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School Psychologist

Stephen Gray Wallace is president and director of the Center for Adolescent Research and Education (CARE), a national collaborative committed to increasing positive youth outcomes and reducing negative risk behaviors. He has broad experience as a school psychologist and currently serves as director of counselor training at Cape Cod Sea Camps, a member of the professional development faculty at the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Camp Association and a parenting expert at and NBCUniversal’s For additional information about Stephen’s work, please visit

While the challenge of “senior spring” has received ample attention (“The Waiting Game,” “6 Ways to Maximize Spring Semester of Senior Year” and “Already Gone” come to mind), less so may be the rigor of the two semesters that precede it.
The Oscar-nominated film “Boyhood” offers a rambunctious tour inside the life and times of Mason Evans, Jr., actually tracking the real-time coming of age of actor Ellar Coltrane (IMBD, 2014). While rife with the familiar conflicts and conquests of growing up as a boy, the film also tracks the identity search of Mason’s sister, Samantha (Lorelei Linklater), if a bit more subtly.
Research from SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) revealed that parents are the number one reason why young people make good choices. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the same research pegs peers as the number one reason why they make bad choices. Perhaps the best news of all is that peers are the number two reason young people make good choices (Wallace, 2008). That suggests a critical tipping point of influence.
The takeaway from a new study fielded by the University of Georgia (UGA) (Orpinas, 2014) and published in the journal Aggressive Behavior (2014) doesn’t necessarily debunk the “mean girls” narrative, as suggested by a TIME magazine piece (Locker, 2014). Rather, it simply confirms what some already suspected: many girls and boys experience a developmental period when they are, well, just plain mean. That’s the bad news.  The good news is that this cycle of cruelty is relatively short-lived … for most.
The recent football recruiting scandal that rocked West Point (Roeder, 2014) smacked of similar incidents involving both military and civilian athletic programs at schools across the country. And while the Academy sought refuge in the “harsh punishment” it levied against the cadets involved, it simultaneously pointed out that what transpired is deemed to be only a “minor infraction” by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Exactly.
A spate of recent incidents in the national spotlight has drawn new attention to how we, as a society, prepare boys to become men. While there are numerous applications of identity and character development, some of the most important revolve around relationships, sexuality and sexual behavior. Earlier onset of puberty for boys (and girls) only accelerates the need to communicate with them about impending change and how to harness, process, understand and actualize complicated biological and psychological forces.
Colorado’s Misadventure on Marijuana Just months after Colorado’s ill-advised legalization of marijuana, the results are in: its misadventure on marijuana is an unmitigated disaster. It was dumb in the first place. Now it’s just dumber than before. Much of the dysfunction has been reported in the popular press. The New York Times (May 31, 2014) – “After 5 Months of Sales, Colorado Sees the Downside of a Legal High” Los Angeles Times (May 27, 2014) – “Colorado’s neighbors dismayed by new wave of marijuana traffic”
  The California State Senate’s passage of a bill to require affirmative consent for sexual behavior among college students further highlights the national epidemic of assaults on campus. In fact, the Obama Administration has made reduction – and transparency – of sexual assaults at college a cause de rigueur, and, fundamentally, a good one at that.   Even so, no small amount of murkiness may ultimately obscure the imperative of keeping young people safe from crimes that not only bruise the body but also savage the soul.  
The cancellation of a Sunday night variety show at summer camp foretold the impending death of Zwaldon, Mastermind of the Universe, a mythical figure able to answer questions before they are asked. Those old enough to remember Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show will recognize Zwaldon as the successor to his character, Carnac the Magnificent, a "mystic from the East" who could psychically "divine" unseen answers to unknown questions.
In a now infamous briefing to reporters, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, said, “Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things that we know that we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don't know we don't know.” Yikes! It is the unknown unknowns that may best describe the disconnect between parents and their teen drivers. 


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