Political Teens by Connect with Kids

By Connect with Kids

“When parents talk about politics with their kids, when they participate themselves — this leads to a higher level of interest in politics among their children,”

– Dr. Alan Abramowitz, Political Science Professor, Emory University

Nineteen-year-old Will Kelly is pounding the pavement, knocking on doors and talking to voters.

Seventeen-year-old Amelia Hartley is answering phones, making copies and filing news clips.

She is a die-hard Democrat, and he is a faithful Republican. Both teenagers have a passion for politics and for getting involved.

“To be honest,” Will says of his volunteer work, “because I care about what’s going on and it troubles me to see how so many people become apathetic with what they do have in this country – that we take so much for granted.”

“At 17, I can’t vote yet, I don’t pay taxes, but within a year I’m going to have to know enough about leaders – not only national, but local and state – to be able to say who I want running things,” says Amelia of her involvement.

According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, young voters are turning up in record numbers this presidential election.

One reason, experts say, their parents.

“There has been quite a bit of research that shows that when parents talk about politics with their kids, when they participate themselves, when they take their kids to vote with them, that all this leads to a higher level of interest in politics among the children,” says Dr. Alan Abramowitz, a political science professor at Emory University.

It is a level of interest, Dr. Abramowitz adds, that persists over time. “Even many years later, those who were raised in families that were politically active and where the parents talked about politics remain more active themselves.”

Amelia and Will say they’ve been invigorated by the hard work of politics. And, in fact, it’s sparked an interest.

“Is there a future in politics for me?” Will ponders. “Well that’s a question I seem to ask myself a lot. We’ll have to see.”

“There are a lot of career paths I’m considering,” says Amelia, “and politics is definitely one of them.”

Tips for Parents

The polls are showing teens are lining up in record numbers to have their say in this year’s election.  Consider these statistics from a recent poll by Time Magazine, among 18-29 year olds:

  • 70% said they are paying attention to the race
  • 53% said Barack Obama was the candidate best described as ‘inspirational’
  • 83% said this election will have a great impact on the country
  • A majority (54%) say the US was wrong to go to war in Iraq
  • 80% of young people rate the economic conditions in this country as only fair or poor
  • Nearly three-quarters of the respondents said they feel the country is headed down the wrong track
  • Affordable health care (62%), the Iraq War (59%), and being able to find a stable, good paying job (58%) are the top issues a majority of young people worry about the most.

More than 6.5 million young people under the age of 30 participated in the 2008 primaries and caucuses.  In fact, Obama’s margin of victory in Iowa came almost entirely from voters under 25 years old.  In New Hampshire, his edge among young voters was 3 to 1; in Nevada, it was 2 to 1; and in Michigan, nearly 50,000 under-30s voted “Uncommitted” because Clinton’s name was the only one on the ballot.

The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, getting kids involved in a civics or government class is a great way to get them more interested in the elections.  From the 2006 Civic and Political Health of the Nation Report, young people who report that they recently choose to take a civics or government class are more likely than other young people to say that:

  • they helped solve a community problem,
  • they can make a difference in their community,
  • they have volunteered recently,
  • they trust other people and the government,
  • they have made consumer decisions for ethical or political reasons,
  • they believe in the importance of voting, and
  • they are registered to vote.

Parents are also one of the greatest influences on young voters. 

  • Start with the basics.  Make sure your 18-year-old knows when and where to vote.
  • Getting your 18-year-old to the polls could pay big dividends.  People who have been motivated to vote once are more likely to become repeat voters. 
  • Acquire and fill out voter registration forms with your teen. If your teen meets age requirements, you should each fill out a voter registration form.
  • If your teen meets age requirements on Election Day, go to your polling place together to cast your ballots.
  • If your teen doesn’t meet age requirements for the 2008 election, but will turn 18 before the 2012 election, involve them in the current election as preparation for the next election.
  • Consider taking teens between 14 and 17 to the polling place with you.  Even if they are not permitted inside for security reasons, the visit will demystify the voting process.
  • Remind your child that the November election is the result of many local primaries and that Americans are able to vote for their national, state and local leaders.
  • Kids who are not old enough to vote can still have an impact on elections.  Encourage kids to get involved in the political process.  They can go door-to-door in support of candidates or help with fundraising efforts.
  • It can seem daunting to research candidates, because information on the different races is not centralized in one place.  Parents can share news articles with their kids.  The key is to engage students with issues they will find relevant to their lives. 


