SPECIAL REPORT: Smokeless Tobacco Products

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The evolving nicotine landscape requires parents and caregivers to stay informed to protect young people from these emerging threats. Snus and nicotine pouches are gaining popularity among young people as smokeless tobacco (SLT) products. Both products are discreetly placed under the upper lip, allowing nicotine absorption through the gums.

Health authorities are urging proactive measures to curb this growing trend and calling on regulators to implement controls before these products become as widespread as vapes. The high nicotine levels in these products pose serious health risks, including nicotine addiction, cardiovascular disease, gum disease, tooth decay, and even nicotine poisoning. Researchers highlight the detrimental effects of nicotine on developing brains, linking its use to depression, anxiety, ADHD symptoms, and an increased risk of addiction to other drugs.

The marketing of snus and nicotine pouches targets young audiences through social media influencers, raising concerns about their increasing popularity among school students. And like vapes, they come in various flavours and strengths, with unregulated nicotine levels leading to inconsistent and misleading labelling.  It is clear that SLT products contain not only nicotine, but also other chemicals with unknown long-term effects.

This Special Report will help you become aware of the potential risks of smokeless tobacco products and guide you in age-appropriate discussions with your child.

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SPECIAL REPORT: Vaping & E-Cigarettes

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Over recent months, there has been a growing concern about the impending epidemic affecting young people in relation to the use of e-cigarettes and the trendy pastime of vaping. As this activity grows in popularity, most teenagers are unaware of the associated risks and the potential impact vaping can have on their development and overall health.

Vaping is the act of inhaling a vapour created by an electronic cigarette, or e-cigarette. Although vaping is often marketed as being the “healthy” alternative to smoking, doctors advise that if you do not smoke, then you should not start vaping. Although vaping products are infused with enticing flavours, many contain high levels of nicotine as well as other chemicals and additives, that when inhaled, can cause severe damage to the lungs.

Australia has strict regulations in place for nicotine-containing products and despite it being illegal to use, sell or buy nicotine for use in e-cigarettes, users are purchasing these products through other avenues. A recent Australian study of chemically flavoured liquids used in e-cigarettes which are available here for purchase over the counter, has confirmed concerns about their safety and respiratory health impact. Attempts are being made to regulate vaping and ban the importation of vape products containing nicotine. Unfortunately, manufacturers are developing vaping devices that are cheaper and easier to hide than conventional cigarettes, making it more attractive and cost-effective for impressionable young people.

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SPECIAL REPORT: Trauma Recovery

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Trauma in children significantly disturbs their sense of safety and normalcy, leading to substantial emotional and behavioural changes. Such disturbances often result from exposure to traumatic events, which may be exacerbated by continuous media coverage. This exposure can trigger stress, anxiety, and trauma, with varying recovery timelines due to the unpredictable nature of trauma’s impact. Observing young people grappling with these effects can be highly distressing for parents and caregivers.

It’s important to establish a nurturing environment to help restore a child’s sense of security to help promote resilience. Active involvement in their recovery is essential, as is recognising the unique, personalised needs of each child in responding to trauma. Depending on their age, children may present with different symptoms, such as regressive behaviours in younger ones or withdrawal and agitation in older children and teens. It is important to monitor and manage the type of information children may access to reduce their emotional distress.

The brain stores traumatic events as powerful emotional memories, influencing behaviour through mechanisms beyond a child’s conscious awareness. By providing young people with support and equipping them with coping mechanisms to handle uncertainty, parents and carers can greatly enhance a child’s capacity to recover and build long-term emotional resilience.

This Special Report will help you identify a child experiencing trauma and how you can support them to overcome it.

Please click here to review this report.

SPECIAL REPORT: Respectful Language

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In today’s world, it is becoming apparent that some young people are being influenced by the language around them. It is becoming more common for them to hear derogatory terms or offensive language on the streets, on social media channels, streaming services and in some forms of modern music. Proliferating the use of such language can sometimes normalise, glamorise and sanitise their impact, taking their meaning out of context. Words can be misconstrued to be hurtful, racist, homophobic, mysogynistic or even discriminatory. Using disrespectful language is considered socially unacceptable, and if not addressed early, can become a serious problem.

The use of derogatory language or the act of swearing at someone, or about someone, is actually a form of verbal violence. It transgresses the usual rules of social interaction by impinging on an individual’s self-image and sense of dignity. Therefore, many schools enforce a zero tolerance policy when it comes to such language. Parents and carers also need to play an important role in enforcing this approach by proactively monitoring what their children are viewing or being exposed to and discussing the use of words or their origin. This can help prevent inappropriate or disrespectful language being used in the classroom, school yard or other situations.

Whilst some students may use swearing or derogatory terms for attention seeking purposes, others may use it simply because they are still learning how to moderate their language. As young people develop their language skills, it is important for them to have a clear understanding of the impact of their choice of words on others and how their words can impact other people’s perspective of them – an important and essential skill to learn as they progress in their personal and professional development.

