Saturday, May 31, 2008

Sue Scheff: The Alliance for Consumer Education

The Alliance for Consumer Education is eight years old today! Founded in 2000, ACE has achieved many goals and provided information on inhalant abuse to countless parents and educators. Have you checked out, or our Message Board? You can read the questions that others have or post one yourself.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sue Scheff: What is your teen doing this summer?

By Aurelia -

School’s Out for Summer: Do You Know Where Your Teen Will Be?

These are questions most parents face during the summertime. Perhaps both you and your husband work full time, or work at home. Whatever the case may be, your teen has a great deal of free time, which can either be utilized to increase their emotional and educational growth, or to engage in activities which may be the catalyst for potential trouble.

Let’s face it, for some teens the first day of summer is looked upon as a license to run wild with no cares in the world except their own. While every teen needs a few weeks to unwind, if there has been no advanced planning on what your teen can be doing during summertime, the door is open for them to waste time watching TV or playing video games or hooking up with friends and just hanging out at the beach. This is a great concern for parents who want their teens to increase their physical activity and mental prowess during the summer months in a safe environment.

What can parents do to ensure they are not only aware of where their teen will be, but what they will be doing?

If you are concerned about your teen this summer, it’s time to have a serious conversation wherein you set up a series of rules. Here are some tips which may help in this regard:

• Establish a curfew for your teen, both day and night.

• If you are a working parent, ask your teen what he or she will be doing during the day. Inform your teen that permission is required before they venture out.

• Remain in constant touch with your teen via a cell phone.

• Invited your teen’s friends over for a Saturday barbeque. This will allow you to get to know who your teen hangs out with.

• Set up a routine of chores your teen can help with at home, and for which he or she can earn extra money.

• Plan family outings to museums or places of interest on the weekends.

• Take your teen to the library and choose a number of books to read over the summer. Since this is a requirement of most public schools, encouraging your teen to expand his or knowledge will help them advance in school as well.

• Limit the amount of TV and computer time. Use parental controls, which are part of all Internet service providers.

• If you are a working parent, plan a week’s vacation for the entire family. You can either choose a destination that has a great deal of history, or a place in which the family can spend quality time together and reestablish the family unit.

Summertime for teens can either be a safe, fun-filled experience, or it can be a time where worry is your constant enemy. Open communication with your teen is not only important, but is paramount in continuing parental control over your teen in every facet of their growth. While your teen may not like it now, they will thank you later.

Visit parenting my teen to plan For the Perfect Teen Summer and gain more ideas on keeping your teen out of trouble, motivated and learning during the summer.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sue Scheff: Preventing Addiction by John C. Fleming MD

Drug and Alcohol Prevention Research

A generation ago, with the idea to prevent drug addition for future generations, former first lady Nancy Reagan launched her famous anti-drug campaign with the slogan, "just say no to drugs." Sadly, addiction and drugs still plague our children despite the best efforts of educators and parents. The benefits of drug prevention are real but our approach to prevention has not been successful.

Now, drug and alcohol prevention research is available from Dr. John Fleming in the book Preventing Addiction. In this first-of-its-kind book, Dr. Fleming introduces real ideas to prevent drug use and alcohol consumption in our children based on medical science and on Dr. Fleming's personal experience as a parent of four grown children. He helps to fully explain the phenomenon of addiction and shows parents the best new ways to raise and train children to avoid drug and alcohol addiction.

Read more about preventing addiction and order this book at

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sue Scheff: Kids Health Educational Partner

KidsHealth offers a comprehensive website of articles, helpful tips for parenting, sound advice for teens and kids. Visit to learn more.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sue Scheff: Inhalant Abuse- Warning Signs

Inhalant Abuse is a lesser-known form of substance abuse, but is no less dangerous than other forms.The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service has reported that more than 2.1 million children in America experiment with some form of an inhalant each year and the Centers for Disease Control lists inhalants as second only to marijuana for illicit drug use among youth.