  • Time Magazine
  • The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement

Sue Scheff: Drugs, Alcohol and Kids

Author: Judith SeixasGeraldine Youcha
Source: NYU Child Study Center

Although the latest government study finds drug use unchanged, kids are still at risk and experimenting at younger ages

Risk factors

Some youngsters are clearly more likely than others to be attracted to and hooked on drugs, nicotine and alcohol. The risk increases with any of these factors and a cluster of these factors can tip the scales:

1. A family history of drug use or alcoholism
2. A family in turmoil
3. Learning difficulties
4. Behavioral problems before adolescence
5. Early school failure
6. Hyperactivity
7. Poor impulse control
8. Rebelliousness
9. Low self-esteem
10. The belief that “it can’t happen to me”
11. Thinking marijuana (or cocaine, or heroin if it is not injected) is not addictive

Warning signs

There are also warning signs that can help parents decide if a problem is brewing or a child is already involved in substance use. Adolescence is a bumpy ride, and some of these warning signs may only be the normal symptoms of growing up, but parents have to be alert to the possibility that, with their particular child, they may indicate trouble. In general, you should suspect some drug use if you observe one or more of these indicators:

A change of friends from those you know and new friends who seem to avoid you. But don’t pin all your youngster’s troubles on “bad friends.” Often the child who is already troubled is the one who is drawn to a group that is taking dangerous risks and is heavily committed to using alcohol and drugs.

Friendship with older teenagers and young adults. Older users need the attention and admiration they get from younger kids and often entice them to be followers and dealers.
A best friend who uses drugs. This is the single best indicator of use.

Daily cigarette smoking. This is an early warning that other substance use may be in the picture.
A deterioration in appearance. The reverse is not necessarily a safety signal. Many drug users look like clean-cut all-American kids instead of stereotypical drug users.

A decline in performance at home. Chores may be neglected or done sloppily; curfew may be ignored.

A change in school performance. The drop in grades may or may not be a dramatic sign by itself, but watch for tardiness, truancy, and disciplinary problems.

Use of street or drug language.

Hypersensitivity, irritability. The teenage user is often hostile, avoids family contact, overreacts to mild criticism, and deflects the topic when pressed for accountability.

Lack of concern about people, ideas, and values that used to be very important.

Wide mood swings. Although mood changes are a normal part of adolescence, extreme emotional swings indicate a problem and be the result of drug or alcohol use.

Secretive phone calls. Callers who hang up when you answer may be your child’s new friends or acquaintances involved in substance use.

The disappearance of money, personal belongings, pills or alcohol.

The sudden appearance of expensive merchandise. Electronic equipment, clothes, or jewelry your child can’t possibly afford may indicate drug dealing. Be mindful that a teenager will often deny any illegal or inappropriate activity with explanations such as, “I borrowed it from a friend.”

Trouble with the law. Kids may be picked up for shoplifting, driving while intoxicated, disorderly conduct.
What if?
What if your suspicion about your child’s drug use is accurate? How can you tell use from abuse? One counselor has a simple rule of thumb: three tries is experimentation; more than that is use. Abuse is characterized by the need to have the drug (whether it is marijuana, cocaine, alcohol or tobacco) and preoccupation with getting it.

