_B-PEN (Brookline Parent Education Network) helps parents navigate the social, emotional and developmental challenges affecting today’s teens and pre-teens – common challenges that can lead to risky behavior. An outreach initiative that collaborates with Brookline school administrators and PTO’s, the organization’s goals are to facilitate parent connections:
* with other parents,
* with school and town resources, and
* with helpful information via written/electronic materials on a wide variety of
FREEDOM AND RESPONSIBILITY...
The transition from summer vacation to the demands of school can be tricky, not just academically, but developmentally. As each new school year gets underway, kids have the opportunity to reinvent themselves. They are a year older than last September and facing new classes, new classmates, new teachers, maybe a new look, a new attitude. All these changes represent a fresh beginning and a new developmental milestone, but with these changes come new expectations and challenges -- for you and your kids. Check out some of B-PEN's resources on transitions, setting limits, and parenting tips on the TRANSITIONS page.
USE "CERTS" FOR HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS
Whether you're sending an adolescent off to college or back into the social quagmire of middle and high school life, it's good to reinforce some basic information about healthy relationships. When considering romantic entanglements, the CERTS model is a terrific reference to keep in mind:
Consent (needs to be mutual, sober, awake, enthusiastic, verbal – if mixed messages, slow down)
EVERYTHING YOU’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT TEEN SEXUALITY…BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK
As part of National Health Week, B-PEN sponsored a parent forum entitled EVERYTHING YOU’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT TEEN SEXUALITY…BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK, led by Planned Parenthood Director of Parent Education Amy Cody. The evening event addressed how the hyper-sexuality of today’s culture and unrestricted media access are impacting the impressionable, still-developing teen brain, highlighting what parents need to know to encourage healthy relationships and offering tips for connecting with adolescents on this tricky subject matter. Click here to read the full report...
And just after that, B-PEN and the Brookline Wellness Committee had a breakfast summit to explore issues and strategies around "Teens and Sexuality." Read the report here...
LGBTQ BULLYING STARTS EARLY
But parents can make a huge difference. Check out this recent report on WBUR.
DAY OF DIALOGUE, DAY OF SILENCE
On April 16, BHS held its annual Day of Dialogue, in which the Gay-Trans-Straight Alliance sponsored assemblies all day to raise awareness about the struggles of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer youth and to help to make BHS safer, more accepting, and better informed. Panels and presentations gave powerful testimony to the vast range and unique challenges of the LGBTQ experience. Audiences were packed and enthusiastically supportive as students and faculty shared their stories.
This year’s event gave an extra focus on gender identity and what it means to be transgender, genderqueer, genderfluid, or non-binary, since BHS has an increasing number of students who identify in this way. The BHS community learned about “coming out,” “letting in,” that “they” is a legitimate pronoun, and that gender identity and sexuality is not necessarily either/or but rather a rich spectrum that doesn’t always invite convenient labeling. As one student so eloquently put it, “If you shove a fragile object into a misshapen box, it will be damaged.”
The following day, BHS observed Day of Silence. As part a national annual observance, many students at the school declined to talk during the day to raise awareness of the thousands of people who stay silent about being LGBTQ for fear of bullying and harassment. B-PEN urges you to ask your students about these two moving, stimulating days and continue the conversation at home.
THE CHANGING FACE OF MARIJUANA - Revisiting the Conversation with Adolescents
With the legalization of marijuana in other states and the legalization of medical marijuana here in Massachusetts, cannabis is very much a part of our culture, and there is a shifting spectrum of attitudes. How does this impact the conversations we are having with teens? How do we clear up misinformation and misperceptions and prevent the development of marijuana abuse disorders among our youth? This was the focus of a recent forum bringing together Brookline students, parents, and school/health administrators and staff. Read the complete Parent Update to learn:
SIGN UP FOR NEWSLETTERS AND UPDATES
Want to stay "informed, involved, connected?" Sign up for B-PEN's Parent Network Newsletters & Updates. And tell other parents -- help us spread the word!
TIPS FOR MANAGING SCHOOL STRESS
With school well underway, students may be starting to feel the extra stress of social, academic, and extra-curricular pressure. Mass General's Benson-Henry Institute posted out an excellent article listing five basic tips to keep in mind to help kids have a healthy, productive year. Check it out!
PARENT NETWORK CONNECTIONS
One of B-PEN’s primary missions is to provide opportunities for parents to connect with one another regarding some of the common social/emotional issues all our adolescents face as they develop. To complement regular PTO meetings, grade-geared Parent Network get-togethers at each school provide opportunities for helping parents get to know, support and strategize with one another around common developmental concerns. **Check out the Discussion Guides for Parent Networks** created to support Parent Network meetings. For help starting a Parent Network or more information on B-PEN’s offerings and resources, contact B-PEN coordinators June Harris, firstname.lastname@example.org or
Karen Campbell email@example.com
CHECK OUT TEEN SAFE
The website Teen Safe is designed to foster better family communication, promote resilience and healthy activities, and reduce risky teen behaviors via true-life stories, scientific evidence, and helpful educational materials for parents and teens/pre-teens. The site offers a free 15-minute video course for parents that is quite informative about the effects of substance use on teen brain development. The section detailing the impact of early marijuana use of mental health is especially worth noting as medical marijuana is beginning to be a part of our culture and teens continue to think weed is safer than alcohol. It’s only 15 minutes long, and at least one local pediatrician is asking all his patients’ parents to check it out!
HEADS UP ON TINDER
In response to parents’ concerns, B-PEN offers a heads up on Tinder, a popular hook-up app that some BHS teens use to meet others in the area, including older college students and adults. The photo and messaging app has little privacy control and allows users to browse photos of potential matches within a geographic area, swiping right to "like" a photo or left to "pass." If both users swipe "like," the app offers the option to chat, which can evolve into setting up a meeting in person, sometimes resulting in Brookline kids going to college parties. This app is even filtering down to students in the middle school grades, which can be an open door to predators. According to Common Sense Media, this should be a “no-go” for kids. Talk to your teen about Tinder…
PARENTS URGE STUDENT MENTAL HEALTH AS A PRIORITY
Did you know that according to DrugFree.org, less than half of teens with mental health disorders get needed help? Brookline's Wellness Committee summit, “Youth & Mental Health: Balancing the Wellness Wheel,” helped generate strategies to foster a "whole child” approach to youth mental health and overall wellbeing. Parent members of the committee met further, coming up with three key recommendations, reflected in this letter to the Brookline TAB.
SPOTLIGHT ON ADDERALL
Did you know that according to a recent national study, 11% of all teens aged 13 to 17 have been prescribed stimulant medication like Adderall or Ritalin for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)? That’s a lot of medication floating around, and for those who need it, these drugs can be extremely effective.
But according to a 2012 survey by The Partnership at Drugfree.org, in conjunction with the MetLife Foundation, an additional one in eight teens (13%) now reports that they have taken one of these stimulants when it was not prescribed for them. At BHS, 12% of all seniors admitted to abusing amphetamines not prescribed to them. Reasons ranged from self-medication and weight loss to study aids and recreational use – the sustained “high” from stimulants allows students to party longer.
CLICK HERE to read more...
Drug Free Action Alliance's report...