Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sue Scheff: Fake Pot - Do you know what your teens are smoking?

As parents scramble to keep up with the challenges of raising teens today, they are now thrown another curve ball. Most know that smoking pot, although not legal and seems to becoming more addictive among youths, is a trend that some parents brush under the rug with the justification that "it is only pot."

Recently after speaking with a parent of an at risk teen, she said her therapist actually told her teen it was "okay" to smoke marijuana. Excuse me? This parent was horrified and this only empowered the teen. Obviously they are not returning to that therapist, but how many others feel this way?

Parenting is hard enough, and it is the parent that is the strongest tool in helping our teens to understand the dangers of drug abuse.

Now we have what is being called, K2 - or "Spice," Genie" and "Zohai" - that is commonly sold in head shops as incense and referred to as the "fake-pot". Produced in China and Korea, the mixture of herbs and spices is sprayed with a synthetic compound chemically similar to THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Users roll it up in joints or inhale it from pipes, just like the real thing. - AP

K2 costs between $20 and $50 for three grams, similar to the street price of marijuana, but with the key advantages of being legal and undetectable in drug tests. The Federal Drug Enforcement Administration has classified it a "drug or chemical of concern."

Kansas and Missouri already have bills to ban the mystery substance. What is your state doing about this latest trend?

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

Read more on Examiner.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sue Scheff: Facebook, Free Speech, Teachers, Students and the Law

With the recent headlines about Katherine Evans and her victory in Broward County, Florida regarding a judge's ruling, stated that she is allowed to sue her former principal.

Backed by lawyers from the Florida branch of the ACLU, Evans won her first victory this week when Judge Barry Garber ruled that she could proceed with the case because her Facebook group was protected by the First Amendment. "Evans' speech falls under the wide umbrella of protected speech," Garber wrote in his opinion. "It was an opinion of a student about a teacher, that was published off-campus, did not cause any disruption on-campus, and was not lewd, vulgar, threatening, or advocating illegal or dangerous behavior." - Digital Trends

Free speech does not condone defamation, however is what Katherine Evans wrote defamatory? That doesn't seem to be the case, the story is about the punishment that Evans received following posting ugly comments about one of her teachers.

Katherine Evans started the "Ms. Sarah Phelps is the worst teacher I've ever met!" group on Facebook back in 2007 and featured a photograph of the teacher and an invitation for other students to "express your feelings of hatred," prompting a three-day suspension from school principal Peter Bayer. The suspension came two months after the page was taken down. Evans was also removed from Advanced Placement classes.

Evans wants to have the suspension removed from her disciplinary record and receive a nominal fee for the violation of her First Amendment rights.

Maybe this is an example of the old cliché, "if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything." Or in today's digital world, "if you don't have something nice to post, don't post it."

Remember, what goes online, stays online. What you post today can come back to haunt you later. If you are angry with someone, dislike your boss or teacher - think twice before you post about it. Today once you put it out there, it virtually impossible to take it back, and most people don't want to end up in a courtroom - no matter what side you are on. There are never any winners. Except the lawyers, in my opinion.

Although Katherine Evans has been given the green light to file her case, free speech lives on, however when will people start realizing enough is enough with some forms of Internet abuse? Cyberbullying, Internet predators, and sexting are just the start of the ugliness that lurks online.

Eventually the laws need to catch up with the free for all cyberspace.

Read more on Examiner.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sue Scheff: Winter Games 2010 and Youth Sports this Spring

As many parents in the Northeast are shoveling their way through heavy drifts of snow, the Southern states, although chilly, are gearing up for their spring sport season with their children.

As the Winter Games opened this week, the entire family can join and watch the athletes compete against countries worldwide. Does your child have an athletic dream?

VolunteerSpot's  free and easy online coordination tool saves time and simplifies parent participation in youth sports. They have a new eBook with sample online sign up sheets to give parents ideas of all the ways they can ask for (and get) help with their team activities.

Whether it's Little League, soccer, swimming, softball, lacrosse, or all of the above, spring is an exciting time for children participating in youth sports. For parents, though, their busy schedules are about to get a whole lot busier! Beyond spending joyful hours cheering on the sidelines, parents provide the backbone for any successful youth sports program by participating as coaches, referees, groundskeepers, timers, bringing snacks, driving carpools, and much more.

Parent leaders that use VolunteerSpot reduce their planning and coordinating time by several hours a week and eliminate late-night reply-all emails, last-minute phone tag and hard-to-read clipboard sign up sheets. Team parents appreciate how easy it is to sign up and pick their days to help, with a few clicks from an email or through a link on the team website. VolunteerSpot then sends automated email reminders to help everyone remember and keep their commitments.

