Archive for 2012

Drug Use Among Teens: Part 1 Designer drugs

This is the first in a series of posts about drugs that teens are abusing these days. A friend who is a social worker suggested I start this blog discussing some of the newer drugs that are gaining popularity. I am always amazed at the variety of things being offered to teens and surprised at how many teens admit to trying them. The substances being used include ones that have been around for centuries (alcohol, tobacco), but there are always going to be new things out there. For parents, it’s important to know what drugs are being offered to their kids, but  it’s even more important to remember to teach teens how to be responsible for their health and say ‘no thank you’ to drugs. This series will discuss the new and old drugs being used by or offered to teens.

I’ll start the series talking about some of the newer drugs… bath salts and spice. Read full post »

“Legitimate Rape”, “Rape-Rape”, and “Dressing Like Sluts”: Talking To Your Teen About Sexual Assault

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read what U.S. Representative Todd Akin said about rape a few days ago. There are many confusing parts of his statement, and one of them was the term “legitimate rape.” This implies that some rape is “not legitimate” and yet still falls under the umbrella of rape. It made me remember Whoopi Goldberg’s “rape-rape” comment from 2009, which I also found confusing as seems to imply that statutory rape is not really rape, as well as the comment last year wherein Toronto police constable Michael Sanguinetti explained that women can help prevent sexual assault by “not dressing like sluts.”

I feel like we, as a society, are still exploring what defines sexual assault and what doesn’t and what it actually means. The examples above may seem like random comments from random people looking to redefine rape, or at least categorize it. But a political figure no less than Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s partner in the presidential race, recently co-sponsored a bill that sought to define rape as “forcible” and “other” (my term, because I don’t know what else you’d call it.) To me, this means that the issue has become mainstream.

So when the country seems to be uncertain as to what constitutes sexual assault, how do we teach our teens about it?

Read full post »

Transgender Teens, Part 12: “Understanding Your Teen,”A Guest Post from Irwin Krieger

Irwin Krieger, LCSW, is a counselor in New Haven, CT who works regularly with transgender teens and their families. In addition to his clinical work, he is also the author of “Helping Your Transgender Teen“, an excellent guide for parents and families of transgender teens.

Irwin has written two excellent short pieces for this blog, one of which I will be sharing today. This post looks at some feelings parents may encounter when discovering their teen is transgender, and how to talk to them about what they’ve just shared with you (or shared with you a long time ago, if you feel you haven’t had a good discussion with them.) It’s a simple, eloquent, thought-provoking entry, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did:

Read full post »

Sleep and Teens

As the mother of a 5 week old infant, I’m re-discovering how important sleep is. I’m no stranger to sleep deprivation. Three years of Pediatric residency training and 3 more years of medical training to specialize in teen health led to many nights when my head never touched a pillow. We’ve blogged on the topic of sleep for teens in the past but this past month has prompted me to write about the importance of sleep once again.

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Transgender Teens, Part 11: Real-Life Role Models

Last week we talked about role models for transgender teens in the media. There are plenty of real-life transgender people out there for teens to look up to as well, and in this post we’ll be discussing a few of them.

It can be difficult, in a historical sense, to figure out who was transgender. Men’s and women’s roles were so rigid  that it can be hard to tell exactly why a person switched genders. Perhaps they were truly transgender, or perhaps they wanted access to the privileges, rights, or customs of the other gender, or to love someone of the same gender more easily. For example, a woman might dress as a man to join the military and fight in a war, while a man might dress as a woman to avoid it.

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Sports Injuries in Teens

As the summer Olympic games come to an end, we’ve been thinking more about how beneficial sports can be for children and teens. Students will be returning for school next month, but many sports continue through the summer or start before school begins. Playing sports is fun, can build self confidence, and is a great way to make friends, but sometimes injuries happen. Dr. Monique Burton, a Sports Medicine specialist, takes a moment to talk with us about some common sports injuries among teens and how to prevent them.

Transgender Teens, Part 10: Role Models in TV & Movies

In comparison to 20 years ago, there has been a huge rise in the number of role models for gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth. There are gay, lesbian, and bisexual actors, musicians, authors, journalists, artists, politicians, athletes, CEOs, and plenty of gay, lesbian, and bisexual characters in movies and TV.

Where are the transgender role models?

Read full post »

Even Good Swimmers Need Life Vests

This summer we have been posting about the importance of life jackets and water safety.  Already this year, there have been multiple drownings and water rescues in the Washington news. Many teens and parents don’t think water accidents will happen, but unfortunately, they can happen to even the strongest of swimmers. The good news is drownings can be prevented with proper use of life jackets and paying attention to water safety.

Kevin Sayson is a Washington resident whose brother died after falling off a paddleboard in Lake WA last summer. He and his family grew up on the water, with jet skiing and swimming as regular past-times and his brother was actually the person who taught Kevin how to swim. Kevin spent some time telling his brother’s story for the blog. He is honoring the 1 year anniversary of his brother’s drowning August 6th with a safety event about the importance of personal life jacket use.

 

Transgender Teens, Part 9: Keeping Transgender Teens Safe

While I wish I didn’t have to talk about extra or special precautions for transgender teens,  it’s a topic every transgender teen needs to face. While a gay, lesbian, or bisexual teen’s identity may not be visible to those who look at them in passing, a transgender teen may not be able to (or want to) hide that they are transgender. Transphobic people may react negatively to this.

We can’t always tell who is accepting of transgender people and who may respond to transgender people with fear, dismissal, or even rage. Here are a few tips to share with your teen, to ensure they stay safe on their journey through adolescence. Read full post »

Teens and Participating in Sports

Teens may participate in sports for reasons that range from an excuse to see friends, to significant talent in a particular area. In this video blog, Dr. Monique Burton provides tips for sports participation.

When thinking about whether or not your teen should participate in sports consider the following points:

  • Sports provide a fun way to fit in physical activity. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 60 minutes of physical activity most days of the week for teens. This can be broken up into 10-15 minute intervals.
  • Participation in school sports usually requires teens to keep a minimum grade point average. For some students, being able to participate in a sport is all the motivation they need to turn in homework assignments and continue with academics.
  • Sports can positively impact self-esteem. Self esteem has been linked to decreased rates of depression, drug use, and sexual activity in teens.
  • In order to participate in sports, a visit to your teen’s health care provider is necessary for a pre-participation physical exam. During the teen years, visits to a health care provider are often few and far between. Use this physical exam as an opportunity to catch up on teen immunizations and guidance on everything from driving safety to acne!