Category: Mind & Spirit

Things a teen can do outside and not on the phone

things a teen can do outdoors and not on phone

Teens are kinda addicted to their phones. Teens spend more time streaming videos online, playing video games, and interacting on social media combined than any other activities. Unfortunately, this means that teens rarely spend time outside, but finding things a teen can do outside and not on the phone is going to improve your health.

things a teen can do outdoors and not on phone

When you stay inside all the time, you miss out on the physical and spiritual benefits that sunshine, fresh air, and exercise can give you. Getting too much sun can be bad for you, but not getting enough sun can be worse. The sun can help elevate your mood and regulate your circadian clock, which i turn helps you sleep better. To reap these benefits, try to do things a teen can do outside and not on the phone. Here are a few ways every teen can get outside more often:

Involve your friends

Get a group of friends together for stuff you can do outside. Teens are kind of in between still being a kid and being young adults, so you can get away with being goofy and running around. Examples of things you can do include:

  • Volleyball (could be informal, just hit the ball in the air if you don’t have a net)
  • Hiking
  • Walking around the city and talking
  • Manhunt (you need a larger group)
  • Bocce ball
  • Miniature golf
  • Frisbee
  • Kick a ball around, or a hacky-sack
  • Hunt geocaches
  • Urban exploration (don’t trespass, but you can find really cool locations)

Active Sports and Activities

Take the initiative to participate in sports such as swimming or tennis if you are an active person. See if you can get involved in a baseball or softball league. You can also take a weekend hiking, fishing, or camping trip.

If you aren’t interested in participating in sports, you can always spend time outside watching others play. Attend football, baseball or soccer games. Going to a beach or a lake to enjoy the beauty of the water is always a good alternative option.

People watch

Outside of playing games and sports to spend time outside, there are alternative options that you can choose. Walk around the park and just watch people. Don’t be creepy and stare, but just look them over and try to find something you like about them. This will help you come out of your shell a little bit, especially if you are mad at someone or very shy. Your mood will get better. And you never know where you might make a new friend!

Walk or bike everyhere

Making it a point to walk or bike everywhere is another way to get outdoors without having to play a sport or game. Get in the habit of walking or biking to school if you live in a safe enough area. If you are old enough to drive, don’t waste time hunting for a close parking spot at the mall, but park far and enjoy the extra exercise.

Safety comes first

No matter what outdoor activity you try, make sure you don’t take stupid risks or break the law. These are not worth it. Stay alert to your surroundings. Don’t walk or jog with earphones in your ears. This can drown out what’s going on around you.

Be sure to look out for cars that may back up out of driveways or that run red lights whenever you go outdoors. Be careful not to walk or bike after dark. Most pedestrian accidents that result in injury happen at night. It is also dangerous to cross the street anywhere other than the crosswalk of an intersection.

Once you enjoy things a teen can do outside and not on the phone more often, you may start to wonder whether you even need video games or spending so much time obsessing about your Snapchat streaks. Be cautious, be safe, and have fun.

GLORIA BARRON PRIZE FOR YOUNG HEROES NAMES 2018 WINNERS

gloria bannon prize for young heroes

Boulder, COSeptember 17, 2018 – The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, an award that celebrates inspiring, public-spirited young people from across the U.S. and Canada, announces its 2018 winners. Established in 2001 by author T. A. Barron, the Barron Prize annually honors 25 outstanding young leaders ages 8 to 18 who have made a significant positive difference to people and the environment. Fifteen top winners each receive $10,000 to support their service work or higher education.

gloria bannon prize for young heroes

“Nothing is more uplifting than stories about heroic people who have truly made a difference to the world,” says T. A. Barron. “The goal of the Barron Prize is to shine the spotlight on these amazing young people so that their example will encourage others to take action.”

This year’s winning achievements address a wide range of important issues, including water conservation, disease prevention, protecting national parks, saving endangered wildlife, providing food for those in need, helping people with disabilities, and more.