Once you’ve faced reality and know that your child needs help, the most crucial step is getting the right help. You must determine what kind of intervention is best for your particular child and what is available close to home. The right help at the right time can get your child back on track. You may not know where to turn first. You can begin by using your local phone book. Start with a call to one or more of these:

Your family doctor
Hotline: usually listed under Alcoholism Treatment or Drug Abuse Information and Treatment in the yellow pages
Community Services: often in the white pages
An agency specializing in treating drug/alcohol abuse and related problems: often listed in the yellow pages under Drug Abuse
A local counseling or mental health center: often under the yellow pages
A community-based storefront counseling center
A social worker, psychologist, or drug counselor
The school guidance department or student assistance service
A police youth officer
A clergyman
A relative, particularly one in a helping profession

Children who don’t use drugs

Despite the fact that drugs, alcohol and tobacco are available everywhere, some kids don’t get involved. More than half of all high school seniors have not tried marijuana, and alcohol, our social drug, has not been tried by about twenty percent of twelfth graders. Unfortunately, for those who do drink, binge drinking (5 or more drinks in a row) is a pervasive problem. What helps some youngsters avoid the pitfall of today’s world? Some children just seem to have an inner compass. They say very early, “That’s not me.” In addition, a national study (The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, 1997) found that teenagers who feel “connected”-who feel loved, understood and feel their parents pay attention to them-were less likely to use drugs. Parents can help protect their children by providing:

Trust and support. A study of seven thousand youngsters showed that those who didn’t have the trust and support of their parents were more likely to cave in to peer pressure.
Realistically hight academic standards.

The chance to succeed.
The chance to fail and still be accepted.
Praise, love and physical touching. The “Did you hug your kid today?” bumper stickers apply to kids of all ages – teens as well as toddlers. Adolescents sometimes cringe, but don’t let that inhibit you or make you think they need it any less than a younger child.

Whatever the reasons, and they are many-parental concern and involvement, a changing social climate that makes drug use, drunk driving, and smoking in public less “cool” than it once was-the rise in substance use seen in the early nineties seems to have been stemmed and may even be reversing. But this is no reason for complacency. It means only that the fever that had been 104 is now 102, and needs continuing attention.

About the Authors
Judith S. Seixas, a credentialed alcoholism counselor, who has written many books for young readers, including Alcohol: What It Is, What It Does; Drugs: What They Are, What They Do; and Living with a Parent Who Drinks Too Much.

Geraldine Youcha, author of Minding the Children: Child Care in American from Colonial Times to the Present and Alcohol: A Dangerous Pleasure. She has also written frequently about drug use and its side effects on the family for major magazines.

Judith S. Seixas and Geraldine Youcha are the co-authors of Children of Alcoholism: A Survivor’s Manual.

References and Related Books

Drugs, Alcohol and Your Children: What Every Parent Needs to Know J.S. Seixas & G. YouchaPenguin Books 1999
Tips for Teenshttp://ncadi.samhsa.gov/features/youth/
AboutOurKids Related Articles
Adolescent Substance Abuse and School Policy
Choosing a Mental Health Professional
Current Trends in the Understanding and Treaqtment of Social Phobia
Zero Tolerance Policies: Are They Too Tough or Not Tough Enough?
About the NYU Child Study Center
The New York University Child Study Center is dedicated to increasing the awareness of child and adolescent psychiatric disorders and improving the research necessary to advance the prevention, identification, and treatment of these disorders on a national scale. The Center offers expert psychiatric services for children, adolescents, young adults, and families with emphasis on early diagnosis and intervention. The Center’s mission is to bridge the gap between science and practice, integrating the finest research with patient care and state-of-the-art training utilizing the resources of the New York University School of Medicine. The Child Study Center was founded in 1997 and established as the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry within the NYU School of Medicine in 2006. For more information, please call us at (212) 263-6622 or visit us at www.AboutOurKids.org.

Sue Scheff: Learn About Protecting Your Kids in Cyberspace

10 Tips For Keeping Your Kids Safe On Social Networks


ATLANTA, GAMay 28, 2008 — June is Internet Safety month.  With hundred of millions of teens, pre-teens—and adults—around the world using social networking sites, there’s no better time for parents to be aware of the fun, the benefits, the powerful attractions, and the potential risks that MySpace, Facebook and other similar sites offer their children.