However, parents aren't talking to their children about this deadly issue. According to the Alliance for Consumer Education's research study, Inhalant Abuse falls behind alcohol, tobacco and marijuana use by nearly 50% in terms of parental knowledge and concern. The Partnership for a Drug-Free America reports that 18 percent of all eighth graders have used inhalants, but nine out of 10 parents are unaware or deny that their children have abused inhalants. Many parents are not aware that inhalant users can die the first time they try Inhalants.

Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome is caused in one of two ways. First, Inhalants force the heart to beat rapidly and erratically until the user goes into cardiac arrest. Second, the fumes from an Inhalant enter a user's lungs and central nervous system. By lowering oxygen levels enough, the user is unable to breathe and suffocates. Regular abuse of these substances can result in serious harm to vital organs including the brain, heart, kidneys and liver.

Even if the user doesn't die, Inhalants can still affect the body. Most Inhalants produce a rapid high that resembles alcohol intoxication with initial excitement, then drowsiness, disinhibition, lightheadedness and agitation. Short-term effects include headache, muscle weakness, abdominal pain, severe mood swings and violent behavior, slurred speech, numbness and tingling of the hands and feet, nausea, hearing loss, limb spasms, fatigue, and lack of coordination. Long- term effects include central nervous system or brain damage. Serious effects include damage to the liver, heart, kidneys, blood oxygen level depletion, unconsciousness and death.

Studies show that strong parental involvement in a child's life makes the child less likely to use Inhalants. Know the warning signs or behavior patterns to watch for and take the time to educate yourself about the issue so that you can talk to your children about inhalants.

Click here for entire article and warning signs

Friday, May 23, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Understanding Teen Decision Making

What was he thinking? How could she? If you find yourself wondering what your teen was thinking, the answer may be not much. Kids often make snap judgments based on impulse, especially when situations come up quickly, leaving teens with little time to sort through the pros and cons.

Some of those hasty decisions may involve cheating in school; skipping class; using alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs; going somewhere or being with someone that you do not approve of; or driving too fast. But the consequences can include losing your trust, letting down friends, getting into trouble, hurting education and job prospects, causing illness or injury, or leading to other reckless behavior.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) How to Talk to your kids about sex, drugs and alcohol


These are subjects you’ll want to talk about with your children before there is a problem. As a family, you can establish boundaries and consequences and come to a common understanding of what is acceptable.Sex: According to Advocates for Youth, statistics indicate that children who talk to their parents about sex are less likely to engage in high-risk behavior, such as having sex without condoms.

70.6% of teens who reported they didn’t feel comfortable talking to their parents had sex by age 17-19. That compares to 57.9% of teens who reported a close relationship.

It’s true. Not talking to your children about sex isn’t that likely to keep them from doing it. But the opposite is also true. Talking to them about it, isn’t more likely to have them engaging in sexual activity. If it means having sexually active children behaving maturely, talking things out can only help keep our kids safer.

If you think your child is already having sex, chat with them about it. Don’t get angry, but approach it in a calm and reasonable manner. Talk to them about your experiences and be honest. If your child has a boyfriend/girlfriend and things seem to be getting serious, start the conversation if you haven’t already. Above all, make sure they are being safe.

Drugs & Alcohol: Many professionals agree that when parents talk to their kids about drugs and alcohol, those discussions are very likely to shape the child’s attitude about those subjects.

Before you talk to your kids - educate yourself. Check with your local school, library or even look online for the straight facts about drugs and alcohol. Simply telling your kids, “Drugs and alcohol are dangerous,” isn’t going to be as efficient as truly illustrating the very real dangers of substance abuse. Try not to lecture, listen to what your kids have to say and really talk about the issues.

As always, keep it casual. If you spend time with your teenagers and keep the lines of communication open, bringing up the subject is much easier.

