Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sue Scheff: Supervising Parties for Teenagers by Connect with Kids

“As we walked out to the street to see what all the commotion was about, the van had 30-foot flames shooting out of it. Someone had screamed that there was a girl inside who they had pulled out of the van.”
– Bill Strickland, father

With spring break and prom just around the corner, parents have good reason to be extra vigilant about underage drinking -- and not just to protect their own kids. With more states enacting parental liabilities laws than ever before, parents also have to protect themselves.

Brad Brake and Bill Strickland are neighbors, and their daughters wanted to have a party.

“They basically asked if I would provide alcohol and I wouldn’t, and Bill wouldn’t,” says Brad, father. “And I basically let it be …you’d almost call it turning a blind eye.”

The dads’ policy: don’t ask; don’t tell. But more than 200 kids showed up at the party -- many with their own alcohol.

“This is a news clipping from the day after our party. And it says ‘West Side erupts in bizarre night of violence’ and I highlighted the ‘huge party’. Because that’s all that mattered to us,” laughs Shelby, 17.

Parties like this are one reason that 23 states have now passed “social host” laws.

“If you’re a homeowner, you have the positive responsibility to ensure that these out-of-control parties do not happen in your home. And if that happens, if it occurs and the police have to come, the firemen have to come, the ambulances have to come and someone gets hurt, you’re held responsible for the cost to the community,” says Jim Mosher, J.D., Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation.

The police did come to the girls’ party that night. It seems that two boys got into an argument and one went outside and threw gasoline into the other boy’s van.

“And as we walked out to the street to see what all the commotion was about, the van had 30-foot flames shooting out of it. Someone had screamed that there was a girl inside who they had pulled out of the van,” says Bill.

The girl from the van was passed out – drunk -- but the officers pulled her out just before the van filled with fire. For Bill and Brad, there were no arrests, no lawsuits, no fines. But many parents say it’s still a struggle to know the right thing to do.

“I can’t forbid my children from drinking. That’s the best way in the world to have them shut off from me, to not tell me the truth. And truth in my house is king,” says Bill.

Others say the solution is simple:

“We need to stop this, this is not okay. And it is particularly not okay that it’s happening with the concurrence and the support of parents,” says Mosher.

Tips for Parents

Parents need to know that hosting parties where alcohol is being served to minors is not only illegal, but also extremely dangerous for their kids, for others and for themselves, given the legal liabilities they face. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA)

While all states and the District of Columbia have 21-year-old minimum drinking age laws, more than 20 percent of young people below the legal drinking age reported driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or both in the past year, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. (NHTSA)

A recent survey commissioned by The Century Council, a national non-profit organization dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking, revealed that 65 percent of underage youth say they get alcohol from family and friends (interpreted as meaning they get it from their parents, their friends’ parents, older siblings or friends, with or without their permission).

Most troubling, some parents have become willing accomplices in planning teen parties and turning a blind eye to alcohol use in their own homes. (NHTSA)
Laws vary from state to state, but in many states, parents who break these laws could be forced to pay all medical bills and property damages in the case of a crash, and could also be sued for emotional pain and suffering when there is severe injury or death. (NHTSA)

Parents should help plan their teenagers’ parties to ensure they are alcohol-free: (NHTSA)
Help make the guest list and limit the number to be invited. Send personal invitations to avoid the dangers of “open parties.”

Put your phone number on the invitation and encourage calls from other parents to check on the event. Think about inviting some of the other parents to help during the party and to help you supervise to ensure no alcohol or drugs are present, and to help ask uninvited attendees to leave.

At the party, limit access to a specified area of your property. Make sure there is plenty of food and soft drinks available. Make regular, unannounced visits to the party area throughout the evening.

Most importantly, tell parents to talk honestly with their kids to make sure their kids know they are concerned for their safety. (NHTSA)


National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
The Century Council

Monday, February 25, 2008

Girls Drink More than Boys by Connect with Kids

I think because of this pressure, the girls find that alcohol lessens their inhibitions. It also represses their emotions, anxieties and fears about it.”
– Annie Prescott, Ph.D., psychologist

In recent decades, girls have been catching up to boys — and even surpassing them — in a whole host of categories: test scores, academic achievement, college enrollment, graduate degrees. But in one area, girls outdoing boys is not good news.

