Parents’ Universal Resource Experts – Sue Scheff: Manage Your School Climate Before it Opens

As the temperature in North Florida rises during the summer months, there is no stopping the beginning of a school year in August.

With heat waves striking our areas staying cool can become more of a struggle.  Lounging at the pool or enjoying the beaches is part of the joys of living on the coast.  However once school opens, although the air conditioning will keep our kids physically cool, what about their social and emotional needs?

School Climate, Center for Social and Emotional Education is available to parents, educators, schools and students.  Learn how to manage and measure your School Climate here.

How do you define School Climate?

School climate refers to the quality and character of school life. School climate is based on patterns of students’, parents’ and school personnel’s experience of school life and reflects norms, goals, values, interpersonal relationships, teaching and learning practices, and organizational structures.

A sustainable, positive school climate fosters youth development and learning necessary for a productive, contributing and satisfying life in a democratic society. This climate includes:

  • Norms, values and expectations that support people feeling socially, emotionally and physically safe.
  • People are engaged and respected.
  • Students, families and educators work together to develop, live and contribute to a shared school vision.
  • Educators model and nurture attitudes that emphasize the benefits and satisfaction gained from learning.
  • Each person contributes to the operations of the school and the care of the physical environment.

Visit for more great educational information.  Follow School Climate on Twitter and join them on Facebook.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens!

Watch video to learn more about School Climate and bring it to your school.  Read more.


Parents Universal Resource Experts – Sue Scheff – Depression in Teens, Five Risk Factors

Another guest post and this is a topic that many parents face with teens today.  As school will be opening soon, let’s be sure our teens are healthy both emotionally and physically.

Teen Depression: 5 Risk Factors

By Alexis Bonari

Teenagers represent the demographic that is most prone to experience chronic depression.  Suicide among teens is an all-time high. While it’s impossible to be completely keyed-in to your child’s inner life, it is important to take certain risk factors into account when determining whether your child is at risk for chronic depression.  What follows are the five factors that have been statistically proven to effect depression:

1. Family History
Chronic depression has been shown to be at least partially genetic. Depression is a chemical condition. When an individual is depressed, their brain fails to produce certain chemicals that would normally allow for a happier state of mind.  These chemicals are controlled by structures in the brain that are passed down the family line.  If you your immediate relatives suffer from depression, chances are greater that your children will too.

2. Substance Abuse
Alcohol, marijuana, and other “downers” cause a chemical change in the brain that can lead to depression.  Also, use of these drugs can greatly alter an individual’s productivity.  This leads to social isolation and reinforces a depressed mental state.

3. Gender
Women are more likely than men to experience severe depression.  This difference is even more exacerbated during adolescence.  Some believe that a difference in brain physiology is to blame.  Others believe that social pressures weight more heavily on women than on their male counterparts.  Teenage girls are more likely than teenage boys to be the target of long-term hazing and bullying.

4. Personality
Different personalities handle stress differently.  If your child has an introverted personality type, they are at risk for social isolation and depression.

5. Stressful Life Events
The death of a close relative, a breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend, a failing grade on a test, or any other negative event can seem like the end of the world when you’re 16. A teenager’s brain isn’t fully developed.  There are physiological reasons why teenagers seem to “freak out” over what most adults would consider normal pitfalls along the road of life.  Don’t discount or downplay your child’s feelings, even if they seem extreme given the situation.  If your teen feels they can confide in you, they’re more likely to avoid long-term depression.

As parents, we represent our child’s first line of defense against things that might cause them harm. Although depression is an internal matter, it poses as real a risk to a child’s future as illegal drug use or irresponsible sex.  An informed parent can be the difference between life and death for a depressed teen.

Bio pf Author: Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She often can be found blogging about general education issues as well as information on college scholarships. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

Parents Universal Resource Experts – Sue Scheff: Teens Settling for GED’s?

Wow – this is a topic I speak with parents about on almost a daily basis.  Teens today think it is an easy solution – drop out of school and get a GED!  Years ago, it was not only frowned upon – it was targeted at those in trouble with the law, another words, juvenile delinquents.  Take a minute to read these parenting tips from Connect with Kids – help keep your teens in school!

Source: Connect with Kids

“If you get your high school diploma, you’re going to be better off. If you get some college, you’re going to be better off. If you get a bachelors degree, you’re going to be better off.”

– Martin Segura, Education Counselor

For some students, earning a GED seemed like the next best thing to a high school degree. But a new report from the University of Chicago finds that a GED holds little value in helping students succeed in today’s competitive job market.

Tanya dropped out of high school after her sophomore year. “That was my dream, to walk across that stage, but because I got pregnant, they told me I couldn’t go back,” recounts 18-year-old Tanya Sado.

By the time she was ready to go back, she was too old, so she decided to try another route. Tanya decided to get her GED, or General Educational Development certificate.

