Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sue Scheff - Understanding Why Teens Runaway

Knowing the Difference: Runaway, Missing or Sneaking?

When a teen turns up "missing," parents must initially decide whether the child is missing, has run away, or simply sneaked out.

There are differences, and those differences are very important. A missing child could have been abducted by someone against his/her will and is being held, possibly threatened. A missing child can also be a child who is simply missing; the child did not return home when expected and may be lost or injured.

Runaway teens and sneaking teens are often confused, as both leave a supervised environment of their own free will. Sneaking teens leave home for a short period of time, with intent to return, most likely during the night or while a parent can be fooled. A runaway teen leaves home or a supervised environment for good, with intent to live separate from his/her parents. Runaway teens will likely have shown symptoms prior to running away.

In most cases, a teen runs away after a frustrating and heated argument with one or both parents. Often times, the runaway will stay with a friend or relative close by to cool off. In more serious cases, a teen may run away often and leave with no notion of where they are going.

Warning Signs your Teen May Become a Runaway

Attempts to communicate with your teen have only resulted in ongoing arguments, yelling, interruptions, hurtful name- calling, bruised feelings and failure to come to an agreement or compromise.

Your teen has become involved in a network of friends or peers who seem often unsupervised, rebellious, defiant, involved with drugs or alcohol or who practice other alarming social behavior.
A noticeable pattern of irrational, impulsive and emotionally abusive behavior by either parent or teen.

The Grass Looks Greener on the Other Side

Often, we hear our teens use "My friend's parents let her do it!" or, "Everything is better at my friend's house!" The parents of your teen's friends may be more lenient, choose later curfew times, allow co-ed events or give higher allowances. While you as parent know all parents work differently, it can be very difficult for your teen to understand.

Motivations of a Runaway

To avoid an emotional experience or consequence that they are expecting as a result of a parental, sibling, friend or romantic relationship/situation.

To escape a recurring or ongoing painful or difficult experience in their home, school or work life.
To keep from losing privileges to activities, relationships, friendships or any other things considered important or worthwhile.

To be with other people such as friends or relatives who are supportive, encouraging and active in ways they feel are missing from their lives.

To find companionship or activity in places that distract them from other problems they are dealing with.

To change or stop what they are doing or about to do.

As parents or guardians we strive to create positive, loving households in order to raise respectful, successful and happy adults. In order to achieve this, rules must be put in place. Teens who run away from home are often crying for attention. Some teens will attempt to run away just once, after an unusually heated argument or situation in the household, and return shortly after. More serious cases, however, happen with teens in extreme emotional turmoil.

Parents also need to be extremely aware of the symptoms, warning signs and dangers of teenage depression. Far too many teens are suffering from this disease and going untreated. Often, runaways feel they have no other choice but to leave their home, and this is in many cases related to their feelings of sadness, anger and frustration due to depression.

Teenage Depression

There are many causes of depression, and every child, regardless of social status, race, age or gender is at risk. Be aware and be understanding. To an adult juggling family and career, it may seem that a young teenager has nothing to be "depressed" about! Work for a mutual communication between the two of you. The more your teenager can confide his/her daily problems and concerns, the more you can have a positive and helpful interaction before the problems overwhelm them.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sue Scheff: Gangs Now One-Fifth Female by Connect with Kids

Gangs Now One-Fifth Female
By Robert Seith
CWK Senior Producer

“He wanted me to sell drugs. I’m like, ‘no I can’t do it, you know, I want to be a doctor when I grow up, and I don’t want to get in any trouble.’” ChanTrell, Age 16.

In the small park, there are swing sets, a small stream, and dozens of families with small children playing. It is the park where Roger Raney’s 18-year-old daughter allegedly took part in a gang murder.

He still wonders why. “I’ve wracked my brain trying to figure out why but I have no clue, honestly,” Raney says.

But there were clues. When his daughter was 13, he noticed gang-related graffiti and tattoos. “In her room, papers, notebook, just all over really.”

But he thought it was just posing, just a joke. Now Roger and thousands of other parents realize it’s no joke at all. The idea of girls being gang members is no longer far-fetched.

According to the US Department of Justice, between 9 and 22-percent of the nearly 1-million active gang members in the United States are female. And new recruits are being sought every day.

Sixteen-year-old ChanTrell was approached. “He wanted me to sell drugs. I’m like, ‘no I can’t do it. I want to be a doctor when I grow up, and I don’t want to get in any trouble.’”

“It’s not just what most people would consider the poor sections or less affluent sections. They’re everywhere,” says psychologist and gang expert Dr. Stephen Mathis.

Experts say girls join gangs for the same reason boys often do. “It’s all about acceptance,” says youth counselor Irving Carswell, “You know, ‘I want to be a part of’… and we have to take alternative measures…as parents and say ‘you don’t have to be a part of that.’”

And if your child is lonely, just moved to a new school, or a new town, explain how gangs really work.

“A kid often trades loneliness and isolation or whatever the kid’s feeling inside for an initial attraction for unconditional acceptance when in fact the conditions are very, very conditional,” says Mathis.

Conditions like selling drugs, even committing murder.

“Parents and teens need to somehow keep a bond,” Roger Raney says, “and not have a distance come between them, because it’s hard to repair it once it goes away.”

Girls in Gangs
By Sally Atwood
CWK Network

Men and boys have long been the focus of research on gangs and delinquent behavior. However, girls are becoming increasingly involved in gangs. A 1998 survey of gangs conducted by the U.S. National Institute of Justice shows the extent of gang involvement by girls. The study found that 10% to 12% of gang members in small cities and rural settings are girls. The Chicago Crime Commission (CCC) estimates there are between 16,000 and 20,000 female gang members in Chicago alone. In addition, the CCC points out that the role of girls in gangs is changing. They are no longer accessories, but participants in violent acts.

Why are girls drawn to gangs? A report by the Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention says that girls seem to be attracted to gangs out of a desire for safety or power, and a sense of belonging.

Studies show that girls in gangs share many adverse socio-economic factors such as:

A history of sexual abuse

Domestic violence

Family dysfunction


Academic failure

Signs of Gang Involvement
According to the Southwest Missouri Interagency Task Force on Gangs and Youth Violence, possible signs of gang involvement include:

Skipping school

Violent acts

Disregard for persons or property

Dress changes

Unexplained extra money or expensive purchases

What Parents Can Do
To help prevent your child from becoming a gang member, the SMI Task Force offers these suggestions:

Arrange for adult supervision of teen’s and children’s activities

Help the teen or child become involved in athletics or other group activities

Set reasonable rules and consistently enforce them

Hold family meetings and keep the lines of communication open

Educate the child about the dangers of gang involvement

Provide a strong religious background

Be aware of changes in your child’s life

Practice mutual respect with your child

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Invincibility Theory Among Teens

“I just like to see how far I can go and what I can do and what I can accomplish out[side] of the everyday norm.”

– Allan, 17

It has been said a thousand times: the biggest reason kids drink and drive, take drugs and do all kinds of crazy, dangerous stunts is that they think they’re immortal, invincible and bullet-proof. But is this what teenagers really think?

“It’s a sense of freedom, I guess,” says Allan, 17.

Allan is a self-proclaimed risk-taker.

“I just like to see how far I can go and what I can do and what I can accomplish out[side] of the everyday norm,” says Allan.

Risky behaviors can include rock-climbing, skydiving, street racing and even unprotected sex. It’s often said that teenagers feel invincible – but do they really feel this way? Researchers at UC San Francisco say no. In fact, they found that teenagers actually overestimate the danger of certain activities. And, while they know there are risks, they think the benefits and the fun are worth it.

“[Teenagers] are -- compared to an adult -- relatively uninformed. And if they are a novice and inexperienced with alcohol, drugs or sex, or any of those things -- as everyone is in the beginning -- they don’t know what to expect. Very often they don’t fully understand the complete nature of the risks they’re taking,” says Jeffrey Rothweiler, Ph.D., clinical psychologist.

