Help Your Teen Learn The Dangers of Cannabis

Last updated on March 9th, 2018 at 12:00 am

Cannabis is the most widely used illegal drug in Britain (*also in the US). Find out about the health risks associated with its use.

There are several health risks associated with cannabis use, including dependency problems, mental health problems and lung damage.

The Effects of Cannabis

The effects of cannabis vary:

  • Some people may feel chilled out, relaxed and happy, while others have one puff and feel sick.
  • Others get the giggles and may become talkative.
  • Hunger pangs are common and are known as ‘getting the munchies’.
  • Users may become more aware of their senses or feel that time is slowing down. These feelings are due to its hallucinogenic effects.
  • A stronger joint (typically when skunk or sinsemilla is used) may have more powerful effects. Some users may moderate these effects by using less cannabis. Others may find it becomes tempting to binge smoke.

Getting Hooked on Cannabis

Teenage Couple Taking Drugs At HomeAs with other drugs, dependence on cannabis is influenced by a number of factors, including how long you’ve been using it, how much you use and whether you are more prone to becoming dependent.

You may find you have difficulty stopping regular use, and you may experience psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms when you do stop. Withdrawal symptoms can include cravings for cannabis, irritability, mood changes, appetite disturbance, weight loss, difficulty sleeping and, in some people, sweating, shaking and diarrhoea.

If you’ve only been using for a short while there should be no problem stopping, but after continued regular use of cannabis, stopping can become more difficult. You’re also at risk of getting addicted to nicotine if you roll your spliffs with tobacco.

Risks Associated with Cannabis

The following risks are associated with cannabis use:

  • Even hardcore smokers can become anxious, panicky, suspicious or paranoid.
  • Cannabis affects your co-ordination, which is one of the reasons why drug driving, like drink driving, is illegal.
  • Some people think cannabis is harmless because it’s a plant, but it isn’t harmless. Cannabis, like tobacco, has lots of chemical ‘nasties’, which, with long-term or heavy use, can cause lung disease and possibly cancer. The risk is greater because cannabis is often mixed with tobacco and smoked without a filter. It can also make asthma worse, and cause wheezing in people without asthma.
  • Cannabis itself can affect many different systems in the body, including the heart. It increases the heart rate and can affect blood pressure.
  • If you have a history of mental health problems, taking cannabis is not a good idea. It can cause paranoia in the short term, but in those with a pre-existing psychotic illness, such as schizophrenia, it can contribute to relapse.
  • If you use cannabis and have a family background of mental illness, such as schizophrenia, you may be at increased risk of developing a psychotic illness.
  • It is reported that frequent use of cannabis can cut a man’s sperm count and reduce sperm motility. It can suppress ovulation in women and so may affect fertility.
  • If you’re pregnant, smoking cannabis frequently may increase the risk of the baby being born smaller than expected.
  • Regular, heavy use of cannabis makes it difficult to learn and concentrate. Some people begin to feel tired all the time and can’t seem to get motivated.
  • Some users buy strong herbal cannabis (also known as skunk) to get ‘a bigger high’. Unpleasant reactions can be more powerful when you use strong cannabis, and it is possible that using strong cannabis repeatedly could increase the risk of harmful effects such as dependence or developing mental health problems.

Further Information

For more information on cannabis and the different forms it comes in, see the cannabis section in the Frank website’s A-Z of drugs.

Getting Help if You Use Cannabis

There are several sources of support if you or someone you know has a problem with drugs. Find out more in Drugs: where to get help.

Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US readers.

US Resources:


Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 02-08-2016 to 02-14-2016

Last updated on February 24th, 2016 at 12:21 pm

twitter thumbIn this week’s Children’s Safety News: One in four teenagers say they’ve been trolled online in the last year

Welcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world. Each day we use Twitter and Facebook to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 15 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
Hand, Foot And Mouth Disease On The Rise Among Kids…

Should We Let Special Needs Kids Win?

Last updated on February 24th, 2016 at 12:20 pm

young boys in uniform watching their team while playing footballA few weeks ago there was a sweet story about an undefeated high school senior wrestler named Deven who had a match against a student with Downs Syndrome named Andy and let him win. The media was making the senior out to be a hero, but the story bothered me. In the article the senior talks about how his opponent had good moves,and even the school coach complimented Andy’s wrestling skills, but all the headlines made a big deal about how he lost on purpose. I even asked a friend who has a child with this specific special need about it, and she agreed that the boy with Downs Syndrome didn’t need to be handed a victory – yes, it was sweet of the senior but Andy might have preferred an honest match. In the article the coach says that Deven did the right thing. I disagree, and so does my friend. It sounds like Deven did Andy a favor – Andy doesn’t need any favors, according to the article he is strong and tough. Some of the articles about the match make it seem more like Andy won a legitimate victory, and I hope that is true because he has an impressive record.

My son is on a sports team with both typical and special needs kids, but his school is an exception so most of the teams they take on are all neurotypical (i.e. not on the autism spectrum – or typical). I have to admit, it bothers me when our team gets slaughtered. It does seem like we deserve some kind of scoring advantage because of the challenges some of our players are handling…but then sometimes our team wins, and the victory is twice as sweet!

So, ask yourself – how much pity do you have for individuals with special needs? Do they deserve it? Or do they deserve to be treated as individuals, and equals?


Editor’s Note:  Something to consider… perhaps you don’t consider it “pity”. Perhaps you consider it “being supportive” or “leveling the playing field”.  The question remains the same and is just as difficult to answer: “should special needs kids be given preferential treatment when it comes to competitive sports or should they be treated as equals?”

