Category Archives: Teenagers

Anger Control

anger

We have all experienced anger in one form or another. However, some people may find themselves feeling angry more often than the people around them.
Here is an article that may help you, or even someone you know, to manage anger.

*Please keep in mind that here at Apex Behavioral Health Western Wayne we have staff that may be able to help you overcome your anger. Please call us at 734-729-3133 to schedule an appointment.

Violent Behaviors Involve One in Four Girls

When one thinks of violent behavior among teens, the first image that comes to mind may be a clump of boys fighting in a school hallway or park. Violent behavior among adolescent girls can be a problem as well.

A recent report from SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that among girls age 12 to 17, 18.6% got into a serious fight at school or work in the past 12 months. 14.1% participated in a group-against-group fight and 5.7% attacked others with the intent to hurt them seriously. girls-fighting

More than one-quarter (26.7%) of girls in this age group engaged in one of these types of violent behavior in the past year, based on averages for 2006 through 2008.

Other key findings indicate that the percentage of girls engaging in these violent behaviors varied by family income, substance use, and school-related characteristics.

Family Income. Prevalence of these violent acts in the past year decreased as annual family income increased. Violent behaviors were reported by 36.5% of adolescent females who lived in families with annual incomes of less than $20,000; 30.5% of those in families with annual incomes of $20,000 to $49,999; 22.8% with annual incomes of $50,000 to $74,999; and 20.7% with annual incomes of $75,000 or more.

Substance Use.  Adolescent females who engaged in any of these violent behaviors in the past year were more likely than those who did not to indicate past-month binge alcohol use (15.% vs. 6.9%), marijuana use (11.4% vs. 41.%) and use of illicit drugs other than marijuana (9.2% vs. 3.2%).

School Attendance. Adolescent females who were not currently enrolled in or attending school were more likely than those who were in school to engage in one of these violent behaviors in the past year (34.3% vs. 26.7%).

Grades. Among those who attended school in the past year, rates of violent behaviors increased as academic grades decreased. About one-sixth of girls who reported having an “A” average (16%) engaged in a past-year violent behavior compared with 26% of those with a “B” average, 38.5% of those with a “C” average, and 52.6% of those with a “D” average or lower.

Despite media attention on high profile accounts of females’ acts of violence, rates of those violent behaviors among adolescent females remained stable when comparing combined data from 2002 to 2004 with those for 2006 to 2008.

San Diego county has also linked adolescent violence to underage drinking but included several other elements, such as: social pressures, jealously, and pride as factors leading teenage girls to fight.

Fallbrook High School principal Adam Dawson believes, “It may be a combination of illicit drug use, family issues, or simply looking for a way to be connected. It can also be social pressure, this is why it is so important to have solid, healthy friends.”

The statistic of one in four girls aged 12 to 17 committing an act of violence at school or work pushes the percentage of girls involved in violent behavior to 26.7%, slightly higher than boys involved with violent behavior, which is 25.4%.

High-school aged girls have other reasons for becoming violent, besides binge drinking.

 “Some girls are just dumb,” said Torrey, a 15-year-old high school student. “They think that they are guys and want to fight like them. I knew this one girl who thought she could fight like a boy, and ended up getting into a fight with them. She was beaten with a stick.”

Statistics from the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) revealed 164 adolescents who were arrested in 2008 were interviewed; 25 percent of those were girls under 17 years of age. The SANDAG report also revealed that a higher percentage of girls were arrested for violent behavior compared to boys; 37 percent versus 31 percent.

“Some girls like to be known as fighters, and the just don’t care,” said Ellie, a high school freshman. “My cousin would punch and push me. She was proud of [being a fighter]. She isn’t even afraid of going to court or being sent to juvenile hall. All she says is that she’ll get out and beat [the person she was fighting with] up again. They do it to just be bullies.”

“Sometimes it’s because of  a boy,” said Lauren, a high school sophomore. “It’s one of the dumbest reasons to get into a fight, but if a guy flirts with another girl, his girlfriend will start something. A lot of it is drama, like a girl thinks someone looks at her weird or talks bad about her. They mad-dog each other and try to start something. They start yelling at each other to watch their backs.”

Previously, boys and girls exhibited different rates of violence but in the last few years arrests for girls has increased higher than arrests for boys.

“These girls like doing it where people can see it, too,” said Lauren. “Last week at Fallbrook High School, a fight broke out in the bowl [the open part of the high school campus] at lunch, so everyone could see the fight.”

According to the high school girls, the fights between teenage girls are not simply a few pushes and slaps.

“Some girls punch, slap and pull hair,” said Tara, a junior who had been in a fight several years ago. “Personally, I punch, but that’s just me. I know of a girl who got a chunk of hair pulled out in a fight, and another girl who bit someone in a fight.”

According to Sheriff’s sergeant Amy Brown, the Fallbrook substation doesn’t get many calls of teenage girl violence. However, when they do occur, Sheriff’s deputies investigate the incident to find the individual at fault and charge them with misdemeanor battery. If there is significant bodily harm, the individual who began the fight is charged with felony battery.

Dawson believes that desensitization to violence places a major role.

“It’s the norm; they see it on TV, at home and online,” he said. “Every high school is battling this, and have strict policies based on the California educational code.”

“We often associate acts of teenage violence with boys; however, the problem is also pervasive among girls,” said Nick Macchione, director of San Diego County’s Health and Human Services Agency. “It’s extremely important to remind girls, and boys, that there are more constructive ways of handling stress and anger. Violence is never the answer.”