Who drinks more alcohol, girls or guys?

“I think girls drink more,” says Diane, 13.

“I think girls drink more,” says Matt, 16.

“I think teenage girls drink more,” says Chris, 15.

In fact, a growing number of studies, including a recent survey from Columbia University, show that girls are now drinking more than boys. But why?

“Girls drink more because they try to fit in more. They’re so worried about fitting in and everything,” says Ally, 13.

Experts say there is more pressure on girls than ever before to be good athletes, to get good grades, and, at the same time, to be popular, beautiful and sexy.

“I think because of this pressure, the girls find that alcohol lessens their inhibitions. It also represses their emotions, anxieties and fears about it,” says Annie Prescott, Ph.D., psychologist.

“They want the guys’ attention; they want to show them they are cool and stuff,” says Diane.
Experts say teen girls need to be busy with activities that reinforce their worth and help them create an identity separate from alcohol, sex and boys. “Sports and church activities, music, art, dance … activities where there are some social groups that don’t promote this type of acting out,” says Prescott.

All the while, she says, parents need to watch closely.

“I’m talking about being a detective — that you are following up with them. Are they actually where they say they’re going to be? So they know that they have to be accountable,” says Prescott.

Tips for Parents

According to J. Edward Hill, president-elect of the American Medical Association (AMA), “The difference in female physiology means that teen girls feel greater impairment from alcohol and encounter alcohol-related problems faster, including brain damage, cancer, cardiac complications, and other medical disorders.”

Drinking alcohol puts girls’ health at risk in other ways, too. Many girls lose their virginity while drunk; in one study of unplanned pregnancies in 14 -21 year olds, one third of the girls who had gotten pregnant had been drinking when they had sex – 91 percent of them reported that the sex was unplanned. (Parents: The Anti-Drug; Flanigan et al., 1990)

Nearly one quarter of sexually active teens and young adults say they have had unprotected sex because they were using alcohol or drugs at the time. (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2002) One in four drove a car after drinking or rode with a driver who had been drinking.

Moreover, alcohol’s ability to reduce inhibitions can be a shortcut to girls who “feel enormous pressure to have sex.” The push to be sexy often goes hand in hand with the pressure to drink. (The Christian Science Monitor)

People who begin drinking early in life run the risk of developing serious alcohol problems, including alcoholism, later in life. They also are at greater risk for a variety of adverse consequences, including risky sexual activity and poor performance in school. (National Institutes of Health, NIH)

Drinking alcohol is bad for your brain and your health, but kids who drink can decide to be successful at stopping. Caring adults can teach kids how to give and receive respect, take better care of themselves, and make better choices. Nemours Foundation


Parents: The Anti-Drug
Kaiser Family Foundation
Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
The Christian Science Monitor
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Nemours Foundation

Connect with Kids is a wealth of information for parents. I refer parents to them daily and I am always impressed with their valuable new weekly parenting articles and DVD’s. In today’s world of teenagers - parents need to be a step ahead!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts: Anxious Teens and Depressed Teens

Leave Me Alone!

by Connect with Kids

We all know teenagers can be moody, impulsive and irritable – but how can parents tell if the tears will go away or if they’re a sign of something more? When your teen slams the door and shouts “Leave me alone!” – should you? Will your child be safe? Or are there signs of depression, anxiety, even suicidal thoughts?

Every parent needs to know the warning signs – when life feels too heavy or too scary for your son or daughter to handle alone. Every parent needs to know what treatments are available and what works with kids.

Every parent needs to watch Leave Me Alone!

You’ll hear actual teenagers talk about their struggles, giving you insight into what your own child may be feeling.You’ll learn practical parenting advice from child experts about what you can do to help your teen face the fears and alleviate the pain.And you’ll hear the inspiration and hope of families whose children are living happier, healthier lives.


Connect with Kids is a wealth of information for parents. I refer parents to them daily and I am always impressed with their valuable new weekly parenting articles and DVD’s. In today’s world of teenagers - parents need to be a step ahead!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sue Scheff: Teenage Drinking and Driving


It’s hard to get teens to really listen when adults talk to them about the dangers of drinking and driving. Your kids will listen to Shattered. The program features true stories from real teens whose lives were drastically changed as a result of drunk driving. Watch and learn together, and suddenly the pressure is off your own children as they relate to the kids onscreen. You won't be talking at your children... you'll be talking with them.