The 2018 Gloria Barron Prize winners are:

Alex Mancevski, age 17, of Texas, who founded Health Through Science, a non-profit working to eradicate preventable diseases — especially pediatric Type 2 Diabetes and obesity — by matching high school-age science coaches with underserved elementary students.

Armando Pizano, age 18, of Illinois, who created the Bridge Tutoring Program to pair young students in under-resourced urban communities with high-achieving high school-age mentors who offer free, weekly, after-school tutoring.

Bria Neff, age 11, of South Dakota, who founded Faces of the Endangered to protect endangered species through the sale of her artwork. She has sold more than 250 paintings of endangered animals and donated over $33,000 to animal conservation groups.

Claire Wayner and Mercedes Thompson, age 17, of Maryland, who co-founded Baltimore Beyond Plastic­ to reduce trash and plastic pollution in their city on the Chesapeake Bay. Their non-profit of more than 500 students has convinced the Baltimore City Council to pass a citywide ban on Styrofoam food containers.                                                 

Claire Vlases, age 15, of Montana, who created the Solar Makes Sense initiative and raised the $118,000 needed to install solar panels on her middle school. She has sparked a movement in her school district and community, inspiring a new commitment to green building.

Genevieve Leroux, age 12, of Quebec, who created Milkweed for Monarchs to help protect migratory monarch butterflies. She raises and plants native milkweed – monarchs’ sole food source during their caterpillar phase – and has logged more than 500 hours conducting research on the butterflies.

Harry and Heath Bennett, ages 13 and 9, of Massachusetts, who co-founded Bennett Brothers Balm after learning of their young friend’s cancer diagnosis. The brothers have raised more than $12,000 to support pediatric cancer research through sales of their hand-made line of lip and body balms.

Isaiah Granet , age 18, of California, who founded the San Diego Chill, a non-profit that pairs children with developmental disabilities with high school-age mentors who teach the younger kids how to skate and play ice hockey.

Kenzie Hinson, age 13, of North Carolina, who founded the non-profit Make a Difference Food Pantry to provide nutritious food in a compassionate setting for those in need. She has distributed more than 600,000 pounds of food to over 400,000 people.                                                             

Marcus Deans, age 16, of Ontario, who has invented the NOGOS water filter for use in developing countries. His filter costs just two dollars to manufacture and is made from three
readily-available materials: sugar, sand, and seashells.

Robbie Bond, age 10, of Hawaii, who created Kids Speak for Parks, a non-profit that is building an army of activists, including fourth-grade students (who can visit our national parks free of charge), who will speak up to protect our national parks and monuments.

Robby and Emma Eimers, ages 16, and 12, of Michigan, who founded the non-profit Eimers Foundation to help people in need. They have raised more than $80,000 to fund their weekly Sharings for the homeless, distributing food, blankets, and other necessities.

Shelby O’Neil, age 17, of California, who founded her non-profit Jr Ocean Guardians to educate young children about ways they can protect our oceans and planet. She also created the #NoStrawNovember movement and is working on legislation to eliminate plastic straws in California.

Shreya Ramachandran, age 14, of California, who founded the non-profit Grey Water Project to promote the safe reuse of grey water, along with water conservation, as a way to address drought. Her outreach includes curriculum for elementary students and a partnership with the United Nations’ Global Wastewater Initiative.                   

Tabitha Bell, age 18, of Utah, who founded Pawsitive Pawsibilities, a non-profit that has raised more than $130,000 to place nine service dogs free of charge with people challenged by physical disabilities.

Since its inception, the Gloria Barron Prize has honored nearly 450 young heroes and has won the support of Girl Scouts of the USA, Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots, and the National Youth Leadership Council, among other organizations.  The Gloria Barron Prize welcomes applications from young people residing in the U.S. and Canada.  The online application system for 2019 opens January 7th and the deadline for entries is April 15th.   For more information, please visit www.barronprize.org.

