Cutting A Teenage Epidemic

Cutting has reached epidemic levels among teens so I decided to discuss cutting. This is a very common behavior among teenagers and many parents know little about it. Cutting is usually used as a method to deal with emotions, but it can lead to permanent damage or suicide, if the teen is not aware of what they are doing.

Cutting is any behavior which results in self-mutilating. Therefore it could be cutting oneself, scratching, burning, erasing ones own skin etc. Anything that results in damaging ones own body.

A recent study by Rhode Island hospital found that 46% of high school students admit to engaging in some form of cutting over the past year and 20% of college students admitted to it. ABC news found that 1 in 12 teens engage in cutting. Girls are more likely to cut than boys, but boys still do cut. I have both teenage boys and girls admitting to some form of cutting.

You may ask, why would someone cut themselves? Most teens engage in self-mutilating behavior because they find it easier to deal with the physical pain than the emotional pain they are experiencing. Some teens prefer just to cut and that helps release the pain and others need to watch the blood or watch the act of cutting or erasing as a way to deal with the pain.

This behavior is very common now among teenagers. Most teens have engaged in one form of self-mutilating behavior as a way to deal with their feelings.

What they do not think about when they are engaging in this behavior is the risk. If they cut too deep or in the wrong area they can cut a major artery and bleed to death. They can cut a nerve or tendon and lose control over their arm or leg. The site they cut or erase can become severely infected and lead to a number of medical issues. Most teens who cut are not suicidal but they are looking for a way to cope with their emotional pain.

Signs that your teen may be engaging in cutting are personality changes, where long sleeves or not allowing anyone to see their body. They often cut on their stomachs, chests or thighs because it is easier to hide. Picking at scabs is another sign. Changes in their appetites and sleeping pattern. Also a tendency to withdraw from family and friends. They also have a tendency to act depressed.

If you feel your teen is cutting, don’t be afraid to ask. However, if you do ask don’t act shocked or like they are doing something bizarre. Teens who cut are very afraid of being shamed. If you act like you cannot cope with their behavior they will not tell you.

Obviously if your teen is cutting there are emotional issues going on. The first thing to do is to have them examined by their pedestrian. You want to make sure there are no infections or damage that needs medical attention. The next step is to have them see a therapist who specializes in teenagers and especially one who specializes in cutting. Again if the therapist acts uncomfortable with the subject the teen will not talk. The good news is that with appropriate care most teens learn how to deal with their emotions in a healthy manner and stop cutting.

Dr. Michael Rubino has over 18 years experience working with teens and specializes in cutting and self-mutilating behavior. For more information about Dr Rubino and his private practice visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com

Why Teenage Boys Resist Therapy

Please watch this trailer for The Mask You Live In.

May is Men’s health month, so let’s address it. The trailer above contains explicit language, but it is language your third grader hears every day at school, from friends and television. Men and teenage boys are very resistant to taking care of their physical and mental health. The question then becomes, why? If you watched the trailer, you have a very good idea why.

In our society there is a stereotype of what it takes to be a “man.” A man is strong, healthy, can take care of himself, knows everything about sex and is sexually active, has a lot of money and never afraid to fight and never cries. These are a just a few parts of the stereotype. Many parents may be saying, “but I don’t bring up my son like that” You don’t have to it is part of our society. If a little 5 year old boy falls down at school, the staff picks him up and might tell him shake it off, don’t cry, take it like a man. A boy playing soccer or baseball gets hurt during the game, the coach says shake it off, take it like a man. You even saw examples of it recently on Dancing with The Stars. A couple of the men started to get teary eyed and the asked for the camera to be moved because they did not want anyone seeing them cry.

Boys continue to be exposed to the stereotype in high school. There is a major focus on losing their virginity as fast as possible and sleeping with as many girls as possible. They can’t be a man if they are a virgin. Also boys are getting into fights and having a friend record it and post it on YouTube. They want everyone to see how tough they are and it makes them feel like a man. Also in High School boys stop accepting and asking for help, they are a man and they can handle life on their own. Also look at the movies and video games boys play. They have to do with fighting, killing and sex. Emotions are never mentioned and if a boy does he is called a “sissy, a fag” just to list a few.

If men and boys are living with this stereotype going to a physician or a therapist is a very dangerous thing to do. They might have to confront the fact that they are not able to do everything by themselves and they might need help. This would mean they are not the tough guy. Also they know physicians and therapists have treated other men and they are afraid how they might compare to other males. If they are not as tall or as strong or don’t measure up to the other men they are not a man.

