Posts Tagged ‘safety’



Get ready! It’s Pennsylvania Teen Health Week!


Help us celebrate!Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Laura Offutt, MD, whose digital health resource, Real Talk with Dr. Offutt, developed Teen Health Week in collaboration with the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Department of Health with support from the Pennsylvania Medical Society. Laura is a volunteer internal medicine physician, youth mentor and advocate who uses social media and her blog-based website to engage adolescents with teen-friendly, accurate health information.

Get ready! This week is Pennsylvania Teen Health Week! As proclaimed by Governor Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania Teen Health Week to focuses on the overall health of teenagers from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and everywhere in between. Pennsylvania is the first and only state to have such a statewide proclamation and observance – but soon Teen Health Week will be a national celebration!

It’s easy to be a part of this special week.  Involvement can be as simple as hanging a flyer announcing the week in your school, church or community center, or wearing lime green, the official color of Teen Health Week.  We even have a toolkit which is full of easy ideas for activities, sample social media posts, and a variety of resources which are organized around the broad themes covered in the week.

Each day has a specific broad health focus:

Monday: Healthy Diet and Exercise

Tuesday: Violence Prevention

WednesdayMental Health

Thursday: Sexual Development and Health

Friday: Substance Use and Abuse

Why is Teen Health Week important? Well, did you know that in Pennsylvania more than a third of our young feel depressed or sad most days?  Or that many teens think that driving after smoking marijuana is safer than after drinking? Or that 1 in 3 high school students have been in an abusive relationship? Or that fewer than one-tenth of our teens broke a sweat for one short hour in the past week?  And that fifteen- to nineteen-year-olds account for nearly half of the cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea in Pennsylvania?

As you can see, there are plenty of good reasons to have a week focused on teen health here in Pennsylvania!

Don’t worry – it’s not too late to take part in this fun and special week!  Here are a few ideas of how you can be a part of it:

Wear lime green. It’s the official Teen Health Week color.

Get artsy. Use post-it notes and set up a New Year’s Resolution wall that week – where teens can put anonymous health resolutions for 2017! You know, like “eat a fruit every day.”  Or, “make sure to get enough sleep.”

Hashtag for health. Share or post educational announcements or social media posts focused on each day’s health theme with friends or students. (Find these in the toolkit, or on SafeTeens’ social media channels.)

Help us celebrate! Attend the kick-off at the State Capitol Building in Harrisburg on January 9th, or the Friday the 13th celebration at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia.

Plus, there are a lot more easy and fun ideas already created for you in our toolkit!



Save the Response Until Later: The Dangers of Texting and Driving


Did you know there is one distraction that seems to be on the rise with teens? It’s texting while driving. Whether it is a simple one word response or a few sentences, any amount of time that you take your eyes off the road to text is a threat to your safety as well as the safety of those sharing the road with you.

Check out these facts to see how much you know about the dangers of texting and driving:

-Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in U.S. teenagers. Although we understand that not all crashes are a result of distracted driving, texting has become the number one cause of accidents due to distracted driving.

-Almost 65% of teen deaths due to car accidents occurred when another teen was driving. Set a good example for a friend and offer to respond to a message they receive while driving.

-80% of all car accidents involve driver’s not paying attention about only three seconds before the crash. With time spans this short, it shows that although it may only take you a few seconds to send a message, those few seconds could be the only time you need to cause the accident.

-Texting while driving makes you four times more likely to cause one of these crashes. With several dangers already present while driving, it’s important not to add to your potential harm by doing something such as texting.

-Texting while driving impairs your motor skills as much as having a blood alcohol level of .08 percent. Similar to the effects of alcohol, it can cause you to swerve into other lanes, miss a traffic signal or not break soon enough.

-Not only is it dangerous to text while driving, but as of last month, it also will cost you some cash if you get caught. In March of this year, Pennsylvania passed a state-wide law banning the use of text messaging while driving. The penalty for doing so can be up to a $50 fine and you may face points on your license.

Now that you know the facts, it’s clear that texting and driving is a dangerous. Spread the word to friends and do your part in keeping your travels safe.



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.



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.



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!