A psychologist outlines the characteristics that make a teen more vulnerable to poor choices.
Drug abuse is a serious social problem in the world today because of the impact it can have on the health and well-being of society. Adolescents are one of the demographic groups most vulnerable to this danger.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has highlighted the importance of knowing and understanding why this group is more inclined to drug use, as well as the serious risks it involves, so strategies can be devised to help prevent and respond to the problem.
There is a common misconception that teenagers who experiment with drugs and alcohol are inherently “bad kids.”
Many parents assume that teenagers experiment because they are rebellious and want to lash out. That may be the reason a small percentage of teenagers try drugs and alcohol today, but the dangerous trend is not that simple or one-sided. In order to understand us, you have to put yourself in our shoes and imagine what we are really experiencing.
Do you remember what it was like to be a teen? Understanding is the first step to helping.
With loose khaki pants, a button-down shirt and a dark blue blazer, Tyler Ruzich looks a lot like any number of aspiring politicians before him.
But if the election Ruzich is running in were to be held today, he’d be too young to vote for himself.
The 17-year-old is one of five teens throwing their hats in the crowded ring for next year’s governor’s race in Kansas, which has permissive rules about who can run for the state’s top elected post.
Speaking recently to a crowd of students at a high school gym in the city of Lawrence, Ruzich picked up a microphone and launched into his campaign speech.
“It’s pretty clear that our politicians have neglected us,” Ruzich said, competing to be heard over the clangs of a nearby weightlifting room.
(Excerpt from an article in The Daily Mail. Read more)
By Joseph Langen
Karen didn’t think much about herself one way or another when she was younger. In middle school she decided she was okay and gave it no more thought. Now she wonders what’s wrong with her. The problem started when a few girls in her class teased her. Then some boys started teasing her too. She became convinced that something must be wrong with her.
She couldn’t figure out why they were teasing her. Her body had more curves now than it did before, but she didn’t have a wart on her nose or smell weird. When she walked with her friends at school, nobody bothered her. When she was alone, a group of girls would look at her as if a dog threw up on her. If they said anything to her it was how awful her blouse looked, how old fashioned her shoes were, or that her hair looked like a rat’s nest.
After this started to happen she spent a good amount of time before school looking at herself in the mirror to see if anything was out of place. As far as she could see, she wore the same clothes as everybody else. She still had the same hairstyle as before they started teasing her. What else could it be?
She didn’t want her parents to worry about her so she said nothing about it to them. She tried to pretend everything was okay. Her mother looked at her with her head cocked to one side. She always did this when she knew there was something Karen was hiding.
Karen was embarrassed to tell her friends about what the girls did, and now the boys. They would probably think she was crazy. Her friends still joked with her, shared their secrets and listened to hers. Maybe she was being too sensitive and just needed to wait until the whole thing blew over.
She decided to ride it out but more and more girls and also boys kept up their mean comments. She had never been mean to anyone and couldn’t make any sense of it. One day during recess, she found herself alone in the lav sitting on the toilet with her head in her hands and her eyes welling up with tears.
Thinking back over her misery that night while trying to get to sleep, she realized she had to do something. She wanted to handle it herself but that wasn’t working out very well. Her best friend Jen was a good listener and might have some ideas for her. At least it would feel good to get it off her chest.
The next day after English class, she asked Jen if she could come over to her house after school. Jen agreed. Up in her room with the door closed, Karen just sat for a few minutes without saying anything. Jen realized it was up to her to start the conversation. “OK Karen, I know something’s going on. You’ve been quieter than usual, and I haven’t seen your toothpaste smile lately. What gives?”
“It’s hard to talk about, and don’t laugh. A few weeks ago a few girls started teasing me for no reason I could think of. They kept it up and got their friends and a few of the boys to start teasing me as well.
“I knew something was going on. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I was afraid you might think I was crazy or imagining it. I don’t know what to make of myself these days. Is there something wrong with me or something weird?”
“Don’t you think I would tell you if there was? Would I let you get picked on? I’m your best friend, remember?”
“I know you are but I didn’t know what to say. I can’t think of anything to do to make them stop. I don’t know what I can change about myself to make me seem more normal. Can you help?”
