Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Teen Dating Violence

“I’ve never had one guy come into my life that hasn’t hurt me.”

– Jenny, 18 years old

Jenny, 18, has been hurt as many times as she’s been in love. At age 13, her boyfriend was physically abusive.

“He grabbed me by my neck one time, and I had fingerprints, bruising,” she explains.

Later, Jenny dated Mateo.

“He promised me, he said I promise you, I’ll never hurt you like they did,” Jenny says tearfully.

“And I promised her that, but I didn’t keep my promise,” Mateo, 17, admits. “Verbal abuse, emotional. You name it,” he says.

Research in the Journal of American Medicine finds that 42% of teens have been the victim of dating violence. 17% have been the perpetrator.

“Violent activity and dating violence begins early in adolescence; you know, begins when dating begins,” says psychiatrist Dr. Lynn Ponton, author of a book about the dating lives of teenagers.

She says too often kids are so excited to have their first boyfriend or girlfriend that they rush into a relationship. They become intimate too soon, before they even really get to know each other. By the time they know their partner is abusive, a lot of damage is already done.

Other research shows that girls in violent dating relationships are more likely to experiment with drugs, develop eating disorders and attempt suicide.

Experts say that parents must convince kids to slow down.

“By, I think, by actually setting up structures for kids to participate in where they get to know the people first before they’re off with them privately,” says Dr. David Fenstermaker, a clinical psychologist.

He suggests that group dates are safer. At the bowling alley, the water park or the ice rink, kids can get to know each other, and slowly discover what really lies in the heart of their date.

Tips for Parents

‘Dating violence’ may seem like a vague, murky term, but the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control defines ‘dating violence’ very specifically:

Dating Violence: “The perpetration or threat of an act of violence by at least one member of an unmarried couple on the other member within the context of dating or courtship. This violence encompasses any form of sexual assault, physical violence, and verbal or emotional abuse.”

How often does dating violence happen? Estimates vary, but the NCIPC offers these statistics:

24% of 8th and 9th graders have been victims of nonsexual dating violence.
8% of 8th and 9th graders have been victims of sexual dating violence.
Among high school students, the average prevalence rate for nonsexual dating violence is 22%.
Among college students the rate is 32%.

27% of college females have been victims of rape or attempted rape since age 14.
Over half of 1,000 females at a large urban university surveyed said they had experienced some form of “unwanted sex.”

Women are 6 times more likely than men to experience violence at the hands of an intimate partner.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Education, teen dating violence follows a pattern which is similar to adult domestic violence. The major elements of this pattern are:

Violence that affects people from all socio-economic, racial and ethnic groups.
Repeated violence that escalates.
Violence that increases in severity the longer the relationship continues.
Violence and abusive behaviors are interchanged with apologies and promises to change.
Increase danger for the victim when trying to terminate the relationship.
Occurrence in heterosexual and gay and lesbian relationships.
How can you tell if your teenager may be suffering from dating violence? Here are some signs from the Massachusetts Department of Education.

Is your child involved with someone who:

Is overly possessive and demonstrating a real need to control
Is jealous to the extreme point where it becomes an obsession
Is into controlling your child’s everyday events
Is prone to violent outbursts
Is a person who has a history of poor relationships
Is infringing upon your child’s freedom to make choices for himself/herself
Is limiting the time your child spends with other people
Is using external pressure to influence decision making
Is into passing blame and denying their own mistakes
Is in the habit of using put downs or playing mind games
Is not a person who can be disagreed with easily
Is encouraging your child to keep secrets
Is causing your child to become more withdrawn

And for teenagers trying to get out of a violent relationship, the following advice from the Boulder (CO) Police Department:

Tell your parents, a friend, a counselor, a clergyman, or someone else whom you trust and who can help.

The more isolated you are from friends and family, the more control the abuser has over you.
Alert the school counselor or security officer. Keep a daily log of the abuse.
Do not meet your partner alone.

Do not let him or her in your home or car when you are alone.
Avoid being alone at school, your job, on the way to and from places.
Tell someone where you are going and when you plan to be back.
Plan and rehearse what you would do if your partner became abusive.

