Today in 'what is wrong with kids today? news'
We fully recommend that adults over 21 spike their milkshakes with a shot of Baileys or two, but drugging someone else's milkshake? Never.
Yet that somehow sounded like a good idea to a teenager in Rocklin, Calif., who was so desperate to use the Internet after 10 p.m. that she decided to drug her parents.
According to CBS, the teenager offered to buy her parents milkshakes (dad ordered chocolate; mom ordered vanilla), then ground her friend's prescription sleep medicine into the shakes. The parents only drank a quarter of the milkshake, but it was enough to put them to sleep. "[The milkshakes] had a crunchy texture, bad taste in their mouth," Lt. Lon Milka said in a press release. "Subsequently, they fell asleep."
The next morning the parents suspected something was up and took a drug test, then confronted the teenager, who confessed. The teenager and her friend are now held in juvenile hall and charged with conspiracy and "willfully mingling a pharmaceutical into food," CBS reports. Even worse? This isn't the first time the teen has snuck sleeping pills into her parents' food. Kids, if you're reading this, the Internet isn't worth it.
In the meantime, Grub Street has rounded up some other instances of milkshake misdeeds, including a foiled attempt to assassinate Castro.
Dealing With Addiction
Jason's life is beginning to unravel. His grades have slipped, he's moody, he doesn't talk to his friends, and he has stopped showing up for practice. Jason's friends know he has been experimenting with drugs and now they're worried he has become addicted.
Defining an addiction is tricky, and knowing how to handle one is even harder.
What Are Substance Abuse and Addiction?
The difference between substance abuse and addiction is very slight. Substance abuse means using an illegal substance or using a legal substance in the wrong way. Addiction begins as abuse, or using a substance like marijuana or cocaine.
You can abuse a drug (or alcohol) without having an addiction. For example, just because Sara smoked pot a few times doesn't mean that she has an addiction, but it does mean that she's abusing a drug &mdash and that could lead to an addiction.
People can get addicted to all sorts of substances. When we think of addiction, we usually think of alcohol or illegal drugs. But people become addicted to medicines, cigarettes, even glue.
Some substances are more addictive than others: Drugs like crack or heroin are so addictive that they might only be used once or twice before the user loses control.
Addiction means a person has no control over whether he or she uses a drug or drinks. Someone who's addicted to cocaine has grown so used to the drug that he or she has to have it. Addiction can be physical, psychological, or both.
Being physically addicted means a person's body becomes dependent on a particular substance (even smoking is physically addictive). It also means building tolerance to that substance, so that a person needs a larger dose than ever before to get the same effects.
Someone who is physically addicted and stops using a substance like drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes may experience withdrawal symptoms. Common symptoms of withdrawal are diarrhea, shaking, and generally feeling awful.
Psychological addiction happens when the cravings for a drug are psychological or emotional. People who are psychologically addicted feel overcome by the desire to have a drug. They may lie or steal to get it.
A person crosses the line between abuse and addiction when he or she is no longer trying the drug to have fun or get high, but has come to depend on it. His or her whole life centers around the need for the drug. An addicted person &mdash whether it's a physical or psychological addiction or both &mdash no longer feels like there is a choice in taking a substance.
Signs of Addiction
The most obvious sign of an addiction is the need to have a particular drug or substance. However, many other signs can suggest a possible addiction, such as changes in mood or weight loss or gain. (These also are signs of other conditions too, though, such as depression or eating disorders.)
Signs that you or someone you know may have a drug or alcohol addiction include:
- use of drugs or alcohol as a way to forget problems or to relax
- withdrawal or keeping secrets from family and friends
- loss of interest in activities that used to be important
- problems with schoolwork, such as slipping grades or absences
- changes in friendships, such as hanging out only with friends who use drugs
- spending a lot of time figuring out how to get drugs
- stealing or selling belongings to be able to afford drugs
- failed attempts to stop taking drugs or drinking
- anxiety, anger, or depression
- mood swings
- changes in sleeping habits
- feeling shaky or sick when trying to stop
- needing to take more of the substance to get the same effect
- changes in eating habits, including weight loss or gain
If you think that you or someone you care about is addicted to drugs or alcohol, recognizing the problem is the first step in getting help.
