Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Youth Gang Statistics

teengangs22.jpgYouth gang activity is a significant problem in the United States. The following are statistics related to youth violence and gang activities:

  • 14 percent of teens are gang members (according to a survey in Denver)
  • 89 percent of serious violent crimes committed by teens were committed by gang members
  • Gang members are 60 percent more likely to be killed
  • The average age of a gang member is 17 to 18 years old
  • 25 percent of gang members are between the age of 15 and 17
  • Police reports indicate that 6 percent of gang members are female and that 39 percent of gangs have female members
  • Of female gang members:
    • 78 percent have been in a gang fight
    • 65 percent carry a weapon for protection
    • 39 percent have attacked someone with a weapon
  • Youth gang activity by area type:
    • 72 percent of large cities
    • 33 percent of small cities
    • 56 percent of suburban counties
    • 24 percent of rural counties
    • 51 percent overall
  • Youth gang activity by region:
    • 74 percent in the West
    • 52 percent in the Midwest
    • 49 percent in the South
    • 31 percent in the Northeast
    • 51 percent overall

For more information on Teen Gangs.

By Sue Scheff, Parents Universal Resource Experts

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Military Schools and Academies – by Sue Scheff

oakridge.jpg· Does your child have a desire for Military School?
· Is your child an underachiever or lack motivation?
· Does your child lack respect for Authority?
· Does your child make bad choices?
· Does your child lack self-confidence and self-respect?

Military Schools and Academies offer a student the opportunity to reach their highest academic potential as well as build up their self-esteem to make better choices in today’s society. We encourage parents to let their children know that Military Schools are a privilege and honor to attend and not for troubled children.

Military Schools are not for punishment; they are a time for growth. With many students the structure and positive discipline that Military Schools offer are very beneficial. It not only encourages them to become the best they can be, it enhances them to grow into mature respectable young men and women. Many students do not realize they would enjoy Military Schools until they actually visit the campus and understand the honor it is. Military Schools will give your child the vision to reach their goals and dreams for their future. The high level of academics combined with small class sizes creates a strong educational background.

Many ADD/ADHD students do very well in a Military Schooland Military Academy due to the structure and positive discipline. If your child is ADD or ADHD you may want to consider this type of environment. Many parents start with a summer program to determine if their child is a candidate for Military School.

For more information visit Parents Universal Resource Experts.

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Understanding Teen Runaways

teenrunaway.jpgKnowing the Difference: Runaway, Missing or Sneaking?

When a teen turns up “missing,” parents must initially decide whether the child is missing, has run away, or simply sneaked out.

There are differences, and those differences are very important. A missing child could have been abducted by someone against his/her will and is being held, possibly threatened. A missing child can also be a child who is simply missing; the child did not return home when expected and may be lost or injured.

Runaway teens and sneaking teens are often confused, as both leave a supervised environment of their own free will. Sneaking teens leave home for a short period of time, with intent to return, most likely during the night or while a parent can be fooled. A runaway teen leaves home or a supervised environment for good, with intent to live separate from his/her parents. Runaway teens will likely have shown symptoms prior to running away.

In most cases, a teen runs away after a frustrating and heated argument with one or both parents. Often times, the runaway will stay with a friend or relative close by to cool off. In more serious cases, a teen may run away often and leave with no notion of where they are going.

Warning Signs your Teen May Become a Runaway

Attempts to communicate with your teen have only resulted in ongoing arguments, yelling, interruptions, hurtful name- calling, bruised feelings and failure to come to an agreement or compromise.
Your teen has become involved in a network of friends or peers who seem often unsupervised, rebellious, defiant, involved with drugs or alcohol or who practice other alarming social behavior.
A noticeable pattern of irrational, impulsive and emotionally abusive behavior by either parent or teen.
The Grass Looks Greener on the Other Side
Often, we hear our teens use “My friend’s parents let her do it!” or, “Everything is better at my friend’s house!” The parents of your teen’s friends may be more lenient, choose later curfew times, allow co-ed events or give higher allowances. While you as parent know all parents work differently, it can be very difficult for your teen to understand.

Motivations of a Runaway

To avoid an emotional experience or consequence that they are expecting as a result of a parental, sibling, friend or romantic relationship/situation.
To escape a recurring or ongoing painful or difficult experience in their home, school or work life.
To keep from losing privileges to activities, relationships, friendships or any other things considered important or worthwhile.
To be with other people such as friends or relatives who are supportive, encouraging and active in ways they feel are missing from their lives.
To find companionship or activity in places that distract them from other problems they are dealing with.
To change or stop what they are doing or about to do.
As parents or guardians we strive to create positive, loving households in order to raise respectful, successful and happy adults. In order to achieve this, rules must be put in place. Teens who run away from home are often crying for attention. Some teens will attempt to run away just once, after an unusually heated argument or situation in the household, and return shortly after. More serious cases, however, happen with teens in extreme emotional turmoil.

