Teen Smoking: How Parents Can Prevent It

By Aurelia Williams

Teen smoking statistics are on the rise. It is very important that children are informed of the teen smoking statistics and the harmful effects of smoking.Having involved parents — those who know a lot about their children’s friends, activities and performance in school — can help children overcome peer influence to start teen smoking, according to a study by a researcher at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

The study also confirmed earlier findings that the more widespread children think smoking is, the more likely they are to start. Moreover, children who are socially competent — who have the ability to exercise self-control and good judgment — and have parents who monitor their behavior tend not to start smoking. The study, which was published in the December 2002 issue of Prevention Science, surveyed students in four middle schools in a suburban Maryland school district.

Why Parental Involvement Is Key

While researchers have known that both peers and parents play an important role in whether young teens and preteens start smoking, they’ve known less about whether the effects of peer influence on starting smoking is affected by other factors, such as parents’ involvement and children’s adjustment to school and degree of social competence.

“Many children start to experiment with smoking in early adolescence,” said Duane Alexander, M.D., director of the NICHD. “Many then go on to develop a life-long addiction that can cause them serious health problems later in life. This study shows that by staying involved in their children’s lives, parents can help them to avoid the smoking habit.”

Bruce Simons-Morton, Ph.D., of NICHD’s Division of Epidemiology, Statistics and Prevention Research, surveyed 1,081 students in four middle schools at the beginning and again at the end of sixth grade. The students completed a questionnaire that measured a variety of factors, including their friends’ behavior and expectations; their own ability to resist dares, resolve conflicts and retain self-control; and how well they follow rules, complete school work on time and get along with classmates and teachers. The questionnaire also asked children about their parents’ involvement in their lives, their parents’ expectations for them and whether their parents check to see if the children have done what they’ve been asked to do.

The researchers found that teens with friends engaging in problem behavior — those who smoked, drank, cheated on tests, lied to parents, bullied others or damaged property — were more likely to smoke if their parents were relatively less involved than if their parents were relatively more involved. This finding pertained to all of the children studied — boys, girls, African-Americans, whites, children living with one parent and children with mothers who had not attended college. Parents’ expectations about smoking and whether an adult at home smokes did not significantly influence children’s decision to start smoking.

“Parents’ involvement may be particularly important during early adolescence,” said Dr. Simons-Morton. “It is a time when many young people first begin asserting their independence from their parents, but before peer influences reach their full strength. It’s also a time when young people are still sensitive to their parents’ values and concerns, and may be reluctant to try smoking, because they know their parents would disapprove.”

The study also confirmed two earlier findings. The researchers found that students who provided higher estimates of how many other youth smoke were more likely to smoke than those who provided lower estimates. This finding was true regardless of whether children had relatively more or relatively fewer friends who smoked. In addition, the researchers found that sixth graders who had the ability to exercise self-control and good judgment, and had parents who monitored their behavior, were less likely to start smoking. Dr. Simons-Morton noted that the study was not a nationally representative survey, but was limited to four middle schools in one suburban location. Also, some groups of children may not have been fully represented in the study, because their parents did not give permission for them to participate, or because they were absent from class on survey days.

From a December 2002 National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development news release. Providing teen smoking statistics and other health relate information

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Parents Universal Resource Experts – Sue Scheff- 10 Parenting Tips

Sue Scheff – Founder of Parents’ Universal Resource Experts

 Offers 10 Parenting Quick Tips

 

www.helpyourteens.com

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www.suescheff.com

 

 

1.                  Communication: Keeping the lines of communication of your child should be a priority with all parents.  It is important to let your kids know you are always there for them no matter what the subject is.  If there is a subject you are not comfortable with, please be sure your child has someone they can open up to.  I believe that when kids keep things bottled up, it can be when negative behaviors can start to grow.

 

2.                  Knowing your Children’s Friends:  This is critical, in my opinion.  Who are your kids hanging out with?  Doing their homework with?  If they are spending a lot of time at a friends house, go out of your way to call the parent introduce yourself.  Especially if they are spending the night at a friends house, it important to take time to call the parents or meet them.  This can give you a feeling of security knowing where your child is and who they are with.

