Identifying adolescent health concerns

September 9, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Adolescence can be a bumpy ride not only for the kids going through it, but for their parents. Dr. Charles Wibbelsman, chief of Kaiser Permanente's teenage clinic in San Francisco, and Katrina Lashea, director of "Nightmare on Puberty Street" for Kaiser's educational theatre programs, help explain the critical issues both -- physical and mental -- facing your kids during this important time.

Tips for parents to help their kids:

a. Listen to your kids. Empathize; don't belittle the kids' experiences.

b. Watch for warning signs - and if you suspect your child is at risk for something like depression (which is so common) or substance abuse or eating disorders, don't delay - get help. Contact your doctor, contact a youth crisis line. Take it seriously.

c. You can have Kaiser Permanente's "Nightmare on Puberty Street" come to your child's school for free. Check our Web site for more information.

d. Talk early and talk often.

e. Make sure your teens have regular check ups.

Health / Youth Risk Facts:

· Self-harm (cutting and slashing, burning the skin, limb-hitting and bruising, head-banging, deep biting, pulling out hair and other self-injurious behavior) often begins in early adolescence

· Suicide ranks as the third leading cause of death for young people ages 15 - 19; only accidents and homicides occur more frequently. (www.suicidology.org)

· One in five young adolescents report personally facing pressures to become sexually active, drink and smoke, and one in seven report personally facing pressures to use drugs. (kff.org)

· 17 percent of seventh and eighth graders have reported having sexual intercourse (National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, et al)

· 93 percent of sexually active teens said they did NOT think they were at risk for sexually transmitted diseases.(kff.org)

"Nightmare on Puberty Street"
"Nightmare on Puberty Street" is a community benefit of Kaiser Permanente, Educational Theatre Programs are offered free of charge to eligible schools and community groups. If you are interested in bringing the program to your child's school, you can visit www.xnet.kp.org/etp. ·

About Dr. Wibbelsman:
Dr. Wibbelsman is a physician in the Department of Pediatrics at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Francisco where he is Chief of its Teen Clinic. He acts as medical consultant to Educational Theatre Programs. Dr. Wibbelsman is Chair of the Chiefs of Adolescent Medicine for Kaiser Permanente, Northern California, a member of The Committee on Adolescence for The American Academy of Pediatrics, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, and President- Elect of The San Francisco Medical Society. He has devoted his entire professional career in medicine to child and adolescent health. Dr. Wibbelsman is a widely published author of books and articles on teenage health, including The Teenage Body Book and Growing and Changing: A Handbook for Preteens. He also has participated on national and local TV shows on these subjects.

Dr. Wibbelsman received his Honors B.A. in classical language from Xavier University and his M.D. from the University Of Cincinnati College Of Medicine; he interned at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Prior to joining Kaiser Permanente in 1979, he was Chief of San Francisco's Venereal Disease Control Division of the Department of Public Health.

About Katrina Lashea:
Director of "Nightmare on Puberty Street" for Kaiser Permanente's Educational Theatre Programs. Katrina Lashea started with Kaiser Permanente's Educational Theatre Programs as a performer-educator in 1992. Since then, she had directed both Secrets, an STD and HIV prevention production for high school students, and Nightmare of Puberty Street, a program designed for middle school students. She graduated from University of California with a degree in dramatic art and dance and has been an actor, dancer and health educator in the Bay Area. She is also a yoga instructor.


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