National Center for Injury Protection and Control
Massachusetts Department of Education
Boulder (CO) Police Department
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Friday, July 25, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Inhalant Abuse

I know I have Blogged a lot about Inhalant Abuse and I will continue to do so - especially after reading about the recent senseless deaths. Take a moment to read their Blog at - Take the time to learn more and you never know when this knowledge will be necessary.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sue Scheff - Can the Feingold Program Help Your Child?

For years we have struggled with ADD/ADHD children and the issues that surround mediciation and the affects it has on the kids. As a parent of an ADHD son, after extensive testing, he was diagnosed ADHD in Kindergarten. Through the years, we tried a variety of medications however always came back to the one that worked best for him. I don’t believe he was over-medicated and neither does he. By freshman year in college, he was medication free.

I was made aware of The Feingold Diet when my son was younger, but as a single mother of two children, it didn’t fit our schedule or my busy routine. Some people may view this as an excuse, but for me, it wasn’t an option I could accomodate. But - that doesn’t mean it isn’t a viable alternative to medications.

Over the years, I have heard from many parents of the success of The Feingold Program as well as recently reviewed “Why My Child Can’t Behave” by Jane Hersey. Understanding how this program works can help parents understand the negative behavior of ADD/ADHD and what triggers it.

If you have a child that has behavioral issues or has been diagnosed ADD/ADHD please take the time to learn more about The Newly Updated Feingold Program that is designed to accomodate the busy lives of families today.

Read this wonderful testimonial from Joshua - I think this sheds light on what the right diet can do for you and your family.

My son, Joshua, was plagued with social and behavioral problems. He was asked to leave two private schools, rejected from several local day care facilities, and finally placed in a program for “severely emotionally handicapped” children and put on medication for ADHD - all before the age of five!

He was in a class of six children and three teachers to deal with the behavioral challenges these children presented. Throughout the years my son was diagnosed with severe ADHD and ODD (oppositional defiant disorder), along with traits of obsessive compulsive disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, and mood disorder syndrome. These years proved to be more difficult than I could have ever imagined.

Even before they’re born, parents have so many hopes and desires for their children. I felt as though my dreams had turned to nightmares and it seemed like I’d never wake up.

Even though testing indicated that Joshua was extremely gifted, his emotional and behavioral problems kept him labeled as emotionally handicapped.

During the next seven years he was on three medications, totaling nine pills a day. It seemed necessary to keep him medicated 24 hours a day, every day. Symptoms that were treated with one medicine caused him to have trouble sleeping, so he had to take an additional medication for that, and yet another for the endless anxiety resulting from the issues he faced daily with social and behavioral problems. He had huge problems with opposition, defiance, aggression, anger, and impulsivity. The doctors tried different dosages and combinations of the medicines but without success.

He was kept medicated 24 hours a day and the problems only got worse.

Toward the end of his fourth grade year, Joshua was placed in an outpatient facility for depression, leaning towards suicidal. Children typically attended this facility for a week at the most, just enough time to be evaluated, receive recommendations for therapy, medication, behavior modification and family counseling. However, Joshua’s behavior was such that he continued for five weeks.

None of the many professionals we saw were able to help him.

Time passed and problems remained despite medication and continual counseling. Two other medicines were recommended, in addition to the three he was on, but I couldn’t bring myself to give my ten-year-old 5 different drugs. Towards the end of his fifth grade year he was placed in a children’s psychiatric facility after he threatened to kill others and tried to hurt himself. Joshua had reached the end of his rope.

I was told that I could not see him or call him for the first 24 hours he was at the facility. As I said “good-bye” there was so much hurt behind his beautiful blue eyes, so much uncertainty of “Where do I fit in, why am I like this? When will my life be normal, and when will I feel at peace inside?”

The immense pain I felt for my child left me numb and hopeless. I wanted so badly to take him in my arms, hug him and tell him that everything would be okay, but I didn’t know that to be so. I would go to the ends of the earth for him but felt as though I was already there and didn’t know where to go from here. Despite all the avenues I took, all the endless hours of searching, every year continued to grow darker and darker.

The immense pain for my child left me numb and hopeless.

After several days Joshua was released from the hospital. Since the medicines were not helping, his doctor recommended we remove them all and start on a different regimen. For the remaining weeks of school he was in a homebound program where the teacher came to our home.

