Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sue Scheff: Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Hundreds of thousands of teens nationwide are expected to participate in the eighth annual National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy on May 6, 2009. The purpose of the National Day is straightforward. Too many teens still think “It can’t happen to me.” The National Day helps teens understand that it can happen to them and that they need to think seriously about what they would do in the moment.

Why a National Day? Since the early 1990s, the teen pregnancy rate has declined 38 percent and the teen birth rate has declined 32%. In fact, few social problems have improved quite as dramatically over the past decade plus. The most recent news on this front, however, has not been positive. According to data released in March 2009 by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the U.S. teen birth rate increased for the second year in a row since 2005. These increases follow 14 years of continuous decline in the teen birth rate. That is, after declining 34% between 1991 and 2005, the teen birth rate has now increased 5% between 2005 and 2007.

“Clearly a renewed focus on preventing teen pregnancy is needed,” said Sarah Brown, Chief Executive Officer of The National Campaign. “We hope that – in some modest way – the quiz will help teens think carefully about sex and contraception, the possibility of pregnancy, and the lifelong challenges of being a parent.”

About the National Day. On the National Day and throughout May, teens nationwide will be asked to go to The National Campaign’s teen website— —and take a short, scenario-based quiz (available in English and Spanish). The quiz challenges young people to consider what they would do in a number of sexual situations.

In 2008, more than 300,000 people took the National Day Quiz—up from 75,000 in 2002. Participants were able to take the quiz online or download a print version in English or Spanish. National Day Quiz discussion guides for parents and teens were also available and were downloaded thousands of times.

Over 1,000 teens who took the National Day Quiz took part in a post-quiz evaluation survey. Among the findings:

73% said the Quiz made them think about what they might do in such situations;
54% said the Quiz made the risks of sex and teen pregnancy seem more real to them;
50% said they’d learned something new from the Quiz about the consequences of sex;
55% said they’d talk to their friends about the situations described in the Quiz;
51% said the Quiz made them think about things they hadn’t thought about before;
54% said they’d encourage others to take the Quiz;
57% said some of the situations in the Quiz were things that they or their friends had faced; and
48% said they’d talk to their parents or other adults about the situations described in the Quiz.
Additionally, 56% reported taking the quiz as part of a school activity and 31% said they took the quiz at home. About one-third of teens (32%) learned about the quiz from a parent, teacher, or another trusted adult and another one-third (30%) of teens learned about the quiz from one of our online media partners.
Partnerships. The National Campaign works with a variety of partners to make the National Day a success year after year.
National Partnerships. National Day partners include a diverse group of media outlets, health sector leaders, education leaders, businesses, youth-serving groups, groups representing elected officials, fatherhood and male involvement groups, faith-based groups, and other prominent national organizations. These groups promote the National Day to their members, affiliates, customers, audiences, and contacts in ways the National Campaign could never have afforded or accomplished on its own. For an up-to-date list of this year’s National Day Partners, visit our Partners page.
Media Partnerships. Each year, The National Campaign works with a variety of online and traditional media partners to spread the word about the National Day. Among this year’s partners are ABC, ABC Family, NBC, The N, Seventeen,, Maury, and many others. For more information about our National Day media partnerships, visit our Media Partners page.

State and Local Partnerships. The National Day continues to be a remarkable organizing event for states and communities nationwide. To help these state and local promotional efforts, the National Campaign develops and distributes a variety of teen-friendly materials—such as National Day wristbands and pens—to help raise awareness of the National Day among teens and adult professionals who work with teens.

Outside information:
More information about teen pregnancy.
HIV Testing for Teens.
Teen Pregnancy Website

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teens and Self Defense

Summer is coming, many teens will have lots of spare time -hanging at malls, walking around town etc. We can turn on the TV and hear about teen violence, rapes, kidnappings, beatings and worse - take the time to educate your teens and offer self defense resources.

Source: TeensHealth


You’ve seen it in movies: A girl walks through an isolated parking garage. Suddenly, an evil-looking guy jumps out from behind an SUV. Girl jabs bad guy in the eyes with her keys — or maybe she kicks him in a certain sensitive place. Either way, while he’s squirming, she leaps into her car and speeds to safety.