Many people think they can kick the problem on their own, but that rarely works. Find someone you trust to talk to. It may help to talk to a friend or someone your own age at first, but a supportive and understanding adult is your best option for getting help. If you can't talk to your parents, you might want to approach a school counselor, relative, doctor, favorite teacher, or religious leader.
Unfortunately, overcoming addiction is not easy. Quitting drugs or drinking is probably going to be one of the hardest things you or your friend have ever done. It's not a sign of weakness if you need professional help from a trained drug counselor or therapist. Most people who try to kick a drug or alcohol problem need professional assistance or a treatment program to do so.
Tips for Recovery
After you start a treatment program, try these tips to make the road to recovery less bumpy:
- Tell your friends about your decision to stop using drugs. True friends will respect your decision. This might mean that you need to find a new group of friends who will be 100% supportive. Unless everyone decides to kick their drug habit at once, you probably won't be able to hang out with the friends you did drugs with.
- Ask your friends or family to be available when you need them. You might need to call someone in the middle of the night just to talk. If you're going through a tough time, don't try to handle things on your own &mdash accept the help your family and friends offer.
- Accept invitationsonly to events that you know won't involve drugs or alcohol. Going to the movies is probably safe, but you may want to skip a Friday night party until you're feeling more secure. Plan activities that don't involve drugs. Go to the movies, try bowling, or take an art class with a friend.
- Have a plan about what you'll do if you find yourself in a place with drugs or alcohol. The temptation will be there sometimes. If you know how you're going to handle it, you'll be OK. Establish a plan with your parents, siblings, or other supportive friends and adults so that if you call home using a code, they'll know that your call is a signal you need a ride out of there.
- Remind yourself that having an addiction doesn't make a person bad or weak. If you fall back into old patterns (backslide) a bit, talk to an adult as soon as possible. There's nothing to be ashamed about, but it's important to get help soon so that all of the hard work you put into your recovery is not lost.
Helping a Friend With Addiction
If you're worried about a friend who has an addiction, you can use these tips to help him or her. For example, let your friend know that you are available to talk or offer your support. If you notice a friend backsliding, talk about it openly and ask what you can do to help.
If your friend is going back to drugs or drinking and won't accept your help, don't be afraid to talk to a nonthreatening, understanding adult, like your parent or school counselor. It may seem like you're ratting your friend out, but it's the best support you can offer.
Above all, offer a friend who's battling an addiction lots of encouragement and praise. It may seem corny, but hearing that you care is just the kind of motivation your friend needs.
Recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction doesn't end with a 6-week treatment program. It's a lifelong process. Many people find that joining a support group can help them stay clean. There are support groups specifically for teens and younger people. You'll meet people who have gone through the same experiences you have, and you'll be able to participate in real-life discussions about drugs that you won't hear in your school's health class.
Many people find that helping others is also the best way to help themselves. Your understanding of how difficult the recovery process can be will help you to support others &mdash both teens and adults &mdash who are battling an addiction.
If you do have a relapse, recognizing the problem as soon as possible is critical. Get help right away so that you don't undo all the hard work you put into your initial recovery. And, if you do have a relapse, don't ever be afraid to ask for help!
OWN’s Dr. Laura Berman Warns Parents About Snapchat Drug Dealers After Her 16-Year-Old’s Overdose Death
Tragically, Dr. Laura Berman, the sex therapist who came to fame on Oprah’s afternoon talk show and later became a popular figure on the OWN network, today confirmed that her 16-year-old son Samuel has died of a drug overdose from laced pills he got via Snapchat.. The loss of a child is one of the worst pains imaginable, and our hearts go out to Dr. Berman and her family.
In sharing her loss, Berman also warned parents to be aware of drug dealers who operate on social media platforms, and to be extra vigilant when monitoring their children’s activity on platforms like Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram.
In an Instagram post, Dr. Berman shared that “a drug dealer connected with [Samuel] on Snapchat and gave him fentanyl laced Xanax and he overdosed in his room. They do this because it hooks people even more and is good for business, but it causes overdose and the kids don’t know what they are taking. My heart is completely shattered and I am not sure how to keep breathing. I post this now only so that not one more kid dies.”
Dr. Berman’s Instagram post said that her son’s death was a case of “experimentation gone bad,” as he was a straight-A student who was getting ready for college.