In addition, T. A. Barron is running a year-long #SparkGoodness social media campaign to recognize everyday acts of goodness. Through October, anyone sharing their good deeds and acts of positivity at www.sparkgoodness.com is eligible to win one of several monthly prizes. At the end of 2018, a Grand Prize winner will be selected from all the winning entries throughout the year.

What Does My Dream Mean? Read This to Learn 5 Common Dream Symbols

Dreams are the mind’s way of sorting through your waking experiences and helping your brain to process thoughts and feelings. In a way, you can think of it like defragmenting a computer disk: your brain needs time to rest, file away information, and store its memories. This is why getting enough sleep is so important for your health and memory.

However, dreams are also filled with symbolism. There are many recurring themes that appear in dreams, and understanding what they mean can help you to have better insight into your life and future. Some dream symbolism comes from your subconscious mind connecting patterns that you might not see while you’re awake. Some may even have a more mystical and unexplained origin. Whatever the case, here are five of the most common types of dreams you might experience and what they could mean.

Being Naked in Public

A common dream motif is being naked or partially naked in public. It often manifests as a normal dream about going through your mundane routine before realizing that you’re not wearing any clothes. You might be talking to a crush, giving a presentation in front of the class, or walking through the mall when you suddenly realize that you’re not dressed.

For most people, being naked in a dream is a symbol of vulnerability and exposure. It may happen when you are stressed or worried about the outcome of something, especially an event that could affect your social standing. You might be worried about how others see you and that you’re not living up to their expectations. It may also be a sign that you live with an outward projection or mask and that you fear that mask slipping, enabling people to see the real you.

Flying

Dreams of flying and falling are some of the most commonly experienced. The sensation of falling is common in the early stages of sleep as your brain begins to disconnect from your body and prepares for its nightly journey through your subconscious. In some cases, that falling sensation might jolt you awake. Other people may move seamlessly from falling into flying, and those dreams can be joyfully adventurous.

Flying dreams are powerful because they create a sensation of freedom and mobility. You may feel yourself soaring high over the ground and enjoying weightlessness and freedom. Most people find flying dreams to be extremely enjoyable, and the symbolism they contain is similarly pleasant.

Flying may symbolize happiness, joy, freedom, and self-fulfillment. Dreaming about flying could mean that you are content with your life and feel empowered to make the right choices to support your happiness.

Death

Dreams about dying can be frightening, but they are also a common motif among dreamers. You may dream about your funeral or of the aftermath of your death. You may also dream of the act of dying itself, whether from natural or violent means. Many people wake up before they die in a dream, but others will dream through the entire process.

If you dream about dying, don’t be alarmed. The idea that dying in a dream means that you will die in real life is nothing more than an old wives’ tale. In general, death is often a symbol of change or of something ending in your waking life. You should view death in a dream as symbolic of change, transition or the death of the status quo, not a literal death. In the sense that they can signal transition and new beginnings, death dreams can actually be symbols of good fortune!

Being Chased

Another common nightmare motif is the feeling of being chased or pursued, often by unseen enemies or monsters. You may run through what seems to be a maze or an endless environment. These dreams can be exhausting to wake from and may leave you feeling tired throughout the day.

Being chased in a dream is often a manifestation of anxiety from your waking life. It’s an especially strong symbol for responsibilities that you’re avoiding or things you don’t want to confront head-on. When you have unfinished business that needs to be addressed, like a college application you’ve procrastinated on or an important chore you’re avoiding, that business can come for you in your sleep. Taking a hard look at the things you’ve left unfinished during the day can help you tackle these nightmares and sleep peacefully instead.

Failing a Class

A very common dream motif, especially among students, is of going to school only to realize that you’ve missed an important test or assignment and now are failing without realizing it. Another version of this dream is that you realize during midterms that you were enrolled in a class that you’ve never attended. In some cases, this dream might lead into a panicked and endless search through the school to find the class you’re supposed to be attending. These dreams can feel very realistic and leave you wondering whether they were true even after you wake up.