 

 

3.                   Know your Child’s Teachers – Keep track of their attendance at school: Take time to meet each teacher and be sure they have your contact information and you have theirs if there are any concerns regarding your child.  In the same respect, take time to meet your child’s Guidance Counselor.

 

4.                  Keep your Child Involved:  Whether it is sports, music, drama, dance, and school clubs such as chess, government, school newspaper or different committees such as prom, dances and other school activities.  Keeping your child busy can keep them out of trouble.  If you can find your child’s passion – whether it is football, soccer, gymnastics, dance, music – that can help keep them focused and hopefully keep them on track in school.

 

 

5.                  Learn about Internet Social Networking: In today’s Cyber generation this has to be a priority.  Parents need to help educate their kids on Cyber Safety – think before they post, help them to understand what they put up today, may haunt them tomorrow.  Don’t get involved with strangers and especially don’t talk about sex with strangers.  Avoid meeting in person the people you meet online without you being there.  On the same note – cell phone and texting – don’t allow your child to freely give out their cell numbers and never post them online. Parents should consider ReputationDefender/MyChild www.reputationdefender.com/mychild to further help protect their children online.

 

6.                  Encourage your teen to get a job or volunteer:  In today’s generation I think we need to instill responsibility and accountability.  This can start early by encouraging your teen to either get a job or volunteer, especially during the summer.  Again, it is about keeping them busy, however at the same time teaching them responsibility.  I always tell parents to try to encourage their teens to get jobs at Summer Camps, Nursing Homes or places where they are giving to others.  It can truly build self esteem to help others. 

 

 

7.                  Make Time for your Child: This sounds very simple and almost obvious, but with today’s busy schedule of usually both parents working full time or single parent households, it is important to put time aside weekly (if not daily at dinner) for one on one time or family time.  Today life is all about electronics (cell phones, Ipods, Blackberry’s, computers, etc) that the personal touch of actually being together has diminished.

 

8.                  When Safety trumps privacy:  If you suspect your teen is using drugs, or other suspicious behaviors (lying, defiance, disrespectful, etc) it is time to start asking questions – and even “snooping” – I know there are two sides to this coin, and that is why I specifically mentioned “if you suspect” things are not right – in these cases – safety for your child takes precedence over invading their privacy.  Remember – we are the parent and we are accountable and responsible for our child.

 

 

9.                  Are you considering outside treatment for your child? Residential Therapy is a huge step, and not a step that is taken lightly. Do your homework!  When your child’s behavior escalates to a level of belligerence, defiance, substance abuse or God forbid gang relations – it may be time to seek outside help.  Don’t be ashamed of this – put your child’s future first and take steps to get the help he/she needs – immediately, but take your time to find the right placement. Read Wit’s End! www.witsendbook.com for more information. 

 

10.             Be a parent FIRST:  There are parents that want to be their child’s friend and that is great – but remember you are a parent first.  Set boundaries – believe it not kids want limits (and most importantly – need them).  Never threaten consequences you don’t plan on following through with.

 

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) SAFE EYES – Protecting Your Kids Online

 

Safe Eyes 5.0 Parental Control Software Receives Parents’ Choice Award

 

Safe Eyes™ 5.0, the latest edition of Internet parental control software from InternetSafety.com, has earned a 2008 Parents’ Choice Approved award from the Parents’ Choice Foundation. The award is the latest in a series of honors for the parental monitoring software, including two consecutive Editors’ Choice awards from PC Magazine.

 

“If you think your family’s safety requires Internet filtering and monitoring, whatever level, this program provides an array of options to get it done,” said the Parents’ Choice Foundation in its recognition of the Safe Eyes product. The 30-year-old foundation is the nation’s oldest non-profit program created to recognize quality children’s media, including books, toys, music and storytelling, software, videogames, television and websites.