“We watched him so closely,” she wrote. “He got the drugs delivered to the house. Please watch your kids and WATCH SNAPCHAT especially. That’s how they get them.”
According to Get Smart About Drugs, a DEA resource for parents, educators, and caregivers, social media can play a huge role in teen drug use. “Through different hashtags (#s) they can be exposed to offers from dealers to buy drugs through various social sites,” the organization says on its website. Strings of emojis are used as code for specific drugs to keep parents (and authorities) in the dark.
Drug use in teens can be difficult to identify because mood swings and erratic behavior can be normal due to hormonal and chemical changes at this stage of life. Plus, the bizarre nature of this last year of pandemic life and quarantine isolation has kids and adults alike behaving in unusual ways. Warning signs that your teen is experimenting with drugs, like lack of motivation, loss of concern for physical appearance, and poor concentration, are unlikely to stand out as much these days. Even more challenging is trying to guess if your teen is thinking about trying drugs for the first time, like in Dr. Berman’s case.
The best way to protect your kids is to make sure they understand the very real danger of overdose. And while you want to keep the lines of communication open, you may also want to check their Internet search history and monitor their delivered packages if you suspect drug use. And talk to your kids about drugs and alcohol as early as age 6, long before they&rsquore curious or pressured to try alcohol or drugs themselves.
In a separate statement to E! News, Berman explained that her son, who was also known as Sammy, was “a beautiful soul who left us way too soon.”
“Our hearts are broken for ourselves and for all the other children that are suffering during this pandemic,” her statement read. “We call on Snapchat and Twitter to help the Santa Monica Police with their investigation, which according to the police is something the big technology companies regularly refuse to do. And we encourage every parent to manage their children’s social media as closely as possible.”
We hope Snapchat and Twitter step up in this investigation, as well as start trying harder to kick drug dealers off their platforms when they are discovered. Parents, hold your teens a little closer tonight, and start those conversations about drugs and alcohol in honor of Sammy.
How to Help When Adolescents Have Suicidal Thoughts
Even when rates of suicidal ideation increase, there are ways to keep kids safe.
With some evidence suggesting that more adolescents have been reporting suicidal thoughts during the pandemic, experts and parents are looking for ways to help.
One issue is that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not yet compiled and released statistics on suicide deaths, so it’s not clear whether the problem is worse than usual. But there are questions about whether suicide risks are increasing — especially in particular communities, like the Black and brown populations that have been hit hardest by the pandemic.
Even during normal times, many mental health problems tend to emerge in adolescence, and young people in this group are particularly vulnerable to social isolation. In Las Vegas, an increase in the number of student suicides during the pandemic spurred the superintendent’s recent decision to reopen schools.
“We don’t have the data to know the relationship of suicidality in children and youth and the Covid epidemic,” said Dr. Cynthia Pfeffer, a professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical Center who has worked extensively on grieving and bereavement in children and adolescents. “The tremendous stress for families might make a child feel like they need to get out, or feel depressed.”
During the early months of the pandemic, there may have been some sense of common purpose — the kind of spirit that can increase people’s resilience after a disaster. In a research letter published on the JAMA network in late January, researchers compared internet searches related to suicide during the two months before and four months after March of 2020, when the United States declared a national pandemic emergency. Searches using the term “suicide” went down significantly in the 18 weeks after the emergency was declared, compared with what was predicted.
In a new study in the journal Pediatrics, researchers looked at the results of more than 9,000 suicide screenings that had been performed on 11- to 21-year-olds who had visited a pediatric emergency department in Texas. Everyone coming in, for any reason, was asked to complete a questionnaire which asked, among other things, about suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts in the recent past.
The researchers compared the responses from the first seven months of 2019 with those from the same months in 2020. They wanted to see if there was evidence of more suicide-related thoughts and behaviors between March and July of 2020 as the pandemic took hold. Ryan Hill, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine who was first author on the study, said that his team expected that while in January and February, the pandemic would not have been on people’s minds, “we expected to see some differences later — and we did see some, but they were not consistent.”
Dr. Hill and his team found higher rates of suicidal thoughts in some, but not all, months of 2020. “In March and July, the rate of ideation was substantially higher than in 2019,” Dr. Hill said. “Something’s going on — we interpret it as due to the pandemic, though other things were going on in 2020.”
