Alcohol harms the brain in teen years –– before and after that, too

If we only paid attention to ads, it might seem as though alcohol — a beer or glass of wine, a shot of fiery liquor or sophisticated cocktail — merely served as a way to bring people together and make them happy. Drink responsibly, the ads wink, without ever explaining the toll that frequent or excessive alcohol use exacts, particularly at certain stages in life. Because alcohol doesn’t just get us drunk, impair our judgment, and hurt our liver: it can have many other bad effects on our bodies — including effects on the brain.

In a recent editorial in The BMJ, a trio of scientists pointed out that there are three periods in life when the brain goes through major changes and is particularly vulnerable to the effects of alcohol. Two of those periods are at the beginning and end of life. When pregnant women drink alcohol, it can damage the developing brain of the fetus, leading to physical problems, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems. When people over the age of 65 drink alcohol, it can worsen declines in brain function that happen during aging.

The third period is adolescence. During those years of transition between childhood and adulthood, the brain grows and changes in many important ways that are crucial for that transition to be successful. When teens and young adults drink alcohol, it can interfere with that process of brain development in ways that affect the rest of their lives.

Alcohol use in teens and young adults

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol is the most commonly used substance among young people in the US. Although rates of drinking and binge drinking have been going down over recent decades, national surveys show that among youth and young adults, one in five report drinking alcohol in the past 30 days, and one in 10 report binge drinking. The 2019 Youth Risk Behavioral Survey found that more than a quarter of high school students drank alcohol in the 30 days before they took the survey, and one in seven reported binge drinking in that same time period.

That’s an awful lot of youth who could be changing their brains — and their lives — forever.

Here is what the parents of teens can and should do:

  • Talk to your teens about alcohol and its effects — all of them. Make sure they have the facts.
  • Have strict rules about alcohol use, and consequences if those rules are broken. Yes, it’s normal for teens to experiment, but if you condone going to parties with alcohol, binge drinking, or driving while drinking, it could literally ruin your child’s life — or end it.
  • Get to know the parents of your teen’s friends, and work toward having a shared, community responsibility for keeping everyone safe.
  • Set a good example. Drink responsibly, just as those ads encourage.

For more advice on talking to your teen and strategies for preventing alcohol use and abuse, visit the website of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Follow me on Twitter @drClaire

The post Alcohol harms the brain in teen years –– before and after that, too appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.

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Standoff between teen and car park ‘Karen’

A standoff over a car parking space has gone viral on social media after a middle-aged woman, dubbed a “Karen”, stood in front of the vacant spot with her dog to reserve it.

The footage, which was posted to TikTok on Wednesday, shows the woman standing with her hands on her hips in front of the parking spot in Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast.

She waves to her husband as a cue to come to where she is.

Social media user Marli McLaren, 19, is heard asking the woman to move while her indicator is blinking.

“I’m not moving. You can’t do that,” she says in the video as she pulls the hand break up.

“Can you please move? You can’t save a park.”

But the woman, wearing a grey cap and a black T-shirt and shorts, ignores the teenager.

Another person is then heard speaking as they approach the woman standing firm in the parking space.

The middle-aged woman, who was referred to as a “Karen” by Miss McLean, then says to the other person that her husband is parking elsewhere.

“He doesn’t like confrontation,” she is heard saying to the stranger.

“He’s going to park over there.”

She is then asked by the stranger if she would move and she replies “yeah” but waits another five seconds before taking a step.

The woman with the dog then approaches the teenager and asks why she is being filmed.

She proceeds to tell Miss McLaren she will call the police.

The TikTok post already has more than 530,000 views.

In a follow-up video, the teenager explained the footage was taken last year on the Queen’s Birthday as she was taking her sister out for lunch.

“This lady was walking with her dog and I was a bit suss about it at first,” Ms McLaren told her viewers.

“She ended up moving because her husband found a car park.

“I parked my car and I said ‘thank you’ to the lady that was on my side as you can hear her in the video.

