion of calls parents make to schools and is information that schools need to know.  ZPass provides accurate and immediate answers. Learn more at
  2. All Track USA: Receive notification via e-mail or text message when your child arrives at school, pulls into your driveway, goes over a pre-determined speed limit & more. And all speed alerts and Electric Fences changeable on-the-fly on the internet any time!! Learn more at
  3. My Mobil Watchdog: My Mobile Watchdog monitors your child's cell phone use and instantly alerts you if he or she receives unapproved email, text messages or phone calls. Learn more at
This is not an endorsement of these products, however an example of technology that is available to help protect and secure the safety of your teens.

The statistics are clear: Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers who drive. Drivers who are 16 years old are more than 20 times likely to have an accident as are other drivers. And teenage drivers have the highest crash risk of any age group, and 16-year-olds are the worst.

As  a parent we have a right and a responsibility to take control of the safety of our teenage drivers, you could be saving a life.  If the teen wants to view it as an invasion of privacy, that is something we can live with.  Afterall, they are alive to view it at all.

With the increase of predators online, your child's cell phone is another way these predators can invade their private lives.  Again, as a parent, we can and will do all we can to protect our children.  It is not about being nosy, it is about safety.  We live in a different world today.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens.

Read more.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Struggling Teens: Can you foreclose on them?

Foreclosure has become a common word today.  Whether you are listening to talk radio or watching your nightly news, the foreclosure forecast in our country is becoming a common conversation and a grim reality.
Forclosure on homes can be devastating.  Leaving a family unsettled, banks taking on more debt, and people scrambling to find resolution.

When you find yourself up against the wall, sometimes a job loss or simply a mortgage that is no longer fesible, you have to re-organize - re-structure your lives.  It is in need of repair.

What happens when your teenager becomes someone you don't recognize anymore?  They are suddenly secretive, withdrawn, or even extremely defiant?  They were once an A student and now you are facing them either failing or just skimming by academically?  Now you check their pockets and you find a lighter?  You smell booze on their breathe or even smoke in their clothes?  This list could go on and on.

Your adorable baby that grew into a fun-loving toddler that went on to elementary school without a glitch is now facing teen life and the challenges that come with it.

You reach out and try to figure out what is going on with them.  Communication is key, however can be very difficult when a teen shuts down.  You slowly watch your once happy go-lucky child go into a dark place and become a person you barely know.

Unlike a mortgage you can't afford, you can't simply foreclose on your child.  Like a home that is heading towards foreclosure, you need to learn all you can about saving it.
Your teen is now out-of-control.  What do you do?  Foreclosure is not an option, but there are answers.
Don't be a parent in denial.  Don't assume this is a phase and it will pass.  Don't blame the other kids he/she is hanging with.  Be a parent and get your at-risk teen the help they may need.  Starting with local therapy, find an adolescent therapist.  If money is a factor, contact the Children's Trustline of Florida at 2-1-1.

If you have reached the point that you believe you need residential therapy or your therapist recommends residential therapy, learn more about this very important step at Parents Universal Resource Experts.

Read more.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

School Nurses, Parents and Schools Come Together to Help Stop Medicine Abuse

Isn't it time we take action in our community?  Across the country parents and school nurses are joining forces to help bring awareness to over-the-counter (OTC) medicine abuse and our teens.

Your school nurse is your ally and partner in preventing cough medicine abuse in your teens’ lives but so are your friends and community. Do you share information with your family and friends online? Are you active in your teens’ school, their team sports, or your religious community?  

If not, start today!

Working on the frontline with teens, school nurses know the range of issues parents deal with concerning the health and welfare of teens. Whether you're looking to educate yourself about preventing teen cough medicine abuse or searching for advice on how to talk to your teen about the risks, the articles below, written by school nurses around the country, will help you get informed and start talking.

Home to Homeroom Digest:

Article 1: "Not My Kid" Isn't an Answer
Article 2: Your To-Do List: Prevent Teen Cough Medicine Abuse
Article 3: Good Medicines, Bad Behavior

In a recent press release, the CADCA and leading makers of OTC medicines are taking their campaign of education and awareness across our nation.

Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), the nation’s primary substance abuse prevention organization representing over 5,000 community anti-drug coalitions across the country, and the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), which represents the leading makers of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, have joined forces to kick off their annual National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month to raise awareness of the dangers of youth prescription and OTC medicine abuse.

