Talking About the Tough Stuff

Talking About the Tough Stuff

Continuing the Conversations Going away to college is a huge transition. It’s a huge stressor. No matter how much freedom you’ve given your teen, there’s a huge leap between living at home and moving away and living on your own. The sudden freedom, access to alcohol and drugs, pressure of social media and stress— it’s a lot to deal with. So I help families learn how to talk to their teens about the tough stuff and get their kids to start listening, using laughter, and knowledge gained through personal experience, to provide conversation starting points. We need to wake up and make sure our teens know that they need to be aware of their surroundings. Hopefully, you laid the groundwork for this talk when your teen was younger, and began stressing the importance of personal boundaries. For example; no one else should ever touch your private parts. Hopefully, there were also conversations about stranger-danger, and about what kinds of physical touching were okay and what types were inappropriate – and about what to do if someone ever did touch them inappropriately. These are not always the most fun conversations, but they are necessary. Even if you feel like you haven’t had enough talks of this kind, it’s not too late to coach your teen to have stronger, or better, personal boundaries. This is a conversation that needs to start BEFORE your college freshman leaves for orientation. The talk about sexual assault on college campuses is just like the drug and alcohol talks that hopefully began a while ago and that you continue to have. These are serious topics with...
Into the Red Zone

Into the Red Zone

Pulling Back the Curtain on the Red Zone I’ve heard the phrase “The Red Zone” used to refer to the period of time between the beginning of the fall semester and Thanksgiving since I first began speaking on campuses and at conferences—but why is it called the Red Zone? Because there are more sexual assaults on U.S. college campuses during this time than at any other time during the school year. The 2007 Campus Sexual Assault Study discovered that more than 50% of college sexual assaults occur in either August, September, October, or November. As school starts students are meeting new people, trying to fit in, and exploring new boundaries. Students may be new to the city, adjusting to a new environment and getting acclimated… with less parental supervision and increased independence, students may begin experimenting with drugs and alcohol. I’ve been speaking on college campuses and at National College Conferences since 2008. Every person I’ve met and worked with loves college students. Many of them start their days at 9 in the morning and stay on campus for activities until 9 or 10 at night, simply because it’s really rewarding work to help make a difference with young people. Of course people working at colleges care about students’ safety. I believe that 100%. But the majority of staff who work on college campuses did NOT go into criminal justice, which makes the issue of sexual assault on campuses incredibly challenging. It’s not their area of expertise. I firmly believe in the power of prevention and awareness. That’s why I am pulling back the curtain on “The Red Zone”....
To The Parents of College-Bound Kids

To The Parents of College-Bound Kids

What I Wish I Knew Before I Left For College Going away to college is HUGE. It’s rated one of the top life-changing challenges that we go through, right up there with divorce, and the death of a spouse. It is THE most challenging transition for college-bound kids, since they usually have not married or divorced yet. And what do we focus on when preparing them? Academics. That seems obvious, right? It’s a competitive world and they need to learn how to study, and write papers on a whole new level. And yet, there are some things even MORE important than grades, tests, and study habits. Like safety. And responsibility. And accountability. I don’t remember knowing what those words really meant before I went off to my freshman year. Your 17- or 18-year-old is dying to get away from you and have “freedom”. They may not listen to you anymore. You may have turned into the Charlie Brown teacher to them years ago: blah blah…blah blah blah blah blah… So how the heck are you going to get them to listen to YOU when you try to talk to them about the tough topics like sex in “college,” drinking responsibly, the dangers of legal and illegal drugs, and sexual predators? How will you know you are getting through to them? You don’t know and you can’t. They do not want to talk to you about this stuff and deep down, you don’t really want to talk to them about this stuff, either. Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby Let’s face it—with all due respect, most of us are uncomfortable talking...
My View on ‘The Hunting Ground’

My View on ‘The Hunting Ground’

I recently watched the CNN documentary, The Hunting Ground, which is about sexual assault on college campuses. I have mixed emotions about the film. I am committed to raising awareness about this issue, which is the main topic that I speak about on campuses all over North America. So I was relieved that sexual assault on campuses is in the spotlight and continues to get press coverage. I was moved by the courage of the victims and the former deans, staff, and faculty who risked their jobs and their reputations in order to stand up for the assault survivors. It takes a lot of guts to stand up to an institution and it takes guts to put yourself on film. I lost my innocence when I was 12, so I can’t relate to being a virgin in college. But I respect that some men and women are, and that many come to college with very innocent and naive views of the world. To hear one young woman’s story of how she was tricked by a male friend into coming over to a “party” that turned out to just be a set up, was devastating. As she told her story, I kept thinking: how can we set these young women up better? And men, because it happens to men too, they just report it even less. Why isn’t personal safety a required course in high school? Why aren’t we hosting numerous trainings and self-defense sessions throughout orientations and the first semester or year? Sexual assault is like addiction. No one wants to talk about it, but it affects most of...
The Path to Sobriety in College

The Path to Sobriety in College

The Importance of Early Awareness, Support and Education One of my best friends, “Mike”, has a son who is in college. I’ve changed their names in order to protect their privacy, but for the sake of this blog, I’ll call his son, “James”. Actually, James used to be in college, but is not currently enrolled anywhere. James was a good student in a rural high school. He’d been psyched to have the “college experience” in the big city of Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University. VCU is considered one of the top party schools in Virginia, and it has plenty of press to prove those bragging rights. James started out strong with 5 As and 1 B during his first semester. Then he wanted more social opportunities, so he pledged and got involved with a fraternity. He spearheaded their big charity event and eventually became President of his fraternity. They even won National Chapter of the Year. James was taking on a full load doing extra service projects, leadership seminars, volunteering, and leading his fraternity. He felt the pressure to do it all. He started mis-using Adderall, which took over his life. This led to him taking more and sleeping less and less. He was drinking on top of using the Adderall, and had two alcohol related offenses. James had fallen in with the party crowd. He drove while intoxicated and got busted. Luckily he did not hurt anyone else or himself. James’ dad was supportive through it all. They had many conversations about judgment, choices and risky behavior versus his future. After the second offense, James had to choose...

Pin It on Pinterest