Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sue Scheff: Teens Smoking Pot

I still scratch my head when I hear parents say "he/she is ONLY smoking pot" - without realizing the dangers, not only to their behavior, but to their physical health.  Don't be a parent in denial, be educated.

Pot and Lungs

Source: Connect with Kids

This latest study shows that you have destruction of lung tissue and reduction of lung vital capacity and a decreased ability to exhale if you smoke marijuana and what's probably the most disturbing part of this latest article is that it shows that a cigarette is really much less potent than a joint of marijuana.”

– Fadlo Khuri, M.D., oncologist

A new study of teen drug use and parent and teen attitudes reveals some troubling new highs. According to the 2009 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, sponsored by MetLife Foundation, teen use of marijuana is on the rise, along with a growing climate of parental denial when it comes to addressing the issue with their teens.

The study reports that the number of teens in grades 9 to 12 that used marijuana in the past year shows a 19 percent increase (from 32 percent in 2008 to 38 percent in 2009).

According to the latest Monitoring the Future report, sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 40 percent of twelfth graders have experimented with marijuana. In fact, it is the most commonly abused illicit drug. Plus, new information shows it's even more dangerous than we thought.

Andrew was 14-years-old when he first tried pot.

"I didn't, I didn't even inhale it all the way, I just took it into my mouth and stuff, but I loved the taste. I knew that I liked it and stuff," says Andrew Wolpa, 18 years old.

From there he experimented with alcohol, painkillers, mushrooms and almost every drug except one.

"I never smoked cigarettes because those things will kill ya, you know," says Wolpa.

But according to a study by the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand, smoking one marijuana joint is equal to smoking five cigarettes at the same time.

"This study shows that you have destruction of lung tissue and reduction of lung vital capacity and a decreased ability to exhale if you smoke marijuana and what's probably the most disturbing part of this latest article is that it shows that a cigarette is really much less potent than a joint of marijuana," says Fadlo Khuri, M.D., oncologist and deputy director for the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University.

And he says smoking pot can lead to emphysema and lung cancer.

"That's a real problem because we only cure about 15 to 17 percent of all the people who present with lung cancer nowadays. So, this is a disease in which you have a one in six chance of surviving it for five years or longer," says Khuri.

He says talking about painful and serious diseases is one way to persuade kids not to use marijuana.

"Confronting them with the data, showing them what the outcomes are with lung cancer, with emphysema, with what even some individuals would consider moderate marijuana or cigarette use," says Khuri.

Andrew says even though he's in rehab he's not ready to quit.

"I don't want to be clean yet. I'm not there," says Wolpa.

What Parents Need To Know

Marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug in the United States. It is a dry, shredded green/brown mix of flowers, stems, seeds, and leaves of the plant Cannabis sativa. A stronger form of marijuana called hashish (hash) looks like brown or black cakes or balls. Street names for marijuana include pot, herb, weed, grass, Jane, reefer, dope, and ganja.

Marijuana is typically smoked in cigarettes (joints or spliffs), hollowed-out cigars (blunts), pipes (bowls), or water pipes (bongs). Some people mix it into food or brew it as a tea. It's tough – or tougher -- on your lungs as cigarettes. Steady users suffer coughs, wheezing, frequent colds, and respiratory (airway and lung) infections, like bronchitis. People who smoke marijuana have more respiratory problems — such as having more mucus, chronic cough, and bronchitis (irritated breathing passages). There are more than 400 known chemicals in marijuana. A single joint contains four times as much cancer-causing tar as a filtered cigarette.

Marijuana is easily available, relatively cheap, and kids say that it relaxes them, it's effective for stress, and gets rid of their anxiety. Anxiety is huge. In fact, by conservative estimates, half of young people who are addicted to chemicals—alcohol, marijuana or other drugs—also have a co-occurring mental health disorder.

The resurgence in teen drug and alcohol use comes at a time when pro-drug cues in popular culture – in film, television and online – abound, and when funding for federal prevention programs has been declining for several years. This places an even greater burden on parents. Among the parents surveyed for the PATS study, 20 percent say their child (ages 10-19) has already used drugs or alcohol beyond an "experimental" level. Among parents of teens ages 14-19, that percentage jumps to 31 percent, nearly one third.

Disturbingly, among those parents of teens who have used, nearly half (47 percent) either waited to take action or took no action at all – which studies show put those children at greater risk of continued use and negative consequences.

