If you suspect a teenager is abusing drugs or alcohol, do not panic and do not immediately speak to the teenager about the situation. Speaking to the teenager before you have a plan usually backfires because the conversation quickly disintegrates into a confrontation, which accomplishes nothing.
The first thing you need to do is think of people in your life who can be helpful and think of professionals to contact. Determine if there is another adult—an uncle, older brother, or favorite cousin—with whom the child has a good relationship and may have some positive influence. Is there a member of the clergy that can be helpful? Does the child have a pediatrician who has been a regular part of his or her care? Think of people in your life who can connect with the child you are concerned about. Enlist one or more of these people to spend time with the child, since he or she might open up to this person when not being open to a parent.
Bullying is devastating for those who experience it, and it is extremely unpleasant for those who witness it as well. Bullying doesn’t just impact the lives of victims and the bullies themselves, but it also affects those who see it happen in the school or the community.
Imagine if every day when you went to work there was a strong possibility that one of your colleagues was going to be brutally teased, socially excluded, or embarrassed. It wouldn’t be an easy place to function. How can we expect children to learn if our school environments are rife with the feeling that at any moment somebody could be a victim in a similar situation?
For most teenagers, parties are a rite of passage and attendance or lack of attendance at a party can significantly impact their social standing. In today’s society, young people feel the pressure and opinion of their peers constantly, thanks to social media and the “standards” set by celebrities and social media influencers.
It is very important that parents communicate with their children concerning parties where alcohol and drugs may be present. Forbidding a teenager from going to one of these parties is ineffectual in the long term, and it shuts down open communication between the parent and the child. Instead, before the party, the parent should say, “I know there may be drugs and alcohol present at this party, and there’s going to be potentially risky behaviors. I love you and I care about you, and I hope you are strong enough to resist them.”
It is difficult to determine what causes bullying but there are usually specific indicators which we can learn to recognize. In order to do so, we must first understand the temperament of children and how they develop. All children have inborn, pre-wired temperaments which are evident from infancy. Some babies are more assertive about letting others know what they need, while other babies are more passive and will wait until someone takes care of them. Children who are aggressive and like to be in charge are at risk for becoming bullies while shy and passive children are much less likely to become a bully.
A lot of bullying, especially among girls, has to do with language. A child who has very strong language skills knows how to use a turn of phrase to make people laugh or to make people cry. These children are at greater risk of being bullies than a child who struggles with language.
Alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs, though legal, are often abused. People can get these substances whether they are of age or not, and the same thing is happening with marijuana. Walking through almost any neighborhood, one can smell marijuana everywhere. Dena Gorkin recalls walking down the street with her twelve-year-old daughter and her daughter said, “Smell that, Mom? That’s marijuana.”
Parents and schools share a common purpose — they want to educate the children in their care and ensure they grow to be healthy adults. However, there is one place where parents and schools diverge in their goals. The parents are, rightfully, always looking to protect the interests of their own child. The school though, must protect the interests of all the children. Most of the time these two things go together, but sometimes, especially in bullying situations, they may diverge.
Teachers and administrators are often confronted by hurting parents whose child is being bullied and they feel the school is not doing enough to stop it. There are several difficult truths that must be confronted in this situation. The first is that the very best bullying prevention programs being rolled out in schools are accomplishing somewhere between a thirty to forty percent reduction in bullying, in spite of all their resources. Basically this means that even if your school is doing everything they should be doing, the international standard suggests there will still be quite a lot of bullying that parents and children will have to deal with.
People living mental illness are often ashamed or even afraid to tell others what they are going through. They are worried about the judgments people will make about them if they knew that they are taking medication or seeing a therapist. It is important for people to remember that there is no shame in getting help with mental illness, like depression, obsessive- compulsive disorder, panic disorder, and there are many different types of help in today’s world.
Anxiety and depression in preteens and teenagers are more prevalent today than five years ago. One potential contributing factor that has increased dramatically in the last five years is children’s access to social media from a very young age. By fifth grade, many children have cell phones, which provide almost constant access to social media. By the time they are teenagers, they have been exposed to social media for several years.
There are many opinions as to what education really is. If you ask ten different people, you will might get ten different answers. Shimon Waronker, EdD, believes an education is primarily the development of character traits in a child.
If children are resilient, courageous, humble, and empathetic, then a parent has succeeded because no matter what challenge is thrown at them, they will have the tools they need to meet that challenge and overcome it. Character traits are critical in education and are really primary to academics. A lot of people will say, “What do you mean? Education is all about the academics!” But in truth, academics are secondary to the development of positive traits because a child with no resilience will give up and quit, and it makes no difference what challenging course material they receive—they will always have a propensity to quit.
The term bullying is used frequently, and while there certainly is a great deal of bullying happening, it is important to know that bullying is a very specific type of aggressive behavior. Very often children fight over things. Two children want the same ball on the playground, or two children want to be first down the slide. This is fighting between two peers of equal power. It is not bullying. It may be behavior that we want to work on, but it isn’t bullying.
Bullying is the deliberate abuse of power to harm another person. There are three critical components in that definition, so let’s consider each of them: