Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teen Cutting - Self Injury

If you discover that your teen is cutting, there are several important keys to remember. First and foremost, approach your teen with a level head. Address your teen calmly and supportively. Do not react angrily or upset your teen in any way. Experts warn that overreacting or reacting loudly or angrily can often push your teen further away and increase the cutting or self injuring behaviors. Your teen needs to know you are open to hearing what she has to say and getting her the help she needs. You should also tell your teen that you are not upset with her, love her, and know she is in a lot of pain.

Counseling for a teen that cuts is crucial. It can often take many years of therapy before your teen is willing or able to uncover the reasons she cuts herself. Schools, pediatricians and emergency rooms can be extremely helpful at providing resources for teens that cut. Often there are local support groups for parents who feel guilty or unsure of how to deal with a teen that cuts. A great resource specifically for self injurers and their families is S.A.F.E (Self Abuse Finally Ends) Alternatives, an organization dedicated treating victims of self abuse.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Sue Scheff: Defiant Teens? Parent and Teen Book May Help


Award-Winning Author of “It Started with Pop-Tarts (R)”, Lori Hanson, wrote an amazing very quick and easy read parent and teen book. What I loved about this book is it was written in a fashion that addresses some serious issues that teens face today, however in a condensed and easy to understand format.

I literally finished it in less than 2 hours (with many interruptions) and was very impressed how Lori both talked to teens and parents - almost at the same time - and you could feel that Lori is connecting.

I recommend any parents of teens today purchase this book and share it with their teen. What a great way to start communications - since today many parents have lost that connection with many teens.

Oh, did I mention Lori incorporates her dogs (Sasha and Yagger) as analogies - absolutely fantastic - we all love dogs and to see them and their actions helping us as parents to understand human behavior was brilliant and again, something we can all relate to.

You can purchase this book here. Don’ miss it! Get it before it hits the book stores!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sue Scheff: Help Prevent Teen Violence

It comes to a point where you are almost afraid to turn on the news. Kids with guns, teens shooting teens, threats, bullying and more - it is time for parents to take the time and learn more. Talk to your kids - open those lines of communication. Raising kids today has become more challenging than ever. I hear from parents almost on a daily basis and I am stunned at what these kids are learning and doing at such a young age.

Source: Connect with Kids

Can Students Prevent Violence by Telling?

“He was saying ‘I’m gonna kill people,’ everyone took it as a joke. I can’t say that I would take it any differently.”

– Joanna, 15, talking about the school shooting in Santee, California

A student who seems strange, a comment that sounds frightening … how can students tell who’s serious and who isn’t, what’s a joke and what’s a real threat?

The problem is students say those kinds of ‘jokes’ are made all the time.

“I’ve had friends who were just like, ‘man I just want to kill that teacher’ or ‘I just hate it here and want to blow up the school,’” says Tara-Lynn, a high school junior, “I’ve probably said things like that myself.”

“I mean I hear people say that all the time. I don’t take it seriously,” adds Joanna, a freshman.

When should students take it seriously? They’re in a bind. If they tell on someone, they’re called a rat or a snitch. If they don’t tell, someone could die or be injured. Always in the back of their mind, what if they tell on someone… and they’re wrong?

“How do you know you’re not gonna just end up crying ‘wolf’ all the time, every time a kid makes a threat,” says Cliff, a junior.

How should kids evaluate a threat? Experts say first, kids should follow their instincts. If something another student says doesn’t feel right, even just a little bit, it probably isn’t.

“Either afraid, or guilty, or this is just going against my values, it doesn’t feel right,” says psychologist Dr. Wendy Blumenthal.

Then find an adult you trust. Someone you can trust to protect your anonymity. Someone you can trust not to panic when you tell them you’re worried.

Maybe that’s your parents, but it could also be a school counselor, a minister from your church or a coach.

Because if a disaster happens and you stay silent about what you heard, just think how that would make you feel.

“Because if we take everything for granted,” says Crystal, a junior, “this (the school shooting in California) is what can happen.”

Tips for Parents
Police have been able to prevent several ‘Columbine-like’ massacres at US schools recently–thanks to tips from students. Students notified school officials after learning that other students planned to carry out violent acts. And while kids are more willing to report threats of violence after Columbine, experts say parents should explain to their children that there is a difference between ‘telling’ and ‘tattling.’

According to the National Education Association (NEA):

Children ‘tattle’ to get their own way or to get someone else in trouble.
Children should be encouraged to ‘tell’ an adult when someone is in danger of getting hurt.
Some schools have started anonymous hotlines so that parents or children can provide information that could alert authorities to potential problems.

According to the American Psychological Association one in 12 high schoolers is threatened or injured with a weapon each year. To reduce that risk, the APA lists several ‘warning signs’ that kids need to recognize in other students, indications that violence is a “serious possibility”:

Loss of temper on a daily basis
Frequent physical fighting
Significant vandalism or property damage
Increase in use of drugs or alcohol
Increase in risk-taking behavior
Detailed plans to commit acts of violence
Announcing threats or plans for hurting others
Enjoying hurting animals
Carrying a weapon
Once students recognize a warning sign, the APA says there are things they can do. Hoping that someone else will deal with the problem is “the easy way out.” The advice for students:

Above all, be safe. Don’t spend time alone with people who show warning signs.
Tell someone you trust and respect about your concerns and ask for help (a family member, guidance counselor, teacher, school psychologist, coach, clergy, or friend).
If you are worried about becoming a victim of violence, get someone to protect you. Do not resort to violence or use a weapon to protect yourself.
The key to preventing violent behavior, according to the APA, is asking an experienced professional for help. The important thing to remember is, don’t go it alone.

National Education Association
American Psychological Association

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teens and Eating Disorders

Especially young girls today, the peer pressure can encourage your young teen/tween that being “thin” is in. Teen body image can lead to other concerns, whether your child is suffering with some depression, not being able to fit in at school, or just plain feeling fat and ugly - we need to talk to them and explain about Teens and Eating Disorders, including anorexic. Teen Obesity is another issue parents need to learn more about.

“I think that it definitely had something to do with my mom and my sister talking about different diets, and at that age …you don’t understand everything that they are discussing and the way that they’re discussing it, and in my head I blew it up as something bigger.”
– Shay Fuell, recovering anorexic

About 2.5 million Americans suffer from anorexia. Shay Fuell was only nine years old when the fixation began.

“(I) was starting to have body-image issues and looking in the mirror sideways and just pinching my skin seeing if there was fat there,” she says.

A few years later, she was 5-feet-2 and weighed 78 pounds.

“Literally, it becomes [a part of] every thought … in your head,” she says. “You can’t think about anything else. You can’t concentrate on anything. You can’t even hold a conversation with somebody because you are thinking about the last meal that you ate or what you should be doing to work out or how you’re going to be able to throw up without anybody knowing.”

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the number of girls under the age of 12 hospitalized for eating disorders has more than doubled since 1999.

“I don’t know if they’re actually developing them younger or if it’s that parents are having a greater awareness of what’s going on with their children,” says Brigette Bellott, Ph.D., a psychologist and eating disorder specialist.

What’s going on, typically, is depression, children obsessed with eating or overly anxious about their weight and their appearance.

“Things to watch,” says Bellott, “what do they believe about their own body? I mean I would ask that: “What do you think about your body, how do you feel about it?”
Experts say it’s crucial for parents to catch the first signs of an eating disorder because the fatality rate for anorexic women is 10 to 15 percent.

“Some of them [die] through malnourishment, some through suicide,” says Mary Weber-Young, L.P.C. “It is the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness.”

Shay wasn’t diagnosed until she was 14. It took five difficult years of treatment before she had fully recovered.
“It was an addiction,” she admits. “It was an obsession.”

Tips for Parents
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) describes an eating disorder as “an obsession with food and weight.” The two main eating disorders are anorexia nervosa (an obsession with being thin) and bulimia (eating a lot of food at once and then throwing up or using laxatives; also known as ‘binging and purging’). Who has eating disorders? According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders:
Eight million or more people in the US have an eating disorder.

Ninety percent are women
Victims may be rich or poor
Eating disorders usually start in the teens
Eighty-six percent of victims report onset by age 20
Eating disorders may begin as early as age 8
Seventy-seven percent report duration of one to 15 years
Six percent of serious cases end in death

It’s not always easy for parents to determine if their daughter or son is suffering from an eating disorder. But the AAFP does list the following warning signs for anorexia and bulimia:

Unnatural concern about body weight (even if the person is not overweight)
Obsession with calories, fat grams and food
Use of any medicines to keep from gaining weight (diet pills, laxatives, water pills)
The more serious warning signs can be more difficult to notice because people with eating disorders often try to hide the symptoms:
Throwing up after meals
Refusing to eat or lying about how much was eaten
Not having periods
Increased anxiety about weight
Calluses or scars on the knuckle (from forced throwing up)
Denying that there is anything wrong

If left untreated, people with eating disorders can suffer some health problems, including disorders of the stomach, heart and kidneys; irregular periods or no periods at all; fine hair all over the body, including the face; dry scaly skin; dental problems (from throwing up stomach acid); dehydration.

Eating disorders can be treated. The first step is getting back to a normal weight, or at least to the lower limits of the normal weight range, according to Dr. Rex Forehand, a psychologist at the Institute for behavioral Research at the University of Georgia. But more needs to be done, Dr. Forehand says. “Attitudes and beliefs about body weight and eating patterns must also be changed. A comprehensive intervention may be necessary.”

Treatment may require hospitalization. The physician may recommend a dietician. For both anorexics and bulimics, family and individual counseling may be helpful.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
American Academy of Family Physicians
National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teenagers Getting Tattoo's

Source: TeensHealth

It seems like everyone has a tattoo these days. What used to be the property of sailors, outlaws, and biker gangs is now a popular body decoration for many people. And it's not just anchors, skulls, and battleships anymore — from school emblems to Celtic designs to personalized symbols, people have found many ways to express themselves with their tattoos. Maybe you've thought about getting one. But before you head down to the nearest tattoo shop and roll up your sleeve, there are a few things you need to know.


A tattoo is a puncture wound, made deep in your skin, that's filled with ink. It's made by penetrating your skin with a needle and injecting ink into the area, usually creating some sort of design. What makes tattoos so long-lasting is they're so deep — the ink isn't injected into the epidermis (the top layer of skin that you continue to produce and shed throughout your lifetime). Instead, the ink is injected into the dermis, which is the second, deeper layer of skin. Dermis cells are very stable, so the tattoo is practically permanent.

Tattoos used to be done manually — that is, the tattoo artist would puncture the skin with a needle and inject the ink by hand. Though this process is still used in some parts of the world, most tattoo shops use a tattoo machine these days. A tattoo machine is a handheld electric instrument that uses a tube and needle system. On one end is a sterilized needle, which is attached to tubes that contain ink. A foot switch is used to turn on the machine, which moves the needle in and out while driving the ink about 1/8 inch (about 3 millimeters) into your skin.Most tattoo artists know how deep to drive the needle into your skin, but not going deep enough will produce a ragged tattoo, and going too deep can cause bleeding and intense pain. Getting a tattoo can take several hours, depending on the size and design chosen.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sue Scheff: Cell Phones, Teens and Fatalities

“Three days later I woke up out of a coma, just for my husband to tell me that Ryan wasn’t gonna make it.”
– Lisa Duffner, mother

Ryan Duffner’s second birthday was memorable for the Lisa and Rorry Duffner. There were balloons, a cake and wishes for many more, but, unfortunately, it was Ryan’s last birthday. Two months later Ryan and Lisa, while on their daily walk, were hit by a car. The driver was a sixteen-year-old who was dialing her cell phone. The impact threw Ryan thirty feet and Lisa sixty feet. Lisa was knocked unconscious.

“Three days later I woke up out of a coma, just for my husband to tell me that Ryan wasn’t going to make it,” Lisa says, while fighting back tears.

Duffner was in such critical condition that doctors wouldn’t allow her to hold her son in the moments before his death.

“Not to say goodbye to my own baby—that was hard,” she says.

A study by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis estimates that 6 percent of crashes are due to cell phones, resulting in 2,600 deaths and 12,000 serious injuries per year.

Seventeen-year-old Edgar admits that talking on the phone is often distracting. “When I’m dialing a number or something like that, I’ve caught myself kind of drifting off,” he says.
Edgar uses the cell phone while driving, in spite of his mom’s strict rules. “She’s always freaking out telling me, ‘Don’t be using your cell phone while you’re driving. ‘” Pull over if you have to,’” he says.

Though Lisa Duffner thinks that cell phones are necessary, she doesn’t have much patience for people that can’t take the time to pull over and make the call. “My biggest thing is just to pull over to make your phone call. Are you so self-important that you endanger everybody else’s lives?” she says.