Dr. Christine Moutier, the chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, emphasized that even when rates of suicidal ideation increase, suicide rates do not have to rise.
“I think it is terrific that there is more universal screening going on it represents an opportunity to employ some of the evidence-based strategies that we know can help,” she said.
In a comment published in JAMA Psychiatry last October, Dr. Moutier wrote about how important it is to prioritize suicide prevention during the pandemic. She included several strategies for health care providers, communities, government, and also friends and family to do just that, with some designed to improve social connections by taking advantage of technologies for virtual check-ins and visits. Her foundation also recently released a statement on what parents can do to protect children’s mental health during remote learning.
“Now more than any other time is a time for parents, for any adults who work with adolescents and youth, to be paying attention to the well-being of all adolescents,” Dr. Moutier said. “It’s really a time to be checking in.”
Parents should think about the different ways adolescents might respond to stress, said Dr. Rebecca Leeb, a health scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who led a team on emotional well-being and mental health in the pandemic. Perhaps they are withdrawing and sleeping more eating more or less or trying drugs, alcohol or tobacco.
Parents can encourage their teenagers to get out of the house and to use the right safety measures — masks, hand-washing, distancing — so that they can spend time outside with friends. She emphasized that “social interaction” is important, whether that’s “exercise or drawing or hiking or taking the dog for a walk.” Kids take cues from their parents, she added, so adults should do those things as well.
It’s also important to make sure that your own mental health is taken care of before you “jump in and start checking in on your kid’s mental health,” Dr. Moutier said. Find moments to relax and laugh, she said, and make sure to talk about how you’re maintaining your own wellness and resilience, so that you can acknowledge and model the importance of those coping strategies for your kids.
Checking in with your kids might also give them an opportunity to open up, said Dr. Moutier, which, for many families, is something that they used to do in the car.
“Our children will feel loved and cared for if we’re practicing that kind of dialogue,” she said. “Do not shy away from asking the deeper, harder questions.” Dr. Moutier recommended being curious about your teenager’s world, asking things like, “How is that situation at school affecting you and your friends?”
Laura Anthony, a child psychologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado and an associate professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, said that one common mistake that even she sometimes makes is trying to solve a child’s problems. “What I need to do is just listen,” she said.
She works as the co-leader of the hospital’s youth action board, and teenagers with mental health histories compiled suggestions about how they would like their parents to help. One suggestion: Don’t assume that your kids are struggling all the time, Dr. Anthony said. Instead, consider questions like, “What’s taking up your head space?” Or, “What are you grateful for?”
Another suggestion: Parents should not discipline kids by taking away their phones. “Our teens say, this is not the time for a lot of punishment, you need to give us encouragement, help us have fun,” Dr. Anthony said, “and taking away the phone is really like taking away a lifeline.”
We need better data on mental health, Dr. Leeb said, and on well-being and quality of life. “We are learning a great deal,” she said. “I personally am hopeful for the future,” adding that she’s had several discussions with her children (who are 11, 15 and almost 18) about what the future looks like.
Ask teenagers, “How is this time affecting you?” Dr. Moutier said, and if they are experiencing any kind of struggle. And make it clear that no challenges are insurmountable, she said, “those are really important words for parents to say.”
Giving kids a sense of agency is also vital, said Dr. Sarah Vinson, an associate professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at Morehouse School of Medicine. “Think how kids can be part of the solution,” she said, whether that’s encouraging them to do volunteer work, or helping them understand that concrete steps, like wearing masks, can play a vital role in “reclaiming our day-to-day lives from this pandemic.”
If you’re concerned that your child is depressed or anxious, or if an adolescent talks about feeling overwhelmed, Dr. Anthony suggested asking directly, “Are you having any thoughts of suicide?” You don’t need to ask them every day, but if you’re having any concerns, you should definitely ask.
“Help is out there and it works,” Dr. Anthony said, pointing to the increased availability of virtual mental health services. “Suicidality is partly not being able to see the future,” she said. “If we can change that, we can see remarkable changes.”
Much as the hardships of the Great Depression and World War II forged what is known as “the Greatest Generation,” she said the challenges of the pandemic could strengthen today’s young people.