“Well, you can’t find a good job without education,” Tanya says. “What can you do with your life?”

The problem is, because of the recession and because so many more young people are attending college today, some educators argue that a GED has never been less valuable.

It’s not worthless, they say, but more today than ever, “If you get your high school diploma, you’re going to be better off. If you get some college, you’re going to be better off. If you get a bachelors degree, you’re going to be better off,” says education counselor, Martin Segura.

Today, unemployment rate for people without their high school diploma is over 15 percent.

“To the extent that students do not develop, um, those skills, don’t have those trainings, don’t have those degrees or credentials. They’re headed for a very difficult, a brutal collision path where they’re going to end up with leftover jobs, jobs that nobody else wants,” explains Hector Madrigal, Director of Pupil Services in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The GED just doesn’t have the value it once did. Even the military agrees. “The job market in general in today’s society is extremely difficult to get into. Any job that you go to, you know most of them want you to have at least high school, some college,” explains Staff Sergeant Matthew Jacobs of the U.S. Marine Corps. “Well Marines, we’re just another job like everybody else. We’re looking for the same qualifications.”

Tanya’s advice to other kids? “I would say don’t leave, don’t give it up for anything.”

What Parents Need To Know

According to the Alliance for Excellence in Education, a new report by economists at the University of Chicago, released by the National Bureau of Economic Research, raises questions about whether GED-based programs are the right approach to make sure students complete high school. Looking at a variety of studies of GED recipients over the years, the report concludes that people who receive GEDs fare little better economically than high school dropouts when factors such as their greater academic abilities are taken into consideration.

While it’s easy to place the blame on a child when he or she drops out of school, it doesn’t address the most important problem: What can be done to educate this student? The National Mental Health and Education Center offers the following hints to help parents on the road to problem-solving:

  • Focus on student goals: Instead of focusing on why your child is unsuccessful in school, have your child identify what he or she wants to get from the school experience. Have him or her list school, home and personal barriers to reaching that goal. Sometimes talking about getting past the barriers to reaching a goal helps focus efforts more productively than just complaining or quitting.
  • Encourage school involvement: Encourage your child to attend school regularly and to be involved in at least one extracurricular activity at school or with groups of students who are currently in school. These activities make your child feel like part of the group, important to the school and more motivated to perform in order to participate. If your child’s lack of academic success restricts him or her from every activity except academics, your child often sees no value in continuing to try. He or she must have something positive to look forward to that will meet the kinship/companionship needs of being a teen. If your child isn’t able to meet these needs in the school setting, he or she often finds ways to meet these needs in less desirable settings and groups.
  • Consider alternative school settings: Speak with the school counselor and/or school psychologist to see if your child’s goals can be reached in the current school environment. If not, have the school identify ideas for alternative settings for your child’s learning. Include your child in all discussions with school personnel. If you investigate alternative education settings, have your child make the contacts and visits, complete forms and ask questions. He or she must see that personal responsibility is a must when being asked to be treated as an adult.
  • Consider realistic postsecondary goals: Don’t get hung up on the issue of your child going to college. The more important question is “What does my child find interesting, and what is he or she good at?” and “Which of these skill areas is marketable?” If attending college is the way to reach the vocational goal, set steps in place to get there. In many cases, a postsecondary technical training or two-year community college program is more appropriate to meet your child’s goals and get him or her employable.
  • Consider the GED: This equivalency examination is very well-respected among employers and higher education institutions. Students can study for this examination through community education programs, alternative education programs or independently. The point is to stress to your child that the diploma or GED is only the first step to finishing his or her education. The workforce of tomorrow will require postsecondary education for even entry-level jobs.
  • Identify special needs: Consult with school personnel to determine if your child might have a specific learning or behavior problem interfering with learning. Low achievement, retention in grade and behavioral difficulties are highly predictive of dropping out of school. Assessment of possible learning and behavior problems might help identify special services to help your child find school more successful.


Parents Universal Resource Experts – Sue Scheff: Synthetic Pot – Fake Marijuana

As parents scramble to keep up with the challenges of raising teens today, they are now thrown another curve ball. Most know that smoking pot, although not legal and seems to becoming more addictive among youths, is a trend that some parents brush under the rug with the justification that “it is only pot.”

Now parents have a new concern and it is is being called, K2 – or “Spice,” Genie” and “Zohai” – that is commonly sold in head shops as incense and referred to as the “fake-pot“. Users roll it up in joints or inhale it from pipes, just like the real thing.

Synthetic marijuana is the trendy new way to get high, which is legal, but consequences could be dangerous.  It is marketed as incense, however many are trying to get it banned.  The package warns not to consume the product, however this is exactly what teens and others are doing.

Nationwide, the American Association of Poison Control Centers logged 567 cases across 41 states in which people had suffered a bad reaction to spice during the first half of 2010. Just 13 cases were reported in 2009.  These reactions include seizures and elevated heart rates.