Here are a few ways parents are using VolunteerSpot to save time and power team and league activities:

  • Snack schedule sign up sheets
  • Concessions stand volunteer scheduling
  • Tournament scheduling (officials, linesmen, score keepers, awards, setup/cleanup)
  • Assistant coaches, practice helpers, and field maintenance
  • Swim meet volunteer scheduling
  • Fundraisers like carwashes, carnivals, fun runs, and picnics
The time is now to start planning your spring and summer activities, let VolunteerSpot help you be ready to spring into your children's sports! Think warm!

Read more on Examiner.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sue Scheff: We Are The World - 2010

As the 2010 Winter Olympics open, the release of We Are The World, twenty-five years later is launched. This time it is for the victims of Haiti.

The recording of ‘We Are The World 25 For Haiti' embodies the same enthusiasm, sense of purpose and generosity as the original recording 25 years ago. Through the contributions of the new voices to this rendition of ‘We Are The World,' and with the help of our partners, the We Are The World Foundation will be committed to transparency and will help further the spirit of activism that was at the heart of the original song and movement.

We are developing mechanisms to permit our donors and members of the community to monitor the funds raised, the expenses paid, and the charitable grants funded by the We Are The World Foundation, a newly created not-for-profit organization founded by Quincy Jones and Lionel Richie who have invited Wyclef Jean, Paul Haggis, Randy Phillips, Peter Tortorici and Ambassador Luis Moreno of the Inter-American Development Bank to join them on the board. The Foundation is dedicated to raising money and to making grants to charitable organizations with meaningful and efficient relief and development programs that are responding to the continuing crisis in Haiti.

Source: World25.org

Watch this inspiring new video. Michael Jackson is joined by his sister Janet in a remarkable duet that only today's technology could bring us. Donate and give what you can today. Teach your children to donate, be an example for them.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sue Scheff: Teens to BABIES!

How many parents of teenagers wish they could flip a switch and go back to those adorable baby days? It seems like within a blink of an eye, your once happy, bouncing baby has grown up so fast. We go from the infants stage, to the toddlers, straight to elementary school and approach those tween years that before you know it, you have a teen (that think they are an adult).

You have to pull out those dusty scrapbooks and photo albums to remember those precious sweet moments of your babies.

Coming in May (Mother's Day Delight) to a theater near you, is one of the most surprising and uplifting films that will have many people smiling, crying and simply feeling good. Most everyone loves babies, and this documentary explores a year in a life of a year old baby in four different parts of the world.

USA Today has done an extensive review on this upcoming film. You can meet the four babies and learn a bit about their background.

For parents that are struggling with their teens and tweens today, this film is a great reminder that our kids were once babies and no matter what troubles or stress they are giving us now, we will always love them unconditionally.

You must take a few minutes and watch this dynamic trailer here and a sneak peak at the slideshow of clips of the film! It will make you smile!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sue Scheff: Teens Driving - Think Before You Get Behind the Wheel

On Oprah's birthday (January 29th), she asked that everyone take the pledge not to text and drive. This is not just for teens, this is for adults too. Texting and driving is equal to having four drinks and driving. It is serious.

Part of parenting teens is the stress of when they become "of age to drive." Depending on your teenager, they are either counting down the days or could care less. Most are counting down the days. Driving a car is a serious consideration and parents need to do their homework, as well as the teenager before they get behind the wheel.

Safe Teen Driving Club is one of several organizations that are designed to help you get ready for this big step into adulthood. Crash Proof Your Kids, by Timothy C. Smith, is an excellent book to help prepare you.

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System collected the following data about teenage drivers:

  • Crashes are the leading cause of death among 16- to 19-year-olds.
  • The majority of teenage passenger deaths occur when another teen is driving.
  • Two-thirds of teens killed in motor vehicle crashes are male.
  • Among teenage drivers, alcohol is a factor in 23 percent of fatal accidents involving males, 10 percent of fatal accidents involving females.
  • More than half of the teenage motor vehicle deaths occur on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Of those deaths, 41 percent occur between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
According to Safe Teen Driving Club, parents are concerned about issues like these:

  • Is my youngster ready to drive?
  • Driving safety - how to avoid accidents
  • Setting realistic and effective driving rules
  • How to pay for driver's ed
  • Is driver's ed enough?
  • Sharing the cost of driving with your teen
  • Risky driving behaviors
  • Laws in your state
  • Insurance costs and issues
  • Safety of the car she drives
  • Auto maintenance and repair
  • Legal issues in case of a crash
Safe Teen Driving Club is the source you can rely on to help you keep your youngster safe.

