Parents Universal Resource Experts, Sue Scheff™: Preventing Teen Cults from ruining your family

Teen cults claim many victims each year


Every year thousands of teens across the country become ensnared in the dangerous and misunderstood world of cults. These hazardous entities prey on the uncertainty and alienation that many teens feel and use those feelings to attract unsuspecting teens into their cult traps. As a figurehead in the world of parent teen relations, Sue Scheff™ knows the danger of cults and teenagers’ susceptibility to their temptations. Sue Scheff™ believes that like many other teen\ ailments, the best defense against the world of cults is through education.

No teen actually joins a cult, they join a religious movement or a political organization that reaches out to the feelings of angst or isolation that many troubled teen’s experience. Over time, this group gradually reveals its true cultish nature, and before teens know it, they are trapped in a web they can’t untangle.

With the strong rise in teen internet usage, cults have many ways to contact children and brainwash them. Sue Scheff™ knows the dark side of the internet from her experience with teenage internet addiction, and she understands it is also an avenue for cults to infiltrate teenage brains.

Cults have long been represented in the mass media. The supporters of Reverend Jim Jones People’s Temple may be some of the most famous cult members, making global headlines when they died in the hundreds after drinking Kool-Aid laced with cyanide. Almost 300 of the dead Jones supporters were teens and young children. Heavens Gate is another well known cult, which believed ritual suicide would ensure their journey behind the Hale-Bopp comet with Jesus. Heavens Gate lived in a strict communal environment, funding their cult endeavors through web site development. Some male members of the cult even castrated themselves before all 36 committed suicide, wearing matching sweat suits and Nike tennis shoes.

It is clear that despite the ridiculous and bizarre nature of many cults, parents can’t ignore the power and resourcefulness of these groups. Cult ideas may seem to loony to take seriously, but they can have real power when used against troubled teenagers, the exact type of teens that Sue Scheff™ and other parent advocates have been working to keep safe.

Cult influence should not be taken lightly, especially when living with a troubled teen. Parents may not think of cults as a problem because they don’t hear about them a lot, but that’s the key to cult success. The livelihood of teen cults relies on staying out of the public eye and in the shadows. The Heaven’s Gate and People’s Temple cults didn’t truly gain public notice until after their suicides, and by then it was too late to save their followers.

The danger of teen cults is real, but parents can help ensure their teenagers’ safety by staying informed and communicating with their children. Sue Scheff™ presents a site with important information about different types of cults that target teens, warning signs of cult attendance, and ways to help prevent your teen from becoming involved in a cult. Knowledge and communication is always the first line of defense when helping a troubled teen.




Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) ADHD Teens and Puberty

What parents of ADHD boys should watch for as their sons pass through adolescence.

Until he was 10 or 11, Robert was cheerful and lively, if sometimes distractible and hyper. Then came 12 and 13. “He alternates between couch potato and monster,” says his mother, Anne. “What happened to my sweet little boy?”

What happened were puberty (physical changes) and adolescence (psychological and social changes), which occur when children begin maturing into adults. Some kids begin to “act” like adolescents before puberty; others may not accept the role of adolescent until long after puberty. Whenever they happen, you’re in for a bumpy ride.

Fortunately, boys with attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD) don’t seem to have more difficulty coping with puberty than others. However, their particular problems and stresses may differ somewhat. Here are some issues to consider.

Refusing medicine

“Raging hormones” can cause intense physical and psychological changes. Teens often find body changes distressing and desperately want to fit in. That’s why many kids who cooperatively took medication in elementary school begin to protest and rebel in their teens; they don’t want to be singled out by going to the school office or health room.

Try to understand and help. If you can find an appropriate medication in a long-acting formulation, your child won’t have to take medicine in school. You can even allow a short trial off medication which may help your teen understand the need to continue taking it. Before discontinuing medication, consult with your family doctor or a mental health professional.

Peer pressure

All children need to feel accepted by their peer group. If the years of having ADHD (and possibly a learning disability) have resulted in poor social skills and limited success with friends, early adolescence may be painful.