Signs of Drug & Alcohol Use: Look out for these tell-tale signs that your child might be using drugs or alcohol:

• Loss of interest in family and other usual activities.
• Not living up to responsibilities.
• Verbally or physical abusiveness.
• Coming home late.
• Increased dishonesty.
• Declining grades.
• Severe mood swings.
• Big change in sleeping patterns..

Understand that a lot of the above signs, especially near the top of the list, could mean a multitude things. Teenagers who are depressed can act in similar ways. When approaching your child, don’t be accusatory. Try to connect with them and see what’s really happening in their lives.

Additional Resources:

Teen Addiction

This anthology presents an examination of the causes of teen addiction and various proposals to reduce or solve the problem, as well as the personal narratives of teens struggling to overcome their addictions.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sue Scheff: Deliberate Misuse of Inhaler found in 1/4 of Teens

We've had a few questions on the message board in the past months about teens potentially using their asthma medication to get high. One poster's friend had a daughter whose inhaler recently needed to be refilled every week when it normally was only refilled every two or three months. Another's stepson was misusing his asthma medication and "has been eating this pills as if they are M&Ms!"

The University of Michigan News Service featured an article about a new study looking at the prevalence of inhaler abuse in teenagers. The study in question was performed by researchers at the U of M using 723 adolescents in thirty-two treatment facilities. The study reports that "nearly one out of four teens who use an asthma inhaler say their intent is to get high".The lead author of the study, Brian Perron, declared that their findings "indicate that inhaler misuse for the purposes of becoming intoxicated is both widespread and may justifiably be regarded as a form of substance abuse in many cases."

The study also found that teens that abuse inhalers are more likely to abuse other drugs as well as have higher levels of distress. They were also more "prone to suicidal thoughts and attempts than youths who did not misuse their inhalers to get high."From a survey of the study participants, "about 27 percent of youths who had been prescribed an inhaler used it excessively. In addition, one-third of all youths in the sample had used an asthma inhaler without a prescription."

So why would teens abuse their inhalers? What are the effects? The inhaler abusers said that they experienced positive feelings of euphoria, relaxation, and an increase in confidence.The negative effects were "feeling more dizzy, headaches, rapid heartbeat, anxiety, irritability, and confusion."The most common misusers of their asthma inhalers were females and Caucasians.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts - Sue Scheff- Troubled Teens

Are you struggling with your teen?

Visit P.U.R.E. - Parents Universal Resource Experts - Parents helping parents.

P.U.R.E. is based on reality - especially with today's teen society of technology including MySpace and other Internet concerns for children. Today we are educating children at much younger ages about substance abuse, sex, and more.

The latest wave of music and lyrics, television, and movies help to contribute to generate a new spin on this age group.

This leads to new areas of concern for parents. We recognize that each family is different with a variety of needs. P.U.R.E. believes in creating Parent Awareness to help you become an educated parent in the teen help industry.

We will give you a feeling of comfort in a situation that can be confusing, stressful, frustrating, and sometimes desperate.Desperate? Confused? Stressed? Anxious? Helplessness? Frustrated? Scared? Exhausted? Fearful? Alone? Drained? Hopelessness? Out of Control? At Wit's End?...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts - Sue Scheff - Teen Drug, Salvia

“They feel very out of control; it’s very scary. They will literally have blackouts, and what we are seeing is a lot of people having accidents because they lose their coordination. They aren’t able to think clearly, so we are seeing people fall, stumble, hurt themselves, and have driving accidents.”

– Heather Hayes, LPC, drug counselor

Today, more teenagers are smoking a powerful hallucinogenic herb that is native to Mexico. It is a potent drug, the effects are almost instantaneous, and because it is legal in most states, it has caught the attention of lawmakers around the country.

Henri and Thomas say they have a friend who’s tried it. It’s called Salvia.

“He smoked it, and then went to scratch his head … and can’t remember anything after that,” says Henri Hollis, 18.

Add Thomas Steed, 18, “His friend said he was just going like this [flailing his arms] for like 20 minutes straight.”

