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Program Tonight Focuses on Teens and Risky Behaviors

Mercy has offered its Children’s Health Forum for a number of years.  Three programs are offered each year:  Dads and Sons, Mothers and Daughters and a program each fall that deals with various topics.  Tonight’s program focuses on risky behaviors and communication.  Dr. Kyle John is medical director of Mercy Children’s Hospital…

"We're talking about teenagers and risky behaviors in teenagers and communication with our teenagers and some of the latest things that teenagers are interested in and/or experimenting with that parents need to be aware of."

Some of the latest trends in substance abuse include K2, eyeballing and tampon cocktails—Officer David Snyder with the Springfield Police Department will discuss those. 

Mercy nurse Tracie Bishop will talk about texting and distracted driving and other things teens do that could send them to the emergency department.

And Child psychologist Dr. Joey Pulleyking will discuss talking with teenagers to try to prevent them from taking part in risky behaviors.

Dr. John says some slides that will shown tonight will be difficult to view…

"There are some slides that are not very attractive, but when teenagers are texting and end up in an automobile accident and end up in the emergency room the pictures aren't very pretty, and some of that's going to be shown, so it's not really meant to be a shock presentation, but there's some graphically appropriate stuff  that are the consequences of these behaviors and so we're trying to say, 'hey, this is real.  There are real consequences to your teen experimenting with drugs and alcohol and other things that are out there and driving distracted and that type of thing.'"

He says Mercy offers these programs to help both teens and parents get through a challenging and exciting time in their lives…

"There's so much activity and action in those adolescent years, you know, they're working on their identity.  They're working on separating from their parents, which means, 'I know who I am and I know what I want to do, and I don't need you so much mom and dad, I have my friends.'  And so, there's just a lot of action at this time of their lives, but we know developmentally, even though they think they're ready for these kinds of activities, they're not, that their brains are not nearly mature.  In fact, their brains don't completely mature until their mid 20s."

Both teens and parents are invited to attend the free program tonight, and no registration is needed.  Free refreshments and sign-up for prizes is from 5:30 to 6, and the program is from 6-7:30 at Mercy’s Hammons Heart Institute Auditorium.

For KSMU News, I’m Michele Skalicky.