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!

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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
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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.

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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.

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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.