The doctor assured me that by weaning Joshua off the medicines slowly there would be no problems with withdrawal. The opposite was true! We went through three weeks of severely out-of-control behavior. Several times Joshua became extremely violent and I came close to calling 911 for help.

His reaction to withdrawal from the many drugs was a nightmare.

Next, I tried allergy treatments at a clinic and they helped somewhat. Still searching, I learned of the Feingold Program and that’s when my son’s recovery began in earnest.[ / (800) 321-3287]

Joshua has a severe behavioral reaction to certain synthetic food additives.

Joshua had traveled down a difficult road filled with hurt, disappointment and fear for as long as he can remember. He lost much of his childhood to this journey, but because of Feingold, Joshua has a new beginning.

Now, at age 17, we are starting our seventh consecutive year that Joshua does not carry the label “emotionally handicapped.” Looking back, our success began when Joshua was in the sixth grade. It was roughly 8 weeks prior to school starting that we began the Feingold diet. Six weeks into the diet we saw dramatic changes in Joshua. Seventh grade went so well that during the annual meeting required for all students that receive “special services,” the school suggested a battery of behavioral testing and classroom observations to determine if Joshua still needed the services and the label that he carried in his file. After thorough testing and review, Joshua’s eight-year special needs folder was permanently closed. He no longer exhibited any signs of needing help in any form. This was truly a victory!

This is the seventh consecutive year Joshua’s teachers have told me he shows respect and cooperation without any opposition. Joshua is finally able to manage his anger when things don’t go his way (this feat alone was like a mountain to conquer).

Joshua no longer has trouble controlling his behavior. He is thriving in school and in all areas of his life.

His teachers view him as pleasant to be around as well as a good student. Joshua is able to remain seated for an extended period, is capable of thinking before acting, and no longer needs behavioral therapy. I no longer receive calls to come pick him up at school because he’s out of control and disruptive. Joshua has been able to attend events through the school or sports where I was not required to stay “just in case there’s a problem.”

Joshua went a total of seven years being medicated 24 hours a day with three medications (totaling 9 pills a day, for 365 days a year) to a healthy diet and absolutely no medicine.

Joshua is finally forming strong friendships. This list could go on but the bottom line is …since Feingold, this is the first time I like my son, and best of all HE likes who he’s become.

Our life finally feels, and is, “normal.” This is what we have both hoped for.

I know my son’s “transformation” did not occur due to maturity, changing schools, peer pressure, a reward system, or anything of the sort. The changes in Joshua came as a result of the simple changes we made in the food we eat.

A few months after we began seeing success on Feingold, Joshua wanted to do what he called “an experiment.” I allowed him to eat the synthetic chemicals (foods containing artificial colors and flavors) for a week because I knew his cooperation was essential for this to work. On the fourth day he began having rage attacks, showing opposition and defiance, just like before. He shouted at his teacher, threw a book across the room at another student, and spent a day in the principal’s office.

When he went back to eating the synthetic chemicals, the old behaviors returned in four days. It was a humiliating experience for my son.

He embarrassed himself terribly in front of his peers and came home asking to ditch the experiment. This validated the fact that the diet was truly the key to his happiness and success.

For the entire story - visit

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sue Scheff Discusses Wit's End and Cyber Abuse

It was very exciting to be on Miami DayBreak to discuss my first book, Wit's End!

Over the past several months I have been on many radio and TV shows discussing both my book and the effect Cyber Abuse can have on peoples lives. My Podcast website will be updated shortly with many of these shows.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Troubled Teens, Struggling Teens, At Risk Teens, Teen Help by Sue Scheff

Are you at your wit’s end?

Are you experiencing any of the following situations or feeling at a complete loss or a failure as a parent? You are not alone and by being a proactive parent you are taking the first step towards healing and bringing your family back together.

