Monthly Archives: December 2017

Teen depression skyrockets and there is one common theme: Social Media

According to a recent national survey, between the years 2010-2015, the number of teens who felt useless and joyless surged 33%. Suicide attempts alone increased by 23%. These numbers are simply terrifying. After countless surveys, all of the results have one thing in common: a smartphone and the growth of social media. According to a recent poll, teens now spend much less time interacting with their friends in person. Interacting with people face to face is one of the deepest wellsprings of human happiness; without it, our moods start to suffer and depression often follows.” Our goal in the Digital World program is to promote healthy online behavior and personal relationships, as well as talk to kids about the “reality” of the Internet, and how social media affects us both socially and emotionally, now and in the future. Take a look at Kids in a Cyber World for some quick facts about how fast social media has grown, and the ways the cyber world, left unchecked can impact youth development.

If you would like more information on this presentation or other Digital World programs send an inquiry to gpsempowered@gmail.com.

Yes you can… actually talk to your parents about sex???

I received a letter the other day as the high school TPP instructor that was similar to many I have received in the past. Here is a part of that letter:

“I know that the time you spent with us was well appreciated and will help us in the future to stay out of bad situations. I really got something out of the I Statements and the skit. I thought it was going to be bad but it was fun and helped me think ahead of what I should say or how I should act”.

Even though I did not want to talk to my parents about sex I did. We had a nice talk that was kinda awkward, but we wouldn’t have had that talk if it wasn’t for you.”

Now, for those of you who don’t get the chance to be part of this program, here is the question freshman and sophomores ask a parent: What is your opinion on teens and sexual relationships (or teens and abstinence)?

I thought I would let you in on 5 simple rules to follow that increase the chances that this very important conversation will go well.

  1. Ask early, not when you NEED to know their opinion for any reason. As she said above, it helps you stay out of bad situations.
  2. Use the I Statement she refers to. Stating how you feel BEFORE you talk is important. Most teens use awkward or uncomfortable, but most don’t ever talk because the fear parents will overact, or think it’s not a conversation it’s a confession! State what you feel using the I Statement before you start.
  3. Keep the conversation general. It’s easier to get parents real opinions on relationships, values, risks, abstinence, and what they have seen over the years when they are not talking about you specifically.
  4. Give your parents props for their experience and insight. They really do have a lot more experience in relationships than you, and parents love when teens actually give them credit for something! ☺
  5. Blame TPP class for having to ask the question. Everyone does! Check out Tell it Like it Is for more tips and information you may need or want to use.

Good Luck!!

-Holly

7th graders take a BIG risk to learn about STDs/STIs

Seventh graders across Geauga County are learning about some of the physical risks when teens choose to become sexually active as part of TPP’s Holistic Sexuality Education Program. If young people make the choice to become sexually active, and yes this includes oral sex, they could be a part of the statistic : One out of two people contract an STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) or STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) by the time they are 25 years old. That’s 50%! When teens choose to have sex they also have a 33% chance of getting involved in an unwanted pregnancy by age 20. The seventh grade TPP program emphasizes the physical and emotional risks that teens take by choosing to become sexually active.

Even AFTER learning about several of the risks and consequences many students will still volunteer to participate in a “physical risk activity” called the Envelope Game, designed to teach students about STD/STI basics. In this activity student volunteers receive an envelope with various STD names sealed inside, with decorated, inviting and attractive pictures, colors or logos on the outside (get the idea?). They open them one at a time and  are often surprised and embarrassed to see and read aloud what they “got” in their envelope. They, and the class then get the opportunity to hear about the disease, the symptoms and possible treatment options. Many are shocked to learn that some STD’S are viral and cannot be cured, which means they will have them in some form forever!

Several students choose not to volunteer to play the game and remain 100% SAFE, the same as those who choose abstinence in real life. These students made the BEST choice, as part of of TPP’s signature decision ‘math problem’.

Students are encouraged to talk to parents about this activity and are assigned homework to help facilitate the conversation. Parents are the primary source of sexuality information for young people, believe it or not!

Do your boys know the law? Men, babies and the law

Talking about sex with your children can be difficult and complicated enough, but do they, or you really know the life- long financial consequences if they father a child?

There are many eye opening facts that young men should be aware of if they make a choice to have sex outside of a committed, mature relationship such as marriage. Things to know, at minimum include:

  • Are they aware that they are required to support a child until age 18?
  • The average cost of basic care of raising a baby to age 18 is about $1,100 a month.
  • Parents of young men may be responsible for that cost in child support if their child is under 18 and has a child.
  • Once a pregnancy occurs, men have no rights when it comes to determining decisions about the pregnancy.

Check out “Men, Babies and the Law”, part of TPP’s 8th grade curriculum for more information.

Are teens prepared to say no to sexual pressure?

Are you surprised to learn that 85% of students do not say “NO” to unwanted sexual touch? Did you know it only takes 7 times of doing something before a habit is formed? What most of us don’t realize is that small habits can put us at big Risk. Habits, by definition cause you to react without thinking –it’s an automatic response. The TPP curriculum teaches young people how to begin getting into the Habit of using Assertive Communication. This means using direct, honest, firm communication while respecting yourself and the other person in situations large and small.

Assertiveness is one of the most important skills you can teach and use for success throughout life. Studies have shown that teens who are assertive are: less likely to be bullied, better at communicating, more confident, less stressed, more responsible and better able to resist pressure from peers. Remember, teens learn best by watching others, so role modeling being assertive can be a parent’s greatest influence in their child’s life.
These are 5 ways we can teach young people to be assertive:

  1. Teach kids to identify feelings and use a range of feeling words
  2. Reinforce the different communication styles (passive, assertive and aggressive)
  3. Teach youth how to express feelings in a positive and respectful way (“I” statements) – see example below
  4. Role model assertive behavior
  5. Recognize and praise assertive behavior

Assertiveness does not come easy to everyone but is vital to a person’s well-being and helps them take care of themselves.

“I” Statement: 

I Statement

For more information, watch this short YouTube video: Teach Your Teens it’s Okay to Say No

Can 6th graders handle a cell phone?

That is a question that has been asked since cell phones became a part of everyday life. So what’s the answer?

Imagine that the average guest in your school could electronically ‘find’ a child on the Internet? Most responses are doubting. Adults will say ‘kids are smarter than that’ or “I taught them to keep their information safe’. Kids will tell you that they are always ‘safe’, or more likely ‘I am not stupid”! But safety isn’t as obvious at it might appear when it comes to the Internet.

In ESC’s Digital World program for 6th graders we put this concept to the test with an activity called “6 Click Challenge” (NetSmartz). As a guest in the classroom, the instructor has access to students’ first names, as many people do. On day one, the instructor asks for a couple of volunteers who use social media frequently, and ask what their favorite social media platform is. The fun begins the next day when the instructor shares with the volunteers and the other students what information they found out in just ‘6 clicks’, or searches. Of course no personal information is shared! Students are completely shocked when the instructor tells them what kind of dog they have or their little brother’s name!

We have found that students DO keep very personal information off the Internet and social media. However, they do not (and at younger ages cannot) think critically about how ‘basic information, posts of less-safe friends, common pictures or snaps, and friending habits can be combined to ‘find them’ electronically. And just as importantly, studies show that bullying behavior, changes in self-esteem, and even mental health and attention span can all be affected by children’s social media and Internet use.

To find more information and safety tips check out our Digital World content and view this YouTube video: Keeping Kids Safe and Secure Online.