That’s the movies. Here’s the real-life action replay: When the girl goes to jab or kick the guy, he knows what’s coming and grabs her arm (or leg), pulling her off balance. Enraged by her attempt to fight back, he flips her onto the ground. Now she’s in a bad place to defend herself — and she can’t run away.

Many people think of self-defense as a karate kick to the groin or jab in the eyes of an attacker. But self-defense actually means doing everything possible to avoid fighting someone who threatens or attacks you. Self-defense is all about using your smarts — not your fists.

Use Your Head

People (guys as well as girls) who are threatened and fight back “in self-defense” actually risk making a situation worse. The attacker, who is already edgy and pumped up on adrenaline — and who knows what else — may become even more angry and violent. The best way to handle any attack or threat of attack is to try to get away. This way, you’re least likely to be injured.
One way to avoid a potential attack before it happens is to trust your instincts. Your intuition, combined with your common sense, can help get you out of trouble. For example, if you’re running alone on the school track and you suddenly feel like you’re being watched, that could be your intuition telling you something. Your common sense would then tell you that it’s a good idea to get back to where there are more people around.

De-Escalating a Bad Situation

Attackers aren’t always strangers who jump out of dark alleys. Sadly, teens can be attacked by people they know. That’s where another important self-defense skill comes into play. This skill is something self-defense experts and negotiators call de-escalation.

De-escalating a situation means speaking or acting in a way that can prevent things from getting worse. The classic example of de-escalation is giving a robber your money rather than trying to fight or run. But de-escalation can work in other ways, too. For example, if someone harasses you when there’s no one else around, you can de-escalate things by agreeing with him or her. You don’t have to actually believe the taunts, of course, you’re just using words to get you out of a tight spot. Then you can redirect the bully’s focus (”Oops, I just heard the bell for third period”), and calmly walk away from the situation.

Something as simple as not losing your temper can de-escalate a situation. Learn how to manage your own anger effectively so that you can talk or walk away without using your fists or weapons.

Although de-escalation won’t always work, it can only help matters if you remain calm and don’t give the would-be attacker any extra ammunition. Whether it’s a stranger or someone you thought you could trust, saying and doing things that don’t threaten your attacker can give you some control.

Reduce Your Risks

Another part of self-defense is doing things that can help you stay safe. Here are some tips from the National Crime Prevention Council and other experts:

Understand your surroundings. Walk or hang out in areas that are open, well lit, and well traveled. Become familiar with the buildings, parking lots, parks, and other places you walk. Pay particular attention to places where someone could hide — such as stairways and bushes.
Avoid shortcuts that take you through isolated areas.

If you’re going out at night, travel in a group.

Make sure your friends and parents know your daily schedule (classes, sports practice, club meetings, etc.). If you go on a date or with friends for an after-game snack, let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return.

Check out hangouts. Do they look safe? Are you comfortable being there? Ask yourself if the people around you seem to share your views on fun activities — if you think they’re being reckless, move on.

Be sure your body language shows a sense of confidence. Look like you know where you’re going and act alert.

When riding on public transportation, sit near the driver and stay awake. Attackers are looking for vulnerable targets.

Carry a cell phone if possible. Make sure it’s programmed with your parents’ phone number.
Be willing to report crimes in your neighborhood and school to the police.

Take a Self-Defense Class

The best way — in fact the only way — to prepare yourself to fight off an attacker is to take a self-defense class. We’d love to give you all the right moves in an article, but some things you just have to learn in person.

A good self-defense class can teach you how to size up a situation and decide what you should do. Self-defense classes can also teach special techniques for breaking an attacker’s grasp and other things you can do to get away. For example, attackers usually anticipate how their victim might react — that kick to the groin or jab to the eyes, for instance. A good self-defense class can teach you ways to surprise your attacker and catch him or her off guard.