“It might be that because the frontal lobes are not yet fully developed during adolescence that they’re more likely to make decisions, that they don’t fully think through the consequences of their actions,” says Elizabeth Sowell, Ph.D., neuroscientist. The prefrontal cortex matures the most between the ages of 12 and 20.

Allan knows there is a potential for injury with some of the risky actions he takes.

“I guess death is a factor, or getting paralyzed or … hitting the ground while you’re climbing. But you just try not to think about it, keep a positive attitude,” says Allan.

But in his mind, the benefits are worth it.

“Just being able to look back and see that you’ve done something. That you’ve accomplished ... a rapid or a rock or a trail or something like that,” says Allan.

Tips for Parents

Research shows that certain approaches to parenting can help prevent teens from engaging in all types of risky behaviors, from drug and alcohol use to dangerous driving to sexual activity. This includes having a warm, loving and close relationship with your teen; setting and consistently enforcing clear rules and consequences; closely monitoring your teen's activities and whereabouts; respecting your teen; and setting a good example, especially when it comes to illicit drug and alcohol use. (Office of National Drug Control Policy)

Encourage safe driving, healthy eating and good school performance; discourage drug use, teen sex and activities that may result in injury. (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, HHS)
Teach healthy habits. Teach your teenager how to maintain a high level of overall health through nutrition, physical fitness and healthy behaviors. Make sure your teen gets eight hours of sleep a night -- a good night’s sleep helps ensure maximum performance in academics and sports. Sleep is the body’s way of storing new information to memory and allowing muscles to heal. (HHS)

Promote safe driving habits. Make sure your teenager uses a seat belt every time he or she is in a car, and ask your child to ensure that all other passengers are wearing their seatbelts when he or she is driving. Encourage your young driver to drive responsibly by following speed limits and avoiding distractions while driving such as talking on a cell phone, focusing on the radio or even looking at fellow passengers instead of the road. (HHS)

Promotion of school success. Help your teen to become responsible for attendance, homework and course selection. Be sure to have conversations with your child about school and show your interest in his or her school activities. (HHS)

Prevent violence. Prevent bullying by encouraging peaceful resolutions and building positive relationships. Teach teens to respect others and encourage tolerance. Teach your teens that there is no place for verbal or physical violence by setting an example with your words and actions and by showing them respect as well. (HHS)

Know the 4“W’s”—who, what, when, where. Always know who your teen is hanging out with, what they will be doing, when and for how long they will be out, and where they will be. And check up on your child. Be aware of the dangers that can arise at teenage parties. Teen parties present an opportunity for your teen to experiment with alcohol or tobacco. One approach is to host the party so you have more control over ensuring that these parties stay safe and fun for everyone involved. (HHS)


Office of National Drug Control Policy
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Sue Scheff: Teens and Theft - Why it Happens

Teens and Theft: Why it Happens

Too Young to Start

There are almost as many reasons teens steal as there are things for teens to steal. One of the biggest reasons teens steal is peer pressure. Often, teens will steal items as a means of proving’ that they are “cool enough” to hang out with a certain group. This is especially dangerous because if your teen can be convinced to break the law for petty theft, there is a strong possibility he or she can be convinced to try other, more dangerous behaviors, like drinking or drugs. It is because of this that it is imperative you correct this behavior before it escalates to something beyond your control.

Another common reason teens steal is because they want an item their peers have but they cannot afford to purchase. Teens are very peer influenced, and may feel that if they don’t have the ‘it’ sneakers or mp3 player, they’ll be considered less cool than the kids who do. If your teen cannot afford these items, they may be so desperate to fit in that they simply steal the item. They may also steal money from you or a sibling to buy such an item. If you notice your teen has new electronics or accessories that you know you did not buy them, and your teen does not have a job or source of money, you may want to address whereabouts they came up with these items.

