Author Archive

8

May

Shining the Light on Safe Sun Myths

 

May is melanoma and skin cancer prevention month and with summer right around the corner, it’s important to know your risks when exposing yourself to the sun. One of the most important parts to staying safe is staying educated about the benefits of safe sun. Do you know the truth about your exposure? Here are a few answers to some safe sun myths you may have.

Myth # 1: MELANOMA AND SKIN CANCER ONLY HAPPENS TO OLDER PEOPLE.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US, with over 3.5 million people diagnosed annually; Melanoma is the second most common form of cancer for young people ages 15-29. Dermatologists are finding more and more cases of melanoma and skin cancer in patients who are in their late teens, showing that the disease is becoming prominent in younger generations.

Myth #2: I WON’T GET MY DAILY DOSE OF VITAMIN D IF I WEAR SUNSCREEN.

UVB rays can still get through sunscreen, providing you with more than enough recommended Vitamin D. If you are still skeptical, try getting your Vitamin D from nutritious foods as well such as fish or eggs.

Myth #3: TANNING WILL MAKE MY SKIN LOOK HEALTHIER AND MORE FIRM.

Although it may be nice to have that summer glow for a while, continuous exposure in the sun could seriously damage the appearance of your skin in the long run. Some side effects of heavy exposure are wrinkles, blotchy or leathery looking skin and age spots. Still want that summer glow without the harmful effects? Try a sunless tanner, bronzer or a spray tan which is offered through many salons.

Myth #4: IF IT IS CLOUDY OUT, I DON’T NEED ANY SUNSCREEN.

To keep your skin safe, it is recommended that you wear a sunscreen with a UPF of at least 15 every day. As much as 80% of sun exposure is incidental, which means it occurs during times that you aren’t tanning, such as going for a walk.

Myth #5: I ONLY NEED TO APPLY SUNSCREEN ONCE A DAY TO KEEP MYSELF SAFE:

While outdoors, it is recommended to reapply sunscreen every two hours. Although waterproof sunscreen is protected from sweat and water, it is necessary to keep applying that as well.

Knowing the truth about safe sun can help you enjoy those sunny outdoor days in a safe and healthy way. Remember these facts and share them with friends to get a healthy glow the right way this year.

3

May

Shattering Myths About Sexual Assault, pt. 2

 

Last week, the Safe Teens blog helped break the silence surrounding sexual assault by posting the top five myths regarding sexual violence.  But because sexual violence is a topic many are reluctant to talk about, the myths, unfortunately, do not end with five. Here are five more:

Myth #6: Women routinely make up allegations of sexual violence. In fact, the majority of rapes are never reported to the police and most rapists never spend a day behind bars. Because all victim/survivors of sexual violence face emotional and other barriers to reporting sexual violence (the first of which is recognizing it), many other forms of sexual violence are reported even less.

Myth #7: It’s not sexual violence if s/he was aroused. Arousal is a physiological response to a stimulus. It is in no way an indication that the victim/survivor “wanted it” or “liked it.” In fact, your body is wired to react the same way to consensual and nonconsensual sex. No matter what your body did, if you did not consent, you were sexually assaulted. Again, only yes means yes – and only sometimes (see Myth #5).

Myth #8: Sexual violence is a women’s issue. Sexual violence is a men’s issue not only because the vast majority of rapes are committed by men but also because it partly results from what it means to be a man in our culture. Many believe that as long as boys and men believe they can prove their masculinity through acts of dominance and “getting girls,” women and men and boys and girls will continue to fall victim to sexual violence.

Myth #9: There will always be a few bad apples. It’s important to remember that rapists are made, not born. Men and boys get their beliefs about sex, sexuality and gender from other men in their lives – real, flesh and bone men and pixelated men on screen. One study found that sociologists can distinguish between “rape prone” and “rape free” groups of men in part by these beliefs, demonstrating that culture, perhaps more than anything in nature, contributes to sexual violence.

Myth #10: I can’t do anything about sexual violence. Anti-violence educator Jackson Katz once wrote that “it takes a village to rape a woman” to demonstrate how the blame for sexual violence lies not only with the person perpetrating the violence but also with those complicit with it. Everyone can do something to prevent sexual violence. If you suspect someone you know is a victim/survivor of sexual violence or a perpetrator of sexual violence – or is disrespectful or abusive to girls and women in general – speak up. Talk with them about it or talk with someone who can. Many local and national organizations provide free and confidential instant message-based and phone-based hotlines. Additionally, speak up when others make sexist jokes. Most importantly, perhaps, have the courage to look inward and try to understand how your own attitudes and actions might inadvertently perpetuate sexism and violence, and work toward changing them.

Sexual violence is preventable – and one of the first steps to preventing it is understanding it. When you hear sexual violence myths, point them out to others. With one in four girls and one in six boys sexually assaulted before the age of 18, we can no longer afford to be silent.

25

Apr

Break the Silence, Shatter the Myths About Sexual Assault

 

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and this April, communities across the country are breaking the silence to talk about sexual violence. It’s a topic that affects us all; one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually assaulted before the age of 18. Despite those staggering numbers, many are still reluctant to talk about this sometimes uncomfortable topic. Silence on any topic leads to widespread and numerous myths; this is especially true when it comes to sexual violence.

