Different types of Neglect

Different types of Neglect

This is a very good way to look at neglect

There are three main ways we can observe neglect:

1. Material neglect involves a child being left without food or clothes or medical attention.

2. Circumstantial neglect occurs when a child is loved by both parents, but is expected to take care of themselves during some part of the day. It’s clear to the child that their parent(s) value attachment behavior, but circumstances such as work prevent them from being around as much as they want. When they are home, though, they offer a secure-functioning relationship.

3. The more disruptive kind of neglect is associated with parenting styles that are dismissive or derogating of attachment values.

These parents can be home physically all the time, but their child will few (if any) have autobiographical memories. An example you might hear would be, “Mom was always home working, she just didn’t like to be interrupted… ever.”

The child generally is expected to perform a certain function for either or both parents, often related to parental self-esteem. Islands (avoidants) tend to report more neglect than do partners with other organized attachment systems.

Facts about Teenage Boys Using Guns Across the United States

Facts about Teenage Boys Using Guns Across the United States

With the significant increase in mass shootings and the recent shootings in Gilroy, Texas and Ohio, I hear many children and teens talking about their safety at school and around town while they are playing or hanging out. Many teenagers seem to believe if they have a gun that will keep them safe. While researching this issue I read an article by Cody Fenwick regarding children and gun violence. His article was very alarming. September is dedicated to suicide prevention and October is dedicated to the issue of bullying so this month and next month are dedicated to safety issues involving teenagers and children. Therefore, it seems appropriate to address the issue of guns because they are a popular method of suicide and they can be used to bully kids too. In addition teenagers who cannot tolerate the bullying they have to endure every day often use a gun as their method of suicide. Some may use a gun to act out their frustrations too.

Many of us feel because we live in Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek, Lafayette or Orinda that our children and teenagers do not have to worry about gangs or gun violence. Unfortunately, this is not the truth. According to a new research study in the Journal of Pediatrics, guns continue to be the third-leading cause of death for Americans younger than 18 years old, killing around 1,300 children and teenagers a year in the United States. In addition, almost 6,000 children and teenagers are injured per year. Many teenagers are permanently disabled from these injuries. For teenagers who commit suicide, guns are the second-leading cause of death. The CDC has recently moved suicide as the third-leading cause of death for teenagers to the second-leading cause of death. This is a scary fact that the rate of teenage suicides are increasing not decreasing.

The study examined data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Consumer Product Safety Commission between 2002 and 2014. The study found that boys, especially older boys such as teenagers and minorities, were much more likely to be the victims of gun violence. The study did not say anything about where the boys lived. The facts are children who are male and teenagers, are at a higher risk for becoming a victim of gun violence regardless of where they live. Therefore, teenagers in our area are at risk of becoming a victim of gun violence.

The study does indicate there has been a decrease in accidental deaths such as boys cleaning a gun. However, the rate as a method for suicide has increased. I have mentioned before that suicide is no longer the third leading cause of death for 10 year old boys. It is now the second leading cause of death for boys 10 to 18 years old. This study confirms that statistic and indicates the preferred method of suicide for boys and teenagers are guns. According to Katherine Fowler, one of the lead researchers at the CDC, “Firearm injuries are an important public health problem, contributing substantially to premature death and disability of children.” Understanding their nature [guns] and impact is a first step toward prevention.”

When we look at these numbers, can anyone argue against taking steps to protect our children? Can you imagine a 10 year old boy using a gun to kill himself? Can you imagine a 10 year old boy feeling that his life is so bad at the age of ten that death seems like a better option than living? At the age of 10, he has given up hope for a decent life. This is a sad fact.

The study also indicates that in recent years guns were responsible for a large number of adolescent, males who were murdered. The study documented that deaths in the category of murder for boys under the age of 18 years old decreased to 53 percent. This is a decrease yet the rate is still 53%. The other causes of gun-related deaths include:

• 38 percent — suicides

• 6 percent — unintentional deaths

• 3 percent — law enforcement/undetermined cause

The study found 82% of deaths by guns were boys. This means 82% of gun deaths were boys who were children or teenagers. Putting it another way, this means these boys were not even 18 years old yet at the time of their deaths. The study also found that white and American Indian children have the highest rate of suicide using a gun.

We also like to think that the United States in one of the most advanced nations in the world. However, the statistics show that the United States has the highest rate in the world for children under 14 years old committing suicide. Again, the United States has the highest rate of children under 14 years old using a gun to commit suicide. That number scares me and is appalling to me. However, as an adolescent and child psychotherapist, I do not doubt it. I have heard 6 year old boys seriously discussing suicide.

Furthermore, I hear teenagers routinely talking about needing to carry a knife or gun with them for protection. They tell me you never know when you will be jumped or there will be a mass shooting and you need to be able to protect yourself. In fact, a few years ago a teenager was shot on his front door step in Danville over a marijuana deal which went bad. When I mention to teens the risks they are taking, they tell me there is no guarantee they will live until 30 years old. They would rather die protecting themselves than doing nothing.