“I’d be glad to help. We just have to figure out what’s going on.”
“I’ve been trying. Could you start by telling me how I might look to them?”
“Without knowing you, here is what I would see. You are a very pretty girl. You don’t wear much makeup but you don’t need to. Your skin is very smooth and almost glows. When you wear you hair down, any boy would want to run his hands through it to see how silky it is. From what I can tell with your clothes on, you have average size breasts which seem to fit your body perfectly. The rest of your body is very well proportioned too. No flab that I can see, but also not too skinny.
“The clothes you are wearing right now show off your body to good advantage but don’t look cheap, attractive without looking like a floozy. Nothing you have on looks ridiculous. At first glance, I can’t see anything to tease you about if I wanted to.”
“So maybe it’s not about my body or clothes. Are you sure you’re not just saying that to make me feel better?”
“You asked me to be honest. I am. That’s what I see.”
“Thanks. Okay, what else do people see about me?”
“That’s easy. You seem like a bright girl, intelligent and funny and sure of yourself. You are on the honor roll, play basketball and soccer and lead the debate club. You’re always kind and polite to everyone. You aren’t snooty and never come across as thinking you are better than anyone else. You’re generous and helpful when anyone needs you.”
“You make me sound like a saint!”
“You practically are. I can’t think of anything you could change to make yourself any better.”
“So what’s the problem?”
“Did you ever think that the problem isn’t you? “I just told you how I see you. Don’t you think some of the girls at school might be jealous of you?”
“What? I never thought of that.”
“I think it’s a good possibility.”
“What should I do about it- try to look ugly or start screwing up my life?”
“Then they would really have something to tease you about. Let’s talk with our friends and see what we can do together to get you off the hot seat. We will all work on it together.”
“Thanks, Jen. Now I know why you’re my best friend.”
So that’s what it might be like for one teen. Finding someone to help you isn’t the end of the story. But it helps to know you don’t have to face your problem on your own.
Excerpt from my book Make the Best of Your Teen Years:105 Ways to Do It. For a free sample, follow this link and choose See Inside.
Life as a teen is by no means easy. Everything is changing both physically and emotionally and yet you are thrust in to the most intense situations of your young life, discovering heartbreak, anxiety, low self esteem and peer pressure along the way. In a teenager’s world, developing lasting, meaningful relationships can also be a challenge.
Read more at http://www.beliefnet.com/love-family/teens/galleries/the-teens-guide-how-to-understand-yourself-and-improve-your-relationships.
Sitting on the Steps
A poem by Violet
The warm-wind day
could not blow (like skittering autumn-bright leaves) away
the sun that lay burning on my leg
but I pivoted my attention to
the bees that drifted about us,
tiny missiles of venom at the ready.
In front of me he sat,
dress uniform impeccably worn,
(down to the hat from which I flicked a tiny spider
and was glorified by his thanks)
muscles beneath every inch the militant strength
A bee swooped, hovering at the chest of the man next to him,
and generously he
cupped his hand,
and gently guided it away
into the open air. I wanted him to know
that I worshiped him.
As excuse to growing sex issues mainly teenage pregnancies, health officials in the past have laid the blame on the gap between parents and children and their failure to discuss sex education.
Generations have changed hands, the teen some two decades ago is now a parent. The information age via the cyber highway has also changed the way many perceive the issue.
Sex education basics may be covered in health class if the school prefers to teach it. In Fiji, to deal with the issue, the Ministry of Education had introduced a subject called Family Life, it seems that schools have the option to teach it or not.
Teenage social butterflies have always enjoyed slumber parties and Friday night fun.
Now, researchers say, socially active teens, like their older counterparts, are healthier than their loner peers in key areas such as weight, blood pressure, and stress hormone levels.
The friendships we make in our teen years are just as essential for our well-being as the social connections we make late in life, a new study finds.
Now that he was sixteen, John tired of the family swim and little kids splashing around. Yet he wasn’t quite ready for the school swim team. One morning he decided to get up early and try the lap swim at the YMCA for a while to see if his swimming improved.