• Is your teen escalating out of control?
• Is your teen becoming more and more defiant and disrespectful?
• Is your teen manipulative? Running your household?
• Are you hostage in your own home by your teen’s negative behavior?
• Is your teen angry, violent or rage outbursts?
• Is your teen verbally abusive?
• Is your teen rebellious, destructive and withdrawn?
• Is your teen aggressive towards others or animals?
• Is your teen using drugs and/or alcohol?
• Does your teen belong to a gang?
• Do they frequently runaway or leave home for extended periods of time?
• Has their appearance changed – piercing, tattoo’s, inappropriate clothing?
• Has your teen stopped participating in sports, clubs, church and family functions? Have they become withdrawn from society?
• Is your teen very intelligent yet not working up to their potential? Underachiever? Capable of doing the work yet not interested in education.
• Does he/she steal?
• Is your teen sexually active?
• Teen pregnancy?
• Is your teen a good kid but making bad choices?
• Undesirable peers? Is your teen a follower or a leader?
• Low self esteem and low self worth?
• Lack of motivation? Low energy?
• Mood Swings? Anxiety?
• Teen depression that leads to negative behavior?
• Eating Disorders? Weight loss? Weight gain?
• Self-Harm or Self Mutilation?
• High School drop-out?
• Suspended or Expelled from school?
• Suicidal thoughts or attempts?
• Is your teen involved in legal problems? Have they been arrested?
• Juvenile Delinquent?
• Conduct Disorder?
• Bipolar?
• Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)?

Does your teen refuse to take accountability and always blame others for their mistakes?

• Do you feel hopeless, helpless and powerless over what options you have as a parent? Are you at your wit’s end?

Does any of the above sound familiar? Many parents are at their wit’s end by the time they contact us, but the most important thing many need to know is you are not alone. There is help but the parent needs to be proactive and educate themselves in getting the right help.

Many try local therapy, which is always recommended, but in most cases, this is a very temporary band-aid to a more serious problem. One or two hours a week with a therapist is usually not enough to make the major changes that need to be done.

If you feel you are at your wit’s end and are considering outside resources, please contact us. An informed parent is an educated parent and will better prepare to you to make the best decision for your child. It is critical not to place your child out of his/her element. In many cases placing a teen that is just starting to make bad choices into a hard core environment may cause more problems. Be prepared – do your homework.

Many parents are in denial and keep hoping and praying the situation is going to change. Unfortunately in many cases, the problems usually escalate without immediate attention. Don’t be parents in denial; be proactive in getting your teen the appropriate help they may need. Whether it is local therapy or outside the home assistance, be in command of the situation before it spirals out of control and you are at a place of desperation. At wit’s end is not a pleasant place to be, but so many of us have been there.

Finding the best school or program for your child is one of the most important steps a parent does. Remember, your child is not for sale – don’t get drawn into high pressure sales people, learn from my mistakes. Read my story at for the mistakes I made that nearly destroyed my daughter.

In searching for schools and programs we look for the following:

• Helping Teens - not Harming them
• Building them up - not Breaking them down
• Positive and Nurturing Environments - not Punitive
• Family Involvement in Programs - not Isolation from the teen
• Protect Children - not Punish them

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Communication is a Key to Success for Students

Source: Learning Forum International

Strong verbal communication skills help students at school in everything from getting better grades in class presentations to making a positive impression with teachers. These same skills also help students with their relationships in and out of school. At the learning and life skills summer camp, SuperCamp, students learn how important effective communication is in life and are given advice on how to improve their communication skills. Here are some of the tips they learn.

Don’t Be a Communication Killer
Beware! Some conversation responses-like reassurance, advice, and identification-that seem helpful on the surface can actually hinder positive communication, and may even end a conversation before it has a chance to become meaningful communication.

Don’t be a communication killer-be an active listener
Here are the three don’ts: don’t deny, don’t resolve, and don’t me-too.

Don’t deny: “You don’t need to lose weight, you look fine.”
When a friend shares an experience, a fear, or a feeling (”I’m so fat …”) and you respond with reassurance, you may mean to comfort her, but what you’re really doing is cutting off her sharing with the statement that she shouldn’t feel that way. You’re denying her feelings.
Don’t resolve: “If I were you …”
When someone tells you about a problem they’ve having, and you quickly hand them a solution, you shut them right down. Think about it. If you wanted to chat with a friend about a problem and maybe share some ideas and they quickly throw a solution at you, it wouldn’t feel very good. Their two-minute solution to a problem you’ve been struggling with for weeks would probably (a) be unlikely to work, (b) be something you already though of, and (c) be very likely to end the conversation.
Don’t me-too: “I know exactly what you mean; the same thing happened to me …”
When a friend begins to share something they’re going through and you cut them off with a “Me, too” and go into your “story”, you’ve killed the conversation. Your friend may never get to finish telling you about his experience, but he’ll know all about what happened to you.
None of these responses gives a conversation a chance. Often the best “conversations” are very one-sided as far as speaking is concerned. This is called active listening and it’s a vital ingredient in meaningful communication. The “listener” listens very intently and hardly says a word, only contributing enough to let the other person know they’re really hearing them. Think about the difference active listening would have made in the three don’ts examples above.
Don’t kill a conversation with reassurance, advice, or identification. Your goal is not to diagnose, pacify, or fix. Let your goal be to listen, and to let the speaker know he’s been heard.