As a society, we need to look at these numbers and ask ourselves some questions. What are we going to do in order to improve gun safety? How are adolescent boys getting access to guns? Most importantly, why are children as young as 6 years old thinking about suicide? Also what are we going to do so that children who are suicidal have access to mental health care? This is our problem because it does happen in Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Orinda and Danville.

Dr. Rubino has 20 years experience as a psychotherapist working with children and teenagers. For more information about his work or private practice visit his website at http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or his Facebook page http://www.Facebook.com/drrubino3.

A Generation of Children have Grown UP Afraid

A Generation of Children have Grown UP Afraid

Almost 18 years ago the 9/11 terrorist attack occurred changing our lives forever. This attack changed our Country and the world our children grow up in. Anyone who is over 30 years old grew up in a world where there were good times and then there were bad times. So people over 30 years old learned that life has ups and downs. However, for anyone born in the year 2000 or later, never had this experience of the world. They grew up with warnings about potential terrorist attacks and 20 years of mass shootings mainly at schools. They have lived in a world of chaos.

The majority of people who are under 30 years old have grown up in a world where there has been one tragedy after another. People in this generation have experienced the tragedy of 9/11 attacks, the wars in Iran and Afghanistan, and hearing nightly on the news about terrorist attacks and terrorist threats.

In addition to hearing about terrorist attacks around the world children growing up in the current generation have also had to deal with mass shootings at schools, and shopping centers over the past twenty years. No one who is over 30 years old had to deal with mass school shootings throughout the country, while they were growing up. Furthermore in addition to the violence that the current generation has had to endure they have also had to deal with the uncertain financial situation of our country. Children in this generation have heard about the possibility of the economy collapsing and in addition many children in this generation have experienced their parents losing their jobs and as a result also losing their homes. As a result, children growing up today are facing the facts they may never own a home and financially they may not do as well as their parents.

What has this done to our children? From my experience as a psychotherapist who works with children and teens, I have seen a devastating impact on children growing up today. Many of the children I work with carry knives with them. They tell me they need the knives for protection. Many of the kids I treat have told me, they don’t know if they will live to be 30 because of today’s violence. When they are faced with 3 mass shootings in less than one week and one of those shootings occurred at the Gilory Garlic Festival, you can start to understand why they may be thinking this way.

I have also seen an increase in depression and anxiety. With the violence children experience at school and when their family cannot afford housing or food, they see no hope for a future. Yes in the United States, there are many children who are homeless and hungry. In fact, the rate of homelessness and hunger for children is higher in the United States than some third world countries.

As a result, many children and teenagers are looking for an escape and they are finding unhealthy ways to escape. The suicide rate in our country has increased every year. It is now the second leading cause of death for children in the United States. Children as young as 8 years old are committing suicide. In addition to suicide, children and teenagers are turning to drugs. We are not talking about marijuana, we are talking about meth, crack and heroin and new drugs such as Pink and Coco. If you go on to any middle school campus in the United States today, you can find whatever drug you want. As drug use has increased so have the number of children overdosing on drugs. In the United States, approximately 125 kids overdose on drugs every day and the number is climbing.

In addition to these factors, gangs and crime among teenagers are on the rise. Why are they on the rise? The teens believe their fellow gang members will help protect them if someone tries to jump them. Since they have no faith in the government or the economy, the only way to get what you need is to steal it. According to the way many teens are starting to think. They see no problem in what they are doing because they feel they are just living by the rules that the adults have established.

This is no way for a child to grow up. They should not have to be afraid of being killed because of their religion, race or sexual orientation. The feelings that I have described above cross all lines in our society. I have heard these feelings from white teens, African-American teens, Hispanic teens etc. I have also heard these feelings from teenagers whose families are very well to do and those that are homeless.

I am not only hear teenagers expressing their concerns in my office, we are now seeing teenagers expressing their concerns publicly. Since the shooting in Parkland, Florida, teenagers have been appearing on television news shows and holding rallies demanding that our Government change gun laws so they may feel safer going to school. With the 3 mass shootings in less than a week, teenagers are asking again for sane gun laws, so they can go to school and not be afraid of being killed. However, teenagers are seeing the Government doing nothing and playing politics. When teenagers in our country are banning together to tell us how afraid they are about today’s world, we need to listen.

Dr. Michael Rubino is an expert at treating teenagers and children. He has been treating teens and children for over 20 years for more information about his work or private practice visit his website at http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or follow him on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/drrubino3.

Dear Mr. President, I am afraid

Dear Mr. President, I am afraid

Dear Mr. President, I am in my therapy appointment and my therapist suggested that I write you a letter. He suggested it because I am afraid. I heard that you got mad at some people who work in Washington and told them to go home. You said they were bad people and should not be living here.

I am afraid because sometimes I get into trouble for not doing my homework and sometimes I do call my parents and teachers names. Are you going to tell me to go home? I’m really afraid if you do because I don’t know where I would go. I always thought my home was our house. I know you said the other people did not deserve to live here. If I don’t live in America, where would I live?