What can parents do? It's important to talk openly about the dangers of drug use – again and again. Children Now, a research and action organization, offers the following tips for discussing drug abuse with your child:

■Listen carefully. Student surveys reveal that when parents listen to their children's feelings and concerns, their kids feel comfortable talking with them and are more likely to stay drug-free.
■Role play about ways to say "no" without becoming a social outcast. Consider statements like, "My mom would kill me if I used drugs."
■Encourage choice. Allow your child plenty of opportunity to become a confident decision-maker.
■Provide age-appropriate information that fits your child's stage of development.
■Establish a clear family position on drugs, alcohol and marijuana. It is OK to say, "We don't allow any drug or alcohol use."
■Be a good example. Children will do what you do much more readily than what you say.
The Partnership for a Drug-Free America offers the following strategies to help child can reap the rewards of a healthy, drug-free life:

■Get to know your child's friends and their parents. Call other parents and check-in to make sure they share your views on alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Steer your child away from any friends who use drugs.
■Call teens' parents if their home is to be used for a party. Make sure that the party will be alcohol-free and supervised by adults.
■Set curfews and enforce them. Let your child know the consequences of breaking curfew.
■Set a no-use rule for alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
■Get – and stay – involved in your child's life.

■Partnership for a Drug-Free America 2009 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study
■Monitoring the Future
■Nemours Foundation
■Medical Research Institute of New Zealand

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sue Scheff: Teen Summer Programs for At-Risk Teens

Summer is almost here, is your teen failing in school? Hanging out with less than desirable peers? Smoking pot or worse? Do you see your teenager going down a negative path?

Maybe it is time to find a good, positive Emotional Growth Summer Program to help stimulate your teen in a positive direction. Build their self-worth to make better choices. Help them to determine where these negative actions are stemming from.

Being a proactive parent can help you prevent your teen from spiraling out-of-control. Just say NO to Boot Camps, as many parents believe that beating a child into submission will scare them straight. In many cases, this is simply false. It is about building your child back up again.

For more help and assistance, please visit - for over a decade, Parents' Universal Resource Experts (P.U.R.E.) has helped thousands of families. Whether we are there to let you know you are not alone or you are seeking outside help, P.U.R.E. is available to you. Fill out a form today and get a free consultation.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sue Scheff: It's Your Sex Life - For Teens - Be Smart About it - Know the Risks

Yikes, this is one of the most difficult and sensitive subjects parents dread to talk to their kids about, but it is also just as critical.

Whether you believe your teen is having sex or not, the conversation is important. Your teen will rely on his/her peers to help educate them if you don't.

MTV's - "It's Your Sex Life" helps teach your teens about safe sex, protection, if you are ready for this big step, as well as the risks of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STD). In Broward County, there are places your teens can get tested for STD's. If you are not in Florida, find your local center, click here.

If you are a teenager, don't wait for your partner or your health care provider to start the conversation, take charge. After all, this Is YOUR (Sex) Life. By talking about sex (that includes what you feel ready, or not, to do) you are showing that you care about yourself and your partner, and that your are in control.

It's YOUR (Sex) Life and that means you decide when you are ready-and when to wait to have sex. But you have to communicate how you are feeling to your partner. Otherwise how can they know what you are thinking? Check out these tips to help you talk with your partner about waiting to have sex.

Protect yourself! Everyone knows about protection, but how many think that it can't happen to them? They are immune to STD's, they can't get pregnant that one time, etc. Stop, think twice - it can happen and will happen if you don't take steps to protect yourself.

Yes, it is your teens' sex life, but it is still your child. Open the door of communication, talk to your teens. Read websites such as It's Your Sex Life for resources and information to help educate yourself and today's teens.

It's Your (Sex) Life, an ongoing partnership of MTV and the Kaiser Family Foundation to help young people make responsible decisions about their sexual health, is working with Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other partners nationwide to bring you the GYT: Get Yourself Tested campaign and Get Yourself Talking.

In South Florida Planned Parenthood goal is to ensure that every individual has the information, services, and freedom to make healthy, responsible decisions about sex, sexuality, and parenthood. They also are part of GTY: Get Yourself Tested and Get Yourself Talking - print your coupon here.

Being an educated parent can help you to have safer and healthier teens.