InternetSafety.com, the recognized leader in Internet safety solutions, has assembled a list of practical tips parents can use to ensure a safe networking environment for kids:


  • Show Interest — Ask questions about how your child’s preferred social networking site or sites work.  Kids are generally happy to demonstrate their knowledge if you show genuine interest.  You can even ask your teen to show you how to set up your own social networking site—a great way to visit your child’s page and see what’s been posted there.
  • Encourage Instinctive Responses — Kids often can instinctively do the right thing, which makes them their own first defense against those who may take advantage online.  Encourage your children to avoid contact with people they “feel funny about.”  Tell them to not reveal anything online they would not want a stranger to know.  Limit the posting of pictures and remind them that once something is placed online, it can never be taken back.
  • Know Your Kids’ Passwords — If your child changes his or her password suddenly and refuses to share it with you, that’s trouble.  Insist on knowing how to access his or her accounts—then keep their confidence by not sharing the information with their friends or siblings.
  • Set Hours for When Kids Can Access Social Networks — Late nights are the favorite time for predators to seek out their adolescent prey.  Set firm limits not only for the time of day, but also the total amount of time, that your children may access social networking sites.
  • Be Aware of Alternate Access Points — Kids don’t have to access their social networks at home.  Libraries, friends’ houses, even cell phones make the Internet easy to reach today.  Keep up with what’s happening on your child’s social networking page and be aware when changes have been made despite the lack of access from home.
  • Exercise Your Parental Right to Supervise — There’s a difference between being snoopy and ensuring safe activity.  You don’t have to read every last word of a personal message your son or daughter sends to a friend.  But you do have the right—and the obligation—to see who your kids are talking to, and to know the general subject matter. 
  • Check for Photos — By clicking on the Windows “Start” button, you’ll find the “Search” tool.  Click on “Pictures, Music or Video,” the box next to “Pictures and Photos,” and finally “Search”.  Ask your child to identify any photos of strangers, or any other pictures you find questionable.
  • Install Filtering Software — PC products like Safe Eyes allow parents to block or record Instant Messenger chats, limit email use to prescribed addresses, block objectionable Web sites (including peer-to-peer file sharing programs that often expose kids to inappropriate material), and receive alerts when kids post personal information on social networking sites.
  • Watch for CyberBullying — Encourage your children to tell you immediately if they are being harassed online.  Children also need to know that it is not acceptable to be a party to cyberbullying—or to remain silent when they know others are being harassed.  Visit StopCyberBullying.org or StopBullyingNow.hrsa.gov for excellent tips and information.
  • Don’t Lecture — Finally, if you should find reasons for concern, don’t browbeat, insult or condescend to your child.  Have a discussion about values and why they are important.  Respect your child but be firm.  And most of all, lead by example.  Parents have a powerful ability to influence their child’s behavior—and nothing is more powerful than someone who not only talks values, but lives them.

“Parents should never feel that their level of involvement in their child’s social network activity is excessive.  Since 1998, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s CyberTipline has logged over 33,000 tips about children being enticed online for sexual acts,” said Shane Kenny, President and COO of InternetSafety.com.  “Better that the parent error on the side of intrusion, rather than bear the consequences of doing nothing.”



About InternetSafety.com

Established in 1999, InternetSafety.com specializes in providing Internet safety solutions.  Its flagship software, Safe Eyes, is the two-time recipient of the PC Magazine Editors’ Choice Award and was rated as the #1 parental control solution by America’s leading consumer advocacy publication.  The company’s Safe Eyes and EtherShield products are providing online protection for PCs and Macs in homes, businesses and schools across more than 125 countries. 


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Sue Scheff (P.U.R.E.) Eating Disorders, What You Need to Know

By Hannah Boyd

In a society where waifs rule and magazines herald a different fad diet every week, some kids view eating disorders as a small price to pay for fitting in. They’re wrong. Anorexia kills more than 10% of its victims, and bulimia 1%. Eating disorders also lead to depression and place enormous stress on families. Concerned that your child may be at risk? Here’s what you need to know.