Parents also need to be extremely aware of the symptoms, warning signs and dangers of teenage depression. Far too many teens are suffering from this disease and going untreated. Often, runaways feel they have no other choice but to leave their home, and this is in many cases related to their feelings of sadness, anger and frustration due to depression.

Teenage Depression

There are many causes of depression, and every child, regardless of social status, race, age or gender is at risk. Be aware and be understanding. To an adult juggling family and career, it may seem that a young teenager has nothing to be “depressed” about! Work for a mutual communication between the two of you. The more your teenager can confide his/her daily problems and concerns, the more you can have a positive and helpful interaction before the problems overwhelm them.

Parents Universal Resource Experts – Dating Violence and Cell Phones

cellphoneviolence.jpgBy Connect with Kids 

“It’s a loss that you can’t comprehend; it’s a void that can never be filled again.”

– Tom Santoro, father

Studies show that one in three teenage girls has been in a relationship where she has feared for her safety.  One in five has been physically abused; one in four has been verbally abused. Even when your daughter is at home, that doesn’t mean she is out of harm’s way.

“The old saying, “If I can’t have her, no one else can’ came true for Lisa,” says Tom Santoro, Lisa’s father.

Lisa Santoro, 18, was brutally murdered by her ex-boyfriend.

“It’s a loss that you can’t comprehend; it’s a void that can never be filled again,” says her father.

In the weeks between their break-up and her death, Lisa’s ex-boyfriend, Timothy Bucholz, began stalking her.

“We found out afterwards that he kept calling her after the breakup. We found out he started to follow her around,” says Santoro.

According to a survey by Teenage Research Unlimited, one in three teens is a victim of cyber-stalking — harassment either by phone calls or text messages.

“He would call and cry, say that he was upset that she had broken up with him. There were other conversations where he started telling her that he wanted all his stuff back,” says Laura Mejia, Lisa’s friend.

Experts say it can be hard to tell that your teen is being stalked, especially if she has her own cell phone. But there are warning signs.

“You see differences in the way your child behaves. There may be depression, there may be isolation, there may be a nervousness around the telephone ringing. There may be telephone calls coming to your child’s cell phone all hours of the night. You hear the phone ring several times, it‘s the same person,” says Kim Frndak, domestic violence specialist.
 
“Maybe the child sees the caller ID and puts the phone away,” Frndak continues. “They may or may not want to tell you what’s going on, but that’s a big red flag — the harassing phone calls and stalking behaviors.”

Frndak says if the harassment continues, call the parents of the stalker.

“You may get some resistance, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with saying ‘I’m going to call’ because chances are if he’s behaving this way towards your daughter, he’s done it in the past with other people,” says Frndak.

“And she has got to realize you’re doing this for her protection. I know as a teenager they don’t like it, but it’s something you have to do as a parent,” says Santoro.

Tips for Parents

  • Abuse can be physical, emotional or sexual. Slapping, hitting and kicking are forms of physical abuse that can occur in both romances and friendships. (Nemours Foundation)
  • Dating abuse is linked to patterns of violence that may negatively affect future relationships. If your child has been abused or is participating in some of the risky behaviors listed above, encourage him or her to seek help from a doctor or mental health professional to cope with emotions or to learn how to stop unhealthy habits and behaviors. (Nemours Foundation)
  • Emotional abuse (teasing, bullying and humiliating others) can be difficult to recognize because it doesn’t leave any visible scars. Threats, intimidation, putdowns, and betrayal are all harmful forms of emotional abuse that can really hurt. (Nemours Foundation)
  • You may be involved in an abusive relationship when someone …
    • harms you physically in any way, including slapping, pushing, grabbing, shaking, smacking, kicking, and punching.
    • tries to control different aspects of your life, such as how you dress, who you hang out with, what you say.
    • frequently humiliates you or makes you feel unworthy (for example, if a partner puts you down but tells you that he or she loves you).
    • coerces or threatens to harm you, or harm himself, if you leave the relationship.
    • twists the truth to make you feel that you are to blame for your his actions.
    • demands to know where you are at all times.
    • constantly becomes jealous or angry when you want to spend time with your friends.
  • If you believe you are in an abusive relationship and you want to end it, experts recommend:
    • First, make sure you’re safe. A trusted adult can help. If the person has physically attacked you, get medical attention or call the police immediately. Don’t wait; assault is illegal, and so is rape — even if it’s done by someone you are dating. (Nemours Foundation)
    • Avoid the tendency to isolate yourself from your friends and family. You might feel like you have nowhere to turn, or you might be embarrassed about what’s been going on, but this is when you need support the most. People such as counselors, doctors, teachers, coaches, and friends will want to help you, so let them. (Nemours Foundation)
    • Ending abuse and violence in teen relationships is a community effort with plenty of people ready to help. Seek out crisis centers, teen help lines and abuse hotlines. These organizations have professionally-trained staff to listen, understand and help. (Nemours Foundation)

References

  • Nemours Foundation

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Unpopular Girls Gain Weight?

teenobes.jpgBy Connect with Kids 

“There was nothing I could do about it and … as a result, when you feel that left out, you find comfort in other things. And I think one of the things I found comfort in is food.”