Watch video and read more.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sue Scheff: Tanning, Teens and Skin Cancer - Know the Risks

Teens and fun in the sun! Today you don't need the sun to get a tan, but do you know the dangers of tanning beds? An FDA advisory panel recommend that parents keep children and teens from using tanning beds.

Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers among young adults in the United States, and the rates of skin cancer among Americans of all ages continue to rise.

While genetics play a large part in a person's cancer risk, many studies suggest that exposure to ultraviolet, or UV, light and the use of tanning beds at a young age is a major cause of skin cancer.

The dangers of tanning beds is well documented. Indoor tanning may actually be more dangerous than the sun. Check out five fast facts about the dangers of tanning on Health Central.

As summer is around the corner, hanging out at the beach is a popular teen activity. Get sun smart with these helpful tips from Kids Health for Teens:

  • Wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 every day, even on cloudy days and when you don't plan on spending much time outdoors. Wearing sunscreen every day is essential because as much as 80% of sun exposure is incidental - the type you get from walking your dog or eating lunch outside. If you don't want to wear a pure sunscreen, try a moisturizer with sunscreen in it, but make sure you put on enough.
  • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. Ideally, it should also be hypoallergenic and noncomedogenic so it doesn't cause a rash or clog your pores and give you acne.
  • Apply sunscreen thickly and frequently. If you're not sure you're putting on enough, switch to one with a higher SPF. Regardless of the SPF, always reapply sunscreen after a couple of hours. Most broad-spectrum sunscreens are more effective at blocking UVB rays than UVA rays. So even if you don't get a sunburn, UVA rays could still be doing unseen damage to your skin.
  • Reapply sunscreen every 1½ to 2 hours and after swimming or sweating. In direct sun, wear a sunscreen with a higher SPF, like SPF 30. While playing sports, use sunscreen that's waterproof and sweatproof, but still reapply sunscreen every 1½ to 2 hours.
  • Take frequent breaks. The sun's rays are strongest between 10:00 A.M. and 4:00 P.M. During those hours, take breaks to cool off indoors or in the shade for a while before heading out again.
  • Wear a hat with a brim and sunglasses that provide almost 100% protection against ultraviolet radiation.
Be an educated parent, you will have healthier and safer teens.

Watch video and read more.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sue Scheff: Teen Obesity - Childhood Obesity - Let's Move Campaign

First Lady Michelle Obama has made it her mission to create awareness on obesity in our country, especially among our children.

Recently she visited Falcon Cove Middle School in Weston, Florida. Falcon Cove Middle School students Lauren Shatanof, Rachel Shatanof and Taylor Duarte were summoned to the principal’s office Wednesday to speak to First Lady Michelle Obama.

“Can you have junk food everyday? No, you just can’t,” said Obama during a meeting in Washington.

The First Lady spoke to the trio from the White House, where she held a town hall meeting with an audience of other students about her Let’s Move anti-childhood obesity campaign. “You don’t have the ability to walk. You’re in your parents car or you’re on a bus, and then you get to school, and there’s no physical education programs,” said Obama.

The First Lady said her Let’s Move initiative is about promoting an active lifestyle and not focusing on appearances. She’s encouraging children to think about the choices they make in their own lives and to take responsibility for their own futures. – WSVN

Helping parents make healthy family choices is part of educating families on healthier eating habits. Obesity threatens the healthy future of one third of all American children. Obesity rates have tripled in the past 30 years.

According to the CDC, children need 60 minutes of active and vigorous play every day to grow up to a healthy weight. Let’s Move to increase opportunities for kids to be physically active, both in and out of school and create new opportunities for families to be moving together.

Be an educated parent, you will have healthier children! Stay active and eat healthy as a family!

Read more and watch video.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sue Scheff: Space Monkey - A Deadly Game Teens Play

Children are “strangling” themselves to get high and then sharing the videos on the Internet, campaign and advocacy groups have warned.

The Choking Game. Is not a game you want any teen or child to play. Parenting today can be a challenge, however if you are not kept inform on the games teens can play, you may not be able to educate and protect your children from the consequences.

It is true, many children need to learn from their mistakes, and learn how to pick themselves back up again, but when it comes to dangerous games that could potentially kill them, you need to talk to your teens about these dangers.

