Sunday, November 16, 2008

Social Acceptance/Peer Pressure

Social Acceptance

By MaryEllen


Social acceptance is important for all people, especially adolescents. Feeling liked, wanted, and accepted are key to an adolescent’s happiness and well-being. There are many ways through which social acceptance is sought and achieved.

Routes to Social Acceptance

There are many routes that adolescents will take to gain social acceptance. One very observable route is that of conformity. It is very likely that you will see your students dressing, acting, and talking like the other adolescents in their circle of friends. In cliques and groups, members are characterized according to dress and appearance, scholastic standing, extracurricular participation, social skills, socioeconomic status, reputation, and personality qualifications (Rice, 274). Adolescents choose their friends based off shared similarities, and are likely to end friendships if their similarities are not balanced. Once differing interests are discovered, friendships are likely to dissolve or one friend will conform to the ideas of the other.

Another way adolescents gain social acceptance is through achievement. You will see a number of your students gain popularity and acceptance from their peers based off their achievement in sports, academics, or extracurricular activities. “The recognition and acceptance the individual achieves depends on the status accorded the activity by the peer group” (Rice 275. For example, a basketball star will be more socially accepted than the captain of math team, because peer groups value athletic achievement over academic achievement.

While some students gain social acceptance by excelling at an activity, many students seek acceptance just by being part of the activity. This route to social acceptance is called participation. Adolescents tend to accept other adolescents who are partaking in the same activities as they are. It is likely that your most well-adjusted students will be involved in a plethora of activities, with many friends involved in the same activities.

Another route to social conformity is physical attractiveness. Study upon study has found that physically attractive adolescents are greatly favored by their peers over their less attractive or unattractive counterparts. This can cause considerable distress for unattractive adolescents. Middle school teachers will witness more filtering by attractiveness than high school teachers; younger adolescents are especially harsh when valuing their peers by attractiveness, while older adolescents do not place quite as much importance on looks. Older adolescents are increasingly concerned with interpersonal factors.

The last way by which adolescents seek acceptance is deviance. Deviance is typically the avenue pursued by gang members or delinquent groups. In these groups, adolescents are embraced for exhibiting behavior that is not socially acceptable. Dealing with deviant adolescents in the classroom can be quite difficult, as defiance is their ticket to social acceptance.

Social Acceptance Advice to Teachers

As a teacher, you have the ability to guide students toward the most favorable ways of gaining social acceptance. It is important to guide students away from factors they cannot control (such as physical attractiveness) or destructive behaviors (deviance or possibly conformity). It is a good idea to guide students toward participation; involvement in positive activities will not only bolster an adolescent’s social acceptance, but will promote positive individual growth.

The achievement avenue can also be a positive route to social acceptance. It’s a good idea to guide capable students toward achievement. This pushes a student to work toward their full potential and increase their self-concept at the same time. It is best to avoid, however, pushing an adolescent toward achievement if achievement in that particular activity is unrealistic; in these cases, participation is the best available avenue toward social acceptance.

Peer Pressure

Peer pressure occurs when peers attempt to influence how a person thinks or acts. In any secondary school environment, the presence of peer pressure is inevitable. As a teacher, it is important to be able to identify peer pressure and guide students accordingly.

Different Types

Despite the term “peer pressure” having a negative connotation, peer pressure is not always a bad thing. Like many things, there is a good side and a bad side to it. Negative peer pressure occurs when an adolescent’s friends or classmates persuade him to do something that he doesn’t want to do, or doesn’t think he should be doing. This type of peer pressure is commonly blamed for drug use, drinking alcohol, sexual promiscuity, skipping class, destroying property, and stealing.

Peer pressure, however, does have an upside. Just as peers can influence each other to engage in negative activities, they have the ability to influence one another in positive ways as well. Positive peer pressure influences adolescents to do good things, such as get involved in school activities, make the right decisions, or push one another to meet goals.

Student Interviews on Positive and Negative Peer Pressure

Q: Can you think of a time when you succumbed to negative peer pressure?

A: Yeah. Last weekend my friends and me went to a party with a whole bunch of kids from school. Everyone there was drinking. I didn’t want to drink that night but all of my friends were doing it and they convinced me into doing it. I didn’t want to be the only one there who wasn’t drinking. –Anna, junior at Rolling Meadows High School.

A: During finals week all of our classes alternated from being really short to really long. My friends convinced me to blow off my 30-minute gym period so we could go to Old Country Buffet on our longer lunch period. –Adrian, freshman at Rolling Meadows High School.

Q: Can you think of a time when you succumbed to positive peer pressure?

A: Yeah, yesterday the Service Club was signing people up to volunteer for the blood drive. I hate needles but I kind of got guilted into it. Plus the girl who signed me up was pretty cute. –Fernando, senior at Rolling Meadows High School.

A: When I was a freshman my friend Nicole convinced me to join the golf team with her. Neither of us had really golfed before, but we figured what the heck, it was something to do. I thought that being on the golf team was dorky, but we met a lot of cool girls. And I actually turned out to be a really good golfer. –Vanessa, junior at Rolling Meadows High School.

Overcoming Negative Peer Pressure

Believe it or not, as an educator you do have substantial influence in guiding students away from negative peer pressure. Adolescents are hesitant to go against their own morals for the sake of appeasing a group, and especially don’t like disappointing authority figures. “Studies have shown that teens who feel validated and respected by their parents and teachers are less likely to fall victim to peer pressure and are more likely to follow social norms of morality when faced with tough decisions.” (Stevenson 1). If your students respect you, they likely value the opinion that you have of them and will seek your approval. When this is the case, the pressure the student will feel to keep your good opinion of them will outweigh any negative peer pressure they might be facing (Stevenson 1).

In order to ensure your students know both your opinions of them and your stance on moral issues, it is important to have open and honest communication with them. If this is achieved, the students will feel comfortable confiding in you and will trust your feelings and judgments.

Another way in which adolescents overcome negative peer pressure is self love. Self love is a genuine liking and respect for oneself. “When we like ourselves, when we are very comfortable being ourselves, and we won't easily be changed. If you think about which type of people are most respected by peers you will find that they are confident, will stand up for themselves and others, and will appear to have a strong set of personal values.” (Stevenson 1).

Building the confidence of the adolescents you teach is a very powerful tool to help ensure they will respond favorably to peer pressure in your absence.