I am also afraid because my parents get mad sometimes and say bad words. Will this make you mad and want to tell them to go home? I don’t know what I would do without my mom and dad. I always thought their home was our house too. Where would you make them go? Would I be able to visit them? Who would I live with?

Sometimes people get mad and say mean words. I do that sometimes. If I say I’m sorry and if my mom and dad say they are sorry, can you forgive them and let them and me live in our house? I love our house. Thank you.

The above letter is from an 8 year old, Caucasian, boy who is going into the third grade. His family has lived in the United States for several generations. However, I have many children in my practice with the same concerns and anxieties. They over hear the news and adults talking and because they are young they have very active imaginations, their fears can become very overwhelming. However, many of these children go to school with children who are Hispanic. Many of these children and their families are very concerned for their safety. All of the families are here legally or have been here for four generations. However, with the threatening tweets and comments made by the President many of these children and families worry about their safety.

Since Trump has become President, I have seen in my practice and it has been documented by the CDC, anxiety disorders for children have increased significantly. Many children are too afraid to leave their parents at home and are having to be put on the home hospital program where a teacher goes to their house. This is occurring in children who are Hispanic and also in children who are Caucasian. I am having children ask can the President make us leave. No child in the second grade should have to deal with this type of anxiety.

I watch the news and I hear commentators refer to all the rhetoric as politics. It is not that simple. The words that are being said or tweeted matter. Children in elementary schools are hearing this rhetoric and it is terrifying them. No child should have to worry about their parents being taken away from them.

The anxiety and trauma children are experiencing now at such a young age can impact how their brains develop and impact their behavior as adults. Many research studies have shown that children experiencing anxiety and trauma such as many children are now, develop mental health issues as adults. As teenagers they are more likely to become involved with drugs. In fact, teenagers are also showing signs that the rhetoric is taking a toll on them too. According to the CDC, suicide was the third leading cause of death for kids 10 to 18 years old. It is now the second leading cause of death. I hear many teenagers tell me with the tweets they hear from the President, they do not see much of a future for themselves. Many believe Trump will start a war at some point.

The point is that words do matter! The political rhetoric needs to stop. We should not be subjecting children and teenagers to this amount of stress. Some people will say I have no right to be speaking up and saying anything about the current administration. The truth is I am the person who needs to speak out. I am providing psychotherapy to these children and teenagers. I hear daily about their fears, what is creating these fears and I see how they are being impacted by these fears! Bottom line the political rhetoric needs to calm down. There are many in Washington D.C., who have a responsibility in stopping it. However, as the President, Mr. Trump has an ethical and moral responsibility to take the first step. He is suppose to be the leader of the United States. Therefore, Mr. Trump do your job as President and set a better example for the children of the United States.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist who specializes in treating children and adolescents. He has over 20 years experience working with adolescents. For more information about his work visit his website http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or Facebook page http://www.Facebook.com/drrubino3.

Dear Mr. President, I am afraid

Dear Mr. President, I am afraid

Dear Mr. President, I am in my therapy appointment and my therapist suggested that I write you a letter. He suggested it because I am afraid. I heard that you got mad at some people who work in Washington and told them to go home. You said they were bad people and should not be living here.

I am afraid because sometimes I get into trouble for not doing my homework and sometimes I do call my parents and teachers names. Are you going to tell me to go home? I’m really afraid if you do because I don’t know where I would go. I always thought my home was our house. I know you said the other people did not deserve to live here. If I don’t live in America, where would I live?

I am also afraid because my parents get mad sometimes and say bad words. Will this make you mad and want to tell them to go home? I don’t know what I would do without my mom and dad. I always thought their home was our house too. Where would you make them go? Would I be able to visit them? Who would I live with?

Sometimes people get mad and say mean words. I do that sometimes. If I say I’m sorry and if my mom and dad say they are sorry, can you forgive them and let them and me live in our house? I love our house. Thank you.

The above letter is from an 8 year old, Caucasian, boy who is going into the third grade. His family has lived in the United States for several generations. However, I have many children in my practice with the same concerns and anxieties. They over hear the news and adults talking and because they are young they have very active imaginations, their fears can become very overwhelming. However, many of these children go to school with children who are Hispanic. Many of these children and their families are very concerned for their safety. All of the families are here legally or have been here for four generations. However, with the threatening tweets and comments made by the President many of these children and families worry about their safety.

Since Trump has become President, I have seen in my practice and it has been documented by the CDC, anxiety disorders for children have increased significantly. Many children are too afraid to leave their parents at home and are having to be put on the home hospital program where a teacher goes to their house. This is occurring in children who are Hispanic and also in children who are Caucasian. I am having children ask can the President make us leave. No child in the second grade should have to deal with this type of anxiety.

I watch the news and I hear commentators refer to all the rhetoric as politics. It is not that simple. The words that are being said or tweeted matter. Children in elementary schools are hearing this rhetoric and it is terrifying them. No child should have to worry about their parents being taken away from them.