Kung Fu Panda 3 is Sensory Friendly Twice this Month at AMC

Last updated on February 21st, 2016 at 01:03 am

New sensory friendly logoAMC Entertainment (AMC) and the Autism Society have teamed up to bring families affected by autism and other special needs “Sensory Friendly Films” every month – a wonderful opportunity to enjoy fun new films in a safe and accepting environment.

The movie auditoriums will have their lights turned up and the sound turned down. Families will be able to bring in snacks to match their child’s dietary needs (i.e. gluten-free, casein-free, etc.), there are no advertisements or previews before the movie and it’s totally acceptable to get up and dance, walk, shout, talk to each other…and even sing – in other words, AMC’s “Silence is Golden®” policy will not be enforced during movie screenings unless the safety of the audience is questioned.

KungFu Panda3-PosterDoes it make a difference? Absolutely! Imagine …no need to shhhhh your child. No angry stares from other movie goers. Many parents think twice before bringing a child to a movie theater. Add to that your child’s special needs and it can easily become cause for parental panic. But on this one day a month, for this one screening, everyone is there to relax and have a good time, everyone expects to be surrounded by kids – with and without special needs – and the movie theater policy becomes “Tolerance is Golden“.

This Saturday, February 13th, at 10am local time, AMC and the Autism Society’s “Sensory Friendly Film” program will be showing Kung Fu Panda 3. Tickets are $4 to $6 depending on the location. To find a theatre near you, here is a list of AMC theatres nationwide participating in this fabulous program (note: to access full list, please scroll to the bottom of the page).

Coming later in February: Zoolander 2 (Tues, 2/23) and Kung Fu Panda 3 (Sat, 2/27)


Editor’s note: Although Kung Fu Panda 3 has been chosen by the AMC and the Autism Society as this month’s Sensory Friendly Film, we do want parents to know that it is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for martial arts action and some mild rude humor. As always, please check the IMDB Parents Guide for a more detailed description of this film to determine if it is right for you and your child.


Tips and Resources for Coping with Cyberbullying

Last updated on September 24th, 2018 at 11:28 pm

Cyberbullying is the use of technology such as mobile phones and the internet to bully other people. Coping with cyberbullying can be difficult because it can happen at any time of the day.

What is Cyberbullying?

  • Emailing or texting threatening or nasty messages to people.
  • Posting an embarrassing or humiliating video of someone on a video-hosting site such as YouTube.
  • Harassing someone by repeatedly sending texts or instant messages in a chat room.
  • Setting up profiles on social networking sites, such as Facebook, to make fun of someone.
  • ‘Happy slapping’, which is when people use their mobiles to film and share videos of physical attacks.
  • Posting or forwarding someone else’s personal or private information or images without their permission.
  • Sending viruses that can damage another person’s computer.
  • Making abusive comments about another user on a gaming site.

two girls looking at mobile phoneAre You a Cyberbully?

Even if you’re not the one who started the online bullying, you become part of it when you laugh at a message that could be hurtful or threatening to someone else, or forward it on.

Don’t let yourself get dragged into cyberbullying. Think about the impact of what you say in text messages, chat rooms and emails. Could your words be used to hurt someone else, or could they be turned against you?

In some cases, cyberbullying can be a criminal offence. For example, it could be treated as a form of harassment or threatening behaviour.

How to Respond to Cyberbullying


  • Talk to someone you trust. This could be a teacher, parent, carer or friend. Schools have a responsibility to ensure that students aren’t bullied, and they can take action even if the bullying is happening outside school. You can call ChildLine confidentially on 0800 1111.
  • Report the bullying to the internet service provider (ISP) if the bullying happened online. Ask a parent or teacher for help, or look at Chatdanger, which has safety advice about mobiles and internet use.
  • Report the bullying to your mobile phone provider if you’ve received bullying texts or calls on your mobile. You may even have to change your number if you’re repeatedly bullied through your phone.
  • Block instant messages and emails. Ask a parent or teacher for help, or look at the Chatdanger website for advice on how to do this.
  • Report serious bullying, such as physical or sexual threats, to the police.


  • Don’t delete the upsetting emails or messages. Keep the evidence. This will help to identify the bully if the bullying is anonymous. Even people who use a false name or email can be traced.
  • Don’t reply. This is what the bully wants, and it might make things worse.

How to Avoid Being Cyberbullied

The best way to avoid being cyberbullied is to use the internet and mobile phones carefully.

  • Don’t give out personal details, such as your phone number or address, in a chat room.
  • Think carefully before posting photos or videos of you or your friends.
  • Only give your mobile number to close friends.
  • Protect passwords, and never give your friends access to your accounts.
  • Don’t forward nasty emails.
  • Learn how to block instant messages or use mail filters to block emails.
  • Know how to report bullying to internet service providers or website administrators. Ask a parent or teacher for help, or look at the advice on Chatdanger’s website.

Information and Help with Cyberbullying


BeatBullying allows young people to get help and support each other online. If you’re being cyberbullied or bullied in any other way, you can log on to the site and chat to a cybermentor. The cybermentors are young people too and can help you work out what to do next.


Chatdanger contains safety advice on mobiles, chatrooms, email, online games and instant messaging.


Digizen focuses on responsible use of the internet. Its section on cyberbullying includes a short film called Let’s fight it together, about how a boy deals with being cyberbullied.

Editor’s Note: Cyberbullying resources for the US:

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 02-01-2016 to 02-07-2016

Last updated on February 15th, 2016 at 06:30 pm

twitter thumbIn this week’s Children’s Health News: Over 20% of cyberbullied B.C. youth have attempted suicide: report

Welcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world. Each day we use Twitter and Facebook to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 25 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
10 Essential Facts About the Zika Virus

PedSafe Child Health & Safety #2 Headline of the Week:
Kik messaging app scrutinized in wake of Va. teen’s murder