“I got out of my car and she was still yelling at me, telling me I was immature for recording her and whatnot.

“I ended up saying to her ‘Look at what you’re doing. You’re staring an argument with someone who is 19. Just stop’.”

She said the other lady that was “on her side” told her to walk away from the woman and did so.

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Assistance dog is life-changing for Bundaberg teen Summer Farrelly, who lives with autism

For Bundaberg teenager Summer Farrelly, the simple act of walking into a shop to buy milk can be overwhelming and exhausting.

The 13-year-old lives with autism and can feel overwhelmed when she is out of her comfort zone — but her new four-legged friend is changing her life.

Onyx, a two-year-old black labrador, helps Summer stay calm and grounded when she is struggling.

“Onyx, to start off with, is a mirror,” Summer said.

“What he does is, he can identify my emotions before I identify them, which means he can tell me how I’m feeling, so I can regulate myself better and from that information I can work out whether I need to leave or if I’m doing too much.”

The “eyes focus” command helps Summer connect with Onyx.(ABC Wide Bay: Brad Marsellos)

Hatching a new friendship

Animal-assisted therapy has helped Summer manage her autism since she started working with chickens at the age of nine in a bid to better understand human behaviour and her emotions.

She developed an autism therapy program called Chickens to Love, but as she grew older felt she needed a companion animal support her when she was out in the community.

“I’m on high alert and worried about absolutely everything and anything that can happen,” Summer said.

“He’s a distraction, a thought-blocker.

A card with the words "sorry I am unable to stop and talk. Oynx and I are working" written on it with a young girl and dog.
This card helps explain why Onyx can’t stop for a pat and chat.(ABC Wide Bay: Brad Marsellos)

‘This age group is the future’

Assistance dogs are different from companion or therapy animals in that they are certified and protected under the disability discrimination act.

Once they are trained, they have public access rights to shops, cinemas and public transport.

They are used to help people living with a variety of physical or mental disabilities and symptoms.

Claire Turner, a former canine explosive detection handler who now trains assistance dogs and works with their owners, saw Summer receive three Animal Therapies Ltd awards for her chicken-assisted learning program in early 2020.

Ms Turner thought Summer would make a perfect candidate for the assistance dog program and coordinated the placement of Onyx with Summer while mentoring her.

While it is usually more common for the parents of young people to be the handlers of the dogs, Summer’s experience with animals showed she had the insight to manage the program herself.

“We work a lot with older people, but my passion with canine assistance is to mentor the next generation,” Ms Turner said.

“Summer and this age group is the future.

Getting to bed on time

Onyx does not only help Summer when she is out and about.

The dog has been trained to observe her physical and mental signals and alert her to changing behaviours — even down to making sure she goes to bed on time and puts her phone away.

“If I don’t come with him and lay on my bed he will bark — he won’t listen to anything I say because he is telling me to go to bed,” Summer said.

“When I go to bed with any sort of device, he will bark until I put the device down because he wants me to close my eyes and sleep.

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Russian state investigators open criminal case over kidnapping of Chechen teen last seen in humiliation video

The Gelendzhik branch of the Russian Investigative Committee in Krasnodar Krai has launched a criminal investigation into the reported kidnapping of Salman Tepsurkayev. The 19-year-old moderator of the Chechen opposition Telegram channel 1ADAT was last seen being tortured and humiliated in a video circulated online in September 2020.

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Coronavirus Australia live updates January 5, 2021: Four new cases in NSW as Berala and some Western Sydney residents banned from Sydney test cricket match; Worries about Berala teen who went to regional NSW; PM’s push to get Victorians home; Three new local cases in Victoria as temple added to exposure sites; Fresh UK lockdown ordered by Boris Johnson

NSW Health has released a new list of venues in the state’s west that were visited by a teenager who has since tested positive to coronavirus.

An 18-year-old who went to the Berala BWS – the centre of a current outbreak – on Christmas Eve then went to Broken Hill, Orange, and Nyngan.

