General Health and Safety

All Articles in the Category ‘General Health and Safety’

Transgender Teens, Part 14: Further Exploring Gender


genderqueerIt’s been almost 2 years since I finished up my series on transgender teens. Since then, I’ve learned a lot,  from teens in Adolescent Medicine, various books and online articles, and from friends I’ve met along the way. While I mentioned the term “genderqueer” in my last series, I wanted to expand on and discuss additional gender identities that I didn’t cover the last time I wrote about this topic.

Here are a few more gender terms you should know. How people who self-identify with these terms dress and present themselves varies widely, but that’s true for masculine and feminine genders as well!

Read full post »

The importance of failure


frustrated male studentI’ve spent the last couple of weeks meeting new high school graduates and having conversations with students who are transitioning to a higher grade level. An interesting pattern emerged amongst many of the top performing students: some had never experienced a failure, but those that had described learning a lot from it. As a teen, I was a perfectionist. I had a 4.0, was active in extracurricular activities, I never broke curfew, and I worked part time. It wasn’t until my senior year physics course that I really experienced my first taste of not doing something exactly right. I received a C grade at the end of the quarter. We’ve written about perfectionism before, but I wanted to highlight some of the lessons learned from not always succeeding on the first attempt.  Read full post »

4 Thoughts on the “Slender Man” Crimes


teeninjailThe media has been avidly reporting, analyzing, and theorizing about a crime committed about a week ago, where two 12-year-old girls held down and stabbed a peer repeatedly (the peer, thankfully, survived). The girls stated they were doing this for “Slender Man”, an internet meme/ monster created in 2009, in the hopes that they could become his “proxies” and live with him in his forest mansion.

Whenever something like this happens, people look for a scapegoat. The idea that there isn’t a convenient scapegoat, and that these two girls stabbed another because of a complex array of factors is much more frightening than having an easy target. And yet, as usual, things have gotten a little derailed, with news outlets blaming the Slender Man meme, the creator of Slender Man, and even the school for giving students iPads.

Is this crime something that parents need to worry about their own tweens getting involved with? Should parents talk to their tweens differently about the internet and the supernatural after this case? See below for some of my thoughts. Read full post »

Supportive Parenting


paper cutout family of three with paper messagesParenting is an amazing journey that comes with joys and challenges. Children bring to their families their unique personalities the moment they’re born and as parents, it can sometimes be challenging to recognize that what we always imagined our children would be may not be the same as what our kids actually see as a future for themselves. This week a story has been trending on social media about a set of parents who are a great example of how to be supportive of your child, even if they are different than who you imagined they would be. As parents, your child will likely surprise you be being even more amazing than you could have thought! Read full post »

Concerts, costumes, and offending: When to apologize


DJ partyLast week, a popular artist from Seattle, Macklemore, had a concert and made a decision that offended some of his fans (and non-fans). Macklemore is known for rapping about inclusion, equality, and using culturally sensitive lyrics. He’s used his platform as an upcoming celebrity to be vocal about marriage equality and has the reputation of being one of the few artists who is politically vocal. So it was surprising when he chose a costume for a concert that was viewed by some as being a stereotype of a certain ethnicity. Why even bring up this incident? It is a good example for teens about when a person may wind up doing something without malicious intent, then need to apologize for any hurt they’ve caused.  Read full post »

Teen Girls and the Normalization of Sexual Violence


sad teen girlAn article was recently published in the journal Gender & Society that is enlightening, sad, and for me, brought back memories. The researchers interviewed a hundred adolescent girls referred for sexual abuse about their lives, and discussed themes regarding not only specific incidences of sexual abuse, but day-to-day life as a teen girl. The teen girls interviewed seemed to view sexual harassment, and even sexual violence, as part of everyday life. A common viewpoint was that boys have uncontrollable sexual urges, and it was the responsibility of girls- for better or for worse- to try and dodge them.

As I read the article, I began recalling my own life as an adolescent girl, and how normal a lot of sexual violence seemed. I’ve touched on this topic before, and yet it was startling how familiar some of these themes were to me. I wanted to discuss some of the ideas presented in the study, as well as the overwhelming questions that emerge: Why aren’t teens experiencing sexual harassment or violence seeking help from adults? Why do the teens perpetrating sexual harassment and violence think that their actions are okay?

Read full post »

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”:





Read full post »