Anxiety, Stress and Depression


By Tom

An overview

As a beginning teacher, you will be better served to recognize the causes, symptoms and treatments for anxiety, stress and depression among your adolescent students. These problems are increasingly common for today’s generation of young students as issues such as high-stakes testing and lofty social expectations continue to gather momentum.

An anxious or depressed student cannot learn as quickly or as easily as a classmate who is mentally at ease, meaning that a student’s personal fears or concerns can have a direct effect on his or her classroom performance. This section of the blog will attempt to inform new teachers about psychosocial factors such as depression, stress and anxiety that affect adolescent students in tens of thousands of classrooms across the United States.

But first, some theory

Charles Darwin, best known for writing his Orgin of Species in 1859, was one of the first experts to shed light on anxiety and depression in children and adults. He argued that one could communicate fear through facial expressions or body language, but many other psychological thinkers of the period dismissed his theories. Darwin also offered a distinction between anxiety and fear, which few others had done up until that time. “If we expect to suffer, we are anxious,” Darwin wrote. “If we have no hope of relief, we despair.” (Klein 13)

Darwin’s pioneering research paved the way for Sigmund Freud, whose theories touched subjects that never before had been analyzed from such an angle. Freud said anxiety could begin at infancy and resulted when someone had a great deal of tension-producing stimuli that they could not effectively release. The origin of the overwhelming stimuli could be internal or external depending on one’s stituation, Freud said. (Klein 15) Yet Freud’s emphasis on the “id,” sexual urges and suppressed feelings did not jibe with many psychologists, including his own daughter, Anna Freud. Psychologist Harry Stack-Sullivan argued that fear is “exclusively human” and “preternaturally social,” emphasizing culture’s role in fostering anxiety instead of unconscious foundations.

Searching for patterns in adolescent anxiety and depression

It is difficult, if not impossible, to pinpoint who will suffer from anxiety and depression, along with when they will suffer it and why it will emerge. Yet some trends such as family history, gender and life conditions may help you to keep a careful eye on some of your students to watch for signs of trouble. By doing so, you could help to prevent or reduce a lifetime of struggles. That is because researchers have said, “We do know that the majority of those reporting major depression indicate that it began in adolescence.” (Craig 93) Furthermore, “Rates of depression are increasing in young people and many depressions have an onset in adolescence.” (Craig 84)

But what can you look for as a new teacher with 20 or 30 students to guide in each of your half-dozen classes? First, try not to be overwhelmed yourself. Use your school’s guidance counselors and veteran teachers for their knowledge and expertise – severe depression is a mental condition that requires professional attention before it deteriorates into something worse, which this report will address in the next few sections. Here are some simple things to keep in mind as a new teacher looking for patterns of stress and depression in your students.

• Anxiety and depression may negatively affect a student’s performance. Search for signs of trouble in a student’s homework or if their energy level in class has seemed to go markedly down. This could be a sign of stress or something worse, as most experts agree that severe anxiety and depression hurts a person’s ability to function in important roles.
• Depression is recurrent and prone to multiple episodes. Keep a particularly close eye on any students who have struggled with depression in the past school year or who have gone through traumatic events at home, such as coping with the loss of a loved one.
• Depression affects females in adolescence more than males. A recent research project showed that the anxiety level for boys and girls was about the same at age 11, but by age 13, the anxiety level for girls had increased dramatically more than that of boys. The project’s lead researcher, Dr. Primrose Letcher, said girls were especially vulnerable if they and their parents struggled to get along. He said the main factors for adolescent depression were temperament, parental and peer relationships, social skills, life events and previously troubled behavior. (Farouque 1)

Root causes for anxiety, stress and depression in adolescents

As a teacher, you might occasionally feel helpless that your students are suffering internally despite your best efforts to enrich their lives. Yet many causes of adolescent depression are simply bigger than the classroom and extend far past the school’s walls.

Much of the angst felt by teenagers is because they do not know their place in the world. In this way, adolescent stress and depression is interconnected with other psychosocial factors such as the trouble to establish self-identity and to build self-esteem as an adolescent. One of those issues cannot be analyzed without at least acknowledging some connected factors. “A host of new drives and needs assails the boy and girl during the adolescent years; many of them they understand imperfectly and suffer inevitable frustration because they do not even know what they want so intensely, much less how to attain it,” Thomas Staton writes in Dynamics of Adolescent Adjustment. (Staton 236) It’s stress inducing to even comprehend the thought as an adult: To want something so badly, yet to not know exactly what it is that you want.

In A Tribe Apart, author Patricia Hersch identifies academic pressures as a major cause of anxiety in today’s adolescents. Hersch cited surveys in which up to 75 percent of high school students admitted to cheating at least once. Many of those adolescents defended their decisions because of the pressure – and the accompanying anxiety – to compete in a high-stakes environment to attend the best colleges in the country. A Girl Scouts of America survey showed that “Their major concerns were ‘the social expectations of the adult world which all have to do with pressure: the pressure to obey parents and teachers (80 percent), to get good grades in school (78 percent), to prepare for the future (69 percent) and to earn money (62 percent).’ ” (Hersch 101)

Another character in Hersch’s book, Charles Sutter, feels pressure from both sides. On one hand, he feels anxious about the academic demands that he will need to meet, particularly because he is African-American and he feels that this forces him to face more skepticism among adults. Yet he also feels pressure and anxiety to belong with his peers, who sometimes shun his successful academic career as an attempt to “act white.” Again, these issues introduce race and peer pressure and several other issues beyond mere adolescent anxiety, but Charles’ story helps to illustrate that today’s high school hallways feature far more complexities than those of generations past.

Extreme cases: Suicidal thoughts in adolescence

The worst nightmare for many teachers is losing a student. Yet suicide, sadly, is a tragedy that continues to affect far too many high schools across the country. A beginning teacher cannot be expected to possess the same expertise as a licensed counselor or social worker, but he or she should trust their instincts based on daily interactions with their students. Keep in close touch with your school’s guidance counselors and never ignore your “inner voice” that tells you a student might be facing serious problems.