The anxiety and trauma children are experiencing now at such a young age can impact how their brains develop and impact their behavior as adults. Many research studies have shown that children experiencing anxiety and trauma such as many children are now, develop mental health issues as adults. As teenagers they are more likely to become involved with drugs. In fact, teenagers are also showing signs that the rhetoric is taking a toll on them too. According to the CDC, suicide was the third leading cause of death for kids 10 to 18 years old. It is now the second leading cause of death. I hear many teenagers tell me with the tweets they hear from the President, they do not see much of a future for themselves. Many believe Trump will start a war at some point.

The point is that words do matter! The political rhetoric needs to stop. We should not be subjecting children and teenagers to this amount of stress. Some people will say I have no right to be speaking up and saying anything about the current administration. The truth is I am the person who needs to speak out. I am providing psychotherapy to these children and teenagers. I hear daily about their fears, what is creating these fears and I see how they are being impacted by these fears! Bottom line the political rhetoric needs to calm down. There are many in Washington D.C., who have a responsibility in stopping it. However, as the President, Mr. Trump has an ethical and moral responsibility to take the first step. He is suppose to be the leader of the United States. Therefore, Mr. Trump do your job as President and set a better example for the children of the United States.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist who specializes in treating children and adolescents. He has over 20 years experience working with adolescents. For more information about his work visit his website http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or Facebook page http://www.Facebook.com/drrubino3.

Important Facts About Bullying and Bullies

Important Facts About Bullying and Bullies

We all have heard about kids being bullied at school. In fact, many parents assume being bullied is just part of the school experience. However, bullying today is not like it was in the 1980s or 1990s. It has become viscous and many kids have committed suicide do to the non-stop, intense bullying they were the targets of at school and on the internet. This is why many schools have anti-bullying programs which they hope will stop bullying. However, do we really know how severe the problem is? Research shows that 1 in 4 children are bullied at school. It also shows that children who are bullied are more likely to do poorly in school, are more likely to become depressed or suicidal, more likely to develop eating disorders and tend not to tell anyone they are being bullied (CDC). The statistics also indicate that children who are teased in school are more likely to develop emotional problems as an adult (CDC). One surprising statistic is that if another student intervenes while someone is being teased the bullying is likely to stop 51% of the time (CDC).

While we know bullying effects the student being teased, there are interesting statistics about bullies. Students who bully are more likely to have emotional problems and school problems too (CDC). The research also shows that students who bully are also more likely to become depressed, suicidal or be involved with violent acts as an adult (CDC). As we can see the person being bullied and the person bullying are both at higher risk for significant problems as a child and as an adult. Therefore, it makes sense that we stop bullying in childhood as soon as it starts.

One statistic I would like to go back to is 51% of bullying tends to stop if another student intervenes. However, this does not happen often. I hear many of the children I work with who are bullied tell me that no one ever helps them. They say that none of their friends or other students get involved. They tell me the other kids look the other way and ignore it. These children also tell me that they often receive little assistance from their teachers either. They say that if they say something to the teacher often the teacher ignores what the student reported or blames both students for the problem which provides no help. Many teachers have told me they have too many students to supervise and therefore they cannot determine the complete story. As a result, they deal with both students trying to be fair because they never saw the incident of bullying.

I hear the above statements from some of the children who decide to tell someone. However, most children I work with decide not to tell anyone. They are afraid of people thinking they are weak, “a cry baby”, things getting worse and letting their parents down. They feel their parents will think they should know how to handle the situation and if they don’t they will disappoint their parents. This helps no one and it only helps to perpetuate stereotypes such as all boys and men need to be big and strong physically and fight to prove their manhood. This type of thinking hurts boys and it hurts girls too who have to grow up with boys who act on this stereotype. Often girls become the victims of the stereotype. One example is date rape.

There is another issue involved in the bullying situation. It is called the Bystander Effect. It was first widely described when we were focusing on “road rage,” where people felt the permission to be rude or felt no responsibility to get involved in a situation they witnessed. With “road rage,” since the person’s identity was protected by their car they felt safe swearing at people or running the person off the road. In the other situation, people felt like no one could positively identify them so it was alright not to speak up when they witnessed someone hurting someone or committing a crime in public.

We have part of this happening in schools. Students feel that since no one else is saying anything it is okay for them not to say anything. After all no one else is getting in trouble for not saying anything so how could they get in trouble, therefore it’s better to say nothing.

Also we have our politicians bullying people with no consequences. The President routinely tweets insults or threatens some one via his tweets and no one does anything. He also encourages physical violence at his rallies. At on rally, he was proud of people body slamming others and said so and demonstrated it. How do you tell children not to tease or hit, when the President encourages bullying? I have children confront me with the question all the time? If I’m explaining teasing is not appropriate, they say to me but the President does it. They see it on the news and online. This is a difficult question to confront. I typically point out two wrongs don’t make it right.

