Last fall, just as I went on maternity leave, there was an incident involving hazing on the East Coast that received quite a bit of media attention. It involved a group of teens from a local New Jersey high school football team and occurred at the time of homecoming. The teens allegedly held down other teens and touched or groped them in a sexually explicit way. One teen was also kicked. In the news article that covered the incident, the responses from adults in the community varied widely. One mother reported: “No one was hurt, no one died — I don’t understand why they’re being punished.” Her comment made me consider the question: “Is hazing ever okay?” Read full post »
As a medical provider who cares for many teens I am constantly amazed by their accomplishments, tenacity, and juggling of busy schedules. Teens with chronic illness have even more challenges than those with more typical health. I sometimes we adults forget to give credit where credit is due, so I’d like to highlight some of the characteristics I’ve noticed amongst my patients over the years. I’d encourage parents to also take a moment to give your teen some positive praise too! Read full post »
I was looking at a social media page recently and saw a video that struck a cord with me. There is a new video campaign that portrays girls ages 5-11 years old with curly hair. These girls tell all the things they dislike about their hair. In the end, the mothers of the girls show them how positive and amazing it is to be unique. The final message to the consumer is that people are more likely to be accepting of themselves if those around them also have positive self-image (i.e. the girls will love their curls if their own moms love their hair). The purpose of the campaign is to sell hair products, but watching this video reminded me not only of my patients, who often come to see me with poor self-esteem and distorted body image, but of my own youth. See video here Read full post »
I was chatting with a friend who mentioned that she caught her own teen with a fake ID. Her son is a good kid: he is on the honor roll, in extracurricular activities, has a great social group, and doesn’t get into trouble. So she was extremely surprised to catch him with a fake ID and even more surprised when he told her the ID’s come in a 3 pack, so he’d just use another one if she confiscated it. This is the second friend who has recently told me they found their teen’s fake ID. Neither of them were expecting their kid to have one. Read full post »
Sexual assault is a subject that can be uncomfortable to talk about for many reasons: there is stigma and blame for victims, no parent wants to think it could happen to their child, and no parent wants to think their child could be a perpetrator. Recent media events have outlined allegations that Bill Cosby drugged an assaulted numerous women. We’re not here to give opinions about his innocence or guilt, but this is an opportunity to talk about this problem. Dr. Anne-Marie Amies Oelschlager, Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecologist, is our guest blogger. She gives her perspective on sexual assault and offers sound advice for anyone who has been a victim. Read full post »
I took a bit of a break from blogging to expand my family over the holiday season. Returning from maternity leave this week, one of the first headlines I noticed in my email inbox was regarding the measles outbreak that is currently in progress at a major theme park in California. As a pediatrician and now mother of two, I take my children to venues geared toward fun on a regular basis. There are playdates, birthday parties, museums, and many trips to the airport to fly to see family. My older daughter is more comfortable at the airport than at preschool! Considering whether or not they could be infected with a life threatening illness is not typically at the top of my worry list, and I would argue that no parent should have to worry about disease when taking their children to have a fun time. Read full post »
This week, of course, many people are making their New Year’s resolutions. I find that I always have a long list of things I’d like to do in the new year: for example, this coming year I want to read more books, keep my house clean, exercise more, cook new recipes, keep in better touch with old friends…the list goes on and on. I find that this time of year is a great opportunity for families to set goals toward becoming healthier and happier in the new year. So, how can you and your teen make resolutions that will be sustainable and achievable?
Holidays mean vacation: days where teens are out of school with little to occupy their time and potential for comments of feeling bored. The holiday seasons between Fall and Winter encompass a wide range of cultural and religious themes from Eid, to Yom Kippur and Hanukkah, Christmas to Kwanza. What all of these holidays share is the importance of family. However, a normal part of adolescent development is pulling away from parents and traditional family values. This time of year, parents may hear more requests for gifts than for special traditions at family gatherings. Cooking, cleaning, and anticipating family conflict can cause a lot of pressure for parents and teens. So how can parents continue to make fond memories and include all household members?
When I ask parents and teens, “What do you think is the most pressing health issue facing adolescents today?” I often hear that bullying is on everyone’s minds. Some of this concern comes from high-profile media cases of teens who have, sadly, died of suicide after being victims of bullying; in the media, bullying has also long been blamed as a contributor to school shootings and continues to be reported as a trigger for violent retaliatory behavior. In addition, research on bullying has increased in the last few decades, with many studies finding that kids who have been bullied AND kids who bully others are more likely to have school problems, mental health issues, and even physical health problems into adulthood.
As my family welcomes our new daughter and the holiday season starts, I’ve reflected on the death of my Dad in 2013. Knowing that he isn’t present to hold his grandchild or share in our excitement is painful. Even though I grieved for my Dad when he passed away, the loss still hits me from time to time. Thinking of my own loss, I am reminded of many of the teens I’ve worked with in clinical practice who are also facing the loss of a friend or loved one. Death is a natural part of life and eventually everyone will lose someone they care about, but this doesn’t make the loss any easier to handle. Read full post »