Suicide was the third-leading cause of death this decade for young adults and adolescents ages 15 to 24, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That age group accounted for 9.9 deaths among every 100,000 teens and young adults. Between the age range of 10 to 14 years old, the rate was 1.3 deaths per every 100,000 subjects, or 272 deaths among 20.9 million children in the age group. No data was available on attempted suicide rates, but some leading experts believe that those rates are far too high. “Attempted suicide has become a phenomenon of truly epidemic proportions,” David K. Curran writes in Adolescent Suicidal Behavior. Such acts are cries for help, he says, and many teens who attempt suicide might try to attempt it once again if their conditions go untreated. (Curran 15) Many of those who attempt suicide have endured a similar experience, experts say: They might have moved frequently, changed schools often, repeated grades, suffered from drinking problems, lost close friends or family members or had someone in their inner circle attempt or commit suicide. (Curran 54)

Closer to home: Interviews with a Chicago-area student and educator

Sometimes we can learn more from a candid conversation than a scholarly journal or a leather-bound book. These interviews were conducted with a Palatine High School senior named Brian, 17, and a veteran Palatine teacher named Dana help to shed light on the causes of anxiety and stress among students today. (Note: Their last names have been removed because of class policy.)


Q: Do you see among your friends or classmates that some people really struggle with depression?

A: Yeah, I do. I see some of my friends, not so much [suffer from] depression, but more just stress and anxiety. Especially this time of year with colleges and schools, and especially in this time of life, too, with hormones flying and boyfriends and girlfriends and all that drama, I do see it.

Q: It’s not always in-class causes, then?
A: Oh, no. A lot of it is things that go on outside of class and on the weekends. It gets carried over into class and I see it affect their schoolwork as well.

Q: So what are the biggest stresses that you see among people your age now?
A: Definitely college. … Up until now, you’ve pretty much been spoon-fed what you had to do. You had to go to school, you had to do this. People are just freaking that I don’t know what I want to do yet. Should I go to college? Can I go to college? It’s just very stressful. … It’s kind of mind-blowing sometimes.

Q: Where does finals rank in that list?
A: They’ve always ranked pretty high. But also you see a lot that when people get into college, they see the letter that they’ve been accepted, that they’ll just blow off school.

Q: What about ACTs?
A: ACTs are a big part of stress. I remember back when we all had to take it at the school, people were freaking out and saying, ‘This is going to determine if I go to college.’ But in reality, it’s a lot of other things, too.

Q: You hear about the extremes of depression. Do you see a lot of that?
A: Not in my inner group or who I hang out with, no. I just see the normal, ‘Oh my gosh I’m so stressed because of school.’ But it’s not to the point of suicidal or anything like that.

Q: Do you have teachers that notice a student’s stress level and back off a little bit?
A: Usually most teachers if you talk to them and say what’s going on, they’ll completely understand. They’ll either back off on the homework and give you an extra day to finish it or something. But usually teachers are very lenient and accepting towards that.

Q: What about your classmates? If you see somebody who’s really stressed or struggling, do classmates come to their side and offer to help?
A: Yeah. It’s just a nice thing to do. I know that with my friends personally, if someone’s feeling down or out of place, we all kind of talk to him individually and see what’s going on in his head and make sure he’s all right.

Q: I guess it’s hard to say for you, but do you feel like the stress level in today’s high school is higher than it was 10 years ago and 20 years ago and 30 years ago?
A: I would say yes because of all of the new changing times and expectations now for college. We’ve all been hearing that it’s harder to get into in-state schools and that’s affecting a lot of student’s stress levels as well.

Q: Has your stress level gone higher or lower since freshman year?
A: Definitely it’s gotten lower. You’re used to school, you just go with the flow now. The real stress is just college and the future. You have more experience under your belt.

Q: Do you know what’s next for you?
A: I want to go into biology. So far I’ve only been accepted into one school, and I’m waiting on the other ones [Wisconsin, Michigan State, UIC]. But I know that I want to go into biology. My goal is to become a marine biologist and study animals.


Q: Do you see stress rise and fall at certain times of year in general, or is more of a case-by-case situation with your students?
A: I think it’s more of a case-by-case thing. I think overall it might rise, like around Homecoming week, or individually if you have someone who’s involved in dance show or in the playoffs or something. But I think it’s more of an individual thing. … With my juniors, I definitely see it right around the PSAE in April.

Q: What do you do when you see stress affecting a student’s work?
A: I usually talk to the student, call the parent, follow up with the counselor. It’s like a three-step process. The counselors will get in touch with the other teachers and get in touch with the parents, also. Usually the counselors are pretty good. … Even if [a student] is just having a really bad day, I would still send an e-mail to a counselor just to say, “Here’s what’s up.”

Q: Do you feel like today’s high schools have more stress than 10 years ago or 20 years ago?
A: I think it’s completely different, especially with technology. Like for example, a girl in my class was just talking about the guy who broke up with her through a text message. That, or e-mail, Facebook, all of those things, we didn’t have them 10 years ago. I think all of that does make it more stressful. … I think it makes it harder for them to do work at home. There are so many things socially that you have to do to maintain social status.

Q: I know teachers feel pressure from No Child Left Behind and all of these high-stakes testing requirements. Do you see that stress trickle down to your students?
A: No, not so much. For them, no. For us, yeah, we feel it a little bit.

Q: You teach both freshmen and senior classes. Do you see a difference as far as who’s coming in with more weight on their shoulders?
A: It’s different. It’s just overall a different type of stress. … With the seniors it’s college and what some of them are going to do with the rest of their lives, it’s graduating, a lot of them are starting to be more social. … With the juniors, it’s this upcoming test in April that determines the rest of my life. Everyone always stresses that junior year is your most important year. I think that’s another thing that kind of stresses out juniors. … With the freshmen, there’s a lot of immaturity. I think their stress is mostly social, but they also are trying to figure out how to study and how to succeed on quizzes on tests, how to manage their time and get involved. I think once freshmen get over that, it’s a different challenge sophomore year, and then that’s overcome and there’s a different challenge junior year, and so on.


1. Craig, K. and Dobson, K. (1995). Anxiety and Depression in Adults and Children. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
2. Curran, D. (1987). Adolescent Suicidal Behavior. New York, NY: Hemisphere Publishing Corp.
3. Farouque, F. (2005). Teen angst, it’s like more of a girl thing, seriously. Melbourne, Australia: The Age.
4. Hersch, P. (1998). A tribe apart: A journey into the heart of American adolescence. New York NY: Ballantine Books.
5. Klein, R. and Last, C. (1989). Anxiety Disorders in Children. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.
6. Renier, L. (1984). Stress in the Female Adolescent. DePaul University Masters thesis, 2-15.
7. Rutter, M., Izard, C., and Read, P. (1986). Depression in Young People. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
8. Staton, T. (1963). Dynamics of Adolescent Adjustment. New York, NY: The Macmillan Company.