Experts say that looking at a detailed phone bill is a way of checking up on kids’ phone usage. “You can look at that, and you can tell if they’re spending a lot of time on the phone coming from school to home. Then obviously they’re doing it,” says Captain Tommy Brown, Department of Public Safety.

But for teenagers, seeing the effects of what can happen, like the death of a two-year-old, may be the strongest tool for convincing them to hang up and drive.
Ryan’s absence reminds Duffner every day of the dangers of driving-while-distracted. “He was just that happy-go-lucky, jump-off-of-everything, friendly little kid. He just loved life.”

Tips for Parents

It is very likely that your teenager will pick up the majority of his/her driving habits from watching you. According to a survey by Liberty Mutual and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), nearly two-thirds of teenagers polled say their parents talk on the cell phone while driving, almost half say their parents speed, and just under one-third say their parents don’t wear seatbelts. The following statistics, therefore, shouldn’t be very surprising:
Sixty-two percent of high school drivers say they talk on a cell phone while driving, and approximately half of high school teens who do not yet drive (52 percent) and middle school students (47 percent) expect they will engage in this behavior when they begin driving.
Sixty-seven percent of high school drivers say they speed.

Thirty-three percent of high school drivers say they do not wear their seatbelt while driving.
Cell phones have been transformed from status symbols into everyday accessories. In fact, cell phones are so prevalent among teenagers that a recent study found that they viewed talking on the phone nearly the same as talking to someone face-to-face. And with the latest studies showing that at least 56 percent of 13- to 17-year-olds own cell phones, the issue of cell phone usage is more pertinent than ever.

If you believe your teen should have a cell phone, it is important to lay down a few ground rules. The National Institute on Media and the Family suggests the following guidelines for setting limits on your teen’s cell phone use:
Choose a plan that puts some reasonable limits on your teen’s phone time. Make sure he or she knows what the limits are so he or she can do some budgeting.

Let your teen know that the two of you will be reviewing the bill together so you will have some idea of how the phone is being used.

If use exceeds the plan limits, the charges can mount very quickly. Make sure your teen has some consequences, financial or otherwise, if limits are exceeded.

Teach your child about the dangers of using the cell phone while driving and the distractions it can cause.

Find out what the school’s policies are regarding cell phone use and let your teen know that you will completely support the school’s standards.

Agree on some cell phone etiquette. For example, no phone calling during meals or when it is bothersome or rude to other people.

Conversely, let your teen know that any “phone bullying” or cheating via text messaging will not be tolerated.

Let your teen know that his or her use of the cell phone is contingent on following the ground rules. No compliance, no phone.

Harvard Center for Risk Analysis
Liberty Mutual
Rutgers University
Students Against Destructive Decisions- SADD

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sue Scheff: Troubled Teens

It stems back to "children need to have their self-esteem built up to make good decisions." Today most families are either single parent or both parents are working full time. This is not the fault of the teen, nor is it the fault of the parents. It is today's world and we must try to find the middle. Troubled teens, rebellious teens, angry teens, problem teens, difficult teens, depressed teens; unfortunately are part of the society of adolescents today.

Communication is always the first to go when people get busy. We have seen this over and over again. We have also experienced it and feel that our children shut us out; this can lead to difficult teens and teens with problems. Although we are tired and exhausted, along with the stress of today's life, we need to stop and take a moment for our kids.

Talk and LISTEN to them. Ask lots of questions, get to know their friends and their friend’s parents, take part in their interests, be supportive if they are having a hard time, even if you can't understand it; be there for them.

This all sounds so easy and so simple, but take it from parents that have walked this path, it is not easy. When a parent works a full day, has stress from the job along with household chores, not to mention the bills, it is hard to find that moment.

We are all guilty of neglect at one time or another after all, we are only human and can only do so much. We feel the exhaustion mounting watching our teens grow more out of control, yet we are too tired to address it. Out of control teens can completely disrupt a family and cause marriages to break up as well as emotional breakdowns.We know many feel it is just a stage, and with some, it may be. However most times it does escalate to where we are today. Researching for help; PURE is here for you, as we have been where you are today.

Do you have a difficult teen, struggling teen, defiant teen, out of control teen, rebellious teen, angry teen, depressed teen? Do you feel hopeless, at your wits end? Visit