– Sarah, 14

Are girls bullied because they are overweight, or do they gain weight because they are bullied? The findings of a Harvard study may surprise you.

In the 4th grade, Sarah was bullied by several of her classmates.

“They just figured, ‘we’ll be cool,’ whatever cool is, and cool was not talking to me,” says Sarah, 14.

She felt hopeless and alone.

“There was nothing I could do about it and … as a result, when you feel that left out, you find comfort in other things. And I think one of the things I found comfort in is food,” says Sarah.

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health followed more than 4,000 girls for two years. They found that girls who ranked themselves at the bottom of the social ladder were 69 percent more likely to gain weight than girls who were perceived to have a higher social standing.

“That kind of chronic experience increases the risk of all kinds of unhealthy ways of coping with the negative experience,” says Dr. Randall Flanery, Ph.D., child clinical psychologist.

Unhealthy coping includes overeating.

“Pushing that emotion down with food … pushing that away from having to deal with it … and the comfort, the one thing that is a nice warm hug, is that food which calms them down and makes them feel like, ‘Okay, I’m alright,’” says Marilyn Tanner, pediatric dietician.
 
Sarah eventually did make friends at her school. What is her advice today for other kids?

“You have to tell someone because even if they don’t do anything about it, even if the situation isn’t helped, talking about it does wonders,” says Sarah.

Tips for Parents

  • Many people who use food as a way of dealing with emotions suffer from “binge-eating disorder.” Binge-eating disorder is characterized by recurrent overeating or binge-eating episodes during which a person feels a loss of control over his or her eating. (National Institute of Mental Health, NIMH)
  • Unlike bulimia, binge-eating episodes are not followed by purging, excessive exercise or fasting. As a result, people with binge-eating disorder often are overweight or obese. They also experience guilt, shame and/or distress about the binge-eating, which can lead to more binge-eating. (NIMH)
  • Obese people with binge-eating disorder often have coexisting psychological illnesses including anxiety, depression and personality disorders. In addition, links between obesity and cardiovascular disease and hypertension are well documented. (NIMH)
  • If you are overeating often, there are some things that might help you avoid doing so. For example, instead of eating when you’re not hungry, find other ways to keep yourself busy, such as taking a walk or talking on the phone. Try not to snack while doing something else, such as watching TV or doing homework — that’s a set-up for overeating! (Nemours Foundation)
  • Know yourself and your reputation. Get in touch with your values, interests and beliefs. If you are encountering cliques and/or exclusion at school, it’s a good opportunity to ask yourself what you and your true friends give each other. Do you want to be part of a group because you need to feel accepted or because you actually share their values? (Nemours Foundation)
  • Stay involved in activities that make you feel good about yourself. Keep your social circles open and diverse.
  • Speak out. If you feel your group of friends is turning into a clique, take a stand for your beliefs. Be prepared that the clique might go on without you (remember many girls feel threatened by someone else’s strength). Have a mind of your own.
  • Be sensitive to others and don’t go along with what you don’t believe is right — even if others are doing it. You are the only one responsible for your behavior. True friends will respect your mind, your rights and your independent choices. (Nemours Foundation)

References

  • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
  • Nemours Foundation

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Preventing Addiction – A great book for parents with today’s teens

Kids are Doing a Lot More Than You Think, and at an Earlier AgeRecent studies show that the average child begins to drink and smoke cigarettes at age 13! This means that about half begin younger than that. Parents are rarely aware of this until their kids are several years older. By then the kids have begun other, even more dangerous activities such as drug use and underage sexual activity.
Read more about  Dr. Fleming and order this valuable book today.

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Teen Suicide – Communicating with your Teen

teensuicide1.jpgAs you have probably heard before, talking to your teen about suicide is one of the most important things you can do in helping to prevent a suicide attempt. Many times parents are unsure of what to say and instead say nothing. Here are some suggestions of how you can open the channels of communication and help your teen open up.First, tell your teen you care; no matter the state of your relationship, just hearing this can go a long way. Tell your teen you are there if needed, and are willing to listen without judging. NAMI estimates that around 80% of all teens who attempt suicide give some sort of verbal or nonverbal warning beforehand, so be sure to take whatever your teen says completely seriously.

A common mistake parents make when dealing with a suicidal teen is thinking that if they mention suicide they will be planting the idea in their teen’s brain. This is simply not accurate. In fact, by mentioning your fears, you are showing your teen that you take their actions and their life seriously. Remember, most people who are suicidal do not really want to die- they want to put an end to the suffering they are experiencing. When given an opportunity to be helped through that suffering, or when some of that suffering is alleviated by knowing they aren’t alone, this can help reduce the desire to end the pain by more drastic means.

More information on Teen Suicide.
Sue Scheff, Parents Universal Resource Experts