One of the best things people take away from self-defense classes is self-confidence. The last thing you want to be thinking about during an attack is, “Can I really pull this self-defense tactic off?” It’s much easier to take action in an emergency if you’ve already had a few dry runs.
A self-defense class should give you a chance to practice your moves. If you take a class with a friend, you can continue practicing on each other to keep the moves fresh in your mind long after the class is over.

Check out your local YMCA, community hospital, or community center for classes. If they don’t have them, they may be able to tell you who does. Your PE teacher or school counselor may also be a great resource.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Teenage Back Acne and Self Esteem Issues

Back Acne Treatment Helps Teens with Self Esteem Issues

As parents we are all aware at how fragile a teenager’s self esteem can be sometimes. Hormones at the onset of puberty don’t do much to help with that. As hormones rage, often times so does acne. Acne occurs frequently in teenagers to varying degrees and typically occurs on the face and back. For active teenagers, this can be a cause of embarrassment. But back acne treatment can do wonders in alleviating the self esteem issues caused by excessive acne on the back.

Teenage boys are often active in sports and have to deal with their peers in the locker rooms and while competing. Having back acne can be highly embarrassing and make someone feel self conscious. Teenage girls have an equal number of problems pertaining to back acne. Imagine getting ready for a high school dance, picking out a fashionable dress and being appalled by the back acne that is visible. Of course, acne in general is something that all teenagers go through to some extent. But we do want our kids to be confident and healthy so it is important to understand the causes of back acne as well as the cures for back acne.

If a teenager is embarrassed by their back acne, they will have a tendency to avoid situations where it may be visible. This can be really unhealthy for a teenager. Avoiding sporting events, social activities and friends can lead to depression. But there is good news regarding the causes of back acne. We know what causes are real and what are myths. Because of this, we also know ways in which back acne treatment can benefit the self conscious teenager.

Amazingly, many people still buy into the myths associates with the causes of back acne. We know, though that food, clothing, dirt and sweat do not cause acne. In some cases one or all of those issues may exacerbate acne to a small degree but none of them actually cause it. So, in order to effectively find cures for back acne, the root cause of it should be examined and there is basically one main cause of acne in the face, back and body.

The culprit is hormones. Yes, a hormonal imbalance is the reason the skin breaks out and why so many teenagers are afflicted with acne problems. So in order to treat it, two things must occur: The hormonal imbalance must be addressed and a proper skin care regimen must be started. The truth is both of these issues can be controlled with skin care products, diet and vitamins.

With back acne Retin A is often used and touted as a cure. However, many Retin A products are very expensive and often do not cure the back acne completely. High cost advertising programs are what draw consumers to these products and while some may work, they are not addressing the complete picture so they can not stop the back acne from occurring.

Instead, there are a few products that are recommended because of the testing that was conducted and the means to which a complete system of hormonal cures as well as skin care treatments are used. The reason they work is that they address back acne from the inside out and do not leave anything out of the picture.

There are many products on the market today but often the reason they are popular is due to expensive advertising campaigns as opposed to actual positive results. It is important to start off with a topical treatment to clean the skin and protect it. These may include a body wash, body cream and scrubs. Getting into the habit of cleaning the face regularly will instill a sense of responsibility and self respect in a teenager also.

Not only should the topical skin treatment be addressed but the hormonal imbalance should also be treated with natural supplements. The hormonal imbalance is addressed with the use of the supplements and acne issues are washed away with the topical products. The results include fewer blemishes and a restored balance to the hormones. This allows the skin to naturally go back to its intended condition, free from acne.

Choose products that are independently tested and rated for its effectiveness in treating back acne. Also choose all inclusive solutions. They all have one thing in common. They each address all the issues regarding back acne and its root cause. They provide a topical acne wash and cream to help maintain the skin’s appearance but they also include a dietary supplement intended to help restore the proper hormonal balance.