Going to a therapist is extremely dangerous for boys and men. Therapists ask you to deal with your feelings. What if they cry or admit they feel overwhelmed by life or inadequate to other men? If they do, they worry about their identity as a man. I have men teenagers and men who cry in my office. They all get really embarrassed, ask me not to tell their family and want to know if other guys cry too. They need reassurance that they are still a man. The truth is it takes more strength to cry than not to cry, but most guys don’t believe this due to the stereotype.

In this month of May when we are supposed to focus on men’s health, the best way for us to help men is to eliminate this stereotype. Parents contact your son’s school and ask them to invite groups to the campus that are trying to eliminate this stereotype; Challenge Day is an excellent organization. Monitor what they watch and how they talk with friends. Fathers don’t be afraid to cry and go to the doctor regularly and ask for help. Look for movies that show males as men even though they don’t follow the stereotype. This is a problem in our society which leads to crime, killings and needless deaths from heart attacks and strokes. It is going to take all of us to solve the problem.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a local therapist who specializes in treating children and teens. To find out more about Dr. Rubino and his practice or to contact him visit his web site at http://www.rcs-ca.com.

Teens & Hookah Pens

Vaporizing is the new things teens are using. They use it when the use an E cigarette and they use vaporizers for using weed.

Many people will say E cigarettes are safer. However the newest research does not indicate that is true. They have not been on the market long enough to know the long term effects. The newest research indicates that E cigarettes can cause health problems. Therefore, you should not assume they are safe.

Teens are also using vaporizers to use weed. Again they claim it is healthier. While vaporizing prevents some chemicals from getting into a teens body, vaporizing allows more THC into the teens body. People state it creates more of an intense body high that lasts for a day or two. People warn that if someone is not use to this it can create a traumatic experience for the teen. With vaporizing someone can do what is referred to as a volcano. The weed is vaporized into a plastic bag so it can be inhaled over time.

People who I have spoken to state vaporizing is not as safe as teens think. The body high it creates and the length of the high could be traumatic for a teenager. However, they are seeing more teens getting into it even though they don’t know exactly what they are getting into.

Parents do your own research and talk to your teens. There are more and more drugs out there and more ways to use them than ever before. Teenagers don’t know exactly what they are getting into and can end up in a bad situation. They need your guidance more than ever regarding these new drugs and methods of use.

The Hookah Pens and Vaporizers are more popular today. In addition so are the designer drugs Mollies and Thunder Bolts. No one knows exactly what is in them so many Emergency Room doctors are unable to treat these teens and they die.

Another thing teens are using is GNC stores. Everything in there is a vitamin so it does not have to be tested by the FDA. However many of these vitamins used at the right amount give teens a long lasting high. Many parents don’t suspect anything because their teen says they are taking vitamins for their sport team their on. Look at and research anything they are taking.

Well your teenager has found a new toy to use. Many teens have been smoking Hookah because they believe that it is safer than cigarettes or marijuana. Unfortunately they are wrong. It is just as dangerous and might be more dangerous.

Smoking Hookah is a group activity that is common in the Middle East and India. Since it is a group activity, it is appealing to teens. Also since many adults here in the United States know little about it, this makes it more appealing to teens because it is easier to lie about. If you look up Hookah, you will find there are numerous places that teens can go in Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek and Concord to buy a Hookah pipe and Hookah to smoke. There are also Hookah cafes similar to Starbucks where teens can go and smoke it. And now finally there is the Hookah pen. It looks like a regular pen so they can take it any where such as school and smoke.

However, the Hookah pipe can be used for smoking more than Hookah. The teens are combining Hookah with marijuana to get high. Now that there is a Hookah pen, or vaprorizer pen, teens can easily take this to school and smoke during class. As a parent you may want to discuss Hookah with your teen and see what they know or don’t know. You may want to discuss the pros and cons too. Also remind them if they get caught with the pen on campus, they are in trouble.

One thing this should point out to parents is that you should never let your your guard down. Teens are always developing new ways and new devices to get high. Check out this video on YouTube to learn more about these pens.

Read more about the effect of these “waterpipe” smoking devices from the World Health Organization.

Dr. Michael Rubino specializes in treating teens. For more information on Dr Michael Rubino visit his web site at http://www.rcs-ca.com

Teens Expect to Die before 30

What type of world are we living in where a very bright young man 15 years old has to sacrifice his life to save the lives of his friends? People say access to guns is not a problem. If it is not a problem, how are teens getting access to guns and killing each other?