Here are the top five myths regarding sexual violence:

Myth #1: Sexual violence is rape. While rape is certainly a type of sexual violence, it is not the only type. Sexual violence occurs any time a person is forced, coerced, or manipulated into any unwanted sexual activity. The continuum of sexual violence includes rape, incest, child sexual assault, ritual abuse, date and acquaintance rape, statutory rape, martial or partner rape, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, exposure and voyeurism.

Myth #2: Rapists lurk in dark alleys. While some rapists do in fact lurk in dark alleys, you are far more likely to be sexually assaulted by someone you know. It is estimated that 70% of all rapes are acquaintance rapes – that is, rapes committed by someone known by the victim/survivor.

Myth #3: Men can’t be raped. In fact, men can be raped – by other men and by women. In January, the U.S. Justice Department broadened the definition of rape to “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

Myth #4: S/he asked for it: Wearing a short skirt or drinking too much is not a crime. Walking alone or asking someone to your bedroom is not a crime. Being afraid to say no is not a crime.  Sexual assault is always a crime. Bottom line: No one ever asks to be raped and sexual assault is never justified.

Myth #5: It’s not rape if s/he didn’t say no. While no always means no, only yes can mean yes – and only sometimes. For sex not to be considered sexual assault, both partners must consent – or agree to – sex. Sexual assault can occur even if the victim/survivor didn’t say no and even if s/he says yes if alcohol or coercion or guilt is used to get the victim to say yes when they normally wouldn’t.

Stay tuned for more myths. Sexual violence is preventable – and one of the first steps to preventing it is understanding it. If you or someone you know have or may have experienced sexual violence, seek help. Many local and national organizations provide free and confidential instant message-based and phone-based hotlines.

15

Apr

Alcohol Awareness: Learn the Truth Before You Drink

 

As a teenager, you are surrounded with a lot of pressures from your peers, one of the biggest being the pressure to fit in with the group. Sometimes fitting in involves doing things that may not be for you, one of them being the consumption of alcohol.

Underage drinking can not only have short-term consequences, it also can affect the way your body and mind operate in the future. When you are a teenager, your body and mind are still developing. Alcohol can mess with your body’s development, causing some serious health issues down the line and may also increase your risk for your brain to have an addiction to the substance in the future.

Although staying away from underage drinking is encouraged, we understand that it has a large presence in the teenage social scene. So what do you do when it seems like you are presented with no other options? Here are some tips on how you can stay away from alcohol and still keep the fun in your weekends with friends.

-Surround yourself with positive friends: When you are young, we understand that it is very easy to “fall into the wrong crowd.” It’s important to be aware of your friend’s habits, making sure that they are a positive influence on the choices you make. Surrounding yourself with people who make good choices will lead to you making better choices as well.

-Get involved in non-alcoholic events: You don’t need alcohol to have fun! Go to a movie with friends, get involved in a community event or ask your parents if you can throw a get-together with a few friends and make fun and tasty non-alcoholic drinks instead.

-Be honest with your parents: Talking to your parents about a weekend party may be the last thing you want to do, but being honest with them will help build the necessary trust for you to stay safe and make better decisions. You may be too embarrassed to talk to your friends about your concerns with drinking; use your parents as an outlet to voice your fears and answer any questions you may have.

-Educate yourself: The best way to learn about the dangers of alcohol is to learn as much as possible on your own. When you are educated about the consequences, you can make better decisions about your own health.

-Plan ahead and learn to say “NO:” No matter how much you try to avoid it, there may come a time where you are offered a drink while out with friends. It’s important to know that your real friends won’t mind if you deny their offer. Make a plan of someone that you can call if you feel uncomfortable and want to leave the party. Don’t let others make this decision for you; you have the right to say no!

27

Mar

Spring Into Action With Some Fun Outdoor Activities

 

This year, March 20 marked the first day of spring! Most can agree that the change of season brings with it an even better change: warmer weather, more sunlight and blue skies. With the weather almost seeming to be at the perfect temperature, spring is a great time to become more active outdoors. Not only will outdoor activity provide you with the exercise necessary for good health, but the nice weather and bright sun will also work as a great mood-booster.

Here are some ideas of fun outdoor activities that will keep your spirits up while staying active:

-Do you live within a safe walking-distance from your school? Instead of hitching a ride home after the school day ends, ask a friend who lives nearby if they want to walk home instead. This will not only provide you with exercise but also some quality time to catch up and talk with your friend.

-Fan of the treadmill? Provide yourself with a change of scenery and go for a run around your neighborhood instead.

-Have a dog that you love? They need exercise too! Use the nice weather to get both of you active and take them for a walk or bring them to a local dog park to play with some friends.

-Join one of your school’s outdoor sports. Most schools offer a variety of spring sports including soccer, baseball and track and field. If joining the team isn’t possible, show your school spirit by attending a game or two and cheering on your team.

-Go to the park. Bring out your inner child and take advantage of all the fun stations that the park has to offer. Challenge a friend to see how high you can swing or who could make it all the way across the monkey bars.

-Go for a hike. There are several local state parks that have safe, closed off hiking trails for visitors to enjoy. While you’re there, check out the other outdoor activities the park has to offer such as kayaking, paddleboats and canoeing.

Getting outdoors is a free and fun way to keep you active and happy. Try some of these ideas or think up your own way to get out and enjoy these beautiful spring days.