In most states, salvia is legal. However, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has salvia on its list of “Drugs and Chemicals of Concern.” On the streets and in head shops, salvia is also referred to as “magic mint,” “sally-d” and “diviner’s sage.”

“My friend just brought some over one day, and I was like, ‘Alright!’ says Nick Nehf, 18. “I mean, I’d never heard of it before, but he said he had bought it down the street at the head shop and I was like, ‘Alright, whatever.’”

“Salvia divinorum is a perennial herb that grows wild in Mexico. It’s a hallucinogenic. It’s what back in the 60s we used to call a psychedelic,” says Heather Hayes, licensed professional counselor (LPC) and drug counselor.

Experts say that salvia affects the brain nearly 10 times faster than cocaine, and targets the parts of the brain responsible for motor function.

“They feel very out of control; it’s very scary. They will literally have blackouts, and what we are seeing is a lot of people having accidents because they lose their coordination. They aren’t able to think clearly, so we are seeing people fall, stumble, hurt themselves, and have driving accidents,” says Hayes.

Many states are now considering legislation to ban salvia.

In the meantime, experts say, explain to your kids that just because something is temporarily legal doesn’t mean it is safe.

“Initially, when the drug Ecstasy was developed it was not illegal, but shortly after it was,” says Hayes. “And now we know that Ecstasy is extremely damaging to the brain -- we have people who die after one use. So that would be the analogy I’d give.”

“Anybody who I’ve talked to who has done it says they are never going to try it again because it was too much for them,” says Steed.

Tips for Parents

Partnership for a Drug-Free America and the Media Awareness Program offer these tips to help keep kids from using drugs:

It sounds simple, but one of the best ways to keep your kids drug-free is to show them you care. Simple gestures like an unexpected hug or saying ‘I love you" everyday can help kids gain the confidence to say no to drugs.

Look for teachable moments. Talk about a recent drug or alcohol-related incident in your family or community.

Explain the principles of "why" and not just "what" to do or not do.

Teach real-world coping skills: drug prevention can start by building a teen's confidence for a job interview or teaching a child how to rebuff a schoolmate who wants to copy homework.

Parents remain one of the strongest moral influences on kids, and they need to send a clear anti-drug message. Studies show that parental ambivalence increases a child's risk for drug use.

Focus on one drug at a time: there's strong evidence that media attention to harmful effects of specific drugs has made a difference.

For instance, a 1995 ad campaign about abuse of inhalants, such as paint thinners and glues, precipitated a drastic drop in use.

In 1986, cocaine use fell after extensive news reports on the death of Len Bias, a college-basketball star who died after using cocaine.

(Currently, Heath Ledger’s death has prompted drug rehabilitation for other celebrities as well as the general population.)

These examples illustrate the life cycle of a drug. Word of a drug's “benefits” spreads rapidly, but there is a lag time before kids learn about the dangers. Once the risks become apparent, occasional users drop the drug and potential new users don't try it. Parents and educators can make a difference if they pay attention to the life cycle of a newly popular drug and work to quickly spread the word about harmful effects.

Don't lecture: the use of lecturing is often cited as the single biggest flaw in the best-known and most popular anti-drug programs. Get kids more involved in the lesson, such as asking them to discuss how they'd react at a party where kids were drinking.

Repeat the message: the most successful anti-drug classes are those that are presented over the course of a child's school career.

Partnership for a Drug-Free America
Media Awareness Program

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts - Sue Scheff - Teen Runaways

A Growing Problem for Today's FamiliesOne of any parent's greatest fears is a missing child.

Each year, one million troubled teens from every social class, race and religion run away from home. Unfortunately, for American families, that number continues to rise.

Confused, pressured and highly impressionable teens follow their peers into bad choices. In most cases, runaway teenagers want to escape the rules and regulations of their family and household. Disagreements with parents leave them unhappy and frustrated to the point of rebellion. Naiveté leads them to believe they could survive outside the nest; and dreams of a life without parental guidance, rules and punishment seem ideal.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts - Sue Scheff - Alliance for Consumer Education - Inhalant Abuse Prevention

Welcome to the Alliance for Consumer Education's (ACE) inhalant abuse prevention site! ACE is a foundation dedicated to advancing community health and well-being.