You might be surprised to learn that this dream is common even in older dreamers who haven’t been to school for years. That’s because the dream isn’t really about school as much as general stress. It’s a symbol of priorities that have been forgotten or left on the back burner. It’s also a symbol for the loss of control or feeling like you can’t get everything done that you need to. Taking a hard look at your priorities and schedule can help you find places where important things have been ignored or shuffled aside. Taking steps to bring balance to your schedule will alleviate some stress and keep these dreams from coming back.

Of course, dreams and their interpretations can be as individual and personal as the people having them. If you’re interested in learning more about dream interpretation, it may help to begin keeping a dream journal and writing down your dreams as you have them. Journaling will help you to remember your dreams better and will also help you identify the trends.

References:

My Experience with Adderall as a Teen

Growing up I had what appeared to be the picture perfect family. I lived in a beautiful home in the suburbs of Detroit with both of my parents and my younger brother Brandon. I was given every opportunity in the world, attended private schools, and was on the honor roll. I was also involved in dance, theatre, and many of the schools sports teams.  Being the first of twelve grandchildren I always felt a lot of pressure to be perfect and to be the best at everything I did which gave me terrible anxiety from about the age of five.

When I was 15, the perfect little world I thought I was living in was shattered into a million pieces.  My mom told me that her and my dad were getting divorced. Due to a court order, we all lived under the same roof for the next year until the divorce was finalized.  During my Junior year of High School I switched to a public school for the first time. I had no idea where I fit into any part of my life or where I belonged. I felt absolutely lost and had no control over anything around me.  At the time the only thing I could control in my life was food. I began restricting my eating and, later realized, that this was the beginning of my battle with an eating disorder.

I had always stayed away from using drugs or drinking because I knew it would interfere with school and extracurricular activities.  Even though my friends all drank, I was adamant that was not the road I was going to go down. Everything changed New Years Eve when I gave in and had my first drink.  I do not remember much from that night except getting violently sick up until the next morning. I absolutely hated the way alcohol tasted, but it took me out of myself and the chaos around me in that moment.  My grades began to plummet, I was skipping school and getting in trouble at home. My mom had no idea what to do with me.

Towards the end of that year, I had a final paper due in my English class that I was struggling to finish it in time.  A girl in my class offered me one of her Adderall and told me it would help me. I had no idea what Adderall was or what it was used for, I just knew I needed to finish my paper or I would not pass the class… so I took it.  I had no idea the impact on my life that one moment, that one decision would make. I stayed up all night writing my paper and went to school the next day without getting any sleep still fueled by the drug I had taken. I felt completely out of my mind.  I was talking too much and too fast, I couldn’t sit still, my anxiety was through the roof, and my entire body hurt.

The next day when I woke up I was absolutely exhausted and very depressed so I asked my friend for another Adderall. This became my life and within a couple of weeks I was buying them off of other students and realized how many of my classmates were also abusing these “study pills”.  Buying them was getting too expensive at the rate I was taking them so I found a doctor who I convinced I had ADHD and would prescribe them for me. I had convinced myself that because they were a prescription medication it was ok, man was I so incredibly wrong.  

At first I thought it solved all of my problems in life.  For me though I would take so many I would be up for days at a time trying to get everything “just perfect”, only to completely crash for days after, falling into a deep depression.  This cycle continued over and over again for months and it became very clear to everyone around me that I had a problem. I was not sleeping or eating. I was 5’7 and had dropped down to just 95 lbs.  I looked sick. My brain was completely fried due to the lack of sleep. Because my assignments no longer made sense, my grades plummeted.

My life was in shambles and I was on the verge of not being able to graduate High School. I knew I needed help, but didn’t know how to ask for it. I had lost all of my friends, and pushed my entire family away.  My anxiety and depression were unbearable and I just didn’t want to go on. I was in complete despair, lost in the world, and my addiction.