 

“This commendation from the Parents’ Choice Foundation reflects the growing concern that parents have over their children’s Internet use as well as the wide range of control choices that Safe Eyes offers,” said Forrest Collier, CEO of InternetSafety.com. “Every child and every family is different, so flexibility is essential. The product lets parents decide how their children use the Internet.”

 

Safe Eyes is a comprehensive program that enables parents to easily block objectionable websites, control Internet use by length of time as well as time of day and day of the week, block or record instant messenger chats, and block peer-to-peer file sharing programs that may expose children to dangerous material. It also allows parents to limit email use to certain addresses, and receive alerts when children post inappropriate or personal information on social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook.

 

The software provides broader controls than any other filtering product, including the ability to define which websites will be blocked by category, URL and keyword; receive instant alerts about inappropriate online behavior by email, text message or phone call; and remotely change program settings or view reports from any Internet-enabled computer.

 

Safe Eyes is also the only program of its kind that can be used in mixed Mac/PC households. A single $49.95 annual subscription covers up to three Mac and/or PC computers with the ability to customize settings for each child and enforce them on any machine. The product’s website blacklist is updated automatically every day, eliminating the need for manual updates. Safe Eyes can be downloaded at www.SafeEyes.com.

 

All Parents’ Choice Awards winners are posted to the Parents’ Choice Foundation website (www.parents-choice.org).

 

About InternetSafety.com

Established in 1999, InternetSafety.com specializes in providing Internet safety solutions.  Its flagship software, Safe Eyes, is the two-time recipient of the PC Magazine Editors’ Choice Award and was rated as the #1 parental control solution by America’s leading consumer advocacy publication.  The company’s Safe Eyes and EtherShield products are providing online protection for PCs and Macs in homes, businesses and schools across more than 125 countries. 

 

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Political Teens

By Connect with Kids

“When parents talk about politics with their kids, when they participate themselves — this leads to a higher level of interest in politics among their children,”

– Dr. Alan Abramowitz, Political Science Professor, Emory University

Nineteen-year-old Will Kelly is pounding the pavement, knocking on doors and talking to voters.

Seventeen-year-old Amelia Hartley is answering phones, making copies and filing news clips.

She is a die-hard Democrat, and he is a faithful Republican. Both teenagers have a passion for politics and for getting involved.

“To be honest,” Will says of his volunteer work, “because I care about what’s going on and it troubles me to see how so many people become apathetic with what they do have in this country – that we take so much for granted.”

“At 17, I can’t vote yet, I don’t pay taxes, but within a year I’m going to have to know enough about leaders – not only national, but local and state – to be able to say who I want running things,” says Amelia of her involvement.

According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, young voters are turning up in record numbers this presidential election.

One reason, experts say, their parents.

“There has been quite a bit of research that shows that when parents talk about politics with their kids, when they participate themselves, when they take their kids to vote with them, that all this leads to a higher level of interest in politics among the children,” says Dr. Alan Abramowitz, a political science professor at Emory University.

It is a level of interest, Dr. Abramowitz adds, that persists over time. “Even many years later, those who were raised in families that were politically active and where the parents talked about politics remain more active themselves.”

Amelia and Will say they’ve been invigorated by the hard work of politics. And, in fact, it’s sparked an interest.

“Is there a future in politics for me?” Will ponders. “Well that’s a question I seem to ask myself a lot. We’ll have to see.”

“There are a lot of career paths I’m considering,” says Amelia, “and politics is definitely one of them.”

Tips for Parents

The polls are showing teens are lining up in record numbers to have their say in this year’s election.  Consider these statistics from a recent poll by Time Magazine, among 18-29 year olds:

  • 70% said they are paying attention to the race
  • 53% said Barack Obama was the candidate best described as ‘inspirational’
  • 83% said this election will have a great impact on the country
  • A majority (54%) say the US was wrong to go to war in Iraq
  • 80% of young people rate the economic conditions in this country as only fair or poor
  • Nearly three-quarters of the respondents said they feel the country is headed down the wrong track
  • Affordable health care (62%), the Iraq War (59%), and being able to find a stable, good paying job (58%) are the top issues a majority of young people worry about the most.

More than 6.5 million young people under the age of 30 participated in the 2008 primaries and caucuses.  In fact, Obama’s margin of victory in Iowa came almost entirely from voters under 25 years old.  In New Hampshire, his edge among young voters was 3 to 1; in Nevada, it was 2 to 1; and in Michigan, nearly 50,000 under-30s voted “Uncommitted” because Clinton’s name was the only one on the ballot.

The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, getting kids involved in a civics or government class is a great way to get them more interested in the elections.  From the 2006 Civic and Political Health of the Nation Report, young people who report that they recently choose to take a civics or government class are more likely than other young people to say that:

  • they helped solve a community problem,
  • they can make a difference in their community,
  • they have volunteered recently,
  • they trust other people and the government,
  • they have made consumer decisions for ethical or political reasons,
  • they believe in the importance of voting, and
  • they are registered to vote.

Parents are also one of the greatest influences on young voters. 

  • Start with the basics.  Make sure your 18-year-old knows when and where to vote.
  • Getting your 18-year-old to the polls could pay big dividends.  People who have been motivated to vote once are more likely to become repeat voters. 
  • Acquire and fill out voter registration forms with your teen. If your teen meets age requirements, you should each fill out a voter registration form.
  • If your teen meets age requirements on Election Day, go to your polling place together to cast your ballots.
  • If your teen doesn’t meet age requirements for the 2008 election, but will turn 18 before the 2012 election, involve them in the current election as preparation for the next election.
  • Consider taking teens between 14 and 17 to the polling place with you.  Even if they are not permitted inside for security reasons, the visit will demystify the voting process.
  • Remind your child that the November election is the result of many local primaries and that Americans are able to vote for their national, state and local leaders.
  • Kids who are not old enough to vote can still have an impact on elections.  Encourage kids to get involved in the political process.  They can go door-to-door in support of candidates or help with fundraising efforts.
  • It can seem daunting to research candidates, because information on the different races is not centralized in one place.  Parents can share news articles with their kids.  The key is to engage students with issues they will find relevant to their lives. 

References

  • Time Magazine
  • The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement

Safe Eyes – Keeping Your Kids Safe in Cyberspace

10 Tips For Keeping Your Kids Safe On Social Networks

 

ATLANTA, GAMay 28, 2008 — June is Internet Safety month.  With hundred of millions of teens, pre-teens—and adults—around the world using social networking sites, there’s no better time for parents to be aware of the fun, the benefits, the powerful attractions, and the potential risks that MySpace, Facebook and other similar sites offer their children.

 

InternetSafety.com, the recognized leader in Internet safety solutions, has assembled a list of practical tips parents can use to ensure a safe networking environment for kids:

 

  • Show Interest — Ask questions about how your child’s preferred social networking site or sites work.  Kids are generally happy to demonstrate their knowledge if you show genuine interest.  You can even ask your teen to show you how to set up your own social networking site—a great way to visit your child’s page and see what’s been posted there.
  • Encourage Instinctive Responses — Kids often can instinctively do the right thing, which makes them their own first defense against those who may take advantage online.  Encourage your children to avoid contact with people they “feel funny about.”  Tell them to not reveal anything online they would not want a stranger to know.  Limit the posting of pictures and remind them that once something is placed online, it can never be taken back.
  • Know Your Kids’ Passwords — If your child changes his or her password suddenly and refuses to share it with you, that’s trouble.  Insist on knowing how to access his or her accounts—then keep their confidence by not sharing the information with their friends or siblings.
  • Set Hours for When Kids Can Access Social Networks — Late nights are the favorite time for predators to seek out their adolescent prey.  Set firm limits not only for the time of day, but also the total amount of time, that your children may access social networking sites.
  • Be Aware of Alternate Access Points — Kids don’t have to access their social networks at home.  Libraries, friends’ houses, even cell phones make the Internet easy to reach today.  Keep up with what’s happening on your child’s social networking page and be aware when changes have been made despite the lack of access from home.
  • Exercise Your Parental Right to Supervise — There’s a difference between being snoopy and ensuring safe activity.  You don’t have to read every last word of a personal message your son or daughter sends to a friend.  But you do have the right—and the obligation—to see who your kids are talking to, and to know the general subject matter. 
  • Check for Photos — By clicking on the Windows “Start” button, you’ll find the “Search” tool.  Click on “Pictures, Music or Video,” the box next to “Pictures and Photos,” and finally “Search”.  Ask your child to identify any photos of strangers, or any other pictures you find questionable.
  • Install Filtering Software — PC products like Safe Eyes allow parents to block or record Instant Messenger chats, limit email use to prescribed addresses, block objectionable Web sites (including peer-to-peer file sharing programs that often expose kids to inappropriate material), and receive alerts when kids post personal information on social networking sites.
  • Watch for CyberBullying — Encourage your children to tell you immediately if they are being harassed online.  Children also need to know that it is not acceptable to be a party to cyberbullying—or to remain silent when they know others are being harassed.  Visit StopCyberBullying.org or StopBullyingNow.hrsa.gov for excellent tips and information.
  • Don’t Lecture — Finally, if you should find reasons for concern, don’t browbeat, insult or condescend to your child.  Have a discussion about values and why they are important.  Respect your child but be firm.  And most of all, lead by example.  Parents have a powerful ability to influence their child’s behavior—and nothing is more powerful than someone who not only talks values, but lives them.