To date, Kansas was the first to ban this product followed by Georgia, Missouri, Kentucky, Alabama and Tennessee.  Is Florida next in line?

Be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier teens.

Watch video and read more.

Parents Universal Resource Experts – Sue Scheff: Audio Drugs – Another Concern for Parents of Teenagers

My teen is smoking cigarettes.  My teen is smoking pot. My teen is snorting coke. My teen is huffing. My teen is shooting heroin. My teen is drinking alcohol. My teen is high on audio!

For years parents have had concerns and worries about their kids using drugs and drinking alcohol.  Quite simply, fear of our teens becoming addicted to substance abuse.  This is not only a very serious concern, it is a deadly oneParents in denial can only prolong getting their child the help they may need.

Here we are in 2010 and now we have a new concern, ‘audio drugs‘, as reported by the Sun-Sentinel, are a concern for both parents and schools.

Sound waves that, some say, affect the brain like a drug — and cost only 99 cents on iTunes and

Many scientific experts say they’re unfamiliar with “digital drugs” — sometimes sold under the brand name I-Dosers –– and doubt whether sound patterns could have the same effect as chemical drugs. But some parents — and at least one Oklahoma school system — worry that downloading these sounds could be a teen’s first step toward physical drugs.

Multiple agencies and research institutes contacted said they were unfamiliar with I-Dosers. That includes the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the South Florida D.A.R.E. program and the Miami Coalition for a Safe and Drug-Free Community.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools spokesman John Schuster said school counselors haven’t seen I-Dosers as an issue but are keeping it on their radar. The same was true for Broward County Public Schools, where Nadine Drew said the schools’ investigative unit is looking more into it.

Sources: Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald

Be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier teens.

Read more.

Parents Universal Resource Experts – Sue Scheff: Parenting Troubled Teens – Teen Help (Part 2)

Did you miss part one?  Click here.

5. Watch out for TV advertising. Long-term studies show that kids who see, hear and read more alcohol ads are more likely to drink and drink heavier than their peers. A study with third, sixth and ninth graders found those who alcohol ads desirable are also more likely to view drinking more positively. Use those frequently-aired beer and vodka commercials during those ballgames you’re watching together as opportunities to discuss your values, concerns, and rules about drinking and pill popping.

6. Dispel the “quick fix” myth. The increase use of prescription drugs as well as cold medications amongst teens is also a growing and serious problem. Those TV commercials can give kids a very wrong impression: “The quick fix to any problem is a pill.” Calvina Fay, executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation points out, “We’ve become a society that basically says, “If things aren’t perfect in your life, take a pill. This cause our young people to see drugs as an answer.” Instead, we must help our kids grow strong from the inside-out. Boost authentic self-esteem. Get her involved in healthy activities. Turn him on to positive peers. Keep a strong relationship.

7. Reduce stress and teach coping strategies. The 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) found that stress is the main reason teen girls are using drugs. Girls also related that they are using drugs as a way to cope with problems at home. (This confirms research from varying sources showing teen stress is mounting as well as teen depression). Keep a lid on the stress at home. Find ways to cope as a family (walking, exercising, eating healthier, sticking to a sleep routine). Teach coping strategies and stress reducers to your teen (yoga, deep breathing, stress management techniques).

8. Get on board with other parents. Forty-one percent of boys in the report responded: “parties are more fun with drugs” (an increase from 34% in 2008). More than half also reported that drugs help them relax in social settings. Know your kid’s friends and their parents. Call any parent hosting a party to ensure they are really supervising those sleepovers or parties.

A word to the wise: 99 percent of parents say they would not be willing to serve alcohol at their kid’s party, though 28 percent of teens say they have been at supervised parties where alcohol is available. Ninety-eight percent of parents say they are present at teen parties at their home, but 33 percent of teens say parents are rarely or never at teen parties. Though the teen party scene maybe several years away, get to know those parents now. They will be hosting those parties your child may be attending in just a few short years.

9. Watch the home scene. More kids take their first drink at your home or at the home of their friends. In fact, 60 percent of eighth graders say it is fairly or very easy to obtain alcohol-and the easiest place is in their own home. Count those bottles in your liquor cabinets. Lock up your liquor supply (and don’t tell your kids where the key is). Check your credit card: the hottest new place kids buy alcohol is on the Internet. Watch your medicine cabinet (abuse of prescription drugs, cold and cough syrup medication is on the rise). Stay alert!

Thank you to Michele Borba and her continued dedication to research and share valuable information for today’s parent.  From toddler to teenagers, Dr. Borba is our country’s leading Parenting Expert.

Read the 10-part series on The Big Book of Parenting Solutions. These are sneak peeks inside this huge books of parenting solutions.

Order The Big Book of Parenting Solutions today.  Being an educated parent will lead to having safer and healthier kids!

Visit for more information on residential therapy.