Hormonal imbalances can go well into adulthood but teenagers are especially prone to it. Back acne can be embarrassing and can greatly affect a teenager’s self esteem. However, with proper treatment, the self consciousness from back acne can be eliminated. Your teenager can be confident knowing he or she is acne free.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teens Cheating Drug Tests

These tricks are out there on the Web, so parents need to be informed

Google “beat drug test,” and the search engine spits out page upon page of ploys and products that can make incriminating urine seem drug free. All it takes is a computer-savvy teen to access them. The ease of cheating, in fact, is one of at least seven reasons parents shouldn’t try to test their kids for drug use. Instead, experts say, they should seek out a professional assessment.

“Cheating remains the Achilles’ heal of drug urine testing in all settings,” says Robert DuPont, president of the Institute for Behavior and Health Inc. and former director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. With increasing opportunities for testing—by prospective employers, schools, and parents—experts worry that teens may have more impetus than ever to try. Last week, at the American Association for Clinical Chemistry’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C., toxicologist Amitava Dasgupta of University of Texas-Houston medical school demonstrated various ways that employees try to beat workplace drug tests—and how experts foil these schemes in the laboratory. There’s nothing to stop kids from using the same tricks, and there’s no guarantee that parents will be able to catch them at home.

Here are five ways—some of them downright dangerous—that teens may try to cheat drug tests. They’re all described elsewhere on the Internet, so parents should be aware of them.

1. Tampering. A sprinkle of salt or a splash of bleach, vinegar, detergent, or drain cleaner is all that’s needed to muck up a urine specimen. These and other household substances are all too often smuggled into the bathroom and used to alter the composition of urine, making the presence of some illegal substances undetectable, says Dasgupta. Same goes for chemical concoctions sold all over the Internet. Sometimes these additives or “adulterants” will cloud or discolor urine, easily casting suspicion on the specimen, but others leave the sample looking normal. Laboratory toxicologists employ simple tests to catch these cheats. For example, a few drops of hydrogen peroxide will turn urine brown if it’s been mixed with pyridinium chlorochromate, an otherwise-imperceptible chemical designed to foil drug tests.

2. Water-loading. Gulping fluids before providing urine, a long-standing tactic, is still the most common way that teens try to beat tests, says Sharon Levy, a pediatrician and director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program at Children’s Hospital Boston. Whether cheats use salty solutions to induce thirst, flushing agents that increase urine output, or just plain old H20, their aim is to water down drugs so they can’t be detected. Some testing facilities may check urine for dilution and deem overly watery samples “unfit for testing.” But consuming too much fluid too quickly can occasionally have dire consequences. “Water intoxication” reportedly killed a woman following participation in a radio show’s water drinking contest, says Alan Wu, a professor of laboratory medicine at the University of California-San Francisco.

3. Switching drugs. Perhaps most alarming, says Levy, is that teens bent on defeating drug tests will sometimes switch their drug of choice to an undetectable (or harder to detect) substance that’s considerably more hazardous. Inhalants, for example, include numerous types of chemical vapors that typically produce brief, intoxicating effects. “You don’t excrete [inhalants] in your urine,” says Levy, but “inhaling is acutely more dangerous than marijuana.” Indeed, inhalants can trigger the lethal heart problem known as “sudden sniffing death” in otherwise healthy adolescents, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The tragic case of young David Manlove is an example.

4. Popping vitamins. Perhaps it’s because niacin (aka vitamin B3) is known to aid metabolism, or perhaps it’s because Scientologists are said to take it in excess to flush their bodies of toxins. Whatever the reasons, some teens got the idea that extreme doses of this vitamin would erase any trace of their illicit drug use. Instead, it almost cost them their lives. In two separate incidents, emergency physician Manoj Mittal of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has found adolescents who downed at least 150 times the daily recommended dose of niacin (15 mg) to cheat drug tests. (He described the cases last year in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.) Both kids were vomiting, had low blood sugar, and had “significant” liver toxicity when they arrived at the ER. And the niacin didn’t even do what they’d intended; both tested positive for illicit drugs. “People might think that since [niacin] is a vitamin it’s harmless,” says Mittal. “But these cases suggest that our bodies have limits.”