“Parents should never feel that their level of involvement in their child’s social network activity is excessive.  Since 1998, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s CyberTipline has logged over 33,000 tips about children being enticed online for sexual acts,” said Shane Kenny, President and COO of InternetSafety.com.  “Better that the parent error on the side of intrusion, rather than bear the consequences of doing nothing.”

 

 

About InternetSafety.com

Established in 1999, InternetSafety.com specializes in providing Internet safety solutions.  Its flagship software, Safe Eyes, is the two-time recipient of the PC Magazine Editors’ Choice Award and was rated as the #1 parental control solution by America’s leading consumer advocacy publication.  The company’s Safe Eyes and EtherShield products are providing online protection for PCs and Macs in homes, businesses and schools across more than 125 countries. 

 

# # # #

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Eating Disorders, What You Need To Know

By Hannah Boyd

In a society where waifs rule and magazines herald a different fad diet every week, some kids view eating disorders as a small price to pay for fitting in. They’re wrong. Anorexia kills more than 10% of its victims, and bulimia 1%. Eating disorders also lead to depression and place enormous stress on families. Concerned that your child may be at risk? Here’s what you need to know.

 “People with anorexia starve themselves to dangerously thin levels, at least 15% below their appropriate weight,” says Edward J. Cumella, Ph.D, CEDS, Executive Director of Remuda Programs for Eating Disorders in Wickenburg, Arizona. “People with bulimia binge uncontrollably on large amounts of food – sometimes thousands of calories at a time – and then purge the calories out of their bodies through vomiting, starving, excessive exercise, laxatives, or other methods. They are of normal weight or overweight.” Some anorexics also purge, but they are still underweight.

Not surprisingly, eating disorders disproportionately affect females. Only 10% of people with eating disorders are male. According to Cumella, the typical age of onset is between 14 and 18 – prime time for peer pressure, hazing, and low self-worth. Other red flags? Your child seems obsessed with weight and dieting, binges or follows a cycle of dieting and then overeating, heads to the bathroom after meals, is secretive about her eating or exercise habits, uses laxatives, or seems to feel depressed and out of control.

 If any of the above sounds familiar, don’t expect your child to admit the problem or appreciate your help. “Your child may feel extremely threatened by the thought of giving up the dysfunctional eating behavior,” warns Cumella. “Don’t believe your child’s claim that s/he does not need professional help.” Seek out a doctor specializing in eating disorders, and be ready to participate in family counseling if requested. “Be patient,” adds Cumella. “Treatment takes time; recovery may take months or years and involve relapses.”