 “People with anorexia starve themselves to dangerously thin levels, at least 15% below their appropriate weight,” says Edward J. Cumella, Ph.D, CEDS, Executive Director of Remuda Programs for Eating Disorders in Wickenburg, Arizona. “People with bulimia binge uncontrollably on large amounts of food – sometimes thousands of calories at a time – and then purge the calories out of their bodies through vomiting, starving, excessive exercise, laxatives, or other methods. They are of normal weight or overweight.” Some anorexics also purge, but they are still underweight.

Not surprisingly, eating disorders disproportionately affect females. Only 10% of people with eating disorders are male. According to Cumella, the typical age of onset is between 14 and 18 – prime time for peer pressure, hazing, and low self-worth. Other red flags? Your child seems obsessed with weight and dieting, binges or follows a cycle of dieting and then overeating, heads to the bathroom after meals, is secretive about her eating or exercise habits, uses laxatives, or seems to feel depressed and out of control.

 If any of the above sounds familiar, don’t expect your child to admit the problem or appreciate your help. “Your child may feel extremely threatened by the thought of giving up the dysfunctional eating behavior,” warns Cumella. “Don’t believe your child’s claim that s/he does not need professional help.” Seek out a doctor specializing in eating disorders, and be ready to participate in family counseling if requested. “Be patient,” adds Cumella. “Treatment takes time; recovery may take months or years and involve relapses.”

The good news? When eating disorders are caught early, the prognosis is good, and while there’s no vaccine against them, there are steps you can take to protect your children. Model healthy, moderate eating for your children, and trust their hunger signals – don’t force them to eat “one more bite” or tell them to stop eating when they’re still hungry. Don’t critique people’s weight or talk about dieting. Be the reality check; point out that thin celebrities often lead sad lives, that most diets fail, and that people of all shapes and sizes tend to be healthiest and happiest when leading lives of balance and moderation. Most importantly, make it clear that you value your children for who they are, not for what they weigh.


Sue Scheff (P.U.R.E.) Summer Sun Safety

Raising my kids in Florida, we quickly learn about keeping our kids protected from the dangers of the sun. There is nothing like a great day at the beach, but be sure to use sun screens.

Summer Sun Safety by Anna Weinstein

Skin cancer is a growing concern among parents these days. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, there are more than one million skin cancers diagnosed each year. Most parents have heard the statistics: 65% of melanoma cancers can be attributed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, and 90% of nonmelanoma cases can be attributed to UV rays.

Thirty and forty years ago, parents were less informed about the damaging effects of UV rays. Today, however, the message is clear: overexposure can cause skin cancer.

So, how do parents balance sun safety and their children’s insatiable energy for playing outdoors? Charlotte Hendricks, president of Healthy Childcare Consultants and a board member of the Sun Safety Alliance, says there are a lot of actions parents can take to protect their children from the sun. “Children need to be active outdoors,” she says. “And they need to be protected.”

Suntan lotion, hats, sunglasses, protective clothing, and water for hydration are all necessary to keep children protected while playing outdoors. But most parents second guess their understanding of the rules.

What number sunscreen? What brand? How often do you reapply it?

Jeff Ashley, M.D., is a clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Southern California. He also is the President and Founder of Sun Safety for Kids, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the incidence of skin cancer through teaching and promoting sun protection to children. Ashley provides answers to some common questions about sun protection:

As a general rule, how much time each day should children be allowed to play outdoors during the summer months?

Ashley: There’s really no time limit so long as children are adequately protected from the elements, including the sun’s UV radiation. Because sunscreen wears off, it is commonly recommended that it be reapplied at least every two hours during continuous outdoor exposure.

Should parents avoid sending their kids outside over the noon hour?

UV rays are strongest at solar noon, usually close to 1 p.m. during daylight savings time-so, that’s when sun protection is most important. When there’s a choice, it’s safer to be outdoors before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m., but that’s not always practical or possible. The best defense against overexposure during midday is to cover as much area of skin as possible with lightweight, loose-fitting clothing, wear a broad brimmed hat, wear UV-blocking sunglasses, and apply sunscreen to any non-covered areas of skin.

What number sunscreen should children wear? Does it differ for children of different ages?