Be an educated and prepared parent, you will have safer teens!

Watch video on texting and driving and more on Examiner. This is a major concern today. Take a pledge - don't text and drive! Oprah is promoting NO PHONE ZONE. Take the pledge and demand your kids don't use the phone while driving. Parents - lead by example! No texting and cell phone talking while driving.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Sue Scheff: Teens Helping Hurting Teens - To Save A Life

TO SAVE A LIFE is now in over 400 screens in theaters nationwide. To Save A Life is a powerful Indie movie about the real-life challenges of teens and their choices. But it's more than just a movie-it's a feature-length film with follow-up opportunities like a youth group curriculum and a teen devotional centered around the biblical concept that we're never more like a Higher Power than when we are reaching out to the hurting and lonely. Watch trailer below.

At some point, every teen has to decide: "What's my life going to be about?" To Save A Life dares to bring that question into their world, encouraging them to answer it with boldness and honesty.


An all-star athlete and his girlfriend find their lives spinning out of control when Jake loses a childhood friend. Help comes when he reaches out to others who are hurting, and he realizes some people are just dying to be heard.

The movie asks...

  • How far would you go?
  • How much would you risk?
  • How hard would you fight...TO SAVE A LIFE
To Save A Life has also created a website for resources for parents. Teen depression is very real. Parents need to be aware of the warning signs and symptoms.

There are several symptoms of teen depression. Among them are:

  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Losing interest in social and extracurricular activities
  • Displaying a lack of energy, Feeling tired most of the time
  • Anxiety, Irritability, Anger,Feelings of sadness for much of the time
  • Significant weight fluctuations
  • Sleep pattern changes
  • Physical pains and aches, or sickness, even though there is nothing physically wrong
  • Indifference about the future
  • Uncharacteristic pessimism,Guilty feelings
  • Lowering self-esteem
  • Suicidal thoughts
There are two main types of teen depression. These include:

  • Major depression: This type of teen depression is of short duration, although it is quite severe. It is possible to have a bout of severe depression, feel fine for a few months (or even years), and then have another bout. For teens, though, even one bout of severe depression can feel as though it will never end and prompt a suicide attempt.
  • Dysthymia: Dysthymia lasts much longer than major depression, and the feelings are not as severe. Some teens have this low level depression plague them for years without having it diagnosed. This type of depression can also lead to teen suicide if the teenager becomes discouraged with never feeling happy.
Another type of teen depression has to do with life changes. It is called adjustment disorder with depressed mood, and it can be the result of the death of a loved one, divorce, moving to a different town, or even changing schools. This, too, can lead to teen suicide if the teenager feels hopeless, and that the feeling will never end.

This film helps educate parents, teachers, and others that work with today's teenagers as well as will bring an awareness to teens and allowing them to know that we do care. Growing up today is not easy; Peer pressure, drug abuse, gangs, trends, sex and more is what many kids are facing on a daily basis.

Currently To Save a Life is playing at Regal Cypress Creek Station 16 in Ft. Lauderdale. For more information and theaters near you, visit http://www.tosavealifemovie.com/tickets/ .

Watch the trailer. Be an educated parent - you will have safer and healthier teens. Read more on Examiner.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sue Scheff: Care Calendar - Learning to Help Those in Need

Going through difficult times can be stressful and overwhelming, especially if you are raising children. Whether a crisis hits your family or you are in need of assistance with elderly people, there is an organization that reaches out and give you inspiration to receive a helping hand.

Lotsa Helping Hands was created to support family caregivers and volunteers by empowering their circles of community who are eager to help those in need. Many people don't realize there are many others in their community that are there for them if they are struggling.

Lotsa Helping Hand's mission is to provide the communication resources facilitating a world where caregivers feel empowered to ask for help, and in so doing, improve their own health and quality-of-life; volunteers can become part of the solution when family, friends, neighbors or colleagues are in need of help, and community becomes a recognized way to find meaning in both giving and receiving.

Many have experienced the crisis of a friend or loved that was suddenly not able to provide for their family or themselves. Perhaps it's an illness or post rehabilitation that requires weeks or months of bed rest.

Possibly it's a complicated pregnancy or a cancer diagnosis requiring frequent chemotherapy appointments. In many instances of acute medical crisis or long-term family caregiving, those affected must also cope with quickly finding support for meal preparation, grocery shopping, transportation for themselves and their dependent family members.