Space Monkey. Just another trendy name for what is also called, The Choking Game. Nicknamed “Space Monkey,” the practice involves squeezing the carotid arteries in the neck to restrict the flow of blood to the head. Releasing the pressure leads to a sudden rush of oxygen to the brain, giving a feeling of euphoria.

What is the Choking Game?

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. – G.A.S.P.

In Florida The Dangerous Behaviors Foundation is a non-profit organization targeted at educating and bringing awareness to this deadly game and dangerous behaviors of teens. DB Foundation is community based and community driven to offer their own experiences, tragic losses, and knowledge firsthand. Sadly, learning the hard way about this heartbreaking game kids are playing and sharing it with others helps people heal from their own horrific experieces. Learn more at

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

Take the time to explore, read and learn at both The DB Foundation and Games Adolescents Shouldn’t Play (GASP).

Watch video and read more.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Sue Scheff: Sexual Abuse Thrives on Secrecy and Shame

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Although this is a sensitive and difficult topic to talk about, it is a necessary discussion to have. Education is key to prevention.

The Florida Council Against Sexual Violence (FCASV) is a statewide nonprofit organization committed to victims and survivors of sexual violence and the sexual assault crisis programs who serve them.

FCASV serves as a resource to the state on sexual violence issues. Each year they host a statewide conference and many trainings, bringing state-of-the-art information from around the nation to Florida. FCASV provide technical assistance to agencies seeking to improve their services for rape victims, and provide up-to-date information to the public. By using the toll free information line, callers can access information from their resource library or from their network of national resources. FCASV provides information, assistance and leadership on all aspects of sexual violence, including rape, child abuse, stalking and sexual harassment.

Sexual Violence affects every aspect of a person's life-her/his body, emotions, thoughts, behaviors, spirituality and relationships with others and the outside world. This is true whether it is acquaintance rape, stranger rape, date rape, child sexual abuse or marital rape.

During this month of awareness, make it a priority to talk to your kids about prevention and awareness.

In Florida there are support services available. Click here. The Rape Crisis Hotline is 1-888-956-RAPE (7273).

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

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sue Scheff: Teens, Kids and Emotional Overeating

As parents/adults many people experience that gallon of ice cream when a stressful situation is looming in your life. When feelings of sadness or hopelessness overcomes them, some people simple turn to food. It is no different for children, however we as parents need to recognize the signs and talk to our kids about it. Read this recent article from Connect with Kids about Emotional Overeating and your children.

Source: Connect with Kids

Emotional Overeating

“They’d make fun of me because I was getting overweight, and I’d come home and I’d feel bad so I’d eat. The next day they’d make fun of me again, and I’d come home and I’d eat.”

– Cheyanne Fowler, 13

Thirteen-year-old Cheyanne began hiding food three years ago.

“I’d stick it under my bed,” she says. “Or, I’d get a pack of gummies and I’d save the wrapper and, you know, stick it in a drawer or something, hoping my mom wouldn’t find it.”

Hiding the food didn’t work, though.

“I would find wrappers in her room,” says her mom, Debbie. “I would find plates with food, like the crust off of toast; things like that hidden under the bed.”

And then Cheyanne started having trouble at school.

“They’d make fun of me because I was getting overweight,” she says. “And I’d come home and I’d feel bad, so I’d eat. The next day they’d make fun of me again, and I’d come home and I’d eat.”

She says she was using food to ease the pain. Only at the time, she didn’t know it.

“I didn’t notice how I was feeling,” says Cheyanne. “I guess I thought I was hungry. But now, I know that I wasn’t, that I was either upset or I was angry.”

Cheyanne started seeing Dr. Genie Burnett, a psychologist.

“We do one of two things with our feelings,” says Burnett. Either we talk them out or we act them out. Sometimes acting them out involves taking in food.”

Burnett asked Cheyanne to keep a food journal. Every time Cheyanne ate something, she would write down how she felt.

“Basically, what I’m trying to do is help them link what is going on in their mind with what is going on in their belly,” says Burnett.

“I guess we started talking about my feelings,” says Cheyanne, “and then I’d say, ‘Well, I’m hungry’ or I’d have, like, a candy bar. … And if we were talking about something that I didn’t feel all that great about talking about, … I’d start eating the candy bar.”

Cheyanne had to interrupt her pattern of feeling bad and then eating to compensate, says Burnett.

“Before you go to dinner, before you go to breakfast, before you do whatever,” she adds, “if you feel like bingeing, sit down and write down what you are thinking and what you are feeling.”