Help and the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) raise awareness at the local level about cough medicine abuse and prescription drug abuse. Get your community together and you could win an iPad!

Learn more.

Read more.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Facebook Family Insurance - Keeping Your Family Safe Online

Social networking is growing each day and more teens, parents and just about everyone is participating in these social circles.  After The Social Network movie received rave reviews, took number one at the box office, it is no surprise that Facebook is one of the largest social networks in cyberspace.

As a parent, have you taken pre-cautions to insure your family's security and protection online?  During National Cybersecurity Awareness Month there are more articles, resources, and events available for you to become more educated with our digital society.

Identity theft virtually can be a nightmare.

What To Do If Your Personal Information Has Been Compromised?
The bottom line for online threats like phishing, spyware, and hackers is identity theft. ID theft occurs when someone uses your name, Social Security number, credit card number or other personal information without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes. That's why it's important to protect your personal information. To find out how to deter and detect identity theft, visit

But, according to OnGuard Online, if your personal information is accidentally disclosed or deliberately stolen, taking certain steps quickly can minimize the potential for the theft of your identity.

OnGuard Online Net Cetera is a program created by The Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  They are offering free booklets, videos, games, and more to the public to help educate people in cyberspace.

Sources: Net Cetera

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Teen Drinking Cultures in America and Driving

While teens admit to clearly hearing messages about the dangers of drinking and driving, new research indicates that teens do not acknowledge the toll alcohol plays on a maturing body or the legal consequences of consuming alcohol underage.  Alarmingly, teens studied indicate that consuming alcohol was viewed as a rite of passage in high school as they approached adulthood.  The Understanding Teen Drinking Cultures in America study was conducted by George Mason University and funded by The Century Council to learn more about teen drinking habits directly from teens themselves.

Teens admit one of the main reasons they drink alcohol is to reduce stress.  Far less emphasis was placed on peer pressure surrounding drinking.  In most instances, teens are getting alcohol from older siblings and more often than not are getting away with drinking in their parents’ home without adults recognizing the problem.
One of the main points of interest in the study is that school officials and teens alike agree alcohol awareness programs currently in the schools are ineffective.  Both suggest there is a discrepancy on what students are told about alcohol in school and their own experiences.

The study, Understanding Teen Drinking Cultures in America, was an innovative, independent research project designed to better understand the psychological and sociological factors that affect adolescents as they make decisions regarding whether to engage in alcohol-related behaviors.

In Broward County there is a Task Force to Combat Underage Drinking.  For more information, contact Pat Castillo, Director of Youth Programs at the Broward County Commission on Substance Abuse at 954-760-7007.

The Task Force to Combat Underage Drinking in Broward County was created in 2004 by The United Way of Broward County Commission on Substance Abuse (BCCSA) with guidance from the Florida Office of Drug Control and funding from the Florida Department of Transportation. The Task Force mission is to reduce underage drinking in Broward County.

Remember, Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving, teens driving buzzed kills the same as driving drunk.

Sources: The Century Council, George Mason University, American Family Insurance

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens.

Read more.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Gay teens bullied to death to achieve peace

It Gets Better Project has been causing a lot of soundwaves as many celebrities and others lend their voice and time to a very important topic; Bullying.

The latest suicides of Tyler Clementi and Asher Brown, two teens that were gay, have created shock waves throughout our country.  We are heading into 2011 within a few short months, and there are still kids and people that are prejudice and not tolerant to a variety of lifestyles.

Uniqueness is what makes the world go round, and tolerance starts at home.  Parenting in the 21st century should include teaching tolerance.  Parents need to lead by example.  No matter what race, religion or sexuality someone is, parents should teach and preach to their children never to judge.

Ellen Degeneres, Andy Cohen (watch his video), Jewel, Dan Savage are only a few of the celebs that are stepping up and speaking out with the 'It Gets Better project'.

This project was launched by renowned columnist Dan Savage. It Gets Better is about suicide prevention for LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, two-spirited, queer, intersex) youth bullied in high school and intolerant communities.  The It Gets Better Project now has dozens of inspiring videos about how people left behind the bigots, and are glad they didn’t give in to suicidal despair.

In South Florida there is the Florida Suicide Prevention CoalitionThe National Suicide Prevention Hotline is also always available 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).  Help is available through the Trevor Project hotline at 866-4-U-TREVOR, Laura’s Playground online hotline for transgendered people, and 24/7 crisis lines worldwide.)

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens. Teach tolerance!

Read more and watch video.