Smartie Parties - it's not as innocent as it sounds. All over Ontario, teens are raiding home medicine cabinets, then throwing parties in which they pass around bowls of various prescription medications.
In 2008, 19-year-old Dustin King and 41-year-old Donna Bertrand overdosed on prescription drugs just days apart in the same Brockville, Ont. apartment.
Staff Sgt. Shawn White of the Cornwall Community Police Service is part of a task force that set up in eastern Ontario in 2009 to combat oxycodone abuse. He claims the youth who attend these parties don't realize the potency of the drugs being offered.
“They are often under the mistaken impression that these drugs must be safe if they were prescribed by a doctor,” he said.
In a 2007 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey, 21% of teens admitted they'd used prescription drugs in a recreational manner. According to White, one of five students had obtained the prescription drugs illegally.
Two years later, police in Cornwall, Ont., seized 2,108 oxycodone-based tablets, with an estimated street value of $50,000.
In a two-year span, there were eight deaths linked to drug abuse in Cornwall, unheard of for a small community. “If I had eight homicides in two years, the community would be in an uproar,” said White.
White noted a simultaneous rise in property crimes due to the "feeding and funding" of oxycodone addictions. Such addictions transcend age and economic circumstance, with some health care workers stashing the drugs that are entrusted to them.
Within a four-month period in Ottawa last year, there were 30 pharmacy robberies, many of which involved “a significant amount of violence.”
White believes the key to fighting the war on prescription drugs is to have a broader pharmaceutical database and greater availability of patient prescription information. One problem is what's known as "double-doctoring", in which an addict sees different doctors in different cities to obtain an additional supply of prescription opioids.
In addition to the above changes to the pharmaceutical system, White stressed that drug education should begin as early as age 10. Kids need to know that just because you get a drug over the counter doesn't make it less deadly.
So little Suri Cruise isn't the only mini celeb experimenting with makeup. Coco Arquette reportedly rocked the red pout while out and about in Hollywood with Friends mom, Courteney Cox.
The fashion-conscious 7-year-old, who sported a turquoise ruffle tank, cut-off denim shorts and a purple tie-dye purse, paraded her vixen lips just a week after showing off purple and blue highlights at her ballet recital.
When it comes to style and beauty, it's a case of like mother, like daughter. And not surprisingly, Coco has equally strong opinions when it comes to what she wears.
Like most moms, Courtney struggles to exert some control over her daughter's wardrobe choices. “I have to battle with her,” admitted Cox in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar.
How young is too young to wear lipstick? What about red lipstick? Would the shade affect your decision?
You might not associate eating disorders with boys, yet according to a study of 16,000 Taiwanese kids, boys as young as 10 were "experimenting" with self-induced vomiting in an attempt to lose weight. Such bulimic tendencies were surprisingly more common in boys there than in girls, with younger children said to be even more likely than older children to regulate their weight this way.
Although researchers aren't sure why the behaviour is becoming prevalent in boys, awareness is the first important step in tackling it.
According to researchers, the boys who were bulimic also admitted to eating fried foods regularly (21%), had dessert every day (19%), ate late-night snacks (18%), and used computers for more than two hours a day (18%). Interestingly, both obese and underweight children were more inclined than those of a healthy weight to engage in bulimic behaviour.
Researchers have warned that self-induced vomiting is an "early sign that children could develop eating disorders and serious psychological problems, such as binge eating and anorexia".
They further maintain that such behaviour can be curbed by making sure that children get enough sleep, eat breakfast every day, eat less fried food and night-time snacks, and spend less time in front of a computer.
Similar studies in Australia and the United States have also indicated substantial increases in bulimia and anorexia in children, particularly in males. As obesity rates skyrocket, so do eating disorders.
In a six-year period starting in 2000, the American National Eating Disorder Association claimed the number of kids under the age of 12 who were hospitalized for eating disorders more than doubled.
It is crucial for us to keep our eyes and ears open, and not just assume our sons are exempt from this traditionally "female" problem.