-By Tom Musick

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sexuality: Introduction

By Rebecca

The idea of Sex/Sexuality is a broad topic, which covers physical, emotional, psychological and social elements. There is a wealth of information available that may take a long time to digest so this will give some overviews of a few subtopics. By no means is this an all-encompassing guide, but it should serve to give some basic knowledge, which can be taken into the classroom. The subtopics that will be covered are Anatomy, Orientation, Behavior, Education, and Harassment. Also, each section has a listing of resources that are good websites for more information.


Sexuality: Anatomy

Puberty is generally considered to be the time in which a person’s body changes from that of a child to that of an adult at which time they are then capable of reproduction. It usually begins somewhere around 9-10 years of age and ends somewhere around 14-17. This varies for each individual, and women generally start and end earlier than men. Hormones in the brain start this process, and the changes that take place are different for men and women. (Puberty)

The dominant hormone in men is testosterone, which causes many of the following changes. Men begin to produce sperm, grow pubic, facial, and body hair, and their voice will become deeper. Additionally, men may experience a change in body odor, begin to have acne, and will also develop denser bones and leaner muscle. (Puberty)

For women, their puberty changes are caused primarily by estrogen. They will also begin to see development of their breasts, pubic hair growth and will begin to menstruate. Like men they may also experience a change in body odor and begin to have acne. Women’s body shape will also change, with their hips becoming wider, and having and increased percentage of body fat. (Puberty)

Although these changes generally take place so that men and women can reproduce, many of these hormone changes have other effects as well. There is often an increase in the desire for sex or sexual contact. It can also make teens more emotional, and moody; changes, which can have an effect in the classroom. It is important to remember that teens can be sensitive about the changes their bodies are going through, as well as being upset without fully knowing why. Teachers need to be aware that something that could be negligible one day may make a student upset the next. Especially in classrooms in middle school or early high school teachers should make extra effort to read their students. A student who may not be their regular happy self might just be experiencing a mood swing, and may be a little extra sensitive.


Sexuality: Orientation

Sexual orientation is an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual, or affectional attraction toward others. (APA, 2004) Sexual orientation is often thought of as a spectrum ranging from being entirely homosexual on one end to entirely heterosexual on the other. Varying degrees of bisexuality are usually inside the spectrum. The degrees of bisexuality may depend on physically attraction, emotional attraction, or sexual attraction. (APA, 2004)

The definitions are as follows:

Heterosexual: Being only attracted to members of the opposite sex.
Homosexual: Being attracted to only members of the same sex.
Bisexual: Being attracted to members of both the same sex and the opposite sex. (LGBTQ Youth Issues)

There are very few statistics available on the percentage of youth that identify as either bisexual or homosexual. This group of individuals is often referred to as being part of LGBTQ, which is a label of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer. This label is often considered to be the most politically correct term, but individual preference will vary.

Coming Out:
Coming out, is the term used to reference when an LGBTQ person lets other people around them know that their sexual orientation is something other than heterosexual. (APA, 2004) This doesn’t mean that they stand on the rooftops or make some type of formal declaration, but is often an admission to a close friend who they trust. For many individuals this process can be extremely difficult. Questions of if they will still be accepted, by family, friends and the community often loom, and may delay the time if takes for someone to ‘come out.’

People of the LGBTQ community are often victims of prejudice, and are more likely to be victims of assault and violence. Here is also the potential for discrimination, from organizations like work or church. In fact, 75.4% of LGBT students in high school report hearing remarks such as ‘faggot’ or ‘dyke’ frequently or often in school. (GLSEN, 2006)

As a teacher it is important to remember several things. The first is that this period in someone’s life can be even more difficult than the average adolescent. Since it may not be possible to tell if this someone is questioning his or her orientation it is wise to be extra sensitive to this matter. Second, high school is intimidating enough for teens, so they should not feel that school is a place where they should be ashamed, or be fearful. Make sure to quash anything that could be perceived as negative, including derogatory words and remarks. This should include asking students not to say, ‘that’s so gay’ or referring to things as ‘gay’, as it could be hurtful to LGBTQ students. Lastly, be supportive for students, who are or have already come out. In many cases people in their life may not accept their orientation, and so they are looking for a support system. . Additionally they need to feel that coming out is clarifying part of their identity, not that it was a bad decision. Many high schools now have Gay-Straight alliances, or something equivalent. If the school has an alliance encourage any student with questions to get involved in the group. If one is not available in the school, check out other community organizations, or look into starting one at the school.


Sexuality: Behavior

There are many behaviors of a sexual nature that teenagers engage in, including: kissing, touching, mutual masturbation, oral sex, anal sex, and vaginal sex. Unfortunately there is not a large amount of data available on many of these. Most data is limited to statistics on oral or vaginal sex. The majority of this date is assumed to be for heterosexual contact. The mean age for first intercourse in 2002 was 17.4 for women and 17.0 for men, and it was found that 46.8% of high schoolers reported having had intercourse. (NSFG, 2002) (YRBS, 2006) There was not a significant difference between men and women, but there was between early high schoolers and late high schoolers. 34% of freshman compared to 63% of high school seniors had engaged in intercourse. (YRBS, 2006)

Reasons for having sex for 15-17 year olds varied but 51% said it was because they felt they had met the right person. Another 45% percent said it was because they wanted to, 32% were just curious, 28% hoped it would make the relationship closer, and 16% said it was because many of their friends had. As far as adolescents who had not had sex 83% said they were worried about pregnancy, 74% had made a conscious decision to wait, and 73% were worried about STDs. Another 63% said they had not met the right person, 63% also felt they were too young, and 52% said it was because of their religious beliefs. (SEX SMARTS, 2000)

Oral Sex:
Many teenagers consider oral sex to be safer than vaginal intercourse because there is less of a chance of becoming pregnant, contracting Chlamydia or HIV, jeopardizing their relationship or reputation, getting into trouble, and feeling guilty about their behavior. (HOFF ET AL, 2003) A survey found that 54.3% of females and 55.2% of males have engaged in heterosexual oral sex. (HOFF ET AL, 2003)

There are many different forms of protection available, however most adolescents use condoms and/or birth control. Of the sexually active high school students surveyed 62.8% reported using a condom the last time they had intercourse. Another 17.6 % reported using birth control. (YRBS, 2006) Also 66.4% of women and 70.9% of men said they used a condom the first time they had intercourse. (NSFG, 2002)