Got a Minute?
Got a Minute? Have you ever had someone ask you this? Doesn’t it immediately send up a red flag in your mind: Why is he asking me this? Does he want me to have a cup of coffee with him? Does he want advice, or a favor? It’s an invisible question – you don’t know what he wants, you do know it probably won’t take just a minute, and you don’t know how to respond. Your honest answer is probably, “For what?” But you don’t feel comfortable being so blunt and you feel cornered.
If you get this a lot, handle it by reminding the person to be visible with “Why are you asking?” or “Tell me more.” This way, rather than uncomfortably saying, “Yes” without having any idea of what’s coming, you’re being direct in your communication and the final result will be better for both of you.

Another example of invisible communication is “What are you doing Friday night?” You wonder, Is she just curious? Does she want to invite me somewhere? Or maybe she wants me to babysit? What if she simply said, “I have an extra ticket for the concert on Friday night-would you like to come with me?” How easy is that to answer?

We all speak invisibly at times. When you catch yourself doing it, remind yourself to finish the sentence: “Do you have a minute to discuss …?” “What are you doing Friday night? I have concert tickets and I’m hoping you can join me.” When your intent is clear, people don’t feel as if they’re being manipulated or trapped-and they feel comfortable responding to you.

Visible communication strengthens relationships

Visible communication makes your purpose clear; invisible communication, as in the examples above, masks your purpose. When your intent is clear, people don’t feel as if they’re being tricked or manipulated. They feel safe and respected. And they feel comfortable responding to you. They’ll give your direct communication a direct answer. Communication is flowing and easy. Visible communication helps build stronger relationships. Make your intent visible, make your purpose clear, and strengthen your relationships.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Expert (Sue Scheff) Teen Internet Addiction

In today's society, the Internet has made its way into almost every American home. It is a well-known fact that the web is a valuable asset for research and learning. Unfortunately, it can also be a very dangerous place for teens. With social networking sites like Myspace and Friendster, chat rooms, instant messaging, and online role-playing video games, our children are at access to almost anyone. Sue Scheff, along with Parent's Universal Resource Experts™, is tackling the dangers of the web.

Keeping tabs on our teens' online habits doesn't just keep them safe from online predators. More and more parents are becoming wary of the excessive hours their teens spend surfing the web, withdrawing from family, friends and activities they used to enjoy. Internet Addiction is a devastating problem facing far too many teens and their families. While medical professionals have done limited research on the topic, more and more are recognizing this destructive behavior and even more, the potential mental effects it can have.

Though the web is a great place for learning and can be safe for keeping in touch, it is important that families understand the potential risks and dangers to find a healthy balance between real and virtual life.

The Basics: The Dangers of Teen Internet Addiction

It’s clear that, for teenagers, spending too much time online can really deter social and educational development. The Internet world is such that there is always something new to do and to distract one from one’s responsibilities. We all do it- take ten minutes here or there to explore our favorite gossip or sports site. There is nothing wrong with using the Internet as a tool for research, news, and even entertainment. After all, the World Wide Web is the world’s most accurate, up to date resource for almost any type of information.

But as the Internet evolves and becomes more tailored to the individual, it grows increasingly easier to develop a dependency on it. This is especially true for teens- a group that tends to be susceptible to flashy graphics and easily enticed by the popularity of social networks. In a sense, the Internet is the new video game or TV show. It used to be that adolescents would sit in front of the TV for hours on end operating a remote, shooting people and racing cars. Now they surf the web. Teens are impressionable and can at times be improperly equipped to handle certain situations with a degree of reason and rationality. And although they may have good intentions, they might be at risk of coming across something inappropriate and even dangerous.
Learn More About Wrapped in the Web.