Anyone who attended the following venues is a close contact who must get tested immediately and isolate for 14 days, regardless of the result:

  • Broken Hill: Gourmet Cribtin, 305 Argent St, Saturday, 2 January, 10.40am – 11.20am
  • Orange: Birdie Noshery and Drinking est. 120-122 Summer Street, Sunday, 3 January, 12.30pm – 2pm

Anyone who has attended the following venue at the following times is a casual contact and must immediately get tested and isolate until a negative result is received, and continue to monitor for symptoms and test again if any symptoms develop:

  • Nyngan: Nyngan Riverside Tourist Park, Barrier Hwy and Mitchell Hwy, Saturday, 2 January to Sunday, 3 January

Anyone who attended the following service stations must monitor for symptoms and if they appear, immediately get tested and isolate until a negative result is received:

  • Broken Hill: Broken Hill Shell, 164 Williams St, Saturday, 2 January, 10.52am – 10.55am
  • Nyngan: Nyngan BP, 180 Mitchell Hwy Nyngan on Sunday, 3 January, 9.10am – 9.13am

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The odd bump aside, Claudia Karvan’s new teen pregnancy drama delivers

Before the baby arrived Oly was a high achiever, with plans to study international relations before heading to New York to work for the UN. After the baby arrives her first response is to adopt it out and get back to the life-plan. Pretty soon, though, she decides to keep the bairn – and the life plan too. Something, surely, must give.

Karvan plays Oly’s mother Angie, head of English at the school. Her dad Dom is played by Angus Sampson; we first meet him passed out drunk on a boat – literally and metaphorically, he’s drifting after being made redundant from his management job. He’s rapidly regressing to roughly the same age, emotionally speaking, as his daughter.

Complicating matters are the fact that (a) the father is not Oly’s boyfriend but another kid at school, Santiago (Carlos Sanson Jr) with whom she’s had a one-night stand; and (b) Santi is the son of Matias Hernandez (Ricardo Scheihing Vasquez), the Chilean-born school PE teacher, with whom Angie might be in love.

Nathalie Morris (centre) stars as Oly, with Carlos Sanson Jr as the father of her unexpected child and Claudia Karvan as her mother.

Nathalie Morris (centre) stars as Oly, with Carlos Sanson Jr as the father of her unexpected child and Claudia Karvan as her mother.Credit:stan

You may detect a faint echo of Offspring in all this: the complicated love lives, the interweaving of family and work dynamics, the blurring of moral boundaries. That’s no coincidence: the guiding forces behind Bump include John Edwards, executive producer of Offspring (and many others, including Secret Life of Us, Love My Way, Spirited and Puberty Blues, in all of which Karvan also had a major hand).

And that brings us to the “yes” side of the equation. At its heart, Bump is Romeo and Juliet, with the families at odds over access to the baby, parenting styles, culture, and whatever other contrivances the plot can throw up. Inexorably, though, the star-cross’d lovers are heading not towards mutual poisoning but the realisation that they are meant to be together. The baby, in plot terms, is the motor that drives them towards that destiny.

Call me old-fashioned, but I think that is just a little problematic.

Mothers of creation: Claudia Karvan and Kelsey Munro.

Mothers of creation: Claudia Karvan and Kelsey Munro.Credit:Stan

There is, though, a lot to like about Bump (and the story might go in a different direction in the final four episodes). Canberra-raised, NZ-trained Morris is a real find, bringing Oly’s mix of shock, determination, optimism and fragility fully to life. Karvan is good, as always, nailing the competing instincts of a parent horrified by her child’s choices but determined to support them anyway. And the show scores big on diversity – among classmates, the messily extended Hernandez clan, and even the behind-the-camera talent – in a way that never seems forced.

All in all I’d say that a few bumps aside, the show delivers.

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Woman tackled, falsely accused Black teen of stealing her phone in NYC hotel, father says

A confrontation in which a man said a woman tackled his 14-year-old Black son in a New York City hotel lobby as she falsely accused the teen of stealing her phone is under investigation, city prosecutors said Monday.