Although there are many teenagers using contraception, teen pregnancy still happens. Almost 750,000 females between 15-19 get pregnant, with about 425,000 resulting in birth, 215,000 induced abortions, and 117,000 fetal losses. (GUTTMACHER 2006) 82% of the pregnancies to teens are unplanned and of those pregnant teens they were twice as likely to have not used a condom. (Comparison 2002)

It is important to be aware that while not all teens are having intercourse, however many teens are engaging in some type of sexual behavior. It is important that if a student requests information not to let personal belief dictate what information is given to them. In many cases students have difficulty going to someone and asking for information regarding sex and sexual behavior. If they are asking it may be the only time they ask. It is often best to direct them to someone who may be trained to answer these kinds of questions, like a school counselor, or health teacher. If the student is not comfortable doing this going to that person and bringing the student the information they recommend, may be another way to get information to the student. There are also many websites geared towards adolescents who have questions about sex and sexual behavior. Giving them these site addresses may be another way to get them information without expressing a bias of some type. Suggesting a more trained professional may be the ideal person to have a student talk to.


Sexuality: Education

Types of Programs:
* Comprehensive Sexuality Education: Sexuality education programs that start in kindergarten and continue through 12th grade. These programs include age-appropriate, medically accurate information on a broad set of topics related to sexuality including human development, relationships, decision-making, abstinence, contraception, and disease prevention. They provide students with opportunities for developing skills as well as learning information.
* Abstinence-based: Programs that emphasize the benefits of abstinence. These programs also include information about sexual behavior other than intercourse as well as contraception and disease-prevention methods. These programs are also referred to as abstinence-plus or abstinence-centered.
* Abstinence-only: Programs that emphasize abstinence from all sexual behaviors. These programs do not include information about contraception or disease-prevention methods.
* Abstinence-only-until-marriage: Programs that emphasize abstinence from all sexual behaviors outside of marriage. If contraception or disease-prevention methods are discussed, these programs typically emphasize failure rates. In addition, they often present marriage as the only morally correct context for sexual activity.
* Fear-based: Abstinence-only and abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that are designed to control young people’s sexual behavior by instilling fear, shame, and guilt. These programs rely on negative messages about sexuality, distort information about condoms and STDs, and promote biases based on gender, sexual orientation, marriage, family structure, and pregnancy options. (SEXUALITY Q&A)

What’s Being Taught?:
The exact information in a schools program is mostly determined at the local level. A variety of things may factor into that decision, including community, and type of school. In many cases schools with a religious affiliation may not teach a comprehensive sexual education program. It may be one of the abstinence types of education programs. A study showed that 86% of high schools taught that abstinence was the most effective way to avoid pregnancy and STDs, 82% taught about the risks associated with multiple partners, 77% taught development, 79% covered topics like relationships, 65% taught condom efficacy, 69% covered marriage and commitment, and 39% taught students how to use a condom correctly. (SEXUALITY Q&A)

It is good to know what type of curriculum is being taught at the school. In some cases, it might be beneficial to ask during the interview in case there is a strong conflict of interest. In many cases schools ask teachers to back the curriculum that is being taught. It doesn’t hurt to get to know what is being taught in the curriculum as well. By being somewhat familiar about what is being taught, it is possible to know how much information students have, and what they may or may not be aware of.


Sexuality: Harassment

Quid Pro Quo:
Quid Pro Quo sexual harassment comes from Latin for this for that. It is where one thing is offered, or threatened for another. Examples include a teacher, or employee offering a good grade for a sexual favor of some type, or threatening a bad grade for speaking about an advance or favor. (Equal Rights Advocates)

Hostile Environment:
A hostile environment is any type of unwanted advance, comment, or gesture makes someone uncomfortable to where they do not want to participate in their activities in order to avoid the environment. Examples include peers making comments or groping another student, coaches saying something about their own, or a student’s body, and teacher making dirty jokes. (Equal Rights Advocates)

The Law:
Sexual harassment is against the law. Federal law prohibits sexual harassment in school by Title IX of the education amendments of 1972. It prohibits any person, on the basis of sex, to be subjected to the discrimination in an educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. The law applies to anything related to the education organization; academics, research extracurricular, etc. Though Title IX is normally associated with athletics, sexual harassment is covered under it as it applies with the understanding of discrimination based on sex. (TITLE IX)

Stay informed, and be aware of who in the school handles these types of grievances. If approached by a student who feels they are being sexually harassed, listen and then advise them to go through the appropriate channels to get the issue resolved. In some cases offering to go with the student, since it can be a difficult situation to talk about with someone they may not know or be as comfortable with can help ease a students anxiety.

If witnessing an incident that may appear to be harassment, pull the student aside and ask if the incident was something that made them uncomfortable. It could be a remark from either another teacher or student, but asking if it bothered them is appropriate. If it doesn’t bother a student, keep an eye out for additional incidents. Talk to the dean or counselor if it appears that there is a situation but are uncomfortable approaching the subject with the student. A counselor may be able to ask a student if there is anything going on that makes them uncomfortable, with out exposing who may have witnessed the incident, and making the student embarrassed.

Be aware of personal behavior. Being in a classroom or school often means needing to be on best behavior. Students are not friends and there for jokes that may be ok in social company are often inappropriate in a school environment. These jokes are often not age appropriate, and can make students uncomfortable even when trying to be funny. Avoid jokes of any sexual nature, as to be sure to not accidentally offend or make a student uncomfortable.


Sexuality: Bibliography

Sexuality Section, written and compiled by Rebecca

A Comparison of the Risk Characteristics of Ever-Pregnant and Never Pregnant Sexually active Adolescents. Journal of HIV/AIDS Prevention Education for Adolescents ad Children, Vol 5, No. ½ (2002) Retrieved November 4, 2008, from

Danice K. Eaton, et al., “Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2005,” Surveillance Summaries, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, vol. 55, no. SS-5 (9 June 2006): 1-108, Retrieved November 11, 2008,

GLSEN. (April 26, 2006). GLSEN's 2005 National School Climate Survey Sheds New Light on Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Students, from

The Guttmacher Institute. (2006) U.S. Teenage Pregnancy Statistics, National and State trends and Trends by Ethnicity. Retrieved November 11, 2006, from

NSFG, Cycle 6 (2002), (Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics), Retrieved November 11, 2008,

Puberty. (n.d.) In Wikipedia. Retrieved November 11, 2008, from

Questions and Answers: LGBTQ Youth Issues. (n.d.) In Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. Retrieved October 28, 2008, from

SexSmarts: Decision-Making, (Menlo Park, CA: Henry Kaiser Foundation and Seventeen Magazine, September 2000).