Teens may also steal simply for a thrill. Teens who steal for the ‘rush’ or the adrenaline boost are often simply bored and/ or testing the limits of authority. They may not even need or want the item they’re stealing! In cases like these, teens can act alone or as part of a group. Often, friends accompanying teens who shoplift will act as a ‘lookout’ for their friend who is committing the theft. Unfortunately, even if the lookout doesn’t actually steal anything, the can be prosecuted right along with the actual teen committing the crime, so its important that you make sure your teen is not aiding his or her friends who are shoplifting.

Yet another reason teens steal is for attention. If your teen feels neglected at home, or is jealous of the attention a sibling is getting, he or she may steal in the hopes that he or she is caught and the focus of your attention is diverted to them. If you suspect your teen is stealing or acting out to gain your attention, it is important that you address the problem before it garners more than just your attention, and becomes part of their criminal record. Though unconventional, this is your teen’s way of asking for your help- don’t let them down!
For more information on Teen Stealing.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Sue Scheff: Smoking Pot and Lung Damage

By Connect with Kids

“This latest study shows that you have destruction of lung tissue, reduction of lung vital capacity and a decreased ability to exhale if you smoke marijuana. 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

According to the latest Monitoring the Future report, more than 40 percent of 12-graders have experimented with marijuana. In fact, it is the most commonly-abused illegal drug. While parents, teachers and physicians have been warning kids about pot for years, new information shows it’s even more dangerous than we thought.

Andrew was 14 years old when he first tried pot.

“I didn’t even inhale it all the way, I just took it into my mouth, but I loved the taste. I knew that I liked it,” says Andrew Wolpa, 18.

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 latest study shows that you have destruction of lung tissue, reduction of lung vital capacity and a decreased ability to exhale if you smoke marijuana. 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 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 1-in-6 chance of surviving it for five years or longer,” says Khuri.

Khuri says that 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 and emphysema, with what some individuals would consider even 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.

Tips for Parents

From the Nemours Foundation:

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.
Marijuana is just as damaging to your lungs as cigarettes – and some reports show that it is even worse. Steady users suffer coughs, wheezing, frequent colds, and respiratory infections, such as bronchitis.

There are more than 400 known chemicals in marijuana. A single joint contains four times as much cancer-causing tar as a filtered cigarette. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

Nemours Foundation
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sue Scheff: Lying, Cheating, Stealing by Connect with Kids

When Nobody's Looking

In When Nobody's Looking, the latest research shows that cheating is at an all time high. Seven out of 10 students admit to cheating in school and sports - and more than half of them believe it is acceptable. Nine of out 10 students say they lie to their parents, and nearly 50 percent of shoplifters are adolescents.

How can you help children become more ethical, truthful and responsible? Watch When Nobody's Looking, and listen to the true stories in the program. It’s a perfect way to begin a conversation about your own values and expectations... to understand your children’s fears, the pressure they feel, their worries about college, scholarships, homework. You’ll also get the latest advice from interviews with child experts and educators, and important information from the free Program Viewing Guide.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff): Coping with Bullies

Invisible Weapon - by Connect with Kids

Adults may think children bullies are just a part of growing up, but what if it was your kids saying things like this about bullying at school:

"I had nowhere to go, no one to tell. I thought I was fat and stupid and no one wanted be around me.” - Sarah

“They called me four-eyes, homo…until I started to believe it.” - Alex

“I was scared all the time to go to school.” - Jay

Invisible Weapons is a moving half-hour video that’s ideal for parents and children to watch and learn together. Painful, true stories show how kids are taunted and teased by children bullies, harassed and excluded, and how bullying at school made them victims of nasty rumors and gossip.

It’s More Than Just Bullying at School

Bullies and “mean girls” leave wounds that often go deeper than broken bones and bloody noses. You’ll hear from victims as they tell how bullying at school affected their grades, their self-confidence and their relationships.

Listen as children bullies themselves share their stories and regrets. “Maybe I thought making fun of Sarah was cool,” says Ashley, “or that it would make me have more friends.”

There are ways to stop this kind of emotional pain. Hear what experts have to say by ordering Invisible Weapons to learn what you can do about children bullies.