The other factor fueling this lack of students speaking up against bullies is the “typical male stereotype.” According to this stereotype if you speak up and tell a teacher you are a “tattle tale” and you might get beat up. Another part of the stereotype is if you speak up then you just broke the “boy code” of no telling so now you most likely will be teased just like the other kid because you told. Students who are being teased are usually viewed as the “weird kid” and no one wants to be labeled the “weird kid” so most kids will say nothing about another student who is being teased.

Think back to when you were in school. There was that one kid who was labeled “weird” and teased, but did you say anything? Most likely not. You did not want to be associated with the “weird kid” and risk getting teased, getting beat up or losing friends. So instead of saying anything, you did what most other kids did, you said and did nothing. All this did was help keep the male stereotype stay alive and allowed bullying to continue.

Therefore, in my opinion if we want to eliminate bullying, we need to start working with our children. We need to teach boys and girls that this old “male stereotype” is wrong and to ignore it. We need to teach our children if you notice or are aware of someone doing something to hurt someone else or someone else’s property, they have an obligation to speak up and if you don’t you are as guilty as the person who did it. You need to explain that they are just as guilty because by not saying anything you are allowing the bullying to happen and continue. Some parents may say I am going to far, but if you are aware of a crime such as an assault and saying nothing, you can be charged as an a compliance. By not saying anything, you allowed a crime to occur and you can be punished. Therefore it’s good to teach our children this lesson early.

As I started this article out with various statistics about bullying, it is obvious bullying is very serious. It is something that we need to address and to address it and help everyone, we need to work together.

Dr. Michael Rubino specializes as a psychotherapist for children and teenagers with over 20 years experience. For more information about Dr. Michael Rubino’s work or his private practice visit his websites at, http://www.RubinoCounseling.com, http://www.rcs-ca.com or on Twitter at @RubinoTherapy.

What To Do About Bullying

What To Do About Bullying

Many kids, despite what they say, really enjoy school. They like seeing their friends, their teachers and learning. However, some kids are not as excited and even worried about going to school. Many of these kids have been bullied and they are afraid of being bullied again. This article will hopefully provide you with information you need to protect your child from being bullied. Hopefully, we may even be able to stop bullying.

Often when a child is being bullied they do not say anything to their parents until the bullying is really bad. They are afraid, especially boys, that you will see them as weak. They are also afraid that you will be disappointed in them for not defending themselves. Parents you have not said anything or done anything to create this feeling in your child. Our society teaches children these messages, especially boys. Children receive these messages from television, music, video games about being strong and defending yourself. This is what the documentary “The Mask You Live In”, is trying to address. It is on Netflix and it might be helpful if you watch it.

It is very important to take bullying very seriously these days. It is no longer just one kid calling another kid names. The bullying today occurs at school and may include threats of being killed and it goes beyond school. Now bullies can continue their bullying via text messages, emails, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. So the bullying becomes non-stop. It can really make someone feel worthless and that they would be better off dead. We have an example of this from a 13 year old boy, on the east coast, who committed suicide because he could not tolerate the bullying any longer. The boy committed suicide to escape the bullying. He is not the first child to commit suicide due to bullying. One 15 year old girl committed suicide due to bullying and she left a note to be placed in her obituary. In the note she asked kids to be kind to each other. Some kids are turning to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain and we are seeing a significant number of accidental overdosages resulting in teenagers’ deaths. We assume they were accidents, they could also be suicides staged to look like accidents. Also suicide has recently been moved from the third leading cause of death for kids 10 to 18 years old to the second leading cause of death for kids. Therefore, if kids have been commuting suicide to escape bullying, the rate of bullying has most likely increased significantly.

Bullying is not just an elementary school issue. It occurs in High School and College too. Remember a few years back a college student committed suicide because his roommate secretly filmed him in his dorm room with another guy having sex. When the tape was posted on the college’s email for others to see, the boy was so ashamed because he had not made it publicly known that he was gay. He did not know what to do and ended up committing suicide.

As the rates for bullying, suicide and drug use increase with kids in middle school and now beginning in Elementary school, we must take this issue seriously. I know it is now a very serious problem in Elementary schools because it is no longer the third leading cause of death for 10 year old children is suicide it is the second leading cause according to the CDC statistics.

Also a common problem I see elementary children for in psychotherapy is bullying. Many of these children are embarrassed because they feel they should be able to stop the bullying. They are also embarrassed and often don’t want me to tell their parents because they believe they must of done something to deserve being bullied. I explain to them they do not deserve it and they should not have to stop it on their own. I also explain that their parents would want to know so they can help them. I need to emphasize that Mom and Dad won’t blame you or be ashamed of you. It is amazing to see how relaxed these children become when I tell them this about their parents.

What should a parent do? One thing is parents should watch for the following warning signs that your child is a victim of a bully:

Avoiding activities they used to enjoy

Loss of friends or avoiding social situations

Problems sleeping

Complaining of stomachaches or headaches

Loss of appetite

Declining grades

Missing or damaged clothing or belongings

Self-destructive behaviors like running away from home

If you notice any of these or just have a sense something is wrong then talk to your child. However, when you talk to your child reassure them they did nothing wrong, there is nothing wrong with them and you are not upset or disappointed with them. Try to develop a game plan of how you are going to deal with it together and ask how you can be supportive. Also ask your child to promise you if they feel really sad like they want to hurt themselves that they will talk to you before they do anything. You may think this is ridiculous, but I use a no suicide contract with many children that I work with and they honor it. The contract lets them you know that you care about them.