“I think we are going to have a generation of really remarkably resilient kids and teens who grow up to be really remarkable human beings as adults.”
Teen Texting Slang (and Emojis) Parents Should Know
What adults call texting, kids call talking. They talk on their phones via chat, social comments, snaps, posts, tweets, and direct messages. And they are talking most of the time — tap, tap, tap — much like background music. In all this talking a language, or code, emerges just as it has for every generation only today that language is in acronyms, hashtags, and emojis. And while the slang is perfectly understood peer-to-peer, it has parents googling like crazy to decipher it.
And this language changes all the time. It expands, contracts and specific acronyms and symbols (emojis) can change in meaning entirely over time, which is why we update this list every periodically.
This time we’ve added emojis (scroll to bottom) since those powerful little graphic symbols have singlehandedly transformed human communication, as we know it.
We publish this list with an important reminder: Teen texting slang isn’t inherently bad or created with an intent to deceive or harm. Most of the terms and symbols have emerged as a kind of clever shorthand for fast moving fingers and have no dangerous or risky meaning attached. So, if you are monitoring your kids’ phones or come across references you don’t understand, assume the best in them (then, of course, do your homework).
For example, there are dozens of harmless words such as finna (fixing to do something), yeet (a way to express excitement), skeet (let’s go), Gucci (great, awesome, or overpriced), AMIRITE (am I right?) QQ4U (quick question for you), SMH (shaking my head), bread (money), IDRK (I don’t really know), OOTD (outfit of the day), LYAAF (love you as a friend), MCE (my crush everyday), HMU (hit me up, call me), W/E (whatever), AFK (away from keyboard), RTWT (read the whole thread), CWYL (chat with you later), Ship (relationship), CYT (see you tomorrow) or SO (significant other).
The Red Flags
Here are some terms and emojis that may not be so innocent. Any of these terms can also appear as hashtags if you put a # symbol in front of them.
Potential bullying slang
Ghost = to ignore someone on purpose
Boujee = rich or acting rich
Sip tea = mind your own business
The tea is so hot = juicy gossip
AYFKM? = are you f***ing kidding me?
Thirsty = adjective describing a desperate-acting, needy person
Basic = annoying person, interested in shallow things
Extra = over the top, excessive, dramatic person
TBH = to be honest (sometimes followed by negative comments)
Zerg = to gang up on someone (a gaming term that has morphed into a bullying term)
SWYP = so what’s your problem?
182 = I hate you
Curve = to reject someone
Shade = throwing shade, to put someone down.
Subtweet = talking about someone but not using their @name
Bizzle = another word for b***h
THOT or thotties = a promiscuous girl/s
Cyber pretty = saying someone only looks good online with filters
Beyouch = another word for b***h
IMHO = in my honest opinion
IMNSHO = in my not so honest opinion
Potential risky behavior slang
Belfie = self-portrait (selfie) featuring the buttocks
OC = open crib, party at my house
9, CD9, Code 9 = parents here
Smash = to have casual sex
Slide into my DM = connecting through a direct message on a social network with sexual intentions
A3: Anytime, anywhere, anyplace
WTTP = want to trade pictures?
S2R = send to receive (pictures)
sugarpic = Refers to a suggestive or erotic photograph
KPC = keeping parents clueless
1174 = invite to a wild party usually followed by an address
Chirped = got caught
Cu46 = See you for sexTDTM = talk dirty to meLMIRL = let’s meet in real life
GNRN = get naked right now
Frape = Facebook rape posting to someone else’s profile when they leave it logged in.