The danger for some kids is that they may seek out any peer group that accepts them. Socially rejected ADHD boys frequently latch on to other “misfits” who do not do well in school or sports. The combination of a misfit peer group, the need to be accepted, and low self-esteem places ADHD teens at great risk of alcohol and drug use. Get educated and if you suspect these problems, get help.

Lack of supervision

Experimentation with alcohol, drugs, and sex doesn’t take place on weekend nights. The riskiest hours are between 3 and 6 P.M. on school days. Kids are often unsupervised because both parents work. They frequently visit friends’ houses with no adult present.

Be proactive. If you can’t supervise your teens after school, make sure they’re involved in sports, arts, community service or other activities that are supervised by adults. Keep tabs on where they are and what they’re doing at all times.

Comorbid disorders

People with ADHD are at increased risk of comorbid disorders (two or more conditions that occur at the same time). Depression and anxiety disorders often first show up between the ages of 8 and 12, and again in early adolescence. Watch your child for symptoms, and seek help if you think there’s a problem.

Also watch for signs of Conduct Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder, which are marked by antisocial, hostile, and unusually oppositional behavior. These disorders frequently place impulsive ADHD boys in dangerous, even criminal situations. Intervention is imperative.

Medication changes

Most boys on medication for ADHD do not need to change medication as they enter puberty. Even significant weight increases may not warrant an increased dose. If the dose used earlier in life still works, don’t change it.

The good news is that about half of ADHD kids improve significantly after puberty. Many no longer need medication. The rest will probably need medication through adolescence and possibly into adulthood.

On balance, most ADHD boys pass through adolescence with no more difficulty than others. Becoming a couch potato is not a disorder. However, seek professional advise if your son seems unusually sad, withdrawn, angry, or anxious. Don’t wait for a problem to escalate into a crisis. Even if your concerns are unfounded, it’s better to discuss them with a mental health professional than to wish you had acted sooner.

Sue Scheff: Discipline Without Regret: Tips for Parents of ADHD Children


How parents can set boundaries for ADHD children without yelling, screaming, or losing your cool. The smart way to discipline.
You’ve told your child with attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD) to pick up his dirty clothes from the bedroom floor. Not a single sock has been deposited in the hamper. Did he not hear you — or did he ignore your discipline?

Annoyed, you shout and, worse, feel yourself getting angry and nearing a power struggle. Then come the threats — no TV for a week, no friends visiting for a month, and whatever else you can think of in your fury. The incident costs everyone dearly: Your child feels angry and demoralized, and you feel like anything but a loving parent. And for what? A pile of clothes in need of a washing machine.

Later that evening, during a quiet moment at the kitchen table, you think back to what happened — and what has been happening for months now. You wish you had used more effective communication and question whether you love your child any more, whether you’re a fit parent. Don’t worry: You do and you are.

You’re feeling the emotional turmoil and stinging regret every parent experiences when trying to love and discipline a child. Here are some strategies that will help you feel less like an ogre and more like a mom the next time your child needs some “enlightenment”:

Discuss why it’s wrong. Make sure your child understands how his action — or inaction — has hurt someone or goes against the grain of your expectation. Then ask him if he thinks it would be a good idea to apologize, suggesting that he would probably want the same courtesy extended to him if his feelings had been hurt.

Be reasonable when grounding. If your child or teen abuses a privilege, remove the privilege — briefly. Depriving a teen access to the cell phone for a month because she exceeded the plan’s calling minutes is overkill. She is your daughter after all, not a criminal. Withdrawing the privilege for a short time — and allowing your teen to “earn” it back by developing a credible game plan for not abusing the privilege next time — teaches the necessary lesson.

Say it a couple of ways. Different kids respond to direction in different ways. When giving your child a task—such as putting his CDs back in their cases—state it two ways. Say, “I’d like you to stop leaving your CDs all over your desk. You paid good money for them, and you want to take care of them, right?” Then state the same request in a positive way: “Please put your CDs into their cases.” Chances are, he will get the message.

Schedule pit stops. Racecar drivers periodically pull their cars into the pit — to change tires, add fuel, and talk over race strategy with the pit crew. Do the same with your child when things get tense and you feel the urge to yell. Tell her you want to have a pit stop — a private conversation in a quiet area of the home where nobody will interrupt — or, better yet, at her favorite coffee place. Scheduling pit stops cuts off an ugly exchange that you will regret later.