The other thing you can do as a parent is go to your child’s school and ask what is the school’s policy on bullying. You can also ask how the school watches for bullying, how is the policy enforced and what is being done to prevent bullying. You may ask the school to contact or you can volunteer to contact a group such as Challenge Day. This is an international organization that addresses bullying and they are located in Concord, California. I have seen their work and it is fantastic and kids love it.

Another thing you can do as a parent is start talking to your child about bullying on an occasional basis. This gives you a chance to let them know it’s not their fault and to develop a plan of action if it does occur. You should also discuss drugs and alcohol at the same time. I work with kids all day long and at times I am still shocked at how young kids are when they are starting to get involved with drugs and alcohol.

Keeping an open line of communication with your child is very important if you want them to come to you. Research still indicates that children are more likely to turn to their friends when they have a problem. This is good that they have this emotional support, but their friends don’t have the answers or solutions that they need. Remember it is best to speak to your child when you are in a calm environment and no one else, such as brothers or sisters, are around. Also remember the word HALT. It stands for:

Hungry

Angry

Lonely

Tired

If you sense your child is experiencing any of these feelings it is not a good time to talk. When you talk with your child you want it to be productive and for your child to feel like they are not being judged. Therefore, sometimes it is better to put off a conversation so you don’t end up in an argument. This is more likely to close the line of communication with your child.

I have mentioned several times that being bullied is not their fault. What I have seen from working with children who are bullies, abusive men and reviewing the research is that bullies really have very low self-esteem. In fact many times they lack a sense of themselves. The only way the feel important or alive is by putting someone else down. They do this because they are afraid the other kids might be able to figure out how lousy they feel about themselves. It is often said the best defense is a good offense. They hope that by acting like the big guy on campus that other people will see them as the big guy and they are able to keep their secret. Kids usually do this because it was done to them too.

Therefore, we need to remember the bully is usually a kid who has been abused too and is crying out for help. If we are going to stop the problem of bullying we need programs to help the bullies too. They are only repeating what they have been taught.

One last comment, I saw a school install a “buddy bench.” If anyone had been bullied, having a bad day, feeling lonely, all they had to do was sit on the buddy bench. Another student or teacher would then go over and ask how they could help. There was no shame associated if you sat on the buddy bench. It was presented as a brave choice. The school was using it as part of their program to stop bullying at school. This fantastic idea came from a 10 year old student. Children often have fantastic answers and we need to listen.

Dr. Michael Rubino specializes in working with children and teenagers. He has over 20 years experience working with children and teens especially those who are victims of trauma. For more information about Dr. Rubino’s work or private practice visit his website at http://www.rubinocounseling.com or his Facebook page at Facebook.com/drrubino3.

Information About Teenage Gangs

Information About Teenage Gangs

There are many ideas people have about gangs especially who they are and what they do. People have ideas of how gangs function from movies such as, The Outsiders, or from plays such as, West Side Story. Also the President has made numerous comments about, MS-13. This the gang most people know about and have ideas about. However, there are many gangs around and with High School, Middle School and College starting soon, gangs will be targeting new members. Lisa Ling’s episode on CNN explains the myths and the truths about the gang issue.

For parents of teenagers it’s important that you watch this episode. You need to be aware of how this gang targets certain teenagers to join their gang. Most teenagers have no idea what they are getting into. However, once they are in the gang it is almost impossible to get out alive. Many teens who join do not feel accepted at home or school. They feel like they are failures at life. The gang gives them a sense of pride and acceptance. The attraction for the teenager is this gang will always accept them and it feels like love to them. Additionally, it gives them a sense of pride and they no longer feel like a failure.

While this is not true, a teenager who is desperate for acceptance and tired of feeling worthless is a teenager the gang targets. The gang is able to emotionally manipulate the teen because of the emotional pain the teenager is feeling. The teens who are feeling emotionally isolated may come from a physically abusive environment or they may not feel accepted at home. They may have a learning disability and believe they are a disappointment to their families. Teenagers with ADHD and other learning disabilities are targets for gangs. They are targets because they feel they do not fit in with the “normal” kids and they are a disappointment to their families. Therefore, when a gang or a group of guys approach them, they are somewhat excited because someone is interested. The rules for belonging is just go a long with what everyone else is doing and you are part of our group. They feel accepted by others and that they are important as a person. Furthermore, it removes the stigma that they are a nobody and they feel like they are a success.