All people, including children, should use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, preferably 30 or higher. SPF relates to the product’s ability to block UVA rays. One reason for going higher is because most people don’t put on enough to achieve the SPF, or because it comes off due to time elapsed, rubbing, sweating, swimming, and so forth. Within the next couple of years, the FDA will require sunscreen manufacturers to also label their products according to their ability to block UVB rays. At this time, consumers should at least check that the product claims to block UVA.

Are generic brands just as good as name brands?

All sunscreen products, brand name or generic, are supposed to have been tested to ensure that they provide the SPF that is claimed on the product label.

What are some of the benefits of sunshine and outdoor play?

The only known benefit of sunshine on the human body is its ability to cause the skin to produce vitamin D. In prior ages, this was the most important source of vitamin D. However, today there’s a safer and more reliable way to achieve adequate vitamin D levels by taking a vitamin supplement. These are now readily available and inexpensive. The healthiest lifestyle, in my opinion, consists of practicing careful sun protection and taking a vitamin D supplement to compensate for the lack of sun exposure. Many experts recommend approximately 1,000 I.U. per day for otherwise healthy adults who protect their skin from the sun. The amount for children depends on their age, so it would be best for parents to ask their pediatrician. Physical exercise, whether indoors or outdoors, remains beneficial and highly desirable, but the objective is to protect against overexposure to the sun while enjoying
outdoor activities.

For more information on summer sun safety, visit www.sunsafetyforkids.org .

Sue Scheff (P.U.R.E.) Military Schools

Does your child have a desire for Military School? Is your child an underachiever or lack motivation? Does your child lack respect for Authority? Does your child make bad choices? Does your child lack self-confidence and self-respect?

Military Schools and Academies offer a student the opportunity to reach their highest academic potential as well as build up their self-esteem to make better choices in today’s society. We encourage parents to let their children know that Military Schools are a privilege and honor to attend and not for troubled children. Military Schools are not for punishment; they are a time for growth.

With many students the structure and positive discipline that Military Schools offer are very beneficial. It not only encourages them to become the best they can be, it enhances them to grow into mature respectable young men and women.Many students do not realize they would enjoy Military Schools until they actually visit the campus and understand the honor it is. Military Schools will give your child the vision to reach their goals and dreams for their future. The high level of academics combined with small class sizes creates a strong educational background.

Many ADD/ADHD students do very well in a Military School and Military Academy due to the structure and positive discipline. If your child is ADD or ADHD you may want to consider this type of environment. Many parents start with a summer program to determine if their child is a candidate for Military School.

Military Schools and Academies tuitions vary. Most start at $20,000.00 per school year. There is financing available through lenders and some scholarships. For more first hand information on Military Schools; please contact us directly at 954-349-7260.
Visit www.helpyourteens.com for more information.

Sue Scheff: Teen Pregnancy on the Rise

Many people have seen the recent news stories on the 17 girls in MA that made a pact to get pregnant and succeeded.  The Boston Globe  article details this distressing situation.

The National Campaign seeks to improve the well-being of children, youth, families, and the nation by preventing unplanned and teen pregnancy. Take a moment to visit this website of educational resources.


For parents, a teenage daughter becoming pregnant is a nightmare situation.


Every year, approx. 750,000 teenage girls become pregnant in the United States. That is roughly 1/3 of the age group’s population, a startling fact! Worse, more than 2/3 of teens who become mothers will not graduate from high school.

If you are a parent who has recently discovered that your teenage daughter is pregnant or may be pregnant, we understand your fear and pain. This is a difficult and serious time in both yours and your daughters’ life.

Our organization, Parent’s Universal Resource Experts  (P.U.R.E.™) works closely with parents and teenagers in many troubling situations, such as unplanned pregnancy. We understand how you feel!

No matter what happens, you and your daughter must work together to make the best choice for her and her unborn child. Your support and guidance is imperative as a mother. You CAN make it through as a family!

We have created this website as a reference for parents dealing with teenage pregnancy in hope that we can help you through the situation and make the best decisions.