This week in Tennessee there were teenage gang shootings. One gang shot at another gang member’s home so his gang went out looking for revenge. In the course of these events a 15 year old young man, not involved with gangs, threw himself in front of three girls to protect their lives. In doing so, he was killed. I am attaching a link to this story ‘Heroic’ Football Player, 15, http://www.people.com/article/knoxville-high-school-football-player-killed-shielding-three-girls. This is the world that our teens are living in and this is the problem that guns are causing in our world.

I hear this tragic story from teens that I have worked with over the years. When I tell them they are taking risks with their lives, they tell me they don’t care. I am shocked to hear that response. When I ask why they don’t care, they tell me that everyone is caring guns and knives. Therefore, they say odds are they will be killed before age 25 anyway so they may as well do what they want.

Our teenagers don’t feel safe anymore and parents are unaware of what is happening. When I mention that teens are caring guns and knives for protection most parents say not in Walnut Creek or Danville. Parents believe these things only happen in East Oakland or Richmond. Therefore, when there are programs that address anti-violence in school, parents do not want to spend the money for the programs. They don’t want to spend the money because we don’t have gangs in Pleasant Hill or Walnut Creek, but we do.

A few years ago, a teenager was shot to death on his front door step in Danville over marijuana. There have been teenagers arrested at local high school because they were caring knives. Also local teens that I have worked with tell me about the gangs that exist in Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek and Danville. So the problem of violence does exist in our area. The next question is, what are we going to do about it?

What occurred in Tennessee is not an isolated incident. It happens all over the United States. Now teenagers who are not involved with gangs are being killed. It also is not uncommon to hear about infants being killed in these drive by shootings. Is this the world we want for our children? If not, then parents must take action.

In our area there is Challenge Day and Alive & Free that both do a fantastic job working with teens and addressing non-violent ways for teens to deal with life. I have worked with both programs and I highly endorse both programs. Also teens love both programs. I have seen teens ask to go to both programs and go back several times. Both programs offer workshops on school sites so parents need to contact the principal of their child’s school or contact the program and invite them to your teenager’s school. If we don’t start to get involved, this violence will never stop. Also we have to do something about the access to guns and knives.

Dr Michael Rubino has been working with teenagers for over 18 years. He has been involved with anti-violent programs and addressing this in therapy for 10 years. If you want more information about Dr Michael Rubino or his private practice please visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com. Dr Rubino’s website has links to Challenge Day and Alive & Free

Parents the Truth about IEPs

WHAT EVERY PARENT NEEDS TO  KNOW ABOUT An IEP vs a 504 Plan

Seems like the school year has just started and the Districts are already misleading parents about IEPs. The definition is further down. An IEP and 504 are not the same. An IEP is legally enforceable and has legal guidelines and time frames. An IEP follows a student from school to school or state to state. A 504 is not legally enforceable and doesn’t follow a child nor are there legal guidelines.

An IEP will not stop your child from getting a job or from getting into college. In fact and college because they still would be entitled to assistance and the State of California may pay for their books. Also educational records are confidential therefore, no one would know your child had an IEP in school.

Many schools say your child must be two grades below in order to qualify for an IEP. If you said your child had a math or reading disability this is true. However, if they have ADHD, Bipolar, school anxiety etc. they can qualify under OTHER HEALTH IMPAIRMENTS. All your child needs is a diagnosis such as ADHD which would interfere with their ability to fully benefit from their learning experience in the classroom. The 2 grade below level qualification doesn’t apply to this category.

Also if you have a child in private school and they would benefit from additional assistance, contact your child’s public school district. Even though they attend private school the public school district is legally obligated to provide your child with services.

One more issue, never pay for outside testing before the school district tests your child. They have the right not to accept any outside testing until they test the child. If you disagree with the district’s testing then you can request an objective testing from an outside professional and you can request that the school district pays for the testing and you can select the evaluator.