The guys in the group encourage this feeling. If someone at school puts them down the other guys defend them. If parents criticize them or are abusive, the guys provide emotional support and a place to stay. These guys, this gang has become their family. As a result, many teenagers find themselves committed to this gang and doing what the gangs expect them too. In the Alive and Free Program we refer to these type of relationships as “fearships.” You are there and stay there because you are afraid of what will happen if you don’t go along with a group. A “friendship” or friend would never encourage you to do something that is not good for you or you could get into serious trouble for doing. However, some teens don’t start to see reality until they are in the group and they see this is not a family and they are being used. The problem is many teenagers realize this reality to late. Trying to leave can cost them their lives so many teens resign themselves to a life as a gang member. Therefore, it is important for parents to know how these gangs operate so they can try to protect their teenager.

I have included a link to this show below. It is a very good documentary and will provide explains of how gangs act. It is easier to understand the mentality seeing it in action. As a psychotherapist I hear teenagers discuss gangs and not understand what they are considering. If you are concerned that your teen is becoming involved with a gang or maybe a target for a gang, please make an appointment with a psychotherapist who specializes in gangs. However, with the help of family and professionals hopefully we can save some teenagers. Please watch this episode https://youtu.be/A_01ADA6iok.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience working with teenagers. He is a founding member of the National Alive and Free Advisory Board and is a guest cohost for the Street Soldier Radio Program. For more information about his work and private practice visit his website http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/drrubino3.

Helping Teens Start High School in 2019

Helping Teens Start High School in 2019

In about six weeks a number of students will be starting their first year in high school. Parents this is a good time to think back to your first day of high school and how you felt and what you were expecting. This can help you relate to some of the feelings your teenager is having and help you when you talk to them about starting high school. Hopefully this article will be able to provide some tips to make it an easy transition for your teenager and for you.

One common stressor for many teenagers are the stories they have heard about how seniors picking on and teasing the freshman students. Another common fear for freshman is that they are going to get lost on the campus and not be able to find their classrooms. Your teenagers are at a point in their life where they want to make a good impression on the other students. At their age image is very important. Therefore the idea of being teased by the seniors or getting lost on the campus can be very stressful and also create a great deal of anxiety for a student starting high school.

As parents, you can talk to your teenagers about your first days days at high school and reassure them that the stories they hear about Freshmen being targets for the seniors are greatly exaggerated. Also you can try to go with them over to the school before it starts and walk around the campus so they can get use to where everything is at their new school. Another thing you can do is remind them that everyone makes mistakes so if they do get lost the first day it is not a big deal. Remind them there will be a lot of other kids starting their first day of school too and there will be other kids getting lost. This is also another opportunity to continue to establish an open relationship with your teenager. The more you talk with each other, you increase the likelihood that they will feel comfortable coming and talking to you about issues they will have while in high school.

Another issue facing some students is starting all over. In middle school may be everyone knew them and they were in the “popular group.” Now no one knows them and they need to start all over. This may be frightening to them, but remind them there will be many times in life when they will need to start as the new person. Also remind them, if they were able to do it in middle school, they can do it in high school too. Be sure to encourage them to have faith in themselves because it won’t happen over night. Now for many students middle school was a nightmare. They may be looking forward to starting over. Again remind them if they have the desire to try they can do it. All the Freshmen are starting all over just like them, but also to be patient because it may not happen as quickly as they like.

Also before school actually starts is a very good time to establish what your expectations are regarding grades and after school activities and hanging out with friends. At this time is a good time to establish what your expectations are homework, after school jobs and weekend curfews. If you establish an understanding between yourself and your teenager before these situations arise you can save yourself a lot of time arguing with your teenager. However as you establish these guidelines you want to have a conversation with your teenager about these issues. Remember your teenager is starting to enter the adult world, if you simply just tell them these are the rules, they will feel that you are being unfair and they will try to find a way around your rules. If you have a discussion with them about the rules they will feel that their opinions were respected, they are more likely to feel that the rules are fair and are more likely to follow the rules. It is also a good idea to write a contract with all the things you agreed to. If you write the agreements down and there is a misunderstanding you simply need to refer back to the contract. Also this is another opportunity for you to establish a relationship with your teenager where they feel comfortable enough to come to you and discuss any problems they may be having. You are also role modeling to them how to have an adult discussion and how to negotiate fairly and respectfully with other their people.

Of course you also want to take this opportunity to discuss with your teenager the fact that they are going to be faced with making decisions about alcohol, drugs and sex. This is a good time to provide them with the education they will need in order to cope with these situations. It is even more important today because technology has changed a number of rules. For example, if a girl texts a nude photo to a boy, he is guilty of having child pornography. Yes it was mutually agreed to but they are still under 18 years old so it is a crime. Texting is another area where they can get into trouble. If someone takes a text as a threat they can get into trouble for bullying or assault. As I said, technology has changed the rules and many of us have not been able to keep it. Therefore, remind them that information they may receive from their friends may not always be accurate. Furthermore, encourage them that at any time if they have any questions or concerns regarding these matters or any other matters you are always there to listen and to talk with them.

One thing to remember is acronym HALT. I teach this often with anger management, but it helps with communication too.