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Cultural Diversity

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Cultural diversity encompasses the variety of cultures, beliefs, and traditions present globally, contributing to a rich tapestry of human experiences and perspectives. By valuing every child’s cultural background, we enable them to excel in all facets of life. Nurturing an environment of curiosity, open-mindedness, and respect for all cultures, will to only promote unity but a deeper appreciation of the nuances that distinguish us.

Inclusion is about more than just words; it’s about fostering a sense of belonging and acceptance for every child, regardless of their cultural background. When children and adolescents feel seen and valued for who they are, they can thrive academically, socially, and emotionally. Valuing and understanding cultural diversity, helps our communities benefit from a wealth of perspectives and experiences, enhancing our collective capacity for empathy and innovation.

As parents and adult carers, instilling an appreciation for cultural diversity is vital to equip young people with the tools they need to navigate an increasingly interconnected world. Through leading by example and showing that kindness and understanding knows no boundaries, we can encourage them to embrace multiculturalism. This will not only prepare young people for personal success, but also for contributing to a world that views diversity as a strength. Through collective efforts, we can help pave the way for a more accepting and vibrant future.

Click here to read the recent edition of SchoolTV, to learn how best to embrace and celebrate cultural diversity with your children. We hope you take time to reflect on the information offered in this month’s edition, and we always welcome your feedback.

If you do have any concerns about the wellbeing of your child, please contact the school wellbeing team for further information or seek medical or professional help.

Special report: Toxic Achievement Culture

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Toxic achievement culture is a critical societal issue where an individual’s self-worth is entangled to their academic or extracurricular achievements. This culture is not merely about striving for success; it represents a deep-seated belief that a student’s value is solely dependent on their performance, often propelled by intense external pressures from parents, schools, and society. The concept of toxic achievement has recently been outlined in a book that sheds light on this phenomenon, highlighting the dark consequences of a culture obsessed with success.

Toxic achievement is becoming increasingly prevalent, characterised by excessive competition, unrealistic expectations, and a singular focus on results. This culture is also being aggravated by parental expectations, peer competition, a relentless comparison ethos, as well as being compounded by social media. It stems from a shift towards individualism where personal achievements are being equated with self-worth.

This relentless drive to excel is leading many students to prioritise accolades over genuine learning and personal growth, often at the expense of their own wellbeing and interpersonal relationships. Some students are overfilling their schedules with activities aimed to “get ahead”. However, the consequences are proving to be detrimental on students’ mental and physical health resulting in burnout and heightened stress levels.

As adult carers, we need to advocate for a more balanced and holistic approach to achievement, emphasising the importance of resilience, wellbeing, and the pursuit of diverse interests. There is nothing wrong with having ambition, but it’s crucial to ensure that this desire doesn’t push our young people into a toxic cycle of achievement and make them feel they must achieve in order to matter.

Please click here to read more articles relating to this topic.

SPECIAL REPORT: The Wellbeing Barometer 2024

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The Wellbeing Barometer survey has proven to be an invaluable tool for schools, providing insights into the state of youth mental health and wellbeing. Whilst last year’s results focussed the spotlight on areas of concern, there were also many highlights that demonstrated the resilience and adaptability of students and emphasised the necessity of prevention strategies.

Participating in this year’s survey, will assist in identifying areas of strength and concern, as well as pinpointing opportunities for early intervention. Previously gathered information has helped support families as they navigate difficult conversations that enable understanding and foster connections to build relationships.

This survey is part of an ongoing, longitudinal study, with the results being instrumental in tailoring support for students and their families. Participation is strongly encouraged, as it provides a comprehensive view of students’ experiences, challenges, and achievements over the past year. Its aim is to capture a comprehensive picture of young people’s lives, allowing for a tailored approach to enhance mental and emotional wellbeing.

We encourage you to take a few moments to complete a survey for each of your children. This will help us determine the nature and extent of your concerns and how best to support families in the months ahead. Responses remain anonymous and will only be reported on an aggregated basis. You are asked to base your responses on observations made in the last 12 months.

Acquiring the skills for future independence, taking healthy risks, and giving young people the opportunity to emancipate from parents, are key developmental tasks that are essential if we are to stave off the impact of mental illness in the future. Please reflect on the information offered in this Special Report, and as always, we welcome your feedback. If this raises any concerns for you or your child, please reach out to the school or seek professional medical advice.

Here is the link to your special report

The 7 Habits of Highly Happy People

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Highly happy people all share happy habits. It’s as simple as that. The happiest people I know share 7 very obvious habits. If you’re looking to expand your general happiness you may consider adopting these habits in your own life.

1. Be a Part of Something You Believe In

This could be anything. People may take an active role in their local city council, find refuge in religious faith, join a social club supporting causes they believe in, or find passion in their careers. In each case the physiological outcome is the same. They engage themselves in something they strongly believe in. This engagement brings happiness and meaning into their lives.

2. Share Time with Friends and Family

A happy life is a life shared with friends and family. The stronger the personal relationships are and the higher the frequency of interaction, the happier a person will be.

3. Reflect on the Good

Quite often people concentrate too much of their attention on negative outcomes and leave no time to positively reflect on their successes. It’s natural for a person to want to correct undesirable circumstances and focus closely on doing so, but there must be a healthy balance in the allocation of personal awareness. It is important to mindfully reflect on the good while striving diligently to correct the bad. A continuous general awareness of your daily successes can have a noticeably positive affect on your overall emotional happiness.

4. Exploit the Resources You DO Have Access To

The average person is usually astonished when they see a physically handicap person show intense signs of emotional happiness. How could someone in such a restricted physical state be so happy? The answer rests in how they use the resources they do have. Stevie Wonder couldn’t see, so he exploited his sense of hearing into a passion for music, and he now has 25 Grammy Awards to prove it.

5. Create Happy Endings Whenever Possible

The power of endings is quite remarkable. The end of any experience has a profound impact on a person’s overall perception of the experience as a whole. Think about reading a fairly well written, thought provoking novel. Now imagine the ending totally sucks. Even if the story was captivating up until the ending, would you still be happy recommending the novel to a friend? People always remember the ending. If the ending is happy, the experience creates happiness. Always tie loose ends, leave things on a good note, and create happy endings in your life whenever possible.

6. Use Personal Strengths to Get Things Done

Everyone possesses unique personal strengths. We all have different talents and skill sets. Emotional happiness comes naturally to those who use their strengths to get things done. The state of completion always creates a sense of achievement. If this achievement is based exclusively on your own personal ability to get the job done, the physiological rewards are priceless.

7. Savor the Natural Joy of Simple Pleasures

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the best things in life are free. They come in the form of simple pleasures and they appear right in front of you at various locations and arbitrary times. They are governed by Mother Nature and situational circumstance and captured by mindful awareness. It’s all about taking a moment to notice the orange and pink sunset reflecting off the pond water as you hold hands with someone you love. Noticing these moments and taking part in them regularly will bring unpredictable bursts of happiness into your life.

SPECIAL REPORT: Gambling & Young People

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The digital era has made gambling more accessible, and certain factors are elevating the risk of problematic gambling among young people.  A new grey area is emerging, with smartphones at their fingertips blurring the boundaries between gambling and entertainment, especially within the realms of video games and social media.  The current generation of young people are growing up in an unprecedented time and research highlights that a significant percentage of adolescents are involved in gambling activities.

Reports of young people gambling are frequent with many experiencing adverse consequences such as diminished academic performance and strained relationships. Today’s youth are growing up in a digital age characterised by constant connectivity, and the gambling industry has evolved significantly during their formative years. Simulated gambling, such as in video games, can further increase the likelihood of teenagers transitioning to real-money gambling and developing future gambling-related problems.

It’s crucial to foster open discussions about positive media choices to help children navigate through responsible online gaming and gambling.  By encouraging a balanced approach to screen time and promoting alternative activities, will help set some clear boundaries to avoid potential gambling-related issues.

This Special Report provides guidance on how to empower young people to make responsible choices in this digital age.  We hope you take a moment to reflect on the information offered, and as always, we welcome your feedback. If this raises any concerns for you, a loved one or the wellbeing of your child, please consider seeking medical or professional help.

Here is the link to your special report


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Understanding the growing challenges related to mental health among young people is an important consideration. Anxiety, depression and self-harm – are all causes for concern. Factors like academic pressure, social media, family dynamics, and societal expectations, are contributing to these issues. It’s therefore crucial for parents and caregivers to take action early, remove the stigma around discussing mental health, and offer accessible support to address these issues and the wellbeing of their children.

R U OK? contributes to suicide prevention year round by urging people to invest time in personal relationships and empowering informal support networks to identify signs of distress. We urge all families to take part, emphasising the value of genuine human relationships and reminding everyone to ask the important question, “Are you OK?”

Engaging in R U OK? Day activities goes beyond the classroom; it’s a commitment to our students’ overall development. By talking openly about mental health, schools create safe spaces where students feel understood, valued, and supported. As parents and caregivers, you can contribute by fostering open conversations, normalising feelings and breaking down mental health stigmas. Participating in R U OK? Day promotes compassion and shows our dedication to the wellbeing of the entire school community, reaffirming that together, we can truly make a difference.

This Special Report provides guidance on how to talk to your child about mental health and engage in meaningful discussions. We hope you take a moment to reflect on the information offered, and as always, we welcome your feedback. If this raises any concerns for you, a loved one or the wellbeing of your child, please consider seeking medical or professional help.

Please click here to read the special report.