Figure out a better way. Turn discipline moments into learning opportunities. Remind your teen that we all make mistakes, then invite him to brainstorm better ways to deal with a similar temptation or stress in the future. Listen to his ideas and value his input. It shouldn’t just be your way or the highway.

Encourage a redo. When your child screws up, patiently reenact the situation — doing it the right way. If your child spills a glass of soda while clowning around at the table, have her wipe up the mess and pour another glass. Then ask her to place the glass in a better location on the table and be on her best behavior.

Take a moment. Count to 10 before opening your mouth; it will short-circuit a great deal of verbal nastiness.

Strengthen the bond. The best discipline combines a firm expectation of how to behave or act, along with basic respect for the worth and dignity of your child. Bedtime tuck-ins, listening to her concerns, empathizing with her feelings, and defending your child when necessary all show that you are more than a drill sergeant. You’re a loving parent.

Reaffirm your love. Always remind your child, no matter what she’s done, how much you love her. Love and leadership are the twin functions of effective parenting — so make it clear that disciplining her doesn’t diminish your affection for her.

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Inhalants A Deadly Drug of Choice

Article published Apr 22, 2008
Local angle
The death of a 19-year-old South Bend man earlier this year shows that inhalant abuse can and does occur in our area.
In that case, the victim died of asphyxia caused by inhaling compressed air used to clean computer keyboards.
Police say the practice is not uncommon.

— Ed Semmler, Tribune staff writer

Inhalants a deadly drug of choice

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Jason Emanuel was a troubled 20-year-old whose drug of choice was keyboard cleaner.

He sucked can after can of products such as Dust-Off until his lips turned blue and the euphoria set in. He came to a Delray Beach, Fla., sober house to get clean.

Instead, he was arrested for “huffing” three times over four weeks and died after his final high set off a seizure.

Jason Emanuel’s case reflects the danger of household products in the hands of young people looking for an easy hit. Indeed, Emanuel chose inhalants because there is no middle man, other than a checkout clerk. Compared with other drugs, the number of people who die from inhalants is small, but there is growing concern over the No. 1 drug of middle-schoolers, who studies show see huffing as a low-risk hit.

“Jason was not a criminal,” his adoptive father, Chris Emanuel, said. “He wasn’t a guy that would stick up the 7-Eleven. He had a problem and eventually it defeated him.”

The coroner’s report, which determines cause of death, is not complete yet.

Chris Emanuel last saw his son in mid-December, about the same time the North Carolina native was first arrested in Boynton Beach, Fla. Twice police found him in his car huffing outside Wal-Mart. A third time, he was outside SuperTarget. Each time, he appeared unsteady on his feet and was incoherent, according to police reports.

Using Jason Emanuel as an example, police in January called a news conference to warn parents about huffing. They called him the “poster child” for inhalant abuse. More than 2 million kids ages 12-17 chose an inhalant to get high, according to the Alliance for Consumer Education, which operates the Web site

What they huff is found at home, with more than 1,400 household products as potential hits.

“This is a tragic situation that highlights the dangers of inhalant abuse and should force every parent to have a conversation with their children about the deadly consequences,” police spokeswoman Stephanie Slater said in a statement.

Inhalants affect the body like alcohol does: slurred speech, lack of coordination and dizziness. Some users experience hallucinations and delusions. More severe are the long-term effects, such as liver and kidney damage, hearing loss, limb spasms and brain damage.

Because the high lasts only a few minutes, users prolong the feeling by huffing for hours. Chemical-induced cardiac arrest can happen any time, said Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein, medical director of the Florida Poison Control covering South Florida.

Even without an autopsy, Jason Emanuel’s final encounter with police on Feb. 26 reveals the role inhalants played in his death. Days before, he was kicked out of the Delray Beach halfway house where he came to get sober. For three days he lived in his car, and on the last, sheriff’s deputies were called to Wal-Mart west of West Palm Beach, Fla.