When I was 17 I attempted to take my own life because I did not see any other way out. I thank God every day that he saved me and showed me a new way of life.  I entered a dual diagnosis treatment center that summer where I learned about the disease of addiction and began to heal.  Through AA and the support of everyone around me I began to put my life back together as a young person in sobriety.  I could not have done this without the strong women of AA who took me in and loved me until I could love myself. I began working with a sponsor who took me through the twelve steps of the program.  Through prayer and mediation I found a God of my understanding, and turned my will and my life over to him. Through this my obsession to use, and my anxiety and depression I had been fighting my entire life was lifted.  I was happy and healthy in mind, body, and spirit for the first time in my life!

That following school year I was able  finish my senior year of high school and was accepted into college.  I went on to earn my bachelors in Elementary Education and have been teaching first grade for 6 years now… all in sobriety.  I do not want to say any of it was easy, especially getting sober at such a young age, but it was all so worth it! My passion in life is to now help others, especially teens who are struggling, and to tell them there is another way of life.  A beautiful, happy, and healthy life in sobriety!


Crystal Hampton, 29 years old, with 5 years sober.

I work for Recovery Local, a digital marketing company that advocates spreading awareness on the disease of addiction. Our company was founded by and staffed with recovering addicts cultivating recovery resources through sharing our own experience, strength, and hope.

 

4 Secret Fears You Have That Are More Common Than You Think

Everyone has fears; some of them are well-known, common fears and some are secret fears which are far less common. Secret fears are interesting because they are generally unique to each individual. The secret fears can arise from a traumatic experience during your upbringing or simply from a story you heard that has haunted you throughout your life. Here are four secret fears that are more common than you would think.

Going to the dentist

The dentist’s office is a place that many people dread going to for a whole slew of reasons. There is the fact nobody wants people shoving pointy metal objects in their mouth for an hour, the pain aspect, and lastly, the judging dentist. Dentists totally judge you for your flossing habits. Murfreesboro Dentistry explains that “Sometimes people tell us that they’re flossing on a daily basis. But we can just tell that it’s not getting done quite as efficiently or as effectively as they say that they are.” So don’t try to fool your dentist. They can tell by looking at your teeth whether or not you brush and floss the recommended amount.

Having your car break down

Now some people might be used to this occurrence, but the majority aren’t. Having a car break down anywhere just plain sucks, but doing it in a crowded intersection or busy stoplight might just be the worst possible scenario imaginable. People are awkwardly driving past you imagining where you went wrong in life for you to end up in a broken down car. You are an inconvenience to literally everyone.

Public speaking

When you are called upon to speak or answer something suddenly in front of a group of people and don’t have the answer or misspeak, it can be a really embarrassing and uncomfortable situation for everyone. You stumble upon your words, your face gets all red, and your voice shakes. That is why, according to Psychology Today, “Surveys about our fears commonly show fear of public speaking at the top of the list.  Our fear of standing up in front of a group and talking is so great that we fear it more than death, in surveys at least.” Death, one of the greatest fears of all, falls short of the dread that most people get when they are asked to give a presentation or appear on a stage.

Choosing the wrong career path

Now, this fear is a bit mundane, but it definitely has a few serious implications. It is a very common secret fear that isn’t talked about as much. When an individual chooses a career path, it doesn’t necessarily have to be what they stick with for the rest of their life. Many people fear what is ahead, and choosing a line of work that you will dedicate your life to is a matter that weighs heavily on many young minds. Although many people fear the future, pursuing your passions and the opportunities that come along will take you on an adventure.

Planning a Great Camping Trip with Your Friends

Just imagine spending a wonderful evening under the stars. You and your closest friends are sitting at a campfire and just enjoying being together. Going camping with your closest friends is one of the best things in the world. However, one of the problems with a camping trip is that someone has to plan it in order for it to happen.

There is some good news. Planning your camping trip will not be hard after you read the following tips. In fact, chances are that you can get a tripped planned in really no time at all.

Choose a Date

Perhaps one of the trickiest parts of planning a camping trip with friends is finding the time that you all can go. There are some easy ways to pick a date that works for everyone. Try using an online poll site that will allow everyone to put in the dates that work best for them and within no time you will have the time set for your friendly camping adventure.

