Hallucinogens, a group of drugs that cause mind altering effects, have been commonly used for religious rituals around the world for centuries, although several hallucinogens alegal in the United States. In recent months, “magic mushrooms” or psilocybin, a popular hallucinogen, has gained attention as activists in Denver are hoping to decriminalize the use of the drug and Oregon is hoping to vote on the legal use of psilocybin for medical use in 2020 (Denver Post). (MORE)
Over recent years, schools have been promoting a supportive school climate through school-wide behavioral expectations, caring school climate programs, positive interventions and supports, and access to mental and emotional therapeutic services to help make schools safer.
• Schools have, or are implementing, programs and lesson plans that emphasize and teach students conflict resolution and positive interpersonal relationship skills using social-emotional learning programs such as Second Step (MORE)
Compared to adults, adolescents are more prone to take risks. While we often associate negative behavior with risk taking, it can be a healthy part of growing up within limits. Healthy risks, such as engaging in a behavior or activity that challenges one physically, socially, personally or academically, can help adolescents find their identity and even be a source of stress relief. Engaging in discussions with youth and educating them on the consequences of unhealthy risk taking should be part of ongoing conversations both at home and at school. Some of the more obvious risk-taking behaviors that we make efforts to educate our youth on include the use of drugs and alcohol, social media safety, safe driving practices and engaging in healthy and safe relationships.
Over the past decade, we have seen an ongoing need to educate kids and teens on risk-taking behavior which includes thrill seeking challenges or sensationalized “stunts” that go viral on YouTube or other social media sites. These challenges can vary, but one of the more highlighted challenges that continues to be a concern amongst school age children and teens includes the Choking Challenge. Also referred to as the Pass Out Challenge, Blackout, Scarf Game or Fainting Game, the Choking Challenge has been attributed to accidental deaths all over the country. The purpose of this challenge is to intentionally cut off oxygen to the brain with the goal of inducing temporary loss of consciousness and euphoria. Euphoria occurs when pressure is applied, causing a lightheaded dizzy sensation, and when pressure is released, causing a rush sensation. The rush is brief so kids continue to do it, not realizing the potential for brain damage, injury or death. The method of practice that has resulted in most of the reported fatalities across the country involves strangulation, either with use of a ligature or hands or arm pressure on the neck. This method is extremely dangerous, especially if practiced alone. Head trauma, unconsciousness and death as a result of accidental asphyxiation can occur. While the potential intoxicating effects may motivate some youth to engage in this thrill-seeking game, other motives may include: curiosity, peer pressure, the mistaken belief that there is no danger involved because of a dare or because of the easy access to how-to-play videos that give off the misperception that the game is fun and safe. The CDC encourages parents, educators and healthcare providers to be aware of the signs of the game which may include: (MORE)