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WEDNESDAY, JUNE 7, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Parents beware: Your child needs attention

A recent and disturbing study is a powerful reminder that parents must be vigilant.

One out of five college students, according to the survey, has intentionally injured himself by cutting, burning or other methods. They do so in a twisted effort to cope with problems that are most commonly feelings of social isolation.

The study confirms the significance of the practice, which experts say is also common among high school students.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, well-informed parents are best situated to identify and prevent their child's decision to hurt himself or commit suicide. Attentive parents know what issues trouble their children and have the ability to see behavioral changes.

According to the academy, parents should be on the alert for these indications of turmoil that could lead to self-injury or suicide: dramatic changes in behavior; withdrawing from people who used to be friends; dropping grades; signs of drug and alcohol abuse; giving away prized possessions; references to suicide, even if in jest; and feigned boredom.

Watching for signs is not something parents can delegate. Only parents have the long-term, close contact with a child against which they can measure current behavior.

Parents who become concerned, according to experts, should deal with the problem directly. Don't be afraid to use the word, "suicide," as you lovingly seek to understand your child's problem. Listen, don't preach, and make sure there are no temptations like guns or drugs available to your child.

And if the problem has you worried, call an expert.

Parents spend much of their lives trying to give their children a better future. Being vigilant can help ensure that the child lives long enough to enjoy it.

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