Florida Police Chief Wants Truants Reported

The Daytona Police Chief wants local educators to start making calls when a student goes missing from class. But he wants the call to come to his office, not to the students’ parents.

“Detectives complain repeatedly about kids – some as young as 8 – stealing anything that’s not nailed down and avoiding arrest because the juvenile detention facility will not take youths unless they’re accused of a violent offense,” the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported. “Many young people in trouble here are truants, the chief said, and getting a handle on when students are ditching class gives officers and detectives a step up to prevent crime.”

Daytona school officials estimate that a total of 172 middle and high school students were habitually skipping classes. Studies have shown that most inmates who are serving long jail sentences committed their first crimes when they were truants.

Mentally Ill Youth Feel Ashamed, Ostracized

Ninety percent of teenagers with mental illnesses experience shame, secrecy, and limited social interactions, according to a new study from Case Western Reserve University Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences.

Dr. Derrick Kranke and his colleagues studied 40 adolescents ages 12 to 17 years old, who were taking medication for mental disorders.
These young people said that they felt different and ashamed about their conditions.
Their parents’ attitudes were key factors in helping their teenagers lead normal lives. If parents were negative, their attitudes contributed to a child’s feelings of being different.

“Parents who embrace and accept their children for whom they are and accept the illness as part of their child’s being help their children overcome stigma,” Dr. Kranke wrote in his report. He also warned that some children with mental disorders drop out of school or commit suicide because they feel ostracized at school.

For Teens, Night Driving More Dangerous than Texting, Drinking

Driving at night is more dangerous for teenagers than drinking, speeding, or not wearing seatbelts, according to a national ten-year study of highway deaths.

The study by the Texas Transportation Institute found a drop in fatalities during the period 1999 to 2008.
However, the crash rate for 16-year-old drivers was then ten times the rate for drivers ages 30 to 59 years old.
About 6000 teenagers die in accidents every year.

The number one risk for teens was driving at night, followed by speed, distractions, failure to wear seat belts, and alcohol drinking.

The authors of the report noted that while 80 percent of teenagers understand that teen alcohol use is a risk factor for car accidents, only 3 percent named driving at night as a risk factor.

Video Games Before Bed Don’t Seem to Affect Teen Boys’ Sleep

Playing video games before going to bed doesn’t appear to contribute to sleep problems among teen boys, according to a new study from Flinders University in Australia.

Researchers had 13 students ages 14 to 18 years old who demonstrated no sleep problems enroll in their study. On the first night , the boys played the top-selling video game of 2006 before they went to bed; the second night, they watched an educational documentary film before retiring.

“We purposefully showed a very tranquil movie to contrast against the very stimulating effect of playing a violent video game in the hope of producing the greatest effect on sleep,” reported lead author Dr. Michael Gardisar.

However, the boys took only slightly longer than three minutes to fall asleep after watching the movie, compared to 7.5 minutes after playing the video game, which was not a significant difference. Participants did not report more sleepiness in the day after they played the video game the night before.

The study appeared in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

Teens on Antidepressents Must be Monitored for Suicide

Teenagers who take antidepressants are at five times the risk of suicide as other teenagers according to a new study. The type of antidepressant a teen is taking did not change the likelihood of suicidal thoughts or attempts.

Researchers in British Colombia followed 20,906 children ages 10 to 18 years old white men diagnosed with depression and prescribed an antidepressant. There were no significant differences in suicide risk among the five depressants studied, which included fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, citalopram, paroxetine, and sertraline.

“Our analysis supports the decision of the Food and Drug Administration to include all antidepressants in the black box warning regarding increased suicide risk for children and adolescents initiating use of antidepressants,” said lead author Dr. Sebastian Schneeweiss of Harvard University.

This study appeared in the journal Pediatrics.