Protect Your Brain!

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When my daughter Sharon was just a little girl, she loved to play outdoors. But like all children 3 to 4 years of age, she occasionally lost her balance and fell. It was no big deal—except when she fell on concrete or hard pavement. On these occasions, it seemed that her face was always taking the brunt of the fall! Her legs and hands would be fine, while her face seemed to be getting more than the normal number of scrapes and bruises.

After several such falls, I asked her if she was putting her hands out to catch herself and lessen the impact of the fall. She told me that she wasn’t doing so because she didn’t want to hurt her hands. She had decided that her hands were very important to her. After all, she needed them to play. Her face—well, she couldn’t really see it except in the mirror and a bump there didn’t interfere with her play.

This conversation led to falling lessons in our living room where the carpet was the softest. There I explained how she could use her hands to break her fall and protect her face and, most importantly to her, do so without seriously hurting her hands. I demonstrated the technique and had her do the same. From that time forward, there were a lot fewer bumps and bruises to her face. Now years later, she and I both laugh when we recall those falling lessons in the living room.

Perhaps you recall things you did as a child that weren’t so smart. I do. If we’re honest, we will have to admit that we all did some pretty stupid things. Part of the reason we do dumb things when we’re young is because our brains haven’t fully matured.

In this issue we bring you some of the latest research showing how our brains develop and how we transition from one style of thinking as teens to another as adults. In addition to this matter of brain development, we’ve also included information about drugs, alcohol, emotions, smoking and health—from God’s perspective.

Sadly, many young people today are falling on their brains—that is, they don’t know how to protect their brains from danger as they’re growing up. Of course, this problem is far more serious than a little scrape to one’s face. Studies continue to document the penalties young people pay for unsound thinking. For example, a recent report by the Mental Health Council of Australia asserts that “the use of cannabis [marijuana], particularly among young people, substantially increases the risk of mental illness” (www.news.com.au ).

In the United States, scholars at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill likewise found that sexual activity and drug use by teens leads to depression. It is no surprise that teen depression is so high when so many have sex (almost 50 percent), drink alcohol (45 percent) and use marijuana (22 percent) (www.cwfa.org ).

Why not find a comfortable chair in your living room and read this issue to learn how you can better protect your brain? VT

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