Research Places

Once you choose a time, the next thing is to choose where you are going to go. Check out reviews of different campsites in your area. If you are looking for seclusion choose a primitive site. Make sure that you check the rules of the park as well.

Pooling Resources

When you are going on a group camping trip it is a good idea to pool resources. While everyone is going to need a good sleeping bag and their own tent, you do not need ten camping stoves or everyone to bring their own meals. Create a list and coordinate who is going to bring what. Make sure that your less experienced camping friends know the important necessities to bring along.

Carpooling

Part of the adventure is the drive to the campsite. Carpooling is efficient and very fun, but it can be a bit tricky. Plan a spot to meet up and then load up. Also, make sure that you map out directions ahead of time. When you head out to the woods cell signals are not always reliable, so having a downloaded or paper copy of the directions can really come in handy. Also, make sure that you bring some great snacks and a good playlist for the journey.

Leave the Phones at Home

If it is possible, try to leave all of the tech behind. One of the absolute best things about going camping is letting go of technology for just a it. Immerse yourself in what is in front of you. Take the time to communicate face to face with your friends. We are all so busy these days, taking a moment to just be. Turn the phones off once you hit the campsite and just enjoy all that nature and your friends have to offer.

Divide and Conquer

When you arrive at the campsite there is going to be a lot to do. If you divide up all the chores that need to be done it is going to be much easier and relaxing. Almost every group of friends has one person who will want to build the fire and another who wants to put up the tents and another who doesn’t mind cleaning up. Tap into the strengths of each of you.

A camping trip with your friends is something that you are going to remember forever. If you take the time and plan ahead, your camping trip will be simply amazing.

Is Porn Addiction a Thing?

There’s no question that pornography consumption is up among teens. Research shows that pornography is increasingly seen as harmless and acceptable among younger consumers. That is certainly the common line in popular culture. But is it true? Is porn a harmless pastime, or is your southern Baptist Great Aunt on to something?

Most people associate addiction with substances such as alcohol and drugs. Surprisingly, porn affects the brain in many of the same ways as substances, making it a detriment on affected individual’s daily functioning. There may be more to the pornography story than Hollywood is letting on.

What Exactly is Addiction?

Addiction is a chronic disease in which sufferers are unable to maintain comfortable brain function without getting their fix from a substance. A common misconception about addiction is that it requires consumption of substances that have “chemical hooks” that create a dependency in the addict’s biochemistry. While these hooks do exist, addiction is far more concerned with the addict’s neurochemistry – especially the presence of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens region of the brain.

Because addiction is linked with this neurochemical activity, and because that activity can be caused by any number of stimuli, addiction can also be found in food, exercise, and yes – even porn. All of these things have one thing in common. They get the brain hooked on them by releasing that dopamine, which is responsible for pleasure. Addiction affects the brain by flooding it with dopamine and over time, the user must look at more pornographic images to get the rush. Because of that, addicts become trapped in a repetitive cycle of shame, compulsion, and betrayal.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms?

Since porn doesn’t necessarily produce noticeable changes in your appearance like substances do, it can be difficult to tell if someone may be struggling with it. Once common sign is withdrawal from friends and family. Many porn addicts prefer to be alone and may avoid social outings that they once enjoyed. Sleep related issues such as insomnia or excessive over sleeping can also be a sign of a serious addiction.

These complications can result from feelings of depression, shame and even anxiety. Financial problems may also arise as a result of over spending on pornographic websites or forms of media. Another common characteristic of this addiction is irritability. This occurs when the feelings of pleasure dissipate in the brain, resulting in a low state of mind. Irritability can also trigger aggression and even mood swings which can hurt your relationship with loved ones.

Can I Quit?