The good news? When eating disorders are caught early, the prognosis is good, and while there’s no vaccine against them, there are steps you can take to protect your children. Model healthy, moderate eating for your children, and trust their hunger signals – don’t force them to eat “one more bite” or tell them to stop eating when they’re still hungry. Don’t critique people’s weight or talk about dieting. Be the reality check; point out that thin celebrities often lead sad lives, that most diets fail, and that people of all shapes and sizes tend to be healthiest and happiest when leading lives of balance and moderation. Most importantly, make it clear that you value your children for who they are, not for what they weigh.

 

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Summer Sun Safety

Raising my kids in Florida, we quickly learn about keeping our kids protected from the dangers of the sun. There is nothing like a great day at the beach, but be sure to use sun screens.

Summer Sun Safety by Anna Weinstein

Skin cancer is a growing concern among parents these days. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, there are more than one million skin cancers diagnosed each year. Most parents have heard the statistics: 65% of melanoma cancers can be attributed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, and 90% of nonmelanoma cases can be attributed to UV rays.

Thirty and forty years ago, parents were less informed about the damaging effects of UV rays. Today, however, the message is clear: overexposure can cause skin cancer.

So, how do parents balance sun safety and their children’s insatiable energy for playing outdoors? Charlotte Hendricks, president of Healthy Childcare Consultants and a board member of the Sun Safety Alliance, says there are a lot of actions parents can take to protect their children from the sun. “Children need to be active outdoors,” she says. “And they need to be protected.”

Suntan lotion, hats, sunglasses, protective clothing, and water for hydration are all necessary to keep children protected while playing outdoors. But most parents second guess their understanding of the rules.

What number sunscreen? What brand? How often do you reapply it?

Jeff Ashley, M.D., is a clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Southern California. He also is the President and Founder of Sun Safety for Kids, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the incidence of skin cancer through teaching and promoting sun protection to children. Ashley provides answers to some common questions about sun protection:

As a general rule, how much time each day should children be allowed to play outdoors during the summer months?

Ashley: There’s really no time limit so long as children are adequately protected from the elements, including the sun’s UV radiation. Because sunscreen wears off, it is commonly recommended that it be reapplied at least every two hours during continuous outdoor exposure.

Should parents avoid sending their kids outside over the noon hour?

UV rays are strongest at solar noon, usually close to 1 p.m. during daylight savings time-so, that’s when sun protection is most important. When there’s a choice, it’s safer to be outdoors before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m., but that’s not always practical or possible. The best defense against overexposure during midday is to cover as much area of skin as possible with lightweight, loose-fitting clothing, wear a broad brimmed hat, wear UV-blocking sunglasses, and apply sunscreen to any non-covered areas of skin.

What number sunscreen should children wear? Does it differ for children of different ages?

All people, including children, should use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, preferably 30 or higher. SPF relates to the product’s ability to block UVA rays. One reason for going higher is because most people don’t put on enough to achieve the SPF, or because it comes off due to time elapsed, rubbing, sweating, swimming, and so forth. Within the next couple of years, the FDA will require sunscreen manufacturers to also label their products according to their ability to block UVB rays. At this time, consumers should at least check that the product claims to block UVA.

Are generic brands just as good as name brands?

All sunscreen products, brand name or generic, are supposed to have been tested to ensure that they provide the SPF that is claimed on the product label.

What are some of the benefits of sunshine and outdoor play?

The only known benefit of sunshine on the human body is its ability to cause the skin to produce vitamin D. In prior ages, this was the most important source of vitamin D. However, today there’s a safer and more reliable way to achieve adequate vitamin D levels by taking a vitamin supplement. These are now readily available and inexpensive. The healthiest lifestyle, in my opinion, consists of practicing careful sun protection and taking a vitamin D supplement to compensate for the lack of sun exposure. Many experts recommend approximately 1,000 I.U. per day for otherwise healthy adults who protect their skin from the sun. The amount for children depends on their age, so it would be best for parents to ask their pediatrician. Physical exercise, whether indoors or outdoors, remains beneficial and highly desirable, but the objective is to protect against overexposure to the sun while enjoying
outdoor activities.

For more information on summer sun safety, visit www.sunsafetyforkids.org .