Sexual Harassment. (n.d.) In Equal Rights Advocates Online. Retrieved November 11, 2008, from

Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality. (2004) In American Psychological Association. Retrieved November 11, 2008, from

Sexuality Education Q&A. (n.d.) In Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. Retrieved October 28, 2008, from

T. Hoff, et al, National Survey of Adolescents and Young Adults: Sexual Health Knowledge, Attitudes, and Experiences, (Menlo Park, CA: Henry Kaiser Family Foundation, 2003), 14.

Title IX. (n.d.) In Wikipedia. Retrieved November 11, 2008, from


By Lizzie


Drugs are chemicals that change the way a person’s body and brain works. Drugs may include over-the-counter drugs (Tylenol, Advil, Sudafed), prescription drugs (oxycontin, adderall), cigarettes and tobacco, illegal drugs (cocaine, ecstasy, marijuana, heroin), and alcohol. Drugs are often times abused and taken for pleasure, and more often than not, taken purposely to alter people’s perceptions. Any person can become addicted to anyone of the types of drugs listed above, if overuse and abuse occurs. As educators, the reality of students abusing drugs is a prevalent one, and it is our job as to offer an education, not only in math, science, and social studies, but also an education on life, and the detrimental issues that come along with drug abuse.

Overview of Addiction

Addiction is the chronic, relapsing brain disease that cause compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences to the individual who is addicted and to those around them (Volkow, NIDA, 2008). Addiction is a disease that is caused by the chronic abuse of drugs that leads to changes in the structure and function of the brain. At first, the choice of drug abuse is voluntary, but with the continuation of such abuse, the person looses the voluntary aspect of desires, and overtime, repeated drug use no longer becomes a matter of self-control (NIDA, 2008). According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Addiction is a state in which an organism engages in a compulsive behavior, even when faced with negative consequences” (Volkow, NIDA, 2008). A major pitfall of addiction is the lack of control in the amount of consumption, of whatever addictive substance is in the body. In most cases, addiction is associated with cravings, and the need to reward ones self with the preferred drug of choice (NIDA, 2008). While abusing drugs, it is the changes the brain goes through that make it so difficult for a person to stop abusing drugs. Similar to other chronic diseases, such as asthma and heart disease, addiction may be managed successfully, and like many other diseases, relapse is always a possibility(NIDA, 2008). One crucial aspect of addiction is that even when relapse occurs, an individual still may recover, and it is important to provide the addicted with treatment to help the individual rehabilitate and regain control, but it is also important to note that people do die from drug-induced causes (NIH, 2008). “Over 26,000 individuals died from drug-induced causes in the United States in 2002, seven times more than those killed in all of the September 11th attacks” (DEA, 2006).

Why do Adolescents Take Drugs?

There are a number of reasons why adolescents take drugs, the main reasons include: emotional issues (insecurities, self-esteem), to feel better, to perform better, and curiosity. Most illegal drugs produce intense feelings of happiness and pleasure. Many drugs offer that initial euphoric feeling, but after that initial feeling has worn off, the actual effects of the drug may take shape (NIDA, 2008). Certain drugs produce different results, for example, cocaine produces feelings of self-confidence and never-ending energy, whereas, heroin offers feelings of leisure and approval (DARE, 2008). People, who suffer from social anxieties like stress or self-esteem issues, may take certain drugs in an attempt to lessen feelings of anguish and emotional instability. Stressors in adolescent’s life include: school, grades, parents, and friends, and these stressors may play a significant role in beginning drug use, continuing drug abuse and relapse. This increase in pressure and stress amongst adolescents forces them to want to see improvement and enhance their social, cognitive or athletic abilities, and many adolescents find that drug abuse is their best option (NIDA, 2008). While conducting an anonymous survey among high school students involved in extra-curricular activities, I asked why some of their peers choose to abuse drugs, and the answers I was given were astounding. Many that took my survey claimed that their peers and them took drugs in order to perform better. One student claimed he chose to abuse heroin because the drug allowed him to wake up on time, and his parents were praising him for his independence for getting himself up and ready in the morning for school. Also, adolescents feel an increasing desire to try new things, “because other people are doing it.” Because of this desire, adolescents are particular vulnerable because of the strong influence their peers have on them, and their feelings of “invincible” while they are young. When asked in my survey why their curiosity drove them to drug abuse, one student replied that doing drugs allowed her to feel more free and open and not feel so confined and insecure in her own skin. By smoking marijuana, she said, she was able to relax and be more free, as opposed to her social anxiety ridden self.

What do drugs do to the Brain?

There are certain parts of the brain that we all know function and operate for different parts of our life. There are parts of the brain dedicated to movement, judgment, memory, coordination, vision, and even reward (Volkow, NIDA, 2008). The cerebellum is involved with coordination, while the hippocampus serves our memory function, and all of these features are communicated throughout the brain via a process called neurotransmission (NIH, 2007). It is common knowledge that drug abuse is able to interfere with the normal communication process in the brain (NIH, 2007). For example, cocaine, blocks the removal of a neurotransmitter called dopamine from the synapse by binding to the dopamine transporters (NIH, 2007). This results in the euphoria “high feeling” of many cocaine abusers (NIDA, 2008). This high feeling teaches the brain to want drugs, and to need drugs. Drugs flood the brain with neurotransmitters that create an unnatural feeling of euphoria, a “high” that interferes with normal brain functioning (NIDA, 2008). The drug (after consistent use), forces the brain to remember these intense feelings of pleasure, thus providing the drug the ability to change the actual physical structure of the brain (NIDA, 2008). By using drugs, the addicted person has taught their brain to associate drugs with pleasure, forcing the person and the brain to not be able to experience normal life without drugs (NIH, 2007).

Some drugs, like heroin and marijuana, have a similar structure to chemical messengers in the brain, and are able to challenge the brain receptors and active and send abnormal messengers throughout the brain (NIDA, 2008). Mostly all drugs focus on targeting the brains reward system (which includes the desire for food, water, and sex) by flooding the circuit with dopamine (NIDA, 2008). Long-term drug abuse causes changes all over the brain in the chemical make-up, as well as, other communication circuits (NIDA, 2008). Drug abuse forces the user to experience uncontrollable cravings when they stumble upon a place or person associated with their drug addiction. For example, if I am a meth user, and I am going through treatment, it may not be in my best interest to revisit my drug dealer’s house where I went on numerous binges. If I were to visit the dealer’s house, I probably would experience uncontrollable cravings and experience an extreme sense of withdrawal. Also, abusers demonstrate changes in areas of the brain critical for decision-making, learning and memory and behavior control (NIDA, 2008). These factors alone are huge reasons why drug addiction is so difficult to fight, because the abuser loses all sense of self-control, which sometimes pushes the user into a deeper addiction (NIDA, 2008).