Because of the serious consequences of pornography addiction, many young men are calling it quits. But like any addiction, quitting isn’t easy to do. LifeStar Therapy recommends anyone attempting to beat an addiction should gather a strong network of support. “If you’re hesitant to talk to someone about your addiction, remember addiction thrives in shame. By finding a group you can open up to, and where you can listen to others share their stories, the shame of the addiction decreases because you’ll be around people who understand and relate to your struggles. Support groups have people at various stages on the path of recovery, and those further along can offer insights and tips to help you. The benefits of groups are not only about the positive feedback and energy to succeed, but providing support to others as well.”

If you or someone you care about is struggling with an addiction to porn, professional treatment is widely available. Programs offer a variety of services that target different aspects of addiction. Things like therapy, one on one counseling and exploring new hobbies and interests may be used to tackle the problem at hand.

Porn may seem like an entertaining way to pass the time for many teens, but can quickly get out of hand for some people. If you feel like you or someone you loved may be addicted to porn, seek help immediately.

Does Bullying Cause Suicidality in Teens?

While there may never be a singular answer to why teens – or anyone else for that matter – commits suicide, there are certainly some common factors. Keep in mind, however, that two teens can face nearly identical circumstances and one will make it through while the other will not. Having said that, here are some common risk factors for teen suicide.

Lack of Parental Involvement and Support

Parental involvement is always a tricky issue, because not all parents are absentee parents and yet there is a difference between being present in a child’s life and being engaged in a child’s life. Just because a parent may not work and may be home all day does not mean they are necessarily actively engaged in their child’s life.

Conversely, a single parent may work long hours and still be actively engaged in their child’s life. The question is not whether the parent feels engaged, but whether the teen feels they are supported. And unfortunately, a teenager’s perception of care and support may not have much to do with the reality of the situation.

Bullying

While bullying is in and of itself rarely the singular cause of suicide, there is ample evidence suggesting strong correlation, if not causation. It is not clear whether bullying is causing teens to feel suicidal, whether bullies are targeting more vulnerable victims who already suffer from causal factors, or some combination of both. But there is no question that bullying and teen suicidality go hand in hand.

Nonconforming Gender Identity

According to Freedom Counseling, “Issues of sexual identity are hugely relevant to teen suicide. Trans teens in particular are vulnerable to mental illness and suicidality, independent of whether or not their peers and family identify them with the gender identity they express.” Again, however, struggling with LGBT issues is not in and of itself a lone indicator of suicidality. What it all comes back to is whether or not the teen feels loved, accepted and supported by someone or some group of people. They may not feel accepted or supported by their parents or peers, but if they find a supportive LGBT community to be a part of, that can help them safely weather the storms.

Depression or Other Mental Health Issues

As science discovers more about the power of neurotransmitters, it seems that in some cases the real cause of suicide might actually be the teen’s own brain chemistry. This is particularly exacerbated by extreme hormonal changes that take place during the pubescent years.

Ultimately, there are no sure-fire answers as to why individuals commit suicide and particularly not when it comes to teens. Signs of depression and suicide are difficult to see, and intervention does not have a perfect success rate. Still, the onus is on all of us to try and make a difference where we can in reaching out to vulnerable teens who are on the margins of society. Because one is too many.

Not Everybody’s Doing It: Why Teen Drug Use is Declining

teen drug use declining

If you were to base what you know on popular movies and television shows, it would be easy to think that teen drug use is rampant. It’s become very normalized in the entertainment world, but this doesn’t reflect the cultural change among teens when it comes to illicit substances. In recent years, teenagers have been turning away from drugs in large numbers.

teen drug use declining

Drug Use Declining

Surveys show that younger and older teenagers are both choosing to abstain from drugs and alcohol at higher rates. The Monitoring the Future study looks at the habits of thousands of young people, and their results have shown that except marijuana, drug use is down from recent peaks in young people. Explanations for this trend vary. One explanation is that today’s teens are structuring their leisure time more than they used to. According to 449recovery.org, boredom and stress are significant factors in drug abuse and drug relapse. Entertainment technologies and extracurricular activities such as team sports, dance, or martial arts relieve stress and prevent boredom, allowing less time and temptation for drug use. Another theory put forth by TIME is that prescription drugs have essentially replaced illicit drugs as emotional outlet for teens suffering from mental illness.