Jason Emanuel told the deputies he had been huffing that afternoon, said Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Teri Barbera. Paramedics took him to the hospital and, on the way, he suffered a seizure and stopped breathing.

On average, 100 to 125 people across the United States die from inhalants annually, said Harvey Weiss, spokesman for the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition. But the numbers may be higher, he said. There is no national clearinghouse on inhalant-related deaths.

An interim report from Florida’s medical examiners attributes three deaths to inhalants in 2007. In contrast, cocaine killed 398 people in the state last year. The prescription drug Oxycodone claimed 323 lives. Anti-drug advocates say inhalants are just as dangerous.

“You see kids on YouTube joking around, laughing and having fun, and the risk really isn’t conveyed,” said Colleen Creighton, the consumer alliance’s executive director. “The frightening thing for us is how young the kids are who are using.”

A government study released last month showed inhalants are the drug of choice for 12- and 13-year-olds. As they get older, many teens switch to marijuana.

Jason Emanuel was the opposite. His father said he smoked marijuana in high school but took up huffing about a year ago.

“He got off marijuana because he didn’t like finding dealers,” he said. “You can go to any place and find an inhalant.”

Jason Emanuel grew up in an upper-middle-class neighborhood in Charlotte, N.C. The product of private schools, he was a bright kid who had big ambitions. Ultimately, he dropped out after his first semester at Appalachian State University to go into rehab.

His parents sent him to rehabilitation centers around the United States, but he veiled his troubles to his friends.

“He just didn’t act like someone who was a drug addict,” Elliot Engstrom, 19, a childhood friend, said.

“With my generation, people get so concerned with drugs you hear about in pop culture. That’s really not the problem. It’s the prescription drugs and the stuff you buy at Wal-Mart.”


Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Single Parents: How to Raise ADHD Children – Alone

Seven expert strategies to help single parents raise confident, successful children with ADHD.

Click Here for Entire Article.

ADDitude Magazine offers great information for parents and adults of ADD/ADHD. As a single parent with an ADHD child, this article offers a lot of insight.

Sue Scheff: Teenage Drug Abuse

If you suspect your teen is doing any form of gateway drug, it’s important to talk to them about it as soon as possible. Again, it is important to not yell or threaten. You will no doubt be scared and angry, but so is your teen. If they feel as though you don’t support them or they can’t talk to you, scaring them will only make the problem worse! Try to remain calm.

Assure your teen they can trust you and that you love them and want to help them. Explain harmful side effects of drugs, but assure them it’s not too late to get help, and that you will support them. Tell them about any changes you’ve noticed in their behavior and how those changes make you feel. Let them talk to you, and listen to them. Do not judge them or criticize them.


The first you need to do in order to prevent your teen from abusing drugs, alcohol or tobacco is to take seriously the threat posed by these substances to your child. You have to take seriously the risks posed because this will ultimately be the one catalyst that will allow you to talk to your teen about the problem in a frank and open manner. By taking to heart the importance of the matter at hand, you will be in a better position to urge your teen to do the same. You do not need to be harsh or judgmental with them. It is a better strategy to be as supportive as you can. If you insist on being hostile and angry with your teen, you will likely succeed in pushing them away form you and deeper into possible addiction.


Any treatment plan you decide upon for your teen should be dictated by the substances they abuse and how much they abuse them. For example, to send a child to a strict military-style school because they have tried drugs or alcohol a handful of times is something of an overreaction. Many times if a teen’s experiments with drugs, alcohol and tobacco are minor, a good open talk with them can convey all the information you want, and achieve very positive results in terms of future behavior.
Of course, the story is entirely different if your teen has become addicted to drugs and alcohol. In this instance, a detoxification program may be in order, along with a treatment regimen that helps wean the child off of drugs and replaces that with medicine. Studies have shown that the effectiveness of prescription medicine treatment for substance abuse is greatly enhanced when combined with one-on-one and/or family counseling.


One thing to remember if treatment becomes the order for the day when addressing your child’s substance issues is that relapse after treatment is common. This does not mean that you or your teen have failed any part of the recovery process. Addiction is extremely difficult to overcome and the most important thing to keep in mind is to take things one step at a time.
For more information about Teen Drug Abuse.