Keyon Harrold, a prominent jazz trumpeter, posted a widely viewed video of the confrontation Saturday at the Arlo Hotel. He said the unidentified woman scratched him and tackled and grabbed his son, Keyon Harrold Jr., at the lower Manhattan hotel where the pair were staying.

“He’s the sweetest, most genuine kid you could ask for,” Harrold said in an interview Monday evening. “I was just appalled at how he was treated.”

The video shows an agitated woman demanding her phone be returned while a hotel manager tries to settle the situation. At one point, the woman appears to rush forward and says, “I’m not letting him walk away with my phone!”

Harrold said the phone was returned by an Uber driver shortly afterward.

The confrontation prompted comparisons to recent incidents involving false accusations against Black people.

A white woman was charged with filing a false report for calling 911 and saying she was being threatened by “an African American man” during a dispute with a Black man in New York’s Central Park in May. That case inspired New York state lawmakers in June to pass a law that makes it easier under civil rights law to sue an individual who calls a police officer on someone “without reason” because of their background, including race and national origin.

“There are thousands of Black men sitting in prison who have been falsely accused,” Harrold said. “That’s why we have to address incidents like this now, before they become life altering, life impacting issues that negatively and devastatingly affect Black people.”

The parents of Keyon Harrold Jr. and civil rights attorney Ben Crump issued a statement Monday, calling on the Manhattan district attorney to bring assault and battery charges against the woman “to send the message that hateful, racially motivated behaviour is unacceptable.”

“As this year of racial awareness is drawing to a close, it’s deeply troubling that incidents like this one, in which a Black child is viewed as and treated like a criminal, continue to happen,” read the statement.

Crump and the Harrold family also called for a civil rights investigation into the Arlo Hotel “for its implicit bias” in its treatment of the teen.

New York City police did not identify the woman, saying only that there was a harassment complaint on file for an incident Saturday inside the hotel. A spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said the office is “thoroughly investigating this incident” but did not elaborate.

Hotel management said in a posting Sunday they reached out to Harrold and his son to apologize.

“We’re deeply disheartened about the recent incident of baseless accusation, prejudice, and assault against an innocent guest of Arlo Hotel,” they said in a Facebook post.

Keyon Harrold is originally from Ferguson, Missouri, and lives in New York City. He has performed with musicians including Beyonce, Rihanna and Eminem, according to his website.


Associated Press journalist Mary Esch contributed to this report from Albany, New York.

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Loeffler, Perdue back leniency for US teen jailed in Cayman Islands for breaching coronavirus regs

EXCLUSIVE: Georgia Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue are backing calls for leniency for a U.S. teenager jailed in the Cayman Islands for violating the British territory’s COVID-19 quarantine regulations.

In a letter to the acting consul general of the U.S. Embassy in Jamaica, the senators express their support for the family of 18-year-old Skylar Mack.

“We appreciate the efforts of U.S. Embassy Kingston and the U.S. Consular Agency to provide consular services and protect the legal rights of Ms. Mack as a U.S. citizen,” the letter dated Christmas Day states. “We encourage you to continue these efforts and to convey to the Governor our support for her family’s call for leniency.”


Mack, a Georgia resident and U.S. citizen, was sentenced to four months in jail on Dec. 15 for violating the territory’s strict regulations. The sentence was reduced to two months this week by an appeals court.

Mack, along with her boyfriend Vanjae Ramgeet, pleaded guilty to breaking the mandatory two-week quarantine after they arrived in the islands on Nov. 27 and then attended a jet ski event in which Ramgeet was competing.

According to the Cayman Compass, the judge who handed down the initial sentence said the offense was “as flagrant a breach as could be imagined; it was borne of selfishness and arrogance.”

Mack’s grandmother, Jeanne Mack, said she has reached out to the White House for help with getting the young woman released. 