Less Smoking

Another possible reason teen drug use could be down is that cigarette smoking has also gone down, and these two behaviors tend to be connected. Public awareness about the dangers of smoking cigarettes only tends to go up as the years go by. There are fewer people smoking, and this trend also applies to teenagers. They are likely more aware of the health concerns and have seen more of the public health campaigns that highlight the dangers of cigarette use. Studies show that nicotine leads to other drug use in many people. It primes the brain to be more interested in other drugs and to make them seem more appealing. Because teens are smoking fewer cigarettes, their brains aren’t as primed for other drug use like previous generations might have been. Hopefully, this change will bring about fewer teens going to rehab.

Increase in Marijuana

Another possible reason for the general trend of less teen drug use is the increased availability and normalization of marijuana use. While the Monitoring the Future survey did show a decrease in the use of most drugs, marijuana use was reported at higher rates among older teens. There is a broader social trend of marijuana acceptance, and teens are likely not immune to this. There is also an increased ease of access to the drug, due to its legalization in many states. Teens are likely to choose it over other drugs because they think it is safer and easier to get.

Teen drug use is still a problem, but it is on the decline. Parents can rest easier knowing most young people are choosing to abstain. This is a healthy choice to leads to better futures.

Ways to talk about sexual abuse and assault

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, 93% of children that have been sexually assaulted know their perpetrator and the recent scandal involving Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State doctor, has reiterated how even “trusted” adults can manipulate a situation and do things that are not appropriate with a child. It’s important to know what sexual assault is and what to do if someone is making you feel uncomfortable.

Below are some tips from Krav Maga Worldwide, a global leader in defense training, on how to approach this difficult and sometimes uncomfortable subject.

Start the conversation early. This may seem very early but children under 12 are most at risk at 4 years old. Even if they can’t speak well, children at this age are busy figuring out the world. And they certainly understand and remember a lot more than adults usually realize. Its never to early to talk about this subject with your parents and caregivers.

Understand the only instances when private parts can be seen and touched. Nobody – including a parent or caregiver – should see or touch your private parts (what a swimming suit covers up) – unless they’re keeping them clean, safe, or healthy.

Talk openly about sexuality and sexual abuse. Abusers will sometimes say that the abuse should be kept a secret. Know that if someone is touching or talking in ways that makes you uncomfortable or scared, that it should not stay a secret.

Babysitters, coaches and teachers can all be perpetrators. Don’t assume all adults can be trusted. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, 93% of children that have been sexually assaulted know their perpetrator. It’s important to understand that just because the person is considered a “trusted” adult they can still manipulate a situation and do things that are not appropriate.

Inform yourself about the tricks used by sexual predators. Such as continued accidental touching, or where the predator tricks you into thinking there is an emergency and you must go with the predator.

Trust your inner voice. Especially that feeling we all have inside that tells us what feels right and what feels wrong or uncomfortable. Many who have been sexually abused describe a feeling of discomfort as having a “yucky” feeling inside. You must trust or honor your inner voice or that “yucky” feeling.

You have the right to say NO! As the majority of abuse is based on coercion rather than force, learning to say NO strongly and forcefully really can make a big difference in many situations.

 About Krav Maga Worldwide

Founded in 1997 to promote Krav Maga throughout the United States and around the world, Krav Maga Worldwide trains and certifies instructors and licenses over 150 authorized Krav Maga Worldwide training centers in the United States, Canada, Japan, Mexico, South America, and Europe, as well as over 800 law enforcement agencies and military units. Krav Maga offers the highest caliber of instruction to thousands of people, supporting the company’s core commitment to improving and saving lives. Krav Maga Worldwide continues to develop, promote and implement self-defense and fitness programs. For additional information, visit: www.kravmaga.com.