The pool held six lanes when all the lane markers were in place. The center lanes were the most desirable due to fewer waves bouncing off the walls. Also, the current from the water filter return was strongest in the outside lanes and made it feel like you were swimming upstream half the time. For those reasons, swimmers usually chose the lane closest to the center if they could with two exceptions. The oldest swimmer, a woman who looked to be in her sixties, always tried for an outside lane in order to hang onto the wall when she got tired. A large expressionless man, seeming to be about the same age, stood in an outside lane and splashed around rather than actually swimming. He stood looking at the others in the pool and his face did not suggest what he might be thinking. He eventually left without even wetting his shoulders or head.
If all the lanes were full, swimmers tried different strategies. Some talked with the lifeguard, pretending they were not anxious to swim. Others performed seemingly endless warm-up exercises as if preparing for an Olympic competition. Still others tried to make eye contact with an established swimmer, seeking an invitation to share a lane. Swimmers who were in the habit of sharing their lanes were invited to share with those already swimming.
Flipper, at least John called him Flipper, was different. His head had only a trimmed, extremely thin dusting of silver hair which stopped two inches above his ears. The top of his head was bald. He wore the briefest of swim suits, and seemed proud of his barrel chest giving way to his rounded belly. He scanned the lanes for an opening. He would immediately move to any of the center four lanes if open. If only the outside lanes were open, he stood near the shower room door or sat sideways on a starting platform. He made no pretense of passing time with the lifeguard or warming up his muscles. He continued scanning the center lanes until someone left, leaving the outside lanes open for as long as twenty minutes. He never made a move to share a lane with one of the other swimmers since he would not wish to share his lane once he was in it.
There was nothing exceptional about his backstroke. His butterfly and side stroke were also unremarkable. Ah, but his crawl! Even here his right arm, torso and legs all behaved properly. His left arm, however, made a loud slap each time it entered the water. In addition to the sound was the cascade of water into the next lane, leaving a passing swimmer with the feeling of swimming in the rain.
Why? Was he mad about something? It would be difficult to summon the same intensity of anger each morning leading to such a consistent splash. Did he need swimming lessons? He swam smoothly enough with his other swim strokes and appeared comfortable in the water. Had he suffered a stroke? He walked without difficulty, swam evenly when not in the crawl and did not slur what few words he spoke. Not finding any acceptable explanation, John decided to think of him as Flipper, giving rise to a vague feeling of unexplained hostility inside him.
John finally mentioned his swimming experience to his friend Andy who seemed to know just about everything about people. Andy scratched his head a while and finally asked John who Flipper reminded him of. No one came to mind immediately. He couldn’t think of anyone else who annoyed him quite so much in or out of the water.
The next day in the pool, as he was splashed by Flipper, it hit him. It was Flipper’s bald head and his acting aloof and better than everyone else which got to him. He remembered something from when he was younger.
It happened in sixth grade. John had taken the bus across town with his brother every week for swimming lessons at a private club. He wanted to learn to swim very badly. He struggled with keeping his head under water without holding his nose and learning to dive without being afraid he would clunk his head on the bottom of the pool.
Swim lessons continued into the fall. A Halloween party was scheduled and John went with his brother. He dressed as an Indian, complete with war paint, buckskin shirt and makeshift bow and arrow. The party was fun- bobbing for apples, drinking cider, eating donuts, and playing games.
After the party John and his brother were waiting out front for their parents to pick them up. The sugar and the lively party had made everyone a little rowdy. Kids were climbing on the building face, chasing each other around and generally acting goofy. Then he appeared. Flipper’s predecessor emerged from the building in his official capacity to warn them for the third time to wait quietly. His patience was wearing thin as was the ability of the waiting kids to do anything quietly.
As the man turned to re-enter the building, John blurted out in his Indian role, “Ugh. Me scalp ’im. Oops. Nothing to scalp!” He didn’t realize he had said this loud enough for the man to hear. He not only heard but, from John’s costume, easily located the source of the offending comment. He was soon in John’s face, his own face and balding head beet red with indignation. John was banned from the building and was never to show such disrespect to anyone again.
John had great difficulty explaining to his parents his sudden loss of interest in swimming after that. He always seemed to have something else to do. He never did return to the building, but did learn to swim better and also learned to be more careful about his comments, particularly about bald men. Now that he made the connection, he wondered if Flipper would bother him as much the next time they were in the pool together.