H – hunger

A – anger

L – lonely

T – tired

If either one of you are having these feelings, it is generally not a good time to have a discussion. Also if either one of you is feeling like this and you may not be listening to each other. Therefore, if either one of you are having these feelings or don’t feel like talking, then it’s better to postpone the conversation until you are both ready to talk.

Lastly, remind them that they are starting a brand-new phase in their life and it is normal to feel anxious and stress. Also remind them that these feelings are normal in the beginning but they usually quickly disappear after they have started school.

Sadly, one other subject you may want to discuss is school shootings. Develop a plan with your teenager about what they would do if there was a shooting at their school. Also discuss with them what to do if they hear rumors or have concerns about how another student is acting. Finally, discuss how you can help if they are feeling worried or not safe at school. It is sad, but this is the world we live in today. Talking to you teen can help decrease anxiety and help you to maintain open communication with your teenager.

A few things you can do on the first day of classes to help with any anxiety are you can get up in the morning with them and have breakfast with them before they go to school. You can also put a note of encouragement in their backpack that they will find when they are at school and this can help reassure them and remind them how much support they have at home. Finally, you can arrange to be at home when when they get home from their first day of high school so you can talk about it with them. Also plan to have a family dinner to discuss everyone’s first day of school and offer encouragement where needed. These are just a few ideas to help with the transition process.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist who specializes in treating children and teenagers. He has over 20 years experience working with teenagers. To learn more about his private practice in Pleasant or the work he has done over 20 years visit his web site at http://www.RubinoCounseling.com.

Memorial Day A Day We Need to Look at Our Actions

Memorial Day A Day We Need to Look at Our Actions

It’s Memorial Day weekend and it’s also the beginning of graduations too. For many teenagers this means parties, hanging out with friends and staying out late. It’s a popular weekend to celebrate by drinking and some head for the beaches or swimming pools depending on the area you live in. Most people assume these are every day activities and everyone will have a good time.

However, this is not reality. Every year 5,000 teenagers are killed in motor vehicle accidents and 400,000 are injured (CDC statistics). These injures may range from cuts and bruises to someone being paralyzed by breaking their back. Concussions are very common and can have life long effects on someone.

Also regarding swimming, there are 3,500 accidental drowning every year. And out of these drownings 1 out of 5 are teenagers (CDC statistics). This is the number who die. It doesn’t include brain injuries due to lack of oxygen to the brain or breaking a neck by diving. A broken neck can result in death, paralysis or being in a Halo Brace for 6 months. Again this is an activity we assume is safe and nothing would happen swimming in a friend’s pool. These injuries can occur in car accidents too.

With it being the Memorial Day weekend and the beginning of graduations and graduation parties, there are going to be a lot of parties and drinking. There are also going to be a lot of drunk driving accidents, drownings and accidental overdosing. You have no way to know if your teenager or your family might be one of the unlucky families this weekend. It could be your teen who is killed or it could be you.

You never know what is going to happen in life. Especially given everything that is happening all over the world. And if you look at the above statistics, you never know when or if something is going to happen.

A mother experienced this fact when her son committed suicide. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for teenagers (CDC). After that she wrote the following poem to her son. She also encouraged all parents of teenagers to remember to say “I love you,” to your teenager. You may not get another chance.

I Love You

How could you?

They asked you,

How could you?

But you could not answer

As you were not here.

Why would you?

They asked you,

Why would you?

But their questions fell onto

The world’s deafest ears.

I loved you!

They told you,

I loved you.

But they told you too late,

Through their tears.

I’ll miss you,

They told you,

I’ll miss you.

And in death now

They hold you more dear.

The point is don’t take the risk. Since you never know what may happen and many teens feel that their parents don’t care, take the opportunity while you have it to express your feelings. Don’t spend the rest of your life regretting I never told him I loved him or wondering if that would have made the difference.

Also the ironic part to this weekend is it really a time to honor the men and women who have served in the military. To remember all those soldiers who have been killed, injured for life or coping with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or a Traumatic Brain Injury, so we can benefit from a democracy that allows us the freedom to live our lives how we want to live life. So we can go to church if we want and express our opinions without having to fear for our lives.

However, over time we have forgotten the meaning of today. Therefore, we do not value what we have and take chances with our lives we do not need to take. We also forget the veterans who are paralyzed or trying to cope with PTSD and reliving the war they were in daily. This also has a major impact on veteran’s families too. Another fact we forget.

May be if we take a few minutes to remember the true meaning of this weekend, we will value life more and be less likely to take senseless chances such as driving drunk. We may also remember the veterans who are still struggling with their injuries today and ensure they get the help they need and deserve. Many do not and as a result the suicide rate for veterans is very high compared to the general population. There are few treatment option for them too. A very sad fact when they provided us with the freedom we enjoy daily.

Dr. Rubino is a psychotherapist is Pleasant Hill who specializes in treating children and teenagers. He has over 20 years of working with teens. To find out more about his work, his private practice or to contact him visit his website at http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or his Facebook page http://www.Facebook.com/drrubino3.