As a teacher, how can you identify a user?

If someone is using drugs, you might notice changes in how the person looks or acts. As an educator, it important to observe your students, and when to know when something is amiss. Here are some signs to help identify a drug user, now remember; these signs may also be triggers for other issues in a person’s life…KEEP OBSERVING!

A person using drugs may: lose interest in school, change friends (to hang out with kids who use drugs), become moody, negative, cranky, or worried all the time, ask to be left alone a lot, have trouble concentrating, sleep a lot (maybe even in class), get in fights with parents, teachers, or peers, have red or puffy eyes, lose or gain weight, cough a lot, or have a runny nose all of the time (Nemours Foundation, 2008).

These are only some common symptoms associated with drug use. As an educator, it is our duty to observe our students at all times, and actively engage our students in the learning process. If any one of our students fail to do so, and show these symptoms, it is important to immediately seek help via the administration, parents, peers, or law enforcement officials.

Prevention Programs

Drug addiction is always preventable, and it is our job as a society to offer prevention programs aimed at providing our youths with critical thinking skills that will allow them to make sound, ethic decisions. “Preventing early use of drugs and alcohol may reduce the risk of progressing to later abuse and addiction” (Volkow, NIDA, 2008). Dr. Volkow also states that, “the risk of drug abuse increases greatly during times of transition, such as changing schools, moving, or divorce. If we can prevent drug abuse, we can prevent drug addiction. In early adolescence, when children advance from elementary through middle school, they face new and challenging social and academic situations. Often during this period, children are exposed to abusable substances such as cigarettes and alcohol for the first time. When they enter high school, teens may encounter greater availability of drugs, drug abuse by older teens, and social activities where drugs are used” (Volkow, NIDA, 2008).

Preventative programs are key when they are early and often, and they should also be initiated by identifying who may have come into contact with certain risk factors stereotypically associated with drug addiction: “poor parenting, chaotic, inconsistent home, lack of nurturing and positive relationships, inappropriate classroom behavior, poor school performance, poor social skills (anger, aggression), delinquent friends and social group, verbal approval of drug related activities and use, and should then provide protective programs that may aid in protecting these adolescents from the potential harm in drug use and addiction” (Volkow, NIDA, 2008). Then, after identifying adolescents capable of drug use and addiction, their needs to be a preventative program (i.e. “DARE”- Drug Abuse Resistance Education) that should also be based on the community in which they are affixed, and have an understanding of the cultural surroundings of that particular community. These programs, tailored toward the specific community they are serving, should include: “training to help children and adolescents resist drugs, moral education to prevent drug use, increased sociality among adolescents, and the overall education of the negative aspects of drug use” (Nemours Foundation, 2008). These programs should also include dialogue with former drug users from the community that may relate to the adolescents and their hardships, and offer advice, counseling and care for adolescent already involved in drug use (Nemours Foundation, 2008). These programs should be long-term, starting at a young age, and should foster morality among children and adolescents K-12.


1. Electronic Drug Information recommended by the Drug Enforcement Agency. (2006). Retrieved November 5, 2008,

from DEA 2006.

2. Electronic reference and interview on the subject of adolescents and addiction (2008). Retrieved November 5, 2008,


3. Electronic reference highlighting youth interpretation and information on drug abused through Drug Abuse Resistance Education-D.A.R.E. (2008). Retrieved on November 8 ,2008, from,

4. The Nemours Foundation interpretation on the effects of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. (1995-2008). Retrieved on November 9, 2008, from

5. Rice, Ph. F., & Dolgin, K.G. (2005). The adolescent: Development, relationships, and culture (12th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

6. Volkow, Nora D. M.D. and Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institute of Health, (2008). Info Facts: High School and Youth Trends. 2007. Retrieved November 6, 2008 from

7. Volkow, Nora D. M.D. and Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institute of Health, (2008).

The Science of Addiction. Retrieved November 6, 2008,


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Self Esteem and Body Image

By Melanie

Growing Pains : Body Image and Self Esteem
Compiled by Melanie Thomas
"Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you." Dr. Suess

Adolescence, a term associated with the transition from childhood to adulthood, is a very important time in a student's life. Adolescence brings with it life's first identity crisis (Brown & Knowles, 2007). Adolescents are constantly preoccupied with themselves, how they look and how they appear to others. The perception of self is the basis for self-esteem, or how one feels about oneself (Rice & Dolgin, 2008). How a student feels about their physical body is their body image. The two are connected but not the same. Throughout the changes an adolescent experiences, feelings about oneself can be positive or negative. Those feelings impact every aspect of an adolescent's life which is why it is important for teachers to recognize this rocky time and help students transition as smoothly as possible.

"Everyone is thinking about how they are changing all the time. We are all feeling different things and never really sure if anyone else feels the same way." Male Student, 14
As adolescents mature into adults, they often become self-conscious and embarrassed about the changes they are experiencing. Their bodies are changing in height and weight; bones
in the arms, legs, hands, and feet can lead the growth spurt leaving students appearing and feeling gangly and uncoordinated. Hair is growing in new places and sexual hormones are rapidly developing which can play a role in social and emotional behavior. During this growth period "most young people begin to make a thorough assessment of themselves, comparing not only their body parts but also their motor skills, intellectual abilities, and social skills with those of their peers and their ideals or heroes" (Rice & Dolgin, 2008). Many adolescents can't explain what is happening to them and feel that they are the only ones experiencing it.

Media and Sociocultural Pressures
"The media can be an entertaining business but it can be so unrealistic that people can lose their sense of reality. They see what (celebrities) have and want it too." Male Student, 14
Internally, adolescents are at war with themselves. But often times outside influences are causing this internal conflict adolescents are feeling. Western society emphasizes thinner bodies. Adolescents, through excessive T.V. watching, often compare themselves to the media images in front of their faces (Choate, 2007). The adolescents view their bodies as imperfect which can lead them to believe they are imperfect as a person. They believe they can never achieve what is believed to be the ideal body.
There is pressure for both sexes. Female adolescents feel pressure from the fashion and movie industries image of an ideal woman. From an early age girls learn that appearances are important for social acceptance. "Media images of excessively slender women encourage adolescent girls to be overly critical of and dissatisfied with their own weight" (Rice & Dolgin, 2008). Male adolescents are bombarded with the ideal male body -- strong, muscular and lean.