Wit’s End! Book Information




Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Cell Phones and Driving

By Connect with Kids


“Driving while talking on the cell phone approaches the same disability in terms of driving as driving while intoxicated does.”

– Dr. Cathy Blusiewicz, Ph.D., clinical psychologist

Several studies have shown that it’s dangerous to talk on a cell phone while driving.  But is the solution, as some states have mandated, hands-free cell phones? Maybe not. New research suggests that even with both hands on the wheel, drivers on cell phones are a lot like drunk drivers.

Right after school, Patrick Ferrell gets in his car and gets on the phone.

“I talk on my cell phone all the time when I’m driving, but I don’t consider it a big deal because you just have to watch the road,” says Patrick, 18.

But according to experts, the brain can’t focus on two things at the same time. A study by Carnegie Mellon University reports that just talking on the phone reduces activity in the part of the brain responsible for driving by 37 percent.

“Driving while talking on the cell phone approaches the same disability in terms of driving as driving while intoxicated does,” says Dr. Cathy Blusiewicz, Ph.D., clinical psychologist.

And, she says, the effect is even worse for teenagers.

“Driving is a learned skill, and we become much more automatically proficient at it with the number of years we’ve had driving.  And so … adolescents who are brand new drivers — they don’ t have the learned skill, plus they are only giving 50 percent attention to it (at most) if they are on the phone,” says Blusiewicz.

“Yeah … if my friend’s telling me an exciting story, I’ll get really, really excited, and if someone pulls out in front of me I’ll … slam on the brakes or whatever. I’ll be paying more attention to my friends than to the road,” says Kendra Rasmussen, 18.

Experts say parents need to set an example; just as kids need endless reminders to wear a seatbelt, they need to hear over and over again: driving and cell phones don’t mix.

“So that’s a hill to climb for parents and educators, to convince them that even though you feel invincible this is like having four beers before you get behind the wheel,” says Blusiewicz.

Tips for Parents

It is very likely that your teenager will pick up the majority of his/her driving habits from watching you. According to a recent survey by Liberty Mutual and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), nearly two-thirds of teenagers polled say their parents talk on the cell phone while driving; almost half say their parents speed, and just under one-third say their parents don’t wear seatbelts. The following statistics, therefore, shouldn’t be very surprising:

  • Sixty-two percent of high school drivers say they talk on a cell phone while driving, and approximately half of high school teens who do not yet drive (52 percent) and middle school students (47 percent) expect they will engage in this behavior when they begin driving.
  • Sixty-seven percent of high school drivers say they speed.
  • Thirty-three percent of high school drivers say they do not wear their seatbelt while driving.

Cell phones have been transformed from status symbols into everyday accessories. In fact, cell phones are so prevalent among teenagers that a recent study found that they viewed talking on the phone nearly the same as talking to someone face-to-face. And with the latest studies showing that at least 56 percent of 13- to 17-year-olds own cell phones, the issue of cell phone usage is more pertinent than ever.

If you believe your teen should have a cell phone, it is important to lay down a few ground rules. The National Institute on Media and the Family suggests the following guidelines for setting limits on your teen’s cell phone use:

  • Choose a plan that puts some reasonable limits on your teen’s phone time. Make sure he or she knows what the limits are so he or she can do some budgeting.
  • Let your teen know that the two of you will be reviewing the bill together so you will have an idea of how the phone is being used.
  • If use exceeds the plan limits, the charges can mount very quickly. Make sure your teen has some consequences, financial or otherwise, if limits are exceeded.
  • Teach your child about the dangers of using the cell phone while driving and the distractions it can cause.
  • Find out what the school’s policies are regarding cell phone use and let your teen know that you will completely support the school’s policies.
  • Agree on cell phone etiquette. For example, no phone calling during meals or when it is bothersome or rude to other people.
  • Conversely, let your teen know that any “phone bullying” or cheating via text messaging will not be tolerated.
  • Let your teen know that his or her use of the cell phone is contingent on the ground rules you set. No compliance, no phone.


  • Washington Post
  • Liberty Mutual
  • SADD
  • Road and Travel
  • Wired News
  • National Institute on Media and the Family