In this section, we will attempt to keep parents updated on the latest issues facing children and teens.
Bath Salts - After reading the attached article, keep this in mind: On 9/9/12, the VHPD encountered a person who we believe was high on bath salts (the investigation is still pending). This subject was charged with Residential Burglary, Aggravated Battery (of a Police Officer), Resisting, Disarming a Police Officer, Criminal Damage to Property (was ripping up someone's landscaping) and Disorderly Conduct (for chasing other kids with a sharp metal stick). This person was 14 years old.
Hand Sanitizer - They're not drinking the gel straight from the dispenser. Some of the teens reportedly used salt to isolate the ethyl alcohol in the disinfectant, turning the gel into a shot of something like liquor; others go online to find distillation instructions. Since most hand sanitizers are 62 percent to 65 percent ethyl alcohol, the drink distilled from it can be as high as 120 proof. (In contrast, a standard shot of vodka is about 40 percent alcohol, or 80 proof).
In the past, people in search of a quick high have turned to cough medicine (in large amounts, the cough suppressent dextramethorphan can cause hallucinations and "out-of-body" sensations), alcohol-based mouthwash, and even common kitchen ingredients like vanilla or lemon extract.
The hand-sanitizer trend is alarming, but it's not necessarily new. According to a 2012 report in "Critical Care Medicine," from 2005 to 2009 the number of new cases of hand sanitizer ingestion increased by an average of 1,894 per year. And the American Association of Poison Control Centers says that in 2006, poison centers reported 11,914 "exposures" to ethanol-containing hand sanitizers, 2,307 to people older than 6.
Concerned parents should consider monitoring their kids' use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, buying foam-based ones that are more difficult to distill or drink as-is, or using non-alcohol versions instead. (4-30-12)
Inhalant Abuse - Huffing. Inhalents. The breathing in of chemicals in order to obtain a high. It only lasts a few seconds, but can be addictive. And deadly.
Inhalant abuse isn't anything new. People of all ages are finding new chemicals to inhale whenever their old products are discontinued or the ingredients are changed. But helium? Inhaling helium just makes you laugh and causes your voice sound like a mouse, right?. It's funny, isn't it? No, it's really not. Last week in Eagle Point, Oregon, a 14-year old girl died after huffing helium - at the urging of her friends.
Ashley Long told her parents she was going to a slumber party, but she went to another party instead. One where alcohol and marijuana were being freely passed around. But those things aren't what killed her. In fact, Ashley didn't even try the marijuana. But she did try the helium. Then she passed out. Then she died.
Inhaling helium can cause an air bubble to get into the bloodstream and can block blood flow to the brain, causing a stroke. What people don't seem to understand is that inhaling chemicals replaces the oxygen, thereby denying the body of the life-sustaining nutrient.
When Ashley passed out, someone did try to revive her with CPR, but it was too late. Don't let it be too late for anyone else. Parents, talk to your kids about the dangers of inhalents. Kids, don't let peer pressure talk you into doing something you know isn't safe. Let's not have another Ashley. (02-27-12)
Cyberbullying - An increasingly popular form of bullying is happening over the internet. And now there's a website that makes it even easier for kids to be bullied: Formspring.me. Entries on Formspring are anonymous, which allows the contributor to write nasty things with no way for other people to know who they are. The site started innocently enough - it was created to help people get to know other people by asking questions such as "If you could have been the author of any book, what wold it have been?" But posts like, "You should kill yourself" and "You're ugly" are seen more often. Our School Resource Officer, Jim Koch, is seeing the results of this website first hand.
For more information, read this article. (12/9/10)
Teen Drinking - (adapted from a newsletter written by Erin Gibler and Pam Witt, Naperville) The chill in the air reminds us that the cold winter months will be here before we know it. Our community's teenagers will soon be forced indoors and parents can prepare to hear the common teenager complaint that "there's nothing to do in Vernon Hills." Unfortunately, as teens are stuck indoors during the winter months, opportunities for underage drinking and drug use increase. How do you know what your teenage son or daughter is really doing when they leave the house to go out with friends? Here are some tips:
As obvious as it may seem - ASK them! Also, don't forget to follow-up on what they tell you. Know your teen's friends and the friend's parents. Call them to verify the story your teen told you. Only then will you find out the truth about your teen's whereabouts.
Periodically have your teen check-in with you over the course of their evening out with friends, especially if their plans change and they leave one place to go to another. Also, don't be afraid to text message - your teen will prefer this method because it is ore discreet and less bothersome.
Be home and awake when your teen arrives home. If they know you will be checking up on them, they may think twice about what they choose to do or not do while out with friends.
Getting to know the parents of your teen's friends is an important step toward expanding your parent network and building a natural support system for you and your teen.
Whether or not your teen has given you a reason to trust or not trust them, staying involved in their lives reinforces the message that you care about them. Of course they will protest your "intrusion" into their personal lives, but don't let their reaction deter you from being a responsible parent.
