Blog posts by Paula Cody, MD, MPH

Teen Health and Housing After Aging Out of Foster Care

Teen Health and Housing After Aging Out of Foster CareFoster care has been a frequent topic of discussion lately; there have been heart breaking-stories (like foster families helping ease anxiety of immigrant children placed in foster care while separated from parents), as well as heart-warming stories like the clothing store in Florida who has special shopping hours just for children in foster care. There are many reports available about the health of children while in foster care, but what happens to the teenager who “ages out” of the foster care system?

Teens who are in the foster care system face challenging social stressors after leaving foster care when they turn 18 years old. Every year 24,000 US foster adolescents age out of foster care. The period after leaving foster care can be a rough transition. These teens are at high risk of bouncing from one living situation to another, which is termed “housing instability.” It’s been estimated that more than 35% of them may experience homelessness after leaving foster care. Read more

Miracle Rescue. Now What?!

It is such a relief that the Thai soccer team was rescued from the cave. I can’t even imagine what they went through during the more than 2 weeks they were trapped on that ledge. Now that they are out, they will have a long recovery, both medically and psychologically. While watching the news, one of the programs made a point to say that the boys were able to eat real food. Why on earth would that be an issue? Let’s talk about refeeding syndrome.

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The Teenage Brain: What Are They Thinking?

How many times a day do parents of teenagers find themselves asking the teen, “What on earth were you thinking?” The answer is, they were thinking, just with the wrong part of their brain.

Adolescence is the period of growth, development, and exploration. Teenagers are near the peak of physical health, strength, and mental capacity, and yet, for some, this can be a hazardous age. The top causes of death in teenagers are accidents, homicide, and suicide. Other causes of morbidity, including unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and substance use, are related to risk taking behaviors and are largely preventable.

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Video Games and Violence

Since the Parkland, FL high school shooting in February (which, at the time, was the eighteenth school shooting in 2018; there have been more since), gun violence has become a hot topic in the media and American society in general (see the recent blog about gun violence and the second season of the series 13 Reasons Why). The issue of gun violence is important for teens and their families not only as we think about how to keep kids safe but also as we consider what may be the underlying causes for such horrible acts. To put it in perspective, the perpetrators of four of the largest school shootings over the last decade were all between the ages of 17-23 years. One topic that has received growing attention is the role of violent video games in promoting youth aggression and violence.

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13 more reasons…

The second season of the provocative 13 Reasons Why Netflix series was released last week, and although it’s not getting nearly as much attention as the first season, it is still filled with controversy, risk taking behaviors, and guns (lots of guns).  After learning a lesson from last season, this season starts with a substantial trigger warning and ends with another gut-wrenching, hard-to-watch sexual assault scene (and another scene that hit a little too close to home, leaving Netflix to cancel the premiere event).  Where suicide was the focus of the first season, this season focuses a little more on gun violence. So, in honor of National Gun Violence Awareness Day on June 1st (#WearOrange) we’re going to talk a little about guns.

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