“She’s devastated. She’s terrified. She’s having anxiety attacks,” Jeanne Mack told “Fox & Friends” Tuesday. “She’s not eating. She’s not sleeping. She says every time she eats, she just gets sick.”


The senators said that they recognized that the threat of COVID “should not be understated” and that they support the right of the Cayman Islands to enact regulations and “impose fair sentences against those who violate such restrictions.”

“Ms. Mack has admitted guilt, regrets her actions, paid a substantial fine and has been incarcerated for over a week,” the letter from the senators, who both face closely-watched runoffs next month, said. “However, it is the sincere hope of her parents that she can safely and expeditiously return home to continue her studies as a pre-med student at Mercer University.”

“Her family has also expressed serious concern about her safety, as she has received numerous threats against her life following the publicity of her case,” they wrote.

Mack and Ramgeet were the first to be sentenced under the strengthened Cayman Islands law, which originally called for a $2,400 fine and up to 6 months in jail. Penalties were boosted to up to two years behind bars and a $12,000 fine.


The Caymans, a Caribbean territory with nearly 62,000 people, has reported more than 300 coronavirus cases and two deaths.

Mack’s case drew outrage from Eric Trump, the president’s son, who last week called the sentence “infuriating.”

“Skylar is an 18 year old girl who left her hotel to watch her boyfriend compete in a jet ski competition… 4 months in jail?!” he tweeted.

Fox News’ Paul Best and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Crash kills teen on Christmas Day, police searching for motorbike he was riding

Police in Hobart say it is crucial they find a motorbike involved in a crash which killed a 14-year-old boy in the city’s north on Christmas night.

Ambulance and police officers were called to the scene at Harbord Road in Claremont, about 9:30pm.

“Emergency services personnel attempted CPR and first aid at the scene but unfortunately he was pronounced deceased when he arrived at hospital,” said acting inspector Stewart Cashion.

“Police were unable to locate the motorcycle … and it appears the motorcycle has been removed from the scene.”

Acting Inspector Cashion said it’s believed the boy from Claremont was alone on the motorcycle.

“We believe that he knew people in the area and had been visiting friends prior to the accident,” he said.

“We believe he wasn’t wearing a helmet at the time, however we can’t confirm if drugs or alcohol were involved … we have no information about the bike, where it came from and whether it was a Christmas gift.”

“Our condolences go out to the family of the child, and we want information from the public to try to piece this together for closure for the family.”

Acting inspector Stewart Cashion says it’s important to find the motorbike.(ABC News: Alexandra Alvaro)

“It’s very serious that a motorcycle was taken prior to emergency services’ arrival,” said acting inspector Cashion.

“This particular cycle obviously has key points that investigators need to try and piece together for the family, for the coroner, for closure for everyone as to what actually occurred.

“We don’t know anything about this particular bike at this time, we’re acting on information that we have, but still at this point we don’t have the bike.”

The police officer was unable to shed light on claims of a brawl at the scene after the crash.

“I have no information about any altercation at the scene after the event, so I can’t make any comment on that,” he said.

Witness says motorcycle use a problem

A man who lives on Harbord Road said motorbike riders had been a problem in the area for a while

“Yes, over the last year I suppose, they think it’s a long street — wide — I suppose they take advantage of it.

He said it was a shocking incident.

“It was terrible really, I mean, no-one wants to see anyone hurt, especially that young, it’s a tragedy,” he said.

“He was just going up and down the street on his bike — I don’t really know what happened, but next thing you know, he was laying on the road up there and someone called an ambulance and the police,

“It’s terrible really, being so young too.”

Acting inspector Cashion urged unlicenced riders to use appropriate venues.

“Kids riding on public streets on unregistered bikes is illegal, this is an example of what can happen,” he said.

“Please don’t. Please if you want to ride a motorbike please do it in the appropriate circumstances, make sure it’s supervised, make sure it’s on a proper track, make sure the appropriate supervision and instruction is given.”

Anyone with information about the location of the motorcycle is asked to contact CrimeStoppers.

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