NSFW = not safe for work (post will include nudity, etc)
Livingdangerously = taking selfies while driving or some other unsafe behavior
Kik = let’s talk on kik instant message instead
Svv = self- harming behavior
Nend sudes = another way to say SN/send nudes
PNP = party and play (drugs + sex)
Potential drug-related slang
Blow, mayo, white lady, rock, snow, yay, yale, yeyo, yank, yahoo = Cocaine
Special K = ketamine, liquid tranquilizer
Pearls = a nicely rolled blunt
Dabbing = concentrated doses of marijuana (began as a dance craze)
Turnt up / turnt = high or drunk
Bar out = to take a Xanax pill
Blue Boogers = snorting Adderall or Ritalin
Pharming = getting into medicine cabinets to find drugs to get high
Robo-tripping = consuming cough syrup to get high
Tweaking = high on amphetamines
Speed, crank, uppers, Crystal or Tina = meth
Red flag emojis
Frog + tea (coffee) cup = that’s the tea (gossip)
Any kind of green plant/leaves = marijuana
Smoke puff or gasoline = get high
Pill = ecstasy or MDMA for sale
Face with steam from nose = MDMA drug
Rocket = high potency drug for sale
Diamond = crystal meth, crack cocaine for sale
Knife + screaming face = calling someone a psycho
Bowling ball + person running = I’m gonna hit you, coming for you
Dollar sign = it’s for sale
Syringe = heroine (also tattoo)
Purple face with horns = sex
Tongue, eggplant, water drops, banana, peach, taco, cherries, drooling face, rocket = sex
Rose, rosette, cherry, pink cherry blossom, growing heart, airplane, crown = emojis that refer to sex trafficking
When it comes to figuring out what your kids are up to online, using your own instincts and paying attention will be your best resources. If something doesn’t sound or look right on your child’s phone trust that feeling and look deeper. You don’t have to know every term or symbol — the more important thing is to stay aware and stay involved.
About the Author
Toni Birdsong began her career as a reporter in Los Angeles and later became a writer for Walt Disney Imagineering. Her passion for digital safety started 10 years ago as a way to gain the survival skills she needed to parent her own connected teenagers. Her goal with each post is to give busy parents .
Wow! This SO helpful! I am a young teen girl and this really helped me decipher what my friends were texting! You have really changed my life. I now know that the eggplant emoji was code for the penis! Who knew?! Thank you so much I am forever in debt to you.
I’m using this to teach my mom these thing and it needs some fine tuning because means penis.
A parent’s story: ‘Our son stole from us, courtesy of PayPal’
T his is a cautionary tale that will be of particular interest to the parents of teenagers who, having grown up in a digital age, are over-confident in their use of technology and underestimate the potential dangers of the internet.
My son David is 17, and technology has always been part of his life. As a consequence, nothing fazes him about computers or the internet. He spends most of his time on his computer, primarily for gaming (though he has allegedly studied for his final year school exams, too). He is also (if I’m being honest) a bit immature for his years. And he has just demonstrated extraordinary naivety, courtesy of PayPal.
It all started when I noticed a PayPal transaction on our Bank of Scotland account. PayPal is not something I am very familiar with – I used it to buy a radiator a couple of years ago but haven’t used it since. My husband, Steve, last used it 10 years ago and has no idea whether he still even has an account. So this transaction had me straight on the phone to Bank of Scotland to ask what was going on.
It transpired a transaction had, indeed, been made, to “Alexander” in Russia, for £211. The bank confirmed it was Steve’s Bank of Scotland card that was used. Impossible, we said – we had only recently opened the account, and the card had only been used once and was, of course, in his possession. Only we couldn’t find it.
Cue mild panic, then major panic as we tried to work out how it could have been lost.
At this point I was still confident about getting the money back, and whoever had the card would not be able to use it again. Bank of Scotland’s fraud people said they would communicate with PayPal, and, in the meantime, gave us back the £211.
Reassured, I put the episode to the back of my mind – until about a month later when, on checking our Bank of Scotland account, I realised to my horror that the £211 had been removed again. In response to my frantic phone call, the bank was extremely reticent, but, eventually, when a complaints handler asked if I knew someone called David, I was speechless. It had never occurred to me that my son was involved (now who’s the naive one?).
When the whole sorry tale emerged, I could scarcely believe how David had behaved. Where were the values we thought we had instilled in him? Had we not brought him up to behave decently and honestly? Evidently not. And accepting what he had done was so very difficult – forcing us to examine ourselves as parents, too. I felt such a failure, and the two long sessions I spent with David uncovering what he had done were utterly miserable for both of us.
PayPal’s rules state you must be at least 18 to have an account. Photograph: Graham Turner/The Guardian
Despite being too young to have a PayPal account (you must be at least 18), David had not one but three accounts. One, in his own name, was linked to his own bank account. The other two were in a false name and linked to two cards in his dad’s name – the Bank of Scotland card that had gone missing, and a Tesco Bank card which had remained in his dad’s possession. I was astonished PayPal would allow this. They had done no checking. They were clearly able to link all three accounts to David, but had not done so until Bank of Scotland contacted them. They had no proof of identity and hadn’t cared that two of the accounts had bank cards with a name that did not match the account holder. Call yourself a bank, PayPal? (It does – it is licensed in Luxembourg as “a bank”).
