Teenology 101

Can Sports be used to help prevent dating violence

teens holding handsOne of the questions I ask every teen I meet is whether or not they’re in any kind of intimate relationship. Much of the time the answer is ‘yes’ or ‘I have been.’ My follow up question is usually about how their partner treats them and whether or not they feel safe. A recent study has looked at the association between athletics and intimate partner violence. The results surprised me.

In the study, researchers asked ~1,600 boys who were participating in a school based program on coaching boys into men about dating and their sports participation. They first asked about gender equitable attitudes in their sport (generally whether or not boys and girls were equal). They then asked if the teen had been in a heterosexual (with only a female partner) relationship for more than a week and if they had every perpetrated any of 10 different abusive acts (including physical, emotional, or sexual abuse). What they found was that boys who played both football and basketball held less equitable attitudes about gender and sports. Those boys who played both football and basketball or just football alone were more likely to have been abusive in a relationship.

Does this mean that boys who play basketball and football are going to abuse their girlfriends? No, but it does make me think that it might be hard to ‘turn off’ the aggressive behavior that is encouraged on the court or playing field when not in the game. The promising part of this study was that the boys who received violence prevention messages from coaches were less likely to be abusive.

The Centers for Disease Control reported in 2011 that 9.4% of high school students had been hit, slapped or physically hurt on purpose by a partner. They also found that 8% had been forced to have sex. Dating violence amongst adolescents is preventable, but we as adult role models, definitely have more work to do to recognize when dating violence is occurring and prevent the behaviors.

Warning signs that a teen may be in an abusive relationship:

  • social isolation
  • their partner checks their email/cell phone/social network page without permission
  • put downs/name calling either face to face on via social media
  • extreme jealousy from a partner
  • a partner is possessive/controlling
  • physical injury

Here are some great websites for information on dating violence prevention:

Violence Prevention works

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Office of Adolescent Health

Love is Not Abuse (LINA)

We’re Number Six! Looking More Closely at the Youth Well-Being Index

teen couple youngThe Center for Strategic and International Studies, along with the International Youth Foundation, recently came out with a report where countries were ranked according to the “Global Youth Well-being Index“. Out of 30 countries, the United States came in sixth, topped by Australia, Sweden, South Korea, the U.K., and Germany.

What does this mean? As usual, it depends on how you look at the data. There are certainly more than 30 countries in the world; our neighbor Canada is missing, and only five European countries are considered. Some nations listed in the survey- like Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya- are developing nations where parts of the population struggle for things we take for granted (usually), like clean water.

The rankings are based on six areas of youth health, and I wanted to comment on the U.S. and how we scored on specific measures. Read full post »

When Teens Can’t Find a Job

Teen Girl With Paint RollerRecently, a report by the Brookings Institute came out about the dismal labor market for teens (and, for that matter, young adults). Particularly for high-school age teens, job opportunities are few and far between. In fact, employment rates dropped almost 50% for 16-19 years olds between 2000 and 2011.

Of course, we know the job market itself was shaken up by the recent recession. Also, the report points out that a small portion of the drop in employment is due to a rise in school enrollment, which is good news!

The worst-affected teens are those who have dropped out of high school and need to work full-time. Because higher levels of education increase employment opportunities, they are the least likely to find a job. However, many teens who are in school also desire or need to work part-time, for reasons ranging from contributing to family finances to paying for a trip to Europe over the summer.

Here are some ideas for helping a teen who can’t find a job: Read full post »

Vaccine Hesitancy

Vaccines have been a topic of much debate lately: Do they help? Are they safe? Should I vaccinate my child?

I can recall a recent visit with a 16 year old girl. She had a question about the HPV vaccine. She’d seen a commercial and was interested in learning more. We discussed the risks and benefits as well as the purpose of the vaccine. After she’d asked a series of very insightful and thought out questions, she decided she wanted to proceed with starting the vaccination series (the Gardasil vaccine is a series of 3 shots over 6 months). We brought her mother in to talk about starting the series and her mother hesitated. Like any caring parent, she wanted to be certain her daughter was safe. Their pediatrician hadn’t discussed the vaccine and she’d read on social media that it had potential side effects. At the end of our visit, my patient still wanted the vaccine, but her mother wanted to think about it. Read full post »

Special April 1st Post: New Trend Has Teens Communicating with Semaphore Flags Instead of Texting

semaphoreWe all know that teens love to text. But a fad sweeping the nation has teens putting down their cell phones and picking up flags. Signals by semaphore flag are quickly replacing texting as a chosen form of communication among teens and young adults.

Flag semaphore, historically used for marine communication in the 19th century, involves flags of red and yellow arranged in different positions to indicate a letter or number. It is still used in marine settings when all other communication is down. And now, it is used by teens who want to be up on the latest cool trends. The following semaphore signals say “lol”:

lol

lolool

 

 

Read full post »

A parent’s role in prevention of underage drinking

As a follow up to our post last week on the Safe Roads Awareness, we wanted to share a video that discusses the importance of you, as a parent, in preventing underage drinking and the consequences that are associated with it. In this video post, Dr. Leslie Walker talks about how important your communication with your teen is in preventing alcohol use.

What Teens and Providers Talk About When Parents Leave the Room

doctor and patientMost parents are expecting it: that day when your health care provider politely asks you to leave the room so they can speak to your tween or teen alone. It’s a rite of passage, an acknowledgment that teens might have events or concerns that they don’t feel comfortable talking over with family members present.

I’ve gotten a few amused comments, such as, “It’s time for the sex talk!” as well as some dissent. I wanted to write a bit about what we talk about while you’re gone, and why it’s important. Read full post »

Safe Roads Awareness Week March 25th

drunkdrivingThis week marks the one year anniversary of a tragic accident that affected a local nurse and her family. Karina Schulte, her 10 day old son, and his grandparents were walking on a spring day in their neighborhood when a drunk driver struck them. He killed both grandparents and severely injured Karina and her son. In this post, guest author Inga Manskopf of Prevention WINS discusses the importance of parents in preventing teen alcohol use as well as preventing teens from riding in a car with someone under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Read full post »

7 Tips For De-Stressing Your Teen

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe expect a lot from teens. We expect them to reach their full academic potential, to succeed in athletic, artistic, or charitable endeavors, and often hold down a job. They take on roles of responsibility in clubs, teams, families, and their communities. They care for younger siblings, pass standardized tests, plan for their young adulthood, and attempt to keep up strong peer and romantic connections. No wonder they’re exhausted!

I believe that teens can succeed in all these tasks, but I also believe that teens can get stressed and overscheduled trying to live up to all their obligations. I wanted to offer a few tips for you to help your teen keep life in balance. Read full post »

The Most Important Message Your Teen Should Hear About Money

leahparentIt’s very simple: that their well-being is priceless.

I was recently privileged to attend a discussion in which teen gave their thoughts on various health care issues. It was engaging, enlightening, and eye-opening. One unexpected thing I heard- from multiple teens- about getting health care was that they wished it didn’t cost their parents so much money, and that they felt bad being a burden.

I and other health care providers present were taken aback. Our society tends to paint teens as self-centered and even selfish. Listening to a teen talk about how they might not tell their parents if they were ill, hoping to save them money on an expensive medication, was heartbreaking.  Read full post »