5. Swapping urine samples. Whether they use a friend’s clean urine, synthetic pee, or even freeze-dried urine purchased online, some teens try to pass off foreign samples as their own, says Levy. The biggest tip-off is temperature. “Anything significantly lower than body temperature is suspicious,” says Dasgupta, which is why some have tried to shuttle samples in armpits or taped to thighs to keep them warm. Possibly the oddest trick of all is a device marketed to those trying to beat witnessed drug collections, says Wu: a sort of prosthetic penis called the “Whizzinator” that claims to come equipped with clean urine “guaranteed” to remain at body temperature for hours, with the help of special heat pads. “Believe it or not, [the prosthesis] comes in different colors,” says Wu.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teen SAT Prep - Do your homework

Study, study, study - college applications, campus tours and major decisions! What do I want to be when I grow up? What do I want to study? Do I want a large campus, small? Close to home or out of state? Choices, choices, choices - but most will begin with your SAT scores. Be prepared, no one says you have to know what you want to be, but what you do need to know is you have to do your best on your test scores. With this, many doors will be open for you and chances are greater will find what will be your brightest future.

Source: Connect with Kids

“Some students will see huge differences. [Some] students don’t improve at all. Students get out of it what they put into it.”

– Wendi Deen Johnson, Kaplan Score Prep

In just a few weeks 17-year old Caroline will take the SAT for the first time.

“Well I know it’s like a really important test and I am really kind of concerned about that because I want to go to a really good college,” says Caroline. To prepare for the college entrance exam, Caroline enrolled in an SAT prep course where she learned some useful strategies.

“For instance, she says, “What kind of questions are going to be asked and timing- it speeds me up so that I can get through more questions and hopefully get more answers right. “
But how will that prep course affect her score?

“Some students will see huge differences- we’ve had students who’ve increased 300-points. We also have students who don’t improve at all. Most of the time, students get out of it what they put into it,” says Wendi Deen Johnson, a spokesperson with the Score Prep division of Kaplan, Inc. a national test preparation company.

According to the College Board which administers the SAT, on average, SAT coaching increases verbal scores by eight points and math scores by eighteen points. In other words, coached students are likely to get one to three more questions right when compared to non-coached students.

If parents do opt to enroll their children in professional prep courses, even some in the test prep industry say it can be a mistake to start too early.

“If it’s a kid who’s really anxious about test-taking, then probably preparing them early wouldn’t be the best thing. You’d want to give them some time to mature and grow and learn some more skills,” says Johnson.

Commercial prep courses can cost hundreds of dollars, but experts say parents can help their kids prepare for less money by purchasing study guides, surfing the net for information, or enrolling in independent study courses.

That is exactly what Caroline did. Soon she’ll find out how well it worked.

“I’m hoping for a 1400 on the SAT,” she says. A near perfect score.

Tips for Parents
Anxiety stemming from standardized tests is not uncommon among today’s teens. In fact, a poll conducted by Public Agenda showed that 73 percent of surveyed students said they get nervous before taking a test, while 5 percent said they become too nervous to even take the test.

The University of Illinois Extension says that most students experience some level of anxiety during an exam, and this anxiety is due to a variety of reasons:

Poor time management
Failure to organize information
Poor study habits
Negative test-taking experience
Low self-confidence
Negative attitude about school
According to the State University of New York at Buffalo, children who frequently experience test anxiety also worry about the future and become extremely self-critical. Instead of feeling challenged by the prospect of success, they become afraid of failure. This makes them anxious about tests and their own abilities. And ultimately, they become so worked up that they feel incompetent about the subject matter or the test.

The National PTA says that it does not help to tell your child to relax, to think about something else or stop worrying about standardized tests. But you can help your child reduce test anxiety and prepare for tests like the SAT by encouraging the following actions:

Space studying over days or weeks. (Real learning occurs through studying that takes place over a period of time.) Understand the information and relate it to what is already known. Review it more than once. By doing this, your child should feel prepared at exam time.
Don’t “cram” the night before – cramming increases anxiety, which interferes with clear thinking. Get a good night’s sleep. Rest, exercise and eating well are as important to test taking as they are to other schoolwork.
Read the directions carefully when the instructor hands out the test. If you don’t understand them, ask the teacher to explain.
Look quickly at the entire examination to see what types of questions are included (multiple choice, matching, true/ false, essay, etc.) and, if possible, the number of points for each. This will help you pace yourself.
If you don’t know the answer to a question, skip it and go on. Don’t waste time worrying about it. Mark it so you can identify it as unanswered. If you have time at the end of the exam, return to the unanswered question(s).
As a parent, you can be a great help to your child if you observe these do’s and don’ts about tests and testing from the U.S. Department of Education:

Don’t be too anxious about your child’s test scores. If you put too much emphasis on test scores, this can upset your child.

Do encourage your child. Praise him/her for the things he or she does well. If your child feels good about himself or herself, he/she will do his/her best. Children who are afraid of failing are more likely to become anxious when taking tests and more likely to make mistakes.
Don’t judge your child on the basis of a single test score. Test scores are not perfect measures of what your child can do. Other factors might influence a test score. For example, your child can be affected by the way he/she is feeling, the setting in the classroom and the attitude of the teacher. Remember also that one test is simply one test.

Meet with your child’s teacher as often as possible to discuss his/her progress. Ask the teacher to suggest activities for you and your child to do at home to help prepare for tests and improve your child’s understanding of schoolwork. Parents and teachers should work together to benefit students.
Make sure your child attends school regularly. Remember, tests do reflect children’s overall achievement. The more effort and energy your child puts into learning, the more likely he/she will do well on tests.
Provide a quiet, comfortable place for studying at home.
Make sure that your child is well rested on school days and especially the day of a test. Children who are tired are less able to pay attention in class or to handle the demands of a test.
Give your child a well-rounded diet. A healthy body leads to a healthy, active mind.
Provide books and magazines for your child to read at home. By reading new materials, your child will learn new words that might appear on a test. Ask your child’s school about a suggested outside reading list or get suggestions from the public library.

College Board
National PTA
Public Agenda
State University of New York at Buffalo
University of Illinois Extension
U.S. Department of Education

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sue Scheff: Stop Bullying Now!

Kids today, both teens and pre-teens, can be extremely mean and cause emotional issues to their target. What can parents do? Read more about how you can help stop bullying. .

What Can Adults Do?

Welcome to the Take a Stand. Lend a Hand. Stop Bullying Now! adult pages. As an adult, one of best ways you can help stop or prevent bullying is to be educated about, and sensitive to, the issue. Bullying is NOT a rite of passage - an undesirable, but sometimes unavoidable, reality of growing up. Rather, bullying is a serious public health issue that affects countless young people everyday. Further, research shows that the effects of bullying can last well into adulthood. Whether you are a concerned parent, an educator or school employee, a health and safety professional, or someone else who works with children, there are many things you can do to help.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sue Scheff Launches New Book - Google Bomb!

“GOOGLE BOMB” Take Cover! by John Dozier and Sue Scheff
Do you know what Google is saying about you?

Oh yes, it is almost here, my second book! This time around, I am honored to have co-author and Internet Specialist Attorney, John Dozier .

As my story of my landmark case of $11.3M jury verdict for damages unravels - many questions answers, John Dozier will bring us the legal landscape of today’s Cyber World - how to protect your online image and maintain a profile you are proud of! Have you thought about Internet Gossip vs Internet Fact? How do you know the difference? Don’t get caught in the web - read Google Bomb!

To compound our dynamic and explosive upcoming best seller - Michael Fertik, CEO and Founder of ReputationDefender will be writing the foreword! ReputationDefender is one of the pioneers in managing online reputations and helping keep your kids privacy safe online.
This timely book will offer you tools and remedies as well as a very compelling story that will keep you turning those pages! Remember, a 20 year reputation today can be destroyed within 20 minutes of vicious keystrokes.

Monkeys Don’t Fly? Do they? Ahhhh, just wait and you will see - the Internet has become its’ own animal. The Internet can be an educational tool - but - it can also be a lethal weapon!

Published by Health Communications Inc. (HCI) - Google Bomb will be released in Fall 2009.