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Showing posts from August, 2017

Drugs aren't everywhere, not everybody's doing them and not all teens get drunk: The 'rite of passage' myth!

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Earlier in the year I wrote a piece on research that found alcohol use had declined amongst young Australians. Although many readers welcomed the figures and saw them as a reason to celebrate our teens, sadly, some people refused to believe what they read. You only have to look at some of the comments on my Facebook feed to see that there are those who are never going to accept that some teens are going to make healthier choices. Some simply thought the researchers got it wrong and the data was inaccurate whereas others chose to believe that teens were using illicit drugs instead (even though the research does not support this). Here are just some of the comments:
"I don't know where you get your figures from and I doubt the accuracy of them" "I find that a little hard to believe when you drive around on a Saturday night in the Hills Area particularly where there is a party involving 14-17 year olds ..." "Drugs. Cheap, easy to get.....I could go on. Any othe…

'Pre-parties' and a 'tactical vomit' again! Can parents really provide a 'safe space' for young people to drink?

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It's hard to believe that it was four years ago that I first wrote about the 'tactical vomit' phenomenon! If you were around at that time you may remember that I was asked by a Year 10 girl what I thought about the 'benefits' of a 'tactical vomit' ... now, as I said in that blog entry, maybe I had missed something when  I was a teenager but I had never heard of this. It took a little time and quite a few conversations with friends, colleagues and some young people to really get what she was talking about ... As I said then, there were certainly some people who had a vague idea of what she was referring to but almost everybody was surprised about the age of the girl who asked me about the practice.

For the uninitiated, here is a part of an email I received from another Year 10 girl who I asked to describe a 'tactical vomit' and how it was used by young people of her age:

"Before we go out to a party for the night we usually meet at someone else&…

Teen brains and getting them to do things: Why limiting the number of instructions and making messages clear is so important

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We've long known that in the first few years of their lives a child's brain goes through a tremendous 'growth spurt' and, during this time, they learn so much. Almost in spite of you, they are able to pick up on every little thing that goes on around them and it is often difficult for parents to keep up with the constant changes that are taking place. The teen years, on the other hand, are not usually seen as a key time for positive changes! This is a time usually associated with risk-taking behaviour and few parents realize that even during this difficult period, adolescent brains are continuing to develop. In fact, if teens are given the opportunity, this can actually be, as neuroscientist, mother and author of the book The Teenage Brain, Frances Jensen describes it, a "golden age for their brains!"

After the growth spurt that occurs around 10-13 years of age (a time when new neurons and synapses are being created, forming new pathways) the teen brain star…

Teen brains and driving: The one 'request' all parents should ask of P-platers

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As the eldest of three sons, I was the first to get my driver's licence. After the initial shock that I actually passed my driving test the first time (I am a terrible driver - my father says I don't drive a car, I aim it!), Dad sat my brothers and I down and shared with us his one rule when it came to driving, i.e., he never wanted for one of us to be behind the wheel and the other two to be passengers in the car. His explanation was simple - young drivers aren't experienced and accidents happen, to have one of his sons in a car crash would be bad enough, to have all three in that vehicle would be devastating.

Over 4 decades later I cannot think of a time when the three of us have ever been in a car together with one of us driving! For some reason the discussion we had all  those years ago just stuck!

This rule certainly did not come about as a result of my Dad's extensive knowledge of research in the area (in fact, I doubt whether any really existed back then), it s…