It is often difficult for patients and family caregivers to ask for help. And if help is offered, managing that help can be a significant part-time job: coordinating family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and church or synagogue members who do not all know each other can be complex and time-consuming, with endless phone tag, too much food delivered, and forgotten commitments.

Lotsa Helping Hands community helps build emotional and spiritual support as you face the many issues surrounding everyday caregiving. They offer assistance for military families, elderly, schools, parenting, religious groups and more.

Inspired by a true story in Guideposts Magazine, Care Calendar, Lotsa Helping Hands is helping thousands of families!

Pay it forward, tell a friend in need.

Read more on Examiner.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sue Scheff: Prescriptions Drugs and Your Teens

Many parents understand the drug use among teens, legal and not. Prescription drugs for mental health issues is common. Parents need to be aware of the side effects as well as if their child is appropriately diagnosed.

Source: Connect with Kids

Antipsychotic Drug Use

“So if you are going to give your child a medicine that is going to slow their ability to learn and then send them to school, that’s a serious thing. You really want your child treated with the least amount of this medicine that is required…for the shortest period.”

– Shannon Croft, M.D., Child Psychiatrist, Emory University School of Medicine

A soaring number of children are being prescribed a controversial class of drugs called antipsychotics. In fact, according to new research from Columbia and Rutgers Universities, the number of pre-school children taking these drugs has doubled in the past decade.

But are these drugs safe for kids of any age?

That’s a question 14-year-old Lauren and her mom has had to ask.

Growing up, Lauren would have violent outbursts. “You were always concerned about that phone call,” says her mom, Robin Weinrich. “She could grab a knife. She could use a simple thing [such] as a fork.”

Lauren would physically hurt her brother and sister. Afterwards, she was sorry.

“I’d be like, ‘Oh my gosh! Don’t tell anybody, please! I’m so sorry!’” says Lauren.

To stop the violence, Lauren’s doctor prescribed an antipsychotic. “All of a sudden you’ve elevated the type of medication she’s taking,” says Robin. “It’s not just a simple antidepressant or mood stabilizer, now it’s an antipsychotic.”

Ten years ago, antipsychotics were mostly used to treat schizophrenia.

Now, kids are taking them for the aggression that comes with autism, attention deficit, or, in Lauren’s case, bipolar disorder.

“When she gets frustrated or angry now it’s mostly yelling and screaming,” says Robin, “but there’s no physical reaction.”

Doctors say they’ve seen antipsychotics work in adults, and that’s one reason they’re being prescribed to kids.

But no long-term studies show the drugs to be safe or effective in kids.

And they can have dangerous side effects.

“There are some studies that have shown serious weight gain in children and adolescents that have been started on these medicines,” says Dr. Shannon Croft, a child psychiatrist at the Emory University School of Medicine, “and some have gone on to develop diabetes because of the weight gain.”

Other side effects include a trembling similar to Parkinson’s disease – and damage to a child’s ability to think.

“So if you are going to give your child a medicine that is going to slow their ability to learn and then send them to school, that’s a serious thing,” says Dr. Croft. “You really want your child treated with the least amount of this medicine that is required, for the shortest period.”

Lauren’s mom is worried about future side effects, but her daughter needs help today.

“If we did not make the right decisions for her medically,” says Robin, “she could be in a hospital, she could be in a psychiatric unit, she could be in jail for killing somebody.”

Tips for Parents

Parents whose children are prescribed these drugs should proceed with extreme caution. Ask the doctor if there are alternatives. If you are not sure whether your child really needs one of these drugs, get a second opinion.

Realize many doctors believe antipsychotics are too powerful for children who do not have a psychotic illness like schizophrenia. Some doctors and patients have found these drugs do calm outbursts in children with conditions like ADHD, bipolar, or autism – but the use of antipsychotics for such conditions is controversial.

If your child does start taking an antipsychotic for a non-psychotic illness, watch them closely for side effects. Realize the risk of side effects will increase the longer your child takes the medicine. Make sure you know the time frame when your doctor plans to take your child off the drug. Put your child on the lowest dose possible, for the shortest time period.

Join a support group – so you can see if the treatment your child is receiving is in line with what other kids are getting. However, realize that what works for one patient does not necessarily work for another. Just because another child has a good or bad experience with a particular drug, does not mean your child will react the same way. The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, or NAMI, has good support groups.
Children on antipsychotics should also be in therapy. These drugs are not a cure. They treat symptoms and not underlying problems. If children learn to control their behavior through therapy, they can be taken off this medicine as soon as possible.

Columbia University
Emory University School of Medicine
Rutgers University