Did you know 1 in 5 children will abuse inhalants by the 8th grade? Inhalant abuse refers to the deliberate inhalation or sniffing of fumes, vapors or gases from common household products for the purpose of "getting high".

This site is designed to assist you in learning more about inhalant abuse prevention and giving you tools to help raise the awareness of others. While here be sure to check out our free printable resources, post any comments or questions on ACE’s community message board, and visit our new blog by visiting

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sue Scheff - Parents Universal Resource Experts - P.U.R.E. - At Risk Teens

P.U.R.E. is based on reality - especially with today's teen society of technology including MySpace and other Internet concerns for children. Today we are educating children at much younger ages about substance abuse, sex, and more. The latest wave of music and lyrics, television, and movies help to contribute to generate a new spin on this age group. This leads to new areas of concern for parents.

We recognize that each family is different with a variety of needs. P.U.R.E. believes in creating Parent Awareness to help you become an educated parent in the teen help industry. We will give you a feeling of comfort in a situation that can be confusing, stressful, frustrating, and sometimes desperate.

Desperate? Confused? Stressed? Anxious? Helplessness? Frustrated? Scared? Exhausted? Fearful? Alone? Drained? Hopelessness? Out of Control? At Wit's End?...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Sue Scheff: Bystanders Learning How to Stand Up to Bullying

Research says almost one-third of today’s teens are either bullies or victims of bullying. Bullies typically attack kids who are different in some way, kids who may be overweight …or smart …or poor … or talented…or don’t wear the ‘right’ clothes. But those who witness bullying are afraid too – 88 percent of teens say or do nothing – afraid they will become victims if they try to stop it.

How can we modify the behavior of this silent majority – those who witness bullying in school hallways, the lunchroom, locker rooms, playgrounds, school buses and neighborhoods? In Silent Witness, experts say that together these silent witnesses have the power to be the “tipping point” and can change the climate of bullying in American schools. They may be the most powerful weapon of all.

Watch Silent Witness to help start a conversation about how to stand up -- for yourself, your children, your students and others. Appropriate for the classroom and at home.

Learn about the power bystanders have to stop bullying, the difference between tattling and reporting, and how “telling” not only protects victims, but also could protect a witness from becoming a victim.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Sue Scheff: Does Your Child Steal?

If you discover that your teen is stealing, it is important to confront them before taking any further action. If you *suspect* your teen is stealing (e.g., you have no witnesses or tangible proof), it is important that you approach the situation calmly and rationally- and do not accuse your teen of anything. Allow your teen to explain their side of things before you react. If they confess to stealing, it is important that you are clear in the position that you will not tolerate this type of behavior. Experts suggest a great way to dissuade your teen from stealing again is to escort your teen back to the store with the stolen merchandise and have them apologize and explain themselves to store security or management.

If your teen has already been caught in the act by store personnel, his or her options may not be that great. Each store determines its own rules about how to handle shoplifters. Some teens may be let off with a warning, while others may be banned from the store, and some may even be formally charged and prosecuted in compliance with local laws. If your teen is arrested and prosecuted, the value of the merchandise they have stolen will greatly determine the amount of trouble your teen may find themselves in. If the merchandise or money your teen has stolen is worth less than $400, this is considered petty theft. Petty theft is punishable by fine and up to six months in prison. If the value is over $400, your teen can be sentenced to up to a year in prison, and can be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. The danger in your teen being charged with a felony is that this will stay on your teens permanent record, unless your teen is deemed by the court to be a minor and his or her record is sealed when your teen turns 18.

