As the school year is starting many people have focused on the transition into High School or Kindergarten. However, there is another important transition for children. Beginning Middle School is a major transition for pre-adolescents. As a therapist who works with adolescents, I am very familiar with what is happening on High School and Middle School campuses. Often when I mention to parents who have a child going into middle school or a child in middle school, if they have spoken to their child about drugs and alcohol, I am told no.
I hear these parents say every day that they don’t need to worry about drugs or alcohol with their child in middle school because their child is too young for that right now. Well the reality is these parents are wrong. Drugs and alcohol are just the tip of the iceberg. Children that are in the age group of middle school are now involved in very adult activities.
To begin with, most campuses are better pharmacies than your pharmacy. I have had middle school kids say they can get Vicodin, Concerta, Ecstasy and of course weed and alcohol on the campus. Some kids use at school and some use after school and on the weekends. More and more middle school kids are deciding to experiment with drugs and alcohol due to the pressure to succeed and fit in with friends.
Also many middle school kids are sexually active, but they don’t think they are sexually active. They think because they are not engaging in intercourse and they are engaging in oral sex that it doesn’t count. The kids say they are just messing around with each other and do not consider this sex. They also have no idea about sexually transmitted diseases or how to protect themselves. However, the number of middle school kids engaging in oral sex and intercourse has increased significantly over the last few years. The rate is now high enough that some middle schools, such as the San Francisco School District, are disrupting condoms to middle school kids.
Another common issue in middle school is bullying. However, we are not just talking about one kid teasing another kid at school. Often there is a group of kids teasing one kid and it is not just at school. Now kids are using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and texting by phone to tease and harass other kids. And as many of you may recall there have been a number of kids who have committed suicide due to the teasing at school. Also a number of middle school students have been arrested for photos they text and for harassment. Texting a photo of a child in middle school means the middle school child violated child pornography laws. Something many parents are not aware of is that when a child texts a nude photo of a middle school age student it violates child pornography laws and the child who text it and received it can both be arrested.
Also many kids in middle school, especially boys, don’t feel safe and are afraid of someone trying to beat them up before or afraid school. They say they have to fight because other kids are recording it and posting it on YouTube. If they don’t fight the other kids will think they are a “whimp” so they have to fight. Due to this fear many middle school students carry knives, metal pipes, guns or anything they can think of to protect themselves. This is very sad kids have to live in fear for their safety. Also parents and students don’t realize, if a student is caught with any of these items on campus they can be removed from their entire school district and required to go to continuation school. In addition, the school can have the student arrested. Due to terrorist activities, schools take anyone possessing items that can severely hurt someone very seriously.
These are just a few of the issues that are occurring at all middle schools and they are very serious. Your child is not going to come to you to ask about these issues or tell you about them because they feel embarrassed and they are afraid of getting in to trouble. So parents even though you may feel embarrassed or awkward discussing these issues with your 11 year-old child, please do so. If you notice anything about your child’s behavior that seems different to you and you feel a sense of concern, ask your child about what is happening at school and with friends. Mention they are getting older so are there issues regarding drinking, sex or being teased that they need to talk about. You may be saving their lives because they are dealing with things they know nothing about and these things can kill or have life long effects.
Here is a YouTube video that might help:
Dr Michael Rubino is an expert dealing with adolescents and adolescent issues. He has over 19 years experience treating adolescents. For more information about Dr. Michael Rubino’s practice check his web site http://www.rcs-ca.com or his profile on LinkedIn.