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Showing posts from April, 2014

"But they're hardly in the majority": Why do we always focus on the negative?

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As I said in my last post, I am currently cleaning out over 20 years of resources, media clippings and the like ... I thought that I would share another with you. This one comes from the Daily Telegraph in April 2008 and still goes down as one of the best things I have ever read on the subject of young people - hard to believe that I would ever say that about the 'Tele' but you've got to give credit where credit is due! The background to this piece was that Corey Worthington (the Victorian young man who had thrown a party that had gotten completely out of control when an invitation was posted on social media) had been making headlines across the country for all the wrong reasons with his party antics and his sullen attitude. He had been thrust in front of TV cameras and not surprisingly had said all of the 'wrong things', confirming what many adult Australians believed - that our young people were out of control and were worse than they'd ever been before. His…

What should you tell your kids about drugs? A mother's letter to her son

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I've recently been clearing my desk out at UNSW (I'm just about to resign after 21 years!) and it has been an interesting process sorting through the resources, papers and media articles on 'all things drugs' I have collected over that time. Something that grabbed my attention was a letter that received widespread media attention when it was published way back in the late 90s.

Written by Dr Marsha Rosenbaum, a well known US drug researcher, it was addressed to her 14 year old son and outlined her advice on drugs as he was about to enter his college years. First published in the San Francisco Chronicle on September 7, 1998, it wasn't long before it was picked up by other media outlets across the US and then around the world. You can certainly see why it was so controversial in the US, in a country where the term 'just say no' was first coined, Dr Rosenbaum's words of advice challenged almost all of the messages that had previously been recommended by gov…

"I'm grounded until December!": Finding appropriate conseqeunces when your child breaks the rules

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"Mr Dillon, I made a big mistake ..." were the first words that came out of the young man's mouth when he approached me after a Year 11 presentation a couple of weeks ago. He had waited until everyone else had left the room and then came up to me quite sheepishly. There's so many issues around 'duty of care' and the like, that when someone starts a discussion like this I have to very quickly make it clear to the student that if they are going to tell me something that suggests they are at risk in some way, I have no choice, I have to tell someone at the school - I can't keep it secret ... Thank goodness it wasn't that sort of story but certainly this young man had recently found himself in a very confronting situation and was looking for some advice from me about what to do next.

Without going into too much detail and slightly changing some of the aspects of the situation to protect his privacy, this young man had gone out with friends a couple of we…

A 16 year old and a bottle of bourbon

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This week I met Neil, a 16 year old young man who had become concerned about his drinking behaviour after listening to my presentation. When he approached me I could tell that he was quite uncomfortable and through the whole conversation that we had he was constantly biting his nails, running his fingers through his hair nervously and obviously very anxious. What had disturbed him were my comments about spirits and the sheer amount of alcohol a young person was consuming when they shared a bottle of vodka between three or four of them (i.e., 21-22 standard drinks - the equivalent of 21 glasses of beer), and the impact that this could have on the developing liver. I'm simplifying the conversation, but essentially this is what Neil said to me: "Do you build a tolerance to alcohol and if you do, what does that actually mean to your health? If you are able to drink a whole lot more than you used to and not get any of the 'drunk' effects, does that mean your liver and the r…