So how had a son of mine got himself into such a mess and betrayed his parents so badly?
Having previously sold one of his own online game accounts on the internet for £150 (courtesy of the many hours he was spending playing games), David thought a quick and easy way to make money was to buy and sell game accounts. These can be worth a lot of money if people have built up a lot of skills or accumulated valuable items such as weapons and other virtual goods.
Using his own money initially, he tried buying a couple, but didn’t sell for a profit. He had read on PayPal’s terms and conditions that if you bought something and didn’t receive the goods, you would get the money refunded, so he tried this out for himself – by “selling” a watch he didn’t have.
A buyer sent him the money – which he then spent – and then duly got her money back when the watch did not materialise. It seemed to escape David’s notice that he had a negative balance on his PayPal account as a consequence.
Having run out of his own money, he simply reassured himself that if he took money from his dad, PayPal would give the money back again and all would somehow be well. So he “acquired” the bank card and bought a game account from someone called Alexander in Russia. It appears he then acquired a conscience, panicked about what he had done, and changed all of his account passwords to random characters so that he could no longer access them.
To make matters worse, David had not received the “goods” he had paid £211 to Alexander in Russia for. And because he had agreed to Alexander’s request to pay using PayPal’s “friends and family” method, there was no way of getting the money back.
The PayPal staff I dealt with were pretty nonchalant about their lax processes that had allowed a 17-year-old to behave in this way. However, thankfully, after a lengthy discussion, they admitted they would be unable to pursue David for the negative balance on his PayPal account due to his age.
Bank of Scotland covered itself in glory after a shaky start. It refunded the £211 – an act of generosity that means I will be its customer for life.
My son doesn’t know this yet – he has got himself a real job and is working to pay us back, and to rebuild our trust in him, which takes time in any relationship where dishonesty is so brutally exposed.
As for PayPal . I never want to use it ever again.
PayPal told Guardian Money: “All financial services companies are obliged to take steps to verify the identity of their customers and the financial products they use. PayPal takes this responsibility very seriously. We use established industry practices to verify our customers at multiple stages . in addition to sophisticated technologies that constantly monitor and mitigate risk.
“We go to great lengths to prevent misuse of our services however, family fraud can be particularly difficult to identify and resolve. These cases can be extremely challenging for all parties involved, and we always try to do the right thing for our customers in such sensitive circumstances.
“After carefully reviewing this case, we found we could have done more to support [David’s parents] . and we apologise for falling short of the high standards rightly expected from us.”
Lit or GOAT
These are two different ways to express what you might have meant by saying "dope" or "neat" or "cool" back in the day. Lit or GOAT (greatest of all time) means something happened that is really, really good. It may feel like you just learned a new language, but hopefully this will help you understand at least part of your teen’s conversations. Have no fear because if these slang words didn’t make their way into your memory, your teen will probably be on to the next slang words and phrases before you know it!
Teen slang changes continuously. If you aren't sure what a slang term means, the website Urban Dictionary can help. It's dedicated to keeping up with today's slang and is a resource that parents can use. Be warned, however, as it features user-submitted content that may be crude.
There are also phone apps that can help you translate teen slang. SlangIt - The Slang Dictionary and the Chat Slang Dictionary are just a few examples of mobile apps that can decode your teen's secret language.
Additionally, you can simply try asking your teen—or other teens you know—to translate slang you don't understand. Bringing up these words with your teen may be awkward but might also provide a doorway to important conversations with your child.
The freedom of being on your own for the first time can make it hard to prioritize physical activity, but if teens have the habit when they get on campus, they&rsquoll be more likely to frequent the gym, go for runs or bike rides, or play a sport &mdash even if it’s only for fun. “Teens should get into the habit of completing at least one hour of moderate- to high-intensity activity daily,&rdquo says Jocelyn Nadua, registered practical nurse and care coordinator at C-Care Health Services . &ldquoThese habits will support a healthy cardiovascular system and will set them up to make time for movement and de-stressing during their studies later on.”