A felony on your teen’s permanent record can haunt your teen for the rest of his or her life. It can prevent your teen from college acceptance, future jobs, scholarships, apartments and can even play a role in future custody battles or adoption cases.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Sue Scheff - Teen Gangs and Cults

Teen Gang and Gang Violence has taken on a new light in today's age.

Gangs prey on the weak child that yearns to fit in with a false illusion they are accepted into the “cool crowd”. With most Gangs as with Teen Cults, they can convince your child that joining "their Gang or Cult" will make them a "well-liked and popular" teen as well as one that others may fear. This gives the teen a false sense of superiority. Remember, many of today’s teens that are acting out negatively are suffering with extremely low self confidence. This feeling of power that they believe a gang or cult has can boost their esteem; however they are blinded to the fact that is dangerous. This is how desperate some teens are to fit in.

In reality, it is a downward spiral that can result in damage both emotionally and psychically. We have found Teen Gangs and Teen Cults are sometimes hard to detect. They disguise themselves to impress the most intelligent of parents. We have witnessed Gang members who will present themselves as the "good kid from the good family" and you would not suspect their true colors.

If you suspect your child is involved in any Gang Activities or any Cults, please seek local therapy* and encourage your child to communicate. This is when the lines of communication need to be wide open. Sometimes this is so hard, and that is when an objective person is always beneficial. Teen Gangs and Teen Cults are to be taken very seriously. A child that is involved in a gang can affect the entire family and their safety. Take this very seriously if you suspect your child is participating in gang activity or cult association.

More information on Teen Gangs

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Home Drug Tests for Teens

Parents are the #1 Reason Kids Don’t Do Drugs….

Test with HairConfirm Drug Test for a 90 Day Drug History Report!

Click on the link above if you are a parent that suspects your child is using drugs. Knowing early could prevent drug addiction.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Sue Scheff: Preventing Teen Drug Addiction

Why do they start? What Should I Look For?

A major factor in drug use is peer pressure. Even teens who think they're above the influence of peer pressure can often find it hard to refuse trying drugs when they believe their popularity is at stake. Teens may feel that taking drugs or alcohol to fit in is safer than becoming a perceived social exile, and may not realize that their friends will not abandon them simply for refusing a joint or bottle of beer. A popular adage that is thrown around regarding peer pressure says if your friends would abandon you for not accepting an illegal substance, they're not "real" friends- but try telling this to a teenager. A more effective method is to acknowledge the pressure to fit in and work with your teen to find solutions to these problems before they arise. Suggest that your teen offer to be the designated driver at parties, and work with them to develop a strategy for other situations.

Even agreeing to back your teen up on a carefully crafted story can help enforce your bond with them- giving them the okay to tell their friends to blame you or that you give them random drug tests will go a long way. Knowing they have your support in such a sensitive subject can alleviate many of their fears, and knowing they can trust you helps instill the idea they can come to you with other problems. This is also an excellent time to remind them to never allow friends to drive under the influence and to never get into a car with someone under the influence. Reassure your teenager that if they should give in to peer pressure and become intoxicated or high, or if they have no sober ride home though they are sober themselves that it is always okay to call you for a ride home. Some parents may want to consider getting teens a cell phone for emergency use, or giving them an emergency credit card for cab fare.

Depression is another major factor in drug use. For more in depth information on teenage depression, please visit Sue Scheff™'s Teen Depression Resource. Despite the fact that many substances actually make depression worse, teenagers may be lured in by the initial high, which in theory is only replenished by more drugs. Thus begins the vicious cycle that becomes nearly impossible to break without costly rehabilitation. If you notice your teen is acting differently, it may be time to have a talk with them to address these changes. Remember- do not accuse your teen or criticize them. Drug use is a serious cry for help, and making them feel ashamed or embarrassed can make the problem worse. Some common behavior changes you may notice if your teen is abusing drugs and alcohol are:

Violent outbursts, disrespectful behavior
Poor or dropping grades
Unexplained weight loss or gain
Skin abrasions, track marks
Missing curfew, running away, truancy
Bloodshot eyes, distinct "skunky" odor on clothing and skin
Missing jewelry money
New friends
Depression, apathy, withdrawal
Reckless behavior

Friday, May 2, 2008

Sue Scheff - Struggling Teens, Troubled Teens, At Risk Teens

Parent's Universal Resource Experts has found that children that have ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder) are very confrontational and need to have life their own way. A child does not have to be diagnosed ODD to be defiant. It is a trait that some teens experience through their puberty years.