“I didn't think I’d ever be one of these people, you know, that drinks and drives and hurts people, but I am.” – Jayme Webb, her story, in Shattered

Shattered is a no-sugar-coated, heart-wrenching program, with facts and tips from experts to help parents and teens avoid the risks of drinking and driving.

“As teenagers, we always think we are invincible and nothing bad is ever going to happen to us,” says Whitney, 16. But bad things do happen. Nearly 3,000 teenagers die each year due to alcohol-related car accidents. It is the leading cause of death among 15- to 20-year-olds.

Comes with a free Family Viewing Guide with myth-busters about alcohol’s effects, sobering up, peer pressure, and resources to help you create a driving contract you’re your teens.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Parents' Universal Resource Experts: Addicted Kids by Connect with Kids

Addicted Kids
Alcohol. Drugs. Cigarettes. Many kids will experiment with at least one of them, but what happens when experimentation becomes an addiction? And how can you reach your kids before it’s too late? ? “It’s not like parents are bad or they’re missing something,” says Dr. Vincent Ho, psychiatrist. “Kids are just really good at tricking people.”

Drinking, smoking and using drugs are not “just part of growing up.” Studies show that parents can influence the prevention of risky behaviors in their children. Learn what pressures your kids face at school, on the weekends and at parties. Teach them how to say no in a “cool” way – and stick to it. Understand from experts the warning signs of drug and alcohol abuse.

Watch Addicted Kids with your children to hear stories from real teens who have used drugs, cigarettes and alcohol. Learn from experts and parents “who have been there” as they offer solutions that really work.

“If you don’t talk about this with your child, it’s probably going to happen again and again. And, it’s probably going to get worse.” – Dr. Alexandra Phipps, psychologist

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Secret Life of Kids: What Your Kids Are Doing Shouldn’t Be a Mystery

Who’s pressuring your kids? Who’s offering them alcohol or drugs? Who’s talking to them on the Internet? Whether we’re teachers, parents, counselors…sometimes we just don’t know what’s really going on in a child’s life. If you want to talk to your kids about the challenges they face, but aren’t sure what to say, our programs will help…with real kids sharing their true stories, and advice from experts, educators and parents who have “been there.”

Click here for a fantastic educational resource to help you help your kids!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Teens and Vandalism by Sue Scheff

Teens and Vandalism

The US Department of Justice defines vandalism as “willful or malicious destruction, injury, disfigurement, or defacement of any public or private property.” Vandalism can encompass many different acts, including graffiti, public unrest, rioting, and other types of criminal mischief, like breaking windows or arson. Even seemingly harmless pranks like egging and toilet papering homes are considered vandalism in most states.

Unfortunately, many acts of vandalism may go unnoticed in the home, because teens can easily avoid bringing any evidence back with them. This is why it is of particular importance that parents make an effort to know where their teens are at all times. Keeping an open dialogue with your teen about his schedule and friends can help you to better keep tabs on him. A teen that knows his parents care is more likely to avoid criminally mischievous behaviors in the first place.
If you suspect your teen is engaging in vandalism, don’t be afraid to discuss your fears with your teen. While again, it is important to not be accusatory, you should leave no doubt in your teen’s mind that you believe any act of vandalism- big or small- is wrong.

Often, teens think vandalism is a ‘victimless crime’; in other words, they don’t believe they’re hurting anyone by spray painting graffiti on a brick building, or tossing a few eggs at a neighbor’s car. This kind of thinking is your perfect segue into teaching your teen just how wrong vandalism can be. When your teen defiantly tells you that “nobody got hurt,” explain to them that by spray-painting the fa├žade of his high school, they costs the taxpayers (including you) money to have the graffiti covered and the crime investigated. Remind them that the money for these repairs has to come from somewhere, and that every dollar wasted to fix vandalism is a dollar that must now be cut from somewhere else.

Maybe the school will have one less dance, or will be forced to cut out arts programs or programs for under privileged students. If your teen has been egging homes, point out the waste of food that some families cannot even afford. Remind them that someone will have to scrape the dried egg off your neighbor’s windshield, possibly making him late for work, costing him time and money.

Read more about Criminal Mischief with Teens - Click Here.