Dangerous Behaviors and Troubling Trends : A School District Meeting

RANDOLPH, NJ- On Thursday Oct. 16, the Randolph School District held an important and informative meeting at the Middle School.  Attendees were educated on some startling and sensitive topics dealing with teens and pre-teens.

Randolph Schools, New Bridge Services and the Traumatic Loss Coalition of Morris County jointly hosted the seminar for all parents in the district.  The meeting was designed to provide parents with strategies and resources to help their children make smart decisions.

Mary Alice Thomas, the District Substance Abuse Coordinator for the Randolph School District and Mary Vineis from The Traumatic Loss Coalition spoke at length for the first hour.

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They provided a necessary overview of how to recognize symptoms of depression and anxiety, advice on how to talk to a teenager, and some anecdotal examples and coping strategy suggestions.

The second part of the evening involved Breakout Sessions, one of which is the subject of this article: Dangerous Behaviors and Troubling Trends. Meg Riley and Celeste Bonura, District School Psychologists, spoke about dangerous trends occurring, not just in Randolph, but across the country.

Several games and dangerous behaviors were discussed, and many parents in the audience had never heard of these games.

These trends include games such as The Choking game, The Cinnamon challenge, The Ice and Salt Challenge and The Ritz Cracker Challenge. It was explained that many of these games are seen by children on YouTube, and are very easily accessible for kids through current technology. According to speakers, their peril lies in the games being seemingly harmless and legal. No laws are being broken so even the children who are not considered “at-risk,” are susceptible to the danger.

The following video on the choking game was provided by the School Psychologists: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/study-percent-kids-play-choking-game/story?id=16144299

Many audience members were shocked to learn of these dangerous games and a significant question of the evening was, “Why is this kind of prevention education not included in Health Curriculums at the Middle School and High School?”

Health class curriculums include sex education and sexually transmitted disease prevention. Concerned parents asked what steps can be taken to ensure these dangerous trends are placed on a Health Class Syllabus. Dr. Dennis Copeland, Randolph Middle School Principal, was present to answer some questions, but parents were directed to the Board of Education with their concerns. Dr. David Browne, Superintendent of Schools and Jen Fano, Assistant Superintendent of Schools, may be contacted for further information on any course syllabus.

The other breakout sessions included the following:

1) Helping your child recognize depression and anxiety

2) Coping Skills and the 40 Developmental Assets

3) How to discuss substance abuse with your child

4) How to help your child navigate technology safely

5) What's on your mind?

If anyone missed this evening and wants further information, the contact is Maryalice Thomas, Ph.D., Substance Awareness / Anti-Bullying Coordinator from Randolph Township Schools, whose contact information available through the rtnj.org website.

Materials distributed to parents at the Oct. 16 parent forum sponsored by Randolph Schools, New Bridge Services and the Traumatic Loss Coalition of Morris County are now online, posted by Randolph Township Schools.

To review the information discussed at the sessions, please click here

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