Defiant teens, disrespectful teens, angry teens and rebellious teens can affect the entire family.An effective way to work with defiant teens is through anger and stress management classes. If you have a local therapist*, ask them if they offer these classes. Most will have them along with support groups and other beneficial classes.

In today's teens we are seeing that defiant teens have taken it to a new level. Especially if your child is also ADD/ADHD, the ODD combination can literally pull a family apart.You will find yourself wondering what you ever did to deserve the way your child is treating you. It is very sad, yet very real.
Please know that many families are experiencing this feeling of destruction within their home. Many wonder "why" and unfortunately each child is different with a variety of issues they are dealing with. Once a child is placed into proper treatment, the healing process can begin.

If you feel your teen is in need of further Boarding School, Military School or Program Options, please complete our Information Request Form.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Acting White

“If you dress too proper, with your shirt tucked in and stuff, they’ll probably say you act too white.”

– student Diijon Dacosta, 20

For many American teenagers, one of the ways to be unpopular in high school is to be an “A” student. In fact, in some schools, doing your homework every day, studying hard and getting good grades has a controversial label. Some call it, “acting white.”
Lindsay, 15, knows the pressure to be cool. “If you’re really smart, they might think of you as a nerd or something,” she says.
Will they say you’re a nerd, a dork, a bookworm …or acting white?
“If you dress too proper, with your shirt tucked in and stuff, they’ll probably say you act too white,” says 20-year-old Diijon Dacosta.
Researchers at Vanderbilt University surveyed 166 middle and high school students from both the inner city and the suburbs. The students said that “acting white” often meant “getting good grades, joining clubs, being a leader.”

Students also talked about “acting black.”

“That would include … not studying, not doing homework, not joining various honor societies or other school projects. I think it is all part of that identity,” says Don Rice, Ph.D., psychologist.

He says that one problem is the culture doesn’t celebrate African Americans who are well educated or well spoken.

“Very seldom does one think of a black kid as being smart or geeky in that sense, and they’re not getting the messages through television, they’re not getting the messages through movies,” says Rice.

Rice adds that the media help set expectations in a child’s mind, and low expectations can lead to low performance.

"They don't really see the opportunities, they don't see how sitting down and learning algebra can lead to something that would be a better life,” explains Rice.

"It's easier to just say forget about it and forget your school work than it is to actually go through with the whole process and do good in school,” says Omyrie, 16.

Still, experts say that inside all children, there is a desire to learn and achieve.

"It’s a matter of finding what it is these kids want out of life and to show them how to get it,” says Rice.

Tips for Parents

“Children can't achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets, and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is ‘acting white.’" (Sen. Barack Obama)
“Education starts at home. Teach your children the benefits of a good education -- have them visit college campuses, talk to professionals in your neighborhood, and get involved in clubs and activities at school.” (Don Rice, Ph.D., professor of psychology)
“It’s not measures of popularity or social success that predict achievement in college or the business world, but academic achievement itself that is the best predictor.” (Marla Shapiro, licensed psychologist)

“Part of the achievement gap, particularly for gifted black students, is due to the poor image these students have of themselves as learners,” says Donna Ford, professor of special education and Betts Chair of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, and author of the study on “acting white and acting black.” “Our research shows that prevention and intervention programs that focus on improving students’ achievement ethic and self-image are essential to closing the achievement gap.”

Fryer and Torelli, National Bureau of Economic Research: An Empirical Analysis of “Acting White’”
The Century Foundation: Equality and Education
Vanderbilt University’s News Network