Teenage Suicide Awareness and Prevention Campaign

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA)  in coordination with the Ad Council and Inspire USA Foundation recently launched a new Teen Suicide Prevention national public service campaign. This is the first teen suicide prevention campaign from SAMHSA to use a national mass media strategy and a digital outreach program.

The public service announcement campaign is called We Can Help Us and was initially developed after the realization that some teens develop positive solutions to help them overcome rough times; situations that make other teens depressed. The campaign empowers teens by reminding them that there are ways to get through the problems they face. It directs them to visit www.reachout.com to hear stories from other teens who successfully conquered their tough time.

The campaign includes TV, radio, and print advertising. Posters can be seen in the mall, schools, and viral videos. The reachout.com website features stories from teenagers, along with tips to help cope with tough issues. The website also links to resources, like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline which is an anonymous hotline for teenagers who need immediate help. The public service campaign will be distributed in the national media this week.

Family members may have little to no idea that their son or daughter was battling depression until it is too late. Some depressed teenagers show no symptoms of depression. Suicides are often brought on by triggers. Common triggers include events that create a sense of abandonment for the teenager, such as: relationship break-ups, death of parent or grandparent, parents divorce, and leaving the house to go to college. For a depressed teenager, these events may be too much to cope with and the teen is left feeling as if they are out of options.

If you are a parent and you feel your son or daughter is depressed, here are several warning signs of depression:

  • Loss of interest
  • Isolation
  • Fatigue
  • Neglect; in both personal responsibilities and appearance
  • Memory loss
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Despair; feelings of hopelessness
  • Guilt
  • School issues such as bullying or harassment

 Nine teenagers in Massachusetts were recently charged with multiple felonies in relation to school related bullying. Two boys and four girls aged 16 to 18 were charged with felonies including statutory rape, violation of civil rights with bodily injury, harassment, stalking, and disturbing a school assembly.  Three younger girls have been charged in juvenile court.

The prosecutor charged that the teenagers excessive harassment caused 15-year-old Phoebe Prince to hang herself in January. The Prince family had recently moved to Massachusetts from Ireland and Phoebe briefly dated a popular senior boy at South Hadley High School. The taunting started during their relationship.

Phoebe Prince

Phoebe Prince

District Attorney Elizabeth D. Schneibel said that Phoebe’s suicide occured after three months of endless taunting and harassment from fellow students. Students allegedly knocked books out of her hand, referred to her as an “Irish slut,” and sent her threatening text messages day after day. Allegedly Phoebe’s picture was scribbled out of a student body photograph hanging on the wall.

“The investigation revealed relentless activities directed toward Phoebe to make it impossible for her to stay at school,” Ms. Scheibel said. The conduct of those charged “far exceeded the limits of normal teenage relationship-related quarrels.”

Sixteen-year-old Ashlee Dunn, a student at South Hadley, did not personally know Prince but had heard stories spread about Phoebe. “She was new and she was from a different country, and she didn’t really know the school very well. I think that’s probably one reason why they chose Phoebe.”

The district attorney also concluded that several teachers, administration, and staff members at the school knew of the harassment but did not try to stop it.  “The actions or in-actions of some adults at the school were troublesome,” Schneibel said.

School officials are planning to meet with the district attorney’s office to review the evidence and “the new information which the district attorney’s office has but did not come to light within the investigation conducted by the school,” said assistant superintendent for South Hadley High School, Christine Swelko.

Since Phoebe Prince’s suicide, Massachusetts legislature is working on an anti-bullying law that would require school staff members to report incidents and for the principals to investigate them. The law would also require schools to teach about the dangers of bullying. Currently, 41 states have varying anti-bullying laws.

The investigation into Miss Prince’s suicide found that on January 14, the date of her death, she was abused by students in the library, lunchroom, and hallways. One student threw a canned drink at her when she walked home. Phoebe’s sister found her at 4:30 P.M in the stairwell, still wearing her school clothes.

While the district attorney said that “the actions of these students were primarily conducted on school grounds during school hours and while school was in session,” students also harassed Phoebe on social networking sites.

With websites like Facebook and Myspace, bullies can use the internet to further harass a classmate outside of school hours, sometimes anonymously. For the bullied child, home is no longer a safe heaven from the taunting of their peers. Facebook users can post a taunting message that can instantly be viewed by the rest of the school. 

Even in death, some teenagers do not escape internet harassment. Dozens of obscene and insulting comments have been posted on Alexis Pilkington’s memorial Facebook group. Alexis was a seventeen-year-old star athlete in Long Island who committed suicide. Her father, New York City police officer Thomas Pilkington said his daughter dealt with insulting comments up to a few days before she died but he does not place the blame on cyber bullying.

Alexis Pilkington

Alexis Pilkington

Research has shown that cyber bullying causes higher levels of depression and anxiety for the victims than traditional bullying, partially due to the anonymity of the internet posters.  

Regardless, comments such as “she was obviously a stupid depressed — who deserved to kill herself. she got what she wanted. be happy for her death. rejoice in it”  have lead to police investigation in attempt of tracking the user’s IP number to figure out who wrote it.

Media coverage of stories like Alexis or Phoebe’s, a celebrity death by suicide, or cluster suicides heightens suicide awareness.

Hopefully SAMHSA’s public service announcement campaign will work effectively and help teenagers acquire the necessary coping skills. Depression is a serious condition but it is treatable. Therapy has shown to be an effective form of treatment;  Apex is always available to help.