Canfield-Simbro Discusses Adolescent Risk Behaviors at Tuesday’s LINC Luncheon

May 24, 2010

Dr. Beth-Canfield Simbro, assistant professor of human performance and sport business and co-director of the honors program at Mount Union presented “What Are Those Crazy Kids Up To” on Tuesday at the LINC Luncheon.

Canfield-Simbro explained that when she was in graduate school at The Ohio State University she became interested in adolescent behavior. “Kids do crazy things that don’t always make sense,” she said. Adolescents typically take risks, and during her presentation she discussed four popular risks, which include the choking game, pill parties, technology and pregnancy pacts.                                         

“Some (teens and preteens) will do anything to get high,” Canfield-Simbro said when discussing why adolescents partake in the choking game. They self-strangulate themselves in order to achieve a three to six second high. It’s typically high achieveming and successful teens that participate because they don’t do drugs or drink alcohol. The high is the result of oxygen rushing back to the brain after it's cut off by the practice of strangulation. Canfield-Simbro explained that this game isn’t just something the teens do by themselves; sometimes even friends will do the strangulation for them, whether it is with their hands or a rope. “It’s a scary thing,” she said.

Another high-risk activity she discussed was “pill parties,” also known as “pharm parties.” The number one source of drugs for teenagers and young teens is their medicine cabinets at home. Teens show up to parties and bring a few pills from their medicine cabinet and drop their contribution into an empty bowl at the front door. Then later, they pop a handful. Canfield-Simbro expressed to the audience her fear for these parties because if something does happen to one of these teens at the party, no one has any idea what they’ve taken.

Technology that adolescents are, or can be involved in, such as cyber bulling, sexting, drunk texting, texting while driving and social networking sites is ever increasing. “Teens have a physical life and a virtual life,” said Canfield-Simbro. “Parents and teachers don’t see that other (virtual) life.” She explained that teens can forward a sexual or provocative picture through the Internet and cell phones and before you know it the whole school has seen it. “Teens don’t always have the best judgment of what’s appropriate to put on social networking sites.”

Canfield-Simbro also touched on pregnancy pacts, which became news when 16 to 17 teen girls in Massachusetts made a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together.

“I’m not a big risk taker,” she admitted. “But not all risks are bad.” She mentioned that athletics, studying abroad and community service can all be risks, but they have a lot of benefits and offer a lot of positive rewards as well.

Canfield-Simbro nearned a bachelor of science degree in biology from Wright State University, a master of public health with a concentration in health behavior and health promotion and a doctoral degree in public health from The Ohio State University.

LINC (lunch, information, networking and conversation) was conceived to take advantage of the local expertise that exists in Alliance, in light of the College’s exceptional academic reputation. The sessions are open to the public and will run from noon until 1 p.m.

The final spring session will feature Dr. Peter Schneller, associate professor of education and co-chair of the Department of Education, who will discuss “Creativity: Friend or Foe?” on March 16.



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