An IEP or an Individualized Education Plan is a document that outlines the specialized education services that a student will receive due to their disability. It ensures the student will receive the assistance necessary so they will receive an education.
When most parents hear disability, they usually think of a person in a wheelchair or a student wIth a learning disability. There are various condItions that can qualify as a disability. Depression, Bipolare Disorder or even diabetes. The disability is any condition that will interfere in the student receiving the same education as other students. The students who qualify for an IEP need accommodations which meet the criteria of needing specialized education. As I stated above their are numerous conditions which may qualify a student for an IEP.
if a student does qualify for an IEP, they also qualify for Special Education. Many parents hear this and are afraid or embassies. There is nothing to be afraid of or embossed about. If a student qualifies for Special Education, if the student needs speech therapy or special computer programs, the school district is obligated to provide the services to the student at no expense to the student’s family.
There is also an option called a 504 Plan. This was established in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The 504 plan ensures that a student with a disability will receive accommodations so they will receive the same education as other students. However, the 504 plan does not qualify a student for Special Education services and It is not overseen as closely as an IEP plan.
Currently, many districts are telling parents that their child does not need or qualify for an IEP and a 504 plan is just a good. This is not true. Many school districts are telling parents that their child does not qualify for an IEP because the IEP is more expensive for the district and most districts are trying to save money.The districts take advantage of the fact that as parents, you do not know all the differences between an IEP and a 504 so they can talk a family into a 504 plan easily.
If you find that your child is having difficulties at school due to a learning disability, health issue or emotional issue, consult an outside professional before you automatically assume that the school is giving you the appropriate recommendation.
I see many parents who have been told that their child is better with a 504 plan and that is not the truth. You can consult an educational consultant or a therapist who works with children. You can contact me at drmike@rcs-ca.com. I help many families at their child’s IEP meeting. The main thing is, do not be afraid to ask if your child should have a 504 or an IEP. Also don’t let the district make you feel guilty because you want time to think and investigate the options. This is your child and you should never sign anything until you are sure it is in your child’s best interest.
I have added a link to a chart that will help you compare the two and understand the differences.

504 Plan vs. IEP – Education Centerwww.ed-center.com/504This pages lists the differences between an IEP and a 504 plan.

Dr. Michael Rubino has over 18 years experience working with children and teens. For more information about Dr. Rubino’’s practice visit his web site at http://www.rcs-ca.com

Why Teens Act Selfish

Why Teens Act Selfish

Many times I hear parents ask for help because there teenagers are too self-absorbed. All they do is think about what they want and what they need. Well, teenagers are supposed to be self-absorbed. Okay yes some teenagers can go overboard, but in general being self-absorbed is part of being a teenager.

Developmentally, teenagers are in the process of defining their own identities and discovering their own value systems. They are trying to define themselves as young adults and how they are going to relate to people in their lives and what they do and don’t believe in. In order to accomplish this goal, it does require a fair amount of self-reflection and exploring the world. It also requires a great deal of focus on their feeling so they can form their identities and value systems. At times, it may seem like a teenager is self-absorbed and only thinking about themselves. Externally this is how it may look to parents, but internally it feels very different to the teenager.

Remember when you were a teenager or some of the things your teenager may have said to you. Teens often talk about feeling very confused about their emotions or overwhelmed by their emotions. They often state they are not sure what to feel or think about their emotions. Also many teens often express feeling overwhelmed by what is happening in the world and are not sure what they should do as an adult or what people expect from them. It is a very confusing time and requires a fair amount of introspection from the teenager.

Very often in therapy, I serve as a sounding board for teens to sort out the feelings they are having about themselves and the expectations they feel from people in their lives. Also they often are trying to sort out how they want to act as an adult and they are trying to understand what is expected of them as an adult.

This is a very confusing time and requires a great deal of introspection because no one teaches teenagers about what it takes to be an adult and often no one discusses these issues with them. Some parents do try to discuss feeling and expectations with teenagers, but often these conversations result in an argument. Remember a teenager’s brain is still not fully developed. The prefrontal cortex which handles most of what we are discussing is still developing in a teenager. Because of this many teens may feel like they are being talked down to and they get angry. Parents often forget how teenagers think and don’t know how to approach their teenager which can result in an argument. Even though the parent and teen may have the best intention of trying to discuss this turmoil it still can result in an argument.

As I said in the beginning some teenagers are too self-absorbed. They are not trying to resolve emotional turmoil they are just selfish or spoiled. If your teenager appears more self-absorbed than they average teenager or if people are commenting on how selfish your teenager is then you need help. At this point I recommend therapy. The teenager won’t listen to you because parents know nothing in their opinion. Often in therapy I say the same things as parents and the teen will listen because I am not Dad or Mom and they don’t feel like they are admitting they are inadequate accepting my suggestion. The main point is they understand they are too self-absorbed and how to change it.

So if your teen is somewhat self-absorbed, relax it is part of being a teenager. They will out grow it around 17 or 18 years old. In the meantime, work with your teen doing your best to help them sort out the emotional turmoil they are experiencing internally. If you feel lost as a parent or if you see your teenager struggling very hard then you may want to consider having your teenager attend therapy to cope with this emotional turmoil.

Dr. Michael Rubino has over 18 years experience working with teens and parents and is recognized as an expert in this area. For more information regarding Dr. Rubino’s work and private practice visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com