We all learn differently, but in school, we&rsquore all more or less taught the same. This can cause teens to study like their teachers suggest when what they really need is to discover what works for them. &ldquol literally cannot count the number of study sessions I’ve been to where everyone is mindlessly highlighting pages. While that is a great study tool, it can’t be your only one,&rdquo says Eileen Shone, a recent graduate of the University of Georgia. &ldquoI found that quizzing your classmates (and being quizzed in return), teaching a concept, or even flashcards all work better. My classmates&rsquo grades, and more importantly my grades, all went up after we started implementing better studying techniques.&rdquo
Life with Gracie: Parents, beware: The internet could be your kid’s drug dealer
It used to be people bought drugs from so-called friends or sketchy men in dark corners of clubs and alleys. Now, I’m told customers are buying products off Instagram, Grindr, Tinder, Whisper, Yik Yak, and something called the darknet.
As helpful as social media can be, it can be a direct hit to an overdose, said Louise Stanger, a social worker and interventionist based in Southern California. She said parents should rethink when, where and how they allow their teen to use their devices.
“Social media is the ultimate oxymoron,” Stanger said. “You can score like an Olympian with the use of social media connecting with friends, researching study topics, connecting across the globe, and you can fall like Hades using it to score and sell dope and hook up with all the wrong folks. Parents must be vigilant in their communication with their teens, and teens must beware of the challenges a digital age faces.”
In many ways, the proliferation of social media applications has replaced telephones, said John DeCarlo, associate professor of criminal justice at the University of New Haven.
DeCarlo, a former chief of police in Branford, Conn., said it isn’t so much that there are apps specifically to buy drugs as it is apps have replaced phones as the way we communicate.
Scott A. Spackey, an international drug and addiction expert based in Washington state, devotes an entire chapter in his book, “Project Addiction: The Complete Guide to Using, Abusing and Recovering From Drugs and Behaviors,” to the subject.
According to him, everything you could want — from pot and LSD to cocaine and heroin — is available provided you know how to access the darknet, which, by the way, has been active for nearly a decade.
It is so active, in fact, that just in the past five years, it has become a billion-dollar industry with hundreds of thousands of customers worldwide.
When you type in a website from the Tor browser, it redirects your IP address so there is no way to track your presence or the dealer websites so you can cruise the darknet with almost absolute anonymity. And here’s the clincher: Purchases are made with online currency known as bitcoin. Although it is not untraceable, bitcoin is difficult to follow, which is why drug dealers and online extortionists use it.
To give you an idea of how lucrative this business is, Spackey said one bitcoin in 2013 cost $70. Currently one bitcoin equals $575.
In addition to the darknet marketplace, social networks can help you find drug dealers close to your location.
The problem, according to Tod Burke, criminal justice professor at Radford University in Virginia and former Maryland cop, is there is no reliable method for buyer or seller to know who’s legit. For sure, there is little incentive for dealers to transact honestly.
He said youths are using social media to not only score drugs but to also sell and distribute them.
The problem arises, of course, when the dealer turns out to be an undercover police officer or someone a lot more dangerous. You also have to worry about the product being inferior or lethal.
Spackey, however, maintains that darknet dealers provide their wares almost exclusively through snail mail and rarely, if ever, meet anyone in person. The packages come disguised with fictional return addresses that can’t be tracked.
“Selling drugs on the internet is as illegal as it would be if you were selling them on the street,” Burke said. “This is nothing to be playing around with and another example for why parents need to pay attention to what their kids are doing on social networking sites.”
Spackey, though, doesn’t give much credence to drug dealing on social media sites because chances of getting caught are greater.
“Smart kids are not going to use those kinds of apps to score drugs,” he said.
Indeed, 60 percent of the under-30 crowd that he interacts with each week in counseling sessions know about the darknet, the Amazon of all things illicit. Half of young adults who know about it actually use it.
Scary, whether you’re a parent or not.
So how can parents keep their kid safe?
Stanger offered these tips:
1. Communicate openly and frankly with your teen about drugs, she said.
2. Keep privacy settings high on all social media sites and discourage posting personal information online or connecting with people you don’t know.
3. If your teen is experiencing signs of substance abuse, cancel their phone. You could be inadvertently paying for their drug dealer.