“I would either talk to my mom or something because we are really close and I tell her just about everything,” says Cheyanne. “Or, I’d talk to a friend, or I would just go up in my room and just sit a while and wait till I’m not feeling so bad and try to stay away from the kitchen.”

Tips for Parents

•According to the American Dietetic Association, most people don’t even recognize they are engaging in emotional eating until they’ve gained a lot of weight. Parents should learn to recognize the warning signs – being overweight, having a history of weight fluctuations, eating alone, hoarding food, eating rapidly, eating until uncomfortably full, and having feelings of guilt or depression after eating.
•Experts say encouraging kids to express their feelings can lower a child’s need to binge. Have younger kids draw pictures of how they are feeling. Afterwards, discuss the drawings.
•When older children feel the need to binge, distractions may help. The American Dietetic Association suggests finding other things to do, for example, walking, riding a bike or playing with the dog.
•Keep the kitchen stocked with plenty of fruits and vegetables. If children feel like bingeing, encourage them to have a small, healthy snack instead.


Monday, April 5, 2010

Sue Scheff: Inspiring Teens Through Food Revolution

There is no denying it, Jamie Oliver is hitting the United States and making a statement. His desire to create healthy eating for children is commendable, however his passion to inspire at-risk teens is sensational! Building a teens self esteem, whether through sports, cooking, volunteering, jobs, youth groups and more, is the path to helping them make better choices in their lives.

Peer pressure can be one of the most difficult situation to deal with for teenagers today. When your teen has a focus, a drive and a passion for their interest (whether it is tennis, chess, dance, cooking, swimming, etc) chances are very good they will stay on track to create their positive future.

In a recent episode of Food Revolution, Jamie employed the assistant of several high school teens: Brittany, whose lifelong weight problem has caused irreversible liver damage and shortened her life expectancy; Marisa, whose father died prematurely as a result of obesity; Ryan, a troubled teen who wants to get his life back in order by learning a new skill; Robert, a football player who struggles with his weight; Brian, whose family is plagued by obesity; and Emily, whose dream is to attend culinary school.

Jamie Oliver then shocks the teens by asking the kids to secretly prepare a gourmet meal for the state senator, local legislators and community leaders in order to raise necessary funds to train the school staff to cook fresh food. The results were amazing!

All of these teens were inspired and changed, their comments brought tears to your eyes. Ryan, who is plagued by issues with the law, had been in facilities for troubled teens, commented that Jamie Oliver's program has changed him. Watch the full episode here.

Must watch video and read more - click here.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sue Scheff: April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month - Learn About Lauren's Kids

Being a parent of teens today consists of many challenges and obstacles. Talking to our teens about anything can be a struggle, however it is critical to your child's well-being that you communicate with them about sexual assault, violence and rape. Talking about it can help prevent it!

Sexual Assault Awareness Month  is about educating students and others about preventing sexual abuse. The month of April has been designated Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). The goal of SAAM is to raise public awareness about sexual violence (focusing on sexual assault and rape) and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence.

In South Florida, beginning April 2nd, 2010, Lauren Book-Lim, abuse survivor and founder of Lauren's Kids, will lead a 500-mile walk across Florida -from Aventura to the state capitol in Tallahassee - to raise awareness for Sexual Abuse Awareness Month.

"This 500-mile walk symbolizes a survivor's long, painful healing journey to shed the shame - a journey that requires love, support and understanding from family, friends and trained professionals."

For more information, visit Lauren's Kids Walk In My Shoes. Join Lauren's Kid's Facebook Group for updated information and follow her on Twitter.

Lauren's mission is:

"Lauren's Kids"is the creation of child abuse victim, survivor and Elementary school teacher Lauren Book. The organization will help educate adults and children about sexual predators. Educational seminars and workshops will help create more awareness of sexual abuse laws, offer legal counsel and provide guidance on how and where to file complaints. The initial goal of "Lauren's Kids" will be to provide round-the-clock counseling and guidance for victims through a toll free phone number. The ultimate goal will be to create a Crisis Center for Children and their Families coping with the aftermath of sexual abuse.

We applaud and commend Lauren for her dedication and strength to take a horrific situation and turn it around to help others. During this month of Sexual Assault Awareness, take the time to talk to your kids about it.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teenagers.

Watch the video and share it with your teens and read more.