Archive for 2013

Teaching Teens to be Responsible

teen travelIn my last post, I discussed the case of Ethan Couch, a 16-year-old who drove drunk and killed four people. Many were astonished when his prosecutor successfully argued that because Ethan had not been taught about consequences or responsibility by his parents, that he did not deserve jail time.

Ethan’s parents seemed to refrain from punishment no matter how egregious his offenses. They are far below the bell curve in parental discipline; most of you would never dream of letting a young teen drink themselves to unconsciousness without repercussions. But Ethan’s history does raise the question: How do parents raise responsible teens, ready to accept the consequences of their actions, work hard for their goals, and face the realities of life?

Of course, each teen is born with their own temperament, and there is no magic equation. But I’ve gathered up some suggestions, including past posts, on strategies that may help instill a sense of responsibility in your teen. Read full post »

Maintaining balance during the holidays

safety in numbersIt’s holiday season. Teens with already jam packed schedules are adding in holiday parties, school plays, music performances, time with friends, and family commitments. It can be a challenge to maintain balance. By balance I mean taking time for a break, eating well, exercising, and doing the activities that enable them to manage stress. These are my personal tips for maintaining balance this busy time of year: Read full post »

Teens, Responsibility, and “Affluenza”

drunkdrivingOne night in June, a teen named Ethan was driving with seven friends in his father’s truck. They were highly intoxicated on beer they had stolen from Wal-Mart, and possibly other alcoholic substances, after a house party. Ethan also had Valium in his system. The truck swerved up onto a sidewalk, killing four people. Two teens were thrown from the back of the pickup, and one is currently in a coma.

This case wasn’t made widely public until the sentencing: Ethan received 10 years’ probation. Prosecutors had asked for 20 years’ imprisonment. One of the arguments that a psychologist for the defense used was that Ethan was unable to understand the consequences of his actions. The developmental argument for a still-developing brain was used, but a rather creative one was also brought up: that Ethan suffered from “affluenza”. Read full post »

Eating Disorders: Various Types Post 6

We’ve had a series on eating disorders over the past few months. Eating disorders come in all different shapes and sizes. Here we’ll discuss some of the various types of disorders.

Marijuana Legalization and Winterfest

snow baubles. christmas ornaments and snow (Shallow DOF)It’s the holiday season, a time where families are out taking pictures with Santa and going to events like the Nutcracker. In Washington state, this is also the one year anniversary of the passing of Initiative 502 which legalized marijuana in this state. Tonight there will be a merging of holiday family celebration and using marijuana when Winterfest and an outdoor celebration of the passing of I-502 occur at the same time and location. Read full post »

What is the Band Playing Now?: Adolescents, Young Adults, and HIV

young loveI don’t remember when I first heard about HIV, it was just sort of always present in my world view. When I was very young, I remember overhearing a woman explain that she had left off training to be a lab technician because she was “scared of catching AIDS.” I remember Ryan White. I remember on the show “Life Goes On“, Chad Lowe’s character wouldn’t kiss Kellie Martin’s character, because he was HIV-positive and worried she would catch it.  I remember dark murmurings about people catching HIV from becoming blood brothers. I remember the AIDS quilt getting started. I remember meeting my first HIV-positive person and being surprised at how healthy he looked. I remember virgins going to get tested for HIV before becoming sexually active, just in case. I remember Pedro. (If you haven’t, check out the book this blog title comes from.)

Of course, now we know a lot more about HIV- including how it’s transmitted, and if not how to cure it, at least how to- in many cases- keep AIDS at bay for decades. There is no longer the sense of looming danger we grew up with, tied in with the fascination of sex and the message that only condoms can prevent HIV. HIV has gone from being a death sentence to a chronic disease, and the life expectancy of an HIV-positive person in the U.S. has drastically increased. Read full post »

The 1990s were 20 years ago but condoms are still important

Condom in pocketI was talking with colleagues last week about a recent article that discusses the decline in condom use amongst adolescents and young adults. We were thinking back to our own adolescence in the 1990’s when HIV/AIDS prevention was at it’s peak. The diagnosis of HIV was basically a death sentence as the life saving anti-retroviral drugs we have now weren’t widely available. Everyone was scared. Most people ‘wrapped it up’ if they made the decision to have sex. So what’s changed for teens and young adults? Read full post »

Throwing Teens Away


In 2006, 15-year-old Travion Blount was party to an armed robbery, along with two 18-year-olds. Nobody was killed during the robbery, and while one person was assaulted, Travion was not the one who committed it.

In 2008, he was sentenced to six back-to-back life sentences, plus 118 years in prison.

When I first read this, I thought there must be some mistake. I searched other news sources to see what else Travion had done to deserve such a punishment, but failed to turn up some murder, rape, or other injurious crime that the original report had failed to mention. Travion Blount, upon committing a crime at age 15, was simply thrown away into the prison system with no hope of return until geriatric release programs become available to him. His sentence is much longer than the average murder sentence for both teens and adults. In fact, it’s equivalent to the 17-year-old who committed some of the sniper killings in D.C.  Read full post »

Eating Disorders: Next Steps After Diagnosis Post 5

We’ve had a series of video posts on eating disorders with information provided by Dr. Adrianne Altman. Now let’s talk about what happens after a teen is diagnosed. Who helps them in recovery? What are the treatment options? In the next group of videos I’ll share some of the common topics that I discuss with families tackling this challenging disease.

Young Women, Drinking, and Rape


Recently there was some media buzz about women and alcohol, and how our society should approach the topic.

It all started when Emily Yoffe, a writer for Slate, wrote this column on college women, drinking, and sexual assault. If you don’t feel like reading the whole article, a headline pops up on the website which sums it up: “The Best Rape Prevention: Tell College Women to Stop Getting So Wasted”. (To be fair, the article is more nuanced than that, and I’m not convinced Ms. Yoffe wrote that tagline.)

The response to the article was swift. Some responded with rebuttals while others strongly agreed. The New York Times ran a “Room for Debate” piece that had a number of interesting viewpoints. Basically, opinions seem to fall down two lines: one party thinks women imbibing alcohol become vulnerable to sexual assault, and they should be told not to drink in order to protect themselves. The other sees this as a victim-blaming piece of advice that support a status quo in which rape culture runs rampant, and young women are expected to prevent their own rape.

So, even though I’m late to the game, I thought I’d give my take on this (although I’ve covered a lot of it in my Teens and Sexual Assault series).

Read full post »