Some teens will attempt to place parents in a bad situation by telling them that since they are going to be drinking alcohol anyway, why not just let them drink under parental supervision. They often make promises like collecting car keys and having everyone in attendance spend the night. BAD IDEA! Parents who host lose the most! Penalties for hosting an underage drinking party include being arrested and charged with Providing Alcohol ot Minors. Parents may also face costly civil lawsuits for hosting underage drinking parties.
The Vernon Hills Police Department is asking all parents and families to sit down and talk to their teens about the consequences of underage drinking. Talking to your teen about your expectations is the best suggestion to prepare them for situations they might someday face. Also, remind them abut the serious penalties for underage drinking, drinking and driving, and even for violating curfew. Remind them about how important their driver's license is, because many of the penalties for these types of offenses involve taking away teen's driver's licenses. (11/10/10)
Synthetic Cannabis ("K2" or "Spice") - is a herbal and chemical product which mimics the effects of cannabis (marijuana). When synthetic cannabis products first went on sale, it was thought it achieved an effect through a mixture of legal herbs. Laboratory analysis in 2008, however, showed that this was not the case.
There have been several reports of the product in this area; it's important to be informed about it. It is currently only illegal to sell to minors, since it is a smoking product. The synthetic cannabinoids contained in synthitec cannabis products have been made illegal in many European countries, but remain legal under federal law in the USA, but only until 1/1/2011, when it will be classified as a controlled substance. It is currently legal in Canada and Mexico.
No official studies have been conducted on its effects on humans, but extremely large doses may cause negative effects that are generally not noted in marijuana users, such as increased agitation and vomiting. The lack of an antipsychotic chemical may make synthetic cannabis more likely to induce psychosis than natural cannabis. The effects that have been noted locally include seizures, heart-attack-like symptoms, racing heart beat and panic attacks. Bloodshot, bulging eyes have also been noted. The local names heard right now is "Red Magic Spice" and "Mr. Nice Guy."
This drug will not cause a positive drug test result.
For more information, click here. (12/9/10)
Loopholes regarding this drug were closed with a new law that became effective January 1, 2012. The new law has more of a blanket effect on products that resemble synthetic marajuana. (1/4/12)
Texting While Driving - In an article by Steven Reinberg, a HealthDay reporter for Yahoo! News, distracted driving fatalities caused by cell phone use and texting soared in the space of three years, according to a new U.S. government research released Septermber 23, 2010. Auto deaths involving cell phones and texting while driving rose 28 percent in just this time, from 4,572 in 2005 to 5,870 in 2008.
Distracted driving and its deadly toll was the focus of a government summit this week in Washington, D.C., at which officials called for tougher laws to counter the growing trend. They reported that more than 5,000 people were killed last year in distracted driving crashes.
A study found that drunk drivers are even less inhibited about using cell phones as they drive.
Although this information is directed to all drivers in general, teens tend to use their cell phones more often and in more places. Please talk to your teens about the dangers of distracted driving - and the deadly consequences.
For more information on distracted driving, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Injury Prevention and Control page. (9/24/10)
"Sextortion" - The newest trend in internet nightmares. Teenagers taking lewd photos/videos of themselves and posting them in online chat rooms. People taking advantage of this and threatening to expose these exploits unless the victim provides more intense pictures, videos, or even worse, sex. Although this has not happened in our area yet, there is the potential.
There are no official numbers right now, but it's happened in a dozen states so far. Jonathan Vance, 24, of Auburn, Alabama was sentenced to 18 years after being convicted of sending threatening e-mails on Facebook and MySpace in order to receive nude photos from over 50 young women in Alabama, Pennsylvania and Missouri. Anthony Stancl, 18, of Wisconsin, was sentenced to 15 years for posing as a girl on Facebook in order to trick male high school classmates into sending him nude cell phone photos, which he then used to extort them for sex. One criminal was able to hack into people's computers and remotely activate their webcams, recording them undressing or being intimate.
Privacy online is nonexistent and once indescretions appear, they cannot be taken back.
Warn your teens about internet safety; even a joke can turn into a nightmare. (8/30/10)
Prescription Medication - It is not unusual for students to take prescription medication for physical, behavioral and/or emotional problems. Most of the time, students take these medications as prescribed. However, an increasing number of students illicitly obtain and abuse prescription drugs.
In researching the cause for the surge in students' abuse of prescription drugs, it appears that teenagers are beginning to experiment with Klonopin and Vicodin, even before they try traditional gateway drugs such as alcohol, tobacco and marijuana. Parents are urged to become educated about benzodiazipines, the class of drugs to which Klonopin and Xanax belong, in addition to opiates, such as OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin. Parents are the primary role models in a teen's life and they need to be able to discuss prescription drug abuse with their children.
Additionally, students who take the pills illicitly (sometimes referred to as "K-pins") usually buy them from students who have been prescribed the drug or who have access to someone else's prescription. Please ensure that your child understands that his/her medication is solely for use as prescribed by a physician. Carefully monitor the intake and security of any prescriptions in your home. Students report that prescription drugs are easy to get and are often free, hence the difficulty of eradicating this abuse.
Please heed this important information and talk to your child about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. (3/9/10)