Family Life
Student's lives don't begin and end within the school walls. The experiences they have at home are present in the classroom. The family is the starting point for an adolescent's self esteem. Parents affirm a young person's worth (Paterson, 2007). Families that provide a positive environment will often help adolescents to form a higher self esteem and better perception of themselves. Socioeconomic status, family structure and the overall home environment affect how an adolescent perceives their life overall.

Social Life
"There's this one girl I knew who hated going to school because everyone was tormenting her. You could tell it hurt her. It's extremely hard to learn when everyone around you is making fun of you and you feel bad." Female Student, 14
For an adolescent, what friends think is the most important (Paterson, 2007). Adolescents gain their self esteem
through their peer groups. Peer acceptance is often linked to belonging whereas isolation from a peer group is linked to depression and lower self esteem. Developing high quality peer relationships in school and out of school is important because youths who difficulties maintaining them are more likely to be aggressive, perform lower in school and become depressed (Jin Yu, Tepper, Russell, 2005).
Friendships are also important because they can help to alleviate any problems the student may be facing outside of class. Encouraging students to socialize within an academic structure will help to broaden their social circle.
Bullying affects students' social lives. The most common type of bullying is name-calling, followed by being hit, being threatened or having rumors spread about them (Salmon, James, Smith, 1998). Bullied children and the bullies reported almost the same amount of anxiety (Salmon, James, Smith, 1998).

Consequences of Low Self Esteem
  • Poor Body Image
Although body image and self-esteem are not the same concept, they are connected in way which can both make an adolescent feel poorly about themselves. They believe they can never achieve what is believed to be the ideal body. The pressure to have the perfect body can lead to depression, eating disorders, and self injury. Roughly 60 percent of adolescents are dissatisfied with their bodies (Choate, 2006).

  • Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are preoccupations with food and body, although more often about much more than food. Eating disorders are complex conditions that are influenced by an array of outside factors. Roughly 10 million females and 1 million males are fighting an eating disorder, according to statistics from the National Eating Disorder Association.
a. Disordered eating is defined as an unhealthy relationship with food. It refers to
restrictive eating, and bingeing and purging. However is not characterized
necessarily as an eating disorder.
b. Anorexia nervosa is self starvation. Adolescents with this eating disorder have a
skewed view of their body, intense fear of body weight and strictly control their
c. Bulimia nervosa is characterized by cycles of bingeing and purging food. Often
their body weight is normal even though they fear body fat.
d. Muscle Dysmorphia is a disorder characterized by an adolescent's preoccupation
with body size and muscularity. Although there is limited research, it most often
occurs in boys and could lead to steroid abuse. They connect their identities with
their physical appearance. It has been said to be influenced by the media and
action figure toys.
Social Problems
Adolescent friendships are rocky and unpredictable. Those friendships can be
even more strained if an adolescent has low self-esteem. Students with low-self esteem will
have a difficult time maintaining friendships, making new friends and having positive
and fulfilling relationships. Much of this is related to the bond formed between parents
and the child. If adolescents never developed a healthy relationship with their parents
may have a hard time developing relationships with their peers (Rice & Dolgin, 2008).
What Teachers Can Do
  • Provide opportunities to succeed
  1. give students time to work in groups to toss around ideas on topics
  2. use homework and classwork that is culturally and socially relevant to their lives
  3. challenge them to use their critical thinking skills
  4. use creative lesson plans that target a diverse group of learners
  5. create an atmosphere that encourages discussion
  • Target their learning goals
  1. Stay in contact with their parents to know their goals for their child
  2. Set out a plan in the beginning of the year of what the students wants to learn and accomplish
  3. Get to know your student's goals outside of class (for example what they want to accomplish in sports or in a club)
  4. Incorporate a multitude of media into your lesson plans to expand their knowledge
  • Give constructive feedback
  1. Know that students' egos are fragile
  2. Let them know how to improve without offending them
  3. Allow them to explore many different possibilities
  4. Don't judge them for their ideas
  • Encourage independence
  1. Allow students to choose their activities
  2. Include individual activities and projects in your assessments
  3. Create an open forum to discuss individual ideas
  4. Guide them, don't choose for them

Other Ideas
(adapted from Michelle Borba)
Mentor a child
take a little bit more time to get to know a child who may be floundering
Pass on Concerns
talk to other teachers about a student and make goals to help the student
Reframe Students' Self Image
Praise a positive trait -- a great smile or a great attitude
Help them to explore
Give students the opportunity to try new things -- hobbies, books or a club
Make yourself available
Let your students know you care by staying in contact with them. Give them your e-mail address or cell phone number and let them know when it's appropriate to call you
What Counselors Can Do
  • Stay in contact with parents
--> hold educational meetings for parents about what is healthy eating, how to help students eat healthy and promote healthy living
  • Inform your students and parents
--> Explain what dieting is and its negative effects
  • Stop bullying
--> Educate parents on the effects of bullying and help to start a zero tolerance program
in the school district. Promote a healthy and positive learning environment.
  • Facilitate friendships
--> use clubs and other extracurricular activities to be a social platform for promoting
and developing healthy friendships.
  • Help students understand
--> Educate students on the reality of how their bodies should look and what they are
going through. Provide an open discussion for them to talk about their changes and how they feel.

Brown, D.F; Knowles, T. "What Every Middle School Teacher Should Know." 2007 Heinemann: New Hampshire.
Choate, L. "Stepping off the Scale: Building Positive Body Image in Adolescent Girls." Sept. 2006. National Eating Disorders Conference. Bethesda, Maryland.
Choate, L. "Counseling Adolescent Girls for Body Image Resilience: strategies for school counselors." Professional School Counseling. Feb. 2007.
Pajares, Frank. "How Teachers Can Help." 2002 Emory University
Paterson, Jim. "The Power of Self Esteem: Build it & They will Flourish." October 2007. Middle Ground. Vol. 11 no.2 pg. 8-10.
Salmon, G; James, A.; Smith D.M.; "Bullying in Schools: self-reported anxiety, depression, and self-esteem in secondary school children" British Medical Journal. October 1998.